Gratitude 2014

Today is Thanksgiving which, naturally enough, helps me remember to show gratitude, to be thankful.

So, what do I want to show gratitude for this year?

Gratitude 2014

I’d like to show gratitude for…

  • …the best spouse I could have ever asked for.  I seriously don’t deserve my wife!  She has literally helped me become a better person.  Literally.
  • …the transformative power of Jesus to change lives, starting with mine.  I’ve had a front-row seat this year as Jesus has flipped my life over and the lives of some people close to me as well.
  • …my families, both my given one and my chosen one.  The level of support that my wife and I have experienced from our parents, siblings, and extended relatives has been indescribable.  And our fictive family, our chosen set of friends, have blessed us beyond belief as well.  It’s been incredibly humbling!
  • …my cousin Wendy, her parents Christy and Wade, and her kids.  As our lives are beginning to dovetail with theirs due to our adoption scenario, we couldn’t be happier at the possibilities for grace and beauty that will flow both ways.  God is good.
  • …how welcoming our neighborhood has been.  We moved to a new neighborhood this March and it’s been great!  We’ve enjoyed sharing Alida’s baking, cooking out, and enjoying hours of enlightening conversation.
  • Lake Avenue Church, our local church home.  We’ve been inspired there, served there, worked there, made and found community there, and have been given opportunities to lead there.  Gratitude doesn’t begin to express our feelings about our spiritual family!
  • …health and comfort.  My wife and I have a great life.  We’re blessed.  But we know that being blessed comes with a responsibility to be a blessing in the lives of others, especially those who don’t have health and comfort.  May we be moved to demonstrated and speak the love of Jesus where Jesus has placed us, where we work, live, and play.
  • …people in my life who are very different than my wife and I.  We’ve been stretched by the diversity and it hasn’t always been fun or easy.  But I know without a shadow of a doubt that we’ve grown.

What in your life causes you to feel gratitude?

Express it in the comments below!


Happy Thanksgiving!

Perception Is Reality

Perception is everything.


Sometimes it is said that a messenger is the message. I want to spend some time in this post unpacking what this idea means.

I want to do so by telling a story:

Perception on the Block

My wife and I were on a walk in our neighborhood recently. The intention behind this walk was to get to know some of our neighbors in an effort to share the love of Jesus with them in some capacity. So we prayed before we went on our walk and we asked God to bring people across our path that we could positively impact.

There was a group of young men that were hanging out across the street. So we went up to them and introduced ourselves. While we were doing this I noticed that there were two young men behind them who appeared to be in the middle of some kind of business transaction, which meant I wanted nothing to do with that conversation.

As we were about to continue our walk, one of the young men who was doing business said, “There go the police.”

This interaction reminded my wife and I of how we are perceived in our neighborhood. And that perception is generally that we are affiliated with the police or at least that we don’t really belong in the neighborhood. My perception of this perception of us is that it’s because we are white and we live in a predominantly African-American and Latino community.

Whatever the case, this perception is reality to those who perceive us. And this is a perception that we must overcome over time.

So as we think about how to be a tangible blessing in our neighborhood, how do we deal with this perception and others like it?

Here’s what I did in the story above: I simply turned around and approached the two young men who said that we were the police. I told them that we weren’t the police and that we lived across the street.

I’m not sure what they thought of this interaction but I felt it necessary to confront this issue head-on. The main reason why is because I understand that this perception of us being the police could really get in the way of us interacting with the people on our block in meaningful ways moving forward.

But some of the perceptions of followers of Jesus are not as obvious as the ones in our neighborhood.

Sometimes perceptions of followers of Jesus are more subtle or or more general, such as that Christians are judgmental, too political, sticks in the mud, etc. (as revealed in the book unChristian by David Kinnnaman).  And the reality is that it’s only through time and trust that perceptions such as these can be countered in healthy ways.

And while sometimes we may feel that the perception of us by those who do not yet follow Jesus is unfair, the responsibility is not on the perceiver but on the one being perceived. In other words, it’s our job as the messengers to be sure that the message is coming across clearly despite potential perception issues.

So here’s the question: how do we combat perceptions that might prevent us from being the tangible blessings that we are to be where we work, live, and play? Let me know what you think in the comments below!