To my brothers and sisters in Christ, Thank you.

Today is my nine year anniversary of surrendering my life to Christ. Today I wanted to take some time to reflect on this journey, and thank the people who have helped me stay the path up to this point.

To my brothers and sisters in Christ,

Thank you.

The last nine years of walking with Christ I have found to be both joyful and painful. Victorious and defeatist. Understandable and utterly confusing. Lonely and comforting. I am thankful though that I have not had to walk through this alone.

I have to admit. I was skeptical of the church at first. Why? Because I had been hurt by so called believers before. They had hurt me and my family. They did not show us grace, but they dragged our names through the mud, and this made me mad. But as I have come to find out as a believer, we are all still very broken people in this world, even those of us who are among the church. I am thankful though that the past nine years, the Lord has restored my faith in His people, and that His people have become my people, and for that I am very thankful.

I am thankful that from the origins of my salvation that I have had others to walk beside me. When I first became a believer, I was saved in the midst of a year long Bible study called Year Team. It was here that I came to understand how vital it was that I be surrounded by other believers in my walk with Christ. I’m thankful for my time with these people, and the friendships and family that I gained from it. I’m thankful that they discipled me in coffee shops, on skate board rides, in cars, in houses, in churches. I’m thankful that I came to feel safe with these people, and I opened up, and they accepted me and loved for who I was and where I was, but challenged me to be different.

I’m also thankful for my actual family. For the restoration I have experienced with them and through them. I am thankful that they forgave me after all the awful things I did. I’m thankful for their love, compassion, support, and listening that they did. I’m thankful that they stuck with me, even through the ups and downs. I am thankful for the many hours of conversations that we’ve had, for the laughs we have enjoyed, and the tears we have cried. The victories that we have shared. And the defeats that we have endured.

I’m thankful for the many churches I’ve been apart of. City church in Charleston, Taylor’s FBC, North Asheville Baptist, Table Community, and Summit Upstate. Each one of these churches has allowed me to grow both in Christ likeness and spiritual gifted Ness. The many small groups I have been apart of have challenged me to think well about the gospel, to be outward focused, to be humble, to participate in the work of Christ through the using of my spiritual gifts, how to listen, how to be held accountable and so much more. I’m thankful for all the pastors, teachers, small group leaders, elders, and lay people that have poured themselves into my life.

I’m thankful for the students and faculty at North Greenville. God used this place to shape me so much. He allowed me to be under some amazing professors there that truly helped mold me and shape me into the man I am today. I learned how to write and communicate in a concise and efficient manner here. I learned how to work hard, and to give more than even I thought I had to give. I learned how to confess sin and to disciple others here. I learned so much, and grew so much during my time here, and for that I am thankful.

Even though she is a recent addition to this list, I am thankful for my girlfriend Hillary. She points me to Christ everyday. She is full of joy and humility. She is confident in who she is in Christ. She listens well to me. She shares in my victories as well as my frustrations. She challenges me, and helps me think well about the gospel and about life in relation to the gospel. I am so so so very thankful for her in the short time that she has been in my life.

I’m thankful for my Christian Counselors, Sherrie, Debra, and Hunt. I am thankful for the many hours y’all have poured into my life, both in counseling, and outside of it. Y’all have listened to my greatest fears, have heard my darkest secrets and struggles, and know more about me than anyone probably does. I am so thankful that y’all helped me get to the bottom and core roots of my sins and struggles. I am thankful that y’all never pushed me away, but loved me, even when I could not love myself. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Thankful for my friends. Thankful for all the laughs, conversations, shenanigans we have partaken in. Thanks for having my back. For being a shoulder to cry on. For being a person to open up to. Thanks for helping me refocus. Thanks for helping me to worry less. Thanks for listening and bearing with me in all things.

I’m thankful for those who planted the seeds of the gospel even before they took root. The Sunday School Teachers, Coaches, youth pastors and friends. I am thankful for those who prayed for me. For those who came up underneath my family when they no longer had the strength to pray for me. I am thankful for those who did not give up on me!

I tried to do my best to include everyone I could in this, but I am sure I have left some of you out. For those I cannot remember at the moment, thank you. Thank you for the conversations, the prayers, the words of encouragements, and the moments.

The overwhelming image that comes to my mind today in regards to my walk with Christ (nine years later) is that of a marriage union. When one enters into marriage with another, they are not only themselves uniting, but they are uniting with each others family and friends. So it is with Christ.

When we enter into a relationship with God the Father through the death and resurrection of Christ and His atonement and forgiveness of our sins, receiving the implanted Holy Spirit now as our guide and counselor, we not only are united with the Holy Trinity, but also we are united with the family of God. We are invited into fellowship with those who have been implanted with the same Holy Spirit.

Even though we come from many different backgrounds, we learn that our greatest unifier is Christ, and we learn to function within our differences. We learn to bear with one another, mourn with another, rejoice with one another, and hope with one another.

I am thankful that Christ saved me, and that through that salvation, nine years ago, that I got to enter into this wonderfully diverse and eclectic family of believers whose reach spreads all around the world and whose connection goes deeper than just this temporal life. It is an eternal one.

Blessings.

My Word of the Year: Leap

Happy New Year everyone! I hope that y’all had a great Christmas and New Years, and are ready for another year. 2020 was a tough year world wide, but I feel like I had a decent year in spite of everything. I was able to get a vacation in to Hawaii before the world shut down. I was able to continue working with no lay off because my job is work from home. I met a lady friend who I have been dating a little bit over a month now. I have been in close contact twice with someone who tested positive for Covid, but I tested negative both times! And on the last day of 2020, I interviewed for a new job, was offered the job ten minutes after I interviewed, and today I officially put in my two weeks at my current company and accepted this new job. So all in all, 2020 was a lot less rough on me, and I’m thankful for that.

As we move into 2021, my girlfriend Hillary encouraged me to pick a word for the year. This is something that she does, and I liked the idea and decided to choose one myself. My word of the year is leap. Leap is a word that symbolizes both trust and risk.

When I hear the word leap, I think of the kid who is standing on the diving board, ready to jump into the arms of their father. There is this nervous anticipation in the pit of his stomach. Attempting to do something he has never done before. He is taking a chance. A risk. Yet, he does not do this alone. He is jumping into the water, but with the expectation that his father is there to catch him.

Leap symbolizes an action. It is an action of trust. An action of hope. An action of belief. An action of faith. Leaping is difficult because it requires one to take a risk. For the kid to conquer his fear of drowning, he must leave the comfort of the diving board. He must leave the comfort of control. He must venture out into the unknown, with both the fear of failure, and thrill of newness equally present. He does not know what will happen, but he expects that his father will be there to catch them.

I believe this is what the Lord is calling me to this year. To leap. To step out. To try new things. To go beyond my comfort zone. To not hole myself up, but to take a trusting chance, a dare that the thing beyond my fears, and frustrations, is greater than the frustrations and fear themselves. The Lord wants me to let go of my crutches that I have held onto for so long, and he wants me to leap. To know that I can take chances, and risks, because I can trust Him, because He is good. That even when I fail in my leaping, that I would know that my world won’t crumble, because my foundation and my trust in Him is solid, and He’s got me.

For so long, I have been so scared to leap. So scared to let go of my safety nets because what if I risked and it didn’t work out. I had many stipulations for the when, why’s, how, what’s of each situation before I leaped and took a chance. This year I want things to be different. I don’t want to live in fear, and I don’t want to pigeon hole myself to things that I know I can do. I want to step out onto the edges of life, and I want to experience new things. I want to have joy again in my life. I want to have adventure again. I want to be at peace.

So what does this look like practically? Well, it looks like joining an exercise group. It means learning to grill and cook some things. Eating healthier, saving money. Doing the hard things. It means continuing to see where my relationship with Hillary goes. It means doing things outside the box this year to find healing and wholeness. It means doing things I don’t want to do. Things that scare me, like going to the doctor and to the dentist. Those are just a few areas of how I want to leap this year.

I have already begun putting my word into action early on. My first opportunity of 2021 to leap came in the form of a new staffing job opportunity. I am excited, but nervous at the same time, since this is my first new job in the last three years, and I am moving into an entirely new field of work. I know though that this is the right opportunity for me, and that I have the skills to do this job well.

So here we go 2021. I’m ready to take some risks and chances. I’m ready to dare again, trusting that the Lord has me in whatever I endeavor to do.

Picture taken from: https://www.lmtonline.com/news/local/article/Balmorhea-State-Park-pool-closed-for-repairs-13855055.php#photo-17478611

Blessings.