It’s remarkable how quickly you can be reminded of how fragile your existence is. Or how suddenly you can be halted in your thoughts on your place in this world and your importance in other people’s lives.
Have you ever watched a planned building demolition? It’s absolutely mesmerizing. Something that stood for so long can be brought to nothing in a matter of moments. The history of the building will linger for awhile, but you know you can never put it back the way it once was. You could try, but I can assure you the explosion absolutely destroyed parts of the building and it would never be whole again.
And all it took was the simple push of a button. One tiny little action that sets it all into motion. All the good could be gone in an instant. And you could be the one holding the trigger. But, you could also have no idea who has it.
My building has been demolished several times. I try to piece it back together. I even find extra things to support it and make it stronger than before.
But I’ve realized I’m a little trigger happy and I always seem to find my finger hovering over that button again. And I’ve learned that I’ve handed it over to more people each time I rebuild.
Tonight, I take solace in knowing that if my building continues to be destroyed, my God is always there to help me pick up the pieces and try again. And He usually brings a friend or two along to help me try again.
I’m going to be honest outright and admit that this subject is one I struggle with. I have such a desire to love others, but I still have moments where my heart loses out to my mind. But what is love? Sorry not sorry if that song gets stuck in your head.
Love can mean so many different things depending on who you ask. It can come with the simplest explanation, or become mystified with an abstract definition.
My definition of love is simple. It is one of the standard definitions – an intense feeling of deep affection. What is affection? A feeling of caring and fondness. Basically, I care about you on a personal and deep level. I prioritize your happiness and joy.
But why do we have to overcomplicate something that should be foundational to society? As a Jesus follower we have been given the best example. It is literally spelled out for us.
Seems pretty simple. Jesus told this to His followers shortly before the betrayal that would lead to His death. He knew what was about to happen, and yet He still walked into it openly with a heart filled with unconditional love.
So… it should be pretty easy to love someone else when they accidentally say the wrong thing that hurts your feelings.
And it should be pretty easy to forgive others for their past mishaps, understanding that people change and they shouldn’t be judged on their past.
And it should be easy to simply shrug off the things that others have done to you, or the way they treat you. That even if they make you feel so low on a daily basis you should still love them unconditionally. Right?!
Alright, alright. Put down the pitchforks and stop practicing for your dramatic solo as you pull others into your negative feelings for others.
I get it. It’s complicated!
But why do we struggle with this? In theory, by loving others we should be shaping and molding the world to fit the perfect image of how we want it to be. Imagine it with me. A place where there were no violence. A place where you could let your children out to play without fear. A place where no one has any internal struggles with their own self-image because others are constantly raising them up with praise.
So why do we not embrace that and work towards that? Why do we have to get annoyed that someone is doing something selfishly? Or why do we have to judge others for doing things that they know are hurting others?
And it’s complicated because we make it complicated. We have assigned a stigma to the word and given it definitive connotations as a societal norm that people think can only mean one thing. It is either “over-used” (not possible), or it is used only on rare occasions.
Or we live in fear that others will perceive it as something else.
Do you naturally tell your friends that you love them? Or is there a little bit of awkwardness when you say it, or at least when you say it around certain people? Can you outright tell someone “I love you” or do you have to cut corners with things like “love you” or “love ya” or even lumping them in with a group of people? Or taking the pressure off yourself by saying “we all love you” and not making it personal?
Let’s all be honest for a minute. We all do it. My hand is raised high. Guilty! Confession and all!
But why?! Do you know how incredibly impactful it is to tell someone you love them? Three simple words is all it takes to actually change someone’s day from bad to good. In three words you can make someone feel so incredibly valued.
I… love… you. That’s it. Is it cheapening it by saying it any other way? Maybe not. But as a receiver I can tell you it means more to me personally being said so simply.
So why don’t we do it more often? Well, for one, when was the last time you walked up to a coworker and told them you loved them? Or walked up to your married friend and said it to them? When was the last time you said it to a relative who has never said it to you?
It’s a whole lot of things from intimidating, scary, awkward, uncomfortable or just plain weird.
It’s fear of people’s perception. Its worry that others will misconstrue your intentions. It’s also being unsure of other people’s boundaries.
And also I think a lot of people don’t know HOW to love another person. I mean, we aren’t exactly raised to be this way. But we can be better.
So I try to live this out in my own life, or at least I have been these last 6 months as I begin to live my life as a follower of Christ.
There are people in my life who have severely hurt me in the past, and there are others who have hurt those that are closest to me. Those wounds are difficult to heal, but I am trying to love them unconditionally.
And I actively tell those who I do love that I love them. Straight up, point blank, to their face, or written in ink and saved forever (unless they decide to burn them). Why? Because it’s important to me for others to know how I feel about them.
Romance does not get to steal this word and hoard it for itself. Love goes way beyond that. Love is appropriate for the way it is intended, NOT the way it is perceived. If I tell someone I love them and another person takes it in a way that it is not meant, that’s on them. I know what is in my heart, the person receiving it usually knows what is in my heart, and my God definitely knows what is in my heart.
Someone very dear to me recently gave me one of the greatest compliments I have ever received – “you’re always looking for ways to express your love.”
And in those few, simple words I instantly received confirmation that the changes I have been making in my life were real and that my actions were finally matching my desires. It was a moment that made me realize that, yeah, I can be a disciple.
And it’s all because of love.
I let more and more of it out everyday as it brings me so much joy to bring happiness to others. But I still keep a lot of it held back out of fear. I make sure to tell my wife several times a day. I try to tell my friends and family as often as I can, but I can assure you a lot of times it will be the worried, condensed version I mentioned above. I’m fearful of loving others too much that it scares them off. No joke. Even those I am closest with I will tell them “I love you” and then a few days later make comment that I hope I’m not being too much.
Stupid, right? It’s more that it’s a shame that we have to hide it.
And I think that is what we struggle with with love. It’s not the act of loving another, or the desire to love others unconditionally, it’s expressing that love.
So, I’m hear to tell you that if you are family or friends that have access to my blog, I LOVE YOU! Actually, I probably love you a whole lot more than you think and more than I ever tell you. For some that’s saying a lot.
And, unless you politely ask me otherwise, I’m going to continue to tell you. To your face, in our texts, in my letters, etc. I hope it brings you comfort, love, joy and happiness. That feeling you get when someone special gives you a hug. I may not mean much to this world, but I hope I mean something to your world.
What you do with this blog is on you. As for me, I’m going to continue seeking new ways to share my love. 🥰
Thank You for filling me with so much love from You that I want to share it with others. I want to cast a light on this world where darkness seems to often try and invade. I want to touch the lives of so many people, spreading joy and love to others that they want to share it as well.
To know that others have had moments of happiness and had a smile brought to their faces by my words or actions will allow me to one day pass from this world as a fulfilled Christ follower.
Today I pray that You help others in finding the courage to express their feelings in a safe and comfortable way. Please give them the peace to go out and share their love with others.
I pray that the awkwardness for “I love you” outside of the family goes away.
I pray that You continue to look after those who need Your warmth and love. I pray for those who turn their backs to You and that they will one day see that, despite that, You always stay with them.
Please continue to protect and heal those who need You. For those fighting battles physically, emotionally and mentally. Please let them feel Your presence so that they may have peace in their lives.
Warning, this is a very serious post about a mental illness that I have. It is not to be treated as a light subject in any way.
Honestly, this post has been in my head for awhile now, but I’ve been dreading writing it down and giving it life. It’s a side of my life that I honestly hate talking about because it makes me feel so terrible about myself.
But I can’t really put it off any longer. Thanks to Facebook for throwing the reminder in my face, I was at one of my lowest weights a year ago.
Sounds exciting, right? Not when I have put back on almost 30 pounds over the last year.
Why? I know a lot of the reasons why. Most of it is due to complete laziness. It also has to do with stress. Letting my sweet tooth control me. Going through a severe stage of depression. Getting a promotion at work and taking on additional responsibilities. But mostly not putting the time into it like I did a few years ago.
But that’s not what this post is about. Let’s discuss something that has such a stigma around it, and you will rarely hear much about – male body dysmorphia.
What it is about is the fact that even at my lowest weight, after losing nearly 80 pounds, I hated looking at myself in the mirror. I hated pictures of myself.
I lost 80 pounds and could only see the 249 pound person I let myself get to.
And now that I’ve put on 30 pounds and am not even close to my original goal weight any longer? It’s terrible. All I do is look at myself and see the flaws. Constantly.
And you know what is especially hard about it? Is that I am such a hypocrite about body images. I highly encourage people to be comfortable with themselves. I use the word beautiful and share it as often as I can. I make sure to promote healthy self views from a young age.
I think stretch marks are amazingly symbolic of the journey that a person has gone through, especially after childbirth. I have stretch marks. Do I think that about myself? Absolutely not. To me, they are a constant reminder of what I did to myself.
I also have loose skin on my stomach from the rapid weight loss (60 pounds in less than a year). Could I do something about it? Probably. But I am always telling myself what’s the point? I have these stretch marks and this loose skin that I am never going to be comfortable in my own body.
I refuse to go swimming with other people because I have such insecurities with my own body. Is it really that bad? Probably not, but the way I see myself I just can’t get through that mental block.
I wear a compression shirt. Every. Single. Day. Why? Because at this point it is such a security blanket to me that I can’t imagine going a day without it. It squeezes in all my imperfections and hides them away, at least for the day. I can dress nice, and feel good about myself for a little while until I catch my reflection somewhere in something.
I know that it is such a problem for me that I intentionally go out of my way to try to make sure other people don’t feel the way I do about myself. When people say nice things about me physically, I generally do not believe it. In my eyes, I do not see myself as an attractive person, in the slightest. Which is ironic because people tell me my two youngest look just like me and say that they are beautiful. Should be a compliment, right? Right.
My negative feelings about myself physically have been the reason for many of my periods of depression. I start to feel so down on myself that I often will try to seek some sort of validation that things aren’t as bad as I think they are. You know, the cheesy social media post selfies seeking attention, or things like that?
But those never go how you imagine, and you generally do not get the feedback you were hoping for. Maybe it’s because I’m a guy and people aren’t comfortable giving men compliments? I don’t know. But when you’re already feeling terrible about yourself and you throw a final S.O.S. out there and get nothing in return? It’s a really quick shortcut to depression and negative self feelings.
When I did photography I would try to limit the amount of editing I did to my clients because I wanted to capture their true essence. Their genuine beauty. And I was great at it. I would often have conversations with clients who would ask for things to be removed and I would push back and tell them it’s a part of them that they should own and feel beautiful in their own skin (things that aren’t temporary like birth marks, moles, etc – not things like pimples that come and go).
But when I see pictures of myself? I want to edit one picture for hours. I want to make that person an attractive person. Because I’ve never felt that way about myself, maybe at least I can manipulate it through editing, right? Not quite.
Body dysmorphia is terrible. I should be proud of how far I’ve come, but all I can do is yell at myself for how close I was to my goal, and how much I’ve let slip away.
And what do I do about it? Nothing! I could be doing more exercises to tone the areas I’m extremely uncomfortable with (my stomach and my chest), but I don’t. Because no one is holding me accountable. Stupid, I know.
I started running a month ago. And I’ve put on 5 pounds. How flipping discouraging is that? I’m doing more strenuous activity than I’ve ever done and my body just mocks me.
I don’t know what I’m supposed to do to fix my body image issues. I wish I did. I wish I could stop looking at a mirror or a picture of myself and just stop seeing a distorted funhouse mirror version of myself. But I can’t. I don’t know how long I’ve had these feelings. I was in amazing shape when I was in my first year of college (before marriage), but pretty quickly started putting on weight over the next 10 years. When I look at the picture above I wish I could get back to that. I tell myself I would be happy now if I were that person again.
But I know I wasn’t happy with that person when I was there, either.
I could lie and tell you it’s not an every day battle, but it really is. Every day when I have to put on this shirt. Every evening when I climb into bed (which, surprisingly I can’t sleep with a lot of clothes on so that certainly doesn’t help). Every time I see a picture of myself. Every time I look in the mirror and notice my hair is not looking good. Or that it is staring to recede. Or that I look terrible with facial hair. Or that I wish I didn’t have to wear glasses. But putting contacts in is such a hassle. Or that I never feel comfortable with my clothing style. Or how I struggle when I run. Or that I constantly question if I’m eating the wrong things or the wrong amounts. Or thinking about all the toning exercises I should be doing but never do. Every day when I see people who just make things look so effortless.
I wouldn’t wish body dysmorphia on my worst enemy. It literally eats you alive from the inside out. Honestly, I’m surprised I never battled with an eating disorder as much as I don’t have self love for myself. I think it’s because I just stopped looking in the mirror for a long time. And I “noped” out of a lot of picture opportunities.
Someday it will get better. I’m trying to learn to love myself, but it’s not easy.
So the next time you hear me give someone a compliment about the way they look, know that I am saying it with a lot of intentionality and meaning. It is not a superficial remark. I don’t ever want anyone to feel about themselves the way I feel about myself. And if I’m giving you, or someone close to you a compliment? It’s coming from deep in my heart and carries more weight than you probably think (in a making you feel positivity sort of way, if that makes sense).
Today I’m praying boldly and selfishly. I’m praying that You help me overcome these negative feelings and help me to start loving myself. Please continue to guide me towards living a healthier life. I hope to be healthier to live a longer life to be able to do more good in this world for You.
I want to be able to be more active with my loved ones and spend more quality time with them. To be a support and role model for my children.
Please help me in overcoming my control issues with food. And help me in having more will power to be more active and do the things I know I should be doing. My body was given to me by You and I need to be treating it as the gift it is.
You ARE beautiful. Every single one of you. I hope if you hear it enough it will eventually start to sink in.
This post is long overdue. There’s going to be a lot of happiness that you will read, but I’m also going to address some bad moments as well. I don’t like putting on a mask and only showing the “good” side of life. A lot of growth comes from the struggles.
So I hereby, finally, dedicate this post to the one who has been with me through it all – my amazing wife, Allissa.
My wife and I have been married 13 years this year, and I can honestly say in those years I have only spoken poorly of her maybe once or twice, and only to my own mother (who quickly set me straight). Therefore, I’m not going to start with this post. Don’t get me wrong, there are things that she does that drive me crazy at times, but never to the point that I would belittle her to others.
No, this post is going to be about how much of a patient and understanding person she can be, especially when I am being such an idiot. I’m going to discuss some things about my past that I am not proud of, but I am not that person anymore and I will never be that person again. Basically, I’m calling myself out on my past bs. So buckle up. There will be moments where things get bumpy, but the end result (where we are today) is beautiful.
I met this beautiful girl when I was 13 years old…
For those of you who don’t know me, most of my childhood I was this incredibly skinny, awkward (but adorable) kid. I was really active, could eat anything, and never gained a pound. Until I hit puberty entering middle school and I got fat. Like, really chunky.
But, and this may surprise some of you, I was incredibly social. I was friends with everyone! Mostly the girls (I mean, I was a 13 year old boy… duh!), but basically I got along with everyone. And I had silly crushes on a lot of the girls, too (better chances with a bigger selection, right?!). Little did she know (or maybe she did since she is a girl and they always seem to truly know) she was one of the girls I had a crush on.
We, of course, were fast friends. We shared a lot of the same friends and classes, too. But do you think anything came of any of that? Nope, that’s where the middle school story ends. Never dated, never admitted to liking one another (or rather I never told her, I doubt she liked me as I was an annoying overweight teenage boy). We ended up going to different high schools after that. I “chased” a lot of girls, but I’m pretty sure I’ve only ever had a handful of “girlfriends” in my life, and only one of which was actually serious. I was always in the friend zone. As someone recently so astutely pointed out, I’m really good at being there for other people and helping them through their rough times.
Anyways, our story jumps 4 years to 2006 when we finally got back into each others lives. Allissa had a serious relationship before me and had Maddi earlier in that year. I was off at Purdue having a grand ole time (not really) when this cute girl starts sending me messages on MySpace (yeah let’s throw it way back!). She reached out to me first and asked if I remembered her, and of course I did. She was really good friends with one of my close friends, so getting back in touch was pretty easy.
I wasn’t a very religious person at the time, but looking back she came into my life right when I needed her most. We started talking seriously early in my first semester. I think we were “unofficially” dating for awhile, but it all happened really quick after my grandparents passed away. My grandmother passing was one of blessing as she was in a great deal of pain and suffering from a long battle with cancer. My grandfather less than 2 weeks later was not so much. I was completely devastated as I was extremely close with him. Allissa was the one person that got me through it. She stayed up with me for hours on end and just listened as I cried.
We “officially” got together shortly after my grandfather passed away. A lot of people thought I was just filling a void. And, to be honest, I was. 13 days later we got engaged. Yes, you read that right. 13 days. About a month later I got Lis out of a very toxic environment with her family and she moved in with mine… while I was 4 hours away at Purdue.
She gave me a sense of purpose that I did not have at the time. In a few short months I became wanted. I became a father to a 7 month old. Real honest moment? I fell in love with the idea of being a dad and having a family before I actually fell in love with Allissa. There were things that both of us did that filled in the gaps for the other person. I don’t think either of us will deny that we likely were not in love when we got married only 8 short months after being engaged (so, less than 9 months from being together if you’re keeping track).
Insane, right?! 19 years old getting married and having a family after being together for such a short amount of time. Most of our families didn’t really agree with the expedited marriage, but my parents became grandparents and I think that’s what made them more okay with it.
And because of that, do you know what was missing? A whole lot of growing up!
We struggled for a long time in life. We were perfectly content with having very little money, not having any goals, and just getting by. Because that’s what we knew. We were broke. As in, dirt poor. We had jobs where often we wouldn’t get paid for weeks at a time.
Anyways, our relationship wasn’t the best. We fought a lot but we always put our children before everything else. It was always a good buffer for us having the kids to prioritize over fixing underlying issues. And that’s how it was for a long time.
When we first got together I was starting to shut out all my relationships while Allissa was the one with a lot of close friends, most of which did not like me. At all. Because she always chose me over them and I basically stole her away from them.
She quickly started to give away parts of herself that weren’t centered around me. Her close relationships, hobbies, etc.
It wasn’t until our 3rd child was about to be born that we started to take life seriously. I got my first “real” job right before he was born and that has since grown into the amazing career I am in now.
But this amazing woman has sacrificed so much of herself for me to be where I am today.
The rest of this post is probably just going to jump around a lot and seem random as I try to discuss some things. Sorry in advance!
I am just now in less than a month, finally going to be finishing college with my third degree. Which means I have spent a lot of time over the last 13 years taking classes and being away from my family. She gave up all of her social life to allow me to finish something I believed to be important for the future of our family.
She was the one at home, caring for our children. Cleaning the house. Scheduling appointments. Cooking meals. Exhausting herself for us.
We, jokingly, had a saying that she was the primary parent and I was the secondary parent. But it was 100% true. I had no clue what was going on with my kids. I was only focused on what I was working on.
Here’s some more brutal moments of honesty. I’ve had moments where I’ve been a pretty terrible husband. I’ve never physically touched my wife. The closest I’ve ever come to it is aggressively grabbing a cup from her hand that scared her. But emotionally I’ve done some serious damage. The next few things aren’t going to be easy to read, but I assure you they are definitely harder to write and admit.
I’ve had moments in my life that I was so sad, depressed and in pain that I wanted others around me to share in my misery. Unfortunately, I didn’t have anyone else in my life except Allissa so she got it all. I was extremely good at saying things in ways that would make her feel less than. Or not worthy.
She’s had a rough life, not filled with love, but full of abandonment. When the rest of the world made her feel that she wasn’t worth loving, her own mother, father and sisters, the one person who should have been there the whole time reminding her of how special she was made her feel like it was all to be believed.
I’ve told my wife on more than one occasion that I wasn’t as attracted to her because of her weight.
I’ve told her that I wasn’t sure if I still loved her.
I’ve told her that I’ve had lustful thoughts towards other women.
I’ve told her that she wasn’t enough, even when she was giving me everything she had.
A lot of the things I’ve said to her came from a place of pain and I didn’t truly mean them. Some of them I did really feel but never should have said. Do I like admitting these things? Not even a little bit. In fact, they make me cry even thinking about. Do I think I will be judged by the things I’ve said? Yeah, from some of you I will be. But that’s okay. It is my past, it is not my present or my future.
For the longest time, she found it easier for our life to just give me my way. I didn’t catch on to this for awhile (about 9 years of our marriage) but once I did I foolishly pushed that threshold as far as it would go. And let me tell you, it goes pretty far. This woman, who I was taking advantage of, would go to any lengths to keep me happy. We talked about doing things in our relationship that I’m ashamed to admit. Two positives that came from that situation: 1) we never actually did anything more than talk about those things, and 2) it made us both realize that we really did NOT want those things at ALL in our relationship. Regardless, a lot of damage came from that.
I wanted her to hurt like I hurt. Little did I know that she was in more pain than I ever could have imagined.
I broke her. After I had her cut so many people out of her life for continually hurting her, I turned around and did the same thing. I stole her safety that I am still to this day working on giving back. And I destroyed her trust in me. Because I made her change every part of who she was as a person just to turn around and tell her I didn’t like the person she had become.
Why? Because she became me. And I didn’t like it at all.
There were two of me when I didn’t even want there to be one.
Through all this pain I was causing her, I didn’t even know who I was. And, the idiot I was, I never communicated to her. I built everything up and stored it all in until one day I unleashed hell on her. Instead of opening up to her and letting her help me fix my own brokeness I let her believe it was all her fault. I pushed her so far away so I could peacefully walk away and end it all (literally). She eventually grew tired of me constantly putting everything on her that I ended up with an ultimatum. Which probably to this day was one of the best things she has ever done and a moment that I am more proud of her for than any other moment before or since.
I tore this woman apart. I put her in a situation where she could do no right no matter what she did or said. I made her give up parts of herself that she didn’t want to give up.
And yet, she loved me anyways.
When I get really upset I retreat into my own mind. I don’t yell, I don’t cry. I give this prolonged silent treatment and give the dirtiest facial expressions. Yeah, I know I’m real childish. But I also know it drives her insane.
And yet, she loved me anyways.
For long periods of our relationship, longer than I care to admit, I’ve treated this amazing woman like she was less than me. I made her believe that we were not equals, and that she was beneath me.
But let’s be honest. I wouldn’t be who I am today without her. She has been the only person in my life who has supported me every single step of the way. She has called me out on my bs and has given me insight on things that I was too blind to see on my own. In fact, I could have missed a major period of depression if I would have left my job years ago when she told me she didn’t trust my previous boss. Fortunately the situation has worked out well in the end, but it took a lot of pain to get here.
I literally would not be here today if it weren’t for her. She often thinks that I never actually went through with ending my own life, or leaving her, because of the kids. But, the truth is, it’s always been because of her.
She was the one person who I felt so comfortable crying to that I eventually thought I needed to stop showing so much emotion to her. I thought my emotions were wearing her down so I stopped showing them to her entirely.
She’s taught me to love myself even when I felt unlovable.
I took away a lot of the things that she did to make me a better person because I wanted to be miserable and I didn’t want to be a part of this world.
So, I’ve told her that I no longer want her to give me my way any longer. Her voice needs to match or be above my own. Me making my own choices and decisions leads to stupid consequences and a whole lot of pain. She is my better half that keeps me going.
She is finding her voice. I still push her when she struggles with her own feelings of self doubt, but I no longer try to make her into someone she is not. I’ve learned to be patient. I’ve learned to open myself up to her. She’s recently admitted that she has held stronger religious beliefs because of the things I’ve put her through. I wish I wouldn’t have stolen her voice so she would have been comfortable enough with me to share that. I strongly believe being Jesus followers earlier in our relationship would have avoided a lot of problems. But then again, I also believe these things happened for a reason.
As I know I will never be able to say it enough, I am so sorry for all the pain I have caused. For not being your unconditional support system. For breaking your trust. For making you question my feelings for you.
Neither of us grew up having great relationships in our lives to model our own marriage after. We never really had a sense of direction on how to approach situations. Now that we have people in our lives that encourage and foster our relationship growth, things have been really great for us.
This story is far from over, but I will bring you up to speed on where we are in the latest chapter of our lives.
Now, Allissa comes first in my life. And the biggest thing is, I now make sure she knows that. Some things I don’t necessarily agree on, but out of respect for her and for our marriage, I do them. I make an effort to make sure she feels loved. I’ve tossed out the silly notion of “secondary” parenting. I take her out on date nights when the time allows. I let her be the first person who reads these posts, because in all honesty it’s the first time she’s learning these things about me. I seek her feedback and opinion and give it more weight than I do my own. I listen to her gut instincts more often (not often, because I know sometimes it’s still coming from a place of doubt). I do not have lustful thoughts for others anymore, nor have I for a very long time. I encourage her. I support her.
We have built a beautiful life together. We have a bright future that we are working towards. We have a beautiful family. We have amazing friends that have become an extension of our family and have taught us what unconditional love for others is. We pray together. We dream together. We do life, together.
I am loving her unconditionally as she has always done for me.
This amazing woman has been so patient in my life and I’ve never understood why. I’ve treated her so poorly at times and yet she’s always loved me anyways. But I guess that’s what they really mean by unconditional love. Through the good times and the bad. And the times when your husband is just being a complete moron and jeopardizing the best thing in his life.
She does so much for this family, especially for me. She’s a natural caretaker. Food, home, children. Even after a long day she will often still ask me to lie in her lap and play with my hair.
When you see this amazing woman and wonder why she’s being so quiet, or is hesitant to let you in to her life, just know it’s because she has been put through a lot. She is still working on believing how special she truly is. Just know that once she lets you in, she’s giving a big part of herself to you. Be careful, she’s fragile. I would know. I’m the one who broke her and is still working daily on putting the pieces back together.
And please do not judge me on my past. I, again, confess these things so you will know how far I have come and will love me despite my faults and flaws for they have brought me to be the person I am today.
I met this beautiful girl when I was 13 years old… She would grow up and change my life forever for the better…
Thank You for blessing my life with this beautiful soul who tries to make my life better every single day. Who sacrifices so much of herself for others. Who has been torn down and broken so much, and yet still puts on a smile every day.
Thank You for never leaving her side throughout all the crap I put her through. For comforting her and giving her peace. For listening to her prayers when I didn’t even know she was praying.
Thank You for putting so much into her. She is an incredibly special and beautiful person.
Thank You for not letting our marriage end. I would be lost without her and do not want to think of a world without her in it. Whether people care to admit it or not, she leaves an impression on everyone she meets. She loves unconditionally, even through hesitation from prior experiences of pain.
I see Your love through her. I pray that You continue to bless her life and give her the voice, courage, wisdom and desire she truly wants in life. I know through You she will find it all.
I love you all!
Andy Grammer – Don’t Give Up On Me
I will fight I will fight for you I always do until my heart Is black and blueAnd I will stay I will stay with you We’ll make it to the other side Like lovers doI’ll reach my hands out in the dark And wait for yours to interlock I’ll wait for you I’ll wait for you’Cause I’m not givin’ up I’m not givin’ up, givin’ up No, not yet Even when I’m down to my last breath Even when they say there’s nothin’ left So don’t give up onI’m not givin’ up I’m not givin’ up, givin’ up No, not me Even when nobody else believes I’m not goin’ down that easily So don’t give up on meAnd I will hold I’ll hold onto you No matter what this world’ll throw It won’t shake me looseI’ll reach my hands out in the dark And wait for yours to interlock I’ll wait for you I’ll wait for you’Cause I’m not givin’ up I’m not givin’ up, givin’ up No, not yet Even when I’m down to my last breath Even when they say there’s nothin’ left So don’t give up onI’m not givin’ up I’m not givin’ up, givin’ up No, not me Even when nobody else believes I’m not goin’ down that easily So don’t give up on meWhoa, whoa Whoa, whoa Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah Yeah, yeah, yeahI will fight I will fight for you I always do until my heart Is black and blue
Today will be a short post, but one that I need to document so I have it to come back to when/if these feelings return.
I recently had some much needed conversations with a few pretty great people in my life. And in opening up about things that I didn’t know I was still keeping in, I realized that I can be a major hypocrite. I’ve learned that my words can be extremely powerful tools when used correctly. I’m really good at making others feel good. I can find the words that they need to hear pretty quickly.
But, I’ve noticed, I am terrible at taking my own advice.
I’ve been telling a loved one recently not to hide her joy from the world, regardless of other’s perceptions.
Helloooooo! Do you not listen to yourself when you speak, Kyle?
So I’ve made a decision…
I’m no longer going to turn my back and run from the fear. I am going to stand my ground and I am going to fight my fear head on. I have a lot of joy to give to this world, and I’m going to give it!
So I am going to be joining the children’s ministry at church once all of this craziness subsides. I can make a difference in these kids’ lives and help guide them to be fellow Jesus followers. And they bring so much happiness to my life, why would I want to run from that?
And I am going to go out of my way to compliment others whenever I can. I know where the intentions in my heart lie, and I know for a fact that having others speak positively of and to you is such an amazing feeling. We need more love in this world. I may be one small grain of sand, but last I checked a mustard seed could move a mountain.
And I am taking back the word beautiful.
We need to use this word more often and remind others of what it really means. It should be taken as a compliment and bring happiness to who it is shared with. When the world can often be an ugly place, it is a blessing to be reminded that you stand out against that and have so much value.
And I’m going to be mending relationships with some of those I have pushed away. I have a lot of love to give this world, and the people who saw the worst side of me deserve to see me at my best.
I have a lot of opportunities coming up for me over the next year. Instead of questioning if I could or should be taking them on, I am going to take them for what they are – blessings. I will use the opportunities to do so much good for as many people as I can.
I was given a second chance for a reason, and I am not going to waste it. I couldn’t have told you 18 months ago that life would have played out the way it has. I believe God is guiding me to do something greater in this world, even if that only begins here locally.
I am giving myself, fully, to God. I am letting go of the fear. Jesus loved unconditionally and faced His fears. If He were living my life, I know He would do as much good for the world while He could.
And that’s enough for me. I will no longer be a hypocrite. I will not hide my joy from this world any longer.
…if anything matters then everything matters. Because you are important, everything you do is important. Every time you forgive, the universe changes; every time you reach out and touch a heart or a life, the world changes; with every kindness and service, seen or unseen, my purposes are accomplished and nothing will be the same again.
William P. Young – The Shack
I finally get it. I do not know what it is exactly that I am supposed to be doing with this life, but I know that I will be doing it for You. I give myself to You, and will follow Your guidance.
I will make a difference in this world, not for myself but for You, in Your name. When I die, if I have no money to my name but have touched others hearts I will have lived a successful life. If no one remembers my name when I am gone, but even one person has a better relationship with You I will have lived a successful life. If when I am gone I have lived a life for You, and used your blessings and gifts to bring love and joy to others lives, then I will have lived a successful life.
Here I am, Lord, fully surrendered to Your love. I am ready to serve You and to serve others. I am above no one, and will love everyone unconditionally, for that is Your will. It’s time for me to no longer squander the blessings You have bestowed upon me. I will no longer hide behind fear.
I know there will be struggles along the way, so I ask that You please continue to protect me through them.
This evening I pray that you please lift the burdens that my loved ones are carrying. Please gently caress their heads as they sleep tonight and remove some of the heaviness on their hearts. Please wrap them with a warm embrace that I wish I could give them but am unable to. Let them feel Your love and mine through Your presence.
Please speak to those who are in immense pain and uncertainty during these trying times. I beg You to please hold tightly to those who are ready to meet You sooner than they are meant to. There is so much good that they can bring to this world, and although they may find it unbearable right now, I hope You will provide them clarity. Let the love and support that their loved ones have given them seep into their hearts and fill the void that has been created. They need You so much right now, especially when others cannot be there for them. They are such beautiful people that have a voice that needs to be heard. Please let Your words flow through them for many, many blessed years.
Please continue looking after those who are fighting this pandemic. It is not Your doing, but please let people know You are by their side through it all.
Please protect everyone, but especially those who are on the front lines of fighting this. They are putting their own lives on the line, and often potentially giving up their families, to be there for others. Your love is so evident in them.
I’ve got to be honest with you… after I shared my first post in this series last week I immediately had doubts. Fear of judgement overcame me pretty quickly. Why share these parts of my past that no longer reflect who I am?
This is part of my healing process. This is me learning to love myself. I have had so little self worth in the past that I didn’t feel I deserved to be a part of this world.
I thought writing this post would be easier than it actually is, wrongly assuming that many of these things I had already forgiven others and myself for. But the more I write and think about it, the more I realize that this is still a major part of my life that needs to get resolved. Because if it’s not, it’s going to eat away at all the progress I have made.
This week’s topic is about anger. Now, as you’re reading this you will find that a lot of my anger starts with moments of pain. Instead of communicating in the past when things bothered me I would keep everything bottled up and not address them. Do you know what happens when you don’t let things out? They multiply and get ugly very quickly. And eventually everything explodes, sometimes when you least expect it.
And it causes a whole lot of destruction in the process.
And that’s where a lot of my current anger still rests. In the fact that I was a tornado that ripped through a lot of people’s lives with no regard to the damage I was causing along the way.
For most of my life I have tried to be a good person and do the right things. I would avoid situations, places and people that could lead to bad decisions. I tried to be very cognizant about the friends I chose, especially in high school and college. But I have always had a serious sense of paranoia that despite all the good I was doing I could be accused of doing something that I didn’t do.
Do you know how difficult it is to live a life trying to ensure that everything is so perfect that you could never be blamed for something? It’s exhausting. Constantly trying to think 5 steps ahead of everyone else, playing what-if scenarios in your mind over and over again.
And do you know what is absolutely gut-wrenching? Doing everything right and still having your worst fears come true.
Now, I’m not a perfect person. In fact, I’ve done a lot of wrong in my life. I’ve cursed. I’ve stolen. I’ve lied. I’ve lusted. I’ve hurt a lot of people emotionally.
But there’s also a lot I’ve never done. I’ve never physically harmed someone. I’ve never cheated on anyone. I don’t even spank my children (we will get to that below). I try to make sure that the good I do outweighs the bad that sometimes comes from me.
But sometimes, it’s really hard to do good things when you live in a constant state of fear because of, often, the insecurities of others. And the feelings start as sadness and grow into anger.
So let’s get into this, shall we? Let’s talk about how words, and more specifically false accusations, can destroy a person.
I absolutely love being around children. And, for whatever reason, kids seem to love me. I can come down to their level and speak to them in a way that they can relate to. I can be silly and playful and act their age, not my own. Tea parties, dress up, sword fights, hide and seek, writing make believe stories, drawing pictures, painting your nails. These are some of the best things to do in life, period. It’s one of the reasons I was really good at my job when I did photography. Moms would call me the “Baby Whisperer” because of the way I could calm kids and make them happy. A child’s laugh and smile are truly just two of the greatest gifts to the world.
And I never had to think about the way I interacted with kids for the longest time until someone one day mentioned that I made them uncomfortable by the way I apparently looked at their children. And it absolutely destroyed my heart and ruined a part of my life. So now, anytime I am around people, because of one person, I am always fully aware of my behavior around everyone, not just children. I am always trying to make sure that I can never be in a position where someone can say something that is not true to who I am as a person.
Do you know how exhausting that is? I would love to be in a career where I could help children all day. In fact, if I could do things all over again I would 100% be a pediatric doctor. I often, still, think about going back to school for that, even at 32 and with 3 degrees already.
I’ve had people tell me how great I am with kids and how much they see that kids love being around me. And it’s always a great thing to hear. But it’s also very sad that I have to live in fear that someone, someday could manipulate a situation just to destroy my life. And it makes me extremely angry. Why? Because in this world we live in, the accusations don’t even have to be true to ruin someone’s life.
I just want to do good, but I can’t because of other people. My wife asked me how long it would be before I volunteered to help with the children’s ministry at church. Would I love to do that? Absolutely. But I live in fear of others words. I’m starting to let my guard down a lot more around family. It just makes my heart so full whenever the girls get so excited to see me, even if I just facetime them.
I also try to be very cautious about the way I discipline my children. I do not spank my children, but I also do not judge anyone who chooses to discipline in that way. To be fair, my kids probably deserve a good spanking every once in awhile for their behavior, just not from me. Again, because people wanted to throw words around without thinking of the consequences that would come from them, I will never discipline my children in that way. So instead, my next best option for discipline comes from empty threats of grounding and yelling. And, at times in the past, a lot of yelling.
My threats are empty because I don’t want to be perceived as a mean parent. Granted, yelling at my kids isn’t a whole lot better, but it’s just been the one thing that I haven’t been able to control when I get angry. When I say I yell at my kids, I don’t mean that I scream at them. More times than not, it’s just enough to get their attention, or be heard over their own yelling. You know, the “dad voice”.
But I have been angry that, again, I was falsely accused of doing something I have never done and would never do.
So let’s continue this trend of false accusations and the anger that comes along with them…
My trust for others, and my lack of friendship, stems from a fairly devastating accusation that ended an extremely close friendship.
I’ve been very honest with the fact that when I love, I love deeply. And I will give so much of myself, even with a friendship, for people I truly care about. I am that person that will show up at 3:00 in the morning. Or the one that will leave work in the middle of the day to come and give you a shoulder to cry on. I will be the person that will drive around town for hours in search of a hard to find item. I am the person that will give the shirt off my back, even though I am so uncomfortable with my own body.
I will ask for forgiveness for my lack of humbleness later, but when given the opportunity I can be a pretty incredible friend.
And I have a way of making people feel good. Like, really good. As in, if you’re having a really crappy day, I can more than likely tell you the things you need to hear to be in a much better place. I am an extremely kind person, especially out in public. Sometimes to the point where it annoys my wife (I will wait, for long periods of time, instead of interrupting someone out in public). I always tip on everything, because I always assume that if service wasn’t great then this person clearly must be fighting a battle I know nothing about.
But sometimes my kindness can be taken the wrong way. Sometimes people believe I have ulterior motives.
Let’s get one thing out of the way first. Fact, I do know how to flirt. But I can assure you, more times than not if you think I am flirting, I’m probably just being nice. Or just being playful. Even my wife sometimes thinks I flirt out in public.
But honestly, I genuinely just try to be a good person and make other people feel good. Do you know how sad it makes me that because of the world we are in I can’t tell people when they look nice? Or that I like their clothes? Or can’t mention it when they get a new perfume or cologne that smells good? Do you know how angry it makes me that I can’t compliment others? Do you know how frustrating it is that I can’t use the word “beautiful” to others other than my wife and kids? It’s stupid, because it is a word that should instantly bring a smile to someone’s face, but because people think there has to be some other connotation to the word I can’t tell them.
Anyways, apparently my kindness and willingness to be there for close friends was taken by others as more than just being a really good friend. People so wrongly assume that the opposite sex just can’t be friends with one another without there being something more.
And that particular situation just absolutely destroyed me. Sadness, depression and ultimately anger. Because all I ever wanted was to just have a really good friend. Someone that I could be there for and they could be there for me. But people had to ruin it by not seeing things for what they truly were.
And then more accusations of me being in situations that I’ve never even been in. Those ones ares the hardest to swallow because you hear one story and then it just keeps changing to outlandish claims that you eventually just get overwhelmed by. But the anger comes when people you thought you could trust start to believe them. And then completely pull out of your life as if something actually happened. And, again, the accusations are worse when they come from people that you thought you could trust.
That’s enough of the false accusations I’ve had to deal with. Let’s discuss other things that are still consuming me with anger…
How about thinking someone who was supposed to be a mentor to you for 6 years ends up not being who you thought they were and were actually using you all that time? Yeah, that would be from a previous work superior. Thankfully I had an amazing person come into my life and in less than 6 months fixed a lot of the damage that I didn’t even realize at first was caused. She eventually moved on, but I am blessed to still keep in touch with her to this day (and who may be reading this now).
Or how about your accomplishments being belittled to the point where your own siblings and uncle tell you that what you’ve done doesn’t even matter? This lead me to a point where I actually had a breaking point where I almost physically hurt one of my brothers. And if it weren’t for my dad being where he was in that instant and intervening, things could have gotten really bad. Not that other people’s opinions should matter, but when you have sacrificed so much to be where you are and other people treat it like it’s nothing, it really hurts.
Or losing all relationship with your siblings. That one hurts a lot and eventually lead to anger because I felt like I wasn’t good enough to be a part of their group. I remember early in my twenties the relationship I had with all of my siblings was great. We would hang out together all the time. They would spend the night and we would stay up until early into the morning playing games together. Or we would go to the movies. Or just play catch at my parent’s house. But now do you know when I hear from any of them? Aside from one who lives on the other side of the country, only when they need something. And I’ve been told it’s because they think I believe I am better than them, but all I truly want is to help them be better people. I have offered so many times to help them, and do you know how many times they’ve taken me up on it? Once. One time, ever, and they didn’t even actually do anything with it. I can be hard on them, but it’s only because I see the potential that they don’t see within themselves.
Another thing that really angers me? Is being punished for doing well in life. That we are held to a different standard than everyone else in the family because we are responsible. The fact that things will be taken from us to give to someone else who truly is not deserving. And I’m angry about the fact that my wife has to have such terrible memories about our wedding because she is the “other daughter”. I’m angry that she had to be continually slapped in the face last year at her own sister’s wedding and constantly reminded for months that her wedding wasn’t as important. I’m angry at all the work that I had to pay for last year from family that did the same thing for free to everyone else. It bothers me that something that was given to everyone else isn’t being offered to us just because I have a good job. It hurts to be treated worse for doing better. I’m angry at the fact that almost all of our family lives less than 10 minutes from our house but very rarely ever makes an effort to see us, but will drive over 2.5 hours multiple times a month to see other people. I’m angry at the fact that my wife was basically broken from being in a toxic work environment for so many years that she chose to walk away from flexibility with her children to be in a place where she was respected.
I get angry at the way that my oldest daughter constantly lies to us, even about the dumbest things. I have anger about the way my youngest children treat each other, knowing that if they just chose to love one another unconditionally that they would be so much happier.
I am angry for the fact that I almost lost my wife last year because I was stupid and thought I wanted things I definitely did not want. And that I hurt her by saying some pretty damaging things. And the fact that she lost a lot of trust in me because of it, sometimes still having unseen consequences.
I get angry at the fact that I let myself get so unhealthy that I was unable to even do anything active with my own children. And I still struggle with my body to this day. Do you know how frustrating it is to be so uncomfortable with yourself that you will avoid swimming, even around family, because I still see myself as 60 pounds heavier than I am.
And I get angry at the fact that I willingly chose to turn my back to God and think that I was in control of my own life.
As you can tell, I’ve got a lot of anger I still need to free myself from. I’m hoping that giving myself to Jesus entirely will remove this from my heart.
I realize I still struggle greatly with feelings of sadness and anger. I pray that You will guide me in seeking the forgiveness that I truly need to free myself from this pain.
Please help me in forgiving those who have stolen parts of me that I struggle with finding again.
All I want to do is bring joy to this world. I want to bring happiness to others. I want those around me to be filled with smiles and laughter.
I want to be the best husband, the best father, the best son, the best brother, the best friend, the best caretaker, etc. that I can be.
I know You have already forgiven me for all the wrong I have done. I hope You can help me with the pain and anger that I am trying work through.
I ask that You please continue to be patient with me.
Please forgive me for turning my back on You so many times, allowing myself to be consumed with all of this pain.
Today is officially my birthday and for the first time in a very long time it will be a joyous day. March 4th can no longer be a sad day, even if the world is falling apart around me because I now get to share this day with an incredibly special person! So, happy birthday beautiful girl! You are so very loved!
A weird thing happened over the last 10 days that hasn’t happened in a very long time… I haven’t had any feelings of insecurity or sadness. I have been filled with so much happiness and love in my life that it has started to spill over into the way I go about my days.
I’ve been reminded lately that the gifts I have been given are not mine. They are a blessing that I was given to share with the world, and to help others when I am able (and to sacrifice when I am unable).
Right now, at the point I am in with my life, the best thing I have found that I am able to do is to bring joy and happiness to others.
That’s crazy, right? Me, a person who has just so recently felt like they had no purpose in this world, now feels like they can make a difference in other people’s lives?
So how have I been doing this? Simple…
Do Good. If you don’t want to listen to me, take it from the brilliant Mr. Feeny:
Simple enough, right? If you go into a situation with a positive, helping attitude, it just makes all the difference. Headed into a tough situation? Do something to make it better. Talking to someone that has a negative disposition? Point out their positives.
There is positive in every single situation. Focus on those and multiply them. Bring them to the forefront of a conversation.
Be the person that others want to be around. That people will feel comfortable around and know that you will bring a smile to their face.
I will warn you, however, that we unfortunately live in a very harsh world. People are always skeptical of kindness. They believe there has to be an ulterior motive.
To that, I will remind you of the “Anyway” prayer attributed to Mother Teresa (originally written by Kent M. Smith):
So do it anyways. If you are doing things out of the pure nature, kindness and love of your heart, who cares what others think? Now, of course, be respectful of other people’s feelings and levels of comfort. But try to bring as much joy and love as you possibly can to this beautiful world we live in.
Stop living each day as if tomorrow is promised.
Tell your loved ones you love them.
Give people your time. It’s a rare and precious thing.
Make others feel welcomed.
If you have gifts, share them with others.
Build others up so they can go far in life.
Compliment people you do and do not know. Let someone know they are beautiful. Or that you like their clothing style. Or their haircut is nice. Or that they just made you smile.
Bring love, joy and happiness to everyone around you!
Can you imagine a world where we are all supporting one another and helping others achieve happiness and success? What a beautiful thing that would be!
I have been hurt in the past, but I don’t wish poorly of any of them in any capacity. I thank God for the learning opportunities and pray that he will watch over their lives.
Do Good. Live this every single day and watch how the world changes around you. You stop noticing the harshness and see wonder instead.
Let’s make today a great day.! I don’t need anything special for my birthday, but knowing that people are going out of their way to brighten others’ lives simply because I reminded them will bring a smile to my face.
So, I will get this “Do Good” movement started…
I love you. Yes, YOU! The person reading this. You are an absolutely beautiful soul! If knowing that brings a smile to your face then I am so glad to be able to share this life with you!
Today will be a day filled with love, joy and happiness!
Today I want to quickly thank You for blessing me with another year and for being patient as I found my way back to You.
Now that I’m out of the way, today I pray that You bless the lives of so many people! Give them comfort, and joy, and love and happiness. Let them feel Your presence!
Please protect my loved ones who have been under constant attack lately. Please allow them to stay focused and continue fighting to spread Your good word. Their hearts are aching and I pray that You will grant them peace and comfort.
I pray for the continued health, happiness and safety of others.
Today starts a new year of life and I am so excited to spend this year building my relationship with You!
Little bit of a dramatic way to start a post, right?
Hardly, especially once you truly understand how things have completely changed for me over the last 6 months.
This post is going to be all about Josh and Stacy. Two of the best, most sincere, beautiful people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. This post isn’t going to be about my wife or kids (that’s in the drafts for another day…).
Fair warning before I jump right into this, you’re walking into an emotional post. It’s going to get pretty sappy. I’ve cried. A lot. You might, too. We can ugly cry together. Let’s make this a bonding experience. I tried to break up all the sentiment with moments of humor throughout.
This has been in my drafts for weeks because I keep adding to it before I get around to hitting the publish button. It’s a long one, and honestly I could keep adding to it with each passing day. But at some point it’s got to get posted. The point of this post is to share with everyone how much of a difference a simple act of kindness and generosity can so significantly change another person’s world. I’m not trying to make anyone cry. I’m not trying to brag. I’m not trying to make you feel like your life would be better if you knew these two people (although, let’s be real, it absolutely would be).
In the past I’ve been pretty open about my periods of depression (see here…). I’ve dealt with anxiety, depression, panic attacks, sadness, etc., but I’ve never been truly lost. I couldn’t always process my way out of my feelings, but I always had a sense of self-awareness. For 31 years, that is until last year happened.
So there I was just making my way through life, lost, running on auto-pilot for most of the year.
Just some background. I’ve “known” Josh for about 3 years. He was Maddi’s cross country coach. Maddi would always have stories about him. How he would run practice really hard. How she preferred when one of the other coaches were training them for the day because he never took it easy on them. He pushed her. Every day. And cross country is the one thing she’s never quit. And I know it’s because he instilled the confidence in her she needed and pushed her to be better and to love something she was good at.
And then he became her teacher. And we heard stories about how “scary” he was. He was passionate about what he was teaching. Breaking rulers on the first day of class to “intimidate” his students. And then she would tell stories about his dad jokes. And she would talk about how her and her friends would spend their lunch working through life with his assistance.
I just assumed that it was just a silly school crush Maddi had on her teacher. Let’s be honest, we all went through that. But Maddi doesn’t really let many people in. She likes to keep to herself. This was someone she trusted and felt safe around.
And then my youngest, Benny, started kindergarten and was in the same class as Josh’ son. And they instantly became best friends. All Benny talked about was his new friend. All. The. Time. It was the cutest thing. For anyone who knows how far Benny has come (see here…) you will understand how amazing it was to see him take to someone socially so quickly. I didn’t know who this kid was, but I loved him for the change he was making in my own son’s life.
The boys would schedule their own play dates and my wife would coordinate everything with Stacy, who I really didn’t know at the time. I was just starting to let my guard down to Josh a little out of sheer respect for the impact he was making on Maddi’s life.
So this brings us to around August of this past year, where I was just floating through life. Benny was having his birthday party and really wanted his best friend to be there. The boys had had a few play dates at that point and the adults had often said over the prior few months that we should all just get together. It’s something you just instinctively say to be polite, right? “Let’s catch up sometime.” “It would be great to have you over for dinner.” So, we decided to invite their entire family for the birthday party.
That day changed everything.
Stacy and Allissa just clicked. They connected immediately. If you ask anyone who was at that party, they all assumed that those two had known each other for years. They had so much to talk about. I was still in a weird place where I was trying to be someone I wasn’t, but I think Josh saw that and he just made himself part of the party. Maybe he saw something I didn’t see at the time. Maybe he saw me screaming out for help. Maybe he just thought I was an alright person?
At the end of that day I told Allissa we needed to follow through and actually get together with them. These were genuinely nice people, like the ones we met in Ireland. You just don’t find that kind of kindness here. Or at least that’s what I told myself.
We would see them during cross country season, and Allissa and Stacy would get to know each other during the meets whenever she was there and I slowly started to get to know Stacy a bit. We didn’t actually schedule anything for about 2 months until we ran into each other for the school Trunk or Treating. We finally said enough was enough and made plans.
Our families got together for dinner for the first time a week later and immediately the kids were overjoyed. They ran off and the adults didn’t exist from that point on. Me being me, I was awkward. Of course. I was still in this mind set of staying guarded to protect myself. Because “everyone will hurt me”.
It went well, though. We played games together, we ate dinner, and we started to pull back my shell just a little.
Things escalated very quickly from that point. Next thing I know we are trick-or-treating together on Halloween. Dinners happened every few weeks or so. The kids were so excited and I was finally starting to realize that I could open myself up to these people. They made me want to by the way they accepted us.
And then we were invited to their New Years Eve party with their closest college friends. Talk about intimidating. But it ended up being amazing. Josh has a way of bringing people together and making them feel like they belong. I met some amazing people that evening that I can not wait to know better and be a bigger part of their lives and for them to be part of ours.
After that, dinner every few weeks became every week. And it was something I looked forward to. One of the highlights of every single one of my weeks. Mondays always seem so far away. We would talk, play games, eat, and just open up to one another. People have never been able to get me to do that before.
And these two people, who were absolutely destroying the walls I built up around myself, just kept showering me with unconditional love. They were giving me what I needed in my life without me realizing that I was missing it.
For anyone who has known me at any point in my life will know that I do not have a very good track record with friendships with other men. As in, aside from elementary school friends (who are no longer in my life), there has been no successful friendships at all. And I would even be as bold as to say that includes my siblings. I’ve always been able to relate better with women. Probably has a lot to do with fear of competing for dominance and proving masculinity.
I’m not getting into psychology today. I’m not talking about how it bothers me that people shame me for not caring about sports. Or that I’d rather stay in and watch a good Hallmark movie and get in touch with my feelings. Or whatever… someone asked, right?! Riiiiight…
So for Josh to come into my life and be someone I wanted to pour my heart out to, you should truly understand how meaningful that is. It’s never happened. As in… ever. And yet I can tell this man everything. And I usually do. Without a single fear of judgement! I could come to him and tell him I did something terrible and he would look at me, hug me, and ask what he can do to help. Granted, he would at some point tell me if I did something stupid, but that’s just something I love about him. That he will call me out on my crap.
And he makes me want to be a better person. In basically every aspect of my life. He is an absolutely amazing father. He is a fantastic husband. A huge extrovert and everyone absolutely loves being around him. Even Maddi loves him, and she has some people issues.
And he is a devoted Christ follower. His passion in the things he truly believes in is so incredibly inspiring. When he gets going on a topic that he is into, it’s amazing to see him go. It’s like watching a science experiment with a bunch of chain reactions going off all at once. It’s mesmerizing to be a part of. Sometimes chaotic, but it is something beautiful that you want to be a part of.
He never knew of my past, and yet he came to me with unconditional love in his heart and accepted me before I even knew what was going on. He made me a part of his family before I could make sense of what was happening. Josh introduced me, indirectly (but if you know him, more than likely intentionally with a long-game plan), to what unconditional love actually was. Before I met Josh and Stacy, I didn’t know. My heart was filled with pain, anger, bitterness and sadness. And it’s, mostly (about 95%), free from all of that now.
He didn’t see me as a project. He didn’t see me as someone that was broken (granted, I definitely was). He didn’t see me as someone who needed to be fixed. He didn’t even know my religious views. He just said “Hey, man. I love you”.
He told me once that the timing of me coming into his life happened for a reason. Oh boy, I hope he truly knows that the timing of him coming into my life was a moment of Heaven on Earth.
Josh has a way of seeing the bigger picture. He can see into people’s hearts and knows how to speak to them on an intimate, personal level. It’s a gift. And an amazing one at that.
Josh has a way of getting you energized. He’s the pep talk before a big game. Stacy, on the other hand, has a way of calming your soul. She’s like a bedtime story after a long day. When you’re with her the world just slows down, in the best way possible.
One of my absolute favorite things about Stacy is the way she hugs you. If you’ve ever been given a hug by her, you will know exactly what I’m about to say. If I am having a bad day, my mood is instantly lifted. If it’s a good day, it just gets even better. She doesn’t give you a hug like you’re a new acquaintance, quick and with a few pats on the back. She embraces you, squeezes, and holds you. A hug so tight that it just puts all the broken pieces back together again. It makes you feel like everything in the world will be okay, even if just for a few moments.
The best way I can describe it is you can feel the love of Jesus radiating from within her. It is a hug full of unconditional love and warmth. Odds are, knowing the person she is, she probably makes everyone feel this way. But you know what? I’m going to ignore that and just pretend that I’m special. ☺️
Stacy is a truly amazing caregiver. We have entrusted her with our kids at least 5/7 days of the week. And she loves them so much as if they are one of her own. Benny and Shai, who both have some social anxieties of their own that they are overcoming, tell us constantly about how much they just love her. I trust her with all of our lives, and I’ve told her time and time again when she has the kids that they are hers. Her rules, her discipline, her fun. And she doesn’t treat them any different, which I have so much respect for.
She shows up when the kids are sick, bringing them things to make their days special. She makes everyone around her feel so loved, whether it’s in the way she talks to you, or makes you feel included, or cooks you dinner, or bakes you desserts (she could definitely open her own bakery someday…. yum!).
Stacy has taught me to fully embrace my emotions. I don’t need to hide who I am, and she seems to have a way of sensing when something just isn’t right. If you need to cry, she will be right there and cry with you. It’s pretty impossible to be in the same room with her and not leave with a smile on your face. She just has that effect on others.
These two people brought me out of one of the darkest points in my life. When I was going through one of the toughest times they both came to my side, put their arms through mine, and asked to walk with me. I didn’t know at the time that they were helping me walk a path back to salvation, but I can tell you now I’m really not surprised. These two are living examples of what it means to be followers of Jesus.
I am blessed to be able to see Josh every weekday morning when I drop the kids off. And as I make sure to hug my kids and tell them I love them, I do the same with him. Why? Because he means that much to me.
Whenever we are all together, it’s something we all do. And it just brings so much joy to my life.
We have, on multiple occasions, been up into the early hours of the morning talking about all sorts of odds and ends. We lose track of time picking the kids up and talking for an hour. I don’t know about them, but it never seems to be enough. Sometimes with people I struggle to find things to talk about. It’s never happened with them. Not once. And we spend hours together every single week.
When I fully opened myself up to the two of them on where I was with my faith, I asked them how they were able to be such devoted Christ followers and compartmentalize that part of their lives and not have that be a big part of our friendship.
Oh how naive I was.
They weren’t compartmentalizing anything. What they didn’t do was try to build our relationship around something that we may or may not have been on the same page about. What they DID do was love me unconditionally. They were living their lives following the life of Jesus. They weren’t hiding anything. They were 100% being true to themselves. They didn’t care one bit about what I believed. They loved me anyways.
They loved me anyways!
I would do absolutely anything for their family. Any of them. And I know that they would do the same for mine. I trust them with everything I have. Literally everything. These are people I would genuinely give my life for.
Now our families have become one. We are not 5 of one, 6 of another. We come together as a family of 11. We have trips scheduled together. We have plans a year out from now. I am looking forward to my birthday for the first time in a very long time because of them. We laugh together. We cry together. We pray together. We break bread together. We joke around and tease each other. We have full on gif conversations. We have inside jokes (flowers, and freezers, and chica bread!). We create lifetime memories. Together.
We love one another and the world is a better place because of it.
They are helping me in my journey to be a better follower of Jesus. Never once telling me I should do things one way or another, but supporting me and loving me as I work through things. Giving me answers when I have questions. Giving me a shoulder to cry on when I’m having a bad day. Directing me to look at things from a different perspective to work through troubles. They speak to me on what they believe and it resonates with me on such a profound level because it just makes so much sense!
If you’ve made it this far, either you are the people this post was written about or you are just drawn to who these people are (which, you should be!). And if you are the people it was written about, you might be in tears now (Stacy, I’m sure you are since you tell me all the time I make you cry.). Sorry, not sorry! I needed to document this turning point in my life.
Josh and Stacy, you are truly disciples of Jesus. You both mean so incredibly much to me.
You are not my friends, you are my family.
Josh – I love you!
Stacy – I love you!
And I love your family, which I feel I can safely call an extension of my own. It just melts my heart to see how excited the girls get when they see me and run and give me lots of hugs (wonder where they get that from?!).
If I were not here tomorrow I am glad to know you will have these words to forever hold. To know that you made a difference in someone’s world. You saved a life – mine.
Is there more I can say to thank You for bringing these beautiful souls into my life? I asked for a message and You sure did deliver. Hand-picked, embellished with love, kindness, generosity, compassion. A special gift from God. And You chose me to be blessed with their presence? How great is Your love!
I pray that You love and protect them. Your love is so evident in the people they are, the things they do and the way they live their lives. You have given me a brother that will take me by my hand and show me how to live a better life and be a follower of Christ. Who doesn’t judge me but fosters my growth.
You have given me someone who has shown me that it is okay to cry. And to do it often! You have given me someone who has taught me to give myself to others. To accept people for who they are. To open my home to strangers. You have given me someone who has taught me the power of a hug, and the difference it can make on someone’s life.
You have given me love. You have given me guidance. You have given me inspiration.
You have blessed me with these people. I only hope that I can be the same blessing to others. I want to change the lives of others as these people have done for me.
I want to make a difference. I want to live a purposeful life. I want be a follower of Jesus and live a life as He did. I want to give all of myself to You.
With all the love in my heart!
*Please feel free to follow my blog if you would like to receive email notifications whenever I post. You can subscribe down below or off to the right of this post. I try to post at least once a week, depending on what is currently going on in my life. Let me know below if you have any comments, questions or concerns. Hope everyone has a blessed day! YOU ARE LOVED!*
Lauren Daigle – Rescue
You are not hidden There’s never been a moment You were forgotten You are not hopeless Though you have been broken Your innocence stolen
I hear you whisper underneath your breath I hear your SOS, your SOS
I will send out an army To find you in the middle of the darkest night It’s true I will rescue you
There is no distance That cannot be covered Over and over You’re not defenseless I’ll be your shelter I’ll be your armor
I hear you whisper underneath your breath I hear your SOS, your SOS
I will send out an army To find you in the middle of the darkest night It’s true I will rescue you I will never stop marching To reach you in the middle of the hardest fight It’s true I will rescue you
I hear the whisper underneath your breath I hear you whisper, you have nothing left
I will send out an army To find you in the middle of the darkest night It’s true I will rescue you I will never stop marching To reach you in the middle of the hardest fight It’s true I will rescue you
When I created this blog over 4 years ago I was in a place in my life where the only thing I wanted was solitude for my immediate family of 5. This blog was created to be about OUR little infinity. I had shut the rest of the world out and was focused on my wants. My needs.
But I’ve come to realize that “our” is a relative term. It does not have to be about my wife and I, or a family of 5. And I’m so glad that it is not that way! I am so grateful that I am no longer the person that I once was.
I’ve thought about going through the process of changing the blog name. I know the steps that need to be made to switch the domain name, how to change the authors, etc. But I don’t want to any longer. As I have mentioned in a post on my Facebook, my past is what has brought me to be where I am and the person I have become. And I want to embrace my past, the pain and all.
Let’s break this out and over-analyze, shall we?
Table For Five. Today, this means I am setting a hard limit on the number of people I let into my life. I am closing myself off from the world, putting up walls and telling others that if you don’t belong in my small group, you’ll never get to know me. The only people allowed to sit at my table are my wife and children.
That’s not who I want to be! Not anymore. Not ever again! As I’ve mentioned before, we are planning on moving before year end. One of the biggest reasons that I now want to move is because I do not physically have the space in my own home to be able to have people over. I want my new home to be a safe haven for others. I want it to be a second home to my loved ones. I want it to be open to my neighbors. I can promise you now that other people will have keys to my home. Where you don’t have to knock to enter. Where you will always be welcomed.
I want to be surrounded by loved ones every day. I want to share meals all the time.
One of my absolute favorite things that I get the privilege of doing is having dinner with my best friends and their family once a week. Every week, aside from times of sickness, we prioritize sitting down and breaking bread together.
And my favorite thing about it is that when we all sit down together there is not a division in families. If you ever watch us together, we do not separate. The adults do not sit apart from the children, spouses do not pair off and stay right by one another. We come together as one. And my heart is so full being able to speak to every single one of them individually as if we have known each other our entire lives.
And it’s something I want to be surrounded by. I want to just give so much love. I want to have plans every night of being with loved ones. I want to build relationships. I want to share the love of Jesus.
I don’t want a table for five. I want a table for fifty.
I am this new person now and all I want to do is just give my love to others. And it’s such a weird feeling to me because just a few months ago I was so closed off to the world. But now my eyes, and my heart, have been opened.
Love creates such beautiful transformations.
Our Little Infinity.
How naive I was to believe that my life, and the life my family had, was from my own doing. That I had a right to claim it as my own. To take possession of “our” little infinity.
Our little infinity is so much greater than I could have ever imagined. To have the love of God, to be a follower of Jesus. To be given eternal life. Oh how it just opens the doors to so much beauty and joy.
We have a life that has been blessed upon us, and we get the honor of sharing this with others. “Our” grows from five to a community of so many.
Our little infinity now means the life I get to share with my community for the time I am alive. And what an amazing thing that is.
I am brimming with love. And compassion. And joy. And happiness. Oh, my heart has never felt this way before and I never want it to change.
I’m eager to make this transition into our new home and begin sharing my life with those around me. Please fill my life with love. Let us share a meal together. Let’s go for a walk. Let’s cry together. Let’s pray together! Let’s just be together, with love in our hearts. It doesn’t have to be a special occasion.
And for those who already welcome me into their homes, you are a big reason why I strive to be a better person. I hope these meetings happen often as it is easily one of my favorite moments each week and something I look forward to.
My family of five is no longer. It has grown and I am so blessed.
Oh how You have made Your presence known in my life! I see You all around me. I stop and notice the amazing things You have done in this world that we take for granted on a daily basis.
I recognize Your blessings and I cherish them!
My heart has been opened because You worked through others to bring me back to You. I see You in their eyes. I hear You in their voice. I feel You in their hugs.
Today I want to thank You for everything in my life. I know You are not responsible for the bad, but know You never left my side through them. You allowed me to try to do things on my own, and were always there to catch me when I fell. And You have forgiven me through them all.
How loving You are. That You would sacrifice so much to allow me be here, as significant and small as I have felt in the past.
I pray that You allow me to share my love with all those who are willing to accept it. I want to bring love and happiness to others lives, as You have done for me.
I pray to be blessed with a table for so many! That I can serve others and give them a place to rest their feet and their hearts. To give others a second home and a place to feel safe and loved.
I thank You again, as I will likely do every day, for bringing loved ones to my life. Those who make me be a better person. Who make me feel so incredibly welcomed.
I pray that You continue to be there for those who are in pain this evening, and that You may grant them peace and serenity.
I thank You for everything You have blessed my life with. You have given me so much and I am eager to give back in any way I can.
Thank You for opening my eyes and my heart.
A fair warning before I end this post this evening, I am making an effort to express my feelings every chance I get. We are not promised tomorrow, and if today happened to be my last I don’t want anyone to ever question how I felt about them. So, I will tell you I love you. Often. Because love is such a beautiful thing, and just being told that you are loved, in my experience, just makes everything so perfect. And hugs are one of my new favorite things. Not little ones, though. Long, full embraces are the best. ☺️
So, with that said, I love you! If you are reading this post it is because you are someone I care about and wanted to be a part of my life.
P.s. since I am letting more people in to my blog, please don’t forget to “follow” down below. Just put in your email address and verify it and you will get emails anytime I post!
For those of you who don’t know, I have been back in school part time, year round, for the last 5 years completing my third degree. I am officially, finally, in my last semester. As of today I have finished the 5th week of classes and have 87 days left until commencement!
This semester is the hardest yet. Not because of the source material, or the workload, but because I am wanting to give 100% of myself to this new path I am on, and yet I have this massive chapter that still has to come to an end.
It’s a reminder to me that sometimes in life, we have to be patient. While we really want to get to the end and cross that finish line, the journey there is often just as important. Sometimes, we just don’t get a choice.
The work, school, home, personal life balancing act this semester has been difficult. I’m only gone one night this semester for a class, and the other two classes are online. That one night, though, interferes with activities that I would rather commit myself to.
I’m not short on time. If you look at our Google Calendar you would think I was lying, but there is plenty of time to give to the things that matter most. Time is something I’ve been forced to be pretty good at divvying up. And I keep my schedule very flexible.
This semester comes with classes on Thursdays, gymnastics and guitar lessons on Wednesdays, month end closing every Friday on a 4-4-5 schedule. Exams thrown in there every once in awhile, too. It’s a lot, yes, but when the priorities come up, nothing else matters. I will always, always, always have time for my loved ones. And I will prioritize it.
Time is something that we often take for granted, though. It comes and goes so quickly that we don’t even pay attention to it. But it’s something that is so important. So I’ve made a point to not only prioritize MY time lately, but also prioritize others as well. While I would love to give all of my time to those that make me the happiest, I’ve realized that you have to set limits to ensure they have their time as well. We all have routines in our lives, and it is so important to keep to a set schedule and to respect others and their lives.
It’s respect. And I have a lot of respect for my loved ones. So it’s something I’m prioritizing. People give up their precious time to be there for me. I promise you, the first time I get a phone call at 2:30 in the morning, or in the middle of the work day, I will be there faster than you can imagine.
But this semester is making me long for a new routine. This year comes with a lot of change in all of our lives, and I’m so anxious to get through most of it and just be at the end result. Graduating, buying a new house, oldest starting high school (😪), etc. and I can’t wait until everything has settled and a new schedule is in place.
I am happiest when I am with my loved ones. And I can not wait for this semester to be over so I have more time to dedicate to the priorities in my life. Yes, the finished degree will be great and worth all the hard work, but having the freedom to do more, and to give more, is what I’m so excited about. I want to be able give more of my time to Jesus and live his words. To have more time to pray, and to read the Bible. To write. To spend time with my growing family. To be a bigger part of the community.
I know it is coming. I just have to be patient. In the mean time, I will keep recognizing my blessings and living a life with intentionality and priority. Especially when it comes to the relationships in my life.
Thank You for the love that You continue to show me on a daily basis. For the words that speak directly to my heart when I need them most. For my loved ones who will tell me the words I need to hear on a bad day. For the embraces that bring joy and happiness to my life.
I pray that You please look after my children and give them the kindness and patience to love one another unconditionally.
I pray that You look after my loved ones and keep them safe. Bring joy to their lives and let them see Your love in their days.
I pray that You continue to be by my wife’s side as she navigates all the changes in her life, including giving herself to You.
Please give me the wisdom to be a better husband, father and friend. I want to give all of myself to them, and ask nothing in return. I know I have asked a lot of all of them lately, but I pray they all know that I am so incredibly grateful for all they do. Please allow them to see the love I have for them, not only in my words, but through my actions.
Please continue to be there for all those who are in suffering today. Please look after those who have been carrying heavy hearts lately.
Lord, I beg of You to please give me the strength to carry these burdens for them. It breaks my heart to see sadness in the lives of others, and I pray I can take their pain for myself.
Please forgive me for my sins. For allowing fear and doubts to cloud my judgement. For being a failing husband by reacting instead of listening. For being a failing friend for unloading my emotions on others and not asking how they are doing themselves. I pray that others come before me. That my shoulder will be wet from their tears. For the warmth to warm others’ hearts when we hug as theirs do for mine. I pray that You guide me to be the BEST version of myself for all others, not for my benefit, but for theirs.
Lord, I pray that the needs of my family and friends are met long before my own.
I pray for more good days, but also thank You for the blessing of every day, even the ones I feel are bad. They allow me to seek You more and to learn and grow my faith.
I thank You for loving me even when I feel unlovable.
I promise to be better for all of you. And I will ALWAYS have time for others.