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!

Out, Up & ……In????

In the world today, we see organizations of all sizes and varieties looking up to others so they can reach out to others while forgetting about looking in. What I mean by this is quite simple. Organizations of all types, churches, nonprofits, business and groups all seem to have looking up for ideas and direction down pat. This allows the organization to reach out to the community in so many ways that is good for everyone involved.

While this is good; what happens to those inside who are doing the work if they are not getting what they need? Every person in the world needs things. They need love, food, direction and the ability to ask someone for help. In the past few years, we have seen many organizations go through changes that were meant to help the “IN” people when it actually ended up tearing them apart. When we only look up then out, the people in eventually will give up and not continue to see the vision the head of the organization has. Andrew Carnegie once said, “Give me the best factory in the world but take my people away, grass will grow on the factory floor, but leave my people and they will build a bigger better factory.” I think Carnegie had it right and now we have gone from that in America.

We have become more about the programs and less about the people. We concern ourselves with the names of the programs, not the names of our people. We think if our programs aren’t growing, neither are our people. Maybe it’s time we as leaders look at the true root of the problem. I see organizations all over America forgetting about training, teaching and caring for their people. Just sending them on a retreat, to a conference or putting them in small groups won’t always give them what they need. They need the head of the organization and their leaders to reach in to them and find out what they need. We can’t just sit back and wait for people to tell us what they need. We need to know our people good enough to know when they are hurting or where they are lacking.

It’s become a cut here and there so we can have more to spend out rather than in. We have to reverse this thinking. It’s extremely good to see everyone benefitting from others but if we continue to cut out teaching and training then how will we ever be able to keep our people going in the same direction we are going?

So, take a step back from your organization and see if you have a balance between Up, Out and In. If you don’t, I urge you to see how to correct the problem so the people can grow into the people they are called to be. Don’t let the need for being busy on a program or project kill your organization. Just a little more on the IN will produce so much more UP and OUT.

Love you all!!

Curb Appeal or Real??

While cleaning up my yard last weekend, I began thinking. I know it’s scary when I start thinking about anything but here’s what I came up with.

I noticed when we were done cleaning up the yard I was more worried about the front being cleaner than the back. I noticed that there weren’t half the amount of leaves in the front as there were in the back. I noticed that I spent more time and energy on getting the front looking better than the back. After we finished, I sat and wondered why. I thought about it long and hard and finally God gave me something.

He showed me that our lives are much like front and back yards. The front yard appears to be clean and everything’s great. We make sure the weeds are gone, the grass is cut and we have fertilized enough to make everything look good. But in the back, there are weeds, missing grass, things out of place, trash and dogs and kids running wild. I finally started wrapping my brain around this and thought WOW, our lives are like our yards. The front is open for everyone to see. The back is guarded by a fence and in order to see what’s going on back there we have to allow people in. We can’t stop anyone from seeing the front but they have to be invited in or they have to invade our privacy to see what’s going on in the back.

I think this is how our lives are. We have a great showing on the outside (front yard) but inside (back yard), things are chaotic and weeds are growing. Things get out of place here but as long as we can continue having a front that is clean we think all is well. This is not the case though. Even if we have an appearance of the front being clean and perfect, deep down if things aren’t well, we have trouble inviting people in to see who we really are.

On this Thanksgiving, I urge you all to take a look at yourself, outside and inside. It’s easy to have the appearance everything’s good in the front yard but if you never let anyone in the back yard, you may never know anything’s wrong deep down.
Our lives are much like curb appeal. Curb appeal may sell someone to come inside but they may not buy it if you are not real. Are you real or do you just have curb appeal?? Happy Thanksgiving!

Love you all!!