My story

I’m surrounded by stories.

Brian and I, as part of the Story Team, spent much of the Verge conference this past weekend at the Story Team van as we collected the stories of what God is doing all over the world. The best part was sitting in the van, just listening. Story after story, God was faithful and got all the glory.

Then on Sunday, we met up with a lady who would like to be on Story Team. We told her all about the team, how everything works, and what our experiences have been like. More stories.

And for the past month, my kiddos have been writing stories and making books for a contest. The big reveal is at an event in a half hour (thank the Lord!). It’s been all about stories in class for weeks. We brainstormed, we planned, we drafted. Then we revised and edited and published. We illustrated and them bound these books– and in all this I say “we” because I have literally been involved the entire way with all 43 student books. Last night, I stayed up until LATE to get them all graded. So. Many. Stories.

And then there’s this blog– our daily recounting of the story of year one for me and Brian. It’s so close to the end of this part of the blog, but of course, nowhere near the end of our story.

I’m surrounded by stories, I talk about stories, I teach stories, I help with stories, I tell stories… and I’m living a story.

One of my favorite authors says this about story:

“And once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time.”
Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life
I am blessed to help my students create stories, and to live even better ones. I am blessed to hear and write and edit stories of God’s grace and faithfulness. I am blessed to be living a good story. I am blessed to share my story here.
It’s not normal– this life of mine. But, according to Miller, it just means I found some meaning in life. And I have.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.
–from “Blessed Assurance”

The four ways my wife has improved my life

We’ve been married 360 days, and I have a better life, and I am a better man, than on our wedding day. Here’s a look at the four ways my wife has helped that come to pass.

She helps me grow in faith: I know this is a bit cliche, but it really is at the top of the list. By encouraging me in my efforts to grow, walking alongside me in our programs at church, and supporting me all the time. We share the same goals, and she picks me up and encourages me when I fall short. She’s really been more than I could ask for in this regard.

Our home is awesome: I know she feels like it has a long way to go, but in terms of how I lived as a bachelor… well, let’s just say I feel spoiled all the time. The best part is I know she’ll keep on making it better and better, far more than I ever could.

I have more confidence because she loves me: This may be a bit more esoteric, but let me give it a shot. I no longer fear many of the things that I did before. I know that I have Lindsey’s support and love no matter what happens, so I feel more free to stretch myself, take risks, and try new things. Her love is a motivator and a liberator.

I’m more joyful:  It’s simple and straightforward, but it’s true. I love my life and my wife. I am truly blessed and I know it.

Finding our rhythm

In six days we will celebrate our one year anniversary. Obviously writing this blog forces us to be more conscious about our marriage is going, which is a good thing. In the course of thinking about our upcoming milestone I’ve been contemplating the normal things in our marriage.

By normal things I simply mean the rhythms of life. Today was a really great example of how we are simply learning to work out the simple things. An easy change in after work errands just because it was easier for us both, a division of labor cooking dinner and other house stuff that actually made us more efficient and saved time. Then finally after dinner the dishes were done by one of us while the other spent some time working. It was a good, quiet, productive night.

These nights are becoming more common, and that is great. It’s the sign that we are starting to settle into a rhythm. Lindsey is not fitting into my day, and I am not fitting into hers, rather we are establishing what our days look like.

Thoughts on Verge

I have twenty pages of handwritten notes from this weekend. Twenty. So, you can see the trouble I’m having tonight in attempting to convey what I learned over the past two days at Verge. If you want the long version, call me and we can meet for coffee or a beer, because I am still too tired to even try to write all of that out. You’re getting the “I can’t stop thinking about this today” version of Verge.

All of the talks at this year’s Verge were about Making Disciples. Content and delivery differed greatly, and my mind was a bit chaotic during the sessions, attempting to take in all of these great ideas and thoughts and truths.

Today, I kept thinking about family– specifically treating people like family. Yesterday, Dave Gibbons gave a talk where he shared that when we think of disciple-making, we should think “home”– specifically family. I should treat others the way I would treat family– invite them in, eat with them, share my things, live life together.

I started to think about the people who challenge my patience, or those who I think are living lives they shouldn’t. Jesus has called me to love these people, but sometimes that feels very abstract to me and I find myself not knowing how to love them. Treat them like family. I’ve been thinking a lot about this today– with specific faces coming to mind and then wondering how I would act towards that person if they were my sibling. It’s challenging, yes, but makes a lot of sense to me. I will continue to think on this.

Other things that keep coming to mind today are the stories I heard in the Story Team trailer. Normally on Story Team, we tell the stories of what God is doing in our own church. At Verge, we invited people from all over the country to come in and share.

The Airstream trailer was set up beautifully. At the far end, bright cushions invited the interviewer and guest to plop down. The narrow counter tops held framed photographs portraying some of what we do– a camera man filming a couple on a couch, or the story trailer/van from last year’s Verge conference. Vintage cameras and film filled in the empty spaces. Accordioned gray baffles lined much of the curved walls and black and white rugs covered much of the faux hardwood floor. A large microphone stand sat in the middle of the trailer, its long arm reaching towards the guest.

I spent much of yesterday in the trailer listening to the stories of women. They told of hardships and struggles, or the dark and messy parts of life. Then they would tell of prayer  and reconciliation and miracles and redemption. God is moving and he is doing amazing things all over the place. These were just regular women, but they told powerful stories they were ministering to my heart. They reminded me that nothing is impossible for God and even with weak faith in him, he still does great things. I have less fear today. I look at the future differently today.

The final bit of Verge that wouldn’t leave me alone today was the music. I sang the songs from this weekend’s many worship times over and over. I even surprised Brian by playing Propaganda’s album this morning as we did chores. Propaganda was a surprise guest last night, performing a song with the band. Brian is not used to me choosing to listen to rap. Today may have been the first time ever. But he speaks truth and writes thought-provoking and rhythmic lyrics. I really like it 🙂

I was missing my Story Team family today, after all the hang-out time we got this weekend. Brian and I met with a potential new writer today to share with her the vision of the ministry and get to know her, and all I wanted was to tell her about our amazing weekend and the trailer and the stories. Brian kept me in line, though. Glad I have him for that 😉

Verge, day two

It’s late, and we’re beat. We had a great weekend with our community, exploring new ideas on discipleship and hearing from great teachers. Even better was our chance to work and serve together for The Story Team, which has been such a good thing for us. I love my wife desperately, and serving alongside of her is awesome.

Here’s a few pictures to sum up our day, Lindsey’s already asleep and I am too tired for a full post. 🙂

Verge day one

My head is so joyfully chaotic right now that I can’t quite think straight to write.

I have pages of notes after a entire day of truth-filled teaching. I feel like Brian and I have so much to talk about! We sat next to each other all day, taking all of this in side by side, but now I would really like to process it with him.

While I don’t have words right now, I do have photos…


Verge is taking place at the Moody Theater, home of Austin City Limits Live.


Worship was amazing– the Aaron Ivey Band and Jimmy McNeil 🙂


The Story Team had its own workshop– one of the best parts of the day. So blessed to be a part of this team!

Excited for day two, tomorrow!


It’s my Friday! Woohoo!

I put together my sub plans, ran my errands, picked up Chuy’s, and came home to plop on the couch with my husband. The greatest part of Friday-on-Thursday is that there’s better TV 🙂 Brian and I enjoyed our favorite Tex-Mex and watched that better TV. We both thought back and neither could recall the last time we did this. Literally.

Brian and I are going to the Verge conference tomorrow in downtown Austin. We’re both pretty excited. Several favorite pastors are coming to speak, and we may be most excited about the Story Team trailer set up outside the conference. Conference goers have signed up for slots to come in and share their stories of what God is doing in their lives. I can’t believe I get to be a part of that!

I’m excited about the conference, but honestly, I’m really excited about a hot date with my pillow– at 9pm!!! Don’t judge–it’s been a long four day week 😉

Sharp Iron

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

I wrote a few weeks ago about the time I get to spend with the guys from my Men’s Development Program community and how valuable it is to me. Time and time again these guys have proven to me the truth contained in the verse above. They make me a better man by holding me to a high standard, confronting me in love when I fail, struggling through the tough times with me, and encouraging me in my success. They are a critical part of my life, and I’m starting to learn that they are a critical part of my marriage.

Tonight I spent several hours after class with my group of guys, and it was such an encouragement. Laughing and joking around is fun and a great way to unwind, but these guys also pose tough questions. They push and probe about what I think and say. They don’t let me off easy. They hold me to account, and want the best things for me. Nights like tonight are like water to a thirsty man for me. They are not negotiable.

I think every married man needs to have a community of men around them like this. I can truly say that my marriage is in better shape because of the counsel and correction that these men have given me over the last seven months. Their help and love for Lindsey and I is invaluable.

So, married men this is my piece of advice for the day, if you don’t have men like this in your life, find them. Wives, if your husband does not have this, lovingly encourage him to seek it out. We are not prompted to change on our own, its too comfortable. We need to be challenged, and that is what a strong community of men can do for each other.

Fine china

The older I get the more I learn that context is everything, and that sometimes you cannot understand a truth unless you are in the position to. There are situations in which no amount of intellectual work can take the place of experience. In my life, marriage may fit that description better than anything.

A few days ago I came across a verse in my daily reading that struck me with great force. Not because it is new to me, but because it is so timely and so true:

“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” 1 Peter 3:7

I have heard it said that a better way to think of the “weaker vessel” phrase is to think of fine china. China is certainly more fragile than your run of the day dish ware, but it is also more beautiful, more impressive, more precious.  You could take the Fiesta ware in our kitchen and bang it around in the sink, run it through the dishwasher, and stack it roughly in the cabinet with no damage whatsoever. The same cannot be said of our wedding china. We take care of it, we treat it delicately, we hand wash it and have special padded containers for it. That is how we are called to treat our wives.

So, for me this week I am working on seeing my wife as fine china. I am praying for insight into how to honor her and treat her. I am asking the Holy Spirit to change my heart and my tongue. I am asking him for humility in my approach to my wife.

After all, she is beautiful, sensitive and precious, just like fine china.

Nothing Special

There’s nothing special about today. We both went to work and had normal days. You know, the kind of days where you struggle to have interesting to say to the question, “how was your day?”

I improvised a pork loin roast, which I might post the recipe to when I get time. We had a glass of wine, ate dinner, watched How I Met Your Mother. It was nice to relax with Lindsey.

Then we went our separate ways. We each had work to do, and Lindsey tried to get to bed early. I did not try to do that, and I succeeded in my non-efforts.

There are just some days like this, days when I wonder what to blog. Then, when I sit down to write I realize something simple: even an everyday, so-so, run of the mill day is great with my wife.