January 9, 2011

Surviving the Cold

Christmas break was a much needed rest for me, sort of. I thoroughly enjoyed being home and seeing all of my family. I was able to see more of my family this year than I have in the past few years. And obviously the highlight was seeing and playing with the nephews and my niece. I already miss them and wish I was back home to play with them more.

I had plenty of school work to continue working on while I was home and of course I once again got pretty ill. It was a rough couple of days, but the Lord really got me through it, as well as some TLC from my wonderful mom and sister.

I have been back in Lexington now for a week and still have not embraced the truth of winter. It is so cold here and the snow just won't stop. I don't know that I've ever desired summer so much.

With the help of a couple of friends, I have now moved into the house where I will be able to stay rent/utility free until the owner sells the home. While I do hope that the house sells for her benefit, there is a selfish side of me that is hoping for at least a few months of being able to stay there and help out the owner. The financial gain for me will be significant as not having rent and utilities will allow me to make some larger dents in my medical bills. I am so appreciative of the offer from the owner to allow me to stay in the house. (If anyone would like to visit, there is a ton of room and I'm in the big 'ole house by my lonesome, so your visit would be very much enjoyed)

I have returned back to work, which has drained a ton from me getting back into that routine with such cold temperatures. We all spent over an hour shoveling snow around the shop on Saturday morning...not fun! I have my J-term class this coming week and then I will work full-time until our spring semester begins. I am very much looking forward to this spring when I will only have one set of classes to be concerned with at a time.

I am trusting and expecting much from the Lord this year. I appreciate all of your prayers and support so much. Although I have several thoughts for future blog posts, I do not have internet at the house, so I am not sure how often I'll be able to post. I have missed posting regularly though and hope that I can find a way to increase my posting this year.

May your 2011 be a year filled with revelation, inspiration, health, compassion and love. And may you learn how to choose life each day that you are given.

November 29, 2010


Please watch the following video. It is an overview of the ministry of my dear dear friend Sarah Olds. She and I worked together at the Wesley Foundation with the Crosstrainers ministry for several years. She has been living in Mozambique for three years now.

Enjoy the video and please keep her and all of the boys in your prayers. If you are interested in knowing more about her, the Masana ministry, or if you are interested in supporting her financially, please contact me and I will connect you with her.

May you daily grow deeper in an experiential knowledge of the Father's Heart.

November 13, 2010

Free Day

I know this is only two months late. However, I wanted to share some pics with you showcasing the incredible graciousness and love of my friends. Back in the beginning of September, we wanted to celebrate my "cancer free" news. It also happened to be my birthday. Thus, my friends decided to celebrate "Free's free day" combining my being free of cancer and my birthday. I had no idea the extent they were going to as they set up the party. The party was held on the property of Rose Hill, the place where the seminary president lives. Two of my dear friends, who hosted the party, live right behind the president's house on the property. Just take a look.

Coming up the driveway, these first four pictures show you the signs that were taped to the lamp posts along the driveway.

The next three pictures are just some more of the signs they posted around the yard.

Furthermore, they made a "cancer pinata" so we could figuratively beat the **** out of cancer.

Here are pictures of the extravagant table they set up in a very serene setting for dinner.

A sentimental gift sent all the way from Red Lady in Mozambique.

The Barbee's made an enormous homemade carrot cake, my favorite. I mean, they cooked the carrots, shredded them, made the icing, and did this all with a special recipe that was coconut free so that I could enjoy it. (sigh)

Sharing life with incredible friends means having people to walk through the struggles and battles of life. Furthermore, it means having great friends to celebrate life's victories with who are just as excited about your good news as you are. Nothing compares to the richness of living life in a beautiful, loving and caring community. May you all live life within a community that can share in every moment with you.

November 7, 2010


This past week, I had the opportunity to meet a family who is going through their own battle with cancer. The little girl, Emily, is battling leukemia and has the constant support and presence of her mom, Megan. They very quickly became my friends. During the week, even in my very broken, unsettled, and frustrated Spirit, I was able to hear part of their story and share small bits of my story with her (the mom, Megan). I got to tell her a little bit about my friend Jesus and about all of you, my friends who are Jesus for me. Well on Wednesday night, Emily had a really bad scare and Megan was really upset. That night she asked if I'd pray with her, and I told her I would. I really had no words to say, other than to call on Jesus' name and to speak out scriptures that the Spirit laid on my heart. When I was closing the prayer, Megan stopped me and told me that she wanted to know Jesus. So we talked and then she spent some time talking with Jesus. A few moments later, she was called away and I didn't see them again until Friday morning. Megan came in, gave me a really big hug, told me that Emily was doing a ton better and that she was having a great time with her new friend. Being the idiot that I am, I asked, "your new friend?" She said, "Yes. You introduced Him to me as Jesus. Now I call Him Redeemer." I had no words.

I am not even close to understanding why the Lord allowed me to meet and have these conversations with Megan. God is much bigger than needing me to be the only person who could help Megan meet Jesus. However, what I do know is that in the midst of my utter brokenness and weakness, Megan met my Jesus and started calling Him her Redeemer. He never ceases to amaze me. All of your prayers for me over the past year are my source of strength. Because of you I was able to share a small part of my story and now Megan's story becomes intertwined with our Grand story. Please pray for our sister and her little Emily as they continue in their own story with a brand new hope, peace, understanding and love.

October 17, 2010

You're Welcome

How many times a week do you say these words?
How many times a week do you mean them?
What exactly do these words mean?

As most of you know, I have recently overcome a short battle with cancer. It was a very interesting time in my life and I have been so blessed and honored with the reactions of my friends and family. After a conversation I had one evening with a very dear friend of mine, I gained a whole new insight and appreciation for the meaning of the words, "you're welcome."

Do you have people in your life that simply own a huge piece of your heart? I'm not just talking about all of your family and friends. I'm specifically referring to those people who you think about daily, pray for unceasingly, and the mention of their names or the thought of getting to see them brings a huge smile to your face and warmth to your heart. Well, I have had the privilege of having many such people in my life. Sometimes these people naturally come into your life because they are your family and other times you have been assigned to a position or group of people that led you to meet them. Every once in a while, you just randomly or organically form a bond with someone and from that moment on, they possess a piece of your heart. Regardless of the method in which you become connected, these people are huge blessings in our lives.

Well for me, Matthew Jones is one of those people. I first met Matthew when I worked as a intern for the Thomasville First UMC youth group in the summer of 2006. He was one of the students there. The next year, after I moved to Thomasville and worked there for a little more than a year, he quickly became one of "those people" in my life and has since been a very dear friend. Not unlike most people who hold a very special place in my heart, Matthew and I have shared many conversations, many fun adventures, lots of tears and prayers, and many hopes for the future. I just love this kid so much and can only hope to still be a part of his life for many years to come.

About two weeks after I had received news that I was cancer free, I finally got the chance to talk with Matthew on the phone. We spent a while catching up and just having a good conversation. As we concluded our talk, I was about to say good-bye when Matthew told me to hold on. He wanted to take a minute and express to me how happy he was that I was now healthy, how concerned he had been since he had found out, and simply to reiterate to me how much he loved me. They were very touching words and more importantly, I could feel his heart through them. When he finished, I took a moment to digest what he had expressed to me and then I told him, "thank you" for sharing that with me. It was a huge blessing and I was very encouraged by his words.

Next, Matthew paused for a few moments and then said (I'm paraphrasing here), "well, I'm not going to say 'you're welcome' Jeffrey because I don't think that is true. If I tell you 'you're welcome,' it would be as if I'm saying that this is my heart and I have chosen to express a piece of it to you. Almost as if to say that it is something of mine and you are welcomed to it. However, it's not mine Jeffrey. That piece of my heart belongs to you. It is yours. So who am I to say that you are welcomed to something that is already yours."

We thought for a moment, and then shared our "I love you man"s and said good-bye. For the next couple of weeks, I could not stop thinking about the end of our conversation. Matthew had expressed to me in words something that I have felt for so many people over the years. Especially for people that the Lord has put me in a place of influence in their lives. Guys I have discipled, children I have gotten to minister to with Crosstrainers, and friends and family that I care so deeply for. However, I don't know that I have ever been able to capture the concept in such a set of words.

In conjunction to this conversation, I am taking an Ethics of Hospitality and Contemporary Challenges course this semester and we had been discussing the ever present concept throughout the narrative of scripture of how God is constantly welcoming His people, having His people welcome in the stranger or sojourner, and having His people be the ones who are welcomed in. (I can provide you with a list of scriptures if you are interested) It is a beautiful picture of how this entire world, this life we live is not ours. We are but a stranger; a sojourner on a journey towards the unhindered eternal presence of God. And along the way we have every opportunity to share all that we have with others and to receive everything that others share with us. For in the sharing, we see the love of God.

However, this sharing is too often a result of choice. It is the result of us making a calculated decision as to who is worthy of my time, or my money, or my energy. Which people are worthy of me sharing my life with them? Who is worthy of a piece of my heart? And after making those decisions, we are left with a very small sample of people to give our all to. Everyone else, all the other "sojourners" that cross our path, get very little from us.

And when we do share with them, they tell us "thank you" and we say, "you're welcome." Is it really ours to give to them? Do we even have the right to say "you're welcome"? Are we not only stewards of and vessels of God's love? And is not God's love fully and unconditionally available for everyone?

I know, it is simply natural and even habitual to say "thank you" and "you're welcome" in daily interactions. And I know we will continue to teach our children to say these words. Still, I believe it is vitally important for you to realize what you are saying and then to consider whether that is what you actually mean. Perhaps there is even a new concept we can teach our children beyond simply saying "you're welcome."

I'm not perfect. I don't love fully or unconditionally. I place values on my time and on which people get which parts of me. For friends like Matthew, I will never hesitate to give all that I am. It is truly my joy to love people who already own a huge piece of my heart. And for people like him, I am so very thankful. Still, I believe God wants me to be able to give of myself in the same manner to all people, knowing that the Holy Spirit is my source of strength and love. I need not be concerned with giving too much of myself or of guarding my heart from others taking advantage of me.

As I now tell Matthew, I thank my God for you every time I think of you. For are we not but a gift from God to one another? May you be filled with the gifts God has surrounded you with and may you live a life free to give of yourself without the need to say "you're welcome." Instead, when people say "thank you," may you be able to respond, "all I am is yours." For as His children, we are all welcomed to everything He has for us.

If you haven't listened before, I encourage you to now go to this post and listen to this song again. Perhaps it will mean a bit more to you. And Matthew, I am so very thankful and love you dearly.

October 7, 2010


I've been asked for a full description of what seminary is by several people lately. While this video doesn't provide the complete expression of all that the Asbury Community is, it may help to give you a glimpse into the heart of this body and the direction that this seminary is headed. Most people hear the word seminary, and immediately think of a place where people go to become pastors. While this is partly true, it is becoming a smaller and smaller component of all that Asbury is committed to. Not that the seminary is any less devoted to raising up strong and passionate pastors, but that the school is realizing the global perspective of Christianity and the needs that exists in many of the arenas of the church today.

Although I wasn't aware of this, I somehow wound up in this video for a few seconds as well, just for proof to any of you who wondered whether or not I was actually in school up here. The aspect of the video that is really neat to me is that so many of my friends are also captured in this video, as well as pastors and missionaries that I've worked with and met around the world. The Asbury community is quite broad and seems to only be growing more and more every year. The video cannot be embedded within my blog, but you can click on this link to watch it on YouTube.