I know, friends, I know. How does any self-respecting blogger just abandon their blog after such a good stretch of writing? I don't know. But I can give you a few inklings and some photos to prove it.

1. I went back to NY. I know I already wrote about that a bit here, but I didn't really tell about all of the beauty of it. It was a good, good week. I scheduled myself pretty tightly and by the time I got on the plane to come back, I was content to stick in my earphones and ignore the world for six hours. And so I did.

Sunset from the plane.

While home I saw lovely children, had amazing fellowship, spent a whole day in the mountains with my favorite person in the world, ate a slice of real New York Pizza, caught of case of Volvo lust (the Hulls let me borrow their Volvo for the whole week!), had great conversations with my pastors (and wives), drove nine hours to Pittsburgh with a lovely friend for a wedding, and so much more.

The Adirondacks from Lake Placid.

It felt like just the right amount of time to love and be loved by some of the best people I know.

And still, when I got on the plane to come back to Texas, I was ready. I was ready to come home. Home here. I don't know if I'll ever feel like a Texan, but I know I feel like Texas had gotten me, caught me and is keeping me.

Keeping in the sense that I feel kept here, cared for, loved, encouraged by the goodness of God that I've finally come to see.

2. I'm finally feeling a sense of place and belonging at my job. While I was home I was surprised to find that most people still have no idea what I'm doing beyond graphic design. All true, folks, all true. I'm still freelancing a bit (picking and choosing carefully), but I'm working full-time for Sower of Seeds International Ministries. It sounds noble when I talk about what they do (putting water wells in India, and rescuing and rehabilitating trafficked women from the red-light district in Mumbai) and it is noble. For sure.

My desk at work.

But mostly what I do just feels lucky. I get to spend my day sharing an office with yet another favorite person playing with colors and shapes and looking at amazing photographs of what is happening in India. God is near to the needy and He is near to me and I feel this acutely every day.

We also have a lot of fun at the office.

3. I have spent a lot of years attempting to practice the art of thankfulness. What I mean by this is I knew that the exercise of being thankful has a spiritual element--we shout our praises and we begin to see more things for which to be thankful. I know that what we sow, we reap.

And yet, for almost all of my Christian life I have found this to be a fruitless discipline for me. Here's why: there would be momentary gratefulness ensuing, but it was short-lived and almost always followed by a longer season of disappointment. Most times it was because as I would list the things for which I was grateful, I would be so much more aware of the things I possessed or didn't possess. I would then begin comparing my life, my possessions, my station, my spirituality with others. Many times I felt like I had to be thankful for the scraps it seemed I was dealt, and so these 'scraps' seemed to be the only things I would see at all.

Random: golf ball sized hail from last night.

You can see how this would be fruitless, eh?

I still believed in the sowing and reaping principle though and so I couldn't figure out why this wasn't working for me. It's biblical, therefore it ought to work, right?

Last fall I heard someone say that we do not discipline our children into loving us and we would never dream of disciplining spouses or roommates or friends into loving us, so why would we assume that God does that with us? For me, the overwhelming, overflowing, abundant love that I wanted to have for God was non-existent and so disciplining myself into feeling it felt like the only option.

Random: Dinner tonight. Yum.

But now I'm seeing how thankfulness can only grow out of an abundant heart and how easily it flows when that is the case.

I'm sure there are still scraps in my life, any casual observer could pick a few or a few dozen, but I don't even notice them anymore. I don't place any credence on them and I don't judge the love of God for me by them.

I love Him because He first loved me. All the gratefulness I can conjure up won't out-love Him. All the thankfulness I can muster won't make Him love me more. All the blessings I choose to see won't make the biggest blessing more true.

He's that good.