A Special Announcement for 202[Free]

Last summer, as the Juby journey entered its final semester, I recall a foreign feeling, one I couldn’t help but cling to in the months to come.

The day was Monday, July 18 and while much was going on behind the scenes, inside Juby’s pod, the road unfolding was becoming quite clear. Only days into a three-week paralytic reset, my sweet princess was the NICU equivalent of Sleeping Beauty, at peace in comatose slumber yet out cold indefinitely.

Peering over her bedside, my heart smitten but with anxiety on edge, the following word picture found me:

Like the woman with the bleeding problem (Luke 8:43-48), I was pining after Jesus knowing one touch from Him would be enough. But unlike her outcome, I could never reach Him thanks, in part, to the masses who needed Him just as much. Despite centurion-like faith, my acceleration could not keep up, my hope constantly ahead of weary head and soiled feet. And as dings became dongs on the monitors, so did my concerns become heartcries cemented in desperation.

Jesus, if you could just slow down a little, maybe then I can finally touch the edge of your robe and my daughter would be healed.

Jesus, I get it. Who am I? But oh, how you are! If you could please stop so I can see your face, so I can thread my fingers through your holy garment, not only would Juby be cured but our NICU neighbors would know you by way of wonder-working power unveiled by extravagant love.

Fast-forward three months and Juby is now a few months passed having graduating into ultimate rest. My heart is mending yet full of cracks occasionally flooded with tears. If I only could rewind the clock to summon more strength at this point, at this time, maybe she would have lived.

Yet, that’s when word picture became dream…one calm, October night not long after her Celebration of Life service. In this dream, I’m back on the trail. I can see Jesus’ backside but the distance is increasing. Tempted to think He could possibly not care, I cry out:

Jesus, was my faith not enough? Why didn’t you save her? Why didn’t you slow down so I could touch your robe?

And within an instant, Jesus is there, an about-face in front of my grill.

You were never meant to touch my robe. You were meant to follow me. And you did! Now, look behind you and see the many more who will follow because of what they’re seeing. Watch and see what I will do.

Suddenly, I wake up. It’s a brand-new day and I, for one, am clinched as never the same through this game-changing moment. After all, I rarely have dreams or visions, let alone divine winks laced with such profound poetic symmetry.

Which takes me to why I’m writing this…

I believe for this year, God is calling many of us to consider the many ways He saves. Often, we ‘black and white’ His purposes thinking redemption, restoration, healing, among other things, are only real if they happen in certain ways. But this is far from God’s design and intent!

Perhaps you can relate to the feeling of running after Jesus but feeling He’s out of reach or that you don’t have what it takes to maintain pace. If so, I want to encourage you through this dream it’s not about your faith metrics but whom your faith is anchored to. Like the disciples in the boat calling out to Jesus in the storm, His proximity ultimately became secondary to His identity. Will you hope God will do what you want Him to do…or delight in simply watching Him do what He will do?

Either way, I admit there’s a lot of application and pivot points on this subject. That is why I’m proud to announce in the months to come, I will be working on my first book (I already have an editor lined up; woohoo!) that discusses God’s sovereignty in the context of suffering and through Juby’s life, unpacks the struggle to keep faith when answers aren’t clear.

The pursuit will likely reduce the amount of posts I churn out in a given year. But for me, this is a call I can’t turn down. Accordingly, I forfeit my normal rhythms with gladness to accomplish a dream birthed from one supremely given.

All that said, thank you in advance for your support and patience. While I’m apprehensive about this entrance into unchartered territory, I fear not knowing there’s lives at stake. Just like God redeemed the one Lys and I lost, so will He redeem those who feel lost within their walks holding onto the end of their ropes.

For now, I pray you’re blessed with this premise. No question, it is the core from which I devote my writing time and focus until this project is done.

‘Til then, I love you all. Let’s do this.


P.S. A special shout-out to all our NICU/PICU supporters, especially those who partnered with us during last month’s blessing bag outreach! See 34:38 in the live stream below for a quick update…

Cover photo creds: iStock

Resolution Solution: A Three-Step Guide to Aiming High (Intro)

A quick word on “resolutions“…

I know many prefer to stiff-arm the term, roll their eyes at its utterance, and scoff the cliches our culture has attributed.

Yet, through the proper lens, I contend resolutions defined as the process of praying into goals and taking inventory of important decisions are not just a healthy necessity but a holy expression of faith. Granted, the ability to adjust our behavior comes down to intent, or as I like to view it, the epicenter of our ‘why’ which varies from person to person.

Still, in theory, we’re unified within the construct of ‘why’ given it includes our motives/hopes and drives our emotional processing as we observe our journey to change.

The problem for many is: While their intent is perfectly good, and by proxy, valid, it’s often not pure assuming it stems from self-fulfillment and is dependent on self-effort.

Again, our hearts may be anchored to sound intent and for the right reasons from what we can tell; however, if we’re not screening them in advance or worse, belittling them due to past disappointments and present cynicisms, the leaps we’re dying to take may be compromised before they’re even attempted.

Which brings me to my point in writing this…

As you toast your growth and plans for a new year, don’t forget to commit them first.

Consider the “Proverb-ial” yellow-brick road on the subject. In three chapters, the Psalmist emphasizes resolutions as goal surrenderance in the context of allowing God to establish three things:

  1. Your plans (Proverbs 16:3)
  2. Your steps (Proverbs 16:9)
  3. His purposes (Proverbs 19:21)

Like the chronology, the order is significant, one which will be unpacked in the coming months.

As for now, as you begin to assign motive to awareness dare to dream with God not only at the center…but as the originator of every determination He’s planted inside you.

Remember every strength, weakness, and desire to ‘level up’ has been foreknown since eternity – a validation to the day’s excitement and why I personally get giddy as more people start to open their aspiration doors a little bit wider.

As long as we’re on the same page in believing God by His Spirit must bridge the divide before, during, and after our resolutions, the transformation we corporately crave will begin to realize.

Hence, why maturation quests are great but are only effective to the extent we let the Alpha and Omega establish our plans/steps and open our eyes to His purposes along the way.

More on this topic in the weeks to come. For now, as always,


Graphic creds: American Greetings

Year in Review: A Look Back at 2022

Remember that scene in Muppet Christmas Carol when Scrooge tilts around town extending good cheer?

I don’t know about you…but rewatching this with my kiddos, I can’t help but appreciate Caine’s conviction as he proclaims:

The glory that you see
Is born again each day
Don’t let it slip away
How precious life can be

With a thankful heart that is wide awake
I do make this promise every breath I take
Will be used now to sing your praise

To be fair, the transformation of character is heart-warming even if condensed in a cinematic finale. But to be honest, these admissions of truths, while dear to heart, are harder to swallow this year.

And for good reason, dare I dive into details you may already know. A year to remember? Oh, for sure. But what exactly should I remember? That is the question I’m asking with one week left on this year’s clock.

While a recap can only go so far, what I can say is to what I remember, to that I will be grateful. Lost wind and sail be darned, I will not yield to disappointment though the woods still surround me.

For starters, I delight in God and the daily outpouring of His nature into the challenges and opportunities He divinely appointed this past year. No question, it took a marriage, a family…and many a team and tribe to bear the load. To our families, friends, colleagues, and the NICU units at Centennial and Vanderbilt (shout-out to Paige Buhl, Bailey Jenkins Stults, Courtney Osborne & Heather Akers among others who went above and beyond the call of duty), we again express our gratitude from the sincerest and deepest places of our hearts. While we’re saddened to have lost a daughter, we rejoice in having gained new family as a result…not to mention heightened levels of strength, perseverance, and endurance to take into the next God has for us.

While I’m on the ‘grateful heart’ train, I’d like to thank our parents and siblings, most notably Jan Ferguson for her cut-above support in being available despite several family storms this year, to Jessika Stephen Sanders for introducing Lys & I to Praying Through Ministries and inspiring network awareness, to our Gate fam for setting, service, and sustenance support, to Greg McRay, my colleagues in the Sales Department, and many others at Foundation Group who were intentional in following Juby’s journey, really anyone who directly reached out to encourage us the past year…we toast your kindness and generosity.

As for additional recollections, of course, the many miles and minutes logged in juggling home and NICU life stand out. The course and prep work involving Juby’s tracheostomy and homecoming, the teaming in learning new skills…all of it was a highlight even though the ultimate dream fell short. As I told one of my co-workers, Lys & I had a one-of-a-kind year during which we took our date nights to Vandy where we cried, prayed, and processed the crap out of life…where slowly but surely, investments into something much larger than ourselves and our circumstances began to take root.

On the home front, props are certainly warranted for Caeden, Everly & Milo for their flexibility amidst the audibles. With evolving rhythms almost a weekly reality, I take pride in their maturation and how they’ve adjusted to life at Greater Things Christian School (shout-out to Chris Harris). When the year started, Lys & I had hoped to enroll them under the same educational roof. Despite a surge of logistical gymnastics, we rejoice in not only reaching this goal but also having the privilege of being a part of an emerging community full of families like ours.

On the work front, the adversities, unlike the NICU, were felt between the lines and behind the screens. While outlooks and viewpoints have been compelled to modulate, I celebrate the space and place I’m in. As I’ve told several prospects, in terms of mission and colleague comradery, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more humble, unshakable core. In more ways than one, I’m in good company.

As for side hustles, Fry Freelance continued its momentum in guest writing for a host of entrepreneurs connected to Dan Cockerell’s keynote network. With seven active podcast series under our belt, we hope to continue bringing marketplace podcasts to life. In similar fashion, Lys & I look forward to another year of facilitating communications at our local fellowship and leading small group Zoom calls within Messenger Fellowship circles across the globe.

As for looking ahead, it’s hard to know how to feel about next year, let alone tomorrow. But I suppose that’s part of the Juby effect:

  • I fear not about tomorrow because today is a gift urging my focus to stay present.
  • I fear not about death because today I’m alive in Christ, my life in Him an invitation to embrace the fullness of joy and strength for body, soul, and spirit.
  • And I fear not about what man may do or say because today God’s victory in me is imminent and shattering the mold.

His uphold a response to every stronghold, I smile upon the journey that was, is, and is to come. For while many would consider our year a brutal stretch, we see it as a life-altering season with life-giving implications. Yes, losing Juby was a significant shock to the system, but given the reset trajectory, I can’t help but anticipate fresh leaps of faith with refreshed perspective as a man undone.

Which in a way, ties into the reason we gather here today…

For into chaos, Jesus came not only as an innocent babe but also as a Prince of Peace with a sword to awaken the priorities of His beloved.

Through all we experience, through all we endure…the glory of God can be known as we seek and press into Immanuel, relying on Him as He calibrates our intentions to what really matters. To everyone, young and old, meek and bold, while seismic life events can serve as holy catalysts, there’s more than enough reason to let a rightful celebration of Christmas wash over and encourage you to receive the gift and presence of Jesus anew.

And as we advance into greater unknowns in this decade like no other, it’s this Spirit-inspired head I choose to maintain as good tidings are embodied much like Scrooge on the heels of his healing. One way or another, we’re going to get there…one Juby empowered baby step at a time.

From our home to yours, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Star Yores: The Turn of the Magi

Scripture: Matthew 2:1-12 (AMP)

Imagine this.

You’re a renowned scholar of your time, a respected expert in astrological sciences, and in general, a maestro of subject matter.

With a mind geared towards the aerial, your intellect hits new light: A star, one you’ve never seen before far outside your scope. Your natural inclination is to pause and ponder. Could this be a confluence of planets, a comet, perhaps a supernova kissing our celestial cul-de-sac? Or is this an illusion, a unicorn moment too good to be true?

Whatever the case, there are no analogs. Whatever you’ve seen, whatever you’ve heard…for once it’s not good enough. And thus, a fire rages within to crack the mystery. but even more so to discern this urge to do something radical, something crazy.

The fork ever widening, you roll the dice and take the risk. Seeking out this angelic beam, you’re now on a camelback quest with your comrades. Advancing into unchartered territory, you quickly realize this isn’t Kansas anymore and your directions aren’t so simple as second star from the right and straight on ’til morning. Your convenient, carpeted life…now subject to the Euphrates and a Royal Road to true royalty.

Like a pre-disciple, you’ve said goodbye to home, not entirely sure if you’ll return. Risking it all to lay it all down, the gifts you bear are years from delivery but capture the source of your faith.

You’re going west, young man…with words of gratitude close at heart yet from far from optional. For this cryptic star, the one you’ll regard as of David, had once shined on a child in manger lay. The illuminating origin of eternal freedom the same origin as that still small voice compelling you to follow confidently.

But though the trek is long and arduous, despite future uncertainty, you embrace the joy set before you as a constant rising and a call to worship. One way or another, you will complete this crusade and discover a new depth of truth you never thought possible.

A once foreign light illuminating a stable place, now an inspiration for yours to walk from.

Fast-forward to present day and you are where you are. What a ride it’s been…

Unlike many, you may believe you have something to offer outside your realm of expertise, something to contribute outside your wheelhouse of benevolence. You may have that itch inside wanting to pour out in a fresh way – your modern-day equivalent of frankincense or myrrh on standby.

However, like many, you may be waiting for a catalyst to surrender and sacrifice when in reality, the time is now to sojourn into deeper waters, to try a new course. Granted, I can only speak so far into anonymous situations. Yet, I know for me, as one who anticipates burning bushes that never come, I must be ready to render those focuses off-center and recognize the Spirit as “star power” capable of illuminating the way I’m to go.

Which brings me to my point for today: You may feel depleted and broken, perplexed and confused; you may be overwhelmed or overthinking.

Yet, regardless of your circumstances, if your 3:00 am restroom break is on the verge of turning into a brutally early wakeup call, guess what! That same star of wonder, the same star of night…is still alive and well today to guide you into whatever perfect light you need to walk in.

You see…for the magi, they lived for this. Even as they (literally) contemplated their next steps from illumination, the timely cost of multiple years and the emotional cost of social and occupational inconveniences didn’t deter them from making one of the most epic expeditions in the Roman era. Put another way, before the wise men could fathom the historical repercussions of their Messianic voyage, they had to first contest the ramifications of their surrender; hence, why as brilliant as they were, their greatest asset was not their wealth of knowledge and resources, but a corporate humility to recognize eternal prominence.

And in the hustle and bustle of the holidays upon us, that’s why I’m writing this – to implore holy inventory and discourage whatever annual defaults we’ve accepted to justify idleness and self-preservation. I can’t make sense of the pain my family and I feel right now. I can’t make sense of the pain you likewise may feel as we close out the year.

But for all I don’t know, what I do know is basic spiritual probability. Specifically, if my attention isn’t anchored to holy light, then chances are my call to mobility and a humble returning will be compromised.

Yes, I miss Juby, the times life felt more stable, even the opportunities I could have been truer to my faith. Yet, amidst the chaos, I remember that stable place 2,000 years ago and those who released their inhibitions to adore what matters most in all eternity. For all of us, may this truth be the centerpiece of any Christmas stirring as we approach 2023.


Cover graphic creds: Wallpaper Cave

There & Back Again: The Gift and Call of Suffering

So lately, I’ve been building my library, adding books to shelves in a quest to answer a timeless question:

Why do we suffer?

Yet, as I absorb Daniel Carrington and Philip Yancey, I’m curious if we should reconsider the inquiry as, ‘How should we suffer?’

For if suffering is a kingdom, a divine call, and the resilience guide to discovering God, then surely the way we endure merits discussion.

Perhaps you’re like me looking to mature through past and present challenges and hoping to think outward as opposed to inward. Either way, as we near the home stretch of 2022, these are the musings of yours truly…the emotional evolution of one still processing the passing of his youngest.

Sweet Jubilee…oh, how I miss you.

Granted, much has started to calibrate since my last post. The returns to certain norms are imminent. There have even been times I’ve wondered why I’m not more depressed than I am.

But at the core of it all, Lys and I feel like Merry, Pippin, Sam, and Frodo returning to the shire from Mordor. Remember what Frodo said when he returned to Bag End in ‘Return of the King‘?

How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on…when in your heart you begin to understand…there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend…some hurts that go too deep… that have taken hold.”

To me, this begs the question: What then can ‘untake’ that hold? How then should the heart resound, if not through soundless bites that in hardship can be the most beautiful expression of vulnerability?

Answers aside, the line resonates, a heart prick that has compelled me to relish the truth:

The author and perfector of my faith is the same author and perfector of my pain who from the beginning of time ordained it as a means for me to choose Him!

Like any day I’m alive, I’m taking hold of it as one made in His image. Like any hour I’m awake, I’m taking hold of it to press into His likeness. Just because my heart is healing, doesn’t mean I can’t partake in divine remedy, the sweetness of God’s Immanuel presence and the power of His strength piercing the darkness.

When I’m tempted to retreat, I remember the out I have to retreat into Jesus. And from there, I springboard into the dichotomy between the questions above…that the difference between “Why do we suffer” and “How should we suffer”, in purest form, is the asker of the latter knowing he is loved by God and is willing to trust in His purposes. That it is unfathomable love wrapped in mystery orchestrating the narrative of triumph and perspective rising from the depths.

Like Lys and I of late, you may feel like Frodo, called into adventures beyond your understanding, wishing the rings of adversity, be it disappointment or grief, hadn’t come to you. Yet, in those Moria moments, remember that’s when the Spirit finds and refreshes us as Gandalf did to Frodo:

So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

Sure, the year of Jubilee may be over but as her name implies, the happy ever afters are only beginning. Accordingly, we celebrate our precious daughter Hebrews 12:1 style, knowing she’s not only part of a great cloud of witnesses but also co-inspiration stirring us to lay aside the weight of anguish clinging closely…

…her voice an echo to the Master urging us to run our race with endurance.

As for you, my friends, whatever your mission is, know to be overwhelmed is only human and often the evidence of doing something right. Why not then fuse some Hebrews 12:1-2 along with some Romans 8:28 and Galatians 6:9 into the questions you’re asking? Why not faint not…knowing God works all things, including our sufferings, for good and makes things new as words trustworthy and true (Revelation 21:5)? You don’t have to bear the weight of deciphering your circumstances. Rather, you can bear each other’s burdens delighting in the fact God has you going somewhere. Even if loss is incurred along the way, remember nothing can separate you from God’s love and the victory He has in store for you.

At the very least, take it from Jubilee. Her life was a gift but even more so her legacy. What keeps her Spirit alive is the same Spirit who in whispers:

  1. Reminds us He’s there because He’s been there and…
  2. Ignites us to see how discovering God through perseverance as the best way to journey through suffering.

In closing, I return to Yancey: “As we rely on God and trust His Spirit to mold us in His image, true hope takes shape within us, ‘a hope that does not disappoint.’ We can literally become better persons because of suffering. Pain, however meaningless it may seem at the time, can be transformed. Where is God when it hurts? He is in us—not in the things that hurt—helping to transform bad into good. We can safely say that God can bring good out of evil; we cannot say that God brings about the evil in hopes of producing good.


Cover photo creds: mckellen.com