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!

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!

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 Career Man – Part 3

As Carrie drove off from the airport, she was crushed. She thought John would change his mind and say he would be back in a couple of weeks, but it didn’t happen. On her way back home, she thought about what the future held for her. Could she really face the future without John?

She didn’t know if she could wait six months to talk to John but knew this is what he wanted. But in six months she’d talk to him again and then maybe she could tell him them. Or, if he saw her in six months, he’d know what she needed to tell him. He’d know just how much she needed him over the past few months and just maybe, he would then stay. Many changes were coming in her life and she had nobody to help her, she thought.

The change Carrie knew was coming started about two months prior on a trip with John. They had gone on a tirp to a remote island in the Pacific and they had a weekend of what seemed to be never ending love. They had not done this to this point in their relationship but with the beach in the background, they couldn’t help it. They had finally realized their love for each other and this beautiful moment was now more than that. It was a moment of change and Carrie didn’t feel she was ready now that John had left.

That weekend Carrie had gotten pregnant and now she was all alone being the care taker for her parents and for a baby that was due in just a few months. She really wanted to tell John but didn’t want to push him into a corner and make him feel as if he had to give up his dreams to tend to a family. She knew he would stay if he knew a baby was coming but she did not want that to be the reason he stayed. He needed to go and spread his wings and in a few months, maybe things would be so they could be together again.

Carrie loved John but just didn’t know what to think. She was beginnning to see a side of John she didn’t know was there. This man who she had fallen in love with was more in love with his career than her in her mind and just didn’t understand why he felt the need to try to advance rather than find something else. Even if it were with another company and starting over. She felt they were going to have to start all over in six months but she was trying to force herself to understand his reasoning. She hurt badly but told herself she understood. She was also happy with her career but knew she would have to change companies now because it would get back to John about her being pregnant.

Carrie had never started over but now she would. A new job, a baby on the way and her parents health badly diminishing. Carrie was lost in it all but knew things would get better. Or just hoped it would get better. Time heals all pain she thought and she wondered on her way back home what John was thinking on his flight home. Was he sad? Did he cry at all? Does he have a clue about her being pregnant? Could he go six months without her? Will he be back? And finally, does he really love her?

These thoughts went through her head and she couldn’t help but think her phone might ring and it be John asking her to come back and pick him up. But it didn’t happen. John boarded his Continental flight back to New York and was ready to face the next six months.

All he knew was he had left her heart broken and he would be back and things would be alright. But John had no idea what would happen once he arrived back in New York. His life was about to take a huge change and it would impact him forever.

To be continued…

The Career Man – Part 2

As Carrie drove John to the airport, there was complete silence. No talking about their decision and a bit of nervousness in both of them. They had fallen in love with each other but for now they have decided to put things on hold until something changed.

This decision was extremely tough but it was the one John thought was best. He really wanted to move to Houston, get married and start a family but didn’t see a way to make it work with his career. He was determined to make his career his main priority until he felt it time to make a change and until he felt he could find a job he thought fit him in Houston. He knew this was risky but John had always been a risk taker. And had never thought he would ever miss on a risk, especially this one.

Carrie on the other hand was hurt. Almost to the point of destroyed. She really thought John would rather start a family than a career and she was beginning to think if she really knew him at all. She had to stay in Houston to take care of her parents and there was no way she would move to New York with them still in Houston.

This decision was made and now both of them were rethinking what they, mainly John, thought was best. But in the end, John was ready to board a flight and not see Carrie for a while. It might be hard but he thought if he worked enough, it would ease his mind.

As they pulled up to the airport, John looked at Carrie and broke the silence. “I still love you Carrie, I just think this is the best way right now.” As Carrie looked into his eyes, she began crying and couldn’t say anything. She was crushed and just wanted him to get out of the car. She couldn’t look at him any longer.

There was more she wanted to say but couldn’t at this time. She had to let John go because she felt if she asked him to stay there would always be regret and it would hinder their relationship. John opened the car door and as he began to get out, he leaned over, gave her a kiss and said “I love you Carrie.” Carrie sat in cold silence, crying and wiping her eyes. As John shut the door to her car, a crying Carrie whispered, “I love you too John but you have no idea what the future holds for us.”

To be continued….

The Career Man

As John rolled out of bed and headed to get ready for the day, he couldn’t help but wonder if  this was it. It was not a typical Saturday for John but one that he had to get ready for anyway. As he stared at himself in the mirror waiting on the shower to heat up, he just couldn’t help but think about the past and future. But today was the day most on his mind and John wondered if he had done enough.

John was your typical high school student who played sports, studied and couldn’t help but get ready for the future. He was raised by his parents to be respectful and to prepare himself to take care of his family, no matter what the cost.

John saw his dad work 2 jobs at times and saw his mom clean houses and work other jobs to help pay the bills. This is what he did not want for his family so after high school, John attended college to prepare for his future career. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life but he was very smart and knew he could do anything. His life was on track and he was on track to graduate with his M.B.A. in only 5 years.

Upon graduation, John found a job that he knew would suit him best. He took a job with a consulting firm that promised to have plenty of room for advancement. Nothing had ever gotten in John’s way to his future once he set his mind on a career. He made it through high school in the top 10% of his class and finished college with an honors degree. John was sought after by many top American companies and he soon took a job with U.S. Consulting. They were young, energetic and ready to make a top executive out of John. John loved his job and worked hard as a 23 year old up and coming junior executive. He made it to where he wanted to be and was now set on his career, no matter what the cost.

John’s career was booming and on a business trip, his life would change forever. While in Atlanta for a conference, John met a “rookie” with U.S. Consulting named Carrie. She reminded him of someone from his past and was excited to see someone as excited about their career as him.

But what John didn’t see was a fire burning inside him and Carrie. At first it seemed to just be about business but soon, their relationship would turn to much more. But a couple of problems existed. He lived in New York and she was in Houston. And according to their company, they couldn’t get married and work together.

They talked about what to do and it just didn’t seem they could get something worked out. Carrie was alright with giving up her job but couldn’t move to New York because she was the caretaker for her parents. John didn’t want to give up his career but the company didn’t have a place for him in Houston. What to do was killing both of them because so badly they wanted to start a life together. But they just didn’t see a way, unless John was to quit and find a job in Houston. But after looking around at many companies in the Houston area, John just couldn’t find a job.

As they discussed it over a long weekend together, they finally knew what they had to do. They knew at this point there was no turning back from this decision. No matter how hard or how frustrating this would be, they knew this was the best decision for both of them at this time. But was it the right decision for their future? Only time would tell and they promised to have no regrets. It was easy to say but hard to do.

To be continued…..