family

A Letter To My Kids: I am thankful for the adventurous journey we've been living.

Photo Credit: Chris Brignola via Unsplash  

Dear Angelica, Thomas, and Elle,

I'm writing this to you so you know that I am thankful for the life I've been able to live with all of you. I know my life isn't over yet. Well at least not at this moment. And when I do pass on from this world, I trust the real adventurous journey will begin. When you say yes to God you have no idea the adventure you're in for.

My life has been an adventure.

I've been able to live in some of the most beautiful places on earth. I've been able to form friendships and community with people from all over the world—relationships that will last an eternity. We have friends or I should say family all over the world, and we are fortunate to have these people in our lives. Never take your relationships for granted.

And that's another thing. I've been able to travel on this adventurous journey with the people I love most—you guys, your mom, and the three of you! There is no one I'd rather be on this roadtrip with than with you.

Adventures are always better with friends and people you love.

Photo Credit: Greg Shield via Unsplash

Sure on this journey we have seen storms, disasters, flat tires, stranger-dangers, and our own self-imposed mishaps all of which help define a successful roadtrip—both literally and figuratively. It hasn't always been easy and there have been times I wanted to throw in the towel.

But I wouldn't trade any of it in for anything. We've been able to taste new foods like white sausage gravy and biscuits, sweet tea, deep-fried pickles, Cheba Hut sandwiches, Marion Berry pie, and all the amazing craft beers from Colorado and Oregon. We have experienced the diverse cultures, geographical landscapes of the U.S., and all their cultural idioms and quirks—is it soda, coke, or pop...

We have had the precious gift of seeing Christianity lived out in unique expressions throughout the U.S. and from people of other countries.

My kids, I hope you continue to live a life full of adventure with your families, and teach your kids to do the same. Whether it's planting roots and staying in one place or traveling the world, I hope you choose an adventurous life.

I want to share with you Thomas' poem about our family's journey. You can read the whole blog post here: "Adventure Beckons: My son’s thoughts on our big move."

 

“Adventure Beckons.” by Thomas Puentes

Moving here or there is a treat rarely savored by everybody involved.

For those left behind they long for the piece gone, and those gone wish to be made whole again.

However something beckons us, calling us.

It is adventure.

Explore the unknown and when you return, you shall share riches to those who waited.

 

Photo Credit: Mullermarc, Unsplash

I am thankful for the life I've been able to live up to this point. I trust the adventure will continue.

Why I love the month of May

MonthOfMay  

I want to share a little something with you. This 'something' brought a smile to my face this morning around 6:00a.m...

I love the month of May.

March is my favorite month, well for selfish reasons—my birthday is in March. October and January are also special months to me—my daughters were born in these two months.

Now back to May... The month of May really fills my heart up with love, laughter, and joy. For years, May has been a busy time for me—being a youth pastor for about seventeen years, I was always going to high school graduation ceremonies and parties. I loved going to these things because of all the celebration, laughter, and food.

I even made some fun out of going to these special events by using the same red Solo cup for three years (I had each graduate, whose party I went to, sign it as a memento).

I really enjoyed my time as a youth pastor, and in many ways I miss it. In fact, we still keep in touch with many of the students, and still consider them as our kids (No. I will not pay for your college tuition. I'm still trying to figure out how to pay for my biological kids). 

But there is another reason for why I love the month of May—actually three reasons why...

1. May is my wife's birthday month and I am thankful she was born. She is the most important person to me on earth.

2. May is my wedding anniversary. There is no more important moment in my life than when we committed our lives to each other. (I would say the moment I became a follower of Jesus is the most important event in my life, but still my wife had a hand in that too—she introduced me to Jesus).

3. May is the month my son was born. (May 2014 is a special one for him. He turns eighteen years old and he graduates from high school)

Needless to say, I am usually out of money towards the end of this month, but it's always worth it!

 

Online support for the Puentes family and Ascent Christian Church...

As many of you know Fina and I have left our ministry at LifeBridge Christian Church in Longmont, CO, and are moving to Prineville, OR. We are taking on a new ministry at Ascent Christian Church—in partnership with the OCEF, as the lead pastor of the church, beginning in January 2014. Ascent Christian Church is a church plant in Central Oregon. It was planted by OCEF (Oregon Christian Evangelistic Fellowship: http://www.ocefchurchplanters.com/) about five years ago, but ran into some difficult times and is going through some changes.

You may also be aware of the fact that Fina and I will have to raise a portion of our salary. Our commitment to the church is to raise support for two years (That’s $1800 a month for two years—a total of $43,200).

To help us meet this goal, a very good friend who is savvy in the website making business (She does it professionally), donated her time and constructed a website for Ascent Christian Church...

The church website is still being developed. However, online giving is available: http://www.ascentcc.com/giving/  (Be sure to check the box - I would like to designate this donation to a specific fund AND select: "Help Pastor Joe Puentes & Family").

So if online giving is preferred by you, we have that capability.

We appreciate you partnering with Jesus, by investing financially and prayerfully in the Puentes family and Ascent Christian Church!

OR

I you still prefer to mail your financial contribution—you can do so by following the instructions below...

You can send financial contributions to: Ascent Christian Church P O Box 2117 Prineville, OR 97754 Make the check payable to Ascent Christian Church... Please indicate on the check memo line “Puentes Missions” so we can apply it to the correct account. (Your contribution is a tax deductible donation).

A couple of things to consider...

ways to give

  • Through the mail via check
  • Through online giving set up through your bank
  • Through the church's website

if you donate via paypal (Through the church's website)

Please consider increasing your donation amount slightly, as Paypal takes a small percentage as a fee for their services.

We are moving to Oregon: Something Worth Risking Your Career For.

photo-26

"Ask God to burden you with something worth risking your career for." - Andy Stanley

This is something I've asked a time or two throughout the years. I'm not trying to beat my own drum or make myself seem more spiritual than I am—those of you who know me really well, know this is definitely not the case. The fact is however, I have asked God for this a few times throughout the years.

I want to cut to the chase. I explain the full story in the rest of this blog post. It is unusual for me to write such long blog post, but I wanted to give you— my readers as much of the full story as possible. BUT for those of you who just want to know the current status of what is going on in the Puentes family, I will tell you up front...

This past year I have asked God that question, "God give me a burden worth risking my career for..." No, not necessarily in those words, but nevertheless with the same heart, meaning and intention—and He answered.

We are moving to Oregon! I have accepted a position as the new lead pastor of Ascent Christian Church in Prineville, OR. The Ascent is a four year old church plant, planted by the OCEF. There are some good things happening at The Ascent, and I am very grateful for the people, who have from the beginning, made Ascent Christian Church the best church for the city of Prineville.

Ascentcc header image 2We are super excited for this new opportunity to serve God in a new and different way! While this is a great opportunity with many positives, there will be some challenges. In many ways, The Ascent is still a church in it's infancy.

Since it is still a "new church," the church meets in a high school auditorium, there is still many ministry opportunities that need to happen, directional leadership and organization clarity need to take place, and the people need discipling and pastoring.

I will be the only paid pastor on staff, and since the church is not yet financially self-sustaining, Fina and I will have to raise a portion of our salary—which is a challenge for us because we're newbies at this... But we will trust God and follow His lead.

Our desire for The Ascent is to reach the city of Prineville, OR for the gospel of Jesus Christ! To allow the Holy Spirit to use the church to bring hope to hopeless, healing to the hurting, belonging to the marginalized, and grace to all. As a church we want to be disciples of Jesus who reflect our passion and mission to "becoming more like Jesus... together."

Our dream is that Ascent Christian Church will be a reproducible church and plant churches both locally and globally for the advancement of the gospel and the exponential movement of the kingdom of God.

Ascent 2 logo 2We would be honored to have you to partner with us by investing in us and in what God is doing through Ascent Christian Church for the city of Prineville, Oregon. We'd humbly appreciate your prayer and financial support. You can follow along with us on this journey, know how to pray for us, and hear about all that God is doing, by receiving email or snail mail updates.

Click here "Contact Page" and then click on the mail icon to send me an email. Once you send me an email, I'll add you to an email or snail mailing list—your choice, which will be sent out in January and then monthly after that. You can always call me too if you have my phone number...

ALSO... You can partner with us financially. Yep. I got to pay the bills and feed the kids, and that takes money—unfortunately... Our commitment to the church is to raise support for two years (That's $1800 a month for two years—a total of $43,200...). Any way you can help us financially would be great!

You can send financial contributions to: Ascent Christian Church P O Box 2117 Prineville, OR 97754 Make checks payable to Ascent Christian Church... Please indicate on the check "Puentes Missions" so we can apply it to the correct account. (Your contribution is a tax deductible donation).

OR

The church website is still being developed. However, online giving is available: http://www.ascentcc.com/giving/  (Be sure to check the box - I would like to designate this donation to a specific fund AND select: “Help Pastor Joe Puentes & Family”).

photo

December 15th will be my last day on staff at LifeBridge Christian Church, and we will be moving to Oregon in January 2014. We will make a quick stop-off in California for Christmas (It's been 13 years since we last spent Christmas with our family. Yep, December of 2000 was the last time...) We hope you do decide to partner with us on this journey. I'm sure you will get a glimpse of what is happening in either this blog, Facebook, or on Twitter...

If you want to read more about the journey that led up to this decision, please continue reading this blog post.

The rest of the story...

The first time I asked the question "God give me a burden worth risking my career for..." it resulted in major life-change for my family and me. We left all that we had known, family, friends, church, great career, and a beautiful area of the country we grew up in (Sonoma County, CA). We, my wife and three small kids, moved to the middle of the good ol' U.S.A and stopped in Joplin, MO. We did this so we could faithfully follow God's nudging and attend Ozark Christian College and pursue a calling into full time vocational ministry.

I was twenty-eight years old, my kids were 8, 6, and 4 years of age at the time, and I left a really good job and career. This wasn't something that was leading us to bigger and better things necessarily—it was a call to trust in God fully and trust Him alone; we either stepped out in faith or not do it.

Missouri...

We took root in Oronogo, MO (Just outside of Joplin, MO), and felt like we were going to live there for the rest of our lives. We loved our church, our friends, and the community we called home. My wife worked at Ozark Christian College and I served on the staff at Christ's Church of Oronogo; both great ministries for the advancement of the gospel and the kingdom of God. WE LOVED it!

ccoWebHeader 2The second time I sort of asked God the question, "Ask God to burden you with something worth risking your career for" big changes again happened to the Puentes family. I need to clarify by what I mean "sort of." What I mean when I said "sort of," I was feeling a nudge from God to think beyond our comfort-zone and beyond ourselves. I was feeling a nudge to faithfully seek Him out and His leading.

I was feeling there was something beyond what we were doing, something new, and something different. NOT something better or something bigger, but something that would lead us to grow closer to Him and grow our faith more—it would cause us to trust God fully and Him alone—we either stepped out in faith or not do it.

Colorado...

What happened next was we found ourselves moving to gorgeous Colorado and to the scenic views of the majestic Rocky Mountains. We took a ministry position at a great church! LifeBridge Christian Church is a church that truly lives up to being the best church FOR the city and not the best church IN the city. LifeBridge is a dynamic church, both locally and globally. The best part about the church is the people and it's externally focused DNA! The people truly are the ones who make this church a special place to be.

LogoBlue

I've never been a part of a church where her people mobilize in unprecedented ways in both dollars and physical man-hours; nothing exemplifies this more than when the recent floods that struck all up and down the state of Colorado. I say all this because I am thankful for coming to LifeBridge and for the blessing I have received. This is the place and time in my life I have matured the most.

I have learned so much about leadership, ministry, the local and global church, neighboring and missional living, being gospel-centered—and thinking bigger about church and ministry in general. I can never thank the leadership of the LifeBridge enough for letting me come and be a part of this church!

I was 34 when we left Missouri and moved to Colorado. My kids were 15, 12, 10 years of age at the time we moved to Colorado. We have made so many friends and memories during this season of life. Just like our friends in Missouri, we also consider our friends in Colorado more than friends—they are family!

Wrestling with God...

Within the past couple of years, I have been wrestling with God. I kept feeling that God was moving in my heart to do something different. I wasn't sure what it was. I thought maybe it was to leave full time ministry, live in the mountains, move to another country, become a farmer, but the one thing I knew for sure was I was suppose to not do youth ministry full time anymore.

This was huge for me to discover. I have been a youth pastor for over seventeen years and saw myself as a lifer! So I approached my senior pastor about a year ago and told him I was that it was time for me to not do youth ministry anymore—long story short, I resigned my position as youth pastor at LifeBridge and he graciously offered me a neighborhood pastor position at the church.

Well another long story short—we've had an amazing past year serving as a neighborhood pastor at LifeBridge. We have been so blessed to be a part of the story that God is writing through this great church! BUT as you have already read, we are moving on—not to something bigger or better, but to something new and different. Something that will challenge and stretch us. It will move us to a deeper faith and trust in Jesus—and Him alone.

In the end...

Photo Credit: Mullermarc, Unsplash

So me at 40 years old, and my kids being 20, 17, and 15 years of age, we are moving to Prineville, OR. We're on another adventure! We are anticipating God to do all that He has promised and more.

In the end. What I realize is that Fina and I have been writing a bigger story for our kids and ourselves. We are putting into tangible and actionable steps, a story of what it means to surrender to Jesus and faithfully follow Him wherever He leads and no matter the cost.

To be honest, we aren't some Super-Christians who have it all together. We don't always read the Bible, we don't always begin with prayer, I don't always understand the big churchy words or complex church things, we aren't always joyful, and we don't always have peace—especially when we are trying to faithfully follow Jesus.

We have a willing heart and simply obey and ask Jesus "What's my next step?" We are just trying to be obedient to our Father in heaven—we love Him because He first loved us.

This journey isn't ours alone—it also belongs to the people we've met along the way, it's the cities we have lived in, it belongs to the church locally and globally that we unite with, and ultimately it is Jesus' story because without Him, the depth and meaning to what we are living out wouldn't be there.

"The Parting Glass"

http://youtu.be/RL9yB0ne67A Reading my son's poem the other day brought back memories of my grandpa Murphy. Many years have passed since he left this world to be at the feet of his sweet Savior; where I'm sure he is telling stories followed by his booming laugh, rambling off Irish poems, and singing Irish traditionals to whomever will listen.

One of my favorites he sang to me was "The Parting Glass." He'd tell me that two things were certain in this life, death and taxes, and that he would figure out a way to not pay taxes...

"Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age." - James Joyce

My grandpa Murphy would also tell me that nothing is more important in this life than good company, good friends, love for the family, and above all good Irish whisky.

He had a way with words.

Maybe it's fitting that my son is named after him (Thomas Joseph Murphy - Puentes).

Grandpa, I will always be forever grateful for your influence in my life, and I can't wait to hear your booming laugh and your many stories again.

"The Parting Glass"

Oh all the money that e'er I spent I spent it in good company And all the harm that e'er I've done Alas, it was to none but me And all the harm that e'er I've done Alas, it was to none but me And all I've done for want of wit To memory now I can't recall So fill to me the parting glass Good night and joy be with you all

Oh all the comrades that e'er I've had Are sorry for my going away And all the sweethearts that e'er I've had Would wish me one more day to stay But since it falls unto my lot That I should rise and you should not I'll gently rise and I'll softly call Good night and joy be with you all

*Please note that this video is A short film for Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey, created by Opperman Weiss. | By posting this video on my blog, it is not my intention to endorse the drinking of Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey or Opperman Weiss Agency

Adventure Beckons: My son's thoughts on our big move

Photo Credit: Danka Peter, Unsplash

"Adventure Beckons." by Thomas Puentes

Moving here or there is a treat rarely savored by everybody involved.

For those left behind they long for the piece gone, and those gone wish to be made whole again.

However something beckons us, calling us.

It is adventure.

Explore the unknown and when you return, you shall share riches to those who waited.

My family is in the midst of a major transition and each of us are processing and expressing this transition in our own way.

(We are getting ready for a big move—I WILL explain what this means in a blog post in the next couple of days)

My three kids are very different and process change unique ways. It has been enriching to see them express change through their many different gifts and talents. And sometimes they surprise me with new talents that show a depth to them I had not known before.

My son gave me permission to share his poem he wrote for a class at school. To help you grasp a little of what was flowing from his heart as he wrote this poem, you need to have a little insight to his current situation as it relates to our big move...

Thomas is in his senior year of high school. At the beginning of November we decided as a family to resign my position as Neighborhood Pastor at LifeBridge Christian Church in Longmont, Colorado and except the Lead Pastor position at Ascent Christian Church in Prineville, Oregon. This move will happen at the end of this December... i.e. before he is suppose to graduate in May of 2014...

My son has decided to join us on this new adventure and finish his senior year of high school in Oregon. While this move can be tenuous on each of us, I can only image the wrestling he has had to deal with. He has chosen to put the kingdom of God first and answer the call to bring the gospel to Prineville, OR with his family.

His answer—Adventure Beckons!