Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Love Letter to My Bride

My Dearest Tiffany,

Happy Anniversary my love! I know this is early, but lets celebrate the entire month! 5 years seems to have gone by so fast and yet and I can't remember what life was like without you. I wish I could express to you how much these 5 years have shaped me in ways I could never have hoped for.

I remember it was almost 5 years ago standing up on the stage with dad waiting for you to be presented to me. I was nervously thinking about how my life was about to change completely without understanding how. You came through the door and I forgot about everything else. You were so radiant from head to toe and I couldn't imagine how my life could be any better.

Now 5 years has passed I can honestly say that I love you more than I did that day. Your beauty hasn't faded in my eyes and my love for you is stronger than when I first said the words "I love you". We have had lots of challenges in those years and may even be going through the hardest challenge now, but what I notice about us is that we continue to intentionally love each other through every mountain and valley. We are about to emerge into perhaps the most freedom we have experienced and every challenge we have gone through is about to become a story of victory for others.We are about to become debt free because you were persistent that we were going to be free no matter the cost to our comfort and lives.

My life is better now because of you. I know I fought you on becoming better in many ways, but you stuck through it. You encouraged me, prodded me when I needed it, allowed your creativity to flow even if I thought it was easier if we did simpler things. You have done so much to help me become the man I am today and I'm so thankful for you.

We are blazing a trail for our beautiful daughter and other children that will hopefully join us soon. I have more hope for our future and am more excited now than ever to love you for the 80 years or so that we get to be married. Writing this I can't help but feel that I have no idea how good life is going to be with you. The best is yet to come.

Happy Anniversary Darling and I love you with all my heart!


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Why I Believe in Jesus

I grew up in a pastor's home. I had loving parents a 2 sisters who grew to love me. I remember when I was five I prayed with my mom to accept Jesus in to my heart. I really don't remember anything at that point. Looking back at my childhood it looked pretty good except when I was outside my parents influence. I would have friends at the age of 8 who would try to get me to smoke (that one I resisted) and play rather racy games of true and dare. I gave into a lot of it and would even try to hide it from my parents. 

Around the age of 12 I remember computers were just starting to become a little bit more interesting to me and I discovered pornography. Now I know that people probably look at Men and boys today and probably don't think that men are capable of not looking at pornography. It has probably become what is expected and even encouraged in some circles in order to help men feel better about themselves. Only now research is starting to show that Pornography can have worse effects and addictive behavior than even cocaine or Heroin. Whatever the case may be I remember little by little being so entrenched in it that I would try to sneak away to places where I could get the Internet (yeah no smart phones at that time). I would avoid homework and studying at the expense of grades. Every night I would stay up till 3 in the morning watching TV. Pornography was all I could think about and thinking back, I don't know that I was a very nice person to be around at the time. 

While this was all happening, I was still pretending to be the good church kid. I would help with Kids church. I would put overheads up for worship songs, I would try to do everything people expected of me. This gets to be very heavy after a while. You feel like you have to be the perfect church kid while wanting to live a different life. I did this for 3 years. At the age of 15 I was invited to go to a youth conference in Kirksville, MO. I remember going to this feeling like I had to get rid of this addiction. I couldn't bring myself to tell my dad, even though looking back I am pretty sure he knew.

The first night of the conference, I don't remember what the preacher was talking about, but I do remember what happened at the end of his message. He yelled out, "If you have ever been addicted to pornography then you need to run up here right now!" I don't know what I was thinking. I know that I wanted so badly not to be living a lie anymore. I knew that what I was doing was hurting me. I couldn't even help it. I ran up to the front of the room without hesitation. 

For the next 45 minutes, I don't remember doing anything but crying. I remember begging God to set me free from this addiction. For those of you thinking that I had an emotional experience, I completely quit watching pornography of any kind after this moment. Addictions that involve brain chemistry such as this one are not so easy to break. Some would look at this and say, good job, you made a strong effort and succeeded. The only problem is that I had been trying to do this for at least 2 years without success. This was Jesus who set me free. I went home and told my church and my dad about my freedom.

Though it took a little bit of time for me to catch on, I started spending time in prayer and reading the bible. I wasn't doing this because I was told to. You couldn't keep me away from it. Years past. I had different times where I doubted and other times where there was no doubt in my mind. 

Now that I am married, 28 years old with a family of my own having been through college, had the opportunity to reject God if I wanted to, He has become my best friend. Its not ethereal. Its not because a religion dictates what I believe. Its because Jesus changed who I am and actually created a future for me where my wife and daughter can trust me. Along with that I am in a position to help people like me who don't know how to escape addictions like pornography.

Since then I have prayed for a completely blind man and his site came back to him. I have seen a man who was clinically dead come back to life. I have seen my wife who was raised in an abusive family come to know Jesus and quit drugs completely overnight. Yes I have seen a lot of things that are unmistakably  supernatural and happened because there was someone (sometimes me, sometimes someone else) who prayed for God to do something. But I will never give up my faith because, Jesus is my personal friend. We talk on a regular basis.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

What are Dads for again?

In the last 2 months of being a dad, I have been trying to navigating my new purpose here on this earth. I have a new baby who has captured my heart, but I'm not really sure what I mean to this little person yet. She spends most of the day with her mamma.  Since the baby's daily duties consist of eating, pooping, and sleeping, I find my self only able to help with 2/3 of the baby's needs and only 1/3 of the time since I am the breadwinner. In the first 2 months, I find myself feeling almost unnecessary in this little one's life as I realize that her mamma could do everything for her without me, whereas I couldn't.

I consistently reach my heart out to this little one loving her even in the midst of my quest to find purpose in her little world. I change her diapers, I talk to her, I sing to her, I hold her when she's sad, and I rock her in her car seat until my arms are sore from the kettle ball workout I just gave myself.

I say all these things because my experience as a new daddy makes me wonder how other new dads feel. On the outside looking in, watching this special relationship between mamma and child, doing menial things that don't seem significant in the relationship. I am coming out of the initial fog, because my daughter now knows that I am her daddy and I am here to protect and provide for her.

It was only 2 days ago that I was getting off work and driving home late since I was picking up a birthday cake for my wife's birthday party. Before I got home, my wife called me with my child crying in the background. Tiffany put the phone on speaker and I started talking to my daughter. Her instant response was to start smiling and talking to me. She did this for a while until she couldn't find me and started crying again.

When I finally arrived home, I picked her up and she calmed down and nestled into my arms completely content. Even later that night among our close family, she wouldn't allow anyone but her daddy to hold her.   

Something about this night shifted the way I think about fatherhood. The reason I became a father is so that I could pour my life into another person. I wanted love someone else the way that my Father God loves me. In doing what I am capable of doing as an earthly father I began to realize why God even created us. There is a thrill in my heart when my daughter realized that I am her daddy. She loves me and craves my attention. God loves us unconditionally and always will, but he loves it when we realize who He is as Father. His heart beats harder when we crave His attention. His love bursts out on us because he gets to love us closely and not just from a relationship of doing things for us.