Orange Friday Bag


It’s that time of year again. Since 2008, I’ve had a fun opportunity to spend a week in Atlanta, Georgia with friends that do my job and those that love the things we do. I have a real passion for parents, kids, and everyone that loves them; and when I’m in Atlanta at the Orange Conference I never feel more surrounded by likeminded people than I do when I’m there.

In honor of what will be a few updates from the Orange Conference 2013, I give you the Friday Bag…Orange Edition.

New Orange Conference Family Ministry Track — This is a great opportunity to really narrow down what we do for families within our church, and it’s a special chance for me to lead a breakout with these same leaders. I’m stoked to be teaching “Clarifying the Win for Family Ministry” on Thursday Afternoon, April 25th.

Tune into The Orange Conference! “We d love for everyone to be here in person for OC13, but realize that s not always an option. So, we d like to offer you the next best thing: tune in online. You ll be able to see on and off-stage action, including session streaming, speaker interviews, mayhem and hi-jinx, resource updates and giveaways, and perhaps even win a ticket to OC14!”  

The Orange Conference App “If you’re planning to attend The Orange Conference this Spring in Atlanta, Georgia, this app will help make your experience on site pretty darn stellar.”

Why come to Orange Conference 2013? from Orange on Vimeo.

Rhythms that Work for My Family: Dinner Time


Deuteronomy 6:7 Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

I like to eat. Granted I don’t eat a ton, as I tend to fall into the skinny category of body shapes; but I do love a good meal. In fact, I love it so much that I eat every day. More than that, I eat more than once throughout the day. You might have heard of them, but we call it breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If I have to eat, and I know that everyone else in my family has to eat, then it’s important that I leverage this commonality to get that quality time any way I can.

It has long been a rhythm in our house that we eat dinner together. When the kids were little, we would throw that baby carrier up on the table with us. When they were little and throwing cheerios all over the place, they would be joined by very on-guard parents attempting to eat their meals at the same time.

I know live in that moment where we’ve got soccer and baseball monopolizing nights away from home, but we still work hard to make it happen. What’s the secret?

Not all meals are the same. Take what you can get when you can get it.

Sometimes we have time and great conversations filled with questions and answers and stories and happenings from all over the neighborhood and world. But many times we just eat together for 5 minutes before we run out of the house, and in do so we are forcing ourselves to sit together. In this world of busy-ness, that sitting together is the most valuable thing we have sometimes.

I remember having foster kids in our house, and when we’d all sit down together to eat we’d get the funniest looks. When a 4 year old shoots you the, “This is funny. Are we all going to eat together?” look then we knew something was missing from their lives. This rhythm has always been our gift to whoever is living in our house at any given time. In fact, if you’ve ever been invited over to dinner then you’ve been allowed in on our most hallowed time together!

How can you make dinner time work for you? Have you found this valuable for your family?


Rhythms that Work for My Family: Driving to School


Deuteronomy 6:7 “Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

As a parent it can be exhausting to “find the time” to talk about what’s important. There is tremendous value in finding the time that is already there to get you started. Here is an actual nearly daily event that my family has found to be valuable.

Driving to school each morning is our first main interaction as a family.

I know, I know…we are around each other much earlier while getting ready, and sometimes eating breakfast; but we are not morning people in our house and any meaningful conversations tend to happen on the way to school.

I try not to “teach” on this car trip, as much as just remind them that I’m praying about the things that matter to them at school that day. I simply ask,

“What happening that’s a big deal at school today?”

It’s through that conversation that I can remind them how they are gifted to get through whatever their answer is. It’s also when I find out what’s on their mind in the morning, and it’s where I can speak into how excited I am for what their day holds.

It’s also on this car trip that we get to set the tone for our day. I point out beautiful sunsets, foggy meadows, and dew on the grass. I’m a nature inspired follower of God, and I get to share this with my kids each morning driving to school.

When we finally get to the end of our 5 minute drive, I always, always, always, always tell them that I believe they were made for the day they are about to have. It’s my way of coaching them into what could be a very important day for them. I’m not a rah-rah sort of dad, but why miss an obvious chance to send them off with some love?

What are some ways you use the mornings to introduce faith to your family?


Instagram at It’s Best

I’m a big fan of the Image Social Network, Instagram. I’ve used it for a long time now, and while I don’t update as frequently as a professional photographer…I enjoy my time contributing. Here in Athens I’ve been able to see Instagram at it’s very best, and at it’s best for the benefit of our city.

Maybe your city is like my city, in that people love this place. We brag about it, we enjoy all the happenings around town, and we never miss a chance to show it off to visitors. Some of those lovers of this city started something called “Athens Is” and it’s  blown up  to a full scale art show that has brought together charities, churches, and businesses.


My Athens was born out of a desire to unite the people of Athens, Ga., to celebrate the many beautiful aspects of the city. Photographers—of any experience—posted photos on Instagram capturing the essence of The Classic City and tagged them with the hashtag #my_athens.

The website is stellar, but the idea is golden.

#MY_ATHENS from Southern Lights Productions on Vimeo.

New Orange Conference Track for 2013

Spring is here. The trees are starting to bud and the scent of new life is in the air. Spring is one of my favorite times of the year. One thing that comes with every spring for me is the little conference I attend every year in Atlanta called  Orange Conference. Ha! There s nothing little about Orange Conference!


This year makes my fifth year to attend this great conference. From time to time, people ask me why I keep going back. Once you get this whole ‘Orange thing, can t you move on to something new? For me, Orange Conference has become a part of my annual routine because each year, it s a totally different  experience. I come home with different ideas, have different conversations and each event inspires me in a fresh new way. It s less about the event and more about the people and conversations that accompany the conference (but I must say, the event is spectacular). There are very few places where so many people are gathered in the same place for a few days that challenge and inspire me so much within the context of the ministry I m currently in. Why wouldn t I make my way to participate each year?

Now, I must say that this year is very unique for me. Something is happening at OC13 that is not happening anywhere else, and I think it is incredible. This year, Orange Conference is hosting a specialized breakout track for NextGen/Family Ministry leaders. Not just people who are responsible for family elements of ministry, but those in the unique staff role of both student and children s ministry oversight. It s a very new, but rapidly growing role within the church and there s so much to learn. Orange has put together some amazing communicators to talk about the things NextGen/Family Ministry leaders are dealing with. These breakouts attempt to define the role and the family ministry team. This track aims to process through the biggest hurdles leaders in this role will face. What I m even more excited about is gathering and rubbing shoulders with others in this role as we all learn together.

Breakouts include:

  • Leading a NextGen Meeting with Kenny Conley
  • NextGen/Family Ministry Leadership: Leading 360 Degrees with Michael Bayne
  • The Art of Delegation with Powell Grisham
  • Family Ministry 101: Defining the NextGen/Family Ministry Team with Darren Kizer
  • Leading Through Conflict Resolution with Kenny Conley and Jim Wideman
  • Clarify the Win: Narrowing Down What is Most Important in Your Ministry with Jonathan Cliff

So, if you are in this role, or you work with someone in this role, OC13 is the place to be this April.

If you d like more info about the various tracks at OC13, we ve added for 2013 are Track Champions and a greater explanation of our tracks. You can read more about the goals of the each track here ( and watch the videos here (  to offer further explanation.