Sunday, December 4, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree...

Yesterday, after a fairly successful (and fun!) yard sale and a surprise visit from some pretty awesome friends, Kaitlin and I made our way to the Silver Creek Christmas Tree Farm to pick out our very first Christmas Tree. Upon arriving, we were quickly greeted by the friendly staff, given a saw and a measuring stick, and headed out towards the countless rows of leyland cypress and white pines.

We quickly found this not to be an easy endeavor.

For about half an hour we searched, frequently running into nearly-perfect trees, only to find bald spots when we circled them. Some would be great from one angle, but just not that great from everywhere else. From far away, many looked promising, only to disappoint us when we finally reached them. In hindsight, we were probably very unfairly critical and judgmental towards these trees. When we finally realized that we were not going to find an 8 feet tall tree that was unfailingly symmetrical and branch-y from top to bottom, one called out to us, and we knew it was just right.

I took the provided hand saw and started cutting. This became quite tiring in no time at all, especially having gotten up at the break of dawn to start our yard sale earlier that morning, and having to use a saw that was dull from hundreds of uses. In about a minute or two, it finally hit the ground and we started dragging it back. We didn't get far at all before one of the staff came rolling along in a tractor pulling a trailer that he offered to pull the tree in. I snapped a photo of Kaitlin, and then he snapped one of the both of us, which was nice!

Note how beautiful she is!

A little blurry, but it was a phone camera.

They drove it up, wrapped it, and tied it to the top of the Nissan Altima while we ran into John Moore (the college minister of West Rome Baptist Church) and got to have a brief chat about Christmas trees and exchange belated congratulations (he recently had some additions to his family, and we got married (in case you didn't know)).

On the way back a whole-in-the-wall BBQ restaurant caught our eyes. Those are the best kinds, so it was very exciting. Upon closer inspection, however, we found that they were closing, which was extremely unfortunate. We went to Shane's instead. There, we ran into two other friends, who just so happened to be UGA fans and were headed to continue watching the game. We put our college football loyalty differences aside and enjoyed a little fellowship before they left.

Anyway, back to the tree. We soon discovered that there is more to putting up a tree than just cutting it down and bringing it home. It has to fit into the stand. That was not happening. Some of the bottom branches had to go. Out of desperation, I tried some pretty stupid things like a box cutter and a steak knife. The branch of the pine yielded to neither. Meanwhile, Kaitlin is trying to hold up the tree and balance it on the little part of the stand that the tree can sit on, with a few close calls when it leaned a little too far for comfort. This wasn't going to work. We needed a new plan.

I carried the tree outside so it wouldn't cause any more mess in the house, and drove to Wal-mart to get a heavy-duty clipper. After rushing back home, I hopped out of the car and quickly started to clip those stubborn branches off. Finally, we got it into the stand and tightened the screws. My cutting job was not very   straight, and the tree itself was not perfectly straight. This made it a little harder to work with, but we finally got it to stand without leaning and though the bottom looked a little naked after the trim, we were very proud of ourselves.

Our tree! I added our Nativity scene today. It's from Willow Tree and it's so awesome!
There is just something about having the tree up that makes Christmas feel so much more closer. I'm so excited about our very first Christmas! Just looking at the tree awakens that excitement and makes me so thankful to God that He has blessed me with such an incredible life, wife, and home, and that He loves us so much that He left His throne and became the Son of Man that I (and you and you and you and even YOU) may be saved by the grace shown through His death and Resurrection. It has become so cleche, but in the mess of it all, let us not ever for a moment this year forget that we are not gathering in the name of capitalism or materialism, but in the name of Jesus, Son of the Living God.

Merry 21 days before Christmas, everyone!

- Zack

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

God is the Source

About a month or two ago I started the "Life Journal Reading Plan" on YouVersion. For any of you who don't know what YouVersion is, you should check it out! It's a sweet website that lets you start your own Bible reading plan. But anyway, it was a plan to read the whole Bible in one year, which became a bigger challenge than I first thought. I got about two weeks into it before falling behind and it's taken me this long to try to continue it. I realized the other day that the reason I started falling behind was that my heart just really wasn't in the right place when I started it, but I'll get back to that a little later.

The plan started with Genesis 1-2, and Luke 1. I only had to read a couple verses before my faith was both challenged and strengthened. Everyone knows and has probably heard the signature verse of Genesis 1 being used:
"And God said 'Let there be light,' and there was light."
- Genesis 1:3 (ESV)
I read it and continued and it really didn't stand out to me until I read verses 14 and 15:
"And God said 'Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth."
- Genesis 1:14,15 (ESV)
That opened up such a can of worms for me. I began to question the order of the creation story. Light came before the sun and the stars? How could that make sense? The sun and the stars are what emit light, right?

A few minutes later and I suddenly felt convicted. Is our God not the LORD? Is HE not the source of everything? How could I dare to question how God could create light without the help of giant balls of burning gas and plasma? Does God need anything other than Himself to create? I know it sounds like a small little minute detail of my reading, but for me it was huge. God alone is the source of light.

More than that, God alone is the source of everything else. I soon found that it doesn't really stop with just the origin of light or the order of creation. If we're not careful, we can take for granted all that God does, and just assume that the source of our [life, success, love, freedom, forgiveness, happiness, joy, peace, provision, food, water, relationships, intimacy, etc.] is something material or worldly (or worse, ourselves) instead of God Almighty. Everything we have, we owe to God, because HE is the source of it ALL. He spoke our lives into being. He brought everyone into our lives that we know and love. He makes sure we are well and provided for. He created and designed intimacy, love, peace, and happiness. We owe it all to Him. And if there is anything in our lives that makes us happy or at peace, let us make those reasons to praise Him with all our hearts. Thank Him the minute you think of it! It's so easy to take it for granted. Thanksgiving may be over but may we never cease giving thanks!

I'm going to try my very best to start this Bible reading plan over. I'm going to let the source of my motivation to complete it be to strengthen my relationship with God, and to know Him better, not just to finally read the whole Bible, or to read it in just one year. Those motivations will just run dry. However, motivation for anything can never and will never run dry if God, and God alone, is the source!

- Zack

“There is something beautiful about a billion stars held steady by a God who knows what He is doing. (They hang there, the stars, like notes on a page of music, free-form verse, silent mysteries swirling in the blue like jazz.) And as I lay there, it occurred to me that God is up there somewhere. Of course, I had always known He was, but this time I felt it, I realized it, the way a person realizes they are hungry or thirsty. The knowledge of God seeped out of my brain and into my heart. I imagined Him looking down on this earth, half angry because His beloved mankind had cheated on Him, had committed adultery, and yet hopelessly in love with her, drunk with love for her.” 

― Donald Miller,  Blue Like Jazz

Monday, November 28, 2011

Magnify the LORD with Thanksgiving

Psalm 69 reveals something pretty neat about thanksgiving. I was reading in the Psalms on the morning of Thanksgiving, when a couple verses popped out at me:
"I will praise the name of God with a song;
I will magnify Him with thanksgiving.
This will please the LORD more than an ox
or a bull with horns and hoofs."
- Psalm 69:30-31 (ESV)
Other translations say "glorify" instead of "magnify," but they both essentially have the same meaning. I hadn't really thought a lot about the ways giving thanks can magnify the name of the LORD, but David tells us that not only does it glorify God to give thanks, but it pleases Him much more than any sacrifices we can offer Him. Is that not amazing to think about? God cares a whole lot more about us having a thankful spirit and heart than any expensive, worldly offerings we can make. More than that, I think we can take this verse and safely say that a thankful spirit and attitude is needed while we give our offerings to God (i.e. tithing). If we don't tithe with a grateful heart, will that not offend our God? Sure, we're offering our first 10%, but if we're just doing it out of a feeling of obligation and not out of a spirit of thanksgiving and joy, will that not be foul-tasting to the LORD?

It reminds me of a scene in the new Karate Kid movie (which I watch about every other week with my kids at the Boys & Girls Club), where Mr. Han tells Dre he will train him for the martial arts tournament, but every day just makes him pick up his jacket, hang it up, put it on, take it off, put it on the ground, pick it up, hang it up, and repeat. It bothered Dre's mother to no end to see his jacket on the floor everyday. When Mr. Han witnessed that, he incorporated it into the training to make Dre more aware of how he was treating people. One day, Mr. Han tells him he's doing good, but something is missing - attitude. He needed to do it smiling. So he did, but he eventually got tired of the whole thing, and wanted to quit:

The clip is cut off a bit, so we miss Mr. Han saying "Everything is Kung-Fu," which I thought was a cool line. But anyway, Mr. Han teaches Dre that he was learning and getting stronger all along, by doing something he thought was a hassle, and that Kung-Fu "is in the way we treat people."

I think we can apply that to giving thanks. Thanking God is in everything we do. It's in the way we treat people. Jesus said that "whatever [we] did for one of the least of these [His] brothers, [we] did for Him. (Matthew 25:40)" I believe that Psalm 69 is talking about more than just giving thanks to God. I believe that, like the verse says, the name of the LORD is made more widely known when we give thanks and carry around a grateful heart. Sometimes, it's through direct giving and taking care of those in need, but sometimes, it's through doing things for the people around you that seem like a hassle. For Dre in the movie, it was picking up his jacket.

For me, it's in everyday things. I've only been married to Kaitlin for about 5 months, but I am already finding our more about love than I ever knew in the 3 years we were dating. Some of the best ways to show her that I love her and that I'm thankful for her love for me and how hard she works is to do chores around the house. For example, we have no dishwasher and I absolutely hate doing the dishes. We both do. But I'll bet that seeing the dishes done when she gets home from a long day of teaching pleases her and makes her feel more loved and appreciated than even the most expensive gift I can buy for her. (Kinda like how thanksgiving pleases the LORD more than costly sacrifices). And I can do it smiling, if I just think about how thankful I am for her and all she does.

Just like we can tithe smiling, or during any other offering we present to the LORD. Because while thanksgiving is about thanking other people, it's mostly about thanking God. I wrote our tithe check for November during the Thanksgiving break we had. Sometimes it feels like a lot of money, but this Thanksgiving (our first Thanksgiving!), all I could think about was how much God pulled through for Kaitlin and I when we really needed it the most. It is UNREAL. A month before we got married, we were unemployed with no job offers at all, and we felt like we had exhausted all of our options. We knew marriage was where God was calling us, but had no way of getting through financially. We didn't even know where we were going to be living. About a week or so before "I do," I got three job offers and she had two, all of which were Rome. We went from having no jobs or bites to having to CHOOSE what we wanted to do. A month or so later, when our hours were cut at the Boys & Girls Club and we realized we needed a lot more income anyway, God pulled through for us at the last minute and gave Kaitlin an amazing job offer. I am still to this day amazed at all He did for us, and have nothing but thanksgiving and a smile to give Him with every penny of my tithe, and every little thing I do for others in need.

About a month or so ago, we ran into this homeless man in front of Taco Bell that we had helped before in the past and we started talking to him, and asked him what he liked from Taco Bell. When we gave him some food and a drink, I gave him a 10, telling him its all we really had on us since we don't carry cash. He said that he was more grateful than we could know, because he had only needed $7 more to get a hotel room for the night. He said he had been sleeping in an abandoned house on a cold floor. I realize he may have been lying and a lot of homeless people are said to "not even try to work," but when it comes down to it, that doesn't really matter. You never know what big an impact you can make on someone when you stop to ask them what you can pray for them about and try to meet their needs in some way. It's the simple act of extending your hand that does more than what you give someone, and it's easier to do when you're thankful for what you have, because you'll want to share that feeling of being provided for with everyone else. You'll want to magnify and make more widely known the name of the God that holds you in His hands.

That is what Thanksgiving is really about. Joyfully and freely loving and thanking others. And, I would add that we shouldn't just tell people we're thankful for them. Thank them specifically for what they've done. Thank God specifically for what He's done. Not just on one day of the year, but everyday, constantly. Thank without ceasing! Magnify the LORD with thanksgiving! It will please Him more than you know, and bring others to know His glorious name.

- Zack

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

It's Been a While

It's been far too long. Here's an update on things:

I got married!

I started working at the Boys & Girls Club

We got a Lionhead rabbit and named her Hannah! She's sweet, but she's also mischievous.

Kaitlin and I went camping! The hurricane came through and we almost floated away! It was my first time camping, and we had a blast!

My hunt for Dr. Pepper 10 came to an end when it was introduced at our Wal-mart. I soon after got addicted! I was already addicted to soda. But still!

I started geocaching more. This is me with my 50th find! Photo courtesy my beautiful wife, Kaitlin!

I attended my first NCAA college football game, where the Jackets CRUSHED the Tigers! If you look closely, you might find my brother-in-law rushing the field.

I went to my last David Crowder*Band concert during the 7 Tour when they came to Atlanta at the Tabernacle! That's us with Matt Ames after they melted our faces off.

I guess that's about it in a nutshell. I might add more later, and I'll try to do this more often! 

in Christ,

Monday, April 18, 2011

Palm Sunday

So, if you've never read the story behind Palm Sunday, you definitely should! It's pretty awesome. Jesus enters the city on a donkey and everyone lines up to shout praises for him. He is welcomed with robes and tree branches. A triumphant entry. (Matthew 21:1-11)

Only days later, those same people cried "Crucify him!" Which is crazy to think about. It makes me really angry and reading it made me wonder how something like that even happened. I first attributed it to people just going with the crowd. The bandwagon effect.

But when it comes down to it, aren't we all guilty of this sometimes? We praise Him on Sunday only to reject and crucify Him later with our sins. Maybe I shouldn't use we. I know I'm guilty of this, but I shouldn't assume that you are too. I don't want to judge anyone. I just felt convicted of this today. I look in the scriptures and see people betraying and rejecting and denying Christ, and I feel so much frustration with them, because they SAW Him. And yet, I do the same exact thing. I betray Him. I reject Him with my sins. I deny Him. I love Him very dearly, do not get me wrong. He is my life, my salvation, my song, my everything. I am just not perfect and I know I cannot be.

I don't want to be this way though. We should all strive to praise Him everyday and resist temptations to sin against Him. We should all proclaim Him even when it is unpopular or dangerous. He deserves nothing less. Let this be our prayer and reflection as we experience the Easter season this year. It's not just a Holiday or a cause for celebration. It is a call to remember, glorify, praise, and obey.

in His grip,


(imported from Tumblr)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

You know it's love when...

1. What genuinely makes you the happiest and most excited is finding new ways to show you love her and seeing her happy.

2. You don’t have to hide your fears, insecurities, or quirks from her because she make you feel so free and safe.

3. You see her on her bad days and know that there is still nothing more beautiful and pleasant on Earth besides her presence.

4. You put a ring on it and then can’t stop thinking about marrying her, so you count down the days, hours, minutes and seconds.

5. She’s more and more beautiful every time you see her.

6. Every other blog you write is about her.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Why is There Evil if God is Real?

A common argument against the existence of God is the presence of evil and suffering. How can God be truly sovereign if suffering and evil is allowed to exist? Is God all-powerful, but just doesn’t care, or is He caring but not all-powerful?

I think if we’re going to ask these questions, we need to reflect on what evil really is. Is evil just the actions, or does it extend to thoughts and intentions? Where do you want God to stop when it comes to eliminating evil from the world? Do you want Him to destroy all evil, or just some of it? Jesus stated that hatred and anger is just as evil as murder (Matthew 5:22), and lust as evil as rape (Matthew 5:27). If all of evil is purged from this Earth, we are going along with it.

Evil isn’t just something that exists on Earth that God can’t get rid of. Evil is a decision we choose every time we reject God in favor of the world. Evil is anything that opposes God. We create evil. We embraced it way back when Adam and Eve decided to turn against God. At that moment, we were banished from the Garden, where God does not allow evil, to Earth, where we have brought evil. We are separated from God because we chose to be. Evil exists because we brought it here. We gave into Satan’s temptation, and continue to struggle between Satan’s temptations and God’s promise. What happened when Satan turned against God? He was banished from Heaven (Luke 10:18, Revelation 12:9). What happened when we turned against God? We were banished from the Garden (Genesis 3:23).

The truth is: God can eliminate evil. He can get rid of it. He can, and He did. We have been separated from Him, and so has the Enemy. But the amazing and incredible part of the story is he allowed us to live, that someday we may return to Him. And yet we see in the scriptures that despite every attempt from God to show us His mercies and grace, there were still those who chose to reject Him. And from this rejection of God spawns all the evil that we witness in the world: the murder, the homocide, the rape, the slavery, the injustice. Do the victims deserve justice? Absolutely. Are the sins of those oppressing greater than the individual sins of the oppressed? Absolutely not. All sin is equal.

The fact of the matter is that no matter how oppressive someone may be, that person can never have an impact on the eternal fate of those who are oppressed. In the end everyone is judged according to what they have done (Romans 2:6). Everyone is responsible for their own actions. Too often we look at the suffering in the world and we blame God, when really man is to blame. Granted, there are circumstances where man does not directly cause the suffering (natural disasters, sickness, etc.), but even still, we should not blame God. God stated Himself that He would never again destroy the Earth by a flood (Genesis 9:11). If God were to destroy one people for their sin via natural disaster, He would have to destroy all peoples, because all sin is equal. We can rest in His covenant that states that He would never do this. We live in a fallen world not because God neglects it, but because man has corrupted it. Suffering and evil are products of this fallen world, not God’s neglect.

Many times people look at the book of Job and attribute his suffering to God letting it happen. This is not the case at all. God only let happen to Job what He knew Job could handle, and to prove to Satan that Job’s commitment to Him was not dependent on how well He provides for him. We should instead look at the book of Job as an example of God’s sovereign power. God forbid Satan from doing certain things. He drew lines and Satan obeyed. Satan rules over this fallen world, causing temptation, evil, and suffering, but we can rest assured that God triumphs over Satan, evil, and restores those who are suffering. Jesus stated that although we may face hardships in this world, we should take heart in the fact that He has overcome the world (John 16:33).

It is clear that God does not turn a blind eye to our sufferings. Jesus wept when Lazarus died (John 11:35), showing His deep compassion for His children. When we are sad, God is sad also, wiping away every tear (Revelation 21:4), and hearing our every cry for help (Isaiah 30:19). He LONGS to be gracious to us and He RISES to show us compassion (Isaiah 30:18). We are not distant from God when we are suffering, no matter how tough it may be. No, we are closest to Him! God reveals to us that His grace alone is sufficient for us, and that His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

So the real question is this: How can God truly be just and allow our sin to go unpunished? Why does He let us walk this Earth when we consistently reject Him in favor of the things of this world? How, although we sin, are we saved from God’s wrath? The answer is Christ. We deserve death, Hell, and the divine wrath of sin for all the crimes we have committed against an infinitely holy God, from our thoughts to our actions. Even still, we can be saved from that wrath by His grace through our faith in Christ Jesus, who He sent to bare the sins due us on the cross.

No amount of oppression can separate us from that Love. No wave of the ocean can wash it away. No bullet can pierce it. No words can prove it wrong. No evil can overtake it. Love never fails. First, however, we must accept His love. We must put our whole faith in to it. We must trust it, go all in, bet our lives on it. It’s all we’ll ever need, and we all desperately need it.

God cares and we can be sure of it: Jesus took on the cup of the wrath of God so that we may be re-united with Him. Let us rejoice in our sufferings and keep in mind that “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” - Romans 5:3-5

in His grip,


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Conversation With My Mentee

The Student I Mentor: I wanna come to yall's wedding!
Me: Okay! We'd love that! It's pretty far away so we'd have to work something out.
Student: Cool. So yall coming back that Sunday?
Me: No, we're going to spend a week in the mountains, so we'd be back the next weekend.
Student: Oh, so if I went with yall, I'd be with you for a week?
Me: Well, I don't know if you could stay in the cabin with us, but we can hang out when we got back!
Student: Okay!

I love being a mentor!

PS - Tumblr 30 Letter Update:

Letter Four (to a sibling)
Letter Five (to my dreams)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Going to the Chapel

The Camp Pinnacle Chapel
(Photo Courtesy Kaitlin Rachel Wood)
Kaitlin sent me this photo last Saturday. It was my first glance at the chapel where were are getting married. My immediate thoughts were that it was perfect. So perfect. It seemed surreal, at that moment, that we are getting married. It's really really exciting, but also really surreal. It's something we've been waiting for and working towards for a long time, and it's actually happening. The chapel is booked, along with the reception area next to the lake. The rooms are booked for us to stay in the night of the rehearsal dinner. The honeymoon is booked. I have a solid job to provide with. It's happening. It's really happening. Its so exciting!! I could cry just thinking about it.

We drove up the following Monday to see everything in person. Y'all, this chapel really is the most beautiful and perfect in the world. I don't care where you have been, there is no place I'd rather get married. The whole campus is bursting at the seams with God's love and spirit. It's so evident everywhere. The chapel looks so amazing. And the whole time, I couldn't help fast-fowarding to June. The next time I see it might be the day before the wedding. So cool and surreal. The empty (yet still elegant) chapel will soon be full of people and joy (and, inevitably, stress and probably a little chaos, but still!). 

These pews will be filled with loved ones
She'll be walking down the aisle, beautiful as ever, in white
That's my bride! She got her hair down while we were up there and it looked so gorgeous (though, it is impossible to mess up her naturally beautiful hair). It was another little piece of what the wedding would be like (that I was surprised to be able to preview, but hey, I'm not complaining!). I can't wait to stand in front and wait for her to walk down that aisle. I'll be so nervous and excited and happy. 

God instituted and ordained this and I can't wait for him to lead our wedding and our marriage. I know it's going to be perfect. This is happening! It's really happening. =]

in His grip,

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Friday Favorites!

I've made myself a Tumblr. I really like Tumblr. But I also like Blogger. I need to blog more often, but anyway. That was random. I guess I just feel kinda silly trying to decide which blog site to use when I don't feel like I blog enough. But for now, I think I'll keep both. And just post the same main things in both. And if I ever decide to officially switch, I can.

Over there, I've been doing the 30 Day Tumblr Letter Challenge. Here are the links:

Letter One (which is supposed to be to my best friend)
Letter Two (which is supposed to be to my crush)
Letter Three (which is supposed to be to my parents)

I might eventually copy the entire letters over here, but at least my blogger people can get to them now. Not like they couldn't before. I'm sure facebook helped mediate this issue. Maybe I'm thinking too much into this?

Okay, enough with the blogging about blogging.

Today is Sunday. Which means tomorrow is Monday, the day I get to see the Camp Pinnacle Chapel. The new Camp Pinnacle Chapel, where I will be wed to Kaitlin! Do people use the phrase "wed" anymore? I just did. It feels so surreal that the wedding is so soon. In a good way. I love it. It feels really exciting and peaceful and joyful. It'll be in a little over 3 months. Which means I've been engaged longer than the time left until I get married. Crazy! Time flies so so fast.

I saw this Friday Favorites idea on Joanne's blog, who got it somewhere else. I liked it, so I'm going to try it. But I'm not a girl, so I will either replace or remove some of the items! I hope no offense is taken by my few loyal readers.

Favorite Time of Day: Probably the evening time because it's quiet and peaceful and I can rest and relax and do things I like to do. Unless I'm working the evening shift. In which case my favorite time is sleepy time.

Favorite Season: Spring! It used to be Fall, but now there is no Fall. There is just Winter. Winter is too cold. I love the snow very much, but I absolutely cannot stand freezing weather. A phenomenon of weather perfection could be achieved, in my book, if it could snow on a warm, clear, sunny day.

Favorite Month: Either April (my dating anniversary), June (my future wedding month), or December (because I love Christmas time)

Favorite Holiday: Christmas! Easter is a close second.

Favorite Color: Blue and green. Especially blue.

Favorite Movie: I love so many! Here are just a few:

This movie never  gets old! Not a lot of people I know have seen it.
Enough said.
I watch this movie a lot. It reminds me of how amazing my Savior is
and helps me through tough times.

All around great movie! And not just because Kaitlin loves it. =]

It's similar to Frequency, but different too.
Favorite Celebrity: Uh. I don't really know. My favorite actor is probably Tom Hanks, but I don't really keep up with celebrities.

Favorite Place to Shop:
The iTunes store! I love music.
Favorite Kind of Music: Just about everything Christian, and some secular pop/rock/country. I've recently been introduced to Christian Hip/Hop & rap and it is amazing! My current favorite bands/artists are: Lecrae, David Crowder Band, and Owl City.

Favorite TV Show: I don't really watch a lot of TV, but I do like Storage Wars. I used to watch LOST religiously before the disappointing finale. I just don't watch a whole lot of TV.

Favorite Thing to Do: This is hard. Obviously, I want to make everything in my life glorify God. I want my life to be a constant state of worship (in some way, shape or form). I know that isn't always the case with my life, but I try! Hopefully my life and the things I do come close to bringing Him glory. I've recently become addicted to geocaching. It's really fun. Other than that, I love to find new ways to make Kaitlin smile and surprise her and show her how much I love her. Really. I'm not trying to be cheesy. It's really fun!

Favorite Place in the World: Probably in Kaitlin's arms. Too cheesy? Deal with it! It's the truth. Want like an actual public place? Probably Camp Pinnacle at the moment because I am getting married to Kaitlin there in 97 days!

Favorite Hobby: How is this not the same as my favorite thing to do? Well. I love to geocache. Thats probably my current favorite. I also love to draw, paint, read, and play soccer.

Favorite Animal:
That is a wolf. It's a silly band my beautiful fiance, Kaitlin
got me from camp. This also doubles as my favorite
silly band
Hawks are my second favorite animals! I just so happen to
BE a hawk, too! Neat!
Favorite Place to Live: Probably Georgia since I've only ever lived here, but I would like to live in the country when I get older.

Favorite Place to Vacation: Anywhere peaceful, where I don't have to worry about any of the burdens of the world. I've been to Jekyll Island a lot with my family. So I like it for sentimental reasons. I also love St Augustine. It's so pretty and fun. I've been with Kaitlin like four times (with her family, of course!) and I love it. But I also love love love love the mountains! Probably the most. I haven't been a lot, but that's were Kaitlin and I are going on our honeymoon so that should be great.

Favorite Restaurant: The Cheesecake Factory. Hands down. Great food and great portions. I also like the Melting Pot, but it is really expensive.

Favorite Thing to Cook: I love cooking! My favorite thing to cook is probably chicken parmigiana. I also love to cook chicken francese. Italian recipes are always keepers. I think crab rangoons are fun to make too. And anything with eggs.

Favorite Drink:
Hands Down
Favorite Cologne: Abercrobe Fierce. $50+ a bottle, I know. And it's kinda fading in quality. But it's all I've ever used! I don't like the slutty pictures of half-naked men, though. I peel them off.

Favorite Books: The Bible goes without saying! Anything by C.S.Lewis. My lovely fiancee got me The Quotable Lewis for Valentines Day! I'm getting into Ted Dekker too. Also, David Platt's Radical is pretty sweet. OH! And John Eldridge's Wild at Heart. And the Shack.

Favorite Bible Verse: This is the hardest question ever. I love so many verses. Here are just a few.

"The LORD is like a father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him. For He knows how weak we are; He remembers that we are only dust."  - Psalm 103:13,14

"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing." - 1 Corinthians 3:1-4

"I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." - Luke 10:18-20

Okay, looks like I've covered it! That was pretty fun.

in His grip,


Sunday, March 6, 2011


     This is my amateur sketch of I-75 whenever I am in a hurry (or am tired of driving). It always seems like there are three options: drive the speed limit in the granny lane, drive 5-10mph over the limit in the middle lanes, or drive like its the Autobahn in the fast lane. How fast do I usually want to drive? Between 75 and 80mph. Not on the menu. And I have to admit, it gets on my nerves sometimes. I want to drive the way I want, how fast I want, uninterrupted. On the road, my patience often fails. Sure, most of the time I slow down let people merge ahead of me. I give people space when I'm passing them. I use my signals. That's considerate, right? Yeah, but honestly, it's easy to do those things when I've got plenty of time on my hands. How often do I drive considerately and patiently when I am in a hurry to get somewhere? Do I go out of my way to let people merge then? Do I use signals? Do I try to avoid cutting people off? Not always. Impatience gets the best of me.
     That's not all, though. There are plenty of situations (standing in lines, sitting in class, shopping, listening to someone who loves to talk, trying to get your internet/computer/car to start working again, waiting at the DMV) where my patience is seriously tried. How do I act? Sometimes, pretty grumpy and impatient. It's not something I'm proud of and lately, I've felt really convicted of that. Patience is something I should strive for. It's a fruit of the spirit, and an important practice of a Christ-follower.
     And, it's a constant practice of the Lord. What? Yeah. Let's look at two verses. The first is in the second letter of Peter:
"And remember, our Lord's patience gives people time to be saved." - 2 Peter 3:15 (NLT)
"Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation" - 2 Peter 3:15 (NIV)
     In this particular context, Peter is talking about the return of Christ. He addresses the impatience and doubt surrounding the second coming, stating that God's timing is perfect and is patient for the lost. Although God is unhappy and angry by how His people reject him, betray him, and sin against Him, He is patient with us all so that we may have time to repent and be saved. Isn't that crazy? What's also crazy is that we (myself included) sometimes find ourselves a little impatient and ready for His return. Or maybe that is just me. Either way, such impatience neglects and even insults the loving name of our LORD. He has every right at any minute to claim His people and destroy all those who are without faith. He has every right because everything on this earth, including earth, is His alone. And He sits in Heaven and watches every day as His creation is abused and His name is defiled and many of His people are lost and living in sin. He watches, patiently and lovingly. He prolongs His return and His righteous judgement because He wants you and I to be saved by His grace and spend eternity with Him. He says so in the 30th chapter of Isaiah, where our second verse will be:
"Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore He will rise to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him!" - Isaiah 30:18 (NIV)
     Here, God is speaking through Isaiah to His people who, desperate for an ally in battle, chose to trust in Egypt's help instead of His strength. They did everything to defend themselves except pray for the protection of the LORD. They rejected the name of the LORD and went to Egypt for help - the same people who enslaved them and worship idols and reject God the Father. And after showing His people of their mistake, adds that he waits to show them grace, and exalts himself to show them compassion. He uses His great patience and mercy to give His people a way to come back to Him. He could have destroyed the entire nation for what they did, yet He chose instead to be patient.
     I love the magnificent illustration these verses paint concerning God. The fact that He is patient with us even though we really don't deserve it is incredibly gracious. And even more gracious is the fact that His patience means salvation. Because the LORD chooses to be patient, people are saved. What if you knew that being more patient everyday could lead to opportunities for people to be saved by God's grace? What if instead of rushing to get from A to B, we shared and loved? Just something to think about. I know I need to work on it.

in His grip,

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Our Engagement Story

CAUTION: The following blog post may contain content that is mushy and/or lovey-dovey.

     So as I sat on a futon in Kaitlin's apartment, typing that last blog after my quiet time, I felt her head rest on my shoulder while she read her book. In that moment, I experienced rest. It was quiet and we were just sitting and not really doing anything important except relaxing and enjoy each other's company. It felt warm and peaceful and there was this closeness to her and to God that I had needed all weekend. I continued with a great big smile on my face and pressed "publish," posting not only my first blog of the year, but also my first since last September. At that point I realized that I clearly left out some pretty big updates that are very blog worthy, namely that the beautiful face that rested on my shoulder belonged to the woman that I am now engaged to be married to, and have been since November 5th, 2010. I just cannot post another blog without sharing the story of one of the happiest days of my life.
     It was the day before the Zeta Tau Alpha semi-formal, and I had asked her earlier that week if she wanted to have movie date or something on that night. Not like a movie theatre date, because nothing good was out. A redbox movie date, so we could just relax on the couch and watch something together and pop some popcorn that didn't cost an arm and a leg. That kind of movie date. It didn't really matter, though, because I secretly just asked her that so that she would keep the night open and not plan anything else. I didn't want her to expect anything suspicious either.
     I had been looking at rings for a while and I knew the one I wanted to get. I didn't want to get it too far in advance, though, because (1) I tend to be impatient and I would probably get too excited and spontaneously propose to her, and (2) I was paranoid I would lose it. Luckily, she wanted to nap after class so I picked it up while she was sleeping. It was also a good thing that she wanted to nap because I was really nervous. Excited, but nervous. Not nervous in an omg-i-hope-she-says-yes sorta way. Nervous as in lots of butterflies in my stomach and in a i-hope-i-do-this-perfect sorta way. In a this-is-really-happening kind of way.
     She woke up from her nap later that afternoon and, with the ring tucked in my pocket, I cooked her favorite meal - chicken parmigiana. Then I asked her if she wanted to go to Berry and have a bible study in Frost Chapel and dance with me. She said yes. After we drove into the campus, we met some deer on the road to Mountain Campus. I pulled over so we could see them. Partially because I wanted to see them and try to touch them, but mostly to stall because I was nervous.
     When we arrived, there was a man standing outside the chapel and I thought, "Great... way to ruin everything, sir!" I was kidding. Sorta. So Kaitlin suggested that we just do our bible study on the stone wall, because there was probably something going on in the chapel. I knew there couldn't be, because I called beforehand. So I insisted that we go at least look in the chapel window to make sure no one was using it. As we were walking towards the chapel door, the man who was standing to the side came towards us and said:
     "Hey, my brother is proposing to his girlfriend in the back room, so if you don't mind just please don't go in there."
     "Oh! Okay! Is it okay if we go in the chapel?" I asked, trying to soak all the irony in.
     "Yeah! That's totally fine," he said.
     The room he was talking about was separated from the main chapel. He was free to steal my idea in peace. Just kidding. Sorta. Anyway, so we went inside and sat down in the pew and opened our devotional to the chapter we left off on last time. If I'm going to be honest, I don't think I focused very well, if at all, on the devotional. I was too busy practicing in my mind what I was going to say and how I was going to do this.
     When we had finished, I stood up, reached out my hand, and, smiling excitedly, asked her, "Would you like to dance?"
     "Yes," she replied, also smiling.
     So I held her close and we danced without music for a few minutes, and I looked her in the eyes, telling her how wonderful and beautiful she is, how much she means to me, and how thankful I am to have her. Then, with my heart beating so fast that I'm surprised I didn't pass out or something, I knelt to one knee, took the ring out of my pocket (which was velcro, by the way, so it echoed loudly off the walls of the chapel as I opened it) and asked her if she would marry me. After the initial shock wore off, she finally said "YES!" I stood up and we held each other tightly in our arms for a while before making our way back to the car.
     And now, almost two months later, we have a date and a time and a venue - June 18th, 2011, 2pm, at Camp Pinnacle in Clayton, Georgia. I could not be more happier or excited, and I can't wait for us to begin our happily ever after.

in His grip,

Sunday, January 23, 2011


"Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the LORD, who makes you holy."
-Exodus 31:13

"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy."
-Exodus 20:8-11

     Sabbath comes from the Hebrew shabbat, meaning "he rested." Shabbat derives from the Hebrew verb shavat which means "to rest," or "to cease." God doesn't just ask us to rest or cease work. He commands it. Think about it. Our great, perfect, holy God delivered His people from years of slavery in Egypt, performing numerous miracles through His prophet Moses, and afterwards, while they were all gathered together, purposefully gave them ten instructions to live by, one of which was to take a break from doing things. God values rest and ceasing to do work (after all, He did so Himself on the seventh day).
     Connect Rome's new series is titled "Busy Bodies," and it has made me re-think a lot of how busy I let myself get, and how much I neglect God's command to rest. I know that I struggle with resting. I feel the need to always schedule out my days and fill them with stuff to do. My planner becomes my second Bible, with a constant, never-ending list of things to do, so that even when I accomplish everything that I set aside to do for the day, I still have a mindful of deadlines, needs, goals, and stuff to worry about. The week becomes a long, tedious run-on sentence. No breaks. It's the culture we live in: we are encouraged and expected to always be productive, and people who deviate from the busy-body way are often considered lazy or unproductive.

This is a tragedy on so many levels.

     I find myself trying to take a break or a nap or enjoy some time doing nothing, but it almost feels irresponsible or unnatural, as if there are a million trillion things I could be doing to make better use of my time. Is there, though, something better to do than obey God? Obedience is the greatest way to show Him my love for Him and yet I so often disobey His command to cease all my work, business, productiveness, etc. and just rest in His beauty and peace. Resting requires one to stop trying to be in control of everything, stop worrying about how everything is going to be done, and relinquish it all to God, praising Him for all He has done, and trusting Him with all He is still doing.

On that note, I think I'm going to get some rest.

in His grip,