Project Gratitude – A Jarring Experience

Project Gratitude – A Jarring Experience

As an avid Facebook user, I had stumbled across the idea of a gratitude jar many times. Usually, it was in the form of this image:

Gratitude Jar

I thought it would be something fun to do, but then my lazy kicked in and the idea of finding just the right jar and keeping little pieces of paper handy seemed to be waaaaay too much effort. (As an aside, I have a PhD in “Can’t be bothered.”)

Then I realized my blog would be the perfect substitute for the jar. I am always in front of my laptop (or phone, or other laptop, or tablet, or yet still other laptop), and I can keep my ‘jar’ up to date even when I travel or run out of ink or can’t be bothered to find more little pieces of paper. Besides, this method is also good for the environment.

So here we go. Project Gratitude. Three hundred and sixty-five days of Thanksgiving.

Today, I am grateful for no hangover. Lee and I were in bed not long after midnight. No crazy parties. No voracious drinking. We watched Ohio State get destroyed in the Fiesta Bowl (#bonus), then called it a night shortly after the New Year.

I am grateful for being a part of the social media team at my church.

Yep, I was responsible for this tweet. 

I am grateful that we were invited to the birthday party of our friend’s daughter Eisley. Although my days of being invited to little kids’ birthday parties are long since gone, it was great to be with our friends from church. We got to meet new people, two of which are hosting a growth group on wellness and nutrition, something Lee and I want to better focus on this year. Besides, how can you resist this precious girl who just loves dinosaurs?

Eisley

Why ‘Christians’ Need to Shut the Hell Up

In the midst of the Kim Davis saga, there has been a plethora of divisive commentary on both sides of the argument. Do a search in Twitter on the hashtag #KimDavis, and you’ll find yourself drowning in sea righteousness, rhetoric, and ridiculousness. I will admit I’ve been enthralled by the issue, and much to my own chagrin, fervently active, as well as a bit snarky, about it on Twitter.

#KimDavis meme

This post is not meant to add fuel to the divisive commentary, although I will admit the choice for the title was deliberately bold. I imagine some people will quit reading this post right about here (and go block me on social media), and that’s fine. But if you do continue to press forward, let me explain why I felt compelled to write this post.

I need to also state I don’t claim to have all the answers. As binary as people claim this issue to be, there really is a lot of nuance that is overlooked as the vitriol and mimes are hurled in this Internet brawl. I was deliberately avoiding blogging about this matter, mainly because I’ve been know to put my foot in my mouth and, at times, rock an already sinking ship. But what drove me to write was the commentary I found in the wake of turbulence.

I am a Christian. More specifically, I consider myself a Christ follower. To be even more granular, I believe Jesus Christ is God, came to earth in human form, sacrificed himself so that all of humanity could be redeemed from sin, and conquered death through His resurrection. I also believe we are all sinners, incapable of perfection, and that we’re each striving for betterment in our lives.

As a Christian, I believe I am called to reach out to those who are not believers. I am called to reach out to those who are away from God, to be a light for those in darkness. I like to think I do that through my words and through my actions. As I’ve written before, we are called to evangelize God’s word. The actual soul saving part, however, is done by God.

And there’s the rub that’s at the heart of the Kim Davis controversy. I am sure Mrs. Davis feels she’s evangelizing. There’s no doubt in my mind she feels in her heart her convictions are true. To a certain extent, I commend her for standing up for those convictions. Where I disagree with her, however, is in what I feel is the imposition of those beliefs on others.

I don’t want this post to go down the tangential conversation of First Amendment rights, separation of church and state, and what contempt of court means. Instead, what drove me to write this post is what I perceive as the non-Christian approach many of the vocal supporters of Kim Davis are using to further their argument. With defiant hands in the air and signs lathered in fire and brimstone, the message I see them convey is, “Obey our God …. or else!” It’s a message not of compassion but of condemnation. It is not a message inviting others to share in the celebration of God’s love, but rather one cloaked in spite and bathed in fear mongering. It’s a message that makes me wonder if they’re talking about the same Jesus I love and worship and praise.

Perhaps this is simply a matter of style. I am not an ‘in your face’ kind of person. I don’t have the ‘come at me bro’ bravado the seems to work well for others. I subscribe to the school of thought my friend Rick employs in his approach to ministry, one that calls for us to be gentle witnesses to God’s amazing grace.

Rex

 

But what I find sad are the casualties this conversation – if you want to call the circus that is the Kim Davis issue a conversation – is producing. At the end of the day, are we, as Christians, presenting God as a loving and forgiving God? Are our words and actions working to bring others closer to Him? As Christians, regardless of what side of the argument we may find ourselves, is what we’re doing glorifying His name? The following tweets seem to indicate that for some, at least, the answer to those questions is no. And that’s the really heart-breaking part of all of this.

“We were not created to settle for mere religion. Jesus did not die so that we could have a religious belief system, but rather a life-giving relationship with our Father.” – Christine Caine

Skate, Bitch!

Coincidence is just God showing off.

And it was by coincidence about a month ago my wife stumbled across an announcement the venerable and talented Kevin Smith would be conducting one of his famous Q&A sessions at Tampa’s Improv comedy club. In the early stages of our relationship in 2005, Lee and I bonded, in part, because of our mutual love of Kevin Smith and the movies he makes.

“There is no way we’re missing this,” she told me.

“Umm …. I may be in New York on August 12 playing telephone repair man,” I reminded her.

“There’s no way I’m missing this,” she said with a confident, unapologetic smile.

And so this evening my wife and I had our second ‘go out on a school night’ date of the week, and it was amazing.

Kevin Smith is a fantastic story teller. If you let him, he could tell stories for days on end. Tonight’s performance was, by definition, a question and answer forum with the acclaimed writer and director. One would think Smith would cover a wide array of topics and subject matter. He did, but in the two hours allocated, he answered only four questions. That’s how detailed and immersed Kevin gets into telling a story about how or why he did something a certain way.

Kevin Smith
Image via ew.com

And through it all – through the foul language and inappropriate subject matter, through the stories of friends maintaining sobriety and fighting off thoughts of suicide, through eye-opening accounts that show the human and real side of celebrities often thought to be divas – the common theme was inspiration.

It was a slap in the face to me, but one I desperately needed.

In my new-found faith journey, one I’ve been traveling for just over six years now, I’ve immersed myself in the writings and teachings of so many men and women of faith. Steven Furtick, Christine Caine, Joel Olsteen, John Eldridge, Joyce Meyer, Craig Groeschel, and, of course, my own pastor Paul Wirth: I’ve learned so much about God and my faith and my relationship with Jesus all because of their words, teachings, and actions.

I am currently reading Circle Maker by Mark Batterson, and it’s not hyperbole when I say the book is transforming my life. Not only am I learning about the power of prayer, I am experiencing it as well. I remember listening to the audio book four weeks ago – yes, I am a slow reader/listener and I don’t do a good job making time to finish the book – and being inspired to pick up a writing project I shelved a year ago. It’s an intimidating project I’ve been avoiding, and I always manage to find a reason to not start it up again. Yet there I was in my car, crying, and feeling Batterson’s words speak to me.

I still haven’t touched the project.

God has enveloped me in kid-glove-like affection and direction by surrounding me with such inspiring and positive works, yet I still find myself in the rut of my own making. I still find myself playing it safe in my comfort zone and ignoring what He’s calling me to do.

And that is why I think God took a different approach with me tonight, one filled with F-bombs and stories of smoking weed on hotel room balconies. There’s no doubt in my mind God put me in the audience of Kevin Smith’s show so I could finally do my part and get back to the keyboard. It worked. Today is August 12 and I hadn’t posted to my blog since July 2.

The writing hiatus stops now.

God does His part to give us joy, accomplishment, and greatness. He delivers every day in a million different ways, yet we fail to listen. We fail to move. We fail to act. We fail to respond. As is the recurring theme in scripture, we fail God while He remains faithful to us.

The failing stops now.

During the Kevin Smith show, we were not allowed to have our phones out at all. This is very understandable, but hinders my affection for tweeting great quotes or ideas as they are said. Thankfully, I was able to capture some of them the old-fashioned, analog way: pen and napkin. Here are some of the tweet-worthy comments from tonight’s show.

<when pursuing a dream> “Push a little fucking whimsy.”

“If you want to get shit done, surround yourself with people who will ask, ‘Why not?'”

“Acting is the lie that tells the truth. It’s the only witchcraft that really exists.”

I think my favorite Kevin Smith quote of the night comes from the idea that we live in a world where people will question your motivation and tell you you can’t do a particular something. They’ll tell you, as an example, you can’t skate or that you’ve never skated before or that skating is for other people and not you. They’ll tell you the ice is thin and give you reason after reason of why you can’t or shouldn’t skate. Yet what we need ….. what we crave …. is someone to look us in the eyes and say, “Skate, bitch!”

In His own crafty way, that’s what God told me tonight. I’ve been watching other people on the ice for so long. Now it’s my turn to lace ’em up, get out there, and skate.

Image via WikiPedia
Image via WikiPedia

A New Open Letter to LeBron James

I am very excited to have been invited to contribute to The Florida Post, a new writing endeavor launched by my friend, the ever-so-talented Jonathan C. Mitchell. Since the site is, “dedicated to all of the major Sports Teams, Culture, Entertainment, and anything in relation to the great Sunshine State,” I figured I’d make my first post a topic about which no one seems to be talking. <yeah, right>

Here is my open letter to LeBron James.

 

 

Also, be sure to follow The Florida Post on Twitter.

Geeking Out

I’ll admit it. I’ve been accused of being a fan girl. Sometimes Oftentimes merited, I’ve been known to have an un-manly reaction to meeting a celebrity or performer.

The same is true with Geekdom. In the world of social media, it’s not uncommon to have something you post on Twitter be re-tweeted by someone famous. It’s kinda’ cool when you’re able to connect on Facebook with someone of note, be it a celebrity or local personality, and they happen to mention you in a post. That’s the cool thing about social media and the power it has to make the world a little bit smaller.

On Sunday, I marveled when my friend Amber (aka @MissDestructo) had one of her tweets RT’d by Drew Carey. I thought it was way cool, and I think it’s something people plugged into the blogosphere secretly wish for one day. A step up in Interwebs recognition and perhaps – just maybe – the cornerstone of the big break we’ve all been hoping for. It’s fair to say those are geek-out moments, and they are definitely few and far between.

Geeking Out

As you may know, my wife and I have completed our first round of the Fast Metabolism Diet. I wrote about it at the two-week point of the 28 day program, and then again yesterday following our completion of the plan. As usual, I shared my post across various social media platforms. My goal is to get as many possible eyeballs on it as I can, only because I love to go over my WordPress stats and see not only how many views a particular post has received, but also the various countries around the world in which my blog has been read. (I still don’t understand how someone in Bahrain stumbled onto my blog, but that’s the beauty of the Internet).

When I tweeted out my link, I happened to include the Twitter handle for Haylie Pomroy, the nutritionist that designed the Fast Metabolism Diet. My hope was that she’d read the post and know how much Lee and I appreciate her work, and how her diet has literal transformed us in one short month. It was a digital ‘tip of the hat’ to her, and my way of saying thanks. What happened next was something I was not at all prepared for.

That teenage squealing you just heard? Yeah ….. that was me.