On this day I want to give thanks for the many people and parts of my journey.
I give thanks to my paternal grandparents, Wallace and Ada, from whom I learned the values of love, joy, and integrity; love from their devotion and service to one another through more than 55 years of marriage, joy from their ability to appreciate and relish in the beauty of life, whether flowers, vegetables, fruits, or children and grandchildren, they always gave and worked so that life would be sustained, and finally integrity from their devotion to their word. I know countless stories to them giving, offering, and providing through many season of their life.
I also give thanks to my maternal grandparents, Ralph and June, from whom I learned love, hard work, and service; love, again from their devotion and service to one another through more than 60 years of marriage, hard work from their love of work and their insistence on doing a job well, and service from their hospitality towards friends, family, and visitors.
I give thanks to my parents, Larry and Marilyn, for raising me to understand hard work and live a good life. They helped me to travel and see much of our country. My dad instilled a love of nature and wilderness into me; an appreciation and respect for God’s creation. My mother gave me a loving, gentle, and compassionate spirit that enables me to connect and touch the hearts and lives of many people.
I give thanks to my friends from many seasons of life. Joshua, for always making me laugh and having good time. We’ve enjoyed many aspects of life–even the hard times. Cody, for being a kindred spirit from whom I was separated at birth. A man who has finished more of my sentences than I care to admit. A man who sparks a desire in me to see people come alive. Joel, who encourages me to be risky and live fully alive–to put my hope, trust, and faith in God so that I may conquer mountains. Joe for being a man of the book. A man dedicated to knowing the truth of God’s word and standing with a backbone of steel when it has been found.
I also give thanks to many groups, ministries, and organizations who have been influential in my life. The guys of first floor Vawter 2004, thanks for many great poker games and sleepless nights of video games. :) Thanks to the guys of VTcru’s Authentic Manhood. You set an example that will stick with me the rest of my life. Thanks to everyone from YNP Summer Project 2005. You set the definition of community in my life. We had great times and I’ll remember them always. Thanks to everyone at Focus on the Family Institute (Focus Leadership Institute, Spring 2007), my worldview was shaped strongly by the institute and I am forever grateful to the knowledge and friendships obtained. Thanks to everyone at Summit Ministries (Summer and Fall 2007). My definition of a Christian’s involvement in academics, the world, and community was furthered by you. I desire to change the world because you gave me the confidence to break the current status quo of American Christianity. Thanks to New Heights church for giving me a great example of an active, involved, spirit-driven, church. Thanks to G42 for empowering me to a dangerous life. A life not controlled by legalism or comfort, but set free in grace and truth.This list could go on and on and on. I have many people rushing through my head and I pray you know, even if not mentioned by name, I remember you, am thankful for you, and cherish our time together.
Most of all, thanks be to God who loves me, adores me, is proud of me, and delights in me. Without him I, literally, would not be here.