New Years Resolution- Find Your 1 Million

So I purposefully waited to write my New Years Resolutions until January 17th. We’ll sort of…. half of the month has seen me in bed, hopped up on pain pills, and recovering from ankle surgery. As I was NOT sleeping last night I thought about New Year resolutions. More so I thought about how all of us probably jammed Christmas cookies into our mouth and washed it down with <beverage of your choice> on New Years Eve.., saying “it all starts tomorrow… next year…  now that is the year I will be able to see my feet again”! What was it for you? Are you going to run a half marathon this year? Go to church more? Lose 10-20-30 pounds? Finally clean your garage?

I tell you what I did… I wrote on my page “Do or Do Not” (thanks Yoda) and put a period to end my goal writing. Remember, I told you I’ve been on bed rest… so yeah this isn’t suppose to make sense… but stick with me.

Let me introduce you to Jackson, 4 years, and Colin, 2 years. They are bottomless pits in many ways. They eat like their weight in food daily, ask questions like auctioneers, and have an insatiable appetite for love. Let me also introduce you to the 117 people that work for me at Discover. You know what they all have in common? All 119 have eyes, ears, and mouths (some larger than others).

So what am I going to give to these 119 lives that I have been entrusted with? “Hey Jim, I’m going to run a half marathon for you buddy”! “Hey Colin, this year I am going to read my Bible every day just for you”! Jim would give a positive encouragement and Colin would respond with “daddy I am going to be an Avenger”…. or maybe Jim was the Avenger and Colin the encourager…. meh.

So I further scratched in my journal… “this year I am going to do when I should do and don’t when I should don’t. When I don’t and I should’ve done and I do when I should’ve don’t, I will own it. Regardless of when I do and when I don’t and should and shouldn’t not, I will do no less than do with humility, patience, and a general desire to pay it forward for all the do and don’t times that we’re blessed upon me”.

Wow I really don’t make sense! Or does it? Boil that down into non-pain killer English… my goal is this…. change the world one action at a time. I spoke of my boys and my employees, so here are two tips for you to think about to start your year:

My Boys- I sat in bed with them last night and just talked about nonsense. Are the Avengers real? Why was the Hulk green? What they wanted for their birthdays, etc. Do you know what I did? I just listened and answered their questions. While they may be silly questions to you or I, they were important to my boys. What they learned is that I will listen to them and take them seriously. It’s a foundation of any relationship, people want to be heard and taken seriously, in turn you build trust and respect in that relationship.

What about work? Is it possible to be relational with 117 people? Of course not! I mentioned earlier “pay it forward”… so let’s talk about that. I have 5 directs and they have a total of 16 managers that report to them. So my goal is to pour into 21 people to “push it” to the remaining 97. Simple, right? Everyone wants to be heard and taken seriously, so as leaders we must put people in those situations and develop those skills. I purchased Emotional Intelligence 2.0 for all those managers and we do a weekly “book club”.  Why? If 1 person can engage 20 people, and those 20 impact 10 each, that’s a small company! How many generations of “pay it forward” to touch 1 million people? Slightly more than 5! My friends… THAT is a positive revolution that can change the world! (The world… assuming a 7.5 billion population… that’s slightly less than 9 generations of “pay it forward”) 

See wasn’t lying 😜

Today is Your Tomorrow and Yesterday is Never Again

Jackson,

My dear son… If you are on schedule you will be here in 100 days! If you hold true to form you are going to be a feisty little boy with an attitude!

Jack…. you are going to have so many wonderful experiences in your life that are going to create a wonderful memories! I have so many memories to share with you from my life… and it will start the day that you come into this world. I remember so many wonderful days in my life… March 22, 2000 in Panama City, FL was when I first accepted Jesus into my heart… August 22, 2001 in Glendale, AZ was the day I was baptized… June 2002- graduating from Ohio State… September 11, 2008- the first date with your mommy… and June 12, 2010 was the day I married the most wonderful woman in the world! You will be the next great memory of my life!

Memories can be both wonderful and a curse. For me they have been a bit of both throughout my life, and I want to impart a bit of wisdom on you so that you can avoid the curse 🙂 As great as memories are, they can also be like swimming with anchors tied around your feet.

Until a couple of months ago I spent my free thoughts overwhelming myself with “what if I would have done this one thing different in my life”. I remember back in 8th grade basketball try outs when I just quit because there were some guys that gave me a hard time. Or when I walked off the baseball field in the 7th grade when there was one boy on the team that made fun of me. I would think back to school projects and organizations that I quit on or didn’t try. I remember specific interactions with people who needed me and I let them down. I remember the girl in 2nd grade that broke my heart because she moved… and I remember losing close friends because I chose people that were bad for my life.

I would get lost in thought for hours at a time… instead of hitting the gym or picking up my Operations book… I thought and recalled memories. In the past month I have written apology e-mails to people I wasn’t always nice to that were there for me… prayed repentence for poor choices I have made….

A few months ago I decided that I wasn’t going to be a victim and handcuffed by my obsession with past memories. It’s a big pile of shit to dig out of… but I am digging. I share this with you because I do not want you to be someone that dwells on the past… because as I have experienced it can and will become an addiction.

The “I would have done that differently”… turns into a negative self view… you quickly identify your weaknesses… become timid and doubtful in your decision making (because you don’t want to make the same mistake again)..and these things are not a good feeling.

The one thing that I have learned is that memories are just a small piece of who you are and they DO NOT define you! There is no reason to look back and be stuck in thought… wondering how life would have turned out if you made different decisions. After all… the slightest change in my decision making process would have led me down a different path… that didn’t lead to your mommy, you, and future siblings.

Take my advice son… do not bond yourself to memories… they are anchors on your heart and mind. The release I feel by not getting lost in my past memories is amazing… and I want you to have an amazing life… never being bonded by these things!

I toast my Diet Cranberry Sierra Mist to you my son and to all the GOOD memories we are about to have!

Love Dad

So What Are You and What Will You Be?

So my child… we saw you today… and we know what you are!! I must say, it was one of the most exciting heart warming moments of my life!! You already know what you are… but we will draw it out a few moments longer for the benefit of the reader 🙂 I cannot call you by name, because your momma and I are not agreeing at the moment 🙂

This was one of the coolest experiences ever! The nurse showed us your heart and explained how it was strong. Then we saw your brain, spine, eyes, ears, fingers, and toes… everything looked great! Then… THEN… THEN… as eh hem… big as you please… we saw that you were a boy!!!!!!

My baby boy… I had close to a million dreams flow through my brain all at once about you. I could see you kicking and throwing a ball, mowing the yard, and watching football with me. My dreams were big and probably on par for a dad… would you be the Buckeyes quarterback? Run for president someday? Preach every Sunday? Throw a no-hitter in Yankee Stadium?

So now on to your possible names… I am still sold on “Jackson”… but your mom is worried that it is too popular. We somewhat agree on “Carter”… your momma likes “Reid”…”Bentley” has even been discussed….  so really your name could go in any direction. Just know that we are going to put a lot of love and thought into this… so hopefully you won’t be disappointed!

I have had a country song in my head all day as I have been thinking you. It is a father singing about interactions with his son. It goes something like this, “I’ve been watching you… dad ain’t that cool… I’m your buck-a-roo I wanna be just like….. blah blah blah” 🙂 It keeps it real for me that you will be watching everything I do…good and bad. The pressure is on to show you how to be a good man… one better than I am.

There are some things I want you to see in my life that I need to work on. I want you to be able to see Christ in my life… and for you to desire to seek Him and lead your family to him. I want you to fight for the poor and the weak. If you see a boy at school that is being picked on for whatever reason… be his friend. If you see a child at lunch that cannot afford to eat, let me know so I can send extra money with you to school. You put your heart into everything you do and I will support you and encourage you… but I will never let you be a quitter like I was. I know you are going to be an athlete… but be a scholar as well! Grow big and strong physically, but make sure that your heart and mind grow as well.

I have no doubt that a year from now you will be by my side watching the Buckeyes, Browns, Cavs, and Indians. Rooting for any other team is unacceptable in this household. You will have to move in with your grandparents if you choose any of the following to root for: Michigan, LeBron James, or any team from Boston, Pittsburgh, or New York. Your mom is insisting that you take up soccer… and be a kicker in football… but you will start a strict diet and regime in June of next year to become the next great Line Backer at Ohio State. So please rest now while you can.  Your grandpa’s are going to be ready to fill what little free time you will have with loads of fishing (grandpa Kevin), biking (grandpa Grant), and conversion to USC and Arizona sports (grandpa Tom). BUT PLEASE DO NOT let grandpa Grant talking you into wearing biker shorts!

Well I will let you rest up… your busy life starts son!

Good night son

 

 

Be a Simple Kind of Man (or Woman) :)

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My Child,

When I write the next blog post to you we will know if you are a growing little boy or a growing little girl. Mom and I still haven’t settled on names for you, so for now I will call you by the names I love… Jack and Grace… so your womb name is going to be Graciejack 🙂

Graciejack,

As I was sitting here tonight thinking and praying about you… again wondering what type of man/woman you will grow to be… and how I can raise you as a humble God-loving/fearing person. A song came into my head by the late great Lynyrd Skynyrd…. it is called “Simple Kind of Man” and the lyrics go like this:

Mama told me, when I was young
Come sit beside me, my only son
And listen closely, to what I say.
And if you do this
It will help you some sunny day.

Ohh take your time… Don’t live too fast,
Troubles will come,
and they will pass.
Go find a woman and you’ll find love,
And don’t forget son,
There is someone up above.

And be a simple kind of man.
And maybe some day you’ll love and understand.
Baby be a simple kind of man.
Won’t you do this for me son,
If you can?

Forget your lust
for the rich man’s gold
All that you need is in your soul,
And you can do this if you try.
All that I want for you my son,
Is to be satisfied.

Boy, don’t you worry… you’ll find
yourself.
Follow you heart and nothing else.
And you can do this if you try.
All I want for you my son,
Is to be satisfied.

Graciejack… I want this song for your life (I have linked the video for your enjoyment)!! There are so many things to take from this song and really apply it to your life! Be a SIMPLE kind of man (or woman… but I am going to say man just to keep it simple… not that I want you to become a man if you are a girl… well baby you know what I mean!!). What does it mean to be simple? Can you drive a Ferrari and be a SIMPLE man? Can you buy the biggest house? Dress in the fanciest clothes? Import your drinking water from the Alps? Probably not. To be SIMPLE is to be thankful for all the many blessings that God gives you… to be humble when called to be… to give when you have little… to love unconditionally… and to forgive always.

“Don’t live too fast… troubles will come and they will pass”… can I hear an AMEN!! 🙂 I can’t say it more simply than troubles died on the Cross at Calvary 2,000 years ago!! The things we encounter in life are mere obstacles. Life is a big picture/little picture type of deal. The big picture is that you move one step closer to Heaven with each breath you take…. and that is a good thing. Little picture is that you will experience a lot of good times and a lot of bad times on earth (more bad times if the government doesn’t get it’s head out of its…..ok). As this song says… THEY WILL PASS. So when you get to that point where you may wonder where your going to find gas money (ask your mom), a guy/girl dumps you, or you get cut from the team… THEY WILL PASS!

“Go find a woman and you’ll find love…”- See your mom… enough said 🙂

“And don’t forget son, there is someone up above”- Lynyrd didn’t mean that mommy or daddy is upstairs watching you (although it may be true). There IS a big omnipresent someone up above. God is like an indestructable roof over your head. He will always be there… even when you don’t think He is or don’t want Him to be. He will never leave your side. You don’t have to walk through any doors or climb through any windows to be under his protection…. you simply ask to be let in and he welcomes you with loving and open arms.

“Forget your lust for the rich man’s gold… all that you need is inside your soul”… AMEN! Listen…. I am not EVER going to sugar coat life to you. I guarantee that you WILL meet more than your share of people that you want to punch in the face. There is always going to be someone prettier (handsome) in society’s eyes… faster…. better athelete…. smarter…. have more money…. and have nicer things… that is life! I can sit here right now and HONESTLY tell you that my heart is content with all the things the Lord has blessed me with and all the things your mom has forbid me to have (Siberian Husky, motorcycle, hippopontamus, etc).  Do I have selfish wants… of COURSE! Anyone that tells you they don’t have selfish wants is selfishly lying 🙂 The difference between having those wants and being content with what you have been blessed with is simple…. what consumes you? Peace or possessions? Hord peace, forgiveness, and love… gather as much of it as you can. Anything you can take to Heaven is worthy of gathering…. but I can promise you Graciejack…. you aren’t flying your own private jet to heaven… there are no parking lots or airports there.

Remember… be a SIMPLE kind of person (hmm that works) someone that will love and understand.

Two Amazing Women You’ll Never Meet (This Side of Heaven)- Grandma Rose and Aunt Judy

My child,

There are many people you will meet in your life that impress you, make you laugh, cry, or fuming mad. There will be a lot of people that come along that challenge and stretch you, educate you, and compliment who you are as a person. Those people are rare… and those are the people that you want to surround yourself with in life. Those are the priceless relationships that you cannot afford to lose and must make early in life. You will meet so many people that give you the perception that they are one of these people, but over time, those people will fade into the sunset. Then there are those truly dynamic people that will not only change your life, but will imprint your heart and soul for eternity. I want to tell you what I know about two of those women… one from mommy’s side and one from daddy’s side.

I met your mommy’s Grandma Rose at Thanksgiving dinner in 2008. I instantly felt a bond with her as she was one of the sweetest people I have ever met. I felt as though she loved me instantly and that in turn made me love her instantly. That night we played card games that night and she was a firery competitor… you don’t mess with Grandma Rose when a competition is going on! What I didn’t realize at that time was that the opportunity to get to know Grandma Rose was rapidly closing… as she had Ovarian Cancer.

Child, what I want you to know and to inherit from your Grandma Rose is her strength. In all my life I have never witnessed someone fight for life Grandma Rose did. The doctor’s told her that her time was running out, but the woman never stopped! She went on with her life as though she would live forever. I remember it like it was yesterday, one of the strongest moments I have ever seen, we were in Grandma Rose’s hospital room when the doctor told her we had come to the end and there was nothing more that could be done. The doctor began to cry and Grandma Rose, just told that she had weeks to live, was comforting the doctor and sharing her faith. That blood runs through your veins my child.

The second woman had a profound impact on my life from infancy until September 2009 and that was my Aunt Judy. I was blessed to have her in my life as another “mom”. When you enjoy one of those fantastic meals your dad cooks… you can give a shout out to Aunt Judy up in heaven 🙂 Aunt Judy was the one person… no matter how mad she got at me… that I knew I could unconditionally count on in life. Her and Uncle Bill took me on vacations, holiday excursions, watched movies with me, read to me and so on. There is a cassette tape floating around somewhere of Aunt Judy singing “Tammy” to me and I was cooing away! Aunt Judy would have died before she missed a big event in my life… be it graduations, birthdays, or bringing me down to Ohio State to start my college life! She was ALWAYS there!

Aunt Judy’s life wasn’t very happy the last 10 years for various reasons, but the one thing you must know about her, was that her love was unconditional and she was devoted to those she loved. In fact it is safe to say that her life was cut short because she put the wants and needs of others before her own. It was said at Aunt Judy’s funeral that she loved two things… 1) yelling at Uncle Bill and 2) being with her family. I would challenge you with a 3rd and 4th…. she had the biggest most giving heart and she loved the Lord. She carried her Bible (that I bought her) every where she went. It would be yours today had she not chosen to be buried with it 🙂 You cannot live your life taking care of everyone around you… everyone you love… without having a heart made of heaven’s gold.

My child, the night I found out about you I had a dream… in that dream God had just formed you and gave you to Grandma Rose and Aunt Judy to take care of until it was time for you to come to mommy and daddy. You were laughing and giggling as they shared funny stories about mommy and daddy with you. They told you funny stories about your Grandma Barbara and Grandpa Kevin… and they shared with you the good news of the amazing families that you would soon enjoy. Aunt Judy gave you some of her best recipes and Grandma Rose taught you how to knit (this is why I think you are a girl). Tears roll down my cheeks every time I think of this story… because part of me is sad that you won’t get to know them… but part of me is happy because I believe God has let them know you.

My child, if you look at the lives of those that came before you, you will find no better examples of love than Grandma Rose and Aunt Judy. They were strong loving women with very different outcomes in life. Both handled obstacles with grace and faith in Jesus. Grandma Rose had tremendous strength and zest for life (as well as many other endearing qualities). Aunt Judy was a pillar of sacrifice and kindness (as well as many other endearing qualities). My child… embrace these qualities as I know you will… and let God use them to bless others!

I’ve Had My Moments… My Days in the Sun

Good morning baby!

My child, there is part of a country song that I love that says something like, “I’ve had my moments days in the sun… moments I was second to none… moments when I did the best I could do… looking at me now you may not know it… but I’ve had my moments”. Now that song is about a homeless man looking for life to be over, but I see it as a reflection of great moments in our life. With that being said, I wanted to tell you about the first great moment in my life.

10 years ago today (yesterday now) was the first best day of my life. It was 2001 and I was Grandma Julie’s house for the summer in Glendale, Arizona. I had a huge group of friends that I hung out with every night, I had my first real girlfriend, and I had a future as hot as the Arizona sun! For as wonderful as all of those things were, nothing could compare to August 22, 2001 for a much bigger reason. It was the day I was baptized.

My child, the moment was set up perfectly. You will never lay your eyes on a more beautiful sky at night than the portrait sunsets of Arizona. I told my mom that there would be a dozen or so people coming over to witness… and as we stood on the porch waiting for people… more than 50 showed up! It was the first moment that I knew God liked to party!

As pastor Kevin baptized me, affirming my commitment to follow the Lord, my heart raced with excitement because for the first time I fully understood what a relationship with Jesus was all about. I can still remember the dunk and the rise and I truly felt like a brand new person when the water washed over me. Shortly after that moment my friend Leslie told me about a Kenny Chesney song called “The Baptism”. I listened to that song, fell in love with it, and it has been firmly rooted in my head ever since. It goes something like this: “It was down with the old man and up with the new… with faith to walk in the way of light and truth…. I didn’t see no angel… just a few footprints on the shore… but I felt like a newborn baby craddled up in the arms of the Lord”.

My child, the only days that has compared to that day was the day I married your mommy and the day I found out about you for the first time. Those days were also days that made me feel new… that I was on top of the world… that God was celebrating beside me as his family grew! My child, you will have many wonderful days like these that I call “moments”.

They are moments because they are wonderful building blocks to a solid life in Christ, but they soon become part of your legacy and history. Baptism was an eternal commitment to follow the Lord, our marriage vows was an eternal commitment to your mom, and a positive pregnancy test was an eternal commitment to love you always and give my life for you if need be.

For as wonderful as Arizona was in that moment, and as devastating as it was when it all went away, the foundation was laid and the purpose for that summer was clear… Arizona was a tool God used to change my heart. I believe in destiny and paths, and I believe had my path not gone through Arizona that summer… had I not found Christ Church of the Valley that summer… and had I not been accepted by a group of young Christians… my life would not be where it is today.

My child, when your “Arizona moments” happen… and there will be MANY for you… enjoy them and cherish them… let them become part of your legacy, but DO NOT let them define you. Look for what God is doing in your life at that moment and build on that! Do not fear these moments or yearn for them when they are gone, celebrate the knowledge you learn and the story you can tell. You will learn so much from these moments and I am excited to share them with you!

178 more days!

Baby, You Better Start Job Searching!

My child,

I know that your eyes have barely formed… you have a thin layer of skin… and we aren’t even sure of your gender yet… but take your dad’s advice… start working on your resume because you are in debt!! The second you are born you will be $43,000 in debt thanks to our country’s “ooooh it’s shiney, I need to buy it” approach to spending.

In July… when you were the size of my thumb… our politicians were arguing over raising our debt to $15 trillion! To give you an idea of what that means exactly… I would have to work 277 million years to pay off our country’s debt! Unfortunately for you, you inherit the debt from your mommy and daddy’s generation, your grandparents generation, and their parents generation! Fear not child, for this debt has all been “necessary” spending… just ask your Senator, whomever he/she may be! Let’s take a look at some of the things the government spent our tax dollars on and you will understand:

– $1.8 million grant issued to a neon sign museum in Las Vegas… yes child, a neon sign! Those 1960s Budweiser signs are really important to our national security!

– The National Institute of Health was given $800k in stimulus money to study a STD affecting African males “no no’s”

– $1 million was given to several zoos to create poetry about animals

– And my personal favorite, The Institute of Health spent $440k to study behaviors of male prostitutes in Vietnam.

My child, this is where you have a SERIOUS opportunity to make a difference not only in your life but also in the world. Ignore those that tell you the problem is “too big” and “not your concern”. People looked at Mother Theresa and wondered “why would she choose a life of poverty when she could be a millionaire”? People told Michael Jordan that he wasn’t cut out for basketball. Child, you become a winner in life by doing the opposite of what these politicians are doing.

Our country is being run by millionaires that are making decisions for us. They treat us like we are little helpless children… and they “know what is best for us”. They don’t listen to the groundswell… they push their own political agendas and treat our money like it is Monopoly money. Our President is spending millions of tax payer dollars to travel the country in a luxury bus to campaign. Don’t get me wrong, Republicans also spend recklessly… I just don’t have any examples right now!

The point is my child, this is not the way to live life. My promise to you is to teach you about a different world…. a world of hope but also a realistic world. In this age of social media, we can get our hands on any type of news… good or bad. Sadly because of it… we will never have a president that is respected by the majority…. faith in our stock market… optimism in our job market… etc. We are a people well informed with opinions… many of which are wrong.

The world you will learn about is a world in which Jesus came and conquered and will come again. This world is nothing more than a platform to share love and kindness… not to make a quick buck or have a few minutes of fame. When you go to school with $10 of lunch money in your right pocket, mommy and daddy will give you an extra $5 in your right pocket to buy lunch for someone that cannot afford. Each year at Christmas as you open your new toys, you will choose some of your old things to give to children that had no presents to open.

Remember my child, your money doesn’t go with you into the Kingdom, but debt can shackle you on your journey there. I used our government as one example of irresponsibility, but my child, there are MANY other examples of how greed and possessions can shackle you. My child, work your butt off in everything that you do. Your dad never bought into this concept until just recently. I shackled myself by giving my work life a 65% effort 99% of the time. That just doesn’t cut it. I failed to remember that I ultimately worked for the Lord and that he was not pleased with my efforts. Shortcuts are for quitters… and I have been the biggest shortcut taker out there.

It took me to age 32 to realize this lesson… and my child I want to leave you with this wisdom… it IS possible to give 100%. You praise God each and every day that he is in control of your school, work, and dreams.  Every dream is achievable… but you can’t accomplish dreams giving a 65% effort 99% of the time. Whatever it is that God leads you to, you SMASH it! Worry less about your paycheck and more about your passion for your work. Don’t fall in love with shiney things like our government… fall in love with using your earnings to make this world a better place. Generosity will always supercede selfishness and the harder you work the more generous you can be!

But do this for me child… make sure you take a vacation and visit that neon sign museum 🙂

 

 

August 6, 2011- Have A Little Faith!

My child,

Yesterday mommy and I went to the doctor to get an update on how you are doing. You are growing bigger each day… and we can see evidence of you in mommy’s belly! Dr. Bazan found your heartbeat and you were not happy about being woken up. You started kicking mommy’s belly when the doctor applied pressure. Is that a sign of temper or are you just ready to get out of that womb?!

As mommy and I drove to Springfield this morning I saw a sign along I-70 that said, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you”. Child, there is nothing more important in life than this statement. Mommy and I love you like crazy and would give our life for you, but our love is only capable of a fraction of the love that God has for you.

Child, there are many things in life that will bring you both joy and sorrow. The only unconditional, unshakeable, and consistent source of strength is Jesus. Whatever you go through in life, Jesus will always be there. When you mess up… Jesus is there to help you through it. When you suffer a loss or heartbreak, Jesus’ heart breaks with you. When you celebrate a victory, Jesus celebrates with you.  Jesus is much more than just a Christmas morning filled with presents or an Easter Sunday filled with Easter eggs. Jesus is an every second of every day.

Daddy hasn’t always understood this amazing love of Jesus. Great-Grandma Frantz raised me to believe in Jesus, and I knew who he was, but there is a difference between knowing OF Jesus, and KNOWING Jesus. Through our relationship with Jesus, we are defined. I became a follower of Jesus in the Spring of 2000 and was baptized in the Summer of 2001. Those two moments were the most defining moments in my young life.

Prior to knowing Jesus I was a quitter. A few people picked on me in Middle School and because of it I gave up. I gave up on making friendships, basketball, baseball, and everything that I loved. I sat around feeling sorry for myself and felt like I had no value in this life. I went to Ohio State and was so busy making sure that I stayed unhappy, that I missed Jesus knocking on the door of my cold little heart every day. Looking back on it I see just how much I missed the people that God put into my life early on.

Thankfully I had a couple of persistent friends that encouraged me to go to Panama City for a Spring Break Christian retreat. I was more about chasing girls at that time… but I thought, “why not”. My child, it was the greatest decision of my life to that point! One night I was out walking on a pier, overlooking the Atlantic, when the scales fell off my ears and eyes and I heard Jesus call me. It was clear, “Jason, this is not the life I planned for you. Come with me, be my child, and you will be set free in ways you cannot fathom”. I was overwhelmed and broke down in tears. The next day at a conference I confessed that I was a sinner and I accepted Jesus in front of about 5,000 college kids.

My child I am not saying that life was instantly a breeze from that point on…. it was quite the opposite. I had jobs that made me miserable, friends that were bad, and girls that were not nice. I continued to sin against God in ways that I sometimes didn’t even realize. The difference my child was the feeling of conviction, repentance, and the desire to be better. All along the way God was healing me in ways that I never realized I was hurt in. I began to trust and God delivered me a network of friends (look at all your “uncles”… Uncles Bruce, Brent, Renner, Paul, and so on). I stopped being afraid of life and God used me in Costa Rica and other ministries. God healed me of decades long depression, and I began to find joy in the life he provided me. God taught me how to love Him, which enabled me to love others and ultimately led me to your mommy and now to you.

My child, faith is a journey and not a destination. The day you enter a relationship with Jesus, expectations for your life change. You become for the poor, for the helpless, for the kingdom and not the world. You roll out of bed and help someone move because that is what Jesus would do. You tutor a classmate to help him pass because that is what Jesus would do. You buy lunch for your roommate because he/she lost his/her job. I often fall short of this my child, but God has used YOU to show me my own short-comings.

I pray that I can be an example of what a follower of Jesus should be like. When I fail, I hope you hold me accountable. I can’t wait to serve with you by my side… feeding the homeless, serving the community, and traveling the world sharing the Gospel. In my dreams I see you as a great humanitarian, but more importantly, I can feel that God is going to use you in amazing ways!

204 days!

July 20, 2011- I SEE YOU!

Good afternoon my baby!

Today is the first time that mommy and I saw a picture of you! Mommy had an ultrasound and there you were! We could hear your heart beat and it sounded like a little lion walking through the jungle “BA BOOM BA BOOM BA BOOM BA BOOM”. The ultrasound light woke you up because you rolled over and your hands and feet were flopping around like crazy! Just so you know… your mommy is making fun of your arm movements and calling you an alien!! 🙂 The doctor measured you and you are only 3 cm long. You have some growing to do 🙂

I don’t think there is any feeling in the world that is quite the same as the first glimpse that you exist and the first sound of your heart beat. To think that every little detail about you was formed by the hand of God… it gives me shivers! A few minutes later Dr. Bazan told us that your birthday would be February 17th!!!! You are 10 weeks old already!! We had NO IDEA!!!!

Wait… I know why you were rockin’ in that belly!!! Mommy and I took you to your first concert last night and you saw Keith Urban and Jake Owen! Were you in there dancing to Barefoot Bluejean Night?

Well baby… 212 days until you are here! I am overwhelmed with excitement!!

July 16, 2011- YOU’RE WHAT?!?!

My dearest child,

Early this morning your mom called me upstairs to show me a little stick that had a “+” on it. When I got to the top of the stairs she had a look of wonder and shock on her face and I am sure my face showed similiar feelings! It has always been my dream to write to you and tell you all of the feelings and emotions that I am going through. I also write this blog so that the world may know how much I instantly loved you and how that love grew. You are an undeserved gift from God and I am truly humbled and thankful that he trusted me enough to love and care for you.

My child, it is truly amazing! When you appeared as a cross on that test, the amount of love I had for you was overwhelming! So many wonderful emotions filled my heart and I went downstairs and had myself a little cry. I already feel you in my heart and soul and there is nothing you could EVER do in life that would make me love you less.

There are so many things I want to teach you. I pray that our relationship be filled with love and friendship. I pray that you grow to love the Lord with all your heart and build a life of servitude to Him. I pray that you love and honor your family, no matter what we may do to make you mad 🙂 I pray that you you advocate for others and never succomb to peer pressure to mistreat others. My child I pray that your work ethic be uncomprable and that you never cease working to improve yourself.

My child you are coming into a life filled iwth people who love you dearly. Very few know your existence at this moment except your grandparents. Grandpa Kevin was shocked… but the excitement in his voice was overwhelming! We drove to Springfield to tell Grandpa Grant and Grandma Barbara in person. We filled baby bottles with their favorite candies and put them in a bag. I will say this… they didn’t get the message until mommy told them, “you are going to be grandparents”! Grandpa Grant just about fell out of his chair with excitement… and it was possibly the first time since I have known him that he didn’t respond with a question…. but his next words were “Grant sounds like a nice name for a baby”.

I am BEYOND excited for your arrival 🙂