A Few Good Men

Every Father’s Day is a day in which in am able to think about those men who have helped me along in the thing called life. I am blessed to have a loving dad who has been a blessing to not only me but so many others. I thank my dad for everything he has done over my 37 years. But in addition to him, there have been other men. Men who didn’t have to be there and at times, probably wondered why they were there. Men who, if asked today, may or may not know how they impacted my life. Men who, would never look for anything more than a hug when I see them and an honest answer to what was going on in my life.

These men came from all over. As far back as I can remember, there are certain men who took time out of their life to show me how to a a better son, husband, dad, friend and overall person. Some like Bill, came from my early days of church at St. Luke Presbyterian Church. Bill is a larger than life man in so many ways and would let me know when I was wrong but always corrected me in a loving manner. Bill always prayed with me and for me and to this day when I see him, he always gives me a kind word and something to think on. Others were coaches of ball teams like Vernon, LeRoy and Jim. These men showed me the importance of winning and losing the right way. They also showed me if you wanted to be great, it would take work.

Other men came from my family. Way too many to acknowledge all of them but they have normal names like Bob, Mike, Johnny, Clark, Wayne and David. They all have the same first name though, Uncle. There was J.W.; aka, Granddad. A tall, strong cowboy who would let you know where you stood. You weren’t allowed to talk politics or religion but if one on one, he’d let you know. I’d like to think he’d be proud today of our family. Proud of where we are and even more proud of who we’ve become. Others were Bob, Wheeler and Rodney. Brothers who would beat me up and tease me but be the first to stand up for me. Thanks guys! All of these men in the family have shown me how to love, teach, rebuke and love even when it’s hard.

More men came from church in my adulthood. Men like Mark, Kyle, Richard, Jason, Alan and so many others. Men who have prayed, loved, cared so much it hurt. We’ve shared tears, sweat and even bled a little in hopes of learning more about each other and Christ. We’ve laughed and been mad at each other. Asked for and offered forgiveness. Shared the Gospel and watched grown men fall to their knees experiencing the power of Christ. We’ve sat through long meetings and disagreed but always came back to the realization it’s not about us. We’ve seen growth in ourselves and our families. We’ve come together in the time of need and been so broken we didn’t think we could be fixed. We’ve been real.

As I look back, I can’t help but look forward to see who God might put in my life next.  I hope you’ve had a few good men in your life and I hope you’ve learned what they’ve tried to teach you. I only hope I can be as good of an example for my son Garrett as my Dad has been for me. I also hope I don’t get in the way of anyone’s growth. I am thankful for the lessons from a few good men and I look forward to more years of learning from more men! Thanks gentlemen!

The Story of Us

It all started in the Fall of 1992. I was just starting my freshman year of college and not real clear of where life would lead me next. It was a Monday afternoon when it started. I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember it clearly and each time I think about it, my heart races just as it did that day. It was the beginning of the Story of Us.

As I entered Daniel’s room with James and a video tape of the latest Dallas Cowboys game, I saw someone who I had not yet met. I saw a girl, no a woman, who I may not have known but someone who I did want to meet. As Daniel introduced everyone, I could not help but think, “Why is she here?” What I was really thinking was, “Why is she here to see Daniel?” Not giving my friend enough credit or whatever, I could not help but think she’s too, well, too pretty, nice, sweet, too everything for him!

As I sat and visited, I couldn’t help but wonder what she was thinking. Why was she here? Is she Daniel’s new girl? Has he kidnapped her? Or does she feel sorry for him that he has a broken collarbone? Honestly, it didn’t matter because I knew what I saw. I saw a beautiful, loving person who I wanted to get to know. Who I met that afternoon was an angel named Christy.

A person who, as I got to know much better over the next few months, would make me better as a person, never question God’s plan or love for us and someone who, I wanted to spend forever with.

As the next few weeks and months past, we finally got together and started dating. I was so nervous I forgot her name on our first date. We went to a movie and ran into my Uncle Wayne and Aunt Eveline. I couldn’t remember her name so I didn’t introduce her to them. I just kind of stood there and talked to them with my back to her. As they left, I could see it in her eyes. What the heck man? Rude boy. Oh boy, this first date could be the last.

But as the night drew to a close, we set another date and then another and another. It was a get to know you time and it was great. Again, I was so nervous that it took me about 3 dates and as many weeks to finally give her a kiss. It wasn’t either of our’ first kiss but it would the last kiss that lasts a lifetime. There have been kisses since this day but only with each other.

As fall turned into winter in 1992, we grew closer and closer. As 1992 drew to a close, we both knew this was going to last. It would not turn out like the others had. It might be hard but everything great is supposed to take hard work.

Over the next few years, we continued dating and really started talking about marriage. Our plan was to get married in the summer of 1996 but instead and against the advice of our parents, we set on July 22, 1995. It was a great day and a time to join two families into one. And what a great family it has become!

Since that date, we have added much to our story. We have added 2 beautiful children, a home, many great fiends, 2 college diplomas, great careers, a business and 4 dogs. We have also been able to watch our family change so much over the years. We have celebrated the births of nieces, nephews and cousins. We have celebrated and welcomed new family in through marriage. And, we have celebrated the lives of 4 Grandparents, 2 uncles, a cousin and too many friends who have gone to be with the Lord well before we were ready for them to go.

We have loved each other enough to say forever and mean it. We have made mistakes and been so mad at each other it would be easy to say enough is enough. No, it hasn’t been perfect all the time but that’s okay. As long as each day we wake up and know how much we love each other, it will be okay.

Our story is just 18 years old. It’s a high school senior if you look at it that way. It started out with baby steps, grew into learning more and more about each other and life, grew into a marriage, then with kids and it’s still growing. This story, I pray isn’t near over. We have lots to see, lots to do and lots to learn.

On this day, I pray for each of you no matter where your story is right now. Many are happy, many are hurting and many are searching. It’s okay. Life may throw you a curve now and then but it’s just part of your story. Learn from it and carry on like you know you can.

I look forward to many more years of seeing our story written. I love my wife, my kids,my family and my friends. The Story of Us would not be if it weren’t for each of you. Thank you and know we love you all!

I love you all!

Moving

Just in the past month, we moved into a new house here in Amarillo and it got me doing some thinking. Thinking about the past few years in our old house and how moving to this new house is not only a new beginning but a closing to so many other things.

When we moved into our house on 39th 5 years ago, Garrett was barely a year old and Elisabeth hadn’t started Kindergarten. Now Elisabeth is headed into 3rd grade and Garrett into 1st. It’s amazing the changes over the years in the kids in that house.

But it’s not just the kids that changed over the past few years. We have also changed. As I look back at every move we’ve made in the past 15 years as a married couple, it’s been during a time of change in more than the literal sense of moving houses.

For many of us, moving is a headache. It’s a time of stress, confusion on where things are, packing up your things, selling some stuff, giving some stuff away and possibly just throwing stuff away. It’s a time when we can sit and think about this and that and memories come back, one at a time and rush through us like a strong wind.

Moving is hard but necessary at times. It can release us or bind us, depending on the situation. But it should always allow us to start again. To wake up in a new place, wether it’s across town or across the world. New people to meet, new places to get used to and remembering where to go, home, not a house.

But for us, moving this time seemed a bit easier. I’m not totally sure why but I do believe it’s because this time, it wasn’t us moving. It was God moving in us. Leaving our “dream” home behind wasn’t hard because of the freedom it is bringing us. Freedom for Christy to quit teaching and concentrate on her business. Financial freedom of no debt. Freedom to do what we need to do, not have to do for the first time in a long time.

As I think back and now that we have moved and with the closing of our house very near, our “dream” home brought us many memories. Garrett learned the joys of walking, talking and playing in that house. Elisabeth made many friends at her school and started growing into a young woman right in front of our eyes there. We saw people grow in our house spiritually and personally. We had many people bless our home in small groups and we will always remember those times. I was able to see a life transformed on my couch there as a young man went from at wanting to end his life, to accepting Christ in a few hours of prayer, talking, loving and sharing.

It was a great home but those things won’t stay. They’ll move with us to our new home. That’s what makes a home. It’s not the house but the memories within the walls.

I’ve been blessed so much during this move and I ask that you take a look at where you are. Maybe you don’t need a literal move but a move in yourself. Maybe it’s time to pack some of the stuff away or throw the crap out. Maybe it’s time to go through the dust and cobwebs of life to see the beauty that is beneath. Maybe you haven’t seen or used some of your stuff (talents/gifts) in a while and it’s time to use them again before you have to throw them away.

I don’t know where you are but wherever you are today, I pray that you aren’t there this time next year. Sometimes growth is hard and there are times we have to pack up and move to get where we need to go next. Are you ready to move? I was and I did. What a blessing!!

I love you all!

The Journey Begins

Jack’s curiosity and wild spirit drove his actions but this time he was reserved. He couldn’t even think about going but yet something inside was telling him to go. It was miles away. Another country, another culture, a much different language. But still he wondered why he got the call. Why not someone else? Do I seriously need to go? And with that thought, Jack’s decision was set. He would go and see but didn’t think he would stay long.

There was so much to do to get ready. His passport was ready but had never been stamped, well, not since he last saw his parents. Jack was born in the remote jungle around the Amazon and came to the states with his sister, Shelly, and aunt when he was 8. His parents were captured and presumed dead. The only family he had was Shelly and and their aunt who didn’t want to raise kids. They came back to the states and began a new life. One without stability, parents or a clear future.

That was then and not much had changed over the years.  Jack often wondered about his parents. Why did they want to raise a family there? Why were his parents always having people over? Why did they have to answer the door that night? Why is all that went through his head for the last 20 years.

Jack’s parents were teachers in the Amazon. They spoke 3 languages and had the respect of most of the tribes. But there was one tribe, the most feared tribe, that didn’t want them there any more. Jack and his sister wondered why they stayed but their dad always said it was their calling. “We’ll stay here forever kids, however long that is,” he would say.

Jack wondered about them often and said he’d go back if he had the chance but once before, he said no. But Jack’s sister always wanted to follow in her parent’s footsteps. So after college, only 4 years ago, Shelly went back to the Amazon to teach. Jack was furious with her decision but like their dad said, it was a calling and there was no holding her back.

But this time it was different. The voice on the phone was too familiar and coudn’t believe who it was and what they were saying. Jack got everything he needed in place for the journey. Tickets were purchased, good byes to his friends were said and Jack was on his way. Leaving Kansas City was easy, the hard part would be getting off the plane. Going to a place with lots of history and bad memories. But he knew this would be different.

To be continued…

Don’t be stopped by vision, be great beacuse of it!

Vision. It’s such a small word but has so many meanings. Vision is what we see and it helps us get to where we are going. In the true sense, vision is needed, good and desired. As people, our vision tells us about the things around us and if it works properly, it opens our mind and challenges everything we know. But when vision isn’t working properly, we see it as a handicap, disability or something to complain about. Vision isn’t all we need; it’s just something we get used to having. There are thousands of people who have never had eyesight but they had a greater vision than us.

Vision can’t be brought down to such a small thing as eyesight but for some reason that’s all we do. We put vision in this box and we don’t let it out. Whether it’s at work, home, school or church. If given by God, the “vision” of our future should guide us and lead us to where we are called to be. Every leader should have a vision and should share it often with those they are leading.

Vision should be talked about but not set in stone. I once heard Emmitt Smith talk about being a running back. They asked him about his running style and how he can see the holes that don’t appear to be there. His response was amazing. He said that as a running back, you can’t lock in on one vision, the goal, and nothing else. You have to be able to see all around you and continue to see who’s helping you by expanding your vision. His linemen were in the trenches and if he continued looking behind them long enough, he could see a new way to his goal. His vision was expanded and he didn’t get tunnel vision. 

 

In our lives, I think it’s easy to get tunnel vision. We have our minds and hearts set on one goal, which is awesome, but we have to realize that the vision could be enhanced or helped by those in the trenches. We have to be willing to look around and expand our vision. You see, having vision is not only about what’s in front of you; it’s having the ability to have peripheral vision. We have to be able to see what coming from all areas of our life. We have to see what’s coming from in front, from the right, let and what’s behind us. Those things that sometimes “broadside” us are the ones that hurt the most. If we are not looking out for all sides, our vision may be broke. It’s not what you see in front, it’s what you see all around. 

 

In order to help clear up our vision and expand our vision, we must trust those around us and allow them to help. We must be willing to drop our pride and give things over to the people in the trenches. We must know we can’t do everything by ourselves and just because someone is seeing a different vision, don’t discount theirs. You might just get a hole opened enough from someone else to spring you for a long run toward your goal.

Just like when you are sick, you go to the doctor and sometimes a hospital visit may be required. Vision sickness is the same. There are times we must leave a situation in order to get healed. We must give ourselves the medicine needed to get our vision corrected.

We can’t allow our vision to be clouded too long. If it stays clouded too long, it could destroy the vision that we have. And when this happens, we might miss our true calling.  

Allow your vision to grow beyond what’s in front of you. Look around and see who’s there. See if they are willing and able to help you pursue your goal. And if they are willing but not able, begin pouring into them so together you can grow and work toward each other’s goal.

 

Don’t let vision stop you. Remember, our eyesight changes over the years and so will your vision. Allow it to change and don’t be so stubborn that you miss seeing the hole that will spring you for a long run! Don’t be stopped by vision, be great because of it! 

 

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!!