Monthly Archives: July 2013

Guest Post: Small

Liz Griffin is a blogger I’ve been following for a while. She and my wife are from the same church in Waco. I asked her to talk about A Case of the Mondays with you guys while I was at camp this week. You can follow her on twitter (@larkandbloom) and read her blog at

A few weeks ago, I passed a law office in a strip mall. It was wedged in next to some second hand stores, and a few other miscellaneous offices. Nothing fancy, just the average law firm with faded signage and a few parking spaces. This thought crossed my mind:

“I wonder if they feel small?”

There are so many TV shows about successful lawyers handling glamorous litigations. It seems like every day in the news you come across cases that will shape public policy. It has to make these family lawyers feel that their jobs are silly in comparison.
Social security claims, writing wills, traffic injuries…small potatoes. I hoped that the few family lawyers who worked in that firm didn’t feel all the things crossing through my mind. Small. No one wants to feel small.
Except that we do. We do feel small. We live in this mentality that if what we are doing doesn’t seem mind blowing or book- writing interesting, then it isn’t worth much. Our little minds get stuck in smallness. A spirit of smallness is daunting and discouraging. It breathes insignificance.
I give into a small spirit all the time. I get so locked in on a single days activity that I forget what it is building. Baby steps still go somewhere. I get obsessive about petty things. I give my energy and mental capacity to them. I can’t get big if I am stuck in small.
I hate that feeling. We all do. It holds us down and makes us feel silly if we try and act big. I feel stupid saying, “I’m a writer.” I haven’t written a book or been published. I blog. No, not the blog that they make a movie out of like Julie & Julia. Just an everyday blog like everyone else my age.
We think that if we aren’t the most acknowledged, the most famous or popular at what we do…then it is just a hobby. If your business isn’t mentioned in Forbes, then you are a lightweight.

Perhaps you have a case of the Mondays & are feeling pretty small yourself. Well, here is what I think:
You are still a teacher no matter if you teach at an elementary school or at Yale. A worship leader is a worship leader regardless if they have an album or not. Artist are artists even if their paintings are not insured.

Famous doesn’t make you who you are. Kim Kardashian is famous & I haven’t a clue what she does. So, lets just throw famous out the window. And the spirit of smallness along with it. Sure, I may be a little tiny mustard seed, but I have a big God. And together we move mountains. Even if no one sees.

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Posted by on July 29, 2013 in Uncategorized


What A Day It Has Been


I’m way bummed with the info I have for you right now.

Most of the time my posts and interviews are done at least a day or two ahead of schedule so that when Life happens it doesn’t interrupt our conversation. That just wasn’t the case this week.

I got the opportunity yesterday to talk to Daniel and Megan Webb who have this sweet product called Beard Sauce. I worked on the transcript a bit last night before falling asleep and intended to finish it this morning before wrapping up details to take my students to camp tomorrow.

When I got to the office we were having new printers installed, found out we were having network issues, and I had a few curve balls thrown at me for camp. As the day went on I worked on the transcript here and there at the office and my house. Finally I was close to done and went to save the draft…only to realize, just after clicking the mouse button, that I had no internet connection.

I lost 3/4 of what I had written.

Basically, if I was an overly emotional teen girl I’d have cried for the 18th time today.

But I’m not.

I got a hold of my friend Melissa, who introduced me to Daniel and Megan and let her know what was going on. Then I got a hold of Daniel and Megan to talk about a game plan.

Transcribing recorded interviews takes me about 2-3 hours right now since I’m still fairly new to it, and by the time I’d get the post fully done tonight it wouldn’t get the attention they deserve for it to have.

I’ll continue to work on it this week and share it with you guys next Friday. In the mean time you guys should do the following:

  1. Follow them on twitter.
  2. Like them on facebook.
  3. Check out and donate their indiegogo campaign.

Daniel and Megan have been incredibly understanding and gracious to me throughout today and I can’t thank them enough.

I’m so grateful for them, and for you. Without you there is no conversation, and this is a conversation I’ve grown highly fond of over the last few months.

Thanks for reading.

Thanks for growing with me.

Grace & Peace,


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Posted by on July 26, 2013 in Friday Interviews


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Tilling, Or The Great Gardener

This is a piece that I originally wrote while living in New Orleans with Mission Year. I revised it last year to appear in the Yellow Jacket (The HPU Student Newspaper), and wanted to share it with you today. I find myself returning to this again and again when I feel God working at something in my life. I hope you find some truth in it for yourself today.


“Sow with a view to righteousness, Reap in accordance with kindness; Break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, until He comes to rain righteousness on you.” – Hebrews 10:12 (NASB)

“To pray is to descend with the mind into the heart, and there to stand beforethe fae of the Lord, ever-present, all-seeing, within you.” – Theophan the Recluse

“We have to realize that here the word heart is used in its full biblical meaning. In our milieu the word heart has become a soft word. It refers to the seat of the sentimental life. Expressions shuch as “heart-broken” and “heartfelt” show that we often think of the heart as the warm place where emotions are located in contrast to the cool intellect where our thoughts find their home. But the word heart in the Jewish-Christian tradition refers to the source of all physical, emotional, intellectual. volitional, and moral energies.” – Henri J.M. Nouwen

The year I lived in New Orleans I worked in a garden every Saturday with some of my roommates and a man named Earl.

Earl used to run it as a program for teen guys to come and work, and they even made a hot sauce out of the peppers they grew that was sold, and is still saught after, all over the city. The money made from this was used to help the boys to go school if they wanted. After Katrina, and having several boys from the program killed Earl shut the program down.

When we met him, he was beginning to go back to the garden and restore it to what it used to be so he could run the program again. So, over the course of the year we went down to the garden and did whatever Earl asks of us.



Earl, Braxton, Joy, Katie, and Yours Truly


One of the things we did was till up the soil. I used to do a lot of gardening with my dad, and grandmother, so I had tilled before, but always a small area with one of those things you turn with your arms. Earl had a really sweet gas powered tiller. I loved it.

But I also liked to just watch whoever was tilling (usually my roommate Braxton) do that for a few minutes. I could see the dirt turning and turning in the rotors, and the new soil sitting on top of everything. It looked fresh and ready to take on the world.

Usually I was doing something like trimming back a tree, or taking out all but one of a plant that had over grown an area. One Saturday though, Braxton and I redid the little brick border around an area that was going to be replanted soon. As we were pulling them out of their disarray, we began to dig and find more…and more, and more buried pretty deep under the dirt.

We finally got a bunch of them up, enough to make the new border, but realized that the entire dirt area we were standing on used to be a beautiful brick walkway. It was probably a combination of Katrina and time that had covered them so deeply…but it was just amazing to know that had been under us the whole time and we had no idea.

We’re weren’t completely done with that project, and were nowhere near done with restoring the garden to the award winning state it used to be in. We could see improvement though. If you’ve read this far, that’s what I wanted to talk about. One Saturday as I sat watching Jacob, another roommate, till for a few minutes this what was going through my head:

That’s what God is doing in my life, and wants to be doing in all of our lives all the time. We’re works in progress, even though we have a relationship with Christ, we need to, as Paul talks about, work out our salvation daily. God wants to till our hearts so new things can grow. When we first come into relationship with him our hearts (in the sense that Theophan and Nouwen talk about them) are covered with sin.

God doesn’t use the gas powered tiller though, He doesn’t even use the one you turn with your arms. He digs into our heart and soul and sinful nature with His hands and begins to turn the dirt over so that fresh soil can sit on top. When He’s done with that he begins to plant seeds of change in our life. He wants to change the way we live, the way we love, the way we talk, the way we treat others, the way we work, the way we eat. Everything.

He wants to lay that new brick border, and find all the other stones buried deep that we didn’t even know about, and smile a big smile as we joyously celebrate the discovery of what we never knew was there. Then He wants us come along side Him and lay out the new walkway. He wants us to get down and dirty with Him in this as we shovel, sweep, and dig with our hands through the sin in our lives.

The things that were beautiful to the Devil in our old life God wants to wash way to become beautiful in His sight.

I don’t know exactly why God began to show me all of this in a garden, but I would imagine it’s mostly because He likes gardens. He did after all intend for us to live with Him there didn’t he? I’m beginning to see Him as The Great Gardener.

The quotes at the beginning of this post work to illustrate that. This was also what God had been doing in my life, even before I went to New Orleans. In the months leading up to me departing for that adventure I realized that I’d been saying and doing a lot of things, but not fully engaging Christ in my heart. I was finally beginning to at this point.

But like the garden I was only just beginning to see the changes. At the end of the year, the last Saturday I called that place home we layed the final large stones on the pathway through the garden. Our last project. I saw the complete restoration of that particular place. However even though we will not witness complete restoration on this side of heaven, we do get the joy of working toward it with Him.

We are dirty, but He is cleaning us up.

We are destroyed and unrecognizable, but He restoring us.

We are withered, but He is growing us.

What stage of the garden restoration are you in? Do you need to till? Are you ready to plant again?

Grace & Peace In Your Re-planting,


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Guest Post: A Primer On Winning With Money

Mike Jones has been one of my best friends since we were in High School. We don’t see eye to eye on everything, and certain areas of money management fall under that. However, he’s been winning with money longer than most people our age. I think he’s got great ideas about helping young people do the same. This is the first in a three part series from Mike, so make sure you stay tuned over the next three Tuesdays. You can follow Mike on twitter, or get a hold of him through e-mail

Getting Started

Hello everyone!  First, let me set your expectations by stating that I am NOT a writer. That’s not to say that I don’t have my moments of writing genius, but I don’t have a particular voice and I’m not going to win any awards. Now that you won’t be disappointed, let’s jump into a discussion about being young and managing your finances.

I won’t call myself an expert in managing finances, but I’ve been balancing a checkbook and investing since I was 15. From an early age, I was fascinated with building wealth and making sure that I had plenty of money.  For me, money is a way to keep score in life – particularly in business. Now, that clearly conflicts with several messages in the Bible, such as

“No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matthew 6:24)


“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where you treasure is, there you heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21).

It’s been difficult for me to balance over the years, but I think that I’m starting to get the hang of it.

In addition to managing my finances as a hobby, I am a Certified Public Accountant, CPA, and a licensed residential mortgage loan originator. Those two titles mean that I deal with personal finances on a daily basis and I’ve seen both the good and bad side.

You’ve probably heard this before, but God has placed you as a steward over the finances that he has provided to you. As such, it is your responsibility to make sure that you handle his gift wisely. Over the next few weeks we are going to look at a few key areas of finances: the basics of financial management, debt and and taxes, and some practical steps for young people to take with their money.

So You Graduated And Got A Job

Managing your finances for the first time out of college can be a scary and exciting prospect. If you were able to snag a job right after graduating, congratulations! You are now likely receiving more money than all of your pre-college graduation years combined. And, if you’re like most young people, you have a lot of pent up spending to take care of.

One of the first, and possibly the worst, purchases is a vehicle. A vehicle is not a wise choice for several reasons, but the most important is that it is a depreciating asset. The moment that you drive a car off the lot and sign the papers, it immediately loses several thousand dollars in value.

If you absolutely must purchase a car after graduating, get a used, but reliable vehicle that will take care of you for roughly 5 years. After 5 years, you will likely be getting married and starting a family which means that your vehicle choice may need to change.  If you can keep the vehicle longer, more power to you.

Most college graduates are also dealing with student loans. Luckily, most student loans are deferred for at least 6 months, which means that you get a bit of a breather once you start out. But, it is important for you to consider those payments in your budget up front. By setting this money aside, hopefully into savings or paying down other debt, you will already account for this money and it will not be a shock when you start making the payments a few months down the road.

Unless absolutely necessary, don’t opt to have the “graduated” payment plan. This payment plan allows for your student loan payments to be less initially, but the monthly payments increase substantially over time to make up for lost ground. I would not recommend this because you are only robbing Peter to pay Paul and who knows what your financial needs will be down the road. Be disciplined and pay the standard amount each month, if not more.

Don’t Get Caught Without A Cushion

An absolute necessity is creating a cushion of savings. Most financial experts will agree that you need at least 6 months of savings in order to be financially secure. This means that you have enough saved in the bank that you could cover your rent or mortgage, your student loans, car payment, and pay your monthly grocery and utility bills in the event that you lost your job or became unable to work. The more that you aggressively save up front, the less you have to worry over time.

Let’s briefly discuss medical/health insurance. Only you know your preferences and prior medical history, but you could be making a life altering decision depending on the type of coverage that you choose.  If you do not obtain enough coverage, a disease or accident could literally ruin your financial future. On the flip side, if you’re paying too much each month, you could be missing on opportunities to save and invest.

There are many individuals that are independent of the big agencies like Blue Cross Blue Shield, etc. These individuals have access to a number of carriers and will let you shop for the best policy. Another coverage to consider is accident or critical illness coverage like Aflac. Insurance coverage like this will provide you with additional financial security if you hurt yourself or you are diagnosed with cancer; the monthly payments are usually fairly cheap and can save you a substantial amount of money in the long run.

A Final Word

No discussion on Christian budgeting would be complete without covering tithing. This is one area that I have always struggled with. This is a shame, because I know that God provides me with the success that I do experience and He will bless me (non-financially) by giving with a joyful heart. When budgeting, especially for the first time, be sure to factor your 10% (or more) into your budget up front. This will allow you financial freedom by not having to find a place down the road for giving – it will already be established.

That pretty much covered the basics. As a summary, creating a manageable and effective budget will not only allow you to be successful, but it will give you peace of mind.

Grace & Peace,


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Posted by on July 23, 2013 in Guest Post


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Thank You

If you used to be a reader of this will seem a bit familiar to you. If not, great. Either way I think you should take the time to give it a read today.

We have a problem saying thank you. Because we have a problem saying thank you, many of us have a problem receiving a thank you. I don’t think we have any issue saying the actual words. We say them all the time. To a waiter or waitress, to a spouse when they do something for us, to a friend when they’ve helped us out. We say a cursory “Thanks” without eye contact and in our best mumble more times a day than I care to think about.

No, our issue is with genuine, sincere thanks to another person.

Over the last few semesters I’ve had a few classes that I seem to miss (for real reasons – I don’t skip), and there’s been a person in each of those classes that has taken notes for me when I’ve been gone. In 2013 it’s not a huge deal to give someone notes they missed. Most people type them and all they have to do is copy and paste it into an e-mail. But it’s still a bit out of the way of their normal activity.

So I buy them Sonic gift cards and a thank you card. It’s not much, but it’s more than an obligatory “thanks” under the breath and then being moved on from.

Hillary and I also try to do this when someone watches Dobby for us. We’re rarely gone for more than 24-36 hours, so all we need is someone to come let him out to go to the bathroom a few times, and eat once or twice until we get back. I’t never for very long, and it doesn’t take much, but we’re still incredible thankful for the people who have been bale to do it for us over the past year.

So we buy them Sonic gift cards. Again, it’s not much but we want people to know how thankful we are.

We’re working more and more to make thankfulness and gratitude a part of who we are.

More often than not though, there’s a bit of resistance from the person we’re thanking. I even got made fun of by mutual friends of someone who took notes for me. I got made fun of for trying to show appreciation. It blows my mind.

Like I said, we’re just now working to make this a part of who we are and we’re by no means perfect at it, or do it every time we should. But we’re working at it.

Being intentionally thankful about some things has made me aware of all the things I have to be thankful for. I’m willing to bet it can do the same for you.

I’f you’ve go a Case of the Mondays right now, I’d challenge you to think about how thankful and grateful you are on a regular basis. Spend some time thinking of the things people have done for you lately and make time to actually thank them in some way shape or from. When you start making thankfulness a part of your daily routine you might be surprised at all the things you have to be thankful for.


What’s the most memorable thanks you’ve ever gotten? How can you “pay it forward” to someone else?


Grace & Peace,


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Posted by on July 22, 2013 in Cases of Mondays


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