Christian Living family

Remembering Barb Evans

As a 15 year old junior at Hanau American High School I lived for youth group night.

For a couple of hours we took over the gym of Hanau Middle School. We played huge, sweaty games, where two teams competed for the sake of having fun. Usually, there was pizza and soda. Then Dan played some songs on his guitar while Barb tried to figure out how the changing of slides on the overhead projector at just the right pace so Dan didn’t lose his place. We typically ended our time with a sweaty Dan sharing something from the Bible and praying together.

I idealized Dan and listened intently to everything he said.

But in the Winter of 1993, for some reason, Barb led our teaching time for a few weeks. She was clearly nervous as she explained that for the next few weeks she’d be reading from the Bible her favorite story and sharing a little bit each week on what that story meant to her. It was a dramatic change of pace. Run-run-run-eat-eat-play-play-sing-sing-STOOORRRRYYYTTTIIIMMMEEEEWIITTTHHHBBBBAAAARRRBBBB.

I thought I’d die from boredom.

Barb started reading in Genesis 37.

One chapter in and I was hooked. She read the story and shared from her heart how that related to her life.

As the days passed I started to look forward less to the silly relay games, the pizza, and the songs… and started to get more excited about Barb’s story from Genesis. Her love for God’s Word was spreading to my heart, too.

A couple weeks later, the series culminated with the reading of Genesis 50. I hadn’t read ahead so I had no idea what was coming. Joseph, having been sold into slavery by his brothers, reported for dead to his father, tossed into jail for not sleeping with his bosses cougar-wife, saved from the death penalty twice. And yet somehow God kept blessing him. Now, as pharaoh’s right-hand man his brothers were now before him begging for food but not recognizing him. Joseph had his opportunity for revenge. No one would blame him. And God would be able to use it as a great lesson for not selling out your friends.

But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God?  You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.Genesis 50:19-20

My jaw dropped. And my life changed.

You mean… God wasn’t a God who liked revenge?

Barb explained that God used Joseph, a man who had been wronged by so many people, to save the very people who had wronged him. Never did something ring more true and make so much sense in all of my life. As I looked at all of the crap I had been through. Some of it self-inflicted, some of it inflicted upon me, it all had context for the very first time. Perhaps… maybe… PROBABLY… God had allowed all of that to happen to me so that I could one day be in that position, like Joseph, to chose to offer hope where there was no hope. He hadn’t been the cause of it. But God could take what had been done to me to destroy me and use it for His own glory.

I still feel the impact of those few weeks of stories today. Life is still full of crap. And because of her words and sharing Joseph’s story with me for the first time, I can always put it in context. Sometimes people seek to harm you. But God can use that for the saving of many lives.

My life was changed because of Barb’s ministry to me. She shared her heart and mine was opened to the Gospel in a brand new way.

Barb Evans passed away on Monday, March 7th. She had battled brain cancer for more than a year before, earlier this year, the doctors told her they had exhausted all their options and referred her to hospice care. Her last few weeks were spent at home with her family in Alaska, where she and her husband Dan served as missionaries with Cadence International. She leaves behind Dan, her husband, and their two kids, Caleb & Audrey.

It’s impossible to measure or convey the impact Barb had on my life. She and Dan were a critical relationship when I found myself living thousands of miles from home, in Germany, on a military base, my junior year of high school. Their youth ministry offered me so much more than just stuff to do one night a week. For the first time ever there were adults in my life that asked me real questions. They listened to what I had to say in a way that made me feel like I was a real person.

And they gently, and often times not-so-gently, pushed me to think about who I was and who I could become in Jesus.

Barb’s impact on me went beyond when she was the youth pastor’s wife and I was a student who was always with her husband. (Literally, if Dan would let me I was at their house every day. At his office. At youth group early. Anything I could do to hang out with him. Barb was a saint for not kicking me out!)

In college, I ended up attending Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, the church she had grown up in. Her parents befriended me. I remember Kristen and I sharing Easter dinner with her parents and family. Later, I served on the missions committee where we kept close tabs on their ministry, prayed for them regularly, and I was even sent to visit with them in 2001, shortly after September 11th. As I got involved in the youth group at Calvary, I loved the circle of blessing God had created that I helped lead a high school ministry and was part of a church who had raised and sent a young woman who lead me to Jesus.

Over the years, my respect for Barb’s deep faith, practical love for those she ministered to, and heart to raise her children as lovers of Jesus has grown with each passing prayer letter. Her impact on my life began when I was 15 years old and has translated into impact on my whole family.

Her husband Dan lovingly blogged the last year or so on Twitter. It’s such a tender testimony to Barb’s last months, I encourage you to read it.

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3 Qualities of Successful People

Photo by SearchNet Media via Flickr (Creative Commons)
I have a lifelong obsession with golf. It started in 2nd grade when my parents scraped together enough money for a starter set and a series of playing lessons at a local par 3 course. Even though neither of them were serious players– I guess they thought I’d enjoy it. And I did. A lot.

Don’t read that the wrong way. I’m not a country club kid. I’ve never belonged to a course where I got my own locker or had an account on file with the restaurant.

Instead, I grew up playing city-owned munis and family-owned courses. In middle school, my first membership to the local golf course cost my family $50. That also included an annual pool membership, ice rink membership, and anything else the Mishawaka Parks Department charged money for. I didn’t grow up playing with kids named Chip or Trevor. We were more of an Adam, Mike, and Tim kind of crowd. But golf was my obsession. All summer long, every day, I play 27, 36, or 45 holes of golf.

Here’s what I learned about success in golf that translates to life: We don’t have equal access to success

One fact that I love about golf, especially professional golf, is that anyone can become a professional in 7 days. Unlike any other professional sport on the planet I can start on Monday as a nobody and win a million dollars on Sunday. Just about anyone can enter a qualifier. And if you manage to qualify you are in the same tournament as the card carrying professionals on Thursday. And if you make the cut on Saturday, then manage to win on Sunday– they will hand you a big check and a Tour Card for the rest of the season.

Fat chance trying that in baseball, football, or basketball.

But that almost never happens. While there are several PGA Tour members who rose from poor backgrounds to earn their card on Tour I can’t name a single person who is currently on Tour who started as a Monday qualifier and turned a good 7 days into a career.

It can happen, but it is nearly impossible.

Instead, if you look at those who made it, you’ll see that their success is a combination of 3 qualities.

  1. Talent – Talent is the constant. Talent is the difference between learning skills well enough to be pretty good and being a winner. Over the years I’ve played with and coached hundreds of people. But when you walk the course with a person who has a natural talent for the game… it’s amazing. Most amazing is that these players can rarely describe to you the mechanics of what they are doing. They just try stuff and it works.
  2. Ambition/hard work – Talent isn’t enough. I’ve met plenty of talented players. Each high school team of 12-15 young men had 3-4 players with enough talent to take them to the next level. But if they aren’t single-focused enough they won’t advance in the game. An ambitious person never stops practicing. They putt in their living room. Hit wedges in their backyard. Keep a 7-iron and a bag of balls in their trunk to practice between meetings. They play 9-holes before work and chose vacations with great practice facilities.
  3. Environment/resources – This is the X factor. This is the difference between a good local golfer and a professional. They have access to amazing resources. In most cases, their family has invested in them from a very young age. They played in expensive junior tournaments. They have great equipment. They have great coaching. And it results in opportunities to get to even better tournaments, more finely tuned equipment, and the best coaching.

You can be pretty good, above average, with two out of the three. But you’ll never be excellent. There are millions of guys putting their clubs in their trunks right now who have endless talent and ambition but aren’t in the right environment with the right resources to make it to the next level. And this weekend will be full of guys who pull up their Mercedes at a country club, with access to the best environment and resources and absolutely no talent for the game.

I don’t care about golf. What does this have to do with you or me?

We each have something we were created to be amazing at. There is something in our lives that we have talent, ambition, and resources to be the best at.

Identify that thing… no matter how obscure the niche`… and you’ll find the success you know you deserve.



According to Tripit, my travel tally for 2011 looks like this:

Trips 3
Days 18
Distance 9,959 mi
Cities 18
Countries 1

That’s as of February 2nd.

And it doesn’t include all of the cities I’ve been to… just the places I’ve spent the night.

The first 33 days of 2011 have been a total whirlwind. This was something I did intentionally to try to get as much done before the baby arrives so I won’t have any pressure to go anywhere. Anyone who knows me knows that I push myself 10 times harder than anyone could possibly push myself.

33 days into 2011. 18 days on the road. 15 days at home.

Yesterday, waiting for my bags in San Diego I habitually popped open Tripit, my app and travel companion. (Because it always tells me where to go and what to do next.)

It said, “No trips planned. Want to add one?


I hit the home button and shoved my phone in my pocket.

Symbolically, I’ve hit the home button for the next few months. My hope is to not have to travel for work for a while. I have no need to leave San Diego County until mid-April. And I don’t think I’ll spend a night away from my family until May. That’s plenty of time to regain footing in our family routines and work hard to bond as a family of five instead of a family of four. (2-3 more weeks!)

Last night, as I was talking to Megan and getting her ready for bed, I said, “It’s really nice to be home. Did mommy tell you that I won’t be going anywhere until after your birthday?

The smile said it all.

I’m grounded. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.