Sunday, December 06, 2020

What I'm Missing

December 2020.

The last ten months have been like something none of us would have imagined. I know we've all lost a lot. 

For me, the biggest loss is my kids' sports.

For the last 17 years, my greatest joy in life has been watching Ashley, Brady and Cash play soccer,  baseball, football and basketball.

With both boys playing multiple sports for the last eight years, most of my free time has been spent taking them to practices and games--coaching them in baseball, cheering them on in the other sports. 

I love watching them practice and play. I've tried to teach and coach and train my boys to work hard and be good teammates. I think it's had a good impact on them. But while I do it for them, I benefit just as much, as those times have brought me great joy. 

I almost always stay and watch them practice, rather than dropping them off. I enjoy watching them work and talking to other dads. Even more, I enjoy going to their games, cheering them on, celebrating with them when they win, and encouraging them when they lose. 

But that has all been put on hold. I know it has an impact on them, and on me. I feel that loss every day. The activity that brought me my greatest joy is gone, for now. I'm trying to do a better job of finding other activities to take the place of those that have been temporarily lost.

Grandma and Grandpa gave the boys an early Christmas present of new bikes; so we're trying to ride more. We enjoy hiking, so we're trying to do more of that. 

Both boys are taking hunter safety classes so we can start hunting; and in the spring, we'll do more fishing. I hope we can resume sports before long, but until then I'm going to find ways to keep us all active. 

Like all of us, I am mourning what is lost. And while it is healthy to grieve, it's not good to wallow in that grief. So I'm trying to look up, find positives in the midst of the difficulties, and work to find the joy that isn't coming so easily these days.

Friday, January 24, 2020

2019 In Review

As I get older, I realize more how each year is filled with significant events. 2019 was no exception. Two big highlights were trips home to Virginia. 

January was typical of most months in the Cullop family, as both boys were busy with sports--basketball and indoor soccer. I am proud of how hard Brady and Cash work and how much they accomplish. 

The big event in January was a five-day visit from Ashley. I had hoped she would move back to Washington when she graduated college last year, but she loved Portland and decided to stay there. It was great having her home for a few days.  

Cash playing for his school basketball team. Basketball is the sport in which he has the least experience, but he was a leader on his team and had a great season. 


The highlight in February was a solo trip home to Virginia, mainly to spend time with my brother Eric and be there for his baptism! We spent three days together talking, eating, walking, driving and had a wonderful time. We haven’t spent much time together since we both lived in Texas over 20 years ago. It was really special. 

Also had great time with Mom and Jerry, and some of my very best friends--Elise Bell, Mike Poff, the Jenkins family, and my college buddies (see pic below). 

Eric and his Pastor Sherry after his baptism. One of my all-time favorite days. 

Eric and I doing some sightseeing in Luray. 

Cracker Barrel with Mike Poff; a brother for 27 years!

Elise Bell; a dear sister for 33 years. We were in campus ministry together in the 80s, seminary in Texas in the 90s, served together in the same campus ministry in the 2000s. I’ve never known a truer friend. 

Dinner with Gordon and Heidi Jenkins and their son Matthew. Gordon and I have been brothers for 40 years; Heidi has been my sister for 34. I love them and their family!

One of my all-time favorite places to be--the Patriot Center (now Eagle Bank Arena) watching GMU basketball with these guys--Kenny Budd, me, Johnny Gallagher and Andy Gibson

Cash and Brady duck hunting with Uncle Chad and cousin Ira

Cash working on his basketball skills, even in the snow

We got a rare snow in February. The boys built a snow fort in the back yard.

Both boys finished basketball season; Brady’s team won three straight to win their tournament!


March is always one of my favorite months--it means the beginning of baseball season! This was my last year coaching the boys in baseball. It started with T-ball seven years ago; and ended with Cash’s last year in Little League. This season both boys will be playing on a select team and I’ll be a dad/fan instead of a coach. 


Baseball season! Cash was in his second year of Majors and was joined by many of his teammates from his minors team two years ago. I coached with Jim Walker for a second year and we had a blast. We won all but one game during the season (a forfeit when one of our players was ejected for accidentally throwing his bat). 

We played some extra games against some better teams and Brady was able to join us for those.

Brady finished 4th out of 14 in the 800 at his middle school conference championship. He beat his old PR by 5 seconds. He also finished 7th in long jump and 8th in the 200. Proud of our boy!

Baseball season was in full swing. I turned 54; Brady turned 13. After several years of playing Burlington soccer, Brady went back to the Northwest United Soccer Club and started the long season. 

One of our favorite activities, year in and year out--going to Mariners games in Seattle. 

The boys played in a Mothers’ Day Tournament and gave roses to the moms.

Ashley came home and surprised Jamie for Mothers’ Day!

Our handsome new teenager!
After a great regular season, Cash’s baseball team, the Cardinals, played a playoff tournament with teams from all over our area. After blowing through the tournament, we were challenged in the championship team by another Burlington team with several of our friends. 

It was an incredible, back-and-forth game, but Cash’s Cardinals beat fellow Burlington team the Navy Sox 5-4 in a thrilling Andrade Tournament championship game. Cash pitched 2.1 innings in relief to earn the win, and had the game-winning RBI with a sacrifice fly in the 6th inning.

I took a trip to Birmingham, Alabama for work and got to see several old friends. The highlight was spending a day with Ryan and Kelly Akers. I taught with Ryan and Kelly for a couple years in Fort Worth and we have stayed close over the years. Being with them was a huge blessing!

We got some hard news as my mother, Helen Newhouse, was diagnosed with Mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. There is no cure, but Mom is going through treatments and has a great attitude.

Tournament Champions! 

Coaching with these guys over the years has been a blast; Jim Walker, me, Brad Stallings and Sean Lockwood. 

Ryan and Kelly Akers and their daughter. One of those perfect days. 

Ran into Bryan Jones at a pastors’ conference. Bryan was one of my youth when I was a youth pastor; later we partnered in ministry. Grateful that our paths have crossed over the years; a truly great guy. 

Jay Wolf was my pastor in my first ministry position as a summer youth intern 32 years ago. He was a great mentor; wonderful to see him again!


For the third straight year Cash made the Little League All-Star team as we defended our district title in Oak Harbor. Cash and teammates Tyler and Hamza dominated on the mound with two no-hitters and won games 20-1, 14-0, 4-0 and 10-0. Cash was 10 for 15 at the plate. 
In four years of coaching All-stars with Brady and/or Cash, we won three district championships. It’s been a great run.

A few weeks later we took a road trip to Richland for the state tournament. We had a blast building friendships, hanging out in the hotel, cooking out, swimming, and playing baseball. We ran into some good teams at the state tournament and fought hard, but lost our two games, one to the eventual state champion. It was a great experience.

Hanging out at the state tournament with some of my favorite people--Brad Stallings, Jim Walker, Drew Fleshman and Alison Studley.

One of the highlights every summer is the Faithlife (my work) picnic. All you can eat, games and fun people. Ashley was able to come up from Portland to join us!


August started with Brady’s soccer team in the middle of the summer tournament season. They had some ups and downs, then put together a good run in the Rush Cup, making it to the championship game where they battled hard and fell short 1-0. Brady played a great tournament. 
For the first time since moving to Washington in 2011, the whole family flew home to Virginia to visit Mom and Jerry. It was a wonderful vacation.

Me and Dan Dever. Dan and I have been friends since the late 80s when we did youth ministry together. In 1992 we moved to Texas together where we were seminary classmates and roommates for several years. We both moved back to Virginia in the early 2000’s. He has been a true friend for 30 years. 

Jamie and I met at New Hope Church in 2002. Here are several of our great friends from there. From left--Brady, Dan Dever, me, Jon Feld, Ron Buzalsky, Nancy Buzalsky, Kim Feld, Jamie, Stan Harris (who also did youth ministry with Dan and me at FBC Alexandria), Jay Hudgins and the Cashman. Each of these people have invested in Jamie and me over the years. What a blessing to spend that time together. 

This was an incredibly special evening. David Blanton was my campus pastor at GMU, and the first man to disciple me. He and his wife Norma were my spiritual family in college, and we have stayed in touch over the years. Elise was part of that ministry as well, and has been a sister to me for over 30 years. This was the first time all four of us were together since my college days. 

Time with the Jenkins family; always a blessing

Nick Baatz (top left) was a good friend to Jamie and me at New Hope. Here is our family with Nick and his husband Scott. We’ve been blessed to connect with them a couple times in recent years--always a good time!

Got to spend time with Andy, Johnny and Kenny!

A more recent Virginia tradition--a meal at Cracker Barrel with Chris Hough and Mike Poff--all of us were part of Hope Church in Ft. Worth and also did ministry together in Virginia

Dining room at Mom's house, home since 1973. I’ve probably had more meals in this room than any other in my life. Great time with Mom and step-dad Jerry.

These boys love their grandma--and she loves them!

Good time with my brother Eric


After some time off in August, Brady and Cash were back in school and sports--fall baseball, school and league soccer for Brady, league soccer for Cash.

Brady’s middle school soccer team completed their second straight undefeated season (with Brady on the team; legend has it they haven’t lost in about 7 years); Brady was a real leader on the team. 

Both Brady and Cash tried out for and were selected to play on the Barnstormers, a new 13U select baseball team next season. While I am sad that my coaching career is over, I am excited for the challenges and opportunities ahead of the boys, and proud of how hard they work and what they have accomplished.

Ashley had her fourth knee surgery in the last five years. Grandma Vicki and Jamie each went down to Portland to help her.

First day of sixth and eighth grade!

Brady and I sometimes work out together at Planet Fitness; good times!

Cashman at the plate

October and November were mostly about sports; finishing up fall baseball, playing soccer, starting basketball.

This was my eighth year working at Faithlife/Logos Bible Software. I had a great month in November and won Salesperson of the Month for the second time in my time there.

In December we were blessed to spend Christmas week with Ashley in Portland! It is rare to have all five of us together for long--this was the longest we’d all been together in years. We had a wonderful time talking, eating, playing games, going to Ashley’s church, seeing the hospital where she works. It was the perfect way to end 2019!

As I get older, I realize more and more that what really matters is relationships. First of all--my family. I am blessed every day by my wife and three amazing children.

I have lifelong friends that continue to love and encourage me. 

It’s hard to believe we have been in Washington for eight years now. I’ve made some great friends through the kids’ sports, work and church. For over a year now, I have met weekly with a group of four dear friends connected through church to encourage and challenge each other. These guys celebrate with me when life is good, and lift me up when life gets rough. 

If you are reading this, you are one of the people I’m grateful to have in my life. Thank you.