Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day - 2008

Well, tomorrow is the last day of our week here in Louisiana with our extended family. It's amazing how fast the days go by. Our hometowns of Bossier City & Shreveport resemble less and less of what they did back in the days of our youth, but that's OK. They're growing rapidly and that's a good thing.

We've lived apart from our families for over eight years now. When we come back home or when our family members come see us in Georgia, the few days we spend together are always so precious because that time is "it". There's no "I'll see you next week." We usually say goodbye knowing that it's going to be quite a while before we see each other again. That's just the way our lives are right now. The frequency is kind of sparse, but the quality of our relationships has really strengthened through these circumstances.

Tonight, our three oldest kids are staying with their cousins in Haughton. I'm curious to find out what time they actually go to sleep tonight. Our youngest stayed back with me because he'd probably present more challenges than my sister and her husband would care to take-on right now. He got a little upset while they were leaving for the slumber party, but once I whispered in his ear how much I wanted him to be with me, he quickly calmed down and led me to his toys so we could play.

I fed him a spaghetti dinner followed by some remaining birthday cake (I turned 34 today), we played some more, I prompted him to go potty a few times, and then I eventually got him in his PJ's for bedtime. Tonight, it was him alone that would be sleeping in my parents' extra bedroom. No brothers or sister to accompany him in the night. We turned off the lamp and then I sang a few Christmas carols to him. He doesn't know the words, but he was sure trying to sing with me during those last syllables of each line. Hearing his little voice sing those notes was overwhelming to me. I cherish these moments . . . the kind of moments when God reminds me of the purity in the hearts of my children. (The kind of purity I should have in mine) Yes, they're crazy and disobedient at times, but the true essence of their purpose and intent is to love.

When I stopped singing, he began whispering to me. He just turned 3 and I still can't really understand much of what he says, but nonetheless, he whispered a ton of things to me and I bet they were ALL wonderful ideas. He accepted the fact that I had to leave him so that he could go to sleep. We prayed our bedtime prayer, said night-night, and I left him there. One day our relationship will be much different, but for now, I'm just savoring the sweet simple moments like this. Thanksgiving is year-round for me. I don't deserve any of my blessings, which is why I try to always give thanks to God for what I do have.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

My Kids

I've been a dad for almost ten years. When Hannah first came into view that perfect day on February 11th, 1999, my first words were, "She's so beautiful." To this day, I have to refrain from saying that to her face too much because then she may become what most people refer to as "stuck up." But I assure you, I keep her well-grounded and humble.

The reason I'm writing today is because this morning as I was making my coffee, I came to a realization that my life is so blessed by my kids. I can honestly observe them living their little lives and then change my life to be better because of the lessons they've taught me. I'm their example to follow in many ways, but even more-so, they are examples for me to follow. I know there will likely come a day when they will test the boundaries and present a real parenting challenge to me, but I'm confident that the love we've established will keep them always aware that I'm in their hearts at all times. It's not my wrath that will keep them from plunging into horrible decisions, but rather my love and trust in them.

I ask that you pray for parents all across the world to love their children. And also, I ask for you to pray for those "to be" parents that may be having a difficult time conceiving. I don't know why I've been blessed with four wonderful kids, but one thing is for sure, I do not and will not take it for granted. If I was to die this very day, I will have already obtained such an awesome quality of life because of my kids and my wife.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Jury Duty

I have spent the last four days at the courthouse serving as a juror. It definitely was an eye-opener. When I received my summons to report for jury duty, the one thing I hoped for was to NOT be faced with a criminal trial involving harm to children. Well, that's exactly what it was.

We were instructed by the judge to presume the defendant to be innocent until proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt, and I did just that. I listened, I took notes, and I thought day an night about everything I had heard and seen. In the end, it was one person's word against another's. The prosecution did not give us clear answers to some of the significant arguments presented by the defense. We ultimately had to vote "Not Guilty". The reason is because the State has the burden of proof. They have to prove that the defendant is guilty; however, we had nearly eight areas of reasonable doubt. This does not mean that I think the defendant is innocent. It just means that according to the law and also according to my conscience, I cannot convict someone when I have reason to believe that they themselves could be the victim of false accusations.

It was very frustrating, but we all did what we were supposed to do according to the judge's instructions and that's how our system is designed. It's obviously not perfect, but it is considered by many to be the best in the world.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


On the morning of September 11th, 2001, I went to work as normal, which was at Brooks AFB, TX. My team and I began our daily stand-up telecon at 0830 with our D.C. army representatives on the line. Just shy of 0900, one of the D.C. guys was told that an airplane had hit one of the World Trade Centers in New York. We initially thought it was just a tragic accident made by an inexperienced private pilot, but a few minutes later, he was interrupted again to learn that a second "jet" had hit the other World Trade Center and that the U.S. was under an active terrorist attack. The base immediately entered into threatcon Delta, which means that only mission essential personnel are to stay on duty and all others have only minutes to get off base before the gates are locked down. So I drove home to our little apartment and monitored the news throughout the morning and helplessly watched my fellow innocent Americans burn to death or leap. Then the Pentagon was hit.

I put myself in the place of those who were above the impacted floors of the WTC buildings. I imagined the confusion, fear, and decisions that would have gone through my mind. Thoughts of never hugging my kids or wife again. Thoughts of them having to grow up without me there to help them. Thoughts of how I was about to die. It truly caused me to pause, and still does to this day. I just accept the fact that evil exists in this world and all I can do is live each day as if it were possibly my last. I believe that God gave people free will to make good and bad decisions. I choose to keep my focus on the broader purposes of life, which I believe is to love God and love others. Friends and enemies alike...I want them all to be in heaven one day and if I wish eternal damnation for evildoers, then I'm just playing right into the hands of Satan. He wants us to harbor hate and revenge, but I feel like I need to look at it through spiritual eyes and NOT necessarily my physical eyes and mind. Yes, at times I don't abide by that goal. I absolutely find myself wanting the very worst for these people who inflict pain, suffering, and misery on innocent lives, but that doesn't change God's love for ALL of us.

I challenge whoever reads this to just say a simple prayer that God's love will somehow enter into the hearts and lives of terrorists throughout the world. To some, that's a radical concept, but I think that's what we should do as believers in Jesus.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Encouragement of the Day

At times in my life, I've asked God to give me some kind of proof to remind me of His existence, but then I feel convicted because of the fact that he's already given me so much proof in the past, starting with his resurrection. I just want to encourage anyone reading this to stop and remember all the things that God has done in your life leading you up to where you are today. If you do that, you'll always have a grateful heart and you're faith will hopefully remain strong.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Project

I'm back. Not that anyone is actually checking my blog yet (with the exception of my mother . . . hey, Mom!)

I just thought I'd post some pictures of my current project, which is to build a roof for my back deck. Our poor deck has been beaten up by the sun, rain, humidity, and varying temperatures, so my answer to this dilemma is to create a barrier between it and those elements. I'm so excited to have a nice place to enjoy the outdoors without actually being rained-on or burned up by the glaring sun.

Well, enjoy the photos depicting the evolution of our project. And oh yeah, I'm not the real builder. I have a great friend named Ron who deserves the credit for knowing how to do this stuff. He's basically in charge and I'm his helper. As you'll see, our deck is high off the ground and I'm afraid of heights, so this has been quite a challenge . . . more-so for Ron because he's usually doing the death defying tasks that I'm too ignorant (and too chicken) to do. OK . . . enough rambling . . .

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Beach Photos

Just wanted to share more photos of our time at the beach. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Back From The Beach

Well, we're back! It's amazing how fast it went by, but it's also good to get home. I'd like to summarize a couple of things that I found exceptionally special about this trip.

First, Michelle was able to spend precious time with her mom and sister. They recently lost a special member of their "family of ladies." Her name was Mimi and she was Michelle's grandmother. Since I met Michelle in late '95, it was always the four of them. Mimi was always right there in the mix keeping up with whatever activity was going on. She lived a good strong life right up until the end, and I sense that the remaining three really acknowledge how important it is that they spend time together. I could tell that they all felt right at home when they were in each other's company.

Secondly, I was able to be with my family 100% of each day for a solid week. Although it may seem like I'm just stating the obvious, it's really an amazing thing when I step back and think about it. During most of my routine life, the time with my wife and kids is chopped-up into little opportunities here and there. During this vacation, we were in a place that didn't allow us to be apart, and I cherished every little second of it. We woke up together, played together, rested together, ate together, and just lived as one close-knit crew for 7 straight days. It was so amazing.

I don't have any humorous angles to spin on this blog because I'm kind of heavy-hearted right now. I guess I'm just in a state of thankfulness for my family. And yes, in-laws are included in that statement. That may have sounded like a jab of sarcasm, but I'm serious. They're awesome. I've always been a somewhat sensitive guy, but as I get older, I'm just turning into a complete sap. Oh, well. It's all good. Later.

Oh, yeah. Here is a picture of the beach and also one of Michelle's mom and sister with the kids.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Beach (Date Night!)

Tonight is DATE NIGHT! Michelle and I are going to have a moment alone! We have no idea what we'll do or where we'll go, but does it really matter? We'll be free for a good 4 or 5 sacred hours!

All kidding aside, it is good to have some time to "date" my wife. I'm so guilty of letting routine and fatherhood get in the way of my relationship with Michelle. I truly believe that at the nucleus of a successful family is a close marriage. That's why these opportunities are so important. Not because we need to have fun together or get a break from parenthood (although those things are great too), but more importantly, Michelle needs to know that the fire hasn't died in my heart. I don't want her to just feel like she's a part of my life. She needs to understand and feel like she's the pinnacle of my life, above which nothing else exists except for our relationship with God. Pardon me if that sounds mushy, but it's true. There's God, then there's our marriage, and then there's life, which is derived from those top two elements.

So anyway, we're going out tonight and I can't wait. It shouldn't be too long from now. Michelle is with our three oldest kids at the pool right now, but once they get back, it's on, baby.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Beach (Day 3 of 7)

Each morning I've gone down to the shore at around 6:30 to just take in a moment of relaxation, because once the kids get up, my day usually becomes a string of tasks with three common goals:
  1. Maintain peace and order
  2. Sustain life
  3. Prevent self-inflicted harm

After sipping coffee by the water and watching dolphins skim the ocean's surface, I returned home to the sound of my oldest son vowing to never use his (current) toothbrush again. The reason for his proclamation was because his sister had accidentally used it. Although her mix-up was an honest mistake, I can truly sympathize with him. Throughout the night, something happens in my beautiful daughter's mouth that produces quite lethal vapors by 7:00 a.m. or so. If you stop to think about it, the whole purpose of a toothbrush is to remove most, if not all, of the nastiness that's causing those smells of death. For that reason, I too, would vow to replace my toothbrush if faced with such a dilemma.

The rest of the day was really great. I kept the kids while the ladies did some afternoon shopping at the local outlet mall in Foley. My wife, Michelle, brought back some crawfish etouffe from my favorite local restaurant. It was awesome. So far, this get-away has been exactly what we hoped it would be . . . FUN.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Beach (Day 2 of 7)

We just completed day-2 of a 7-day vacation in Fort Morgan, AL. Basically, it's a little strip of sand that somehow stayed above sea level and they built some beach houses there. If you look it up on Mapquest or Google Maps, you'll see what I mean.

We're having a blast! We've seen dolphins each morning just 100 yards offshore, which was a first for me. We've also been stung by jelly fish and fooled by a floating trash bag disguised as a sting ray. Boy, did we look stupid jumping around shouting "STING RAY." The drawstring really gave it away several minutes into the gleeful celebration. I guess everyone needs a humbling moment like that every now and then.

Tonight we went "crabbing." That involves running around the beach with a flashlight, net, and bucket while chasing little crabs who just want to be left alone. In the end, we let them all go, but I'm sure they weren't amused by our idea of "fun."

Well, I'll stop right there and share more in a day or two. When we get home I'll post some pictures. Until then, take care.