All four of my kids are from Ithaca, NY.

That seems weird to say because when we lived there it seemed nobody was from Ithaca. It always seemed like a place where people came for 3 to 5 years to go to school or work before they went on to someplace else. Which meant saying, “Good-bye,” was a regular part of life.

It is even worse than that because, for the first 8 years of marriage, Liz and I were working with college students who were there to get a degree and move on.

I’m thinking about this today because we are planning our upcoming trip to the States. In order to visit some of our friends from Ithaca (and Albany), we are travelling from Chicago to Atlanta to NYC and places in between. We’ll put in a lot of miles and still, we won’t be able to catch up with many of our friends as they live on both coasts, and several states in-between (and that isn’t even counting the ones who live in other countries.

When I first begin planning a trip like this, I have huge plans for all the places we will travel to (and Liz just looks at me with an exhausted look on her face”) But as I start plugging dates into the calendar, and calculating driving times via google maps, reality sets in.

While we want to return to places we visited on our previous HMA (home missions assignment), trying to do that while adding two brand new destinations (Atlanta & Chicago), make that a major challenge (okay, it makes it impossible…but we can try, right?)

So today I am wrestling with reality.

Posted by bob in family stuff

Dates in the States

We are now only 5 weeks away from our trip to the States.

Of course, between now and then we will move house…so never boring over here.

While we there, we are planning on travelling to:

  • Michigan
  • Illinois (Chicago)
  • Indiana
  • Ohio (Dayton & Columbus)
  • Georgia (Atlanta, Marietta)
  • New York (too many to list individually, but we’ll likely drive every inch of the Thruway from Fredonia to NYC)

We are also hoping to get to Massachusetts, Maryland & the DC area, but everything is still a bit up in the air, as there is a lot to cover over 5 weeks.

We do have a couple of dates nailed down:

  • June 17: I will be speaking at Christ Community Church in Fredonia, NY
  • June 24: Liz and I will be sharing about the work in Ireland at Christ Community Church in Fredonia, NY
  • July 1: Liz and I will be sharing about the work in Ireland at United Baptist Christian Church in Lewiston, NY

We will also be at the Irondequoit Vineyard either July 8, or 22, but that has not been nailed down yet.

We are still looking to set up times to meet people and talk about what God is doing here in Dublin. So, if:

  • You would be interested in hosting a dessert night and inviting some friends, or
  • If your church would be interested in having us share on a Sunday, or in another setting,

Please drop us a note… We would love to make that happen!


Posted by bob in family stuff

Day Out with M – Botanical Gardens

After a long week of planning for our HMA (home missions assignment) and our upcoming move…followed by a whole Saturday of doing taxes…M & I decided that Sunday was going to be for fun.

This afternoon we headed over to Glasnevin to visit the Botanical Gardens. M wasn’t sure she’d like it, but we both had a great day.



Posted by bob in family stuff

Near Sighted or Far Sighted

I’ve been thinking about vision a lot lately.
Actually, I’ve been rethinking about vision a lot.

Posted by bob in Something I've Been Thinking About, 0 comments

What Do We Mean When We Say “Missional Community?”

Over the past several years, I have written here and in our newsletter about missional communities. Liz and I have shared stories about trying to start a missional community here in Clontarf. And we have shared our hope of helping to start missional communities across the city of Dublin.

That all sounds great…if you know what we mean when we say missional community.

Posted by bob in church planting, 0 comments

Internship Opportunity in Dublin

Thinking about trying something different next year?

In 2018 we will be starting an internship program here in Dublin. There will be opportunities for 3, 6, or 12-month internships, and starting dates are open-ended.

There will be more information about the program and what it will look like by the end of this year. In the meantime, if you are interested, please drop me a note.  

I look forward to hearing from you!

Posted by bob in announcement, 0 comments

Blogging Break

After almost two months of not posting anything here, I’ve decided to make it official. While I doubt that I’ll never blog here again, I have decided to take an extended break.

Posted by bob in announcement, 0 comments

Well, Who Are You?

Who Am I? This was Hannah’s view circa Autumn 2012.

“Remember, no matter where you go, there you are.”
– Buckaroo Banzi

“Well, who are you?”
– The Who

Often during the first 3 years here in Dublin, I would tell people that there were two key thing I learned in moving to Dublin. The first had to do with grace (I’m still working on that post) and the second having to do with identity.

  • When I was in Ithaca, I had certain things that helped to define who I was.
  • I was the founding pastor of one of the larger churches in our city.
  • I was a chaplain at an Ivy League university.
  •  I had held several leadership positions.
  • I had a respectable family.
  • I even had a credit score of over 800.

Then I moved to Ireland.

  • As I’ve shared previously, my older kids had a difficult transition. And we struggled with who we were as parents.
  • My ministry resume meant nothing…I was another American who moved to Ireland and hadn’t done anything.
  • And I had no credit score. I had to pay a €500 security deposit to turn on my electricity and a €150 deposit for mobile phone service. I couldn’t even get my name on a bank account for more than a month…I had to ask Liz whenever I needed some money.
  • Oh yeah, and the churches we came to work with flat out told us, “we wish you hadn’t come.”

I mean, come on, I’d had jaw surgery and didn’t even look the same anymore.

“Who am I, and why am I here?”
– Admiral James Stockdale

I wasn’t comparing myself to Job, but I could relate to the feeling of losing nearly everything.

So, yeah, you could say there was a bit of an identity crisis.

It was in the midst of that season, that I read the book Building a Discipling Culture, by Mike Breen. (As a result of that, I joined a coaching network that really helped me make it through that next year.)

But even more importantly, I learned something about identity. If you had asked me, I would have told you, “of course, we are to find our identity in Christ.” I know that…But my identity was very clearly wrapped up in other things…and none of them were bad things. They were just all things that could disappear as fast as they showed up. And for the most part, had.

In BDC, Breen writes about Jesus going to be baptized by John and hearing his Father say,

“You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
– John 3:22

It is important that this was spoken to Jesus before he began his public ministry. He didn’t earn this identity from God…His identity did not flow from what he did…his ministry flowed from his identity.

So, that means my identity does not flow from what I do…I don’t need to earn it with the Father…and regardless of what external circumstances look like…my identity is unchanged (as long as it is based on him).

Back to Jesus…immediately after the baptism the Holy Spirit sends him into the wilderness. And during the temptation in the wilderness, two of the three temptations we read begin with the phrase, “if you are the Son of God.”

The temptation, along with everything else it represents, was an attack on his identity. An attack on the words that his Father had just spoken to him.

The Father says, “you are my son.”
The enemy says, basically…”did God really say?”

One of the main ways the enemy comes after us is by attacking our identity in Christ?

“You really think God could love you?”

“With all that you’ve done, how could God ever use you.”

And on and on…you get the idea.

This was huge for me. It is one thing to know something as true…say, “My identity is in Christ.” It is another thing to experience it in a way that changes you.

It is natural to worry about what other people think. To be concerned about how they view you as a success or a failure. I don’t know if we can ever fully escape that. But the more that we can allow our identity to be grounded in who we are in Christ…the more we can allow our identity to be grounded in what the Father says about us…the better off we are.

And again…you probably know this. But here’s hoping you know it.

Posted by bob in Dublin, Emotionally Healthy, 0 comments

Good Grief

We’re uncomfortable with grief.

It’s why we say dumb things at funerals, “They’re in a better place.” “I guess God wanted them.”

It’s why we tell a kid who just lost a pet “Don’t worry, we’ll get you a new one.” And while it is great that another puppy coming, that fact does not diminish the loss…the pain felt because of the one who is now gone.

Posted by bob in Emotionally Healthy, 0 comments

Switching Gears

Picture of Dublin taken from the Hell Fire Club this past weekend.

I am generally pretty good at focusing on the things I (or we) don’t do well, or should be doing better. Today has been a day where we’ve been able to focus on some things that we have consistently done well.

And because of some of those things, we have so many incredible people who have been part of our lives and that we are thankful to call friends!

Posted by bob in featured, Something I've Been Thinking About, 0 comments