Monthly Archives: December 2011

No Winter X-Games for me

I’m not the best at snowboarding.  Actually that puts it lightly; I’m bad at snowboarding.  I’ve been coming up to the mountains to ski my entire life.  One would think that since I can ski well, I could also just “pick up” snowboarding.

Don’t be mislead like me.  You can’t.

If you know me than you know these two things: I don’t like being bad at something and I’m competitive.  Believe it or not, on my Strengths Finder’s test, Competition was my number 3 strength.

Strength?

That’s another subject, moving on.  Between both of those vices; my recent attempt at being Shaun White was quite humbling.

Great word, humbling.

Here is my predicament: I find myself continuing to dwell  in areas I excel in.  I know my strengths and legitimately avoid my weaknesses.  Why walk in to failure when you can live in success?

I can see the Billboard now.

I’ve gotten very good at this.  Focusing and doing things that I excel in.  It has turned in to a way of life for me.  It’s just easier right? Why do I feel like there is something off here?  Don’t get me wrong, I believe that we should utilize our strength’s and push ourselves to be the best at what we do.  But even the best should work at their weaknesses.

Let me go back to that great word, humbling.  My favorite definition is as follows: breaking down one’s pride.  Here is why I  may not like that definition but need it….

I just recently re-read Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.  Simply put the book was brilliant. No one can portray the Truth of God, the Gospel, and nature of man like C.S. Lewis.  Here is what he said about Pride:

“Is was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.  Pride has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began…But Pride always means enmity–it is enmity.  And not only enmity between man and man, but enmity to God.”

Pride is dangerous.  Cancerous even.

I know myself well.  If I searched my motives as to why I always dwell in situations that I succeed in it would probably sound something like, “Because I like being seen as good at IT.”

Whatever  IT is.  I want to be good at IT.  It doesn’t even have to do with IT.  I just want people to know that I, Garrett Perkins, am good at IT.

There’s that Pride.  Crap.

I have learned through the years that I need a lot of this “humbling” in my life.  But can I really be humbled when I only do things that I am good at? Nope.

I’m not saying that I am going to jump right in to only things I’m bad at.  Because that is neglecting my strengths.  What I am saying is that I must use my strengths to further something more than myself.  And be open to willing to put myself in a place that may be hard and that I won’t be good at.  Because once again, IT is not about me.

But it’s funny that in something as small and insignificant as snowboarding that I noticed something deeply rooted about myself.  Something that I don’t like.  The good news is this battle was already won a long time ago.  It just takes my recognition to really fight on my end.

 

 

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The year of the “1st’s”

The month of December will forever be even more special to myself and my family.  If buying Christmas trees, getting time off work, and buying presents wasn’t enough; it is now a stand out month in my life.  Last year on December 28th, at roughly 10:30am in the morning my life drastically changed.  Cue Beyonce…..

“Cause if you liked it then you should have put a ring on it”

Check.

On the ski mountain at Lake Tahoe I proposed to my now wife, Emmy Jo.  One year later we are married, living together, and dreaming about what’s to come in our life together!  But as we dream we also want to look back and not forget the beginnings of our marriage.  The BEST “1st’s” of our first 6 months of marriage.  So please enjoy this as much as I did writing it:

    1st house together:

We have both lived in houses before.  We have both also had roommates before.  However neither of us have a three bedroom home to decorate all by ourselves.  We learned two things really quickly…One.  How awesome wedding presents actually are! And two.  How little stuff we actually had.  So, shout out to everyone who was gracious to provide us with gifts to fill our empty home.  Side note, first fight in the house… Garrett for some odd reason got opinionated about something stupid.  He learned real fast that Emmy Jo knows best.  Point Emmy.

  1st time sharing a bathroom:

Girls make everything smell better.  End of story.  I love the fact that when I wake up in the morning and get ready in the bathroom, it smells like flowers and fairy dust.  However, I never realized how much hair the female gender leaves behind.  It’s like a war zone in our sink.  Emmy Jo is learning that boys smell bad, don’t flush the toilet and certain boys (aka Garrett) are absolutely useless to fix sink clogs… all he knows how to do is call a plumber.

    1st sharing a bed with a good looking warm body:

Who knew that you could tell so much about a person by how they sleep?  Case and point; when Emmy Jo climbs in bed, she is ready to sleep.  When Garrett climbs in bed, he is ready for pillow talk.  Lesson learned, Garrett should do that earlier because his wife wakes up at the butt crack of dawn.  And Emmy Jo should learn how to not steal the freaking covers!

   1st time managing our own money together:

We hate budgets.  They are no fun.  Garrett likes eating out too much.  And Emmy Jo likes dresses.  However, in reference to the top of our letter., we are poor.  So we deal with it.  We have learned something in this process though.  Garrett has found an affinity for mutual funds, and playing the stock market.  And Emmy Jo doesn’t like opening the statements and seeing that we have lost money.  I blame Italy and Greece’s markets!  But seriously, we are thankful for our jobs and the fact that we have some cushion to live comfortably enough to do what we want to do and go where want to go.

   1st  time learning how to communicate well:

Walking into marriage, one thing we learned was that we both brought expectations to the table.  Because of the way I was raised, and lived I expect things a certain way.  Emmy Jo brought expectations as well.  We are learning that at times those expectations don’t match up perfectly.  Thankfully, Emmy Jo and I both love each other and see that if these expectations are not vocalized there can be division.  One of my highlights of these first five months has been two tough but life-giving conversations on our couch.  These conversations have led to two things that I hope to always remember, waking up the next morning more in love with my wife.  And two, encouragement and confidence that we both pushed each other on to be more like Christ after those nights.  It’s in those moments that we both get to lay our heads on our pillows at night and confidently thank the Lord for giving us a teammate, cheerleader, and ally in this part of our lives together.

  1st time praying every night before bed together:

Well…almost every night, we both have been known to fall asleep real fast when our heads hit the pillow.  But, Emmy Jo and I believe in the fact that our lives together are writing a story that is much bigger than our own.  We trust that our relationship is covered in the grace of God and he is shaping us and using our marriage to make us both more like His Son.  And we both recognize that this task is daunting.  So we have loved the fact that every night we make sure that we are coming to the source of hope for guidance, discernment, wisdom, and endurance.

  1st time asking others to join us in prayer:

Emmy Jo and I both know that everyone receiving this loves us and believes in us.  And we need and desire that our ministries and jobs would be covered in prayer.  We ask that you pray for Emmy Jo’s job as a 4th grade teacher at Hillsboro Intermediate.  That she will be salt and light for her co-workers.  That she finds His grace in the small victories throughout her day.  And that she will continue to stay faithful and obedient to His way for her.

And pray for my ministry with K-Life.  That the Lord will continue to humble me and remind me that this is not about me.  That He will use K-Life for the sole purpose that His name will be lifted high.  Pray for direction and vision for the next year.  Pray for salvation in the lives of youth in Waco.  Pray for continued financial stability within the ministry.  And pray for the Lord to be preparing the way for the next leader to step in after my time here.

These past five months have been nothing short of an eye-opener.  We have loved every second of it.  It has been covered in laughs, saturated with joy, and occasionally had some tears.  But there is nothing more encouraging than knowing that we have a co-pilot along for the ride.

It’s been a great almost six months.  Let’s keep the ball rollin’.

 

It’s all about perspectives

Life is about perspectives.  We see it one way; due to what we heard, seen or experienced in our own situations.  It is easy to let our own perspective shape the way we apply things to our lives.

Take me for example.  I’ve always thought small town Texas was bizarre before I moved to Texas.  I call it the “Friday Night Lights” mentality.  High School football is life there.  The town shuts down for pep rallies, people drive hours to another no name town to watch kids hash it out on the grid-iron.  What’s so great about it?  I just assumed these people had nothing better to do.  I immediately wrote off ever partaking in this bizarre atmosphere.  Fast forward five years.  I drove a bus full of 15 high schoolers 2 and a half hours to watch a small town Texas high school team play in play offs.  I screamed and yelled when the ref’s made bad calls.  And my stomach dropped when they lost.

Perspective.  Until you really experience it; you won’t get it.

Here’s a better example.  During the 1950’s African Americans were considered, “separate but equal.”  You were un-fairly judged for the color of skin, not who you are.  Men and women had to be ostracized because of something that they could not control.  This was the consensus perspective across the nation.

So were all people at that time that followed those laws evil racists?  Probably not.

So why did they think it was okay?  Perspective.

People perceived that this, was the way it should be because it was simply the way it is.  I don’t think every person truly believed these horrible claims and discriminating lifestyle.  What I do believe is people had terribly wrong perspective.  This perspective, or lens that they saw through trickled down to how they lived their lives.

I’m reading a book.  It’s an overload of information. But powerful in it’s message.  This book is walking it’s readers through the reality that Christians sit in today.  This reality is that the perspective that non-believers have of Christians is not one that Jesus would want.

This book shows statistics that over 70% believe that being “Christian” associates with these things:

Too involved in politics.  Anti-gay.  Anti-choice.  Illogical.  Want to convert everyone.

I don’t see the name of Jesus in any of that.  Talk about a wrong perspective.

So, how dare those un-believers discredit Christians efforts to this country with bad mouthing them!  Right?  This book says to cast the blame at the mirror.

Woe to you, Christians. “We have become known for what we are against, not who we are for.”- David Kinnaman, UnChristan. (p.26).

Ouch.  Not only are un-believers perspective off, our perspective of what Christianity is, is off.  Here are my two cents…

Our(Christians) perspective is so far from the Truth now.  Christians now are about what they do and not who they live for.  We care about the ‘”how to get there”, and not about who’s taking us!  We have become people solely focused on the doing and leaving out who already did it.  Again, woe to us.

When all this started to simmer for me it all came down to one word.  Grace.  We hear it all the time.  But I don’t think we get what it actually means.  

Grace: un-meritted favor given due to no prior action or good. Example, man walks in to crowd of 200 people.  Man gives $100 bill to 7 different individuals. Man leaves.

What?  Why those seven people?  Did he like what they wore? No, grace.  Did they smile at him first?  No, grace. Are they required to do something extraordinary with that cash?  No! Grace.

We get that.  If this happened we would be astounded.  We are blown away by gracious gifts like this.  But believers continue to waiver; not daily enamored by the enormous gift of Grace given by the Lord himself.

What if we shifted our perspective from what we did and how we did it to simply one word, Grace…What would happen?

Revolution.

I believe this happening in small pockets of believers around the globe.  But the masses are missing it!  For us to really bring Christ to the world, don’t we have to gain perspective like Him?  Let me put it plainly.

Take the $100 bill analogy.  We look at it through the wrong lens.  We take our $100 and feel guilty for this gift.  So we spend our lives finding the best way to “give back” the debt we are now due to this gracious giver.  Or maybe we feel deserving of this gift.  We wore the right clothes.  We did the right things.  Our things are better than others did not do due to their lack of character, morality, etc.  We now must “stay the course” of our goodness because thats how the giver sees us.  At first read or glance, these mindsets don’t look or sound bad.  Jesus said otherwise, “Away from me, for I never knew you.”-Matthew 7:23.  Woe to us, Christians.

The Lord isn’t worried about what we will do with the gift.  What if we just focused on Grace?  What if we reveled in the Cross?  What if we saturated in what He already gave.  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”- Ephesians 2:8.

Perspective.  The way we see it is how we live it.  I pray that I continually cover myself in the marveling concept that I was chosen in the midst of my darkness.  My hope is to not get bogged down in the what’s but that I will simply never stop saying, “Thank you.”