Milwaukee to Schuyler

rocks at cultivateI’m sitting at my first national staff director meetings since joining GFM.  A wire basket of rocks sits under the seat in front of me.  “How cute, we’re going to do something gimmicky with these before the night’s over – I just know it.”  I keep having the same on-ramp experience:  the first Mundelein meetings since I left IV in 06, the first Regionals since Great Lakes West meetings in Wisconsin.  Management meetings used to be in Madison, now they’re in Milwaukee.  Tom Lin had just given us a stirring call to the 2030 Vision.  It was now process time.  All heads bowed.  All journals open.  Nothing but the sound of pens scratching paper in a room of about 200 IV staff directors.

“Take a minute to sit with your rock.”

OK…rock-sitting.  Check.

Just like in the days of Joshua, think about God’s leadership of your life and ministry here at the outset of our 2030 Calling.  This is an Ebenezer moment everyone!  At some point, you’re going to look back over how far the Lord has taken us as a movement and your particular path in that journey.  Can you begin to imagine it?”

my ebinezer 1

“Now.  Consider giving your rock a name.  What word comes to your mind when you think about what 2030 will require of you to pursue?”


Courage is what I thought of right away.  Courage, because our 2030 Calling is very ambitious.  It’s a revival-proportion longing for God to expand ministry everywhere on every campus.  Courage, because with Graduate Faculty Ministry, the land to be taken can seem like it’s swarming with giants.  I have a territory that covers 4 states with groups needed at multiple campuses, and multiple tier one institutes with no GFM staff member living in the community.

I filled about a page in my journal.  Praying.  Questioning the Holy Spirit.  Asking God for the empowerment to lead well.  Will GFM even take off in the very community I live in?  We have a fledgling group of Occupational Therapy students at Creighton University who aren’t yet affiliated with GFM.  That’s it.  I personally know about two dozen Christian faculty members at Creighton,  UNO and UNMC combined.  How do I begin to recruit more GFM staff?  How will I get staff placed in Lincoln, Columbia, Ames and beyond?  This will be one of those posts I hope my team and I can drag out a decade from now and have an Ebenezer moment with.

For the past 14 months I’ve been working on three teams.  The support team of ministry partners who fund me.  The team of Area Directors I’ll be leading with under my Regional Director.  And the team I’ll be leading and building – the Central Area Team – Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Missouri.

team w captions

Left to Right:  Keven is in Iowa City at the University of Iowa, George is at K-State in Manhattan along with the guy next to him – Mark.  Carrie has been leading this team till I can get myself funded and installed.  She and her husband Randy Bare were early leaders in framing up Graduate Faculty Ministries regionally and nationally.  Jake is at Kansas in Lawrence.  Keli and her husband Ryan Weed are building graduate student groups at Wash-U.  George Stulac is working with faculty in St. Louis at Wash-U and two other schools.  Here we were at a three day retreat at the St. Benedictine Center in Schuyler, Nebraska.

So…I stole some left over rocks.

central ebenezers

I brought them from management meetings to my team meeting.  Ipsissma Petros! (the ones at our Milwaukee meetings just got piled on a table at the back with nothing written on them – what a waste of good rocks).  We had a great morning together in the scriptures looking at some witness-rock-passages.

You can download our study at this link:  Stones Will Cry Out

I then invited our team to the same exercise staff directors experienced in Milwaukee.  These are the names they were drawn to.  Each time I intercede for my team I grab up a different rock and pray for their leadership.  It’s exciting to think about the trajectory this group will take.  Pray for us as we long for God’s work on every corner of the campuses we serve, and the many more campuses we wish we could cover.  Seek God with us that he’d make these stones come alive in our leadership in the years ahead.

Thanks so much!

Defining moments on the Perry timeline.


For me the first casualty of a frantic schedule is losing my grip on what I care most about.  It takes serious reflection to fully appreciate even half of life’s best events.  Just think about this time of the year and how many students are graduating.  Graduating from college.  From high school.  I even have a FB friend who recently celebrated her child graduating from preschool (with a 4.0 I might add).

My kids have been dropping milestones on The Perry Timeline left and right this spring!  Let me talk about two.  First, our nuclear family graduated from one generation to two.  Poppy Nora Perry graduated from the coziest classroom ever into the big, bad world on April 8th –  just a few minutes after midnight.  Talk about showing up “early on your birthday”.  This child is going to be punctual I predict. My son Aaron and his wife Savannah graduated from the world of couple-hood into the world of parenthood.  Silas and Phoebe are now Uncle Silas and Aunt Phoebe (both are amazed at how much older their names sound with uncle and aunt in front of them).  Tim and Cheryl graduated from parenthood to grand-parenthood.  I can’t begin to tell you how cool it is to be grandparents (when the word itself sounds so cringy from the outside).  Actually we did what all other rebellious first-time grandparents do.   We subverted the stodgy “Grandpa” and “Grandma” by renaming ourselves.  I shall be called “Pops” by my offspring’s offspring.  Cheryl will become “Amma”.  Pops and Amma.  Pops and Poppy!  I really like the sound of that…

tim and cher w poppy

A second defining moment happened last week.   My awesome fine-arts daughter who has been training since age 6, got her first serious offer from a ballet company.  She’s been applying and auditioning for over a year.  I once saw the four-page spreadsheet of companies she sent her reel to.  129!  The tenth company down the list on page four was the winner:  San Diego Ballet.

phoebe age 6

This is huge.  This means Phoebe has graduated not only with her BFA from University of Missouri Kansas City, she’s also graduating from living with her parents, living in Omaha (in fact, living anywhere near extreme corn fields).  She has got a shot at life on the coast, in a big city, where things are far more diverse, expensive and admittedly exciting.  Way to go Phoebe!  I’m not going to talk about how much our home and our town are going to feel your absence when you leave.  Not.  Going.  There.

However, if you know of people in the San Diego area who could be of help with Phoebe moving there, give us a shout.  Her contract starts in mid-September.  She’ll need to find a place to live and somewhere to hang her massage therapy shingle.  Oh, did I mention she’s graduating soon from Midwest School of Massage here in Omaha?


phoebe w partner sr year

When a new generation is born whether in the arts, in a family or in education, a profusion of life and energy stages a fresh display of God’s creative being.  We are made in his image to constantly germinate truth, beauty and goodness everywhere.  These incredible family milestones push me to expect more from the mission God has called me to.  Cultivating the Kingdom of God in every corner of the university is a lot like training in fine arts.  A lot like parenting.   Hard yet rewarding work, nurturing vast potential over many years.  May God’s creative power pour out from his people so his glory can been seen on campuses today.  Thank you for partnering with me.  Thank you for how your investment in InterVarsity blesses my family and enables me to serve GFM staff, students and faculty.

Click here to be taken to my donation page at InterVarsity.