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!!

From Individuals to a Family – My LAC experience

September 2008 kicked off a 9 monthprocess that would challenge everything I knew and begin a change in the way I looked at my community. Those few hours I spent with a new group of people at CetaCanyon left me wondering what was this all going to be about? Was I here for networking, learning, sharing or just because I wanted a day off work each month to hang around some new people? Well, what I would find out in the next few months is that I was there for so much more than anything I could have imagined.

Our time together actually started off at Gray’s Studio on 6th Street in August. A meet and greet event so we could mingle, eat, drink and listen to our guest speaker. It was also a time where we could get our feel for this class and see what the heck this was all going to be about. I was excited about this but really couldn’t tell you why. I just knew I was supposed to be there at this time and really wanted God to show me what He had for me.

As our opening retreat got closer and closer, I started to get anxious about all of this. As many of you know, when I get anxious, I start asking questions and thinking about everything. I also like retreats because it takes me back to my childhood I guess. But being in a retreat atmosphere is great and I was just ready!

I was still wondering how this would turn out and why I was so anxious but as I arrived at Ceta Canyon, my anxiety turned to excitement. The only thing I didn’t was a snoring person in my room! Our first few minutes together was great because like in any new place, people were allowed to hide behind a light breakfast and a coffee cup or juice glass. This little “ice breaker” time allows people to get a feel for the retreat and to me, it’s the best part. Looking around the room at everyone, you can get a feel for who is ready for the weekend and who is ready to get out and run away.

But as the morning turned to afternoon and then to evening, I started seeing this whole experience in a whole new light. I knew at that point, this group was going to be special to me. After a few bumps and bruises, the opening retreat ended and we all went our own way. But over the next few months, something bigger than any of us was going to take place and it was going to be a change in our hearts and minds that would transform us forever.

Over the next few months, we found out what it was like to be a member of the House of Representatives, from election to re-election. We got to hear from Secret Service agents, FBI agents, Congressman Thornberry and have an Amarillo Police Department ride a long. We got to be broke, I mean dead broke and lose everything. We toured the prison and gained a whole new respect for the men and women guards who work there. We learned that walking behind a horse won’t make him kick and neither will pulling his tail. As a matter of fact, we learned that you have to treat some people like that horse; pull it’s tail just enough to get it’s attention and eventually, he will go where you want him to go. We learned most of us couldn’t build a home out of paper and tape if we had to. We also learned more about each other on a culture walk. When you are asked about gay marriage, religion, music and politics and have to be honest about where you stand, it’s hard and it hurts at times. We learned that the teenagers in this town are amazing and just want our support in everything they do. We learned that white people are colorful, not black people and that no matter where you come from, we all have some prejudice in us. We learned more about this city and the businesses in it. From Boys Ranch to Bell Helicopter and every place in between. This city is great and it just needs us to support it any way we can.

But through everything, we learned about each other and how if we come together through the building of relationships, we can accomplish anything. I am very glad for the opportunity I had in Leadership Amarillo & Canyon and I appreciate everyone who made it possible. Sharon, Liz, the LAC board, many volunteers and especially my mother in law, Susan Wenger.

People look at what they think life is too seriously and don’t look at what is seriously needs to be done in life. We have to come together for the betterment our community.I am better for what I’ve been through the past few months and it makes me smile when I think back on our time together.

From Gail’s first bruise to her last, we grew together. First out of necessity, then out of a common goal and finally in friendly love for each other, even though we only saw each other a few hours a month. We came to our opening retreat at CetaCanyon as individuals and left our closing banquet at AQHA as a family.

So, my question is, why can’t this be done on a daily basis? I believe if we put all our differences in work, schools, religion, church homes and culture to the side and build each other up for the common good, Amarillo and Canyon would be a much better place that would change Texas, then the entire nation and then finally, the entire world. Give it a chance people and remember we are all in this community together so let’s get to work to build up our community, not tear it down.

That’s what I learned in LAC over the past few months. If you are interested in knowing more, please feel free to contact me or visit: www.leadershipamarillo.org.

I love you all!