Hidden Humanity

In light of the recent shooting in Santa Fe, TX… and closer to home, a friend who took his own life this week, I am challenged once more to let more people whom I love know that I don’t expect them to be perfect. I don’t need them to have it all together for me. I will love them for them… as they are… with all their faults, flaws and imperfections… because I’ve got my own fair share.

I know it’s hard to pull the masks off sometimes. So we have to push beyond the masks on those we love to see them fully and then love them deeply anyway. Isn’t that what God has done for us? Scripture says that while we were still sinners… messed up, imperfect, at odds with God… He loved us and decided to do what it took to let us be a part of His family.

Let’s let those around us today know that it’s safe to be genuine… raw… authentic… and real with us… even if that is less than perfect. Let’s let them know we love them and that we are for them. Let’s get behind the masks and love even their hidden humanity!

Are You Winning?

Early on in our marriage, PR31 and I adopted a rule that said if one of us took a big stand that we were right about an issue and we’re later found to be wrong, we had to say out loud to the other person, “You were right, and I was wrong.”

I hated it when I discovered to be wrong and I had to utter those words. It happened more than once… to my own embarrassment. Each time, I felt like the Fonz from Happy Days or Vinnie Barbarino from Welcome Back Kotter… barely able to utter the second part of the statement. It didn’t take me long to learn that my relationship with PR31 mattered more to me than trying to prove my mental prowess.

You see, sometimes being kind is better than being right. And your response to that statement depends on how you define winning.

“Winning at any cost” to some means they will sacrifice relationships and people to accomplish their goals. To others, it means setting aside some of their personal desires or doing without certain things to be able to preserve relationships. (I choose the latter, if you care to know.)

I obviously don’t mind sharing my opinion… I write this blog. But there comes a point for me where arguing and debating an issue ceases to have as much value when I realize that I could wound a person long-term or degrade them publicly and lose their friendship. I have been in arguments I could have won based on my knowledge of the facts, and yet would have lost a relationship that really mattered to me in the process. So I chose to lose… in order to win.

You may be right. You don’t have to let anyone know you’re right. You can keep that little fact to yourself, and it will all come out in the wash. In the meantime, you’ll keep a friend both now and later.

Priorities reveal our true definition of winning. What you make important makes an impact… one way or another.

Choose kindness… What is right will eventually become clear, and you just might retain a relationship that you’ll be glad you didn’t lose.

The Drive-By

I slowed the minivan to a crawl as we passed the house… slow enough for PR31 to look up the driveway into the garage and case the situation. “Nope, doesn’t look like there’s much there. Let’s go to the next one.” So, we did the drive-by, and headed for our next target.

A couple neighborhoods down the road from us a mile or two have an annual neighborhood-wide garage sale. This year, about 15-20 homes participated in the sale. It was a last-minute decision for us to try to hit some of the sales. The weather was cooler than normal, and there had been a few sprinkles of rain that morning. We didn’t get out till about 10:00am, which is hours too late to get the good stuff at a garage sale, but a great time to slip up on someone ready to give up and get rid of stuff at rock bottom prices. And since we had to go into town to run a few errands anyway, we figured we would have some fun and hit some sales.

The problem was that the rain had caused most of the families to move all the items they were selling into their garages. Now, you would probably think that this is no big deal. But you would be wrong. Psychologically, in my humble opinion as a garage sale expert, most people would prefer a “yard sale” to a “garage sale.” We want to be able to pull up near your house, cast a glance up the driveway, and determine from the comfort of our own vehicle if you have anything that looks of value enough for us to stop, park the vehicle, unbuckle, get out of the vehicle and walk the steps that it would take to get us to the desirable items in question. If we can’t see the merchandise available… or if it just looks like a bunch of clothes and videotapes instead of tools, electronics, sports gear, furniture and antiques… we will probably do “the drive-by.”

Now, to be fair here, we could have cost ourselves several great deals on some really cool stuff that Saturday… just because we weren’t willing to stop long enough to invest some time and interest looking into what people had to offer. It could absolutely have been our loss. People could have had the very things we were looking for, but we will never know because we did “the drive-by.”

Here’s the thing, in life lots of people do the exact same thing… just with people instead of garage sales. We look at someone and try to quickly evaluate whether or not we want to take the time and effort required to invest in a relationship. And while quality relationships should be more about what we can offer than what we can get from the other person, too often we do “the drive-by” because we don’t think there is anything positive in that person that is worth us stopping.

Look, sometimes we strike out at a garage sale… or with a person when we stop and “take a chance.” But sometimes we get surprised with a great bargain for a minor investment of ourselves.

Jesus was no “drive-by” kind of guy. He would stop at every person possible to see if He could connect with them, offer them love… or healing… or hope. And so many times He was rewarded by a new-found follower or friend. Sure, He struck out with some of His stops, but that didn’t cause Him to shift into “drive-by” mode. He just kept stopping and checking to see the value in people.

Sadly, too often I have been in “drive-by” mode with people. I’m sure I’ve missed out on some great friendships simply because I didn’t stop to see the value in those people. I’m not proud of it… just stating a sad fact. But I don’t want to live like that. I want to be like Jesus… stopping at every person… looking them square in the eyes… smiling… and seeing their value. I want to make it home to Heaven at the end of this life and show the Lord all the great finds I came across during my time on this planet.

So, if you wanna “drive-by” a garage sale, that’s one thing, but let’s all strive to stop when it comes to people!


We would accomplish so much more in life, and make greater impact. It’s what Jesus did… and people saw that He was different because of it. It made them love Him, appreciate Him, and follow Him. People have value simply because they exist… created by God, in His image… loved by Him.

What if we just esteemed people more and demeaned them less?

Alexa vs. Daddy

We homeschool our boys. Let me re-phrase that. PR31 teaches them, and I occasionally substitute or help out in a bind.

However, when it comes to foreign languages, I’m the guy. So when Austin recently decided he wanted to include Spanish, I was introduced as the new Spanish teacher. This is partly because I took 2 years of Spanish in junior high, and partly because I grew up in the Houston, Texas area. Obviously, I’m well-qualified to teach first-grade level Spanish.

Our classes have been going really well. In fact, they’ve been going better than expected, and Austin is really learning quickly. It’s been fun to see him pick it up and become confident in what he has learned.

In fact, the other day, Austin was trying to explain to Angela how to say a certain word. He wanted to make sure he was saying it right, and so he asked Alexa (the Amazon Echo lady) how to pronounce the word in Spanish. Alexa replied, but with a different word than we had learned. Austin just shrugged her off and replied, “That’s not right… that’s not what Daddy taught me.” And with that, he walked off to find the flash card so he could tell Angela what “the truth” was.

When I heard the story from PR31, it occurred to me that this is the way we ought to respond when the enemy of our souls… or others… or even our own thoughts try to accuse us or bring us down. We need to say the same thing as Austin… “That’s not right… that’s not what my Daddy (God)taught me.” We need to apply to ourselves what God has said about us in His Word & tell anyone or anything that disagrees with it that they are just wrong. Then walk away, and find what we know to be true.

Dessert Imposters

Our family loves to watch Kids Baking Championship on The Food Network. About a dozen kids between the ages of nine to twelve from across the U. S. (& one from Canada this season) compete on the weekly show to see which kid will be crowned best kid baker in the nation.

One of the shows challenges which has become a tradition is “dessert imposters.” It involves the kids each using baked goods to create an identical look-alike to a meal from a theme given by the hosts. Like every challenge, there is a twist thrown in along the way to make the kids up their game just a little more. Some of the dessert imposters are easily spotted as fakes… not looking much like the real thing at all. Others are amazingly life-like replicas. Some even taste good.

But what struck me tonight is how how hard those kids work to create something fake. I know that’s the assignment for that part of the competition. It’s just crazy that it takes as much… or maybe even more… effort to produce a fake as it would to create the real thing.

And I wonder how many people are doing the same thing in their lives… working like crazy to create an imposter of what they think a real, successful life looks like. I wonder how different their life would be if they applied that same amount of effort at being their real self… genuine and authentic. What if they quit using filters on every picture of themselves? What if they didn’t pad their résumé with those carefully researched words they know employers are looking for? What if they used social media to be sincere and to encourage others?

I guess we all have some room for improvement in this area. I know the struggle is real to retain our integrity when it feels like we need to make ourselves sound like more. But why must we create imposters of ourselves?

We are each created by God, in His image. He loves us and values us as original masterpieces. None of our efforts to make ourselves look better than we are… or to look like someone else… are impressive to Him.

Truth be told, when our efforts are tested and prove that we are not what we tried to make ourselves look like, it’s not impressive to anyone else either. So, again I ask… why apply all the effort to crafting a fake us when, with the same amount of effort applied, we could make the original us shine.

So I’m calling on all of us today to take one significant step toward being less fake and toward being authentic. Maybe it’s only one social media post. Maybe it’s an interview. Maybe it’s a conversation with someone you find yourself starting to love. Whatever the case, let’s be real. Let’s skip the imposter round… regardless of how sweet it may sound

Do What You Do

I love to see someone do what they do best…

* Michael Jordan or Lebron James playing basketball.

* Drew Brees or Tom Brady playing quarterback in football.

* Duff Goldman making cakes.

* Bob Villa or Chip Gaines remodeling a house.

You know, God gave each of us special abilities to do something well. Doing that thing fills us with joy and fulfillment… and others love watching us do it because it inspires them.

In Scripture, when God wanted to manage a multi-national food crisis, he picked Joseph. When He wanted someone to lead His people out of bondage to the Promised Land, He picked Moses. When He wanted someone to protect His people, He picked David.

And when He wanted someone to build the place He would express His presence among His people, He chose Bezalel and Oholiab. Not only were they “skilled,” “expert,” and “master craftsmen,” God had also given them, “the ability to teach their skills to others.” In today’s terms, they would have had the skills and a YouTube channel to show the rest of us how to do it right.

You’re no different. God has given you abilities and skills which others watch in amazement. Don’t underestimate yourself because what you do is not what someone else does. Moses was a leader, Aaron was a priest and Joshua was a warrior, but none of them even came close to being the master craftsmen that Bezalel and Oholiab were.

So get out there, and do what you do. Wow the rest of us. And while you’re at it, why don’t you start a YouTube channel so the rest of us could learn a thing or two from you?

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