Tag Archives: love

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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Really loving one another


Each morning our family rises at 6 am and we start our day off.  Part of this morning routine includes reading a chapter of Proverbs that coincides with the date and having a discussion around the content of the chapter.  It is then followed by praying over my family and lifting up specific prayer requests.

Having a large family is work, I won’t kid you.  Dealing with 6 kids and the different moods they wake up with can quickly turn into a battle royal.  There have been countless mornings where fights over simple things like who gets what spoon or cereal bowl to who gets to ride shotgun on the way to school become all out wars.  We have attempted to demonstrated and continually discuss how you should treat each other, as well as giving them principles of interacting with others in life.  As with any kids, your words sometimes fell on deaf ears.  About a month ago my wife thought it would be a good idea to include  1 Corinthians 13 into our morning ritual. It speaks of how we are to truly love one another.

1 Corinthians 13: 1 – 13

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

 I believe this passage covers everything. I can honestly say that I do not love others fully as instructed here.  It’s a struggle.  I have no excuses, but I am greatly challenged and reminded every day as to how I should love others.  Every day since we added this in to our morning reading I am reminded of a different way I need to love those around me.  This is a good challenge and one that has also helped my kids really think through the how they are treating each other, even though it’s only been a month, we have seen changes.  That alone speaks volumes.

Tell me honestly, is this how you really love others?  Do you love your family in this manner, how about strangers, co-workers?


Real Love from a Father


As a boy I saw the absence of my father in my home as a something incredibly difficult to deal with.  When he was home I saw someone who could easily be two different people.  I saw contradictions right and left in what he said vs. what he did.

I listened as my Dad told me it’s not ok to lie, but then watched as he lied to his boss, because he was angry with him and didn’t want to do what he was supposed to do.

My Dad told me cursing was not ok; but when he got mad, upset or really angry those words spewed from his mouth easily.  He tamed them somewhat around my mom, because he said it was out of respect.  When he was around his friends, it was no holds barred and I heard it all.

He always found fault with others and rarely if ever could see the good in anyone.  He told both my sister and I never to marry outside of our race.  His ways were always right, you didn’t question him on that and he always wanted what he considered the best and once he had his mind made up he wouldn’t change it.

My Dad wasn’t one for affection and dishing out love or compliments.  He made it very clear to me that if you messed up there was consequences for your actions and this usually meant some type of negative or physical punishment.

This is all the stuff I believed and bought into growing up and has made it difficult in my relationship with God. I know God is so polar opposite of my own biological father.  I have read and studied the Bible and know God’s love for us is so incredibly different.  God is a God of love and everything he does is backed by love for us, his children.

My experiences in life and with my father have while not purposefully, been transferred onto God and how he views me.  I have believed that when God looked down on me and saw what I was doing he was less than pleased.  He was saddened and hurt and angry with me because I would not stop what I was doing.

I have always struggled with how God deals with me in regards to sin.  Because I am the head of my house and the leader of my family if I messed up something has always gone wrong in our family (things break, stop working, run out of money, the list goes on and on) I see this directly tied into my failures and God’s way of disciplining me. I look at myself and see that God loves me but only to the extent I do exactly what he says and wants, otherwise I just don’t measure up and he’s silent.

My heart breaks because I know that God created each one of us with a purpose.  We have value, we matter and that even if it was just one of us he would have sent his son.  I do love others and I see their value and beauty.  I love my wife and kids more than anything else in this world and am considerably blessed to have them.  My closest friends mean the world to me.  I would die for most of my family and friends because I love them so incredibly much.

I have a lot of knowledge about God as well as experience in feeling him and knowing he’s real in my.  I can’t deny his existence in my life it’s all very real.  I just wished I felt like God loved me the way I love others. This is what makes it difficult in my life with God.  In the last couple of years I have begun to feel God’s love for me in profound ways and it’s helped me believe God truly does love me no matter what.   I guess I am hoping and waiting for something miraculous.  Something “Hollywood-esque” where the wave of a wand and POOF – it all melts away and I am left feeling loved in ways I never imagined or felt before.

I am pressing into God now and asking him to love me in new ways.  Ways I have never experienced that help me just not know with my head but more than anything my hearts melts and I feel an overwhelming sense of love and acceptance by him.

How about you, can you relate?  Do you feel the love of God that has completely transformed your life?

 


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.

 


The thing about being a Christian


If someone says to you they are a Christian, what usually comes to your mind?  (Hypocrites, religious freaks, Jesus lovers, fakes, phonies, intolerant, haters or bashers) I’ve had some of these thrown my way in my time.

The one thing I want more than anything else is to realize that I am real.  I to do not like what many people who call themselves Christians do in the name of Jesus.  There are radicals everywhere in every type of religion and they all bring the name down of those that really, truly want to follow what they believe is true.

First and foremost I am not perfect, I will freely admit that to you.  I absolutely do not have my life all together or have everything figured out.  I am a sinner, I mess up and make mistakes every day of my life.  Most of the 10 commandments I have broken. I am broken person, I am messed up and make a mess of my life.

I try hard to do the right thing most of the time.  I pray for wisdom every day to make good choices.  However I lose my temper, I say things I don’t mean, I hurt others and I make people mad.  I don’t set out to do this, really I don’t.  I lust, I curse, I struggle with addictions, I am impatient, I want my way to be right, I want to be loved, accepted and get recognition.  I drink and have in excess, I dance in fact I love to dance, I listen to all types of music, (Soul and RnB are my favorite). I go to bars, I watch R rated movies, and I tell jokes that are colorful.

Does any of this surprise you?  Do you find it hard to believe?  Maybe you do, but this is actually how many of my friends who absolutely love Jesus and follow him live daily.  If you were to attend my church you would see people with different colored hair, piercings and tattoos.  They come in all shapes and sizes, they are all seeking God and to have him at work in their lives.  They are passionate about him, yet are real and attempt to live that out authentically in their lives.

I also pray daily, read a bible, go to church, lead a group of people in my home every week.  As a family we pray at the dinner table, pray with our kids before they go to bed and I pray with other guys and for people without them even knowing.  I read the bible, but haven’t read it all the way through yet.

I don’t care what your sexual preference, skin color, if you’re a man or a woman. I don’t care what cultural heritage or background you have. I love and accept everyone where they are at in their life.  I don’t think my way is the right way or that it’s the way you have to do it.  I am not going to tell you that you can or can’t do something.  I believe you have the right to choose what is best for you.  I believe that God designed all of us uniquely and that he gifted us all differently and it is to bring glory and honor to his name.  Our gifts and talents are to be used to help other and in doing so, we demonstrate God’s love to them.

I believe what the bible says is true, I also believe that it’s God’s words not mine and I am just trying to figure out how his words fit into my life.  I believe there are some hard lines that have to be drawn and that I have to take a stand for them because it is what I follow and believe and even though you may disagree with me, we can still talk through it and I can still be your friend.  I believe the Bible is full of so many great principles, it’s how we take those and apply them to our lives and the culture we live in.

I believe in community and that by going to church I get to interact with other broken people.  The church I attend is not perfect nor are the people who attend.  I get to hear people share and open up about their lives and realize I am not alone.  I get to sing songs that make me cry and see how broken I am and in need of God to get me through another day as well as all that he’s done for me.  I get to hear the Pastors talk about real issues that impact our lives today and how God fits into this.  I’ve heard amazing stories about people who have been involved in drugs, sexual addictions, abortion, pornography, homosexuality, homelessness, anger, bitterness, abuse and so much more.  To see where they are at and what has happened in their lives can only help me believe that God is very much, real alive and at work today just as he has been all along.

Because of others who claim to be Christians and what they have done, a few years ago I stopped calling myself a Christian and began identifying myself as a follower of Jesus.  I’ve been following him since I was 7 years old.  I’ve had a hard difficult life; I’ve done some really horrible things that essentially I deserve to die for.  However I have been extended grace by God and through others.

A quote I really identify with comes from Gandhi “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.” To me to follow Christ means you read, study, interact and really live out what he came to do and that was to serve others and not be served. I ultimately believe that love is the answer.  Loving people where they are at, not judging, accepting and hearing people’s stories of where they have been.

I know that I have done things that bring shame to the name of Jesus.  I really don’t want to live my life that way.  I hope that when people see me, interact with me they will have a glimpse of Jesus.  My journey isn’t over and someday I do believe that I will stand before God and I will have a conversation with him and my greatest hope is to hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.