Tag Archives: kids

Love after September 11, 2001


There was no one I knew personally who lost his or her life today in those tragic and horrific events.  In my life, I have seen tragic events.  The attempted assassination of President Regan when I was in the 3rd grade, the Space shuttle Challenger exploding as a freshman in high school.  However, nothing has quite shaken me to my core like the events of September 11, 2001.  I attribute this event to what it was for your grandparents when John Kennedy was assassinated and it devastated the world.

That year I woke up just like any other day and went off to work.  Mom was home with Ashleigh, Reece, and Sophie.  I had picked up folks and was headed out to the farm to start the day.  I was out by the Wood Village exit when I turned the station and heard the news.  They did not have enough information so we were just getting breaking news.  I called your mom and woke her up, none of you were awake yet, and I told her to go and turn on the TV and find out what was going on.  I made it to work, turned on the radio, and listened off and on throughout the day to hear more, but because of our jobs, we had to focus on the clients.  The events sounded horrific and like nothing, I could even begin to imagine.  After work was over, I took clients home.  Traffic was really horrible and it took me an extra hour just to finish.  I was going to head to my men’s group, but due to traffic decided I was going to head home.  When I got home none of you were there, mom had taken you to visit your grandparents and I was home by myself.

I turned on the TV and watched repeatedly the events that I had heard described through the radio all day.  I sat there motionless staring, unable to move, tears pouring down my face, sobbing at what was happening before my eyes.  I was shaken to my core in a way I do not know that I can even begin to explain.  To this very day any time I talk about it, close my eyes and see those images I am moved to tears.  Why I have no idea, but there is nothing else I have ever experienced in my life that has had the effect this does.

Here it is 10 years later, so much has changed.  Three more children have joined our family, we have moved, we have international students living with us, we have changed churches twice, you 3 older kids have all been through grade school and are now in middle school and high school.  Life has changed for so many people.

As the days unfolded after the events, for the very first time in my life I was actually proud to be an American.  I saw our country come together, support, love, aid, and comfort and turn back to God, looking for answers to questions that appeared to have no answers for many people.

One thing to be sure of, since that day, much has changed for many people.  I think it made people realize EVIL really is in this world.  EVIL seeks to destroy whatever it can get it hands on.  Bad things happen because sin entered the world years ago when Adam and Eve made the choice to disobey God.  Bad things happen to good people and bad people alike.  No one in this world is immune to the effects of sin.  It is hard to accept and understand many times, but you do not have to live very long to fully understand it.

While I wish, I could protect you from the evils of this world I cannot.  I can tell you it is not fun and on some occasions, it feels like a living hell.  From my experiences, you cannot always make it better.  Time will pass and soon life with throw something else at you that will shake your life.  My hope is that you know and experience love.  Your mom and I love you more than anything in this world.  You were loved and wanted from the beginning and you will be loved and wanted until my dying breath.

Hate is horrible and can destroy people, worlds and nations.  If left unchecked, it has the power to take the very life God breathed into folks.  Hate is all around us, waiting to get its grip on us, to squash the love inside us and motivate us to see and treat people in ways you would never think of.  Hate can taint your view of others, it can cause you to want to lash out and react.  Hate can destroy the very life God distinct hands created for a purpose.  Whatever you do, rid your life of hate.  See all people in the light of God’s eyes.  See them as unique, gifted, talented, and full of hope and purpose; see them as something special to enhance the world in which we live.  Love them with all your might; love them when they are unlovely and despicable.  Love them even harder when you feel even the slightest bit of anger or bitterness creeping up inside.

Your love for another person may be the one thing that changes his or her life forever.  As I reflect back on this day, I am still moved.  I am sorry men held onto hatred so bitter and wicked they took the lives of others.  I am sorry they believed in and followed hatred so strong, the ripple effects of it is still felt today.  Love each other, because after your mom and I are gone, you are all you have of our family.  Take the love your mom and I have for each of you and spread it everywhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sacrificing for Life


Living in the richest country in the world I find it hard to utter the words “I am poor or don’t have much”. Those words used to roll off my tongue growing up in Montana. Growing up was spent living in a trailer, hand-me-downs, Kmart Specials and Goodwill clothes, my parents lived paycheck to paycheck and a lot of time we had no health insurance. I was ashamed of what I came from and being looked down upon by the community only it made it worse.

My parents owned 28 acres of land and while we weren’t a sprawling ranch it was enough to keep us busy year round. My responsibilities growing up included feeding & watering the animals, cleaning out the barn, bucking hay bales, mowing a ½ acre of grass as well as cleaning the house and making meals. While there was time to play, there was a very clear expectation to take care of our chores first before we did anything else. It only took a couple of times of not doing it to learn it was better I did it than getting in trouble.

Living here in Portland I miss those responsibilities I had as a kid. My kids main responsibilities is keeping their rooms clean, doing their homework and a couple other chores around the house. They think they have it rough and don’t want to do what we ask of them. Looking at my life growing up compared to what we have now is so vastly different. My kids have yet to fully understand what it is to have to get up and work hard.

Looking at my life as an adult, I am incredibly thankful. God has blessed me with a large home, 3 vehicles, a large family, friends, church, work and a state I love living in. I live in a city that is wealthy with resources available to folks if you want to take advantage of them. I don’t consider myself poor or disadvantaged. Even in times where I say I don’t have any money left, in all honesty I still have money available. I know where my food is coming for every meal and I have shoes and clothes to choose from. I do not consider myself poor, I am wealthy in many ways.

My wife and I chose to have a large family. We chose to have 4 children, and after having them we chose to have 2 international college age exchange students to come and live with us. We also chose to adopt 2 more children. When purchasing our first home we bought a larger house so we could continue with all of this. We made our children share rooms instead of giving them their own so our exchange students could have rooms to use. In doing all of this – family, friends and folks from church and strangers have felt it necessary to tell us how wrong it was we were doing this. We were crazy, ridiculous, thinking only of ourselves, even polluting the planted by adding more life to it. We’ve had people just look at us like we are crazy or be at a loss for words, even telling us it takes “special people” to do this.

Why do we do this? Are we rich by America’s standards, probably not, we’ve lived on one income most of the time and my job in social work isn’t a place where people go to get rich. We do this because God has blessed us. We have more than we could ever need. We are not hurting for anything, we have an abundance. Life isn’t easy in terms of raising a large family and all the extra we added in. We wanted and chose the life we have. It takes work to make it all flow, establishing boundaries, taking time out and getting away, refreshing and recharging. Communication and scheduling are key to our survival. We looked at all that God has given and realized we still had room to do more. We are making sacrifices to impact this world. We are giving up things in our life so that others can be blessed. Does this make us special or deserving of some award or trophy? Does this mean I am bragging and trying to make myself seem better than others. Absolutely not, that is the last thing I want.

What is has done is to challenge me on just how much am I really willing to sacrifice in this life. I know that Jesus chose to sacrifice his life for others, that was his whole purpose. What more I am I willing to sacrifice and give up so that others can benefit. I’ve told my wife and countless others that 6 kids was my limit. I am willing to continue having exchange students live with us, but I want to be done parenting at some point. This past weekend I was at a conference listening to Coach Tony Dungy speak along with Donald Miller and Todd Scott. They were talking about The Mentoring Project and the 1000 kids in our city who need men involved in their lives. A statement made during the conference was “our life is about serving others” . That really resonated with me. As someone who grew up being incredibly selfish and wanting my way all the time, God has given me new lenses for viewing life. Today those lenses are about serving others. I still have moments of selfishness, but when I stop and think about it, really everything I have, comes from God and I am only using it to help others. None of the “things/stuff” I have will be going with me when I pass from this life. Even when my kids are grown and gone, there will still be kids needing good parents, there will still be kids who need love, attention, affection and that someone is there for them. Am I willing to sacrifice for the rest of my life so these kids can be impacted and changed for good?

I have more to think about in regards to sacrifice. I know that my life is going to be lived giving up of my own selfish needs for the needs of others. How much do we truly sacrifice living in America? To what extent are we willing to give up things so we can help others out? These questions have been running through my mind as of late and I think I have the answer, do you?


Real Authentic Men – Know Your Calling


A strong inner impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction or divine influence – as defined by Webster’s dictionary.

The leading rule for the lawyer, as for the man of every other calling, is diligence.  Leave nothing for tomorrow, which can be done today – Abraham Lincoln

Every calling is great when greatly pursued – Oliver Wendell Holmes

The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership – Harvey S. Firestone

I was lucky enough to know exactly what I wanted to do when I was growing up.  I think one of the hardest things to figure out in life is what your calling is, and what truly makes you happy – not what you want to work at, but what you want to do.  – Scott Folley

Growing up most of us discover things that appeal or speaks to us.  Something clicks and we decide that is worth pursuing.  We make choices in regards to college or working, career or profession, singleness or marriage, small family or large.  Will we travel or settle down and if so where we finally land.

In my experiences in working with men, little has to do with knowing your calling.  As men what is it we were meant to do? What are our lives supposed to be about?  What have we been put on this earth for?  Many men can’t even begin to contemplate this, they just keep going and doing the things everyone else has told them to do.  There is a very rare breed of men who understand calling and follow it will all their heart, passion and soul.  Sadly for many men today, this piece is missing in their lives.  They find themselves going to school, working jobs, being husbands and fathers and behind all of it they are miserable.  They are leading lives where existing is just getting by. There is no joy or passion to their life and they have nothing truly inspiring to live for.

It’s really a sobering sight to see, men like this make me weep.  I to have been in this spot in the past.  If men who are supposed to be leaders have no clue about what they are called to do, that leaves the rest of us in peril.  I firmly believe we as men are called to be leaders in all areas of our lives.  I believe this will all my heart.  Men are the ones who need to step up and begin leading. How can this ever begin to happen if we lack the skills,  knowledge and passion for life?

I believe it involves parents who are tuned into their kids, having conversations with them around their hopes; dreams and desires as well as developing their strengths, gifts and talents. Continually building and affirming these areas.  Parents know what their kids can do well and hopefully use this in shaping and molding them in the right direction.  I also believe it comes from others who are invested in the kids lives.  Teachers, mentors, pastors, coaches, and friends all have the ability to speak into our kids lives in ways we as parents can’t.

I know I wanted to be a husband and father from a very young age.  At the core of my being there was nothing else that I desired more in life.  I spent countless hours of my youth imagining what my wife and children would be like and how I would be as the Dad.  No one really gave me the message that I was valuable or that I possessed certain gifts or talents that would help me later on.  I knew when I got to that place in my life, it would be like achieving a gold medal in the Olympics.  As life came and obstacles got in the way I begin to lose sight of this and felt it slipping from my hands.  I began thinking it was never going to happen.  By the time I actually got what I had most desired I was dealing with shame, hurt, anger and pain and not able to really give my best.   Many years later after getting what I so desired I continued feeling I was missing more.  I wasn’t comfortable with myself or who I was and I lived behind masks, trying to put on a good game face for those around me.  I kept doing all the things I believed I needed to do, was told were the right things to do and how I should act and behave.  I always came back to feeling like the last piece to the puzzle was missing.

I began reading books, going to counseling, getting real and honest about my life and evaluating myself in a harsh reality.  That was when it finally hit me.  I was expecting something large and grand, I wanted to be this huge amazing “thing” outside of what I already was and I was filling my life with things that shouldn’t be there.  Suddenly staring back at me was what I had been called to do.  I am called to be a Dad.

As I began to peel back the layers of my life I was able to see that God had put everything in place so I could live out what I had deeply desired all those years ago.  I knew my calling from a very young age and now looking back I can see why I have been put through so much.  The testing and fires have all been for the benefit of my family.  I am no great person, but I am able to do great and mighty things through being a father.   This is my calling – I know it, accept it and I love it, even the hardest of times. As I look back at my life I realize that all that I have been through happened for many reasons, I am not angry or upset – it’s all been for a larger purpose.

The truly sad part is knowing if someone had invested in me years ago and walked me through it, I believe I would have been able to see it clearer long ago.  Not to discount the process of getting there, that’s been a valuable experience.  It’s also the reason I believe in mentoring and investing in men’s lives.

There is not a day that goes by where I don’t think about my sons.  I want them both to understand and realize they are not alone.  I will always have their backs and am fully invested in their life till the final breath leaves my body.  That is the very reason I started writing Real Authentic Men articles and why I share them with others.  I want my boys to know they were wonderfully created by a God who loves them and placed them into a family where they are loved more than they will ever imagine.  Their gifts and abilities have yet to be explored.  Allowing my sons to realize how truly amazing they are, what they were meant to do and when they are grown stand confident in being men.

The other part for me is knowing I have also been called to invest in the lives of other men. Men who are still sitting there waiting for someone to come along and help them through the process.  Men are valuable; they are not just some bumbling buffoons getting through life.  We’re depicted in a poor light in the media and that is deplorable.  While there is a percentage of men who live their lives as we see depicted, the men whose lives I get to be involved in are not like this at all.  The want to move past their hurts, pains and the things that hold them back.  They want to  become men who don’t just sit allowing life to pass them by.  Men who live life to the fullest and live out what they have been called to do.

Real authentic men know their calling and use it to impact the world around them.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a janitor, president, married or single.  Be the man, know your calling, step up, lead the way and do so that those around you will be inspired to do the same.

 

 

 


Real Authentic Men – Wisdom


Ever been around anyone who just seems to ooze wisdom? I have and those people are very admirable to me. They seem to have the right answers at the right time and are able to speak into situations or people’s lives words that penetrate deeply. That is the type of man I hope to be.

I have this long standing dream of when I reach the age of 70 or older, people will seek me out because of the wisdom I posses. I desire to be recognized as someone who has the answers as well as having lived my life to the fullest each and every day. The other part I would like to be known for is that I was able to offer up the right words to say for any situation. That may be a far-fetched dream for some, but for me, this is what I truly desire. I am attempting to live each day fully and take in all I can so one day I become the man I wish to be.

So how does one become wise? Great question and I believe there are a few ways in which this can take place. First of all, if you want to be wise, study and read the book of Proverbs. Secondly, place wise men and women in your life who are genuine, honest and live lives of integrity. We tend to pick up traits and characteristics of those around us we admire. A lot of life has to do with stealing good ideas from other and applying it to our life.

I value others as they were designed in the image of God. Those I greatly respect and admire men and women whose very lives have been a living example of wisdom. The stories they have to share about their life experiences are valuable. We can glean so much from what they have to say. So many times they are taken for granted and just brushed aside as having no value, yet if you stop and really listen to them, you will be blown away with what they have to say and share in regards to life. I have gained many nuggets of wisdom I have applied to my life by just sitting and listening to an elderly person talk.

I believe in educating yourself on as many topics as you can. Read a book, research, talk to others who are involved in that area, do what ever you can to enrich your life and experience new activities. Life is full of so many things and you can become rich in experiences by taking part. I am never quite sure in this day and age how one becomes an expert on something. I don’t think raising 6 kids will make me an expert on parenting but I certainly will have gained many insights into child rearing I might not have if I hadn’t raised a large family. I don’t believe at any time you should stop educating yourself, we should always be a learner of life and what is available to us. I myself have lived a life of being an avid learner and not just going to college, but also finding other means to educate myself and know a little or sometimes a lot about certain topics.

Experience is a great teacher. We all make mistakes, part of the human part of living is learning to take risks and learn from our mistakes. If you aren’t trying, you’re not attempting and in my opinion you will have a very dull and boring life. We can continue to repeat the same mistakes or we can look at our mistake as an opportunity to change the future and make a wiser choice in the future.

3 years ago I was invited by a friend to get together with a group of 6 other men and read the book of Proverbs daily for a year. We met monthly and discussed how our lives changed as we read it monthly. Our group took on the name “Wise Guys”. That experience was deeply rewarding and I can say from my own experience I gained wisdom like I never had before. In the midst of going through that year I also read an article from a man who had middle school children and they read the book of Proverbs for 1 year and they shared how in reading and talking about it, the children shared how it helped them make wiser choices when they entered high school. That reinforced it for me and I began doing that daily with my own children as well as continuing to do it for myself. Reading through Proverbs and daily praying for wisdom has had a significant impact in how I make decisions. The “Wise Guys” group is still meeting and though we have moved on to other topics I feel like that was a pivotal year for me and I grew in ways I never imagined.

As a man, husband and father, I want my family to know that I am making wise solid decisions that have been thought out. I want them to trust and depend when I make a decision it’s generally going to be the correct one and yet when I do make a mistake, being man enough to admit that and ask for forgiveness. As a leader in many areas of my life where people are depending on me to make serious decisions affecting others lives, I believe the same principles apply. As men continuing to make wise choices and decisions, this soon becomes habit forming and eventually becomes a way of life. Living a life using wisdom often leaves me feeling good about my choices and with few regrets.


Real Authentic Men – Servant Leadership


Does is sound foreign to you for a leader to be a servant? I think probably in most cultures this seems like an odd thing to do. If I am the leader then I should be dictating what happens and making sure everyone is doing what they have been told to do. Well yes, that is true, but I believe it involves so much more than just being a dictator and ordering people around.

Servant Leadership is about a man humbling himself to put the needs of others above his own. Are you a husband, it’s your wife and kids. If you’re a supervisor or manager it’s your employees. I want to make sure those I am put in charge of have their needs met first and I authentically show them I care about them. This may mean I have to humble myself and do things I don’t really want to do, but because I am committed to being real and authentic I suck it up and do it. There’s an old saying that “more is caught then taught”. I believe this is true and in so many areas of life. As a parent kids see so much of what we do and often it’s the things we don’t want them picking, they end up emulating.

I believe when you start losing sight of this, you become a dictator who barks orders and forgets about putting others before yourself. You essentially want your own way and use people to get that accomplished. I don’t see how this demonstrates to others you’re genuinely concerned about them. We’ve all seen dictators and I am sure we can all recall someone who has been a dictator or tyrant in our own life. It’s never any fun to work with someone like this, because his or her number one concern is “I” and how “I” get ahead and use whatever means it takes to carry out this.

As a man who wants to be real and authentic across the board (wife, kids, employees, friends), I try extremely hard to put the needs of other ahead of me and make sure they are taken care of first. It can be as simple as letting others go before myself when eating, taking out my trash at work or listening to what everyone else has to say before I share my own thoughts and ideas. As a supervisor at work I never ask anyone to do something I wouldn’t do myself. There have been many times I have rolled up my sleeves and cleaned or did some task alongside staff or even by myself to prove this.  Did I do it to gain approval, not at all, I did it because I believe it’s the right thing to do.

Even at home, while I am the leader of my home, I constantly attempt to show this to my wife and kids. I am not perfect at it.  There are plenty of times I don’t do a good job, I fail and act selfish.  I also know it’s the rigth way to love my family and I get up and do it again and again.  It’s my top priority that my family knows they are extremely valued, cared for and loved. I constantly think of ways to show them their needs are important and that is no easy task in my house of 8 people. Most of the time  our kids are focused only on themselves and think little of others. I continue to impress upon my kids the importance of putting others before themselves. In this “me focused” society, I want them to know they are not the center of the world.  They and important however there are more important things than always having your own way. Really it’s no different for me or anyone else. If people are valuable, which they are, put them first and you will be surprised the rewards you reap from living a life of serving others. This doesn’t mean that sometimes we don’t need to take a break and get recharged, but always thinking others are more important than myself, I have found in my experience it makes my relationships with others so sweetie-fresh.


Adoption Story Part II


 

We continued praying and waiting and then we got the call.  They were wondering if we would take someone younger.  After talking it over we agreed to give it a try and an 18 month old little boy named Eli came to our house.  My older son had hoped for someone his age, and even though we were all hoping that was the case, we believe God brought him into our house for a reason.

Our Foster son, Eli in his short span of 4 years has lived with us longer then he has lived with anyone else in his life.  He too had parents who should not have been together and had a child.  His biological mother in her adolescence became addicted to crack and heroine thanks to her own mom, he gave it to her to deal with peer pressure.  Because of her mom and her choices they had been in the system for years.  Her attempts at getting clean, sober and changing her life have been minimal.  His biological father came from a broken home as well, with a father that chose to leave and left this young man to give up on school and attempt to make something of himself.  His choices were sleeping around and getting girls pregnant and taking no responsibility for his children.  He to also has been involved with drugs and alcohol as well as physical and verbal abuse and has spent time in jail as a result of this.  Both of our son’s biological parents have continued to make poor choices and neither one of them is even 25 yet. Their own brokenness joined together was toxic; bringing a child into this world they were not ready for and did not have the means to properly take care of.

His biological mom did drugs while she was pregnant with him.  He was born addicted to crack and heroine.  It took him 3 months to detox.  The mom continued to engage in drugs, somehow managing to hide her drug addiction from the father.  Our foster son too was exposed to drugs, not only being drug addicted but as a little guy having to go to the ER for blistering his hand after he picked up a crack pipe. DHS finally checked into the situation.  One day the dad came home to find the mom strung out and Eli walking around in soiled diapers, he beat her up and she took off and went into hiding.  The Dad’s mom tried to step in and help out and was later told by her son, take care of him or I will take him and you will never see him again.  Grandma placed him in Foster Care to protect him from his father.

We weren’t planning on adopting him at first, however because he is so darn cute and loves to cuddle and just makes your heart melt, it became clear quickly that he was meant to be a part of our family.  We’ve been going through the motions to adopt him through the state.  This makes it easier and does not provide a financial hardship for us as the state pays for all of it.  We’ve been to court on several occasions and had battles with family members.  We’ve watched as the Dad slowly did himself in by continuing in his patterns/behaviors and had his parental rights permanently terminated.  The mom on the other hand got herself into a safe house and was moving forward with trying to get her life together and we weren’t exactly sure what was going to happen. However, unfortunately for the mom she went back to what she had always chosen and made it clear to the rest of us.  I remember sitting in court watching her cry and plead to have her rights kept in place.  They gave her one last chance and she wasn’t willing to do it, so she ended up having her rights terminated.

The adoption was to be finalized in November of 2010, because everything was not in order by various parties it’s still in process.  We’ve patiently waited it out and continued to pray everything would go in our favor so that piece of paper could be signed making it official.

This is God’s design for our family.  He put our family together.  In a way my prayer for twins has been answered.  Our two youngest are only 6 months apart.  Eli being the older.  Basically this is the only life they know.  It’s also nice because of the age gap between our older 4 and the younger two.  The older 4 have each other and the younger 2 have each other to play with and hang out with while the older kids are at school.

Accepting Eli and welcoming him to our family was a bit easier than Hope.  I’m not sure exactly why that is, but I know that I love this little guy with all my heart and he is my son.  I love to come home and hear him call out my name and jump up into my lap and give me a hug and kiss.  I love to sit and talk with him as he plays with my hair and tells me he’s my boy and loves me.

I firmly believe there is a reason each person is on this earth and they are designed by God with value and purpose.  I do not believe that God makes mistakes or that anyone is a mistake.  In fact I hate it when people refer to children as mistakes or surprises. No matter what the circumstances I believe every life is valuable and important and maybe because of what happened you can’t deal with is, but there are plenty of other wonderful loving folks who want and will take care of a child lovingly, responsibly and correctly.

So I wrote this because I know what I have saved these two children from.  Now granted 6 kids is a lot and some people judge us and think because we don’t have a lot of money we shouldn’t be raising a large family.  My wife has had really horrible comments made towards her in the grocery store by other people because of the number of children we have.  I have had people make humorous jokes about my family needing a bus to get around, or that when we leave someplace half of the room empties out.  Some of these are actually quite funny and I know the pros and cons to having a large family.  My wife and I we have never looked at it that way.  We both wanted a large family and we are both happy with it this way.  We don’t believe that we need to have lots of money to make it.  We see things from a different perspective and know where our values lie.

I have saved my children from deadbeat dads who can’t hold down jobs.  Dad’s who won’t or can’t man up and be responsible men, most likely because they didn’t have good role models of their own.  Dad’s who live at home with their own parents because they can’t make it on their own.  Dad’s, who think it’s okay to go sleeping around with women, get them pregnant and then take no responsibility for that child.  Dad’s who put their needs above their own children and are more concerned with themselves than their own child.  Dad’s who can barely function to get by in life, lack no social skills and would rather hide then face things that need to be dealt with.  Mom’s who have abused and neglected their children.  Mom’s who have put their own children in harm’s way because they are dealing with their own addictions.  Moms’ who are spiteful and just want to get the dad back so they use their child as a pawn.  Mom’s who manipulate others and exert power and control over family members.  Mom’s who disrespect and degrade themselves in the name of “love” to find a man who will take care of them, only to find out this deadbeat is just like all the rest and you were just a pawn in his game.  Parent’s who have incredibly poor boundaries and don’t like to be held accountable for anything.  Parent’s who fool people, even their own family members into believing they have changed and are different.  Parent’s that will lie, cheat, steal and are willing to give up their child just to make it in life.

These are all the things our youngest two would be facing and dealing with had we not rescued them from the pits of hell.  These two precious children who we love and see no difference from our own biological children in would quickly be caught up in the same dysfunctional repeated patterns of their parents and see this as a normal way of life.  If they were lucky enough to survive to adulthood they would most likely think this is an okay way of life and that there was nothing wrong with it.  It’s all they would know and somehow they would adjust to this type of life.

I work in this same type of system and I am all to familiar with how all of this happens and how women have a hard time breaking out of the cycles of abuse and I don’t deny that to be true.  I know there are circumstances beyond our control that shape us.  I know all of this so well.  It’s actually very saddening to see all the evil and wicked things in this world especially when it comes to children.  I know there are children out there dealing with much worse than my kids and that some never even make it.  Their precious little lives are cut short at the hands of the very people who are supposed to protect and take care of them.

All my life I wanted to be a parent. I knew that going into parenting I was going to make mistakes and do something at some point that would cause some type of wound.  I also knew that I valued life and knowing that I had a huge responsibility in becoming a parent and I better have my stuff together because the life of this child was dependent on me.

My kids are amazing and wonderful and I am forever grateful to God for giving me the opportunity to be a Papa.  I highly regard being a parent as one of the most important roles in the world.  My kids come first and everything I do with my life is about making sure they have the very best I can give them and they are taken care of.  Parenting is serious business and I don’t believe it’s for everyone, especially if you aren’t wiling to stretch yourself in ways you never imagined.

I am no great person, but I do believe that each person is capable of greatness.  The greatest thing I will ever do is being a parent.  My legacy lives on through my children (biological or adopted). My wife and I can’t rescue all the children but I feel good knowing that there are 2 fewer children who don’t have to suffer at the hands of their parents any longer.


Real Authentic Men – Trustworthy


We both stood there on the edge looking down. The sun was out and it was hot. Not just the sort of hot it gets in the summer, but really sweaty, scorching hot. We left my house early in the morning and headed down to the river. We were playing around in the water when we noticed the large rock cliff above us. First one to the top is king of the mountain. We both raced to be the first one to the top. I got there first and only with a few seconds to spare as my friend jumped up off his last step on the rocky ledge. The view from the top was amazing and it felt like we could see the countryside. We were sweating from the heat and running up the trail to the top of the rocks that overlooked the water. “Are you scared”? I asked as we both looked down. “No, not at all, I’m not afraid, I can do it” was his response. He stepped forward, looked down and I wondered is he really going to do this. We both just stood their silent as I could tell he was trying to talk himself into jumping down below. Come on man, just do it. I stepped closer to the edge and now saw what he saw. Suddenly the enormous gad that divided us between the water and the ground beneath our feet. I was scared and wanted to back down, but I wasn’t about to do that in front of my friend. We both just stood there looking and not really saying anything. Somehow I managed to get the words out of my mouth and still to this day I don’t know what it was that made me say them. “Do you trust me?” I asked. He said, “Yes”. I reached over and grabbed his hand; we counted 1, 2, 3. The next moment all we could feel was the wind against our skin as we were heading down into the water and suddenly the cold water was enveloping us. We shot out of the water screaming and throwing our arms in the air. We had gone to the top, jumped and were still alive.

Ever had any experiences like that? I am sure at some point in your life you have been right there looking over the ledge, to scared to back out, but not really wanting to jump into the water either. Wishing someone was there to give you a hand, reach out to you and say, “Do you trust me? I am here to help get your through this.” As a kid growing up in Montana I was brought to this point many times. Whenever a challenge to jump from something high, ride our bikes off some huge jump we made or walk out on the ice covering the water, I was up for the challenge. We never let on we were scared. We were to cool to admit that and admit I could have used someone who would stand up and offer to help hold my hand. I just stood their many times talking myself into it and finally going for it. I am glad that I did, because I think that it helped me develop some self-confidence.

For most of my life going back to 5th or 6th grade, I have always been the person people felt they could confide in. Peers and friends would come up to me and say, “Can I tell you something?” “You have to promise not to say a word.” “Ok” was my response and I would listen to what they had to say and keep it to myself. I have heard lots and lots of stories expressing the inner hurts, pains, joys and happiness because people felt like they could trust me with what they were saying. Now there have been occasions where I blew it and shared information when I shouldn’t have, but for the most part, all of that information is still locked inside of me and will go with me to my grave.

I don’t feel like I there is something particularly interesting about me. Well I am a pretty hip, cool person, but really I am just an ordinary guy, so I am always amazed that people feel safe and trust me with the secrets they can’t or won’t share with others. Actually knowing that people feel that way about me does make me feel good, but I try to stay humble. I feel lucky to know that people trust me in that way.

Trust is not an easy thing and as someone who has survived being molested, I haven’t trusted most people, and it was predominantly other guys. The ones who had molested me were male cousins my age and I ended up believing that all guys would do this to me or that somehow something sexually inappropriate would happen between us. I grew up being very suspicious of other guys and always thinking they were either out to hurt me or just plain jerks. It wasn’t until I was in college things started to change. My best friend is actually the first guy who ever showed a genuine interest in me and helped me start to believe he was someone I could trust. Through hanging out and spending a lot of time together I was able to finally move past my distrust of other guys.

Now, years later, having men who have invested in my life and continually pour themselves into my life. Has allowed me to develop safe-trusting relationships with not only these men but with a multitude of other men as well. Having the ability to spend time building a relationship with another guy and allowing him to share about his life, means you have to be trustworthy. It means when he bears his sole, the things he has shared with you aren’t used against him and that you will protect his integrity no matter what. You value that man as much as you value your own life and in helping him you build a relationship built on solid trust. As men begin to get really involved in other men’s lives and get real they need the trust to be there.

When it comes to my kids I am more like a mother bear then my wife. Those are the most valuable things in my life and everything I do for them is because of the amount of love I have for them. People don’t get to be a part of my life or the life of my kids if I don’t trust you. You can be sure that if I have any doubt about you with my kids I will not even take a risk. My kids know this about me and know me well enough that they never have to question if I have their back or not. I am my kid’s biggest supporter and advocate. I am open and honest with them and have real heart to hear conversations with them so that they know they can trust me to tell me whatever is going on and I will still love and support them through it all. Even if it meant (God forbid) my daughters came and told me they were pregnant. What little brown hair I have left would suddenly turn gray the moment those words were uttered from their lips, but trusting in the relationships I have built for all these years I know we would be able to work through it.

Being able to trust another person is a big deal. Are you really willing to hand your children over to this person and trust they have your children’s best interest at heart. That’s a question many parents struggle with in many different capacities. It’s a tough one and often times we are left trusting God is protecting my child. It’s not the best part of parenting. There have been many times I have not wanted to let my kids go and do something, but they really wanted to and so in trusting they would make good choices I let them go knowing God is protecting them. Man, I am so thankful when they return to me.

Being a person who is trustworthy means you have demonstrated something pretty cool. For me it means that I trust you enough to hand my most valuable possessions over to you and you will care for it just as I would and return it to me with no harm done. As a man I want my family, friends and others to see me and say I am a trustworthy person. I have seen and know that I can trust him no matter what happens. He has proven time and time again that you can trust him. I would say that is a really true statement of myself. I have developed a trait of trustworthiness and I take that seriously.

 


Ms. J’s 9th Birthday


Today is one of my daughter’s birthdays.  She turns 9 today.  I call her Ms. J.  She is the last of our biological children but 4th in line of all our 6.  What a little blessing she’s been since the day she came into our lives.

My wife and I both always wanted a large family, not large like the Duggars, but 4 or 5 kids.  I grew up with only a sister who was 2 years younger than me and my wife has two younger siblings.  It was one of the things I told her on our first date, that didn’t scare her away, so I knew she was keeper.  We both love having a large family, while it does take work, it also has tremendous benefits.  My wife attempted to give birth to our older 3 kids naturally and was unable to so they all came via C-section.  I was there through all of it, with my video camera in hand.  Now let me say, it’s not all men who can actually say they have seen their wife’s uterus, but I have been able to see it and it’s kind of cool.  When my wife was pregnant with Ms. J we were told this would be the last baby as her body could not handle any more.  We had no problems accepting that.  I had secretly hoped I would have 2 boys and 2 girls but I was content with at least having 1 son.

So 9 years ago today our Ms. J joined us.  She was and has been a good mix of both my wife and I.  She has traits from both of us and doesn’t fancy one of us over the other in that sense, while some of our other children look very similar to us.  The arrival of her birth was a great day for all of us, as at that time all our older kids were aware of what was in Mommy’s tummy and were very excited to have another sibling.  We were counting down the days till her arrival and soon here she was and we were all rejoicing at her birth and actually holding her in our arms and loving on her.  The day we brought her home, my son wasn’t to happy when he realized it wasn’t another boy and asked my wife is she could take her back and bring him back a brother.  We had to explain to him no we couldn’t trade her in.  Thankfully it didn’t take him long to adjust and he began loving her and protecting her like a big brother should.

Through the years, she’s continued to win over most people with her kind heart and amazing smile.  She’s also learned some wicked skills in regards to getting her siblings to do her jobs for her.  Despite my many reminders not to baby her, she’s got them all wrapped right around her finger.  I just enjoy sitting back and watching it all play out.

Ms. J’s plans are at this point are to finish school, head off to college and join her sister’s in opening their own full service salon called “Sisters”.  As she tells us she plans on reading stories to folks while they get their hair and nails done.  In the meantime she uses me weekly to practice on, which means, yes I get a facial, manicure and pedicure as well as my hair styled each week.  This is actually quite relaxing.

There aren’t words to describe how much I love her and am incredibly thankful God has allowed me to be her Papa.  It’s hard to believe that most likely she’s lived half of her life with us.  I can’t imagine her not being here in our home, although I know that day is coming.  She assures me when she grows up and gets married she will come and visit and let me stay with her.  The day I actually have to hand her over to another man, will be a day my heart rips into small pieces.  This beautiful young woman has my heart and I hope and pray that I continue to do the very best for her because she deserves it.