Taking A Step Forward

I’m sitting on a wooden dock. The sun setting in front of me, my shadow stretching out behind me. The pinks, oranges, yellows, and reds from the sky color the water in front of me. Fireflies are starting to come out of their hiding places and light up the dark that’s approaching. The only sounds I hear are the crickets and the waves saying hello to the shore. I pay them no attention. Honestly, I’m so lost in my thoughts that a marching band could be playing behind me and I don’t think I’d really hear them.

That was three months ago.

They say no one heals the same. Grief is such a strange thing. Some days I feel like I’m going to be okay , but most days I just feel stuck. Like a mouse in a mousetrap. Trying so hard to get out of the trap but getting nowhere.

Today, I’m sitting on the same wooden dock. I haven’t seen the sun in days. Gray skies block the sun. My shadow has gone into hiding and the water is dark. The fireflies have gone into hibernation, dreaming of warm summer days to come again. The waves still quietly say hello to the shore. The never ending need to be seen and heard. I take a deep breath and exhale, watching my breath leave my body. It’s so cold my tears freeze as they roll down my cheek. I’m still so lost a bear could wander out of the woods and sit down beside me and I would pay it no mind.

How do I get over you being gone?

I feel hopeless. Prayers won’t bring you back. I feel so weak, but I know I’m not. It takes strength to wake up every day and get out of bed and continue life without you here. A strength, fortunately, most people don’t have to find, at least today. If only they lived each day like it would be their last, if I had lived each day like it would’ve been our last.

If I had lived that last day knowing it was my last day with you. Would I have done anything differently?

That’s the nagging question. Would I have done anything differently? I loved you with every ounce of my being but did you know that? I would’ve laid down for my life for you but did I ever tell you that? Or did you somehow know that without my words? If I had known would I have stayed up all night talking about everything, and nothing, to hear your voice for a few more hours, a few more minutes? If I had known, would I have held you a little tighter as we slept together one last time? Or would I have stayed awake just staring at you so I could memorize everything about your face?

Damn, these voices are so loud but I don’t know what is worse. All these questions or this silence that is so deafening sitting here.

I know I am punishing myself sitting here in the cold. Maybe if enough tears fall, I will wash you out of my system. Maybe if I shiver enough it will shake you out of my system. But I know neither of these will work.

You will still be here. Trapped inside my broken heart.

I look out at the dark water and talk to no one. Or maybe you are there. I don’t know.

What do I know?

I know that somehow I’m getting stronger each day. I know I am appreciating life more each day. I know I am more resilient than I thought I ever could be. I know with each breath in and each breath out that my heart is still beating.

I know the grass is greener after a thunderstorm. I know the sun and the stars are still behind these gray clouds. And I know the sunset is only the ending to that day and that the sunrise tomorrow will be a new day.

I know a broken heart heals one stitch at a time. Today, I will add another stitch. And someday it will be healed and the scar will make it stronger.

I know the earth keeps spinning, the sun will continue to shine, even behind the clouds, and that life goes on.

I know I can’t stay in this place. I know I need to find a way to move forward. Life hasn’t stopped and I know it’s time for me to get on with mine.

I know this pain is real. I know it will always be here. I know it will lessen with time.

Maybe the thing I know the most is I will always love you.

Maybe that’s enough for today.

I pick myself up off the dock and look back at the water again.

And with that I take a step forward. And then another. And then another.

Here’s To Moving On by Dashboard Confessional-

I’m Still Out Here by Casting Crowns-

Still Frame by Citizen Soldier-

Better Days Coming by MercyMe –

Don’t Lose Heart by Steven Curtis Chapman –

Still by Steven Curtis Chapman –

Begin Again by Fearless Soul –

Maize And Blue

At the beginning of this football season, Conor Smith and Megan Moroney wrote two songs about changing team colors for someone. That got me thinking that I would never change colors so I wrote this one. Of course, this is no where close to being an actual song. Will have to do some serious work on it but you can get the gist.

Maize and Blue

I was already more than a few beers in

I thought I might never have this chance again

I said what the hell and bought you a beer

Asked if you were from around here

You said you were just visiting friends

We talked and I hoped this night wouldn’t end

Your laughter came easy and your eyes sure did shine

I didn’t want to be anywhere else when your hand was in mine

Been a few years since we had that first beer at the Buckeye bar

I knew when I walked you home I fell in love under the stars

And it nearly broke my heart when I crashed back to earth

When she said she’ll always cheer for that team up north

I told her I’ll always bleed Scarlet and Grey

And I will until my dying day

Since the day we met, two things will always be true

I’ll love you and I’ll never wear maize and blue

I hate Alabama and the rest of the SEC

But I’ll yell Roll Tide before I cheer for the Wolverines

She said you know I won’t lie

I’m for anyone playing the Buckeyes

Then I thought there’s no way this is going to last

But I can’t say no when she kisses me like that

I can’t help the way she grew up

I can’t change the team that she loves

Been a few years since we had that first beer at the Buckeye bar

I knew when I walked you home I fell in love under the stars

And it nearly broke my heart when I crashed back to earth

When she said she’ll always cheer for that team up north

I told her I’ll always bleed Scarlet and Grey

And I will until my dying day

Since the day we met, two things will always be true

I’ll love you and I’ll never wear maize and blue

In November when we break her heart again

I’ll make her sing Carmen Ohio after another win

She said I know this’ll be our year

When we score I’ll get you to cheer

That’s when I knew love was blind

Because I knew she was out of her mind

Four weeks in November we tear each other apart

But she knows I love her with all my heart

Been a few years since we had that first beer at the Buckeye bar

I knew when I walked you home I fell in love under the stars

And it nearly broke my heart when I crashed back to earth

When she said she’ll always cheer for that team up north

I told her I’ll always bleed Scarlet and Grey

And I will until my dying day

Since the day we met, two things will always be true

I’ll love you and I’ll never wear maize and blue

Orange and White by Conner Smith –

Tennessee Orange by Megan Moroney –

I Hate Alabama by Conner Smith –

Had Me At Halftime by Morgan Wallen –

We Are Buckeyes by Joseph Allen White –

Ice Scraper, Ice Scraper

All summer long when it was hot

I didn’t give you a single thought

You sat on the shelf and didn’t forget

That you will, once again, be an asset

Now, here we are, the summer heat has gone away

The cold has settled in and there’s snow forecasted for today

Ice scraper, ice scraper, I sigh, I guess it’s time

To take you off the shelf and put you in the seat next to mine

Without you, there are times I could not drive

How many times have you cleared the snow and ice ?

Even though I can’t wait for winter to end

I’m glad you’re by my side, my winter friend

Tom The Turkey

The Aztecs of Mexico domesticated the Mexican subspecies of the wild turkey (called guajolotes). Spanish explorers took some of these back to Europe in the mid-16th Century where they became common farmyard animals. These domestic turkeys eventually completed the circuit and came back to North American turkey farms from Europe.:

This is a story about a turkey named Tom. However, this was not an ordinary turkey. Tom the turkey did not want to be a turkey. Tom wanted to be an eagle.

Tom often thought to himself, ” I do not like myself. This is one boring life I live.”  Day after day Tom would trot around the yard with all his turkey friends gobbling gobbling and gobbling. Tom would eat all the food that was given to him and he would watch himself getting fatter and fatter.

Tom would look to the sky and see the eagles flying around. Soaring above the trees. “So beautiful,” he thought. “I want to be like that. I want to be majestic. I want to be  an icon. I want people to look at me with awe. I want to be a national symbol and for people to look at with me with thanksgiving in their hearts.”

Majestic bald eagle over the Des Moines RIver in Iowa:

As much as Tom flapped his wings he could not get off the ground. It wasn’t that Tom did not practice, because he did. Some days that was all Tom did. Tom would run around the yard flapping his wings, never to get more than a foot or so off the ground. “God, why would you give me wings but not let me fly very well? Why would you let me see the eagles soar but not let me join them?”

Many of Tom’s less ambitious friends would talk behind his back. “Who does he think he is?”  “Look at that fool trying to fly like an eagle!” “Doesn’t he realize he will never be anything other than what he is?”

Many days and months passed by and nothing ever changed for Tom. Every day it was the same thing. Wake up, eat, walk around the yard, eat, try to fly.  Every day Tom would ask the same questions. “Why God why? I want to be more than this. I want people to look at me in awe and be thankful that I am here. I want people to love me.”

Soon the weather started to get colder. Many days people would come and grab some of Tom’s friends and he would never see them again. Tom continued to eat and grew bigger and bigger. One day a family came and walked around the yard looking for the perfect turkey. They found one in Tom.

The father looked at his family and said, “This turkey is beautiful. He will be the perfect symbol for our thanksgiving dinner  .”  The little girl looked at the turkey and said “I love you turkey. You are so beautiful.”

Tom gobbled and gobbled. Tom was so happy. “Finally,” he thought, ” I am being appreciated. I may not be flying like an eagle yet but at least people are seeing me as special.”

Tom was taken to the family’s home where Tom was promptly killed and cooked for dinner. Before they ate the family prayed. “Thank you God for this wonderful meal. Especially this beautiful turkey. We will forever remember in our hearts on this national holiday.”

List of 25 Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes - Photo Gallery | SAVEUR. I don't have a Turkey board so I am placing these under the Chicken one:

You see, God gave Tom everything Tom asked for. Tom was looked at with awe and beauty. Tom was a national symbol. The people gave thanks from their hearts for Tom. Tom was made exactly how God wanted Tom to be and exactly how Tom wanted to be seen. Tom just didn’t realize that who he was was exactly who he was made to be.

What do you ask God for? Have you ever asked for a pure heart? Have you ever asked God to show you the way to be more like Him? Or are all of your asks and wants more about you? Have you ever thanked God for who you are, for who He made you to be?

More Alive by Pillar –

All I Need To Be by Fireflight –

This Is Who I Am by Shane and Shane –

God Follower by Steven Curtis Chapman –

I See God In You by Josh Wilson –

This Is Who I Am by Third Day –

Seasons Change And So Have We

When I see no leaves on the trees

I choose to remember when they were green

When I see skies that are dark and gray

I choose to remember the sunny days

When I see the ground lifeless and brown

I choose to remember when our love was found

When I’m cold and alone in this room

I choose to remember flowers will soon bloom

There’s an old song about when a heart breaks it don’t break even

And I’m sorry Journey but I have stopped believin’

I know acceptance is a powerful thing

And it hurts but I know the birds will soon sing

I accept you can’t love me like I want or need

And my love will never be good enough I’ve come to see

And I know it’s okay to not be okay

Not forever, but to feel the hurt today

I hope you know that not being with you was never in my plans

I’ll always be grateful for our time together because I’m a better, stronger man

You’ve made your choices and even though it’s taken me awhile

I accept there’s no more reason to fight but only time to smile

Because I’ll choose where my life will lead

And I thank you that once upon a time you loved me

And here soon when we will no longer be a we

I will choose to only remember the good memories

The Last Time by The Script-

Weren’t The One by Eddie and The Gateway –

What I get For Loving You by Seaforth –

Giving You Up by Kameron Marlowe –

Forever Or The End by Skillet –

God Is In This Story by Katy Nichole and Big Daddy Weave –

The Story’s Not Over by Jeremy Camp –

Peace by Danny Gokey –

First and Lasts

As I sat on the tailgate of my daughters truck with her last night, a lot of emotions surfaced. How did this amazing young lady sitting beside me , a senior in high school, get this old, how did I get this old? How did she go from being Super Why, a werewolf, a zombie cowboy and all the others to studying psychology while we are handing out candy ?

How did we go from dressing up and walking the neighborhood trick or treating to sitting on the back of a tailgate handing out candy to other kids that their parents think they have all the time in the world?

They don’t.

You blink and it’s gone. You go from first steps and first words and first trick or treats to probably her last Halloween at home. And soon it’ll be her last Thanksgiving and last Christmas and her last year of school that I get to see her everyday.

First day of kindergarten to first day of Senior Year, first race to last cross country race, first concerts to hopefully not last concerts but I am sure friends will replace me, first game at Wrigley Field to, well we do have one more summer before college and hopefully some summers in between college years, first College Game Day at Ohio Stadium to, well there is a big game coming up in a few weeks so maybe College Game Day will be there and we will have one more.

Her first college acceptance official letter came today. The email came a few days ago. Another email came today accepting her to another school. And I’m sure in the next few days or weeks, or blinks of an eye, she will get accepted to the other three or four she’s applied to. It’s nice to have choices.

But we almost know for sure where she will go. Far enough away to not see her often but close enough where she can still come back home on a weekend, if she wants too.

But more than likely she won’t be coming home to the same house she left, the house she grew up in.

A lot of changes are coming our way. Some good, some not so good. Some happy, some sad.

But like a book, life has its beginnings and its different chapters that somehow all come together to make a wonderful story. And as all stories end, new beginnings begin.

But for now there’s still a few more chapters to read in this book. Then it’ll go up on the shelf of memories and another book will be opened up.

I really have enjoyed being the dad in this book. I am thankful.

Love Not Hate- Trick or Treat, Halloween Night

Image result for birds dressed for trick or treat

History of the birds:

Love, Not Hate: Part 1

Love, Not Hate: Part Two

Love, Not Hate: Christmas Eve

Love, Not Hate: A New Chapter

Love, Not Hate: A New World

Love, Not Hate: The Division

Love, Not Hate: The Reconciliation

Love, Not Hate: Tragedy At Mandalay Bay

Love, Not Hate: Continue To Love

Love Not Hate: Love On Trial

Birds Of A Different Color- A New World – My God, My Music, My Life

All the little birds wanted to trick or treat

But tonight, their nests they would not leave

It was Halloween night all through the land

But you see, trick or treating had been banned

The parents said the world had grown too dark

And they placed walls around their cold hearts

The land had been taken over by evil and hate

The parents told the little ones they would have to wait

You never know if that bird behind that hockey mask

Is looking for candy or up to some sinister act

Or that bird dressed in that scary disguise

Is carrying a gun or even a knife

The little ones had tears in their eyes

Please let us trick or treat tonight

The little ones begged and said you can protect us

And talk to the neighbors you haven’t spoken to since Christmas

You stay inside and don’t do what the Eagle has said

It was out of love his blood was shed

The eagle said do not live in fear

But it’s what you do keeping us locked in here

How can we spread love and dispel hate

If you keep us locked here in this cage

Related image

Then the parents were quite surprised

Those words hit home they realized

And they soon came to understand

They have let fear and hate rule their land

In fear they had locked themselves in their nests

Letting hate take over while love took a rest

Image result for hate and evil in the world

They didn’t even talk to their neighbors or their friends

They didn’t spread love to strangers and love they did not defend

The light they carry they had let grow dark

But their children’s words had ignited a spark

They realized they had made their homes a coffin

Because of their children, the parents’ hearts softened

Then they said we will go out on this Halloween night

Instead of letting hate rule we will let our love be the light

Tonight we must start to let love grow and hate decline

Yes, tonight in the darkness our light will shine

Hey Papa by Natasha Bedingfield-

Fire Away by Disciple-

Dreaming by P.O.D. –

In Our Blood by Tyrone Wells-

Community by Kira Willey –

The Fun House Of Mirrors

sites at the local fair ground - I never liked to funhouse.  But if I was with friends I went in them and rode rides anyway.  Nana

“Step right up, come on in, only a dollar” shouted the carny. He looked right at me and my friends. “Come on in boys, this will change your life” and he winked at me. I don’t know why but my gut was telling me something was wrong. My friends wanted to go in and since I didn’t want to be left out, I went in with them.

It wasn’t much at first. A conveyor belt going the opposite direction. Oooh scary right? We made a tight turn to the right and the floor started shaking. Everyone started to laugh but the feeling inside me was getting worse. It was then the lights went out. We started reaching out, touching each other to make sure we were all still there. We slowly inched forward and hit a wall, promptly piling into each other.  Then the lights came on and that was when the fun began.

Image result for carnival fun house mirrors

We were looking at ourselves, all four versions of each of us. We looked at each other like what the crap, a couple of my friends used some other choice words. In one mirror there was me, looking as normal as I am now, if you can call that normal. In the second mirror I was a hideous monster. What the heck? The third mirror I was a baseball player, uniform, glove and all. How could this be? I only was wearing the clothes I came in with. The fourth mirror showed me as an old, decrepit old man, all by myself. It was then we realized there was no exit. We did the only thing we could and started to push on the mirrors. The only one that moved was the second one. We all looked at each other and kind of shrugged and took a step through. But we weren’t all together on the other side.

There I was, the hideous monster. I pulled on my skin and clothes to get them to come off but they were me and I was them. It was then I noticed a small light in the distance. I walked toward it and saw it was a cell phone. It had a note on it. PRESS PLAY. What I saw disgusted me and I wish I didn’t have to tell you about it, but I do. It was 15 second clips of my life. There was me eight years old pushing the other kids down on the playground. There was me twelve years old stealing a cassette from the local music store. There was me sixteen years old with my girlfriend. We were in the backseat and she said she wasn’t ready but I said we had already gone too far so let’s keep going. There was me at nineteen at a college party when a bunch of guys took a passed out girl upstairs and I didn’t stop them. There was me at twenty two when I didn’t take the keys from my friend and he drove home drunk, but he didn’t make it. There was me at home instead of visiting my dad before he passed away. There was me watching a movie instead of calling a friend who was home alone, waiting for me to call. There was me ignoring my wife because of past mistakes. Was I really this monster? Is this how others see me?

Then we were all back in the same room of mirrors. We all looked at each other like what was that? No one was laughing now. We pushed on the mirrors again but only the third one opened this time.

There I was, at Wrigley Field, pitching for the Cubs. The crowd was chanting my name. Oh yeah, this is what I was made for. They all love me. I was on the mound, World Series, game seven, bottom of the ninth, two outs, two on, two strikes. One more strike and I bring a championship to Chicago. The wind up, the pitch…and I heard it. My shoulder popped. Then I heard the crack of the bat as it connected to the ball. Then I heard the silence. Just like that it was all over. The game, my career, my life. I was so angry. I was mad at God. How could He bring me to this moment and then let it all go? One pitch. It was all over. What kind of God would do that to me? I shut everyone out. I drank myself to sleep every night. I didn’t know the women’s names I would wake up to. I didn’t care. I went from 60,000 people screaming my name to the deafening silence of my own thoughts.

There we were again. All six of us in the same room of mirrors. Mark said that wasn’t so bad. “Let’s get this over with,” said Scott. We looked at each other and hesitantly stepped into the fourth mirror.

There I was. A decrepit old man. No one there but me. A lifetime of choices led me to here. A lifetime of bad choices. How did I get here? I was a good guy once. I believed in God, once upon a time. I looked in the mirror and the mirror looked back. Was this really me? Then I was gone. There in my casket, all by myself. Honestly, all by myself. No one came to say goodbye. Not one single person! Was I that unloveable and selfish? Was I really that bad of a person? I guess the truth hurts because I must’ve been for not one single person to show up.

We were all back in the room of mirrors. A couple of my friends said how cool their mirrors were. They hope their lives turn out like that. I didn’t have anything to say. This time the first mirror, the normal mirror, opened and we walked through. A couple turns and a few distorted mirrors later we were at the exit.

“Hey boys, how’d you like it? Did you like what you saw?” said the carny. “The mirrors don’t lie boys. If you didn’t like what you saw, you still have time to do something about it.” That was when he looked at me again and winked and gave me something. I was too terrified to look at it so I stuck it in my pocket and left. He turned around and started shouting , “step right up boys and girls, come on in, only a dollar and it will change your life.”

I forgot about what he gave me until I got home and undressed. It fell out of my pocket. A small bible with a note inside. Read this if you want to change your life. Read this if you didn’t like what you saw in the mirrors. It is your choice.

Pin by Nana Martinez on Encouraging words | Mistake quotes, Character  quotes, Encouragement quotes

Monster by Skillet – 

All Of Me by Meatloaf – 

Ain’t Much Left Of Me by Blackberry Smoke – 

These Things I Hate (Revolves Around Me) by Bullet For My Valentine –

Hate Me by Blue October – 

Faces by One Less Reason – 

Objects In The Rearview Mirror by Meatloaf –

I’ll Find Me by Steve Azar – 

Sing by Waiting Hill – 

I Remember Me by Jennifer Hudson –  

I Hope They Get To Me In Time by Darius Rucker – 

Mirrors by Justin Timberlake – 

Funhouse Mirror by Jill K – 

I Choose You by Point of Grace – 

Noah Scape

There was a man named Noah Scape

Who felt misfortune was always his fate

He hated everything on this earth

Not once did he ever say a kind word

When people saw him coming

The other way they’d go running

Noah Scape would quite often offend

Surprisingly, or maybe not, Noah had many friends

But the ones he had felt the same as he

Noah Veil, Betty Wont, Miss Happs, and Y. Me

Dee Zaster, Emma Fraid, Hope Lescase,

Lois Steem, Shirley Knott, and Ray Neday

They all felt the world was out to get them

Perhaps, that is why they were all friends

But one day Noah Scape

Fell into it in a bad way

He needed help

But he truly felt

His troubles he could not share

No one he knew would care

With his head down he walked away

Wishing he could find Sunny Daze

A girl he knew once upon a time

Or maybe Yul B. Allright

He was always positive

And always quite supportive

Gene Yess was thoughtful and smart

Phil Hope always spoke from the heart

Then Noah thought maybe his life wasn’t a mess

Truly in his heart he knew he had to confess

That where he was in his life

His choices were part of his demise

So he chose right there and then

To begin his life again

For he had been miserable for quite a while

His face nearly cracked when he started to smile

The clouds started to part and the sun began to shine

Noah realized the light had been there the entire time

For where he was was not where he had to be

His eyes only needed to be open so he could see

He only had to make better choices

And listen to more positive voices

Now Noah knew that it was never too late

For there had always been a way out for Noah Scape

At The Corner Of Unicorn Lane

Image result for unicorn lane

At the corner of Unicorn Lane

Right before you get to Leprechaun Street

There lives a…. I don’t want to tell you it’s name

It’s not something most would want to meet

Some say it’s small, like an elf, fairy or pixie

Some say it’s big, like a Sasquatch, an ogre, or a Nephilim

I have seen it and to talk about it is quite risky

What I will say is that it doesn’t look like any of them

Image result for mythical creatures

Some say it’s a hybrid, like a griffin, a Minotaur or a mermaid

Others say it’s a shapeshifter, a werewolf, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

I have seen it and trust me, don’t get in its way

The last person that did has disappeared, perhaps has died

I’ve heard some says it’s a Kirin or a dragon

I’ve heard some say it’s a Chupacabra or a vampire

I have seen it and it’s worse than you can imagine

I can understand that  you might think I’m a liar

Let me continue please

I’m not an expert but it’s important what I have to say

Trust me, it’s for your safety

For it doesn’t matter if it’s night or day

Image result for Friedrich Nietzsche monsters

Some say it is a hideous creature

Others say it looks just like you and me

Some say it has the scariest features

It’s always different for those  unfortunate enough to see

So when you go down Leprechaun Street

And you get to the corner of Unicorn Lane

Please keep walking, I beg you to move your feet

Especially on a cold dark night when it starts to rain

Enough already! You exclaim. Just tell me does it really exist?

I hesitate, not sure if you can handle the truth

Please stop asking ! I can’t say! Oh, why do you insist?

Are you ready? Are you sure? It… it’s…. aahhhh it’s YOU!

Image result for ephesians 6 12

Monster by Skillet – 

The Animal I Have Become by Three Days Grace – 

Dark Side Of Me by Coheed and Cambria – 

Darker Side Of Me by Veer Union – 

Jekyll and Hyde by Jonathan Thulin – 

Monster by Stitched Up Heart – 

The Monster Is Loose by Meat Loaf – 

Monster You Made by Pop Evil –