#ThirtyThankfuls Day 25: Leftovers.

Thanksgiving Dagwood.

Somehow, the delicious Thanksgiving feast is even better the second and third time around.

The sandwich pictured above was from last night: turkey, Mac, cranberry sauce, sourdough focaccia. Today, lunch was a big pile of bacon-apple-cabbage, Mac and cheese, and more turkey. I may grab some more bread with cranberry sauce for a snack shortly.

Leftovers are a reminder of God’s abundance—not just blessing us with the needs of the moment, but with that PLUS an extra spoonful of delight and satisfaction. It’s another one of those easily overlooked blessings that we can take for granted.

This weekend, enjoy your leftover stuffing and pie with a happy heart, reminded that God is generous.

#ThirtyThankfuls Day 24: Flavor

My sister brought the charcuterie magic today!

Something you may take for granted is flavor. Have you ever taken time to consider that God design a world that is pleasing to our senses–including our senses of smell and taste? Food could have been a completely utilitarian creation, full of bland, unchanging flavors and textures.

Instead, we were given a world full of flavor and texture and spice by our loving creator. The juicy richness of a well-cooked turkey or brisket. The salty sting of olives. The sweetness and tartness of a Granny Smith apple. The chewy, fermented goodness of fresh sourdough. The bitterness and complexity of coffee. All of these things are gifts from God for us to enjoy.

For us here in the States, today is Thanksgiving: a celebration that started with religious refugees fleeing to this continent to escape persecution by an over-reaching government. (Make your own editorial comments here.) The pilgrim community–already reduced greatly by disease and hypothermia and starvation–celebrated surviving in this new land. We celebrate the kindness if God and the gift of each other on this good day by bringing a bounty of flavor and color and smells to the festive table.

For my fellow Americans, I pray your celebrations were delightful, and that even now as you think back on the day’s dishes, you reflect on God’s gifts of friends, family, and flavors.

Our bird turned out nicely!

#ThirtyThankfuls Day 13: My church family.

[Not our actual Thanksgiving Potluck–there’s not nearly enough meat in this photo.]

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

Last night was our yearly Thanksgiving meal together as a church body. This group of just over 150 saints has been gathering together for about 2 1/2 years as a united body (the product of a merger between 2 very different Baptist churches). But the thing that binds us together is the only thing that makes the Church the Church: the gospel of Jesus Christ. As Paul says in Ephesians 4, “there is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” We were all adopted as sons and daughters of the One True God, and He is our glorious common bond. Blessed indeed be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love.

It hasn’t always been easy. The #ForeverPlague was a rough season, as there were very firm differences of conviction and understanding between church members about what was or wasn’t going on, and how we should respond collectively. As an elder, I will admit I made some mistakes in judgment and should have been more open to listen to those who disagreed with me. (I’m sorry for that, and have tried to repent of it directly to those to whom I should.) And then beyond that, there have been the typical conflicts that come up in a church full of redeemed sinners, especially one formed of groups with two very different sets of experiences and expectations.

But through it all and in spite of it all, I love those people. Last night, I was asked to give the closing prayer during our brief Thanksgiving prayer service, right before the meal. As I did so, I thanked God for the joy of the moment, the delight of the smells and tastes and sounds of a meal shared with family. And then we all enjoyed that meal together as a family.

I praise God for my church family. They are imperfect, as I am. They are also hopeful, as I am. God is good. He is growing our number slowly but steadily, bringing in new members from other places, as well as some who have trusted in Jesus and have come through the waters of baptism and covenanted with us. God is good, and He is gracious to our little flock. He has protected us, and He will not abandon us. All glory to Him.

#30ThankYous: Mom.


You are irreplaceable and precious. I know I haven’t done a good job of consistently reminding you of this. There have been times and seasons where I have pushed you away or kept you at a distance as I tried to figure out how to stand on my own feet as an adult. I’m sorry for every time I ever made you think you didn’t matter to me. You always have. I just haven’t always known how best to demonstrate it.

Anyone who spends five minutes with you can tell that the thing you value and fight for above all else is family. There is nothing you wouldn’t do for your family, and especially for your children. And even when maintaining relationships with difficult family members can be a challenge (and a painful one), you still try to do so, because family is what matters to you. Family is what lasts. You don’t give up on it.

When I became a father, I began to understand just a bit of what you’ve been saying for so many years about how deeply you love us kids. I adore and delight in my daughter. I want to protect her and provide for her. I want her to grow up to be a wise and strong woman of God who loves and serves her family and her Lord. I know that Heidi and I won’t parent her perfectly, but we will do the best we can and trust that God is sovereign over our baby’s future. I dare not think of the day when she strikes off on her own; even though it seems so far away, I know it will be here in what feels like no time, and I already ache from the thought of it.

What I’m getting at is this: No matter what else was going on in your life, whatever challenges you and dad faced, you have loved your children deeply, and you have done your very best for us. I know it hasn’t been easy on you, either. We can be an ornery group, and difficult to know how to love. And these days, I know it can be challenging to  navigate how best to relate to us as adults. Like you say, we will always be “your babies.” I’m asking you not to give up when we’re frustrating, but to keep fighting to love us, as you always have. Because we really do appreciate it–all of us.

And I definitely know that as E. grows up, she will begin to beg for more visits to “Gramma and Grandpa’s house”! I look forward to watching your relationship with her continue to blossom and grow, along with any more kiddos God may choose to give us. (In case you were wondering, no, that’s not an announcement; we will let you know if/when the time comes!)

Thank you, mom, for your sacrifices, your love, and your desire to stay connected and be part of our lives.

I love you,



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!