Morning by Morning (11/30)

My morning gratitude for:

  1. The flow and presence of Advent on our Christian calendar, and it’s vibrant effect on the lives of Christians.  In Advent lies a phenomenal opportunity to energize waiting, to think kingdom, and let past/present/future flow faithfully.  I love Advent and I love the reflection of God that emerges in Advent.
  2. Dr. Hamilton and his wife Samjung, who hosted the first Advent service I ever attended at their house in Abilene.  It was there I felt the power of the hymn “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” It was there that I experienced the first one cup communion as a reflection of the kingdom of God.  It was there that Scripture and waiting mingled together in a way that excited and gave substance to hope. It was a great service with a ton of people with one mind about God and his gift of Christ.
  3. Christmas songs.  How could I not love “Joy to the World” or “Silent Night” or “O Come O Come Emmanuel” by Bing Crosby or Pentatonix or whomever. Christmas songs are often filled with themes of joy and peace and more importantly, make me feel like a kid again anticipating the goodness of Christmas.

Morning by Morning (11/28)

My morning gratitude for:

  1. The anticipation of a Thanksgiving lunch with my mother in law Belinda and brother in law Elias this afternoon.  I am always happy to join them for the feast that Belinda works on and provides.  She goes all out and I appreciate it, and we do it from top to bottom, from prayer before the meal, to a process of eating, to Thanksgiving pictures and all.  A good time to be had by all.
  2. The anticipation of a date night tonight with Elana (who else?) at Central Market’s Cooking School.  I believe we are learning and preparing butternut squash ravioli, lobster bisque, short ribs, and a banana bread pudding.  That food is exciting right! But the anticipation is for a date night with my wife.  This should be fun and unique, even if I see my wife show off her phenomenal knife skills tonight.
  3. Ryan sleeping on me as I held him for the last hour of sleep this morning.  I just treasured that time, smelling his hair from the bath I gave him last night, taking in his deep and slow breathing which got slower as he fell asleep, to rocking him into a comfortable position in my arms, and then walking through the house knowing that he is safe and sound and provided for.  I really cherished that time this morning.

Morning by Morning (11/27)

My morning gratitude for:

  1. My work at a children’s hospital ICU the day after Thanksgiving, a holiday that almost all those kids and families spent there in the hospital. It is a privilege to work around the holidays or on the holidays with these families, because they especially long for support and joy on these days. I am humbly grateful to be one of the ones who will provide that today.
  2. Our Thanksgiving dinner with friends last night.  It was incredibly fun to hang out with Elana, Josh and Andrea Day, Mikey and Daniel last night.  They were tons of fun to eat with and play Catchphrase with! Good people make a good holiday! (especially seeing as Elana and I were both pretty tired from a long night with Ryan!)
  3. The lack of traffic this morning because of Thanksgiving.  I loved having more time this morning to wake up and adjust for the day.  A small thing, but very noticed.

Morning by Morning (11/26)

My Thanksgiving morning gratitude for:

  1. Spiral bone in honey hams, mashed potatoes, green beans, stuffing and cranberry sauce.  Delicious! (I’m actually impartial to turkey but love the ham!!!)
  2. Homemade pumpkin pies.  I love it when I get to make them. Seriously, baking a wonderfully smelling and creamy pumpkin pie is a phenomenal and awesome task that I wish I did more often, but I am grateful when I get to do it and grateful any time I get to eat pumpkin pie.
  3. Interfaith Ministries of Houston, who serve meals across the city (on this day and others too through Meals on Wheels) and serve the poor of the city every Thanksgiving.  It is a gift to serve others who don’t get to enjoy the things I shared above, because it is their that a reflection of Gods heart is seen and invited to the world.  This morning I am unable to serve since my little one is sick but I look forward to serving again on Thanksgiving and Christmas too. In fact, I am grateful for all the organizations, churches/places of worship, and families who open their doors to show faithful hospitality to all of Gods people.
  4. Chris Moore, who I call Click and who I believe is more faithful and open to God than he realizes.  I always hope he knows how much he is loved and cared for.
  5. My SoCal family who surrounded me when I was a kid at the holidays and who I miss at these holidays when I and my family are 1500 miles away.  Mike and Linda with Chris, Amanda and Kevin, Fred and Shelley with Brittany and DJ, Roger and Vickie with JV and Ryan and Rhea, Josh and Jacqui with Will and Elijah, and of course my Mom and Dad.  I love you all!!!

Morning by Morning (11/25)

My morning gratitude for:

Being Ryan’s son is awesome.  It’s him getting dressed in superhero clothes, or putting himself in the dog kennel, learning to put his hands over his eyes for peek a boo that are just so precious.  I enjoy my time with him so much.  (And when I get it, I enjoy the time with his brother Aiden too but he loves his friends a lot more these days!) I especially am grateful for the chance to laugh and smile my love over him- that he feels my joy being his father!

Morning by Morning (11/24)

My morning gratitude for:

  1. The young adults at Southwest Central Church of Christ, who have sustained me and strengthened me and been my foundation as I have become a chaplain.  They have been so supportive and become ‘friends’ in the best way possible.
  2. HEB pre made Thanksgiving meals. Yep, this year we bought our Thanksgiving dinner for $70 (for 6-8) instead of cooking it ourselves.  Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking and baking.  But this year I have a 16 month old who is having separation anxiety and prefers to climb in the oven rather than let me cook in it. So, it’s safe to say given the situation- a Thanksgiving full of a wailing child who can’t play with the oven I am using or after an exhausting sleepless night or having my son desire me to hold him for at least three straight hours because he’s afraid I will put him down- I would rather have someone else make the meal. Period.
  3. The gift of a beautiful sunrise!  
  4. Conversations with kids.  I love having good chats with kids in the hospital!

Morning by Morning (11/23)

My morning gratitude for:

  1. “This too shall pass…or I will.” Shirley McCollum, a friend at church, was talking with me and sharing in my tiredness with Ryan, and this phrase emerged from both of us.  Yes, Ryan is exhausting with his separation anxiety and irregular sleeping habits and wailing at night, but it too will pass…or I will of insanity!
  2. Elana, my wife, who is so dedicated to making me happy and driving me clinically insane by the minute.  She works really hard every morning with the kids to get them to school and dressed and ready for life, and that is a gargantuan effort on its own.  For me, she is incredibly thoughtful even when she doesn’t need to be.
  3. The Lectionary, which our preaching team uses.  It is a gift to have Scriptures already laid out, but it is also a gift to have God speaking through this aged but tested structure of Scripture.  I love how the Lectionary, while laid out with 4 passages each Sunday, allows for both God to apes his wisdom for us, and for us to speak our context and cares into it to bring a message.  I pray we are continually faithful through this method and faithful in our call to preach the gospel.

Morning by Morning (11/21)

My morning gratitude for:

  1. The pool at the apartments my grandparents used to live at.  My brothers and cousins had so much fun at those apartments, it’s where my most memorable Christmas’ and Thanksgivings are, and it’s where they lived, so of course it’s special to me.  And because we lived in SoCal, the pool was the epicenter of activity almost all the time.  I used to pretend to be a submarine, race Joe in laps, and hear my grandparents laugh.  I am grateful for that pool, and I miss my grandparents too.
  2. Waking up to a clean house, perhaps a special feeling only because it is a busy weekend ahead…or because I am a narcissistic clean freak martyr who can’t see a dirty dish without hyperventilating and calling the cops.  Anyway, I love waking up in the morning to a clean house and knowing everything is in its place and ready to be used.
  3. The preaching team at our church.  We have no paid preacher so we are blessed to hear from 4 different voices who are listening for the message from Scripture and the voice of God.  We have growth to do as a team, but I am so grateful to work with a team who volunteer and are passionate about giving voice to the gospel at our church!

Morning by Morning (11/20)

My morning gratitude for:

  1. Carson Henley, who is not only a great friend but whose love for his wife and helplessness without her is so sweet! I am humbly blessed to be around him and learn from him.
  2. Elana’s continued work, research and passion for our possible fostering and/or adoption.  She wants to be a loving welcoming presence to any child who walks through our doors, and that is something I deeply appreciate.
  3. Gabby and her new baby girl (who currently has no name).  I have been grateful to know Gabby through her pregnancy and see her grow as a mother and wife and grow more into her own personality.  Her presence will be missed on the ICU while she stays at home with her baby, but we celebrate and appreciate her new family!

Morning by Morning (11/19)

My morning gratitude for:

  1. Blessing the new Kangaroo Crew ambulances at Texas Children’s Hospital on Tuesday.  As a chaplain, I really appreciate getting to be the person who acknowledges the need for ritual in transitions.  Many of those who aren’t spiritual and those that are really appreciate taking the moment to ask the divine to help them in their passion and compassion, and I love being that person.
  2. Working with families who are in the midst of crisis and or losing their children.  Three times this week people have commented on how I seem to fit so well in my job and that I work with those deep emotions well.  I appreciate the chance to reflect Gods love and peace and help the families see the gift of the child and the gift of their love- one of the greatest feelings ever but one you may only find in heat of a child dying.
  3. Aiden’s laugh, which I heard yesterday at church. It’s great to hear him having fun with friends.
  4. Joyce Van Houten and Carole Green, two ladies (mother and daughter) at church.  They are always so supportive of my becoming a father and they bless me when I see them on Wednesdays and Sunday’s. They bless me by simply smiling over me and being joyful people!