Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Love in A Hopeless Place: A Guide To Singleness In a P.C.A. Church.

  Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.” -- Luther
"Maybe I have that gift that everyone speaks so highly of. It's funny how nobody wants it" - Derek Webb 'Can't Lose You'

     Typically, a heading like that grabs attention. Clickbait. Fodder for argument. The gloves coming off as another “bachelor till the rapture” enters the cage in a Jesus Didn’t Tap shirt, equipped with an Xbox controller, Chicken in a Biscuit crackers, and 2 cans of Cheez-Whiz. But alas, that is not my intention. Though I do enjoy Cheez-Whiz. 
      I’m in Seminary. I’ve even come to love being there. The Lord has grown and stretched me in a way that I’ve never been before. I’ve been immersed in the “weird question asking, milk crate full of books toting, Rollie backpack dragging” nerd herd for quite some time. I’ve also been exposed to some of the saintliest, hardest-working, salt of the earth, men and women you will ever meet. It’s not hyperbole, there are many there to be admired. But,  Today, something weird happened. I say it’s weird, but I am probably being a little dramatic. I was told “No” for a job. Not that far out of the ordinary. Not a word I haven’t heard before, both from my parents, and girls I’ve fancied over the years. But this one came with an explanation. “We won’t be pursuing employment of you because we would like the person we hire for this position to be married”. I was left with a choice. Do I cry and retreat to a can of Pringles and Season 3 of New Girl? Do I bust out a bunch of New Testament knowledge on someone who likely knows more than I do about The Apostle Paul? Do I kick down the door Rambo style, with a copy of Wild At Heart in One Hand and a case of Silver Bullet in the other? All of those things came to mind, but luckily none came to fruition. Instead, I said “Thank You” like a decent son of the South would do, and I asked people older and wiser than me for advice. Not because I’m good, but exactly the opposite. Because I’m a sinner. And sinners need help. But also because most of the advice for dealing with singleness in the church is just bad. 
     I don’t believe they necessarily intend for it to be. It’s just kind of a weird spot to be in. It’s different. There are many folks in the struggle and I think I have found a couple of ways to help navigate this maze. They aren’t perfect, nor are they one size fits all. Nothing is. And many folks much wiser than myself have spoken on this, and much like every guitar pick I’ve ever owned, I’ve taken the liberty of stealing a few things from other folks.

1 1)     Pursue Jesus: In order to operate in this crazy world, we have to know the objective love of God on our behalf.
This is easy to forget because there is no dating manual found in the Bible. And because of this single Christians, and married Christians offering advice, have a tendency to lose their minds in this area. However, scripture is permeated with this truth. Adam and Eve sinned, and God covered them with animal skins, ( a precursor to the cross) Israel wasn’t chosen because She was a mighty nation, She was chosen because God chose to choose her. The only way to navigate the sometimes painful world of singleness within the church, is to know that your relationship status is not the truest thing about you. The truest thing about those who belong to Christ is that you belong to Christ, and because He was forsaken on a cross, you will never know what that feels like. You’re beautiful and ugly. And by his mercy, God is making you who you are to be. It won’t be today, and it won’t be tomorrow, but there is a day when every tear is brushed away by his nail scarred hand.
22)     Pursue Community: In order to be a part of the Church, You must be a part of the Church.
This one is difficult. My pastor says “If you act like a visitor, you will always be treated like a visitor”.  In the context of South Charlotte, where I live, this can be difficult for single folks because it can appear that everything is geared toward families. We can even hear the Pastor reiterating the importance of families and kids, and watching Downton Abbey, or going to the Farmer’s Market with your spouse. None of those things are bad, yet Singles abandon the Churches where they attend for “places where other singles go”. Which creates a catch 22, because singles will never come if singles do not stay. They are chasing their tails. At the Church where I attend, you can likely count the single folks on two hands. I was faced with a choice. I could run to the “shark tank” next door. There is no shortage of those around where I live, and embarrassingly t admit, I tried doing just that on several occasions, and what always brought me back to my current congregation is the knowledge that the folks in the shark tanks didn’t love me. The church where my membership was held, those folks did. And they would call. And text. And Email. And stop by my house. They refused to let me go elsewhere. It wasn’t because I can set up chairs, or make funny jokes on the mic, or teach their kids about Jonah and a Fish, It was because when I joined the church, when I stood up front and made vows to commit to her purity, they made a vow to help me keep that commitment. I’ve been given a far greater picture of what the kingdom truly looks like in the church, than you would ever find outside of her walls. Our hearts must be like the Psalmist who would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord than to dwell in tents of wickedness.
33)  Pursue Holiness: Repent. Believe. Fight.
This is hard. It’s supposed to be. Enough people are talking about it, but I am not sure its landing in the way it should. Character matters. I tried my entire life to get by on charm, and that well has run dry. As RUF big wig John Stone says “When you think about yourself well, then you can think about dating well”.  We must see ourselves rightly, and order our rank of affections accordingly. When we see ourselves rightly, we will find a sinner. A hostile hater of God. When we see ourselves rightly we begin to see the Lord rightly, because at the end of it all, before the throne of God above,we find that God is surrounded by people who were once his enemies. He saves sinners. He also sanctifies sinners.  Justification. Sanctification. Glorification. This is the ordinary way an Extraordinary God deals with sinners who trust and rely on Jesus alone for their salvation.  His grace gets all over everything and that gives us a glorious freedom to pursue the things of God. We can begin to look at our sin seriously, and seriously fight it.   A “cokes and jokes” approach to life will wear everyone out around you. Ask God to make you into someone who is worthy of being fallen in love with, and wait upon the Lord. Changing your wardrobe or exercise habits will not be the cure for singleness or the cause of your singleness, The Providence of God will, and whether he gives it to your or not, nothing comes into your life that doesn’t first pass through his hand. As Paige Benton Brown writes so eloquently “I want to be married. I pray to that end every day. I may meet someone and walk down the aisle in the next couple of years because God is so good to me. I may never have another date and die an old maid at 93 because God is so good to me. Not my will but his be done”.

I am deeply indebted to Tim Keller and his book "The Meaning of Marriage", Les Newsom's article on Dating and Freedom, and Paige Benton Brown's Article "Singled Out For Good" as well as multiple conversations with Richard and Brenda Seitz, The fine folks at ChurchDennis Fuller, and the 20 friends who have allowed me to be a groomsman in their weddings.

Friday, April 18, 2014


“But playing your music as loud as you want and coming home drunk aren't real life. Real life, it turns out, is diapers and lawnmowers, decks that need painting, a wife that needs to be listened to, kids that need to be taught right from wrong, a checkbook, an oil change, a sunset behind a mountain, laughter at a kitchen table, too much wine, a chipped tooth, and a screaming child.” 
― Donald MillerTo Own a Dragon: Reflections On Growing Up Without A Father

"If you're 30 years old and have 3 or 4 good friends you can depend on then you're doin' alright"
- Dad

"The moments in life that require faith, that is where true adventure lies"
-Dwight Wilkinson
  Perhaps one of the hardest lessons I've had to learn (other than how to interact with introverts) is learning what growing up looks like. It's weird, and sometimes I wonder if its something anyone has ever figured out. I just always assumed growing up meant boring stuff like comparing mortgages, spending Saturday mornings at the Farmer's Market, and remembering to take your multi-vitamins and change your bedsheets. Being a single guy, at the stage of life I'm in, affords me some pretty cool opportunites, sometimes it means watching Netflix and eating burritos alone. Other times it means I get to be the guy folks call when their wives are out of town and they want to go eat burgers with fried eggs on them. Then there is the rarest jewel of all, sometimes folks invite me to be a part of their lives. These times are the sweetest, and certainly the most humbling for a few reasons:  A) It really does allow you to not feel like a second class citizen, which happens so often inside the church and seminary world. Don't get me wrong, the Church is the wart-filled bride of Christ that he came and died to win. I love her more than anything.  It's also full of folks that sometimes don't know what to do with meatheads who rarely wash their towels and haven't seen Frozen. This can leave folks feeling a little disconnected. B) It allows you to see sides of your friends that you
otherwise would never experience.  
     Recently I got to spend the weekend with some folks that I'd give my left bicep to have the chance to live around again. Our first night together we made the terrible decision of staying up until 3 o'clock in the morning. Something we used to do all the time had turned into a mexican standoff as to who was going to be the first to admit they were tired. But what I found myself thinking was I would spend a thousand sleepless nights with these men because they had all transitioned from guys I've done dumb stuff with to guys I find myself admiring. They have wives, and a couple of them have kids, and when the morning hit they were with their children, feeding them cheerios and making sure they didn't crack their heads on the coffee table, or lose them at a theme park. The thought that came to mind was how proud I was of them. They had done it. They somehow tricked beautiful women into spending the rest of their lives with them. They were raising kids. They were working jobs. They had somehow made it all not look terrible and that real life is lived in the mundane, and God's grace meets us there every time. 
     Sometimes I wonder if the single/married dichotomy that exists in our churches is more akin to a Middle School dance where the respective parties are on opposite sides of the gym waiting for the other side to make the first move and praying that their parents don't show up wearing dark socks and sandals. I can't speak for the married side of the gym. I can only speak to what I know. I haven't learned much in my 32 years, but I've learned recently that calling girls "high maintenance" is typically a bad idea and that being selfish and afraid has caused me to miss out on a lot of great moments with my friends. My hope as I go forward is that I do that a lot less. Which probably means I have to start answering phone calls.
Big D. Ruining sweet moments since 1982.

Some of the best folks around!

A sight I never thought I'd see. 


Mia, Melting folks like popsicles. 

The Best. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014


"Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering." - Augustine

"I see the Master's Hand, In every leaf that trembles and in every grain of sand" - Dylan

The Door has shut pretty firmly on 2013. While there was a lot that I didn't like about this past year, I decided to throw down a few things that I thought were awesome, both in Pop Culture and in my own life. There is really no particular order to the madness, and while another passing year brings wrinkles and gray hair, there is still much to remind us that God is good, and " I do not know the way I go, but Oh I know my guide".

1)  This past year, George Jones died. "The Possum" was one of my Dad's favorites, and quickly after shedding the rebellion against "3 chords and the truth" Country Music, he became one of my own. I find that outside of Nashville, Vince Gill is one of the most underrated musicians. This stirring performance shows a heartfelt love and admiration for one of the greats, by one of the greats.

2) This past year, Boston ( and the world) looked evil in the face in a way we haven't seen in quite a while. Yet, Grace is always lurking, and this story proved once again why Young Life Leaders are some of my favorite people in the world.

3) As a bit of a softie I'm always a sucker for when men show emotion. So much so that for my Senior Thesis, I wrote about Walter Cronkite crying on the air the day JFK was assassinated. In a world that tells men to "cowboy up" and "hold it together", death stops us in our tracks. Here Stephen Colbert speaks fondly of his recently passed Mother.

4) From Cart boy, to Ski Lift Operator, to Janitor, to batting Clean-Up for the Atlanta Braves. Evan Gattis is my favorite sports story from 2013, Every boy's dream is to "go yard" in your first Major League at-bat. Evan did it, and offered a shot of hope to every Atlanta Braves fan.

5) My nephew Connor remained awesome.
World's Smallest Braves Fan
6) Some great friends got hitched, and they let me have the best seat in the house.
Hugs....not Drugs

Wilkinson Security Squad

Flash Mob
7) 2 of the best people I know brought a baby into the world.
Big Welly Style

8) In 2008 my Roomate and dear friend Clay told us he would be moving out of the Player's Den and moving on to Brevard to help build Young Life's newest property, Carolina Point.We visited every chance we were given and it has been a huge blessing to see it go from a hunk of dirt to an immaculate camp over the years. With many good friends on staff and many memories of jumping Gators and barely escaping death, taking some friends from Marvin Ridge there this fall is something I will cherish for a long time. 

9) I became Twitter Famous for about 20 seconds

10)I found a Fake Best Friend
11) I was reminded often that Real ones love you back

RTS Grad Party


My 90's Cover Band. The Truly, Madly, Deeply's

Bro-ga Party

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


 “Every good relationship we have is a gift of God's grace"- Tim Lane
" I'm not interested in caring about people" - Ron Swanson
 Christmas is weird y’all. It really is. I don’t know if it has to do with being old and single, or with the fact that no one ever tells you when you’re parents split up, that holidays can be pretty tough. You can be more inclined to the feeling of Decking someones Jaws instead of Decking the Halls. So every year the question is asked “ What would you most like for Christmas?” and every year the answer is the same. I don’t necessarily care about getting peppermint bark or Nike Elite Socks, I always just wish that all my friends could be in the same room. That’s it. If there were some way to make that logistical nightmare happen it would be pretty sweet. But this wish always whispers of a deeper longing, because above all else, Christmas is about waiting, and what the Lord did to fulfill the need of our longing hearts. We know this story, yet it is always an amazing truth. Fullness of God in helpless babe. Jesus put on skin. Immanuel. God with us.  He came to make his blessings known, as far as the curse is found. And boy that pokes at the wound like a redneck poking a dead deer with a stick. As far as the curse is found, the curse of sin that separated humans from a loving God. You don’t have to be in a relationship with another human very long to know, the curse is there, in relationships, and that’s why folks hate Christmas family gatherings.. It’s the grown up equivalent of being forced to eat your vegetables.
We’d much rather throw the baby out with the bath water and hole up in a shack somewhere in Middle Appalachia where people can’t bother us. Yet, God is on the move, redeeming relationships is the business of heaven, and even on this side of the Jordan we stumble upon some special moments that remind us we need each other. Sitting with a friend who lost someone they love. Watching two people vow to forever love one another, and forgive each other when life sucks. Gathering around a table in a tasty donut shop in Middle Tennessee, laughing so hard you think you might die. We take the time to write pen pals, make phone calls, pass the pigs, engage in bro-hugs and cook pancakes for each other because we know at the end of the day, We don’t deserve each other. We hurt folks we love, we argue, we hide, we avoid, and we run a million miles in the opposite direction, because the curse still exists. Yet, Christ walks into the middle of all this filth and fixes it. So we hope. And we wait.
This past weekend I got to be with some of my dearest friends. Whenever I’m around them I always find myself wondering how in the heck I got so lucky. This quote from C.S. Lewis answers it better than I ever could
“In a perfect Friendship this Appreciative love is, I think, often so great and so firmly based that each member of the circle feels, in his secret heart, humbled before the rest. Sometimes he wonders what he is doing there among his betters. He is lucky beyond desert to be in such company. Especially when the whole group is together; each bringing out all that is best, wisest, or funniest in all the others. Those are the golden sessions; when four or five of us after a hard day's walk have come to our inn; when our slippers are on, our feet spread out toward the blaze and our drinks are at our elbows; when the whole world, and something beyond the world, opens itself to our minds as we talk; and no one has any claim on or any responsibility for another, but all are freemen and equals as if we had first met an hour ago, while at the same time an Affection mellowed by the years enfolds us. Life — natural life — has no better gift to give. Who could have deserved it?

An affection mellowed by the years enfolds us. We have to search for this truth and track it down like the Cowboys of Coronado ( and if we are lucky enough to find it, stay and fight for it. We love one another. Pray for one another. And goof off. We journey together toward a heavenly city, whose Architect and Builder is God. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

A little word for my Seminary friends.

 I rarely consider myself a wise man, unless the topic is Braves Baseball or grilling a steak. As I enter my last year of seminary, I figured it would be fun to write a note to those coming in, though I doubt they'll even read it. The "new kids" that roll in are so fun to watch. Sometimes its the "fun kind" like watching a baby giraffe fall down, and sometimes its the great kind, the kind where men and women whose hearts are captivated by Jesus, desperately want to change the world for the sake of the gospel. If you do these things you may not become a great preacher, but it will make your time in Charlotte a little more fruitful, and you may even make a few friends a long the way. I'd love to take you out for lunch, but then again I'd love a new Tacoma and an igloo made of burritos, but what I can promise you is that I'd gladly sit and talk and answer whatever questions pop up. So take it from a dude who has been there, Seminary is alright, but its hard, and it should be. Make sure to have fun. 

Dear Student,

- Some questions are better left unasked. There is going to be a huge temptation to want to know everything about everything, and in a perfect world that would be great. However the world isn’t perfect and neither are the profs. There isn’t a warm body in the room that doesn’t have a thousand plates spinning, and trust me they are crashing left and right in the form of shoestring budgets and dirty diapers., and folks just want to go home. Save them for breaks, GMail, lunches, “coffee fellowships”, or just toss them away all together. Your classmates will let you know real quick if you break this one.

Dive headfirst into a great church-  One of the most wonderful blessings of seminary is that you get a front row seat to what the Lord is doing in his bride. She may be freckly and full of warts, but She is being refined and renewed into something beautiful. There are frazzled moms, saintly granddads, bankers, and blue collars who know more about life than you ever will. They may not read Calvin’s Institutes but they will love you more than you’ve ever been before. To the point that it may even embarrass you a little, and trust me, when October hits you like a throat punch you will want the sweet embrace of someone miles ahead of you to point out the landmines of life, and remind you just what exactly you are studying for….. the gathering and perfecting of the Bride of Christ.

Your wife will become your hero. I’ve seen dear friends fall more deeply in love with their wives than you would ever think possible during any other 3 year stint. Make sure you are loving them as well as you know how, and pointing them constantly to the one who loves them better than you ever could. You’re going to fight, you’re going to cry, and you’re going to mess up. So is she. Seminary is hard y’all. Make friends, go on dates, and please don’t joke about how terrible things are at home. Give Satan a match and he’ll burn the whole thing to the ground. There’s a pretty good chance that you married way way up, continue sweeping her off your feet like you did in college. Remember she fell in love with you because you love Jesus more than you love her. You can and will botch an exam and when you do, she will still think you’re the best guy in the world. Your professors and classmates won’t love you that way.

Cultivate Friendships- Never at any other point in your life will you be around a group of dudes like you’ll find in the halls of RTS. The whole gamut is represented from cargo shorts to cardigans, and the common thread uniting them all is the love of Jesus and his Church. There will be “book” guys and bros, braniacs and bachelors,  fathers and foreigners , and it would serve you well to get to know them. Take the time to listen. Go get coffee or toss a baseball, just don’t think you will be able to do it alone. You won’t, and you were never intended to do so.

You’ll want to quit- Chances are if you met someone who told you how perfect seminary was, they are lying. But for some reason you listened and signed up anyway. Know that you will want to give up, often. In many ways it will make you want to throw up, but it also provides a great comfort. The Deceiver doesn’t want this message getting out that there is a God who forgives sins and moves into the lives of hopeless rebels, and brings them home. It’s what he did for you, regardless of how high you scored on the Bible Exam, you still need his grace, and you will need his comfort. Rest heavily on Jesus

Don’t make “seminary” jokes. No one cares.

Jesus was a friend of sinners.  – There’s a bubble that exists at your time in seminary, and in those 3 years you’ll forget how to talk to people. But people are why we are here. We are proclaiming the only hope for a fallen world. Go on visits with your pastor, volunteer with Young Life, feed the homeless, talk to the maintenance folks at your apartment, make a cake for your neighbor, and have people in your home. The lost will never come to our church if they aren’t in our home. You are not too busy.

Remember that Jesus loves you. The one thing I’m certain about right now is that Jesus loves you. He loves you whether you have MDiv at the end of your name or not. He is with you and he is for you and there is no greater comfort in life or in death than knowing that your Heavenly father has the hairs on your head counted. His eye is on the sparrow, and you are worth more than they are. He doesn’t merely tolerate you, He loves you and he likes you. Drink deeply of his Word. Forgiveness is there every time you need it. There is grace for the question asker, the bachelor, and the brainiac.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Dirty Cloth and Fake Leather.

"And I'd end up saying have no fear, These are nowhere near the best years of your life" 
- Brad Paisley

“If you understand what holiness is, you come to see that real happiness is on the far side of holiness, not the near side.”
- Tim Keller

               I’m sitting in an empty conference room at seminary. Nothing special really, some old guy has his picture on the wall, with a glowing sentiment about all the great things he has done. He’s been a missionary for a bajillion years and a professor for about as long. Everything else in the room is pretty normal. The chairs do not match, there are a couple of holes in the walls, and it smells kinda like dirty cloth and fake leather. And I have to admit. I kind of hate it a little bit. I hate because it threatens something quite dear to me “ My Boring Idol”……. Allow me to flesh that out….. and when I do it will probably look boring and normal also. 
When I was 20 years old I was barely a Christian, and lived a life my dad described “ as hell on wheels” on several occasions. I'm not one of those dudes that hated high school, it was quite the opposite. I loved it. But really I loved it for all of the wrong reasons, I loved it because I drank a little, I was popular, funny, moderately attractive, I played sports and that was awesome, friends and I partied far more than we should have,  few of us cared about classes, basically it was college, except we had to call our parents if we wanted to go somewhere. We were like Zach Morris making fake ID’s to get into The Attic.  But I find myself hearkening back to those times. I remember telling my mentor and dear friend Dennis that my biggest fear was “ becoming an ordinary dude, and that adulthood looks boring”. He laughed in his typical manner and we went on our way.  Lately what I have found however, with the help of Paul Tripp and other Christians far wiser than I, is that in the mundane we encounter something you will never hear at a conference or read in a bestseller, or made into a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence and Ryan Gosling, you encounter a God who cares deeply about the ordinary, and that maybe our Christian subculture has enough room for radicals and “ordinary”
I run in circles where Downton Abbey is pretty popular and most folks eat things with organic in the title.  What I’ve learned is that’s ok. Its ok to drive a minivan and have a few kids and live in a neighborhood that has a brick sign out front. I am not talking about the “American Dream” keep all your money, don’t meet your neighbors, surgically enhanced trophy wife stereotype. I am talking about the Christians I encounter from working in a suburban church. They love Jesus, and they love him well. Sure it’s annoying hearing them talk about working too much, but they talk about it because they would much rather be home serving their kids dinner, and it breaks their hearts that they cannot. Still they persevere, they press on leading the life that the Lord has laid out for them, and honestly their life looks pretty incredible, (even if it is littered with keurig machines and ½ marathon applications).  The bigger tragedy is the guilt laid on by folks who aren’t in that season of life. The “Young and Restless” crowd sees the suburbs as sinful living and flock to the cities to plant churches and start soup kitchens.  Those are great and necessary things. What is neither great nor necessary ,is when I talk to folks a couple of years out of college who feel burned out and shamed that their life isn’t what they thought it would look like at 17. There is an episode of “How I Met Your Mother” in which the main character Marshall feels guilt because at age 30 he is a “corporate sellout and he can’t even dunk anymore” because at age 17 he had written a letter to himself saying he “ will marry a tall blonde, wear stonewashed overalls, and have a rat tail down to his knees”. His wife Lily is short and has red hair, and he cut his rattail and threw out his overalls. But in a moment of clarity as he is writing to his 60 year old self, he looks across at Lilly and says “ 60 year old Marshall, if in 30 years you are still married to Lilly, then you are alright”. Now while this is not anywhere near a theological statement, it has the stench of common grace all over it. For the extraordinary life we are to desire is that of Jesus, and if not for his great mercy we would never make it.  We long for the next world, and it is our mandate to pray for his will to be done “on earth as it is in heaven”.  When that last hiss of oxygen leaves our lungs we won’t be hearing God ask us if our lives were spent being “radical” ……instead, if our lives are hidden in him, we will hear our Savior say “Well done, My Good and Faithful Servant”. There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, that includes the country boy in a beat up truck, and the suburban mom jogging with a stroller, for Christ’s blood covers all sins, even the sin of watching Downton Abbey. 

for further reading see

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sleepovers and Salvation: What I hope my nephews will know

One of life's quiet excitements is to stand somewhat apart from yourself and watch yourself softly becoming the author of something beautiful even if it is only a floating ash.”
 - Norman Maclean " A River Runs Through It"

" The whole world is singing a song, Can you hear it?"
 - Sally Lloyd Jones "Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing"

In two weeks I’ll get to be an uncle again. It’s kinda weird being older than your sisters and they spit out babies before you do…… but I’m ok with it. I am ok with it for a few reasons. My sisters are both dang good moms. Jordan is an awesome dad and my parents are pretty funny to watch as grandparents. Maddux ( whom I affectionately call Mad Dog) is in Texas and Austin and Connor are in Virginia. It stinks being so far away from them, seeing these boys grow from nuggets into little guys you can have conversations with is crazy. As their uncle, there are a few things I want them to know. I compiled this list a while back, and recently found it lying in my desk drawer and as Connor is joining the world, I've added his name and a few more thoughts........

Austin, Mad Dog, and Connor

1) Don't be afraid to get some scratches : It is a beautiful thing to be a boy and to grow up in the Country. take full advantage. Throw rocks ( not at each other), climb trees, jump off things, play in the dirt, catch a frog, chase a cow, ride a horse. play sports.

2) Listen to your Grandpa: That ole guy has some stories to tell. The smile lines on his face are full of great tales. Don't copy what he did, just listen and laugh. 

3) Your Parents love you. A lot. This might not make sense after you inevitably will knock over a christmas tree or break an aquarium. When one of them trips on your action figure or stubs a toe on your John Deere tractor, they will be mad, but it won't last forever. 

4) Always be a Gentleman.  Say your "sir's and ma'am's". Open doors for girls. Shake hands, look people in the eye. Be Firm. 

5) Sports and Girls will both break your heart someday. You'll be ok. I promise

6) You are welcome to sleep over at my house any time you want. Some time you will want a break from Mom or Dad, and they will be glad to do so. We'll watch cowboy movies and Braves baseball, We will wrestle,Ill tell you about Sid Bream and Stone Cold Steve Austin and Frodo and Sam and Dennis Fuller and  Coach Taylor and read stories of bravery. You can build a fort out of bedsheets, or camp in the backyard. I'll teach you to play guitar and throw a spiral, and hit a curve and load up a barbell. You'll eat some bacon and I'll teach ya how to tell a story.  I will also show you how to drive your mom insane.

7) Life will let you down, but there is hope. And its found in Jesus. Mom and Dad aren't perfect. Neither are you. Neither am I and neither is Maw Maw. You'll taste the bitterness of heartbreak. You're walking in a world that has lost its original design. You're biggest problem will always be the problem of sin. For that, some 2000 plus years ago Jesus left heaven and came to earth because He loves you. He is making all things right. You can be confident knowing this.

8) Your Grandma Kay is one of the greatest women you will ever know. She's tough, but she loves you. She will fill you up with the best deer meat and gravy you'll ever taste. She'll laugh at any joke and will gladly tell you stories about your mom, your aunt and uncles. Underneath that salt and pepper hair is a lot of wisdom. Soak it in.

9) That small town where you are from is special. You'll hear lots of people say how terrible it is. And someday you will say that yourself. But that moment when you've packed up your pickup truck with a suitcase and some tupperware, you'll hug your mom and dad, and take off to carve out your own patch of grass. It may take 10 minutes or it might take 10 years, but you'll begin to thank God you were able to grow up in the mountains. They will always win. Trust me. 

10) Jesus loves you. I've said it before but it bears repeating. You will sin. You'll drink a beer or smoke a cigarette. You'll cuss. You'll break a girl's heart, and cheat on your homework. You'll think a lot more highly of yourself than you should, and for that there is Jesus. There will never be a pit so deep that God's grace isn't deeper still. If you can't tell your folks, you can tell me. Or a Pastor, or a Young Life leader, Just don't hide. Sin likes to grow in the damp dark places. Remember that you always have a home. Remember that when the dirt of life is caked on your heart, Jesus picks us up and dusts us off. The whole world is singing a song that points to him. It is my prayer that you hear it and respond to it. Also.... you'll never be able to beat me in arm wrestling. But you are welcome to try....

  Giddy up Brave Boys,

    Uncle D