Reminders

After a year of consistent blogging, I’ve fallen off the wagon in recent months.

Here’s the reason why:

Well, actually, here’s the reasons why:

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Those kids are the greatest blessings in my life. I love them so much. However, along with all the incredible joys, there are many challenges. The kids have decided that sleep is overrated and they usually cry a combined ten times a night. That means that the carpet between our bedroom and the nursery is well-worn and that my wife and I are really tired. All the time. I’ve also been struggling with the work/life balance in recent weeks. It’s hard to see my kids for only a few minutes at night. To even make that happen, I usually have to rush home to make it back before bedtime and then I work late at night. In light of all that, stuff like blogging, exercise, and basic hygiene have fallen by the wayside.

So even though the kids have made life a little more challenging, tiring, and complicated, they bring me infinite and indescribable joy.

They also remind me to be thankful and to never give up hope.

Three years ago, our marriage was a hot mess. We talked about divorce. It makes me so sad to admit this, but I researched Virginia’s divorce laws. Amanda spent a lot of nights in our guest bedroom.

Three years later, that bedroom is now inhabited by two demanding long-term guests who don’t even pay rent: our kids.

Three years later, our marriage has never been stronger.

Three years later, I’m so thankful for such an incredible wife. I’m so thankful for such wonderful kids. I’m so thankful for God’s infinite grace.

I’m also thankful that throughout all of the stresses and worries of life, I have four beautiful and hilarious reminders who will never let me forget how much I’ve been blessed.

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See you tomorrow (or in two weeks).

The Ring Reminder

Our house is a mess.

There is laundry, mail, and baby stuff everywhere.  Thus, it has been really easy to misplace things lately, like bills, our dog, and my wedding ring.

One day this week, I couldn’t find my wedding ring before I went to work.  Thus, I was seemingly single for the day in DC.  Although there were no cat calls and no one offered to pay for my salad at Panera, the day was still memorable.  I felt off all day long.  I felt like something was missing and I didn’t feel like myself.  Honestly, I felt sad.

My, how things have changed.

Three years ago, I rarely wore my wedding ring.  Our marriage was crumbling and my wedding ring, once a symbol of a sacred promise, had become a symbol of frustration, pain, and bitterness.  I didn’t want to be constantly reminded that my marriage was failing, so I didn’t wear my wedding ring.  We hit rock bottom.

But just like Sylvester Stallone in Rocky II and Britney Spears in 2008, we bounced back.

Now, I feel lost without my wedding ring.  Not only is it a beautiful symbol of a sacred promise, but it is now a daily reminder that hope should never die and that restoration is always possible.

My Love. My Inspiration

 

Worthless

If you are anything like me, there are days, if not weeks, months, or years, where you feel worthless, hopeless, and insignificant.  You’ve screwed up, a lot, and you believe that you have nothing important to say, do, or contribute.  You missed your chance.

Wrong.

How do I know?

Well, as my wife says, I know everything.  If that doesn’t convince you, check out these two pictures:

Patriots Logo

Napoleon Block

Why do I care about a Patriots logo and a name plate with a mostly-legible “Napoleon” on it?  Don’t worry, I’ll tell you.

These objects are handmade.  Each was carved from a piece of wood and painted by hand.

By my brother.

My brother has been in jail for three years.  He’s 17.

He’s done some terrible things and has made some bad decisions.  Despite all that, he is still capable of making something beautiful.

You are too.  Regardless of your flaws, mistakes, and despair.

Never let anyone, especially yourself, tell you differently.  

Faithin’ Ain’t Easy

Although my wife says I’m perfect, I’ll admit it, I have a lot of flaws.  For example, I talk too much.  That probably means I annoy some people.  It also means that I don’t have many secrets.  Well, here’s one:

I think believing in God is kinda crazy.

I’ve spent most of my Sunday mornings at church.  I paid attention “most” of the time.  I go to a dynamic church here in the DC area.  It has helped transform my life and my marriage.  I pray a few times a day.  Occasionally, I even pray for things other than the Washington Nationals.  I try to read the Bible each morning.  However, I often fail and the snooze button gets the best of me.  My days sometimes end in disappointment because I desperately want to live a bold and passionate life like Jesus lived, but the stresses of life consume me.  Plus, I waste too much time looking at Facebook.  And Instagram.  And Twitter.  And sports websites.  And pop culture blogs.  Meanwhile, the things that I know matter most, the things that I desperately want to pursue, are pushed off until “tomorrow.”

In short, faith has always been a challenge for me.  Outside of sporting events and Sarah McLachlan pet adoption commercials, I’m not a very emotional person.  I conduct a calculated cost-benefit analysis before making life decisions.  I don’t take dramatic leaps of faith or do risky stuff.  My wife doesn’t like watching movies with me because I point out all the plot holes or stupid things that make no sense.  Meanwhile, she just wants to admire Ryan Gosling’s incredible “acting skills” in peace and quiet.  I’m also a lawyer.  I love facts, evidence, and reason.  None of those things mesh easily with a belief in an infallible God who has always been, and forever will be, chillin’ somewhere in a palace made of gold.  When I pray, I sometimes wonder why I’m sitting around talking to myself.

Despite the doubts, the struggles, the tragedies, and the endless questions, I still believe.  Here’s why:

1.  One of the greatest rock bands told me to “Don’t Stop Believin’.”  I don’t know about you, but I do what Journey says.

2.  I have traveled to 30+ countries, met my ultimate celebrity crush, hung out with a President, married a great lady, get to kick it with the best BFF EVER, have attended some awesome concerts and sporting events, work across the street from a froyo joint, and own a “few” pairs of fun pants.  However, the only times I’ve felt that I’m truly living life the way it was meant to be lived is when I’m following the two rules Jesus said are the most important:  Love God and love others.

3.  Why do I believe in God?  Because these things exist:

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Faithin' Ain't Easy. Yo.

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4.  I know that I’m in good company.  Whether it was a Bible dude building a big boat or a modern hero of the faith like Martin Luther King, we’ve all had our doubts and we’ve all made mistakes.  My struggles are nothing new.

5. Finally, I refuse to believe that my life is the result of random chance.  I refuse to believe in a world without purpose.  I refuse to believe in a world without redemption.  Yep, really bad stuff can happen that shakes those ideals, like today’s tragic DC shooting, but I still believe there is a God who made us and loves us.  I wish I had some impressive theological explanation about why God allows bad stuff to happen.  I don’t.  All I know is that God has given us a priceless freedom.  We can use that freedom to do incredibly beautiful things.  Sadly, some will use it to do unspeakably evil things too.

So those are the five reasons I believe in God.  That might make me kind of crazy.  However, that’s nothing new.

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