Surprise: The dream you’re dreaming is no longer yours!

Motivated by our dreams, we enjoy the journey; we endure the effort.
But what if you question your dream’s purpose?… Outcome?… Cost?
When should you let go of a dream?

“Dreams are powerfully active below the surface shaping your actions above the surface.” -Bill Kerwood

You know your dream.
You’ve followed it for years.
It finally comes true,
You are victorious!
 However, achieving what you always wanted, you realize that you remain unfulfilled.  You recall the challenge, and the fun of the process, but have no idea when and how it changed.  How does it transition from the best choice ever, to chasing the wind?  “And why did you hang on for so long?”

You may be experiencing, The Sunk Cost Fallacy  The more you invest in something the harder it is to let go.”

“If your timing or your path and are not correct, it’s time to correct your path.” -Bill Kerwood

The gestation of a dream.

  1. You realize your dream and commit.
  2. You sacrifice to make it happen.
  3. You pursue, struggle, learn & grow.
  4. The process rebuilds you.
  5. Your thinking has leveled up since step #1  (You’re thinking at a higher level.)
At step 1, we boldly defined the dream as a banner in our brain.
Fast forward to steps four and five.  We now realize that our “dream” itself is not what fuels us.  The manifold components making up the dream fulfill us.  It’s easy to confuse a particular value principal or element of our dream with the dream itself.  What are the principal & value components that make you thrive in what you do? What part of your pursuit brings joy?  Chunk it down. Evaluating the individual parts reveals formulas that bring life and fulfilment.  Explore other pursuits that share a higher degree or combination of your key components.

If your dream’s key components no longer add up you can choose to:

  1. Remain on the trail.  – After evaluating and reaffirming the course.
  2. Jump the trail,  – Decide that another is best for your values & vision.
  3. Reschedule the trail.  – Know that the trail is good, but the timing is not.

When is it good to give up on your dream?

When you discover that the pursuit of your dream has developed your thinking.
You are now capable of seeing the refined dream as the better path.
Celebrate step five, as you loop back to step one.
Don’t fear changing course when it is best.
Journey through the steps again.
Set a future evaluation trigger.
Adjust when necessary.
Enjoy the growth.
Rinse & repeat.
Live & learn.
Breathe,
Laugh,
Love.

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“Hey good buddy: Got your ears on?”

You’re in good a discussion and – Boom!

Out of nowhere, it becomes heated.  What now?  If we could just agree, we could just move on.  So we inform them.   But, is there a cost to getting our point across rather than understanding each other?
____________________

Dad was “Hill-Billy”, Mom was “Skeeter”,
I was “Jet-Speed”, and my sister was “Little-Boo”,
Not our real names, just our handles, as Citizen Band radios popped on to the market in the mid 70’s.

My dad and his brother Wayne [Handle: Snoopy] both drove 18-wheelers.  As a kid, I remember them chatting back & forth on their CBs, and always out one side of their mouth.  It was a “modern” social network where the radio was the price of admission, and everyone was your friend (AKA: Good Buddies).

Among these good buddies, there was an etiquette.

If no one was talking the channel was open.  You could just press the button and talk.  You would speak your message. Your good buddy listened and would respond accordingly.  A prime example of the three elements of 2-way communication:

  1. Sender
  2. Message
  3. Receiver

Talking on a CB was practical, but not perfect!

When you press the talk button, the CB blocks anyone else’s transmission from your radio’s speaker.  When you talk, you can not hear others.  And when you are listening to someone and a 3rd party presses and talking, you got “walked over.”    You, then ask your buddy to repeat by saying, “10-9 someone walked on you.  Please repeat.”

This secret language and procedure was fascinating to a five-year-old!  As I picked up on these rules and dad finished his CB conversation,  I would ask for clarity on the terms he used.

Some common terms were:

10-4 –  Ok, message received/affirmative.
10-9  –  Repeat Message.
Got your ears on?  –  are you on air/listening
Negative copy – did not hear
You copy?  –   do you understand?
Over  –  your turn to transmit.
Ratchet-Jaw  –  non-stop talker
Walking on you – someone talking over you

Culture sure has changed in the past few decades:

 There seem to be more people with their talk buttons pushed than those with their ears on.  

With our finger on the talk button are we listening to each other or simply talking into the air?

Dad would say,
“Beware of Alligators, they have big mouths, little ears.”
– Bill Kerwood Sr.

You see this in political talk shows (all sides),

I think it starts on children’s television shows.  Watch a few minutes of an animated serial cartoon.   Many kids watch several each day.  Notice how the scripts are written.  You will see selfish chatter with minimal acknowledgment.  Rarely, if ever, will you see a cartoon character actively listening.  This psyche and culture of today’s youth are formed & reinforced, moment-by-moment.    Much like political talking head shows.

If communication consists of 3 components, transmitter, receiver, and message…

Effective communication requires a 4th step.

(And it’s not arguing for agreement).
There is a much higher outcome to aim for:
Let’s aim for understanding.

“We don’t have to agree with people,
But to understand them is to love them.”
– Bill Kerwood

Let’s not argue to win,
Let’s listen to understand.

Let’s care for each other.
Let’s reinforce a culture of listening and understanding.
When there is too much noise in the air, it’s time for a sound check.

Check 1-2-3.

Check that you are:
  1. Hearing
  2. Processing (listening).
  3. Understanding

If our thumbs are on the talk button,
our ears are not on.
10-4, Good buddy?
You copy?
Over.

_____________________
After processing these thoughts, I dove in to see what one of my favorite authors wrote on understanding.  The following is a small selection from King Solomon, a sage king who lived over 2,600 years ago.
He makes some good points, many that I need to apply in my life…

 A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.  (Proverbs 18:2)

Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.  (Proverbs 14:29 )

 Making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding.  (Proverbs 2:2)

 Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.  (Proverbs 17:27)

 Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding.  (Proverbs 3:13)

 The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.  (Proverbs 20:5)

How the 55-year-old son of a southern farmer influenced a northern four-year-old farm boy.

He grew up on 300 acres, milking before and after school.
I grew up on a homestead, and milked before & after too.
He loved climbing and hanging from trees.
I too climbed and hung from my knees.

We both grew up in simpler times.

I received a call from my mom this past week reminding me that it was Billy Graham’s 99th birthday.  She reminisced about when she and I watched a small black & white screen in my grandparents living room.  With a message so simple and direct, Billy Graham spoke words that challenged my 4-year old heart & mind. To this day, I still see the moment vividly but recall the visceral sensation even more.

 

 A 55-year-old stranger challenged a 4-year-old boy with relatively new technology, broadcast television.  The course of my life changed at that moment. Most all of my choices were affected by that one.  And to this day,  I’ve never met the guy, looked into his eyes, or even spoken a word.   We’ve never laughed, played ball, or hiked a trail together.  As he enters his 100th year on earth, any possible windows of opportunity are closing.

How crazy is this?

Think about it.  I have such a profound association, warmth, and appreciation for someone I’ve never met!  A relationship was formed.   Influence was received.  One day, upon hearing of his passing, I’m sure I’ll cry tears of sadness, appreciation, and joy.

How about you?  Who will you cry over that you’ve never met… & why?  Likely, it’s because of what they left behind and how it has influenced your life’s course.

They have equipped you to face life’s challenges.   Their simple message made you better.  It’s amazing how a few words of wisdom make all the difference during a challenging time.  The sharing of their legacy has helped you shape yours.

Question: How did the son of a 55-year-old dairy farmer influence a 4-Year-Old?

 

Answer: By using the technology that was available to communicate what mattered most to him.

How you choose and use technology to share your life’s stories will characterize the legacy you leave.

What matters most to you right now?

What concept do you think someone 50 years younger than you should know and apply.    150 years from now, who will gratefully experience perspective because you took time to share?

Do something this weekend.  Something that can change the future   Write a page, draw a picture, or shoot a short video.  You’ll find that once you start, you might not want to stop.  (Especially if you choose to trash perfectionism.)

Just make it.
Don’t make it perfect.
Perfect it later.
Just do something.
Do something today.

Your voice, your image, your words.
Your progeny, learning from your experience.
Your lineage persevering because of your perspective.
Wisdom from someone who cares, informing their decisions.
What will you do today to record and express guidance for future generations?
How will people think, feel, and live out the message you leave when you are gone?
 

“Someday you will hear that Billy Graham is dead.  Don’t believe a word of it!  I shall be more alive than I am now.  I will just have changed my address.  I will have gone into the presence of God.” – Billy Graham.


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Who are you: the referee?.. the judge?.. or the equipper?

It happens everywhere.
In all working relationships.
A visit with extended family,
A team project at work,
With your children,
With your spouse.

 

All relationships experience occasional challenge.
But what character are you in the drama?
The hero? The villain?
The antagonist?

We each play a part in the challenge.
Your character role affects your outcome.
This habitual role affects your future outcomes.
Leveraged over generations, you can see that your default role truly matters!

 We could unpack our own issues…

But let’s simplify for now,

Let’s talk about kids!

When kids squabble we enter the justice loop.

We listen to both sides.
We discern who was right & who was wrong.
We lay down a consequence for the oppressor.
That’s what a good judge would do, and do justly.
It is the court that your family trusts.
An objective judge, with integrity.
Do you find yourself in this role?
Me Too!

Let’s dissect what happened:

  1. Someone’s freedom infringed on someone else’s freedom.
  2. There was a relational breakdown.
  3. They came to the governor (that’s you).
  4. According to the mandate of your household, you determined who was at fault.
  5. There is a consequence for the oppressor.
  6. Over time behavior modifies closer towards the desired outcome.
  7. The victim gets justice.
Yes, you served justice.
BUT you just reinforced the victim in their role.

The victim made a claim,
You delivered the verdict.
The villain is punished.
The victim sees justice.
The need for a constant family court is established and reinforced.

 

How do we step out of the role of daily referee and into the role of equipping our kids, so they don’t need to be rescued as often by a good judge?

Jevonnah Ellison says, “We condition other people how to treat us by what we tolerate from them.”

 Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

“In any story, the victim has two jobs: to make the villain look bad and the hero look good. There is no reward at the end of the movie for the victim.  If you’re a victim, you want to get out as fast as possible.” – Don Miller

“Victims feel as if they have no choices in life.” – Henry Cloud

Playing the role of the victim is a powerless role.

 The character playing the part of the victim does not shine brightly until they choose to step out of the victim role and do something.  They do something about the current injustice while preventing future injustices.

How to steer clear of the victim role.

  1. Take responsibility whenever you can and wherever you can. (own it)
  2. Evaluate the scenario. (location/elements/formula)
  3. Take action Respond accordingly. (respond don’t react)

Let’s bring it home,
Back to the kids…

Questions that equip your kids with the mindset to avoid the victim role:

  • What could you have done at that point? (Responsibility)
  • “Was there a short-term benefit that kept you from removing yourself sooner?” (reminds them of their proximity choice in the matter)
  • What choice did you make that contributed or amplified the situation? (more responsibility)
  • What can you do in the future to keep yourself from being in this position? (preemptive procedure )

Our leadership can equip those we care for: at home, at work, and in the community.  We encourage them to take responsibility while eliminating many small claim conflicts.
If our parental goal is to prepare our children for the future where they will thrive…
Instilling a mindset of responsibility rather than a reinforced victim role allows our progeny to live a more productive life with much less drama.

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How my son grew 2-inches from a single wrestling move.

Grant is our first born and has the typical traits:  conscientious, reliable, and a 3rd parent to his younger siblings.  He has an articulate systematic mind with the rare combination of a sensitive loving heart.  Picture a big brother who offends you with a recommendation (command), but then insists that he comes alongside you and walks through the mud with you.

From the first time Grant heard one of Craig Groechel’s audio books, he was hooked.  Craig is a master at blending laughter with learning as he speaks on relational leadership. While he primarily presents for non-profits, the principals he teaches are naturally universal for family & business. Grant and I attended a leadership conference this week where Craig was the main speaker.

 

Here are a few points that I’m digesting & applying from the conference:

On Change.

– People Change under 1 of 2 conditions.

  • When they have to. (desperation)
  • When they want to. (inspiration)
-Ask yourself, “If someone took my place, what is the first thing they would change?”

-You can not change what you are willing to tolerate.

On Systems.

-Good systems leave very little to chance.

Systems create behaviors.
Behaviors become habits,
Habits drive outcomes.

-You either have systems by intent or by default, but you do have systems.

-Your systems are the result of what you have created or tolerated.

-If you are too busy to create the right systems, then you will always be too busy.

On Anticipatory Leadership.

-Be careful of The Dunning Kruger Effect (cognitive bias)
The more confident you are at predicting the future, the more likely you are to be wrong.

-Ask questions to gather information. (not to confirm your bias.)

-If you wait until you are 100% sure before you try anything you will always be too late.

-Disrupt what is with what could be.

 

Problem + reaction = Solution
Problem + Anticipation = Innovation.

 

-Great innovations are born out of limitations.

-Small tweaks rarely change the world. BE BOLD

Offstage…

Grant and I both enjoyed what was taught from the platform. But the biggest growth lesson for me was something that happened off-stage.  Something I’ve known for a long time.  Something I want to be constantly reminded.  Something that made Grant grow two inches!  (Ok, so in reality, he just walked much taller.)

In the hallway upon seeing Grant, Craig shouted.

 “Grant, is that you?

Is that really you, Grant?!!!”

He then pulls Grant in for a hug.

Without missing a beat, Grant was in a headlock!

 

Craig knows how to meet people where they are.

Craig loves God, loves people, and it shows.  He finds joy in his work that begins in his home and branches out from there.  I’m grateful that my kids get to experience the hearts of people who value the same things that I do, be it by book, Audio, video, and every now and then a Headlock!

Amy Groeschel gives her husband/coauthor a kinder gentler headlock.

Every day, our words and actions can build people up.  Consider amplifying your animation and expression.  You may see people walking taller.   It’s one thing to love people… and another thing to level-up and love them out loud.   To be human growth agent, it only takes a moment.  And the effects last so much longer.

If you want to grow in leadership,  If you want to lead people so they walk taller, these books are great growth resources…

 

 

To get an idea of what the conference was like, check out:

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What your tracks reveal about you…(even after you’re a memory!)

“Take nothing but memories,
Leave nothing but tracks”
-attributed to Chief Seattle (Chief Si’ahl)
 My mother’s father was: a naturalist, a boy scout master, and always eager to share his knowledge.  As we walked trails, fields, mountains, and valleys, he constantly quoted, “Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but tracks.”

Leaving an impression on my young mind, he triggered my fascination with tracking animals… and humans. So much to be discerned from studying perspectives of what creatures leave behind.

Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)

Look behind you.
Yes, look, right now.
What evidence have you left in the past 10-minutes of your daily routine?

A light smudge,
A heavy disturbance,
A micro-fiber from your shirt?
Or no discernible trace?

Your movement leaves a signature.
You’re taking memories.
You’re leaving tracks.
Tracks to be read.

The cross-scan

When reading tracks, it’s helpful to:
    1  Rest your head at surface level
    2  Firmly plant your temple on the ground
    3  Now your eye sees particles as paramount

If you see nothing where you are, a quick look along the edge of the seat in your car can be revealing.  Next, explore the floor in your home, where the carpet wears.  The closer you look, the more you’ll wonder..…  “From where did each particle originate?”

Every crumb a story.

What story do we weave by the tracks we leave?…
Not just on the ground, but in real life all around?
The effects we leave on the ones we love.
What stories will be told when our kids are old?

How would your life’s tracks be described?
Heavy? Light?  Or, no discernible trace?

Were they fossilized in stone?
Or as footprints in the sand, that daily wane by wind & wave?

As others describe the tracks of our legacy ….
Are the tracks discernible from any angle?…
Or is their head on the ground searching for a slight distinction from a weathered impression?

From this perspective, you’ll see…
Every track is as individual at the traveler.
Every traveler is as unique as the struggles they’ve endured.
Life’s details are revealed in the traveler’s tracks…
All of life, good & bad.

And what about life’s imperfections?

We all process life’s unexpected events by making decisions and distinctions.  As if we get to choose what we carry and what we leave behind.   How we categorize and prioritize is based on what matters most in our journey.
The baggage we do carry is evidenced in the tracks we leave.  The weight of our baggage amplifies the depth and definition of our imprint.   Our baggage is what enables us to leave a bolder impact on those we encounter daily…

The big secret is: Your baggage is your gift…

You don’t choose your gift.  But you do choose how to use it.  How you open, manage, and implement that gift becomes part of your identity.  The distinctions you choose to make and live by have the power to ultimately amplify or limit the degree of love you share.  Aand always remember, some gifts can be returned!)

Embrace your struggles as the gift they are:

Grow from your gift,
Share your gift with others,
Every step we take leaves a print.
Everyone we love receives our impression.

Make your track bold.
Make your track positive.
Make your track memorable.

Leave tracks,
Reap memories,
In small steps,
Or a giant leap,
Live your legacy,
Celebrate it all!

               

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20 years later, I still miss Henry… (A piece of you may too.)

His family knew him as Henry.

You know him as John.

In 1943, delivered a Deutschendorf.

In 1997, died a Denver.

A random day in 1973.  I’m a 4-year-old bouncing in the passenger seat of my Dad’s 18-wheeler on a narrow road after a long day.  My heart jumps as the radio plays, “Take me home… to the place… I belong…”  Same Scenario a year later.  Dad & I belt another one out together over the diesel engine’s roar, “Life on the farm is kind of laid back.  Ain’t nothin’ a country boy like me can’t hack.  Early to rise. Early to the sack.”  22-more years finds Dad & I a few rows from the stage singing with John Denver (and a few thousand others) at a live concert.   The older I grew the more deeply I identify with his lyrics like no one else’s.
 
Countless times since, at least weekly, heading home from work, I’ll sing along with or without John, “There’s a fire softly burning, The supper is on the stove, It’s the light in your eyes that makes me warm… Hey, it’s good to be back home again
 
If anyone wrote and sang the soundtrack for my life, it was John Denver.
Each year more details surface like a continual discovery of winding yet parallel tracks.  A persistent revelation of the resonating lyrics in my youth were simply reflections of similar paths.
  • A deep appreciation for all that creation offered, it’s ruggedness, it’s fragility, it’s resilience, it’s beauty.
  • The allure of a good chord progression, paired with a simple melody and an alternating baseline.
  • The joy of being rooted in generational thinking, doing what we can to make a difference, and leaving a legacy for our prodigy.
  • The calling to be a champion of the environment, wildlife and the fascination of capturing it all with a camera lens.
  • The eternally optimistic perspective that a live performance can infuse an audience towards a positive change.
  • Performing for the sole reason of sharing all the joy we feel in living.
  • Blissfully enjoying the magic & metaphor of expressing yourself through the love of flying.
Ultimately, John’s excitement and exuberance to fly was a factor in his untimely passing.
People often ask me,
“So, what really lead to John’s untimely death?”
1. He was an experienced pilot with multiple ratings in multiple planes.
2. His plane was a proven design created by world-renowned designer Burt Rutan.
3. His plane’s well-intended builder included an improvement that was ultimately questioned.
4. This modification was a factor that led to similar emergency situations for the 2-previous owners.
5. The modification was a main factor in a series of decisions that led to John’s incident.
I remain grateful for all that John Denver has contributed.  What a privilege to live in an era where we can relive John Denver’s musical & lyrical contributions instantly.   As I celebrate John Denver’s life today these thoughts streak through my mind like the Perseids.  In sporadic poignant succession…  Each followed by another…
  • Today matters.
  • Each moment matters.
  • Each thought that guides each decision matters.
  • Every decision we make matters.
  • We are not promised tomorrow.
  • One thought can minimize or even end our tomorrows.
  • We are all dreamers and doers that live-out-loud, and that matters.
  • Dot each “I”, Cross every “T”.
  • Follow a master designer.
  • Know and thrive in your own context.
  • Give freely to others.
  • Love with reckless abandon.
  • Sing with all your heart, out loud & even off key.
  • Freely and vulnerably share your love with others.
  • Our thoughts and decisions affect our lifespan.
  • The longer we stick around, the more time we resonate with those who enjoy us most.
  • Recording our heart and our art, others can relive and enjoy… even after we pass.
  • It’s a great life,
  • Celebrate it all.
 
 
“I’ve been lately thinking about my life’s time,
All the things I’ve done, how it’s been.
The ways that it should be, The ways that it could be,
Things I’d do differently if I could do it all again”
And I have to say it now,
It’s been a good life all in all,
It’s really fine to have a chance to hang around.
 Lie there by the fire and watch the evening tire,
While all my friends and my old lady sit and watch the sun go down.
How sweet it is to love someone,
How right it is to care.
All our dreams and the memories we share.”
 John Denver 12/31/43 – 10/12/97

Great News!  John Denver is back in print!

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When Kids Resonate.

For as long as I can remember my kids have been animal magnets.   Is it hereditary?… environmental?… Or did they grow up in a barn?

Ana & Piper

Ana & Piper

Yes to All 3.  Before they could walk, they were cuddling delicate furry creatures.  Kristen intentionally raised them to be gentle, kind, and loving.

Her influence is clearly evident as you watch my kids sensitively approach an animal. They start with a whisper in the animal’s own language.  Then they lower their head, round their shoulders, and look down to the left with an extended upheld palm….  The majority of animals find this irresistible and before long they are basking in the cuddles of my glowing kids.

Grant & Joy

Grant & Jasmine

Today I told my daughter that as a dad, it is so gratifying to see her in her element!   “Daddy, What does that mean?”  “It’s your sweet spot”, I explained, “your happy place.”

Then I paraphrased Ken Robinson’s definition from his book, “The Element: How Finding your Passion Changes Everything”

“They have discovered their element — the place where the things you love to do and the things you’re good at come together. The Element is a different way of defining our own potential.” – Sir Ken Robinson

 

I snapped these pics today and the more I looked at them, the more I realized…

My kids are so much closer to their authentic selves when they are caring for animals.

When your kids are in their element, they are literally resonating with the creator-living their intended purpose while vibrating at a divine frequency – remaining others-focused and characterized by love.  Yes, they get the by-product of the joy and benefit from the encounter with the furry creature, but the creature is the focused recipient of this outward love.  What a concept!

Then a question hits me even deeper…

What is it like for God when he observes us, empowered by His love, caring for others?

I imagine that it must be a nonstop joy-fest for Him.  Surely, with 2.2 billion people on earth professing faith in God, there must be at least thousands, at any given point, actively loving others.

My kids acted on the impulses their parents have taught and modeled.  Then we experienced extreme joy observing their gentle intimate moments. As this dad smiled over his kids thriving in their element, I think I caught a glimpse of what it’s like to be God. It was really sweet, fun, and quite fulfilling.

IMG_3010  IMG_2879 - Version 3

Do I treasure these pictures? Yes!  Are they in their element?  Yes.   Are they loving life?  They say yes.

But, even more…

I look forward to the day that the pictures reveal a deeper level of joy-fulfillment and purpose.  A day when each of our kids, with their gentle hands, warm smiles, and content expressions, find themselves so comfortably and so peacefully embracing…their spouse.

You know we’ll be overflowing, and I’m certain God will too.  You can be sure that Kristen and I will share our collective joy by posting those pictures as well.  Friends who have been there, say it’s just a few quick blinks away.  May we all remain fully aware in each moment that we have together,  while we have it.

My friends,  It’s a beautiful life.  Savor it all.

 


 

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God?…. Hormones?…. Or all of the above?

Opening my eyes this morning I started to focus out the window on the crisp blue darkness just prior to twilight…

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Then it hit me!…

At this moment, 20-years ago, I was on the highest of highs!  One of the very few times that God spoke directly to me, undeniably.  For those who believe in a God that loves you wildly & specifically, you may find this encouraging.  If God is something you don’t believe in, you can chalk these details up to my blissful ignorance… & hormones!

It was November 9, 1995.  I had been talking with a young lady from Concord, NC for almost 3 months.  I was beyond flattered that she drove the 550 miles north to visit this “guy from NJ”.  We talked the night away: life experiences, family cultures, and life’s twists & turns.   As the morning hours progressed:  The depths of life, celebrations, regrets, distinctions, and then lengthy pondering about her imminent  2-year term as a tutor in the south of India.

Sunrise November 9, 2015

Sunrise November 9, 2015

At 5:45 AM we looked towards the window and saw the night transitioning to twilight.  Without skipping a beat Kristen innocently suggested that we go watch the sunrise in my favorite field close by.  Those words were the most romantic words I had ever heard!  The conversation continued as I pointed my Ford Bronco towards the brightest point on the horizon.

As the sun came up conversation awkwardly ceased.  Sleep deprivation combined with sharing our life stories and apparent mutual ambitions seemed to reach an overflow point…. and we both realized it.  I vividly recall the blur as I exited the truck and floated around to open her door.  As the sun crept higher and the embrace wonderfully prolonged, that’s when I experienced the audible voice of God in a depth and dimension like never before.  A voice so gentle – yet compelling me to the deepest of my core…I felt an immediate change in my stature as if instantly growing from the inside out… as if I transitioned to another level of manhood in a simple few seconds…

The words simply were, “She is for you, Take care of Her

Twilight - November 9, 2015

Twilight – November 9, 2015

In the 20 years since, life has been an amazing journey.  Certain lows and countless highs.  3-Children that reflect so many of our traits.  Traits that make us laugh & shake our heads.  Traits that make our heads shake as jaws drop in amazement.  They are always up to something fun.

Kristen has a fierce loyalty, unwavering integrity, and a diligence that I never saw coming.  The people that enjoy who I am professionally from the stage are actually enjoying much of her in me.  I simply couldn’t be who I am without her.  I gave Kristen Joy Kerwood my last name, and she, in turn, gave me her middle.

I’ll never forget those words.

She is for you.  Take care of her.

Our family’s best times are when we:

  1.   Accept each as our own.
  2.   Take care of each other.

If 20-years is a score, Here’s to 4-score more!

And may the generations pass the baton!!!

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Why I don’t say, “I Love You.”

Valentines Day…

For many, it’s a day when dreams can come true.
For others, it’s a day to steer clear of restaurants, florists, and Hallmark stores. For some, a day of nervous anticipation of how to focus and express feelings. And for a few, it’s a reminder that love and life aren’t quite as Disney drew.

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Although starting with butterflies in your stomach, big red heart cards, and dinners on the town….romantic love can be fickle. Objectively speaking romantic love fluctuates. (If you are 14-19 years old, and totally-madly-in-love, this does not apply to you!!!) As the dynamics of life’s seasonal challenges play out, the range of romanticism often reacts accordingly.

Sacrificial love is something completely different.  It is characterized as of recent by two sweet friends, Bob & Stacey, as they limp along the cruel world of the “C” word.  Stacey’s commitment to Bob is authenticated as late nights of chemo and morphine turn to sleepless mornings beyond tears to utter weariness.  Commitment beyond the uncomfortable, while I write and remaining committed as you read. Uncertain of exactly what tomorrow may hold… but certain of the sacrifice along the way.

narrow bridge

Sacrificially loving Kristen is the promise I made… (Remember for better or worse, richer or poorer, till death do us part?) Like most, our wedding vows detailed the security of trusting that the relational commitment would transcend finances, health & seasons of challenge.

Opportunity lies in the security of knowing that the one you walk with is just as committed to walk with you no matter the weight of your pack or the terrain underfoot. The resulting joy in the journey is rooted in the security of knowing that you are there for each other.

couple sunset hike

As I consider the gravity of this… a simple, “I love you” tends to sound trite. As if restating the obligatory and obvious.

If we’re living in the joy of the journey.  If our commitment to each other in the many victories remains as secure in the darker challenges as well, That’s true bliss!  To verbalize my truest deepest admiration for and joy of being on this journey with Kristen, I don’t say, “I love you…” I sincerely say…

“I really enjoy being with you!”

In my crazy way of thinking love is not something you say, it’s something you live every day. Not as much in what is scheduled on the calendar… but how we relate with each other in between, choosing to enjoy the challenging processes of life… covering for each other’s weakness while depending on each other’s strengths. This is where the enjoyment of being together lives.

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Every relationship is a work in progress,
May yours and mine accelerate in joy as we all…

Enjoy the journey of loving life and living in love.

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