advent conspiracy [give more]: Bobby Harrison

Today’s advent conspiracy post is written by Bobby Harrison. Bobby is on staff at FN, where he works with middle and high school students. His precious wife Amy is also part of our staff. Their son Abe and dog Zeke are not yet on staff, although they do visit whenever they can. Bobby blogs here, and sometimes here too.

Spending the majority of my young adult life in ministry, I’ve become quite the professional at Ice Breakers.  You know, those questions you throw out at the beginning of a meeting to get people mingling and socializing…the one’s that break the ice.  Seeing as how I’ve had to have my own answers to these sorted out for a while, I call these Back Pocket Questions.  Why?  Because I always have to have my own brilliant, insightful response right there in my back pocket.

What three people, dead or alive, would you invite over for dinner?

Easy:  James Brown.  Donald Rumsfeld.  Kermit the Frog.

That was a joke.  I’m not giving way my real list to you right now.  It’s so good you’ll steal it for yourself.  And yes, I realize Kermit is a Muppet and not a person.  Get over it.  And go see the new Muppets movie.  Amazing.  I digress…

What’s your most embarrassing moment?

No brainer:  Too painful to type here, though.  Actually, my answer for this is just kinda sad.  I need to come up with a better one that is less awkward for my audience.  I’ll work on that.

And finally…

What’s the greatest gift you’ve ever received?

And here’s where we turn the corner.  No joke answer.  No painfully honest answer.  This is the real answer.  Before I even tell you, let me say this:  I hope, just once in your life, you get a gift that means as much to you as this gift still means to me.  Just once.

For Christmas last year, my wife and I both committed to making each other gifts instead of buying them.  I honestly thought I was going to win this contest.  I didn’t even think it was going to be close. What’s that?  It’s not a contest?  Whatever.

You see, I’d painted her a painting in honor of our 5-year anniversary trip to Ireland.  And if that wasn’t enough, I topped that off by making a 20-minute homemade video montage of our first year with our son, Abraham.  What could top that?  The ball’s in your court, wife.  Check mate.

Or so I thought…

My wife handed me a present to unwrap.  She had that sweet look in her eyes, the one you get when you can barely contain the joy of the gift you’re giving.  It’s the look we should all give, always, around this time of year.

I unwrapped the present to find a book with the words “for Bobby” written right on the front.  I’m not sure a truer sentence has ever been written.  This was just for me.  In every way.

The book was filled with 23 letters from 23 different men written straight to me.  Words of affirmation.  Over and over and over again.  Arrows aimed right for my heart.  Men pouring into me with everything they could muster.  Iron sharpening iron with sparks and strength flying everywhere.  My best friends breathing life and passion through word after encouraging word.   My father-in-law sharing his deepest blessing and greatest gratitude.  My step-father putting down words on our 20 years together as father-and-son that I’d be longing to hear for years.

Once a day, over the next 23 days, I’d sit alone and read a letter written straight to me.  Men, from all walks of life, walking right up to me, putting their arms around me and telling me how much they cared about me.

Every man yearns for approval.  For solidarity.  For strength.  My wife knew that.  Because she knew me.  And that is why this was the greatest gift she’s ever given me.  And why it was the greatest gift I’ve ever received.

May you give gifts this year filled with meaning.  Make them real.  Make them personal.  Heck, maybe even really make them.  With your own hands.  Who knows, you may even help someone come up with something great for their back pocket:  An answer to one of the greatest Back Pocket Questions of all time:  what’s the greatest gift you’ve ever received?


This Christmas season at FN, we’ve decided to join into the Advent Conspiracy. As a part of celebrating together, we’ve asked several people to write about each week’s topic here on our blog. And we’d like for you to join in too: share your reactions, plans, or experiences in the comments. Or, if you post on your own blog, leave a link in the comments. Post pictures to our Facebook wall. Tweet us @fellowshipnorth. Let’s use our online space as a community – one that will conspire together this Christmas season!

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