You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Romance’ category.

I try to keep a level head and not to get so caught up in something that I no longer seem grounded. But this is Christmas, this is different. And all those Hallmark movies and Christmas specials aren’t just trying to sell us something. They are echoes of a deeper truth.

There is magic in Christmas. There is excitement, joy, hope. There is a deeper sense of worth, a call to slow down and see the value in each other, and to share what we see in them with them.

My family isn’t perfect. We have no white picket fence. We have our issues and challenges. We have our scars and stories. But they’re my family. And as my wife reminded me tonight, we are not broken. We are not perfect, but we are not broken.

Why? Why do I hold to such hope when circumstances have been so hard? Because there is joy. Joy because we are not where we were. Hope in where we will be and excitement in what lies ahead.

There is value in each of us.

Christmas was just the beginning. The beginning of the story of all stories. Yes, it’s a hard story with moments of pain and loss. But in the midst of this story, and in the midst of our stories, joy, hope, redemption, value, healing, adoption, peace.

Life. Abundant, everlasting life.

So I have hope. I have Christmas. And I am blessed.

All too often we look at the story our lives have told thus far and we believe it to be mediocre, colorless and ordinary. We believe the lie that because we don’t have our happily ever after or our white picket fence that our story is somehow less important.

We believe that just because our stories are incomplete, unfinished and imperfect that they are unimportant, unattractive or unworthy of being shared.

We forget the central truth in the story Christ told with His life on this earth. We forget the simple beauty, the ordinary elegance found in the way he lived his life. He was free to see the worth in the stories of those whose paths He crossed because He knew their stories were unfinished.

He understood the value of the unwritten chapters and he saw value, preciousness and rarity where we would see stained pages, torn covers and empty chapters. He understood the power of hope in a page not yet turned. And the strength of dreams existing only in unspoken whispers of the heart.

He lived His life on this earth telling and showing us that the most important gift we could ever give another person was their freedom.

Freedom to be themselves, to fail and succeed, to try and try again. To jump headlong into the blank chapters, to impress ink to paper and bring life where there was once only emptiness.

He saw us not as we were, but as we could be, as our best. And He loved us in light of that perspective, that truth.

He loved, loves us not because we are perfect and have everything all together, not because our 5 year plan is right on track or we’re painting our picket fence next weekend. No, He loves us simply because He chose to, because it’s who He is.

And it’s because of that love that we get second chances, that blank pages become invitations to live incredible stories, that we never face the end, but that at the closing of each chapter, and at the closing of each book, we see to be continued.

And it’s in that love, because of that love, I found my to be continued.

And she is beautiful.

There are pages unwritten, stories to live, and love to grow. My point? It’s out there, for you. Find your to be continued. It is beautiful.

Trust me, I know.

You are at war.

How we got here, why it happened, none of it matters. And trying to understand each circumstance, trying to make sense of the insanity that at times swirls at our feet will only frustrate and disappoint.

You may never know the answers to why or how.

I know, I’ve tried. And the only truth I have found is that we are at war.

And to live this life, to truly live this life like it is meant to be lived, like you were created to live it, you must fight.

Lives of passivity are colorless, bland, full of grays. Never seeing black and white much less the rainbow of life lying just outside of our picket fences.

You are a promise. You are a song. You have something in you that only you can bring to the world. You have a shade of blue, a note of music, a particular stroke of the painters brush that no one else has.

You bring life to others, if you fight to bring that life first to your heart.

Above all, guard your heart, for from it, life springs forth.
(Prov. 4:23)

You will never understand what love does, you will never see the depth of color in a rainbow or the rays of golden honey pouring from a sunset in their purest forms until the life of the One who paints the heavens is alight in your heart.

Protect your heart, love passionately.Chase hard after your dreams because the world needs you.

This past weekend ended with my wife and I attending the wedding of a friend.  It was a beautiful wedding, simple, elegant, pure.  There were tears of joy, of laughter, and the very beginning of a brand new story.  The wedding was what all weddings should be, wonderful.

During the reception we were blessed to sit with a husband and wife in their 50’s.  A couple, old enough to be our parents.  And they have an absolute lifetime full of stories to tell.  The evening was quickly filled with stories of redemption, of second marriages and second chances for them both, and freedom from more than a decade of drug use.

But what stood out the most was that they were still in love.  Madly in love.  Sharing whispers and quiet looks, holding hands and laughing.  You could just tell.  They were just as in love now, as they were when they tied the not.  And as they approach their retirement years, it was very obvious that there is more life and energy in them now than at any other time they’ve been alive.

The love they have for each other was beautiful.

I was humbled, and almost brought to tears.

Because I want that.  For me, for my beautiful bride.  For us.

I want to be the type of man who will be more in love with his bride in 20 years than he is now.  I want to be the type of man who steals a glance and looks longingly at her from across the room when I’m 52.  I want to be the type of man whose wife never doubts his love for her.

And part of me is afraid that I cannot be that type of man.  Afraid because I never had that man as a father.

But I cannot hide there, in my circumstances.  Yes, the fact is, my father was never the man he should have been. But I will not be defined by the path my father forged.  I am fully capable of forging my own.

Beyond the fact that my earthly father may not have been there for me lies a truth I cannot ignore, my Heavenly Father was.

I know, it sounds like some pat answer, like I’m hiding behind my religion.  I’m not.  Because when I say those words, I don’t say them lightly.  Those words carry weight because I can testify to the love I’ve seen from my Heavenly Father.

And it is that love, it is because of that love that I will forge my own path.

And I will be the man I want to be, the man my wife deserves.

Tonight was an amazing night of friends and laughter.  But tonight was more than that, it was more than just veggie trays, games and the sounds of fun.  Yes, tonight reminded me of how rich life is, but it also reminded me of how much I chose to miss out on.

I sat surrounded by people whom I love, but I realized, these are also people whom I do not know well enough.

We weren’t just called to be friends, we were called, created for fellowship.  We were called for something more than laughter, we were called to be there through the tears as well.

I realized this evening that although I sat surrounded by friends, I couldn’t tell you what each one dreamed about.  I couldn’t tell you there stories, not the stories that made them who they are.

I realized tonight that as rich as this life is, we shortchange ourselves when we are not who we were created to be.  When we put on a false front, pretend all is well, and are not true to ourselves and our dreams, we are forced to settle for a life of muted color, stripped of its power and devoid of depth.

I realized tonight, again, that it’s in the lifelong relationships forged from the sharing of ones heart that we find true beauty.  It’s in those relationship that life is found in its richest of color, in its most brilliant of light and in its deepest depths.

I want that.  I want to see those I love in the brilliance of who they are, painted in their true colors.

I will start with the friend, companion, person closest to me, my wife.  I want to know everything there is to know about her.  Her dreams, passions, desires, her hurts, fears and longings.  I want her heart to know it is safe with me.  Safe to paint, to dream, to create.  For she is amazing, beautiful and mysterious.

Tonight reminded me of the things in this life that matter the most.  As I sat, surrounded by friends and family, and as we gathered to celebrate a brief homecoming of a solider and friend, it clicked. I realized that I have an amazing life. And that the people in that room, eating from veggie trays and laughing at inside jokes, these are the people that make life beautiful. My wife and our friends are the richest of gifts I’ve ever been given. Tonight, I am humbled and thankful because tonight, I know I am wealthy in ways money will never buy.

I may not change overnight, but I will start now.

I don’t own a wallet. Long ago I traded it in for the smaller size of a money clip. But there are certain things about a wallet that I miss. It’s hard to carry receipts, or much of anything really, in a money clip.  You cannot fit that picture of the old gang at the county fair, the stub from the big game, or the fortune from that Chinese food restaurant with the hilarious waiter.

Why do we carry such items? Do I really need to know when I saw Castaway? Or when I had second row seats to Future of Forestry? Do those little pieces of paper, stubs, receipts, pictures, mean anything?

In and of themselves, no, they do not. But they represent memories. And memories, more than anything, are what make up life.

Memories are stories to tell.

Stories of the time you stayed up until 4am at Waffle House, simply because the person you were with made it hard to say goodnight. Or that time you and your family laughed so hysterically at absolutely nothing while driving through Chicken Express that the wait staff seemed almost certain you were on illegal substances.

Our wallets, our pursues hold not only paper and plastic, but stories to tell, stories that bring depth to life and color to our worlds.

I don’t carry a wallet, but if I did, there are certain stories it would tell you about the last 6 months. Stories of love, of hard work, of doubt and uncertainty.  And stories of doubt and uncertainty swallowed up in love and grace. Stories with impossible odds and stories of the God of the impossible coming through when we saw no way.

My wallet would have pictures of 4am at waffle house, of beautiful thunderstorms and views of the city from high atop its quiet parking garages. And it would have pictures of this amazing woman who has chosen to love me, and whom I love.

I may not carry a wallet, but in its place, my heart carries memories. Memories and reminders of a God who is faithful, even when I am not. Of the love of a woman I do not deserve, but am so thankful for and memories of a life I am only beginning to live.

The thing I love the most, isn’t just the memory, but what that memory ultimately stands for.

Hope.

I have hope, faith, in a God who has come through when we needed Him. I have hope, knowing He loves us. I have hope knowing that He wants the best for us and that He is good. I have hope knowing that His heart for us is good.

I have hope, a knowing, that the God I serve is good beyond all other good. I have this hope, because He has shown it to me.

The God I serve loves me unconditionally, beyond all I could imagine.

I have hope, because He has given me hope.

Matt Redman – Holy

If, at the beginning of this year, you would have told me all that would happen before it would draw to a close I would have thought you were crazy. There is no way I would have believed you.

Had you told me that on December 24, I’d be vanquished to the guest bedroom of my future in-laws house as my fiancé tried on her wedding dress just on the other side of the door, I would have questioned our friendship. And I probably would have quietly wondered if you should be committed.

The moral of this story, of this year? To be honest, I’m not sure. But I think the lesson I am supposed to learn is that we never know. We never know what our stories will bring. We never know what lies over the next hill, or around that next corner.

I sat in church this evening, and something finally clicked. I think I finally began to understand why. Why we define our very timeline, our history, our years by the birth of One. Why it had to happen.

You see, over the past few months, my life, my heart, my soul have all changed. I’ve discovered a love I didn’t know existed. And it’s because of this love, this amazing gift I’ve been given, that I believe I’m finally beginning to get Christmas.

I am only tasting the type of love that God has for us. But through this gift, through the love that has planted itself in my heart for my fiancé, I’m beginning to taste it. And I’m beginning to understand why a perfect God would love an imperfect people as much as He does.

Why Christmas? What was it all about?

You.

You are the reason for Christmas. You are the reason that a perfect God sent His only Son to live a perfect life. You are the reason that His son died a gruesome death. You are the reason He came.

He loves you. More that you could possibly understand. And this season, more than anything, He wants you to know that you are worth it. You are worth what His son went through. His love for you was so strong that He sent His Son 2000 years ago to die in your place. This Son paid the price for your imperfect life, so you could spend eternity with a perfect Father.

You. You are worth it. And He? He can be trusted.

Whatever happened this year, I urge you to let it go. Because you do not know, and I do not know what lies beyond that next hill, or around that next corner. I do not know what 2012 will write onto our hearts. All I know is that this year, my heart grew to include an amazing woman. A woman I want to spend the rest of my life with. And all I know is that He brought us through this year. And He can be trusted.

I do not know what 2012 will bring.

But I know the Author. I know He loves us. And that, is Christmas. And that is everything

A few weeks ago while on my way home in the car with my girlfriend, I confessed something that I do my best to hide.

I confessed one of my greatest fears.

Ten years ago this past week, my life changed. While September 11 had the nation in shock and riveted to their TV sets, our family was disintegrating.  And less than three days after our nation was attacked, my family began a journey that would come to define the next decade.

I don’t think we completely understood then what the next ten years would bring.  But down deep, I think we knew things would never be the same.  I can still remember the day they left.  I remember saying goodbye in the parking lot near my job.  I remember the tears, the uncertainty, and the determination to make light of a situation that was anything but.

I remember the pain and loneliness that followed.  I remember the fear.  I remember feeling more alone and abandoned than I knew was possible.  And I remember finding places inside I didn’t know could hurt.

I remember waking up knowing I was still alive because the ache was so strong.

The Decade

It’s been a long ten years. I’m not the same person I was then.

None of us are.

And although this past week is a hard reminder of pages written, although this week brings memories of moments that changed our lives forever, there is something new.

There is hope.

There is a grace I now sense, guiding me through the coming days.

On that short car ride, I opened up and shared just a shadow of the pain that began 10 years ago.  And I told of my greatest fear, of being left behind again.

I wasn’t laughed at.  I wasn’t scolded or corrected.  I was accepted.  I was prayed for.  I was offered something I’ve been praying for, for a long time.

I was offered love.

Promises

Later that evening, I was thinking about this week, and what it would mean.

I don’t profess to hear God audibly, but as I stood in the shower, I broke down.  Because I heard Him, clearly, in my heart.

This time will not be like the last.

I was His son.  And this was His promise.  This was my rainbow.

This was my promise that my family would never have to go through this again.  There wouldn’t be any more Thanksgivings at Denny’s, or days spent volunteering at a food pantry just so there would be something on the table that night.

I am His son.  And this is His promise.

This time, this decade will not be like the last.

Passion – Healing is in Your Hands

I’m learning that there is little on this earth more rare or precious than the offering of a glimpse of ones heart to another.  In that moment of surrendering a portion of who you are to the care of someone else, there is magnificent beauty, there is tremendous purity, there is trust.

Honesty

Part of this surrender means honesty even when it hurts.  It means facing my fears.  It means having to admit that I’m terrified of becoming my father, that I have self esteem issues, that I am broken and imperfect, blemished and scarred.

It’s exhausting.

But nothing worthwhile comes without cost.  And if it’s pain I must face to find the freedom my heart yearns for, then so be it.

In these moments

Moments like this, moments of trust, filled with dreams, moments written with the pen of expectancy on the stationery of hope are the moments that make ordinary lives extraordinary.  They’re the moments when unspoken hopes find breath, whispered prayers find their voice and broken dreams find their wings.

These are the moments that make life beautiful, that rewrite our stories and bring clarity to what has already been written.

In these moments when eternity pierces our reality, there is life, hope is birthed, and if we let it, a beauty we’ve never known plants a seed inside of our hearts.  And that seed, if nurtured will grow into new stories, stories of lives intertwining together.  Stories of new hope, new life, new chapters.

If we let it, that seed writes the story we always wanted but hardly dared to dream about.

Wither/Ascend – Stavesacre:  

Watch me fly
Freedom like wings and I will use them
Freedom like wings and I will spread them wide

Watch me fly
Freedom my wings and I will use them
Freedom my wings and I will spread them wide
And rise up

One day my ashes will return to earthly slumber
Spread far and wide across the desert and the sea
Until then I will leave each day in awe and wonder
And look forward to each sunrise


Through the ache this week has brought, in the swirling eddies of pain at the loss my family is feeling, there is a current flowing.  Ripples of something much deeper, a truth that I believe my uncle knew or sensed even if he couldn’t put words to it.

He knew how to love.  You never questioned your worth in his eyes.  Yes, if you were one of his kids or a friend of his kids or anyone under 25 and you did something dangerous or stupid, you would know.  But you wouldn’t doubt the heart behind his words or actions. 

Yes, he could be impulsive at times.  He was a tattooed, beer drinking, Harley riding mans man.  And yes he liked pretty waitresses and working on old cars.  But you knew where his heart lay.  He absolutely loved his kids and his girlfriend.

My uncle may not have been a wordsmith, you wouldn’t catch him throwing clay or putting brush to canvas.  But in his own way you never doubted that he loved you, was for you and wanted you to know you mattered.

Lessons Learned

The world needs people whose hearts are fully alive, who chase after their passions and dreams.  The world needs people who love what they do and do what they love.  And the world needs those who are unashamed and unafraid to tell those they love how much they mean to them.

If there is one lesson I’ve learned this week its this: don’t wait.  If you love someone, if they mean something to you, tell them.  

Tomorrow, we will remember, we will tell stories.  Tomorrow my family gives a final send off to a man who lived life like it was meant to be lived.  Tomorrow, in a storm of fireworks and sparklers, surrounded by friends and loved ones we say goodbye.

Thank You

Thank you, Uncle Chuck for modeling who a man was supposed to be.  For being a father to your three great kids and the others who considered you a dad.  

Thank you for the fireworks, the reminders of how important family is, and for living life fully.

I, we all will miss you.  But we are better for knowing you.

Tomorrow

Tomorrow, I will not just say goodbye to a man who meant the world to many.  I will also say hello to many who mean the world to me.

And tomorrow, I will make sure they know.

history

Follow Me on Twitter

Subscribe and be alerted to new posts by clicking the button below!

Join 286 other followers

Visitors from…