She’s Got A Way.

She’s got a way.  Twelve years a couple, four years married and two beautiful children later, she’s still got that thing.

Haven’t been able to put my finger on it, but there is something about her that brings out this feeling in me that can only be described as whole.  I’m not talking about anything she has specifically said to me or done for me.  Not talking about events, milestones, anything in our past or plans for our future.  Every day, every moment, there is something about her that burrows deep into my soul and brings up this intense feeling that I cannot explain.  She’s got a way.

Its love, but it isn’t.  its admiration, but that’s not it, either.  Respect, for sure, but that’s not what I am talking about.  Its a combination of triggers, like that laugh and headshake when I get her with a good joke, or the expressions she makes when she’s talking about something she is passionate about.  When she gets home in the evenings after being away for a few hours taking photos and the girls go nuts, that smile on her face is irresistible.  You should see her at home during raw and simple moments with them – those moments I witness from my lone perspective.  The little things, like the giddy pride and excitement she has when she cooks a good new recipe, or the way she holds her mouth when she’s focused.  The barrel of triggers has no bottom and holds and abundance of things that come to mind, daily, that give me this overwhelming sense of fulfillment.  She’s got a way.

I can still feel her head on my chest when we would have movie nights as teenagers.  I can still smell that perfume she was wearing on our first date – we went tubing at the lake, I had no idea how to act around her, said only a handful of words and probably no full sentences, got a terrible sunburn and we poured salt on slugs on my patio with five-year-old Holly.  Now THAT’S how you secure a long-term relationship in high school, for anyone in need of guidance.  I remember the nights we would stay up past her curfew just learning everything we could about each other over the phone.  How in the world did we last until 2AM on the regular?  She always complimented my terrible songs I would write for and sing to her.  I can’t imagine how awkward it must have been to sit and listen to that mess.  I think the songs are slightly better now, but still a ringer to go through, I’m sure.  We would write little notes and speak to each other in those annoying voices.  We kept the notes – those are fun to go back and read now.  We were mushy and corny, young and naïve.  We took it seriously, though.  I knew I wanted to marry her six months into it.  Without a shred of a doubt.  FifteenKnew it.  She’s got a way.

Our lives are much different now.  Different tastes and interests, different worries and responsibilities.  We are learning how to parent together each day, coming together on some things and hearing each other out on others.  Trying to be good children ourselves, good siblings and friends.  We have a mortgage, a car payment, impending career-choices, insurance, credit card debt and all that other stuff that comes with this stage.  We aren’t getting to church as much as we used to or would like to.  We have more wrinkles and larger clothing.  We still have trouble picking dinners.  I no longer have to buy shampoo or deodorant (only one of those is true).  The point is, we are much different people in a much different place than we were on our wedding day four years ago, but I am just as in love as I was six months in.  She’s got a way.

She is just as beautiful today, even more so in my opinion.  I admire her heart and compassion for others.  I believe in her dreams and love watching her take risks to make them come true.  I respect her loyalty, both to myself and others, and sometimes to a fault.  She has wonderful parents who raised her so well.  Parents who didn’t quite make it together, but still come together constantly out of love and respect they share for their children and grandchildren.  A sister who is her best friend and loves our children like her own, as we do hers.  She has extended family that loves her as if they raised her with grandparents at the center who provide an admirable, youthful, loving influence.  She is a good great person, full of emotions and a strong will, who hosts the most tender of hearts and desire for good in the world.  Absolutely alluring.  She’s got a way.

There are no words for what she does to me or for how I feel about her.  There is no act I could display to show her.  Blessed is the word I use most often.  Grateful is a close second.  Today, on our fourth anniversary, I feel honored.

I am honored that this person chose me as her partner to share experiences with.  Honored that she trusts me with her heart that I will hold with the firmest grip, ‘til death do us part.  Honored to be the father of our two wonderful children and the other end of the memories we have made and are making.  My hope is that our girls grow up in her shadow and aspire to be just like her; and may each year that passes find us as much in love as the ones we’ve left behind.

Whatever it is, she’s got a way.


📷: Allyn Brown Photography


I Wasn’t Ready.

I’m not ready.”

“I’m thinking Addy will be an only child.”

“What if she doesn’t get the attention she deserves?”

“We have such a great dynamic, why disrupt it now?”

“I’m not feeling going through the baby stage again.”

“I just can’t imagine splitting up the love between two children.”

“I’m just not ready.”

Excuses, all of them.

Truth is, I wasn’t ready.  I wasn’t ready for the blessing you are.  I wasn’t ready to push my heart beyond false limits I had set for myself.  I wasn’t ready for the outburst of love I feel for you.  A different love, yet the same.  A new love, still the same.  An equal love, all the same.

Your mother was ready before I was.  She knew you before I did.  She sensed your heart, your smile and your adorable antics.  She saw the beautiful growth you would force upon your sister.  She felt the good for our little family that would come with your arrival.  I thought she was crazy.  Nah.  She was ready.

Two years apart.  That’s what we always wanted.  I grew up two years apart from my brother, she two years from her sister.  I was the second child, like you.  I idolized him.  Still do.  We knew Addy would be an incredible sister.  A little mama, full of love and endearing compassion.  We could tell she was ready, even though she had no clue.  What in the world was I afraid of?

I was hesitant when the time came.  We had a decision to make.  A decision that wasn’t really our own, but if we wanted to aim for our plan, it was time.  Funny how that has worked out for us.  Our plans for the two of you have aligned perfectly with God’s plans.  Each time, when we were ready, he provided.  Has nothing to do with us, just something I draw blessings from.  We prayed for you, we dreamed of you and we were ready for you.

I’ve always wanted to have a boy.  I really wanted to have another girl.  At one point, I even wanted TWINS.  Whaaaaat?  Early on, I received a clear message from God: I am meant to have girls.  As much as I am afraid of having two high-school-aged girls at the same time, I look forward to it.  I honestly look forward to the challenge.  I look forward to being the man you compare all the boys to.  I have a feeling that I have nothing to fear.  If I do right by you, I’ll have nothing to worry about.  Let’s do this.

BAM – November 30, 2016.  The 9-month wait for you went by so quickly.  Cool, because I was born on the 30th of April (Your mom and Addy both on the 19th – Dec. and Sep.).  A brown-haired, 9lb 6oz (same as Addy) little ball of love.

Up until the moment you were born, I still wasn’t sure how ready I was.  I was more nervous for you than I was the first go-around.  The first time I laid eyes on you, that is when it hit me.  This is perfectAbsolutely meant to be.  All the emotions were exactly like the first time.  I fell in love all over again – with you, with your mom, your sister.  I felt a renewed self-worth that comes with the responsibility of leading a family.  Whatever laid in front of us, I knew I was ready.

That first week was the best week of my life.  Addy had a natural maternal instinct that kicked in right away.  The sweetest thing.  You’ve looked up to her from the moment you met.  Fast forward to now – you are 8 months old.  You aren’t walking yet, but you want to, and it is coming any day.  You’ve added a few words in the last few weeks, adorable hand gestures and the cheesiest little wrinkle-nosed grin.  I can see you watching us, observing, learning.  You want to do everything your sister does.  You dance when she does, you laugh when she does, you burst to the door when I come home, like she does.  You look like your mother, like she does.  I’m thinking I may have given you a little bit of red tint to your hair – we’ll see.  Everything we wanted is everything you are. 

I owe so much of my own personal growth to you.  You have pushed my limits and helped me build new ones.  You’ve opened my eyes to a world I was afraid of and revealed just how beautiful life is.  You’ve given me a new perspective that I couldn’t have gained without you.  You’ve given your sister a friend for life, and I am grateful for that.  You will be blessed for it, I promise.  You’ve shown me how incredibly lucky I am to have married your mother.  You girls are lucky to have her.  Respect her.  Open up to her.  Pay attention to her.  You’ll want to be just like her, that is for sure.

I want to freeze this time and live in it for a while.  I want to remember this feeling.  I want you to know what you have done for us in your short life, thus far.  Maybe you will read this someday, maybe not.

Whatever life has in store for us, I’m ready.  I was ready then, and I am ready now.  Whatever you need from me, I will always be ready for you.  Thank you for that.


You Sure Are Something.

Love. It started like a storybook. Two love-birds – high school sweethearts, actually – with a strong desire to build a family. Your mother and I, two newlyweds without a clue of how to care for you until the day you came to us. A void we didn’t know needed filling. A sense of accomplishment, excitement and completion. A moment of true, raw innocence and an explosion of the heart. A whole new meaning to the word: love. Time stood still the day you were born. For the first time, I knew, without a doubt, that all is right in my life.

Dread. It sets in quickly when you become a parent and has been on my mind a lot lately. It’s the emotion that you aren’t coached on in the days and months before img_5389.jpgbecoming a parent.  The one a lot of folks do not talk about out loud. It is real and ever-present. I choose to see it as a tool we are given to ground us as parents to clarify the importance of the task at hand, and to use every day as a stepping stone to a wonderful life provided. I dread the day I let you down. That day that you realize that Daddy isn’t a superhero or anyone particularly special. The day you find out what the real world truly is and you feel small. The first time someone puts you down and you believe them. The first time you look in the mirror and do not see what I see, what we see. I dread the inevitable things that will break your heart. The times when no one is there to defend you or pick you up. The negatives you will face in life that I have failed to prepare you for ahead of time.

Preparation. This is what parenting is all about. We grow up, have children and prepare them to face the world like we are. There is no book. There is no cheat sheet or training program. All we have is what we know. This is the most IMG_5391intimidating and challenging part of life. I will always question: Am I doing this right? With faith and abundant help from your mother, I like to think I am. I will always help you build dreams and run towards them, side by side, all along the way. I will show you how to love and be loved. I will show you how a man should treat his wife and that you should settle for nothing less someday. I will teach you life lessons, like how to change a tire, how to take care of the yard and the house, how to file your taxes and handle your bank account (here’s hoping I know how by then). I will sing and dance with you. I will play with your toys and use all of the silly voices you love to hear. Your favorite things will instantly become mine. I will always hold you when you want to be held and even when you don’t. I will cry with you, for you and over you. I will lead you where you want to go and I will always embrace your spirit in all of its natural beauty.

You. Keep being you, because you sure are something. Keep smiling that smile that pierces my soul every time I see it. Keep singing and dancing, never caring who is around. Keep loving your IMG_5392sister in the way that only you can. Idolize your mother, because she is absolutely worthy of it. Keep doing the little things, like meeting me at the door with a “bug hug” when I return from work. Keep holding my hand and patting my shoulder, because you have no idea what love comes through when you do. Keep giggling, cuddling and excitedly showing me your newest discoveries. Never sway from your love of the outdoors and seeking new experiences. These are just a few of the things that make you so special to us. Every day presents new possibilities, a new chapter, a new adventure and we will never grow tired of exploring the world through your lenses. For you, we are so grateful, and so unbelievably proud. If only time would stand still, forever.





There Is A Cloud.

There is a cloud. It is big, dark and powerful. It follows me. It controls my thoughts, sweeping in with hurricane force on the brightest of days. It is there when I am on the road, when I am on the job, even when I am home with my wife and two little girls. It is there when I mow my yard, when I relax on my porch and especially present when I hear the sound of worship on Sunday mornings. My fingers cannot strum the strings I once loved without defending my mind from this enemy. My lungs will not put forth the breath to sing the lyrics once so moving and fulfilling. My ears cannot hear the melodies that once filled my soul to the brim with a passion so freeing that it gave me the first sense of purpose for my life. Often it is easy to blow away, but at times it clenches me with a grip so mighty that my mind is merely a puppet under the control of a large, grotesque puppeteer laughing at his power over me. It comes with no warning and it leaves with no remorse.

It has taught me that relationships come and go. I have seen more go than 16-year-old me would have ever dreamed of. I have hurt for those that I have lost along the way to this life as I know it now; a life full of joys and accomplishments, though not free of trials. The most heartache comes from unanswered questions, insurmountable feelings and unforgettable memories seemingly awaiting me at every turn. Provoked by things seen on the internet, on television or heard in stories told around me, I have not found a release from this monster that can only come in the form of closure.

Happiness is a mask we ought not to wear and only a fool can fool himself. Instead, we must revive the sources within that bring true happiness to our lives. I removed my mask some time ago. It has led me to become the husband, father, brother and son I am now. It allowed me to dig at a young age and find my own worth. It allowed me to see that I needed to work on relationships I had let slip, even if at the expense of others I see now were less meaningful. I tried to fool myself to please others. I bought in to what I believe now was ruining my life. Letting go is overdue. I have known that for a while now, but have held on to a part of the past that cannot, and need not, be repaired. Though I live a life that I truly, deeply love, the cloud remains.  

It serves as a constant reminder to never get too comfortable; never to lend your heart to the reckless and undeserving; never to believe in something too good to be true so much that others close to you find you foolish. Never pretend to be someone you are not, even if the cause is seemingly greater than the effect. Never hold on to something that damages your soul for the sake of the acceptance of your circle. Never give in, because once you do, it never gives up.