Hope is rising (Day 18 of the #encourage marathon)

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Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

~ Lamentations 3.19-24, ESV

Welcome to mile-marker 18 of our #encourage marathon! (If you missed yesterday’s post, you can read it here.)

Someone out there needs the Lord. (That would be all of us…)

If you look back at your life, do you ever recall a day in which the sun did not rise? You may not have seen it, or a storm may have been so dark that you barely registered it, but did the sun fail to rise?

I’ve been alive since 1981, and I’ve never failed to see a new day. The sun always rises. It is even more dependable than death and taxes.

Who created that flaming orb? Who ordained the seasons and the earth’s rotation? What does it reveal about Him? The only thing more constant than the sunrise is the Lord who made it. If He is more dependable than the sunrise, can we count on Him to fulfill His promises? Can we trust Him to be there for us when we face trouble? Can we rely on Him to be present in our despair?

Yes. A thousand times, yes. Continue reading

Day 29: The Bible

This post is part of “30 days of Giving Thanks” To read more within this series, click here.

bible

We are nearing the end of this series! As I indicated in my post about light, these last few posts are focusing on the greatest lights of all. I’ve talked about love and hope. Today, we are going to talk about the Bible.

There’s a new trend among Christians to say that the New Testament is not the inspired Word of God, but consider: the Apostles were handpicked by Christ, witnessed His death, burial and resurrection and possessed the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit led them as the toiled to bring people the gospel. God has always preserved His message for generations yet unborn. The Bible is His preserved message for us, and I am thankful that I have ready access to it. There are more manuscripts of the New Testament than any other ancient historical document. God protected His message and I trust that He would not leave us in the lurch.

The light of truth

The Bible—all 66 books—brings us the light of God’s truth. Sometimes I wish that God’s expectations were laid out for us in a neat little list, but then we would seek to justify ourselves instead of depending on God’s grace. It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings to search it out. God wants us to dig through His Word and learn step by step, day by day, what He wants for us. It’s a life-long endeavor, but those who seek, find.

Truth is not relative. There is one truth: God’s.

Knowledge of God

Why do we study the Word? Our primary purpose should be to know the Lord. Every book teaches us about Him—His faithfulness, His steadfast love, His justice and His mercy. We see His hand working with the proud and the lowly. Nobody can thwart His plans. We learn that we can truly trust the Lord in all circumstances.

Life-saving instruction

In the Bible we see God has had a plan for us from the beginning of time. We see how salvation is to be received. We learn how to obey God the way He wants us to obey. We just need to have open eyes and a heart set on seeking His will and not our own.

I am thankful that God has preserved His Word for me and for the rest of the world. I am thankful for this beacon of truth that hasn’t been destroyed.

 

Day 28: Hope

This post is part of “30 days of Giving Thanks” To read more within this series, click here.

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From The Return of the King, New Line Cinema.

An innumerable horde of creatures besieged the city of Minas Tirith. Dark clouds fill the sky. Ominous pounding reverberates through the courtyard as the orcs and Uruk-hai attempt to penetrate the large doors. The situation is desperate. The men quake with fear but stand ready to fight. The stench of death surrounds them. Despair is palpable.

Pippin, the hobbit, turns to Gandalf the wizard and says, “I didn’t think it would end this way.”

Gandalf looks kindly at the hobbit and remarks, “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.”

Pippin’s face reflects his confusion. “What? Gandalf? See what?”

“White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.”

“Well that isn’t so bad,” Pippin says.

Gandalf smiles. “No. No it isn’t.”

In that dark and desperate moment, Gandalf gave Pippin a glimmer of hope—an expectation of better things.

In another scene, the Rohirrim (the cavalry) appear on the hillside. As the horses begin to move forward into the fray, rays of sunshine break through the gloom as though hope for victory has finally come.

That particular series of books and movies overflows with scenes contrasting light vs darkness, and despair vs hope. On some level, we can all relate to these moments. How often have you been at the brink of utter ruin, only to be saved from destruction? Has life ever seemed purposeless? meaningless?

For the Christian, we remember that life for us was aimless before Christ. Without Him, we faced death (and life) without hope. In our cushy country, most of us have never faced starvation or persecution—at least not since the end of World War II. There is this sense that all will be well. There is confidence that the government will protect and provide. Either that or we’ll pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. That’s misplaced confidence.

What would happen if all those “supports” were suddenly destroyed? In what or in whom would people place their hope?

We have an unshakeable hope. A confident expectation for better things. And it isn’t here in this decaying world!

What is the Christian’s hope?

A hope that defies circumstance.

One of the things that perplexed the Romans during the rise of Christianity was the peace with which the Christians faced death. No matter how much they persecuted, threatened, tortured and imprisoned them, the Christians would not renounce their faith nor beg for mercy. They had confidence that God would deliver their soul if not their body.

The Romans hoped that persistent persecution would destroy the church, but it didn’t. It flourished! The people saw hope reflected in the lives of those Christians and they were hungry to have that same confidence.

Hope that anchors our soul.

When a ship lowers its anchor, it’s very hard for that ship to go wandering off with the tide. It may move around a little in its place, but the anchor keeps it from being carried off by the wind and waves.

Our hope is like that anchor. When circumstance and the deceitfulness of the world push us about, our hope holds us in place so we do not wander away from God.

The Hebrew writer refers to hope as an anchor in the following passage:

“So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”

‭‭~ Hebrews‬ ‭6:17-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Hope in God’s Faithfulness and steadfast love.

Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

Lamentations‬ ‭3:19-24‬ ‭ESV

The above passage is one of my favorites. It eloquently expresses why we can trust in the Lord: he is faithful, his love is steadfast, his mercy never ends. Do you know anybody like that on earth? Have your friends ever let you down? What about family? The church?

Humans will always fall short. We aren’t perfect. Our minds get overwhelmed, our bodies ache and break, our emotions take over. God isn’t frail like us. He is sure, strong and steady. He will never leave us or forsake us.

Placing your confidence in God is a secure choice. We can trust Him. We can have hope because of his trustworthiness.

Hope for eternal peace.

This world is essentially a foreign country for us. It’s a place where we are forged. God wants to know if we really love Him. He wants us all to be with Him in heaven, but many don’t want anything to do with him. They want their way. They want to satisfy themselves.

I was “they” until I decided to put my hope in something better. It’s easy to fall into the rhythm of the world and make a home here—especially when circumstances are wonderful. But with each new day I have to remind myself that this too shall pass—the good and the bad. Every day. 

My hope is in a place where my spouse and my children won’t be threatened by thugs. My hope is in a place where those who’ve gone before me are waiting. My hope is in a place where I will finally be face to face with my creator, surrounded by his perfect glory. I’ll get to see Jesus, the one who saved me from eternal death.

I have hope. And I am so thankful to God for giving me a confident expectation for better things.

Do you have this hope?

 

Day 22: The canvas

This post is part of “30 days of Giving Thanks” To read more within this series, click here.

by Qypchak), 4 травня 2010 through Wikipedia
by Qypchak), 4 травня 2010 through Wikipedia

It took Michelangelo four years to complete the Sistine Chapel Ceiling. Some very well known images are preserved on this ceiling, the most notable being the “Creation of Adam.” I have never been to the Sistine chapel, but I imagine that craning the neck just to look at it would make one weary.

File from Wikipedia Commons, U.S. public domain
From “The Creation of Adam” File from Wikipedia Commons, U.S. public domain

Michelangelo was a talented and prolific artist.

There is a canvas, a ceiling, a dome that I love to look at more than any other work of art. It’s painter is the original artist. He invented beauty. His creations have inspired all artists throughout the centuries.

In the early dawn, the canvas is covered with a frosty pale blue, bordered by rose-colored mountain tops. Wispy white strokes streak across the serene scene. Only a few hours before, the very same canvas was drenched in indigo hues with pinprick diamonds glistening in every corner.

As the hours pass, the blue deepens. White wispy strokes are replaced by birds and cotton white puffs. The canvas gently changes as the light source moves. Every day, the Artist has some new view on display. At times the canvas is on fire with golds, reds, oranges and pinks. At other times it is mournfully gray.

This Artist shows His infinite wisdom, His great faithfulness and His magnificent power through His canvas sky. It is one of my greatest delights to look up and see this glorious interplay of color and light and know that my God created it.

How many artists can use so many different elements to create such vast beauty? How many artists have been able to dazzle every single human from creation to present?  What artist has ever flawlessly mastered the balance of form and function on such a grand scale?

I can’t think of one.

The heavens show us how wise, faithful and unchanging our God is. Have you ever heard the expression, “As sure as the dawn” or “as sure as the sun rises”? It means that from creation to the present, there has always been a day and night. There is nothing quite so consistent as the rising of the sun, except for God. It’s a reminder of His faithfulness, His constancy.

I am thankful for God’s vast canvas sky and for what it reveals about Him day after day.

starry night

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.

There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.

In them he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.

Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

~ Psalm 19.1-6, ESV

Day 18: Music

This post is part of “30 days of Giving Thanks” To read more within this series, click here.

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Music… will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities, and in time of care and sorrow, will keep a fountain of joy alive in you.

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Being introverted by nature, I couldn’t help but feel a bit lost as I sat in the unfamiliar room surrounded by strangers all chatting and laughing. For almost a year I had been suffering from severe depression and anxiety with little relief. I asked someone about music and they indicated an old milk carton holding black folders. They also pointed me in the direction of the clarinet section. I took the available seat and breathed deeply to calm my nerves.

I opened the case and brushed my fingers lightly over the silver keys and ebony wood. The wooden Buffet Clarinet was a thing of beauty. I rubbed grease on the corks, assembled the pieces and fixed the reed into place. Warm air filled the instrument as I quietly ran through a chromatic scale and a series of regular scales. I hoped no one would hear me… I was so rusty.

My heart throbbed wildly. “Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.” I thought to myself. After I had told the principal clarinet that this was my first time playing in 13 years, he replied, “Maybe you should try band first, it’s a better way to ease back into music because there are more clarinets. In orchestra there are only one to two of us.” I nodded in agreement and said that we’d see how it went.

Song after song, I fumbled my way through the music, thoroughly enjoying the rich sounds that swelled around me. For being a humble community orchestra in a nowhere desert town, there was an abundance of talented musicians. I concentrated with intensity on the notes and fingerings. It was amazing how much muscle memory remained from my early musical training.

3 hours later, I was exhausted, but oddly elated. At the end of the rehearsal the principal clarinetist turned to me and said, “Great job!” I had forgotten, for 3 beautiful hours, all the cares that had been oppressing me for months.

I am thankful for music. I enjoy playing music, listening to music and singing music. I love harmonizing. I love the poetry. I love the buzz of a good chord. I am thankful for musicians and conductors who volunteer hours of time to bring music to their communities.

I quoted Dietrich Bonhoeffer earlier. He was an accomplished musician. His talent was so great that his parents and music instructor had hoped he would pursue it as a career, but he did not. He felt a stronger pull towards teaching the gospel. Music never ceased to be a joy and release to him.

Albert Einstein is primarily known for his science, but he was also a violinist. He began playing at the age of 4. As he became an adult and scientist, he continued playing and did not stop until his doctor told him that he could not continue in 1950. Hans Albert Einstein recalled, “Whenever he felt that he had come to the end of the road or into a difficult situation in his work, he would take refuge in music. That would usually resolve all his difficulties.”

Shepherd. Warrior. King. David was a man who loved music. How did he first come into contact with royalty? He played for the king (Saul) to soothe his nerves. He wrote music prolifically: Songs of praise. Songs of despair. Songs of hope. I suspect—though I have no way of knowing—that the Psalms are some of the most quoted scriptures (particularly Psalm 23).

God is the original Maestro. He doesn’t just conduct music or perform music. He invented it. What do massage therapists play for their patients? They play a recording of the gentle rhythm of ocean waves, the light babble of mountain streams and the whisper of the wind through the trees. Music abounds in the natural world. The humpback whales sing and harmonize within the depths of the ocean. The birds warble their own unique songs of praise. Thunder rumbles like a timpani to signal a storm. Wind whistles through the trees. Even the stars possess a song, though we cannot hear it. The earth resonates with overtures of praise for the Creator.

Give thanks for music and the opportunity to lift up our hearts in praise to our God.

I want to conclude this little post with a song that has been near and dear to my heart for many years. When I was 5, my mother taught me “This is My Father’s World.” I remember sitting on the living room floor, playing with my magnet letters and singing it to myself. It was the first hymn that I learned and one that I still love to sing. It eloquently conveys my sentiments about God’s gift of music.

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

~Maltbie D. Babcock

Day 17: Law Enforcement Officers

This post is part of “30 days of Giving Thanks” To read more within this series, click here.

CHP officers, LAPD officers and paramedics held up a vehicle to rescue a trapped driver who was screaming for help after a rollover crash on Sept. 16, 2014. (Credit: Rick McClure, RMc Video)
CHP officers, LAPD officers and paramedics held up a vehicle to rescue a trapped driver who was screaming for help after a rollover crash on Sept. 16, 2014. (Credit: Rick McClure, RMc Video)

The past year has been full of anti-cop, anti-authority movements seeking to undermine or destroy law enforcement officers. Only half of Americans have confidence in police officers according to a Gallup Poll conducted in June. Many Americans have this strange idea that law enforcement officers are modern-day Gestapo agents waiting to trample their rights. Our officers are not Gestapo. Contrary to what many think, they can’t discharge one bullet without accounting for it. They are monitored closely and scrutinized heavily by their peers, their superiors and the public.

Are there corrupt police officers?

Yes.

Are they the majority?

No.

How often is it said that you can bribe your way out of trouble here in America? People try to do so, but often fail miserably. In other countries, corruption is rampant. Bribery is needed to get even the right thing done.

We are so very blessed to have men and women who are willing to put on a target (read: badge) every single day and act as a buffer between evil and the rest of us. We are fortunate that we still have justice in our country (even if the judges lack common sense at times).

I am thankful for the state troopers, border patrol, highway patrol, city police, sheriff’s deputies and SWAT teams that put their life on the line daily to protect total strangers. It’s a huge stress on them and their families and many officers die soon after retirement from the massive amount of prolonged stress.

I am thankful that God has allowed there to be a majority of honest people in these professions. If you haven’t read this post on praying for law enforcement, check it out and say a prayer for them.

To all of those who are in law enforcement or who have served in the past:

Thank you.

Thank you for being at the scene of fatal accidents, directing traffic and preventing greater destruction.

Thank you for keeping an eye out for danger in the middle of the night so we can sleep safely in our beds.

Thank you for holding back your temper when people spit on you and say all sorts of derogatory things to your face.

Thank you for pulling drunk drivers off the roads so that we can get home without incident.

Thank you for rescuing children from domestic violence.

Thank you for pulling drug dealers off the streets.

Thank you for responding to calls in the middle of the night, working holidays and weekends and standing in extreme heat and extreme cold as the situation demands.

Thank you.

Day 16: I’m Thankful for My Parents

This post is part of “30 days of Giving Thanks” To read more within this series, click here.

mother and daughter

They always say that children are a gift… But so are good parents!

I have been fortunate to have grown up with the same two parents and lived in the same house. Until recently, I never appreciated what a blessing that was. We went through some very rough patches, especially during my early high school years, but my parents were bound by a connection stronger than personal feelings—they were committed to God. God held them together through good times and bad and they both came out ten times stronger.

My mother has worked outside the home for as long as I can remember. In spite of being exhausted at the end of the day, she would fix dinner, keep the checkbook balanced and even do multiplication flash cards with me. When I was in high school, she and my dad would give up their Saturday every so often to chaperone our band competitions. Every week from the time I was 11 until I turned 17, she faithfully took me to clarinet lessons. She worked hard and even planned great family vacations to places like Yellowstone.

I firmly believe that whether you stay home with your kids or work outside the home, it doesn’t make or break your value as a parent. My mother always did what she could and she did it well. I appreciate her so much!

My father worked as a hospice nurse for several years—and still does. He is the one who instilled in me a deep and abiding love for books and stories. I remember being very small and he would tell me stories using my stuffed animals. As I got older, he would recommend books for me to read. When I was in high school, we would go on walks and talk about various things from history to church matters to movies. He always seemed to have an answer for any bible or theological-related question I came up with. The few times he didn’t, he would tell me he’d research it and get back to me (and he always did).

Was our family life the paragon of perfection?

No.

Can you show me a family life that is?

I want to share a brief memory from my senior year of high school that illustrates how amazing they are:

It was the first time my parents had left me at home on my own for more than a few hours. They had left town to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. I walked into the dark house and there were some letters on the counter, all of them in #10 envelopes. My teachers had told me that college acceptance letters only came in large envelopes; rejection letters came in #10s. My heart sank as I saw an envelope with the Cal Poly logo on it. I had been rejected… I must’ve been. It was a small envelope.

Rejection…. and I was alone to deal with it.

I tremulously lifted the envelope and broke the seal, pulling out the single heartbreaking sheet.

Instead of “We regret to inform you…” I was rather shocked to see in black and white “Congratulations!”

I had been accepted?!?!

The sudden ring of the phone made me jump.

It was my parents. I couldn’t contain my elation. Before even asking about their trip, or even if they were ok, I had to tell them.

“I got accepted to Cal Poly!” I burst out.

“Yes! We know! It’s wonderful!” My mom replied.

“How did you know? The envelope wasn’t opened.”

I could almost hear my mom smile through the wires as she confessed, “We held it up to the light before we left. We didn’t want you to be home by yourself if it had been a rejection letter.”

I was stunned. I’m not exactly sure how the conversation went after that. I just remember great warmth spreading through my heart. They had been willing to cancel a special vacation for a special occasion just so I wouldn’t have to deal with the rejection alone.

That’s the kind of parents I have—the type that don’t consider parenting an inconvenience. The type that didn’t give us everything we wanted, but tried to ensure we had what we needed. The type that love us more than themselves.

Thank you both!

Day 15: Providence

This post is part of “30 days of Giving Thanks” To read more within this series, click here.

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A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.

~ Proverbs 16.9, NKJV

Providence.

Thats one of those old churchy words that people used to use in reference to God’s plan, right?

Very close!

Its actually a very beautiful concept. The origin of the word is from the Latin ‘providere’ meaning “to foresee, to attend to.” It is currently defined as “the foreseeing care and guidance of God or nature over the creatures of the earth.”

You know, I love God’s providence.

I find great comfort in knowing that God provides and will provide for my basic needs. I am able to trust in the Lord because I know that He sees the end from the beginning and can guide my steps in the right way.

My friends and I were discussing prayer a bit yesterday and one of the things we touched on was the fact that God knows so much more than we do. We may ask for something and think that we ought to have it or that it would be beneficial. God may say “no” or “not yet” because He recognizes the physical or spiritual harm in what you request. God ultimately wants us to love and serve Him with our whole heart. Our prayers also should be geared toward that.

God orchestrates so much of what goes on around us. He confounds the plans of Satan. He raises and destroys kingdoms.

Today I arrived home safely from the conference in Anaheim. It was a lovely trip, but I was so thankful to get home safely.

I’m unaware of the abundance of ways in which the Lord has blessed me and led me safe thus far. But in moments like these, there’s a line from an old hymn that goes through my head:

Thy bountiful care, what tongue can recite?

It breathes in the air, it shines in the light!

It streams from the hills it descends to the plains

And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain!

~ Robert Grant, ‘O Worship the King.’

what a lovely expression—his care distills in the dew and rain. His providential care surrounds us! I am so thankful for such assurance in this crazy life!

Day 14: Fellow Christians

This post is part of “30 days of Giving Thanks” To read more within this series, click here.

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It was a small insignificant building in a small insignificant coastal town. The streets rolled up at 9 pm along with the gas station. As I stood outside on that breezy August afternoon, I noted with immense pleasure that I could see the ocean from where I stood. Inside the four walls were Christians I had never met before. I was full to bursting with mingled anticipation and trepidation.

My parents and I walked in and were greeted in no time by the preacher, the elders and various members. Within the space of 10 minutes we were invited to dinner, offered a place to stay and—since I would be carless—arrangements made for a ride to worship and bible classes. It was a small group, but large in love, hospitality and godliness. I spent the better part of five years with them. They were my family away from family. I essentially gained grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, sisters and brothers. That building is gone, but the church remains. They relocated to a larger building so they could grow. Even today, I like to go back with my young family and see them.

The church is a great blessing. The ties I have to my Christian family run deep. Having lived all over the state, I’ve had the opportunity to worship in many places with many brothers and sisters in Christ. I’ve never worshipped and failed to connect with a brother or sister with whom I’ve shared a common faith. It’s a beautiful thing.

We are connected through Christ.

We learn to love those who are difficult to love. We learn how to settle disagreements. We encourage each other to press on. We learn from the examples of the elderly and teach the young the way of the Lord.

I am thankful for the church and all the lovely Christians I am privileged to know!

Day 13: Friends

  1. This post is part of “30 days of Giving Thanks” To read more within this series, click here.

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A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for adversity.

~ Proverbs 17.17, ESV

Old friends. New friends. Blessings all!

Which has greater importance: the quality or quantity of your friendships?

In our world of social media, there is a tendency to gauge friendships by the number of “followers” or “friends” that are tallied up in your account. I only recently dipped my toes in the Facebook water. Prior to that, I was connected only to a few friends from college and our first home. I’d connect with many friends yearly through Christmas pictures and letters. I was, and still am, especially thankful to those friends who would send me emails, texts or catch-up phone calls even though I “wasn’t on Facebook.”

There were also friends with whom I’d slip in and out of contact. It was as though could hit pause on our movie and when we’d reconnect, we’d hit the play button, picking up exactly where we left off.

A good friend is a valuable treasure—don’t pawn them for lesser things.

I have found that good friends do the following:

Sacrifice.

Our friend Jay gave us the remainder of his security deposit from the rental he’d vacated to help us get a head start after our wedding. For a young bachelor, this was a huge sacrifice. We have never forgotten it. Thanks, Jay!

Our friend, Ida, helped introduce us to whole foods and sent us various things—Celtic sea salt, cod liver oil, and grassfed meat (not cheap stuff by any means)—to help us get going. Thank you, Ida for helping us get started on a good, healthy path.

My college friend, Alissa, gave up valuable study time to help me edit (and rewrite) a 60-page term paper that was part of a group project. She was also there in a flash for me (and all her friends) when we needed someone to confide in. She was, and still is, a loyal friend. Thank you, Alissa for your constant friendship.

Support.

My mom’s best friend, Cheri (who is like a second mother to me) was there for my family when my brother went through a trial due to false charges. I was coming apart at the seams and she and her husband offered to take me out for awhile to relieve the stress. Perceptive. Understanding. Supportive. She also helped coordinate our wedding. Thank you, Cheri!

When we miscarried our first baby, the calls and cards poured in. I thank each of you for your prayers and love.

When we were going through a financially lean period, we needed someone to help us care for our baby while I tried getting my design business off the ground. Thank you, Logan and Julie for your selfless support and care for our child during that rough time.

When I found myself in an Emegency Room, 350 miles from home with a kidney stone, Earle, Mary, Paul and Doris came to keep me company and drive me home safely.

Humor.

Dwight and Cindy, I love how I can talk to you about serious things, godly subjects and I know you will pray for us and care for our well being. Alternately, you are gifted at bringing humor and laughter to so many things. Thank you!

Robb, my friend and brother, thank you for making me laugh even in the darkest times.

Cindi, memories of you and your family still bring a smile to my face. We have so many humorous memories…. Like being passed by the kitchen sink in the way to Vegas. Or you and the kids singing Magical Mister Mistofolees at the top of your lungs.

Encouragement.

My old friend, Cecil who taught me and my family almost every Saturday night for over seven years, encouraging us to dig deeply into the Word. It’s because of him that I’ve gained such a firm foundation in Bible Study.

Brent taught me and my friends to stand firm for truth. We had to reason through things in his classes. We needed to be ready and attentive. He didn’t stand for lame excuses about skipping worship or slack behavior. He was a friend and mentor to us college kids.

Jason, thank you for being my best friend—encouraging me to write and supporting me in all my endeavors from graphic design to orchestra to blogging. You always encourage me to step out and keep going, not allowing me to be paralyzed by fear or insecurity. Your bravery has taught me to be brave.

Defiance.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.

~ Proverbs 27.6, ESV

This last point seems counterintuitive, but it’s not. A real friend will be willing to wound you for your own good. They will tell you that you’re wrong or going the wrong way because they love you and want what’s best for you.

I haven’t been confronted often. It’s never pleasant to be in the wrong. I am thankful for friends who were willing to step out on a limb and stop me from making foolish choices.

To all my friends, new and old, thank you for being part of my life. Even if you aren’t mentioned by name here, please know that you are valuable to me. It would take thousands of words to express my gratitude to each of you.