One of the most tangible evidences of grace in my life, outside of my wife and family, are the friendships that God has blessed me to have. I am not sure if it is just me because the way I am wired but it overwhelms me. I have not been built to simply have surface relationships and be okay with that; I just haven't. There are relationships that I know have been orchestrated and ordained by Creator God. Particularly here in Hickory. When we moved here nearing two years ago I never thought we would have the relationships that we have. Sure, before we moved here our best friends and their families lived here so we knew that we would have those meaningful relationships but within that relatively short time, we have developed very real, deep and meaningful friendships with others. This, in the age of social media and low touch, is nothing short of the grace of God from where I sit.  It amazes me the friends that we have here. We don't have just our friends who we had before we ever moved here. We have other friends who are incredibly blessed to have. Friendship that really are beyond the surface and that excites me.

I have learned, however, that in order to have a good friend, you must be a good friend. Think about it. Nobody likes a moocher. Nobody. The same is true with friends. Don't just take. Give. Don't wait for your friend to call. Call. When there is a strain on the relationship, be the first to call out the elephant and make it right...quickly. The key to being a good friend is being a good listener. Take the time to value a person by listening and genuinely caring for them. Kelly and I joke that our best friends are stuck with us. We have divulged too much to them, and they to us, to ever let anything severe our friendship. So if you look about and say you don't have any friends, ask yourself if you are being a friend.

It breaks my heart when I read or hear folks say, "I don't trust people and that is why I stick to myself". We were not created to stick to ourselves. We were created to be in community. We were created to be vulnerable and take a risk on letting in folks. One of the wisest and godly men I know (My former Youth Pastor and Pastor) always said that a lone ranger is a dead ranger. He was right back in the nineties when I first heard him say that and it rings true today. We were created to sharpen and provoke one another. We were created to challenge and provoke one another toward love and good deeds. Take a chance; let someone in. You will not be disappointed.

I told my best friend earlier tonight, "If we ever doubt God's grace on either of our lives, we need only look to our wives, Boog or each other." And the same is true with you. Look around you. Look into the faces of those whom you love and love you and know that you are blessed.

May we each find a Proverbs 17 friend. May we each live in grace. May we each live loved and extend love.

On Father's Day I find myself thinking, like most folks, about my dad. I remember growing up that I would call dad, "madeddy" (I will let you figure out that one; it isn't that hard, promise). I guess I could sit here and write all of the things that I wish dad had done differently, but I honestly do not spend much time thinking about that. My parents were separated for most of my life growing up and that was, for me, normal.

I can remember dad coming to pick up my siblings and me to take us down to Reidsville to spend the summer or weekend with him. I was always so excited to go down to Reidsville. I think mainly because it was in the country and we pretty much had carte blanche when we were there. I always remember my dad being pretty chill and laid back. He rarely got flustered and bent out of shape. He always was good for a laugh. He was a funny guy and seemed to be King of the "TP" or trailer park where he lived.

My favorite memories of dad, however, are the memories that I have with him since I have been an adult. He is one of the easiest people to talk with (if you can get past his southern drawl) and is as wise as he is funny. Some of the toughest times in my life as an adult, I have been able to rely on dad. He has always been there to talk. When I have an issue with my car; dad is there to fix it (normally paying for the parts and all). When I got my first two speeding tickets in college (within the same week) dad paid for the attorney to handle it (reminding me that he would, "Only do this shit once foe any legal matter"). When the girl whom I thought I would marry broke up with me, dad was there...listening and willing to give advice if I needed it. More than anything, though, he listened. He was there when I needed some real advice about the woman who I was blessed to marry. It was in those conversations with dad that he told me to, "start how I intend to finish"; advice that I remember and apply to this day. Every couple who asks me to officiate their wedding will hear my dad's advice during our pre-marriage counseling sessions. Most recently, dad was there during the most depressing time that I have ever experienced. I remember being so despondent and hopeless. I drove to Reidsville for the night just to talk with dad. I just needed to be in the same room with him, hearing him talk to me. Seeing the concern on his face when he saw me so down was, oddly, what God used to kick start me back to reality.

My dad may not have been the poster dad for some. He might not have been all each of my games growing up. But, to me, he is the most incredible dad. He is incredible and I love him so much. John McKinnon, I love you and will forever cherish you as my father and as my friend. Thank you for doing the best job that you knew to do.

Happy Father's day, madeddy!

Here are some of my pictures of dad. Man, I love my dad!

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