What are you gonna do? Shock the world.

In my post about Todd Bussey’s influence on my life, I said that he will probably shock the world in Florida. That was intentional.

Here’s why…

Shock the WorldIn high school, my summers were pretty jam-packed. Thanks to Scouting, we had a trek at Philmont and Summer Camp to look forward to. Marching band consumed many days and nights as we tried to put together a top-notch show that would (hopefully) rival those of Castle and Reitz. And our family would always squeeze in a family vacation during the Summer, too.

It was wall-to-wall action with little downtime. And it was just the way I liked it.

“Here I raise my Ebenezer…”

One of the first events of Summer was our church youth group’s annual trek to Summer in the Son at Kentucky Christian College (now known as Kentucky Christian University). Friendships were forged. Faith was challenged. Bonds were strengthened. We “koinonia-ed” all over the place. Lives were changed at Summer in the Son. When I look back on my faith journey, I see several Ebenezers – key landmarks that remind me of where God intervened in my life.

One of these Ebenezer Monuments occurred during the main worship service. A speaker, whose name I cannot remember, shared a story that changed the direction of my life. I’m going to do my best to retell it. Please note that I have made up the names and dates of this story. It’s not because I’m trying to protect the innocent. It’s simply because I heard this story back in the early 1990s and details like names and dates in this story are honestly a bit of a fuzzy memory. But I promise. It’s a good story. And it changed my life. It went a little something like this… Continue reading “What are you gonna do? Shock the world.”

Todd Bussey: More than an old youth group minister

Leigh was part of our high school youth group. I asked her to share some memories from her experience with Todd Bussey as our youth minister. I knew she would have some stories to tell. I’m glad I asked. Because she delivered!

Thanks for sharing, Leigh!

Todd Bussey!

I met Todd Bussey 30 years ago when I first went to youth group on a Sunday night in 1988.

Young, energetic, silly, larger than life in personality and stature…he drew us all in and, quite frankly, made us a family.

He often met us for chips and salsa at Hacienda after youth group and made the mistake of showing us where he lived.  Now, I personally never used a credit card to break into his apartment, but I was often sitting on his living room couch when he came home…along with anywhere from 5-20 other kids.

Todd arranged goofy skits and fun outings.  He encouraged us to get messy and let go of the typical high-school drama.  Along with Scott & Corri Brooks and Brian & Dawn Gower, he put up with constant attempts to get him off-topic, countless shenanigans, and some very reckless new drivers in the church parking lot.  He moved to a new apartment, and he didn’t even bother to lock the door.  

Todd Bussey, Dawn Gower, Brian Gower

He took us to Summer in the Son and led us to think maybe we’d go to Kentucky Christian College someday.  He forced us to stop at Cracker Barrel whenever we were traveling.  He kicked us out of the church van if we complained about his driving. He wore a skin-tight Batman costume and climbed down from the balcony in the sanctuary.  We were all super-proud that we were the ones who got to go back home with the hilarious guy who started each morning there with a grin.

I knew he loved everyone, but he found a way to make each of us feel special.  

I witnessed his true caring, and I know he spent long nights with a few people who needed him.  He sent me flowers to celebrate my birthday when he found out it had been overlooked one year by some of my peers. It was an endearing gesture I have not forgotten all this time later.

When we graduated from high school, he came to our open houses, let us know what we’d meant to the youth group, and prayed over us.  Because of the bond he’d fostered between us, we kids kept in touch with each other even though we all went our separate ways…and then when we came home from college on breaks, we now went to his house on Lincoln Avenue.  The door was always unlocked.

He sent me Audio Adrenaline’s new CD  when I graduated from college (a nod to our time at SITS when they used to be called A-180). I got my first teaching job, and I still came home on breaks to visit.  He counseled me through the break-up of a serious boyfriend…and then called my now husband by the old boyfriend’s name at our wedding rehearsal.  (He managed to use the correct name at the wedding, thankfully!)

Todd Bussey officiating Leigh's wedding

He was just “Todd – my old youth group minister…”

…until a family crisis made him “Todd – the person you call when everything is falling apart.” At a moment’s notice, he simply showed up and was the example of Christ we needed at a time of true despair.

It’s pretty powerful to realize that God placed this man in my 12-year-old life so that he could be a source of strength in my adult one.

And my story, of needing Todd as a grown-up, is not unique. That youth group family still keeps in touch, and I know he’s been there for others during times of confusion, pain, sorrow, and deep loss.

When Todd left Evansville this morning to move his dear family to Florida, he left behind a building that housed a ministry that touched my life — and that’s been weirdly hard for me to come to terms with. However, the friendship, admiration, and deep connection remain…no matter what state Todd lives in.

I’ll still celebrate his February 26th birthday that he shares with another important man in my life…my dad.  

I’ll still reminisce with my parents about the time the entire extended Bussey family stopped by our cottage in Michigan just to say hi.

I’ll still send him our Christmas card — how did that goofy girl end up a teacher, wife, and mom of 4 kids?

I’ll still text him selfies of me and random (or maybe not so random?) people that show up in my life who happen to know the legend that is Todd.

I’ll still seek his advice for big decisions and his support in times of trouble.

I’ll still fondly remember youth group on Sunday nights.

Love you, L. Todd!
Leigh Blackburn Stella

Perhaps as a testament to the positive effect that Todd had on the lives of those young kids in the late 80s, you might not be surprised to find that he moves to his new position in Florida at a church under the direction of Jason Cullum, a Cullen Avenue Christian Church High School Youth Group Class of ‘92 grad like myself.  I’m sure his new flock will enjoy these throwback photos of their new/our old partners in crime.

Todd Bussey and Jason Cullum

Todd Bussey and Jason Cullum

Thanks, Todd Bussey

I’ve shared this story on several occasions in several different ways. I don’t think I’ve ever shared it here. Todd Bussey might be tired of it. But I’m not. And I’ve decided that it is altogether fitting to share it today as we wish Todd countless blessings as he begins the next chapter of his ministry life.
Todd Bussey with me before my wedding, 1998

There I was –

some 40 feet in the air. A helmet was strapped to my head. A harness was firmly fastened around my body. I was safe. But I was stuck. I wasn’t going anywhere.
It was one of my first years as a Boy Scout and we were participating in the high ropes team building course the National Boy Scout Museum in Murray, Kentucky. The climax of the afternoon was climbing a giant tower and then walking across a high wire from one tower to another. I could choose to take one of thee routes to this second tower. I chose the path that was most difficult.
Of course I did. I had to look cool in front of my friends, didn’t I?

I chose the path called The Hourglass.

The Hourglass is made up of a single wire to walk on a wire to hold onto. As you’re walking across the wire that’s suspended among the treetops, the wire that you’re holding onto is gradually sloping downward. Once you’re in the middle of the path, the wire that you’re holding onto has descended enough that it is actually attached to the foot wire.
How high did I say this course was? Forty feet? Felt like 75.
So there I was, 125 feet in the air, squatting down on a wire, holding on to another wire for dear life. Behind me was another wire that was attached to the wire at my feet. That second wire slopes upward and leads to the second tower at the end of the course.
There was a trick. One I didn’t expect. There, in the middle of the course, 235 feet in the air, I had to let go of the wire in order to adequately turn my body and grab hold of the other wire and make my way toward safety.

 Let go.

My head knew what I needed to do. I think my heart even knew. But my body? Not so much.
Let go?
That was crazy talk. I was hanging 376 feet in the air. That cord at my feet was my only lifeline. And I was supposed to let go? There was no way I was letting go of that wire.
So I squeezed harder. My knees started to shake. The wire I was standing on started to sway. Sweat ran down my brow and started to sting my eyes. I was in bad shape. Things were looking bleak.
I was certain I was going to die up there. I just wasn’t sure how. Maybe I would shrivel up and die from dehydration. Or maybe I would just shake myself into oblivion. Or maybe my safety harness would wear out and I would tumble 563 feet to my doom.

So I stayed there and waited for my certain death. At least I had my safety helmet on, so when I finally fell to oblivion, the staff could sweep up all of the pieces into my helmet, wrap it up, slap a sticker on it and send me home on my way.

Friends down below were shouting encouragement. “Just let go with one hand! Everything will be OK!”

Of course, every time I tried that, the tightrope would shake. I’d panic. And then I’d find myself gripping the wire even tighter.

After an eternity, which was probably no more than five or six minutes in realtime, something unexpected happened. I heard a familiar voice from the tower.

“Matt,” the voice said. “I’m coming to you. We’re going to finish this together.”

It was Todd Bussey, my youth minister. He had come with our Troop on this camping trip, and had already taken his turn on the high ropes course. He had strapped on the safety equipment and was already making his way towards me on a nearby obstacle.

It only took a few seconds after he came out to me. He calmed me down. He coached me through the next steps and encouraged me as I let go of the wire and grabbed the other one. The rest was a piece of cake.

I survived the Hourglass. And I owe it all to Todd Bussey.

Todd is wrapping up a ministry at my home church that began back in the 1980s. He’s moving his family to Florida to write a new chapter of ministry with some new church work.

I know.

Florida.

Tough life, huh?

But he’s going to help turn the region upside down. Perhaps he’ll even shock the world. Because that’s what Todd does. It’s what he’s always done.

Todd Bussey at the Welcome Back sign at Philmont Scout Ranch, 1990

Todd baptized me. He co-officiated my wedding. He ordained me. And if something unfortunate were to happen in the near future, I hope he’ll bury me, too.  We went on our first Philmont trek together. And he coached me through some important merit badges in Scouting, including Communication and Citizenship in the Nation. Of course, he was also a spiritual mentor of mine. We have some pretty great memories from five Summers in the Son together. Oh, and we were the Summer in the Son volleyball champions of 1990, even though we were the clear underdogs. And he even introduced me to A-180/Audio Adrenaline.

His story has been wrapped into my story for the past 30 years.

And I share this story about the high ropes course because it’s a nice little illustration of what he has done for me over and over and over again.

As a ministry coach, a spiritual advisor, a pastor, and a friend, Todd has always been there for me. He was there when my dad had a heart attack. He was there when I needed a listening ear after I left my first professional ministry. And he helped guide me through preparing for my first funeral as a preacher.

Just like when he was there for me 722 feet in the air, I have always been able to count on Todd Bussey to be there for me. And I know there are many other people who feel the same way.

This leaves a large hole in my home church’s leadership. Shoot, it leaves a large hole in the entire Tri-State area. But Evansville’s loss is going to be Jacksonville’s gain.

This most definitely is not goodbye, it’s “see you later.” In Florida. I can’t wait to see how God uses Him in this new chapter!

K is for ‘Koinonia’

K is for Koinonia #AtoZChallenge

Summer in the Son (aka SITS) at Kentucky Christian College (now known as Kentucky Christian University) was an annual tradition for our youth group while I was in high school. In fact, it looks like it’s still an annual tradition for them.

My experiences at SITS were highlights of my high school career. I guess you could call Summer in the Son an Ebenezer in my life. During my Freshman year, I was on the team that won the conference’s volleyball championship. Later on (possibly the year before my Junior year), I had the honor of standing up with one of my friends and watch him get baptized. I was introduced to the music of Rich Mullins, DC Talk, A-180 (later known as Audio Adrenaline), and Al Denson. There are some days where I think about songs like Be the One

and Beyond Belief

…and I have a little tear well up in the corner of my eye. It’s not because the videos are so hokey. Don’t get me wrong. They are pretty hokey. But the tears well up because the music takes me back to that Ebenezer. And I remember where God had brought me. And how far He’s brought me since those five amazing Summer experiences.

Summer in the Son was where I was challenged to shock the world with the Good News.

At the end of each night, our youth group would meet in an upper room in the Chapel. We’d sit in a big circle and share highlights and lowlights from the day. We’d laugh. We’d cry. We’d open up. Some people would share some pretty deep secrets. There was a lot of praying. There was a lot of hugging. And more crying. And more hugging. And more praying. And it would go on for hours. It was pretty intense. There were many nights where we’d be late for curfew. But that was OK. Because something BIG was happening. And God was moving in some powerful ways.

It was known as koinonia – “fellowship.”

There are very few moments since my SITS days that I’ve really, truly, experienced a deep connection with so many people on such a strong, personal level. I’m convinced that the Holy Spirit was working on us and through us during those intimate moments in the upper room.

I’m thankful for these moments in my past. I’m thankful for the adults who were there and prayed with us, prayed for us, listened to us, and supported us. I’m thankful for the other students who were there and for the bond we continue to share. I’m thankful for the grace that was showered upon us. I’m thankful for the unconditional love that we encountered each night. I’m thankful for the healing that began and the friendships that grew.

I’m thankful for the way God uses simple, no-frill meetings like our koinonia sessions and turns them into something that’s life-changing.

**I’m participating in the April A to Z Challenge. This post is part of that endeavor. You can see my other entries to this year’s challenge here. A lot of people are doing the same thing. You should check out some of their posts!**

A former pastor’s plea: Encourage your pastor.

Recently, I found myself looking through some archived emails of mine. I was searching for an old piece of information. I don’t remember what I needed, exactly. But I remember that I needed the information for some type of job application.

Mr Popular

During my quest, I stumbled upon some conversations that happened during the years I was pastoring that small church in East Central Indiana. While I believe I have completely moved on from that experience, having let go of whatever bitterness I had harbored (remember when God kicked me in the teeth?), I’m not gonna lie. Reading some of those emails hurt my heart.

Not one of the emails I had read was positive. My inbox was full of messages that pointed out what I wasn’t doing right. They focused on the negative. Not one of the 8-10 emails that I skimmed had a positive comment. That still hurts my heart.

It hurts my heart because I know I’m not the only pastor to have received emails like this. It hurt my heart because I know that many pastors have received emails like that this week. Maybe even today. And at the same time, they haven’t received any words of encouragement. I know it’s easier to point out areas improvement instead of talking about what was done well, but a constant barrage of negativity, continually hearing things like…

“You didn’t do _________.”
or
“You forgot to pray for _________.”
or
“Why haven’t you brought more young families to our church?”
or
“We’re not growing. What are you going to do about it?”
or
“Why haven’t you visited _________ yet? She’s had a hangnail on her pinky for a week!”  – OK. I’m only half joking about this last one. You’d be amazed at how some people get worked up about the silliest of things, though.

A constant barrage of negative attitudes, criticisms, and complaints with no reprieve can wear you out. Pastoring can be a lonely profession. Being a recipient of such discouraging messages over and over again only makes things even more isolating.

It’s no wonder so many people walk away from the pastorate.

I know this isn’t the goal of most people who complain and gripe and criticize. But it happens. And this isn’t healthy. There’s already a spiritual battle taking place around our church leaders. Let’s try to minimize casualties due to friendly fire, shall we? So let’s do something about it. Let’s all work on being an encouragement to our pastors and anyone else in church leadership positions.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up - 1 Thessalonians 5:11

This month is Pastor Appreciation Month. It’s a good time to start fixing this heartbreaking trend. But please don’t stop when the calendar switches to November.

Here are some ways you can encourage your pastor all year long:

1.) Send a note.

You have no idea how much impact a simple note or card can have. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. All it really needs to say is “You’re doing a good job,” or something like “I appreciate you because _______” or even a simple “Thank you.” These simple gestures don’t take very much time but they are powerful.

I used to keep a “Feel Good” folder tucked away in my files. Whenever I was having a really tough day, I would pull that out and look through a couple of the notes and cards I’d received over the years. These items are always a beacon of light whenever times are tough and it feels like the darkness is creeping in.

2.) Watch what you say.

There are times you have to be critical. I get that. I understand that. Criticism isn’t a bad thing. It’s important. It helps people grow and improve. We have to help each other get better. It’s part of how iron sharpens iron.

BUT…

Don’t let the only things that come out of your mouth be negative. Consider following this rule: for every criticism/complaint/negative comment you make, say three positive things. It might sound silly, but it’s a simple reminder to keep our eyes on the positive.

And even when you need to say something critical, make sure you’re still speaking life. We are called to be life-givers. Not soul-suckers.

Speak life. In all you do and say, speak life.

3.) Help protect your pastor’s family.

Pastoring is tough. It can be even tougher on a pastor’s family. Family Life has some pretty good suggestions about how you can encourage your pastor by helping to protect your pastor’s family.

4.) Bring a guest.

You want to make your pastor’s day? Maybe even your pastor’s month? Invite a guest to participate in a worship service with you. You don’t have to make a big deal about it. You don’t even have to introduce your guest to the pastor. If you’re part of the majority of churches in America, your pastor is probably begging you to bring a friend some Sunday. Imagine what an encouragement it would be if your pastor found out that you did what you were asked to do!

Avoiding friendly fire.

When I was ordained 15 years ago, I remember being told by a few people during the service that I was now a “marked man.” In other words, we are in the midst of a spiritual war and choosing to step into a role as a church leader means that you’ve decided to allow a giant target to be placed upon you. Satan wants to see the Church destroyed. A great way to do that is by destroying her leaders.

I firmly believe that a spiritual war is waging all around us. As we are fighting in this war, however, let’s make sure that the target that’s on our leaders doesn’t get moved to their backs. Let’s avoid wounding our pastors with friendly fire.

I’m open to suggestions!

What are you going to do to encourage your pastor this week? These four ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. I’d love to hear your suggestions. We’re all on the same side. Let’s work together to encourage and lift up our church leaders in ways they’ve never experienced before! When we do that, we’ll have a tiny part in changing the world.

I admit that I haven’t been as good at being an encouragement to my church leaders and pastors as I should be. So while I’m waiting for your awesome suggestions, I’m going to go sit down and write some notes to some members of our church staff.

I hope you’ll join me.

Finishing sentences

A few days ago, I asked this question on the Life in the Fishbowl facebook page:

“Pick a number between 1 and 449.”

I know. I know. An odd request. But here’s the results – 303, 52, 225, 322, 352, and pi. I know. I know. Everyone’s a comedian.

And now you’re asking, “So what?”

I know. I would be, too. In fact, I probably would’ve stopped reading this post by now because it really isn’t making any sense. Fortunately, I’m going to change that right about…now.

The method to my madness

Back when I was doing youth ministry full-time, one of my favorite games to play was “Would you rather…” Someone would pick a number and I’d read the number’s corresponding question. Stuff like, “Would you rather fly or read minds?” People who would rather fly would go to the left side of the room and people who would rather read minds would gather in the right side of the room. It was a great way to learn how other people in our ministry thought. What was important to them? What made their minds tick? It also opened the door to some more important questions later down the road.

I also had a list of unfinished sentences. I used it on occasion, but not nearly as often. I probably should’ve used it as my go-to tool because there’s a lot of potential in those questions.

Sentences

I rediscovered the unfinished sentences and thought it would be an interesting exercise for this blog. Each week for the next several weeks, I’m going to finish one of the unfinished sentences that everyone picked when they chose their numbers.

You’re invited

This could be a fun writing exercise and should help force me to stretch a little out of my comfort zone. But it doesn’t have to be limited to me. You’re invited to join in the process. Each Monday, I’ll post the unfinished sentence for the week. If the unfinished sentence inspires you to write something, I’d love to share it. Feel free to send it to me and I’ll publish it here. I’m also going to encourage my family to write their thoughts, too.

I’m looking forward to doing this and I hope you are too. This could be pretty fun.

And just to make life easier for you, here’s the list of unfinished sentences that were chosen. That way, if you read one that sparks your interest, you have time to write it ahead of time.

The Schedule

  • June 30 “It’s difficult for me to have disciplined, consistent time with God because…” (#303)
  • July 7 “Next year looks better to me because…” (#52)
  • July 14 “If I could change one thing about the way I was raised, it would be…” (#225)
  • July 21 “The roadblocks that keep me from having greater faith in God are…” (#322)
  • July 28 “My friends pressure me to…” (#352)
  • August 4 “When I need to go somewhere to think, I will most often…”
    – or –
    “The one think I could do this week to strengthen the spiritual foundation of my life is…” (#3 or #314 – aka pi)

Are you ready? Let’s do this!

Update (July 16, 2014)

Did I mention that those dates weren’t set in stone? I’m going to follow the sequence of questions, but don’t expect one every Monday. That original schedule might have been a bit ambitious for the middle of the summer with all of the family activities that have been happening.

Bowling

One of my favorite memories from my youth minister days was bowling with a group of our high school kids at a CIY Summer Conference. I had recently watched a TV broadcast of some type of extreme bowling where the fans were rowdy and there were cool laser lights and stuff. When we started our game, we decided to make our own version. Everyone would chant the bowler’s name until that person released the ball. Then we’d cheer for the person – regardless of how many pins were knocked down. It was, somehow, really encouraging. And it was really fun. It was one of those times when I think we made memories for some of those students. I know it was a memory for me.

That doesn’t really have much to do with the bowling we did today – except that we went bowling and it took place in a bowling alley. Caleb’s birthday party was today, so he took some of his friends bowling. They had fun. Aiden told me that he wants to have a bowling party for his birthday now. We’ll see if he still wants it 6 months from now…

Here’s a video of Alyson bowling

Memory Associations…

It’s crazy how we remember odd things about other people. Sometimes you can be identified by your past quirks for the rest of your life – even if you don’t do it anymore.

A few weeks ago, I was “promoted” to using the riding mower on the ESR grounds crew. As soon as I sat on the mower, I immediately thought of a kid I had in my first youth ministry back in 1999. Chris was a funny kid. He got picked on a lot and was not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer, if you know what I mean. It was because of him that I learned that I can be a very patient man – he tried that patience every day. He was 15 and his only goal in life was to get a driving license so he could cruise around our small town in his car. He was so looking forward to getting that license that he didn’t want to wait for his car. So, he would drive his riding lawnmower all over the place. He lived very close to the church building (and our parsonage) and I would see him cruising the neighborhood every day with his mower.

Chris is not someone you could easily forget.

Another memory was triggered this weekend when we went to a new Indian (India-Indian. Not Native American-Indian) restaurant in town. I’ve been to Indian places in Johnson City before, but this time I couldn’t stop thinking of a family in our church in Indianapolis. They used to be missionaries in Africa, so they had an affinity for cross-cultural experiences. They began a tradition of eating Indian food for their Thanksgiving meal. It seemed odd the first time I heard about it. But now that I think back on it, it’s really a pretty cool tradition.

There are more little things that have triggered my memory as of late. I’ve run out of time to share them right now, so I’ll have to write more later. It’s interesting to find out the things we associate with other people. I wonder what little things have been associated with me?

Adios

I’ve known about this for a while, but kept forgetting to mention this here.

I’ve mentioned earlier that I had the pleasure of being exposed to Audio Adrenaline back when they were still in college and were known as A-180. Todd would bring them over to play for our youth group several times. We even got to play basketball with them in our gym. I remember the first concert they had in Evansville after they changed their name from A-180. There was much debate about whether the promotional posters we printed up should have an “e” or not at the end of “Adrenaline.” I think the “e” was kept off. I used to have that poster. I wonder if it’s still at my parents’ house. The concert was at the old Victory Theatre, before they did the major renovations. We hung out with a bunch of “skaters” (maybe you could call them “pre-Goths”?) and the show wound up being a huge mosh pit with a bunch of stage diving happening. I think Jarod dove off. One of my favorite memories of that was pushing Scott Brooks, our D-Group leader, up on stage. He started to run to the edge to dive off, then paused. I think he was scared that no one would catch an older (early 30’s…not so old anymore!) bald guy. He eventually did it and we did catch him.

It was pretty cool to be able to say “I knew them when…” I’ll admit that their music hasn’t always been my favorite, I’ve always tried to follow them and there will continue to be a special place in my heart for them. When I did the whole youth ministry thing, I tried to connect our youth with many of the “up and coming” groups so they could have a similar experience. While I don’t think we played basketball with Esther’s Request or Alathea, they managed to perform some pretty spectacular shows for our ministry.

With that, I’m sorry to share that Audio Adrenaline is hanging up their instruments and calling it a day. It’s been a fun run and I’m sad to see them go.

Guys’ Night Out

Christy took Aly to a performance of The Nutcracker tonight. They got all dressed up and went out for a night on the town. I’ll post pictures as soon as they’re developed. They looked quite beautiful!

So – it was time for the guys to hang out together. I took Aiden to a pizza joint and we shared a small pizza. We had a good talk about his favorite meals (his favorite lunch = bologna and cheese; favorite dinner = couldn’t get an answer), what we should get the girls for Christmas, and some silly stuff that really can’t be explained in type.

Then we went to a Milligan men’s basketball game. I was planning on taking him anyway, but we received a card this week in the mail. Conveniently, tonight’s game was a special Alumni game – free admission for the family and free food…what more could two guys ask for?

I remember going to UE basketball games a lot as a kid. I always wanted to have Aiden grow up with that kind of atmosphere. This was the time when the Aces were good – I remember going to their first appearance in the NIT, and it was a huge deal. I remember names like Marty Simmons, Curtis Jackson, Dan Godfread, Sascha Hupmann, Olaf Blab, and Scott Haffner. Remembering the energy of the crowd still makes the hairs on my neck stand up straight. Going to Aces games with my family is a fond memory that I will continue to cherish. While the Milligan atmosphere isn’t near the energy of those games at Roberts Stadium, it’s a definite start. I’ll gladly take Aiden to as many Buffalo basketball games as he’d like while we’re down here.

Aiden wanted to meet the Milligan Buffalo mascot, but he kept getting too scared. Finally, after the game, the mascot got him to trade high fives.

I saw a few of the girls from the youth group I led in my past life as a student minister. I’ve been here a year and a half, and it’s still weird to me that I had to come to upper east Tennessee to see students I had in Indy. It’s really weird that one of the guys from my youth group is in most of my classes at school! I struggle to figure out how involved I should be in their lives – or if they even want me involved anymore. I mean, I haven’t been their youth minister for over three years. I still care about them and want to know how they’re doing. I pray for them often and I know that God has great things planned for them!

I got to talk to Abby tonight. We have run into each other several times since our family moved down here, but haven’t really been able to catch each other up on things other than through short emails. We really need to follow-up and have her and the other Milliganites over for dinner sometime next semester. I’ve said that every semester we’ve been here, but this time I’m serious!

Milligan beat up Virginia-Wise. That made the night even more worth it!