Blogging the Presbyterian Church in America’s General Assembly: “I remember when…”

I’ll be attending next week’s (June 17-20, 2014) PCA General Assembly in Houston, TX. It is the denomination’s 42nd such gathering and this year’s theme is “Proclaim Christ, Disciple the Nations” and was chosen by the host presbytery’s in Houston. The Houston Metro and Korean Southern are the local hosts and they report that Houston officially has 70 countries represented in the metro area of southeast Texas. There are 32 PCA churches in this area and most are Korean.

My first PCA GA was in 1976 in Greenville, SC and was the denomination’s fourth such gathering. Lots of things have changed since then. I was a young campus staff member with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship working at Georgia Tech, LaGrange College and a few other colleges and was a member of a PCA Church. I had joined First Presbyterian Church, Chattanooga, while in college at UTC in 1972. So, I was in that church when we voted to leave the PCUS and help start this new denomination. While working with IVCF in Florida, Georgia and Wisconsin, I was an associate member of two PCA churches and one PCUSA church, respectively.

So, I attended that 4th GA representing InterVarsity with a table to promote our college student and faculty ministry and the huge Urbana Student Missionary Convention we sponsored in December that year. I have three rather vivid memories from that event.

One, I arrived early to set up my table with IVP books, Urbana brochures and flyers on our ministry to college students in the Southeast. Some friends at InterVarsity Press had learned of my participation at the event and offered me some plastic InterVarsity Bags to give out at the event. So, I had a car trunk full of these shiny white bags with logos all over it and a nice handle. The idea of bags at conventions and trade shows was a very new innovation and not as common as it is now. I went to the registration table and observed all of the material that folks were being asked to carry. I talked to the woman managing the process and said that I had all these bags that we’d be happy to provide for all of the commissioners. She was thrilled! And so was IVCF Regional Director Pete Hammond when he showed up at the event the next day wondering what I had done to get everyone to be a walking advertisement for our ministry. That experience became a career changing experience for me later on and I moved into public relations and media work.

My second memorable experience happened a couple of nights later. I was driving to my motel (Day’s Inn) after a long day of talking to pastors about college ministry and went through the parking lot of a large shopping center where there happened to be a movie theater. I saw a man in a suit, carrying a raincoat and what looked like two or three newspapers walking across the lot headed toward the theater. I thought he looked familiar, so, I circled back and was pretty sure it was Rev. Ben Haden my pastor from Chattanooga who had a growing presence on radio and TV with his sermons on the “Changed Lives” program. I thought this was a good opportunity to visit with Ben. First Pres. was a major supporter of my ministry and Ben was always intrigued by the university world. It would be fun to talk with him.

Ben had already gone into the theater by the time I parked and walked to the ticket window. This was a duplex theater with two screens (another that’s changed dramatically since 1976). I asked the girl at the window if she remembered for what movie the man in the suit had just bought a ticket. She said, “Yes. Who is he?” I said that he was a well-known preacher from Chattanooga and a friend of mine. And I bought a ticket for the same movie and went inside. This was a massive theater by today’s standards and it was a weeknight. There were probably 12 people in a room that would seat 400.

Am I really going to do this? I walked down the aisle to where Ben was sitting and asked, “Is this seat taken?” He immediately looked up in wonder about who wants to sit here when there are hundreds of empty seats and then burst into laughter when he recognized that it was me. I sat down and we were able to chat during the movie without disturbing the sparse crowd watching the original “The Bad News Bears” with us! I eventually drove Ben back to his hotel and we sat in my car and talked about people, lawyers, newspapers, the Gospel and our callings. In the years that followed whenever I saw Ben, especially in a crowd, that story would surface and he would laugh at my “Is this seat taken?” question in an empty theater. Ben loved a good story and this became one of his favorites.

Finally, the third memory from the Greenville gathering (although this one is a bit fuzzy and may have occurred the following year in Smyrna, GA) was sitting in the balcony of a church beside R.C. Sproul during some business proceedings and a worship service. Non-commissioners were relegated to the balcony and that included Dr. Sproul even though he had spoken to the assembly. During the previous winter, I had enjoyed the privilege of attending a weekend conference at R.C.’s Ligonier Valley (PA) Study Center. He was an emerging leader in reformed theological circles with an aptitude for contemporary issues that made his study center (with a growing archive of resources modeled after Francis Schaeffer’s L’Abri community in Switzerland) the secret landing spot for political figures like Chuck Colson who were looking for theological answers to some of life’s hard questions. My conference experience was a rare and intimate time with a man who gave me confidence that Christianity could withstand any intellectual or scholarly pursuit. He also impressed me as a man deeply humbled by the grace given to him and he was as surprised as anyone about his love for debate and philosophical endeavor along with doctrine and theology. And he loved golf. I, also, got to see him co-teach with his wife Vesta on marriage and family. Again, a rare and special treat to have been at his home in Pennsylvania and now to sit beside him at GA. His annotations and quick-witted observations, salted with quotes from theologians of the past made for an entertaining session at the meeting.

I’m not sure what memories I’ll take from this upcoming assembly, but I do expect to have them. I’ll be representing my church Intown Community Church and the Metro Atlanta Presbytery as a commissioner and a member of PCA Retirement & Benefits Committee. My last GA participation was in the Lone Star state, too, when the denomination met in Dallas in 2008. My strongest memory of that experience was spending the last 24 hours of the meeting with a terrible case of food poisoning and getting to meet Dr. Marvin “Cub” Culbertson and receiving his wonderful care and friendly doctor advice: what a gentle and loving spirit.

Look for my reports from Houston.

Cardiac Rehab – Chapter 10 – My February 7, 2013 Reflection

I have been reading “Sabbatical Journey: The Diary of His Final Year” by Henri Nouwen over the past three months. I have felt a strong connection with Henri for a few years, but I’ve recently felt an even greater kinship since getting to know his close friend Nathan Ball and also having a heart attack as Henri did twice and eventually died from the second attack in 1996.

Henri didn’t know that his sabbatical year was going to be his last on earth. He had written and published journal-style books a couple of times previously. Both “The Road to Daybreak” and “The Inner Voice of Love” were diaries of significant times in his life. Henri always wrote. And his interaction with God and others has made for instructional and inspirational reading for many, many people.

I have the feeling that I need to write for publication. I’m not sure if it’s because of my exposure to Nouwen and experiencing his books so profoundly or because writing comes naturally. I am able to share from my heart so readily. I have thought about turning my heart attack experience into a book.

It’s possible that my heart attack was a catalyst to get me to listen to God’s voice that has been calling me to write for some months, years. As I’ve mentioned before, there is a certain freedom that comes from a near death experience that I had only theorized about in the past. We all tend to theorize about life’s “what if’s.” If I won the lottery, I would…. The truth comes when we have the fulfillment of one of those “what if” scenarios.

I started a book in the summer of 2011 and had the manuscript pretty well completed by the beginning of 2012. I had asked a few friends to read it and received some good feedback, but the publishing process had stalled out, as I had no sense of urgency.

Sacred Heart Attack 2: Rehab – Chapter 9 – “What about all of that running?”

It was about two and a half weeks after my heart attack that I was talking to Lauren, RN with United Healthcare, about what had happened and how my recovery was going. The conversation was a bit of an odd experience. If you ever have a major illness or medical emergency, these days, a nurse from your insurance company will likely call you to see how you are doing and to offer suggestions. In my case, it was a welcomed voice in the midst of a rather quiet time of not doing anything, but waiting for my body to get stronger. {Of course, I was reading a bit and I had started journaling the events of Montreal that would eventually become my book Sacred Heart Attack.}

At some point in our conversation, I told RN Lauren about all of the running I had done over the last five years and being fairly active all of my life. She said that it was probably my running and the strength of my heart and lungs that allowed me to come through the heart attack. “Otherwise, you might not have survived,” she said.

I had heard some similar words from a nurse at Sacred Heart Hospital in Montreal. This reminded me of the fragility of life.

It was around this same time that I was talking to one of my good friends who had just seen an email from me regarding my experience of a heart attack. Milton had just found the email when he was looking through his junk mail folder before deleting the unwanted missives. I had sent him the email a couple of weeks earlier and he was traveling out of the country at that time, but when he saw my email he immediately sent me a text message. Then he called me on the phone to talk.

After I told Milton what had happened, he shared how he had just a few days earlier been in an ambulance with his brother-in-law who was having a heart attack as a result of blockage in the same artery where mine occurred. He said that unfortunately his brother-in-law didn’t make it. “Jimmy, if you had 100% blockage of your ‘widowmaker’ artery, you are unusually blessed, brother,” he said. “God must have something else for you to do.”

Milton’s words have rung in my ear for many days. As have the stories I’ve heard many times upon sharing my experience.

There’s always a decision I had to make during the first few weeks and months when I would see someone I hadn’t seen since January 9th. Do I mention my heart attack or not? Especially when someone asked, “So, what’s new?” or “How have you been?”

Because I knew that my story, however brief, would lead to more questions or a story from the other person’s life. Whether someone shared about their personal heart event or someone they knew, they would feel compelled to share a story, Sometimes the story was happy and sometimes sad, but ultimately my story would become connected to theirs.

I’ll talk about this more in future chapters, but one of the things that seems to be important is sharing my stories publicly through my website and books. Not that God has made my life as a writer easier or the decisions on publishing simpler. And that’s been frustrating! I remember when I was a young Christian thinking that since God probably wanted me to have a platform for sharing my faith and being successful would provide that opportunity, it will probably be easier for me to be successful. Obviously, I had a me-centered theology at that point. In fact, it’s pretty much the opposite for most of us. But what has changed is my willingness to take risks. I have an internal conviction that publishing is something I’m called to and must do. Having survived the worst-case scenario, gives me courage as long as I can lean into that place on a consistent basis. The tendency is to feel better and better until I forget that I almost died and begin to live in the fears and anxieties of “normal.”

Before I close this chapter, I’m happy to encourage folks to run, walk, and exercise because while we may not be able to change our DNA or genome codes, we can change our weight and the strength of our lungs and heart. So, if you believe that coronary heart disease may be in your future, eat less and walk more, my friend!

Cardiac Rehab: Chapter 7 – Chicken, Chili and Cornbread

I love receiving freshly cooked meals delivered to our door. It makes being under the weather just a bit easier to bear. And the visits with some of our closest friends during January and February made the food taste just that much better.

Food-Wine-3         Most folks had a few minutes to visit and usually started off by saying, “You look good. How do you feel?”

Remember: It’s hard for me to give a short answer. “I feel good, a bit tired, but happy to be home,” I said. “I find it hard to believe that I actually had a major heart attack,” I explained.

I remember a conversation with Dan and Debbie Gyger. They are some of our longtime friends through our church. Dan is an elder and residential contractor and had recently remodeled our kitchen, dining and living rooms. Debbie is an accomplished nurse and grew up in Brazil as part of a missionary family. They have three daughters and brought us some amazing tortilla soup and salad.

Jenny was not home from school yet, so I sat and talked with Dan and Deb. Being a nurse, Deb had pretty specific questions about where the blockage had been and what the doctors did. She instantly picked up on the seriousness of having a one-hundred percent blocked left anterior descending artery was and how close to death I had been. They were both very serious in their comments and thankfulness to God on my behalf. Dan prayed for Jenny, our family and me before they left.

I coughed through most of the conversation as I was still feeling the effects of my allergic reaction to Benazepril. Even though the cough was the result of a chemical reaction, it was like most every cough that took on a mind of its own whenever the air flowed through my throat. It was uncontrollable. So, the best way to quiet it was to close my mouth and calm myself. Of course, the cough made my visitors uncomfortable as they were thinking that they didn’t want to make things worse for me. Consequently, they didn’t want to linger and make me have to talk to them.

The gifts of food and the visits of friends was another example of how suffering is a catalyst for community. If we are willing to share our weakness and fragility with others, folks are eager to come to our aid. My friends Jean Vanier and Curt Armstrong of L’Arche have pointed this out many times. Namely, we should be more trusting of the human heart. As we trust and allow others to share in our weakness, we bring out the glory and essence of our brothers and sisters who have been made in the image of God. I found this to be true as friends shared their good food and acts of kindness with us in our time of need.

The Problem With Writing on Spiritual Topics: Everyone is an expert.

I started writing things that would be published when I was in junior high school. That was in the 1960s and junior high included grades 7 to 9. As you are probably aware, “middle school” effectively replaced junior high sometime in the 1980s in the United States. While middle school started popping up in the 1960s, it wasn’t the predominant structure for that transition from elementary or primary school to high school until probably 20 years later. Like the Middle Ages, middle school was a dark time when there’s lots of reviewing going on about things we’d learned in elementary school and lots of preparation going on for the important things we were going to learn in high school. There are still 1-8 schools, K-8 schools and a few junior high schools around, but the majority of schools are K-5, then 6-8 and finally 9-12.

Nonetheless, when I was in junior high we had a randomly published newspaper and “yearbook.” The reason I put yearbook in quotes is because it wasn’t the sort of annual or yearbook that most of us remember or see today. It was a smaller format with a card stock off-white cover that was saddle stitched (stapled) and everything was printed in black and white. I did a bit of writing for those publications. Then I became a “stringer” for the sports section of The Chattanooga Times and I was paid for the first time for my reporting. My job was to attend certain high school sporting events, keep statistics on each team and take notes on significant plays: like who scored points and, of course, who won the game. Sometimes I would get a quote from a player or coach. Then I would go home and call one of the writers or editors at the newspaper and tell him everything over the phone. What I reported to him would show up in the next day’s paper as “from staff reports” which my family and I knew was me. And I got paid for each game I reported on. I don’t remember how much I was paid, but it was real money.

Hixson High School - Herald Newspaper - Assistant Editor 1969-1970
Hixson High School – Herald Newspaper – Assistant Editor 1969-1970

In high school, I was on the newspaper staff as sports reporter, then sports editor, and in my senior year I was named assistant editor for the monthly publication. In that role I wrote editorial or opinion pieces for the newspaper. And that was the first time that I published an essay on a spiritual topic.

I’m going to skip ahead to when I was a news correspondent for Christianity Today. This was a freelance role separate from my fulltime jobs and I ended up usually reporting on events that happened to be occurring wherever I was living or that I happened to be attending. The primary challenge then was to remain objective when people or event leaders that I was writing about wanted me to be subjective and sympathetic to their position. The sentiment was, “we may be acting petty and self-centered, but we’re your brothers in Christ, so give us a break.”

And there it is. Whenever I write on spiritual topics, I know that someone is going to critique my theology, another person may question my application and, certainly, someone will find my practice suspect. The good news for me is that usually I’m writing about an experience or theme where my weakness, brokenness or human fragility is readily exposed. In fact, my imperfections may be the focal point.

So, why do I do it? Or, why does anyone write on a subject they know will be criticized?

I can’t speak for others, but I write on spiritual topics for a few reasons. Firstly (sorry for the British grammar), I write because I have to. I truly have an urge and need to process my life through writing. And after neglecting this need for a number of years, as I re-discovered the love of God over the past six years or so, I have a greater sense of urgency to write my life. It becomes a record of my past and a guide for my future. I feel God’s pleasure in it, too.

Secondly, as I share what I’ve written, those who read it tell me that they like what I say or it’s helpful and encourages them to do good things. There’s nothing like a phone call from someone who’s using my devotional book and saying that they were in tears before God that morning and wanted to tell me “well done.” It is thrilling for me to get word via social media or an email that my writing helped someone see their situation or God in a new and enlivening way. So, I’m motivated by the feedback and by helping people.

Thirdly, writing is a way that I connect my story with God’s larger story. Even in our brokenness, we each have a part to play in that larger story and if we don’t find a way no one will. This is my part. It’s important because it is connected to the Creator and expresses God’s essence placed in me. As C. S. Lewis wrote in The Weight of Glory, “You have never talked to a mere mortal.” Like Lewis, I believe we are eternal beings, and that the spiritual life is an eternal connection between our Creator and us. And that might be a fourth reason. I write and publish because it has eternal significance for all of us. That universality means that many of you may have an opinion or experience that conflicts with what I’ve written.

Sometimes that presents a problem to me. Do I want to write something that may be criticized? And that takes me back to the reasons that I write. Lately, my convictions about writing are stronger than my fear of being criticized. So, I’ll close with a final reason for writing that’s related to having the sense vividly imprinted on my heart that my life has been preserved for a purpose. Once we realize that today may be our last, choices come into focus rapidly. On most days, I’m going to choose to write. I hope you will choose to do what connects your story to God’s larger story. I long to see your glory lived out today.

Chapter 4 – Slow Motion: January 17, 2013

On Thursday, Jenny went back to work as a special education teacher at Tucker Middle School in Tucker, GA, an Atlanta suburb northeast of the city. It was her first day back at school after traveling to Montreal and bringing me back home. She wasn’t looking forward to the attention, but was happy to get it over with on Thursday even though she’d be staying home on Friday to take me to the cardiologist appointment. I wasn’t cleared to drive yet and Jenny wanted to understand more of what had happened and what we could do to prevent another heart attack.

One of our longtime friends and member of our church had already begun scheduling a meal to be prepared and delivered for us every other day. And she – Cindy Terrell – brought the first one the after we had returned from Canada. This would become a tremendous help to us as most folks would bring enough for more than one meal and there was just the two of us. Also, it allowed me to slowly re-connect with many families from our church and neighborhood. Cindy had planned meals for about the next four weeks which coincided with my orders to not work for the 30 days.

As friends would drop off a meal I would replay the events of early January in a linear fashion. Beginning with the question, “Why were you in Montreal?”

And the explanation and Q and A went on for a few minutes until my cough began to interrupt our conversation too severely.

For the first couple of days everything was in slow motion. I had a bit of soreness from the whole experience of the procedures and sleeping in five different beds in a five-day span. Truthfully, I would be in slow motion for a few weeks! And mentally and emotionally I was trying to get my bearings and figure out what all of this meant and how my life was going to change.

Spiritually, I was grateful and I had a growing appreciation for God’s protection and life-preserving love that had given me a thumbs-up as my heart attack had played out before him.



Chapter 3 — In Search of a Cardiologist

I’m not sure how many hours I slept last night, but I was eager to get up and get started in finding a cardiologist. Jenny and I both made calls to Emory Clinic doctors. I called Dr. Donald Davis, my internist and primary care physician, to let him know about my surprise heart attack and to ask him for a recommendation to a cardiologist. His nurse responded with a “glad you’re okay” and no particular recommendation, but a blanket recommendation of any of the Emory cardiologists.

Jenny talked to her cardiologist who said that he could see me next week. I held out for someone to see me this week. So, we contacted the general cardiology department at Emory and were offered an appointment for Friday with Dr. Wissam Jaber at Emory Midtown which used to be Crawford Long Hospital. We took it and continued doing research. My friend Joe Hope had touched base with me and had said that his neighbor was a cardiologist at another hospital and he could ask him for a favor if I wanted. Ultimately, I declined in favor of staying in the Emory system for this initial visit and then we’d decide about ongoing care.

That would turn out to be the right decision for a surprising number of reasons. Dr. Jaber went to med school at American University in Beirut, Lebanon and then had residency at Duke University Medical Center and The Mayo Clinic. He was fairly new to Emory Healthcare and I would come to know – fluent in French. So, at our first appointment on Friday he could read that summary notes that my Dr. Guy Lalonde, my Montreal cardiologist, had written in English as well as all of the notes and write ups from other members of the medical team that were written in French. This was truly evidence of God’s sovereignty in our daily lives and a significant encouragement to me in my desire to begin understanding the sacredness of my journey toward rehab and improvement.

In the midst of a growing realization that “yes” in the largest sense I was “OK”, but that I was forever changed and my body could fail me, the signs of God’s love and care were often like flashing lights on a roadside barricade reminding me that he was still aware of my journey. This was comforting to know as my cough and sleeplessness would persist.

Sacred Journey: Heart and Soul Rehabilitation. Chapter 1 – January 15, 2013

While Jenny drove Jameson back to the airport, I started thinking about being home and the profound gratitude I felt for God, Jenny and Jameson. I was particularly thankful that nothing crazy happened in our return flight from Montreal.

This was the morning of January 15, 2013 as I sat in a wheelchair at Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport waiting for our flight to Atlanta.
This was the morning of January 15, 2013 as I sat in a wheelchair at Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport waiting for our flight to Atlanta.

So, I could report to Dr. Guy Lalonde – the cardiologist who oversaw my care at Sacred Heart Hospital of Montreal after my heart attack on January 9, 2013 – that we had a smooth experience returning to Atlanta and my house and bed. And by bed I meant one of our beds, chairs or couches.

You see, I had two anxieties staring me in the face: 1) Would I be able to sleep and rest? 2) How soon could I get in to see a cardiologist to change my blood pressure medicine that contained benazepril that was causing me to cough? You see, while in the hospital in Montreal I had forgotten that I was allergic to benazepril. I had discovered this a couple of years ago when my internist at the Emory Clinic had prescribed some blood pressure medicine for me and I developed a cough. This was in my file at Emory Healthcare, but not in my brain’s memory file when I was asked “Are you allergic to anything?” by the Sacred Heart nurses and doctors.

It had been several years since I had been examined by a cardiologist, so, one of the first orders of business would be to let my primary care physician, Dr. Donald Davis, know what had happened. I would ask him for a referral to an Emory cardiologist who could see me as soon as possible.

Of course, there was also the lingering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms that tended to add a layer of urgency to everything I thought or felt.

As I pondered what the rest of the week might look like, I began to realize that I was tired and sleep deprived.

I got up from the dining room table and slowly walked upstairs to our son Justin’s room where I’d likely sleep tonight. Justin lives in Dallas, so his room was available. I pulled the bedspread and sheet back and then went to gather some pillow options for putting together something to simulate a hospital bed, albeit much softer and more comfortable.

I walked back downstairs and took the three pills that were part of my daily regime. At the same time, I was pretty sure that one of these pills was propagating my persistent cough. The dry cough would become a governor to my conversations over the next few weeks and it could’ve been avoided had my memory been sharper a few days earlier. These kinds of “if only” questions can paralyze us if we let them. I’m not above feeling some regret about past mistakes or poor choices, but it would become clear that timing was critical in my cardiologist choice and I may not have reached out for help with such a sense of urgency had I not had this allergic reaction to the benazepril. So, perhaps we will see if my memory lapse doesn’t have a positive result in the days ahead.

Signed copies of Heart Journey and Sacred Heart Attack available for purchase

While I’m working on a process for online ordering for signed copies of my two books, you can email me to order a signed copy.



A softcover version of Sacred Heart Attack signed by the author and mailed to you in the USA is $14.00 per copy. The hardcover version with dustcover and autographed by the author, mailed via USPS to you in the USA is $28.00. Email me at jimmy(at) for ordering information.



The prices are slightly higher for Heart Journey as the mailing costs are higher because the book is larger and heavier. So, the softcover is $15.00 and includes personalized signing by the author and mailed to you via USPS in the USA. The hardcover is $29.00 and is also signed and shipped via USPS. The hardcover is a glossy full-color finished book with no dustcover. This was designed as a devotional book you can write your own reflections in for future use. Again, just email me at jimmy(at) to learn how you can purchase your signed copy.

Of course, you can always order both books in multiple formats, including ebooks, from or or or your favorite book selling website.

Be inspired and share your story!

I See You

Family Gathering Story Time – How to share a bit more with those closest to you

Again this Thanksgiving we hosted a gathering of 20-plus family and friends for conversation, eating, giving thanks and sharing stories. It has been my conviction for a few years that with a bit of gentle prodding and an advance heads-up, most of us wouldn’t mind sharing more of our personal stories. And that’s been my approach for three years in a row and the results have been heart-warming, awkward and profound.

Last year, we each shared something that we were thankful for from each decade of our lives. Several folks came with notes in hand from which to share memories going back 20-70 years! New dimensions of our past and each other were realized and appreciated. Lots of tears were shed and there were impromptu hugs and pats on the back. You can read about the experience in my post called “Epic Thanksgiving” from 12 months ago.

The assignment this year was to share more of a story or scene that gave a snapshot of a day or event. Something significant that made us thankful and appreciative of another person or group. My niece had been proposed to and became engaged in the past two months, so, I suggested to her and her fiancé that they might want to share about that day at the beach that some of us had heard snippets about, but didn’t know the whole story.

My sister led off with a story about being able to spend a lot of time with our grandfather while growing up and learning about life on a farm, grooming and riding horses and how she now cherishes lots of great memories.

That was followed by the aforementioned “popping the question at the beach” story from my niece and her betrothed. It was a great story with humor and drama and the loving interplay between siblings and parents.

And then guess what happened? All of the twenty-something kin started asking questions about how the married couples in the room met and got engaged. So, for the next hour we heard of the first encounters, secret crushes and eventual marriages of most everyone in the room.

Truly, these are the patchwork quilts of our lives that we see with new clarity as we hear our stories and those of our siblings, children and friends.

Last Sunday I wrote a note in my pocket memo book that simply said: Desire to be special. I don’t remember now what was being preached, but it triggered that thought in me. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by Satan, all of the temptations (and they were real) had something to do with Jesus giving into the desire to be spectacular or to do something spectacular, and to take a shortcut toward that recognition.

We all want to be seen. If you’ve seen the movie Avatar, you may remember the greeting by the Na’vi tribe members of “I see you” which meant that I see into you or I see who you really are. Perhaps it means I see more of you than meets the eye or I see your heart.

I can honestly say that as a result of our Thanksgiving story time I see more of who each of my family are. By knowing more of their story, I understand our connectedness with each other and with God’s Larger Story. I don’t share the Na’vi belief that God is all of us, but I do believe that God is at work in all of us and that the more I know of God the more I appreciate you and your story. I want to see you and the way I can see who you really are is through hearing your story.

Share your story and ask others to tell you their story. You’ll see differently.