I’m Thankful…

A few things I’m thankful for as we head into the holiday week (in no specific order):

– Brittany.  To have such an amazing person take on my last name and all the scars/struggles/frustrations/annoyances that come with that and not only love me, but devote herself to me… it is the best relationship I’ve ever known or seen.  After being married 4 and a half years, I feel even more blessed than I did on April 26th, 2008 when we said “I do” and it became official.  We have been “together” for 7 and a half years and every day I am blown away by her.  As a youngster I heard a lot about how marriage was hard work/tough/difficult/strenuous.  Along the way we have encountered situations and people that have embodied those words, but after our time together I really enjoy encouraging newly weds and engaged couples that marriage can be so much better than those things.  When I think about our “marriage”, I think that it could best be described as fun/enjoyable/content/relaxing/uplifting/positively challenging (makes me want to be a better person)/reliable/heartfelt/gracious/blessed/joyous/happy/better-than-anyone-told-me-it-could-be.

–  New City.  I’m incredibly thankful for the place we now live.  In less than 8 months Brittany and I talk about how much this place feels like “home” to us.  I like our apartment.  I like our new friends.  I like the well manicured landscaping.  I like the weather.  I like finding new local spots here all the time.  It’s a good place to live.  Our new home has brought about tremendous healing/change in my own heart.  Brittany said to me recently, “since we have moved you seem like a tremendous weight has been lifted off of your shoulders.”  Obviously there is more to it than geographic location, but I am thankful for this city that we now call home.

– Jobs.  Brittany has an amazing job with some amazing people.  Just this week she said that this was basically a dream job.  My job as a bartender/server has also been a great blessing.  My managers are great and genuinely try to make sure that I am enjoying my job, whereas in many restaurant jobs managers seem to make it a point for you to hate your job.  To think that 2 months before we moved we had no idea of what we were going to do for jobs, and to now be blessed with jobs that have treated us so well.  Thankful.

– Friends.  I have the best friends of anyone I have ever known.  I have this weird thing where I wish other people could experience the good things that I experience.  For instance, if I watch a movie that I deem amazing then I would watch it again the next day with Brittany if she hadn’t seen it.  So a part of me feels kind of bad that you are missing out on knowing some of the people that I know.  I know some ridiculously incredible people.  Great friends.  Of all different types.  I love them.

– Church.  One day I might be able to write about this subject.  But for now I’ll just say I’m incredibly thankful for the church we are involved in here.  The church has made it incredibly easy for us to get connected to other people and develop relationships.  Brittany and I are able to work/hang with 9th grade students on a weekly basis and that has been one of the best things we have ever done.  On Tuesday evenings we meet with 7 other married couples around our age and talk about life. Every week I am brought to tears on Sunday during worship services, not because I feel so bad about myself…but because I am reminded of how great Jesus is.  It is a game-changer.

– Dad.  My dad is a good guy.  Not just saying that.  He has consistently shown me, by example, what it means to lay down your life/desires/interests and consider others’ above his own.  As a result of that, I am 29 years old and 2 of my siblings are in their 20’s…and we all love my dad a great deal and look forward to spending time with him and being around him.  If he had spent the majority of our lives putting his own interests above ours, then the 3 of us older kids probably wouldn’t enjoy coming back around and spending time with him nearly as much.  But we do.  Because he is a good guy.  And graciously I am blessed to call him Dad.

Yeah, there is a ton more.  But those are at the top of my list.  And I could write several posts on each one.  Maybe I will one day.  Thursday me and Brittany and our puppy Abby will wake up super early and drive down to stay with my dad and the fam for Thanksgiving weekend.  And I will be reminded of many more things I’m thankful for.

 

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If You Don’t Vote…

I’m bothered by “Christians” that come across as constantly:

angry

irritated

frustrated

disgusted

hateful

superior

negative

I’m more so bothered that the same people come across as finding pride in bearing these wonderful fruits for everyone to see.  That somehow it is their duty to wear these badges on their armor as they fight until the very bitter end.

That “joy” is found in expressing these things and not something opposed to these things.

I know that I am a Christian who occasionally comes across as all of those specific annoying traits.

But I literally pray that it isn’t a constant.  And that I would never be boastful of characteristics that are more like Satan than they are Jesus.

What I greatly despise about political season is that both parties can exalt an Israelite carpenter that walked the earth a couple thousand years ago as if He came to die solely for their American Donkey/Elephant causes.

Anyways, one of the phrases I’ve heard from church people a lot every 4 years is one that you have heard as well from church people and from non-church people:

“If you don’t vote, then you don’t have the right to complain about the result!”

If you don’t consider yourself a church person or a Jesus person or anything like that, then the rest of this isn’t for you.  You can read along if you like, but totally disregard what I’m about to say to the people who read this and would say they are Jesus followers…if you like.

The above statement could be better stated this way:

“If my party loses, I can’t freaking WAIT to complain the next 4 years about the result…because I didn’t vote for him…”

The old man Paul, who wrote most of the letters that make up the New Testament had a somewhat different idea about this.

Philippians 2:14

“Do everything without complaining….”

and in case you didn’t understand, he adds…

“or arguing.”

So one more time in case we missed it with my snide interruption:

“Do everything without complaining or arguing.”

Everything simply means

Every.

Thing.

Paul, who had a pretty difficult life and could have lived his entire life as if every day was this overwhelming “battle/war” and could have been the leading champion of anger/irritation/frustration/disgust/hate/superiority/negativity

instead says that you and I, as followers of Jesus, don’t have

any.

right.

to complain about

any.

thing.

ever.

So what do we do if we lose?

Whether your party wins or loses is somewhat irrelevant.  What is more relevant is how you view your entire life.

Is it a constant war?

Or is it incredibly beautiful?

Or is it a blend of the two?

As an American, I’d say we come out on the side of being so incredibly blessed it is literally unbelievable to people in other countries.

And no matter who wins tomorrow, you and I will still be so much more wealthy than pretty much the entire population of the world in 4 years.

So vote tomorrow to express yourself and your beliefs.  Or don’t vote.

But either way, don’t complain.  And please don’t vote so that you can earn that right to complain.

Not if you say you love Jesus.