As fate would have it, five days before I leave for Tanzania, I get extremely ill. Sparing you the details of my illness, the take away is quite profound, and it’s the humility that sickness brings, coupled with a story of tragedy, slavery, and freedom; and the cause behind the mission of 12 to climb over 19,000 feet so that people hear that story, that compells me to write.
Sold into Slavery
Ursella was 11 years old when she was sold by her birth family to pay a debt. For five years, she endured a life full of mental and phyisical abuse, until she escaped, to avoid being killed the very same night. Fortunately, she found shelter in the home of a family from the UK. Ten years later, Ursella’s former village of Vea, Ghana, was struck by a severe famine. Filled with compassion, she organized a food drive, and led the three trucks of food and supplies and personally delivered the first bag of rice to the very same family that had abused her as a child. The act of kindness quickly traveled through the village, and reached the chief, who called for Ursella, making her the first woman ever to be allowed to meet at the sacred stone. The same day, 12 all-but-abandoned children, were allowed to leave the village; Micah’s son Eli, was one of the 12 children. Today, Ursella and her husband live near Vea, and help children whose parents die, are labeled “demon children,” or who are sold into slavery to pay a debt. Everyone in Vea knows her story, she has helped hundreds of children, and she has proven that love is stronger than hate.
My illness reminded me of how precious our health is, and how limited our time is. Everyday, countless children lay ill, mainly from hunger related diseases. Many will die. Tonight, my six-year old son asked me for a cold bottled water instead of warm one, which allowed me to share once again why I’m traveling to a far away land to climb a mountain in the middle of a jungle so that children like him can have clean drinking water. I also reminded him that there is no running water, no doctors, and very little food. It’s incredible how compassionate a six year old boy becomes the instant he realizes people need help. Kyson knows Eli as well, which makes everything real, tangible, believable. For those that don’t know Eli, I’ve included one of my favorite pictures of him. He’s an incredible young man, with an incredible story, that has just begun; all because one woman chose love over hate, and a Father who had the heart to listen to God’s direction on his life.
I get asked for money all the time, so I am very sensitive when asking others for the same, however, we are raising $100k for medical supplies, water filters for every home, a school, and an economic community center. If you feel compelled to give, please do so by visiting ChangeGhana.org. Regardless if you decide to give, you can help make a difference by following us on Facebook, and sharing our page. Every dollar, like, share, tweet, mention, voice, hand, thought, prayer…counts.
Two and a half years ago, my divorce was final. After more than 12 hours of mediation, we had a settlement. Very simply, she got everything we had that wasn’t levered, the kids, and I got all the debt, and a 2 hour drive one way anytime I wanted to see my kids. At the time, I thought I was doing the right thing, by buying her a house, not insisting on her and the kids coming back to Houston, etc. I was the one who had been unfaithful, so I “deserved” to be left with nothing but debt, and limited access to my kids, right? Since my divorce, I avoided bankruptcy, met an incredible woman, remarried, found peace, and in the process, discovered that I’m an incredible man, father, and friend. Most recently though, I decided to start fighting for my children.
Today, we are in court again. This makes the second time since we were divorced, and of course, over money and kids. It’s sad that two parents can’t compromise in order to avoid court intervention, but when two people truly believe that they are acting in the best interest of the child, it makes things quite difficult. I keep telling myself that to make it easier to process. It sucks.
Often, I want to sit down at my computer and write a blog that makes me look like a hero and my ex the villian, but honestly it would be a lie. I hurt her, she hurt me, we couldn’t reconcile, we got divorced, and now we have two incredible kids in the middle of what has always been a challenged relationship. Both of us are trying like hell to bring up our kids in a way that mitigates the deficiencies of our past and previous experiences. I constantly remind myself that the kids are alright.
So many times, children are the only victims of divorce, and with tears in my eyes and a heavy heart, I say to you, all who will listen, my kids will not become victims. We will surround them with lots of love, respect, and SHOW them how to forgive, demonstrate grace, even when it is not reciprocated. Yes, I get angry, and frustrated, but when I see their sweet faces, full of innocence and curiousity, I want to be the man they need me to be.
For those of you from broken homes, I want to challenge you with a thought. The only difference between broken homes and blended homes is love, and remember, the kids are alright.
Half the Woman
Three daughters later,
A son was born.
But just as planned.
She taught him to work,
Fear God and forgive,
Played catch, and held his hand.
Showed him how to love,
How to give,
To stand up for what is right,
To never give in.
As the boy became a man,
I just hope,
I become, half the woman,
She’s always been.
I have always loved you,
And always will.
Last week, I traveled to Phoenix with my EO forum to attend the Bondurant school of high performance driving. It was an incredible experience, and I highly recommend the school to anyone interested in improving their driving skills. We also got a chance to meet the founder, and former Gran Prix driver, Bob Bondurant, which was a huge bonus.
Although the driving school was most likely a once in a lifetime experience for me personally, it wasn’t what I’ll remember most about the trip. I left Phoenix with a much more valuable nugget. I learned that my personality, coupled with my insecurities and past experiences can make for a frustrating experience for strangers and friends alike. This “quality” is a defense mechanism that I’ll explain later, and is one I share with the late Marylin Monroe.
If you Google Dan Henderson, you’ll most likely discover the UFC champion Dan Henderson, or Hendo. However, if you Google Daniel Henderson, you might find me; a self-proclaimed blogger, entrepreneur, and truth seeker. No, I don’t have my own Wikipedia page, but I have staked claim to my own little spot in cyberspace, where I can make up ridiculous tag lines, challenge people to think, and share my most recent experiences and discoveries.
Contrary to what some might say and/or believe about me, and like Marilyn Monroe, I’m an introvert. I enjoy close friendships, recharge with time alone, and fittingly use sharp, self-deprecating humor as my primary defense mechanism. It’s often raw and disruptive, and secretly in an attempt to cause a person to judge, and when they do, I’ve got them. It’s gross when you think about it in that context, so I prefer to think about it as a way to guard my heart, however, thanks to a few friends, I’m now exposing it for what it is in an attempt to grow.
So to those that don’t know me and would like to, think you know me but don’t, or coudn’t care less to know me, but somehow stumbled upon this blog post because you’re a Marilyn Monroe fan, don’t bother Google with the query. There is little you will find, save this blog, that allows for a look inside my soul where hurt and hope share a room, and truth remains the hidden treasure.
I accept you.
This past weekend, I spanked my son, which is one of only a few times over the course of his young life. It broke his heart, and mine even more. I lost sleep over it that night, woke up with it on my mind, and have thought about it many times since. I desperately wish I could have taken it back. He was over it a few minutes later, which adds to the many lessons I have learned being my son’s first time father. He didn’t hold a grudge, and later that night told me how much he loved me. He still smiles when I tell him he’s my hero; he is.
Like so many Dads, I only see my kids every other weekend, alternating holidays, and during the summer. I’m very sensitive to the time we have together being quality time, free of distractions, or worse, constant entertainment. We play outside, ride our bikes, go to the park, watch movies at home, and whatever else that allows us to engage as a family. However, I’m likely more lenient than I would be if the kids lived with us full time. I know how important discipline is, but don’t want our entire weekend to be full of timeouts, which wouldn’t be hard. We try to be as consistent as possible, but avoid spankings nearly altogether. I never want my children to be afraid of me. I was on the receiving end of a few spankings growing up, one of which still haunts me. I don’t harbor resentment, but wish I could have been there as an adult to protect the younger version of me. When I have spanked either of my kids, I’m reminded of how I felt at five years old.
Parenting is the most difficult responsibility I have experienced thus far, and the most rewarding. As my journey continues, I am hopeful that I become the man my son wants to be. Strong, meak, humble, loving, generous, and kind. I often feel as if none of those words describe me, but I’m thankful for a child’s grace.
I’m thankful to be part of a generation of fathers who desire to be more than bread winners, but instead, available, interested, engaged, and who most of all put family first. We are raising more than men; we are raising fathers.
It’s been more than a month since my last post, and it certainly hasn’t been because I haven’t had anything to say. I settled a lawsuit with my previous employer, am back in court with my ex over money and custody issues (why wouldn’t I be,) and got into a bad business deal with my brother, which has caused further strain on our already fragile relationship. However, in spite of what certainly could be considered a bad set of circumstances, I have been able to stay excited about some of the things I’ve been working on, particularly with acceptance, and my new found love for connecting people and accelerating businesses. I’m having fun, and that’s ok with me.
However, what I am most excited about is the evolution that is taking place in my heart and mind around significance versus success. For most of my life, I have pursued success as my ultimate goal, however, I’ve realized that significance is a far more rewarding prize. There have been many successful men and women that have lived and died, most, you’ve never heard of, however, those that were most significant, who changed the world in some way, were mostly common people with extraordinary dreams and ideas. I want to be one of those people. I want to change the world.
When tomorrow never comes, my hope is that I gave more than I took, and led a life of significance in my home, community, and ultimately the world. I don’t think this is an unachievable feat, as it has been done many times before. It takes awareness, passion, and action. Steve Jobs said, “Those that are crazy enough to think they can change the world, usually do.” He was right.
I’m on to something, and the journey is just beginning. Keep Calm & Carry On!
At twenty years old, I had three or four employees and was running out of cash quickly. I had borrowed a total of $45,000 from my Dad to start a company earlier the same year. I had highly underestimated what it was going to cost me to be in business the first year, and thought my entrepreneurial career was coming to an end as quickly as it had began. However, just a few weeks before Christmas, my only salesman stumbled upon an opportunity that resulted in us merging with another company. Over the course of the following two years, my income skyrocketed, as did my standard of living. I bought a big house, several cars, and thought I had made it. Turns out, most of the money I earned, was not from the work we were producing, but rather from investors. Our intentions were pure, but clearly within a couple of years, we had created a cash eating monster, and we couldn’t generate enough revenue by selling our products and services, so much of our time was spent in front of investors. Over the course of the time I spent with the company, there had been multiple times that I chose to look the other way, because frankly, doing the right thing would have cost me everything. A few months later it did.
Shortly after I moved back to Corpus Christi to work along side my Dad, I witnessed him pay off one of our vendors. I remember our conversation on the way back home like it was yesterday. I confronted him calmly, but he immediately became defensive. He explained to me that it was not possible to be successful in the oilfield by being honest. I was crushed. A year prior, I lost it all to do the right thing, and here my Dad was telling me that honesty didn’t belong in business. I wrestled with how I was going to continue to work for someone that didn’t share the same values as I, and what made it even more difficult was the fact that my boss was my Father. Knowing him was more important to me than convincing him there was another way, however, we did discuss boundaries regarding our differences, and he respected them until his death. I came to realize that my Dad was a Darwinist. With a second grade education, he figured out how he would put food on the table for his family, even if it meant he had to lie, cheat, or steal.
Recently, I’ve been forced into a tight spot, and have once again wrestled with the fine line between protecting my family or doing what’s right; maintaining my integrity, even when no one is looking. Cautiously, I have searched my soul, and have come to the conclusion that I must remain true to my core values. I tell the truth, because I have lied. I don’t cheat, because I have cheated. I don’t steal, because I have stolen. It certainly would be much easier to stand on the corner with a sign that said, “Will Lie for Food,” but for now, I’m sticking to my guns. Hopefully, we don’t starve.