Friday, December 13, 2013

Transparency

When I started this blog, I didn't really know what I wanted it to be about.  I just knew that I wanted to somehow use it as a vehicle to reaching people and possibly helping them along the way in their journey.  I'm honestly not certain whether I've accomplished either of those things or not, but I am fairly confident at this stage that my reading audience has grown from two of you to three of you.  So for that, I am thankful.  

But seriously, one of my main goals in this is to be real - transparent if you will.  Some definitions of transparent are "free from pretense or deceit" and "honest and open; not secretive".  I've opened up about some things that I struggle with, and if you ever want to ask me about any of them via email, Facebook, or just walk up to me and talk to me about them, I'm very happy to sit down and talk with you about whatever it is.  

You see, on my own, I am broken.  But with God, I am saved by His grace.  On my own, I'm never going to be good enough.  But with God, I am always loved beyond measure.  The words of the song 'Brokenness Aside' really resonate with me.  

"Will Your grace run out
 If I let You down
 'Cause all I know
 Is how to run

 'Cause I am a sinner
 If it's not one thing it's another
 Caught up in words
 Tangled in lies
 You are the Savior
 And you take brokenness aside
And make it beautiful
Beautiful."

I used to spend so much time trying to always do 'the right thing'.  As though I could earn my way into God's good graces.  Well, to do such a thing is to ignore the truth of God's word.  Ephesians 2:8 tells us "For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith -- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--".  I had it backwards.  I had been trying to earn my way into heaven through good works.  But what I should have been doing was good works because studying God's word and having a relationship with Him will make you love Him so much there is simply no other way you'll want to live your life.  Faith without works is dead.  Does that mean I won't fail?  Absolutely not.  Every day I struggle to love people around me like Jesus loves me. Or to be a better husband to my bride or a better Daddy to that little boy of mine.  Some days I struggle with a temper.  Others I struggle with anxiety and depression.  If I am going to be absolutely truthful with all of you, I am a mess.  That's as transparent as it gets.  

But God takes me where I am at and loves me just the same.  When I'm angry, God loves me.  When I'm depressed, God loves me.  When I'm being a goofball with Will, God loves me.  He loves me for me.  Given the chance, I truly believe other people will do the same.  Everyone struggles with something.  Everyone deals with insecurities and hard times.  But we are the church - His hands and feet.  We have to stick together and work together as His body.  Doesn't all of that start with being authentic with one another, and with God?  

Friday, November 1, 2013

Trick or Treat

The biggest reason I created this blog was so that I could talk about how much fun it is being a Daddy.  My son Will is three and a half years old now.  Wow, where did the time go?  He loves to learn, makes me smile every day, has a big personality, and is very social.  

Last night when I got home, he was wearing his Halloween costume, and he was so excited!!!!! The smile on his face alone was enough to melt my heart, but what he really wanted was for me to put on MY Halloween costume.  Not only did he want to be Peso from the Octonauts, but he wanted me to be Barnacles and Leigh to be Kwazii.  Here is his costume.  Would you just look at that smile?  


The enthusiasm that my little boy has for life is contagious.  Because of him, I was excited about Halloween and even about wearing a costume.  He proudly walked around our neighborhood (before the rains came) with his costume on display, his candy bucket in one hand and his medical  bag in the other (Peso is a medical penguin, mind you).  When the rain started, we went to a local trunk or treat that was moved inside.  I think he had fun.  He was pretty exhausted when we got home.

People keep telling me to enjoy these times in Will's life and that they will go by fast.  I believe that and am doing my best to enjoy it all.  That smile makes it so easy.

I really do love being a Daddy.  

Have a blessed day.  

Monday, October 28, 2013

Obstruction!!!

I'm not sure how many of you are aware of what took place in the World Series game between the Saint Louis Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox professional fast pitch baseball teams on Saturday night.  The game ended in a very unusual way, because one player was ruled obstructed on his path to home plate.  Because he was ruled obstructed, even though he was thrown out, he was called safe, and his team won the game as a result.  It all happened very quickly, and it left many people confused and not sure what had just happened.  Even some of the players on each team weren't completely sure.  

OBSTRUCTION is the act of making it difficult for something to happen or move forward.

If you were watching the game, and you have some thoughts on the call, I'd love to hear them. But this blog is not about baseball, or a game.  It's about asking ourselves a question in a crucial time. That question -  "Are my actions obstructing someone from getting to heaven?"  
1 Corinthians 8 talks about how eating food sacrificed for idols can cause our brothers and sisters to stumble.  The bottom line is, we need to be very conscious and aware of how our actions may impact others, even when we think it's something small.  Because when we do something that causes someone else to stumble, it's the same as sinning against Christ.  Pretty intense, stuff, huh?  
I often think of this in terms of how I act around my son.  At three years old, he is very impressionable and watches everything I say and do very closely.  Sometimes I'll do or say something that is not so wonderful.  I know this is really hard to believe, but it's true!!!!  The impact that it has on him from that point forward changes who he is and what he believes, even if only to the smallest of degrees.  So I try really hard to make sure that I am acting the way I would want him to act, and treating others the way I would want him to treat others, etc.  I want him to grow up to have respect for others, and to be a person with integrity and morals.  But it's more than just that.  We are commanded by God to watch how our actions impact others.  It's very crucial in our walk.  The other side of this coin is when someone does something that might cause you to stumble.  
Because we are called by God to make sure this doesn't happen, I am trying to come up with ways to be more aware of the things I can do to make others stumble, so that I no longer do those things.  I would love to hear any stories, comments, or ideas you have on ways you are doing the same.  
Have a blessed day!  

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Are We Praying Right?

Nothing Ever Could Separate Us - Citizen Way

The link above is to a youtube video for a song called 'Nothing Ever Could Separate Us' by a band named Citizen Way.  It's cool.  Watch it.  

So prayer has been on my mind a great deal lately.  

(Sidebar - I'm not using 'a lot' because I can never remember if it's 'alot' or 'a lot'.  But that's a topic for another day).

But back to the topic at hand, prayer.  You may or may not believe in it, and that is okay with me.  But it just so happens that I do believe in its power.  One definition that I found describes prayer as a personal communication or petition addressed to a deity, especially in the form of supplication, adoration, praise, contrition or thanksgiving.   Upon taking a closer look, we learn that:

  • Supplication is the action of asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly.
  • Adoration is to respect, revere, or have a strong admiration or devotion to;  to give homage or worship to someone or something.
  • Praise is to express warm approval or admiration of.
  • Contrition is the state of feeling remorseful or penitent.
  • Thanksgiving is gratitude.  

On my Facebook page, and in my daily life, I often hear people express concerns for situations in their life.  In response, someone will almost always say 'I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.' or 'prayers going up.'  Something along those lines.  It's a response that has good intentions behind it.  But I often wonder if it's followed up by action.  I will even confess to you that sometimes I will do that very thing, say I will pray for something, and then simply not do it.  I have been working on that lately and challenging myself to make prayer a part of my every day life.  I've seen the impact that it has on me and on others around me.  

The thing that has really been on my mind, though, is are we going about it the right way?  Often times we view prayer as a laundry list of items we want God to take care of for us.  "Get me this job." or "Heal this sick person."  These are very real prayers, and I'm not trying to say that they aren't.  But is that all there is to prayer?  I sure hope not.  

I believe that sometimes prayer is as simple as finding a quiet place and listening to what God has to say.  First and foremost, it is about spending time with God.  Not simply telling Him what we want and what we need, which is our natural tendency.  Also, shouldn't we be praying at all times, not just when something is wrong or something isn't going the way we would like it to?  We should praise God in the good times and the bad times.  Ultimate surrender is recognizing that no matter what is going on in our lives, God's got this.  The battle has already been won.  

One of the toughest things I've ever had to do was keep praising God when going through struggles.  Sometimes I haven't done so well with it.  But with the help of family and friends, and a TON of prayer from so many people, my faith in God was constant.  He did not fail me.  He loves me more than I deserve (grace).  He sent His son to DIE for me, and to put my sin on HIS shoulders.  Slate wiped clean.  Eternal life.  Isn't that enough to  want to praise Him and talk to Him any chance I get, no matter the circumstances in my life?  

What are your thoughts on prayer?  

Monday, October 21, 2013

How Are You Doing?

When you ask someone how they are doing, what would you say the percentage of positive responses you receive are?  By positive, I mean real positive responses.  Not 'fine', 'good', 'okay', etc.  How often when someone asks us how we are doing are we prone to tell them about the many blessings in our lives?  For yours truly, not very many.  I tend to go with the standard canned responses.  Of course, my mind usually asks the question 'Do you really want to know how I'm doing?' when I'm asked the question.  

Okay, Brian - clearly you are rambling.  What is your point?  Well let me tell you.  The point is, I am challenging myself to go through each day being aware and thankful for the many, many blessings I have in this life.  So often I focus on the negative, the things I don't have or the things that aren't going the way that I would prefer that they go.  But the truth is, there are so many blessings in my life that I cannot possibly list them.  Or can I?  

I present to you, my list of blessings, in no particular order.  

God, His Son Jesus Christ, Grace, Forgiveness of Sins, Eternal life.
God's word - The Bible, and the ability to read it any time I choose to.
Leigh - my beautiful bride.
Will - my amazing son.
Hershey - our cat.  The old man is still kicking, and we are blessed to have him.  We miss Smudgie every day.  
My parents - Mom and Dad, I don't know where I'd be without you.  Even now you are a calming, guiding influence in my life.
Kathleen - my dear sister - I learn more from you and am so very proud of you and all you have accomplished in your life.  You are such a blessing.  
Henry - my nephew - little ball or energy, laughter, and fire ball blasts!!!!  I love you buddy.
Family - aunts, uncles, cousins, distant relations - all are a blessing and I wish I could spend more time with all of you.
My in-laws - Don and Bonnie - God could not have blessed me with a better 'second' family.  Every day I know you warms my heart and makes me thank God for you both.  I consider you  and everyone in your family to be my own family and I am just so thankful that God put you all in my life.  I don't say it often enough, but I love you guys more than I can express.  
Friends - you all know who you are.  Some I know better than others, or have known longer than others.  But I cherish each one of you and the wisdom you bring into my life each day.  My prayer is that we get the chance to grow those friendships even more in the future.  
My church family - too many people to possibly name, but each and every one of you from the current pastor Brad Ferris to the former pastor David Upchurch, to the youth groups current and past, to all of the staff who have been there and the staff who still are - each of you is a branch on my Christian family tree.  I am so thankful and blessed by that.
My health - at 42 years old, I'm still able to 'run' 26.2 miles.  
My job - I don't say it often enough, but it is a real blessing.  I am grateful to have it.  And my work family is another blessing.  I'm trying to remember that everyone I come into contact with brings the potential for another relationship, and that we're all struggling and trying to get through each day.
Our home - I complain sometimes about the various little things wrong with it, but it's our home.  We are making so many memories there.  I pray it's full of good memories for Leigh and Will as much as it is for me.  
Neighbors - we have been blessed to live in a neighborhood full of great neighbors.  And Will has so many kids to play with.  If any of our neighbors are reading this, know that you are a blessing in our lives.
Country - as often as people complain about politics and the President, etc, etc, we are truly blessed and privileged to live in a country with such great freedoms.  God bless America!  And God also bless all of the other great countries around the world and the diversity that we have on this planet.  
Technology - so many things can be accomplished through the wonder of technology these days.  It is an amazing thing and such a blessing when used for the right purpose.  

I feel like I could continue, and should continue, but my fingers hurt from typing so much and I am exhausted.  I would love to hear from you about some of the blessings in your life.  Feel free to share them in the comments of this blog, or on my Facebook page, or shoot me an email and let me know all about them.  I am willing to bet we can come up with more blessings in our lives than bad things.  

Have a GREAT day!!!!!

  





Wednesday, October 16, 2013

6:37:04

Six hours.  Thirty-seven minutes.  Four seconds.  How many things can you do in that amount of time?  I can think of plenty.  But I bet for many of you, running 26.2 miles is not one that is all that high on the list of things that pop into your head.  

I did it.  I finished the 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.  It took much longer than I anticipated.  My legs were tight early on and I knew I was in trouble as early as mile 6.  Because I'd run marathons before, many with heavy leg cramps for 6-8 miles, I knew what was happening and remained calm as a result.  I saw my sister and my nephew at mile 15, which was awesome, and the wonderful sign that they made.  As I was talking to my sister during our short visit, I considered calling it a day and going back to the hotel.  It was a brief consideration, but it was a very real one.  Not because I didn't think I was able to do it.  I knew I could.  But because I wasn't sure if I wanted to go another 11 miles with cramps.  It would entail running, walking, stopping and stretching - and I knew it would be brutally slow.  But at some point, I decided to go for it.  I knew I could finish it.  I had to finish it.  So that is what I did.  It was a beautiful day in Chicago, temperatures hovering around 70 for a high, and the sun was shining bright.  I talked to so many different people along the way - fellow runners, volunteers, spectators - it was a real sense of community.  As slow as I was going, there were people roadside cheering for us all the way through.  It was a great boost.  Oh, and my cousin Chris was right around the bend just before mile 26 rooting me on.  He was texting me words of support and encouragement from about mile 20 on.  It was so important to be able to see some familiar faces along the way.  My sister, nephew and cousin provided me with a tremendous boost.  My fellow runners who made the trek to Chicago with me were also a source of encouragement.  Just knowing there are others doing it with you, regardless of the amount of time it took them, was another boost.  

I was unable to do all of the training due to balky knees, only doing the long runs.  I didn't even do all of the long runs - only the ones where the distance increased.  I didn't do any cross training or strength training.  To say that I didn't train much would be pretty accurate.  I did what I could to make it to race day.  Clearly, it wasn't enough.  I had it in my head that I could do this marathon in 5:30.  But my body had other ideas.  

It was not stressful.  It wasn't disappointing, really, other than for a fleeting moment.  I was pleased that I was able to complete the race again.  It was a good weekend spent with great people (Steve, Nancy, Trevor, Kathleen, Henry and Chris).  I made it 26.2, no matter how slow.  I ate my way through Chicago, which running that distance affords you the right to do.  

Will I do another marathon?  Never say never.  Stay tuned.  

Thanks for all of the support and encouraging words.  They meant alot.  

Have a great day!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

26.2

A standard marathon is 26.2 miles.  (To read more about the origin of the marathon, look here).  Some people will run ultra marathons (however many miles you can run in an 8 hour period is one example I've heard of), or a 50 mile race (and you think I'M insane for doing 26.2?!?!?!), or others.  

Anyhoo, as many of you know, I am joining approximately 45,000 other people of all shapes and sizes from all over the world to run the Chicago Marathon this Sunday.  I started training in April, doing short runs of 2 and 3 miles whenever I could.  Then in June, I broke out the marathon training schedule I use (Hal Higdon's novice training schedule) and started ramping up the training.  I was feeling good, ready to do this again.  But at the age of 41 (at the time), my knees had other ideas.  They were hurting - not just one of them, but both of them.  I started to panic.  Should I stop training completely?  Am I too old for this?  I was diagnosed with runners' knee in both knees and went to physical therapy once a week for awhile.  The training schedule I typically do requires 4 runs a week - a short run, a medium run, another short run and a long run.  Because of the pain I was in, I resorted to resting up during the week and just doing the long runs each weekend.  Each time I would attempt to run a short or medium run, my knees would hurt so bad I could barely walk for days after I did one.  I decided that if I was going to do this marathon, I was going to have to pick my spots for training and give my knees the rest, ice, ibuprofen and stretching that they needed the rest of the time.  By the time I got to my 18 mile run, I was not feeling it.  My knees were aching, I walked a good portion of it, and I was at a crossroads.  I needed to make a decision as to whether I would continue on or quit.  I was quite down about it, because I felt like maybe I bit off more than I could chew.  So I took the next two weeks off, and decided I would, during that two weeks, mentally prepare myself for the next long training run - 20 miles.  I got up at 5am, put on my running clothes, took some advil, laced up my shoes and took off.  What happened next would determine whether or not I would continue on with my training.

Over four hours later, I had finished the 20 miles.  My knees did not hurt at all.  I was cramping up a little bit (normal cramps for me, not anything unusual) toward the tail end of the run.  I was pleasantly surprised, elated actually, that my knees didn't hurt at all the entire time. I was pretty gassed, but I think that was because of the fact that I only did the long runs while training.  The end result was a good one, though.  I was ready for 26.2.  

This Sunday morning,45,000 runners, myself included, will line up with a common goal.  To cross the finish line.  Some will finish in potential world record times (no, yours truly will not even be in that conversation, or anywhere remotely close) - times just over 2 hours - which is amazing to me.  Others will walk and finish in 7 hours.  My goal is to finish in somewhere between 5 and 6 hours.  I'm not in the best marathon shape I've ever been in.  My goals are realistic.  I know my body and my mind and that this goal is reachable, as I've run marathons previously.  This is marathon number six for me.  

I'm ready.  Ready for the crowd and the energy that they bring - without the crowd support it would be very difficult to do this.  Ready for conversations with other runners from all over the world and new friendships made as we support each other during this endurance test.   From the various bands playing along the marathon course, to the gay cheerleaders, to the high fives from everyone watching and the shouts of support from people I don't even know (which mean the world to every runner out there) - I am stoked.  Jacked.  Jazzed.  Psyched.  This one I am going to enjoy.  Will there be pain?  Almost guaranteed.  Will there be doubt?  Only if I let it creep in, which I am sure I will in some moments during the race.  But the bottom line is I know I can do this.  And I will do this.  Because I can.  Because I need to compete (with the finish line, not with other runners).  Because I love to run.  

My prayer is that this event is newsworthy for the usual reasons - it's a big event, and one of the fastest marathon courses that exists.  And for the safety of the runners, the spectators, volunteers, and everyone in the city of Chicago.  There is a big part of me that is running this race for the people in Boston and the children and teachers in Connecticut who were taken from us in such terrible tragedies earlier this year.  And of course I'll be thinking of my wife and my son.  

If you'd like to track my progress during the marathon, I am bib number 42882.  There are different ways you can do it, one of which is to register HERE.  It explains how you can get signed up, if you are so inclined.  

Thanks for all of your support during this journey.  I'm looking forward to the end result on Sunday.  

God bless and have a great day!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Taming The Beast

This is a serious post.  Please read it as such.

I don't want anyone to be alarmed when they read this.  I'm not constantly yelling and screaming at my family every time I turn around.  I'm not hitting anyone, or physically hurting anyone.  I have never done those things, and don't plan on it anytime soon.  But I have a problem, a very real struggle that I and my family deal with on a daily basis.  It might seem small in comparison to some, but it's very big and very real to me.  And I believe to God.  It's been on my heart for awhile now.  I am sharing it with you.  Here.  Today.  


I am confessing to anyone who reads this blog today that I have an issue that I have been struggling with for quite sometime now.  I am not trying to put some clever spin on it, teach anyone anything from it, or call attention to myself.  I am merely putting this out there to be real with you.  I am human.  I struggle.  More than some of you who know me might realize.  I am a beautiful mess.  

What I've been struggling with lately is my temper.  It is bad.  I don't have the type of temper where I am physically violent towards the people that I love, or towards anyone.  Mine is the sort that may be even worse the way I see it.  It is verbal warfare.  When I reach a certain point, I start to raise my voice.  My patience goes out the window.  I will cut people off while they  are in mid-sentence.  On a handful of occasions I may even physically take my anger out on SOMETHING (a fan, a thermostat, a pair of shoes sitting in my path at the wrong time). 

I do not like this about myself.  I recognize that it is an issue that I have.  I have tried on my own to put it to a stop, to no avail.  I've talked to friends and family about it, and most think it's not a big deal and that everyone struggles with anger of some sort in their daily lives.   Maybe there are those with far worse tempers than mine.  That I do not disagree with.  But what really scares me is when I see the look on the faces of the people that I care about the most in this world when I have one of these episodes.  It tears me up inside.  I never, ever want my wife or my son to be afraid of me.  But it has happened.  I can probably count the number of occasions that it has happened on one hand, but that's too many.  

What I'm asking from all of you is to hold me accountable.  Ask me how I'm doing with it.  Know that this is an issue that I have.  And most important of all, pray for me about this.  I write this with tears in my eyes because it is tearing at me so much inside.  I know I'm a good husband and a good father.  I know I'm a good person.  But that is not what this post is about.  It's about stopping the cycle before it cannot be stopped.  Taming the beast, so to speak.  That's what I want to do.  My family does not deserve to have to hear me lose my cool.  Nor should they have to.  I'm human, yes, but I feel that my temper takes me overboard on occasion and I do not like it.  I've seen the way my son looks at me when this happens.  I've seen and talked to my wife about the way it makes her feel.  The two people I love more than anyone else in this world have been afraid of me on occasion because of the level of my temper, and I cannot have this.  I've been asking God to teach me patience.  To teach me to walk away from situations before I feel myself getting to 'that place'.  I have been asking Him to guide me as a father and a husband in this area.  I have spent time literally on my knees crying out to God to help me with these issues.  I know He will answer my prayers.  In fact, He already has started to.  Just last night, Will did not want to go number two on the potty, as is often the case.  It took 45 minutes of persuading, Will crying and yelling, sitting on the potty for a few, getting off and sitting on my shoulder, and repeating this cycle.  I did not lose my temper once.  I stayed calm.  We worked through it together.  It was hard for him - I don't understand his three-year old thought process at all when it comes to this - but I do know that it was very difficult for him.  I believe God was with me last night when this happened (He's always with me, but I was actually listening this time!).  Will and I were able to celebrate this 'victory' of him going #2 on the potty and me staying calm and collected simultaneously.  It was a good night.  But it was only one night.  

So here I am, an open book before you, acknowledging that this is something I struggle with on a daily basis.  Please keep me in your thoughts or prayers where this is concerned.  People used to ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I finally figured it out about three and a half years ago.  I want to be the best Daddy I can to that little boy.  And the best husband I can be to the woman I promised 14 years ago that I would love until death do us part.  


I appreciate your thoughts and prayers.  Sorry this was so serious.  I'll try to inject a bit of humor into the next one.  

Monday, September 23, 2013

42


A simple number, it can mean different things to different people.  It's often associated with one of the greatest baseball players and greatest human beings to ever walk the earth - Jackie Robinson.  But for me, it's much simpler than that.  It is my age.  I turned 42 years old yesterday.15,330 days I've been on this earth.   I have to confess that part of me was dreading it.  For the past year, I started to feel my age.  I think this is honestly the first time in my life where I could say "oh, it's just a number!" and not believe it to be true.  But these last few days reminded me how truly blessed I am and it once again became a number I could truly embrace. 

Friday morning I went to work and discovered upon entering that my cubicle had been decorated with 'Happy Birthday' signs and banners.  What a great way to start the day.  There were also gift bags and envelopes with birthday cards in them.  My coworkers and I ordered lunch and ate together in my honor.  I am blessed to work with the people that I work with on a daily basis.  

Saturday morning started bright and early at 5am as I did my 20 mile training run for the Chicago Marathon.  Up to that point, I'd been having nothing but trouble with running and my knees had been giving me fits.  But Saturday my knees were pain-free and I experienced only the type of pain that I was so used to from a long run - the good pain if there is such a thing.  I finished it and felt like I could have kept on going if I needed to push it to that point.  So I feel like I'm ready.  October 13th is the marathon and for the first time in the training process for this one I feel like I'm on top of it.  I'm excited about it.  

As soon as I got home and got cleaned up, we it was off to the  Discovering the Dinosaurs at the Fairgrounds.  Will loved it.  He got to see replicas of dinosaurs, push buttons to make them move, play mini golf, bounce in a bounce house and go down a slide, bounce in another bounce house, and learn some things about dinosaurs.  It was a pretty cool experience and he had a blast.  It was pricey, but worth it to see the smile on his face.  

Sunday Leigh took me to a movie and out to lunch for my birthday.  It capped off the weekend perfectly.  Leigh and I do not go on dates often enough and it was nice to have some time to just talk about anything and focus on just each other.  

Was the weekend perfect?  No.  Was it without its battles with the toddler way of thinking :)?  Absolutely not.  But am I blessed beyond belief to be around so many wonderful people in my life?  Absolutely, positively, unequivocally yes!  

I have come to realize that the number of years I've lived are more full of good memories and good times than anything else, and that the road ahead cannot be taken for granted.  I may be considered a pretty sappy guy.  But life is short.  It can be gone in the blink of an eye.  Tell those around you that you love them and care about them.  Tell them every chance you get.  More importantly, SHOW them.  Also, don't allow stubborn pride to prevent you from admitting when you've made a mistake, or from offering an apology or asking for forgiveness.  Do not wait.  Do it now.  Do it today.    

If I am guilty of one thing with my son it is that I probably tell him I love him too often.  They are never just words, though.  They are packed full of more meaning than he may ever know each time they pass through my lips.  

To anyone reading this, whether I know you or not, I appreciate you and care about you.  I would love to hear from you and talk to  you and get to know you.  Many of you are Facebook friends of mine - to all of you, I really do care about you.  All of you have touched my lives in some way at some point, and though I may not have seen you or talked to you in a long time, I do care about each of you.  Heck yes I'm sappy.  Too often I think we go through life not being real, not telling people how we really feel about them, not telling them we're hurting or feeling alone or having a bad day or having a bad week or a bad month or a bad year.  We try to convince everyone we are fine when the truth is we are all hurting or struggling or trying to find our way.  We all need each other.  

My life is so blessed.  Thank you for being a part of it.  


Monday, September 16, 2013

Navigation

Navigation involves using whatever devices you have at your disposal to find your way.  Whether you are trying to navigate to a particular location or through a certain stage of your life, it isn't always easy.  More often than not, there are choices to be made along the way.  Proverbial forks in the road, if you will.  When we reach one of those points (pun intended), it is up to us to decide which path to choose.  Sometimes we follow a guide, or a GPS, or a book or website that tells us how to handle certain situations. Or we listen to our friends' advice.   In some cases we blindly follow someone else's directions and end up somewhere we didn't really want to be.  There are so many news stories out there where people have followed a GPS navigation device and ended up stranded or lost - like this one -  http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/travel/news/2008-08-05-gps-navigation_N.htm. The point is that no matter what the situation, navigation can be quite difficult.  

Almost three and a half years ago to this day, Leigh and I adopted Will.  His birthday is exactly six months from mine.  Before he was born, we had prayed about it and talked with his birth families about it, and decided that we would agree to an open adoption.  We did not know what that would look like, but after much discussion and prayer, we decided that it was in Will's best interest to commit to it.   The way we see it, the birth parents gave us an incredible, courageous and selfless gift when they chose us to be Will's parents.  To have him know them and have relationships with them on some level just seems to make sense.  Besides - how could having more people who love him be a bad thing?  

Do we have some insecurities about it?  Sure we do.  Is it all smooth sailing?  Of course not. But we are committed to it and as long as the birth parents want to continue to have the visits, we will continue to do so.  

Will's birth parents were 17 and 19 years old when Will was born.  They haven't been a couple since prior to Will's birth (we're not sure exactly why or when, but that much is clear).  So what we've been doing is meeting with them separately 4-5 times per year.  We also show Will pictures of them periodically and talk to him in very basic terms about the fact that he is adopted and they are his birth parents.  It is hard to know for sure how much of it Will grasps or at this point,  but we just feel it's best to be honest with him about it from the get-go.  We celebrate his adoption day each year as well.  

Recently we learned that Will's birth father and his fiance gave birth to a little girl.  They wanted to know if fiance and baby could meet Will at our next visit.  We were, needless to say, caught off guard.  There was no mention that she was pregnant throughout her pregnancy.  We received word of this via email from the birth father's mom.  This is one of those times when it would be nice if there was a book or a guide to tell us what to do, but unfortunately, that's not realistic.  Leigh and I discussed it and prayed about it quite a bit, and decided that just the two of us would meet with the birth father and his fiance and their one month old baby girl to talk to them about this and try to get a feel for what direction to go with their request.  For now, we are not open to the idea of Will meeting them.  Our fear is it may just confuse him further.  He is already trying to grasp what having a birth father and birth mother means.  Adding another person into the mix, not to mention a half-sibling, just seems like it could confuse him even more.  He has a half sister now, and it's important that he be given the chance to know her and have a relationship with her if he wants to, once he is old enough.  But right now, at the age of three and a half, it's just too soon.  We are going to gradually show him some pictures of the three of them together and tell him who they are.  Beyond that, we aren't 100% sure what the next steps will be.  We aren't sure how to NAVIGATE this path.  But it is our prayer that we do what is best for Will.  He is such a tremendous blessing in our lives and truly a gift from God, and we can't forget how it became possible for him to be in our lives.  But at the same time, we know that there will be questions and confusion as he gets older.  All we can do is be honest with him and answer those questions as we go.  

It may not always be easy.  There may be some pain involved along the way for Will in trying to learn about his birth parents and reconciling all of that in his heart.  But our hope is that he ends up with a deeper understanding of the absolute courage his birth parents had in allowing us to adopt him, and the love they had for him in doing that.  Giving them a glimpse into our lives feels like the least we can do to say thank you to them for such a precious gift.  Not because we feel we owe it to them.  But because we want to.   I cannot put myself in the shoes of the birth parents, and what it must be like for them.  To know that you brought a little boy into this world and that you can't see him other than when someone else tells you that it's okay is probably very difficult at times, even though it's exactly what they agreed to.  Birth parents are not to be forgotten, and their feelings should be considered and remembered.  So often they get lost in the shuffle of the adoption picture.    

As we do our best to navigate this journey with many, many forks in the road, we ask that you keep us in your thoughts and prayers. 








Monday, July 29, 2013

Bully

I watched the documentary 'Bully' last night on Netflix (www.thebullyproject.com if you want to check it out).  I'd been wanting to watch it for quite awhile, but finally did.  It is a powerful movie, and it rocked me to the core.  I was at or near tears throughout much of the movie.  Watching how cruel kids can be to one another, and the emotional and physical anguish of the kids being bullied.  It just breaks my heart.  One of the kids being bullied in the movie is Alex Libby.  You could just tell all he wanted was to make friends, but instead he was picked on, called names, hit, slapped, punched, stabbed with pencils, threatened - all on the school bus he rode on every day.  He looked emotionless, almost numb to it all.  He was afraid speaking up would bring more trouble for him.  Another girl was shunned, and her family made outcasts even among former friends of theirs, simply because she came out as a lesbian.  Yet another, only 11 years old, committed suicide because he just couldn't take it anymore.  Another older child hung himself in a closet because he had simply had enough.  A girl named Ja'Meya took her mother's gun onto the school bus she rode on and used it to threaten those that were bullying her.  How does this happen?  How do these children get pushed to the point of breaking?  And why isn't something being done about it?  It's a very complex issue, true enough.  But I hope and pray that each of us can make a difference in the future to put a stop to this type of thing.  

Anyone who says bullying is not a real problem in our society is kidding themselves.  The pain that these kids go through is unparalleled.  I know that when I was in school, bullying existed.  I confess to you today that in some cases, I was the bully.  If you're reading this and I bullied you at all, I sincerely, wholeheartedly apologize.  Maybe it's too little too late, but I was also on the other end of it, being bullied, so I do know how it feels.  I don't think it was as extreme back then as it is today.  Maybe that's naive.  But it just seems with the internet, social networking websites, etc, it's just much easier for kids to put things out there and click send/post without having any consequences to deal with.  

I am by nature a worrier.  When the day came to take Will to preschool, I was probably more anxious than anyone.  Up to that point he had been, and still is for the most part, at the age where kids all get along and play nicely together.  The age of innocence comes and goes so quickly.  I didn't ride a school bus when I was in school, I walked.  Even before I watched this documentary, I cringed at the thought of having to put Will on a school bus.  What kinds of things will he hear and see?  Will he be bullied?  Will he be a bully?  I know I can't shelter him for the rest of his life, but man it's going to be tough to let him go little by little.  He's only three now, and he almost always wants Leigh and I around.  He showers us with hugs and kisses and tells us he loves us.  I know that may not last forever.  I want to protect him, but I have to let him live his life when that time comes.  Obviously, it will be awhile before I really have to think about it.  But this movie provoked many thoughts in my mind.  How can children be so cruel to one another?  And how do adults either remain completely unaware of it, or see it happening and do nothing about it?  

If you are a student and see someone being bullied at your school, do not remain silent.  Stand up.  If you are employed somewhere and see bullying going on at your workplace, stand up.  In your neighborhood, walking down any street at any time, on any social networking site you frequent (facebook, twitter, google+, etc, etc), no matter where you are or what you are doing - if you see someone being bullied, please do not be silent.  Tell someone.  Help someone.  It could be the difference, literally, between life and death.  

And if you are being bullied, please talk to a parent, a teacher or guidance counselor, a friend - just talk to someone.  It is unacceptable that you are being treated this way and it needs to be put to an end in an appropriate manner.  If you are reading this, and you are being bullied, talk to me.  I'm listening.  You matter.  It can end.  It starts by speaking up.  You CAN do it.  

Have you experienced bullying?  Have you witnessed bullying?  Tell me about it.  This is a real issue.     




Thursday, July 25, 2013

Worn

Tenth Avenue North - Worn


Lately, I've been feeling worn.  Beat up.  Tired.  Old.  I've had more appointments in 2013 than I probably had in the previous five years total.  Fortunately, nothing too serious, and it could be way worse than it is.  I have no serious illness or injury, and consider myself blessed for sure.    Generally I have the right perspective and realize that my issues are nothing compared to those of others with much more serious ones.  But I have to tell you, today, for whatever reason, my perspective has shifted.  I feel every bit of my 41 years and nearly 10 months on this earth.  

Have you been there?  

I struggle with depression, anxiety, and have a sometimes quick temper.  When you're going through these types of struggles, you often feel alone.  Like you're the only one in the world dealing with these kinds of issues.  Well, I'm here to tell you that you are not alone.  Since I started talking to people about my struggles, I've discovered that they are actually fairly common.  But our struggles don't define us.  They help shape us into who we become.  

I think of it in terms of a skit that's been done at my church.  As best as I can remember it, the characters in the skit are God and Brian (I'll use my name since I'm talking about me, but insert your name or anyone you know who has struggles).  Brian is standing and talking to God, and saying that he's doing pretty good.  God points out that he has some issues that he needs to work on, and God can help him with that.  So God takes a hammer and a chisel and starts 'chiselling' away at some of these issues, and begins to mold Brian into the man that God knows he can be.  It's painful and messy at times, but the end result is beautiful, exactly as God designed.   As long as we are on this earth, the 'design' is not finished, but a work in progress.  

The things I have been dealing with are really pretty minor. 
 
Some are physical.  I'm supposed to run a marathon in October, but running has become difficult because of a couple of balky knees.  I went in to the orthodontist thinking I could get invisalign braces and wear them for six months or a year and be done, but came out needing a deep cleaning at a periodontist, four teeth pulled, and braces I will likely have to wear for three years - not to mention possibly jaw surgery and a much lighter wallet.  I went to get tested for allergies, and it turns out I am allergic to everything - grass, trees of most kinds, weeds, dog and cat dander, tobacco (thankfully I don't smoke), mold, and a few others I am forgetting.  I started allergy shots and am on a 'sinus cocktail' that involves more medications than I am accustomed to taking.  Oh, and after a sleep study, sinus and allergy treatment, I still snore. 

Some are emotional.  I have been dealing with depression for a couple of years now.  I have a temper that gets the best of me sometimes.  I need to work on taming my tongue so that my words do not hurt others.  Sometimes my stubborn pride gets in the way of my reaching out to people, especially those closest to me. 

But you know what the really great thing about all of this is?  I have a God who loves me no matter what.  His love is forever and his promises are true.  If I keep my eyes on Him, none of this stuff can weigh me down.  If I listen to His voice, these are all minor blips on my radar screen.  God is just chiselling away at me, making me more like Him.  Sometimes it's hard.  But if I keep His perspective in mind, it's really very easy.  The bottom line is this - I am blessed beyond words.  I have an amazing wife who has stood by my side through everything, an awesome son who makes me laugh every day, a wonderful family, great friends, a good job, nice house, and I could go on and on.  And a God who sent His Son for me, with an amazing grace and love that nothing can compare to.  The blessings far outweigh the trials.  It really isn't even close.  At the beginning of each day, I have been trying to thank God for all of the blessings in my life.  It's really difficult to remember them all, there are so many.  I want to challenge all of you to do the same.  Just spend some time focusing on the amazing blessings in your life, no matter how big or small they seem.  I'd love to hear some of them.  

Have a great day!


Monday, July 15, 2013

What Would You Do?

I'm feeling some serious, hard core rambling coming on, so you have been warned.  I'm not even sure I can articulate what is in my head so that it makes sense.  But here goes.....

Have you ever seen the television show called 'What Would You Do?'  It is a television news magazine and hidden camera show. In the series, actors act out scenes of conflict or illegal activity in public settings while hidden cameras videotape the scene, and the focus is on whether or not bystanders intervene, and how. Variations are also usually included, such as changing the genders, the races or the clothing of the actors performing the scene, to see if bystanders react differently. The host appears at the end to interview the bystanders about their reactions. As the experiment goes on, psychology professors, teachers, or club members watch and discuss the video with the host, explaining and making inferences on the bystanders' reactions.  Often times, people stand by and do nothing.  Society seems to be more and more afraid to speak up, stand up and do what's right.  

Why is that? Are we so afraid to get involved of the risk of putting ourselves out there?   So afraid that we will watch wrongs being done all around us without saying a word about it for fear of getting involved?  Or is it that we feel that we are too insignificant to make a difference?  What is it that we are afraid of?  Why do we shy away, no, run away from the opportunity to do what is right, or to speak out against what is wrong?  

Walking down your street, at your place of employment, at a baseball game, or literally anywhere you go - do you shy away from the chance to help someone that might need it?  Do you choose silence over speaking out against the wrongs that you see and hear every day? Because maybe it's 'easier' to not get involved?  

I confess, I have.  There have been many times when someone has approached me and asked for money because they say they have none, and I've turned them down flat.  Maybe they are going to use it to buy booze or drugs.  Or maybe they are just scheming to get money the easy way.  But what if?  What if this person has a legitimate need for this money, and asking strangers for it is how desperate they've become to get whatever they can?  What if they have children they are simply trying to feed?  Wouldn't it be better to give them a few dollars on the chance that they really do need the money, than to say no and risk snuffing out the one little glimmer of hope in humanity that they have left?  Or at the very least, offer to take them somewhere and buy them lunch?  I am telling you here and now that I am usually the one who says no and walks away.  But are they seeing God's light shine when I do that?

What is frustrating to me (and to many others I'm sure) is when there is blatant and obvious wrongdoing going on, and the person(s) committing the acts are left alone.  Further, when the people around them know what they are doing, yet continue to interact with them as though no wrong was committed.  On the one hand, we're not supposed to judge.  That's up to God.  But the Bible  says that when you see a wrong being done to not just let it go.  It does say to forgive them, but also to talk with them about it.  Matthew 18:15 says "If your brother sins go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.  But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed."

Wouldn't this crazy mixed up world be a much better place if we let our conscience be our guide?  If, when we see wrongdoing, we do something about it?  Not vigilante type justice, but a calm and thoughtful response to a situation that might help stop it in its tracks.  Or, at the very least, slow it down by letting people know that you are not the type to just stand idly by and watch.  Are those of us who have stood by and watched perhaps more guilty than those doing the wrongs, simply by our inaction?  I don't know.  I'm not trying to make anyone feel guilty or even bad.  The point of this post is actually to challenge myself to stop being silent.  To speak up, not in a judging way, but in a loving and thoughtful way.  To not stand by and watch injustice take place without so much as a blink of any eye.  I'm not sure if I'm up to the challenge, but I'm going to try.  Who's with me?   

Friday, July 5, 2013

Home



All of my life, I've felt a struggle to feel 'at home'.  I've never felt like I really fit in.  It started in the  neighborhood I grew up in, and flowed into my school years.  I would always see certain people together - cliques, friends, groups - whatever you prefer to call them.  But I never felt like I belonged.  In some ways, I never really wanted to fit in.  But I think we all have the desire to be liked and included.  It's basic human nature.  

HOME.

At this point in my life, there is one place where I feel more at home than anywhere else.  Where is that, you ask?  Well, my two faithful readers, I will tell you.  It is the place where I am both most comfortable, yet uncomfortable at the same time.  Comfortable because of the love I feel, yet uncomfortable because I'm so afraid I'm going to screw it all up.  The place I am talking about is fatherhood.  

HOME

Have I mentioned that I love being a Daddy?  It's everything I thought it would be, but also so many things I never thought it would be.  This little person that came into the world has been relying on Leigh and I for everything.  Everything.  I remember the first moment I was alone with Will at night, when Leigh went to bed.  I was so worried I was going to break him - he was so tiny and innocent and beautiful.  I didn't want to mess up.  It was terrifying and exhilerating all at the same time, and the love I felt in my heart for this little boy that God had given us was overwhelming me.  It brought tears to my eyes - tears of joy.  And it still does to this day.  When I try to imagine all of the love that God has in His heart for His Son, and for me, and then I compare how much I love Will to that, it seems so massive, yet so very microscopic compared to God's love for me.  But I would do anything for Will. So whenever I doubt God's love, which does happen - not going to lie - I try to think of it in terms similar to those.  It's about the only way I can get my small mind around it sometimes.  

HOME.

So when I talk about this feeling of being 'home' when it comes to fatherhood, it's the feeling that this is what all of the years of waiting were leading up to and preparing me for.  The first three years have flown by.  Will is learning and growing every day and it's so true what they say about it going by in the blink of an eye.  I had a hard time when he first went to preschool.  I'm sure kindergarten and first grade will be much more difficult.  But he will be fine.  Man it's hard to let them fly, but you so badly want to help them spread those wings and do it.  It's sort of a big contradiction, this parenting thing.  You spend every day trying to teach them, prepare them, but most of all love them - and let them know what is waiting out there for them in the world we live in.  But suddenly the day comes when they begin to spread their wings, and it's like a tug of war inside of you.  One side is jumping for joy and rooting them on.  And the other is sad because he's not your baby anymore, and you aren't sure if you really want to let go.  

HOME.

My goal as a father is to let Will know that he is loved.  That he is important.  That he matters. That he can do anything he wants and go anywhere he wants in life.  He is still at that age of innocence that I love, where everything is a new discovery greeted with enthusiasm and curiosity.  He does not know a stranger, and we make friends everywhere we go because of his joyful enthusiasm for people.  I know someday he will lose some of that, because of the 'don't talk to strangers' mentality of today's society.  But I hope he never loses his desire to connect and relate to other people.  I want him to treat others with respect, because that's what my parents instilled in me as I was growing up and I hopefully haven't done too poorly with that. 

HOME. 

I love being a daddy, because it is here that I feel home.  I am not perfect.  I make MORE than my fair share of mistakes.  Every day is a learning experience and Leigh and I walk through it together with Will.  He is such a sweet boy and my prayer is that the best of me rubs off on him and the worst of me stays behind.  He's already picked up on some of my bad habits, and I feel bad that I've let that happen.  But in this moment - this forty-first year, tenth month, fifth day of my life - I have found a place I can honestly say I feel comfortable in.  God has called me to be a daddy, and I am trying to live it out as He would have me do.  Will is such a precious gift.  Every day he makes us laugh for one reason or the other.  He is full of life and has made me feel full of life once again.  I thank God every day for Will, and for being able to finally share in this journey called parenthood with Leigh.  This is right where I want to be.  

HOME.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Love and Marriage

I don't normally discuss hot-button topics on this blog, but in this case, I'm going to make an exception.  All of the talk about same-sex marriage, DOMA, SCOTUS and their decision, etc has been pretty much everywhere you look.  There are strong opinions on every end of the spectrum.  In listening to it all, I've come to my own conclusions about the issue.  I'd love to hear from you, my two readers, as well.  Regardless of whether we agree or disagree, I respect everyone's opinion on the subject.  It's just that I think discussion is a good thing.  So here goes. Some of you may not agree with what I have to say.  I'm okay with that.  But let me hear, in a constructive and respectful manner, why you feel the way you do about this topic.  

The bottom line is I'm for same-sex marriage.  I do not see why two people who love each other, regardless of sexual orientation, religious beliefs, political persuasion, race or any other category cannot be afforded the same rights as others.  I keep hearing the term 'the institution of marriage', and the quote from the one gentleman who deemed it an 'inherent evil'.  Really?  I'm a God following guy and I have a relationship with Jesus Christ.  I'm aware of what the Bible says on this topic.  But I have a hard time believing that the God that I know and love would hate love in any form.  Heterosexual marriages aren't exactly thriving these days.  The definition of family has changed so much, and for the better I think.  The church I belong to has so many adoptive families, with parents and children of different ethnicities, and it is simply a beautiful thing.  So why then, can't a gay couple who truly love each other, raise children in a healthy environment like any other family?  And why can't they be afforded the same rights as anyone else in the same situation?  I have friends who are gay and live together, and when I am with them, I can see how much they love each other.  I can see how devoted they are too each other. I just don't get how that can be wrong.  


In a world full of so many bigger, more important issues, why does this one always come to the forefront?  Is someone else being gay and married hurting anyone?  Is it having a negative impact on heterosexual marriages?  I just don't think it is.  Isn't life hard enough to get through without having to feel like an outcast because of your sexual orientation?  There is so much hate in this world, and I think that much of it comes from a lack of knowledge.  Often we hate because we are afraid of or uncomfortable with something.  God commands us to love one another as we love ourselves.  Or did I misread that one?  

I want to hear from you on this.  I don't care which side of the discussion you fall on, I want to hear it.  We live our lives so afraid of offending people, but in instances such as this one, discussing it seems to be the only way to take it on.  Let's open our minds and be respectful of one another, and celebrate each other.  Okay, dear readers, let me have it.  Whether you comment on this blog, on my facebook page, email me, however you are most comfortable.  I hope to hear from you.  

In the words of Lenny Kravitz, 'We've got to let love rule!".  I want my son to live in a world where love rules.  I hope you have a wonderful day!


Thursday, June 6, 2013

It's The Little Things

Our night last night went a little something like this.  I drove up the driveway and into the garage, stopping for a second to look at some new chalk art on the driveway.  I entered the house with a grin on my face, only to find it empty and quiet.  This was quite a strange contrast from most nights when I get home from work.  I heard voices coming from the back yard and found Leigh and Will sitting on the swing set, talking about the robin's nest in the swing set.  It has gone from one egg to four eggs in 3 days.  Will seems pretty excited about the prospect of having some baby birds living in his swing set.  As soon as I stepped outside Will yelled at the top of his lungs "Four eggs!!!".  We played in the back yard for awhile, going up and down the swing set, the slide, into the clubhouse, and playing tag - Will loves to run up to us and go "Tag, you're it!"
Eventually we went inside and ate dinner.  

After we finished eating, I had promised Will we would go back out for a bit.  So, back outside we went.  Our neighbors' kids were out, too.  They have kids who are not too much older or younger than Will, and he loves playing with them.  They all have a pretty good time together.  We were playing ball, riding various ride-on toys, drawing on the driveway with chalk, and just having a good time.  The neighbors' daughter drew chalk outlines of us on our driveway, and then did our feet as well.  Everybody was having a good time.  

I'm not trying to bore you with the details of our evening last night.  Though they were far from boring for me.  I love every minute of it.  Kids are the future, and we need to put our gadgets down, turn off the tv's, and get outside and play with them!  I find it impossible to believe, but according to other more seasoned parents, there is going to come a day when Will may not want to hang out with me.  (I know, right?!?!  Can you believe that?!?)  Or at least not nearly as much.  So I'm trying to remind myself to soak all of this up while I can.  Okay, I STILL can't imagine why anyone would think that Will won't want to hang out with ME.  Seriously?!?!  

Okay, okay, Brian - get to the point.  The point is that sometimes I take the people around me for granted.  I'm too busy with my cell phone in my face, or watching TV, or just not being attentive or paying attention.  I want to do better.  Every day with Will teaches me something different.  

Have a great day, and don't forget to play!  

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Obstacles

An obstacle is defined by Merriam Webster as something that impedes progress or achievement.  We all encounter them.  Physical obstacles, emotional obstacles, metaphorical obstacles and literal obstacles.  It's a part of life.  How we choose to handle them is the key.  Some see obstacles as negative things.  Many times yours truly sees them that way.  But when we choose to see them as catalysts instead, they can motivate us and drive us to overcome them. 

If you'll remember, I mentioned in a recent post that I signed up for the 2013 Chicago Marathon. This will be my first marathon since 2009.  I usually stick to an 18-week training schedule, but have been doing some light running for the past few weeks.  In the process, I have encountered one of those obstacles.  This particular one is called patella femoral syndrome, also known as 'runner's knee'.  I'm usually good for about 2 miles, and then at that point I start to feel some pain and instability in the left knee like it is going to give out.  I went 12 days between runs this last time, and last night's run was no different.  I go for physical therapy starting the 12th of this month, but that is about 3 days after my training schedule starts.  I'm pretty sure the 'physical therapy' will amount to some stretches and quad strengthening exercises, so I'm doing some research and getting started early.  Right now, I don't know if my body is going to hold up for me to ramp up the mileage and do a marathon.  But I'm going to keep pushing.  Having done them before helps somewhat.  Now I've just got my work cut out for me.  I can do this.  

What obstacles are you facing today?  

Monday, June 3, 2013

Demons

Before I became a father, I was afraid of the kind of father that I would be.  For the most part, I thought I'd handle it pretty well.  Not perfect, willing to learn from my mistakes, and always trying to learn from others fathers (especially my own, who is a great Dad and always seemed to be on an even keel even when I was at my worst growing up).  

The title of this blog tells you EXACTLY how I feel about being a father now.  I love it.  Will is the best part of my days and nights.  He can make me smile on the worst day just by something he says or does.  When I see that cute little face, and he comes running to the door to greet me when I get home from somewhere, it just warms my heart.  

So why is the title of this post 'Demons'?  Because sometimes, in the midst of the day, my brain gets busy.  I am more focused on the things I have to do than the people around me and how much they mean to me.  I get impatient, sarcastic, raise my voice, and can just be an out and out jerk.  This happened to me today.  I felt horrible about it the moment it happened, and have been beating myself up about it all day long.  

The day started out like any other.  My alarm went off at 5:15, I hopped into the shower, got dressed, and headed downstairs for breakfast.  I woke Will up just before 6:30.  His normal morning routine is to head straight to the couch for a breathing treatment, followed by a trip to the bathroom.  The breathing treatment allows him to gradually wake up, or sleep if he prefers.  He holds the mask by himself now, and even turns it on.  Such a big boy.  Then we get dressed and head to Grandma and Grandpa's house before I'm off to work.

Today, for some reason, I decided to take him to the bathroom to go potty first BEFORE the breathing treatment.  My thought was that he would be too tired to even think about it and would just hop on and go.  That was my first mistake.  He refused.  I tried calmly talking him into it.  I tried reasoning him into it.  I tried anything I could to talk him into it.  He refused.  That was when the demon came out.  I'm not proud of it.  I tossed his underwear on the floor, angrily walked out of the bathroom away from him and hit the wall, knocking the carbon monoxide detector down in the process.  I know it scared him.  I didn't see his face, but I know it did.  My intention was not to scare him.  It never is.  I lost control.  In that moment, I felt like I was all alone.  Like I alienated Leigh as she stood by and watched.  I let Will down.  As a father, I never want to intimidate my son.  I never want him to be afraid of me.  Today, in that moment, I believe he was.  And that simply breaks my heart.  I feel that as a father, I failed him today.  I'm tearing up just thinking about it.  Why couldn't I have just said okay, we don't have to go now, we can go do your treatment and try again later?  Or given him a hug instead of doing what I did?  He is just a three-year old boy.      

There are many things that we can have a 'do over' on, but time is not one of them.  I wish I could go back in time and redo that moment and handle it in a different way.  Will didn't deserve to feel the way he did.  Leigh didn't deserve to feel the way she did.  In that moment, I failed, and I cannot get it back.  But I'll learn from it.  I spent my lunch hour at home, on the couch, reading my Bible and praying, listening.  Asking God to soften my heart, dull the sharpness of my tongue, and give me a calm and patient spirit.  I know He heard my cries.  

Why am I confessing this to all of you, here on my blog of all places?  In writing this blog, my goal is to be as transparent with all of you as possible.  I would ask that you keep me in your thoughts and prayers, send me your good vibes, whatever it is that you feel comfortable doing.  When my son looks at me or thinks of me throughout his life, I want him to be proud to call me Daddy.  I want to guide him gently, and walk alongside him.  He has so many things he is learning all at once, and he is such a bright, smart, funny, wonderful boy.  He is so full of energy, always laughing, smiling, trying to have a good time.  Such a sweet spirit he has.  God definitely sent me a blessing when Will came into my life. I pray that I honor that by being the best father I can be to him.      

I'm not the world's biggest country music fan, but this video really got to me when I got wind of it from a friend.  Hope it puts a smile on your face.

Watchin You by Rodney Atkins

Friday, May 31, 2013

Worry.......Why Do I Let Myself Worry?

I would like to use this space to apologize to my readers for the lag of blog posts over the past two months.  My readers had doubled from one to two in a matter of months, and now I may very well be back to one.  If you're out there, reading this, I hope you've missed me as much as I've missed you.

The past couple of months have caused me to reflect a great deal.  Explosions at the Boston Marathon.  Tornados all across the country, the worst of which may have been in Oklahoma.  My goal here is not to bring you down.  Rather, it's to relate to you that it's time we all take stock in what blessings we really have.  The blessings that we largely take for granted.  I have been so very guilty of this myself.  I have spent too much time complaining, thinking negatively, and generally not being the man that I know I can be.  The man I believe God knows I can be.  Life is short.  Tell everyone you care about how you feel about them - not just once - but every day.  Better yet, show them.  Make them feel it.  It doesn't have to be some grand gesture that costs a ton of money.  Little things matter.  Do not let the next moment turn into the next day, or the next year, until it's too late and you didn't get to say everything you wanted to say to someone.  Life is precious.  It can end as quickly as it began.  In a heartbeat.  Do your best to truly live it every day.  

As we head into June, I want to hear about how you are living this out.  I need inspiration and motivation to do this myself.  Inspire me!  Show me what you've got.  Post it in the comments of my blog, or my Facebook page, or message me on Facebook.  I want to hear about how we can turn this world around, one person at a time.  And don't text the person to tell them.  CALL THEM!  Or better yet - GO SEE THEM!  Isn't that a crazy idea?  

Hopefully my next post will be longer and more insightful.  But until then, hit me with your best stories of how you are going to live your life in such a way that the people around you know how much they mean to you.  

Have a great weekend!  See you next month!  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

All In

Yes, lady and gentleman, it's official.  It's taken me 41 years and nearly 7 months to determine what most who know me were already aware of.  I have lost my marbles.  Not just some of them - ALL of them.  Yes, for many of you, this is not all that surprising.  But for some, let me explain.

A marathon is defined by Merriam Webster's as "a footrace run on an open course usually of 26 miles and 385 yards, also known as 26.2 miles.  First held at the revived Olympic Games in 1896, it commemorates the legendary feat of a Greek soldier who is said to have run from Marathon to Athens in 490 BC, a distance of about 25 miles, to report the Greek victory at the Battle of Marathon, after which he dropped dead."  Are you starting to understand the 'lost my marbles' statement in my opening paragraph above?  No, you say?  Well let me help make it crystal clear.  I decided to sign up for the Bank of America 2013 Chicago Marathon.  26.2 miles.  On foot.  With no one chasing me (that I know of, at least).  

Now, I've run marathons before - 5 to be exact.  Well, 4 and 3/4 if you count the Marathon of 2007 (reference this article in which I was quoted from a Time Magazine web reporter - didn't you know I was famous? http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1669408,00.html).  But it should be noted that my overall time increased from 4:45 in my first one to something around 5:35 in my last one.  I've had the worst leg cramps imaginable in each of these, and hobbled to the finish line in all but one.  Once my sister and wife insisted I go to the hospital for fluids and muscle relaxers (which, in hindsight was probably a good decision).  

So why am I doing this, you ask?  The last marathon I did was in 2009.  What would possess me to climb back on the horse and run another marathon?  It's simple, really.  I love to run!  I love passing by different things as I run.  And running with 45,000 other people in downtown Chicago on an October morning is hard to beat.  Not to mention the crowd of people that comes out to watch, cheer, and provide some of the best moral support any runner can ask for.  I miss the training.  I miss hitting the pavement early in the morning or late at night.  Also, a lifelong friend of mine is doing it with his brother and sister-in-law, as well as a high school friend and a college friend (these are just the people I know of).  It should be a blast.  

A couple of days ago, I ventured out for what was just my second run of 2013.  It was a two and a half mile run, and it hurt.  I'm not quite in the shape I used to be, but I will get back there between now and October 13th.  That much I am sure of.  I need to stay in shape just to keep up with my son.  Who knows?  Maybe one day he will run one - maybe with me.