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My wife and enjoy different types of TV shows.

She loves good mysteries and the Hallmark channel. Stories with mostly happy endings. Murder, She Wrote and Magnum, PI reruns are regulars in our living room.

I love true-crime, the unexplained and the unknown. Unsolved Mysteries, X Files reruns and Stranger Things stream on my PC regularly

But — there are shows we both really enjoy. The Amazing Race being one of them.

Earlier this evening I was reminded of one of our favorite teams.

If you watched the show, you may remember father and son team, Mel and Mike. They were on for two different seasons. I remember watching both seasons and seeing this incredible love that Mel (dad) had for Mike (son). He was proud, but he wasn’t just proud. He rejoiced in his son and celebrated with him. It was one of the most pure father/son relationships I’d ever seen on TV.

It’s been a number of years since we watched those two seasons. I hadn’t thought about either of them until I happened to see an article online and it lead me down a small internet rabbit-hole. A rabbit-hole that lead me to a deeper understanding of the love Mel has for his son.

Mel (Dad) had been a Reverend. Back in the 80s he was a well respected ghostwriter and speech writer for nationally known televangelists.

And he was gay.

In the closet. Married.

He tried for years to ‘fix’ himself.

Can you imagine the shame he felt?

To be gay in the 80s was hard enough but to be an evangelical Christian as well? I cannot imagine anyone feeling more alone. Knowing that if the truth was exposed, he would most likely have been ostracized, abandoned by every friend. He would have been shunned. An outcast. Immediately unwelcome and unloved.

Fast forward a few decades. He’s on the Amazing Race with his son.

His gay son.

And I got it. It all of a sudden made sense.

Mel, first and foremost a father, wanted what every father wants for his son. He wanted to ensure his son never experienced the hurt and shame I can only imagine he experienced in the 80s and 90s.

So he chose to love his son fiercely. He chose to celebrate his son. And he chose to be proud of his son.

We could learn so much from that simple example.

May we love that fiercely. And we may know we are already loved that fiercely.

Our life has really never been what my wife and I would consider normal.

The majority of our friends married much younger than we were (we were 32).

The majority of our friends live near family.

The majority of our friends have children.

And infertility isn’t a word most people use in their daily language.

But if you do, you know it’s a shadow, ever there. It’s the blank spot in pictures. It’s the awkwardness in conversation when you meet someone and they ask how many kids you have.

It’s the question, why?

And it’s the reason Mothers Day looks differently, too.

Being honest, we don’t use that word often. We don’t talk about it.

Not so much because it isn’t all of the things I just mentioned, but because in some ways, we’ve come to accept it. We’ve been married 9 years. We’ve had zero success. We’ve gone as far as we can medically.

At this point, we’re just used to it.

We’re not normal.

But, I’m learning normal is overrated.

My wife and I are best friends. We love spending time with each other. We have an amazing marriage that we’ve fought tooth and nail to grow. We have a beautiful family. So what if our kids have four legs. They’re our family.

And despite the challenges we face, and maybe even because of them, our life is beautiful. We have much to be grateful for.

Happy Mothers Day, Erin.

We aren’t ordinary. And I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

I love you.

To the women in the Facebook “Moms Alumni” group of a now-defunct ministry focused on teens, thank you.

Thank you for not understanding.

Thank you for the tears my wife cried today because she no longer fit into your group.  Thank you for so kindly telling her that because she’s never been pregnant or even had a miscarriage, that she’s not a mom.  That she doesn’t belong in your Facebook group.

Thank you for clarifying exactly what infertility does to someone…. makes them feel alone.

And thank you for doing it just ONE DAY AFTER Mothers day.

 

To my wife, who called me today in tears, who skipped church yesterday because Mothers Day for a woman dealing with infertility is hard enough without seeing baby dedications and a celebration of something she longs for; to my wife I say

Thank you.

Thank you for responding with so much love to the words you received today.  Thank you for the grace you showed.  Thank you for calming me down and for helping me see things from their perspective and for gently reminding me

“Honey, it’s a group for Mom’s.  And I’m not a mom.”

Thank you for your strength through all of this.

Because I know this is not easy.

and finally

 

To our future little person, regardless of how long it takes for you to get here, you’re going to have a great life because you’ve got a hell of a mom.  She’s strong, passionate, Christ like, stubborn, beautiful, tall and iron-willed.  You’re will be fought for, protected, love and raised by the most amazing woman I’ve ever known.

And when you’re older, we’ll tell you the story of how long your mother and I waited for you.  How you’re a gift to us.  And how awesome you are.

 

I believe a lie.

Unintentionally.

Or, maybe even intentionally.

I believe a lie.

Some part of me has accepted as eternal what I know is only temporary.  Some part of me has assumed that life would always be the way it is right now.  Or the way it was a little more than 4 weeks ago.

I know, a lot of folks would look at the death of a pet as just that, the death of a pet.  Rarely however, do we know the whole story of another’s life.

When you’ve been trying to get pregnant for the better part of 2.5 years and have had no success, when you see your wife go through month after month perfectly healthy cycles, when the doctors prognosis is “unexplained infertility”, a pet may take on a little more meaning.

4 weeks ago our world was turned inside out.img_2810

What was the two of us and our beautiful Bailey working through this thing called infertility became just the two of us navigating unexpected and uncharted waters.

It’s not been easy.

And it’s been harder on my wife.

She’s fought so hard to keep a positive attitude even when it seemed like every couple we knew were cranking out kids like I sneeze around cats, that losing our “little girl” hit her hard.

There have been lots of tears.  Lots of “why?”.  Lots of trying to understand how my wife, who wants to love a child with all her being would have the closest thing we have to a child taken so suddenly.

It doesn’t make sense.

But it does make me love her more.

5 years ago this month I asked her to marry me, and I can say without any doubt that I wouldn’t want to walk this road with anyone but her.

She is strong.  She is brave.  She is passionate.  She is powerful and beautiful and caring.  She is an amazing woman and an amazing mom to our four-legged daughter.  And it angers me to know I cannot fix what is now wrong.

Time doesn’t heal wounds.

Yes, it takes time for us to understand what broke, to deal with the emotions, to talk through and work through the mess, but time is nothing more than the road traveled on the path to healing.

I don’t know what lies next on the road ahead of us.  But I do know my wife will never walk it alone.

5 years ago I said “I Do”.  And I mean those words now more than I ever have.

I do love you with all my heart.  I do promise to be there through thick and thin.  I do think you’re cute even when you’re angry at me about something.  I do believe that God is still good and good will come of this.  I do know you’re so much stronger than you think.  I do know you’ve got a bright future.  I do want to wake up next to you for the rest of my life because

I do know we’re inseparable.

And with all the unknowns in life, I’m going to cling to what I do know.

I know I love you.  I know you love me.  And I know God loves us.

So wherever, whenever, anytime, anyplace

I do.

I don’t think we were meant to strive for perfection.

Maybe what we’re supposed to learn from a perfect God becoming human and living a perfect life, is that He knew we could not.

He wanted us to know that grace is good.

And that because of grace, mistakes are allowed.

And maybe that means we shouldn’t strive for an instagram-worthy life.

Maybe it means that the mom at the grocery store with drool stains and Cheerios stuck to her coat is beautiful and is closer to what God really wants to see than the businessman in his perfectly pressed suit.

He knew real life was never going to be perfect.  He knew once we tasted shame we’d spend lifetimes trying to hide it.recite-12r9et4

And in His perfection, He befriended the imperfect.

He never once called out their failures, He never once judged those who came to Him in need.  He knew real life doesn’t have auto-correct, undo, or backspace.

He knew we’d say things we wish we could swallow, do things we would give anything to forget, and hurt those around us in ways we were never meant to break.

He knew we would always be imperfect failures.  And yet He came anyway.  He took our place.  He lived a perfect life and died the death we earned so that we could live His resurrection.

So that we could become new.

I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.”

The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new.
(revelation 21)

 

Everything.

New.

You, me, your history, your future, new.

All you have to do is ask.

Just ask.

 

Matt Redman – Never Once

There are moments in life where it seems all my efforts and hard work can be boiled down to balancing spinning plates or juggling for pocket-change from passerby’s.

I should be saving more.spinning plates

I should have read all the fine print.

I should be working out.

I’m not working hard enough.

Balls.  Plates.  Me.

Juggling, dancing, balancing, trying desperately to not let another plate drop.

Why am I so afraid of failing?  Of the sound of a plate crashing to the floor?  Am I still clinging to the foolish notion that somehow my efforts are what make me valuable?

Is that what life was meant to be like?  Is that what God envisioned when He painted the first sunrise?  7 billion people running around trying to balance plates?  Was that the dream in His heart?

Is it the dream in ours?

No one is born dreaming of TPS reports, P&L statements or business plans.  We dreamed of being the hero, or being rescued by one.  We dreamed of finding love and of changing the world.  We dreamed of being someone.  Of having stories to tell.

We dreamed of fulfilling our purpose on purpose.

But at some point, we stopped dreaming those dreams.   We didn’t necessarily give up , we just allowed these dreams to be replaced.  Now we wonder if we were we really designed to order our lives around being productive.

Do we really think He looks down from above and hopes we do not drop the ball?  That His biggest dream for all humanity is that we get satisfactory marks on our yearly performance reviews?

Was that really what God thought when He carved the Grand Canyon?

Or when He created you?

Or is it possible that He dreams bigger dreams?

Is it possible that this God of love, who created us in love, created us to love?

Is it possible that the artist who paints the sky each morning an evening only to throw away the canvas and start afresh the next day is somehow challenging us to let a few plates drop?  To not be so focused on performing and give ourselves permission to actually experience the life He wants for us?  Is it possible that this eternally creative being challenges us to be creative?

Is it possible that the passion in your heart, the artistry, creativity, and the wonder that is you was placed there on purpose?

“Remember these things, O Jacob.
Take it seriously, Israel, that you’re my servant.
I made you, shaped you: You’re my servant.
O Israel, I’ll never forget you.
I’ve wiped the slate of all your wrongdoings.
There’s nothing left of your sins.
Come back to me, come back.
I’ve redeemed you.”
(Isaiah 44)

I made you, shaped you.

You are His creation, created to create.  You are loved, loved to love.  You are unforgettable.

So yes, it is possible.

Let a few plates drop.  Make room in your life to pursue your dreams, create, love and live.

It’s why you’re here.

Who am I?  What am I made of?  Am I better than how I was treated?

Do I have what it takes?

These questions haunt us.

Part of me expected that at 36 and married, I would have answered those questions many years ago.  I thought I would be talking about lawn care and painting my white picket fence.

But the questions still whisper.

And if I listen closely, they mock.  They do not just question who I am, but they challenge, they berate.  It is no longer, do I have what it takes?.  It becomes you do not have what it takes.

And ill equipped as we are, when those questions become statements we have no idea how to fend them off.  Maybe because we were not given the tools to do so by those who should have passed them on, maybe because the loudest voices we heard growing up agreed with the statements in our head.  Maybe because the road we are travelling is a road our fathers should have walked with us.

And now here we stand, asking ourselves that question.

Do I have what it takes?

I can only imagine the first disciples were haunted by the same questions.

They were not highly educated men, they were not wealthy or from important families.  They were laborers.  Fishermen.  They worked each day in the most deadly profession of all time.  And the livelihood of their family, the next meal they ate depended on these men and their ability to catch fish.

Maybe they weren’t given the tools as children to deal with those voices.  Maybe their fathers were absent.  And maybe Christ knew all of this when in Matthew 16, he asked them

Who do you say I am?

It’s funny, to think that in the midst of such a huge need Christ would chose not to ask about who they thought they were but instead asked who they thought HE was.

When Jesus arrived in the villages of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “What are people saying about who the Son of Man is?”

They replied, “Some think he is John the Baptizer, some say Elijah, some Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”

But that was not enough.  They didn’t answer the question.

He pressed them, “And how about you? Who do you say I am?”

Simon got it right.  He listened to that still, small voice when it whispered that the man standing before them was not just wise, but was the Christ.

Simon Peter said, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

And in that instant, when he answered honestly and declared that Jesus was the Christ, Christ answered the most important question Simon would never ask out loud.

Who am I?  What am I made of?  Do I have what it takes?

 Jesus came back, “God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock.

 

You are Peter.  A Rock.50338-Everything-Changed

The answer to the question everyone asks in the silence of their own thoughts, Christ proclaimed in the presence of Simon’s friends.  From that day forward, everything changed for Simon, including his name.

Simon Peter realized who Jesus was, and in declaring that truth, Jesus revealed to Peter who he really was.

You are mine.  You belong to me and have always belonged to me.  There is nothing you can do to change that because I have chosen and created you.  

You are not alone.  You are now a part of me.  

You have what it takes.  

Future of Forestry – Slow Your Breath Down 

I hadn’t been awake for 2 hours a few days ago and the to-do list in my head just kept growing.

No – the list of items on it was not getting larger, the size of the font just kept increasing.  Suddenly instead of less than a half-doGodzillazen easy to carry out items I was staring at a 480 pt., Comic Sans list of gargantuan proportions.  A film crew from Japan showed up halfway through its rampage across my mind and began shooting for a new “Godzilla vs. GigantorList”.

I struggle to find rest when there is stuff to do.  And when I feel stressed about the future, travel, work deadlines, finances or any number of things I may or may not be able to influence, I tend to take out my frustrations on my to-do list.

I jump in headlong and I. Do. Not. Stop.  Not until it’s done.

I’m learning that in a marriage relationship, how I handle stress has a direct impact on the well-being and peace of my wife.

When I turn to anything other than Christ and His finished work as a release for the pressures I feel, I make something beautiful into a back-alley transaction.  I get my fix; I bring order to my little world and push the stress, at least for a small time, out of my mind.  I feel in control and in doing so I tell the One who is ultimately in control that I don’t trust him.

And when I refuse His call, when I turn to anything other than His perfect presence and love, I turn the sounds of a symphony into the ringing of a dinner bell.  I find something that staves off the hunger for a short time instead of finding healing for my soul and rest for my body.

This season, I want to slow down, to enjoy the little things and the big things, to care about the big things and let the little things be little.  I want to be thankful.  I want to hug the ones I love and make sure they know I love them.  This season, I want to be thankful and in my thankfulness, realize again that He cares more than I know, more than I realize or understand, that He is in control and that I can trust Him.

Future of Forestry – Homeward:

Child I won’t let you go
We are homeward bound
Child I’ll sing till it’s clear
We are homeward
In my voice you will know
The sound of hope

 

Before the great journey began, before the stories that would be regaled around campfires and dinners and celebrations could be told, before the younger generations would listen in awe; one humble, unassuming home is invaded by unwelcome guests.  One life is turned upside down.  And one invitation is offered.

Uninvited, unexpected and unquestionably dangerous, an invitation is made.  And in that moment, the seed is planted.  A calling is given.  A destiny once veiled, slowly comes into focus.

And inside the heart of the called, something reverberates.  Something deeper than he’s known before and more real than his fear awakens inside him.

As they sang, the hobbit felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and cunning and by magic moving through him, a fierce and jealous love, the desire of the hearts of dwarves.  Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick.map_of_bilbos_journey_1

And the journey begins.  Our fearful little hero obeys the calling, leaves the paths of safety he’s always trod and steps quietly into the unknown.  Trusting his future to his fellowship, and to the one who called him.

On this journey he would face the unimaginable, be captured, lost in endless, dark tunnels and face death on more occasions that he would have ever wanted to.

On this journey he would also find his calling affirmed and himself equipped to be just what he was called to be.

“That’s right,” said Gandalf.  “Let’s have no more argument.  I have chosen Mr. Baggins and that ought to be enough for all of you.  If I say he is a Burglar, a Burglar he is, or will be when the time comes.  There is a lot more in him than you guess, and a deal more than he has any idea of himself.”

So Bilbo leaves all he’s ever known and begins an adventure that changes his life and the world, forever.

Maybe I don’t want to carry a sword (although that would be cool) and maybe my calling isn’t to be a burglar.  Maybe I won’t be accused of being a thief and find that accusation oddly fulfilling.  But there are things I haven’t done yet, places I’ve not seen, mountaintops not yet scaled, and waterfalls not yet swam in.  And there are things I want to be called.  Other words that don’t yet describe who I am.

Words like Daddy, Father, or Pappa.

Words that will undoubtedly force me into the unknown.

Yes, I may face the unimaginable.  And I know I’ll need to trust the future to my fellowship and the One who has called me.  But I step out knowing this;  I’m not alone, my calling will be affirmed, and I will be equipped to be just what I am called to be.

And even if this means leaving my quiet little life behind, I will see mountaintops.

Here’s my Heart – David Crowder 

Many years ago I began a journey that, at the time, I thought would have ended in days and weeks. Not decades.

I’ve been in Texas for more than a decade, married for more than two years and only recently have my wife and I found a church that may just become home.

10 years of searching. Why? Because I wasn’t looking for just a church, or just good worship, or just just a good message. I, we were looking for honesty, vulnerability and community.

And although she and I have both found good friends in Texas, we’ve not found that place that feels like home. Yes, our times of fellowship are wonderful and much needed. But I cannot escape the feeling that we’re sitting in front of a giant tub of ice cream choosing to scrape just the top few layers off.

We don’t go deep. We don’t get honest. We don’t talk about our struggles, our fears, our heartaches and our dreams. We don’t trust others with the valuable parts, the real parts of who we are. And because of that, we don’t have community. We don’t have family. We have friends, acquaintances, vanilla when we could have rocky road, pistachio or superman blue. We settle for a single scoop, when a banana split is there for the taking.

That’s not the fault of our friends, that’s my fault. I’m the one who doesn’t push the envelope, who doesn’t share, who doesn’t pour his heart into something and expose his vulnerable side.

It’s funny that my humanity, the very reasons I need Christ in my life, are the very things I’m afraid would insult my friends.

I’m not perfect. I’ve struggled, struggle, daily. I fight. Against lust, pride, greed, selfishness and the desire to just have a cold heart.

I dream. Of producing music, writing books, speaking to thousands of people and offering my life, my stories as encouragement.

And I fear, that by sharing any of this, I may be wounded, mocked, insulted, and thought less of.

And now I realize it is foolish to fear. For in doing so, I’ve not protected myself. No, I’ve been a thief. I’ve stolen the chance to chase my dreams, to plan for a family, to be a father, to fall, laugh, accept grace, and keep going. I’ve stolen the man my wife deserves because I’ve not lived fearless. And I am sorry.

I am a misfit. I always will be.

But I know I am not alone.

The Life-Light was the real thing: Every person entering Life he brings into Light. He was in the world, the world was there through him, and yet the world didn’t even notice. He came to his own people, but they didn’t want him. But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves.

John 19 (the message)

Christ was a misfit. He didn’t fit into his own people yet the three years of his life changed the course of history and set in motion the very grace by which I stand.

Join me. Be honest about who you are, your struggles and pain, your dreams and passions. Your hopes and fears.

Believe who He is, and find your true self.

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