A Place to Rest

It’s been two months since I last wrote about our house. Due to many things getting in the way, I just didn’t have the time or energy needed to proceed until now. I feel more refreshed than I have in a while and it’s a great feeling! With that said, welcome back to our home.

When I last shared, I wrote about Christy’s living space. It was just off the front entry and today, I will walk you down the hall just off the other side of the entry. Down this hall you will find many pictures of our family. We have pictures of the kids, us and our lives. We have also placed a couple of things given to us to remind us of our family. There are words written on a canvas about adoption. This helps remind us that not only is one of our kids adopted into our family but we are all adopted into God’s family. Adoption is near and dear to our hearts. Not only do we have an adopted child but anyone who steps foot in our home becomes adopted family as well. We love doing life with so many people and are blessed to have been called to adopt so many friends into our family!

As you go down the hall, you will come to four bedrooms and a bathroom. Our rooms are our spaces. The kids are expected to keep their rooms clean, beds made and can’t keep electronics in their rooms. These rooms are however, are them in every sense. They have been decorated with them in mind and with their help. Our oldest has changed her room over the years and has pictures of her life in her room of where she is in life right now. There are pictures of her boyfriend and her, her best friends, her siblings and us. There are usually shoes laying around her bed and this drives her mother crazy! But to me, it’s her way of saying, it’s my space. If that’s the worst thing we have to deal with, then I’m okay with it. Our boy’s room has just been redone and it’s him 100%. It has a vintage dresser in it with a record player on top. He has records in his room and he has a rock wall with a loft. It’s his place where he can just check out from the day’s stresses. Our youngest child’s room is often a mess. Her room is completely like her. There can be a mess, things out of place but then all of the sudden, it can be clean and tidy, just like she can go from being a mess to a doll in a matter of minutes. It’s trying but she’s ours! She has a desk in her room and is still learning how to live in a place of her own. She has come a long way but just like the rest of us, she has a way to go. As you go into our room, it’s not your typical master size in any sense. The room comfortably fits what we need in there. It’s a great place where we can lay our heads at night and that’s all we need. But most importantly, our master represents sacrifice to me. One of the main things on our list when we were looking for a new house was a large master suite with a very large bathroom. We went the total opposite because the rest of this house is perfect for where we as a family are now. We gave up our desires of a large master suite to gain family space and many spaces to entertain any size of party.

The rooms are intended to be a reflection of each of us but also a place to relax and be able to get away from the stresses of life. We don’t allow electronics in the kids rooms at night because we want them to unplug. To not worry about what that notification was and to not to be tempted to do things they aren’t supposed to be doing. We want each room to be comfortable for them and nobody else. They need to feel a peace when the enter the room, which is why we want them to stay clean. The rooms aren’t for others; only for them. It’s their place. It’s the place they will learn to keep in a proper manner so when they do leave our home, they will feel comfortable in knowing how to handle their own place. These rooms have an importance in making our house a home because it’s where we can get refreshed, relax and get out of the stresses of each day!

Next week we will walk back down the hall and into one of our favorites rooms! Have a blessed week!

Her Living Space

As you enter our house and take a few steps into the entry way, you come to a space just off to the right. This has been called many things but honestly, it’s Christy’s living space. The room has 2 doors, 2 chairs, 1 ottoman, a couch, piano and is decorated beautifully. I call this Christy’s space because it essence, it is truly her space.

We purchased the furniture for this room after we moved into this house. The people who had the house before us used this space as a formal dining space. It was very effective in that manner but Christy wanted a place where her and her friends could chill with some wine and enjoy no TV or kids. So, we created this space for her.

The windows in the room face the front yard so there’s a ton of natural light that comes in the room. There is a piano that has been Christy’s since she was a little girl. That piano has moved many times and has become an instrument each of our kids have played over the years. This piano is a perfect fit in this room.

This space in our house is a warm, inviting place where people can be honest. It’s the place where the kids can ask Mom to help with the piano and a place where anyone can just sit, think or read quietly. This place is where the ladies can sit back with a glass of wine and talk about everything that comes to their minds. It’s a place with no TV so unless there’s piano being played, it’s really quiet.

As I look at this room and really ponder it’s importance in making our house a home, I can’t help but think how perfect this room is Christy. It’s brilliantly beautiful and not overly flashy. It has a pure beauty, not one that has to be created. Thanks Christy for all you do for our family! Love you!

Our Entry

As you enter our house, you’ll notice a few things. The entry way to our house isn’t a grand stairway or have vaulted ceilings. It’s a wide entry with three doorways that lead into different areas of our house. The doorway straight ahead leads to what I call the men’s living room. The doorway to the left leads to a hallway that leads to the bedrooms and bathrooms and the one to the right lead to the women’s living room.

As you walk in through the front door, if you look around, you can see who lives in this house. There’s a grouping of pictures on the left wall of our family. I don’t know how many pictures are there but there are quite a few of all of us at different stages in our lives. Directly across from that grouping is a frame that was given to us by someone special to us. It has four pictures in the frame. This frame says, “Having a place to go is home. Having someone to love is family.” That pretty much sums us our feelings about our house and our family.

As you continue down the short entryway, you’ll see a red table just beyond the doorway on the right. This table was bought specifically for this place and it has things on there that rotate depending on the season. I bring up this table not because it has special meaning or is a cool piece of furniture but because what is on the wall just above the table.

Hanging on the wall in this space is perhaps one of the most important and meaningful art piece we have in our home. We didn’t purchase this art. It was drawn for us and given to us by a dear friend. This painting started out as one thing to the artist and ended up being extremely important to us as a family. If you’ve entered our home, you’ve probably noticed it but maybe you’ve never paid attention to it. This piece of art is absolutely beautiful and let me tell you why it’s so important to us.

This was done when we helped lead a college ministry in our home. Not this home but one a little ways back. This was done by one of the leaders in that ministry and at that time, it portrayed our group perfectly. The canvas was imperfect, just like us. There are runs from the paint, just as there were runs of tears down our faces of sadness, growth, happiness and love. There are cracks in the paint because there were cracks in us that needed to be healed. There are circles of all different sizes and a couple of flowers on there. There is a red circle on the painting with three different colored lines going through the circle. To us, the red circle represented our group and the three different colored lines represent the Trinity living in and through each of us.

FullSizeRender(1)This painting may mean nothing to you but to us, it means the world. It means we met people like Colt, Shaina, Nick, Matt, Travis, Lindsey, KT, Shon, Dan, Jessica, Creed, Lauren, Olivia and so many more. It was a time where I was able to minister to a cousin I barely knew but who has become a huge part of our life. It was a time where we all made mistakes but in the end, all was forgiven because we are forgiven. It wasn’t a perfect family all of the time but it was our perfect family. We laughed, cried, ate food and each of these people had a major influence on my kid’s lives. I’m sad we don’t see many of these people any more but every time I look at this painting, I can think about them and know what we had was God inspired and beautiful. This painting is so much more than a painting. It reminds us of God’s Glory!

The entry to our home isn’t as spectacular as many houses I have entered. But what it contains on the walls is more spectacular than many gorgeous entryways. The things on the walls may not mean anything to you but to us, it’s our life, spread out for all to see as you enter. We welcome you here and we say goodbye to you here but remember, all who want to come in and share their life with us are welcome.

Love you all!

The Front – More than Curb Appeal

As you pull up to our house during late spring and throughout the summer and well into the fall, you’ll see a lot going on usually. There’s a high chance the garage door will be open and kids will be playing somewhere. The driveway gets turned from a place to park our cars into a place to play basketball, ride rip sticks, a parking lot for bikes and many other things that has nothing to do with me. There’s also a chance you see a few adults sitting in their lawn chairs enjoying conversation while watching the kids play.

As you walk up the driveway toward the porch, you’ll notice the flowerbeds blooming with all kinds of color. There are red knockout roses that bloom from late spring until the first freeze. They are gorgeous and have grown over the years into very beautiful bushes. There are also yellow day lilies blooming to give us some other color in the front bed. In the beds just off to the left side of the walkway we have the knockout roses along with some ornamental grasses and blue salvia. The dark blue blooms almost get hidden in the foliage when the shade hits but when the sun hits them, you can see the blooms and they are gorgeous!

The yard is generally green and we attempt to keep it a nice height to help keep it healthy and weed free. We try our best to keep the yard looking as good as possible but there are times it’s almost impossible with the amount of traffic the yard gets. At any given time there could be a kick ball game, a baseball game, a football game or tag being played. And many times we have come home to find the neighborhood playing in our yard without our kids. And you know what, that’s okay. Our yard is there to be played on by anyone who wants as long as they are respecting our house!

As you walk on to the front porch, you’ll notice many pots of plants. We really like to have an inviting front porch and the coleus in the urn pots as you come up the walkway perfectly frame in our double front doors. To the left on the porch are 2 rocking chairs for anyone to sit in while they watch kids or simply just want to visit about the day. In far corner are 3 pots we’ve had for many years. They’ve actually been to each of our houses with us. They have survived many moves and are still some of our favorite pots. During the summer, because of how much shade we get in that area, we plant inpatients. They grow all summer and by the end of the fall, they have turned into large bushes and become the focal point of our porch. On the other side of the front doors, we have a bay window that allows our front room the light necessary to make it the perfect place to relax.

The front of our house is meant to be more than curb appeal. It’s meant to be inviting and a place where fun can happen. We want anyone who comes to our house to feel welcome from the second they pull up. With the kids playing out front and the adults talking about their lives, the front of our house is extremely important. It’s the first part of our house people will see and it’s also the last as they leave. It’s the place where friendships have been started by people of all ages and where great ideas on what to do next have been planned. It’s the place where, after a hard day’s work, I can shoot hoops with the kids and visit with them while shooting hoops. The yard is a place I can throw a baseball or football with the kids and not have to worry about getting into trouble for throwing in the house! The front of the house is the place we can sit and enjoy the beauty of the day no matter the weather!

Our hope is to always have an inviting front so when front door opens into the entry, you’ll know you are welcome. The front of our house says, “Come on in and enjoy your visit.”

Our House

As I looked back, it has been almost a year since I’ve written anything. As I think back to as why, I think it’s mainly because I’ve been in a place in life where all I wanted to write about was dealing with a difficult situation in our home. With that in mind, I am going to write more over the next few weeks not about things at our home but the things that make up our home.

In this first installment, I will describe each house we have lived in and then going forward, I will go through each room of the house we live in now from the front porch, into the front door, through the house and into the backyard. In each segment, I will explain what each room or portion of the house means specifically to me and why it’s an important into making up our home. I really hope you enjoy this project!

As a family, we have lived in many houses. We have lived in 2 apartments, 4 houses and a brief few weeks with each of our parents. Each of our places were much different and were perfect for the season of life we were living. Our apartments were where we lived as newlyweds. They were not the best of places but we made the most of each of the apartments. As a very young couple still in college and working full time, we lived in what we could afford. It wasn’t much but it was a place to lay our head each night.

Our first house was a small 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 1 living room and 1 car garage house. It was in a nice neighborhood with great neighbors. This was our oldest 2 kids first house. It was a simple layout and needed a ton of work when we first moved into the house. It had been run down from years of neglect and we were more than happy to fix it up the best we could. We weren’t alone in this endeavor. Our parents helped and many friends helped us as well. It was the first time in our young marriage where we really had help from close friends in helping us. It was a great time and this home was perfect for our young and growing family.

As we continued growing in that house, an opportunity to buy another house came up and we jumped. It was owned by the widow of a family friend and we were blessed to be able to purchase this house. Our plan was to have this house as our forever house. It was much larger than our previous house and it was perfect for entertaining. We were so pleased with this house because it allowed us to serve as a place for many college aged people to come and worship, fellowship and learn about Jesus. I remember a dear friend calling while I was sitting in the living room one day asking if she could bring her brother over to visit. I was the only one home and said sure. Her dad, brother and she all walked in a few minutes later and while visiting with her brother, we all saw a broken man give his life to Christ right there in the living room. This college group filled our large living room with love, laughter and support. This house is where our 2 oldest kids really “grew up” and made many friends at the school in the area. It was where we went from having 1 dog to 3 dogs. (What was I THINKING??) This house was our house and we were never leaving. Well, not until we decided to buy a business and have Christy quit her teaching job. Due to this, we had to say goodbye to this house and sold it to a very good family. The interesting thing about selling this house was not only did we sell the house because of downsizing but we also no longer had our college group. In a way, it closed a chapter on our life that was one of the most important and fun times in our family.

Our next house was a true blessing. It was a family house that had been a rent house for many years. There were funds to fix up the house to what we wanted without us having to do a lot of the work. It was much smaller but we had no mortgage came along with it. It was an adjustment to our 2 kids at the time because we no longer were in the same neighborhood as the majority of their friends. It was in the same house my wife lived in when she was a girl and in the same neighborhood I grew up in so many years ago. When we first got there, there weren’t many young families but within a year, we had two new families with young kids move in across the street. They were a blessing to us in so many ways. As time went on, we rearranged the house, redid a bathroom and did a complete overhaul on the landscaping. It had become the perfect place for us and what happened next in our life literally reshaped our family because of our willingness and need to downsize. We fell in love with a little girl we had never met. She instantly became part of our family from the first day my wife heard about her. In my mind, she was crazy but in her mind and her heart, this little girl was born to be our daughter. I remember sitting in the living room telling her there was no way I wanted any part of this and someone else could take her in. Then, after many weeks, maybe 2 months or longer, I remember sitting in that same recliner in the living room crying my eyes out for this little girl. By us downsizing our house, we were able to up-size our family. We had to rearrange things in our house again and make room for her to move in with our oldest child. This was not an easy transition but it helped our entire family grow into the family God intended us to have. This was also the home of great heartbreak as we had to say goodbye to a loved dog named Chester.

As we grew in our little house, we knew it was time to start looking for a new place. So, once again, we moved into a new house. This is the house I will go through over the next few weeks and explain why this house is not a house but a home. This house no doubt fits us best for who we are today like none of the other houses could. This house gives us the personal space each of us need but allows us to be intimate as well. Everyone has their own room and it’s the perfect place for large gatherings. The neighborhood is great and the people around us are amazing! There are tons of kids always running around and everyone comes out to play. There are times we adults just sit and visit while our kids play. There’s always something going on and at any given time, there could be multiple games being played by kids of all ages. This house has so many things about it that reminds me of our journey. It started out as a simple house for a small family and over the years, it has been added to and changed in so may ways. Each owner has put their own stamp on this house and the stories the walls could tell if they could talk would be amazing.

Just like our house, our journey as a family hasn’t always been easy or clean but we’ve survived every storm. There have been times when each of us has shut a door to try to keep others out but have opened that same door to the people we were trying to keep out because we love them. Buying a house is easy. Building a home that will last is the hard part. As I go forward with each part of the house, I hope to build a picture of our home. I do believe we have a beautiful home, no matter if the lawn has been mowed or not, if the beds are made not or if the dishes are clean or not. All of this because our home isn’t a house, it’s what happens inside us that makes it a home. I hope you enjoy the next few Mondays as I share!

Love you all!!

My First Love

We all remember our first love. No matter how things ended, we all remember their name, where we met, how long things lasted and that feeling we had during that time. We remember the good and bad but only hold on to the good. It was good for us then and if you really think back to your first true love, you learned more about yourself during that time than you could have ever imagined. But the past is past and we have all grown from that first love. Many of us have moved into a marriage with someone totally different and that’s a great thing! Some of us still have contact with our first love. Some don’t. For some, things ended about as good as they could have as you both went separate ways in life. For others, there was deep and hurting pain that still lasts. But no matter what, we all remember that first feeling of love.

Each spring, I think back to my first love. Not the love of a person but my first love in sports. Baseball. Baseball has been a part of my life since I can remember. As the season gets closer and closer, all other sports have stopped and baseball gets all of the attention. It’s the American past time and sadly, many people don’t see the beauty in baseball any more. It’s not a fast game but it’s a game where strategy pays off more than talent. Perhaps that is why it’s not as popular as it once was; now days, we want fast paced, lots of scoring and not much thinking. This is not the way baseball is played.

But baseball is the one sport everyone can play and it was the one sport where us, as little boys, could sit out in the field and pick weeds and our noses and not have a care in the world. It was the place where I, like many of you, could step from behind the backstop fence and not have any worry, except the worry of having a ball hit our way. It was the place where, as we ran the wrong direction, our parents and coaches would scream, “Run to first, NOT THIRD!” after we hit a full swing bunt. It was the place where many kids found friends and many parents huddled under the one shade tree to keep from getting too burned from the pounding sun. It was the place where we could be the best, even when we weren’t close to even being good. It was where many of us found what it was like to sit in a dugout by ourselves and watch our teammates play the game we loved playing. It’s where we, if coached correctly, learned the value of a team and how encouraging one another could lead to a 2 out rally to win the game. It’s where we learned at any moment, the most unlikely person could step up to the plate and become a hero. It’s the game that when we couldn’t play any more, we did everything in our power to hold on to it because we knew we would miss it.

As I got older, my love for baseball faded for some reason. I was a changed person and another sport began to take hold. I had a new love and it was football. It was the sport my Dad played and the place I can get lost in for hours on a Saturday afternoon. Just ask my wife! But no matter how much I love football today, there’s just something about baseball that makes me smile. Maybe it’s the game. Maybe it’s because over time, I’ve learned the value of the game. Maybe it’s because it takes me back to my childhood. But mostly, I think it’s because it’s the one place where my son and I can spend hours throwing a ball, not say one word to each other and at the end of our time say, “That was an amazing time!”

Yes, I think that’s why I’ve fallen back in love with my first love of baseball; it’s what my son and I do together and it’s a special time for us boys! I look forward to watching G play another season and learning more about this beautiful game. I leave with this quote from Field of Dreams that sums up how I feel about baseball;

“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh… people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”

The Final 2 Mintues

Growing up Amason meant watching a lot of football and having quite an understanding of every moment that could occur in a game. Dad taught me how to appreciate the game from start to finish, no matter if your team was winning or losing. In winning and losing, Dad taught me how to see character in teams, coaches and players. But most importantly, he taught me how you could really know the real character of a team, the entire team, by how they played the final 2 minutes of every game; no matter how close or far apart the score was in the game.

As a kid, I didn’t fully understand but as I grew up, I began to understand what he meant. In a close game, did a team stick to their true selves or did they change who they are just because of the situation they were in for that moment? Did the team practice enough for the situation they are in or are they just looking for some desperate measure to work? In a blowout win or loss, how did they act? Did they respect their opponent or did they trash talk or attempt to embarrass their opponent?

As I got older, I grew to appreciate the final 2 minutes of a game and for this reason, I try not to leave a game or celebrate until the clock hits 0:00. It’s hard to explain to some but others know it for a fact that I have a very hard time leaving early. Most think it’s because I want to stay but honestly, it’s out of respect for those playing. No matter that outcome.

Over the past year, I saw something I did not want to see. I saw my Dad enter the 4th quarter of his life and begin to move very fast through this quarter. We all knew he would begin his 4th quarter but we never wanted it to happen and we never thought he would arrive to his final 2 minutes so quickly. Just as Dad said about football teams in the final 2 minutes, I learned more about him during this time than I ever thought I could. And, it was beautiful.

It was October 1st when the final 2 minutes began for him. He had just arrived home from a month long hospital stay and all he could say was, “I’m tired.” We knew he was tired and needed rest but in true Tom form, he fought. He had fought for years and as he realized he was in the final 2 minutes, he fought and his true character was bright and shining. Up to this point, I thought I knew my Dad. I thought for sure there was nothing more I could learn about him or from him. I saw this final 2 minutes as a time to reflect and he saw it as a time to teach, say goodbye and love us until the clock hit 0:00. In his final minutes, we didn’t know what to expect. He knew exactly what he was going to do and it was beautiful. It was an experience I will never forget.

I always knew my Dad loved Jesus and all people. He was always willing to help those who he could help and there were times, when, helping others meant something else had to give. He was called to help others and he obeyed that calling. What I never saw from him though was a spiritual side that would touch many people. He always wanted us to go to church, even when he couldn’t, because in his words, “You have to figure out who Jesus is to you and you can’t do it without seeking Him on your own.” But the thing is, I was too blind to see his words were his spiritual side. I saw it as him doing what he was supposed to do as a husband and dad but what he was doing was what God had told him to do. Let us search, on our own, to find our Jesus, not his. As his clock went from 2 minutes down, we continued to see things that were hard but beautiful. I saw my Dad get to say goodbye to his wife of 47 years, his 4 boys, their spouses, former in laws, each living grandchild and many friends and other family members. This is something not everyone gets a chance to have. I’m thankful he was able to have this time with each of us.

He would be comatose for hours and then all of the sudden, he would wake up and be clear with whoever was in the room. Where we really saw the beauty of this time was when, one night, a pastor came by to read scripture and pray over him. There was a lot going on that night in the house with some plumbing problems but God didn’t let that stop him from showing up in a great way! As the pastor read and prayed, I looked at Dad and I could tell he was quoting the scripture being read. As we finished, the pastor looked at Dad and said thanks for allowing him to come over. At that moment, Dad reached up, grabbed his hand and began praying for the pastor. It was a beautiful time and something I had never seen my Dad do in my life. To me, this was out of his comfort zone but, in the final few minutes, he did something that God asked him to do. Pray for this pastor, not his pastor, but this certain pastor. For his family, his ministry and his future. This is something this pastor had said he had never had happen to him. A man, on his deathbed praying for him. It was a beautiful moment.

As Dad’s time continued to diminish, he had several visitors to say bye, love you and thanks for being in their life. It was touching and then, on October 12, he asked for certain people to be at his bedside that evening. The people were his wife, 2 of his sons and their wives and his pastor. As we all gathered around him, he said thank you in his way to everyone. He said goodbye because he knew this would be one of his last audible moments. His final words to my wife were, “Whatever tomorrow brings, trust God with every fiber. I love you.” These were not only his final words to Christy but his final instructions to us as a family. To, every morning, trust God with every fiber and always love. Another beautiful moment! And then, after we all pulled ourselves back together, he asked for prayer and after the prayers were over, he grabbed his pastor’s hand and prayed for his pastor and his ministry. This pastor also said this had never happened to him in all his years of ministry. It was another beautiful moment.

Over the next two weeks, leading up to his death, we had glimpses into Dad’s character and every moment matched exactly who he was throughout his life. He fought hard and remained positive, just as he had in life. Over the years, the pain that was associated with all of his injuries could have defined him as a person or forced him into a life not worth living. But because of his character, the pain grew him into the man he became and the person we loved. It forced us all to adapt at times but he certainly lived a worthy life. Too many times in life, people get defined by what causes them pain but in Dad’s life, he used the pain, hurts and circumstances and created a testimony to share to the world. He also did this in his final 2 minutes.

As I look back at Dad’s final 2 minutes, I saw Dad’s true character and it was no different in the final drive than it was in every quarter before. He never changed who he was, no matter the circumstance. A true man in every way possible. I am grateful to have been able to spend just about every minute watching his final drive. It wasn’t easy on any of us but it was beautiful. There were times when we would cry out to God, “Why oh Lord have you not released him from his pain?” We know why; because there was still time left on the clock and we don’t leave when there’s still time left. We are thankful for the things we learned on that last drive with Dad. He showed us on that final drive, up to the very last breath, as he had my entire life, to be strong, brave and courageous and to never give up on this thing called life.

Dad, I thank you for every lesson, correction, hug, kiss and I love you. You will remain with me every day and from time to time, I hear you say, “Den, I love you.” Thank you for living a life worth living and for showing so many how to play a full game, to the very last second. Without you showing me this, I wouldn’t have been able to walk with you on your last drive. You are an amazing man and you will never be forgotten. I love you buddy!