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.

Time Machines and All That


I had a mini-marathon of Mad Men Season 6 tonight. Every time I watch that  show, I have a longing to be transported back to the 60’s and all the history that was in the making during those years.

There’s something  about retro and nostalgia that comforts me. Even if it’s from before my time, I’m still drawn to it.

I had an idea for a motel that I think would work. Each room would be completely furnished from whatever was popular and trendy from a particular year or decade. So, there might be a room dedicated to 1965 or to the 50’s. And there wouldn’t be any technology that came after in these rooms.

Maybe that’s a dumb idea, but I’d pay to see that.

Sometimes, I think I’d like to go back and sit and talk with people in my life who have passed on. People like my grandmother and two uncles on my Dad’s side. Both my grandfathers. My childhood friend. People that I at times took for granted and now wish I could spend time with.

This may be me repeating myself yet again, but don’t take those people in your life for granted. Don’t ever assume they know how you feel about them. Nothing brings more regret than unspoken words. People are in your life for a limited time and once they’re gone, you can never retrieve the time or the chances you had with them.

I know that scientifically time machines aren’t possible. But I still like the idea of them. I like reading stories and seeing movies about people who can travel through time. It just appeals to me.

I may not be able to go back in time or into the future, but I can be fully present where I am and not miss the moments God gives me. That’s the best I can do to honor those who are gone from my life.


Has It Really Been 22 Years?


In case you’re wondering what 22 years is referring to, that’s how long it’s been since I went on an actual date. With an actual girl. To a place outside my imagination.

At first, that thought was horribly and mind-numbingly depressing, but later I saw it as a blessing. More on that later. Back to the sad me.

I’ve never kissed a girl. And no, I have not nor will I ever kiss a dude. Blech!

I’ve never even held hands with a girl outside of prayer groups. And yes, I was one of those guys who tried to strategically place myself next to the girl I liked right before the prayer started so I could hold her hand. Notice how I said “tried.” Key word there.

But you know what?

I’m still blessed.

I’m still living my miracle.


I have known nights where I didn’t think I could hold on until the sunrise. It was then I felt my Abba’s arms encircling me, holding me tight. There is not a moment when my hand has ever slipped out of the firm grip of my Father’s strong hand.

And yes, I have known the sweet kisses of grace and the embrace of mercy unfolding over and around me. I know what it is to be desired by the Great Lover and ravished by Sweet Words of Love. I know Jesus sings over me nightly because His delight is in me.

So I am as blessed (or more so) than people with far more impressive dating resumes who have found their dream-mate.

I know I was, am, and will always be the dream in God’s heart, the apple of His eye, the one He adores, and His beloved son in whom He is well pleased.

That is so much more than enough for me.

A Beautiful Moment


I saw one example of Eucharisteo paying off today.  My mother and  were on the way back from picking up my grandmother from her assisted living apartment. We had Hank Williams playing in the car, hoping my grandmother would recognize the old music.

We got to the song “Hey Good Lookin'”, a song pretty much EVERYBODY has heard of at some point in their lives. My mom started singing and, lo and behold, my grandmother chimed in. I don’t know why that moment blessed me so much, but it did.

Out of all the great things that happened today– seeing my niece Lizzie’s joy in opening her birthday presents, being with family, driving home at night with the windows rolled down– that moment topped them all. In fact, I’d say it has hit the charts with a bullet for one of my favorite moments of 2013.

I guess I love that moment because I was able to slow down to catch that fleeting moment and savor it. I didn’t miss it like I’ve missed so many others because I was too busy looking back in regret or looking ahead with anxiety. I was squarely in that moment and seeing God at work right then and there.

My grandmother is 89 and her memory’s not what it used to be. I know she won’t live forever, as much as the 10-year old part of me thinks otherwise. I know no one I love lives forever. At some point, I will have to say goodbye to everything and everyone I love this side of heaven. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t relish in every moment I’m given. It doesn’t mean that I can’t build memories of moments that will carry me through the grief back to the joy.

I love my friends, whether they’re in my life for 15 minutes, 6 months, 2 years, or a lifetime. I know better than to assume every friend will always be my friend and will always be around. I also know that each person, whether family or friend, has left footprints in my heart and residue of their spirit in my soul, so that I am forever changed, more like Jesus, because of knowing them.

My prayer isn’t that people will look back and remember me as a really swell guy, but that they will look on the times they spent with me and reflect on how much closer to Jesus they are now because of my small part in their lives.

That’s all.

Saturday Night’s Alright for Slacking


I did nothing tonight. Hard as it is to believe, I spent this Saturday evening in front of the idiot box with a very sleepy cat/therapist named Lucy. This jetsetter, this man about town, actually had a quiet night.

And the world didn’t come to a screeching halt.

Do you ever wonder that people forget about you the moment you leave the room? That when it comes to priorities, you’re not high up on anybody’s list? That ultimately you don’t truly matter to anyone?

Sure, I’ve felt that way some nights. But I know this.

There is never a moment that goes by where I’m not in God’s sight, on His mind, and engraved on His hands and on His heart. He loves me completely, unconditionally, unwaveringly, every second of every day of eternity.

God loves you the same way. God loves each person as if they were the only person who had ever lived and could receive the fullness of Love itself.

That kind of love meets you where you are but does not leave you that way. It can’t help but transform the beloved into the image of the Lover. You become most like what you love most. Always.

I can’t say that staying home was my first choice. Or even on my list of top twenty choices.

But here I am, thankful even on a slow Saturday night that I have everything I need in the world right here. Finding the joy on nights like this really does transform how you see the rest of your life. Giving thanks for the small things makes room to receive the greater things.

I think I’ll sign off in a bit here and go do some actual reading of an actual book, with actual pages that turn and everything. How novel.

May you know in full (or as fully as a finite human can comprehend the infinite) how much your Abba really does love you at every moment, whether you feel it or not.

That’s all for now.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, and The Weird (A Celebration of Life)

First of all, the good news. I FOUND MY PHONE! WOOHOO!

Can you tell I’m a tad excited? I think so (said in my best Joey Tribbiani voice).


Apparently, the lady at the Connection Cafe found it after I left it on one of the tables and took it back behind the counter, turning it off to save the battery. Thank you, nice Cafe lady whose name I don’t know but to whom I and Steve Jobs are eternally grateful.

Also, I had a marvelous time in downtown Franklin with a Facebook friend and her daughter, with whom I am also now Facebook friends. They are two of the best people ever. Seriously. Thank you, Carol and Hannah for making this Wednesday one of my best ever.

The bad? It was rainy and I had a sinus headache. The rain passed and so did my headache. End of story.


The ugly? I may have found my phone but I’m still looking for my mind. If you see it, make sure and put it someplace safe and comfortable and make sure it gets fed twice a day. Preferably cheese and chocolate.

The weird? Me on a daily basis. But I’ve come to love my own particular brand of weird that I prefer to call eccentricity.

I still love that God knows where I am at all times. It’s even better than that Find my iPhone app.  He knows the secret thoughts I carry and the secret scars hidden so deep no one has ever found them.

Hannah, keep writing. Keep telling your story and keep singing the song God has put in your heart. Someone out there needs to hear it.



To celebrate, I am posting pictures of animals and people celebrating. I am also sitting on the couch with one very non-celebratory cat sleeping in my lap. Yay.

I celebrate being alive and redeemed. I celebrate drawing another breath and breathing in the grace of God in every moment. I celebrate God’s amazing goodness to me who never deserved one iota of it.

Life is good, God is great, I am blessed. The end.


A Seat at the Table


“He went on to tell a story to the guests around the table. Noticing how each had tried to elbow into the place of honor, he said, ‘When someone invites you to dinner, don’t take the place of honor. Somebody more important than you might have been invited by the host. Then he’ll come and call out in front of everybody, ‘You’re in the wrong place. The place of honor belongs to this man.’ Red-faced, you’ll have to make your way to the very last table, the only place left.

“‘When you’re invited to dinner, go and sit at the last place. Then when the host comes he may very well say, ‘Friend, come up to the front.’ That will give the dinner guests something to talk about! What I’m saying is, If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face. But if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”

“Then he turned to the host. ‘The next time you put on a dinner, don’t just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You’ll be—and experience—a blessing. They won’t be able to return the favor, but the favor will be returned—oh, how it will be returned!—at the resurrection of God’s people.'” (Luke 14:7-14).

I’ve observed in a few Nashville churches that the “holier than thou” club has been mostly replace by the “hipper than thou” crew. There are a few telltale signs. 1) Their pastor and/or worship leader(s) wear skinny jeans. 2) The church building doesn’t look anything like a church building. 3) The worship songs are the latest and newest songs that haven’t even hit the radio yet.

To be fair, I’ve had my share of “hipper than thou” moments, as well as “holier than thou.” I’ve caught myself a few times comparing myself with others and detected more than a little pride in my pop culture knowledge and vast and educated musical tastes.

The fact is, anyone could look at me sitting in a seat at Kairos or in a church pew and rightfully ask, “What are you doing here? You don’t belong here.”

It’s true. I’ve done stupid things. I’ve said and typed much that I regret. I’ve had such thoughts that I truly hope I never run into a mind reader who can read my past thoughts. That would be tragic and awkward.

The fact is that in the Kingdom of Heaven, no one belongs and everyone belongs.

No one deserves to be there. I certainly don’t. Everyone has sinned and sin brings death to everyone every single time (to paraphrase my pastor Mike Glenn). The only reason anyone gets in is grace.

Because of grace, everyone can get in. The door is open. The invitations are sent. Everyone is welcome and no one who wants to get in will be left out.

In my opinion, there’s no such things as bad or good Christians. There are only sinners saved by grace. I love Thomas Merton’s definition of a saint– not someone who is good, but someone who has seen the goodness of God.

Don’t think you’re so very wise and holy that you get the best seats in the house. You’ll find yourself getting knocked down a few rungs on that old ladder. Remember Jesus, who didn’t consider anything or anyone beneath Him, but lowered himself to the position of a slave and didn’t think that death on a cross was too scandalous or too much of a sacrifice to get you and me into His kingdom.

If you’ve accepted the invitation, Just be thankful you’re in. And if you’re still undecided, remember there’s always room for one more– you.

Alone But Not Lonely


I was literally sitting in the dark on the upstairs patio at Frothy Monkey. One friend has been AWOL from my life for a while now, another moved to Cookeville today, and yet another was instagramming about how much fun she was having with friends listening to music at Franklin Mercantile just down the street.

And I sat alone in the dark.

And I was okay with it.

Sometimes, it’s good to be alone. In fact, it’s more than good. It’s necessary. You can never really effectively be present in a crowd if you can never be alone. You only hear your true name and your true identity in those times of aloneness.

It took me embracing those times of being alone to hear that I am my Abba’s beloved and to know that I belong to Him and He is very pleased with me.

I tried to message my friend to find out if she was still in the area and got no response. So I walked over to the Franklin Mercantile only to find I had missed everything. The crowd, including my friend, was gone.

I was still okay.

That used to be a recurring nightmare of mine. I’d find my friends had all left me suddenly or that I was just a step or a second too slow and would just miss them.

But tonight, I knew I wasn’t alone. Those Strong Arms that hold me up in the day and in the crowded places are just as able to carry me through the dark places where I am alone.

You can only hear your Abba singing over you when you’re alone. You can never truly appreciate God as a refuge and stronghold and place of rest in a crowd, but in those times when no one else is around.

I pray you can embrace being alone as much as you cherish being with family and friends. May you learn to love the dark, for that is where your Father will whisper precious promises to you that you will come to cherish more dearly than anything you can find at any other time.

Things I Love Part 2: The Most Unimaginative Blog Sequel Title Ever

island hammock

In continuation of a blog I wrote earlier called “Things I Love,” I present you with the horribly titled follow-up called ‘Things I Love Part 2.” I think I stopped with #32 so I’ll start with #33. How very creative of me.

33) Being able to enjoy moments and relationships for what they are and not constantly worrying about what they may or may not become in the future.

34) The smell of freshly-cut grass on a Saturday.

35) Candles and potporri around the Christmas season that always make me remember my childhood and relatives who are no longer with us.

36) Really old books that have that musty smell and have worn covers from being read so much.

37) When a plan comes together, like on the A-Team.

38) Being able to rejoice for my friends when they finally find their true loves.

39) The feel of soft grass on my bare feet at night.

40) Unexpected and encouraging texts from family and friends (all the more since my love language is words of affirmation).

41) My nephews and my niece.

42) Sand volleyball with good friends on a Sunday night.

43) Knowing deep down that I am forgiven and free from any condemnation.

44) Watching my cat curled up in my lap and sleeping soundly.

45) Any episode at any point from the TV show Friends.

46) Actually stopping and smelling the roses wherever I find them.

47) Knowing that in a world of constant change and turmoil Jesus Christ is truly the same yesterday, today, and forever.

48) Audrey Hepburn.

49) Singing a favorite song and turning on the radio to find the same song playing in the spot where I was just singing.

50) Being able to encourage a friend with just the right words whether through text or in person.

51) Breathing in the crisp cold air on an idyllic autumn day.

52) Bonfires and hotdogs and smores on a chilly autumn night.

53) Sitting on the patio of The Frothy Monkey in downtown Franklin, sipping on a White Monkey Mocha, and watching people all around me engaged in all sorts of conversations.

54) A good hike around Radner Lake.

55) The salty smell of ocean air when I’m near the beach.