Things I'm Thankful For (Post 4)...

Today is Thanksgiving and I wanted to share the thing that I'm most thankful for: my family. When it comes to family I hit the jackpot. My wife is absolutely incredible. Period. She is the most amazing woman that I have ever known. She loves me in spite of all my quirks, my messiness, my need to always be right and win, and my love for aggravating her to no end. I have the best parents and grandfather in the world. I have worked with students for over 12 years and I've seen great parents and not-so-great parents. Mine are easily at the very top of the list. The investment and love that my parents and grandparents have provided me over the years have made me who I am. When it comes to brothers, I also hit the lottery. My brother is not just my sibling. He's my best friend. A guy couldn't ask for a better best friend. And his wife is a definite keeper. Christie is a great fit in our family and Johanna and I love her. And when Jo and I got married my family expanded even more. My in-laws are fantastic and have really been a great support to Jo and I. And the more I hang out with my brothers and sisters-in-laws, the more I realize how much of an absolute blast they are...Not to mention they've given us the most awesome nieces and nephews on the planet.

All of that to say this: Today, I'm thankful for family. When it comes to family, I've got it good. Real good. God has blessed me beyond measure and I'm so grateful to get the chance today to express my gratitude for all His goodness.


Things I'm Thankful For (Post 3)...

One of the things I'm most thankful for in life right now is the incredible church that God has allowed me to serve. I absolutely love The Connection Church. I get to be a part of an unbelievably talented and driven team. I get to be on a team that will charge hell with a watergun to reach those who are far from God.

Every day I get PUMPED about our mission. Every day I get PUMPED about our vision. Every day I get PUMPED about what we are doing to reach those who are far from God. Every day I get to be a part of turning atheists into missionaries. Every day I get the chance to see God doing incredible things to change lives. And every day I need to be thankful.

God, Thank you for allowing me to be a part of the TCC team. Thank you for what you are teaching me. Thank you for what you are using our church to do. Please don't ever let us get complacent about doing whatever it takes to see you change lives.


Things I'm Thankful For (Post 2)...

This week this blog is all about giving gratitude. Each day I'm posting something that I'm thankful for. You can read part one of Things I'm Thankful For by clicking here.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about what I'm thankful for in order to share those things this week. I've given it a lot of thought and time. But today, it's a no-brainer. It was easy to decide what to share today.

This morning Johanna and I got up early and headed into Austin for a sonogram. Jo's almost 20 weeks pregnant so today we found out the sex of our baby...and IT'S A BOY!

So today, I'm thankful for the gift of life that God has allowed Johanna and I to be a part of. I am STOKED that we're having a boy. But I would have been just as thankful for a girl. My prayer all along has been this: God grant us a healthy mom and a healthy baby. I ask God for that multiple times per day. And I pray other prayers for my son too. I'll be sharing those in the weeks and months ahead.

But today it's easy to know what I'm thankful for. It's simple. I'm thankful God has blessed us with a baby boy on the way. And even though my gratitude for God's gift is bursting out of my chest today, I still get a little sick sometime when it really hits me that I'm going to be a dad! Wow.


Things I'm Thankful For (Post 1)...

This week I'm making it a priority to post things I'm thankful for. I've found that I'm actually more thankful when I sit down and think about all I have to show gratitude for. This first post is going to take a different look at being thankful. Here are just a few of the things I'm thankful for that often don't get seen as something to be grateful about.
  • I'm thankful for my gas bill, because it means I have a warm home.
  • I'm thankful for my rent payment, because it means I am blessed enough to have a home to live in.
  • I'm thankful for the grocery bill, because it means I have food to eat.
  • I'm thankful for a busy schedule, because it means I have people to share life with.
  • I'm thankful to pay taxes, because it means God has blessed me with a job.
  • I'm thankful for the parking spot at the back of the lot, because it means I can walk to the store.
  • I'm thankful for an alarm that goes off early in the morning, because it means I'm alive.

Spend some time this week looking at life through glasses of gratitude. It can really change the way we look at our world and our daily routine.

So what is it that you are thankful for? Feel free to share.


The Weekend Update...

Crazy weekend. Enough said. But I'll share some details anyway. Check it out.
  • This weekend was our annual Staff Advance at The Connection Church. At TCC, we never retreat! Our team spent all of Friday evening and all day Saturday dreaming about the INCREDIBLE things that God has in store for us in the upcoming year.
  • Our Staff Advance just confirmed once again what I already knew - Our Lead Pastor, Cole Phillips, in an absolutely amazing leader. I was challenged and stretched all weekend!
  • Our team spent Saturday afternoon playing paintball together. We called it "teambuilding" to justify it and it was an absolute blast!
  • Saturday night Johanna and I went and watched the Lockhart playoff game against Beaumont Central. We got to hang with our peeps Jmob, Clay, and Meg which is always awesome. We also got to see a lot of friends that we hadn't seen in a while. Good times.
  • Today at TCC was C-R-A-Z-Y! With less than 10 minutes before our first service we lost all power. It was INSANE. But it didn't even faze our team. They just jumped into action, set up a "sanctuary" in the lobby which had light from several big windows, and we had an incredible service. I will say this again: Our team is AMAZING!
  • The TCC band was fantastic today. Not only did they pull off an incredible unplugged service with no power or electricity, but then turned around in our second service (with power back on) and ROCKED OUT the song Satisfy Me by Decemberradio. It was by far my favorite song they've ever done! Great job band!

Like I said...crazy weekend. I'm exhausted and now pumped about getting to see family and take a breath with Thanksgiving this week. And with Thanksgiving in mind, I'll be posting each day this week about things I'm thankful for, so check it out throughout the week.


The Start of Something Big...

Tonight marked the official start of something big - my brother's basketball coaching career. My brother has had several jobs in life. And he's done really well at the vast majority of them. In fact, he could sell a ketchup popsicle to woman in a white Versace dress on a hot summer day. He's that good. But he was meant to coach. A love for the game of basketball runs through his veins like something I've rarely seen. It's his passion. It's his obsession. And now passing that love and passion for the game on is what he does for a living. His first official game was tonight as a coach for Magnolia High School. He's the freshman A-team coach and the assistant coach to the varsity. His team won 54 to 16. I'd say he's off to a good start. Congrats bro! I know it's just the start of something big.


Elevate Weekend...

This past weekend we had our first ever Elevate Weekend as part of The Connection Church's student ministry. Basically, Elevate is our version of a fall retreat where our students are immersed with fun, friends, and faith. We worshipped together, laughed together, and played together and it was a BLAST! Thank you to everyone who served and gave to make the weekend possible! I think this weekend was just a small glimpse of things to come and of what God is going to do to use TCC to reach the students of the Hays area. Our Lead Pastor Cole Phillips came and hung out for a while this weekend and captured a little of the weekend on video. Check it out below.


Reflections on Today...

Usually, on this date every year the same thing happens. My mom or dad call me early in the morning to remind me it's my grandmother's birthday. In turn, I would call my brother and we'd figure out which florist to call and order flowers so that it would look like we knew it was today all along. Then Johanna and I would call Mea, that's what we call my grandmother, and wish her a happy birthday. She'd thank us for the flowers, and being her always gracious self she'd go on about how beautiful they were. But the highlight for her wouldn't be the flowers. It would be getting to talk to the grandkids she loved so much...the grandsons she took pride in and the granddaughter-in-laws she adored. For her, that would have been her real birthday present.

But like I said...that's what I would usually do today. But not this time. My grandmother passed away suddenly back in April. What started out as a stomach ache ended up being a major health issue that took her life before any of us were ready for her to go. And to be really honest, I miss my Mea. Some days it's better than others...and then there are days like today when I'd give just about anything in the world to have to make that emergency phone call to the florist to order flowers for her birthday. On days like today, I'd love the chance to be able to call her and promise that we were coming home to visit soon...And that when we did, we'd go out to eat to celebrate her birthday and make my dad buy dinner for everyone!

But the reality is that isn't possible. So what do I do? Well, I had the great honor of preaching my grandmother's funeral. During that service I talked about the legacy of love and life and faith that my grandmother had invested in those of us she loved. I have no doubt she's in heaven now in the presence of Christ because of her devout faith in his love and forgiveness. So today I do my best to live in a way that honors and continues that legacy. What I can do is treat people graciously because that's what she taught me. I can laugh at life because I saw her do it time and again. And I can love my family and friends because in my grandmother's life I saw her pour out love day after day after day to the people in her life. I can't order flowers today or call Mea up on the phone. I'd really love to. Somedays I think it would just make everything better if I could. But what I can do is seek to live out the legacy of love and faith she poured into her family. So today that's what I did. It doesn't take the place of that phone call I'd love to make...but I know it'd make her smile just the same.

Anybody Else Tired?...

You know what we need? We all need one day a week to just rest and get renewed and refreshed. Right? You feelin' me on this thing? Well, whether you're with me on this or not, that is exactly what we need. In the Bible, God called it a Sabbath. One day a week for us to rest and be refreshed and renewed. To say that is tough in today's society would be like saying that an apple is a bit healthier than a Big Mac, Super-size fries, and a large milkshake. (For those of you who don't get the analogy, that would be a huge understatement.)

While I have several of my own thoughts about this subject, this post is to let you know that my buddy Zak White and Clayton Bell have a blogging crossover going on about this exact topic. It's a pretty interesting discussion and I thought you might be interested in checking it out. So check out their blogs and get in on the discussion.


Wow Wednesday...

This video has been floating around from blog to blog lately and our lead pastor, Cole Phillips, pointed it out to me. Thanks for sharing Cole! This is definitely worthy of a WOW. And let me just add this: in 12 years of ministry at churches where choirs sang every Sunday, I had never heard any of these songs done by a church choir before!


Veteran's Day...

Today our nation get’s the opportunity and privilege to repay one of it’s greatest debts in the form of a simple Thank You. Today is Veteran’s Day. It is a day for us as a nation to honor and thank those who sacrificed more than we’ll ever know in order for us to live in peace, freedom, and prosperity. And it is a day to thank those who are currently making those sacrifices as they serve and defend our great nation.

This is one National Holiday that I never forget. President’s day may slip by me. Columbus Day may come and go without a notice. But not today. Today is not only special because of the many men and women we get to honor. But today is even more special for the one man that I get to honor.

Lieutenant Colonel Bobby R. Burleson is a career military man. He served the majority of his adult working life in the United States Army. He served in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He spent time stationed abroad in Germany as well. He served his country with pride, dignity, and honor for over 20 years. His sacrifices have been many – time away from his family, serving his country during wartime, and most recently his ongoing battles with cancer resulting from Agent Orange in the Vietnam War. When I was younger I asked Lt. Col. Burleson about some medals he had received and why they were just in a cigar box in the cedar chest in a spare bedroom. He told me he didn’t serve his country for medals. He did it because it was the right thing to do. That conversation and that moment forever shaped me. For my entire life, I have known Lt. Col. Burleson by another name – Papa. He’s my grandfather. He’s one of my very best friends. He is my hero. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for the life lessons and legacy I’ve received from Papa. And today I’m so thankful that I have the PRIVILEGE to pay him the respect, thanks, and honor he deserves. Papa, I thank you for your willingness and sacrifice to serve. And today, our nation thanks you as well. And more than that, I thank you for living a life that taught me the importance of doing the right thing and serving others.

Johanna and I both have the honor of having many more family members serve in the armed forces – brothers, friends, cousins – the list goes on and on. My brother-in-law Jerry, my cousin Thomas, and my good friend Gibby currently serve. To all my family members and friends, to all those veterans and current military personnel that I don’t even know: Thank you for your service to our country. Thank you for MY FREEDOM. I do not take it for granted. Today is your day. May we, as a nation, pay you the respect and thanks you so greatly deserve.


50,000 Shoes...

The 50,000 Pairs in 50 Days Challenge

Several blogs that I read regularly have posted today about an incredible opportunity called 50,000 Shoes. It's an incredible undertaking that I'd like to challenge you, my readers, to be a part of. Soles 4 Souls is a charity that has donated over 3.5 millions pairs of shoes to those in need in over 61 countries. Their vision is simple: get shoes to the people who need them. There are over 300 million people in our world who don't have shoes. The 50,000 Shoes in 50 Days Challenge is all about using social media, like this blog, to rally people around this cause. It means that you and I have a chance to do something about it.

It's this simple: Step up and take the 50,000 Shoes in 50 Days Challenge. For only $5 you can buy two pairs of shoes. For just 5 bucks, you can make a difference in people's lives. You can put shoes on a person's feet for the very first time.

Think about it folks. Most of us spend close to $5 at Starbucks on the way to the office in the mornings or ordering a movie off of our cable's pay per view. $5 is nothing to the vast majority of us. It is easy. It is simple. So go HERE and do it now. Plus, your $5 donation gives you the opportunity to win a chance to hand deliver your shoes on a Soles 4 Souls trip to Mexico.

So skip the Starbucks in the morning. Watch an old movie on TBS instead of ordering that new release. Use your money to make a difference. Do it now.

I think this is such a good thing that I'm willing to anty-up and put my money where my blog is, so to speak. Here is what I want you to do. Leave a comment on this blog and let me know when you've paid for your pairs of shoes. If my readers get 10 donations, then Johanna and I will match it. Let's make a difference together!

The Week That Was...

My blog has been silent this week and I apologize. But I do have a good excuse (I think). I had one of my wisdom teeth surgically removed on Monday. That meant that last week was filled with a bit of pain and a lot of pain-killers…And just trust me when I say that it probably isn’t best for me to share my thoughts with the world in that state! So instead of my normal Weekend Update, here’s a look at the whole week that was…quick, fast, and in-a-hurry.

  • Monday I had one of my wisdom teeth taken out. It ended up being a lot bigger thing than originally thought because of how impacted the tooth was. Needless to say, it’s not been one of the funnest moments of my life!
  • I bach-ed it (as in “bachelor”) most of the week. Johanna spent Tuesday through Friday with family in D.C. I miss my wife TREMENDOUSLY when we’re apart for that long!
  • Friday night we had our first BIG student ministry event. We hosted a Post Game Bash for students following the Hays and Lehman football game. We had free food, games, and a rockin’ concert by SOUNDWAVE. We got to make contact with a ton of students and it was a GREAT NIGHT.
  • This weekend I got to spend time with some of my former youth and now great friends Jordan, Kaylen, and Daniel. Jo & I absolutely love getting to spend time with them and cherish every chance we get to share life together.
  • Sunday was a great day at TCC. The band was ROCKIN’ and pulled off an awesome version of Toby Mac’s Lose My Soul. Cole knocked it out of the park with the message. Honestly, a couple of his illustrations communicated why we should honor God with our finances better than any I have ever heard! You can watch the entire service here so go and check it out!

I’ve got some posts that have been brewing in the brain so be sure to check back this week for a more regular routine of bloggage. But for now, I’m out.


The Weekend Update...

If you took the Longhorn game out of my weekend, it was great. Here's a recap...including the terrible performance of UT...
  • Friday I spent most of the day prepping for the TCC Trunk or Treat. It was an incredible event! The estimated attendance was 3,000+. Thank you Connectors for making this event a HUGE SUCCESS! You rock!
  • Saturday Johanna and I spent the late morning and afternoon running errands in Austin. That included a stop at Matt's El Rancho to curb Jo's craving for the Bob Armstrong Queso Dip. Amazing stuff!
  • Saturday evening myself and a couple other guys went over to a friend's house to watch the Longhorn and Red Raider game. Great friends. Great food. Crappy game. I'm still ticked off at how the Longhorns played.
  • Today the TCC band ROCKED IT OUT. Good stuff!
  • We had a scavenger hunt with out middle school students at SURGE tonight. It was off the chain! Everyone had a blast.

That about sums it up. Great weekend and now off to a busy week.