Thursday, November 18, 2010

Greatsgiving: That's Great, But Who Are You Thanking?

Recently at the "office" we were asked to take three cutouts of leaves, and on them, write one thing on each of them that we we're thankful for and then place that on a larger cutout of a tree, so that on each row of "cubes" there would be a Thanksgiving tree.

What an endearing time of year that Thanksgiving is. Elementary school teachers recant the Thanksgiving origins in which our mainland's original group of founding Pilgrims (allegedly) gave thanks to God that they made it by the skin of their teeth and wouldn't go to bed hungry that night. Over 200 years later we (sort of) continue the tradition by sharing with friends, family, or in my case, co-workers, several things for which we are currently thankful. Let's briefly explore what our good friends Merriam and Webster have to say on the subject:


adj. 1) conscious of benefit received

It's always interesting to me how on most major holidays you'll find some people playing Christian but not so much the rest of the year...which, by the way, is not exactly what I'm writing about. For some reason, though, what really sticks out to me this particular Thanksgiving season is how many people are giving thanks for this & that, yet fail to acknowledge exactly who it is they are thanking, or from who they've received said benefits. If you're reading this and do not consider yourself religious and/or spiritual, then I'm especially curious how often during Thanksgiving that you hear somebody sincerely (as in outside of the annual Thanksgiving prayer) hear someone actually thanking somebody else for something they've received. (No offense, Christians, but we can't hide our subculture in which we so easily allowed ourselves to be sucked into. Of course we'll regularly hear someone thank God and perhaps even really mean it!)

It's one thing to say, "I'm thankful to my boss for giving me such a big raise" or "Thank you, mom, for buying me Halo (whatever version is hot right now)". But what about non-material things such as family or autumn? Do you think these things just "were"? Better yet, did you set the universe in motion? If so, why not have more autumn? How about material things for which we give ourselves credit? "I built this house with my bare hands and paid for it with my hard-earned money." If so, who gave you that money? How about that brain of yours that knows how to build a house or even to build your strength to begin with?

I'm not trying to proselytize anyone, but there are few supporting arguments that things just "happened" upon us. No offense, but you are not a magical genie who can blink your eyes and give yourself anything you desire. Everything you have was created by someone, by something created by someone, or by something created by something created by...well, you get it. Like it or not, there is someone to be thanked for something you have.

On a personal note, and because this is my blog, I'm going to share something I've been particularly thankful for this past year, or rather, someone (officially this coming Sunday). I've had the opportunity to enter into a relationship with a unique, beautiful, silly, compassionate, intelligent, and all-around wonderful woman of God clothed in humility. She blesses my life everyday and I do not deserve to call her "mine". I did not create her or make her who/what she is; hence, the reason why she turned out so well. Therefore, I would like to thank God (as in the one who sent His son, Jesus, to die and to be raised from death), because He created her, consecrated her, gave her to me, and prepared me to receive her. I would also like to thank my girlfriend for choosing me out of many others, for not walking away from me, and for making Him Lord in her life (thus becoming the person I'm so deeply attracted to to begin with). I've walked into something way too good for me to have concocted. God, and God alone, gets the glory. (Also, she is currently spending her first year as a teacher abroad, and I am excited to have her home for Christmas!
You can read more about her journey here.)

Really, though, my point isn't that you should thank someone (though I really believe that), or even that you should thank God (although as Creator of everything, that is true by default). Seriously. It's up to you whether or not to ascribe thanks to anyone for anything. It's also up to you to choose your words carefully. Case in point:


adj. 1) a. appreciative of benefits received; 2) b. pleasing by reason of comfort supplied or discomfort alleviated

For those of you who don't fit in the "thankful" category, perhaps this would be a better fit as it is dependent on nobody but yourself. However, the former is certainly more beneficial than the latter, in my opinion, and room can certainly be made for any of you who wish to make that transition. Nevertheless, if Thanksgiving 2010 isn't a time for all to truly give thanks to the source of the object for which we are thankful, then it is certainly a time to let go of tradition for tradition's sake and acknowledge it for what it really is in your life.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Prophecy of Autumn

The seasons, to me, don't just come and go. It would be more accurate to say that they're there and then they're gone. Very rarely do I feel I get to witness a real changing of the seasons - mostly my own fault for allowing myself to be engrossed in other things. Today was different, though; as I was tiring out from my 3-mile jog down the Indian Creek Trail, my mind was at last blank and available to internalize God's creation. Even that, though, isn't entirely accurate. I turned to begin my long walk home. The wind was at my back stabilizing my external body temperature. It was as if God was saying, "Don't be distracted by the frailty of this body; I am doing a new thing for you."

That's when it hit me. The colors of the leaves jumped out at me, screaming, while the cool breeze was scattering them decoratively about the ground. I couldn't help today but stand in awe of our Creator God: less over what He has created; more over what He was creating in that very moment.

Now as I reflect on the literal changing of seasons, I can still hear His voice whispering to me in regards to the figurative changing of seasons in my life (which I know we all experience). "I haven't just come and gone. I'm still here - not watching, not waiting, but working." Just as the wind was moving about me this afternoon, so is He. I am convinced.

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." - Philippians 1:6

Friday, October 15, 2010

Power Ballad Reflections

I must say (and not for the first...or last, time) that I am amazed by how much can change in a year's time. Case in point:

Yesterday evening, as I was relaxing in solitude, I was surprised to hear my neighbor's music as clear as if it were in my own home (or perhaps I shouldn't be surprised between the outdoor walkway and the thin walls in this apartment building) when all of a sudden Eric Carmen's "All By Myself" is cranked to 11. The song is so ridiculous and often used for comic relief in TV shows and movies that I couldn't help but chuckle...and that's when it hit me.


If I were in solitude like this a year ago, it would not have felt relaxing; it probably would have felt lonely as hell. I know this because I in fact was in solitude and lonely as hell. Back then, knowing how easily my emotions are swayed by certain chord progressions, I would have been in tears if that wretched song had begun playing in an ear shot of my living space. Not only this, but as a relationship-oriented individual I felt there was no way out and my future seemed bleak at that point. I didn't know what to do, but I knew I did not want to live the rest of my life like that.


I was so sold on that decision that I was willing to actually put some work into it and follow through. It sure wasn't easy, but in the end I learned (or perhaps "accepted", though the jury's still out on that) that I am functionally an introvert. Though I don't want to be a recluse, I now know I can derive pleasure from these times of solitude...even with a dash of loneliness mixed in. With this also came the realization that...exactly; it was only a realization, not a true change in my personality.


The stronghold of my greatest fear in life was greatly loosened when I chose to let go of what I thought I couldn't live without. Gradually my eyes were opened wider to the reality of who I am because I chose to walk away! I've found more freedom in that than I have in most things.

Isn't this true of all of us? I wonder if this is at least partially what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 8 when he told one of his disciples, "Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead." Jesus is certainly about the business of transforming lives but he doesn't say "work for me"; he says "follow me". Who knows if this unnamed disciple answered that call but surely, for those who did, their eyes were opened to the majesty of God the Father as they deserted the mess in which they were each swept up. Perhaps His motive goes beyond "Do what I do and teach others to also" and more toward "Hey man, this smog is clouding you up; get out of the city for awhile". Perhaps this is also what King Solomon meant when he said, "There's nothing new under the sun; you have to get over the sun". Our senses are so enthralled with whatever tantalizes them that we become deceived in what we believe is real if we don't move away from it. Thankfully God has kept his promise in sending me someone to follow; otherwise I'd have no idea where I was going if I tried to go anywhere else, and I guarantee you I'd be lost as soon as I took my eyes off the road.

Do you desire transformation in your life? Jesus is the way, though whether you're convinced of that or not, I can guarantee you something (or someone) in your life is clouding your vision or, worse yet, flat-out blinding you. The solution is not to come up with a solution; the solution is to walk away. You need this just as much as me, and you'll be just as lost as me if you try and do this on your own.

Stop working. Start following.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I've come to learn that home is far more than a place, an object, or even a "finding" of one's self. They very concept expands far beyond even the most spatial of human understandings. For my purposes, tonight I'm keeping my words on the subject much narrower. Home for me (and hopefully most of us) tends to take on several different lights.

As of very recently, my home has take on new lights in the following ways:

It is when I am dependent on none other but the LORD.
Because it is not limited to a locale, it is temporarily in a country I have yet to travel to (though there are unofficial plans to change that).

Here are some examples of what this might look like for myself:

I am unannounced.
I am fully myself and those that surround me are fully aware.
I am free to be the way I was made.
I choose to be who I was made to be, and thus am fully myself, and fully at home.

Of course, I don't want to skim over the truth that I cannot fully be at home (or fully be any of the preceding things) without fully abiding in Jesus Christ the LORD - surrendering everything I am and everything I have, and making Him not so much first, but IT - because He is Home, and only when I am fully His can I fully be any of these things. When we are home, we are full, and we were created to be full by Him so He alone can fill us.

Now, (only) in light of that statement, I am fully home when I am free to be, and choose to be, who I was made to be. I've been given the grace to receive but a glimpse of how that should look: I am to be a voice to the world. Written. Spoken. Played. Sung.

I say all of this because HE has led me to a place that though in itself is not home, I am as free as I want to be from many of the distractions that have kept me from living in a place of home. So here I am - perhaps more at home than I've ever known. It is up to me, however, based on the power given from on high, how well this works out. Consider this a written re-commitment to blogging, but more importantly, to being a written voice to the world.

Here's to leaving our delusions of bloatedness and arriving home...arriving full.

Now it's your turn to respond. What is your action plan? How do you plan to arrive? Or, for those of you out there who feel you've arrived, we'd be especially interested in your wisdom.

Friday, August 20, 2010


This summer I have grown increasingly fascinated by the concept of story. (To better understand what I'm referring to, pick up a copy of Donald Miller's A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.) It's amazing how closely the elements of story parallel the elements of life. The same things that make a story interesting (e.g. conflict, development, adventure, moral, etc.) make a life interesting; ergo, as a boring story lacks many of these elements, the same can be said of a boring life.

It is so easy for us (me) to forget that we've (I've) been given abundant resources to make this life count for something. As time grows on, we get so used to its passage that we grow numb to it; we forgo opportunities; we settle for less. As evidenced by the emptiness of my blog this year, I am very guilty of this.

I am being given a very golden opportunity to redeem myself in this way as I am entering a unique season in my life in which I am free from several "distractions" that I've grown accustomed to. This season is unique in that I will most likely never experience a time like this once it passes. I am already being challenged in many uncomfortable ways that I eagerly await coming to pass, yet I need to count my blessings as I may never again be able to enjoy the goodness that the Lord offers in this season.

Do yourselves a favor: check out the below link to a blog kept by someone who has chosen to take such a step toward writing a better story with their life. Follow this blog. Be challenged. Be moved. Be inspired. I am...for sure.

Grace and peace to you all.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Thy Kingdom Come

"The earth is where it was; the sun, and winds, and rivers, keep the same course that ever they did; and therefore, if they have never yet been sufficient to make a happiness for man, they are never likely to be so, for they can but yield the same comfort that they have yielded. We must therefore look above the sun for satisfaction, and for a new world." - M.H.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Nothing In Particular

Exactly. I'm writing simply for the sake of writing - because I just need to write.

Last night I attended a gathering of various social connections over dinner at which we were all asked to share our hobbies. On my list of hobbies was, of course, writing. I love to write. I write music whenever I have that unique moment of inspiration and motivation to put words to a melody and a melody to a chord progression. I am girly in the sense that I journal about once a week. I am nerdy in the sense that I have a blog and I love blogging. However, I haven't written in my blog in a couple of months. I have trouble remembering to visit my blog to see if any of my blogging friends have written anything new. Every 2-3 weeks or so that I check this, however, I am saddened to find that only 1 or 2 people on my list have actually blogged. I miss my "blogging community".

When I was sharing said hobby last night, I couldn't help but think how pathetic it was that I haven't written anything in so long for claiming that I love writing as much as I say I do. I am quick to blame this on working 40 hours a week and having something on my calendar every Monday through Thursday. To me, routine is a lot like the movie Avatar; it fails to live up to the hype. Everyone claims that routine is so positive and healthy; in my life, while necessary in some way, I consider it to be more of a silent killer. For someone who used to be so passionate about things, I've allowed my life to become so predictable and thus my passions to become dwindled...and arguably non-existent.

At the same time, it's amazing how quickly life can change. In some ways, 6 months ago I would not have predicted my life right now looking the way it does. In other ways, I can feel the excitement of & desperation for impending change rise up within me. Though I have nothing tangible to base this on (only the voice of God) I am certain that my life will somehow look significantly different a year from today.

I recently wrapped up several months of studying the book of Acts. As geographical & historical as this book is, I feel I can sum it up in a few sentences: Because a few ordinary men were willing & obedient, God chose to do very extraordinary things through them even above & beyond starting the New Testament church. I know He wants to do extraordinary things through me, too, so what's stopping me from being willing & obedient? This is the challenge for the next year: surrender - because I need my life to look radically different within the next year. If it doesn't, perhaps it was a waste for my life to be spared from that flood over 2.5 years ago.

I wish I had a clever way of wrapping up this blog entry. Seeing as I don't, I think I picked a good title for this particular entry.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Snow & I have a very interesting relationship with some very quirky dynamics.

Once it hits the ground, it is one of my least favorite things in the world. I am not a fan of how quickly it accumulates & piles up. That's bad enough, and then it gets even worse when the cold air freezes it over and it remains in large piles which obstruct parking lots (which is extra fun when you live in a cheap apartment complex). I am not a fan of how easily it gets tracked everywhere indoors. The overall general dirtiness of floors is only that much more accentuated. Carpets & rugs are ruined which are otherwise meant for decor & "homeliness". The worst part is how man has intervened with their melting salts which leaves its off-white residue all over our floors & vehicles. For me, living in the Midwest means constantly living in fear of washing my car because I never know when Mother Nature is going to get passive-aggressive next. Few feelings are worse than the feeling one gets when precipitation falls immediately after a car wash; snow & ice are the worst because nothing is dirtier than snow or ice mixed in with salt. As a result of the adverse effects of snow, I find myself not wanting to go outdoors. I hibernate, choosing the comfort of my own home over more important things such as exercise and social interactions. I would gain so much weight during these periods as well, except that this is me we're talking about....

However, as of late, it has become one of my most favorite things in the world - before it hits the ground, that is. There is nothing more serene, relaxing, or calming than just being still and watching those little white fluffies falling from the sky. In fact, a large part of my Christmas Day was spent doing that very same thing from the comfort of an indoor porch swing. Today, it is difficult to return to my desk in lieu of being lost in an euphoric wintery daze.

In retrospect, cherish the little things in life. Find the good in all things and thank God for them. Don't take the little things for granted, or else they may take you for granted (?).