Three Six Five Four

You’ve heard the old cliché: Time to close this chapter in your life.

Have you ever had a season in your lifetime that was more like closing a book …. and moving on to a new book ….. in a different library ….. on the other side of town? That was my 2004.

I’m a big fan of milestones. It’s amazing to me that in January, I will hit the mark of having lived in Tampa longer than I did in my hometown (17 year, 6 months). Last June, I celebrated my five year wedding anniversary with my wife. Just last month, I reached seventeen years of service with my employer. It really is amazing how time flies.

But now as we’ve reached the end of Summer 2014, I am hitting a new set of decade-long milestones in my life. The second-half of 2004 was brutal for me. In addition to dealing with the savaging hurricanes that pummeled Florida that summer, my life was – for lack of a better phrase – in a free fall.

My marriage had dissolved. I was living at my friend’s house, getting by on a steady diet of beer (as in cases) and no sleep. I was unsure of what each day would bring, and, in poetic parallel to Mother Nature’s wrath, everything seemed like a dizzying whirlwind.

As if that weren’t enough, it was 10 years ago yesterday – 3,654 days – that my father passed away.

His passing was expected. Having been diagnosed in the summer of 2002 with Mesothelioma, we knew the outlook for my dad’s life was not a long term one. He underwent chemo and battled his cancer, along the way prolonging his life just enough to sneak in some extra memories with his grand children. I remember shortly after his diagnosis he and I went out for beers, no longer sharing a father-son relationship, but rather one of friends. For one night, we were drinking buddies, and I remember laughing at the fact I out-drank my dad and had to proverbially carry him home.

Losing my dad was tough. In the time following his death, I’d still pick up the phone to call him during Miami Dolphins games. As my kids took up recreational soccer, I’d anguish inside at the fact he was no longer around to see them play. My mentor for all things DIY was gone. I didn’t just lose my dad. I lost my friend and my hero. Although the memory of my dad still influences me and what I write, it’s not the same as if he were still alive.

They say time heals all wounds. There is some truth to that. Wounds do heal, but some wounds never disappear. After ten years, I can still see in me the void that exists with the absence of my father. My life is amazingly better today than it was at this time ten years ago (a testament to God’s amazing grace and His ability to put us back together). But I still miss my dad, and I am saddened that he never got to know the me I am today. I know he was proud of me, but the me he knew in his final days was a lie. I showed him a facade to keep him from seeing the lying, cheating, and broken man I was at that time.

I hope that when it comes time for us to meet again in Heaven, he’ll meet me with a hug and with the words, “You did good, son.” The book of Matthew teaches us to store our treasures in Heaven. In trying to be the best dad to my kids that I possibly can be, I like to think I’m doing just that. 

My eulogy for my father


Lucky 13

Thirteen years ago today, my son Daniel came into this world. It’s been an interesting journey, watching him grow from being a little boy into the young man he is today. Although he is my second child, there is something wholly unique about having a son (in much the same way the relationship I share with my daughter is wholly unique).

With Danny, I see so much I want for him in terms of providing the right guidance in his life. With all apologies for the stereotypes, there’s a sense of recklessness towards which the male species tends to gravitate, and when I look at my son, one of my first thoughts is to ensure his is a restrained recklessness. My other thought is to ensure that his dependence is not on me or his mother, but rather on God.

I used to fill my thoughts with regards to my son with things like where will he go to college or what type of person will he marry or will he be successful in his career. I used to fall back on the cliché of, “as long as he’s healthy and happy.” That is still true for the most part. Bet when it comes to my kids, so long as they are right with God, everything else will fall into place.

Specific to my son, I understand it’s my responsibility to lead by example. If I want my son to be a man of God, then I need to be one first and foremost. I’ve written before about my faith journey and how much I’ve grown spiritually in the last five years. I am confident that I am setting a good example for Daniel, and I pray that he views me as a role model when it comes to having a relationship in and with Christ.

Thirteen is a milestone for kids. I don’t know if it’s as big for girls as it is for boys – I think girls have their eyes set on fifteen or sixteen, depending on the culture in which they’re raised – but I remember turning thirteen as being a big deal for me. Teenager. No longer a ‘little kid’. Rather an adolescent on the path to manhood. Being thirteen was a fun age for me, and I pray it’s equally filled with excellent memories for my son.

The number 13 gets a bad rap in terms of luck and superstition. I’m sure that won’t be the case for my little young man.

Happy birthday, Danny.








The Outlier (W@HBC Day 4)

Some of my notes and thoughts from attending Wild at Heart Boot Camp – August 18

In statistics there are outliers. An observation that is well outside of the expected range of values in a study or experiment, and which is often discarded from the data set ( This weekend, it was very apparent the statistical norm for most men is a sense of fatherlessness in their lives. Dads that are absent because their careers are more important, or dads that are brutal and abusive, or dads that are literally not present.

This reality can be summed up in a story that was shared at the retreat by presenter Morgan Snyder. A nun at a men’s prison had some extra Mother’s Day cards in her office. As word of this got out around the prison, there was a mad rush by the prisoners to get a card for their respective moms. The demand was so great, the nun reached out to Hallmark, and the greeting card company sent her additional inventory so the prisoners could send cards to their mothers. As Father’s Day approached, the nun once again reached out to Hallmark in anticipation of the demand for cards. Unfortunately, not one of the prisoners chose to send out a Father’s Day card.

I cannot relate to that. I cannot imagine life with a father like that, a father that would make me want to have nothing to do with him. I do not understand how men choose to separate their hearts from their children, especially their sons. All children need love and guidance as they grow. I know the love I have for my own kids flows from the love I received from my parents. Their sacrifice, devotion, and attention. My father went out of his way to tell me he loved me, even to the point I didn’t want to hear it anymore.

I am an outlier at this retreat, and I am blessed.

But just as my dad continually told me he loved me, our spiritual father is continuously telling us how much He loves us, even when we’ve gotten to the point of no longer wanting to listen. Even when the weight of the world feels heavy on our shoulders, God is throwing His love at us.

In an earthly sense, I may be an outlier because I was given an amazing dad. But in the spiritual sense, we are all given the gift of God’s love and grace. We just need to open our hearts to our Father’s calling.

“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” Ephesians 1:4-5 (NLT)


Tools and Time Travel

Eight years. Two terms for a President. Two thousand nine hundred twenty days.

Come Monday, a day on which most people in our country will be celebrating not having to be at work, it will have been eight years since my father passed away. This Labor Day will mean for me not only laboring through the completion of household projects, but also laboring with the reality I’ve been without my dad for eight long years.

Truth be told, I hadn’t really thought about it much. That is, until this morning.

With a laundry list of projects for this weekend, several of which will require me to hack my way through novice carpentry work, I perused Craigslist earlier in the week for a miter saw. It was one of those situations where I didn’t really NEED the saw, but I desperately WANTED the saw in order to make easier the tasks I had on my list to complete.

As divine intervention would have it, the first listing was for a 10” Craftsman miter saw in excellent condition. Clean, well maintained, and only one owner who was selling it because he had upgraded to a larger and more versatile saw. I called the number in the ad and the older gentleman who answered told me it was still available. We arranged for me to pick it up from his place early on Saturday morning.

I pulled into his property in Zephyrhills and an elderly woman, whom I can only assume is his wife, pointed as she yelled, “He’s in his shed.” I thanked her with a wave and proceeded to the work shed as she had directed. I knocked on the door but there was no answer. I could hear the hum of a motor inside. As I peered through the window, I saw an elderly gentleman vacuuming his work area, his hearing aids nestled tightly in his ears.  There was no way he was going to hear me knocking, so I stood and waited patiently as he finished his tidying.

The hum of the vacuum stopped and I knocked again. A rustic voice hollered, “Come on in.” I opened the door, but I wasn’t prepared for what happened next.

I stepped into a portal that took me back in time. Back to my childhood and into the work shed I helped my father build in the summer of 1988. Back to the Saturdays when I was forced to be my father’s assistant, dreading having to sweat and toil as he crafted solutions for everyday problems that arose around the house, all the while not realizing I was actually apprenticing for life as an adult.

Before me stood a man, not very tall but clearly a giant in terms of his knowledge and abilities. His work shed was immaculate. His tools organized and well kept. The shelves and workbenches were the products of his own labor, and his Dickie’s coveralls were the embodiment of every man who has ever influenced what little blue-collar abilities I possess.

For a brief moment in time, I was reunited with my dad. Through the smells of sawdust and engine oil. By the sights of tool boxes and wrench sets. In the sound of a circular saw kick starting into action, as if it were cutting a seam into the past, one through which I could see my father smiling back at me.

The gentleman proceeded to explain all the features of the saw, but I wasn’t really listening. I was lost in how surreal that moment was, my mind adrift in the memories of all those hours shared with my dad, laboring, sweating, creating, and laughing. Scenes from my youth time-lapsed in my head, as the little boy who would drink Kool-Aid under the tree as his father enjoyed a Budweiser grew up to relish the moment when he was finally able to share a cold one with his old man. A parent became a peer, a father became a friend.

I paid the gentleman for the saw, thanked him, and loaded it in my truck. I glanced up at the sun that had just started to break through the fog and haze of the morning, and I smiled as I thanked my dad for continuing to watch over me from up above.

Then I got in my truck and cried all the way home.