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This Phoenix Speaks

Seven years in the making, my first published book, This Phoenix Speaks , is now a reality. The tireless and tiring work invested to ma...

sweet escape

At the end of a crazy day, I read with my children, said prayers, and put them to bed. Then, I hot-tailed it to the grocery store with my neighbor for a wild night out on the town. We laughed and talked while we picked up a few things, like grapes and bread and stuff. It was a good time unwinding in a nerdy sort of way. But something happened as we were leaving that made me smile a little extra.

We were stilling laughing and talking as we left the store, and as we were loading the trunk, a guy who works at the store was walking past us and he asked if we needed some help. We said no but held a bit of friendly conversation before getting into the car. My friend got in last, and told me that I'd never guess what just happened. And I was like, huh? She then said that the guy we had just chatted with told her, "Don't tell your friend, but she is really cute." So, needless to say, she told me within a nanosecond of getting into the vehicle. And it made me smile. How sweet. 

But it also made me think about some of the idioms that we say. They don't always make sense—at all. Or maybe this one isn't supposed to. Is it a cue to do exactly opposite of what they say?  For any guys out there, know that if you use that opener "Don't tell your friend, but . . . " the friend will definitely tell. Within a nanosecond—or less—of being out of your earshot.

our first dance


On the stairwell in Decatur, Texas 

taffy happy

Having sweet thoughts brought on by sweet thoughts. 

It is a good place to be on days when you don't know where you're headed because the watchword is patience and you have to trust that everything will be better than okay in the end—even before the end. Hopefully. 

entirely insufficient

How can the words I miss you be
Too much and too little all at once?
I shall tell you—
They are too much when you feel
Your heart upon your sleeve and the tears
That come from missing are too much
To take because you are unsure
If the sentiment is mutual between
The two hearts at hand
When fear whispers like a devil in your ear
That this person does not care
Enough to miss you in return . . .
That this person never will
Because you can give him something more
And he is potentially afraid
Most likely unaccustomed to your way
Because being different from the rest
Might not be what anyone is looking for

And those three words, I miss you, are
Entirely insufficient when the adventure
Calls for all you've got plus more
Because you only have words to give
For now; however,
Missing him is something to rejoice
In because you discover that you can feel again
That your heart recognizes
Someone special when it comes across
A soul so wonderfully matched with your own that
Life before his presence is difficult to imagine
And the thought of him ever leaving
Only makes the missing double worse
A poignant pierce upon the heart
A terrible twist of a knot in the throat
And still the words are too much and too little
Because it is part of yourself that is the missing piece
That you gave away from the very start

on thin ice

One month. I have just one month until student teaching overtakes my life for a time. And the worst news is that I am unprepared for it. I feel as if I am skimming the surface, trying to find a rhythm that isn't there. My only thought is to throw in the towel and put it off until my life slows down a little. I can't see how I will be able to do all that is required and take care of my family and everything else that is going on right now. However, if the past eight years is any indicator, I have been able to make it through some rough spots, and I don't believe my life will be any less insane come January. I weigh this all out in my mind at least twice a day, and I convince myself that quitting is not an option. When I talk to my friends and family, I speak of this quitting option as if it were a real option. I think everyone is just sitting back waiting to see if I'll actually go against my nature and quit or keep on going as per usual.

To be completely transparent, this is not a joke or exaggeration. I honestly contemplate pushing off student teaching for a semester. And I'd totally do it, except I also worry that I won't ever go back and finish if I stop (or even press pause) for now. I don't feel strong enough or smart enough or resilient enough to do what I dreamt I would do when this time came. There is not enough of me left to give at this point.

I feel like an ice skater slipping on thin ice, and if I fall just right, I won't ever get back up because I will have fallen through, into a perilous abyss.

the rain beckons you

The thrill of it all comes back to me
As if the days we shared were yesterday
Like an ache of a memory
Demanding to be felt again
Bursting from my mind in a way
That pains me to the core
While exciting the thought of another
Adventure to be shared
The sights, the sounds, the smells
The clouds collecting each day
More densely than the day before
Until the rain comes
Like the hope for beautiful things
It truly came and showed itself to us

We felt it falling on our skin
And in our hair
Wetting the ground beneath our feet
Promising something new
Something profoundly fresh
Misting everything in sight with a shine
Green and full of life
No longer parched with drought
But longing for more of what we tasted
Because it can happen again
Choose to join me in the summer rain
To bask in the mixture of sunshine
And clouds that keeps us guessing and wishing
For what might be ours to find

My Legacy

At first when I stop to ponder what will my legacy be, I come up with nothing. I think that my life has been unremarkable; I have contributed nothing of great consequence; and, I feel my insignificance. However, in the very next moment once the negativity subsides, I can see more clearly what my legacy might be and what it certainly will not be.

My legacy will not be defined by the money I had or didn't have, nor will it look like the opportunities I had or didn't have. It will not be defined by my mistakes. My legacy will not be that of a loser who has nothing.

I know these statements to be true because I inherited my parents' legacy. They did not have money, so to speak, but they had enough of the stuff to share and care for others. There was always enough to help someone with gas money to get home and other such things. My father knew what it meant to be truly hungry when he was growing up, so he made sure that anyone who came to our house went away full and/or with food in hand. My mother cooked and baked, giving away so much of it with a heart full of love. I was taught that when you give love, people give love back.

My parents were well loved. They might not have had as many opportunities as some people, but when given the opportunity to help and serve and love, they did it. And it was in no small measure. They made room for long-term house guests in a full house—on multiple occasions.

Conversely, my parents provided a perfect model of mistake making, but they also showed me that it could be overcome. They made many mistakes, some of those being significant, and still, the good outweighs the bad tenfold at the very least. People make mistakes, but mistakes are not our legacy. The ability to change, overcome, and succeed despite the mistakes is part of the legacy I received from them. I was given a legacy of compassion on the hungry, needy, and fatherless. They passed down to me the ability to speak the truth. They taught me gospel living. They passed down love.

Since my life is not over just yet, I can't really say what my legacy will be for certain, but I will guess that I will pass down my heart to the world. My hope is that anyone who I have known will come away from this existence with the firm knowledge that I care about them, that I have faith enough to share that theirs might have seed to grow from, and that I have given all that I have to give. My children will be part of this gift. While they might not ever know money or grand opportunity, they will have been given a legacy of love passed from my parents to me and then continuing on to them: love of fellow man, love of learning, love of family, love of beauty in its several forms, love of God.

There have been and will be times when my children are uncertain as to their purpose and value, so I hope they will look to my words and know that they are my legacy, and my legacy will be great. I am destined to greatness and so, too, are they because we know what love looks like and we embrace it every day of our lives. No matter our mistakes, we are not losers. We are strong, we can change when change is necessary, and we will overcome every obstacle.

My legacy will be a legacy of love.

My Legacy: Introduction

freedom is mine

To be so free has been a dream
Yet it was always here
Waiting for when I awake
From the bondage
I allowed to keep me
From what I was born to

Born to be free
To love
And be loved
Free to choose
Happiness over strife
Free to be myself
And to surround
Myself with people
Who care just as much

electric lines

There's something divine
About looking at someone
Into their eyes, into their heart
And seeing past the surface 
To who they really are 
And seeing who they could become 
—who you could become— 
If the walls are scaled
If the borders are crossed
If the feelings are allowed to be felt 

When the power lines are electrified
After barriers are broken down
But even before the smoke clears
Before either of you feels safe
You both acknowledge 
There has always been something
Whispering to you to continue peeling
Away the layers that keep truth
And treasure hidden

The truth
That you might just be 
Each other's
Match that lights eternal fire
Bookend that completes the set
Answer to infinite questions
Peace when the storms of life rage on

But until then— 
Look to the sunlit sky
Find me in the clouds
Remember me at dusk
See me in every tower
Electrifying your line of sight
As I see through to 
The inner you
A resplendent soul—magnificent

Texan Sunshine

It's been a week since I came home from my Texas adventures. And I have felt every minute of that week.

For the first half of my trip, I saw my family. The time I spent with them was great! It felt so good to see a brother who I haven't seen in a long while and to connect with his wife he married in December. I missed that guy! We didn't do anything terribly out of the ordinary, but we spent a whole lot of time talking, shopping, and just reconnecting. My favorite part was when we stayed up until about 3 a.m. hanging out, doing nothing. I am convinced that getting to stay up late talking has a magic in it that you can't get during any daylight hour. 

The second half of my vacation was spent meeting someone who has become a precious friend. I can hardly say anything about the experience without saying too much and possibly spoiling it, you know? Because sometimes you just don't share the special things with everyone. 

So what do I share?

Coming up on a year ago, a Twitter/Instagram friend made an impact on my life, and it has never been the same since. I wrote about it here: The Best Things Come From Texas. Before the trip out to Texas, he and I were already good friends because we have gotten to know each other over the past several months since I wrote about how a purple onion represents encouragement and layers of individuation. Now, after spending some time together in person, I count him as someone I hope to somehow always have around. I had a feeling about this kindred spirit from the very start, but to have actually crossed into a 3D relationship feels surreal and simply wonderful all at once. I believe that the unique experiences we shared while together in Texas have created an anchor of sorts for us.  And that's the best kind of friendship for which anyone could ask. 

During the time in Texas, I was able to be silly, honest, and kind. In turn, I was treated to the very best of silliness, a new layer of honesty for which I had hoped, and perfectly delightful kindness that I wish will never diminish. I felt the sun shining on me wherever I went, in places I had never been, with people who I will always care about, and the warmth I experienced heartened me deeply.

I feel blessed to have had the gift of time to spend reconnecting and creating new bonds. I will take that spent time and spread out the peace I gained long enough to tide me over until the next time I have the chance to soak up so much radiant sunshine.