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Top 7 = HSV road trip + end of school + baby Yoda at the car wash

blog top 7 May 23, 2022

My Top 7 for last week includes a quick (read: day) trip to Huntsville, baby Yoda eating a frog, and a few other things.

For those of you who don’t know…

The Top 7 = a quick look at my past week. Every Sunday afternoon I sit down, look at my planner— download it free at — and then review the three things I’m grateful for from each day. I pull the “best” together in my weekly review / preview and then write them down.

I’ve learned that— 

πŸ‘‰ There are many great things— big and small— I would simply forget about, apart from reviewing each day

πŸ‘‰ Some of the best stuff deserves a second look at the end of the week, because that’s where some of the best lessons (and application) come

πŸ‘‰ Experience really is a good teacher. But, EVALUATED experience is an even better teacher…

Plus, looking back is always fun. Even when walking through tough seasons. I’m always reminded that we have soooooo much to be grateful for.

(The top 7, btw, includes a look at each of the 7 key areas of life.)



Fitness = lazy Thursday morning 

For whatever reason, last week— by the end of the week— I was tired. And, I had a few meetings Thursday, which were all important. 

So, fitness-wise, I took a pause. I let myself rest that morning, before doing anything late morning / early afternoon. 

It made the meetings more productive AND I benefited from the slower pace…



Finance = the car wash

A few weeks ago I realized that I haven’t washed a car in about two years. I used to do it ALL the time. But, with the move to an apartment a few years ago (and not having all the “stuff” to do it right there with me), plus an increased work load as I ramped-up a few projects, then the renovation of the house, I just got in the habit of driving the car to the local car wash, running it through, and have those guys do it.

At $20 a pop.

I always rationalized that it made financial sense (and, on some level, it did, presuming I could be working and earning much faster than what I would be paying for the wash). 

But it wasn’t like I was running through the car wash WHILE I was working… 

… or while I WOULD be working.

I would hit the car wash on a lazy Saturday, when I could actually be doing it.


So, in the past few weeks, as Beth and I were undertaking a completely new look at our finances, I decided, “I’m going to start washing those cars.”

Then— “And, I’m going to teach the boys to do it.”

Now, the older boys know how. I used to wash my own cars. In fact, I prided myself on the fact that we could pull into Goo-Goo Car Wash and the oldest boys (Noah, Levi, Judah) would jump out of the car and spring into action like a NASCAR pit crew— each one of them knowing exactly what part of the routine was theirs to own.

But this fella never got that experience— 

In fact, with the transition of the past few years I’ve realized there are so many things that he didn’t get. 

So, in a sense, we’re making up for some lost time / opportunities.


This week, we had to grab a few more car wash supplies. I keep a box that has all the things…

Armor All, Windex, etc…

But I needed to resupply.

So, on the way to Goo Goo, we dropped in the local Advance Auto, where the entire “car wash detail” section was on sale. We loaded up. 

On the way IN, though, he noticed a sticker. And, since we’ve loaded up the back window of this SUV just like we did over a decade ago with the old Land Rover Discovery, I let him add one on…

“It’s my car, too,” he said.

True. Longer story for another time. But, I bought this car in a crunch on his birthday several years ago— and then he and I went and picked it up together. So, he actually THINKS it’s his car. 

(And, as the final kid, I’ve conceded that if the wheels haven’t fallen off the “blacked out” KIA SUV by the time he turns 16, he can take it over.)



Family = School wrapping = more school events

This week, it wasn’t just one family “thing” that made the list, it was more like an entire CLUSTER. 

End of the school year means lots of end of the year activities come to a halt. And that means lots of banquets and concerts and finish lines.

Tuesday, we attended Isaac’s band concert. Shockingly, this band was so much better than the band I was in during 7th grade. I expected one thing (that is, for them to sound like a bunch of 6th and 7th graders), but they were truly “next level.”



Wednesday, I joined Salter for the final “All Pro Dads” breakfast. 

“Can we go to All Pro Dads?” he asked-- THE NIGHT BEFORE. πŸ˜‚

“What do you do?” I asked, already knowing, but not yet realizing they had rebooted this thing post-Covid. 

“You hang out with kids and eat breakfast.”

“That all?”

“You get to leave the house. And you don’t have to do any morning chores or anything. So it’s kinda like a sneak out, I guess.”


Full disclosure- All Pro Dads is a thing Oak Mountain schools do for intermediate attendees and below. Bring your dad + eat + talk about some questions with your kid they provide you. 

Today’s topic = responsibility.

Shout out to #Goom for seeing the massive opportunity for this kinda thing— and to the hundreds (yes, 100s) of other dads present.

He enjoyed it so much that he reached out that evening to see if I would meet him for lunch the following day. 




Friday, Judah had an 8th grade banquet at The Riverchase Galleria— at the Hyatt (the hotel formally known as the Wynfrey). 

Mini and I took him, then went to see if we could find some shorts (for him) for an upcoming trip. 

No shorts. But we did find this fantastic blue jean jacket. 

(The expression on her face says it all, I know.)

One of our “go to” statements with the #JCrew2 — when don’t want to do something, but would rather say so in an inflated + funny + nice way…

“I’d rather eat a blue jean jacket than _________.”


πŸ—£have blue cheese on my salad

πŸ—£clean the kitchen 

πŸ—£watch a movie at the Summit (still old school seating, even though it’s at the nicest shopping mall)


Mini and I use the phrase 2-3 times a week…

The jacket?

Saw it for 75% off (didn’t buy it). Texted a pic to @bethdjenkins, who’d probably rather eat a blue Jean jacket herself rather than see me land back at the #hilltop sporting a 90s-ish stone-washed piece πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚



Finally, there’s this one… 

Saturday night, high school wrestling team banquet.

Levi on the left— and his friends / wrestling teammates Cooper (middle) and Baylan (right). I’m not sure what the pose was for— but I’m sure we did the same nonsense at our wrestling things years ago…



Field = Finished / edited Purpose

This book goes with the LifeLift collection...

Someone asked me, “How does this book fit with the other LifeLift resources and the 4-part framework?”

In addition to the four facets of the framework, LifeLift is built on three foundations— the three keys to unlock your purpose. The three guidelines, which are featured predominantly in this book, are threaded throughout the larger framework. 

So, in a sense, think of this book as an introduction to LifeLift.

Or, to say it another way and answer the question posed as to how this resource fits, this is “LifeLift Lite.” Whereas the entire framework provides you with a robust discipleship path, as well as more core truths to understand your faith, this book focuses on helping you find your your purpose. 

The complete LifeLift framework is sub-divided into four parts: Identity (who you are in Christ), Presence (the role of the Holy Spirit), Expression (the Spirit’s flow through us to touch the world), and Perspective (bringing everything together).  In this book, we’ll hit some of the high points of those four, but rather than addressing those “core four” individually (as we do in the longer course and the four books), we’ll focus on the three foundational areas, the three keys, we use in those resources to help you find your purpose. 

In this book, you’ll learn the following: 

  • Who you really are (chapter 1). Many Christians I know suggest the disciple with whom they most readily identity is Simon Peter— because he’s always sticking his foot in his mouth and “falling short.” However, I believe that many people identify with the wrong version of Peter, that is, they look at the pre-resurrection / pre-redeemed Peter and not his (and our) post-resurrection reality. 

Apart from understanding who you really are, you'll look for external validation in a (vain) effort to supply something God has already given you. And, you’ll consistently feel like you’re missing something— something which you already have. 

  • Key 1 to unlock your purpose = Instructional Obedience (chapters 2 and 3). This is a term my dad coined and used in the original LifeLift workbook. I kept the phrase because, first of all, I don’t find the phrase used anywhere else. 

As well, this title, it’s clear. It infers that we begin our journey by looking at the things God has already, clearly instructed us— and we obey. 

Many Christians inadvertently look for “next level” revelation and super-specific insights (and even argue about them), but they overlook the areas God has already been clear. We should consistently grow and see fresh revelation of the truths the Lord unveils. However, it’s essential to begin with what He’s clearly disclosed to us. 

  • Key 2 to unlock your purpose = Created Design (chapters 4 and 5). You are a unique, unrepeatable miracle of God. That includes your personality, the way you view the world, and how you respond to different circumstances. 

Your created design, that is, how you were made by God, also includes talents and special abilities you have. These are each areas that help you define your purpose even further. 

For certain, you might work hard to develop and grow in this area, but it’s part of your special, God-given (at birth) “bent.”

  • Key 3 to unlock your purpose = Spiritual Gifts (chapters 6 and 7). Finally, we move to the arena of the supernatural, the sacred space where God empowers you to outperform anything you can do in your own strength. Note, though, that we don’t just “jump here.” 

We first align ourselves with God’s Word (Key 1 = Instructional Obedience), and we affirm the unique ways in which He’s made us (Key 2 = Created Design). 

  • The Ring (see chapters 8 and 9). We’ll review each of the three guidelines, noting how they each work together— and their relative importance. 

Furthermore, as we do, you’ll be reminded, once again, of the importance of remember who you are— just as we learn in chapter 1— for the truth is that you live your purpose as an overflow of who God designed you to be and not as a means to become the person God designed to be. The difference is subtle, yet profound. 



Faith = From Slavery to Sonship

I’ll go “short” on this section of the post, because I’ve already exceeded the # of words intended to post. 

Suffice to say (I’m mentioned this book in last week’s Top 7) post, I’ve enjoyed walking back— slowly— through this book. In a culture in which productivity is a core value (and, honestly, that’s part of my personality / predisposition, too), a book written BY A TYPE A- ACHIEVER— that graciously reminds us that: 

⭐️ our identity is based on what we do 

⭐️ our identity has been settled— and secured— by our Father

⭐️ our identity is the foundation we work FROM not the thing we work FOR and aspire TO

… has been refreshing (and much needed).



Friends = a few work-related meetings, but…

This week I had a few work-related meetings with friends. I’m trying to be cognizant of the fact that we CAN do both— that we CAN work with friends. 

Looking back in the rear view mirror, I’ve been burned by friends— when work lines weren’t clear. In those instances, I felt things were extracted from me, value was given… the people attained what they needed… and then I was discarded. 

(I know. That’s a very terse, one-sided way of looking at it. And the truth is that things never parse out that clearly. So, realize I’m being very short / quick with this section, rather than sharing a more nuanced longer story that would actually be more accurate.)

When the Dream Center small group fell apart years ago— not by my choice but b/c leaders OVER leaders who weren’t even at the small group decided it was time to “kill it,” I wondered how something so good could just come to at end…

“Enjoy doing life with you,” our co-leaders said. 

It was almost a mantra. 

But we weren’t doing life together. We hadn’t been to each other’s homes. We didn’t know each other’s families (really, truly know them). We didn’t really know each others hurts AND dreams.

We weren’t doing life— we were doing a job. We were leading a group, a group that grew from a few dozen to several hundred over the course of a few months. 


There’s nothing wrong with either one— with “doing life” or “working on a project” together.

But, we need to affirm that they can happen CONCURRENTLY or they can happen in ISOLATION from each other… 

… they’re MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE, in other words.

That all means this…

It’s easy to see “work relationships” as friendships. Sometimes they are; other times they’re not. 

Most of the time, they’re associations (read: acquaintances) based on proximity and project— not based on personal connection. 

Would the relationship continue if either of you “left the job” or exited the project you’re working on together? 

βœ… If so, you’ve got a friendship of some degree.

❌ If not, you’ve got a temporary covenant of agreement or partnership for a project or task. 

Again, neither is “good” or “bad.” But, it’s helpful— and, dare I say it— even important to understand which is which, so that you can assess where you really are. 


Here’s are the links to the talks I recently posted (a decade old!) which were shared at the Dream Center. 

🎧Just let me in your boat = 

🎧Transformation, not information =

🎧The "small" in front of you is the doorway to the big = 

🎧Hope is a better apologetic than dogma = 

🎧Prayer is less about the words and more about the relationship = 


Here’s a pic of Judah, btw, at one of those small groups, just as we finished setting up (he’s 14 now πŸ˜‚).



Fun = Road trip to HSV to see my parents 

Last Sunday Beth and I rode to Huntsville to see my Mom and Dad. 

We called them— and texted— when we were on the way, then surprised them for lunch. 

The reason we really went was to see my Dad preach. It had been a LONG time since I’d been there to support him. And, when we were talking one day, Beth realized she had NEVER heard him teach / preach.

He’s now a teaching pastor / senior adult minister at Mount Zion Baptist. He preaches about once a month on Sunday mornings— and about three times a month on Sunday evenings, during a service largely created for the senior adults. 

The “chapel service,” as they call it, resembles the Hilldale Baptist worship services where so much of my life change was set in motion— as I talk about in the intro to LifeLift.

(And in this podcast episode— and this one


So, Sunday consisted of…

πŸš™ drive to HSV

β˜•οΈ stop for gas— and, really— the coffee at a great spot in HSV (Twice Daily), where I ALWAYS stop

🍽 lunch at a great fast-food chicken place 

🏑 afternoon visit at my parents’ 

β›ͺ️ evening worship at Mt. Zion

πŸ₯— supper at Jason’s Deli

β˜•οΈ stop for more coffee

πŸš™ back home

That’s the highlight reel for the week.


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