On birthdays: a special shout out to my parents



Well, 28 years ago today you decided to have me pop out into the world on a cold foggy day with my umbilical cord wrapped around my neck and my weight matching that of a popular convenient store chain.

I’d like to first give You a special shout out for creating me even before my parents did. You knew the plans You had for me even before my parents knew my gender. You knew how many hairs were going to be on my head even before the “no that’s not a perm that’s her natural hair” afro phase.

But I’d really like to thank you for blessing me by bringing me into an amazing earthly family. For parents whose love rivals the depth of Loch Ness. For a mother whose warmth is greater than the Sahara. For a father whose humor is better than any late night with Jimmy Fallon. For parents who have shown me unconditional love. For a mother and father whose kindness, thoughtfulness, compassion, encouragement, support, and guidance has helped form who I am today. For parents who lovingly guided and instructed me on a path to You.

My heart swells with love for them like a balloon to the point of bursting.

Thank you for blessing me with parents who reflect in real and tangible ways the characteristics of You.

Your child,


On hand turkeys, sweet potato casserole, and the obligatory thankfulness list

hand turkey 1


For several years, I planned a Thanksgiving potluck feast for my young adult bible study. Before we commenced our hour and half of gluttony devouring sweet potato casseroles and two butterball turkeys the size of toddlers, I laid out a cornucopia of markers and crayons for which they were to create hand turkey drawings.

Beside each hand turkey was a list of things, people, or inanimate objects for which they were thankful. Some worked their way up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, starting first with basic needs of food and shelter before expressing gratitude for relationships of family and friends. There were the techno-enthusiasts singing praises to their iPad or smart phone of their choice, and the dreamers who wanted to thank fall leaves for making that pleasant sound when crunched underneath their leather riding boots.

And then there were the handful that still remembered to be thankful for You and even fewer that listed out Christ by name.

I was always too busy preparing for the dinner to sit down and draw around the outline of my left hand with a brown marker, add some extra feathers in red, yellow, and that little jiggly red thing dangling from his neck like an awkward homemade scarf. But I know what I would say if called upon to list the top three things I was thankful for.

The obligatory: God, family, friends.

It comes automatically, without any real deep heart reflection. You come first, of course, because that is expected and commanded. Family and friends because it’s true even if it might sound cliché.

This list is certainly all well and good but it’s missing something.

As I was reading 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus,” the last part of verse 18 stuck with me. Usually we focus on the first three parts, the part about rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks, but the rest of the verse always trailed off in my mind. That little part about Christ always trailed off in my mind.

That little part about Christ’s sacrifice always trails off in my mind.

And it’s not a little part.

As we count our blessings, listing out all the things and people and food and shelter that we are thankful for, we forget the not-so-little-part about Christ’s sacrifice for us.

For me.

You call us to rejoice, to pray, to be thankful, all through the lens of Christ’s greatest gift of himself on the cross.

Why do I always forget that on my list?

Cultivate within me a heart that is thankful first and foremost for the gift of eternal life through your Son, Jesus Christ. By viewing my life through the lens of this truth, I won’t want to do anything but rejoice and pray and be thankful without ceasing. Christ’s sacrifice allows me to appreciate the little things because of the biggest thing he did for me.

Help me remember what should be first on my thankfulness list. And not just one day in November when my belly is full of food and that chemical in the turkey is kicking in and I’m sleepy and warm and nestled amongst the love of family. Help me remember that because of your love for me through the sacrifice of your Son, I’m nestled amongst the love of a Savior everyday of my life and for all eternity.

Your child,