The End of Our Week in Stockholm

We made it to the end of our time in Stockholm. It’s been an incredible week. Our team worked together well and discovered new levels of trust, experience, and vision for church leadership and church planting. The city of Stockholm was beautiful, with lots of interesting people to meet and places to see. The ministry connections we made throughout the week were great.

But I’m emotionally and physically exhausted from all the poor sleep, intense conversations, extensive walking, and lack of time for introspection.

Our last full day in Stockholm has been filled with a bunch of loose ends like team debriefings, tourist shopping, purchasing train tickets for tomorrow morning, and that sort of stuff. We had a little bit of time to do some more prayer-walking and meet some more people in Södermalm. By the middle of the afternoon, however, we were ready to take off our “cross-cultural missionary” hats and put on our “tourist” hats, in order to meet up at a museum of photography on the northern shore of the island.

The Fotografiska had a few exhibitions from a few international artists — but something about the place seemed to really epitomize Sweden. Especially the exhibition on the main floor, featuring a Swedish artist named Jesper Waldersten. His work involved elements of photography, drawing, painting, and poetry — mostly done in black-and-white, and mostly dealing with very existential themes in a stark, surreal kind of style.

Honestly, most of Waldersten’s work didn’t land with me. But one piece captured my attention. A supine human figure rested inside of a strange, multi-legged monster, with a Swedish phrase typed over the white space on either side of the monster’s neck which translated as, “Man should look inward instead of forward.” And even though I don’t have time or space to expound at any length on the way this piece connected with me, I can say that this message felt true to my week. We effectively served others and promoted the cause of Christ in Stockholm this week, but the most meaningful ministry from this week may have been what God did in my own heart.

I feel like the same may be true for all of the people on our little team, our “Fellowship of the Swedish Butter Knives.” Our hearts have all been softened and spread out — before God, before each other, and before the others with whom we’ve come into contact — this week, and even though it’s exciting to think what that could mean for the months, years, and decades to come, it’s most powerful to experience it in the moment. And I’m thankful to God that we did.

Posted in Church, Culture, Culture Shock, Europe, European Missions, H2O Kent, Introspection, Ministry, Photography, Travel | Comments Off on The End of Our Week in Stockholm

Södermalm, KTH, and the City

Over the last couple of days, our team from H2O Kent has been gradually shifting our time and attention from the refugee communities of Tensta to the center of Stockholm. We’ve enjoyed brilliant blue skies and golden sunshine as we’ve walked many miles through this colorful city.

A significant part of our trip has been praying for the city. We’re asking God to heighten our awareness of the things that He’s already doing in Stockholm. We’re asking that some of our Christian friends in the area might be able to make some new inroads among new people groups here. And we’re asking that our team might be used to help spark some of these connections during the short time we’re here.

The island of Södermalm, just south of the city center, has been a particular area of focus for our team. As a complement to our prayer, we’re striking up conversations with strangers as we walk. Halle and I met an older couple on the southern end of the island, in an area called Tantolunden. Their names were Bjorn-Erik and Mojan. We found them in an area that might best be described as a sort of “village of gardening sheds,” and when we expressed curiosity they were delighted to tell us more and show us around. It seems like these recreational shelters and the gardening plots around them are the setting for a lot of community-building. Bjorn-Erik and Mojan said they know their gardening neighbors better than their residential neighbors! So that was interesting insight for potential work to build spiritual community in this area in the future.

On our first prayer walk in Södermalm, Halle and I also got to check out several houses of worship on the island. We stepped inside of a large Catholic cathedral called the Katarina Kyrka and the largest Muslim Mosque in Sweden. We spent a bit longer talking with a volunteer at the Andreaskyrkan: a church that he described as “free” and “congregational.” I can’t pretend that we got any kind of comprehensive view of what God is doing in Södermalm, but it was cool to see that faith is a normal thing in this community with a reputation for secularism.

In addition to exploring Södermalm, we’ve been spending more time with people from Korskyrkan, in the neighborhood around the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH). For the middle part of today, we hung out with the pastor of Korskyrkan. I’ve spent time with Richard, on previous visits to Stockholm, but every time I get to see him again I’m freshly encouraged by his calm sense of conviction and calling. God has done some amazing things through Richard over the years (I heard several new stories about his earliest days in ministry, this time around) — and I was especially excited that some of our up-and-coming church leaders from H2O Kent were able to get some time with him.

After a few hours together at the church and a nearby cafe, our group went on another prayer walk: this time at KTH. Our friends from Kent, Aidan and Chelsea Rinehart, have been living and working at (or near) KTH for a year and a half now: Aidan pursuing a PhD at the Institute, and Chelsea coordinating with Korskyrkan to reach out to students on campus. After walking around for awhile with Chelsea and the team, we met up with Aidan and two of his colleagues to play a few games of Innebandy (Swedish floor hockey) at the Institute’s Recreation Center.

I’m not sure if I’m ready to fully commit to this statement yet — but our hour in the gym playing Innebandy may have been my favorite hour of the week. I felt woefully uncoordinated and unconditioned for the rigors of the sport, but it was a way to have fun with our team… a way to get to know new people… an outlet to blow off some steam in a very practical, tangible way… and it was easily the most Swedish thing we did in our whole week in Sweden.

We finished the day with dinner at a quaint little pizzeria in the Rineharts’ neighborhood, followed by some team prayer back at their apartment. Our week in Stockholm is rapidly approaching its conclusion, but we’re making the most of our time here — and we look forward to sharing more stories with everyone back in Ohio, when we return.

Posted in Church, Culture, Europe, European Missions, God, H2O Kent, Ministry, Photography, Prayer, Recreation, Travel | Comments Off on Södermalm, KTH, and the City

Lots and Lots of Middle-Eastern Food

At the end of our first full day in Sweden — after just a couple of hours of putting ourselves out there to make new friends in the Tensta neighborhood of Stockholm — we had received invitations to three different dinners in three different homes, enjoying the hospitality of Muslim neighbors.

Saturday night, the sun set around 9:15 PM, and then we broke the Ramadan fast with a lavish Turkish feast: dates stuffed with almonds… meatball soup… Turkish bread… stuffed grape leaves… eggplant, rice, and beef… cake, cookies, and tea…

We knew the family through our American missionary friend, Sarah. But by the end of the night, we felt like family, ourselves: Hassan, Nebahoth, Yucel, Amani, and our group of American visitors. They were so proud of their faith and their food (including many items harvested from their own gardens)… but they also made us feel like royalty and insisted that we had a home with them, if we ever found ourselves in Stockholm again.

Two nights later, on Monday night, we broke the Ramadan fast with a Syrian dinner prepared by some new friends that we had just happened to meet in the park on Saturday.

Feras, Jasmina, Nadia, Mohammed, and Leah were lovely hosts — and great cooks! They prepared a delicious salad… a rice and lamb dish called maqluba… some extremely flavorful meatballs in red sauce… pickled vegetables… roasted potatoes, mushrooms, and jalapeños… sweet and tart juices… and an amazing collection of pastries, fruits, nuts, and tea for dessert…

Our Syrian feast felt more familial than the Turkish feast (though both were amazing, in their own ways). We played with the kids while we were waiting for the sun to go down. We heard stories of the life Feras left behind in Damascus… the way Feras and Jasmina met each other… and the way they each came to Sweden. Our conversation was also less religious but more spiritual (if that makes any sense). They seemed like remarkably open people. Just as we had experienced two nights previously, we were told — or rather emphatically insisted — that we had a home with them, if we ever found ourselves in Stockholm again. And I do genuinely hope that such an opportunity might one day present itself.

Tonight, we completed the trifecta with a Persian feast, prepared by Marsiyeh and Asiyeh, to celebrate the 20th birthday of their sister Elena. We ate chicken and saffron rice… roasted potatoes, carrots, and parsnips… bread and butter… and chocolate cupcakes… And several other friends joined the celebration, as well. This one was not a religious observance, as much as a party — complete with balloons and birthday candles and dancing.

When we rode the train home from Tensta to our home base in Södermalm, we were exhausted. But we were happy to have made so many new friends. For the rest of our time in Sweden, we will be turning our attention more to the city (as opposed to the suburbs) — but I definitely hope that we get to come back again someday and take up our Middle Eastern friends on some of their offers of hospitality.

Posted in Culture, Culture Shock, Europe, European Missions, Food, God, H2O Kent, Home, Prayer, Recreation | Comments Off on Lots and Lots of Middle-Eastern Food


It took about an hour to ride the bus from Stockholm’s Kungliga Tekniska högskolan (Royal Institute of Technology) to the island community of Vaxholm, on the far outer reaches of the city. As we pulled out of the station, I put on my headphones and listened to Sleeping At Last’s “Uneven Odds.” This was the refrain that finally allowed me to fall asleep last night, after nearly two hours of tossing and turning. “In spite of the uneven odds, beauty lifts from the earth…” and I thought about how I wanted to use the day our team had set aside in our schedules for seeking God and processing the first half of our week in Sweden.

Some of my trouble sleeping was probably jet lag, but a significant portion of my restlessness was personal insecurity. I can’t exactly explain everything that’s been going on in my heart, but some aspects of ministry in Stockholm triggered memories of pain, shame, and rejection from difficult experiences in Amsterdam. It was a nightmarish experience. But when I had reached a point of desperation in the middle of the night, that song drifted into my mind right when I needed it and reminded me that our darkness if often the soil from which God allows beauty to lift from the earth.

An old mentor used to remind me, “The Good News is that our hearts and minds are far more dark and dismal than we’re ever willing to admit… but God’s grace and goodness are also far more glorious and extravagant than we ever allow ourselves to dream.” As Bus 670 continued past the suburbs, into an area of forests and bays, it brought me peace to remember that there’s nothing going on this week (or this year, or this decade, or this lifetime) that falls outside the reach of the Gospel.

And when the bus arrived in Vaxholm, God’s grace and goodness became more immediate and abundant to me than I expected.

This is going to sound silly and unspiritual, but my biggest felt need upon arrival in Vaxholm was to find a bathroom — and even in this basest of human needs, I felt God’s Providence in a delightful way. With no previous experience or cultural instinct to guide me, I just started wandering towards the water. Within three minutes, I discovered a free-standing building clearly labeled “Toalett.” Inside, the restroom was remarkably well-kept, heated to a pleasant temperature, and amply supplied with the softest toilet paper I’d seen in Sweden. Properly relieved, I started wandering north and west in a vague hope of encircling the island by keeping the water on my right. The town of Vaxholm itself was pretty and quiet — but my delight doubled when I made it to the western end of the island, which turned out to be a sort of nature preserve called Eriksö.

Eriksö was so “Eric” I could hardly believe it. Tall, thick forests filled with Aspens and Pines… well-maintained trails of dry, packed earth and loose gravel hugging the rocky coastline… hills gently rising and falling along the way… The stillness was broken only by bird-song and the lapping of water against the rocks.

I felt God’s nearness and goodness with every step.

At one point, I looked at the pristine water and wondered if I should maybe go for a swim — just for the joy of it. I was serious enough about the idea that I legitimately considered the logistics of it all (Stripping down to my underwear? Going completely naked? Stacking my clothes in some bushes? Scanning the opposite shore for a potential destination…), but ultimately, I decided to just keep walking.

After another five minutes of walking, however, I came to a clearly-marked swimming area with a picturesque diving platform out in the water. I wondered if God was trying to say something to me, through the swimming platform. I’m not normally much of a swimmer, but I’ve been trying it out a bit more recently — and this seemed like such a unique opportunity. The air was quite cool, though, and the water was certain to be even colder. I worried that wet clothing and sticky sand would wreck the rest of my morning. So I started walking again.

And then, right there on a sandy beach carved out among the rocks was a bag that included a swimsuit and a towel. I couldn’t see anyone else in the vicinity. Just a stone’s throw away there was a shelter that was expressly designed for changing. And it seriously felt like a grand gesture from my Heavenly Father, just showing me how extravagant his grace and goodness really are!

The situation reminded me a lot of the deer antler that was literally dropped right in front of me at Yosemite back in 2015 (during another time when I was processing a lot of grief, insecurity, and shame). It might not make sense to anyone else, but I just felt so close to God at the recognition of this grand gesture. I grinned from ear to ear. But I ultimately decided to keep walking — content to just know that God loves me, without having to call in any “favors.” Almost like it would have been a sort of idolatry to grasp onto the swimsuit, or the antler, or whatever mindset these things might represent.

A little further along the shore, I discovered a cluster of buildings where there were signs indicating canoes and kayaks available for rental. Some workers were painting canoes, but it wasn’t entirely clear if they were open for the season yet. So I asked, and sure enough I was able to rent a kayak. It felt like there was finally an appropriate avenue to get out into that water, so I decided to go for it.

I only stayed out on the water for about an hour — but the sun came out, and my nature-loving, introverted heart was filled to the brim as I paddled around a smaller, uninhabited island and soaked up the silence and solitude.

Walking back to the bus station in Vaxholm, I kept thinking about Psalm 1. I decided I wanted to forsake the foolish, wicked route of sinners who can be so self-absorbed and critical of others. Instead, I want to find my delight in the Lord and His ways, where I’ll thrive like an Aspen tree by the waters of Eriksö.

By the time I was back in Vaxholm, my insecurity, shame, and grief had honestly melted away to the point that it was legitimately difficult for me to remember why I’d gotten so twisted up in the first place! I hope that I will always remember Vaxholm as a place where I was reminded of my smallness and God’s greatness. And I hope I’ll be able to go back there again, when I need to.

Posted in Culture, Culture Shock, Europe, European Missions, God, Introspection, Photography, Prayer, Recreation, The Bible | Comments Off on Vaxholm

Christian Community in Stockholm

After a couple full days of outreach in the refugee communities on the outer rim of Stockholm, today offered a change of pace: hanging out with Christian friends in Stockholm’s city center.

We started the morning by worshipping with a group of Swedish believers called Korskyrkan. I’ve had several interactions with people from Korskyrkan (“Cross Church”) over the last four years, but I never got the chance to experience one of their worship gatherings until today.

They made headsets available to us with English translation of everything that was said from the stage, and I really appreciated the glimpse into the pastor’s heart from his teaching out of the Book of Acts. But my favorite aspect of their worship gathering was the creative, interactive stations of worship that were made available to the congregation towards the end of the time together. In one part of the room, I could pray for missionaries sent out by Korskyrkan… In another part of the room, I could practice the spiritual discipline of grief by writing out some of my recent discouragements, rolling the paper up, and stuffing it into a hole in a brick wall… In still another part of the room, I could receive prayer.

It was a beautiful time of connecting with God and His people, and it reminded me a lot of my church-planting days in Amsterdam, where we also employed more creative, interactive worship experiences.

After the worship gathering, we joined the people of Korskyrkan for fika (coffee + snacks) in a large, open room next to their sanctuary. It was good to meet some of the other people from the church and process the things we experienced over the preceding hour.

After worship and fika, we toured Stockholm with our old friends, Aidan and Chelsea. These friends are from Kent but are now working with Korskyrkan in Stockholm. And together, we got to eat an amazing lunch at a specialty salad bar… climb to the top of a large hill in the middle of the city… visit the Stockholm Library (see if you can spot Lauren taking a picture of Daniel taking a picture of Halle in the picture above)… and have more fika in a lovely Stockholm coffee bar.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow, when our team will all take the opportunity to further process all our experiences up to this point. For now, though, it’s good to look back on all the pictures and record some brief reflections.

Posted in Church, Culture, Culture Shock, Europe, European Missions, God, H2O Kent, Ministry, Photography, Travel | Comments Off on Christian Community in Stockholm

Ministry in Tensta

Our first full day in Stockholm started with breakfast at Sarah’s. She works for the same mission agency I do, with a related network of churches. So it felt like a family feast, and a tasty one at that. Sarah also did a great job teaching us about the way that they do ministry in Tensta — an approach they call “Four Fields” ministry (based on a story of Jesus recorded in Mark 4) — so we could make the most of our time in Sweden.

After we finished with our breakfast and informal orientation, we went on a prayer walk through the neighborhood of Tensta. The population of Tensta includes a large number of immigrants and refugees from North Africa and the Middle East, and we prayed (and will continue to pray) for God to move powerfully in this community.

There are four of us from H2O Kent on mission in Stockholm this week: Daniel, Halle, Lauren, and me. It’s been fun for us to travel together, enjoying serious conversation and silly stuff, too.

In addition to our team from Kent, there are two other Christians from South Carolina who are visiting this week: Katherine and Kimberly. At Sarah’s suggestion, we’re merging our teams for some activities, and it’s been great to work together. After our prayer walk, we hung out in one of the parks near the center of Tensta and made some new friends. Katherine and I got to talk with a Pakistani family for over half an hour, covering a wide range of topics including suggestions for things to see in the Stockholm area… the policies of Donald Trump… the names of their children… the spiritual significance of Ramadan… and the teachings of Jesus.

When Omer and Hanna needed to take their kids inside, Katherine and I joined an impromptu game of soccer that our friend Halle had started with a little boy named Mohammed. Eventually, I drifted from kicking the soccer ball to the conversation that Daniel was having with Mohammed’s father, Feras. We talked at some length about Feras’ decision to move from Syria to Sweden… about raising a Syrian-Swedish family in Tensta… and about the difference between cultural Christianity and a personal devotion to Christ… We finished by exchanging telephone numbers, in order to see about meeting up for drinks or a meal together later in the week.

When we came back from the park, Lauren was still leading a workshop on how to use Google Drive, which Sarah had set up for some of her refugee friends. Two young women from Iran and one young man from Morocco learned the basics of Google’s online programs that could help these young people in school and in potential jobs in the future.

It eventually became clear that the level of engagement was deeper from the Iranian women, Marsiyeh and Asiyeh, than from the Moroccan man, Bouaza. So Sarah suggested that it might be good for Daniel, Bouaza, and me to go outside and get some fresh air. So we grabbed a frisbee and a basketball and headed back to the playground.

Communication was a challenge, though we figured out that Bouaza and I both spoke a little bit of French which provided our best means for interaction. The French was supplemented with body language to teach Bouaza how to shoot a basketball, play Pig, and just have a fun experience together. By the end of the afternoon, we had received invitations to break the Ramadan fast at three different houses (a Turkish meal, a Syrian meal, and a Persian meal) over the course of the coming week!

It’s been a pretty amazing start to our trip! We’re thanking God for everything that’s already been accomplished, and we’re praying that momentum continues to grow throughout the rest of our time in Sweden (and beyond).

Posted in Church, Culture, Europe, European Missions, God, H2O Kent, Ministry, Photography, Prayer, The Bible, Travel | Comments Off on Ministry in Tensta

Kent to Stockholm

It takes about 20 hours to get from Kent to Stockholm, using whatever mix of cars, planes, buses, and trains you might prefer. Usually, I fly out of Cleveland, with connections in Chicago or New York. But for this week’s missions trip with H2O Kent, our small team decided to try a somewhat innovative strategy, starting with a longer drive from Kent to Suffern, New York.

It was a solid seven hours in the car, but we got to stop for lunch and refueling along the way, which was nice. And when we got to Suffern, we got to have a nice home-cooked meal with some of our team members’ extended family (instead of eating in an overpriced airport food court).

After dinner came the most complex part of our travel plan. We took a train from Suffern to Secaucus, another train from Secaucus to Penn Station, and then a third train from Penn Station to Roosevelt Street. We were going to take this third train all the way to John F. Kennedy Airport, but our connections didn’t end up quite as tight as we had initially hoped — so at Roosevelt, we arranged for a Lyft driver to pick us up and cut the remainder of our travel time in half.

Our Lyft driver seemed a bit inexperienced (strangely tentative in choosing his route and merging to the appropriate exits) — but we made it to the airport in one piece. From there, we checked in, cleared security, and boarded our single, direct flight from New York to Stockholm.

Norwegian Airlines provided competent service that got us to Stockholm on schedule, and at a great price. But it was a “no frills” approach to trans-Atlantic travel. No snacks, meal service, blankets, or other amenities were included in the price of the ticket, and the entertainment options were limited. But I’d fly Norwegian again, at the prices we got (I’d just pack more snacks and water next time).

When we landed in Stockholm, we took a taxi directly to the Tensta neighborhood of the city — where we’re going to be working with friends from Great Commission Europe to reach out among the refugee community in that area. We did a little bit of prayer-walking, which was helpful to get a “lay of the land” and to keep us from falling asleep. We had a dinner with our host and the team. And then we got to bed early to sleep off some of our jet lag.

All in all, things have gone pretty smoothly to start off our week in Stockholm. We’re looking forward to seeing what God will do with the rest of this week!

Posted in Church, Culture, Culture Shock, Europe, European Missions, H2O Kent, Prayer, Travel | Comments Off on Kent to Stockholm

Ajax, Tottenham, and Liverpool

The UEFA Champions League will be determining the second of its finalists today. Liverpool F.C. booked its ticket yesterday and is now awaiting the winner of today’s game between AFC Ajax and Tottenham Hotspur F.C. And it just so happens that I have a special relationship with all three of these teams.

Ajax Game - Cheering from the Front Row

In all honesty, I’ve never been that into professional soccer. I learned to enjoy it while I was living in Europe because it was a dominant form of “cultural currency.” Especially when the Dutch national team was playing in the World Cup. In addition to that, though, I got to go to a couple of Ajax games at Amsterdam’s ArenA — so they became my default “favorite professional team.” And when Elliot got to join me in the front row of the stadium for a Champions League game in September 2010, that really cinched things. Especially for Elliot.

Ajax Game - Elliot's Puppet

When we moved to the United States in the summer of 2012, however, we weren’t able to follow Ajax as closely. My boys still loved playing youth soccer and talking about professional soccer because it was a way for them to stay emotionally-connected to their European experiences in childhood. But as the years past, and they assimilated further into American soccer culture — through further involvement with youth soccer and through playing FIFA on their gaming system — Elliot and Cor became increasingly interested in the English Premier League and eventually each chose a favorite team from the English professional clubs. Elliot went for Arsenal F.C., and Cor went for Chelsea F.C.

They started telling me that I needed to pick a team from the English Premier League, as well. But at first I resisted the idea. I told them, “Ajax is my favorite team. Isn’t that good enough?” But they wanted me to pick a team that would more regularly play their favorite teams — so in the end, I relented and suggested that Tottenham Hotspur could be my “favorite” Premier League team.

I reasoned they were a London team, just like Arsenal and Chelsea. My old friend from Amsterdam, Sam, had grown up cheering for Tottenham Hotspur, and he seemed to speak of them as “lovable losers,” like the Cleveland Browns — which sounded fun to me. But the real thing that made me suggest Tottenham was their logo and colors. I just thought their team had a good look.

When I told Elliot and Cor about this selection, however, they resisted. They said that Tottenham wasn’t a legitimate selection because they didn’t win enough. They wanted me to pick a top-tier team that would compete with Arsenal and Chelsea, year in, year out. So after further consultation, we landed on a group decision that Liverpool should be my “official” favorite team of the English Premier League. The boys allowed me to say that Tottenham Hotspur was a “close second,” but that Christmas Elliot got me a Liverpool stocking cap to seal the deal.

So anyway, the reason I’m recording all this is that things shook out this year so that all three of my “favorite” professional European soccer clubs made it to the semi-finals of the Champions League!

When I try to crow about this to my boys, they offer a valid rebuttal by asking me to name three players from each team (which is something that I consistently cannot do). Still, I feel strangely proud — and increasingly interested in the results of this year’s championship.

In my heart of hearts, I’m hoping that Ajax will come out on top. But any of the three remaining teams would be fun. And no matter who wins or loses, my emotional investment is minimal.

Posted in Amsterdam, Children, Culture, Europe, Recreation, Sports | Comments Off on Ajax, Tottenham, and Liverpool

A Very Emotional Sunday

Yesterday was a very emotional Sunday.

In the morning, I played a leadership role for H2O’s worship gathering, which might have been labeled our “Transition Sunday.” A quality class of Kent State University students is set to graduate at the end of this week. My co-pastor Matthew and his family are transferring to H2O Bowling Green this summer. So we felt it was important to filter all this transition through the lens of God’s goodness and glory… It was a great time of worship and community. Still, it was an emotional experience.

In the afternoon, we organized an informal party in the park to officially bid farewell to the McClure Family. It was a lovely afternoon in Kent, and it felt cathartic to share stories of our friends who have played such a key role through the first eleven years of our church’s history. At the same time, it felt like an emotional endurance event. I noticed that I started to feel irritable and on-edge as the afternoon wore on.

In the evening, we ended with a celebration for the student-leaders who meet in our home for Life Group Coaching every week. Again, there was a heavy emphasis on story-telling, reflecting on everything God did this school year. We took special time to affirm the graduating seniors from our group. And we posed for a couple of group portraits. It was a lovely way to end a lovely year with a lovely group of people. But I was emotionally-exhausted by the end of it.

Posted in Church, God, H2O Kent, Kent, Prayer, Small Groups, Transition | Comments Off on A Very Emotional Sunday

Saturdays at the Rec

I made it all the way to the end of the Spring Semester! I didn’t get injured while playing basketball! This was one of my main goals, when I decided to spend most of my Saturday mornings at the Kent State University Student Wellness and Recreation Center (a.k.a. “The Rec”).

I wanted to build relationships. Sports are an easy way for people (and especially men) to connect. So I liked the idea of connecting with students who are involved with the H2O Church community in Kent, as well as their friends, who come out to play basketball every Saturday at 8:30 AM. I also wanted to bring my sports-obsessed boys along with me, to knit them into this same community. And Saturdays at the Rec did this beautifully. Even better than I thought.

I also wanted to have fun. Basketball has long been one of my favorite sports — both to watch and to play. But I had gotten largely out of practice. So I liked the idea of “making myself” go through the motions once (or maybe even twice) a week, to just build a different kind of physical fitness and reconnect with a beloved pastime. And, again, Saturdays at the Rec were successful in this regard. Sometimes, I would let myself get frustrated by my limitations. But for the most part, I really did have a great time every weekend.

I must admit that I also wanted to play well, in addition to the other objectives listed above. Back in December and January, I was a lower-tier player. I quickly learned that I couldn’t rely on my athleticism against a bunch of college guys. Even in the height of my basketball prowess, I wasn’t a high-volume scorer. But this semester, I learned to get back to fundamental skills: boxing out for rebounds… setting picks for my teammates to score… improving my passing skills… working to stay in front of the player I was assigned to guard… And over time, I think my play improved. Saturdays at the Rec made me a better player.

But my number one goal all semester was to not get injured. I was especially worried about rolling my ankles. This was often a problem in the past. I didn’t want basketball injuries to prevent me from my more regular discipline of running. But I think I actually managed to strengthen my ankles, knees, and core through Saturdays at the Rec!

I’m glad it all worked out. And I hope I’ll be able to play again in future semesters.

Posted in Children, Church, H2O Kent, Health, Recreation, Sports | Comments Off on Saturdays at the Rec