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

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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.

A Tale of Two Squirrels

Disclaimer: This post is non fiction.

I enjoyed seeing two furry squirrels on my walk this morning.  Every time I see a squirrel, it makes me think of my sister, Madde. Furry squirrels are her favorite. I also think of my buddy Chris because he loves them too.

This is a bug month. (It’s also a big month.)

I hate bugz. Yesterday, I saw my fur-baby daughter try to tackle a “PIDER.” PIDER is the shorthand version for Spider. The name was created by my Mama-In-Law Kathy. I hate Piders and they are a real life nightmare to a grown Indian man. 

I’d like to send out a special congratulations to my bro, Jboi. Congrats on the engagement Jason! You are a hero to me. And yes, you always will be.

In other news, this is also a big month. Two weeks from now, Olly and I get to celebrate our ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY! Someone toss the confetti and screech 🙂

Each day this week, I called my big brother Mr. BenHead.  We talk about Olive, his girlfriend KM, our poochies, the JC man and about what wild things I’m gettin myself into. I do love Ben so much. Tonight, he’s coming over for dinner because he loves his sister’s cooking and his new brother.

Today, I got to see my buddy Jeremy. He is my cool new brother from The Village Chapel. He inspires me in his walk with the Lord and is always willing to be a great brocub.  He is getting married next month!!! Send me some money and I’ll get them a gift…hehe (just kidding).  Jeremy and Jess are two of the sweetest people I know. It’s fun to do life with them. 

Lastly, I have to brag on my beautiful woman. She’s so sweet and wonderful and is able to put up with my wildness. Thanks baby. I’m sorry I called your brother and pretended to be an Asian woman asking him which Chinese food he’d like to order. Sorry Mr. Ben, you aren’t getting your Kung Fu chicken tonight.

Cappuccino Fudge Cookies

Cappuccino Fudge Cookies

Ingredientz:

1/3 cup of butter softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

2/3 unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder

2 TBSP of instant coffee granules

1 tsp cinnamon 

1 tsp baking soda

2 egg whites

1/3 cup vanilla yogurt

1 1/2 flour

2 cup powdered sugar

—–

1. Cream butter. Then add brown sugar, cocoa powder, instant coffee, cinnamon, and baking soda and mix well.

2. Then add egg whites, followed by yogurt. Mix well some more. Add flower a 1/2 cup at a time and mix.

3. In a small bowl, have powered sugar ready. Roll dough into balls, about a teaspoon each, then roll in the powdered sugar, and then place on cookie sheet. 

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Let cool for at least 5 minutes before removing for cookie sheet. 

5. Enjoy!

Paws

I have a fluffy baby lying down next to me on the couch.
A tired, sleeping, dreaming baby with four paws.
These paws tell a story.

What are you going to do with your paws?
…..
I was walking around with a friend the other day.
He didn’t feel worth much of anything at all.
I reminded him: the person he’s becoming is something good.
He’s becoming someone good.

That’s why God sends us friends. For us to encourage, lift up, brighten, enlighten, and inspire.
…..
My wife Olive is a beautiful and talented woman. I have short term memory loss and forget I’m forgiven. She reminds me that I don’t have to measure up to the world, because no ones keeping score.

I used my paws to help out around the house this week. After a fire-in-the-oven catastrophe, I put my paws to work. I cleaned the oven. This is a simple-sample of the way that Christ wants me to show Olive: “I choose love.”

Home is where my wife is.
…..
This past Friday, God opened the doors for me to see my favorite author, Bob Goff. The lecture encouraged me to dive into Matthew 18. We need to not be childish, but become like children. In the meantime, we also need to practice extravagant love. I’m putting Bob’s lessons into practice for 2015.

If you have any free moments, I encourage you to go purchase LOVE DOES. It’s an amazing book about putting Christ’s love into action.
…..
As I wind down today, I’m going to leave you with one question.

What are you going to do with your paws?

New season

The Spirit of the Christmas season is upon us.

I’m listening to a song called “All Is Well” and am reminded of the beautiful story of the child who became the King.

In the past couple months, the Lord has been revealing to me more and more that this life is temporary. I am not guaranteed tomorrow.

In September, I attended the TVC Men’s retreat and didn’t realize that I needed change. But, God did.

****

Tonight, Pastor Jim’s wife, Kim, led a sermon on the Love of Christ. As a human race, we are broken-unable-indifferent-uninvited-unwanted-unloved. But there’s good news folks, we are completely loved by Christ.

This morning, God made me aware that I am undeserving of His grace. Bed sheets. Tears. Hug from Olive. Walk-to-kitchen. Walk out the door. Go for a drive. Turn on Taylor. I’m a broken man. God is working in me in an incredible way. He’s not only establishing the foundation for marriage, but encouraging me to be a man after God’s own heart. Like David.

****
On Saturday, my buddy Jeremy and I got coffee. It’s cool to be encouraged by fellow brotherz in Christ. We pray for one another and are there for each other. Jeremy prays for my issues, struggles, and triumphs. I do the same. Bob Goff, one of my most favorite authors says that “God gave us friends to love so we’d remember how He feels about us.” How amazing is that?

This Christmas, I want to encourage you to help a homeless man — be there for a good friend — be brave and love unconditionally. Be Santa to someone even!! Every good and perfect gift comes from God.

Merry Christmas!