Doing Life in the Same Community

I live in the small town of Cornelius, just north of Charlotte. It’s a great little town with lots of things to do. Our little town is on the lake so there’s plenty of outdoor activities, great communities, and close enough to the city that we can get around and get to just about anything that we need there. And our house is located in a little arts district close to down town.

While all of the above reasons sound like a great reason to want to live in Cornelius, there is a bigger purpose. My wife and I both also happen to each work less than 3 miles from our home. So we are one of the few that have a very short commute and we get to live, work, and go to church all within the confines of our little town. Almost our entire lives fit within a 5 mile radius.

We love doing life in a small community. You get to know the people around you very well. We have the opportunity to impact our community. Part of doing life together means that we get to live, work, worship, and play all with our friends and family in this little community.

Our friends and coworkers live close by so we can get together and experience our town. Our little town feels like small town America but with all of the big city amenities as well.

But being in such a small community means we can also have a larger impact as we get to know the people around us better. We can have the opportunity to share the gospel and the ups and downs of what it means to live as a Christian today.

We are in the bible belt so its common for everyone to “Go to Church” but not everyone really knows what it means to be a true Christian. Living in a smaller community allows you that opportunity as there are always people watching and observing you. You run in to clients at the coffee shop on Saturday, bump into your neighbor at church, or having a conversation with an old friend you at the art festival down the street. There are so many opportunities for others that know you to get to know who you really are.

In a larger city that is less likely to happen because there are so many more people and so many more coffee shops. I am not saying its impossible, just that its much more difficult to feel like living your life can really impact your community as easily.

I love my small town, I love my Creator, and I want to do everything that I can to share Him with those around me.

What does it mean to serve your church?

I have recently taken the position as Technical Director for our church. I love the opportunity to take my skills as a technician and be able to use them to serve My Creator. I serve with a team of people that are passionate about what they do on a weekly basis and give their hearts for the Gospel.

While it may not always seem like turning on a piece of equipment or plugging up a microphone is directly a ministry effort, when you are doing it to enable others to present to gospel and share God’s grace and Christ’s story to a congregation you are a part of a much larger effort.

What happens on the stage here has a HUGE impact to everyone that attends out church. Because someone connected that microphone someone else is able to use that microphone to share the love of God. Our congregation is able to focus on worship, or focus on what is being taught rather than focus on what’s not working properly. Any kind of small issue or distraction can play a role in what a person hears while sitting in the congregation. If a mic has a ringing sound to it, or if a light is not functioning properly then people can begin to focus on those small issues looking for the distractions instead of focusing on what is being taught.

On an additional note here in Charlotte we have a number of jobs and careers that do performance arts, music, and teaching and they have a much higher expectation of quality. They do it for their job every day and if there are constantly issues the it plays a role in how they think about our church.

Our goal as a production team is to create an environment with as few distractions as possible, that has artistic expression and a professional quality to enable our church to share the gospel.

A Father’s Integrity

As I sit here on Father’s day I am pondering on what it means to be a father. I think back to my dad when I was growing up. He was always there for me, and stood as an excellent example for as I grew up.

Growing up we were not very well off but I remember seeing my father make sacrifices time after time at work to continue to provide for our family. I remember periods when my father was looking for work, but he never wavered on his dedication to our family. One instance sticks out in my mind where he left a very well paying job because the job was requiring him violate his own moral compass and he refused to do so. He has always been one to stand on his integrity and set a great example of what it means to be a Christian in the secular workforce. I did not fully understand how much this situation would impact me later on in life.

There were many more instances where my father was put in the position where he had to stand up for his integrity and it stood out to me very much growing up. It has helped me to strive towards being that great of an example of Christian integrity among my peers and now as a father for my son.

What A Year 2016 Has Been

This year has been a very interesting one for our family. We have had a number of very big events happen this year.

  1. We finished the renovation of our house with the final touches in our kitchen. It’s such a refreshing peace to know that from the renovation standpoint our house is now complete. Of course there will always be things to do for house maintenance but all of our rooms are done and now we are just living in our home for now. At least until our next project when ever that comes…. We finished our kitchen with new counters and tile backsplash. We finished this project about three weeks before my wife gave birth to our son.
  2. Which brings me to the BIG event of the year is that we are now a family of three. Fatherhood is such an amazing point in life. I’m sure I will have more to write about this topic later on but We love him to death and enjoy every minute of time with him.
  3. My dog Diamond of 12 years passed away this year. She was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure back in December and she lived another 8 months. She was a great companion and best friend. She held on long enough to meet our son. Molly, our other dog was very excited to meet our son but Diamond had a much more somber and respectful approach to him as more of a “You’re Finally Here.” I have always been fascinated with her level of intuition as a dog. We had to take Diamond in for her last and final trip to the vet three days after we brought our son home from the hospital. That made for a very emotional week, but it was her time.
  4. Earlier this year we brought another pet into our family. Her name is Sadie and she is a Golden Retriever puppy.

All of these events seem kind of crazy if you really think about it all happening in the span of about 4 months. So many changes, and so much joy. I am thankful for all of the blessings that God has provided our family.

Well this is really just a very short blog post for now I hope to have more reflection on a few of these topics to come very soon if I can make the time.


Watching God Provide

I grew up in a pretty big family by today’s standards. I have 7 younger siblings. That’s a bit of a long story but that’s not the one I want to tell today. So with a large family sometimes brings challenges where we had to depend heavily on God. Sometimes money was not always an abundant thing. Sometimes we struggled. But one thing I learned growing up was how important it is to trust in God and to have the faith that God will provide for all of our needs and much more. While my family really struggled financially some times we always had food on the table.

Matthew 6:25-27

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

Today I am a small business owner. I have had to apply this verse, and what I learned growing up more than I ever expected but I have seen God provide for us (my wife and I). I have never been without work to do. There is always another website to build or another computer to repair. Sometimes it’s a challenge but I know that God will always provide and as long as I keep my eyes on Him, He will lead me wherever He wants me to go. For the last three years I have not ever had to worry about what I was going to do because God kept my work coming in and I have stayed extremely busy. There have been some slower times but those typically came right about the time periods where I needed a little breather to get caught up on billing or to just relax a little only just before everything took off again and began piling up again.

I am writing this today as a reminder to myself just in case anyone actually reads this.

God is my provider – Jehovah Jireh

Garden Boxes

I know this is not my normal kind of topic but this is something that I wanted to put together some information on how I built these garden boxes as I could not find a good design that I liked.


These boxes are built based on the basic dimensions of the metal and the boards used to be completed with as few of cuts as I could while meting the deign I wanted. I’m sure there would have been some other improvements on this design but this is my shot.

Photo Mar 22, 3 13 35 PM


All of my supplies came from Lowes and here is the list of needed supplies to complete one box:

  • 2 – 2.5′ x 8′ metal roofing (Actual dimensions are closer to 2’2″ x 8′) – $12 each
  • 2 – 2x6x8 Treated Lumber – $5.54 each
  • 6 – 2x4x8 Treated Lumber – $3.54 each
  • 56 – 3″ wood screws (Approximate) – I had these laying around from other projects
  • 27 – 1″ wood screws

So my cost not including screws is $56 per box. Some useful tools for this project are:

  • Miter Saw
  • Cordless Drill
  • Philips Screw Driver or Punch
  • Hammer
  • Tin Snips
  • Carpenters Square
  • Pencil or pen
  • Work Bench or Saw Horses.
  • Yard stick or straight edge.
  • Permanent marker.


So these boxes are about 4 feet wide by 4 feet wide, give or take an few inches, and are 2 feet 6 inches tall. The metal roofing although its labeled as 2.5 feet wide its actual measurement is 2’2.5″ so to avoid cutting them I used this as my base measurement for the interior sections where the metal goes. I suggest that you measure your metal and adjust as needed to avoid needing to cut the metal down.


Cutting the wood.

I cut one of the bottom sides and used that one as a template for all of my other ides including the top sides(Bottom is 2×4 Top is 2×6) to help keep everything more consistent.

4 – Bottom sides – Material: 2×4 – Size: 49.5″ with opposing  45 degree angles

Photo Mar 22, 3 13 56 PM

12 – Vertical Sides – Material: 2×4 – Size:25.5″ flat cut

Photo Mar 22, 3 13 46 PM

4 Top Sides – Material: 2×6 – Size: 49.5″ with opposing 45 degree angles

Photo Mar 22, 3 14 03 PM


Build your bottom Square.

I cut four 2×4’s about four fee long and on a 45 degree angle and screwed them together putting just one screw in each corner for now to hold it together.

Prop up the square on something that will assist you in screwing on the corner sides.

Photo Mar 22, 3 28 41 PM

Add the vertical pieces

At this point I only screwed on one piece per corner to get it up off the ground. I actually used a couple pallets to hold it in place. I put two screws in the bottom of each vertical piece to keep it from spinning and to help make it more visually balanced all the way around it I faced each one flat to each side and then added another one 90 degrees to it in the next four corner pieces also placing a screw from the bottom into its 90 degree partner to give the square some more stability. I then took a measurement and put the middle in in its approximate center. Also putting two screws into the bottom.

Photo Mar 22, 3 36 10 PM

Once all of the vertical pieces are in place I flipped it over.  And put another screw into the other end of the corners to help reinforce the corners.

Photo Mar 22, 3 36 07 PM


Secure Top Pieces

Next I Took the top sides and screwed them into place one at a time. The vertical pieces can be pushed into place  to make every fit well. Not all boards are perfectly square but this is a fairly forgiving design.

Photo Mar 22, 3 43 05 PM

Cut and attach the metal

Sorry I did not get photos of the last step but I then took an interior measurement of the needed length for the metal and cut the metal to the length needed. I sized the vertical pieces to match my metal so if you did not then you will need to measure and cut that as well. Be very careful with the metal as it can be very sharp. I measured and cut each metal sheet for its place to allow for some room for play and mistakes in my cuts so Cut one and attach it then measure and cut the next piece.

I screwed the metal sheets into place from the inside of the box putting four 1 inch screws in each side and two in the middle to hold it tight against the wood, but once you have them filled its all going to be help pretty tight, you don’t have to use as many screws.


Filling the boxes

I put a sheet of plastic drop cloth down for my bottom. The plastic in my mind at least helps to keep some of the bugs fro my yard from being able to get into the bed box. I then filled each box half with leaves. This will help it hold some moisture and helps to create some ongoing compost for later on and keeps me from needing to purchase so much other materials and still gives me the needed depth for my plants. I then used some untreated cardboard as a divider layer between my garden soil and the leaves.


My Chosen garden Soil

50% Compost * See later note about where I got it.

25% Vermiculite

25% Peat Moss


My actual amounts are probably more compost heavy but I used one bag of peat moss and one bag of Vermiculite per box filling the rest with compost. (Each box is half full of compacted leaves) before adding this mixture.

The county where I live offers compost for sale at about $27 for a cubic yard, Which fills the bed of my Ford ranger. Two loads was enough to fill all four of my boxes with some left over to spread around on my yard. The county here makes the compost from all of the yard scraps that they collect. Some counties sell it for cheaper and may even deliver it for you.

A New Year, A New Home

Over the past year I have not had the time to write as often as I would like, but I have been a little distracted. Exactly one year ago on January 25th 2014 we walked in a house to look at it for the first time. With every possible barrier in our way we finally closed on our house on May 9th. When I say everything possible I’m not joking. During the entire purchase process if it could go wrong, it did. From the paperwork, to the loan process, appraisal process, it was all crazy. I think we thought the whole deal was going to fall through at six separate points. We held on and trusted God to work it out and through four changes on our closing date we finally closed on May 9th.

Then began the process of permitting and town zoning. Two months later we began construction in July.  Our contractor did all of the work on the 300 Sqft addition. We gutted the existing bathroom and kitchen, installed all of the tile in the master suite, refinished the hardwood floors, repainted every paintable surface inside and out, and installed flooring in the rest of the addition.

Seven months after closing we moved into our home in November. We will continue to finish small projects here and there as it will need many other things as time goes on. Here is our before and after on the exterior.



Exterior Front



Since this last photo was taken we finished the front porch, painted the garage, and put new gutters on.

Wow what a ride the past year has been. From the points we thought we would never own a home,  frustrations and moments of “intense fellowship” from a rough day of renovating after getting home from work, to finally moving in and enjoying the holidays in “Our Home.” I’m glad to be able to walk through this whole process with my best friend by my side.

The Heart of Worship

I feel like I don’t write enough on my blog. I really love writing and sharing my thoughts with the world, but just like everyone else sometimes I just don’t take the time to do it as often as I would like. Along a very similar train of thought I wanted to unpack something that I think about on a daily basis.

Worship. It’s something that we all do on a weekly, daily, almost hourly basis. Worship means to show reverence and adoration towards a deity, or the feeling or expression of reverence for a deity. The word worship comes from two old English root words: weorth, which means worth and scipe or ship, which means something like shape or quality, so worth-ship is the quality of having worth or of being worthy.

We all worship. I do not necessarily think it’s all towards a deity. Some-times we worship musicians, sports, technology, or each other. Worship is not necessarily something we only do for God.

I have always had a strong passion for worship. I have a passionate need to worship my Creator. I typically attribute worship to reverent music, but it consists of so much more than just music. Worship comes down to your attitude and your thoughts.

For me music is the biggest part of worship because through music we can convey emotion so well. Worship music brings us to a place where we can center out thoughts on God and essentially sing a prayer that we might not have typically been able to come up on our own. Take the song “As The Deer Pants” as an example.

My soul Longs and even faints for the courts of the Lord
Lord my heart and my flesh cry out for you O God
You’re my sun and my shield You give grace and glory
No good thing will you withhold from those who seek your face

Just as the deer pants for the water brook
So pants my soul for You O God

I set my heart on a pilgrimage through the valley of weeping I will go
I set my heart on a pilgrimage
Until I appear before God in Zion


I know that I would not on a normal day just pray those words, but through music I can center my focus and thoughts while praying to the creator of the universe. This song has been on my mind a lot this week.

I tend to have music playing while I work throughout the day. Sometimes I have my worship station on and I will gravitate towards a particular song and make that song my prayer for that day or that week

How do we worship other things? What do you dedicate much of your thought life to? To what do you attribute worth? In the USA we have so many different distractions pulling us in so many different directions that it can be difficult to set aside time on our daily schedule to attribute worth to our creator.

I know this blog seems like a random tossing of different thoughts, but sometimes that’s just how my brain works sometimes so I’m sorry for the randomness.

How do you worship?

A Heart of Worship

God calls us to worship Him with our lives. I have always had a heart for worship. It is in worship to my creator that I feel his presence closest. My pastor spoke on Genesis 4 recently and used Cain and Abel’s story to talk about worship and how that should look in our life.

This made me really think, Do I give God my first fruits? Do I give God my very best like Abel did? Or do I give God my leftovers like Cain? What does this look like in my life?

For me that means a number of things. I worship God in so many different ways. With my tithe I give my first fruits, but this should also apply to other areas of my life. Do I give God my first fruits for my time? No, I don’t. I have a tendency to want to set my schedule and I get “busy” and completely forget to give God my first fruits of my time. I let other things get in the way and make them more important than giving God my time.

What does that look like with my relationship with others? This I am still working through. I pray God teaches me what this means.

In the past I always looked at Cain and Abel’s story as though it was the type of sacrifice they brought, and thought God wanted a lamb not grains and plants. But It wasn’t until this sermon that I really gave it some thought that it had more to do with their attitude about their sacrifice. Abel brought his best and his first fruits, Cain brought his leftovers and was doing just enough to Get by.

How can we bring God our best? What does that look like for you?

My Email Signatures

I have multiple email accounts. Its pretty common for someone to have an account they use for their personal communications and one for their professional communications.

For the longest time my personal email signature has been:


Dusten Lee Harward

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because I see everything by it.” C.S. Lewis.


Being a marketing professional I have always felt that your email signature should be used to say something about who you are and give the recipient a way to connect with you.

So for a business email address it’s a great way to display your company logo, contact information, and a few links to your social media profiles. That way if the person you are emailing is a client or vender then they can follow you and have a way to leave you a review.

On a more personal side I thought I could put something in there that allowed someone to look into the window of my life for a brief moment and possibly understand me a little more.

This quote has been really important to me for a long time. As you should already know I am a Christian. I have always looked at life through the light of scripture.

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because I see everything by it.”

What quote defines the way you think about the world? Would you be willing to put that in your email signature?