Morning Gratitude #29

The reason I do this in the morning is that it’s the time of day I feel the least grateful for anything. Consequently I sometimes have to really dig deep to come up with things I’m thankful for.

I know that sounds bad, because there are honestly tons of things I should be grateful for, but I think it’s human nature to complain sometimes. It’s certainly my nature.

But I’m not going to indulge that nature this morning.

I’m grateful to have stopped getting involved in political discussions on social media; I’m not going to change anyone’s mind about anything and I’m sure lots of people already think I’m a jerk. No need to prove it again.

I’m grateful for YouTube, because I love live music and you can always find a concert.

I’m grateful for alone time with my wife when I can get it because she’s my best friend and we both have careers and very active Boyz (you have to spell it like that) who need involved parents.

I’m grateful my church has a home now, and grateful to have a pastor who is a really good man with a really great Mrs. The Mondragon family are terrific people and you should stop by TRC and meet them sometime.

Morning Gratitude #28

Recently I was in touch with my cousin, Laura Wilkins Lang, via Facebook and email. She’s sort of the Wilkins family historian, and I’m so grateful to be back in touch with her because it shined quite a bit of light on the Wilkins family tree. I’ve also been able to add my own little branch, and that’s pretty cool as well. Wilkins people back to the 1600’s on the East Coast, including Vermont and Salem, Mass.

Just received a couple more emails over the weekend with some service record stuff from my dad. So interesting!

Morning Gratitude #27

We’ve got a busy day today, but I’m grateful for the busyness. We get to worship at TRC, and then head to El Centro for a PopWarner playoff game. If the kids win this one and one more, they head to Nationals. It’s a very exciting time.

John got a second stripe on his belt last week for taekwondo. He’s also been teaching himself a little piano by copying his big brother, who also can play drums.

I’m grateful that God gave us such talented and resourceful boys.

I’m grateful that a little adversity has also moved us to change a few life things around, which is working toward making a huge difference. 

I’m super grateful for those gentle nudges from God that will turn into shoves when we need them to.

Morning Gratitude #25

This being Veterans Day weekend I thought I’d share something about a Marine I knew a little over a decade ago. I only knew him for a few months, but his testimony had a large impact on my life and very grateful and honored to have known him no matter how briefly.

His name was Tim and he had been, I believe, a scout/sniper. He’d left service on a medical discharge. He’d been diagnosed with cancer, which progressed rapidly through the stages. I met him on the final stage.

He was the roommate and friend of a guy I met in a small group I’d attended at my old church in San Diego. Tim was not a person of faith at the time, but the guy in my small group constantly witnessed to him, praying for a thief on the cross type of encounter with Jesus for him.

I was blessed to be there when it happened, he’d finally agreed to come to church and he’d brought his girlfriend. I remember the sermon was about the giants we face in our lives, and Pastor Mike was especially passionate.

When Tim and his girl came in I remember he was so frail. They played the Casting Crowns song “The Voice of Truth,” which talks a great deal about facing giants, during the invitational time and Tim stood suddenly and began to slowly walk down the aisle.

A few of us got together and prayed for him. I remember when we laid our hands on him he felt hot, and you could feel many of the tumors.

He’d gone down the aisle weakly, but when he walked back to his seat he was no longer doing it only on his own power and he was strong.

In the time he had left, Tim did a lot of things, including getting deeper into his relationship with Christ. The details of those things don’t matter to me as much as being there when he made the largest step of his life.

I’ll remember his shaky walk to the altar the rest of my life, and how confident his stride was on the way out. I’m so grateful I knew him.

The voice of truth…

Morning Gratitude #24

At first I wasn’t grateful I forgot to turn off my alarm today. We’re off for Veterans Day and I’m tired enough to sleep for a couple days. But it went off, and here I am, unable to go back to sleep.

It gave ample time to think. Which is probably part of the problem. Still, it’s not fatigue I’m thinking about now.

I’m thinking another week went by and I made it. I feel ok.

I’m thinking I’m laying in a pretty cozy bed and my flux capacitor is still fluxing.

I’m thinking no one is making sleep noises for once, so that means they’re all sleeping pretty well.

I’m thinking it was cool to pick up my kid from football practice for once last night.

I’m thinking I had a good week.


I was just thinking about Mark 9, where Jesus is about to cast an unclean spirit from a boy who has been inhabited by it for years. Jesus has just seen the boy convulsing and asks: “How long has this been happening to him?”
The boy’s father answers “since childhood,” and explains a little more about the nature of his affliction. Then he asks Jesus “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”

Jesus responds “’If you can?’ All things are possible for one who believes.”
The father realizes who he’s talking to and says, “I believe! Help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:20-24)

I think that’s how we are with gratitude sometimes. Our kids are ungrateful, and we throw up our hands. Or we’re ungrateful if the circumstances aren’t to our liking. We tell ourselves we don’t have anything to be grateful for, because life is too hard.

Sometimes it is hard, and in those times it can be difficult to feel gratitude. And we forget what we believe and who we believe in.

That happened to me over the past few months, and one day it occurred to me to say “I believe, help my unbelief.” Or perhaps said another way, “I’m grateful, help my lack of gratitude.” Which really means help my selfishness.
God has been allowing me to know I have plenty to be grateful for.


Life can and will be extremely hard at times. Sometimes things are profoundly dire, and it can seemingly go on forever. It can eat up the years, and what we are left with sometimes is a crappy attitude and a huge pile of years and wounds and lies we believe about God.

Then we have Joel 2:25, which is not exactly the most commonly used verse of encouragement in scripture. But God has promised restoration. “I will repay you for the years the locust has eaten…”

Belief can be restored.

Gratitude can be restored.

The vast pile of years, destroyed by the locusts of life and littering your life with desiccated corpses, can be restored.

Not by you, man. Not by anything you’ve done.

By God.

Years don’t magically return. You’re still old, and you’ve still had a rough life. Restoration is not the same as returned.

He will restore to us the years the locust has eaten. We can look forward instead of behind.

All things are possible for one who believes.

Morning Gratitude #23

When I woke up this morning, the first thing I thought of to be grateful for when I got out of bed was that my feet didn’t hurt. Courtesy of a couple bone spurs, I usually have a fair amount of discomfort when I stand up in the morning, but not today. I suppose a little foot pain is what I get for being a giant.

I’m grateful that it’s cool out. I’ve been done with this summer for quite a while.

I’m grateful my wife constantly spurs me on in every way, and never grows weary of doing good.


Morning Gratitude #22

Not really thinking clearly this morning, but I can sleep on the way to work, I guess. Anyway, this is another one of those days where I need to think a little about feeling grateful. That’s ok, it gets my mind going in the appropriate direction.

Today I’m grateful God provides for my family in ways I’m not capable.

I’m grateful my little guy was reading a book last night.

I’m grateful my older boy is creeping toward the end of a winning football season and is still humble.

I’m very grateful I had 16 and 18 years with my parents, respectively. Having spent some time fostering, I really appreciate that.

I’m going to think on these things during my work day—which is better than sucking down caffeine and whining.

Because no matter the situation, God is still good and the day still a blessing.