Rare and Priceless

I admit it. I geeked out quite a bit when I read about the recent rare baseball card find.

In case you missed it, a family going through their great-grandfather’s belongings in his run-down house found a wadded-up brown paper bag that looked like trash.

Inside, among other things, they found seven identical Ty Cobb baseball cards, dating from 1909-1911.

Why is this a big deal? Before this find, there were believed to be 15 of these cards in existence. That’s it.

Because of the extreme rarity of these cards, their worth is probably estimated to be anywhere to the high 7-figures to north of $1 million.

If only I could be so lucky.

But think of this. As rare as those baseball cards are, you are rarer still. So am I.

Don’t you realize that there is (and will always be) just one of you. There has never been– and will never be again– another you.

You are a one-of-a-kind work of God, not mass-produced or rolled out on an assembly line but crafted in love, soul-signed, and unique.

You are not only priceless, but twice priceless. God not only made you but also took on human flesh in Jesus and died for you. He paid the ultimate price that forever defines your worth.

Perhaps you’re feeling beat down by another week of work or by family and friends who don’t recognize your true worth. Maybe your soul feels battered by bad choices and unfortunate circumstances.

That doesn’t change your worth. That doesn’t change how God sees you. You are priceless and beloved for as long as God remains faithful and true. And that’s forever.

In case you want to read more about the baseball cards, here’s a link to an article with more information. If it were me, I’d sell six and keep one. But that’s just me. You decide for yourself.


Winning the Lottery

So, the lottery is up to something like $1.4 billion. I also read that if every single person in the U.S. had a winning ticket, every person would win $4.3 million. I believe whoever calculated that was off a few decimal places. The actual total would be $4.30 per person, enough for a value meal at Taco Bell.

I have ideas with what I’d do if I won the lottery. I’d buy one of those old houses on Fair Street in Franklin. I’d finally get my red Mini-Cooper. I’d travel a lot and go to all those places I’ve always wanted to go.

I’d be very generous. I’d give to charities and pay off people’s debts and buy really nice stuff for my friends and family. Or would I?

I believe wholeheartedly that people that aren’t generous with $1 won’t be with $1 million. If you’re not a charitable person now, the chances are that sudden wealth won’t change that.

Maybe the answer is to start looking for ways to be generous now. It doesn’t necessarily have to involve spending lots of money on others. It could mean spending time with people. It could also mean donating your talents.

The best way of all to learn generosity is to remember how generous God has been to you all this time. He saved you, didn’t He? He rescued you from your own mess and gave you everything you needed in Jesus, right?

That kind of generosity should inspire us to a kind of generosity that is most needed yet most rarely given– a generosity of loving people not because they deserve it or earn it but because God loves the unloveable and calls us to do the same.

In fact, when we tangibly love those who can never return that love, we are most like the God who loved us when we were at our worst.

But I’d still like the opportunity to prove that all those millions wouldn’t change who I am fundamentally as a person. I’m just saying.

PS If you’re a millionaire and you don’t have a bookshelf that spins into a secret room you’re spending it wrong. Give me your money.


All is Still Grace on a Monday in January

I had the good fortune to run into a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. We were greeters together at Kairos for a few years and then her life took a different path than mine and I hadn’t seen her in a long time.

I seriously doubt that she was as excited to see me as I was to see her, but it was a nice, brief reunion. It was another of those God-winks that I keep seeing when I look through the lens of gratitude instead of seeing through fear or despair.

I also got to see a homeless deaf man signing with a woman via Skype over his iPad. It was a beautiful moment that made my day.

I look at it this way– the worst day ever still only lasts 24 hours. No matter what happens, there will be a sunset and a sunrise, followed by a fresh morning with new mercies and grace. For that I will always be thankful.

I did have a caramel macchiato from Starbucks and sipped it while watching The Wonder Years on my antique iPad that I traded for at McKay’s a couple of years ago. I think that qualifies as a Monday win.

So there it is. A full work day, Starbucks, a good conversation with my friend that I see every Monday, serving at Room in the Inn, and good music in the Jeep to make the driving in Nashville traffic bearable.

I realize that there are a LOT of people out there around the world who would trade anything to have my problems (as well as my blessings). There are many much worse off than I am, many of those who are way more grateful for what little they do have.

It’s still a process. I have spells of envy and anxiety like anybody else. I have moments where I can’t see the good in the moment because I’m too wrapped up in reliving the past or worrying about the future.

But right now, by the grace of God, I am thankful for where I am right now, because that is exactly where God is and where God is working on me at this very moment.

The end.




My First Blog of 2016

Welcome to 2016. It’s a leap year, so we all get that extra day in February that nobody knows what to do with.

I’m thankful once again that I got another day to be alive and another chance to see another year in, even if it wasn’t with a multitude of people and loud festivities. I’m okay with that. It was just me and my sister and her family in a low-key celebration that ended up with just me and my brother-in-law ringing in the new year.

Currently, it’s 12:59 am and I’m pooped. Even after that 2 1/2 hour nap earlier, I’m still tired. I guess I know what my cat feels like most of the time.

I hope to see more of my friends face-to-face and have actual, honest-to-goodness conversations, preferably over coffee, tea, or some other beverage at a Starbucks or other similar type venue.

I hope to lose the weight I gained back after getting down to a good size. And this time, I’m keeping it off. As long as there’s no chocolate or cheesecake or any other type of food to tempt me.

I hope to see the latest installment in the Star Wars franchise, which I am apparently one of the few who hasn’t already seen it at least once. I’m thinking maybe of seeing it in IMAX 3D at some point in the next two weeks. Anyone want to join me?

As always, I look forward in anticipation to what God will do. As I read in a post earlier on Facebook, I’m trusting less in my own resolutions to do better and be better and trusting more in Jesus’ resolution to finish the good saving work He started in me way back when.

It’s now 1:06 and I am officially calling an end to this wild and crazy celebration. See you all later and may your 2016 be blessed and joyful.


To All the George Baileys in the World

Recently, I was the recipient of some unexpected and overwhelming generosity. I didn’t seek it out nor did I even have a hint that it was coming.

I felt like George Bailey at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life when all the people he’s tried to help all those year come back and pay it forward back to him in droves.

I’ve decided that I won’t ever be able to match that kind of generosity, but I can do a few things:

  1. Pay it forward whenever is in my power to do so.
  2. To always have my eyes open to the need around me and to pray for a heart that yearns to meet those needs
  3. To live in continual gratitude and thanksgiving, because life all by itself is a gift and salvation even without any blessings attached to it is the greatest gift.
  4. To never forget that many are still living the part of George Bailey’s story where things aren’t quite so hunky-dory and who are feeling like they’re at the end of their rope.
  5. To be a better version of me than I was yesterday, or more accurately, to be a little more like Jesus every single day that He allows me to wake up.

I echo the words of Clarence, George’s guardian angel, when I say, “No man is a failure who has friends.”

If that’s  the case, then I am one of the most blessed individuals to ever live, due to the amazing family and friends God has placed in my life.

Thank you. You rock.

The end.

Capturing a Moment

“Come and gather ’round at the table
In the spirit of family and friends
And we’ll all join hands and remember this moment
’til the season comes ’round again
So let us smile for the picture
And we’ll hold it as long as we can
May it carry us through should we ever get lonely
’til the season comes ’round again”(Vince Gill – Til The Season Comes Round Again).

Whenever I’m gathered together with family and friends to celebrate a special occasion, I always try to take a mental photograph. I try to remember every detail, every person, everything about the moment.

Try as I might, I will never be able to recreate just that exact moment. It will be gone forever.

I don’t mean to be morbid, but people grow older and change. Places change. Even I will be different the next time than I am right now.

There are two options:

  1. You can take an actual photograph which may capture some of the magic and trigger memories, but photographs themselves fade.
  2. Learn to give thanks in the moment for the moment as a unique gift that will never be repeated.

I’m probably sounding like a broken record by now, but I really am stuck on this whole gratitude thing. It really does change the way you see things.

Gratitude truly does make what you have enough. It keeps you from missing the now from obsessing over what might have been or what might be missing or what may or may never be.

So, at 12:19 am, I’m saying this: I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful for another Christmas. I’m thankful for the God who became Jesus who became my Substitute.

I’m thankful for every day that I get to live and for every person God places in my life for however long they’re in my life.

I’m even thankful for 15-year old cats who suddenly have the energy of a kitten, if only for a little while.

I’m thankful for Ann Voskamp, the vessel through whom God has spoken to me most loudly (other than the Bible, of course). She’s taught me more about that thanksgiving and gratitude lifestyle than anyone else.

I’d be amiss if I didn’t say thanks to you for reading this little blog of mine. It may be 200 or 20 or even just two, but I’m thankful for anybody who makes time in a hectic schedule to read what I write.

So do what the song says tonight and count your blessings instead of sheep. You’ll find yourself seeing Christmas from a different set of eyes tomorrow.


But you, Bethlehem of Ephrathah,
        of the clans of Judah, are no poor relation—
    From your people will come a Ruler
        who will be the shepherd of My people, Israel,[b]
    Whose origins date back to the distant past,
        to the ancient days” (Micah 5:2, The Voice).

For some of you, this time of year is the time when you feel the most insignificant of all. You just happen to be scrolling through your Facebook feed and you see all the exciting events and parties that your friends are having that you weren’t invited to.

Maybe you end up sitting alone on your couch on Fridays and Saturdays because no one thought to ask if you had any plans for the weekend.

It’s easy to feel like you don’t matter to anyone. You are not alone. But you matter to Someone.

You’ve been invited to celebrate a birthday. Not just any birthday. This is the birthday of God-turned-fetus-turned-newborn wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.

The first evangelists of the blessed event were smelly shepherds. If anyone could feel like unwanted outsiders, it would have been them. Their occupation didn’t lend itself to a lot of socializing.

This year, Jesus invites you to celebrate His birthday. You don’t even have to bring anything– just you. It doesn’t even matter if you cleaned up and straightened up. All He’s asking is that you show up.

There’s not a single person in the Bible who found significance before God called them. Your significance ultimately isn’t in where you live, what you do for a living, or who you know. It’s Who knows you. It’s Who chose you.

At The Church at Avenue South, Aaron Bryant said that God is drawn to the insignificant, off-the-radar people.

Look at where God chose to introduce Himself to humanity. It wasn’t Rome or Jerusalem, but backwater Bethlehem via a peasant couple surrounded by barn animals and some of those aforementioned stinky shepherds.

God was (and still is) saying that all lives matter. Every life has significance. Simply being created in the image of God gives you incredible significance.

Just remember that when you’re sitting in the dark staring at your cat. You matter.




I keep thinking about something I heard in a Kairos sermon. Basically, the gist is that the best gift you can give to a loved one, more than presents, is presence.

More than going to a store and picking up something that may or may not end up being regifted or donated to Goodwill, maybe the best gift you can give is you. Your time. Your attention.

Who in your life needs to see your actual face (and not just your profile picture)? Who needs a reminder that you haven’t forgotten them?

Is it a relative? Is it a friend?

You can send a Facebook post or a text, but the best is to have a face-to-face conversation, one in which you aren’t distracted by your phone or tablet, but where you fully engage the other person and actually listen to what they are saying.

Don’t wait. Don’t put it off. Not to be morbid, but you truly never know when it will be too late to have that conversation.

That’s really all I have. Maybe it’s something I need to do myself. Maybe I can find someone I haven’t seen in a while and try to reconnect.

Oh, and may all your traffic lights be green and all your checkout lines be short. Amen.


More Music & Nostalgia

Today, I got a CD in the mail. Not a big deal. I’ve gotten a few of those over the years (understatement of the century to say the least).

This one was a bit different. This was an album by a band called Johnny Clegg & Savuka that my uncle introduced me to almost 20 years ago. I wish I could thank him again, but he’s no longer living. All I have left are the music and the memories. I can see his face every time I listen to a Grateful Dead song.

In fact, both my uncles on my dad’s side helped to instill in me a great love for music as well as inspiring me to broaden my musical horizons, a move that I have never once regretted.

For me, music is better than just about anything else at conjuring up old memories.

Whenever I hear a Julie Miller song, I’m immediately transported back to Union University circa 1993 and some great friends who really modeled what real Christian faith lived out could be. Not stuffy, pew-sitting faith, but vibrant every-day kind of faith that was honest and transparent.

I can hear any Phil Collins song and immediately feel the same way that I did as an 8th grader way back in 1986.  Heck, just about any 80’s song will transport me back to junior high/high school.

That’s what makes the musical aspect of worship so great. Music is the best way to trigger memories of God’s faithfulness in the past to remind you that He’s still faithful now.

I can still remember how my grandmother, long after she’d forgotten her address and the names of most of the people she loved, still able to sing the old hymns that were embedded deep in a part of her brain that Alzheimer’s couldn’t touch.

After all, music is the only expression that activates and utilizes every part of the brain. But that’s another topic for another day.


Generic 1,888th Blog Post


I have Monday brain. That means all higher functions have ceased and my mode of existence is somewhat akin to “Fire bad. Tree pretty.” It’s not pretty.

I started off my post-work afternoon with a salted caramel latte, courtesy of the fine folks at the Starbucks on Franklin Road in Brentwood . I later met my accountability friend at the same Starbucks and we went walking in the lovely pre-fall weather. We toured the usual places– REI, The Fresh Market, the parking lot. We talked about anything and everything– football, life, work, etc.

20 years ago, I would not have foreseen my life turning out like it has. I don’t think anyone could. But I have seen two decades worth of the faithfulness of God in the midst of frustration, disappointment, joy, grief, triumph, and defeat. I have felt God’s smile over me and known that no matter what, my identity as His Beloved is forever secure. Nothing can or will ever change that.

Would I like the big house and the wife and kids? Of course.

Still, I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone’s. I’m on my own journey that belongs to me and to no one else. I don’t know what’s around the corner, but I know God will be there has He has been around every other.

I’ve learned in every way possible that God is enough. It’s something I’m reminded of on a daily basis, because I am that stubborn and slow to believe and also because God is that patient and willing to lead me.

So once again, I slow down and count the moments and relish the blessings. I sit in Starbucks, sipping on my latte and watching Friends on Netflix, taking in my surroundings and the people coming and going all around me.

Life is always good because God is always good.

The end.

PS I still think my blogs would be much improved by me typing them on a Mac Book Pro. Donations accepted in all forms.