Monday, June 20, 2016

Dear Husband

Dear Husband

So much time has passed since that cookout where you first caught my eye,since the moments of first dates and first kisses. Things have changed. You have changed. I have changed. Time has a way of doing that. Life has a way of doing that. The years have had their wear and we have come out on the other side different, better.

When I met you, you were wide-eyed and silly. You were full of life and laughter and fun. When I first met you, I couldn't take my eyes off of you. Your smile was captivating and lit up and beamed out of your eyes. Those beginning years were filled with football games and cookouts, with date nights every night and romance and pursuit. Our days were filled with anticipation and longing for the future we wanted to share together. Our time was ours, alone, ours to choose and ours to spend. In those first years, we were all dreams and flutters.

It has been years since those first few moments It has been a lifetime of happy days and sad days, monumental moments and the regular day-to-day grind. A lot of life has been lived and a lot of memories shared. I have seen you grow, transform. I have seen that silly, full-of-life boy grow into a man, a man full of dreams and ambition. I have seen the boy with the smiling eyes continue to smile through the good times and the bad times, through the times where life has flowed as we planned and in the times when we were free falling not knowing which ways was up or down. I have seen the transformation take place as you have shifted from a college boy, on the heels of a new life and a new career and a new marriage, to the man living out each day as a faithful husband, hardworking provider, and fun-loving consistent father.

Our life, from the outside, looks nothing like those first few years of stolen moments and lingering kisses at the end of a date. To the outside world, I am a mom and you are a dad and we live in the middle of soccer games, homework, diaper changes, and middle of the night feedings. To the outside world, you are busy and working and running kids to practice. To the outside world, I am rocking babies, cooking dinners and helping kids with homework. The outside world doesn't see what we see, doesn't know what we know. In the middle of the chaos, in the middle of the working and running and rocking and living, I see something that others do not have the privilege to see.

I see you.

I see you trying in every moment to be the father that every child deserves to have. I see you consistently being the husband that I need, the husband that I want. I see the same smile in your eyes now that beamed from them all those years ago. I see you work and strive each and every day to provide well for those you love. I see you being a man that your daughter can trust and count on, a man that will set the standard for all other men in her life. I see you being a man that our sons look up to, a man that teaches our sons how to love and work and worship. I see you leading our family in faith and strength. I see you as the man that that dreamy-eyed college boy grew into. You are the same person I fell in love with as a kid, but you have grown and matured and added new and wonderful qualities as you have learned. All of the traits that made you the boy I wanted to date in college, have become the characteristics that make you the man I want to be sitting next to when I grow old.

I see all of these wonderful things about you that have changed and grown, but the deeper I look, I also see things that have remained the same.

I see you.

I see the way you look at me. I see the way you reach for my hand. I see the lingering glances between dinners and practices and homework. I see the way you faithfully provide for our family while consistently considering the needs of your wife. I see the way you light up when I come in the room. I see the way you lean in closer every chance you get. I see you continuing to date me even after ten years fo marriage. I see that you see me, still, even in the craziness that is this dream we call our life. I see the same look in your eyes that I saw in the beginning, the look of love and longing and excitement.

I see you. As life goes on, I see you.

I see you on one knee, ring in hand as you dream of our future together. I see with a silly grin and beaming eyes, as you stand at the end of the aisle waiting for my hand. I see you sigh with hesitation and anticipation as we sign the papers opening the doors to our very first home. I see you standing strong and holding my hand as we grieve the loss of our first baby. I see you comforting and reassuring me as I wade through another pregnancy, clinging to the hope that all will go well. I see you overjoyed and spilling over with excitement at the birth of our first son. I see you step into fatherhood with strength and grace. I see you fall head over heels as we welcome our little girl into the world a couple of years later. I see you step out in faith as you move our family to Memphis to help plant a church. I see you lead with confidence as you walk me into the world of adoption. I see you remain steady and faithful as we navigate the adoption world and as I struggle in the wait. I see you melt as our new little one is placed in our arms for the very first time. I see you serving as you love our city, our community and our church. I see you loving us and fighting for us each and every day.

Through it all, I see you.

I know that the heart of who you are, who we are, will remain the same. I have seen you grow from a boy into a man over the years, and in the middle of all the changes spinning around you, your heart has remained steady and true. You are a man of faith, a man consistency, and strength. You are a man that is responsible and reasonable. You are a man that loves big and plays hard. You put others first and are always quick to serve. These characteristics have taken different forms over the years, but they have remained.

So yes, you have changed and transformed. Yes, time has changed and life has changed and we are different than when we first began. In the midst of all that is different, there is still so much the same. The details and moving parts have changed, but the core remains true. It is important to remember who we were and where we come from, but it is more important to realize who we have become and where we are going. We are going places and you have become the man that is leading us to these wonderfully amazing, full of adventure places.

I love the boy I met in college, the one I eagerly said yes to spending the rest of my life with. But the man you have become is the one that I can lean into, that can hold me up when I am ready to bend, the one that, through prayer and Christ, can be the rock for his family. The man that walks alongside me now is the one that can lead and love in a way that is bigger than words, bigger than he even realizes. That boy, from all those years ago had great potential, but the man before me now is strong and steady in a way that only a life lived faithfully can develop.

I see you. I see who you were, who you are, and who you will be.

So yes, life will change and you will change, but from what I can see, change is good.

Monday, June 13, 2016


 (Audrey's daughter's birthday party. Just celebrating life together.)

There is a darkness that hides in the beautiful corners of our world. This is a darkness that well-meaning people pretend is not there in the name of moral innocence. It is easier to turn the other way and focus on what we can understand.

We live in a fallen world. We live in a world where women and children are sold as a commodity and traded like livestock. We live in a world where the dark underbelly has risen to become the driving force of our nation. It walks among us disguised in suits and ties and rests in our very own pews. We live in a world that attends church on Sunday morning while consuming women and children, in the evening, through their very own computer screens. We live in a world where the innocence of the marriage bed is corrupted by the insatiable desires of men and women who are drowning in the darkness as it threatens to take over.  Our world is lost and searching and reaching out for anything and everything to fill the emptiness.

Until recent years, I was one of those people that buried my head and ignored the evidence around me that the darkness is lurking, waiting to devour. I would have said that people are inherently good and that the horror stories you hear of human trafficking only happen in other places, more "pagan" places.  Until recent years, I would have said that these tragedies could never happen here, where I live. But I have learned that where people are, wickedness lives and thrives regardless of race, socio-economic status, education or appearance. I have learned that, as much as I'd like to think/hope that we live in a good and decent world, that is just not true. We live in a world that needs rescuing, that needs a hero. And as I have come to this realization, I have started to examine the church's place in all of this darkness. I have started to contemplate, as a Jesus follower, what is my place. Do I hide to protect myself from the darkness? Do I send money so I can help, but not get my hands dirty? Do I step in and have relationships with people sitting right in the very middle of the darkness? What does mission look like?

Mission is a word that, I feel, is commonly misunderstood and over-complicated. Mission is more than a trip once a year to a far off country or the Christmas project of gathering and collecting for those in need. While these things are good and serve a purpose, to live on mission has to be the sum of more than these acts. I firmly believe that as Jesus followers, we are called to love others. I also believe, that most of the time, the church does a poor job of this in an effort to protect her own. Throughout my life, I have seen a lot of mission trips and mission projects and mission drives. At the end of the day, these efforts were more for the benefit of the church goers than the people in need. There seems to be this desire to check the mission box off of the list of things to do without ever really getting your hands dirty.

The more I know Jesus, the more I learn about Him, the more I believe his hands stayed dirty. I believe Jesus didn't have a checklist. I believe He just lived and as a part of His life, He loved people, all people. This has laid conviction on my heart that mission is more than a trip or a project. It is in the day-to-day decisions. Mission is letting people in your lives and around your dinner table. Mission is being willing to step into their lives even when it makes us uncomfortable. Mission is seeing people as more than the sum of their circumstances and decisions they've made. Living on mission means being willing to leave your comfort zone behind. It means relying on the Holy Spirit to guide you through the darkness. It means being willing to get dirty sometimes in and effort to show the love of Jesus to people.

 Where do the gifts and talents that God has given you intersect with the need that is all around you? That is where you dive in, bringing your family right along with you. Be a family on mission. Understand that mission is just inviting people in your life. You don't have to start a non-profit or spend weeks at a time away from your family. You just have to love people. You just have to be willing to get your hands dirty.