December 13, 2013
The Legend of Cowboy Bob

I woke up to what I thought was a gunshot. Sleepy and confused, I rolled over, looked at my phone, it’s 8am. Another gunshot. Then another. I jump out of bed, scared to death. I whip back the blind and nothing out of the ordinary, except snow falling from the sky. I run to the other window, nothing there either. I run out of my room and down the stairs. The week before this debacle I had talked to a family friend who is also a state trooper. He told me about one of the terror meetings his department had just had, and some of the things that terrorists might be trying in the future. I guess it stuck in my head.

So I jump the last few steps , I nervously go through the kitchen and peer into the living room. On the couch sits my Step dad Bob. I look at the television and he’s watching some gangster movie, with the surround sound system on what had to have been full blast. I look at him, and back at the television, then back at him. He says “pretty good movie.” I said “can you hear it?” He just laughed. “I thought there was terror in the streets or something.”

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That was Bob. Whatever he did, he made sure he enjoyed it. He lived his life. Bob was a quiet giant. He was quiet at first, wouldn’t say a lot. When you got to know him he could talk your ear off. He loved to laugh and tell jokes. He cared immensely about his family. His coworkers loved him. My mom loved him.

I remember the night I met him. I was probably 16. I was a dumb kid. The first thing I told my mom was “he’s not my dad, and I won’t listen to him.” Little did I know some years later I would love to listen to him. He lit up rooms. He laughed at his own jokes, usually very loudly. But most importantly he made my mom happy, and that meant the world to me.

Bob drank Busch Light, and he smoked cigarettes. I don’t think he even liked them that much. They were just familiar. He ended up with cancer in his lungs and liver. He fought until he couldn’t fight anymore. Bob was no longer Bob, and he passed away two years ago this December.

It makes Christmas hard. I do know though that he doesn’t want us sitting around sobbing. He wants us laughing, and telling jokes, and enjoying that we’re here together.

We lost the person he was, but in the end we won. We won just by knowing him. I look back and laugh that my favorite memory of him was him scaring me to death. Even though I get sad that he’s gone, I can’t help but laugh. That’s exactly what he wants me to do…

December 10, 2013
Taking time to spread kindness - Perry County Tribune: Community

November 28, 2013
What, this old thing?

I have this old wallet. Its brown leather with the picture holder in it, full of pictures of my nieces and nephews as babies. It’s very important to me. It’s old and faded and falling apart, but I still use it every day. It’s so stretched out that I have to keep old cards in it that I don’t even use or every thing in it falls out. On more than one occasion I’ve had clerks and friends say “it looks like it’s time for a new wallet.”

My grandma gave me this wallet in 1997. My grandpa passed away and she was going through some of his old things. I still remember the day she gave it to me. I was eleven. Being as young as I was I don’t have a lot of memories of grandpa, but the ones I do have are very fond. I know that he could be stern, but very loving, and worked hard, and loved God. I even named my son after him to try and carry those things on.

So the last few years I have tried. I’ve looked at racks of wallets, and picked them up, and put them down. They are just never what I want. They’ll never be the same. I want to keep it long enough to give to my son one day, and if he can’t use it, he can at least keep it.

So a few months ago in his innocence my son had gotten ahold of my wallet and tore it up even worse. I got very upset, and even kind of heartbroken. I didn’t think it would be usable any longer. I found a way to piece it back together so I can still use it.

You ever find yourself holding on to something so long? It means so much to you that you find yourself taking its pieces and finding ways to put them back together; making sure it’s just good enough that it’ll keep working.

It’s safe to just let go. It’s ok to find something new. It’s good for you to not worry. If you have a burden, put it down. We have so much clutter, so many things we feel like we’re dragging around. The memory will still be there, if it’s that important. It doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you stronger when you realize it’s time for a change.

Don’t get me wrong, I love that wallet. We’ve had a wonderful run. I’m not going to throw it away, I’m going to retire it. I can say with confidence it’s the only thing I own that I’ve had since 1997. I’m so thankful to have the memories and the bond with it. I know he’d be happy that I’ve used it all this time but I can hear my grandpa say “Boy I think it’s time for a new wallet.”

November 19, 2013
Can’t We All Just Get Along.

It’s been a weird week in my head. It all started with two of my coworkers arguing about God. It seems like that subject always turns to an argument. I don’t understand it. One man saying he’s been asking God for help lately, and he doesn’t think it’s coming. The other telling him he needs to read the bible. I wanted to help the guy, I really did. I told him all that I knew about his situation. In telling him all that I knew I realized, I don’t know nearly as much as I think I do. I talk a good game, but when it’s real, right here in front of me, my brain said “that’s it, that’s all you got.”

That spiraled me into this frenzy. I felt like I was thirsting for knowledge. So I turned to someone I’ve always felt was a crutch. His name is Rob Bell. He was introduced to me a few years back by a good friend. Some people love him, some people don’t like him, I could care less. I know what he’s done for me. He was a pastor of a church called Mars Hill in Michigan, and has written books and has a video series called Nooma. When I listen to him speak, I feel like he’s talking directly to me. I highly recommend him to anyone who’s looking for help understanding the God that I believe in.

So in my frenzy I blow through his book called “Love Wins: A book about Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived” in less than a day. I watched his videos, listened to him on podcasts, listened to him lecture on quantum physics and string theory, and flatlands and galaxies. All things in which I’ve never had any interest in. Isn’t it funny how when you find someone you believe in, you can listen to them talk for hours, about things you’d never imagine yourself listening to?

So in his book he has a section about Eminem. A preacher talking about Eminem? Yes, because he’s also a freaking cool dude who doesn’t judge people. He takes the good with the bad, and sees the beauty in all God made. He started talking about this word that’s stuck with me for a few days now, “solidarity.” On one line Eminem can say something completely awful, and the next he says something and you think “I totally get that, I’ve felt that way.” Solidarity. The feeling of, I know exactly what you’re talking about.

There are lots of people in this world, struggling with real problems. Poverty, drug abuse, physical abuse, hunger, water crisis, warlords, I could go on. Not everything is fixed with just sitting down and reading. Sometimes the switch doesn’t just “flip on.” As Rob would say, “you’ve got to go through Friday to get to Sunday.

So maybe my co worker didn’t need the bible that day. Maybe he didn’t need Peter, or Paul , or John, or Luke. Maybe that day he didn’t need someone to fix his problem. Maybe he just needed someone to say, I know what that feels like, and I’m here for you. Maybe he needed some, solidarity.

November 13, 2013
Alone

I’m sitting in the break room in complete solitude. This is one of those days where the silence makes me feel crazy. One hand clinched around my drink and the other on my straw, moving it up and down, just to listen to the squeaky sound it makes.

I don’t want to go home. My house feels cold. My bed feels cold. This house is no longer a home. It’s just four walls, and a roof.

She’s gone. I miss her so much. I feel lost. I feel alone. I feel confused. I don’t really know how I’ll live without her here. I think about that cheesy song “don’t know what you got, til it’s gone.” I think about what kind of parent I’ll be without her. Can I do this on my own?

I know you haven’t been gone long, and I know you’re coming back soon. I know that I’m sensitive. I know that I’m sappy. But when the other half of me is gone, I feel it. This page isn’t long enough to tell you how much I love you. I cannot wait until you come home.

November 4, 2013
A letter to myself.

Take a second and think about all the things you believe in. You believe in your wife. You think she’s the most amazing person in the world. You believe in your kids. You believe in your family. You try your hardest to believe in your friends. You believe in your faith. The one thing you left out, was yourself.

Remember when you were younger? Remember when you had all the faith, and hope in the world? You didn’t have rock star dreams. You just wanted something you could hold with your hands. Something tangible, to show to people, look at what I’m doing. Nothing was going to stop you from that.

Ask yourself the question “any regrets?” A few years ago you would have said “no way,” now it’s “yeah, you’d change a few things.” You feel like you have this black cloud hanging over your head. You’re starting to feel a little bit like a failure. You know your family and your friends would never let you believe it, but it’s hard not to think that way sometimes.

So the question is, “what are you going to do about it?” Are you going to be Ted Mosby, and take the leap? Or will you just turn on It’s Always Sunny, or Madden, until you forget about it again. You’ve swept so many things under the rug I’d say you’re a pro now.

I don’t write a lot about my faith but I heard an old story, in a whole new light. You know the story where Jesus walks on water. The moral of the story is that even in your storms he’s always there for you. Peter was so scared when Jesus said to come to him. Peter says “tell me to come to you, show me that I can.” Then Peter walks on the water. Maybe the other side of the story is to show you that Jesus has just as much faith in you, as you do in him. Maybe your family and friends believe in you just as much as you do them. Maybe you’re on the right path, you just haven’t reached the end.

Remember when you were a kid…and had all the hope in the world…

October 21, 2013
Stuck between a rock, and another rock.

Last summer my wife and kids and I got a cabin in Kentucky. A couple of days in we went to a place called the Natural Bridge. It’s this awesome natural bridge of rock that just kind of formed that way. It goes from one cliff to the other with an awesome view of the woods below.

The part they don’t tell you is to get to the thing you have to hike a mile up the side of a mountain. Knowing none of this we show up with my son (who is not even one) in a stroller, and I had flip flops on my feet. I’m not kidding when I say we sweat. We looked like when got in a pool with our clothes on by the time we reached the top. We stopped for a break probably ten times. We were out of shape, and out of breath, and I thought my feet might literally detach from my legs.

Finally after an hour we made it to the top. We turned the corner and now I’m confused. We’re at the top now how do you get up there? Oh no, it can’t be. That’s how you get in? I have this thing called claustrophobia. And the entrance up onto the bridge was a sliver cut through the rock about a foot and a half wide. I couldn’t do it. I felt my chest start to get heavy.

How many times in our lives do we scratch and claw, get tired, and sweaty, and just plain worn out to reach something. We get to the top, after all that hard work, and get scared. We feel nervous. Maybe I shouldn’t do this? Is this the right decision?

If you worked that hard then it probably is. Don’t be afraid. Take that leap. This was so important to you then, why is it different right now? Stay the course. Make it happen.

This is no I faced my fears, I’m a champion story. I was scared to death. But I tell you what, I climbed up that mountain to see this thing through. This crease was about twenty feet long. I turned completely sideways and I took one step at a time. My stomach and my back scraped each side of the rock. My flip flop wearing feet trudged through brown water that god knows how long had been laying there. Breathing like a woman about to give birth I made it up on to that bridge with two of my girls in tow, and it was beautiful. Crazy to think something like this exist. Trees for as far as the eye could see.

Even when your chest gets heavy and your nerves rattle. Your sweaty and your feet hurt, just keep climbing.

October 17, 2013
Like a world without music…

Take a minute and really think about music with me. Music really does get taken for granted. Most of my life has revolved around music. Especially my adult life. I played it with my friends, and we were completely serious about it. It ran our lives. I mean we LIVED music. Every penny we had after bills went to music. I’ll go as far as to say music has made me the person I am. Music also put me in quite a few situations a lot of people would feel uncomfortable in. Like sleeping under a semi trailer in a park in Indiana in a thunder storm after a show only to be awoken by a marching band the next morning.

Think about the memories that go with music. Kind of like our parents saying “I remember exactly where I was when JFK was assassinated,” we always hear a certain song and it takes us somewhere. For me, Deathbed by Relient K always makes me think of my late Stepdad, Cowboy Bob, and being jammed in the back of a truck for 20 some hours on a trip to Wyoming. Existentialism on Prom night by Straylight Run takes me back to dancing on the pitchers mound of a baseball field in the middle of the night. The entire Late Registration album by Kanye West takes me to sitting in my car for three hours just talking to my wife, the night of our first unofficial date. I could probably think of many more, but those are just to name a few.

Now think about some of the things that would be awful without music. The crucial scene in your favorite movie, where they are about to kiss for the first time, after they just ran at each other down the street, and miraculously they aren’t sweaty, or out of breathe, and their hair still looks perfect. There is beautiful music in the background, that you don’t even notice. Watch it on mute and see how awesome it feels. One of the most important days of your life, your wedding day. One of my wife and I’s biggest squabbles planning our wedding was music. Where is it going to come from, what’s being played during this and that. What do you imagine walking down the aisle to silence would be like. What would we dance to? Why would we sing?

Music is a beautiful part of life. One that’s near and dear to my heart. I will always love it. I will always play it. I will always talk about it. I will always share it. There are people out there who give up a normal life, to make music, and their number one goal is to make you hear it. So the next time you hear a good tune, take it in, and appreciate it. Would that moment even be a moment without it…

October 16, 2013

Music moves people. It can do a lot of different things to a person. It can make you sad, it can make you happy. It can make you scream, or it can make you whisper. It can make you get up and dance, or make you sit completely still. It can wake you up, or it can make you fall asleep. It can make you laugh, and it can make you cry. It can make us remember, and it can help us forget. It can boost your confidence, or make your nerves rattle. It can bring us together, and even push us further apart.

Even as an adult, somewhat grown, the right music still gives me goosebumps, and I can feel it in my soul. I will always love music, and more than likely in some fashion always play it. I hope everyone feels the way about something like I do music. To some people music isn’t just the background noise in our day to day.

In a way, music changed my life, and molded me into the person I am today. I felt like honoring music today, and anyone that feels the way I do remember, good tunes is good tunes…

October 15, 2013
Running in the dark

I woke up at 4:30 this morning. I wake up at 4:30 every morning I work. My alarm goes off, I never hit snooze; I get up and get ready. I’m driving this morning and I think “man, I’m sick of always running around in the dark.”

Did you know that you can get sick without enough sunlight? Without sunlight we become vitamin D deficient. No sunlight also means no serotonin, which makes us depressed. This happened to a friend of mine. He worked third shift, and was going through a rough spot; slept all day, and he went kind of bonkers.

I think a lot of us are always just running around in the dark, when we should be chasing the sun. When you say to yourself, “what’s the point.” When you’re feeling apathetic, or that things are awful. When you can’t find that motivation, to go to school, or go to Zumba, or finish that assignment, or to clean the house; you’re still just running around in the dark.

Don’t let the dark make you sick. Why can’t today be the day you get out of bed, get ready, and walk out into the sun.

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