#Blogtober2021 Day 9: A Moment of Beauty

I learned something about hibiscus flowers yesterday.

My folks have a braided hibiscus bush in their yard. I noticed yesterday when I stopped by to visit my mom that there were multiple vibrant blooms on the bush. She said, “You know those blooms only last a day, right? They bloom once, close, and fall off. There are some old ones there on the ground.”

For some reason, that struck me as lovely. I know it’s a commonplace thing, and there will be several blooms on the bush each season. But knowing that these blooms I was admiring would only be there for a few more hours made the moment special to me.

I felt privileged, honored to bear witness to these blooms.

It’s so easy to take for granted how beautiful the world can be. We glide right past a thousand daily glories, distracted and dulled, blind to the wonder of creation.

I believe God made this world by the word of His power, by speaking this delightful globe into existence. Let it be. And it was. And He made it good. Not only good, but He made it better than it really even needed to be.

Have you considered the fact that all these delights are unnecessary? Vivid color, enticing flavor, delicious smells. All superfluous. Not that they don’t all serve a purpose—but they don’t have to be so enjoyable, so vibrant.

The tiny delights of daily life are gifts from a generous and creative God who has shown kindness to all His creatures—even the senseless, stubborn people who should recognize His grace and so often refuse to do so.

The next time you experience God’s superlative daily kindnesses—your child’s laughter, the smell of flowers, the sweetness of sugar or delicious aroma of coffee—take a moment and give thanks for His boundless grace, shown to humanity in these countless temporary gifts.

#30ThankYous Day 4: Baptist Church of the Redeemer


Coming to BCR three years ago was a breath of fresh air for my wife and I. Here, we found a faithful community of believers who loved the Lord and loved His word, and who welcomed us in from the first time we walked into a church service or visited a Care Group meeting at the Hamilton’s house. BCR has become our family in a way that none of my past churches have been. We are known, we are loved, and we are challenged to walk out our faith sincerely and consistently.

Thank you for your commitment to meaningful membership. Every member of the church is expected to take their membership seriously and to live by the covenant we signed. You walk out that commitment every day. That is a blessing (and sometimes a challenge, on the days when I want to be invisible!). Thank you for not letting me hide.

Over the last year and a half, we’ve also experienced first-hand how generous you are as a people. When our daughter was born, you not only brought us meals, but you were eager to share your baby items with us. We have been blessed to take part in the “giving culture” of BCR, as God has provided us with baby items exactly when we needed them, from friends who were open-handed and eager to share what they no longer needed.

It is our honor and joy to love you, to serve you (and with you), and to grow together with you in the Lord. Whether it’s cook-outs over holidays, or one-on-one encouragement over coffee, our lives are richer with you in them.

So thank you, church family. God bless you. And we look forward to being part of this community for (Lord-willing) decades to come.


#30ThankYous Day 3: Nate Pickowicz

Dear Pastor Nate,

I’m gonna go ahead and admit this: There are some people I have interacted with on social media that make me glad there’s a couple of screens and hundred of miles between us. Then, there are others who make me wish we were close enough to hang out at the local Starbucks and chat. But then there is a third group people who I’m sure would be totally cool with hanging out, but I’d be too afraid of embarrassing myself in front of them to suggest such a thing, even if it were possible. You may be in Category 3 for me.

Okay, that makes me sound like a fanboy. Don’t worry, I’m not. But I am thankful for your influence. Your books continue to be a blessing to me, and my iPod became sadder when you and Landon retired the Entreating Favor podcast. But the way you have blessed me the most has been on Twitter. Yes, Twitter–the scourge of so many believers. The way you seek to use social media has been a challenge and a blessing to me.

I revisit your Twitter Resolutions from time to time, and I’m always convicted. I learn from your interactions with others, even those who disagree with you. Your social media conduct is often dignified and gracious. In this, you provide an example for other believers to follow. You are not perfect in this, of course, but the quality of your interactions stands out.

I struggle with how to use social media well, but I’m glad there are men like you on these platforms who can set the right tone for the rest of us to imitate.

God bless you in your ministry, in your community, and in your family. May He raise up many more faithful New England pastors to join you in the work.

And if, by some chance, we run into each other at a conference in the future, I’ll do my best to be cool about it.


#30ThankYous Day 2: Will Ledesma

Dear Will,

Okay, I admit, this feels a bit weird since I can (and should) just text you or call you. But I want to take the time to let you know how much your friendship means to me, and I think more people should know about what a legitimately good guy you are.

You started at OBU as a freshman when I was a senior, and thanks to our both being part of the Theatre Department, we were thrown together quite a bit during that year. You always seemed like a pretty cool guy, and I enjoyed getting to know you, but we didn’t really get close until later. I had come back to Shawnee during that first year after graduation, mainly to pick at some old emotional wounds, and over the course of the weekend, I got a bit more than I bargained for. I was frustrated, sad, feeling lonely, when you did something incredibly kind: you said, “Hey, have you ever seen Homestar Runner?” And we proceeded to watch internet videos for what I recall being a couple of hours. It was exactly what I needed at the moment.

When you and your wife moved down here and started your family, it was really a blessing to me. Getting to be your friend and hang out with you, even if only a few times a year, was and is a great joy in my life. Your friendship has been a source of encouragement to me, and inspiration. You are funny, patient, and kind. You love your family dearly and are willing to do whatever it takes to take care of them; that’s inspiring to me. You also love creating art and telling stories, and you have the utter courage to “ship” what you make instead of just talking about it, like I do. (I still think you should publish that novel.) And when you are able to bring your brilliant ideas into the world, you invite your friends to come play along with you, whether on stage or screen.

Over the last two years, you have poured your sweat and tears and money and time and sleepless nights into Presto! Fairy Tales and by sheer force of will (pun fully intended), you have created a family of characters and actors, not to mention a slowly-but-steadily-growing fan community. You did this, man. And it’s not because 50+ local actors are all that super-jazzed about obscure fairy tales. It’s because we believe in YOU, in your passion and your commitment and your love of story. You made us believe in this project, and we are thrilled to be a part of it.

I’m proud to be part of the Presto! family, and I’m even prouder, immensely prouder, to call you my friend. Thanks for being there for me when I needed it. I hope to be half as much of an encouragement to you as you are to me. God bless you, my brother.



[Side-note to readers: If you haven’t checked out Presto! Fairy Tales, do us a favor and click the Youtube link above. Like, share, subscribe, and support an amazing project by a really quality group of actors.]


I’ve thought a lot about gratitude over the last few months.

Over the summer, I had a really surprising and moving interaction with an old friend of mine. I haven’t seen him in years, but I regularly listen to his podcast, and it was through the podcast that I learned he would soon be ending his show and moving on to a new phase of life.

It occurred to me one day that I really enjoyed his work but never stopped to tell him so. I sent him a quick email note of appreciation and wished him well on his upcoming marriage.

I was a bit shocked when he read my message “on air” on the next podcast episode and shared a bit about how we knew each other. He said some really kind things about me during those comments, and he indicated that my message came at an opportune time for him and gave him a boost.

I had no way of knowing how much a simple email would mean to him, though as I think about it now, I can understand it. I’ve been on the receiving end of unexpected kindnesses and have been moved deeply by simple gestures of gratitude.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized how rarely gratitude is practiced these days, especially online. There are so many people who contribute little bits of light and truth and laughter to our lives, people whom we may or may not have met yet whose words and work and art mean so much to us, and we never let them know. We never take a moment to say thanks.

Well, I think it’s about time we change that, don’t you?

I hereby declare November 1st the start of “30 Days of Thanks.” (And yes, there is a hashtag: #30ThankYous.)

Every day during the month of November, I’ll post a “thank-you note” to or about a different person who has made an impact on my life. (No, not like Jimmy Fallon’s “Thank You Notes.” Sincere thanks, no punch-lines.) The list is wide-ranging: theologians, writers, family members, musicians, personal friends–people whose life and work have made a difference in mine. The person can be living or dead, and if they are alive, I’ll try to tag them directly when I post the note.

The goal of this project is two-fold:

  • It’s good for us to say “thank you.” By saying “thank you,” we are reminded that we are not the source of all the good in our lives; rather, we receive beauty and truth and joy and laughter as gifts, from the God who gives all good things and from the people around us who share what they’ve been given.
  • I want to highlight these people for you. Hopefully, there will be names on this list that you don’t recognize. Perhaps, through this project, I’ll be able to introduce some of you to the thinkers and writers and artists who bring me joy, so that you can learn about and appreciate their work as well.

While there’s a part of me that cringes at doing this publicly, rather than simply reaching out to these people directly, I think the greater benefit of telling others about these folks outweighs those concerns.

However, I don’t want to do this by myself. So I’m issuing a challenge to go along with this series of posts!

I’m challenging you to take part in this with me. Starting TOMORROW, post some thank-yous on your website or your social media feeds. Perhaps, get really crazy and send some emails or write some letters by hand! Tell your social (media) circle about 30 people who have been a blessing to you, and let those people know how much you appreciate them!

Tag your posts with #30ThankYous, and share links below in the comments. Let’s get the gratitude going early this year with 30 days of thankfulness for all we’ve been given!