Cinco Times Two (Equals Ten)

Ten years ago today, I set out with my friends on what remains one of the greatest adventures of my lifetime. I was still new to motorcycling (I did not start riding until March of 2004) and smack in the middle of a transition period in my life.

As I look back at my written re-cap of this trip, it’s very clear to see how not only my writing has grown, but also how I’ve grown as a person. In 2005, I did not maintain God as the focus of my life. I’ve come a long way since then, and I know I still have a long way to go. I thought about editing the more crude parts of my recap, but I decided not to so they will serve as a reminder of the immaturity and lack of tact that, I hope, the evolution of my writing has shed over the past decade.

Still, one thing from my summary of the trip holds true: Don’t be afraid to live your life. To quote myself, “it’s in learning from the misses that we score our biggest hits!”

I hope you enjoy. <click here to read the recap>

Key West 2005
Three wild and crazy guys.

Random by Design

I don’t like missing events to which I’ve made a commitment. Case in point, our writers group meets once a month, and tonight was the scheduled meeting night. Unfortunately, we weren’t sure if we’d be able to make it because my wife was slammed at work, and she was unable to leave at the necessary time in order for us to make it to our meeting by 7:00 PM. In addition to that, there was the overwhelming feeling of exhaustion from a ragged work day and what has been an even more ragged work week. I was on the fence, and definitely leaning in the direction of missing the meeting.

Then I received a text from daughter.

“Can we hang out this afternoon? It feels like forever since I’ve seen you. Maybe we can grab a bite?”

How can I say no to the young woman who owns my heart. The fact she lives with her mother and has a fairly busy social and extra-curricular schedule means daddy/daughter time is very much at a premium.

I picked her up and we headed to a restaurant for dinner. On the way she filled me in on her current assignment for English class. She has to write a short story about a dystopian society, and she didn’t know where to begin. To further complicate matters, her best friend had a great plot for her story, and my daughter was starting to fret about being able to do her project.

We kicked around some thoughts. She quickly rejected my initial ideas, and I quickly realized the other story lines I was coming up with were actually regurgitated plots from movies and novels. “Wait. That’s the plot to Serenity. Oops. I’m pretty sure that’s Brave New World. Ugh. I think I just combined The Hunger Games with Divergent.”

Back and forth we went. Each step forward was followed by two steps back. The only tension she’d have in her narrative was the retelling of our dinner encounter. I decided to call my wife.

“Are you on your way home?”

“Yes, why?”

“I’m at dinner with Natalie and I can use your help.”

<confused silence> “Um. Okay. With what?”

I explained what we were working on and where we were. She was only five minutes away.

Upon my wife’s arrival, I could see the look of excited relief on my daughter’s face. My wife, who has been consuming books at an amazing pace over the last several years, is particularly fond of YA, dystopian stories. She and Natalie quickly kicked the brainstorming session into high gear. Within minutes, they developed a working plot, characters, and an overall feel for the story. The excitement my daughter was exuding was tangible.

Although I contributed with key ideas here and there, it was the Natalie and Lee show (NataLee?). More importantly, it was so awesome to see them both come together and bond over a moment like they did. To see the look of admiration in my daughter’s eyes coupled with the sincere willingness on the part of my wife to be a positive and helpful resource to her step-daughter was simply beautiful.

Beautifully Random

I like to think that coincidence is God showing off, and it’s no coincidence we missed our meeting this evening. The sequence of events that made tonight possible may appear random, but I am convinced they are of His design. I love my writing group, and I’ve learned so much from them over the past couple of years, but I wouldn’t trade tonight’s memories for the world.

Something Crazy?

Ever have one of those moments after doing something that leaves you questioning your sanity?

I’ve been on the fence about taking a next step in my faith journey, a step that would mean a significant time and financial commitment. For several months now I’ve been wrestling with the idea, going back and forth as to why I should or shouldn’t do it. Today, it all came to a head. I felt God nudge shove me and say, “Just do it already!” So I did.

This evening, I submitted an application for the TrinityQuest program at Trinity College. My goal is to learn more about God’s Word and, along the way, earn a degree I can use to transition out of corporate life and into a vocation of ministry.

In the application process, I was asked to submit a brief biography explaining how I came to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and why I want to attend Trinity. 750 words can be considered brief, right?

Below is a copy of the essay I submitted.

Hello. My name is child of the one true King.

Yes, I know that is a blatant rip-off of a Matthew West song, but it also happens to be true.

Over forty years ago, I, as an infant, was baptized by my God-parents and welcomed into the Catholic Church. I was raised in an “attend church every so often” household, one where God was present but not necessarily made a priority.

I attended Catholic school from Kindergarten through high school, doing my Catholic duty along the way. Altar boy, lector, Eucharistic minister, peer minister, Christian leader: I was happy to fill my extra-curricular time with work and activities related to my Catholic upbringing.

As teens tend to do, I drifted away from church in college. The pace and workload of university life, coupled with giving into the indulgences of living in New Orleans – I attended Tulane university – lead me to exclude God from my life. I became a stereotypical Christmas and Easter Catholic, and that is where I stayed for the better part of 15 years.

During that decade and a half, I was married, had two children, eventually failed as a husband, and saw my marriage come to an end. I faced the darkest moments of my life, moments that found me chasing comfort at the bottom of a bottle and in the beds of strangers. Yet although I felt alone, I knew in my heart I was not alone. I knew through it all, God was calling me to course correct. He was calling me back into His love, His grace, and His protection.

One Sunday morning, I felt His voice stronger than ever. “Go to Mass. I need you there.” I randomly and reluctantly attended Mass at the nearest Catholic Church, and on that day I was introduced to the new Youth Minister that had just been hired. She convinced me to step up and volunteer in the youth ministry program, and it was that experience that started me on a path of redemption.

I would meet someone new, a woman who would challenge me to be a better person and a man of God. This woman would end up becoming my wife, and we would struggle at first to celebrate our faith together, she having been raised Baptist and I having been raised Catholic. Through God’s will, we were introduced to Relevant Church in Tampa. I would say through coincidence, but I’ve come to learn that coincidence is just God showing off.

For the two of us, we were not facing a crisis of faith so much as a crisis of church. At Relevant, we found the spiritual home we’d been seeking, and it’s been truly transformational for the both of us. We’ve taken part in growth groups that have allowed us to do life with others in our church community, and to truly grow our understanding of His Word. We’ve volunteered on our First Impressions team, happily greeting on Sunday mornings, and welcoming experienced and first time visitors alike with warm smiles and firm handshakes. And in the spring of 2013, my wife and I renewed our commitment to God by being baptized as adults.

It was during one of our growth groups, at a time when we were studying the book Greater by Pastor Steven Furtick, that I felt God compel me to move. I felt His calling in a way I hadn’t before, and I knew God was telling me to move in a direction of ministry. God blessed me with the talent of writing, and rather than continue to bury that talent out of fear, I’ve chosen to invest that talent in His Word by ministering to others through both my actions and my blog.

I know I still have a long way to go in my faith journey, but it’s a walk I take with a new found yearning to learn more about the loving direction God provides us through Scripture. It is for this reason I would like to attend Trinity College. I want to continue to grow in Christ and move on the path God has called me to take.

I am a child of the one true King, and I want to learn, grow, and Kingdom-build here on earth for His love and His glory.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

A New Open Letter to LeBron James

I am very excited to have been invited to contribute to The Florida Post, a new writing endeavor launched by my friend, the ever-so-talented Jonathan C. Mitchell. Since the site is, “dedicated to all of the major Sports Teams, Culture, Entertainment, and anything in relation to the great Sunshine State,” I figured I’d make my first post a topic about which no one seems to be talking. <yeah, right>

Here is my open letter to LeBron James.

 

 

Also, be sure to follow The Florida Post on Twitter.

Friendly Friday – Mary Graham

I don’t know Mary Graham. I had not heard of Mary Graham until this morning when my wife shared via Facebook on of Mary’s blog posts.

The title of the post is My Husband Is Not My Soul Mate. I was instantly intrigued given my previous experience with love and the idea of soul mates. Once I read Mary’s post, I was blown away. She was able to perfectly capture the thoughts in my head that I’ve never been able to put into words.

As a result, I am now a fan of Mrs. Graham, and I would like to share her work with you. I am excited to dive into her posts, and I hope you find her work as excellent as I do.

Please check out her sight Trusty Chucks and follow her on Twitter (@themarygraham).

 

Mary Graham

The Hiatus

I haven’t written since May 10. That’s 17 days with no post to my blog.

When I started the year, my goal was to post something – anything – once a day. I enjoy working on my ‘traditional’ blog posts; 500 – 1000 word entries that read as editorials and run the gamut of topics, from sports to parenting to faith to politics, etc. As much as I enjoy these posts, they are time intensive. In addition to the writing, there’s the editing and re-writing that’s required. For presentation purposes, I usually add an image to the post (which can be time consuming when I can’t find an image that’s just right). And then, of course, there’s the sharing of the post across various social media.

When I’m not in the mood to invest and hour or so into a post, I’ve gotten away with posting just a picture (see my Serenity Saturday posts) or sharing a funny video from YouTube. Yes, it’s basically cheating, but in the grand scheme of blogging, it’s sharing content and helps keep traffic flowing to my page. So when I think about the past seventeen days and the fact I haven’t done squat, I cringe.

Did I lose readers? Did I plummet on some non-existent ranking of relevant bloggers (from 16,548 to 18,231)? Did anyone care?

I care.

As much as the break was nice, I missed the writing process. I missed the sharing process. I missed being an active part of this virtual community. And it’s not so much a personal, ego thing as it is a matter of active learning. In writing, I often force myself to deal with challenges of word choice or argument structure. I learn from the little bit of research I am sometimes forced to complete. I also learn a lot from the feedback I receive. Having been away for travel, I am eager to jump back in the saddle and share some of my new experiences through my blog. I’m eager to get writing again, even if it’s just a little at a time.

Fellowship and Inspiration

I love my writers group. Every month, Lee and I trek down to Brandon to enjoy in the community and fellowship that is Brandon Christian Writers. The group is so supportive, and every time we meet I learn something new about writing, publishing, editing, etc. And the talent that is displayed as we share and critique each other’s work is astounding.

We had a great meeting this evening, and it left me feeling inspired and eager to write. I feel I’ve been slacking as of late, and this image pretty much sums up of what I need to remind myself daily.

 

Image found via Pinterest via funeralformyfat.tumblr.com
Image found via Pinterest via funeralformyfat.tumblr.com