Category Archives: Family

What My Princess Has Taught Me

It doesn’t seem possible that 4-years ago today Kristyn & I were welcoming our first child into the world. From the moment Aubri was born, she had my heart. She’s daddy’s princess & she knows it. Other men told me my life & perspective would forever change by having a daughter but it’s something you can’t understand until it happens.

Looking back over the past 4-years what stands out to me is how much Aubri has taught me. I’m the parent. I’m supposed to do the teaching but anyone with kids knows that’s not always how it works.

I thought I’d celebrate Aubri today but sharing 4 profound lessons she’s taught me over her first 4-years of life. Something tells me these lessons won’t be stopping anytime soon.

Lesson 1: Love is an issue of the heart. I know I’m biased but I’ve never met a sweeter girl than Aubri. She is most often generous. She is most often kind. She is most often more thoughtful of others than she is herself. Two Christmases ago she decided to package one of her newest dolls into a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child. You can read that blog post here. Her thinking was that she had a lot of dolls & this doll would make another little girl very happy. Her thinking was right & I’ve never been more proud as a parent. Aubri has rarely had a hard time expressing her love for others because her heart is so pure. When our heart is in the right place, love comes naturally.

Lesson 2: The best parts of life are the simple things. Last week Kristyn & I had a parent teacher conference recapping Aubri’s first year of pre-school so far. They showed us a list of questions they asked Aubri during her first week of school. One of those questions asked what Aubri’s favorite thing to do was. Her response? Going to Kroger with my daddy. I almost fell apart right in the room! We’ve been to the beach, gone to movies, visited Disney World & the thing that stood out most to Aubri, in that moment, was going to Kroger with me. I think we’d all do well to find joy in the simple things of life. We might have more memories waiting for us than we realize.

Lesson 3: Grace isn’t that hard when we really want to extend it. Over a year ago I told a story on this blog about how I screwed up as a parent & lost my temper. I yelled, Aubri cried & I washed my mouth out with soap to show the kids how serious our words & actions are. It was Aubri, the one I had hurt the most in that moment, who extended grace to me & told me she loved me. She really wanted to extend grace & when we really want to extend grace it’s not as hard as we often make it.

Lesson 4: Grateful attitudes make the world a brighter place. This morning Kristyn & I woke-up Aubri up by singing happy birthday to her. She hugged us, thanked us & told us how much she loved us. We went downstairs & made her pancakes & sausage (her favorite breakfast). Before she’d even taken a bite she thanked us for the best birthday ever & it was only 8am. There is rarely a time where Aubri isn’t openly grateful about almost everything others do for her & it makes me want to do anything for her knowing she’ll notice & appreciate it. A grateful attitude shines like a light in this dark world & many of us would do well to practice it more.

Happy Birthday to my Beautiful, Wonderful Princess!


What will they say when we die?

Yesterday marked the 4-year anniversary of my dads passing. He wasn’t even 60 years old & he had fought 3 separate battles with cancer. He beat the first 2 despite the odds but the last 1 beat him. It was a tough pill to swallow & at times, it still is.

Over the past few years I have transitioned from reflecting on my fathers life to learning from it. Although he taught & impacted the lives of many I don’t think he left anyone with bigger shoes to fill than my brother & I. I don’t say this as  a slight to the my sister, or my mom, but my dad was a husband & a father, something only my brother & I can be.

I confess that I write this post with a specific audience in mind: MEN

When we die people will talk.

What they say will depend on how we lived.

Nothing that is said will be more important than the words of our wife & children who we might have to leave behind.

So what do I say of my dad? 

My dad followed Christ before he followed anyone or anything else. He loved my mother & he didn’t just say it, he showed it. He never made me, my brother or my  sister feel like we were an afterthought & he was there to support us through everything we did. My dad was an incredible pastor & leader but he never made apologies to the people he led for making his biggest priority our home. My dad was generous & he sacrificed regularly asking nothing in return. The list could go on but as I move towards year #5 without my dad this is what I say of him. The respect & love I have only continues to grow & I don’t expect that will ever stop.

So here’s my question men: What will our wife & kids say about us when we die? Death is not something we like to think about but it will happen to all of us & this is a thought every real man reading this post should be willing to ponder. We might be tempted to put it off until tomorrow but we aren’t even promised the rest of today. We need to step up & lead our families with the love & support they deserve. We all leave a mark when we die but the mark we leave is up to us. 


Why I Care More About THEM

Earlier this week I was dialoguing with someone about something we both knew would need some future follow-up. At the end of our discussion they told me they’d follow-up with me next week. I told them I’d be on vacation with my family next week & would be unavailable.

They told me they’d just e-mail instead of calling.

I told them again that I would be unavailable.

THEM: No e-mail?

ME: No e-mail.

I am not a saint. I don’t have it all figured out but one thing I am certain of is that my family will always be more important than another e-mail, problem, phone call or text. We think it’s normal to stay connected & accessible 24/7 so most of us do but maybe we should ask if normal is really working? We live in a country where split families are almost the norm. Sadly, the numbers for those inside the church aren’t much better than those outside the church. Maybe this is because we talk more about putting our families first on Sunday than we spend time actually doing it the rest of the week.

As a pastor it’s easy for me to get so busy helping others create good marriages & families while I neglect my own.  I’ve been there. I’ve done it. I don’t like it. I had to decide early on in this journey that I wanted a family who loved me more than I wanted a church that would always have access to me. It might sound harsh to some but it’s absolutely true & I’m at peace with my decision.

It doesn’t matter what you do for a living because no matter what, I believe we all need to find ways to be intentionally unavailable to the outside world. We need to disconnect with them so we can reconnect with the people who truly need us the most. The pictures of Aubri & Owen at the top of this post are from a Disney trip we took last year. I keep them in my phone as a constant reminder of the memories that are made when I’m fully present with my family. May we all learn to disconnect  so that we can reconnect with our families. 



Being Present

Last week I took a trip to Catalyst with some of our CP team. As always, it did not disappoint but instead of simply getting the latest & greatest ideas in the world of leadership, I came back deeply convicted. The conference theme was entitled “Be Present” & this theme was weaved through many of the talks. I thought I was good at this. I thought I had minimized many of the distractions in my life but with every passing session, I grew increasingly convinced that much of life was slipping past me & I had been to busy to see it.


We live in a world where it’s hard to slow down.

We live in a world where we dream about  the THEN instead of living in the NOW.

We live in a world where noise is constant & silence is nearly impossible. 


We tweet on Twitter, while pondering our update for Facebook. We call him while texting her & we can’t even text her without thinking about the e-mail we meant to send to that person about that thing but didn’t. We are so focused on what’s next that we forget about the now. Once we recognize this as a problem, the question becomes what are we going to do about it?

I left this conference ready to make intentional changes in the way I live my life to ensure I am giving myself every opportunity to be present.  I don’t want to get so caught up in the nextseason of marriage, parenting, relating, pastoring that I fail to see what God has called me to now.  Kristyn & I will be taking 1 night off every week from technology. I am devoting 10min everyday to total silence. When I read Scripture & spend time with God, I’m going to do it with my heart in focus not the focus of Centerpoint & what next great series I can get out of a passage.

If we’re being honest with ourselves, I believe we all need to make changes in order to be fully present in the life we were called to live. Everyday has opportunities but we have to be present to seize them.

What about you? What distracts you from being present & how can you cut out the noise? 


Soap in my mouth & what my kids have taught me about grace.

As much as parent’s like to act like we’ve got it together, we don’t & I fail daily in this area of my life. Patience has never been one of my shining attributes. A 3-year old & an almost 2-year old, can really bring out the best in me at times.

Over the weekend, I was on daddy duty & I had a moment where I just lost it. I yelled, Aubri cried & then daddy washed his own mouth out with soap. I should note that I’m 100% serious about the soap part. Funny thing is, when I got the soap & told Aubri & Owen what I was doing & why, Aubri looked right at me & said: “ I love you daddy. I alright now.”

It was in that moment I realized my kids have taught me more about grace than anyone else.

Grace forgives.

Grace forgets.

Grace accepts.

No matter how many times I mess up with my kids they always forgive, forget & accept. This is exactly what Jesus does &, through the innocence of a child, I feel I’ve seen a glimpse of what the world might look like if we could show the same grace to our fellow brothers & sisters.What might the world look like if we could learn to extend the same grace to people who deserved soap in their mouth?

Thoughts to Ponder.


Perspective Shift

In just a few hours, we’ll be leaving the cold of Ohio in exchange for Disney World in sunny Orlando! Aubri’s excited to see Cinderella & her castle & Owen’s excited to see Buzz & Woody. Truth be told, Kristyn & I are just excited to watch them go crazy for a week while they watch their TV & book friends come to life. They know where we’re going & they couldn’t be more jacked. 3 years ago, I wouldn’t have been quite as excited for a Disney trip but simply put, kids change your perspective on life. They see beauty in simplicity, they love unconditionally & they experience joy to its fullest. I never envisioned having two kids under 3 five years into marriage but I thank God every day that it was His will & not my will that was done.

2010 in Review

It’s hard to pick out specific highlights from a 12-month period so I won’t even try. Instead, I’ve listed a topical recap for my life over the last 12-months.


  • The kids are growing up…fast! It was a big year as we celebrated Aubri’s 2nd birthday & Owen’s 1st birthday. I never would have imagined being a parent of 2 at this point in my life but I couldn’t imagine it any other way! Aubri is a princess who loves chocolate & Owen is a brute who eats anything you put in front of his face. 100% girl & 100% boy.
  • I love my wife. Kristyn & I celebrated our 5-year anniversary in August & I cannot tell you how much I love this girl! She’s an amazing, sexy wife, a gentle, caring mother & a loyal, compassionate friend. She sets an example others can follow & leads with confidence. I am reminded every day that I truly married up 🙂


  • Change is good. If I rewind the clock to a year ago today, Centerpoint looked completely different than it does now! God has grown us in so many ways & this year will forever remind me that change, really is good because it brings about growth. I have a feeling 2010 was only the beginning of the change God has in store for us.
  • Coordinators to Leaders. We’ve got a bunch of bi-vocational leaders at CP & 2010 was the year I saw many of them start making the transition from Coordinators to being Leaders. Coordinators delegate tasks but leaders delegate responsibility & train up other leaders around them. Being bi-vocational has forced all of us to become stronger leaders faster & it’s been amazing to watch it happen.


  • Thank God for my job. In October I took a job with Nationwide as an Associate Agent  through the Joel Gerber Insurance Agency. It has allowed me the freedom & flexibility to pastor Centerpoint as well as provide for my family. This is not what I envisioned when we moved here to plant a church but I am so thankful God is in control instead of me. He’s got it all figured out.
  • Friends & Family. For whatever reason, this has been a year where I’ve been able to put my relationships with family & friends  in perspective & see how truly blessed I am! I have one of the best, most loyal support system in the world & I am so thankful for that. I only pray that I can give back the love & support my family & friends have given to me.

Happy New Year Folks! I’ll see you in 2011!

Evil Santa Claus

Inspired by a recent post by my friend, fellow CPer & comic artist Wes Molebash (that’s his Santa drawing over to the left) I decided to write a post on how Kristyn & I approach Santa at the VanBuskirk house. Now that Aubri’s almost 3, our discussion of last year on what we would do has now turned into what we’re doing. A the very least, I hope my thoughts will aide your discussion.

First, you must know that I don’t think Santa is evil 🙂 The modern, Americanized version has often taken the focus of the season off the manger but so do many other things we all participate in. At heart, I believe Santa, or Saint Nicholas, embodies the spirit of generosity Jesus wants us all to have & that’s why Kristyn & I believe it’s important for our kids to know the true story of Saint Nicholas. In short, that story is about a man who had a lot but, because of his faith in God, learned to give to those who had little as he grew older.

Aubri & Owen have already heard & will continue to hear this version of the story. They will also know that this story is the real reason why people still incorporate Santa into Christmas today & why we pretend he still gives gifts to people. Although we probably won’t have our kids write letters to Santa or threaten them with “no toys if you’re naughty”, we will always encourage them to use their imagination & pretend.

At the VanBuskirk house this year, & for years to come, Aubri & Owen will hear the manger story & we will tell them both how the love represented in the manger inspired the true story of Saint Nicholas. I believe when you put these things together, they enhance the true meaning of Christmas rather than detract from it. This Christmas season, consider the true story of Santa & maybe you’ll see that we really shouldn’t  be  “hatin” on him as much as some of us do.

Agree or disagree I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic so feel free to comment & share.


A Lesson From My Aubri

A couple of weeks ago, my family had a big get together to fill shoe boxes for Samaritans Purse. The last couple years we’ve chosen to give the money we’d normally spend on gifts for one another to an organization or cause. It’s odd & unsettling how unnatural this felt the first year we did it. We live in a culture of materialistic consumption & going against the grain makes us look, & sometimes even feel odd.

Before we started packing the boxes I took Aubri shopping so she could help & hopefully learn, what it looks like to give instead of get. In all honesty, it’s rare that we go shopping without our kids getting something, even if it’s small. My hope was to help Aubri see that it truly is more blessed to give than to receive. I had no idea that I would be the one learning the lesson.

We kept looking for a doll to put in the girls box & we just couldn’t find one Aubri liked. Honestly, even I didn’t think they were that great. We made one more pass down the aisle when Aubri looked at me & said “daddy I give the girl my dolly.” I asked her if she was sure she wanted to do that & she shook her head yes & said “it will make the girl happy.” I almost cried then & I am crying now as I type this.

I was proud, full of love & overcome with emotion! I was willing to buy stuff that wasn’t mine & give it away but Aubri was willing to give away something she already had & loved. She didn’t want to give her an old doll, she wanted to give that little girl, who she’d never even met, one of her newest & best dolls because “it would make the girl happy.” She wanted to give away her best.

What might the world look like if we were willing to give our newest & our best simply to bring happiness to others? As the day drew to a close I realized it was my 2-year old daughter who taught her daddy a lesson. When it comes to generosity this season, may we think like Aubri.

Thoughts to ponder…


Dating Your Spouse

This is a picture of Kristyn & I from the Reds game this past Sunday night. Monday was her birthday & although the game wasn’t part of her present (I’m not that lame:), the surprise overnight trip that followed was. I hesitate to write a post like this over concern some will read it & think I’ve got this whole marriage thing figured out – I DON’T! I’ve only been married for 5-years but in that 5-years, I have always done one thing pretty well. I’ve never stopped dating my wife.

The overnight trips don’t happen as much as I’d like but a date is not defined by the elaborate setting anyway. Men like to complicate the process thinking it has to be something crazy every time but, if you ask your wife, I bet she’ll tell you that’s not the case. A date can be as simple as getting away for a couple hours over coffee & dessert just to talk. A date is about pursuing the person we’re in love with & reconnecting with them in an authentic way. A date is a way to make sure your spouse knows they’re the most important person on your calendar.

Having a happy marriage makes you a better husband, father, leader, & friend & dating your spouse is a great step towards having, or maintaining, a happy marriage . Simply put, when you date your spouse, life is better for you & everyone around you. The weekend is almost upon us so I challenge you to be intentional in the coming weeks & months about dating your spouse. Stop making excuses & make it happen! It will be worth the effort.


If you’ve got thoughts on this, I’d love for you to leave a comment!