Category Archives: Family Stuff

Real Men Don’t Need Safe Spaces, They ARE Safe Spaces

Angry Girl SpaghettiRecently, I have seen a plethora of silly articles about patriarchy, cis-gendered masculinity, oppressive gender identity and the like.  Granted, men can be monsters — just like women.  Biologically, they have a predisposition to violence that is directly related to the presence of testosterone which is what causes dominance and aggressiveness.  But that does not mean that all men or even most men are Neanderthalish barbarians.  It means that we need to recognize the differences in roles between men and women and it also means we Angry Feminist On boardneed to lay off the millennial sport of bashing men and masculinity.

I believe that it is a good thing to be a man. God created men physically, chemically, biologically and spiritually to lead, protect, advance and demonstrate strength. To be otherwise is unnatural.

I believe that the role of “father” is a sacred role. Good dads aren’t insensitive louts, they aren’t lazy couch potatoes, they live passionately for their wife and children and they work hard to take good care of their family.

I believe that men ought to treat ladies with respect. They should honor them as the treasure that they are. They should watch out for them, protect them, make them feel special. Real men don’t need pornography – it is an insult to the wives, mothers and daughters to indulge in it. Real men treat the women in their life the way that they would want their daughters or mothers or sisters treated. It is tragic, to me, that so many women today have bought into a feminist mentality that precludes accepting the courteous behavior of a gentleman for the act of honor that it is.

Angry DadI believe that men can love God without being some sort of limp-wristed mama’s boy. God created man in His image. We can have His qualities as part of our character. We aren’t ashamed of our need for a Savior, our devotion to Christ, our submission to the Word of God and if we are – well, then our faith is as phony as our manhood.

I believe that men can be great husbands. We can have the character to remain faithful. We can have the passion to provide romance. We can make a commitment to stay with one woman for our entire life and keep it. We can take care of our wife, help her with the children, support her in her professional endeavors and love her without end. Real men don’t abandon their wives, they don’t hit on the women at work, they don’t ogle cheap women in real life or in advertisement or on screens and they don’t treat their wife poorly.  Real men never….as in NEVER raise a hand toward a woman, they don’t act threatening toward a woman and they understand the definition of the word “NO.”

I believe that men can keep commitments. I believe that a man will understand that a man’s word is his honor. A man who will not keep his word or who will not go to the offended when he has been unable to do so has a character problem that he needs to consider. I believe a man should consider his handshake as good as a notarized signature.

Angry Working ManI believe that men ought to be hard workers. We sweat, we smell, we work overtime, we have rough hands and we don’t quit until the job is done. Even when we play, we make it like work and usually end up hot, tired, bleeding or dirty. And almost always – hungry.

I believe real men are balanced. We can swing a sledge and cuddle a baby. We can change the oil and put a Band-Aid on a skinned knee. We can fight an enemy and shelter a family with the same arms. We can shout at the stadium or cry before God at the church. We are not one-dimensional.

I believe that men can be great dads. They teach kids how to bait hooks, throw a ball and Angry Daddyhandle the school bully. Real dad’s wrestle their kids in the living room floor until their mother about has a heart attack and when the kids get up, they are going to ask for more. Real dad’s work extra jobs to help their kids have a better life than they had. Real dad’s may gag at dirty diapers and tickle kids until they cry, but have someone threaten to harm their loved ones and you’ll see a toughness you could never imagine.

Angry GuysSo enough of the emphasis on gender fluidity.  Enough whining from triggered radical feminists who see every man as some sort of threat to their identity.  Enough of the feminization of this generations boys.  Embrace your role.  Enjoy your uniqueness.  Respect the differences.  Except your limitations and expand your strengths.  If you are a man, it’s a good thing.  And if you are woman, it is as well.

Women should not need “safe spaces” away from reasonable masculinity.  In fact, masculinity — rightly defined and executed — should BE the Safe Space for those who understand and embrace the reality that equality does not mean uniformity.

Raising Duck Dynasty Kids in a Miley Cyrus World

DuckDynastyRecently, I was asked to teach at my church, Life Fellowship Church, in the Lake Norman region of metro-Charlotte, NC.  We are in the middle of a month-long series called “Home Improvement.”  I chose the topic of “Family Discipleship” as found in Deuteronomy 6.  The 50-minute talk was transcribed and is now available in addition to the podcast.  Here is the introduction to this message:

When I was a kid it was Father Knows Best. I wasn’t watching it when it came on
originally, but I saw the reruns. It was from the 50’s and I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and you could still see Father Knows Best. I grew up friends with the Cleaver family, Leave it to
Beaver, anyone remember him? And then in the 70’s we got Little House on the Prairie and we had The Brady Bunch. And in those homes, in a variety of ways, we saw reinforced values of what had been parenting and home life for generations in our country.

In the 80’s there was a little bit of a shift that turned into a tsunami of change as to how
we viewed family in popular culture. Some of you grew up and remember The Cosby’s, an
intact family, dealing with the problems of everyday life, with a mom and dad who were engaged in their kids. That was the early 80’s. But by the end of the 80’s we had a show called Married with Children. And that shift was best indicated through the role of the father in the public culture from that time on. You see when you looked at the father in Father Knows Best, even from the title; and then Ward Cleaver

in Leave it to Beaver, and then Michael Landon as he played Mr. Ingles. You had Mike as head of The Brady Bunch’s blended family, and Bill Cosby in his role as Dr. Huxtable. These were men who weren’t perfect, but who led with integrity, doing the best they could.
In the 80’s things shifted and dads became dummies. And whether you are talking about
Married with Children or Roseanne or even today’s, Modern Family, the whole concept of
fatherhood and roles in the home, and how families function in a healthy way, and how they
communicate with each other shifted. Today the communication is rife with sarcasm, rife with bitterness; there is hostility between parents and children, and between husbands and wives. Dad’s a dummy, mom is the smarter one, but you never lift up the role of one by tearing down the role of the other, and that is what our culture seems to have tried to do.
Parenting today is hard. We don’t have the cultural support that we once had. When I
went to Kindergarten, we prayed before we had cookies and milk. We said the Pledge of
Allegiance and we talked about the Ten Commandments and this was in a public school. In the public school in which I grew up, I had the lead part in the Christmas story because I was able to read aloud and I read from the Bible the entire Christmas story. Can you imagine that happening today? It is not going to happen. There would be lawsuits so fast it would make your head spin.

You see there was a day when kids would even come to church with a basic knowledge
of who Adam and Eve was, and who Noah was, and Moses, and the Ten Commandments and
Jesus and the disciples. Those days are gone. When kids come to our Kid Life many times we
have to start from zero. Many times you have to start from zero. The culture has changed. Now the question remains for us, what are we going to do about it? How are we going to address it?

You know today we have this disparity in America between a culture that values family,
that you might see portrayed on a show like Duck Dynasty. On the other extreme we have
young role models who for a period appeared to be rather traditional in their childhood, who
when they grow up celebrate the worst values that any parent might consider for their child. I can’t think of any better example of that than Miley Cyrus. The fact is this, rearing children has never been super easy. The fact is it is hard. But it is not impossible.

For example, consider Noah. Noah raised three sons who were willing to leave
everything behind and to get on a boat because they believed God. You might want to consider the fact that the children of Israel reared their children in order to give them the land that God had promised them for a forty year camping trip. Now that had to be pretty hard. I couldn’t survive a four day camping trip and they were doing it for forty years. You say well those were some success stories and that is true because you know there are no guarantees in parenting. Jacob, who was a man that God had blessed and honoured, had ten of his sons gang up and sell another brother into slavery. Not exactly a father’s proudest moment when he learns of that, is it? You remember Eli, the high priest, and what happened to him. He raised two boys before he raised Samuel. Samuel was the one we remember, but don’t forget his own two sons who ended up being so vile, so anti-God, that God finally killed them. So even among those that loved and pursued God, there is no guarantee that your kids are going to turn out in the way that you pray and desire.

You say, well, it’s bad today; it’s bad in this time in history, and our generation, and in
America, and so forth. Yeah, you are right, this is a tough time to be a parent, but consider the parents of the early church because those parents were rearing their children in a generation where many parents would take their pre-pubescent children to the local pagan temples and allow them to be used as prostitutes in pagan worship. Now we are bad, but we are not quite there yet. And still the early church was able to parent by good Biblical principles in the midst of a culture like that.

So in other words, there is no throwing our hands up and giving up. There is no saying it
can’t be done. There is no acquiescing to the culture that isn’t of a Biblical stance. Parenting
has never been easy.

MileyLet’s consider Miley Cyrus for a little while. Many of you remember those days of Miley Cyrus when she was Hannah Montana, the sweet little gal of Disney fame. And many, many of our young people, and I will even tell you this, even in my house, Miley Cyrus was considered to be ‘safe enough, vanilla enough’ that from time to time the kids could watch her on the Disney channel. That’s something I quite honestly regret now because you see Miley Cyrus didn’t stay young and innocent. She has now become the poster child of a hyper-sexual worldly child star turned adult, all so she could make more money than she had even made with Disney. And this is a girl who is Billy Ray Cyrus’ daughter, his little girl. I have to think if Billy Ray Cyrus loves his little girl, he is heartbroken today. How did she go from Hannah Montana to Miley Cyrus?

Now, here is the fact of the matter; we ought to pray for Miley Cyrus. I think she knows
better. I think she sold her soul to celebrity. And in our culture today celebrity is purchased
through notoriety. I believe there will come a day when Miley Cyrus, I pray so, will wake up
and be embarrassed, or hopefully even ashamed. And maybe at that point, Christ will use her as a spokesperson for the dangers of chasing celebrity. This isn’t about her, it about our culture. She needs our prayers. The fact is there are a lot of parents today who are willing to offer their children on the altar of fame and success and money and Hollywood and Nashville and New York and notoriety, so they can have the perks and privilege that come in this culture with celebrity. And it is heart breaking.

But now let’s look at the other side. On the other hand you have the boys of Duke
Dynasty. And the fact is this, they are plain spoken, they are earthy, they are oblivious at times. They are rather simple, yet they have struck a chord with many of us, many middle American families, who desire relationships over riches, and values over celebrity. Let’s look at a few of their comments and see if you can relate. (Video is shown)

“[Phil Robertson on video] You got old Papaw here being your chaperone. John Luke,
never touch her below the neck until you sign the dotted line.”

[New scene with Phil Robertson on video.] “Hey, are you there? Can you all hear me;
can you all hear me now? Remove it from your head. What, are you all in a trance? What’s on
the video game? Huh? What’s these modern day girls up there you all fool with now, what do
they think about video games, Cole man? Find fast talking women and that will pick up the
slack on you all’s lack of conversation. You all might ought to go by Walmart and pick you up a personality. Reckon? “

[CNN Entertainment Reporter speaking on video] “You know guys, one thing that really
stood out to me as a mom; I mean this couple is definitely doing something right with their five kids. They have three biological and two adopted and they are involved in this orphanage. And these kids have fame, money, everything at their fingertips, and I said how do you keep those kids grounded? How do you keep them from being a Justin Bieber or a Lindsey Lohan? And bottom line, they love family. And their faith is number one. And you look at those kids and go, wow! They’re definitely doing something right.”

And so you see folks like this, and the sad thing is, in many parts of our culture, they are
the freaks. They are the ones we are concerned about. They are almost abnormal. And I just
have to say, if that is abnormal, give it to me. All right? By the way this isn’t about the
Robertson’s or the Duck Dynasty culture, second amendment, and camouflage, any more than it is about Miley Cyrus and Billy Ray and his one famous song, Achy Breaky Heart,’ and all the other things that go on Disney Channel. It is not about that.

But what I am trying to remind us of is that there is a cultural war that is going on and it
involves our families. And if we want parenting advice let’s not go to Billy Ray for sure, and
let’s not go to the Robertson’s. Let’s go to the book of books, and that is the word of God. So
turn with me if you will to Deuteronomy Chapter 6 and we are going to see a little bit here about what God was using for a plan for his children as they reared the next generation.

To read the remainder of this talk, click HERE.  A podcast of the talk is also available at www.lifecharlotte.com.

Merry Christmas 2013 from the Burrells

Holidays Family Shot 2013

We gave up sending Christmas cards several years ago.  With the popularity of Facebook, blogs and Twitter, it was one of those traditions that just seemed easy to discontinue along with our home telephone landline.  Instead,  I like to use this blog to catch up with our friends and family who might be interested in a quick synopsis of our year.

elliesmileThe Lord is always better to us than we deserve and 2013 has been no exception.  The absolute highlight of our year was the arrival of sweet Ellie, our first grandchild.  Her debut was in April, and after putting mom through 33 hours of labor, she was well worth the wait!  Justin and Megan are wonderful first-time parents and we love the fact that they live not far from us which allows us regular Poppy and Mimi time.  She has the best qualities of both her mommy and dad and at this point, has zero…I mean ZERO bad qualities.  :-)  I’ve turned into “that grandpa” and find myself scrolling through my own facebook photos just to look at her.

Other than her arrival, we actually had quite a quiet year — and we’re not complaining.

Julie continues to be the best mom ever to our two remaining homesters.  She taught a Bible study at our church, Life Fellowship last Spring and this Fall.  She spends a lot of time on the road shuttling two teenagers back and forth to work and to their other activities.  She loves it when Justin and Megan have to work out of town together and she gets to be Mimi for a day or so keeping an eye on Ellie.  She’s definitely the favored grandparent on the Burrell side and if I’m holding Ellie when she walks by, there is a sudden (and sometimes loud) request for a transfer of possession.  But once she gets old enough to spoil……things will be different!

I continues my work as Executive Pastor at Life Fellowship Church and as a Professor and Faculty Mentor for Liberty University.  Working two full-time jobs doesn’t leave me a lot of spare time, but that’s a good thing as I’d get in trouble if I didn’t stay busy.  I was asked to develop a couple of classes for Liberty and did an on-campus course last January.  The church is in the middle of a $6,000,000 construction project which I’m overseeing so 2014 promises to be busy as well on the church side.  I enjoyed taking missions trips to Cuba and Vietnam this year and will visit Cuba again in 2014 as I enter my 12th year of working with national pastors there.  I’ve been invited back to Vietnam to teach for two weeks in 2015 and am already looking forward to that.  I had a few minor health issues this year mostly due to age and not enough exercise (who has time for THAT), but other than a few aches and pains from aging and an “old man fall” I took in the driveway last fall, I’m doing great.

Nathan has returned to Charlotte and gotten off the road for work.  He has his own place in town and works in a nice restaurant in Ballantyne.  We enjoy seeing him regularly though he’s putting in a ton of hours.  He still likes to hoop it up when he gets a chance though he’s starting to realize that middle-age can sneak up on someone quite quickly.

Megan and Justin’s business, Gambol Photography has really exploded this year and they do a lot of weddings and family photography.  They’ve won several awards for their work and are in the process of hiring a couple of assistants so that they can double their booking schedule.  They traveled with us to Missouri for the 4th of July holiday and have made several trips to Lynchburg to see Justin’s family.  They are active at our church and so it’s good to catch Sunday lunch with them many weeks.

Katie is seventeen and still working at Chick-Fil-A.  She took Driver’s Ed this year and we’ve located a special college in Wisconsin she’s hoping to attend in a year or two if everything works out for her.  She often does volunteer work at church and stays pretty busy socially with a few very close friends.  She’s a master at Facebook and other social media connection points and likes keeping in touch with her friends and family that way.

Josh is sixteen and continues to home school via Liberty Online.  Every afternoon, he goes to work at a local dry-cleaners that is close enough to our house for him to walk to it.  He is Mr. Personality and knows just about every neighbor for blocks around.  The good part of that is that he often gets hired to do odd jobs for them.  He also volunteers at church and takes a big load off of dad every Sunday by helping him get everything set up and organized.

We took our bi-annual trip to Missouri last summer to visit my family.  It’s always great to see my mom, sisters and their clans.  We do a big cook-out and fireworks thing on the fourth and spend a lot of time eating, fishing, shooting and enjoying country living.  In June, I was invited to return to our former church in West Palm Beach, Grace Fellowship, to be a guest speaker as they are without a pastor at this time.  Julie and I had such a great time seeing old friends and making new ones.  We returned to WPB in November for the wedding of a dear friend and I was able to reconnect with some friends whom I first met 20 years ago in Albania and who are now all U. S. citizens and remain wonderful parts of our lives.  I was asked to stay over and speak at Grace Fellowship again and to help with the dedication of their new campus expansion property which we prayed for when we lived there in the 80′s and 90′s.  It felt like home and we truly enjoyed it.  From time to time, we spend a few days at our lake house in Lake Lure, but it is difficult to spend as much time as we’d like there due to the kid’s schedule and work.

In 2014, Julie and I will hit the 30-year mark as we celebrate our anniversary on August 4th.  We hope to take a cruise somewhere if we can ever agree on an area to visit.  wedding

As we reflect on God’s goodness to us this year and throughout our lives, we are humbled to be part of His family, to enjoy so much in our daily lives and we anticipate the future with absolute confidence in His Sovereign plan for us on this earth and in eternity.  We’d love to hear from each of you as you are able.  We are all on Facebook, I am on twitter and I will warn you up front, putting nonsense on my social network is a bad habit of mine, so brace yourself if you decide to connect.

May the Lord bless you and your family in the year to come!

Dan, Julie, Katie and Josh

Celebrate the Passages in their Lives

I think of myself as being sentimental, without being a sentimentalist.  If that sounds a bit like double-talk, perhaps it is.  I don’t want to be one of those sappy, teary-eyed parents who commemorate every14-birthday-trip.jpg single milestone in a kid’s life as if it were some gigantic cosmic moment worthy of a request to make time stand still.  At the same time, there are certain moments that I think are worthy of reflection, celebration and commemoration.  What those exact moments might be are perfectly open to debate.

I had a cathartic experience seventeen years ago in Washington, D.C.  I was there taking a summer symposium as I was completing work on my doctorate with Nova University.  Part of my doctoral studies demanded of me a grueling week-long session of seminars and lectures from educators coming from institutions that ran the gamut from Harvard to Cornell to USC and more.  My wife, a “retired” history teacher who loves, (I mean LOVES) Washington, DC, accompanied me with our at-the-time 15-month-old, and then only child.  If I was busy, she was a whirlwind.  Generally she was up before I was – heading off to a museum, tour or site-seeing expedition and would often come in at night after I had been released for the day.  This was pre-cell phone days, so I had no way of keeping up with her, but she was having a blast.

One afternoon, the administrators of the program had mercy on us and gave us the rest of the day off.  Julie and I decided to take a cruise up the Potomac River to Mount Vernon to see George Washington’s estate.  It was a beautiful day for a long, leisurely cruise and the boat wasn’t particularly crowded.  Sitting in the air-conditioning, a young teen-aged boy came by our table and took a particular interest in Nathan, who was just an engaging toddler.  There weren’t any other teens on board and so the boy soon started talking up a streak with us.

During the course of the conversation, I discovered that the boy had just turned thirteen.  He was Jewish.  He was on a trip with his dad who was a big-time lawyer from Los Angeles.  This trip was a gift (turns out a bar mitzvah gift) from his dad upon turning thirteen.  He could chose to go anywhere in the country he wanted to go with his dad.  Oddly, we actually bumped into this kid and his dad twice more during our trip to Washington…something that had almost insurmountable odds of occurring.  Each time, he would come over and “update” us on his trip and his dad would come over as well and we’d engage in some small talk.  I could tell they were having an awesome time.

I vowed that I would do the same with Nathan and any other kids we were to have.

It didn’t take long for the years to roll by and Nathan turned thirteen.  I presented him with a “gift certificate” explaining the trip and giving him “options” and “suggestions.”  At first, he seemed a little non-plussed and I felt disappointed.  But as he began debating where he’d like to go, what all we would do, things we could see, he became more excited and so did I.  He finally chose California.

So I cashed in my frequent flyer miles and polished up my credit card and off we took.  It started off with a bang when we landed in San Diego and got upgraded to a red Camaro convertible for free!  We tore off our shirts and went “cruising” like a couple of rubes – which we were.  (Actually, it worked out quite well for me, I was able to take Nate on the trip of a lifetime and have my own mid-life crisis adventure at the same time.)  We traveled the state from Tijuana to San Diego to LA to Yosemite to San Francisco in eight days.  It was a blast.  We laughed.  We fought.  We hiked.  We goofed off.  We talked.  We debated.  We just had a great father and son time. 

I14-roller-coaster.jpg’m still paying off the credit card bill, I do believe.  Since then, Julie has taken Megan (“coincidentally” their trip was to Washington, DC) and Katie (Cruise around the Caribbean) while I had an incredible trip to the Grand Canyon and Southern California a year and a half ago as we finished the ritual celebration of all four of our kids.   As I look back upon it, I must say that this “rite of passage” trip we enjoyed may well be one of the most important times we ever had together.  The benefits have paid off for years and years as we’ve relived and re-discussed those care-free days together.

I’ve seen other “rites of passage” ideas since then.  I know of one guy who made a scrapbook of letters and counsel for his son.  Another guy I read about had different friends of his meet his son for a long hike during which they took turns passing on advice to him as they walked together.  Yet another idea was a “tribute” dinner where everyone offered “toasts of counsel” to the guest of honor.  I still like the idea I got from that little kid on the boat and his dad the best.  The boy is now in his late thirties and I have no idea whatever became of him.  But a brief interaction with this boy and his dad nearly two decades ago sure did a lot to enrich my relationship with my own children.

Having a rite of passage event or two for any child may be something worthy of consideration.  It’s a great time to talk about values, principles, goals and future plans.  It’sfather-and-son-walking-jpg.jpg also a great time to talk about nothing, just hang out, make a few memories, and pose for a handful of pictures – all of which may bond your relationship for some future moments of stress or trial.

Now two of my kids are out of the nest.  One of them is married to an awesome guy and they will present us with our first grandchild in a few weeks.  My remaining two are in their final years of living under our roof.  A different phase of life for us is just around the country.  At this point, I have more to look back upon than to which I am looking forward in terms of being a parent.  But in my mind, memory and heart, I cherish those days we spent together celebrating the passages of adolescence and young adulthood.

I hope you’ll consider a few planned special trips, days and celebrations as your children grow up and make a plan to transfer spiritual values, family heritage and privileges of maturity as they get closer to the days when they too will be parents traversing the pains and pleasures of rearing children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Need a Winter Getaway? Try Renting Our Lake Lure Home

front.jpgPeople need breaks during the “off-season” as well as during the summer months and the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in Western North Carolina is a perfect place to get some R and R, chillax, make some family memories or just take a second honeymoon.  We have recently returned our vacation/retirement home to the rental market and invite you to consider spending a few days or longer at this beautiful, full-equipped house in Lake Lure, North Carolina. 

The house is not a cabin and it’s not rustic.  This is a nicely-appointed house with all the amenities from satellite TV to wireless internet to laundry facilities to a king-sized bed in a master suite with a jacuzzi garden tub.  Sleeps 8 easily (and 10 if you have smaller children) and is on the side of a mountain that overlooks Mirror Lake.  It is within the Rumbling Bald Resort which means that year-around golfing on two breath-taking championship courses, spa, health lake-lure.jpgclub, basketball, marina, mini-golf, pool and lazy river, volleyball, horseshoes, beach, hiking, fishing, tennis, indoor pool, movie rental, restaurants and more just minutes away.  Also in the area is beautiful Chimney Rock Park, the Biltmore, horseback riding, skiing, shopping, Flat Rock Theater, hiking, restaurants, apple orchards, white water rafting, zip lines, lovely mountain drives and more.  If photography is your hobby, make sure you bring your camera as this is a photographer’s paradise with covered bridges, wildlife, mountain foliage, spectacular sunsets and much more ready to capture.

living-room.jpgThe house is family-friendly with books, videos, games, a foosball table, ping-pong table and fishing equipment readily available.  Save money by bringing in your own groceries and utilize the fully-equipped kitchen complete with microwave and dishwasher.  There is also a barbecue grill, deck and lovely porch.  There are tons of deer, wild turkey, squirrels, chipmunks and even the occasional little black bear running around.

Lake Lure is located 45 minutes from Asheville and Hendersonville, NC, one hour from Greenville, SC and 100 minutes from Charlotte.  Perfect location for going on day trips all around the area.

If you are in ministry (missionary, pastor, etc…), this is a great place to go to re-charge your batteries, write or read, doing planning or just reconnect to the Lord.  In addition, if you will write me, I’ll arrange a special “ministry rate” to make it affordable for just about every budget. 

Drop me a line at DLBurrell@Liberty.edu for more information or you can get more information from our broker by clicking on THIS LINK.  “Burrell’s Peaceful Cove” may be a place you want to visit year after year.  Now’s the time to get super-low nightly and weekly rates.

master-bedroom.jpgbedroom-3.jpgbedroom-2.jpgbackview.jpgdining-room.jpgdeck.jpgplayroom.jpgkitchen.jpgmaster-bath.jpg

Catching Up

It’s been several months since I’ve done any blogging.  It’s been a very busy six months, quite frankly.  I seem to do much of writing these days in snippets that are more suitable for Facebook or Twitter than the extended articles I used to write on this Blog.  I actually toyed with dropping the blog altogether when I got the bill to renew the domain, but after thinking about it for a few days, I decided to leave it up — at least for 3 more years, which is the term of my renewal.  I’m not as sure that I have anything all that worth reading any more, at the same time, I often joke that if I didn’t write from time to time, I’m highly likely to just simply burst into flames.  It’s one of my primary outlets.  I’ve been enjoying the give and take one gets on the social media sites which has pushed blogging toward the background across the internet, but I’m still gratified that several hundred people wander across the blog on a typical day and scan the archives and often still leave comments.  So, at least for now, I’ll stay blogging and perhaps trying to apply a bit more discipline to it as well.  Facebook is easy for me as I have a strange habit that keeps me focused as I’m grading my papers for my job as a graduate school professor for Liberty University (Seminary).  Reading 20-page papers on the same topic over and over again gets quite monotonous, so I generally give myself a “Facebook Break” every five papers or so while I’m grading and it helps make the time go by faster and keeps me fresher.  If you’re one of my Facebook friends, it’s always easy to tell when I’m grading papers (or eating lunch) as that’s when I tend to pop up a lot of nonsense on my wall. 

But this HAS been a busy year thus far.  I accepted the position of Executive Pastor at Life Fellowship Church in Cornelius/Davidson/Huntersville, NC last Spring and we have relocated from Lake Lure to logo.pnga nice house that we’re renting in Cornelius.  The church is growing quite rapidly and I’m busy organizing various facets of the ministry and producing policies and procedures in addition to overseeing the education and small group portions of the ministry and managing the staff.  Because this is a church plant, much of what I’m doing involves starting from scratch.  Those who know me, know that administration comes naturally to me, so I’m having a good time and feeling fulfilled.  I have an awesome boss and lead pastor, Dr. Bobby Conway aka “The One-Minute Apologists” and his meaty and extended sermons each Sunday never fail to challenge me thinking and my living.  We have a great team of staff, elders, deacons and church members and we are blessed to be in this ministry.

familyphotowedding.jpgThen the summer was spent planning and celebrating the wedding of our oldest daughter, Megan, to a fine young man, Justin Mook, on July 23rd on the shores of Lake Lure.  It was a very warm, but beautiful day and the setting was incredible.  We had friends from as far away as Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Florida, Virgina, justinnmegan.jpgMissouri, Washington, DC and elsewhere joins us for the special day.  I know I’m biased, but I think Megs could not have been more beautiful.  She and Justin (and the rest of us) had a genuinely wonderful time.  Our photographer, Jean Moree, did an outstanding job.  The catering was done by our friend, Rhonda Tate, and as always it was just incredible.  Our friends, Dave and Diane Matthews from Lake Lure did much of the design and decorating.  Our long-time friends from Oklahoma, Bob and Brenda Byers drove all the way here and served as special coordinators and just went above anything we could have ever imagined in helping us pull of the day — we’d have been a mess without them.  Julie and I both were so gratified and honored to have our siblings and their families, my mom, Julie’s Uncle and Aunt and my Uncle and Aunt and many other special neices and nephews and even a couple of great-neices and nephews join us for the day.  Our special friends, the Toros, the Meldrims and many other former juliememegskiss.jpgchurch members also joined us.  It was just a great day of laughter, tears and reconnecting.  Justin’s family are just wonderful (he has 5 brothers and sisters and his dad is just completing his law degree at Liberty University) and we enjoyed getting to know them better as well.

This fall is equally busy.  I’m leading a capital campaign to raise the funds for a 17-acre parcel of land in Cornelius for a future-site for our church.  We also launch a brand-new third worship service at our school site this week-end which I’ve been coordinating.  Josh and Katie are back into the homeschool routine with Julie.  Megan and Justin live one exit away from us and are settling in to married life.  Nathan is working for a company that requires him to travel basically non-stop all of the USA.  In a few weeks, Josh and I are heading to Nevada, Arizona and California for his 13th birthday trip (yes, I realize its 18 months late, but we’ve had an interesting couple of years).  We’ve put our Lake Lure house back on a nightly rental program and that took some work on our part as well.

So…that’s what’s new with us.  Start checking back here if you would and I’ll start putting up some thoughts and articles.  A new feature I’ve decided to start is called “Blog Grafitti” and will consist of some of my tweets, status updates and miscellaneous thoughts that are generally going to be very brief snippets.  If you want to follow me on Twitter, connect with me at DanBurrell and of course, if you’re on Facebook, I’d love to connect there as well.

Stay tuned and buckle your seat belts.  You know I rarely post stuff that doesn’t poke at the way people think.  Let the discussion and debating take off!

Need a Reasonably Priced Photographer? Check This Out

Here’s a shameless plug for my daughter, Megan, who has an emerging photography business.  If you live in the Central VA, North Carolina or upstate South Carolina area, you should check out her blog.  She does weddings, family settings, children, reunions, special events, parties, advertising and more.  Includes the photo shoot and editing.  She’s really quite creative and you’ll be impressed by the uniqueness of her portfolio.

You’ll find her blog HERE.

Lost My Muse? Perhaps….

I’ve been getting some emails and messages about the blog lately.  This is the longest I’ve gone without updating my blog in the since I started it quite a few years ago.  I just want to assure everyone that I’m alive and kicking.  I recently made the conscious decision not to shut down “Whirled Views” when I renewed my domain names, so the blog will be around in some form for the next couple of years, I guess.

I’m not one to “pretend” that I, nor any other Christian, lives a carefree life that’s always rainbows and buttercups.  In all honesty, 2010 has been a rough year and a series of rough years.  I had the worst employment experience in my life last year — something I’ll write about later when I have enough perspective to let me be rational and objective.  As a result, we lost our house in South Florida — thankfully, we secured a short sale right before foreclosure hit, but we lost our entire lifetime of home equity in the process.  We have relocated to what was to have been our “retirement home” in Lake Lure until we decide where the Lord would have us settle next.  I have a pretty narrow range of employment fields I am considering after my more recent experiences and let’s face it, in this economy there just isn’t a lot available of any kind of jobs.  I’m thankful for the adjunct professorship work I’ve been able to snag which has kept us afloat since January.

But I’m not losing my perspective either — I have a long-time friend who is fighting a debilitating disease at the age of 51 and he has 3 small children, our dear friend and my personal assistant for 17 years just finished chemo a few months ago after a serious cancer diagnosis, a sweet young lady and mother barely in her 30′s that used to call me Pastor is fighting off a recurrence of an aggressive form of cancer and a dozen more similar stories remind me that the consequences of man’s fall are no respecter of persons and it’s only God’s grace that can give us hope in any circumstance.

But in all honesty, I just haven’t felt like writing at length lately.  The reasons are to some extent probably personal and to another extent just a phase.  I’ve often joked that if I didn’t write, I’d simply explode — but for now, the muse seems to have taken a break and so better to be silent than write something that is nonsensical.  If the mood does hit me to write or stir something up, I often throw an impolitic bomb on my status on Facebook and enjoy the brief tempest that such an action often causes.

So, for now, that’s the latest….we’re all doing fine.  The two older kids are at Liberty University sharing an apartment and working their jobs and going to classes.  The younger two are adjusting to a life where the nearest WalMart is 45 minutes away and we haven’t been able to find a church with a youth group within driving distance.  They started homeschool today.  We love the Blue Ridge Mountains and Western North Carolina and this is a wonderful time of the year.

If you know of anyone who needs someone to do some teacher training in a school or church setting, a missions speaker, a family or marriage conference speaker, etc… — give them my name as I’m doing quite a bit of that ministry these days.  I have nearly a hundred popular workshops, speeches and sermons for those occasions and I’d love to share them with groups.

Keep checking in here and who knows….maybe inspiration will strike sooner rather than later!  :-D

Christmas Greetings from the Burrell’s — 2009 Edition

christmasfamily09.JPGWe gave up trying to keep up with all our friends and family via a Christmas card list several years ago, so if you’ll indulge us, we use this blog to give an annual ‘report’ on the comings and goings of the Burrell clan.

2009 was our first full year back in Florida since 1999.  Florida really is a paradise this time of the year and we watched with interest the reports of heavy snow in many parts of our country recently while we enjoyed temperatures in the 80′s.  This has been yet another interesting year in the ministry and we continue to learn to trust in the Lord and not in man as we serve Him.  Dan remains as the Executive Pastor of the New Testament Baptist Church with campuses in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale and the Vice-President of Dade Christian Schools (Miami) and The Master’s Academy (Ft. Lauderdale).  Due to a tough local economy, He is now find also serving as the COO and CFO for the ministries on about 50% of the pay he was making last year.  In addition, he is also doing most of the preaching for our ministries as our Senior Pastor resigned in October and left in November to become the full-time president of Davis College in Binghamton, NY.

Anyone who knows how these things work realizes that at whatever point a new senior pastor is called for this ministry, I will need to move to have found another place of service as there is the potential for confusion and unclear lines of authority that can arise as the new pastor comes on board if the “interim” pastor remains.  Therefore, we are currently actively searching for our next place of ministry.  We are in a position where we must try to get out from under a house that has dropped by nearly 40% in value and which we can no longer afford, so pray that we can find someone who will attempt a short-sale with the bank.  We are facing personal and financial challenges that we did not anticipate, but are confident that the Lord will unfold His plan for our lives in the coming months.  Stayed tuned to this blog as we find out what our next assignment will be.  We’ll keep you posted.

dnjchristmas.JPGDan is blessed with a wonderful team of pastors and department heads at the ministry where he currently serves and even though the church is in transition, it is great to see people coming together for the good of the church and the work of the ministry.  He also became a full-time contracted associate professor with Liberty University (formerly he was an adjunct) and he teaches Discipleship, Leadership and Bible Teaching for Liberty University Onlines graduate program through their seminary.  It adds 20-30 extra hours to his work week, but he really enjoys this and would be quite happy to land on a college campus in the future.  He also continues his work with Boston Baptist College where he serves as an adjunct each January and where he also serves on the Board of Trustees.  He also serves on the board of Davis College and is part of a new speaker’s bureau that features men like Marvin Olasky, Warren Smith, Alex McFarland and Eric Metatexas and specializes in apologetics and worldview.  He took two trips to Cuba where he continues to work with a wonderful team of national pastors.

Julie helps Dan with his Sunday adult Bible fellowship class on Sundays and keeps the kids organized and on task at home.  Katie is now continuing her education at home and Josh keeps a pretty busy schedule as an active middle schooler.  She spent a week in Charlotte over Labor Day to be with our dear friend and Dan’s former administrative assistant, Cindy Smith, who had major cancer surgery.  They talk frequently as Cindy continues her regimin of chemotherapy and experiences the joys of being a grandmother in the midst of her health journey. She enjoyed a couple of months in Lake Lure with some of the kids as well and we also all went to Missouri to be with Dan’s family over the 4th of July with a couple of days spent in Branson.

christmasnate.JPGNathan has been working as a system administrator for the church and school IT department for the last 18 months, but made a big announcement recently and has decided to return to Liberty University this January to complete his bachelor’s degree.  He’s rarely at home for any extended time as he has an active social life and is a major gym rat with his daily workout and basketball games.  Dan has really enjoyed working on the same campus with him and they have regularly grabbed lunch together a day or two each week.  As the family has realized that big changes are ahead, the time seemed right for him to head back to Lynchburg and finish off that degree.

christmasmegan.JPGMegan graduated from Dade Christian School in May and enjoyed a wonderful senior trip with her classmates to Washington, DC and New York City.  Dan was able to be a chaperone for the trip, so they had a great father/daughter time for a week.  She is quite the photographer and did quite a few photo shots ranging from senior pictures to publicity photos to weddings.  She has a Facebook page of her work.  After working this fall as a school photographer for Lifetouch, she is also heading to Lynchburg to begin her studies at Liberty University in January.  Too bad dad doesn’t get a tuition break as a professor for having his kids there, but student loans and side jobs will keep them going.  She is looking forward to having a college experience with her big brother — they are very close.

christmaskatie.JPGKatie is working on her schooling at home these days.  She hit the big thirteen this fall and will be taking her 13th birthday trip with mom before long.  She enjoys cooking and texting her friends and collecting Bella Sera cards.  She takes PE with a great home school group each week and has been taking some art classes as well.  She loves to sing and is a member of the school choir at The Master’s Academy and has enjoyed singing at local stores, church and a nursing home.

christmas-josh.JPGJosh is in 7th grade at The Master’s Academy and is a constant cyclone of energy.  He’s the early riser of the family and loves the trampoline and anything with a trigger.  He’s recently expressed an interest in taking kick-boxing lessons and so we’re looking for the right program to offer that outlet.  He and dad have a weekly breakfast “date” at a local restaurant for discipleship and hanging out time.  He’ll be turning 13 this spring and is already planning his 13th birthday trip out west to do some hiking and exploring.

All of our kids are maturing physically and spiritually and in the midst of turmoil and uncertainty, having a strong family, good health and kids that are making you proud and giving you joy is a tremendous blessing and more that we could ever desire.  Please drop us a line at our regular email addresses and let us know how you all are doing.  Dan, Julie, Nathan and Megan are all on Facebook and we enjoy that network sight to keep us in touch with hundreds of friends.

We look forward to 2010 with a sense of anticipation and confidence and our prayer for you is the best of God’s blessings on you and yours in the year to come.

Expecting His Best!

Dan, Julie, Nathan, Megan, Katie and Josh (and Zoe the dog)

Back from Vacation

Well, to all of you who thought I’d died or quit or both, I’m back.  June and July were a wonderful mix of getting some work and projects done and taking some time off.  In a nutshell….

  • I had a great trip to C uba where I spent several days with my friend and ministry leader there.  He has been going through a tough few months and I went specifically to see him and be a friend to him and encourage him.  God is doing great things there and Satan is fighting it big time.
  • I took Julie and the kids back to my hometown of Moberly, Missouri for a week the cuzins.jpgfirst part of July.  I hadn’t been home in 2 years and the last time I was there, life wasn’t all that great, so it was good to be back to with my crazy clan.  We went to Branson, MO for a couple of days of Silver Dollar City and White Water.  Then we hung out at my sister and bro-in-law’s place where they have lots of room, a beautiful lake and plenty to eat.  The kids (even the big ones) love going there and shooting fireworks and catching turtles and swimming and doing “country things”.  My mom and sisters cooked up a storm and the weather was just perfect.  I don’t remember a better time.

  • I’ve been fighting a minor health issue for the last six weeks.  (Diverticulitis)  That has forced me to slow down a bit in some areas, but that’s been good for me.  I’ve got some tests coming up in the next few weeks to decide what they want to do with me.  On another health-related note, I went back to my Charlotte doctor for my annual physical.  Two years ago, he told me to make some major changes to my life and stress level or to start planning my funeral.  Two years later, my “numbers” are back to near sanity.  My cholesterol, which once had hit nearly 400, is back down to 144.  Sugar and blood pressure — formerly elevated, are now in the normal range.
  • I spent a week with Julie and three of the kids at our lake house in NC and again, the menjulie.jpgLord gave us incredible weather.  I really miss living in NC in the summertime — what a beautiful part of the world.
  • I was privileged to officiate at the wedding of Richard Houser and Samantha Hicks a last Saturday.  It is a wonderful reward of ministry to see young people grow up to serve the Lord and start a home for the Glory of God.  Richard and Samantha are both students at Boston Baptist College where I serve on the board and am also an adjunct professor.
  • Speaking of “professor” issues, I was blessed last month, to be invited to join the faculty of Liberty University (Seminary) as a full-time Associate Professor.  I work in the Distance Learning division, so I don’t have to relocate to Lynchburg and I obviously still have my other full-time job.  I love interacting with students and teaching, so this is a real blessing on several levels.
  • My pastor/boss, Dino Pedrone, underwent a hip replacement surgery earlier this month.  During his absence from the pulpit, I’m honored to be filling in for him in the pulpit of the Miami and Broward campuses on Sundays.  This week, I’ll be at all three morning services.  I’m preaching on  “Avoiding the Loss of What Might Have Been” from Matthew 25:14-30.

So, that’s where I’ve been lately and what I’ve been doing.  I hope to get back to regular blog posts in the next week or so.  I’m going to post one of my most popular humor articles as a repeat in a few minutes.  Enjoy!