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!!

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!

Summer 2010

Well, it’s over. Summer 2010 has come and gone and it absolutely flew right by us. We were so blessed to have a very busy summer and it was a summer to remember.

Our summer started by us staying home in June, which is never normal for us. June was busy between an undefeated volleyball season for Elisabeth and the Super Stars and a very tough but fun season of baseball for Garrett. The kids absolutely loved playing their sports this summer and the parents absolutely loved watching; expect the baseball game where the temp was a cool 103. June also brought a change in our family forever. We moved into a new house at the end of the month and getting settled has taken the entire summer.

As June ended, we were ready for some relaxation and we got it. We spent a week on a South Texas tour with the kids. This included a trip to New Braunfels, which we were blessed to stay with the Duran family. We met them on a cruise in January and our daughters fell into a great friendship. We were able to go to Schlitterbahn, hang out with the Durans and see all New Braunfels and the area had to offer.

From there, we took off for San Antonio and spent 2 wonderful days there. The Riverwalk was great and we were able to see the Alamo and teach the kids a bit about Texas history. After San Antonio, we decided to take the kids to Austin and see the Capital. There we met up with an old friend, Andrea, who gave us a tour and it was great just catching up with someone from the past! We were also blessed to stay with the Menell’s and getting to catch up with Angie and get to know Bryan was great!

After spending one day in Austin, I couldn’t resist, I had to take the kids to College Station! It was there we realized our daughter, who is 8, will be going off to college in a very short 10 years. And according to her, she wants to go to Texas A&M after our visit! It’s makes me proud to be raising such a great girl!! Gig ‘Em!

We finished our South Texas tour with a day in Irving with family and it was back to reality but not for long. About a week after we got home, Christy and I jumped on a plane back to Austin for some Club Z! meetings and for our 15th anniversary!

After coming back home, we had one more trip to take and it was our annual work trip I have to take every year. This year it was in Colorado Springs. We were so ready for the mountains and much more ready for some cool weather! And cool weather is what we got! We were able to take the train up to Pikes Peak and yes, we saw a bit of snow up there! After 6 days in lovely Colorado, it was time to come back home and get ready for school.

As August arrived, I was busy at work again, Christy’s phone started ringing for Club Z! clients to get started again and the kids, well, they were ready for some time apart. We were able to pack in a few play dates during August but mostly, we were focused on settling the house and getting back into the swing of things!

We had a blessed summer and are now ready for the fall. It’s time to get back into the swing of life with hectic schedules but this year, it won’t be as bad as normal with Christy not teaching. We hope everyone had a great summer and we pray for you as fall comes. Enjoy your last few moments of summer because every moment has been enjoyed by the Amason’s!

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!

Two Different Men – One Common Theme

Being born into a very large family is a blessing but it’s hard at the same time. Having parents with many friends who love you like family is also a blessing but it’s also hard. It’s hard having to say goodbye and tomorrow, we will say goodbye to two men who mean the world to me.

Just about every memory I have has my Uncle Clark and Walter Johnson in it. These two different men, always treated me the same. Joking, laughing, loving and at times, correcting. 

Uncle Clark – Thanks A Million

Clark E. Wooldridge, had a way with me. I don’t know what it was but he could always make me smile and I especially liked getting to talk to him about many things. My earliest childhood memory of Uncle Clark came in Las Vegas, NM at the Hillcrest Inn Restaurant.

We were on our way to the mountains and I ordered french toast. (That was my favorite as a kid) When the french toast came, Uncle Clark told me not to eat it. It had powdery white stuff on it and he told me it was maggots. You can’t believe what that will do to a little kid. I not only freaked out and didn’t eat it then; I didn’t eat french toast with powdered sugar on it until well into my teenage years! That’s the kind of stuff Uncle Clark and I got to laugh about.

Uncle Clark was a great husband to my Aunt Barbara, a loving and correcting father to Ted, Tracey and Christy and a wonderful grandfather for his grandkids to look up to. He proudly served our country in World War II while in the Navy and loved being on the water. I can remember times at the lake in his sailboat and I always wanted to sail the ocean with him. What a time he’s having today sailing in heaven!

Uncle Clark also loved taking pictures and has quite a library of our family history in pictures. He and Aunt Barbara have so very greatly photographed our family and it has allowed us all to look back at easier times, harder times and loving times. Thanks for that Uncle Clark, you and Aunt Barbara have captured our family history forever.

You will never know how much you meant to me and those Yankee Dimes you and Elisabeth shared are still with her. As we told her of your passing, she, like all of us, was very sad. Elisabeth thought of you as more than an uncle. She and Garrett looked to you as a grandfather and someone who loved them very much. 

I will never forget our times together. Your pictures are here forever but more importantly, the lessons you taught us are with us forever. You’re already missed but we know you’re in peace. Thanks for everything and never forget we love you!

Walter Johnson – What A Damn Mess!

I was introduced to Walter Johnson as a very young boy and I was terrified of him. He was tall and had a deep voice that carried for miles. It frightened me and to tell you the truth, there was no reason for me to fear this gentle giant!

My earliest memory of Walter happened at Camp RYLA in Summerlife, NM. As we were leaving RYLA, Walter asked me what I had in my grasp. I had been given a ping-pong ball, I know, no big deal to you but a very big deal to me, by one of the campers. Walter took the ball from my grasp and put it in his mouth. Once again, I freaked out and as he gave me back a squished ball, he said, you’ll never forget this Denny. Well, as you can see, I didn’t forget it.

Walter was a jokester to all and always had a new story, new song to play on his harmonica or some sort of life lesson to leave with you. Walter was a sportsman and it still amazes me as to what he did in his life. He talked to everyone crudely and had a nickname for everyone. He called my dad Mudd, my wife, well, I won’t say and me, the ultimate rug rat!

He loved being around all people and it seems as everyone in the world knew Walter. He taught me life lessons and showed me enough love every time I saw him to leave my heart full. From frightful times like my dad breaking his neck and Walter driving 90 to nothing around the New Mexico mountains and just being there for my mom at times of need, we are forever thankful.

We will miss our friend but know he’s playing jokes up in heaven and walking from mountaintop to mountaintop he never got to walk here on earth.

Tomorrow will be hard as we say goodbye forever and celebrate the lives of these two different men. But my heart is full because these two men had a common theme in my life. Love, Love, Love. That’s all these men had and that’s all they leave with us.

Thanks Uncle Clark and Walter. This world has been forever changed by your lives and so I am. I love you both and can’t wait for our reunion!

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!!

The Journey – The Search

Jack was the first one awake in the house the next morning and as he fixed breakfast, he couldn’t stop thinking about his time with Jose the day before. He was still trying to figure out what he knew and today was the first day in trying to find out what Jose was so upset about. Jack was packed and ready to head into the jungle he spent so much time in during his first 8 years.

But this time was different. When he was younger, he thought about his family, future and dreamed of teaching in the village with his parents. But now it was a search. A search for the truth of what happened 20 years ago and a search for who he truly is. Jack never could figure it out in Kansas City and he thought coming back here would help. But as the hope built, so did the questions about his past.

Jack finished breakfast, wrote a note to Shelly and took off on his search. It was a warm, humid morning and the sun was just beginning to peek over the horizon. As Jack entered the jungle, he thought about his dad. This was a place where he and his dad went as a refuge from it all. John had spent many years in this jungle and Jack just couldn’t believe someone had taken him and his mom deep into the jungle for harm. Yes, Jack had fear of what he might find or what might happen but he knew he had to go.

The terrain was easier than he remembered and he was very happy he remembered the jungle so very well. As Jack walked further into the jungle he heard someone behind him. He stopped to see who it was and it was Jose. Jose knew Jack would come out here and wanted to tell him why he couldn’t speak the day before.

Jose knew where the tribe who took his parents settled. He had gone deep into the jungle about a year after they went missing with his father and they spotted them. As they left to go tell Miguel and their village leaders, Jose’s father was shot and killed for trespassing. This so shook Jose that he could not tell anyone what they had found. All he did was lead the leaders to his father’s body and had them carry him back. They thought a hunter had accidentally shot Jose’s father but Jose knew what had happened.

As he told Jack this, Jack stood in disbelief and pain. Pain for Jose because of what he had seen and disbelief his parents were alive a year after their kidnapping. Jose warned Jack of trespassing on this land but Jack had to go and see if he could find what happened to his parents. Jose gave him a map but told him he couldn’t go any further. “Good luck Jack,” Jose said. “Please know I love you and I hope the best for you.” Jose turned and walked away from Jack.

Jack knew he had to press on but was a bit worried about what he might find. The tribe’s settlement was about a 10 day hike and Jack knew it was risky. But he felt the reward outweighed the risks. If he lost his life while searching for the truth then so be it. But if he died knowing he got so close and didn’t search for the truth, then he would never be able to forgive himself. As day turned to night, Jack pulled out his sleeping bag and got some sleep. He needed to make it to the tribe fast and rest was something he needed.

As Jack continued hiking deeper into the jungle, he began to wonder if there was a real chance his parents were still alive. If they survived 1 year, why not 20 years he thought. Jose’s map was spot on and on day 8, Jack arrived to the edge of the tribe’s settlement. Jack surveyed the land like a good hunter and found what looked to be a cemetery.

Jack looked around and found the names of many Americans. Was this was a cemetery where the tribe buried their captives? As he searched for his parents names, he grew weary and was having a hard time thinking about moving forward. He had been in the jungle for 8 days and to this point, he knew a little more truth but nothing that overwhelmingly pointed to the total truth. Jack decided to hide out and sleep for the night because he believed tomorrow would be the day he learned the truth.

To be continued….