Tommy Pierro’s Legacy: He Showed Up

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!

Throwback Thursday: A Fun Family Idea

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.

Camp Dynamis 2017 Day 1

Several months ago I asked my staff members to dream a God-sized dream. I asked them what they would like to do this year and said I wanted to get behind them to make their dream a reality. Peter Ladenheim came to me a few days later and said his dream was to run our own summer youth camp. Today was history in the making! Camp Dynamis Year 1, Day 1! I am so proud of him and excited for what God is going to do this week!

Jr. High NYC Mission 2017 Day 3

This morning Peter led our team in devotions during breakfast, then we headed out and caught the train over to The Legacy Center in Brooklyn. We helped sweep and clean the sidewalks around the building then worked in the warehouse sorting and organizing donations of school supplies. When we finished working, Diana, one of the LC staff members asked the students about their hopes and dreams, then shared about how the LC works to help people and how our contributions were helping them to be able to minister to their friends in the community. We then gathered around the LC staff and the students prayed over their ministry. We left at 2pm and took the train back to Living Waters. We had lunch, prepared 75 bag lunches, had a little downtime, then the team went to Manhattan and walked over the Brooklyn Bridge into Brooklyn where they had pizza at the famous Grimaldi’s Pizzeria. While the team had dinner I went to Manhattan where I had the joy of reuniting with my youth pastors from when I was growing up. They were in town from Florida, and we were able to have dinner together. It was the first time we had seen each other in some 23-24 years! What a privilege! They were a major influence on my life as a teenager, and a big reason why I went into youth ministry. It was so great being able to have dinner with them while two of my former students, Rebekah and Peter, now on staff with me, were leading my current students. They are an extension of the legacy that was passed on to me by Bill and Carla Clark. After dinner we all met back up at Living Waters. At 9pm we prayed over the 75 bag lunches we had prepared, and for the people who would be receiving them, then we headed down to the park and gave them out to people. Within about 30 minutes we had given them all away with a smile and in the name of Jesus. We came back to the church and had a good time of debriefing and sharing.

Let’s Ride Discipleship Road Trip 2017 Day 4

Today we only did 134 miles of driving; a nice, relaxing day without the long drives we have done the other days of our trip. We got up at 7am and drove to The Founder’s Inn hotel and spa for showers. We then returned to New Life Church, cleaned, packed, had breakfast, loaded up, and departed at 9:30am. We had our personal devotional time during the half-hour drive to New Covenant Church in Hampton, VA where we unloaded and setup for tonight. We then worked on our memory verses during the 30 minute drive to Colonial Williamsburg. We spent 4 hours touring and exploring the historic town. Afterward we had our small group discussion about our theme for the day, Legacy. We then went to my Aunt Patty’s home where she and her family had prepared dinner for our team. My Grandpa Mahaffy also came by and everyone got to meet him. While the team was hanging out after dinner, Grandpa and I went out for a bit and stopped by to say Hi to my Aunt Susan and Uncle Alan. The students played with their chickens, played games, had a bonfire, roasted marshmallows, then my cousins came back to New Covenant with us and we enjoyed playing Manhunt and games in the gym. After making sandwiches for tomorrow’s lunch we had some team time. Carol shared a word with us, then we prayed together before heading off to bed. 

Money Matters for Students

“Kev, money just burns holes in your pockets.” I remember riding in the car with my Grandpa as a little kid when he said that to me. I had just received a few bucks and I desperately wanted to spend them on something that wasn’t very important. Money wasn’t in instant supply when I was a kid, so when I got some, I had a thousand things lined up calling for it when I did get it.

I don’t know about you, but as an adult I wish someone had taken the time to really talk to me about how to manage money when I was a kid. Certainly people like my parents pointed me to the Bible and tried to steer me on the right path, but I don’t recall ever having a detailed, intentional explanation of financial matters until I had been married for several years. One of my uncles was a financial advisor and took some time to sit down and talk with me about how to budget, save, etc.

At Shelter Rock Church, our student ministry vision statement is to see students become fully-devoted, passionate, life-long followers of Jesus. Each of those three parts of the statement are important. We want students to understand that Jesus being Lord of our lives means that He is the center of every relationship and everything that we are involved in. We want students to experience that life with Jesus is not boring, but the greatest adventure you could ever imagine. And we want equip students to honor God all the days of their lives. To that extent this year we are going to be talking with our students about handling money.

I am really excited that this semester in our small groups we are going to be taking all of our students through Generation Change, the student version of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. I believe equipping our students so intentionally and strategically in this area of their lives will really give them a great head-start and empower them to live their lives free to be and do everything God has planned for them.

“Turning The Page” a Poem for Claudia

IMG_1746Today I turned the page
It is the last in the chapter
Tomorrow starts a new one
I wonder what comes after

But today I savor
I enjoy the last few words
Taking snapshots in my mind
Of all that’s seen and heard

Trying to live in the moment
To read this page, not skip to the next
I’m anxiously anticipating
Don’t know what to expect

Focus on this page
But I begin to reminisce
The story that’s been thus far
Laughter, tears, so many moments

Sure we’ll have more
But this chapter is through
We’ll see each other less
Shared moments will be few

It’s been quite a journey
Lots of ups, a few downs
Smiling, fun memories
Only more impactful because of a few frowns

I hope you’ll always treasure
The lessons that you’ve learned
Highest of all follow Jesus
God’s will utmost to be discerned

No we haven’t been perfect
But we hope you know we tried
Many have been our failures
And for these our eyes have cried

But our sorrow is turned to joy
When we feel God’s embrace
This story has been and will always be
Filled with His love and grace

So as I finish this page
A little sadness, but a whole lot of excitement
An adventure awaits
Go live your divine assignment