Happy Birthday to My Best Friend

Today is my wife’s birthday. I still have not gotten used to saying, “my wife” in conversation. It sounds weird but I’m sure it will sound normal at some point.

I remember sitting at Bonefish Grill in Murfreesboro about a year and a half ago having a conversation with my dad about Morgan. He asked me how serious things were and my answer surprised myself.

“I know I want to marry her, but engagement rings are expensive and it seems really soon to get engaged.” My dad was not surprised. He told me he waited too long to get married to my Mom and if he had it to do over again they would have gotten married sooner. That was all the encouragement I needed.

I remember after our conversation driving back home and thinking to myself he was exactly right. Since that time it has been a wonderful blur of an engagement, wedding, honeymoon, and early married life.

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I took this picture about 10 minutes after our wedding ceremony. I’m not exactly sure why I took it but I remember being blown away by how beautiful she looked.

I knew the indelible image of her would never leave my mind but instinct took over and I took a picture because it’s what you do when you see something amazing you don’t want to forget.

One of the best qualities about Morgan is her work ethic. Each day she pushes me to work harder. Most people would be blown away to see the hours she works and the lack of free time she has. She doesn’t brag about it or complain she gets up and does it again day after day. The display of stamina pushes me to work harder and bring my best everyday like she does.

The hardest part for me is falling short. I would like to think I will come home everyday form work and be in a great mood but that isn’t realistic. I wish I could immediately take back things I say when I’m tired and I’m short with her but I can’t. I’m so grateful she doesn’t hold these things against me.

Earlier this month my aunt passed away and my uncle spoke at her funeral. I cannot fathom taking on such a task but what he said really stuck with me. He talked about how Cynthia helped him become the man that he needed to be. That was not the man that he thought he should become, but rather the man that God created him to become.

I have thought about that for the past few weeks and I feel the exact same way. Each day that passes I get a new understanding of it. Each day I can tell I’m truly turning into a man, and not the man I had pictured in my mind, but the man that God has called me to be. Morgan has helped me through that and helps mold me into a better person day after day.

It doesn’t matter if we are sitting near the ocean in Jamaica eating world class food watching the sunset or sitting at our kitchen table in Nashville eating frozen pizza, I’m so blessed to experience life with her.

I know as the years go by we will experience incredible highs and devastating lows but there is nobody I would rather go through those experiences with than her.

Morgan, I love you more and more every single day and I hope to spend countless more birthdays with you.

My Favorite Letter

Last night I was transferring precious valuables junk from one nightstand to another. It is amazing to see the things I keep and have kept throughout the past several years.

I do not remember the exact time I got this nightstand but I believe it was in the summer between my sophomore and junior year of college.

The top drawer is filled with business cards, old ID’s, pictures from college, and random pens.

The second drawer is full of old cell phones, iPods, a GPS, and old devotional books. Somehow in one of my many moves it also resulted in old pairs of croakies being stored there.

However, my favorite drawer is definitely the bottom one. It is filled with every letter I have received since I have had the nightstand. I have been blessed to receive so many incredible notes from friends and family members over the years. Recently, it has been filled with wedding invitations and other mail I have received but I treasure the handwritten notes that are in there most.

One note in particular always makes my day when I read it. My grandparents wrote me so often in college and I loved every note they sent. I have written about my Grandfather before. Dadoo, as we called him, wrote me one note in particular right when I graduated college and it has meant so much to me.

The note starts out saying,

Mere words can never express my deep and sincere pride in what you have accomplished in graduating from college – especially UTK. I consider it one of the highlights of my long life.

Those words describe him so well. It may sound odd that someone else accomplishing something was the highlight of his life but it would not be strange if you knew him. As the letter goes on it becomes hard to read because arthritis had hampered Dadoo’s ability to use his hands well, but it is legible and I am thankful for every word.

I enjoy writing but have not written many letters. I long to do it more but what is more important (and easier) is verbally sharing with people how much they mean to you.

I struggle to express myself with close friends sometimes and recently it has really started to bother me. You can only get close to people if you let them see you for who you are and let your guard down.

This letter Dadoo wrote me is so good and so powerful even as I read it today. I’m thankful for him but more than that I’m so glad he told me how he felt about me. I recently read an incredible blog from Pete Wilson about this topic. In the post he talks about fatherhood and how John Eldredge says every son is basically asking one question of his dad, “Dad, do you think I’ve got what it takes?”

I am grateful to have a Dad and a Grandfather who not only believed I had what it takes but told me. More importantly, they loved me and believed in me and they didn’t want me to be anyone other than who I was.

Who do you need to thank today for being there for you? I would encourage you to do it. Maybe even write them a letter…you may never know how much it will mean to them.

Stuck in My Head

I don’t remember the month, the year, or even leaving the emergency room. If I had to guess I would say I was about ten or eleven. Myself, my dad, and his friend Bubba decided to go fishing.

We were in a small jon boat and it was decided I needed to sit in the middle so the two men could have room to cast and so I would not interfere with them. I was sitting in the middle of the boat watching the water hoping possibly a small fish would bite so I could catch something even if it was not a huge bass.

It may sound boring but I was in heaven. At that age hanging out with older men doing manly things like fishing is about the coolest thing you can do. I didn’t care about the circumstances I was one of the guys.

I can vividly remember the exact moment it happened. I remember hearing the sound of Bubba’s fishing rod going back and I also remember the rattle trap lure making impact on my head. It did not really hurt which is amazing. If you have never seen a rattle trap lure google them. Yeah…all those hooks dug into my head so deep they would not come out.

I may be stating the obvious here but a man who goes by “Bubba” is inherently strong. I do not believe you will find many “Bubba’s” that are small, slender men. Bubba had reached back and used a lot of country strength to try to cast and all his force had caused a fishing lure to get stuck in my head. After realizing they could not remove it my dad and Bubba decided it was time to go to the emergency room.

I don’t remember my dad calling my mother to explain this to her but I’m sure it was an interesting conversation. The ride to the emergency room was comical for my dad and Bubba because every single time we hit a bump the lure would rattle on top of my head. To say it was frightening was an understatement. However, to say it was awesome would also be an understatement. I was not crying like a boy in the backseat I was handling it like a man.

I vividly remember sitting in the emergency room and looking at the other presumably soft people sitting there. I’m not sure why most of them were there but I doubt it was memorable for them. Whatever they were there for was certainly not as intimidating as my injury. There were some others in the room who I felt a bond with. One boy in particular looked to be about my age and he had suffered some type of football injury. As he limped around I felt a certain connection with him. There is something about being a boy and thinking you are close to being a man that believes you have to earn some battle wounds to get there. A football injury, a fishing story, these all fell under the same category to me.

It wasn’t easy to get the lure out and I had to get some numbing shots before the doctor pulled it out of my head. Leaving the emergency room I felt on top of the world.

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I went fishing a lot growing up and caught a lot of fish. However, the greatest fishing story I have has nothing to do with catching fish. What I did get that day was a story I can tell forever. I didn’t become a man, but I felt like one. What is funny is I still find myself trying to feel like one. When I can’t figure out how to put something together or can’t fix a broken sink I try to compensate by doing something else that makes me feel like a man. It might be planning a camping trip or planning to go to a shooting range. I wish I would be more comfortable just being me.

I’m not Mr. fix it and there are things I really wish I knew how to do that I may never be able to do but I’m exactly who God created me to be.

Hopefully I have a son one day and we can go fishing. I really hope that he does not get a lure stuck in his head but I know as we are hanging out waiting for a fish to bite I will pull a total dad move and have story time. I will explain how going out with Bubba and my dad in a jon boat turned into a trip to the emergency room.