I think Fred Rogers had it right.

I think I can speak for some of you when I say that sometimes I think I have my life all worked out and working in perfect order, and then I look back and think, “Well, that was a really nice 45 seconds.”

In some ways, mastering life is like trying to learn a game where the rules and parameters are constantly changing. Just when you think you’ve got a certain part down, it all changes and you have to start all over figuring it out again.

I used to think that there was such a thing as a good or bad Christian, depending on external circumstances. I do think that real faith shows itself in manifesting the fruit of the Spirit by means of obedience to Christ, but I also know that even the best of believers are still deeply flawed (and will be until Jesus calls them home or makes His triumphant return).

Faith is not about how good you are at praying, at Bible reading, at fasting, or in any of the spiritual disciplines. Faith means that every day you show up and trust that God will do something in you and through you. You wait expectantly for God to show up in your life.

Sometimes faith means that no batter how badly you’ve messed up for the past day or week or month, you still get up the next morning knowing that it’s a brand new 24 hours with a clean slate and new mercies.

So how’s my life? How’s my faith? I’m not very good at it, but that doesn’t matter. All that matters is that I keep waking up, showing up, and believing God for His promises for me and for the world. God will take care of the rest.


An Update on Peanut

It’s been almost 3 months since I was rescued by this little furball at the Williamson County Animal Shelter. I’ve told the story about how I had a completely different cat in the carrier, ready to take home, when Peanut stuck her little paw out of the cage and gave a little piteous mew that said, “Take me instead, please!”

I did, and the rest so far is history.

She typifies the loving and affectionate nature of just about any rescue. She shows her gratitude for being taken out of that solitary little cage every chance she gets. Add that to the fact that she is 100% kitten and what you end up with is sometimes completely hilarious and always a lot of fun.

She’s quite literally growing on me. She’s more than doubled in size since I first brought her home back in June. Maybe that explains why she will eat just about anything in sight (including dog biscuits).

She can never take the place of my beloved Lucy, whom I still miss dearly. She’s her own person with very unique traits and characteristics. She has helped my heart to heal by providing another outlet for the love to flow.

I do recommend that if you’ve lost a beloved pet, go to a shelter and find a cat or dog to rescue. You could pay a lot of money to a breeder for a specialized pet, but I personally think you’ll never regret saving the life of an animal that might otherwise be euthanized.

This whole Lucy to Peanut transition has taught me that while life never quite goes according to expectation, it somehow always turns out better. God really does work all things together for good to those who love Him. That’s not just a quaint saying that you can cross stitch and stick on your refrigerator (to borrow a Mike Glenn saying) but an every day reality.

Don’t ever take anyone in your life for granted at any time. Ever. Not people. Not pets. Always let them know how much they mean to you and always make time for them because you never know when they won’t be around any more.

God is good. Life is great. I am still blessed.

It’s Monday Eve Again

My cat Lucy is purring, so I’m thinking she’s unaware that tomorrow is Monday. Either that or she’s in complete denial.

I’m leaning toward the latter.

Of course, her schedule for tomorrow is a little less complicated than mine. Her to-do list goes something like 1) eat, 2) take a nap, 3) poop 4) take a nap, 5) dash crazily around the house for 45 seconds, 6) take a nap, etc.

Monday’s not my favorite way to start off the week.

Then again, Monday means I’m alive and made it to another day.

I can choose to complain or I can choose to give thanks. Gratitude is a much better way to live than grumbling. You can see every day as a burden or as a miracle. It’s your  choice.

So to that end, I say that God is great, life is good, and I am still very much blessed.

The end.

Never Say Never: The Musical

Once again, I’ve found myself in a place I swore I’d never be in a thousand years. I found myself driving home from work with Roy Acuff playing on the car CD player.

For a second there, you probably thought I was going to say I spent the night in jail or had a lost weekend of partying and drinking. Nope. I’m not that exciting. I like to remember the good parts of my life and I also like to not have to fear for my life or my masculinity when bending over in the shower to get my soap.

I did say once that I’d never listen to country music. I was fairly adamant about that. I believed that Conway Twitty was the gateway on the path to dating your first cousin and dipping snuff.

Thankfully, I’ve matured and broadened my horizons. Still, Roy Acuff is about as country as you can get.

I’ve been reminded yet again that more often than not, it’s best to refrain from saying never when it comes to new experiences and trying new things, especially when it comes to music.

The life of faith is all about getting rid of expectations and learning to trust moment by moment. I’ve decided that God always leads me where I would have originally decided to go had I known everything that He knows.

It really is just as much about the journey and the process as it is about the destination. It’s about who you’re becoming along the way as much as where you’re headed.

Roy Acuff was great. It felt like I slipped back to a simpler time and place that by and large doesn’t exist anymore except in music, movies, and books. And no, I have no desire to date any of my close relatives or go anywhere near chewing tobacco, thank you very much).


Good Friday 2017

“But thank God the crucifixion was not the last act in that great and powerful drama,” King preached. “There is another act. And it is something that we sing out and cry and ring out today. Thank God a day came when Good Friday had to pass” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

“A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act” (Mahatma Gandhi).

“Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone but in every leaf of springtime” (Martin Luther).

Why is today called Good Friday? What’s so great about Jesus being tortured to death for a crime He didn’t commit? Why does it still matter nearly 2,000 years later?

It seems weird to call the day of Jesus’ crucifixion Good Friday, but when you look at it with Easter Sunday in mind, it makes a lot more sense.

If all you had was Good Friday with no resurrection, then it’s a very Tragic Friday. We should all stay home on Sunday and live however we want. Get stoned, get drunk, get laid, do whatever because none of it matters if Jesus is still in that tomb.

But God raised Jesus from the dead. He walked out of the tomb two days later and everything changed. Absolutely everything. That’s what makes it good.

So much of what happens in our lives will only make sense in reverse. When God promises to work all things together for our good, we often can only see that good not looking ahead or in the midst of it, but looking back on it. We see then how God orchestrated every moment perfectly to lead us where we are now, the best possible outcome.


That’s What He Said


“How are we to think about Jesus’s presence today? No doubt volumes could be written on that question, and have been. But the simple fact is that Jesus Christ is present in this world, the only world we have, and in many ways. His teachings, even mangled and broken, have an incredible power to disrupt human systems, including the ones that claim to own him. He is the misfit and thus is available to all who would seek him. His crucifixion and resurrection announce the end of human systems and stand in judgment over them. He is the man on the cross calling us to join him there. He makes himself available to individuals who hear of him and seek him. In many forms both inside and outside the church, with its traditions, symbolisms, and literature, he is simply here among us. He is in his people, but he does not allow himself to be boxed in by them. He calls to us by just being here in our midst. There is nothing like him. The people in the churches also have the option of finding him and following him into his kingdom, though that may rarely be what they are doing.

For many today who think of themselves as educated, historical studies and ‘higher criticism’—perhaps something they call a ‘scientific’ outlook—have made the person and teachings of Jesus problematic. From where they start, he seems a questionable resource for actually living their lives. He may become for them a scholarly football to kick around or to ignore. But he does not go away. In spite of all, he himself is still available in this world, and beyond all historical issues and confusions there stands a strong if somewhat hazy impression of what he stood for. To come to know him and to clarify who he really is, people have only to stand for what he stood for, as best they can, and to do so by inviting him to take their life into his life and walk with them. If they do just this with humility and openness—which everyone knows to be his manner of life—they will know him more and more as they take his life to be their life. In this way they do not have to ‘know’ at the start. It is enough to venture in the kingdom of God and its King. ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved’ (Acts 2:21)” (Dallas Willard, Knowing Christ Today: Why We Can Trust Spiritual Knowledge).

Wow. I do believe that says it all.


That’s Country!


Growing up, I had a list of “never”s.

By that I mean I had a list of things I’d just about rather die than be caught doing.

I don’t really recall most of them at this point, but I do remember a few highlights.

I specifically recall that I’d never 1) listen to country music, 2) drink coffee, or 3) put hot sauce on anything.

It’s probably best never to say never.

The hot sauce ban ended shortly after the Wasabi incident (where that Wasabi glob on my plate looked an awful lot like guacamole– but it wasn’t).

The no-coffee rule lasted until I had to be at work super early and I needed the caffeine to pry my eyes open in order to work more effectively.

The country music? It turns out that what I didn’t like was pop music masquerading as country music. I heard George Jones sing “The Grand Tour” and that was that. I’m now a fan of genuine country music– along with folk, jazz, rock, indie, and just about every other genre you can think of (and a few that defy categorization).

Recently, I picked up the Garth Brooks box set, exclusive to Target, called The Ultimate Collection.

There was a time when I would have rather had red hot pokers thrust into my eye sockets than listen to Garth, but times have changed.

I’m about halfway through the 10-CD set and I have to confess that I’m loving it. He’s the real deal.

My point (and I do have one) is to not close yourself off to new experiences because they’re different or outside of your comfort zone.

Take risks and be spontaneous on occasion.

Try to live and be present in every moment instead of always living for the weekend or the next holiday or the next big event in your life.

And that Garth Brooks collection is on sale at Target for $23. It’s a bargain.

Contentment Isn’t Just for Cows

“I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am” (Philippians 4:12-13,  The Message).

Contentment is the new counterculture. It flies in the face of every ad and billboard and commercial that screams that in order to be happy, you need to buy this one thing or eat at this one place or drink this beverage. Contentment says no thanks, I already have enough. Contentment is a radical idea. If you really want to annoy people, especially the ones who always seem to be in a hurry, practice contentment. It’ll drive them nuts.


I’m content because I’ve learned that God is enough. It’s true that God plus everything you’ve ever dreamed of is really no more than God plus nothing else, because all your deepest desires and dreams find their ultimate fulfillment in the person of Jesus.

Contentment comes from realizing that the best things can’t be bought or sold or even possessed. They can only be appreciated and loved and cherished. They aren’t even things, but relationships and people and memories. You are not the sum of your possessions and your wealth but of your relationships and experiences and memories.

If you want to be radical, learn to be content. It’s definitely the least stressful way to live that I can think of (aside from being comatose, which I imagine is fairly stress-free).

“Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you” (Lao Tzu).

You Get Joy

“When you take your life for granted?
You get jealous.
When you take your life as a gift–
you get joy” (Ann Voskamp, 1000 Gifts).

On the surface, that sounds easy, right? Who in their right minds wouldn’t choose joy over jealousy and peace over comparison?

But in a society that runs on envy and comparison like fuel, choosing to see your life as a gift to be cherished rather than something you’re owed that you can take for granted is like imitating one of those crazy fish that swim upstream every year. It’s nuts.

The hardest thing in the world sometimes is to celebrate with and for those who have what you don’t– what you desperately long for and pray for and still don’t have– relationships, solid finances, stable careers, etc. It’s easy to get competitive and develop an “us versus them” mentality that leads to a way of life where you have to outdo, outspend, out-everything your neighbor.

Joy comes when you stop competing and start cooperating, when you can genuinely be happy for the person who gets what you’ve waited for so long. Joy comes to those who see and choose to focus on what they already have instead of what they lack.

Joy is not our default. Joy isn’t automatic like breathing. Joy is something we must choose every single morning, and sometimes with each moment. Joy is good.

Right now, joy is a very sleepy geriatric cat on the pillow next to mine. Joy is satisfaction from a full eight hours of work (even if I wasn’t able to get everything done that I wanted to accomplish). Joy is any kind of Halloween candy with chocolate in it. Joy is a warm bed under a ceiling fan. Joy is knowing that real value lies in what can’t be bought or sold or even owned.

Once again, I choose joy because I choose to see this life as a gift.




Choose Your Own Adventure


I used to love a series of books called Choose Your Own Adventure. In these books, you  went from completely passive reader to active participant in your own story. Well, sort of. You’d come to a decision on page 13. You come to a hallway with a creepy door at the end of it. If you proceed down the hall and enter the creepy room, turn to page 26. If you decide to be a weenie and stay at the end of the hall, turn to page 14.

Whenever I’m at Goodwill or any other used bookstore, I always look for any of the books in this series. So far, no luck.

Life is like that.

So many of us see the days in a week as merely exercises in existence, something to get through until the weekend arrives. Then we look back at our lives and wonder why they seem for the most part to be empty and vacuous.

What if you viewed each day of your life as a brand new adventure? Not in the sense of zoning out of reality and living in a fantasy world, but seeing the challenges and obstacles as opportunities to grow and learn.

Each day you get to choose to be a passive observer or an active participant in your own life. You can mark time until 5 pm, or you can see even the most menial of tasks as holy and sacred as unto the Lord and see everything as an spiritual act of worship (see Romans 12:1-2). That’s the choice you get each morning.

So what will you do with this great and amazing gift called life? If life is the grand play and you may contribute a verse (as Walt Whitman and Robin Williams put it), what will your verse be?

“I’m going to live my life inspired
Look for the holy in the common place
Open the windows and feel all that’s honest and real until I’m truly amazed
I’m going to feel all my emotions
I’m going to look you in the eyes
I’m going to listen and hear until it’s finally clear and it changes our lives

There are so many ways to hide
There are so many ways not to feel
There are so many ways to deny what is real

And I just showed up for my own life
And I’m standing here taking it in and it sure looks bright” (Sara Groves).