Monday, October 12, 2009

My new niece Keeley!

I wanted to make a quick post about Keeley. She was born on September 5, 2009. 8lbs 4oz. and 20 inches long.

I am so in love with this beautiful little girl! Those of you who are my friend on facebook know just how crazy about her that I am. Craig and Tanya are doing great and are wonderful parents!

I really like this uncle deal! I get to go over and play with her, then hand her off when she needs a diaper change. I am not wishing for her to grow up at all, but part of me cannot wait until she develops a personality and starts running around.

I had a great day yesterday with her and Landon (my cousins little boy). Landon and I played outside all evening and were both sweaty and dirty by the time it was all over. It was a great Sunday!

This is Keeley the morning after she was born....

Me and Keeley just a little bit after she was born.....already in love!

Here are a couple of the newborn pics that were made a couple weeks after she was born...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

In Need of a Spark

Have you ever been at a place in your life where things feel both hectic and boring at the same time? I feel at this point in my life like I am running around like a crazy person and doing nothing. I am getting somethings done here and there but I spend most of my time feeling like I am lost. I am still teaching Sunday school and Wednesday night Bible study at the church, playing co-ed softball on Thursday, working out pretty much every evening, playing guitar pretty much every night, but I just feel like I am spinning my wheels.

School has started back so I am of course worried about my students and how they are doing in the classroom and Keeley is almost here which has me worried/excited. There are a lot of things going on around me and I feel like I am in the eye of a hurricane. Everyone is moving around me with a purpose and I just feel "blah" about life. I am having fun and doing everything that I want to do (except sleeping) but for the first time in a while I do not feel like I am working toward my goals.

I guess I am just posting because I haven't in six weeks and feel like I should. Maybe I am looking for advice from people who have been in this position. I am not unhappy, but I honestly do not feel happy either. I am not whining about my situation because I know I have it good and I thank God for that! If it all falls apart tomorrow, I will still have to thank God for the life he has given me!

I am excited about Keeley getting here and hope that she is the spark that I need to get my tail in gear. Maybe there is another spark, I dont know. I need something though.....

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Man's best friends....Dogs and Cars

The summer is flying by and before long I will be getting up early and heading to work everyday. Since I started teaching I have been ready for school to start back by the time the middle of July rolled around. This summer is different! This summer has went by way too fast and I am no where near ready to go back.

I think I am apprehensive about this new year because I am having to move classrooms, as well as teach a different grade level. With a new grade comes new and unfamiliar standards, as well as new requirements from the state and a different set of teachers. I am teaching 5th grade next year instead of 4th grade and the good news is that I am only teaching Math and Science. It seems like there would be less pressure since I will only be teaching two subjects instead of 5, but 5th grade is a critical year where students are required to pass both the Reading and Math portions of the CRCT to be promoted to 6th grade. Too add more pressure, I will be co-teaching and team teaching which will bring the total number of teachers I am directly working with to 4 (possibly 6, depending on how many co-teachers we have) and means that I will be teaching some of the special education population. Just a lot of changes, as well as added pressure has me nervous about starting the new school year.

There is another reason that I am dreading school starting back! I have gotten some fun new things to play with this summer. One of those things was free and the other was NOT!

First off, there is Daisy! I got a new puppy as soon as the school year ended from a fellow teacher. Daisy is a bullador. At least that is what they are called when they are sold on the open market, but this litter was a complete accident. Daisy is 1/2 registered labrador retriever and 1/2 registered English Bulldog. She looks like a lab but has eyes like a bulldog. She looks at you like she is about to cry, even when her tail is wagging like the propellor on a helicopter. She also sits like a bulldog. She doesn't squat but sits squarely on her rump! She is funny and everyone who has seen her loves her! I just wish she would stop teething and biting on everything that comes near her face!

This is Daisy at about 6 weeks old:

Here she is again at almost 11 weeks...she is growing so fast and is going to be a HUGE dog!

Ahhh...and my newest toy! I finally got my dream car! On July 3rd, I went to Alpharetta and bought a 1967 Camaro RS Convertible. It is SHAAAWWWWEEEETTT! It is basically how I wanted a car. I wanted it to look nice enough for me to drive, but not so nice that I couldn't do a little work on it myself. It is a fun car to drive through the mountains.

I haven't looked at them in a long time because I knew that if I looked it wouldn't be long before I bought one. I was sitting at the 'rents house one day and decided that I would just check on Craigslist and see what the prices of them were running in a poor economy and at the top of the list was a 1967 Camaro RS Convertible. I called Dad and Mom over expecting them to tell me what any reasonable parent would tell their child. I expected to hear that I didn't need to spend the money and that I could wait to get it. NOPE, not in a family who LOVES muscle cars!! Dad said, "That's a good deal! Nancy, call the bank and see if he can get the money." Mom agreed and the next day the deal was done! Not how I expected it to go down, but I am happy with my purchase.

My dad has a 1966 Chevelle that is fully restored. My brother has a 1932 Ford Sedan that he is working on, as well as another 1966 Chevelle. So I figured that it was time that I joined the crowd!

Here she is!

Side View:

Front view......that's mean!

I am also still playing the guitar and I feel like I am getting better at it all the time. I love playing and am keeping myself occupied with one of these three things virtually every second of my day. I am considering and debating about whether I should post some videos of me playing guitar on here to get some feedback from the people who read the blog. I am nervous about that though because I am not sure how I will take the negative feedback. Maybe one day I will get up the nerve...maybe one day soon!

So that is why I am not ready to go back to school this year. I am not ready for the summer to end. I am enjoying this summer like no summer I have had since graduating college! I am content with where God has me right now and there is a peace that is indescribable being in this position. I am trying to stay in THE WORD and to stay humble so that God can use me to help others while I am trying to help myself. I am finding that more and more opportunities are presenting themselves for me to witness to people who do not know the love and forgiveness of living a life with Christ and to Christians who need some help along the way.

I thank God for his blessings and the toys that He allows me to play with in my free time. They are not mine but His and I know that He can take them away just as fast as he has given them to me. My prayer is that I will never let the possessions that God has blessed me with take precedent over the Creator who let me have them in the first place.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Every person on this planet has baggage. Every person has things that they deal with on a daily basis that no one in the world knows about. These are things that I call "crosses". Worldly worries, such as mortgage payments, insurance, relationships, health issues, etc., make up these crosses. These worldly crosses are different from the Cross of Christ. Jesus said to lay our cares (little C crosses) on him because his yoke is easy and his burden is light. We are called to carry the Cross and give Christ our crosses. So many times though we lay down the Cross of Christ and lug our crosses around instead.

All of this talk about crosses comes from a late night conversation that I had with a friend the other night over Facebook chat during a bout of insomnia. (That is a crazy long sentence but I can't figure out how to break it up!) We were talking about life and the circumstances that we face and how through it all we are constantly looking for someone who is willing to share this crazy, beautiful life with us. From that we started talking about relationships and things that hold us back. We talked about how we constantly tell other people that they shouldn't let their baggage or "crosses" get in the way of a relationship, when we are constantly doing exactly that with our own relationships.

I know exactly what it is that holds me back in every relationship! There are a number of things but two things hold me back in particular. The first and largest thing is my health. My life and my future are a whole bunch of unknowns! I could have to have another transplant in the future, I have no immune system and am at a higher risk for cancer than the normal population, having children then something happening and leaving a single mother and a child to continue living. Then there is my past! Yes we all have one and mine is fairly tame, but there was a point in my life where I did some things that I am not proud of today. It is easy to be open about my health because there is no way to hide it, but my past is a different story. I can keep it under lock and key for the most part!

I say all of this to say that I am a hypocrite! I can give some killer advice and never take it for myself! The good thing about having a loving Savior and a merciful God is that through that hypocrisy, I can grow in Him.

In this conversation, it was brought up about how it was hard for this person to get over some things that have happened to them in their life. In trying to help them and consel them in the best way that I could, I gave the following advice:

In my life, God has told me that I can choose to either carry His cross or carry my own. Because we have free will, it is our choice as to which one we take. The catch is that we must take one! I can carry all of my crosses around and let them drag me down. Because they are all small crosses they can only be used as an anchor though.

My second option is to take up His cross. His cross is huge and it is going to stand out. People are going to notice it when you are walking around with His Cross. Even if I choose to take up The Cross of Christ, it can be used in two ways. It is big enough though that I can use it as a staff to help me up and over the mountain which is how Christ intends for it to be used. The second option is for me to use it as an anchor to drag me back down. It is up to me how I use His Cross but either way He and the Cross are with me until the end. If I want to sit down on him, His Cross can be a ball and chain. If I want to work for him, I can use it to help me. In the end though it is my decision.

My hope and my goal is to lay down all of my crosses at the feet of Jesus and take up His Cross. When I take up His Cross, I am promised help, safe keeping, and comfort in time of need. If I carry around my crosses, I am almost guaranteed worry, troubles, and hard times. Seems like an easy decision to make, but it becomes a hard one to follow through on.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Putting God first

Well, summertime is finally here, that ol' ball park man is back in carried away with an old Kenny Chesney song.

But it is summertime! That means no work for me and trying to fill my days with as little as possible. I pretty much lay around all day until I realize there is something that I need to do. If you are jealous, I understand!

This summer is a little bit different than my past few summers. I am more content with my life right now than I have ever been. Don't get me wrong, there are days that I wonder where my life is headed, considering I am 28 and single! The people who are my age all seem to be either married or quickly getting engaged, and that is a little stressful. But to be honest, I am not looking for anything or anyone at this point. I have finally gotten to a point where I can accept everything that has happened to me in the past and be content with the place God has me.

When I say that I am not looking, I mean that I am not actively searching for someone. I figure that I have made enough messes out of relationships, broke enough hearts, and had mine broken enough to know that I don't know what I am doing. I have tried to have relationships that I want and for whatever reason they all fall apart. I figure that maybe letting God lead me into a relationship will have more success than I have found on my own.

There have been many times in my life that I have been disobedient to the call of God in my life. I have realized that God does not like it when I do not listen. In the past, I have always unintentionally put relationships and other things before God. I have always tried to look good to the people around me and impress the girl that I was with, at the expense of my relationship with God. I needed a nice truck that other people wanted and I needed a girl who was pretty, not really worrying about their relationship with God.

I believed that if I could spend some time with them, that their relationship would grow along with mine. Together we could have a godly relationship, even if it didn't start out that way. I do not say this to say that I have a closer relationship with God than those people, many times it was the complete opposite. I would not let God be the center of the relationship, and many times it would become physical and emotional long before God was ever introduced.

I have found that it is near impossible to "inject" God into a relationship. God is kind of like a marinade. A marinade tends to work better if the meat sits in it for a while from the beginning rather than trying to brush it on or inject it after the meat is tough and dry from being cooked. God is the same way. I have found that I HAVE to include him from before day 1, through prayer and following his lead. I have always started a relationship then prayed that God will clean up the mess. I ask for help after we have already cooked in the sin that a relationship without God brings. Needless to say, it hasn't worked!

In the past couple of years, God has taken 2 things from me that I had put between me and Him. They were both painful lessons, but I have grown in my relationship with God now that these two stumbling blocks are out of my way. Those 2 things were my truck, and "THE GIRL". I loved both of these things more than the world itself, and at the time, even more than God himself. My truck was a 2000 Toyota Tacoma and it sure was pretty! My girl was the girl that I had always wanted despite what God and the people around me told me.

God doesn't want to play second fiddle to anything in our lives, and he was playing 3rd, 4th, 5th; maybe even lower in mine. God warned me that if I didn't straighten up he was going to begin taking things away from me. I was praying one night and God said 3 words that were clear as day to me, "Don't get cocky!" I had it all, and God had blessed me with it. I had my truck and my girl. What more could I ask for? God was telling me then that I had better remember where it all came from or he would take it away.

January 2, 2008:

I lost my truck! I hit ice and wrapped it around a couple trees and broke a telephone pole. I was left looking like this:

God then told me that if I kept living with something other than Him being the central figure, I would lose the number one most important thing in my life. I wasn't really happy with God at this point and decided to be stubborn. I continued doing things the way that I was doing them with no regard for what God was calling me to do. And a few months later, you can guess what happened. The broken neck, 13 staples to the head, and a liver transplant does not come close to the pain that losing "the girl" caused.

The awesome part of this story is that through all of the loss, something greater was gained. My life is now God's and there is nothing that comes between my relationship with Him. I have found the peace in Him that I always looked for in someone else or in something. I do not know what God has in store for me, nor do I know the road he has laid out ahead of me. I do know that I will follow him and fight with him because he promised that "No weapon that is formed against (me) shall prosper." I live each day with that promise and will continue no matter the army or adversary this world brings against me.

I am looking forward to a great summer with no expectations other than to enjoy the life that God has blessed me with. I am undeserving, but thankful. Thankful for my health, family, friends, and everything else that I have. I hope that each person who reads this has a wonderful summer and walks in the path that God has laid out for them. There is peace in that path!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Filling time

The more I have thought about that my last post the more I feel that I should explain why, now, after 28 years I have decided to learn to play guitar. There are a few reasons and I will get the vain ones out of the way from the beginning.

Reason 2: Because it would be cool to serenade my future love with the guitar and a song.

Reason 3: Because I have always wanted to be a country music singer. It will probably always stay in my living room or in my car, but you can't be a country star without knowing how to play guitar. It is a rule!

Now reason number 1: Because God wants me to be happy in my relationship with Him and Him alone before getting into a relationship with someone else.

Sounds kind of cheesy I know, but hear me out. I have always hated being by myself. I have always had friends. I inherited them because I am from a family eight generations deep in a small town. At 20 years old, I was diagnosed with a liver disease that eventually caused me to have a liver transplant just before my 25th birthday. Partly because of the lifestyle of my friends and partly because I didn't want to share my pain with others almost all of the friends I grew up with went away.

I became different from them. I no longer drank or partied. I no longer took part in the things that had made our life exciting for the past couple of years. I was scared and had no one to turn to other than my family. I was lonely and I was depressed and didn't know how to handle this.

I had never faced these two things before. I became a Christian as a young boy and grew in faith until I was in high school. I then wondered what I had been saved from and decided that I needed to go out into the world and see what was so bad. I knew that I was running from God and I knew that I was running from the life that he wanted me to live, but at the moment I didn't care. Then my world came crashing down and I had no where to turn. My life was such a mess that I didn't think Jesus wanted to hear about my problems.

I turned to one girlfriend, then another, and another. I was slowly making my way back to Christ but I had no idea of how he wanted me to live. After my major heartbreak last summer, I really began to get into the Word like I never had before. I needed a change and I knew that another girlfriend was not going to give me what I needed. I prayed and prayed until I got one word from God.


That is the hardest thing for me to do. Seriously God? I am 27 years old! My life plan had me married by now with a kid or two. I was supposed to go to college, meet my wife, get married right out of college, and have kids after a couple of years.

God said again, "Rest."

Over the next few months, I began to read about that word and its use in the Bible toward believers. I realized that I can either rest in God's plan or work against His plan. I have decided that I would rest in Him knowing that His plan for my life is much better than my own.

Instead of worrying in my loneliness, I decided to embrace it. One night last fall, I was praying about my loneliness and asking for comfort when God put the thought in my mind about playing guitar. God said to me, "You have always wanted to play the guitar but you have never taken the time to learn it. Now is the time. When you feel lonely, play the guitar. Sing to me, play for me and you will forget about the loneliness."

I would like to say that I picked it up right away but in truth, I only decided to act upon that about 6 weeks ago and I have gotten such a blessing out of playing the guitar. Every free minute I have I am either playing the guitar (if you can call it that!) or thinking about playing the guitar.

Two of my desires in life have always been fitness and music. God has now given me the time, energy, and ability to do both things for Him. It may sound crazy that I am working out for God or playing music for God, but both times are times of worship for me. God has blessed me with a second chance at life because of my liver transplant, so I am called to take care of this body. Every time I work out I can thank God for the opportunity and strength to walk into the gym. Playing guitar has the same effect. I thank God for His grace and His plan for my life. I can't see around the curve in my life that is ahead, but my driver knows exactly where we are going. I have finally decided to REST in God, and I am as blessed at this moment in my life than I have ever been before.

Here is a great Pat Green song to go with the post since I am terrible with pictures!

Monday, May 18, 2009

This Confounded Guitar!

That confounded thang! That is what Grandma uses when things are driving her crazy. The phrase was mostly used like this, "Those confounded kids are driving me up the wall!" That was the joy of growing up next door to your grandparents. We never had the loving, doting grandparents you see stereotyped on TV or written about in books. Ours had the power and need to whip us, fuss at us, or do whatever was necessary to keep us in line. Don't get me wrong my grandparents loved us and still love us beyond measure, but they saw us everyday, not once or twice a year. We got on their nerves! Seven cousins all growing up on the same road, running up and down the same hills, slamming the same screen door a couple thousand times a day. I understand why they were the way they were.

But anyways....about this guitar....

Anyone that knows me, knows that I love three things in this world. Those three things are music, sports, and classic cars. Classic cars have no place in this post, so I will leave them alone for now. So onto music and sports.

I have always been the kid who loved music...any kind of music! My only requirement was that I could sing along. My cousin and I would turn on the radio and bust out some "Islands in the Stream." My brother and I could rock out to Travis Tritt's "T-R-O-U-B-L-E" and David Lee Murphy's "Dust on the Bottle." Heck, my sister-in-law and I bust out Lady Antebellum or Jason Aldean EVERYTIME we get in the car together.

I am not a big fan of bands that scream, but if they have a ballad or two I probably like them. I am always on the lookout for new bands so leave me a comment about some bands I need to check out. I have been told that I should be a music rep who sits in bars and listens to upcoming bands and suggesting who should get a record deal. For the record, I would love that job so if any record execs are hiring.....hit me up! I love music and live music is even better. I am sure that I go to at least 6 large production concerts a year, probably 10 small scale concerts, then there are the local bar acts. I would go to more if I wasn't working off a teacher's salary.

The funny thing is about all of this love for music is that I can't play a single instrument. Not that I haven't wanted to though. I've taken piano lessons off and on growing up, and guitar lessons as well. That is where my other love comes into play. Every time that I would start getting in the swing of playing piano or guitar, some sport would pull me away. Sports were literally a year round thing and always took precedent over the instrument.

My sports consisted of baseball and soccer in spring and summer, soccer and football in the fall, and I would wrestle in the winter. Wrestling would overlap both football in the fall and baseball and soccer in the spring. I spent my entire childhood playing 2 or 3 sports all the time. I had wonderful parents who had no life for 18 years following my brother and me around to our varied sporting events. How I found time to even attend music lessons is beyond me but the music was always the first to go.

After high school, I picked up the guitar a few times and said that I am going to learn to play it only to lay it down after a few weeks. Then about two months ago, I decided that I needed to learn to play. This time I have stayed with it, practiced, gotten some old guitar players from church to help me along and am learning how it all works. I am just not learning fast enough for my liking.

With sports, I was always an athlete. I could pick up playing a sport fairly quickly and be pretty good. I was never the best athlete, but I could hang in there with the best athletes in any sport that I played. I never really faced major frustration with sports. This is where the guitar is KILLING me!

I have to admit that I have come a long way in the 7 or 8 weeks I have been intently playing, but it isn't coming along near quick enough. I can play a few songs, albeit shaky and not quite in time. I have a number of main chords in my repertoire and they are coming along, but I am ready to be jamming out like Brad Paisley or Keith Urban yesterday! I just can't seem to grasp it yet though. My fingers do not want to go where my brain is telling them and my right hand just wants to stop working when the left hand is moving! Everyone tells me that I am doing good and if I keep working it will come! I'm working but I do wish that it would hurry. Patience is a virtue that I have yet to be blessed with, though God has tried to put in there.

So the point of this post is that if I could only learn the guitar I would be on my way to Nashville, cause singing isn't the problem. Singstar says I should already be there!

Here is the brother being boring playing Singstar with his hand in his pocket and eyes intent on the screen. Fortunately, there are no pictures of Tanya or myself rockin' it out. I think I feel another Singstar party in the works! Maybe to celebrate the beginning of summer break!

If you have any tips for me about how to play this confounded geetar....leave a comment.