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Yesterday, my niece graduated from high school. She graduated the top of her class. I wish my father would have been here physically to give her a hug, a kiss on her cheek, and a big “I am so proud of you” to her. As her graduation ceremony was going on at the Mabee Center, I could not help but look up and see my Dad smiling ear to ear with his chest sticking out. He would have been teary eyed except there are no tears in Heaven.
Kailey, you should have seen how happy Papa was to hold you when you were born. He was going around telling everybody in the world just how beautiful you were. I remember being next to him when he was holding you and you smiled in your sleep. He said, “Son, that right there is what makes Life worth living.”
I do not have the wisdom of my father yet, Kailey, but I know he would tell you to always stay true to yourself. Live life to its fullest. Never say no to your dreams. Never give up. Go after what you want. Love people that way you want to be loved. Treat others with kindness that goes beyond understanding. Don’t try to be someone else… God made you to be you. Stay original and don’t turn into a copy.
How do I know this? Because that is what he told me on my graduation day.
I love you. Congratulations and know Papa is watching over you along the side of Jesus .
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I was reading today’s newspaper and read article after article talking about everything from unemployment to welfare to bailouts. Now before I dive into the subject of my writing, I want to cover one thing. I know that there are people that cannot support themselves because of real injuries or handicaps. I am not talking about them here. Okay moving on…
It appears that since President Obama has some plans in place to help people “get a leg up”, many have chosen to try and make a life of it. Who can forget those comments like “I want my free house now” or “I will never have to work again”. Knowing that these are idiots in the eyes of most, I fear that many are falling into this dangerous thinking. This line of thinking is holding back the greatness of our country and causing many to fall short of their potential life impact.
Growing up, Dad went to work day in and day out. As a blue collar welder, he believed in hard work. I remember he would get home and be completely black from the day. He would jump in the shower, eat, and then we would sit around the living room talking about our days, doing homework, or watching the latest Knots Landing show. He took pride in his hard work. He was a welder for over 35 years!
I remember the day Dad pulled me in my room to have one of our talks. He said, “Son, I know that you are turning into a young MAN now and looking to get a car soon. I am sure you have a girl you want to take out on a date soon or looking to go out and have fun with your friends.” Smiling big and nodding in agreement, I was wondering where this conversation was going.
“Son, it is time to take a huge step in becoming the man you will forever be.” He paused and I swallowed hard wondering where in the world he was going with this. “It is time to talk about how you are going to earn money to do these things.”
He quoted to me Proverbs 10:4-5- He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich. He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame.
“Work is something that will make a man out of you. You can leave each day knowing that you earned your own way. There is a feeling of independence…a freedom that no one holds you back from what you want to achieve.”
He always used to tell me that if you are looking for a hand the best hand is at the end of your own arm. It always drove him crazy to see fully capable people sit around doing nothing and looking for a handout. “Son, there is a saying that you must never forget so pay attention… If it is going to be, it is up to Me.”
“Do not sit around whining and expecting someone else to do it for you. Get up and do something.”
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The other day I was working out on the elliptical at Gold’s gym. I was about 38 minutes into an hour run and was really struggling to finish. I was just about to talk myself out of it when a song that was one of my father’s favorites came to mind. It is called The Last Mile of the Way. It has nothing to do with working out, but it pulled me through. I fought back tears in that room. Luckily, I was in the Cinema room where it is very dark and a movie is playing during your workout.
When you look at the lyrics, it becomes clear that the author wanted to communicate that we should finish strong. You should stick to what you are called to do all the way to the end. It was the creed of my father.
One of the traits that people loved about my dad was that if he said he would do something…he did it. He was a great finisher. My father was one that wanted to help people understand that a life with Christ was better than without. I know that he received his joy when he went on to Heaven. His entire life was a testament of love, hope, forgiveness, passion, and faith.
How about you? Do you finish everything you start? If you do not finish, you are short-changing yourself and others around you. You will never see true success. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 9:10- “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…”
Become a person that is known to do what you commit to. Breakthrough the tough spots and just like Nike says “JUST DO IT!”
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I was around my large family Saturday for Halloween where Grandpa cooks up his “special” chili. My uncle Mike and cousins were talking about their last few days deer hunting. My cousin Micheal had gotten stuck in his truck in a spot that we like to hunt and Chris, my other cousin, heard that he got stuck and decided to take his truck out. “My truck can’t get stuck. It is unstuckable.” he proclaimed. Lo and behold, he goes out and yes you guessed it…he got stuck. While we were standing around making fun of Chris, I remembered an incident that Dad went through.
A few years back while we were at the end of our summer vacation at Lake Tenkiller, it was time to hook the trailers up to the trucks and get them back on top of our land. Dad had a nice Dodge pickup and he always loved to show what any of his trucks could do. Well, when he went to pull the trailer up our semi washed out road, his wheels starting spinning. Dad kept trying and getting nowhere. He got frustrated…very frustrated. Then he felt embarrassed. My uncle Mike had a truck with 4WD and easily took that trailer and all the rest of our gear up top. Dad just could not believe it. The whole way home he talked about it. Our family loved to tease Dad about his Dodge truck and the next thing we knew, Dad shows up home after work with a 4WD Ford pickup. It is the truck that I drive today.
Dad used this experience as another way to teach me something. We were talking about it the next summer vacation. “Son, it just really bothered me that my tires just kept spinning and getting nowhere. I was going to do whatever it took to make sure that I would not do that again. It got me thinking too that many will go through life spinning their tires to nowhere and think that they are moving ahead.”
“Matt, don’t get stuck in life. Always make sure that you are moving forward. If you fail, at least learn from it so that you are still maturing and moving ahead. Don’t be one that realizes you are stuck and not do anything about it. If you are in a job that is a “bridge to nowhere” and you have no room to grow. Take your own time and look for a job where you can mature and grow in experience and pay. Apply for it. Once you get it, be respectful and give a minimum of two weeks notice at your other job and finish strong for them. “ Dad was a man that believed strongly that you should always respect any company that gave you a job, even if you hated it. After all, you were the one that applied .
“Son, in the same way, don’t get stuck in a rut with your life. Make sure that you do not get into relationships that promote mediocrity. You should be growing and challenging each other. If you end up in what seems to be an endless cycle, stop and reflect on things. If the only way to stop it is to walk away, then have the courage to do it. If you have a habit that is destroying you, have the courage to do whatever it takes to stop it. It will take courage and strength to admit that you need help or that you have failed, but know that you will be a better man for it.”
Dad loved people and believed that most had a desire to be good. If you royally screwed up, Dad would not throw you under the bus and give up on you. Quite the contrary. He would love you and if you wanted to get things right, he was the first to be there. My Dad was an ambassador of Hope. He somehow always made you feel that there was always hope for you. I pray that you have someone like that in your life. Please do not keep spinning your tires. If you are stuck in a job that no matter what you do you cannot grow, then go and find one that does. If you are an alcoholic that has failed over and over to stop, find the courage to ask for help before you really hurt someone, including yourself. If you are stuck in a destructive relationship, be strong enough and respect yourself enough to get out of it.
Last note…. the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result. If this describes you, don’t waste time beating up yourself about how dumb you are. Figure out what you need to do and in the words of Nike, “Just Do It.”
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Driving home last week, this song by Amy Grant came on the radio and I had to pull over. My eyes just filled with tears as all the emotions and love toward my Dad erupted. After I calmed down and took a few deep breaths, I got back on the road and thought about the meaning of this great song. “I want to hear them say…she’s got her Father’s eyes…”. The more I thought about that, the more I completely understood and agreed.
My Dad was a handsome man (I wish his looks would have passed to me . His blue eyes captured yours and you could not get away. A lot of the ladies called them “Bedroom Eyes”. Dad never liked that said unless Mom was the one saying it…hahahaha. But whether you were a man talking about football or work or a lady talking about the long day, my Dad’s eyes were ones that you knew he cared.
They say that the eyes are the window to the soul. I have to agree. My father was the most pure-hearted and nonmanipulative man I know. He sincerely cared about what you were saying. He always told me to look a person right in the eye and let them know that you care and your are listening.
“I am afraid to do anything with someone that can’t look you in the eye” he would always utter. He believed that you were hiding something or guilty of something if you could not look eye to eye. I remember that anytime I would try to tell my Dad a lie, he caught me every time.
I was a young teenager and had my best friend in the world named Brent Pruett over to play catch after school. Well, Mom and Dad had gone out and my sister was at her friend’s house so we had the whole house to ourselves. Well, we were sitting around snacking on some dorittos and all the sudden a big fat bluejay landed on top of the fence in the backyard. We saw it land and talked about how we wished we were at the lake where we could shoot it. I looked forward to every summer going to Lake Tenkiller to swim and hunt birds. I looked at Brent and smiled, “hey, I know where Dad’s pellet gun is.” Brent looked at me and said, “You better not, Dude. Your Dad will bust you if you do it.”
“Well, he ain’t here is he?” I smarted off. I went to the closet and grabbed his pellet gun. I loaded it up and pumped it the maximum amount of 10 times. Brent asked, “What if you hit your Dad’s truck out there?”
“Who you talking to? I am Dead Eye Dick remember? I am the best shot in the family. I can hit that fat bird with no problem. You watch.” I cracked open the back porch glass door and set up against the door frame. Got the bird right in my sights and pulled the trigger. I heard a little sound that didn’t sound like a pellet hitting the chest of a bird.
Now it was at that moment, that for the first time in my life I felt life leave me. All the blood in my body rushed to the top of my head and exploded out. I had hit the back windshield of my Father’s 1972 green Dodge truck. Brent’s eyes got so big and he tried to speak but could not. He knew his friend just pulled a big boo boo.
I held my wits sort of and ran the pellet gun back into Dad’s closet. I could not say anything except “Oh Jesus….Oh Jesus….Jesus help me…Oh God…OOOOHHHH GGGGGOOOOOOODDDDD!!!! “ Brent took off home before my parents returned.
When their car pulled up, I ran to the front door to greet them and tell them how much I loved and missed them. Dad sat down to watch the Cub’s game and I went to my room to listen to the radio. After a while, my Dad knocked on the door and asked me to join him in the Kitchen. He was staring out the back door and asked me “Son, do you see anything different out there?”
“No, not at all, Dad” I lied. “Well…look at my truck.” Dad insisted. “OH MY GOSH, Dad. Someone took out your windshield!!” I exclaimed. Dad very calmly but sternly told me to go to my room. I knew I was caught. When came in, he sat down and said “Son, look me in the eye and tell me you did not do that.” I could not do it. Dad’s eyes were pure honesty and I could not do it. I finally mustered up and said, “I did it, Dad. I just did not think I would miss this big fat blue jay. I’m sorry Dad.”
Dad grounded me and rightfully so. But it was that day that I remember the first time realizing how my Dad’s eyes were. They were always sober. Always ready to cry with me in tough times. They were lit up when he looked at Mom or Charity and I. If someone did something they should not have, my Dad’s eyes would burn right through them into their heart. People knew Dad could be serious when he had to be.
So take a page out of my Dad’s playbook on life and let your eyes be the window to who you truly are. If they are not, fix it. If they are always blood shot from you drinking, stop it and sober up. You’ll have a better life for it. If they are always tired looking from stress, take some time to find yourself again and change. Be honest at all times and never have a bad motive in what you do. It will show in your eyes.
Last thought…it is obvious that Amy Grant was singing about having the Heavenly Father’s eyes. Let us all be on the journey to becoming true Sons and Daughter’s of God that when people look at us, they can see a glimpse of HIM in our eyes.
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My father was a man that believed a man is only a man if he supported his family. Or at least did everything he could possibly do to try. The Holy Bible even has a scripture about this in 1 Timothy 5:8 “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”
In this day and age where it seems like so many want the government to do everything for them, many simply want to sit on their butt and have someone else provide for their house. This drove my father nuts.
“There are jobs out there. It may not be the job you want, but if your priority is to put food on the table and have a roof over your head, you can find something” he would always say. My Dad was one that believed in a good days work. He worked as a teenager and never stopped. However, as stated in other posts, my father was NOT a workaholic. He knew the balance.
If you are without a job and on the verge of losing everything or your family is forced to skip meals, I understand. My wife and I have been through those times, when all you have is $5 to your name and crying babies in your arms. It is in those times that we prayed hard. I realized that I was “holding out” for the right job.
Dad talked to me about What’s in your hand……? And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod. – Exodus 4:2
God appears unto Moses and shows him the enormous task he must undertake.. to stand before the King of Egypt and demand that he liberate the children of Israel from slavery. Moses quickly realizes his inadequacy to take on this task.. but the Lord’s response to his fearful heart is what is that in your hand? Moses replies, a rod (walking stick) God then tells him to take that rod, because with it God would display his marvelous wonders…
The rod became a serpent in the sight of Pharaoh, the rod turned the waters into blood, the rod brought forth a plague of frogs,…Moses took the rod and smote the red sea, the sea was then divided in two and the children of Israel walked on dry land… God used an inadequate man and his rod to bring about some of the greatest miracles in the bible..
Need a job to make ends meet? Do you feel inadequate? God is asking you and me today, what is that in your hand? I want to do my miracles through you, and use whatever is in your hands to perform my miracles!!
I had to wake up and realize that my wife and kids depended on me to provide. When I looked into my daughter’s eyes one day when she was hungry and we had nothing, that was it. I knew there was a job in construction/carpentry that I could do; however, I had done construction work before and hated it with a passion. I mean it…I HATED IT.
I took the job and it wasn’t the money I was used to, however, it was something. It got us through. Within the next two months, a great job opened up that really fit me. I went in the interview and the HR person said that the fact I was willing to do something I hated to provide for my family was impressive to them. I got the job!
If you find yourself in this predicament, please consider looking at the “sucky” jobs that you could be doing to make it through. Your family is worth it right? It may even lead you to the connection of the perfect job. As one who has been in charge of hiring people, when I see someone that “bucked up” in the rough times to make it through, I really respected the applicant and it showed that they had tenacity.
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Friday, October 9th, was the one year anniversary of Dad stepping into eternity. I really did not expect this date to be so hard for me. It was tougher than his birthday and wedding anniversary. It hit me like a ton of bricks and caused my emotions to be all over the map. I guess that it was this way because this day is marked with loss versus his birthday being a day of celebrating him or his anniversary celebrating he and Mom’s incredible marriage. October 9th will always be a day of loss…hurt…pain.
I was reliving the last week Dad was here. The “I wishes”, “I should haves”, “Why didn’t I’s” were the overwhelming thoughts of each day. I can easily see how you can go insane if you allow yourself to go there all day every day.
As you can tell, it has been a while since I have written on the DNA of Life. I just could not allow myself to go deep into my memories because I did not know if I could come back out. Does that make sense? It felt like I was falling in a dark hole of sadness. I have not allowed myself to truly grieve over losing Dad because I feel like I must always be strong. I know it is not healthy. I must allow myself to mourn the loss of the greatest man I knew.
I have never been one to let my emotions take me over, but it is ever so challenging right now. I am very angry one minute and bawling like a baby the next. I am quiet today and very vocal tomorrow. I am strong this week and in the pits next. This is the roller coaster ride that many have spoken about. What a sucky ride.
Even though I know Dad is in a much better place and I should be okay…I just am not quite there. For many in my family, this would shock them. I can act well. And yes I am strong but sometimes I just need to put the sword down and cry. Dad was truly my safety net that I knew was always there. He always knew the right thing to say to me. He never made my decisions but was the perfect guide through my heart to find truth for myself.
God has brought some amazing people into my life to help me to continue to mature and grow…and for that I am very thankful. I have an amazing wife who loves me and is there for me. God lent me four angels from Heaven named Skylar, Makayla, Paris, and Matthias. I have the most amazing family on earth. More than anything, I have God the Father. He has set me up to make it through this.
This post is very selfish and self serving…sorry about that. I just have to get this out. This blog has become my outlet…my journal. Alicia has talked me into writing more. We will see…
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This song absolutely got to me. I heard about it when I was reading a blog from the man that produced this video. The title obviously got my attention. As I watched this video, I instantly became the little boy in it. I also felt the pains of all the characters…the hurt and anger of the older son, the lost feeling of the mother, the loneliness of the little sister. Please watch this video and understand that the best thing you can do for ones that go through the loss of a loved one is simply pray for them. Pray for peace that surpasses all understanding…unconditional love…forgiveness…and comfort for them.
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Every Memorial Day holiday my family goes down to a little country church named Seller’s Church outside of Tahlequah, OK, to decorate the graves of our beloved ones that have gone on before us. Obviously, this year was going to be extremely hard being the first for us to do it for Dad versus with Dad. We were honoring Dad as a father and as a veteran.
Everyone brings food to eat after a service of testimonies, preaching, and worshiping. Dad always loved singing here. It was a great service that we had where we talked about sin, making it to Heaven, and not wasting life away. I was asked to say something and I just talked about how Dad was a perfect picture of God to me. I talked about the difference between viewing God as this big being out there somewhere versus God as Daddy…full of love, mercy, and grace. Would we always run away from Him if we pictured Him as a loving Daddy instead of the Mighty Inflictor of Wrath?
I am still very sad today and instead of writing I will just put the lyrics of an amazing song by Brad Paisley called When I get Where I am Going. Look at them and watch the video below to hear it.
“Brad Paisley - When I Get Where I am Going”
When I get where I’m goin’
On the far side of the sky
The first thing that I’m gonna do
Is spread my wings and fly
I’m gonna land beside a lion
And run my fingers through his mane
Or I might find out what it’s like
To ride a drop ‘a rain
Yeah, when I get where I’m goin’
There’ll be only happy tears
I will shed the sins and struggles
I have carried all these years
And I’ll leave my heart wide open
I will love and have no fear
Yeah, when I get where I’m goin’
Don’t cry for me down here
I’m gonna walk with my Grandaddy
And he’ll match me step for step
And I’ll tell him how I’ve missed him
Every minute since he left
And then I’ll hug his neck
So much pain and so much darkness
In this world we stumble through
All these questions I can’t answer
And so much work to do
But when I get where I’m goin’
And I see my Maker’s face
I’ll stand forever in the light
Of His amazing grace
Yeah, when I get where I’m goin’
(Oh when I get where I’m goin’)
There’ll be only happy tears
(I love you, yeah)
I will love and have no fear
(Yeah, when I get where I’m goin’)
Yeah, when I get where I’m goin’
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I was overwhelmed this week when my oldest daughter, Skylar, sung at her school’s talent show. Skylar is one that has loved music literally from birth. When she would be crying and nothing would calm her down…music did. It got to a point that we just decided to play music every night as she slept and she loved it.
From the first day that she could talk, Skylar would sing with any music that she would hear…whether she knew the words or not! Now at seven years old, she begs for songs to be played while we travel anywhere and she just blows us away with her angelic voice. I cannot express just how at awe I felt as I saw my little baby get up in front of hundreds of people and just sing lights out!!
When I was by myself later, I could not help it…I cried. I could really sense my Dad’s presence. He always loved to hear Skylar sing. He never told her to be quiet or shut up. In fact, he would sing with her…even if he did not know that words to her songs . This is something that Dad was really amazing at… Feeding into our talents by encouraging us in anyway he could think of.
When I was growing up, Dad would play catch with me. He was always really careful to not overdue my arm but would start close and work his way back little by little…day by day. He would not make fun of me if I dropped the ball or would throw it horribly. He would just encourage me to keep doing my best. Well, as I was entering high school, my best friend, Brent, was already playing on the baseball team and wanted me to try out for the team. To be frank, I was scared to death. I just did not think I was worthy of being on a team.
The week of tryouts Dad got home from work and as always he could tell something was on my mind. I told him about baseball tryouts. He told me that I was an awesome baseball player and that I should go for it. I was scared for several reasons. Dad looked me eye to eye…mano e mano and said “Look Son. All things are equal on the field. You can hold your own against anyone out of the field. Just go and throw the ball. You will be on that team. Period.”
It really gave me confidence to try it. You guessed it… I made the team!!! As parents we should always be looking for ways to feed into the talents of our children. Do not make your parenting model all about the no’s and the do not’s of life but also make it about hope…inspiration…empowerment. Alicia and I have decided to feed into Skylar by putting her into voice lessons and let her walk out her dream of singing. What about your children? What can you do to encourage them today? If you will just do it, it will rock their world forever!!!