Wow! What a day! My hiking partner, Wes, and I were supposed to meet up to conquer Mt. Diablo together this morning. However, somehow entering the GPS coordinates in Waze and Google Maps took us to different entrances — Waze to the north, and Google to the south. Once we realized we were a 40-minute drive apart we decided to meet at the summit. Wes’ map said he was 3.5 miles to the summit, the board where I was was scratched off but looked like it said 4 miles to the summit. Wes tried to call me when I was nearing the peak and I told him I was about 5-10 minutes away. The peak was not actually 4 miles, but over 5. I followed the trail to North Peak, only to discover it was not the highest summit, and that he was on the actual summit. He headed down and I headed the extra 2-miles to the summit. After relaxing a bit on the summit I headed back down and ended up doing 14-miles on the nose back to my car. 4,374’ of elevation was quite a workout. Bummed we couldn’t get a pic together on the summit, but glad we got to both defeat the devil on the same beautiful day.
It’s election season. Rather than the typical divisiveness, here’s a biblical message you deliver to unite your students (and all people, for that matter) in your church regardless of whether their political candidate wins or not. Click here to order A Christian Response to the Election.
I preached this message March 1st. It was the last time our church gathered in person. The next week, life took a hard left turn for all of us. I hope you find the message inspiring and encouraging during this challenging time we are living in.
Over the past 2 years I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunities I have had to travel and speak all around the country. It has been a true honor and privilege. I was really torn about getting off the road and settling back into a role in the local church, but we felt it was the best decision for our family. With our recent move to the San Francisco Bay Area for me to become a family pastor, many people have asked what this will mean for my speaking engagements. Our new church was gracious enough to allow me to fulfill the commitments I had already made through this summer, so I am happy to announce I will be speaking for the new Merge Conferences being hosted by Group Mission Trips in Cincinnati, OH, Roanoke, VA, and Chicago, IL this summer. Other than that I will be speaking occasionally at Bay Hills Church, and speaking locally (I preached last Sunday at the church, and spoke this past week at a local school), and I am really looking forward to networking and building relationships here in California. I will continue to field requests to speak at camps, retreats, and do leadership training as my schedule allows once I have had the opportunity to get established in my new role. So, please continue to keep me in mind toward the end of 2020 and into 2021. Complete a speaking request form here.
Finally received my 2019 1,000 Mile Finisher medal. It was a good year of running. I completed several races and challenges, including my second full marathon.
In February I will joining the staff of Bay Hills Community Church in Richmond, CA as Family Pastor. I am excited to be stepping into a new position in which I can maximize my 20 years of youth ministry experience as well as oversee kid’s ministry and marriage and parenting. It is a great opportunity to invest in leadership teams, shape church culture, and help all of these ministries work together with a shared sense of purpose and alignment. Adriana and I really enjoyed our time visiting the Bay Area and are looking forward to calling it home.
Years ago I wrote a post called Everybody Needs a Jim Frew which was about my Dad’s best friend who passed away tragically and unexpectedly many years ago. This week I too lost one of my best friends, Tommy Pierro, after battling serious health issues including cancer this past year.
Tommy Pierro was an amazing friend. We met Tommy and his wife Naomi in 2005. They picked us up from the airport during our second trip to interview for a job at Smithtown Gospel Tabernacle. After we accepted the position and moved to Long Island, he was the first one to arrive to help us unload the moving truck.
Through the years we became very close. We loved going to Yankees games together, hardly ever missed meeting up at Miller’s Ale House to watch UFC cards late on Saturday nights, and went to a live Bellator MMA card together. We did youth ministry together for 6 years, and he was the model youth worker. But my favorite thing about him … he was Uncle Tommy to our girls. As they were growing, and as we were serving in ministry, Adriana and I knew that we really needed other loving, caring adults to be in our daughters’ lives. Nobody did it better than Uncle Tommy. He was a staple at family gatherings, was at every major milestone in our girls’ journeys, and would always find a way to be at Natalia’s softball games. We would see him walking across the field with his chair with a little side table and his bag of snacks and a coffee.
Tommy’s nickname was Rock, and he lived up to his name through his consistency, steadfastness, faithfulness, and servant’s heart. If I had 3 words that captured what made Tommy so special to so many people, they would be simply: He showed up.
As I said of Jim Frew, everybody needs a Tommy Pierro. And yet, as I have reflected on Tommy’s life over the past months, and more specifically, over the past couple of days since he passed, I would suggest something more. Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned from Tommy is that even if we may not all have a Tommy Pierro, we can all BE a Tommy Pierro. We can show up. Simply being there for people is, I believe, just as, if not more, powerful that anything we can say.
When I learned Tommy was in the hospital, I made the decision that I was going to be there for him, just as he had always been there for us. I wanted him to look up from his hospital bed and see me walking into his room, sometimes totally unexpectedly, just as we used to look up and see him walking toward the softball field. Sometimes our conversations were deep and profound, more often they were simply just two guys talking about life, family, sports, and making each other laugh.
Some days he was completely unconscious and unaware that I was even there, but I showed up. I wanted to be there to give Naomi a bit of relief, to give her some company, to be a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, and to pray with her. I wanted to be there in case Tommy awoke and needed anything. I wanted to be there in case some monitor started beeping and the nurses needed to be notified. I wanted to be there if none of the above happened. I simply wanted to be present with my friend.
I told him so many times over the past months during countless times being with him in the hospital, “I love ya dude!” I am thankful that we had so much time together over the last months of his life. It was painful to see him deteriorate, but it was a precious time and an honor to be with him as he was always there for us.
Tommy, thank you for your friendship and the impact you had on our lives. You left an amazing legacy that we will cherish. I love ya dude! I will miss you terribly. I will do my best to honor your legacy by showing up, and by telling your story and inviting other people to love Jesus by showing up for others like you did.
Until we meet again, cheers!
I took a break from blogging for much of 2018 and 2019. They were 2 years of a lot of hell for me personally and I was simply too exhausted to expend emotional energy trying to express myself creatively. (At some point perhaps I will share more, but this is an interview I did in which I talked pretty candidly about some of my experience should you care to give it a listen.) However, in 2019 we had some very special, significant moments in our family. Before I share about life as we move ahead into 2020, I wanted to share the monumental moments that we experienced last year.
Natalia made All-County in softball! After 3 consecutive years being named All-Conference she made it her goal to dominate her position as catcher, and she did it! She received a place on her high school Wall of Fame and was honored to play in the Nassau County vs. Suffolk County Senior All Star game. She also went to prom, graduated Roslyn High School, and began her freshman year at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, AZ.
Claudia remained in Phoenix through the summer, taking a full load of classes, which enabled her to graduate with honors from Grand Canyon University with her B.S. in Communications in December. She also landed a full time job in Scottsdale, AZ. Last week she moved into her first apartment and this week she began her new job.
We could not be more proud of our girls for their great accomplishments!
Adriana and I were able to enjoy several travel experiences together in 2019. Amongst the locations we traveled to were Portland, OR, and San Fransisco, CA, two places we had never been before. I had 34 unique speaking engagements between local churches, camps, retreats, and leadership trainings, traveling all over the country, and it was nice for Adriana to be able to get some time off of work to join me for a few of them.
In June we were able to have a Mahaffy Family Reunion in Yorktown, VA. It was the first time we had all been able to get together in several years. We loved being able to have the whole crew together for a few days, a rare thing as we all live in different states.
In June we also had to say farewell to our beloved dog Pedro. He was 14 years old and was such a joy to our family. Over the past couple of years his health had been deteriorating. He was still a very happy boy, but we made the difficult decision to put him down before he really started suffering, and we did it while our whole family was back together so we could all be with him as he passed. We miss our fun little guy but are glad he had a good life and did not have to suffer.
Throwback Thursday. #TBT. Every week on Thursdays you will find people posting pictures from their past. It’s such a fun way to remember years gone by.
Last week our daughters were visiting from Arizona, and on Thursday we decided to do #TBT a bit differently. Instead of just posting pics, we decided to take a trip down memory lane. We spent the entire day driving to spots that we went to often when the girls were little. We went to the local beach we enjoyed picnicking at, had lunch at our favorite pizzeria, visited their elementary and middle schools, took a stroll in one of our favorite parks, went to the mall, and got pastries from our favorite bakery. It was so much fun sharing stories and reliving memories. It gave a whole new meaning to Throwback Thursday. I’d encourage you to try it out with your family.
Would love to hear your feedback.
- What are fun things you do/did as a family to build memories?
- If you try this activity, let us know how it went.
It was a light reading year for me. I needed to let my mind breathe a bit.
- All-American Murder by James Patterson
- A Serial Killer’s Daughter by Kerri Rawson
- A Spirituality of Fundraising by Henri J. M. Nouwen
- Bad Christian Great Savior by Matt Carter, Toby Morrell, and Joey Svendsen
- Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller
- Didn’t See It Coming by Carey Nieuwhof
- Falling Upward by Richard Rohr
- Filthy Rich by James Patterson
- Growing Givers’ Hearts by Thomas G. Jeavons
- Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain by Charles R. Cross
- Kings X: The Oral History by Greg Prato
- Masters of Modern Soccer by Grant Wahl
- People Raising by William P. Dillon
- Summit Fever by Andrew Greig
- Talk Like Ted by Carmine Gallo
- Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle
- The God Ask by Steve Shadrach
- The Mastermind by Evan Ratliff
- The Story of Layla and Majnun by Nizami
- Van Gogh: The Life by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith
- Why We Eat Our Own by Michael Cheshire