An Epic Year!!

happy-new-year-2018-greetingsAs I sit here on New Years Day 2018, I can’t help but reflect on the adventure that was 2017. This time last year I would have never imagined it would have played out the way it did. But looking back at it now, I sit here in awe of how God works.

Toward the end of 2016, I participated in an “Annual Planning” meeting put on by a friend of mine. The idea was to take some time to pray about what God wanted for us in 2017. Whether it be personal, or business related. She facilitated some of the planning stuff. Gave us some ideas. Then allowed us some time to pray and seek God’s leading. I’ve always done an annual plan for business, but had never really asked God for His input. Clearly, I’ve been missing out.

During these times of prayer, I not only asked God for His leading. But I also confessed some of my frustrations regarding life and business. I was frustrated with the pace of business (or lack thereof). Don’t get me wrong, business was good. But it wasn’t good enough to keep up with my standard of living. Which was preventing me from doing a lot. Not only from a business stand point, but also personally. And while I know that building a new business takes time, I was a little impatient.

There were other things bothering me as well. How little time I got to spend with the kids. How much I was relying on family. How stressed I was from trying to build a new business, and how long it was taking. The interesting thing is, that the more I poured my heart and frustration out to God, the more peace I felt about the coming year. It was about this time that I felt God tell me “2017 is going to be a big year for you.” Little did I know then.

The day long exercise ended around four or five o’clock and we all went our separate ways. As I drove home, I couldn’t get what God had told me out of my mind. There was excitement and wonder about how it would play out. Would it be a steady increase in business? One big case to carry me through the year? My mind raced with ideas and speculation. I almost missed my exit while I daydreamed about the coming year.

Most of you reading this already know the end of the story. As 2017 kicked into to gear, I did my best to continue to seek Gods leading, and my business started to grow. No huge cases to get me through the year. But enough to make me feel like things were starting to get better. By the end of the first quarter, I was already at 120% of 2016’s total production. I was feeling really good. Then, March happened.

While sitting around the dinner table, I once again brought up the idea of moving. The kids and I had been discussing this for about a year now. I felt God had been prepping me for a move, but the kids and I weren’t quite united in the idea. Till now. While discussing the idea, my son finally came around and said “yeah, I think it’s time.” After that, everything seemed to go into fast forward.

During the next three months, God started to talk to me in ways I had never experienced before. Scripture started to pop out and speak at just the right time. As I discussed plans with other close friends, they inadvertently confirmed what God had been telling me. Even before I told them what God was saying. I would ask for confirmation and He would give it to me. Time, after time, after time. It was…awesome!

Over the next three months, God confirmed that I was to move to Colorado, close my business and wait on Him for further instructions. It was that last part that would prove to be the most difficult.

I closed my business, put my house on the market, and packed. We left for Colorado on July 8th. I still owned my house, didn’t know where I was going to live and didn’t have a job. But God said “go,” so we did.

The next ten days were spent driving out to Colorado and finding a place to live. We took our time. Turned a three day drive into a five day drive so we could explore new destinations and spend some time with friends along the way. We were just outside of Biloxi Mississippi when my Realtor called and told me that she sold my house. I couldn’t help but think “God? Was that a test?”

The final leg of our journey (well, this part of it anyway) would prove to be the most exciting. The trip would take us a little over ten hours. The excitement and anticipation of our new home building with each hour and mile that passed by. This was turning out to be an epic journey that none of us would ever forget. The excitement increased even more as the Rocky Mountains started to appear in front of us. All building to that awesome moment when we passed the sign that read “Welcome to Colorful Colorado.” A couple more hours of driving and we arrived at our hotel. This part of the journey was over. And one question seemed to be on all of our minds…”now what?”

The next two and half months would be awesome and frustrating all wrapped up in one crazy package. We had five days to find a place to live. It came down to the last day. What seemed to be the only three-bedroom apartment in Colorado Springs became available on the same day our hotel reservation ended, which just so happened to be the same day the moving company arrived to drop off our furniture. Yeah. If that doesn’t make you turn your gaze skyward, I don’t know what will.

We spent the next two months unpacking and getting adjusted to the new climate. My frustration grew as I received rejection letter after rejection letter in my search for a new job. I couldn’t even get an interview! But at the same time, the kids and I were continuing to have adventure after adventure. It was like an all summer long vacation. Just the three of us.

The time arrived to get the kids registered for school. God stepped in again and made room to get Alexys into a school that offered the International Baccalaureate program. An adventure in and of itself. Andrew is in a school that has awesome teachers whom he seems to really like and connect with. And yet, still no job for me. I confess, I wasn’t very good at this whole waiting thing.

I would finally find the job God had for me at the beginning of October. It’s a ministry position that I absolutely love! When this all started back in March, I felt God leading me into a ministry role. And here I am, doing something that uses all my experience from the last 20 years, for His purposes. It’s almost unbelievable how it’s all come about. Almost.

As I look back to that Annual Planning day at the end of 2016, I’m reminded of all the things I confessed to God. All the things that were frustrating me. And now seeing how God addressed each and every one of them, in His own way, is absolutely amazing. It wasn’t anything like how I had imagined it. But His adventure has been so much better than anything I ever could have imagined. God has used this experience to teach me so much about trusting Him and “leaning not on my own understanding.” 2017 was an epic year. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for 2018.

It is my prayer that you too, have been able to look back at 2017 and see the hand of God working in your life. I welcome you to share something in the comments below about your year. What stands out to you? How did God work in your life? Above all else, I pray you have a wonderful 2018 with an abundance of God moments. Be Blessed.

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Surreal

Welcome Sign

July 8, 2017. It was a rushed morning. Well, it felt that way to me anyway. There were still a few things that needed to be done at the house. I still had to finish packing the car. I was up late the previous night and had decided to sleep in a little longer than I had originally planned. Of course, I had also built in a bit of flex time, so it wasn’t like I was really “behind.” But it still felt rushed.

As I walked through the now empty house, the emotions started to build. It was only six years prior that Christina and I were picking out fixtures and cabinets for our new home. Now here I was moving out of it, with the hopes that it would sell soon. So many memories tied to this home. Was it really happening? My heart skipped a beat and I could feel the lump welling up in my throat. Yes. It was really happening.

Surreal.

9am. It was time. The car was packed and there was nothing left for me to do. We stood there in the drive way with Christina’s parents. By this time, we had all already shed so many tears as we all came to the same realization. Yes, this was really happening. We lingered for a few minutes before saying our final “goodbyes.” Then the kids and I piled into the car.

I find it difficult to describe the feeling as I pulled out of my driveway for the last time. “The last time.” There’s a lot of weight in that thought. I could almost feel the heaviness sitting on my shoulders. We had said “yes” to God and were beginning our five-day drive to Colorado Springs. We were leaving our home, everything that was familiar to us, and the people that had been our support system for the last five years. I looked in my rear view mirror and saw my in-laws standing in my driveway watching us drive away. They were crying; so were the kids. My own eyes blurred and burned from the heat of the tears welling up in them. The drive out of the neighborhood felt a bit longer today, like it was going by in slow motion. It was weird.

Surreal.

Kids at Grave9:25am. We stopped by the cemetery. It just didn’t feel right leaving Orlando without checking in on Christina’s grave. I didn’t feel a need to say “goodbye” again. Truth be told, it was probably the first time I had been to see the grave in many months. But it just didn’t feel right leaving without stopping by, just for a few minutes. The kids and I stood by her grave discussing our trip: the excitement; the anticipation; the heartache; the realization that we didn’t know when we would stand here again.

We finally got on the road at 9:30am, an hour and a half after I had originally wanted. Finally, we were on our way into the unknown. We knew our destination. We knew our stops along the way. We knew where we would stay for the next 10 days. After that, everything was a mystery. Yes, I was a little bit nervous. But deep down, I knew that God was in control and that everything would work out. I just didn’t know how.

It’s now been 52 days since we left Orlando. So much has happened in a short amount of time. What has arguably been the coolest thing that happened was how we came to be at our new apartment. I swear we looked at every apartment complex in Colorado Springs. We only found one that had a three-bedroom apartment available for us to move into. On the same day that our hotel reservation ended. Which also happened to be the same day that the moving company told me they would be dropping off our furniture. God? Was that You? Hmmm.

Moving Truck

The kids and I have been having so many adventures. Between unpacking and getting our apartment set up and checking out our new surroundings, we’ve been quite busy.

 

 

view-from-apartment.jpg

Colorado is a beautiful state and we’re right smack dab in the middle of it. Our apartment complex feels more like a resort. We have a view of the mountains from our balcony.

 

GOTG

 

We’ve found a favorite outdoors spot in Garden of the Gods. Bonus! It’s free!

 

 

View from Pikes Peak

 

We’ve been to the top of the highest peak in Colorado Springs (Pikes Peak, 14,150 feet above sea level).

 

 

 

Royal Gorge

 

We’ve seen the highest suspension bridge in the US. Truth be told, I feel like we’ve been on an extended vacation.

 

 

It’s still weird.  Colorado doesn’t really feel like home yet. I find myself lying in bed in the morning, looking out my bedroom window at Pikes Peak asking myself “did we really do this?” Even though the answer is obvious, it’s still a bit unbelievable. Like some kind of “energizer bunny” coaster ride, it just “keeps going.” Every time I turn around I see God working: making sure that we are provided for, making sure that I don’t get in my own way (as I often do). It’s like the stories you hear from people like Billy Graham, telling us how God did something or made something happen that was unmistakably Him. There’s no other way to explain it. Yet, here I am living my own story of Gods miraculous care.

Surreal.

I don’t want to discount all the other ways that God has taken care of me and my family through the years. The great part about living for God is the ability to look back and see His handiwork all over my life. He has guided me through life, whether it be the good times or bad, in everything leading up to this moment, this journey, this place. He always prepares me for what He has next, which, at this point in time, only He knows. I’m okay with that. Frankly, I’m still too busy admiring His canvas here in Colorado to be concerned about what’s going to happen next.

Surreal.

Moving!

family-favorite.jpgSo, we’re moving. In six days. And there’s still a lot to do. Which is crazy to me because I feel like I’ve been going non-stop for the last few months. With all that’s been going on I find it amazing that I’ve even had time to think! It’s exhausting. I really can’t remember the last time I was this tired. Even as I write this, I’m debating as to whether I should keep writing or shut down and go to bed.

It’s an exciting time though. I can’t think of a time when God has been so active and vocal in my life. Sure, He’s been there. We talk all the time. And there are times when I hear Him and see His subtle workings in the day to day activities that make up my hectic life. But this is different. It’s no longer subtle. It’s more of an “in your face” kind of thing. It’s really cool, actually. Even if a bit scary at the same time.

The whole idea of moving started over a year ago. There has been quite a bit going on as God has prepared us for this move. But the real fun has only been in the last three months. See, for the year following the call to move, I’ve been thinking we would be staying in the Central Florida general area. But three months ago, He said “I want you in Colorado Springs.” Uh. Okay. Really?

I freely admit that I had some initial misgivings about this. First and foremost, I don’t like the cold. And while I do love Colorado. I don’t like the cold. Did I mention that I don’t like the cold? Just making sure. I don’t want anyone thinking I like the cold. Because, I don’t. It’s also 2,000 miles away from, anything, really. That’s a long way away.

Okay, all kidding aside. While I am excited about the idea of moving across the country. I found myself doing a lot of soul searching. This is a big deal! I have friends and family here. I have a job that is just starting to take off. I’m involved in so many things. I have a network of people at my fingertips. My daughter was just accepted to the community college for their dual enrollment program. “And you want me to drop everything and move 2,000 miles away? Really?” The answer was a resounding “yes!”

So, yeah. We’re moving. In six days. Because God said He wants us in Colorado. It’s exciting and terrifying all at the same time.

It’s been a crazy three months. I feel like I’ve been in fast-forward the entire time. So much to do. So, little time. I feel like I need to remind myself to breathe sometimes. And with all that’s been going on, I’ve not really had the opportunity feel it. I’ve been so focused on getting ready to go, that I haven’t had time to feel the feelings that go along with leaving friends and family. Until tonight.

Tonight, a friend of mine put together a small gathering of friends and family. A time to stop by and say goodbye. To fellowship one last time before we started our journey on the next adventure that God has waiting for us.

Dozens of invites were sent out. Those who couldn’t come in person sent their well wishes via text and phone. Those who did come brought food and drink to share. Everyone there played key roles in my life over the last five plus years. The journey of healing after such a loss hasn’t been an easy one. But, as He always does, God puts just the right people in your life to help you through the valleys. And these people were all assembled in this one place. Either in person or in spirit.

It was a wonderful time of fellowship. We reminisced about our different paths and how they intersected. Talked about the future and what God has in store for us. We laughed. I cried (quietly). And then there was quiet.

It was the same quiet I felt five years ago. The quiet that comes when you sit and realize that life as you know it has changed. Forever. The life that you were so familiar with is no more. The pendulum has reached its apex and has hit that brief moment where it’s not moving any direction. That split second where it stops completely before moving in a different direction. That moment of suspense that feels like it will last forever.

It’s in this moment that I begin to think about the gravity of the situation I have found myself in. I’m stepping out of my comfort zone. Where I’m surrounded by people who care about me and value me as their friend. Away from a house I’ve called home for six years. Away from the family that has supported me through the trials of those six years. Away from the resting place of my beloved wife. Away from everything that I know, to a place where I don’t know, anyone. Don’t have a place to live or work. 2,000 miles away from anything and everything that’s familiar to me.

As I sit here allowing myself to feel, I’m reminded that while I’m leaving my comfort zone. I’m not going alone. In fact, I was reminded just this morning by a wonderful friend of mine that “the Lord, He is the one who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8). So, while I’m sad to be leaving my friends. I’m encouraged that God is going with me. He won’t leave me. I am following Him “to the place He has shown me” on the prayers of those I leave behind.

Suddenly, the heavy heart that seems to have pinned me to my couch lightens a bit. The sadness of leaving friends behind is replaced with the wonderful memories I take with me (and the knowledge that I have all their phone numbers and there’s no way they’re getting rid of me that easy). I’m feeling the excitement return as the pendulum finally starts to move in a new direction. It’s a new adventure. A new beginning. A fresh start. The next chapter has arrived. And I’m ready to start writing it.

Peace out Florida! Colorado, here we come!

Hopelessly Romantic

castle-beckett

I’m a hopeless romantic. I admit it. Now, before you go asking for my man card, check yourself. Chances are, so are you. I think most men are romantics, Lovers as well as fighters. I mean, really. All anybody really wants is to be loved and accepted, right? As guys, we just need the right woman to bring it out in us.

I had this once. I was smitten from the moment I first saw her. Sure, I played the game at first. But I was hooked. The gentleman in me emerged. She didn’t want for anything. Never paid for a meal. Always had flowers. Teddy bears galore. You name it. I never let an opportunity to show my love for her pass me by. Well, I tried not to anyway. After all, I’m still human. As much as I would love to make you think I was the perfect husband, I can’t. I have my faults. But I like to think I was perfect for her.

I sometimes feel like I take this whole “hopeless romantic” thing too far, though. For example, I was sitting on my couch the other day watching one of our favorite television shows–Castle. If you’ve never seen it, it’s a romantic crime drama where a playboy crime writer (Richard Castle) shadows one of New York’s finest homicide detectives (Kate Beckett) to gather inspiration for his next novel. One thing leads to another and yes, you guessed it, they fall in love.

I don’t want to ruin it for you, but there comes a point in the series when Beckett decides that she and Castle need to take a break. Castle, being the charismatic playboy that he is, won’t take no for an answer and decides he’s going to win her back, whatever it takes.

This particular episode opens with Kate fixing herself a fancy cup of coffee on the cappuccino machine that Castle bought for the squad. Because you know, a simple coffee pot just won’t do. Kate takes a sip of the coffee, scrunches her face and shudders. I guess she didn’t do such a great job of making her coffee. But, what’s she to do. Can’t really let the coffee go to waste now, can we? Anyway, as the episode progresses, a dead body turns up. Obviously a murder. Castle finds a way to get himself involved with the investigation so that he can be close to Beckett. She grows increasingly frustrated with his antics, even if slightly amused at the idea of his trying to win her back. One thing leads to another. They case is solved. The unlikely duo has once again saved the day. So what better way to celebrate than with a cup of coffee, made by Castle this time?

The scene opens with Castle leaning against a desk holding two cups of what appear to be perfectly made cappuccinos. Kate exits the captain’s office and walks toward Castle, who hands her a cup of coffee. Kate takes the coffee with a smile. She lifts the coffee to her lips. Her eyes close as she inhales the aroma. The look on her face softens, and a slight smile creeps across her face. She takes a sip.

“You always make it so much better,” she says. “Even though you taught me how to make it. I can never quite get it right.”

Castle replies, “That’s because I didn’t teach you everything. I left out one ingredient.”

“Really? Which ingredient was that?”

“I can’t tell you that.”

“Why not?”

“Because then what would you need me for?”

Kate gets “the look.” You know the one, right? That look that the girls get when someone says something sweet, and they go “Aaawwwww! That was so sweet!” Yeah, you know the look. She smiles at Castle, and says, “Then don’t tell me.”

Okay. So at this point I have to tell you that I was screaming at my television, “Kiss him Kate!! You know you want to!” But she didn’t. Instead, she just stood there looking at him. The look on her face was that of longing. You could tell she wanted to grab him and hold him. The camera panned to Castle. He could see it to. But he was determined to let her make the first move. He wanted to win her back. But at the same time, had to respect the space she has asked for. The camera panned to Kate again. I was going crazy!! “Oh my gosh, what is wrong with you! You know you want him!” She did. She wanted to hold him so bad. But she couldn’t.

Maybe that’s why this particular scene hit so close to home? You could see it in her eyes, in the look on her face. She wanted to hold him, to feel his arms around her, holding her close to him. She wanted to feel his heart beat against her chest, to feel her arms around him. To feel as one.

See, I told you I was taking the whole “hopeless romantic” thing too far. You’re probably thinking, “Good grief Steve, you got all that from a scene in a television show?” Yeah, I did. See, I can relate to how Kate was feeling. I feel it all the time. The desire to wrap my arms around Christina. To hold her close to me, to listen to the sound of her breathing. to feel the beat of her heart again. It’s agony to want something so bad, knowing you can’t have it.

Maybe I was projecting my feelings there a little bit. I don’t know. What I do know is I wanted to strangle Kate just then. She never did go to Castle. I imagine in the story (had the camera not faded to black), they both ended up going their separate ways. Maybe there was a better time and place for the embrace. I don’t know. I guess I’ll have to wait for the next episode. Except, the show is on reruns now, so who knows when that will be. Ugh! Maybe I should just go buy the series on DVD? Or stop watching romantic stuff all together? No, that won’t do. I enjoy it too much. Even when it hurts, it’s a good hurt, because it allows me to remember. I remember what it was like to have such a good thing. I remember Christina and my own little romance story. That can’t possibly be a bad thing.

So what’s the lesson? The moral to the story? I guess it would have to be: Don’t wait. If you feel something, act on it. If you love someone, tell them. If you were wrong, say you’re sorry. If someone needs something, provide it for them. And if you find yourself standing in front of your spouse or significant other, longing to hold them in your arms, to feel them close to you, do it. Don’t wait. Take them in your arms. Hold them close. Close your eyes and savor the moment. Make a mental note of how they feel. What they smell like. Can you hear their heartbeat? Their breathing? Can you trace the contour of their shoulder blades? Feel the vertebra in their back? Are they holding you as tightly as you’re holding them? Can you tell where you end, and they begin? Do you feel – as one?

You’ll never regret taking that opportunity. You’ll always regret not taking it. Especially if you find yourself in a position where you’ll never have the opportunity again.

 

Politics

politicsI’ll apologize for the rant now. I wasn’t going to do it. I promise. It’s not my usual topic to write about. And I’m sure to lose a friend or two over my comments. But I just can’t stand it anymore. I’m tired. Tired of seeing all the insults. Tired of the violence. Tired of seeing friends pitted against each other because they have a difference of opinion. I mean, come on! Since when was it wrong to have a difference of opinion? Isn’t that part of what makes us great? We’re all different? Can you imagine how dull life would be if we all thought alike? We’d never have anything to talk about because we’d always agree with each other and know exactly what the other was thinking. How fun would that be?

Aside from all that, the negativity of it all is just incredibly draining. I don’t know about you, but I’m always exhausted after watching a debate, reading about something political, or even perusing my social media threads. How much better would it be if politics was all about the actual issues and making things better? Rather than seeing who could dig up what about who?

So, I’m not going to tell anyone who to vote for. I’m not going to try to sway you one way or the other. In fact, I’m not even going to talk about any one particular candidate. That’s not for me to decide. That decision is totally on you. And you know what? Your vote doesn’t tell me anything more about you than this – you have an opinion and you voiced it. Thank you.

Okay. First things first. When you go to the voting station, or open your “vote-by-mail” packet, you’re going to see a bunch of headings. The first choice will be for “President and Vice President.” That’s what it will say. What it will not say is “Pastor and Vice Pastor.” This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t worry about the issues. It just means that we shouldn’t expect the candidates to fall in line with our doctrinal desires. We aren’t voting for someone to preach for us. We’re voting for someone to lead the country for the next four years. Would it be nice if he/she believed the way we did? Of course. But that is not a prerequisite. Or even a possibility. Because we all think different.

Something else to keep in mind. We all have a past. Everyone. Nobody is exempt. So let me ask you this. Have you ever done anything, that today, you wish you hadn’t done? Have you ever said something, that today, you wish you hadn’t said? Have you ever changed your mind on a subject? Really? Then why are we chastising people for having done the same thing! Why are we digging up all the dirty laundry and showing it to the world? I get that it “goes to their character.” Sort of. Does your past speak for what your character is today? Has your character gotten better over the years? Maybe because of some of those things that you wish you hadn’t done or said? Just curious. No need to answer out loud. Just ask yourself what you motive is when you share that hateful meme on Facebook with an “LOL” next to it. Or Tweet an embarrassing quote, that quite possibly was something said in the heat of the moment, or taken completely out of context. Ask yourself what good it will do. Is it building someone up? Or tearing someone down? Then remember what God said in Matthew 7:12, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” I wonder how different the country (or even the world for that matter) would be if we all just followed this one little rule?

I’m curious really. A lot of what we see and hear now is how we all want a new candidate. We don’t want to vote for any of the candidates on the ballot. I’m guilty of this myself. Well ask yourself this – seeing what happens to those who put themselves out there for the office, would you run? Is there anything in your past that might come up during the campaign? I wonder how many more qualified candidates are out there who don’t run for that reason? I’ve got to be honest. I wouldn’t. Who needs that headache?

So what are we to do? Compliment them? Why not? What would it hurt? In the last debate, the last question was “tell us something you admire about the other candidate.” Wow! What a concept? You mean we can actually have a difference of opinion, and still think positive of someone? Amazing actually. What if we started the debate and ended the debate with that question? That would be cool. But I understand in this day and age, not likely. So what do we do?

Pray. First Timothy 2:1&2 say’s “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” Take a minute. Sit back in your chair, and imagine a country where everyone prayed for the President. WOW! Imagine it! How awesome would that be? So pray! Pray hard! And without ceasing!

Understand that God already knows who will win. He has this whole election under control. And if you belong to Him, you don’t have to worry! We already know how this is going to end anyway. So don’t worry about it. Matthew 6:24 tells us “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it’s own.” Gods got this. And He’s working it for His will, not ours.

God uses imperfect people all the time. And I won’t disagree that our candidates are imperfect. But then, so am I. So are you. And so is everyone else. Read Acts 9:1-19. Even while Saul was plotting murderous acts against Gods people, God was planning to use him to build the kingdom, rather than tear it down. That alone, gives me great peace.

Vote. If you are a citizen of this great country, it’s not just your right. It’s your responsibility. But don’t vote because you just can’t bear the thought of one over the other. Don’t vote because one person has a more colorful past than the other (remember, how colorful a past is, is a matter of opinion also). Vote based on the issues. Vote for the candidate that will do what’s right for the country. And remember. There’s only one person who has ultimate power. And He’s already on the throne.

Be blessed.

The “Mom Switch”

Natural Bridge

Let me start this by saying, I’m a guy. It is what it is. It’s how God made me. I like manly things. It’s easy for me to be rough. I wrestle with the kids, and win – most of the time. If you come to me with a problem, my instinct is to try to fix it. I’m better at eating than I am at cooking. Cleaning doesn’t come naturally to me, and when my daughter mentions the word “boys” I instinctively reach for my shotgun. I am who I am. It’s how God made me.

Because I’m a guy, there are certain things that seem to come natural to me. For example, I’ve been told that I’m a pretty good Dad. I’m Not bragging. It’s just what I’ve been told. Conversely, there are certain things that do not come natural to me. Like, for example, being a mom. That’s why God gave me a wife – even if just for a little while.

My wife was my perfect match. She was awesome at everything I wasn’t, and if she couldn’t do it then I probably could. This “yin & yang” relationship applied to most everything. Especially parenting. She was a great mom, all the way up to the day she passed. She took her last breath while holding the kids hands.

My wife had an amazing amount of patience with the kids. She loved them, and was able to connect with them on a completely different level than I. Whether it was helping them with homework, comforting them when they got hurt or trying to imagine “the perfect wedding,” she was always there, ready to make them feel special. I, on the other hand, was known by all as “the Drill Sergeant.” You can probably imagine how I got that nickname, and the difference between my wife’s relationship with the children and mine.

I find it amazing how God plans things. He brought my wife and I together for a reason. We were a perfect fit. We went together like peas & carrots. She was the chocolate in my vanilla, the sugar in my coffee. She made everything – better.

Mark 10:6-8 (NIV) states “But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

It all makes sense, especially when you get to look at it retrospectively. I have the benefit of having experienced what it’s like when “the two become one flesh.” It just works. There are certain traits that men and women have that the other does not. Women are just naturally more nurturing than men. That’s why when we get hurt, we naturally want Mom. On the other hand, men were built more for battling and protecting. It’s what we’re good at and requires a thicker, less sensitive side. We somehow aren’t bothered when the kids start crying after they fall down. Our natural response is to say something to the effect of “suck it up and drive on”, while Mom bends over to kiss the booboo and “make them feel better” – ugh, gag me please!

So if we are so much better together, then what are we supposed to do when we suddenly find ourselves without our “other half.” Or, in my case, my “better half.”

Study after study has shown that when a person loses the use of one of their senses (vision, hearing, etc.), the other senses become enhanced to pick up where the other can no longer contribute. For example, if someone loses their vision, then typically their hearing becomes enhanced. It’s a body’s natural response to the loss of the other sense.

I would argue that the same applies when we lose our “other half”. When Dad now has to play the part of Mom, or vice versa. It doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it takes a lot of practice, prayer and patience. But eventually, we develop that sense. The ability to take a step back and ask ourselves “what does the situation need at this moment? A mom? Or a dad?” And in my case, it lets me know when to throw – the “Mom Switch.”

Being a Mom is totally different from being a Dad. It’s not easy as a Dad trying to “play Mom.” For starters, there’s no instruction manual. I looked. There really isn’t one. So the best I could do was try to remember what my wife would have done in circumstances needing a Mom rather than a Dad. In these times, I usually ask myself “what would she have done” and then try to picture her sitting there doing what she did best: being a Mom. Then, I throw the Mom switch and go to work.

There are several circumstances where I find myself playing mom. My kids tell me that after four years of practice, I’ve gotten a lot better at it. I on the other hand, still feel inadequate as a mom, and much more comfortable in my role as a Dad. That being said, I do feel that I’ve won a few victories in my role as “Mr. Mom.”

When my wife was alive, we did a great job of tag teaming when it came to Alexys and the topic of boys. She would sit down and talk about how great it is to be in love and how wonderful the wedding day would be. They would look at wedding dresses and get all gushy and weepy. It was sickening to watch;but as long as they didn’t say anything about me sitting there with a shotgun in my lap, I was okay with it.

So, how do I tackle this situation now as a dad playing mom? Well, I can assure you that I haven’t discussed a wedding day or dress. We haven’t gushed or gotten weepy over anyone who just happened to be “the cutest guy ever!”

What I was able to do was put the shotgun away and force myself to come to the understanding that my little girl won’t be little forever. One day (later rather than sooner) she will find a guy that she wants to “go out” with. When this happens, she’s going to tell someone who will likely give her advice. I wanted that person to be me. So I had to throw the Mom switch, even if only halfway. And that meant making myself available for “boy talk.” We do this often, fortunately. I don’t like to brag about much, but I think most would agree that a daughter talking to her Father about boys is a pretty big win.

Just to be fair, I’m still a dad. I can be quite insensitive at times. Not intentionally of course. I’m not trying to be mean, I’m just a little slow to throw the Mom Switch sometimes. That’s all. I mean, the fact that I take pleasure in watching Andrew squirm for a couple seconds before blowing on the scraped up knee I just poured peroxide on doesn’t make me a bad person. Does it?

Okay, all kidding aside. This is a real obstacle. My wife was quite good at recognizing the difference between crocodile tears and real tears. She had a sense about her that would tell her when the kids needed comforting as apposed to a lesson in tough love. It’s this part that I seem to have the hardest time with. When the tears start flowing, I instinctively think, “Really? Why are you crying?” It’s in times like this that I have to take that step back and decide if they need dad? Or a mom? Then decide if it’s time to throw the Mom Switch, or sit back and enjoy the show.

God gave us all kinds of senses. Those senses all have a purpose. They’re all responsible for their own things. So, too, He made men & women, moms and dads,both with their own strengths. Nobody ever said that life was going to be peaches and cream. There’s no expectation of perfection or trouble-free living. It’s life. Things happen. The questions is, what do we do when problems find us? Do we curl up in a fetal position and wallow in self pity? Or throw the Mom switch and get to work?

I choose to throw the Mom Switch and get to work.

God In The Little Things

We’ve all heard the quotes — “our God is a big God” – “There isn’t anything too big for God” – “God can handle this”. Often, it’s during a period in our lives when we are facing what seems to us to be insurmountable odds. An illness. Financial troubles. Divorce. Death. The message is usually delivered in an attempt to make us feel better about the particular problem we are going through.

Let me just say, I love the fact that God is there for me when I face the big problems. But what about the day-to-day things — you know, the little things, those “troubles” that are more of an annoyance than anything else? Are those things too little to bother our big God for”? Shouldn’t we just try to work it out ourselves?

As I was thinking about this, I asked myself what God would say.

Psalm 46:1 says “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (NIV) I don’t know about you, but that one seems pretty self-explanatory. But let’s make it a little more personal. God is MY refuge and MY strength. MINE! So cool! He is an ever-present help. So, I think that means He’s ALWAYS THERE! As in, He never leaves. He’s an ever-present help, in MY trouble. Now, I read that as “trouble”. Not “big trouble”. Just, trouble. Doesn’t matter if it’s big, small or somewhere in the middle. And as cool as that is, it’s not even the best part.

Psalm 55:22 says “Cast your cares on the Lord, and he will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken”. So, not only is He my refuge, strength and ever-present help in time of need. But now He’s commanding me to “cast my cares on the Lord”. Not the big ones. Not the small. But all of them! Is this not the coolest thing? I can take all of my cares, concerns, troubles, worries etc. to God! Does anyone else feel like their life is going to be a lot better from this moment on?

Okay, so by now you’re probably wondering, “Dude, what did you put in your cereal this morning”? Nothing. I had eggs, bacon and pumpkin spice pancakes. But that’s beside the point. I’m excited because I had the opportunity to test this last week.

My beautiful baby girl turned fifteen recently. It’s scary actually, I still remember the day she was born. She was so tiny. It’s hard to believe she’s now a young lady.

Well, we had been planning her day for months now. I would take her to get her drivers permit, and then head over to the church parking lot for some wheel time. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite go as planned. It was a crazy, troublesome morning.

The plan was to get up at seven, get ready to go, then take the 50 question exam online so that we could then head over to the DMV to get the permit. Everything went like clockwork, right up to the start of the exam. Alexys had been taking practice exams that “mimicked the actual exam”. Well, they didn’t. Alexys started to get anxious and was stressing a bit. I calmed her down, and at question 46 the exam stopped and told her she had passed. What followed proved to be decidedly inconvenient – a message stating that it would take up to 24 hours for the exam results to post to the state system. And there went our plans for the day’s activities.

Alexys sighed and hung her head. The look on her face said it all. She was disappointed. In an attempt to make her feel better, I said “lets make a call and see if it’s really 24 hours.”

I called the DMV and asked the very pleasant lady who answered the phone “my daughter just finished her 50 question test and we received a message that it would take up to 24 hrs for the results to post. Is this conservative? Or generous?”

She sighed and said “I really wish they would change that. It’s more like 48 hours.”

“Really? What are the chances that it would be uploaded sooner?”

“Sir, you really need to wait till Monday.”

“Hmm. Well. That’s quite inconvenient.”

“I’m sorry sir.”

“It’s not your fault. Thank you, and have a great day.”

I hung up the phone, looked at Alexys and said “lets go get breakfast and revisit this on a full stomach”.

We went to Cracker Barrel, a family favorite for breakfast. We were seated, and we placed our order. It was time to give her the gift I had gotten for her.

When Alexys was born, I bought Christina a Sapphire ring (September birth stone). Recently, I had the Sapphire ring sized for Alexys. I gave it to her not just as a gift, but as a reminder that she should seek God first, in all of her relationships. She was thrilled and couldn’t seem to keep from smiling.

We made small talk while we enjoyed pumpkin spice pancakes until Alexys got quiet. I asked her “what’s wrong?”

“Do you think we, really have to wait till Friday to get my permit?”

“I don’t know Kiddo.”

“Do you think we could try?”

I could tell it was bothering her, so I decided then and there that we would at least try. But I really wanted to stack the odds in our favor. So I looked up to heaven, and started talking to God.

“God, thank you for Alexys. Thank you for allowing us to spend today together. God, you know how long we have been planning this day. You know how excited we are, and You know how important it is to Alexys. God, I ask that if it be your will, please expedite Alexys test results to the front and put them into the state’s system so that she can get her license today. In Your name, Amen.”

I smiled at Alexys and said “we are going to walk in faith all day believing that God will come through for us.”

She smiled and said “okay.”

We had to get a consent form notarized, so we drove to a bank where we spoke with a very friendly banker. We told her what we were doing and she was excited to help. About halfway through the process she looked up from her ledger and asked “are you a member of the bank?”

“No, but I was told I didn’t have to be.

“By who?”

“The teller”.

“Oh, well, they don’t know anything. We aren’t supposed to do this for non-members, but I’m going to go ahead and do this for you anyway.”

She then looked at Alexys, gave her a wink, and continued documenting the information we needed.

We finished at the bank and gathered the rest of the documents we needed for the DMV. Alexys was hungry, so we stopped for a snack before heading to the DMV.

We arrived at the Winter Garden branch around 1:30pm. When we got there we were advised that the line to get a license had already closed due to the number of people that were already there. I asked if she would be able to check any of the other branches for me. She smiled, handed me a slip of paper, and said “No sir, but feel free to check them yourself”.

I smiled, said “thank you”, and we took a seat while I checked with each of the other branches. They were all closed, except for one. Downtown Orlando had a few spots remaining.

I put myself in line from the Winter Garden branch, and then Alexys and I took a nice leisurely drive downtown. Okay, maybe it wasn’t quite “leisurely”. But we got there safely, and with time to spare.

We waited about 45 minutes, and then our name was called. We approached the clerk and told her what we were there for. She asked “has Alexys had taken the 50 question test?”

I said “yes.”

“Has she waited 24 hours?”

“No.”

She said “I’m sorry, but it takes at least 24 hours to update the system.”

I smiled and said “the message we received said it would take up to 24 hours, which means it might take less and we wanted to give it a shot.”

She sighed and said “okay”.

She started the process and began asking Alexys questions. Alexys looked at me for a couple of them and I, of course, answered for her. The clerk smiled and said “Sir, since it’s her license, I need her to answer.”

I laughed, looked at Alexys and said, “It’s all you Kiddo”. She laughed and I did my best to remain silent. While the clerk was entering information, Alexys and I chatted about our prayer from earlier and we both agreed that God would come through for us. The clerk smiled and continued entering information.

When it came to the point of checking the system for Alexys’ test results, the clerk looked at us with a smile and said “Okay, here we go.”

We smiled and waited with anticipation. The clerk made a few key strokes and then waited for what seemed like an eternity. Then she gave a bit of a surprised look and said “Oh! They’re there!”

Alexys smiled and said “yay!” as I once again looked to heaven and gave Jesus two thumbs up.

Alexys left the DMV, license in hand. I took the obligatory picture of Alexys with her license. We talked all the way home about when and where she would be able to drive. She’s been driving almost everywhere since then, and loving almost every bit of it.

Okay. Yes. It’s a little thing. In the grand scheme of things, a driver’s permit is not a really big deal. But it doesn’t have to be.

Psalm 37:4 says, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” It doesn’t say anything about big or little. He want’s to be in every part of our lives. Is this not cool? Are we not blessed to have a God who loves us this much? In the words of the Pointer Sisters “I’m so excited! And I just can’t hide it! I’m about to lose control and I think I like it!”.

God is great, all the time. All the time, God is great. Big things. Little things. Doesn’t matter. He is great in ALL things. Thank you Lord for all your blessings.

Hindsight

It’s a topic for small gatherings. For fun discussion. Something we talk about when we’re bored. It’s a question we all have probably asked, or been asked at some point in our life. “Knowing what you know now, if you could go back and change one thing or do one thing differently, what would it be?” It’s a pretty deep question actually—one that allows us to think about our past, and the decisions we’ve made, good, or bad (usually bad). It’s kind of fun to think about all the things we could have done–what the possible outcomes would have been, how life would be different now. Of course, then reality hits, we all laugh a bit, and then change the subject. Sound familiar?

I used to think this question was ridiculous. Because I can usually link a pretty valuable lesson that I learned from the decision in question. A lesson that shaped who I am today. But then something happened that changed my opinion. Not totally of course. But I found something that I would change if given the chance. I don’t want to call it a regret, but I would definitely do it differently, if I could.

It was the evening of August 4, 2012. It had been a long day–a very long day. Christina was in bed and there were about eight or ten people in the room chatting with her, including me. At one point, she sat up in bed and said, “I want some ice cream.” Everyone jumped up to get it. I think my mother was closest to the door and ultimately got it for her.

When she came back to the bedroom, she had a full bowl of Chrisina’s favorite–Chocolate/Vanilla twirl. Christina held the bowl and let the ice cream soften a bit. At one point our pastor looked at the ice cream and said “Wow, that ice cream looks really good.” Christina looked up at the pastor, squinted her eyes in a feigned glare and said, “You get your own bowl.” The room erupted in laughter and the slightest grin crept onto Christina’s face. In a time when we were all in agony over the prospect of losing her, she was still able to bring joy to everyone, and lighten the mood a little.

We all talked for a bit more, and then I called it a night. Christina was doing her best to remain strong for everyone that was there. But you could tell her strength was waning.

People were slowly starting to leave, and I was having a hard time keeping my eyes open. I knew Christina would soon be back to sleep, so I said “good night” to her, kissed her, and let myself succumb to the sleep that so desperately called to me.

That’s it. That’s the moment that, if given the chance, I would change. See, that was the last time I saw Christina awake. That was the last time I kissed her and got a reaction from her. It was the last time I got to converse with her. It was the last time I heard her sweet voice.

When I woke up the next morning, Christina was asleep. Her breathing pattern had changed. She was taking about 5 or 6 breaths a minute. I knew at this moment that she would never wake up again. And she never did. I laid there with her for the remainder of her life. At about 1:20 pm, while she was surrounded by family, wrapped in my arms, and holding each of our children’s hands, Christina took her last breath on this earth.

I tell people that I have no regrets. Christina and I had a lively marriage. We fought like cats and dogs. We disagreed on a lot of things. We hurt each other, said things we shouldn’t have said. We also had wonderful times. We took trips. We moved across the country. We have two beautiful children. We built a house together. But more than any of that, we loved each other unconditionally. No matter what happened, we both knew that we would be there for each other. Leaving never crossed our minds. We were best friends. I miss her dearly. Every day.

So what is it? What would I have done differently on that night? Well, if I had it to do over again, I would have fixed a pot of coffee, and stayed up all night talking with her. Listening to her. Looking at her. Holding her hand. Rubbing her feet. Whatever. Just being with her.

See, even when we are caring for someone who is on the brink of death, we find ourselves getting into a routine. That routine tends to give us blinders to the cold reality of our situation. I went to bed that night fully expecting to see Christina the next day, fully expecting to fix her breakfast, to help her get cleaned up, to give her a hug and a kiss good morning. I expected to have that next day with her. It was the routine.

I wonder how much our daily routine blinds us to the reality of life. How many of us went to bed tonight expecting to see our loved ones in the morning? How many of us leave for work in the morning expecting to see our loved ones when we get home? How many of us say mean and cruel things, expecting to have the chance to say we’re sorry? How many of us will one day say “I wish I had fixed a pot of coffee so that I could just be with her a little while longer”?

The bottom line is that we will all make mistakes. We will all do crazy things. And we’ll all have those times when we wish we could have done something different. It’s life. The question is, “What can I learn from those times to help make my life better”? Maybe that’s the question we should be asking in small gatherings. For fun discussion, or when we’re bored–or when we really want to know. Maybe?

A Scary Moment & A Thank You

Everyone who knows me, knows my motto. Living life “one moment at a time”. I mean, that’s all we really have to live anyway, right? This moment? The one we’re in right now? So let’s focus one the moment. Whether good, bad, so so. Or, in this particular case…..scary.

 So, yesterday I had a pretty scary moment. Now, scary means different things to different people. But I think it’s safe to say that most anyone would have found this situation, scary. It started with a text message from Alexys at 12:20 in the afternoon.
“Can I talk to you? Something is wrong”.
Now, usually when I get these sort of text messages I role my eyes and wonder “what’s she having an issue with now”. She does tend to over exaggerate on occasion. So I replied back to her saying “sure”. After about a minute, I decided to call her instead. She answered, but I couldn’t understand what she was trying to say. I thought we had a bad connection. But I’m not totally sure anymore. The call disconnected, and I sent her a text asking if it was something that could be texted. I did not get the reply I was anticipating.
“This is the nurse. She is having what I believe to be an anxiety attack”.
At this point, I started wondering why it was the nurse texting back, and not Alexys. So asked for a phone number, which she provided. I called, and the nurse began filling me in on the situation. Alexys came to her “not feeling well”. But it wasn’t the normal “not feeling well” that Alexys has. The nurse informed me that Alexys was having some blurred vision, a tingly feeling in her arms, she was having a hard time forming a thought, and when she smiled, one side of face didn’t. It was actually a little “droopy”. It was at this time that she told me she wanted to call EMS.
Well, I’m not sure what you’re thinking right now. But I immediately kicked into “First Responder” gear. My mind went back to all of the medical training I had ever received. But things just weren’t computing. I mean, all the signs and symptoms were saying that Alexys was having a stroke. But my logical mind started saying things like “really Steve? Who has a stroke at 13 years old”. It just wasn’t adding up. But I wasn’t taking any chances either. So I told the nurse to go ahead and contact EMS, and I would be on my way.
Now, I don’t know about anyone else. But when an emergency strikes, things go into slow motion. I mean, not like time slows down. But like, I hit EVERY red light. And the only people on the road all of a sudden thought it was Sunday, and started driving accordingly. I won’t lie, I started praying. It went something to the tune of “Lord, please clear the roadways of idiots, slow drivers, and Law Enforcement”. I must have had the same trouble formulating thoughts that Alexys was having, because I’m confident that God heard the complete opposite of what I was praying. And answered accordingly.
I was just around the corner from the school when the nurse called back. She advised that EMS was at the school, and that Alexys had calmed down and her symptoms were starting to go away. EMS was giving a choice of transporting her to the Emergency Room, or allowing me to take her to our Primary Care Physician. I told her that I was almost there, and that I would take Alexys to see her Primary Care Physician.
Once I got to the school, I located Alexys in the school nurses office. She was playing with her fingers like they had fallen asleep and she was trying to wake them up. The nurse let me know that she was doing better, but that she still needed to see her doctor. I asked Alexys how she was feeling, and she tried to tell me, but was still having a hard time formulating her thoughts into sentences. I remember feeling extremely frustrated. I was trying to figure out if this was one of her usual “I don’t feel well” moments, or if there was really something more going on. I remember in that moment, my demeanor was more direct and to the point. Versus concerned, nurturing, and consoling. I wonder now what the nurse must have been thinking about me.
I took Alexys home, and called to schedule an appointment with her pediatrician. I was able to get an appt for 4pm. While I was changing and getting ready to take Alexys to the doctor, she started complaining that she was feeling nauseous, and had a headache. And it continued throughout the entire 40 minute drive to the pediatrician. Once we got to the pediatrician, it got the best of her and she threw up 3 times in the bushes outside the pediatricians office. It was at this time that I was finally able to transition into what I’ve affectionately dubbed “Mom Mode”. I helped her get cleaned up, put my arm around her, told her it would be okay, and then walked her into the pediatricians office.
Now, everything started to move at warp speed. We saw the pediatrician, explained the situation to her, and the symptoms that were displayed. She did a complete work up on Alexys and everything came back normal. However, some of the symptoms that Alexys had displayed earlier were really concerning the pediatrician. She made some phone calls and consulted with a few other physicians, and then ultimately came to the conclusion that Alexys needed to be taken to the Emergency Room. She recommended Arnold Palmer Childrens Hospital, and then called ahead for us so that they would be ready for us when we got there.
As we were on our way to Arnold Palmer, Alexys started asking questions. She wanted to know what had everyone so concerned. I debated briefly as to whether or not I should tell her what I was thinking, but decided that if I didn’t, she wouldn’t stop asking. So I figured I’d be up front and honest. I told her that her symptoms were telling everyone that she may have had a stroke. I explained to her what that meant, and the possible implications. And while she was obviously concerned, and voiced as much. I feel like she processed the information well. Didn’t really freak out. Obviously concerned. But ready to face it head on to see what was going on.
While the fears were real, and concerns were not without merit. It wasn’t the case at all. When we arrived at the hospital, the staff jumped into action. I was extremely impressed with not only their professionalism, but also their level of care and concern for Alexys, and me. It was not something I had ever experienced at a hospital before. Now, I’m not saying hospitals don’t care, but Arnold Palmer took it to a different level. They quickly got her back into the ER and immediately started running the necessary tests to figure out what was wrong. In an effort to make sure the story was accurate, Alexys was asked repeatedly, by different nurses and doctors, to recount the incident and symptoms. I know I heard her repeat it at least 8 times between the Pediatrician and Emergency room. Each time, it was exactly the same. It actually became a joke for us. Each time she was asked to recount it, we looked at each other, smiled, and then I would say “8,972,3,4”. And then everyone would laugh.
The Dr’s and Nurses were Fabulous. The took great care of Alexys, and made sure that she was comfortable with each procedure. And if she got nervous, they took the time to comfort her and answer all of her questions. In the end, all of the tests came back normal. It was determined that Alexys had not suffered a Stroke, but an Ocular Migraine. She was discharged from the hospital in the morning. And we were given instructions to follow up with a Neurologist soon to determine how to prevent/treat future occurrences. We came home, and Alexys promptly went to bed and slept from 2pm till 6:30am the next day. I did pretty much the same, just not as long as Alexys.
It’s often been said, that in our greatest time of need, we will find out who our true friends really are. Well, if that’s truly the case, then this adventure demonstrated that not only do I have a lot of people that truly care for me. But I’m also incredibly blessed. Dozens of “FaceBook Friends” commented and acknowledged posts updating on the situation. My phone was blowing up from all of the texts messages asking about how we were doing. Several people asked if I needed help with Andrew. Fortunately, I had AWESOME family looking after him. One of my new friends text me to say that she was in the area and could stop by to pray with us. And when she didn’t get a response, just came anyway and waited till we were done with the doctor to come in and sit with us. She prayed with us before Alexys went back for her MRI. And then waited with our stuff till we got back from it. Other friends stopped by to bring Alexys a “get well” poster. And then sat with her while I went to get some food for her and I. Our Pastor came by in the morning and prayed with us. And then my dive instructor brought me coffee and breakfast in the morning. Every need was met. And was done by friends/family who just stepped up. They went into action as if it had been practiced. And I can’t even begin to tell you just how comforting it was. I am truly blessed.
So, to end this post, I want to express my most sincere appreciation to all of you that reached out to help me in my time of need. Whether you called, text, emailed, came to the hospital, took care of my son, or just acknowledged my post to let me know you heard me and were thinking of me. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. It is because of people like you, that I am able to continue this difficult journey and still maintain my sanity. Thank you.

Seasoning

I am always amazed at how sometimes, the simplest concept can just blow me away. And when I say “blow me away”, I mean really “wow” me. Make me really think. Not just about it’s profound nature, but also at how simple it is, and yet I still didn’t think of it. Well, one of these moments happened to me last week. I was having a conversation with a recently acquired new friend. We were meeting at a local Panera Bread and getting to know each other a little better. Now, I’ll be honest, I felt as though I was the one in the hot seat. But that’s okay. It gave me a chance to reminisce a little bit about Christina as I related my journey to my new friend. We had such a great time, chatting, getting to know each other, and brainstorming (but that’s for another post).

Okay, so what does that have to do with seasoning? Well, if you know me, then you know that I love to experiment with cooking different things. And when you experiment with cooking, you start learning about which seasonings work better with/than others. Sometimes it works out. Other times…….not so much. But I still LOVE to experiment. Figuring out which seasons work best with others. Which ones work better with different foods. I’ve gotten pretty good with matching seasonings to foods. Although I still sometimes get a little over enthusiastic in their application of the seasonings to those particular foods. If you would like to hear more about my disasters, feel free to ask the kids. They’ll be happy to point out my flaws to anyone who asks……..with, of course, the proper dollar amount. But don’t worry, it’ll be money well spent, going directly to their college education.

Now, contrary to what you might think, I didn’t start this post for the purpose of discussing my cooking inefficiencies. No, it’s much deeper than that. Our discussion turned to a different kind of season. See, just like the weather will go through seasons over the course of a year. We too will go through seasons over the course of our lifetime. Now, I personally prefer Spring and Fall. But that’s me. I know this other guy (I think he’s a little crazy) who absolutely LOVES Winter. (Don’t worry Dad, I won’t tell them it’s you). It’s kind of like cooking. I have a couple of seasons that I like to use more than others. And then there’s some that I have absolutely no use for. I wouldn’t say that your wrong because you DO have a use for it, but it wouldn’t make you right either. Okay, all kidding aside now (I love you Dad!!), there is a point here. During my conversation with my new friend, he gave me a quote that was so incredibly simple, yet so profound. He said “Seasons, season seasons**”. Yes, I had to stop and think about that for a second. But it’s so true!! Just like in cooking, we season our food to add flavor and make it better. What would Spring be, if we didn’t first go through Winter? I can tell you that I probably wouldn’t appreciate it as much if it weren’t for how much I dislike Winter. And so too in life, every season we go through, adds season and flavor to the next.

Now I know what you’re probably thinking……”but Steve, what about all those times you put the wrong seasoning in you food and made it taste bad?”. Yeah, I get it. Not every season in our life is a good one. And if given the chance, we would likely put it back on the shelf. But if we take a moment to think about it, it works. See, just because a season didn’t taste good in one dish, doesn’t mean it won’t taste good in another dish. So in experimenting, we learn were to apply that particular season. We have to be proactive in our approach. The same process applies in life. We may go through some tough seasons. Seasons we would much rather not have gone through. But if we are proactive in our approach to life, we learn where to apply the season so that it makes the next season of our life a little (or a lot) better. But it’s up to us to apply it properly. It may take a lot of trial and error. And we may screw up some other seasons. But like in cooking. If we screw it up one way. We learn from it, and don’t do it that way again. We try a different way. Until we get the desired result.

Jesus said in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. I mention this because, while I REALLY enjoy experimenting, there are still times when I have to consult an expert. Someone that can direct me in the desired direction. Someone who wants to give me hope for my future of cooking (or has pity on my kids). So too in life, we may need to consult an expert to direct us in the desired direction. Someone who wants to give us hope and a future. And I personally, am incredibly grateful to Him for helping me through my seasons, and giving me the direction I need to make each subsequent season, the most flavorful of all of them. Don’t be afraid to let your seasons, season your seasons.

** Quote credit to my new friend Mark Goldstein. Thank you sir!!