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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 never seem to know exactly what words will flow when I put finger to keyboard.  So, rarely do my posts begin by immediately typing the title.

Today is different.

While scrolling through my Facebook feed this afternoon, two words caught me.

Uncommon Courage.

And I realized that I think it is a myth.  I do not believe uncommon courage exists today.

Not anymore.

Because I think any courage today, is uncommon courage.

Today it is common to shout until you are heard or at least shout loud enough so no one else can hear the other guy.  Uncommon courage is to disagree with someone and allow them to speak.

It is common to disrupt and protest using violence.  It is uncommon courage to demonstrate peacefully.

It is common to become offended, declare loudly that someone is intolerant and while being just as intolerant, attempt to silence those who hold opposing views.  It is uncommon courage to be so certain of your beliefs that when someone disagrees, you are not insulted or offended.

It is uncommon courage to admit you were wrong, admit you need help, admit you are imperfect or flawed.

It is uncommon courage to admit you need a savior, that you struggle with fear or lust or worry or insecurity.  It is uncommon courage to stay faithful to your spouse, to provide for your family, to be a good parent.  It is uncommon courage to stand up for what is right simply because it is right.

Our world does not suffer from a lack of uncommon courage, it suffers from a lack of courage.quotescover-JPG-85

We traded a deep knowing of who we are for the shallow security of what other people think.  And in doing so, we gave away our courage.

We are no longer certain of our beliefs, so we defend when someone disagrees.  We are no longer certain of ourselves or that we are good, so we flee when things get difficult.  We are no longer certain we are loved, so we chose physical intimacy to numb the ache.  And we are terrified to be alone so we jump from relationship to relationship to fill the void.

We wandered away from knowing who HE is.  And we lost who we are.

The solution, as most are, is simple but not easy.

Vulnerability.  Being real with ourselves first and our friends and family second.  Being honest about our shortcomings, and our need of  a savior.  And being humble enough to allow Him to come in and change our hearts.

I am not there yet.  I am still flawed.  I still care about what others think about me, I am insecure, I struggle with fear and lust and pride and worry and… the list goes on.

No, I am not as courageous as I want to be.  But I am more courageous than I was last year, and I will be more courageous next year.

I will be a good husband.  I will love and provide for my wife.  I will follow the Heart of the One who courageously created beings with free will.  I will do the right thing just because it’s right.

And I will be courageous.

 

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.

My wife and I went through a big disappointment recently.

I don’t get disappointed.

I don’t – because I don’t allow myself to hope, at least not too much.

Sure, I hope it’ll be sunny tomorrow, and I hope that package I’m expecting comes soon.  And I hope traffic isn’t bad tomorrow and that lunch is tasty.  But I don’t hope for the big things.

I don’t hope for friends.

For more.

I don’t hope for the relationship David shared with Jonathan.

I don’t hope for things to be really, really amazing.

Do I want those things?  Yes!  But do I allow my heart to get involved?  No.

 

But this disappointment, I thought this was a sure thing.  I didn’t think there was any way it wouldn’t happen.  I hoped.  And when it failed, I was heartbroken.  I got physically sick, twice.  I hurt.

I had opened my heart.

And it broke.  Again.

So, I don’t hope.  If I don’t hope, I don’t have to worry about heartache.  Because, quite simply, my heart isn’t in it.

 

My wife says I’m a hard-sell, difficult to impress or sway.  She says I’m suspicious of things that seem to be too good to be true. Suspicious And she’s right.  I am.  Cynical.  Closed off to keep the pain of the world out.  And to protect the pieces of my heart.

It is not a sad thing, it just is what it is.  I learned when I was very young that I was responsible for my happiness, so I found joy and peace in things I could control.  And many years later I learned that relationships were just another package that disappointment came in.  So I gave up on them.

I hit pause.  Found my happiness in what I could control, and survived.

 

My wife is a queen.

Because she was there when we ran into these walls I created.  She peeked over the top, and she didn’t run screaming after.  She was patient as I began to pick them apart. She is supportive, understanding, and she has shown me the me she sees.  And because of that, I like me more.  And I love her more.

 

We all run from things.  Sometimes those things chase us.  And sometimes our running is the decision to stand still and let things pass us by.

I don’t want to run any more.  No, I’m not suddenly an extrovert just dying to spend hours and hours in a large group of people.  But, I’m also no longer alone inside my walls.  And my wife did that.

She loved me through my walls

She was Jesus when I wouldn’t let Jesus in.

I have hope.  And I will never be the same.

 

Martin Smith – Angel: 

 

It seems each year it I find it just a bit harder to slow down and really experience this thing we call “Christmas Spirit”.

Black Friday starting on Thursday, Local Saturday and Cyber Monday have overtaken giving thanks, celebrating a meal with family and friends and enjoying each others company while making memories.

Now, we’re all buried in our digital devices looking for sales, deals and the next thing to buy.

And in the midst of doing, we lose something.

I had a few moments this evening to slow down and it hit me that Christmas is only a week away.  My wife and I have talked several times this year about how fast this season is passing by and about how hard it’s been to get into the spirit.

And in the silence of the moment, something whispered to me about the first Christmas.

Maybe Christ chose a manger, shepherds and barnyard animals to tell us something.  Maybe, in the midst of a census decreed by the king that required everyone to journey to their hometown, maybe Christ was telling us that Christmas would be chaotic.

Maybe in the stress of tens of thousands of people travelling all at the same time, in the craziness of sold out hotels and no room left in the inn, we’re supposed to see something.

Maybe we’re supposed to notice the simplicity and the beautiful restraint we see when we look at the arrival of the King of Kings not heralded by men, not surrounded by the best doctors money can buy and crowds of newscasters outside, but instead encompassed by the love of a mother and father, watched over by angels and announced to simple shepherds.

Maybe we’re supposed to realize that in the chaos of the season, we need to make time for those moments of silence.  We’re supposed to actually remember the birth of the One we sing about.  And maybe we’re supposed to remember that the birth of this little baby is simple.

We needed a savior.

Our loving God sent one.

And the earth stood still.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.
Isaiah 9:6-7

future-of-forestry-christmas-ep-vol-2

Future of Forestry – The Earth Stood Still

 

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.

I’ve begun to wonder if we’re sometimes given perfect moments on earth, perfect summers, perfect days, perfect friendships to give us a glimpse of what heaven was like.  Times we wish, hope, and cling to a fierce belief that if we just held on tight enough, things wouldn’t change.

I remember a summer when I didn’t want things to change.  I had a good job, wonderful friends, someplace to go and people to be with every weekend.  I had my family, I had friends, and I was loved.  An imperfect world momentarily paused by perfect moments.  I hoped it would never end….

We lose something important, something vital when we’re so hurried.

Early this year, Texas forced me to stand still for two days because of an ice storm that gripped much of the south.  We were not able to leave our driveway for days.  Part of me began to get a little stir-crazy.  But part of me also enjoyed the forced change of pace.  It was quiet.  The loudest thing we heard in those few quiet days were the neighborhood children sliding around the ice covered ground, living their perfect moments in an winter wonderland.  A rare treat for the south.

And as I sit here now, 13ish years beyond that perfect summer, I know that I cannot remember that summer without remembering what came next.  Without remembering the heartache, the numbing loneliness, the thoughts of suicide.  The perfect summer lead into 10 years that rocked my world, reshaped my world view and altered the very fabric of who I was.

I no longer see myself as the person, the boy I was at 21.  I don’t have the childlike heart, the innocent exuberance or the trusting nature I had then.  I worry more, I fear more.  I’m scarred, stitched together scraps that don’t fit exactly the way they should.  A puzzle with pieces missing, an incomplete picture.

I feel like a three legged table.

I may never have another summer like I did when I was 21, but I’ve learned that perfection is overrated.  My friends, my family weren’t perfect, I wasn’t perfect.  My imperfect view of an imperfect world lied to me.  Things were not perfect.  And they never will be.

We cannot live our lives looking for perfection, because if we do, we will miss the opportunities to freeze our butts off while sliding around an ice covered street in Texas, we will miss the chances to dance with our spouses in the kitchen, to play in the rain or get lost in a song.  If we hurry through life searching for those perfect moments, we will miss the beauty that already exists in our imperfect lives, our imperfect relationships, and our imperfect families.

I look back on that boy of 21, of the years between, and I have to remind myself that this story isn’t finished.

Tables can be repaired, tears can be mended, puzzles can be completed, and fears can be faced.

I no longer look for perfect situations.  I’m beginning to see the beauty in the imperfect.  And I will keep dancing with my wife in the kitchen and kissing her in the moonlight. No, life may not be perfect, but getting up at 2am to watch a lunar eclipse together is something I wouldn’t trade for anything.

I don’t have perfect, I have something better. I have life. And I’ll hold onto that with all I am.

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down and talked with you like this.  Since I’ve come without a list of needs or desires, hopes or hurts.

Since I’ve come simply to say thank you.

Thank you for grace.  For your provision.  For joy.

For her.

I came home today and she and I just talked.

And then one of her favorite songs came on.

And we danced in the living room.

Our living room, in our little house.

Surrounded by our yard that our dog loves to run in.

Our lives, my life.

Thank you.

You didn’t have to send your Son.  You didn’t have to care so much.  You didn’t have to love me the way you do.

You didn’t have to give me her, but you did.

And secondly only to finding the grace that You so freely give, she is my most precious gift.

Thank you.

 

Angel – Martin Smith 

ticketsSome people collect photographs or records.  Figurines or stamps.  Coins or antiques.

Although I’m personally a fan of antiques, old postcards and good music, some of my most cherished collections are memories.

You can see them in the picture here.

Yes – I know they’re ticket stubs.

Little pieces of paper creased by time spent in my wallet, or faded by time spent in a drawer, a book or my bible.

They’re still memories.

The last time I saw Delirious live.  The birthday present concert-slash-road trip to Tyler from my sister.  The time my mom and I got to experience PBS’s Antiques Roadshow.  Taking my other sister to the movies.  Or the New Years Eve Symphony performance where I sat with my wife.  Only, I didn’t yet know she’d be my wife.

Memories.

Ticket stubs.  They’re not pretty, they’re not beautiful to look upon, or a creators greatest masterpiece.  But it’s not the paper itself that holds the value.  It’s where the paper takes me, it’s the stories the paper tells, it’s what the paper reminds me of, and its the hope these memories bring.

Memories of great experiences, of laughter and joy.  Memories of moments that moved me to tears, or brought me to my knees in worship.  Memories woven together with hope.  Hope, because I am reminded how beautiful my life is.  Hope, because I know I serve a God who loves me.

Hope.  Because He left a book of memories, of stories, of hope, for my wife and I.  For our families.  For our futures.

Hope, because we’re not alone.  And hope, because even when we face a mountain, we stand beside the mountain maker.

Jesus Culture Ft. Martin Smith – Walk With Me

God doesn’t hold your past sin over your head.

If you’re like me, you carry regret.

Regret of past sins, decisions you made and shouldn’t have or decisions you didn’t make and wish you had.  Things done, words you wish you could shove back in your mouth or left things undone and unsaid.

Regret.

For some of us, it becomes a part of who we are.

And even though we hate the way it feels, even though we hate the loneliness it brings as it wedges itself between us and our dreams and loved ones, we begin to identify with it.  It becomes part of how we see ourselves, and we never learn to walk free of it.

We never truly learn the meaning of the word grace.

At church this weekend, the worship leader took a moment and shared what he felt the Lord put on his heart.  That being, that God doesn’t hold our sins against us.  And that our lives don’t have to be governed by mistakes made years or even decades ago.

It spoke to me, deeply.

I realized that I’m still carrying regrets from decisions I more than 20 years ago.

I cannot change them.  I cannot undo and unsay.

But I’ve realized that they are no longer a part of who I am.

They are a part of who I was.  My history.

Covered by grace.

It’s time I forgave myself, encouraged my heart and told regret to leave and never come back.

I am not what I’ve done.  I am not who I was.

I am not perfect, but I am loved.  I am my Heavenly Father’s beloved son.

And because I am loved, I have everything I need.

Bethel Music – You Know Me

history

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