I woke up this morning and for some reason this thought went through my head,
'my goodness is it really 2016?'
I had to think for a second if this was 2015 or 2016? I even wondered if I really missed a year that fast, or is my mind playing tricks on me.
so yea, its 2016. In case you forgot.
Where did the last 4 years go?
I cannot believe it has been 4 years.
For those of you that don't know, in the last 4 years my father was tragically killed, my wife and I lost two kids and our house was struck my lightening and burned to the ground.
This has definitely been a tough last 4 years.
But, with all that we have faced, I want this post to be a message of hope for any of you that are going through a serious struggle right now.
Here is my message: I know, I understand. Endure.
Just 3 weeks ago, a neighbors house was struck by lightening and burned to the ground. We reached out to this incredible family and ended up getting the chance to sit with them just a couple days after their house burned down. After a great conversation talking about how this process works, how their children will adapt and flat out, will it be okay, they expressed to us the emotion they experienced when we reached out to them and they found out we had been through this same process.
There is just something to be said about relating to someone that has been through your struggle.
There is a sense of secret community, one that only you guys understand.
We have lost my father to a tragedy, we have lost children and we have lost everything that we owned. Im not saying I can relate to your exact situation, but I will say this, I understand loss, I understand stress, I understand pain and I definitely understand that 'no one understands'.
I am a solution oriented person, sometimes to a fault. As much as that can eliminate emotion, it also can give great perspective when others emotions are overwhelming their good judgment.
and lets be honest, sometimes things happen in your life where you have to push past the emotion and get focused on fixing the problem.
So with enduring through these struggles in life, I have had the privilege of learning a lot about myself, the human spirit, endurance and recovery.
First, you're going to be okay.
Let me clarify. If you don't face your problem head on, if you put it on the back burner and allow things to snow ball into worse situations, then I wouldn't tell you, you're going to be okay. So this comes with an asterisk. In order for you to be okay, you have to face your problem head on. Its hard, sometimes humbling, but necessary for your process.
If you don't have the answer, ask someone. If you think you know the right road to take, ask someone. I have done a lot of asking over the last few years. Questions, that looking back, are the reason why we made it through.
Second, you don't have to talk about it.
Many times I just wasn't in the frame of mind to talk about it. To this day, I still have days I don't want to talk about it...its just tiring.
But, you do have to listen. This is two fold. First, if you are the one going through the struggle, listen for people that care. People want to know, you just have to listen for the right time to share. I had many times I didn't want to talk about this stuff, but people would ask. I had to be careful not to respond hateful or rudely, although I didn't want to talk about it right then, I want them to ask again, cause I may be ready next time. And if you're supporting someone going through a tough time, keep asking. I remember the few times I just broke down. It always came from someone asking. The timing was just right. I was asked 15-20 times to share or explain details of what was going on, but that one time was the right time and it gave me a chance to vent a little and it really felt good to have someone there to listen.
Third, add something positive.
This was big for me. I facilitate a mens bible study. It was important for me to continue to lead this group. It was tough. We meet early on Wednesday mornings, before the guys have to go to work. So there were many mornings, I didn't want to wake up, sacrifice and make it happen. But, I needed a place to be fed by positive men, with a positive message.
So do you. Find something. Small group, friends, family, church, community resource, books, audios, conference, something.
Although its tough to motivate yourself to sometimes go and maybe you wont feel immediate relief, you will thank yourself in a year.
Forth, find a mentor.
You may need help getting through this. Having someone to talk through this with is important. Don't take this the wrong way, but a mentor is not a gossip group/partner. A mentor is someone who can look a things with an objective mind and give your good advise, not just what you want to hear. Depending on the issue, you may really need someone to review documents for you too...so make sure this is someone you can trust.
You will have moments, days even weeks where you will feel as if you can't, won't and don't even want to deal with it.
I use to go to bed and think, what the heck am I going to do tomorrow? Not because I didn't have an entire list of things to take care of, but honestly feeling as if I didn't know what to do next or what was the right step. I found myself nervous, anxious and often times lost. But...you wake up a figure it out. You just figure it out.
I don't know what possesses a person to have drive. I really believe it boils down to your WHY being bigger than your WHAT.
I knew what had happened. I knew where I didn't want to be. I definitely knew what I wanted out of. But, I had to know why to get through it. Where was the fight going to come from. I remembered words of my dad daily, 'its not about the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.'
Endure. Persist. You will figure it out. I am here to tell you. My father was killed. My wife and I experienced a difficult pain losing two kids and shortly there after our home was struck by lightening and burned to the ground. All while still raising two children, both old enough to know what was happening. You can imagine the struggle of keeping our emotions, phone conversations and discussion quite so our kids didn't also carry our burden.
You can do this. Trust me.
Lastly, protect your spirit.
Get right with God. Probably the most important advice I can give you. He does love you. He is not a hateful God, this is not a curse on your family, you did not 'deserve' this, you did not ask for it. Know we live in a world were the battle for your spirit is a daily battle that does not rest. In order to get through this, you first must learn to protect your spirit from the first and toughest battle, the one for your spirit.
Again, read, ask questions, find a mentor, join a study, plan, and do.
I am living proof that God loves you. What the Lord has to done for our family, I would have never been able to prepare myself for before, during or shortly after our struggles. But today, looking back. He has been there the whole time, cheering me on, coaching me and encouraging me to do the right thing. He is there for you. Don't believe me? Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. I did. It changed my life.
I am excited to tell you that it has been nearly a year since our house was struck. A few month before that crazy day, my wife and I decided to try for another child, one...more...time. We were three months pregnant when we lost our house. If you can only imagine how nervous we were considering our situation and to have our house burn down, wow...it was a lot.
Today, we celebrate the news of your new baby girl who is 6 months old already. Our healthy, happy, sweet hearted athlete 9 year old son and an artistic, loving, cuddling, huggy, 6 year old little girl.
We just completed the construction of our custom built dream home and are currently enjoying the process of buying our 'new' stuff to go inside it (yea, all our stuff burned up).
Life is cool. Although there is still struggle, the fog has cleared. There is beautiful sun over the horizon I can actual see. The valley was steep, the climb was hard, but the sun is bright and we are excited about the future.
I pray if you're reading this as someone in a struggle, endure. Do what is right. You will make it and God will take care of you.
If you are reading this as a friend of someone. Be careful with their emotions, but don't let up on asking for their story. Be patient, persistent, cautious and relentless all at the same time. Find that middle ground and just be ready to listen.
Jaclyn and I are so grateful for our friends. You guys helped us make it through this season of life and in so many ways experienced this with us, walked with us and hurt with us...for that we say, thank you and we love you.
To our parents who obviously care so much for us and where there for things we sometimes just needed help. A babysitter, a place to stay, a phone call to vent, a objective eye to review docs, a clear mind to tell us it will be okay...and sometimes, just a perfect silence.
To our USANA family, associates and specifically the home office, thank you for your love you showed my family and specifically Lori Truman. You did amazing things for us, when no one else saw it or knew about it. You just are an amazing friend, so grateful for you.
To our community of Cibolo, our kids school, teachers and many other friends and family that were there for us. Donated clothes for out kids and gave us basic necessities to get by, we are so grateful.
To our old neighbors, we are sorry for the mess and so grateful for your help that day.
Lastly, to my wife and kids. I love you. There are no words to explain how your willingness to follow my lead has empowered me to make sure I do a good job. I hope and pray this time was as easy on you as it possibly could have been.
and to my kiddos. Daddy loves you. One day I hope you realize the strength you mother has and the love we both have for you. You are amazing kids and although I am saddened that you have had to experience these struggles so early in life, I am now grateful for the awareness and perspective you have forever gained.