Supai Wake

One week ago today I got a text with the gut wrenching news that this very young 27 year old Supai man had died . A week ago yesterday he was sitting next to me in a group of guys sharing stories of family, children, art, work and real struggles. I had the honor of attending his wake as the only white man in the midst over a hundred native men , women, children and close family . I was a part of the ceremonial dance the music the testimonials and asked to share. I’d known him for about nine months. We never would have thought anything like this would have unfolded less than 12 hours from our last time together that Friday morning in group. His 4 little girls and wife danced in a slow sway in front of the casket in the middle of the room until the early morning hours. I was engaged in this event for around six hours as I sat next to another previous group member , now a year into his sobriety , who had his head down in his grief the entire time. I left at 1:30 a.m. to walk to the place where I stayed . It’s amazing at night way down there to still see the walls of the canyon as silhouettes and the stars glowing like they are actually closer. Even tho it was a very short night of rest I managed a little as i would soon be up to meet with my group and everyone again just as last Friday and every Friday . This time tho without this great guy who made an even greater mistake giving into a trigger and being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is why I am here and do what I do. Even if to just make a small difference and help someone make better choices that breaks the cycle substance abuse has on this culture. Then like every Friday afternoon when I walk through the village I can see the people I have the privilege to work with doing there part in some way and helping this small community and their families........Instead of seeing one that everyone knew and loved in a casket being prepared for service way before his time. #gratefulforknowingyou #RIP


Introducing ........

Deciding a name can be quite a huge Job.  it's choosing a title that everyone uses to identify this person the rest of their lives . We pick from favorites, trends , interests, what sounds the best  and what has value to us. We avoid names associated with bad memories, challenging relationships or weird connotations. Wait until your older to look for a name and it can be quite a bigger task. For us it was. We wanted this name to be different, unique and really speak of the life and blessing given through this new child . Something tailored to this specific person in this time of life. Where to begin. We read the name books again, watched you tube videos , kept our ears open to ideas. Susan had a few names picked, I had a few names picked. It boiled down to two. She never got to name a child. I did . So I let her have more of the say to play around with ideas. 

Then she seemed to settle with a name and call him it as she felt a strong connection. Even with my first uncertain first response she shared

"I think his name is..... Oliver".

One of my picks was Jaxson . I loved the spelling and the meaning. "Blessed one." However I didn't realize this name is one is the most trendy and fastest growing baby names out there right now. By the time this little guy gets to be a few years old and someone called him by name it's possible maybe 3 or more other boys around in class or on the play ground would respond Possibly making for an awkward moment. 

So I thought of the name Oliver. It grew on me more. Ollie , Oliver. Oll. Then I noticed more of the name significance and our particular situation with this new life. 
We are 45 and pregnant. Having a baby now that's healthy is amazing, it's rare. On top of that almost five years ago Susan had an ablation. This is a procedure ,not a birth control method, but a procedure where they burn out your uterus to help minimize the Menstual cycle. When we discovered we were pregnant imagine our surprise to wrapping our mind around the idea of a womb re growing itself miraculously, in its entirely and enough to host a new life again. Percentages to be pregnant at 45.... .03% . And after an ablation... the percentage is even a tinier portion of that. 

So how do you find a perfect name for a baby with this being his story alreatdy while still in utero? 
Specific? Unique? Special? Definitely 
The name Oliver is derived from the olive branch which is used as a symbol of peace, dignity and beauty. 
It means affectionate , it represents s person of intuition, compassion and is often known as  a person  with a magnetic personality .

I remembered another way the root of this name is described in the story or Noah. This thought helped sell the name on me more than I first thought.  After almost a year of being on the arc Noah sent out a dove to see what's out there. The world had been destroyed, abliterated by water. The first time the bird came back with nothing . The second he brought back an Olive branch. Out of all things possibly growing or maybe the only ting found. A simple small branch from an olive tree. 
A symbol of...... life. 
New life created from the middle of nothing.
A new creation and a new beginning. 

Oliver is a name in reference to the olive tree. Branches from the olive tree are used in different cultures and the Bible to symbolize peace and fruitfulness. This Is the perfect name for our little guy, our double miracle baby. 

It's a very unique name. Think about it.. How many Olivers do you know? After hearing the story of this new life and this miracle of life through such a risky impossible situation I am very sure this will be one name you'll never forget. 
Introducing.... Oliver 
Welcome to the world.
As every nurse Dr and specialist has said these past several months ...
" This little guy must have a very big purpose" 


New Directions 2017

     I took this picture almost about 7 years ago. My boys and I were hiking out in the woods in the winter and found this tree. We stopped to climb and check it out. It was uniquely different and obvious that it had its own story to tell... if trees could speak. If you google this kind of tree you can find two things.... one that it is called a Trail Tree (formed by settlers and Native Americans for directions in the woods) or through a natural process/ tree disease it formed it that way.  Most of the time however ,  they have discovered the answer to this unique shape is option number 2. It formed that way on its own.

    Take a good look at this tree. It grows about 7-8 feet, takes a 4 foot turn at a 90 degree angle and then shoots straight up again growing naturally towards the sky. I still am blown away at the strangeness of it. Whatever the story behind this particular one is, their was a purpose.  This picture has been hanging in my home for years now as a reminder. To me this tree, metaphorically represents a story of life. Its a symbol of " New Directions". Maybe that's part of its purpose. Its a simple reminder I like to think about.  I have heard this before and ask any hiker but Trees can speak a lot of things even without the use of any words. This one to me has a lot to share.

     When I think of "new directions" I think of the past 7 years of my life that brought a lot of changes. A few that were initiated by me and many that were out of my control. Some were changes that were on purpose, others ... mistakes. Along the road tho I've realized that when I was feeling out of control I could depend on my God, who was in control. This was an amazingly hard lesson to learn.  I found safety knowing things would turn out well if I trusted. The trust never seemed to come easy and often it took me forever to do it. Many times this feeling of safety and peace was all I had to hold on to.  On that path I waded through a lot of things I never thought I would have but am glad that its all the past and that road is not one Ill ever have to travel again.  These "catastrophic" events shaped me in a new way. Needless to say I learned a lot in this time frame about myself, people I knew and the world around me that took me by surprise and made me into a new person.  To me this time frame was the bend in the tree pictured here. It looks in a way like a giant muscle where it swelled during this transition. The most amazing part of the tree is that the tallest and most productive part of its growth which is above the bend, all depending on that part to hold its top weight, its branches and height.

     Life has its challenges. You have the opportunity to let that take you to a new and better place or destroy you.  I was blessed in my story to be able to use it to help me grow into something stronger. 

   2017 has now arrived. When I look back at these past 7 years and I see how far Ive come in my spiritual journey.  I can only be excited for whats now  in store. I am daily  reminded by this picture of where my source of strength and endurance comes from. This "New Direction", like the shape of this tree, is a symbol of that strength, the strength that I now depend on as  I continue to grow as a father, a husband ,a Christian and the man I was created to be. 


Thankful For...

I have to say that this year I have been very abundantly Thankful. Even without the reminder of this thankful time of year itself and the upcoming holiday. Its been a full year of  blessings and great moments that I will not forget.  I am very appreciative of all of them including people, places, events, experiences and so many things out of the ordinary. In one word "Blessed" is a good way to sum it up.

Just like this picture we often see things the other way round. Not so good. Negative. Its more natural, it seems, to see whats not going right and the problems we face daily.  In my educational groups each night at work I often try to help people take a look at more of the positive. What was the most productive part of your day?  What was your favorite part of the weekend? What are you thankful for? Its good to think of the things that make life more manageable and something to look forward to. There is too much negative fed to us daily that can be overwhelming. Its a new change of perspective. So what's your Thankful list include?

Here's my list....  I tried to keep it short but it kept coming. 

-I'm thankful I have two great sons who both continue to shine and amaze me
-Thankful for travel time I've had this year literally from coast to coast by train, plane, bike, ferry         with family and loved ones.
-Thankful my girlfriend and I after 4 years were able to get engaged
-Thankful my son Corey has been blessed with a great Godly girl, Cathryn who are now engaged
-Thankful for my job and career and opportunities to excel doing what I have a passion for and helping people in need in my community.
-Thankful for new opportunities I have prayed over and been blessed with
-Thankful to be on a great worship team using my gift for almost a year now
-Thankful for almost 3 weeks of time with and new experiences with my parents
-Thankful for another year with a great woman in my life who is my support and best friend
-Thankful for a lot of one on one time with my youngest son Ethan including late nite rendezvous, vacation times, adventure and talks.
-Thankful that I can look just at the past few years and see how far Ive come in my life and how I have been blessed. 

Its good to be thankful and not just a day or week a year but everyday. A grateful lifestyle is a good foundation for happier more satisfied you and greatly effects the world and people around you.
Even if it is complicated at first for whatever reason. Think about it. What was the best part of your day? Your year? Whats been something that puts a smile on your face or a boost daily. There's always something to be thankful for,  even in the midst of the worst hardships. Its a matter of perspective.

                                        Image result for quotes on thankfulness


Holy Spirit (the power of a song) (Click Youtube link below to hear the song)

  I remember this worship song Corey sang all the time last summer 2015. It was his favorite at the time and he sang it so regularly around here at home that it was permanently stuck in my head. Its a very powerful song and also one of my faves.
" Holy Spirit You are welcome here. Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere."

     This song also was one of the several  I loved playing with Corey and Ethan at home as we had our jam sessions and #earnstlivingroomsessions in the past few years. It was one of the last we sang before he left for Mountain Mission School in Virginia. Id have to say that song left a mark on me because it was one of those tunes that took me to the moment of playing together.

  About two months after he left I was attending the Heights church in Prescott and we had come in a few minutes late and sat in the back corner. The were just starting into the second song of the set which... yep , sure enough that same song. I knew it as soon as I heard the first two chords. I broke down and found myself crying as it hit me hard. The song was a reminder of Corey moving on and also of my need for more of God's presence in my life. It was another huge turning point for me.

I always say that "singing is a sign of a happy heart". I can literally say that I had not sang much since our time playing together and had not been involved in worship either for quite some time. After alot of praying and thinking about it later that fall I decided to try out for the Heights Worship team.  I've had the honor of playing now there for about a year.

I  have enjoyed playing and singing and during this time I've found more opportunities to be a part of worship, from my home town in Michigan to Phoenix and my music teaching opportunities online. Although I need to make more time to play on my own everyday its been good to be a part of a worship team again. It a blessing not only for others when you use your gifts but it can also be a great way to be blessed.

This summer I had a week I was playing on the team at the Heights when Corey was home and I invited him and Cathryn to come check the place out. Luckily they were able to make it and joined us on a Sunday morning this past June.  I was thrilled about the set list and glad to be singing that weekend and more surprised that this song, Holy Spirit, was put in our list and I was asked to lead and sing it. I wasn't sure if I could make it through singing it but somehow did and I was told by several people there that day that they could sense the Holy Spirit during this song in a very powerful way.

 This same song my son Corey sang so many times at home with us, months later performed in a worship set at the Heights that moved me to tears and spoke to me while feeling so empty there in the back corner, was now one I was joyfully singing from the stage in that same room full of people worshiping, including Corey who was standing in the back (with Cathryn and Susan) singing with lifted hands.

That's the power of a song used by the Holy Spirit.

That's how God works in unique ways

That moment was a great moment in worship and memory of a full and happy heart through the power of music.

"Your glory God is what our hearts long for

To be overcome by your presence Lord"