The Art of Being Kind: 31 Acts of Deliberate Kindness

At the end of July I committed to making the entire month of August a month of deliberate kindness.

Every single day I made a conscious decision to do something for someone else.

The amazing thing about doing anything day in and day out is that it becomes a habit.

I found myself smiling at everyone, opening doors even with a little one in my arms, and speaking with kindness to everyone I encountered.

The little things sometimes have the most powerful influence and I’m proud to have recharged my love and passion for helping others.

My dear friend Amanda also participated in this challenge with me and she blogged about her experience as well.

I encourage you to read about her journey as she taught her two daughters the power of doing good and helping others.

(You can read it here).

I loved Amanda’s post because she showed that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to go out of your way for others.

She is a beautiful soul and it makes me so happy to see her children growing up to be loving, selfless individuals just like their mother.

…………………

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DAY 1:

I left an anonymous card with an encouraging message and gift card inside for our neighbors two doors down.

DAY 2:

We bought buckets and shovels in the dollar section of Target and passed them out to kids at the beach.

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My original plan was to leave them like the photo above but as we were playing in the water I began to notice kids around who looked bored and so I passed them out.

It was so wonderful seeing their faces light up and to watch them build sand castles with their new toys.

DAY 3:

We paid for the guy behind us in the Starbucks Drive-Thru line.

DAY 4:

I made a donation for art supplies to The Sick Kids Foundation.

I really wish we had something like this here in the US, it is such a brilliant concept.

DAY 5:

At one of the parks Declan and I frequent we always see a group of mentally handicapped men and women with helpers.

They walk around the benches to get some exercise in a few times a week.

Since it’s been so hot recently, I decided to buy them some water bottles so that they could stay hydrated.

DAY 6:

I left dollar bills in some sympathy cards at Walgreens.

I figured that someone nice enough to go out of their way to get someone a card like that deserved to have their day brightened too.

DAY 7:

I frequent Target like most women so I found myself there in the dollar section once again.

This time I bought a coloring book and box of crayons.

When I paid for them I asked the cashier to then give them to the next child she came into contact with at her register.

She was very kind until I asked her to do this.

Once I had included her in my good deed she seemed annoyed and coldly said,

“Uhhhh, okay?”

And rolled her eyes.

I thought that was really interesting and also sad.

DAY 8:

You’ll see these pop up now and again.

Derek and I tag teamed on a couple days.

This day, he went and pushed all of the shopping carts into their proper place while I held Declan.

DAY 9:

We went for appetizers at T.G.I. Friday’s and left our waiter a large tip.

DAY 10:

I saw an old friend post a Facebook status about going through a rough time so I decided to reach out to her and send her a $25 Fandango gift card through Facebook to help brighten her day.

DAY 11:

I left flowers on a random car in the Trader Joe’s parking lot.

DAY 12:

We have been sponsoring a young girl named Mariella since the first time I did this challenge in 2012 but they always need more help at World Vision.

So I made an additional donation to be put towards wherever it was most needed.

DAY 13:

I went and got a massage and we gave the employees a box of cookies as a thank you for pampering people all day long.

I tried to take a picture but was in a hurry and it came out all blurred.

DAY 14:

We left mechanical pencils, pens, and a holder for the kids across the street from us who had just started school.

DAY 15:

I met my Beachbody coach for the very first time on this day at the Idea World Convention and she had very briefly mentioned that it was also going to be her birthday.

So I decided to surprise her with a cake pop from Starbucks.

DAY 16:

We made a $100 donation to ALS and also both participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge.

DAY 17:

I wrote out encouraging words on Post-Its and Derek spread them throughout the grocery store for people to stumble upon.

DAY 18:

A neighboring family recently adopted a sweet dog with a hip problem.

I love watching them play with her and wanted to do something kind for them so I left them a box of treats to give to her.

DAY 19:

There is this older man who periodically parks his truck on a busy street by my house and sits there for hours on end.

He’s got wooden crosses on the front and back of his vehicle and he just hangs out there, sharing his message with everyone who passes by.

I saw him on my way to Target (shocker) and decided I wanted to do something nice.

So I bought a thank you card, bottle of water, and bag of chocolate chip cookies.

I wrote in the card and made my way back to the spot only to find him gone.

Turns out God had someone else in mind for me that day.

So instead I gave the cookies and water to our mail person.

The funny thing is, it wasn’t even our same mail person that day.

It’s always a woman but on this particular day it was a man.

Seeing that my note clearly said woman, he rang the doorbell and explained to me that she had the day off.

I told him the only reason I put woman was because I had seen her before and to please take it and he was so incredibly appreciative.

He thanked me, welcomed me to the neighborhood as he knew we just moved last year, and walked away with the biggest smile.

DAY 20:

Declan woke me up super early so I decided to go on a coffee run.

I was making my way down the usual road when I saw the man in his truck again!

Determined not to miss him this time and still having the card I had written him in my passenger seat, I grabbed a cookie for him at Starbucks and hurried back.

When I walked up to his truck with Declan in arms I saw him sitting there reading his bible.

I got his attention and he rolled down his window.

I handed him the card and cookie and he looked at me as though nobody had ever stopped for him before.

We chatted for a few moments until Declan got fussy and then I left.

DAY 21:

I surprised Derek’s office donuts.

It was actually really neat because the woman and the donut shop showed me a random act of kindness as well by giving me three extra donuts for free!

DAY 22:

I made a donation to Whittier First Day Homeless Care.

DAY 23:

ADT salesmen came to our door and it just so happens we were in the market for a security system.

It was about 3:30 pm and they had been out in the field all day.

We had just finished up our fantasy football draft and had a bunch of left over food so we offered it to the ADT men.

They politely declined at first but quickly changed their minds.

Next thing we knew we were in our kitchen laughing and telling stories with them as they chomped on chicken soft tacos.

It was really cool to be able to do something like that, especially for door-to-door salesmen who are used to people being rude to them.

DAY 24:

We still had so much food leftover so I made a care pack of it and we drove around trying to find a homeless person to bless with it.

We drove for over an hour but never saw anyone which was bizarre because we see people daily.

So instead we bought a scratcher at the gas station and taped it to the pump for someone to find and enjoy.

DAY 25:

Derek has an employee who has been going through a rough time recently and told him he only eats one meal a day.

So Derek took that care pack of food I made the day before and brought it to this man at work.

DAY 26:

As I was leaving the grocery store I saw a woman and her young daughter sitting outside in the shade.

I had seen her there once before with her sign and Derek had given her money previously.

But I didn’t have any cash on me so instead I put my groceries in the car and walked over to her.

I offered to bring her and her daughter inside with me and let them pick out something to eat for dinner but she told me she didn’t speak English and unfortunately, I don’t speak Spanish either.

But I worked through the language barrier enough to explain to her where I was going and to make sure chicken would be okay.

I went back into the store and bought her a whole rotisserie chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, cornbread, and water.

DAY 27:

I had seen a homeless man in the morning the previous day so I decided to go back and see if he was still there.

I went to Walmart to make a kit up for him.

For $35 I got him a towel, washcloth, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush/holder, tissue, bandaids, wet wipes, body wash, q-tips, hand sanitizer, Pringles, fruit bars, peanut butter, jelly, a loaf of bread, a gallon jug of water, and utensils.

When I approached him he was asleep so I put it all next to him and left.

But as I caught a glimpse of his face I noticed a big smile as he slept on the ground with so little to his name and it filled my heart with so much humility.

The sleeping man blessed me that day too.

DAY 28:

A friend had posted on Facebook that her son was doing a fundraiser  and really wanted to reach his goal so I decided to visit the website and support him by purchasing something.

I took the opportunity to make these items a little gift for my mom too as a congrats for starting her new job.

DAY 29:

I sent a “just cause” gift anonymously (I think!)

That was the plan, but it may have included my info anyway so we shall see.

DAY 30:

I made a plegde to Pay It Forward and I started by signing five other petitions on Causes.com.

DAY 31:

We left a $5 bill on our walk for someone else to discover.

We tried to take a picture but the memory on Derek’s phone was full and I accidentally left mine in the house.

…………………………….

I hope you feel inspired to go out there and do good.

Kindness is contagious and can not only make a big impact in other people’s lives, but in your own.

The heart is a muscle.

So put in the work and watch it grow.

Declan’s Mom

I had a distant memory of a girl.
She was whimsical and spontaneous and free.
She would write songs by the beach and start driving before she had a destination in mind.
Her style was eclectic, her eyes were filled with wonder, her heart was trusting and good.

Sometimes I long for a sense of significance.

At the grocery store I frequent almost every cashier knows Declan.
When we check out they are always talking to him and gushing.
On the rare times I am at the store alone they ask me where he is and remind one another, “this is Declan’s mom”.

I am nameless.
Sometimes it even takes them a moment to recognize me without an adorable baby attached to my hip.

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I am Declan’s mom and I am beyond proud to be such.
But I am so much more than that.

I am a writer.
A singer.
An adventurer.
I love to cook and act and try new things.
My heart is in people and I love to help those in need.
I’m a glass half full kind of lady.
I love being goofy & weird.
Random dance parties are a part of my daily life and I believe in the healing powers of chocolate.

Declan and I have a unique bond.
He has never taken a bottle which made us pretty much inseparable for the first 6 months of his life.
He likes to bring me a book and sit in my lap while I read it to him over and over again.
He quite literally will crawl up me until his body is covering my face while he sleeps, as if to say that he cannot get close enough to me.
He loves with an intensity that I have never seen before from another child.
And it is so special.

But in the midst of being his everything I feel as if I became nothing.
I was “Declan’s mom and Derek’s wife”.
The only time I sang was to get him to sleep, I would cook merely to put food on the table, and the only time I could squeeze in writing was if I chose it instead of sleep which I desperately needed.

I looked in the mirror one morning and cried.
Mulan style, I rinsed my tired eyes and asked myself who it was staring back at me.
I did not recognize this woman.
She was dull and lifeless.
Anxiety was seeping from her pores and she looked lost.
Where had I gone?
And how long had I been away?

I knew I needed to make a change in my body, my mind, and my soul.
So I did.

I started getting Declan to sleep in his stroller rather than on me, so that I could do my workouts in the morning and have the rest of the day to look forward to.
I went shopping and bought clothes regardless of whether or not it would be easy to breastfeed in them for the first time in over a year.
I did my nails and curled my hair and put on eyeshadow.
I bought bright flowers for the house.
And I started to play music during the day again so I could sing along.

It’s funny really.
I think I subconsciously thought that I had to choose between the two.
Like, I couldn’t be myself and Declan’s mom.
I couldn’t be a devoted mother/wife and still do the things I enjoyed, still be the woman I am.
But now I see that all of the things I love and that make me who I am actually make me a better family member too.

When I sing, the whole house listens in.
When I’m spontaneous, we always end up doing something fun and memorable.
Family dance parties have become something I look forward to every single day.
And I am the happiest version of myself that I have ever been.

My significance is found.
And if I am only remembered as Declan’s mom then I am okay with that.
Because being that woman is pretty awesome.

Parents Confess

I’ve got to tell you, yesterday I was not a good mother.
I didn’t turn my back as Declan walked towards an open flame or lock him in a play pin while I double fisted cocktails, but I was grumpy and impatient and just downright bitter.
Declan has been much more demanding in general recently but yesterday after four failed attempts at nap time I hit a new level of low.
I was exhausted and blaming him for my feelings rather than taking responsibility for them.
I started scanning le’ internet for quotes on patience (because that’s what you do when you have none) and I found this:

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I realized that I was choosing to wallow in self pity because he refused to nap rather than making a conscious choice to revel in my son’s personality and enjoy my time with him.

Once I turned my frown upside down a calm came over both of us and he took a nap.

And today?
Today my cup is overflowing with love, happiness, and excitement hanging out with my little firecracker.

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I know how blessed I am to spend my days raising this guy rather than in an office.
It is the hardest job I have ever done but it is also hands down the most rewarding.
Money is just money.
But these moments I get to witness are priceless.

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Enough gushing.
On Monday I asked you all to share your Sexfessions.
Thank you to everyone brave enough to put their stories out there!
We have all been there, so let’s all share a good laugh and recap the entries I received.

*All posts are anonymous*

“I’m sick of hubby waking me up at 2 am so I have been trying to catch him before bedtime! My son was in our bed watching Mickey and Dh had just walked out of the bathroom so I grabbed him and pulled him into the closet. Well we weren’t very coordinated standing up so we had to move to the bathroom. Made it just as Mickey got done!”

“My daughter found my drawer of lingerie. She commented on how pretty they were and asked if she could borrow them when she was older like me. All I could do was laugh nervously and change the subject.”

“Before our son slept through the night, we had a lot of “Don Draper sex” (taking off as little clothing as humanly possible), so that if the baby woke up one of us could spring into action!”

“Had sex in the living room while I was 6 months pregnant despite the fact that my daughter, my mom, or my sister could have walked in on us. Talk about spicing things up! (no one caught us, thankfully lol)”

“Having a one year old boy unthinkable it would put a halt to our sex lives no not us we. Our son cosleeps with is he hate the crib but when he’s in a deep sleep we put him in crib and we have 20 mins or les to go at it and if he’s taking a nap we run in our tiny shower and get our sexy on and try and get it in as fast as we can cuz our son seems to hate sleep. But the romantic dinner and late nights out have come to stop so we make our romance simple and to the point . I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“Got interrupted during foreplay because my kid woke up. I threw a robe on over my sexy nightgown, but it didn’t cover the whole thing. Even though it was dark in the room she of course still noticed that it was different than my normal pajama pants and baggy shirt and asked why I was wearing a dress. Why are my children so damn inquisitive??”

“Honestly I’m just lucky for the crib we throw him in there all the time so anytime were in the mood we say “you do the kid, I’ll do dogs” and one of us throws him in the crib the other closes the dogs in their kennel… Then we are free to roam about the house ;) but we have had quite a few times late at night with the dogs sleeping (on the floor they aren’t allowed on the bed) and I have gotten sniffed and licked in the ass.”

“My partner and I once put our daughter in the umbrella stroller and awkwardly faced an iPhone on a makeshift shelf so she could watch Winnie the Pooh in order for us to escape to the bathroom for 5 minutes to have sex.

It had to be done.”

“Definitely have had to rush it towards the end because the baby woke up (the baby who was sleeping in a bassinet in our room). Then had to go from sex to breastfeeding instantly, which is just an awful mojo killer. Way too many hormones going on.”

“One time my golden retriever started howling because we made weird noises. Also we totally have done it on the floor of the nursery and the bed in his room (when he was an infant and was in our room in the basinette) and I hope he never finds out when he gets older lol.”

While our son played in our room my husband and I decided to have a quickie. But right when we started he looked at me as if I was in danger and came running over to me in a crying panic. I then coaxed him into his walker and pressed the buttons to engage him, while bent over so my husband could do the deed.

Well that was both awkward and awesome.
Thanks so much to everyone for sharing your dark dirty secrets!
Hope you have a fabulous weekend.

Month Ten

I don’t typically post on the weekends but since Declan is 10 months old today I decided to make an exception!

As I type this he has gone back to sleep (after waking us up at 5 am) and is cuddled up in my arms making cooing sounds.
These moments are truly what life is all about.

WALK MAN:

We’ve officially got a walker on our hands!
He took his first steps a few days before he hit 9 months and within a week he was full blown walking.
Every week he practices a new skill within like walking in circles while clapping, quick turns, and my least favorite; running.
But more on that later.

CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DECLAN:

He’s started to really get into playing and initiating games.
His favorites include hiding and playing a mix of peek-a-boo/hide-n-seek and crawling under/in things like chairs, tables, etc. with the intent of making you get him out.
He also loves to be chased.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

Declan loves to be the center of attention and to entertain the people around him.
Last week during a doctor visit he took it upon himself to be Patch Adams and put on a show for the entire waiting room.

I didn’t get it on video but he went up to every group and tried to perform for them, it was too cute.

GO HOME DECLAN, YOU’RE DRUNK:

I don’t know what it is about this kid but he refuses to stop moving even when his body is begging him to.
This results in him falling every few steps he takes.
But he gets back up and tries to run.
His exhausted body just can’t keep up with his mind though and so he looks like a drunk guy stumbling home from the bars.

I WANT IT AND I WANT IT NOW:

Full blown tantrums have begun.
Like, he puts his whole body into it.
Currently it’s trial and error for me, trying to find the best way to handle these outbursts.
Wow does he have a strong personality though and damn it sucks dealing with a flailing child in public because you won’t let them put your keys in their mouth.

Despite that I am loving life as a stay at home mom with my son.
I consider myself so blessed to have the opportunity to spend so much quality time with him.
Tonight is my first overnighter without him since he was born so wish me luck!

Hope everyone is having a beautiful weekend.

Allen

My cousin recently posted this video of her younger brother, Allen.

I hadn’t seen it since his funeral back in November of 2010 and it really resonated with me.

Allen had more life and spunk in two fingers than most people have in their whole body.
It is utterly moving to see a person who can barely lift his own hand talk about his life with no animosity to the cards he was dealt.

And when I think of Allen I am reminded just how lucky I was to know him.

I cannot imagine being given the kind of diagnosis Allen was at age 6.
I cannot fathom the anger, pain, and fear my uncle and aunt felt upon receiving the news.
I cannot pretend to know the devastation it brought to his older sister.

But what I saw growing up was nothing short of breathtaking.

Allen was funny and full of spirit.
And together with his siblings and parents he lived a joyous life.

They faced many hardships.
But they faced everything together, as a family.

I admire his older sister, for being her brother’s best friend.
I admire his parents, for being pillars of strength.
And I admire Allen, for making the choice to live his life to the fullest.

I’ve struggled with writing this blog post since last week because I have this weird thing where I feel like I have to have a moral or point to my posts.
I wanted to talk about Allen but I didn’t know what message to send out.

But then I realized that I don’t have to dot all the lines all the time.
The moral of Allen’s story will be different for everyone, which is sort of beautiful.

One thing I know for certain is that if you take the time to watch the 6 minute and 43 second video I posted all the way through, you will be changed whether you expected to be or not.

If that prompts you to go out and support Duchenne research, then awesome.
If it encourages you to start living your life with more gratitude, then that’s incredible.
The part of your heart it touches is personal and I can’t create a moral for that.
But I can say for me, remembering Allen makes me hug my family a little tighter.
He reminds me to be thankful for things that we take for granted; like being able to walk or scratch my nose with ease.
And most of all his life shows me that we as people are capable of extraordinary things if we choose to embrace our weaknesses rather than allow them to hinder us.

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Happiest Birthday To You, My Love

I hope everyone had a fabulous Easter Sunday.
We went to church, watched Frozen, and I made a roast beef dinner for my family so It was a nice and relaxing day for us.
Today is also a very special day in my household because it is Derek’s birthday!

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(These are his past five birthdays that we have spent together)

I like to make a big deal out of birthdays because I think it’s special celebrating the birth of someone you love.
Next weekend we will be hitting the town and spending our first night together without Declan (gasp) to celebrate Derek with all our friends but I still wanted to do something special today.

So for something a little different as a mini present this year I made a video.

Well that was super awkward and embarrassing.
But I know Derek is smiling after watching and that’s all that matters.

Shout out to Declan for improving the video and even mumbling along with me as I sang.

Anyway, happiest birthday to the greatest husband, father, and man I know.
I love you Derek and I am so glad you were born!

Month Nine

39 weeks ago to date I was exactly 39 weeks pregnant and in the process of pushing welcoming Declan into this world.

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39 weeks ago I didn’t know how to change a diaper, breastfeed, or live off of 4 hours of sleep every night.

Week by week, month by month, my son challenges me to be a better mother and person.

I am in such awe of his every move and I know this is just the beginning.

This month brought so many firsts.

STEP BY STEP:

Declan took his first steps!
We haven’t been able to get it on video but it is absolutely amazing to watch.
He’s only mastered three steps so far but that’s three more steps then he could take a month ago.

STANDING OVATION:

On a similar note, little man can pull himself up to a standing position without any help.

It took me weeks to get it on video but I finally did!

I LOVE YOU DADA:

He’s been saying “mama” and “dada” for a while now but this past month he has started to say them on cue.
While he does say mama when he’s sad or upset he says dada all other times.
On top of that, he’s started to move away from me at night and snuggle up next to Derek.
We spend all day together so I love seeing how special their bond is despite not being together as much.

TAKE ME OUT:

The weather has been really nice recently so we’ve been taking full advantage of it.

We have been going on family park dates during the week and have been trying to do at least one outdoor activity on the weekends.

We had Declan’s first beach experience the other week and it was awe inspiring.

If you’ve never looked at the world through a baby’s eyes I recommend stealing your friend’s kid for the day and trying it.

Everything has a new sense of excitement and life to it.

The ocean has never been more beautiful to me.

CUDDLE BUG:

As his personality develops he continues to become the sweetest guy.

He will pull you in for a hug.

Turn your face to snag a kiss.

And nestle his face into your chest.

He shares his food and loves to be involved.

It’s just the best feeling seeing how kind and loving his nature is.

I’LL SLEEP WHEN I’M DEAD:

Or I will die from not sleeping….

But seriously, we actually had a good system going until the whole trying to walk thing started.

Ever since, his sleep patterns have been all jacked up again.

I think it’s because he’s just so excited and wants to practice his skills 24/7 because he legitimately never stops moving.

Still, I’m hoping that we can get back into the groove with something soon because I’m one sleepy mama.

OUCH, CHARLIE BIT ME:

If you don’t know what the title is referring to then you live under a rock.

Declan keeps biting my shoulder and with seven teeth, it HURTS.

Sometimes he does it when his mouth hurts which I can understand but other times he does it just to do it.

When I tell him “No, ouch!” he either laughs like it’s a game or cries because I’m telling him no.

Oh the joys of a developing personality.

—-

It still blows me away that God put me in charge of this little person.

He is such a gift and it is a joy to watch him grow.

Can’t wait to see what happens this month!

And Then He Choked On Plastic

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The first time your kid falls and bumps their head you’re sure that you are the worst parent on the planet.
The first time they choke on an inanimate object you’re positive that child protective services will be at your door any minute to take your baby away from your unfit parenting.
You’re convinced that when people see the bumps and bruises on their arms and legs from crawling all over the floor they will call the cops on you.

Taking full responsibility for another human being is a lot of pressure and it can be really scary at times.

I frantically patted my son’s back while trying to find my baby book on the Heimlich maneuver because a piece of plastic found its way down Declan’s throat this morning.
Over thirty minutes after the whole ordeal I was still trembling.

Who let me be a mom anyway?
We have to meet certain expectations/requirements, pass tests, and complete interview processes in order to get any other job.
But the most important of them all requires no screening what-so-ever.
I may not be running a multi-million dollar company or organizing the biggest events in town but I am fully in charge of keeping a tiny human being alive, safe, and healthy.

If I had been interviewed and tested before I became a mom would I have passed the test?

I’m clumsy.
Afraid of spiders.
Passive aggressive.
I don’t take well to sudden changes.
And I am emotional to a fault.

It can be easy to get caught up in those things and doubt my abilities as a parent.

But I am also careful and meticulous.
Conqueror of the flies and cockroaches of this world.
Patient with others.
Able to adapt quickly to my surroundings.
And my emotional heart is overflowing with love to share.

So my son has bumped his head on more than one occasion.
He’s got bruises on his knees and elbows from exploring the house and today he choked on plastic.

But damn it, I’m a good mom.

I didn’t have to pass any tests to get here but my skills are tested daily and new ones are developed.
With the hands on style of learning that parenting requires mistakes are bound to happen.
But nobody is perfect at anything.

And maybe it’s because I’m sick today, but I guess I just needed to write that down to reaffirm it.

Dad Vs. Father

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The title of this guest blog simply sums up a majority of my childhood.
For 14 years I didn’t know my biological father.
I knew of him, but I didn’t know him.
But on the other side of that, for 14 years I grew up knowing one amazing dad who loved me, raised me, educated me, and helped mold me into the man I am today.
Even after the 14 years went by and I eventually met my biological father, today I still don’t “know him” about as much as he doesn’t “know me”.

So the question of what makes a Dad a Dad and a Father a Father periodically comes to mind.
One of my biggest goals in life is to ensure my son and any other potential children (wink wink babe) Andrea and I share never have to ask this question or rather never have to compare the two words.
Everyone can look up the key differences or explain their personal opinion of which one is what.
I took the liberty to help fortify what we already know:

“Key difference: A father is the male parent of the child; its progenitor. They share DNA with the child, but he may or may not share responsibility in the child’s growth and development. Dad is a term of affection and familiarity. Dad is someone who actively participates in the child’s growth and development.”

We have often heard others say “any guy can become a father, but it takes a man to be a dad”.
This holds true in my life as well as my wife’s.
We both experienced a father and a dad type scenario.
Being a Christian it seems odd to me that the word Father doesn’t hold a stronger meaning as I believe God is actively participating in my life, but that’s a whole other conversation.

So today being a father and a dad I can honestly say I wouldn’t know how to be one without the other.
I have seen my fair share of Fathers and others who are Dads.
After watching Declan grow on a daily basis one of my biggest nightmares would be someone else raising my son while I sit back and neglect my responsibility, my son, my legacy.

Declan has taught me a whole new level of love.
I cannot say it’s stronger than what I feel for my wife, but it’s a different feeling of adoration/responsibility that’s fills every fiber of my being.

Watching his face light up when I walk into a room makes me instantly happy, no matter the mood I was in prior.
Watching him crawl/walk towards me in pure excitement because he wants his “dada” melts my heart.

These moments us “Dathers” (Copy right) get to experiment simply make me feel sorry for not only the children who never get to express that excitement towards a Dad, but for those Fathers who have chosen/failed to become a Dad.

I promised myself way before knowing my biological father that I would never be just that.
I would be more than a Father.
I would be forever involved, forever dedicated, and forever in love with my children.

Ironically today the story of Peter Lanza, the Father of Adam Lanza who was responsible for the Sandy Hook tragedy, said he wished his son had never been born.
As tragic the event was and as devastating it was for the parents, families, and friends of the victims this comment sickens me.
Adam Lanza had some serious mental issues as many psychopaths do, but this statement his father made really makes me think the boy needed a Dad.
Don’t get me wrong I am not saying that would of solved his issues or prevented the tragedy, but for a father to reject the love he once felt for his son seems an impossible task for me.

The love I have for Declan seems irreversible.
I have not walked in Peter Lanza’s shoes and I can’t imagine ever having to.
But I know that today the love I have for my son will go with me forever.
I will never be able to change how I felt yesterday or how I feel about my child today.
I know I will never be able/want to change being his Dad or the love we continue to share daily.

Declan will never have to compare the two.
More importantly he will never have to see them as different meanings.
My goal is to ensure he understands the two go hand in hand as God intended.
When the Father created He ensured Declan would have a Dad.

I challenge any of you who know a father or may be a father to unite these two words not only for every child’s sake, but for the potential Dad’s sake.

No matter your situation whether it be a separation, divorce, heck a one night stand in Vegas that led to another life being blessed on this earth.

Go and be a “Dather” because as much as the child suffers from not having one, in the end it’s the Fathers who are/have been missing out.

The Dads are just smart enough to know it and that’s why they are picking up those precious pieces.

The Love You Deserve

It was the summer before my 20th birthday.

My friend Ryan was having his usual girl trouble and wanted advice, so I drove down the street to his house and we sat in my car while I counseled him through his relationship woes.

Ryan and I had met back in the days of MySpace.
He had found my music page and messaged me about an opportunity to head up a worship team at Azusa Pacific University with him.

He was tall and thin, with a Woody the Woodpecker hair style and Mr. Burns stance and we were inseparable for a while.
It was nice having a male friend that didn’t want to hook up with me since it seemed like that’s all guys ever wanted to do.

So there we were, sitting in my car discussing whether he should start dating this girl Casi even though he wasn’t sure he was over his ex and that’s when it slipped.
He mumbled under his breath but the wind was calm and it was just audible enough for me to catch.
“I wrote a song about you”.
My natural reaction was a mix of flattery and uneasiness.
This was my friend, but didn’t he normally write love songs?
My stomach churned at the thought of losing yet another friend because I didn’t feel the same about them.
I paused before responding.

“Really? What about me? Can I hear it?”
“No!” he snapped.
“You won’t like it. It’s not necessarily a nice song.”

I thought this would have eased my mind, since it clearly wasn’t a love song, but it really just created anxiety. What did he mean by “not necessarily a nice song”?
Why would he write something mean about me?
And what could he possibly have to say?
What have I ever done to him?
I could feel my face beginning to flush. I was angry with him for writing something “not nice” about me and yet my curiosity in the song had only grown stronger.

“Come on, now you have to let me hear it.
If you don’t want to play it for me, email it to me or something.
If it’s about me I deserve to hear it.”

I convinced him and he promised to email it to me that night.
​When I got home, sure enough, there was a message in my inbox from him. Reluctantly, I downloaded the song, plugged in my earphones, and listened.
The song was called, “Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places” and though I don’t remember all of it I do remember a few key lines such as,

“So beautiful, she knows it, but she keeps it all inside”

“She’s looking for love in all the wrong places, where will she end up next?”

And

“the boys will take advantage of a heart that’s incomplete, is she selfish in her ignorance”.

I played the catchy cruel ballad on repeat, mocking his falsetto and lyrics while I shoveled cookies into my mouth.
Where did he get off saying that my heart was incomplete and that boys take advantage of me?
My mind overflowed with snide remarks that I would no doubt harass him with the following day.
I can mark this moment as the demise of our friendship.
Tension swirled afterwards, until months later when I left the worship team and we never spoke again.
I heard that he married the girl Casi we talked about that night and they have a kid now.

If you’re reading this Ryan you’re still an ass, but an ass who was right.

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I always accepted the love I thought I deserved and though I didn’t realize it at the time, I didn’t feel like I deserved much.

I remember the girl I was and the lies I allowed myself to believe in order to make awful relationships work.
I’m sure if I was reading this post back then I wouldn’t make the connection between my relationships and these words.
But I hope you do.

Because there are so many men and woman that I know personally who are currently accepting the mediocre love they think they deserve.
And I’m here to tell you that you deserve more.
You deserve so much more.

Flowers don’t excuse countless empty promises.

“I’m sorry” and “I’ll treat you better this time” are not enough if their actions continue to contradict their words.

And despite what the world may try to make you believe, fighting all the time is NOT normal or healthy.
Now don’t misunderstand me.
In all relationships you will have arguments, whether it’s with your parents, friends, or spouse.
We are different people with different minds and thus are naturally bound to have conflicting views and ideas at times.
Additionally, some relationships do find themselves in a “rough patch” where the tension is built up and fighting is more frequent.
But these are far and few in between and should not be the norm.
If you find yourselves doing this every month or so that is not a rough patch it is a rough relationship.

And it’s one that you shouldn’t be in.

Think about God’s definition of love for a moment.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
-1 Corinthians 13:4-7

You could argue that God is proving with these words that you are doing the right thing by not giving up on love and sticking with your partner through all of the junk.
But can’t you unconditionally love someone who isn’t right for you as a life partner?
Absolutely.
Because love is a choice.
But does this relationship you’re in show all of these characteristics of love?
And more importantly, is it double sided?
Does your partner exude these traits or are you the glue holding things together?
Constantly forgiving, accepting, protecting.

I know the true answer from my past and that is no.

Stop selling yourselves short.
I know that moving forward into the unknown can often be scarier than staying in the awful pit you’re currently in.
But the light at the end of that tunnel is so worth the journey in the dark.

I wish I could barge into your homes What Not To Wear style.

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Put you in a 360 degrees mirrored room that forces you to take a good hard look at your life.
Clean out your life closet for you and give you all the tools to build the ultimate one.
But I can’t.

So instead I will just tell you that you deserve more.
And I hope you give yourself the chance to find it.

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