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!!

Daddy, let’s talk

“Daddy, let’s talk.” Three little words from a young lady that will just absolutely make you stop in your tracks. One phrase said so simple and sweet you almost miss hearing it. Three simple words, said so boldly, you can’t help but wonder what’s wrong. Three words my daughter said to me one evening after a great day with her. One phrase every parent longs to hear but is scared when they hear it.

But as she said it, I could tell, there wasn’t anything wrong, it was all good. You see, it was right after our game at College Station and we had been together for the past 24 hours. Sleeping, eating, watching football, cheering on the Aggies and much more. I could tell throughout the day there was something on her mind. Something she wanted to say or do but just didn’t know how. And as we sat at the Cotton Patch restaurant in College Station, she simply said, “Daddy, let’s talk.”

I wasn’t sure what about but I was sure it was something. Could it be boys? It always seems to be boys. Could it be school? It never seems to be about school. As I looked into her eyes, I said, “Yes, we can talk.” There was time and that’s all we had that night. Nowhere to be and only about 2 hours ahead of driving for us. As she talked, I realized what she wanted. She wanted me. Nothing more, nothing less. She wanted time to ask her Daddy about growing up.

How were times “back-then” she would ask. All kinds of things she wanted to learn about and I was plenty happy to tell her about it. As we continued talking, I could tell she had a peace about talking to me. I could tell this was her first attempt at opening up and seeing how much she could trust me when asking me questions. I could tell this was the beginning, not the end.

Over the few months since this conversation, there have been countless times I’ve picked her up at school and heard, “Daddy, let’s talk.” We’ve talked about how dumb boys are and about how important school is. We’ve talked about problems with friends and who the best friends are. We’ve talked about God and His plans. We’ve talked about cancer, divorce and what hurts us. But mostly, we’ve just talked. Daddy and daughter talk. Things maybe she shouldn’t hear at times but at least she heard it from me. Time for us to grow closer together and build on what God wants us to build on. Talking. That’s it. No expectations, no demands, no pretending.

As I think about our conversations I can’t wait for Garrett to open up more and more. To me or his mother, it doesn’t matter. But I’ve also realized that I haven’t fully said these words all the time to my “Daddy” as much as I need to. Not my earthly Dad, we talk all the time but to my Heavenly Daddy. Why? I have no idea. I can talk about good things, bad things, dumb things or just nothing and He’ll listen. He won’t judge and I may have to wait to hear His advice. But through it all, He will listen. He cares more than I’ll ever comprehend and loves no matter what. He’s the One I need to say “Daddy, let’s talk,” a lot more often to. Three words, one short phrase we need to say more often. Daddy, let’s talk.

I love you all!

More than an Uncle

Over the past week, I’ve had a chance to sit and think about someone who’s really been on my heart. His name is Wayne Rivers, better known as Uncle Wayne to me. I have cried, laughed, pondered but mostly just thought about the great times we had with him and what he means to our family.

Uncle Wayne has always been larger than life to me, well, mainly because he’s a rather large man. But one thing that’s always been great to see is that while he is a large man, his heart has always surpassed his frame in size. I’ve remembered back this week to family reunions at Thompson Park, birthdays, times at lake Fryre, Thanksgiving and Christmas. To me, Uncle Wayne has been more than an uncle.

From as far back as I remember, Uncle Wayne has been the guy who has given me a hard time about stuff but always said he loved me when I left. He’s always been the loud, large uncle who may have yelled at me for doing wrong but the first to give me a hug after explaining to me why he was so upset. Uncle Wayne was the first to give each of my kids a taste of coke and you know what, I didn’t mind because it was his way of showing the kids they could come to him for what we wouldn’t give them. He’s the type of family member you wish everyone had and then when I sit and think, he’s my uncle, you thank God for him.

As much as he means to me as an uncle, he’s always been much more than an uncle. He’s a son, brother, husband, father, grandad, uncle, friend and just full of God’s love for everyone to see. God has definitely used you Uncle Wayne and our family is so much better off for it. Upon the death of Grandad, you filled in so gracefully as the patriarch and you have done an amazing job in Grandad’s shoes.

You and Aunt Eveline together raised 3 amazing children and poured your love and knowledge into 7 amazing grandkids. You have touched so many’s hearts in our family and in this community. Our family and community will be forever touched with your generosity and love.

We will never have another Uncle who will give the “Wayne Balance Test” to our kids when they are just a few months old. Your time on earth may be short now but your memory will last forever. You have done the job God had for you and from my point of view, you did it well. Thanks for everything and know you are loved and your memory will live on in our hearts and minds. I love you Uncle Wayne!

Love you all!!

Don’t Give Up, Don’t Ever Give Up

Last night while reading the info section of one of my friend’s facebook page, I found a quote that has truly inspired me since I first heard it in 1993. It’s not anything cheesy but just an amazing quote to live by. “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up,” Jimmy Valvano. This has become one of the most famous quotes of all times but it wasn’t the quote that caught my attention as I watched Jimmy V give this speech in 1993. The meat of the speech was better than the quote and the speech has become quite an inspiration for many to search for what they believe.

During the speech, Jimmy V challenged us to do three things every day. Laugh, think and have our emotions moved to tears. This is pretty much how I want to live every day. Laughing gives us what we need and helps us keep a good attitude about every situation we come across. I like to think if I don’t laugh at me, then others might not either. And if we can’t laugh at ourselves, then we can’t honestly laugh at others. Think. Thinking frees us to find what we truly believe. Thinking stretches us and challenges everything we think we know. Thinking has to be done daily and I encourage everyone to find a quiet place to think for at least 30 minutes a day. This will allow you to grow and get a clear vision of where you are headed. Have our emotions moved to tears, better known as crying. I guess I’m one of those who like to cry. I cry when I laugh too hard, when I’m mad or when I’m passionate about something. And when you cry about things you are passionate about, you know you are growing. I have probably cried more tears than most over my life and yes, I love those movies that make you cry. When we do these 3 things, we grow and people notice.

But in order to do these things, we must have the desire to do so. Ralph Emerson Waldo said “nothing great can be accomplished without enthusiasm.” Enthusiasm for what you are doing and where you are going will help you stay on the correct path and allow us to share with others. Having this enthusiasm is not easy to find or easy to keep. We must find what keeps us interested and what keeps our enthusiasm high enough to keep us growing. Yes, it’s hard to do this but remember anything worth keeping is very hard work.

Lastly, Jimmy V talked about his cancer. That it could not touch his heart, mind or soul. And he was very correct. We all have some type of cancer that’s eating at us. Cancer is something that has mutated our cells and turns against our body. The great thing is that Jimmy V didn’t allow the cancer to affect his heart, mind or soul. And that’s advice we should all take. Don’t let the “cancers” in your life affect your heart, mind or soul. Keep your heart, mind and soul clean and you will find it’s easier to live, to laugh, to think and to cry.

This speech was huge in my life. It gave me such inspiration to not let anything get me down. Yes, it’s been hard at times to follow what I just typed. But in trying to do these things, I have grown more than I thought I ever could have. Look around your heart, mind and soul and see if there are things you need to get rid of. If there are, cut them out so you can grow. This will allow you live and love and that’s all we really need to do. Live and know you can’t fully live without love!

Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.

Love you all!!

A Servant’s Heart – Thanks Mom

This morning, I heard a sermon about being a servant and it made me think. I know, it’s scary but for 3 days this weekend, I have been thinking about this and that. This sermon was great and all I could think about is why do we serve? Is it because we want to or because we are called to? I know for me, it’s because I’m called to serve others. But if you know me, you probably aren’t totally shocked that I like serving in my church, community and my family.

But as I sat and listened, I could only think about what was being said and my mom. Yes, my mom. If you know Sallie Amason, you know all she has ever done is serve others. From as far back as I can remember, she has poured her heart and soul into helping others. Mom helped start and has worked with the Eveline Rivers Christmas Project each and every year and has faithfully worked the coat room at the Christmas project with a smile on her face. And that’s not easy unless you are a true servant. Mom kept kids in our home for 21 years and she will never know how many people’s lives she touched and help mold over the years. From putting a coat on others to cleaning up after boys and girls, she has stood the test of time.

As the sermon continued, Jonathan talked about when we serve 2 people benefit. You and the other person. But why stop there? I think when you serve as my mom has done, you benefit, the other person benefits but so does everyone else you and they come in contact with. Like a ripple effect, your serving can touch people for years and for miles!

My mom will never see herself as anything else than a woman who did what she had to do. And that’s the heart we should all pray for. Her name may never be on the side of any building and she may never be awarded any national award but the blessings she has received and will receive are enough for her. (As a matter of fact, she will probably tell me I should not have written this because she doesn’t think she deserves this, but she does!!) She just likes giving what she has for everyone to enjoy.

Thanks Mom for being you and for showing us how to truly serve like God wants us to serve. I can’t imagine how different this world would be with more people like you in it. You will never know how much you have influenced me and so many others. Hold your head high and know that without your example, I would not be the man I am today.

I love you Mom!!