Sunday, November 20, 2005

Youth Specialties NYWC Nashville

Just a quick note to say I'm at the Youth Specialties National Youth Workers Convention in Nashville this week. I'm here with a group of youth workers and leaders from Ireland. It's been a very good week, but a long one, and I'm ready to get to Ohio to be with family. There are 7,500 youth workers in attendance - the largest YS conference ever. What I most love about these events is the networking that can happen, the team camaraderie and the freebies! I have had some key meetings with others both within the conference and without that have been very encouraging and humbling. I have collected four medium bags worth of freebies and I bought loads of resources for the youth department. These days are good. I have been asking God to surprise me and He has! I have also been notified that there's a bidding war on our house in Northern Ireland at the moment (it went up for sale a few days before we left) and the latest bid is for 96,000 GBP! We have already signed the contract for our new home in Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary and hope to move in late January or February. God's good. Off to a few more gigs before heading to bed. Blessings on you all . . wherever you are.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Anois has just finished and I slept 12 hours over Monday night and Tuesday. I am thrilled with the outcome and the teamwork that went into making this event a very memorable one. If you prayed - thank you. God was present and active and everyone involved was encouraged. Anois was a great example of what the Body of Christ (the Church) can accomplish when we work together - and that on a smaller level even! Let the preparations for next year soon begin! You can view a number of images of the event in the flickr presentation.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

American Invasion




They have arrived. LAST TUESDAY just touched down in Dublin this morning. This band from Pennsylvania was invited to play at our (Church of Ireland Youth Department) all Republic of Ireland youth weekend called Anois. The band then built a European tour on the back of our invitation. You can check out their tour schedule here. They fly to Germany early tomorrow for their first show. This is my first re-entry into concert promotion since I was the Concert Coordinator for Taylor University back in '96-'97! All of the promotion is being done under the Dreamers of the Day banner. It's an area I had been wanting to develop within Dreamers for some time. This all feels good. God is good!. After the boys play Germany they'll come back to us for Anois on Saturday before playing three more shows in Ireland (N & S). After that they have some dates in England and Scotland. I was able to coordinate the Irish dates for them. LAST TUESDAY have a melodic punk-rawk sound that is very infectious. One of their music videos - 'Have You Seen Me' - is on rotation at TVU LIVE. An interesting bit of info to note is that Matthew Thiessen (lead singer of Relient K) and Joe Marlett (Blink 182 / Foo Fighters) co-produced their latest album Resolve. I'm looking forward to spending some time with the guys and hearing them rock out a couple of dates in Ireland. There is a map of the places they're playing above.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Non Clamour




NON CLAMOR
SED AMOR
PSALLIT
IN AURE DEI


not clamour,
but love

makes music

in the ear of
God


Thomas of Celano

Friday, October 21, 2005

Featured on NEXT WAVE


I'm grateful to NEXT WAVE for taking up my article 'Eucharistic Revelations' to publish on their e-zine this month under the 'Spirituality' section. This was the first article I wrote in December 2004. It's been a great encouragement to continue developing my word-smith capabilities. If you haven't visited the site and commented on the article, you can do so here. Warning: no flattery - just say it like it is!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Space to BE

I've been reading a bit on Contemplative practices and thinking more about 'becoming'. One memory I have from my time at Willow Creek was a comment someone once made, "God is infinitely more concerned about who you're becoming than what you're doing". That has stayed with me and helped me focus many times on what the essence of discipleship really is. The image includes a few elements that help me contemplate: an inspired text, good flavourful coffee, blank pages for making my mark, an empty chair (for the Lord) and what you can't pick up from the picture - good music. What type of space have you created this week?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Dreamers of the Day Icon


Here's an image I've been working on for some time that was just released on the Dreamers of the Day website. It illustrates (in my mind) the inter-relationship between Art, Faith & Culture. Art is in a strategic position to be a bridge of communication between the Church and the wider culture. It's a means of keeping dialogue open between these two collective groups, one informing the other. The cannons represent the tension and general suspicion between the Church and culture. The flame and the dove represent the Lord of Creation's active participation in this on-going process of revelation. If you're interested in exploring the relationship between Art, Faith & Culture visit the Dreamers site. More will be revealed about the icon in time to come. Blessings!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Spiritual Direction




















I'm in Dublin this weekend on the second of fourteen weekends (a two year commitment) with the Irish Jesuits at Manresa House. I've begun a diploma course in the ancient practice of Spiritual Direction. That's not usually the favoured title, but generally the working one. Many people prefer spiritual accompaniment or even Soul Friendship ('Anam Cara' in Irish). The Jesuits seem to have a reputation for this 'art' of walking with others in their journey toward Christ and helping them discern how the Lord is speaking to them. The central focus in all of this is a personal relationship/friendship with Jesus. They also seem to be respected as highly educated people (some study for 14 years to become ordained) who engage with culture in order to be a catalyst for Christ in the world. I like all of it. The Irish Jesuits have founded a web site called Sacred Space which is an opportunity for individuals to spend 15 minutes a day with the Lord reflecting on their lives and the Scriptures. I have been enriched through it often and so have others - as many as hits to the site since 1999.

I am already really enjoying the experience of being here. My one prayer going into this has been 'God please challenge me to grow in my relationship with you through this course'. I am already sensing that occurring. I am one of three Protestants in a group of 24 and the only one in our smaller group of 12. I count myself privileged to be on such a high learning curve about all things Catholic, but I do feel somewhat of an outsider because of a slightly different vocabulary and different practices. At any rate, I know I will grow through this course and I look forward to being better equipped at the end of it to carry out my passion, "to help people have a better understanding of and a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ".

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Go West Young Man


Ok, ok . . apologies for the cheesey reference to MWS. It just happened. Anywho . . . tomorrow morning I head to Longford, Co. Longford for our third and final Anois Leaders' training event at which there may only be four or five. Oh well, we'll go informal! That's one of the beautiful things about the Irish . . very little pretense and low expectations (for some things)! It's always been and always will be about relationships! Tomorrow afternoon following the training I'm driving to the end of the earth - a little town in west Co. Mayo called Aughagower (Awk-a-gower). I'll be meeting with our Diocesan Youth Officer there to look ahead for how he might develop effective youth ministry there. Belfast then home again Tuesday evening. Christy and Aidan are sick - prayers welcome. Peace.

McDonalds' and loads of Smiles


This morning I took Neve over to our neighborhood McDonalds'. Yes, I know, I could have done better - but she loves it - especially their balloons. We have tried to make this a Daddy - Daughter tradition on Saturday mornings but my travelling schedule doesn't always allow for it. I was just reminded this morning how WONDERFUL our times there are. I am amazed at the rate my daughter is growing - not just physically, but in personality, understanding, knowledge, etc. It is so humbling to know that God has entrusted these 'little people' to us to care for and nurture. I grateful beyond words for my kids, both Neve and Aidan (he smiled a few times in a row today!). Neve and I had a great time this morning just eating, looking into eachothers' eyes, exchanging few words and smiling at one another! I love her so much. Just look at that face!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Dublin tonight


I'm off again . . . I really hope I have a wife and kids to come back to when this month is over. I'm heading to Dublin for the night. I'll be meeting with our speaker (or 'messenger' as I now like to call them) for our annual Republic of Ireland youth weekend called Anois. His name is Rev. Ian Cruicshank - don't let the 'Rev.' throw you. He rides around on a motorbike and has talked about wearing a Hawaiian clergy shirt with his 'dog collar' (white band around neck). He's very passionate, dynamic and action-oriented. We're really excited to have him for this year's weekend. I'll be back tomorrow for a few days before leaving again on Sunday for the centre and west of Ireland! I think I need a personal helicopter . . .


Here's the key:
Green house - where we currently live in N. Ireland / Red house - where we hope to move to in Co. Tipperary in January '06 / Yellow asterix - places I'll be making stops for work or play / Red line - my route on the way (note: houses not shown to scale).

Friday, September 30, 2005

Travels across the Emerald Isle


Hello to anyone who may be reading this! I thought it might be 'schwing' to put Ireland up on the blog show you where my travels take me.

Here's the key: Green house - where we currently live in N. Ireland / Red house - where we hope to move to in Co. Tipperary in January '06 / Yellow asterix - places I'll be making stops for work or play / Red line - my route on the way (note: houses not shown to scale).

This weekend (in fact, in 30 minutes!) I'm heading to the town of Portlaoise in Co. Laois (1st asterix) for a get-together with the area Youth Council tonight. Tomorrow morning CIYD is hosting a training session for all those who wish to attend Anois as a youth leader. Later tomorrow night I'll be delivering a training session in Fermoy, Co. Cork (2nd asterix) for a group of leaders who are planning on running the Quest course to reach teens in the diocese. I'll leave the Cork area on Sunday morning and make my way home to my wonderful family by Sunday evening. Your prayers are ALWAYS appreciated as I travel, listen and speak to young people, youth leaders and clergy. Time for the road . . .

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A Friend to Artists



For the last two years I have had the privilege of getting to know a man called Michael Guido. 'Guido' as he's better known, has been a friend to those in the Arts & Entertainment industry for over 20+ years. He's a pastor of sorts and a spiritual companion. Guido is a pioneer in the 'road pastor' tradition - supporting groups like Jars of Clay, dc Talk, POD, Michael W. Smith, Switchfoot and others. He, his wife Celeste and indeed his entire family have given so much for the calling on their lives to support, challenge and encourage artists and their families in their relationship with Christ. Please pray for the Guidos if you're the praying type. Pray for protection, financial support, joy and an overriding sense of God's clear calling on their ministry - PR Ministries. The PR stands for 'Persuing Relationships'.
Every time we speak, Guido challenges me with his intense love for God and his knowledge of the Scriptures. He is a good friend and a great role model in so many ways. I can see that Dreamers of the Day, in many ways, has a similar purpose and vision to PR Ministries. It is part of our calling as an organisation to support those in the Arts & Entertainment industry. I think I can see God slowly directing us along this path. Time will tell! The pictures are from last February when he visited Ireland with his friend Dave Mustaine. We had a number of hours together and I look forward to more in the near future!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Make shift Drive-In Theatre



I had it on my mind for months. I wanted to fully take advantage of the summer months here in Ireland and do something the local young people would enjoy . . a make shift drive-in theatre. I had to wait until the timing was right for weather, holidays (vacations), work schedule and family schedule before I could proceed. I thought I had planned it on a good night (although Christy says otherwise!). The weather had been perfect - sunny, very warm and no gale-force winds.
So in my back garden (yard), I used a bed sheet, some dynamic hiking cord, my laptop, projector and a borrowed portable stereo - it was amazing. The night was clear and starry, the wind was minimal and more importantly - it was dry. I had so much fun! From the printing of the invitations to the set-up . . how great! We showed The Incredibles (for free of course!) and it was well worth it. I'll defintely do it again, although next time it'll have to be in County Tipperary.

Rewarding Discovery


Since starting my job with the Church of Ireland Youth Department just over a year ago, I have made a most rewarding discovery - Erdinger beer. I have never been overly excited about beer itself (it is an acquired taste), but since I've happened upon Erdinger I now have a preferred beer. It's brilliant! If you have the occasional drink (and are of age and responsible!) . . try it. If you are a non-drinker, you may avoid it altogether or they now brew Erdinger non-alcoholic (most things are worth trying once!).

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Let Mercy Lead


A man that I met and had the opportunity to work with briefly wrote this wonderful song (he's written many) entitled Let Mercy Lead. I've listened to the song for many years and little did I know that it would one day play a small part in influencing the naming of my son (see 'A Son is Born' below). Rich Mullins has been a shaping influence in my life, through his songs, yes - but more through the life he led. He has challenged me to pursue God with passion and intensity while perservering in the struggle against my inbred rebellion toward God. Rich also really loved Ireland and the people here - which is something we have in common. I have also had the privilege of working with his brother David Mullins at our first ever Dreamers of the Day retreat in November 2003. I honour the life of Rich in how God has, and is, using him (even in death), while honouring my son with a name that has a depth of meaning and the strength of Irish/Celtic tradition. Here's the song - a sort of prayer and blessing over the new life of Aidan Scott Tucker.

LET MERCY LEAD
Rich Mullins and Beaker
Deuteronomy 4:9, Deuteronomy 6:4-7, Psalm 78:3-8

Aidan you're young
But Aidan you're growing fast
Me and your mom
And all the love we have
We can only take you so far
As far as we can
But you'll need something more to guide your heart
As you grow into a man


Let mercy lead
Let love be the strength in your legs
And in every footprint that you leave
There'll be a drop of grace
If we can reach
Beyond the wisdom of this age
Into the foolishness of God
That foolishness will save
Those who believe
Although their foolish hearts may break
They will find peace
And I'll meet you in that place
Where mercy leads


Aidan the day
Aidan the day will come
You'll run the race
That takes us way beyond
All our trials and all our failures
And all the good we dream of
But you can't see yet where it is you're heading
But one day you'll see the face of love

Let mercy lead
Let love be the strength in your legs
And in every footprint that you leave
There'll be a drop of grace
If we can reach
Beyond the wisdom of this age
Into the foolishness of God
That foolishness will save
Those who believe
Although their foolish hearts may break
They will find peace
Where mercy leads

Let mercy lead
Let love be the strength in your legs
And in every footprint that you leave
There'll be a drop of grace
If we can reach
Beyond the wisdom of this age
Into the foolishness of God
That foolishness will save
Those who believe
Although their foolish hearts may break
They will find peace
And I'll meet you in that place
Let mercy lead
Let mercy lead

Let mercy lead
Let love be the strength in your legs
And in every footprint that you leave
There'll be a drop of grace
If we can reach
Beyond the wisdom of this age
Into the foolishness of God
That foolishness will save
Let mercy lead

Let mercy lead
Let love be the strength in your legs
And in every footprint that you leave
There'll be a drop of grace
If we can reach
Beyond the wisdom of this age
Into the foolishness of God
That foolishness will save
Let mercy lead


Copyright 1995 - Edward Grant, Inc. and Kid Brothers of St. Frank Publishing


Sunday, September 04, 2005

Great Night Out





About a week and a half ago I got together with a small group of the young people I used to serve during the five years I was youth pastor at Waringstown Presbyterian Church. It was an informal gathering. We met at my house so Christy and Neve could catch up a bit and looked at old pictures of years gone by. They all looked soooo young when we first arrived in '99 (that's because they were!). We then headed out to the Odyssey in Belfast for some pizza at the Hut. The night ended at one of the young peoples'' homes where we all played a heated game of Monopoly! What a wonderful time to reconnect with some of the young people I invested my life in and I love so much. Thank you for enduring friendships Lord!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Interesting Read


Here's an article from Newsweek that may make for an interesting read. I found In Search of the Spiritual listed on another blog. It encourages me to see something like this making big headlines in a publication like Newsweek. I have maintained for some time now that our greatest desire, hunger, thirst as human beings is for God. Since He's made us for Himself (and He is Love) our deepest, most innate yearning and longing is to love and be loved by the One in whom we become fully ourselves - the individual God dreamed, designed and destined us to be in relationship with Christ. This is where the REAL adventure begins . . .

For more insight on identity, relationship and 'becoming' read Isaiah chapter 6 (in the Old Testament) and watch Isaiah's transformation as he encounters Yahweh.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Hospital Message from Mommy


An Inspiring Friend

Just wanted to point your attention to a friends' blog. His name is John Daharsh. We worked together (along with a great bunch of people) at Willow Creek Community Church (Chicago, IL) in the late 90's. He is living in Colorado with his family and is a great artist. I've just feasted on some of his photography - it's amazing! Check it out here. Wonderful stuff John! Keep it coming!

Hospital Message from Daddy


this is an audio post - click to play







Monday, August 29, 2005

A Son is Born!




Please welcome Aidan Scott Tucker into this world. Aidan arrived at 5:35 a.m. GMT on Monday, August 29th 2005. He is a very healthy, hungry, calm little boy weighing in at 9 lbs. 1 oz. Christy is well and recouperating in a plush maternity ward with copious amounts of tea & toast at her disposal. She arrived at the hospital and was 7 cm dialated, then proceeded to give birth only 1 hour and 30 minutes later. She did so well and is due so much honour for her labouring to bring another life into this world. I am so proud of her - what a wife and what a mom! More to follow in the coming days. Click on the flickr image box on the right for a slide show of older pictures and recent ones of Aidan's arrival! God is good. Blessings on you all!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Life-giving Activities























My wife is the best. She, being three weeks away from her due date for our second child, allowed me to get away for 24 hours to do some camping with a few friends. It may not seem very special, except that she did this in addition to me traveling quite a bit with work the past few days. She's the bomb! I got out for the night with a couple of friends in the heart of County Down, Northern Ireland. We had an idyllic spot. It was called the Windy Gap - and it was extremely so. But David, Stephen and I managed to build a roaring fire and get the tents up in full view of the Mourne mountains to the south, and Belfast city to the north. What a spot! God speaks to me and refreshes me when I'm in the out-of-doors! It was a soul-satisfying trip. Here's few pictures.

Monday, August 15, 2005

A Deep, Deep Aching


I was told my father read the eulogy (see below) I wrote for my grandfather (his dad) at the funeral. Some of you may know that I haven't seen (nor communicated much with) my biological father for nearly 13 years. The last time I saw him I was 16. He wasn't around for my driving test, senior prom or high school graduation for that matter. He never visited me at university, he never met Christy (my girlfriend of five years, now my wife), he never showed up at our wedding or sent a card. He wasn't around for the graduation ceremony at Taylor University or our time with family before moving to Ireland. Don't get me wrong, I didn't really expect him to all of a sudden jump back into my life after a long hiatus, but I'd be lying if I said I hadn't wanted him to - or secretly wished he would. He has missed a huge portion of my life. And by the time I'm 32 I'll only have known him for half of my life.

The thing that really gets on my nerves - that truly ticks me off - is that he never intended to get involved in his first grandchilds' life! Neve has never met him - nor knows he exists - and there is a small part of me that doesn't want her to know him. He's a great man. He has some very likeable qualities, but he really isn't the type of grandfather I would want my children to spend too much time with. I guess I say that because he left me - his first-born - alone, and has chosen to remove himself from my life. How could he prove to be a good grandfather if he isn't even being a dad to me? And now we have our second child on the way and he has no clue - unless he's heard it from elsewhere - that he'll be a grandpa again. I haven't bothered telling him. I have given up trying to win his attention and affection. I'm not sure what factors have cause him to make the decision he has regarding our relationship. Whatever it is, it doesn't negate the responsibilities he took upon himself when he co-created me! I am a husband now. I am a father now. Whatever I feel I lacked growing up in the way of a father figure - it has made me even more sensitive and resolute to provide for my children.

Don't get me wrong, I love my dad. I have some great memories of the two of us together. He is still my father even though he hasn't acted like it. But he has left me very little that I desire to emulate with my kids. I pray for him occasionally. I miss him. I get angry. I hurt over it - especially for Neve and our soon-to-be-born - but I am letting go. It's been happening for a while now and I figure it will continue for some time. I am letting go and allowing him, in some ways, to slip into my memories. In my world, in my life, that's the only place he exists anymore. Someday I will have to explain how all of this came about to our kids. I will have to try to convey to them how families can sometimes become very messed up. I will have to attempt to convey to them that the choice their biological grandfather's made to be estranged from his family, in NO way dictates what kind of love their father will give to them.

I am a recipient of grace. All of us can be recipients of God's unconditional love and grace. I am so grateful that God woke me out of my slumber and offered me true freedom. I realise that it's His grace and love that has allowed me to break statistics and scientific studies of how I 'should' turn out. It's God's love that is writing the new me - the me I can and will become. I'm choosing to believe the Father that hasn't left me and shows me His limitless love moment by moment. I'm choosing to believe what He says about me. Believing I just might become who he says I am and will be. Believing I can be the husband and father I so needed my dad to be for my mother and for me. I will choose to continue to receive this reality-altering, destiny-changing , soul-satisfying love . . . and I will become different because of it.

If you pray, please pray for my dad . . and for me.