When I originally sat down to write acknowledgements for my book The Anxious Christian: Can God Use Your Anxiety for Good?, I realized about 10 pages into the acknowledgements that that wasn’t going to work. The publisher was looking for 1-2 pages, but I was 10 pages in and only partly done thanking all the people who have contributed to this book.

This is the most important take away for me as I wrote and completed this book…and it is this:

When a book…and if a book…finally sees the light of day…it is only because its author had the privilege and blessing of having many amazing and encouraging people in their life along the way.

So friends…this book (which is a dream come true for me–I’ve wanted to write and publish a book since grade school) only comes to fruition because I’ve had the privilege of having all of you in my life. I’ve had so many amazing friends and acquaintances over the years that I can’t be more thankful to God than I am.

I wish I could write down each and everyone’s name in this email, but I can’t, because I will undoubtedly forget someone very special by accident. I have had the joy of living life in some amazing communities of people who have left an indelible mark on who I am, and what comes out in the book.

I’m just so thankful for all the earlier communities of people that I was able to live life among (Kachina Elementary School; Cactus High School; Faith Bible Church, etc.). As I wrote and retold many stories in my book, there were many vivid faces etched in my mind. I particularly remember a number of students who came to my house and left cards and flowers after the death of my mom from breast cancer when I was in the 5th grade. Those memories of your kind actions were positive fuel for my writing. Thank you.

I’m thankful for the early communities of people who really fostered my faith and helped me to grow. It was in these communities of caring and gracious people that I was really challenged to own my own faith (Grand Canyon University–both as a student and admissions counselor; Fuller Seminary Southwest). I owe a lot to the discipleship/chapel staff at Grand Canyon University, who in April of 1996 gave a stuttering student the opportunity to share his story and preach the Easter morning sunrise service. Your community is prevalent in my story as you will see in the book. And I’m thankful to the amazing extension campus of Fuller Southwest Seminary. It is there that I grew a stronger love of God and was really challenged to use and think through my faith in amazing ways. Thank you.

I’m thankful to the amazing host families and Spanish school (CSA) who welcomed me into their lives for a little over three months in the Spring/Summer of 2001. I consider this period of my life as one of the most transforming. And it was here that I began to fill up my journals with material that would eventually find its way into this book in various forms. Thank you.

I’m thankful to two major communities of people who I credit with really helping me become the person that I am today (Bel Air Presbyterian Church; Fuller Theological Seminary). It was at Fuller Seminary that I learned to love theology from people who held the highest academic standards coupled with a love of God and commitment to his Word. I loved Fuller so much I went back again for another degree. So I owe Fuller a double thank you in many ways. And it was at Bel Air that my theology was given the opportunity to be practiced and lived out among the lives of many, many amazing college students. I have to pause here and really thank the hundreds of college students whom I had the privilege of serving with from 2001-2008 as their college pastor at Bel Air. You (my students) shaped me in ways that you probably didn’t even know. And for the 7 different leadership teams who showed me grace when I often didn’t know what I was doing as a leader. Thank you. It was also at Bel Air Presbyterian Church that I met my wife in the amazing young adult community of The Foundry. I will never forget those Tuesday nights of worship at The Refinery and where I first talked to Heather. This community of people during this period of 2001-2008 pretty much provided me with the raw material that was shaped into book form. You will find in my book the unique role that Bel Air played in helping me to face my anxiety. Thank you.

I’m thankful to Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Dallas, TX, who for three years employed me in the youth department to teach parenting classes. This experience really helped me put together material that made its way into the book, but more importantly, provided the avenue to speak a couple of times a month to parents…which was an opportunity to face my anxiety a lot…and grow in the process. A special thanks to Lars Rood whose friendship began in 2001 at Bel Air Presbyterian Church when he sat on the committee that hired me as the college pastor, and who later hired me at Highland Park Presbyterian Church to teach the parenting classes. Hopefully we will work together again. Thank you.

I’m thankful to the Hideaway Experience in Amarillo, TX who has greatly shaped me as a therapist. I’ve learned more about my marriage as a therapist on staff there than almost any other place. The Hideaway Experience with a number of other colleagues both in TX and other states have contributed to me not only personally, but in my work as a therapist and writer. Thank you.

I want to thank my close friends and family. Many who are in Texas, and others who are scattered across the country. I’m thankful for my friends who have walked with me through all phases of my life (light and dark) and who have never abandoned me, but always journeyed with me and offered grace. I’m thankful to all the amazing writers out there who I have fostered friendships with over the last few years. Your phone calls, emails, helpful conversations, encouraging texts helped me persevere (John Dyer, Anne Jackson, Adam McHugh, Jon Acuff, Matthew Anderson, Lars Rood, Hugh Hewitt, etc, etc.) I owe you all big time. Thank you.

I’m thankful to my supportive family who has encouraged my dreams of writing all along the way. I was able to thank them in the opening and ending pages of my book as well as throughout. Thanks to my amazing wife…she has always supported my dreams and been my biggest encourager. Without her help and support, this book would not be possible. And thank you to my daughter Hayden and my son Hudson whose daily joy was the inspiration to keep on writing when I didn’t feel like I had it in me. Thank you.

Last…though it sounds cliche, it is not. The work of God in my life is weaved throughout this book. Without him in my life I never would have had the courage to face my anxiety. But with him, not only did he give me the courage to face it, he transformed it into something beautiful in my life. May God be glorified when people read my book. Thank you.

I hope that in the ensuing months I will be able to thank many of you who I did not specifically state in this post, but who were on my mind throughout. Hopefully you know who you are…I am thankful for you.