Crisis of Conscience

Disclaimer right off the bat: I’m not anti-lottery nor am I anti-gambling.

It seems like the Powerball jackpot is the big thing in the news (read: pop culture) right now. I’m going to buy a Powerball ticket. I’ve never bought one before and I have no real expectation of winning but I mean, come on, $800 million (after taxes) is a lot of money and the ticket is only $2. Why not?

Over the last week I’ve had a couple conversations with people about what I would do with that much money. I said the first thing I would do is pay off my student loans which isn’t an uncommon answer for many people. I would pay off all my family’s debts; mortgages, car loans, student loans, I’d take care of all of it because I would want my family to live a comfortable lifestyle. I was told my answers were boring.

I told them the first non-debt related, slightly impractical thing I would do is buy this house. I love Fort Morgan and I have always loved this house, both its beauty and its seclusion. Then I’d get really impractical and build a long private pier at which I would dock my private yacht. Then I would need an airstrip right by my house so my private plane could fly me to Auburn during the fall to enjoy all the games in my 50-yard line private suite. Oh, I have plans for that money…

I once read an interview with Bill Gates where he was asked if he had any real concept of the sheer amount of his wealth. He responded, “the only (he) could really grasp it was thinking that there was nothing in the world that (he couldn’t) buy.” After the interview, I thought for a few minutes about what that might be like. What would it be like if there was not a thing on Earth that I simply could not afford?

A few months ago, I wrote about an experience I had with a man named George. When I met George at a RaceTrac gas station, he hadn’t eaten and was hungry so I bought him some food. What I didn’t write about then was my desire to spend my money elsewhere.

For several years, I owned a beloved pair of polarized Rayban Wayfarer sunglasses. I’m notorious about losing sunglasses so for the longest time, I wouldn’t spend more than $15 on sunglasses. One day I decided that I really wanted those sunglasses so I would buy them and take extra precaution. I owned them for 4 years before I finally lost them one day by leaving them at the tennis court after a couple long matches. I was upset but proud of myself for owning them as long as I did.

I decided to reward myself for the longevity of my ownership by purchasing myself a new pair. I spent about a week shopping around, deciding if I wanted to stick with my tried and true Wayfarers or give something else a try. Once I made the decision to stick with those, I wanted the best deal, of course, so I looked a little longer. I met George the day before I was going to buy the sunglasses. The aftermath of my interaction with him left me feeling helpless and ashamed. In the midst of this man being unable to afford food, I was filled with excitement at the idea of owning my second pair of $200 sunglasses. I didn’t buy the glasses. I couldn’t buy the glasses.

I found myself feeling the same way in the aftermath of my lottery conversation. I first felt convicted upon realizing that none of my initial thoughts about spending the money involved giving money to the church. Tithe is important and I know some pretty awesome churches (namely the two I work with) and ministries out there that could do a lot of really great things with $80 million. That wasn’t even on my initial radar.

The conviction grew when I realized I hadn’t thought anything about helping people who needed it most…”most” being the essential word. Would my family benefit greatly from my paying off all their debts? Sure. Are any of them in danger of facing homelessness or starvation if I don’t? Not of which I am aware. But there are people who already face homelessness and starvation and they had nothing to do with my first thoughts on what I would do with all that money.

The conviction intensified to it’s maximum when this question popped in my head: “Why do I need $800 million to help people?” I didn’t have millions of dollars when I bought George food and I don’t tithe and give to certain charities each month out of some million-dollar paycheck I assure you. Why do I need to daydream about winning the Powerball to help people? The answer is I don’t.

I’m still going to spend my $2 on a ticket because how cool would it be if I got to write a check to feed every single homeless person in DFW. I think it would be way cooler than buying that beach house (which I would still buy). But I’m not going to sit around thinking about what I could buy with that money, I’m not going to sit around thinking about the ways I could help people with that kind of money. I’m not going to sit around thinking about what it would be like to literally be able to afford anything on planet Earth. I’m not going to sit around thinking about what I could buy with the money I have now and I’m not going to sit around thinking about the ways I could help people with the money I have now. I want to actually get out and help people. I think I will. I don’t need $800 million to help someone and you don’t either. Let’s do it.


Midweek Music 10.21.15

“You’re Beautiful” | Shane and Shane

When we arrive at eternity’s shore
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more
We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring
Your bride will come together and we’ll sing
You’re beautiful


I’ve created a playlist on Spotify featuring all the songs from Midweek Music, feel free to follow it along with the posts.

Seeing orange when all we want is red (another Lawson inspired post)

11201811_10153658453707813_6482443562922202457_nIf you don’t know who Lawson is, you must not read my blogs very often. I talk about my youngest nephew quite a bit, not only because he is one hilarious and cool kid but also because, when I visit him, I always leave having learned something.

On one of my recent visits, Lawson was showing me some of his newest Ninja Turtle gear. He’s a big fan. His favorite is Raphael, the red-masked ninja turtle with attitude…let’s just say it fits well that the stubborn, strong-willed turtle is his favorite. While we were going through the inventory of his Ninja Turtle swag, he pulled out his Raphael mask and wanted me to help him put it on his face so he could pretend. I was more than happy to help and play Ninja Turtles with him but every time I tried to put the mask on him and tie it, he resisted.

The problem, as it turned out, was that the mask was double sided. The part of the mask facing out was red like Raphael wore, but the part facing in towards Lawson, was orange like Michelangelo wore. Every time I went to put the mask on him, all he could see was orange. In his mind, I was making him be Michelangelo when he wanted to be Raphael.

There have been many times in my life where I had an idea of who I wanted to be and what it would take for me to be that person. In my pursuit of this, I would plan my path and do anything I could to stick to it. The issue here is that sometimes, dare I say oftentimes, the path doesn’t follow the plan. Situations arise, circumstances change, paths need to be rerouted and plans just fall apart. Sometimes the person we think we are “supposed” to be changes entirely.

Like Lawson, I failed to see the “red” because I couldn’t stop focusing on the “orange”. I became so focused on the destination that I forgot about the journey. I needed a change of perspective. I tried showing Lawson that there were two sides to the mask and when I put the orange facing toward him then the red was on the outside making him Raphael. He couldn’t grasp it because each time I went to try again, he saw the orange and would get upset. He couldn’t, nor wouldn’t, change his perspective.

There are times we become some fixated on how we want things to work out that we don’t see things from God’s perspective. There are times we become some fixated on getting our own agenda out there, that we fail to see things from other’s perspectives. After a good while of disagreeing, Lawson eventually grasped the concept of what I was trying to tell him. He got to be Raphael when he opened up to a new perspective.

Imagine the things you could do by opening your eyes and your mind to God’s perspective over your own. Imagine the person you could be and the glory you could bring to God by viewing life through the lens of another’s perspective. Imagine what we could accomplish together if we stopped seeing orange when all we want is red.

Midweek Music 08.05.15

“By Our Love” Christy Nockels

This song has been stuck in my head for quite some time now. With the recent political climate, both in the last few months and beyond, Christians have become known for what they are against and what they dislike.

It’s easy to be on the defense. It’s easy to sit back and wait for someone to say anything you don’t like and then make sure everyone knows you don’t like it. But imagine a world where Christians proactively worked towards being on the offensive side of love.

What if Christians, instead of being known for what we don’t like, were known for showing love and kindness. What if Christians were known for feeding the hungry, helping the poor and the homeless, healing the sick. What is Christians were known by their love.


I’ve created a playlist on Spotify featuring all the songs from Midweek Music, feel free to follow it along with the posts.

Music Monday 07.06.15

“People of God” Gungor

There is too much division in this country and even more division in the church. It’s disheartening, frustrating, and exhausting. Let’s stop fighting and let’s work together.

Tear down the walls that divide us
Let love rebuild and unite us
All we need is
All we need is love

I’ve created a playlist on Spotify featuring all the songs from Music Monday, feel free to follow it along with the posts.

The Opulence of Not Giving

I have an acquaintance that started a charitable organization a few years ago. It’s not unlike him to do so as he is a really nice guy, eccentric at times, but nice. I won’t give names or specific details because my goal is not to publicly embarrass this guy. Let’s just say his charitable organization is moderately successful through his and his father’s connections, a pretty concerted social media effort, and the fact that his charity has the potential to do a lot of wonderful things for some human beings that are in desperate need.

I’ve never given any money to his charity.

Why? It’s not because I’m a stingy miser. I do donate to charities. But I don’t donate to his. It’s because of his lifestyle. Maybe I’m overreacting, maybe I care more than I should but this guy lives a ridiculously lavish lifestyle. He takes marvelously expensive trips multiple times a year spending (seemingly) more money than I make in that same year. I’m suspicious that some of his clothes cost more than the entirety of what comprises my closet. I’m fairly certain that some of the parties he throws costs roughly the same amount as that of the value of my car (which isn’t all that much so maybe a bad example).

Not only does he live this lavish life, he flaunts it.

Not a day goes by where I login to one of a variety of social media accounts that I don’t see any number of pictures/statuses/tweets/snaps about his latest expensive venture. I won’t deny it makes me jealous sometimes as I sit at my desk in my office and look at pictures of him in cities all around the world. I am human after all. But my fleeting jealousy is not what fuels this post.

Here’s the thing, I don’t completely fault this guy for spending his families money they way he sees fit. If that is the lifestyle he wants to lead, that is totally his choice. I vacation, I go shopping and eat out. I’m in no place to criticize those things. My problem lies in this fact: this same guy who is leading and flaunting this lavish lifestyle is the same one asking me to donate to his charity.

The charity’s most recent campaign was trying to raise $2000. It exceeded it’s goal, which is fantastic. As the campaign went on, I watched it’s CEO take a vacation to Europe. I couldn’t help but question how much the money spent on that vacation might have helped his organization’s beneficiaries. The plane ticket alone might very well have covered the entire campaign. As he flew to Europe, person after person dedicated $10, $15, $25 to helping others.

He is not alone.

In 2013, American households gave $241 billion to charitable organizations. I’m amazed at that kind of generosity. It’s heartwarming to see that kind of giving. There’s a catch though. In that same year, American households spent $621 billion directly on leisure travel. Individuals spent 158% as much on traveling for fun as we did on feeding the hungry, clothing the homeless, disease prevention, and educating the uneducated.

This isn’t intended to guilt you into canceling your vacation. I sure as heck am not canceling mine next month and I won’t feel one ounce of guilt as I play with my nephews on the beach. But I know that I also have a responsibility to live within a certain means so that I can help others. Maybe I even need to reassess what I spend on a regular basis.

Someone once told me, in regards to this argument I am making, “Trey, there is always more that can be done. You’ll never be satisfied.” And they were right, there is always more than can be done and I won’t ever be satisfied. I hope you won’t be either.

My Name isn’t Frank

I was 11 years old when my grandmother passed away and my grandfather had to live with us because of his affliction with Alzheimer’s disease. I loved my grandfather. I had fond memories of working with him in his garden, going to “Tasty Dog” for a hot dog and chips, and sharing a Mr. Goodbar with him. When he moved in with us, I didn’t fully comprehend what Alzheimer’s had done to him. I envisioned us taking frequent visits to Tasty Dog where I would hear stories about the escapades of my dad and aunt when they were younger. The first time I was to really understand something was different was the day Pappaw called me “Frank”. My name isn’t Frank. My dad is Frank, I am Trey. At first, I thought it was just a slip. Who doesn’t mix up names from time to time? Besides, everyone always told me I looked exactly like my dad when he was my age. It wasn’t a slip up though, he insisted I was Frank and wanted to know where Rethell was. Rethell, my grandmother, had passed away several months before so I couldn’t understand why he was asking for her. He knew what had happened, he had been at the funeral. Why was my grandfather asking for her?

For the the next year, I watched as my grandfather confused names and occurences. I watched him forget what year it was, sometimes even forgetting what decade we were in. I watched a man who was very kind and quiet for most of my life become angry and verbally lash out at people. I watched as my dad had to help him shave, dress, bathe himself, and use the restroom. I watched as he had to hear the news of my grandmother’s death time and time again.

I have many fond memories of my grandfather that I will always keep with me. But the last years of his life, my last memories of him, were spent in pain and frustration. I didn’t cry at my grandfather’s funeral. I missed him and I loved him dearly but I found myself unable to cry. I couldn’t cry because I was too happy for him. I knew that while I would miss him, he was no longer constrained by this debilitating disease that changed him.

I don’t want others to experience what I experienced. I’ve decided to honor my Pappaw by participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. As a part of the walk, I’ve pledged to raise $500 towards research funding for prevention and a cure. You can help by donating towards my campaign. If we work together, we can bring an end to Alzheimer’s.



To learn more about Alzheimer’s Disease and the research being done to prevent it and cure it, visit the Alzheimer’s Association website.

A Different Kind of Gift

I really enjoy giving gifts. There’s something exciting to me about picking out a gift for someone and giving it to them to celebrate a holiday, commemorate an occasion, or just brighten their day. That’s just another reason Christmas is exciting to me. (Side note: I feel like all my recent and near future posts are about Christmas but meh, ’tis the season). I spend a good deal of time thinking about the gifts I give in hopes that they will be wanted, practical, and appreciated.

I try to take the same approach when people ask me what I want for Christmas. A few days ago, as I was thinking about who I was buying for this year, what I was buying them, and what I wanted, I was shown a video for an organization called Advent Conspiracy.

Numbers can be very shocking…and the fact that Americans spend $450 billion a year on the holiday season is hard to swallow even without taking into consideration the fact that $10 billion would solve the worlds water crisis. Here’s another shocking fact: that video was made in 2008…it is currently estimated that Americans spend close to $601 billion on the holidays. $601,000,000,000.

There is another organization called Sole Hope. Sole Hope was founded by friends of a friend to provide shoes for children in Uganda who otherwise wouldn’t own a pair. Not only do they have to walk around barefoot in rocky dirt, they have to encounter jiggers that live in that dirt (Jiggers, not chiggers). It only costs $10 to provide a pair of shoes for child. $10. I own a pair of Cole Haan wingtips, they are my favorite shoes and they cost $250. The cost of those one pair of shoes could literally put shoes on the feet of 25 children.

Now, this is not meant to be a guilt trip. I don’t feel bad for owning my Cole Haans, I don’t feel bad for buying Christmas gifts for my loved ones and I certainly don’t want you to feel bad for it either. My goal is not to get you to give up everything for Christmas and give all your money to solve the world water crisis or put shoes on the entire continent of Africa. However, imagine with me for a second what could happen if we just cut back. Instead of spending $100 on a Christmas present, we spent $50 and then gave $50 to Advent Conspiracy. Instead of spending $1000 on Black Friday, we spent $500 and gave $500 to Sole Hope.

I’ve decided to cut back on my gift giving and holiday spending this year and I’m asking anyone intending to buy me a present, to donate instead. I’ve chosen Advent Conspiracy and Sole Hope for my own purposes but you can donate to whatever cause you see fit to be best served with your money. For every dollar I spend on a Christmas present, I’ve chosen to put $2 towards one of these two charities. I live within a budget as do most people so I simply can’t spend what I might normally spend on presents, I have to cut back…but it’s something I believe can make a difference.

I don’t know, maybe I’m naive, maybe I’m too hopeful, but there is something incredible about the idea that I can make a difference just by cutting back. If we’re just willing to adjust our lives slightly, together we can change someones life.


Make a difference by donating to Advent Conspiracy or Sole Hope.