Sprout of Life


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This last year…. What can I say about 2014 other then I’m glad to see it go and trying to rest in the hope that things will never be the same.

The magic words for a great relationship are, “I love you just the way you are.”
– Jonathan Lockwood Huie

My goal is to become a passionate friend to my wife and children and to love honestly from a depth that words cannot describe. I fail daily and I yet I am consistently given a chance to try again. My heart is torn at the depth of pain and circumstances faced when it comes to my family and friends. At times its unbearable to manage all that has happened to me and my family over the last year.

To sum up 2014, it has ravaged our hearts as well as our families, divorce, separation, abandonment, betrayal and death. The degradation of relationships seemly one after another with the recent loss of my uncle and a close family friend to cancer.

I am sitting in a metaphorical room with one chair and a small window to peer out, I see hope in the New Year in the form of a wounded life with plans to rebuild. When we can embrace our brokenness and learn that life can be made new from it there can be beauty in ugly and positivity in negative. Nothing is “too far gone” it is not black and white, there are shades of grey. Like a new sprout poking through the ground after a hard winter, life continues, love restores and what once wasn’t can be what is, and a new happiness can blossom. Like the strength of a tree it is not found in the bark, it is in the roots that are planted in the rich soil and in the soil comes the life of the tree.

Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are
something to do,
something to love,
and something to hope for.
– Joseph Addison

When one of them is missing or out of alignment a desire to fill the empty space begins and I struggle to fill it correctly. My love is not with restraint and a guarded heart and my faith at times is less important then it should be and my hope is not focused on something that cannot fail me.

I place my hope in my family, my wife and my children and I let the relationships define who I am as a man, father and husband.

When I was a young boy I vow to never hurt anyone like I have been hurt and over time I feel I’m losing myself in that. I used my relationships with others to define who I am and if I am successful at “my part” of the relationship and I have seen failure after failure. The time has come to create a new sprout of life, to define myself from what I can do for others with nothing in return. To be a safe place for our daughters to rely on in times of need and to learn to be a friend to the one I have been blessed to call my bride.

I once read, “love is not msessured by what you do in the easy times, it is msessured by what you do in the hard times”.

2015 will be the year I face my fears and push past who I see myself as and allow myself to become who I am designed to be.

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How we Shrink


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I have learned to use what I am good at in life, shrinking; I am a master at shrinking, hiding behind my humor and charm only to be screaming on the inside “please go away”. I am fearful of so many things and struggle to let any of them go.

Like so many of us I come from a broken home, a home that was so broken I struggle to see what direction to go to this day. Question after question; is this right? Is this how I should act or am I suppose to change this about myself?

So many questions flood my mind and heart and the more I search the cloudier it all becomes. I have found that the more people you talk with about a topic the more onions you end up with therefore making it harder to figure out which direction to set your travel through life in. we have all heard the great advise of others;

Follow your heart.

Walk by faith.

Let your morals be your guide.

Stay in the word and you will find the answers you seek.

What if your heart has been broken so many times by the ones you loved that following your own heart doesn’t feel safe?

What if your faith is so shaky because it is hard to trust in the ones you can see let alone a God you can’t?

What if you struggle with your own morals and defaulting to them can be harming to the relationship?

What if the words from our God feel hollow at times and hard to relate too?

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves,
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.
– Marianne Williamson

Finding the desire to even trust seems so far away, letting go and allowing the wounds of others to begin to heal doesn’t feel fair. It’s like the aching of a tooth, bight down in spite the pain only to reach that one second of relief of the pain, only for the pain to return because of the issue is with the tooth itself.

Dig deep; find the power only to realize you are incapable of acquiring alone.

“I will remain who I am unless I destroy who I was and become who I dream to be”. I seek to become not simply a father, a husband, a friend and a man of God; I set out on a journey to become great at all of these.

The faith I have in myself to become anything other than broken has been made clear to me that faith in myself will never amount to what the faith in my God will amount to. I have failed myself, my wife, my family and my children and the chances to heal all of the failures have been given to me.

I can stand up and express my deep apologies and in the process gain respect in their eyes. So the journey continues to stand tall and fight the desire to shrink, to be open and fight the quiet lies I tell myself and loved ones, and to stand tall in who I am and who I will become.

The dreams I have for who I am becoming are not my dreams anymore; they are the dreams of my father in heaven and as I learn to listen to the quiet voice and walk in this faith that I do not always understand.

I will remain a broken man until I allow Him to mold me into the man I am designed to become.

Mark a Memory


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Today’s date is 12/13/14 and although I do not believe in superstition it is pretty awesome to think that this day will never be seen again in my lifetime. My plan is to set this to post at 9:10:11 on 12/13/14, call me corny…

Even though today has a special chronological order that same “special marker” can go for everyday. I like to create markers in my mind on special days like this. I specifically remember posting on 12/12/12 at 12:12 only because it created a marker in my memory about that fun date and time.

Today I post from a sensitive place in my heart, a longing to make every day a little better than the one before. I have a high number of close friends and family that’s health is failing quickly to cancer and thinking to myself about how fragile life truly is makes my heart skip a beat. I am saddened by the rapidly declining health of many people and how young and full of life they are. I am only 34 and more and more I begin to think about my future, our future and that the plans and dreams that I have are not guaranteed.

You can plan your entire life, save money, buy that lake house and retreat to the lake with your family and nest egg, only to learn that a tiny cell that you have had your entire life decided to mutate and hinder the chance of seeing the lake. Anger begins to set in for my family that may not get to see the dreams they have created. My desire is to live like tomorrow will never come and struggling to find a balance in that as the fear of the “What if” creep in and attempt to steal my joy.

What if I get cancer?

What if something happens to my wife or children?

I do not want to destroy the joy of today by worrying about tomorrow and I also don’t want to rely on plans for the future and think to myself “ahh, it will happen later in life”. Later may never come, tomorrow may never bring joy so I am choosing every morning to live to the fullest and not to get caught in the rut of negative thinking and allow the what ifs to steal my joy.

Thinking about death and leaving this earth to be made complete, to be made new and to be free of the torment of the world sounds great some days and yet I fear death. I do not want leave without fulfilling “my” dreams and I know that sounds selfish and may not always be pleasing to God. I’m not saying I want to run off and sin as much as I can; my goal is to enjoy the life I have been given to its full potential.

For me creating a mark in my memory about a great time in life is like storing up power for the storms that will come later.  In those dark days I can look back and take a little hope from the great times in life and find joy in the storms. Lately I feel like I’m running on empty and maybe that is God’s plan for me, to empty my own reserve and begin to use the reserve He has for me.

I CHOOSE with Open Mind and Open Heart.
I renounce all assumptions and expectations.
I thoughtfully consider all possibilities.
I CHOOSE with courage, awareness, consciousness, and compassion toward all. – Jonathan Lockwood Huie

The Lost kids


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The sun begins to peek through my window, up early grabbing my shorts and shoes and making my way to my bike, I’m ready to hit the road and meet my friends and head to our track. Look at it, the chrome, the love I put into it, the scratches from multiple falls and the dents of the jumps I just didn’t make and it was mine, all mine.

The word Redline on the top tube, bulldog breaks, DK stem, Fox handlebars and the custom 3 piece crank holding the most dangerous triple trap pedals ever. I put my life into this bike and it showed by my ability to ride it. To this day I still see the scars up and down my shins and my elbows from days at the track, memories of the pain that I traded for the love of a sport.

With no time to be home there are no limits to the amounts of fun available and being full of energy the city is our playground. A favorite pastime was to piss off the WMU police and let the chase begin, never to be caught.

The picnic tables, park benches, curbs, walls, and fences nothing is out of our reach, nothing but the open road and a city open to our amusement “Ahh freedom”.

Only stopping to drink and to map out where we were going to ride next in our minds. Once again we set off to find the next jump and to try a new crazy trick with intentions of not killing ourselves in the process. Failure was a definite, and giving up was not an option.

I remember endless riding from the early morning until far past dark. From the old Nazareth track and Westerns campus to Portage and most the time swinging into Oakwood on the way to grab one of our favorite snacks, my grandma Jenkins famous pickles. These pickles were no store bought shelved pickles; these were the pickles that a pickle eater dreams about. Crunchy, sour and full of dill and garlic, perfection!

She would always slip me a few dollars for whatever and off we would go again to find a new trail to ravage. As I look back I think to myself I had no cell phone, no destination in mind and no contact information of where I was going or when I would be returning, and I was gone all day into the late night. Some nights I would not come home at all, no phone call no questioning where I was, pure freedom to do whatever I wanted.

 

 

Fast forward 22 years and thinking of our daughters and allowing this level of freedom confuses me and even makes me anxious at the thought of how I am still alive. I understand times are different now and the world has declined into the nasty hell it has become, so balance is necessary, the balance of teaching our daughters about life.

I was one of many, “the lost kids”, the kids that grew up without rules to follow or guidelines to live by, without a concern for others property or boundaries I did what I wanted when I wanted.

I still see the lost kids as I drive by our local corner store. I still see them walking the streets when I know they should be in school. I hear the late night laughter of the kids in our neighborhood as they make their way to the local party house.

Where are their parents?

What are they thinking leaving their kids alone in this world?

I admit it was a little different I was growing up being an 80’s kid growing up in the 90’s.

life was just simple back then and that is my point, today there is a rise in many acts I never heard of as a child. You know the saying “don’t talk to strangers” well that has an entire different meaning from when I grew up 25 years ago. With sex trafficking, child pornography and many other devastating act against our children. Who would EVER let their child out of their sight? How could anyone allow a child so young be alone to cross a VERY busy street and go to a store that I ask my wife not to go to at certain times of the day.

 

Today as I sat waiting at a red light I saw a very young child, between 6 and 8 that should be in school, looking both ways to run across a street with a 50 mph speed limit….

I thought to myself “no way, he is not going to run across this street” sure enough he did, only to get caught in the turning lane. As cars pass by him at over 50 mph on both sides, he didn’t even flinch, no fear in his eyes, no looking back to return and wait for the walk light to yield his right away.

He was numb to the normal fear of life. What has this poor child experienced in life that numbs his fear, what terrible life has stolen his will to remain safe and what worthless parents were given the blessings of a child they show a lack of concern for.

Now don’t get me wrong as I once lived and loved the blood, grease and dirt of a day on my BMX I understand risk and I understand pain. I also understand the natural feeling of “I want to live” that this child seems to lack. Who will teach the children of the world limits, discipline and what the value of a life is? Who will show them that they are so very important?

These lost kids if they make it to adulthood will be our leaders, public safety officers, doctors, teachers and backbone of society. It is time to look at what is going on around us and not only 3000 miles away, right here in our streets children are in need. We love to open our doors and have kids from around our neighborhood come for burgers and dogs. It is a small act of kindness on our part and the impact in their lives may just be the change needed to begin the building of self worth and to feel true kindness.

There are lost children here in our own neighborhoods and in our schools and yet we carry on like nothing is wrong.

Our own children may be safe; our own children may have the comfort of a happy home and there are lost children that are alongside our children as their peers and friends that do not have the small things in life that we take for granted.

Who is going to be there for the kids that are lost?

One day we will need them, one day as our generation ages we will call on them to be there for us as the backbone of society.

 

Proverbs 22:6

Train up a child in the way he should go,

and when he is old he will not depart from it.

 

Good or bad they are going to learn something, what are we teaching them? What message are we going to instill in the youth of our children’s generation? Where did family values go? Reach out to our kids, spend the time to get to know them, be a positive influence in their lives. You just might be the one act of love they needed to feel hope in this world.

Living to Die or Dying to Live


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When I was young I was dying to get to high school. Then I was dying to drive and then I was dying to get out of high school and then I was dying to get a job and then I was dying to get married and start a family and then I was dying to grow old enough to have kids and then I was dying to get them into school and now I’m dying to get them through the dreaded teen years of school.
This last year I was dying to simply make it all work…..

Rest your mind for a second, take a minute and think about the “good old days” Ahh, the good old days,….. well today will one day be a memory of the good old days…

When will I live?
When will I view life as an adventure and stop dying to get through the next thing or see living as “surviving”? I’m sure I was not created to simply survive, I was created to make an impact on those around me, to be an effective father and husband.

As my mind floods with the thoughts, “When I get myself together enough I can be there for others” maybe it’s my “not together” that will impact others. Then comes the question of what you will leave as a legacy. I want to be famous, famous beyond my wildest dreams however there are only four people I want to be seen as famous. I want to been seen as famous in the eyes of my God, my wife and our two daughters.

I was asked once “do your blogs make you proud”? In a way yes however not as a boastful pride, more like I’m proud of the journey I have entered into and that others desire to walk with me by reading and allowing my words to touch them. My goal in that, to influence others, to change their lives, and to impact their lives in a positive way.

I guess in a way this will be my journal, my journal of what I have experienced and how I became the man I am today.

Today I choose to live, today I choose to love and today I choose to brush the dirt off my knees and continue my walk.

Old Canvas


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Once lost in the dark, my life changing to light and bringing forth a clarity to the perception of the canvas of my heart.

In the past I thought of life as a puzzle. With a renewed vision I am beginning to see life as a painting, a tattered and torn canvas with layer after layer of paint.

The multitude of colors and depth of the paint bring out our lives as the canvas.

“Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint you can on it”. – Danny Kaye

I do not need to mend a puzzle, I do not need to fix what seems broken, I simply need to paint over the old with a new beauty, what was once ugly can be made new.

A new start daily with a fresh brush and paint of my choice and even and old canvas is suitable.

The ugly paint will never be gone however it can be a beautiful work of art and the wounds of old paint add a depth to the masterpiece called life.

The life we choose to paint is not the life we must keep as permanent. Our canvas should be a never ending work of art.

Credit to my amazing wife for the image. Her passion for art manifested in my words.