He arrived late last night, all eight pounds, eleven ounces. From my wife’s phone, I created a new text message with my favorite pic of our newborn son, and typed in my mother’s name. I wanted her to be the first to know. The text didn’t go out of course.
Our most joyful moments in life are those we want most to share with the ones we love, even when they are no longer here. However, there’s rarely a day I don’t think of my mom, and miss her. I’m not sad, but rather grateful to celebrate another beautiful and healthy baby boy, and know that my mother raised a man, who is raising four more.
We all wear many hats, and fill many roles, but those that I feel make up most of my identity is being a husband and father. More than anything, I want to honor and cherish my bride, be respected by her, while she feels loved by me. For my princess, and four princes; to be the one they forever look up to for guidance, unconditional love, and grace. I will fail, but only for a mile. Over the marathon of life, I will be the man I was destined to be. I have no choice.
I am incredibly blessed in welcoming Oliver Hart to our family. – dlh
I grew up in an AG (Assembly of God) church. I was taught that all people without Christ are going to hell. Trained how to “win” all unbelievers to Christ. Was taught to speak in tongues, which often involved being slain in the spirit, rolling around on the floor, and or running around the church. As I child, I often felt like God wasn’t within me, and I would do the things I saw other kids and adults doing to win #acceptance and approval from my Mother, and her peers. I was taught to judge, and reject those who believed differently than I had been taught to believe. That most people were without God, and destined for an eternity of damnation, and suffering.
When I was in my early twenties, I began traveling the world, and quickly became exposed to many other world views and religions. Although my own faith had been something I’d struggled with for quite some time, it steadily became apparent to me that I believed differently than I had been trained. Years later, I can unashamedly profess that I remain a person of faith, but a faith I have arrived to on my own experiences, studies, convictions, and what I believe to be a natural desire to do what is right, no matter the cost. I’m not a professing Christian any longer, but remain close with many believers, was married in a traditional Christian ceremony, and acknowledge and value many biblical principles as true. Of course I’ve also discovered that most of those values are consistent among most of the mainstream religions, which was a bit of a surprise I must admit.
Our World in recent years has been plagued by the division that difference brings. Different faiths, race, world views, cultures, and in some cases values. I’m particularly bothered by the amount of fear, hate, and bigotry that so many Muslims endure outside of the Middle East. I’ve traveled to the Middle East, specifically, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Yemen, Bahrain, Turkey, Oman, Kuwait, and Egypt (technically North Africa, but a Muslim country.) In all my travels, not once have I ever been afraid of being an American in a Muslim country, even when I was in Bahrain a week before a riot broke out, or in Egypt, three days after the US ambassador was killed in Libya, and there were so called riots all over Egypt. In fact, we drove by one of the riots, and it was underwhelming to say the least. I’m in no way making light of the terrible acts that terrorists are responsible for, and the killings of innocent people. However, unlike most Americans, I have at least a dozen Muslim friends, some of which are Americans. What’s most interesting is that they call a terrorist the same thing I call them; a terrorist, because terrorism has no religion.
I often feel like I’m not doing enough. Look, let’s be clear, if I felt as if someone’s religion or world view put me and/or my family at risk, I would respond defensively. I’m no fool. However, I really feel as if so few are asking the right questions, but instead are just jumping on the no toll bandwagon. Sadly, I think that most, on both sides of the argument are just not bothered enough by what’s wrong to stand up for what is right. The attitude is, hey, “you stay out of my way, and I’ll stay out of yours.” It’s only the radicals and lunatics in the World that have a voice, because it’s the only thing the media will report on.
Think about this. Young black men are killing each other by the thousands each and every year, and our government and society are allowing it to happen. The solution is simple; education and opportunity. School shootings are happening so frequently now that most feel it’s not if it will happen again, but when. The solution is simple; better controls on gun ownership, which may included psychological exams. Gay men and women are being brutally attacked, bullied, and killed for loving a person of the same sex. No one needs to “understand” this, they just need to #accept it. Homosexuality isn’t a trend. The point is, there is never a reason to resort to violence in the name of any God, or world view. Every man, woman, and child, regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation has just as much right to their next breath as you or I do. And this I believe is the answer. For each of us to resign to what we think we know about God, religion, or particularly our neighbor, and start finding out for ourselves what’s on the inside of strangers. I’m confident if humans so desired; we’d find much more sameness than difference in every stranger and friend alike.
When watching movies like Milk, Selma, Remember the Titans, I’m overwhelmed with a sense of grief, and responsibility to stand up for what I believe is right, and as simple as it is, I do believe in “live and let live,” but most of all, I believe in “love and let love.”
I don’t think stoning women who commit adultery is justifiable, nor do I think thousands of America’s youth killing each other is necessary. I don’t think slaughtering Jews or native Americans was something any God would have ordered. I think above all, the problem remains, the ignorance of weak men, and the fear in those who have the power to change the World, one mind at a time. Have I changed yours? You have the power to do the same.
#acceptance | http://www.acceptance.org
My Dad died September 21, 2005. He was 66 years old; I was 27. His passing devestated my Mom, and ultimately led to our family becoming even more estranged. I never knew my Dad was the glue that held our family together; I never knew he was my hero. Today would have been his 75th birthday. I think of him often, possibly even daily. I miss him. I miss having a Father, especially now that I am a Father. So I reflect.
Growing up, my Dad wasn’t a big part of my life. We seldom played catch, or spent quality time together. He took me hunting a few times, and occasionally we’d go fishing. We didn’t watch sports together, and although he did attend many of my games, he never took a genuine interest in me, or the things I was interested in. You see, my Dad was an addict, and his addiction robbed him, and his family of many things, however, somehow, he managed to function in society, build a business, provide for a family, and most of all, he loved us. I vividly remember watching him so desperately try to get back all he’d lost in his dying hours. I swore I’d never let anything come between me and my family, but I did. I am the son of an addict who for the past 15 years have too battled with addictive tendencies and selfish behavior. I am my Father.
I remember feeling angry at him for many years, and even at times today because of the life he chose. He wasn’t there for the birth of my kids, he wasn’t there through my divorce. But I got over the anger, and now I just feel sad. Sad, he’ll never meet my wife Ashley, who would have been his trusted ally. Sad that our children will have to learn of him through pictures on the wall and memories we share of him. Even now, I weep.
I’ve made many mistakes since my Dad’s death. With the business, my family, and myself. However, in the past few years, I’ve grown in as many or more ways. For the first time in a long time, I feel happy…I feel fulfilled. I’m learning how to live life to the fullest, to speak my mind with love on my tongue, and be comfortable in my own skin. I’m beginning to see the good that came from the bad, and people let me tell you…there are good things to come. At my Dad’s funeral, I read a poem I wrote. It reads as follows…
I can only imagine… what life will be without him. Shoes too big to fill; an act too hard to follow; a life never to be outlived. A great man; a captor of the hearts of people. Filling every room he entered with an energy only described by experience. A mystery to many, a legend to all. As he epitomized the American dream, generosity never escaped him. Simplicity was his suit, hard work his trump. A leader’s leader, a deal-maker, a lover of life. Hard-nosed, but loving. Opinionated, but kind. Confident, but not arrogant. Proud but not boastful. A patriarch. Never will he be replaced, and life on earth for those who knew and loved him, will never be the same. However, pushing through our grieving, we must celebrate. Because in death, there is life, for all those who believe. He believed in the one who came that we may have life; that is Jesus Christ. He accepted the free gift that is available to all of us. But like you, I still wonder, what is he doing now?
I can only imagine.
Although some things have changed, all of the things I wrote about my Dad nearly nine years ago remain true. He was an incredible man. He touched the lives of so many through his huge personality and generous heart. Although he wasn’t the type of Father that coached my little league baseball team, I learned a lot about life, and although he and I were very different in some ways, we are similar in many more.
He was funny, generous, and very affectionate. He’d cut my fingernails in church, and take me for grape juice when I was suppose to be in trouble, and of course, he’d smoke on the way to and from. He taught me how to sell, and always said…”if you learn how to sell, you’ll never be out of a job.” He was right. He taught me how to make it on my own by telling me no, however, I always knew he would be there if I really needed him. I could go on and on about my Dad, and probably will for the rest of the day with family and friends. When you lose someone, all the things that drove you crazy are exactly the things you miss most.
So Dad, if you can here me. I love you. Dad, I miss you so much. I still pick up the phone to call you before realizing I can’t. I miss your laugh, your heart, and sitting on the porch with you. I miss picking you up for breakfast. I wish you could meet Ashley, Kyson, and Sariah. Oh and Dad…Ashley’s pregnant! Ashley told me not to tell anyone, but I can’t stop. I’m trying very hard to be the man I want to be; a loving Father and Husband, but I often fail. I took over the business you built, and did some cool things before having to sell the company. It was a very difficult decision, but I didn’t have much choice. I’ve tried to look after Mom, but she seems to be handling herself fairly well. I know how much you loved her, and she talks about you all the time. Dad, I’m not sure if Heaven is real, but I sure hope it is, so I can see you again. Life on earth isn’t the same without you. I love you Dad.
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.
Tomorrow is Christmas. It’s a day of giving and receiving. In addition to the presents under the tree, perhaps we could give…
- The forgiveness we’ve been witholding
- Another chance to a loved one who deserves it
- A hot meal to someone who is hungry
- A random act of kindness to a stranger
- Our kids some quality time
- Our family a break
- Our feelings a vacation
- Ourselves some quiet time
Take a moment this Christmas to remember what matters most. Merry Christmas from our family to yours!
Daniel, Ashley, Kyson, & Sariah…oh and Sadie (our dog) and Kikki Reece (our new cat)
I turned 35 in August, and as a result of the recent sale of DOYLES, I’ve had some time to reflect on my life as I prepare to pen a memoir. My success has been mirrored by much failure, however, what I’ve learned in the process is invaluable.
Life has taught me that…
1.) We hurt the ones we love the most and vice versa
2.) You don’t know who you are married to until you divorce them
3.) Business partnerships are a bad idea and seldom work
4.) Religion is the most divisive topic known to all mankind
5.) A man with an ego is like a baby with a bomb – God help me
6.) We learn more from children than we teach them
7.) Life is too short and death too permanent
8.) Attitude is the key to happiness
9.) Love is an action not a feeling
10.) I love myself
Surprisingly this wasn’t a premeditated list. I’m sure I could come up with many more of life’s lessons, but I like the flow of the first 10 that came to mind. Life can be hard, and can deliver a crippling blow when you least expect it, or even when you most expect it. Nevertheless, tomorrow brings the promise of hope and a future.