I met you nine years ago.

I met you nine years ago.

But you were someone different before I knew you.

Let me take you on a trip down memory lane.

Just remember, you haven’t lost your way because the door is always open.

—–

Welcome to the year 1989 in small-town Indiana.

President Ronald Reagan delivered his farewell address to a nation looking for Hope.

You, however, found hope in mom’s gracious heart and a pair of glass slippers.

The shiny shoes brought you to a place of comfort and unbelievable imagination.

Tomorrow — you, Mom, Jeff and Jane would hop in the car to make the long trek down to Florida.

On the drive, you stared out the window and looked at the cloud-formations in the sky.

You dreamed of living in a cloud-castle because this clearly happens in fairytales.

But in reality, you counted down the minutes until you would see Dad again.

All of a sudden, mom realized she forgot to pack the slippers and made an urgent call.

A couple days later, he arrived with your hopes and dreams in his hands; the pair of glass slippers. As the princess, you ran into your father’s arms in splendid joy.

You were ecstatic because you were reunited once again with your prince.

In the meantime, the ocean waves rolled in and out, forming their own clouds in the sand.

—–

Welcome to the year 1996.

USA won the inaugural World Cup of Hockey.

Baba and Grandpa are standing in their yard.

You were probably around eight years old.

From what I recall, you thought you were a puppy before you were a little girl.

Before Becky came into the picture, your best friend was a black Labrador Retriever by the name of Dakota.

As the frisbee soared across the yard, Kota jumped up to catch it, and ran back towards you to catch your heart, too.

With Baba and Grandpa cheering you on, life was a perfect memory.

Then one afternoon, Baba surprised you with your very own miniature frisbee.

Because of this precious gift, you were flying high once again.

Even though this sweet pup is now in Heaven, “Kota” misses you, and the one hot summer day when you ran around the yard with a frisbee in your mouth pretending to be just like her.

—–

Welcome to 2006.

NASA launched the New Horizons Spacecraft.

You transferred into Belmont the Spring semester of freshman year.

You missed the fall semester because you broke your ankle in a car crash.

During class introductions, she thought you were too enthusiastic and quite annoying; and you thought she was the “mean girl” from Upstate New York.

As the weeks rolled on, you were invited to your friend Jackie’s house to study for accounting. To your wild surprise, Jackie’s roommate turned out to be the very same girl who thought you were a little over the top.

When you arrived to study, the “mean girl” wasn’t too impressed but eventually welcomed you with open arms and no more friction.

Now, you two are the best of friends and world travelers.

—–

Welcome to 2007, a year full of possibilities.

Bob Barker aired his last episode of The Price Is Right.

You invited me into your home and it was an exciting evening enjoying baked ziti, wild laughter, and Woodchuck Cider.

No one’s ever REALLY invited me over, especially since high school.

I remember Kenny Valentine, the temporary love of your life.

You squeezed him tight, kissed him, and then I met Sean.

As your brother, I approved of him (and a couple of your other boyfriends) because I was on your side.

I supported your songwriting, didn’t feel lonely to alone with you, and continuously asked if you thought I’d ever get married.  You weren’t too sure.

Even though I knew you’d be the first to get married, the most wonderful and imperfect guy is still waiting for you around the bend (and maybe he could be one of my friends).

—–

Tomorrow, it’s 2016.

For the first time in history, the national Powerball lottery will surpass one billion dollars.

I just sent you a New Year’s video text message from my wife, Olive and I.

You smiled when you received it and shared it with your girlfriends around the dinner table.

On the first day of the year, you’ll probably learn a new cocktail recipe for the Southwest terminal — map out another adventure to take you from Point A to Point B — and maybe even, contemplate dating again.

In other news, did you get my text?

If not, I’ll send you a few more encouraging messages — and emails, phone calls, FaceTime sessions.

love Brother Benz.

Advertisements

Smudged 

I wish you would come home.

I’m scared.

The lights are on and the welcome mat is set just for you.

Well, that dream never came true and now I’m pacing back and forth down the alley looking for you.

—–

I remember that one crisp, fall, breezy day at the end of the year.

With one foot in front of the other, I thought about calling you.

But, you probably didn’t want to hear from me anyway.

With hesitation, I picked up the phone.

After four rings, I let you know my parents were going to be in town the following week.

I craved you’d show up, but you proved me wrong again.

You didn’t care about my family or my skyscraper expectations.

I didn’t give a damn about your schedule, your wife’s parents coming into town or your work commitments.

I guess I was naive and put too much trust in you.

I thought we were neighbors, but suspected we were strangers.

—–

The next day, you pulled up to the brick building.

You surprised me, which I thought wasn’t in your vocabulary.

But you did it. You won the spelling bee.

—–

Fifteen months later and my heart is still smudged, but there’s less clutter.

I didn’t realize the messiness of my disposition then — but I do now.

You aren’t within walking distance anymore, but the lights are still on at home.

My expectations are looking more like apartment-sized baby houses and you have a blooming family.

I’m no longer pacing the streets to mask my fears.

—–

As I sit here tonight with a puppy dog and a wife of my own, I’m reminded of who you might still think I am.

But, I’m different now and don’t need your acceptance.

I guess you could say we both discovered what it really means to feel at home.

Thank you for picking up the phone the other day.

Thank you for standing by my side, even when I’m the most fragile.

And most of all, thank you for not bolting. Continue reading

American Dream

Seventeen and waiting for the twenties with the Great Gatsby in hand.

All of a sudden, it’s three ‘o clock and time to head home.

A film reel rolls back into my mind with groups of friends associating by the glass doors.

Some wanted to be the most important, valued, and recognized.

Others were living out their glory days and counting down to homecoming night.

Some were searching for acceptance that could only be found in college applications.

Others were pushing the less important ones around and running away with a dream they couldn’t hold.

The crowd cheering in the Lincoln High School gymnasium made my head spin as I watched them pretend.

The broken invitations to come sit with them propelled loneliness.

All of a sudden, the next morning, the bell rings with books in hand.

I remember running late to English class with another spot to sit on the sidelines.

Moments before, she stops by my locker and says she’s looking forward to the movie on Friday.

But, Friday arrives — the movie ends — and so does our date.

I recall the frozen drizzle and the sobering moment of driving home.

I guess we’re just friends.

The following Monday came all too quickly.

I enter the doors and no one thinks twice about extending a smile or helping hand.

Each person is submerged in basketball wins-and-losses, American Eagle attire and are nonchalantly uninterested in anyone but themselves.

Seventeen and living the American Dream; not yet realizing that the end of the twenties would come all too soon.

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald

Gathering.

I remember the bright lights shining through the house.

I remember my wife, new siblings, and friends greeting me when I entered the room.

I remember standing at the door with my cardigan.

I remember sitting down at the table with friends laughing and watching their joy.

I remember watching and capturing each dinner party facial expression.

I remember the staring as I appeared to be devastated.

I remember drowning and feeling suffocated by your impressiveness of not showing up.

I remember counting on you, but then I forgot about one thing.

I didn’t invite you.

recently.

I really admire the beauty of God’s creation and His love towards us. I’m soaking it up and I want you, too!

As I begin the journey of 2016 and three months of being twenty-nine, here are some recent ways that Jesus shows me that He loves me.

*God’s grace. I KANN’T get enough of it. Seriously. Grace is underestimated and all you have to do is take it.

*My beautiful wife telling me that she loves me constantly. I love that Olive says “I love you” to me every day because it reminds me that God loves me enough to send me a tender-hearted woman filled to the brim with the mountainous love of Christ. She loves me to the moon and back. God knew I needed someone who would love me like she does. Her love takes me to bedtime prayers, grocery stores, and hugs that last a lifetime.

*My fluffy fur-baby Neptune. She greets me at the door whenever I return home from work. Her cute paws, her cute face, her wet nose, her squeezable love.

*My brother in-law Bennie. He loves me so much that it’s crazy how he is able to put up with my wildness. He cares for me and is an outpouring of the people God sends into my life. All my life, I’ve dreamed of having my very own brother. I finally have one and I’m holding onto him for dear life.

*My sister-in-law Madde. Madde is such a strong woman with the courageous spirit of Merida in Brave. Her heart is crazy-generous and she’s always willing to help out whenever needed. I admire her heart for others, her sister Olive and her brother Mr. Ben. Her love takes me to Christmas trees, homemade birthday cakes, and seasons changing.

*Traveling. God shows me how He loves me with road trips. Last year,God took Olive and I on the journey to Jackson, Miss., and later on in the year to Wisconsin and Georgia. A million memories KANN really be found in One snapshot of a Polaroid.

*The Village Chapel. So much joy, so much joy, so much love, so much love, so much grace, so much grace. I found Jesus here. Met my wife here. Found community here. Got dunked by Pastor Jim. And plan to stay cause it feels like home.