Who Is Andrew Allard? v.2

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In my continuing efforts to spread the word about who Andrew Allard was and why the Youth Center that is being built at Grace Capital Church will bear his name I have asked one of his closest friends, Jorden Bonanno, to share a bit of who Andrew was to him.

“Andrew Allard was a fun loving kid who loved the lord, and loved life. He was a good brother, friend, son and uncle. Andrew was a strong influence to a lot of people. He played sports and was always full of energy. He also really loved the red sox. Andrew wanted to be able to live life the way God wanted him to live it. He was a great kid and truly did obey the Lord and follow in Jesus’ footsteps. He was only 13 when he passed away but he had a strong faith with the Lord. The fact is that a lot of people miss Andrew, but we all know that he is having a great time up in heaven. Andrew will be in a lot of peoples hearts forever, and will be a good reminder to be obedient to the Lord and live life the way God has planned for us.”

Check back throughout this next week as we have others share who Andrew was to them.  If, as you are reading these, you have some personal memories of Andrew and would like to share them with others please feel free to write them down and email me at revkev (at) gccnh.com

Who Is Andrew Allard?

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That’s the question that I find myself being asked often now that the Andrew J. Allard Memorial Youth Center is being built.  I have answered many people and given my thoughts about who Andrew was and why his name deserves to be on the youth center that we are currently building.  This week, rather than using my words, my stories (however I will post my own personal thoughts later in the week) and my memories of Andrew Allard, I have asked a few of his close friends to describe who Andrew was to them.

To start you off with some basic knowledge.  Andrew was a young man who attended Grace Capital Church with his family.  He played guitar, loved music, and had a smile that would not quit.  He was thirteen years old when he contracted bacterial meningitis and passed away.  It was very sudden.  That was on March 4, 2007.  There are many who were impacted by his life while he was here with us and there are still many who are impacted by his life, his story, and his love for God.

First up in describing who Andrew was is Paul Thiemann.  Paul is a friend of Andrew from Florida.  5 months out of the year Andrew and his family lived in Boca Raton, Florida.  Paul shares with us:

“Andrew Allard was an amazing friend; you could always count on him for a good laugh. It didn’t matter if we were just playing some xbox or chillin at the beach, he was always really fun to be around. I still crack up whenever someone mentions one of our old inside jokes. One of the best things about Andrew was that he would tell you straight out what he thinks you need to know whether or not it’s what you want to hear. Andrew’s the one who convinced me to take music lessons and stick with it. Andrew was always there for you if you needed something, whether it’s a small favor or just someone to talk to, he was there for you.  Through him a lot of people met, and are still continuing to meet, Jesus, and that’s really something great. Andrew was truly a great friend, and was immensely dedicated to the Lord.”

Check back throughout this next week as we have others share who Andrew was to them.  If, as you are reading these, you have some personal memories of Andrew and would like to share them with others please feel free to write them down and email me at revkev (at) gccnh.com

Acorns Help Me

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I spent part of my afternoon hand-picking acorns out of my lawn.  I could have raked them up.  I could have ignored them, let them get tracked into the ground, sprout a little oak tree in the spring and then mow them over.  Instead I chose to slow down a bit today and pick acorns, lots of acorns, out of my lawn.

In this fast paced, get everything done at once, I need it now world – sometimes we need to be intentionally slow and focused in order to restore balance to our lives.  It’s why I have recently been seen watering my lawn with a hose in my hand instead of using a sprinkler.  It’s why my daughter’s can count on me to read their favorite Shel Silverstein book at bedtime with all of my made up voices.

What do you need to do to slow down and regain true focus in your life?

She Makes Me Smile…

…and maybe shed a tear or two.

IMG_4798My oldest daughter, Megan, had a school assignment that required her to write an autobiography and type it out on the computer. Since I am the technically minded one in our home I had the responsibility of hooking up the rarely used printer and getting her a hard copy to turn in for her class.

Before printing her paper I read through what she wrote. She knows exactly how to choke up her old man.

I have a fun family. My family is made up of Mom, Dad, Makenna, me, and a little brother, Noah (on the way). My mom is fun and cool she has honey colored hair and blue eyes. My dad is funny and he always has time for me. His hair is dark brown almost black. He has dark brown eyes and a few freckles. Makenna has dirty blond hair, freckles, and brown eyes.

I’m not posting this to get a pat on the back from any of you who may read this. However, may it encourage you to spend quality AND quantity time with your families. It’s worth it!

Open Letter To Parents

Dear Parents,

I understand over the past couple of days some of you have been encouraged by the things that I have been writing to teenage girls and boys.  I am thrilled that you have enjoyed my letters.  Today I want to take a few moments and write directly to you.  My desire in writing this letter is to help support you and maybe even share some insight with you that I have gained from working with teenagers for the past 12 years.  I will begin with a disclaimer however, and let you know that I DO NOT have all the answers.  I am a parent of a 5 & 10 year old.  I’m still working very hard to figure out what I am doing most days…

One source of wisdom that I attempt to draw from daily is the Bible.  As I read the Bible I gain understanding of how we (all of us – children, adults, all of us.) work, live and hopefully thrive in this world.  One verse that I hear many parents  refer to as I speak with them is Proverbs 22:6, which states, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”  One of the mistakes that parents make with this verse is that often times I see the training end somewhere around age ten or eleven.

In my role as a Youth Pastor I have had many parents ask me to disciple their teenager.  I hear often that they, the parents, just don’t know what to do with them.  They don’t know how to respond.  They don’t know what to say.  They feel helpless and don’t know where to turn.  I find great hope in this Proverb.  I take it to heart every time that I speak with one of my daughters.  I trust that the seeds that I am planting in their lives will one day flourish and grow.  I am keenly aware that I need to be present in my daughter’s lives.  They need me and their mother to help guide them while they are young.  Your kids need you to help them make good decisions.  That means that you need to be going to the source of true wisdom yourselves.  You can’t lead people where you aren’t going…

mom_yelling_at_daughterGuiding my children is my role.  At some points I would even use the word control.  As they are young I do have the control in the decisions that are made.  As they grow that control becomes less and it transforms more into a shepherding role.  I give a bit more freedom in order to allow them some room for failure while still having the safety of Mom and Dad around to help them when they do choose poorly.  My role as a parent, your role as a parent needs to be a continual process from cradle to grave.  While the role does change, it is critically important that you protect your relationship with your children so that you can maintain influence over them for the rest of their lives.  This is not accomplished by giving them what they want, but by balancing discipline with love.

In dealing with teenagers I see far too many parents who have transformed their role of parent to more of a friendship.  Hear me on this subject, please.  They have enough friends.  They NEED parents.  Strong parents.  Parents that love them enough to say the hard things.  Parents that are less concerned with being told, “I hate you mom.  You never let me have any fun!” and more concerned with seeing their son/daughter grow into a healthy adult.  If you don’t like the clothes they are wearing make them change.  I addressed the subject of modesty with the girls the other day.  You should be helping them understand boundaries in what is appropriate to wear and what is not.  If Sally so and so is wearing it and that is the reason they give you for wanting to wear it as well you can always say what my mother said to me – “If Billy jumped off a bridge would you follow him?”  Sounds cliche but I think it’s time to get back to basic parenting.  Speak up.  Stand up.  Do the right thing even when it gets uncomfortable.

What’s more uncomfortable –

  • Enforcing the rule that they won’t be alone with someone of the opposite sex or sitting in your living room as your 15 year old daughter tells you that she is pregnant?
  • Taking a stand for what your daughter will wear and won’t wear or working through the pain of rape?

If you have a son you aren’t off the hook on this one.

  • Would you rather speak into your son’s life and enforce that they drive responsibly or get the call from the Highway Patrolman informing you that there has been an accident and there was nothing that the paramedics could do?
  • Would you prefer to keep your son from dating the girl that you know is only motivated by one thing or watch your son drop out of school to get a job to provide for the life that he helped create?

Here’s one –

  • Would you rather keep the liquor in the house for those “special occasions” when family comes over or deal with your kid being a closet alcoholic, who drinks themselves to sleep each night?

teenSome things in our lives are not comfortable.  Deal with it.  Be the parent that you kid so desperately needs.  Protect them but don’t baby them.  Your kid won’t always get their way in life.  Help them to understand that.  They won’t always make the varsity team, get the starring role, or make honor role.  Help them understand that life really isn’t fair – but it’s still worth living!  Above all model a life that is lived well.  You cannot expect your kids to learn principles that you are not willing to model for them.  Your kids should not be held to higher standards than you hold for yourself.

Raising kids is not easy.  No one ever said t would be.  You will make mistakes.  I share with the teenagers that I minister to that not one of them were born with an instruction manual.  While it would be great if one would pop out somewhere between their delivery and the placenta; it doesn’t work that way.  With that knowledge they need to cut you, their parents, some slack.  You won’t always get it right as you work to raise them well.  But don’t let your failures overshadow their lives.  Work hard at being the best parent (again, I’ve already said this but hear me again – PARENT, not friend) that you can be.  And know that there are people that are praying for you.  I pray for every parent of every student that is part of my ministry.  I want to do all that I can to partner with you, encourage you and resource you.

Now go and do it.  Do it well…


Open Letter To Teenage Boys (young men)

Dear Teenage Boys, (actually, let me call you young men, I know being a teen you must hate being called a boy…)

The truth is you are becoming men.  That being said, there are some responsibilities that you need to step into.  I know, I said it, that dreaded word – RESPONSIBILITY.  As scary as the word may be, it’s time to face the facts.  You are responsible for some things now.  To make matters worse, your responsibilities will only grow from here on in.  It doesn’t get easier so I hope you really enjoyed the carefree days of your youth.

For the rest of your life you will be faced with choices.  Choices that bring with them consequences,  Choices that effect more people than just yourself.  Choices that can either set you up to have a great future and choices that can make your life far more difficult than it is meant to be.  How do you make your decisions?  Do you just “go with your gut”?  Are your choices made purely by how you feel?  If it makes you happy will that be the choice that you make?  Do you ask others for advice?  Do you seek any guidance at all?

This is something I have always found interesting.  In school you have a guidance counselor.  Their role is simply to help you make choices regarding the classes that you need to take in order to complete a well-rounded education.  At times they are also there to help you when you are having a bad day and need to talk – but mostly it’s just a quick appointment once or twice a year to pick your classes.  If you have someone that helps guide you through the mundane choices of Algebra or Geometry then why in the world would you expect to be able to jump into much larger decisions on your own?

Teen_BoysYesterday I spoke honestly to the ladies.  I spoke to them about the images that they post of themselves on Facebook.  I’m quite sure some of you are hatin’ on me right now because I am trying to take your fun away.  Sorry.  No, actually I’m not sorry.  I’m annoyed.  I’m frustrated.  I’m downright pissed off at times.  I see the way that girls are doing anything and everything possible to be noticed by you guys.  I see the way they are throwing themselves at you in order to feel wanted and cared for.  The sad fact is that many girls are not getting the love that they need from their father’s the way that they are supposed to and because of that they will take any kind of attention they can get – including you all gazing upon their bodies – and giving them the appearance that they are desirable.

I guess that is one of the responsibilities that we can talk about right now.  The responsibility of being a man and not just some punk that will freely take what is not yours to have.  Just because some girls are willing does not mean that you should be.  Man up!  Having sex doesn’t make you a man.  Sex does not equal love nor does it equal care for another person.  And quit using the line, “I love you.” just to get what you want.  Girls so desperately want to hear this and when you manipulate them by telling them what they want to hear you are only continuing the cycle of un-acceptance that these girls are struggling with.  Each of these girls are someone’s daughter, someone’s sister, and someday, someone’s wife, mother, grandmother.  Protect them.  Protect them because you will appreciate your future wife that much more if she enters a marriage with you with no baggage.

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I know that seems like such a foreign concept to you right now.  Marriage is something that you are not thinking about.  Actually, if I may make an observation (and I will because it’ my blog and you can’t stop me) the cycle that you are perpetuating is one of divorce.  Your dating habits actually teach you to be great at LEAVING relationships.  Think about it.  You date a girl.  It’s fun.  It gets serious.  You get physical.  It goes as far as it can go.  You get bored.  You have some conversation (hopefully it’s face to face and not via text message!) and you share with her that, “it’s not you , it’s me.  I guess I have changed.  But we can still be friends.”  (Forgive me for a minute, but you’re lame!)  Then you go find another girl and repeat steps one through seven.  And then you do it again, and again, and again.

What did you just teach yourself to do?  When the going gets tough, leave.  Think about how many married couples have done this over the years.  Rather than take the vow, the commitment, the oath that we have made seriously – “to have and to hold till death do us part” we just leave when it begins to get difficult.  Maybe try and just be friends with girls.  See your role, your responsibility, as one of a protector of girls.  If more guys did that these days I believe we could see a radical reformation in relationships that would make a difference for generations to come.

There is so much more I could write to you, and I hope that through the next years we will talk more about this stuff.  Trust me, I’m not coming down on you alone.  I understand that there are plenty of girls that need to understand that they need to protect you guys as well.  I understand how you are wired – I’m wired the same way.  When you see something that looks good you want to look at it more and more and more.  I do understand that girls need to cover themselves up to keep you from desiring to see more of them.  But you’ve got to do all that you can to protect yourself.  Get together with some other guys and talk about this stuff.  Share with them about your struggles.  Allow them to help you.  Find some other guys that may be a bit older than you, or for that matter way older than you, ask them to help you.  Ask them for guidance.

If it worked for that Algebra class who knows how it could help with this kind of stuff…

Open Letter To Teenage Girls

Dear Teenage Girls,

I know many of you.  I spend time with you.  I pray for you.  I know your parents.  I pray for them even more.  Over the past few years many of you have become “friends” with me on Facebook.  I think this is a great thing.  I am always looking for ways to connect with people and I see Facebook as one of those ways that help to build relationship.  That being said, can I be honest and blunt with you for a moment?

You show too much of yourself in the pictures that you post.  I understand that it’s all the rage to take a picture of yourself by extending your arm high up into the arm, above yourself, in a way that aims the camera down.  I’m not so naive to believe that you are not aware of how the camera is angled or what exactly the picture focuses in on.  I’m as Pastor and I take the calling I have very humbly.  But before I am a Pastor I am a Father.  I take that role very seriously.  I love my two daughters.  I don’t think that I am your father.  You have a father, or at least some of you do.  Some of you may be missing that relationship for one reason or another.  I know that you not having a great connection with your father is not part of God’s plan.  With that being said, can you hear the words I write as words from a father – please?

putthemawayStop posting pictures of your breasts on Facebook.  I understand that you are proud of what God has blessed you with.  I am quite sure that is true because you keep giving all of us that are in your friend list access to numerous pictures of them.  Please, hear my heart for you as you read these words.  You may be proud of the “girls,”  but you are not doing yourself any favors by showing them to the rest of us.  The people that are looking at these pictures are not looking at these images and thinking, “what a nice smile she has”  nor are they thinking about how happy you look.

The pictures that you are posting of yourself make you look cheap.  I’m sorry for saying this but you need to understand that you are freely giving away something that costs you dearly.  The boys at school may like you more because of the pictures that you are posting but they aren’t liking you for the reasons that you HOPE they are liking you for.  They are happy that you are posting these pictures.  Some are VERY happy.  These boys will want to spend time with you.  At least, for a little while they will.  But soon enough someone else will come along that will show them more of what they want to see.  At this point you will be faced with a choice.

“Do I give them more?  Do I allow them to touch me?  Do I give myself away?

If I don’t do this they may not like me any more.”

Many of these questions, if you are already struggling with friendships, will be easy to answer.  You will say yes.  You may not want to but the pull to have someone attracted to you will be too strong.  No one wants to be rejected.  I understand that.  I also understand the heartache that comes from being used and then left behind.  Don’t give yourself away – in any form.  Change the angle of the camera.  Aim it at your face.  Put on some clothes that hide some of the front of you.  We love you – all of you – but we don’t need to see ALL of you.

In my attempt to add a bit of humor to this post.  I’ll make this one last statement.

Put away your boobs and step away from the camera.  Please.