When Father’s Day Isn’t Happy

Sad Boy

Father’s Day is a day where people all over the world take a day to celebrate the fathers in their lives, wishing them all a “Happy Father’s Day” while social media is flooded with pictures and posts of all that fathers do for their kids and their families. It really is a happy day for so many people. But I’d be lying if I told you that I was super happy today. To be completely honest, I’m really a little bummed out today. Not because I didn’t have a great dad. It was actually the opposite. He wasn’t perfect (no dad ever really is), but he was there, and he was a good dad. My dad was always there for my brothers and me. He always wanted to be at every game, every event, every band concert, you name it. He was there. When I was younger, I didn’t really appreciate it too much—I was a little embarrassed if I was completely honest. But looking back, I appreciate it so much. Dad, if you’re reading this. Thanks for that.

But still, I’m a little bummed today. I’m bummed because I think about all the people in this world whose Father’s Day isn’t a happy day, and I know plenty personally. For many people, their fathers aren’t there or were never there. Maybe he just recently passed. Maybe he died early on. Maybe he left. Maybe the mom never knew who the dad was. Regardless of the reason, the fact remains that he’s not there. For people who fall into this category, feelings of grief, regret, confusion, and bitterness can come creeping in and can create a day that is anything but happy. It may be a weight on their chest that they carry throughout the day as they hear “Happy Father’s Day” at every turn. A weight that they may carry all year, but it becomes almost unbearably heavy on this day.

For some, their fathers may have been in the picture physically, but maybe they were absent emotionally or were abusive. This can sometimes be harder than having a father who wasn’t there at all. I would imagine that, for people that fall into this category, childhood was filled with a longing for their father’s love that was so close to being possible but never materialized. They may have seen their dad every day, but they never felt that he loved them. Instead of love, they may have felt fear. They may have felt insecure. For them, Father’s Day could bring up feelings of anger, sadness, or low self-worth—anything but Happy.

Then there are some guys out there that may have had great fathers, but have yet to find themselves in the position of being a father themselves, even if they’ve been trying. Father’s Day can be tough for men who haven’t been able to have kids of his own. Maybe he and his wife have walked through miscarriages in hopes of having their first baby. Maybe they found out that they wouldn’t be able to conceive at all. I think about them when I see “Dads eat free” signs at restaurants. I think about them at church when the pastor asks for all the fathers to stand. I think about them when I hear people wishing them a “Happy Father’s Day” and they have to constantly respond with, “Oh, I’m not a father” as a constant reminder throughout the day.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that we stop giving free meals to dads, or stop wishing dads Happy Father’s Day, or stop having them stand to be acknowledged and praised in church. I think dads deserve all the praise they’re given on this day. However, I think we need to be aware of the fact that this day isn’t always happy for some people. For some, it might be the hardest day of the year. With changed awareness comes changed perspective. And with changed perspective, oftentimes comes changed actions. If you have people in your life whose Father’s Day isn’t happy, reach out to them. Be with them. Acknowledge them. Their story matters too.

Why The Movember Foundation? My Story. 

So, why The Movember Foundation? For me, it’s really an issue of breaking some male stereotypes that are so deeply engrained in our society. Over the past year or so, I’ve begun to really see how serious and tragic male suicide rates are. When I see that men are 3.5x more likely than women to die by suicide, my heart breaks for their silent struggle. 

Throughout elementary, middle, high school, and even a little into college, I was that guy silently struggling. I was a straight-A student, captain of my track and cross country teams, a seemingly happy kid, and an all-around fairly likable guy. Because of this, I wasn’t on anybody’s radar as someone who was struggling. But I was. I was struggling to figure out who I was as a person. I struggled to understand who I was apart from my accomplishments. I struggled with my parents’ divorce. I struggled to figure out what my future would look like. I struggled with navigating through different challenges life threw at me. I struggled with suicidal thoughts. I cried a lot, but rarely in front of anyone. I can’t say this is the experience of every guy out there, but I know I’m not the only one. Thankfully, in college, I started to see the importance of being vulnerable and talking things out with other guys. It was only when I started doing this that I saw that I wasn’t alone. I started to see that my experiences were not unique to me. The words “me too” were the most comforting words I had ever heard. 

I do want to add that none of my personal struggles and lack of support was my parents’ fault. They grew up in the same society that I did. A society that taught that boys just need to toughen up, suck it up, power through pain, and not talk about their feelings or struggles. My parents did the best they could with what they knew and what they had, and for that I’m so incredibly grateful. They did a great job raising me, and I wouldn’t be the man I am today without them. 

I long for a society that understands the importance of talking things out, seeking help when necessary, and that doesn’t think something is “wrong” with someone when he seeks a professional counselor to improve his mental health. The idea that guys just need to “suck it up” permeates not only mental health arenas, but it bleeds into physical health too. Guys don’t seek medical attention when they feel something isn’t right in their bodies because they’re just going to “power through” it. As a result, men are dying of testicular and prostate cancer, two cancers with high survivability when detected early. Men are also dying of heart disease and a slew of other diseases at alarming rates simply because they don’t seek medical attention. 

Guys. Get help when you need it. Take preventative measures for your physical AND mental health. Stay active. Talk to people you trust about what you’re thinking, feeling, struggling with, etc. It’s one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself. This is why I’m choosing to support The Movember Foundation

Visit my my fundraising page to help raise money for this incredible foundation! 

Muscles, Sex, and Manhood

While I was driving today, a commercial came on the radio that made me stop and think. It was a commercial for a male supplement that was supposed to increase testosterone levels. It started by saying something to the effect of, “Men aren’t men anymore. We’ve gotten soft and timid. It’s time we get our manhood back!” Then it went on to talk about how taking these supplements will boost testosterone, enhancing performance in the gym and in the bedroom. It’ll aid in muscle growth and boost overall energy. It went on to say, “If the results are TOO intense, reduce your dosage.” I don’t remember what the actual supplement, or whatever they were selling, was called. And if I’m honest, I don’t even care. I wouldn’t even mention them if I did remember. Nobody needs this nonsense. 

At first, I thought it was hilarious because of how ridiculous it all was. But then, as I glanced over to the passenger seat at my 13-year-old little brother, taking it all in, I got a little sad. I got sad because I realized that some guys actually believe this crap. And I think our society at large believes this to a certain extent. They believe that the manhood is measured by how big our muscles are, how good we are in bed, how intense our workouts are, etc. 

So I turned down the radio and explained to my little brother that manhood is not about all of that. Manhood is about how you treat others. It’s about how you treat women. It’s about how you lead your life. It has nothing to do with how you look or how you perform (in bed, on the field, at the gym, etc). I’ve seen too many boys and too many men plagued with insecurities because they don’t fit the stereotype of what others expect men to be. They’re not the athletic type. They don’t spend their weekends watching football and drinking beer. They don’t spend their Friday nights looking for the next hookup, and they have no interest in partaking in this hookup culture that’s become so normal. They don’t spend hours at the gym to get “jacked” and don’t know how much they can bench or squat. They don’t fit society’s definition of a man, but it doesn’t make them any less of one. This isn’t to say that guys that do watch sports, drink beer, go to the gym, etc. aren’t “real” men. It’s just that those things aren’t what make them men. 

Treat others well. Respect and honor women. Sacrifice for the people you love. Fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. Stand up for justice. Lead your life well. Have goals. Short term and long term. Know when to ask for help. Be ready and willing to be that help for others. Be a man of your word. Believe in something bigger than yourself. Be humble. Be honest. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Keep your integrity. Work hard. Keep learning. 

I’m tired of the stereotype. I’m tired of men walking around thinking they’re less than because they don’t fit the stereotype. And I’m tired of men trying so hard to fit the stereotype that they lose themselves in the midst of their pursuit of it. 

I’ve quoted this many times but I’ll quote it again: 

Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly.” —St. Francis de Sales. 

What Happened When I Decided to Look Through My Facebook Pictures

Just went through my pictures on Facebook to see if there was anything embarrassing or blackmail worthy that I needed to delete. I found so many things. Embarrassing faces, embarrassing poses, just all around ridiculousness. While I was looking though all the pictures something else happened. Going through over 10 years of my life, digitally documented for all to see, I really started to see the journey I’ve been on and it reminded me of how far I’ve come. For starters, my photo taking/editing skills have improved astronomically. But on a more serious note, I have come so far as a human being. I’ve come so far as a man. I’ve come so far emotionally, spiritually, and personally. 

Looking through the different seasons of my life, and reliving them through pictures proved to be an experience in and of itself. Seeing the community I had at the University of Central Missouri and the experiences I gained through ROTC, I didn’t realize how important that season was. It was my first glimpse into what the possibilities could be when a community of believers comes together to support, encourage, and live and enjoy life together. Late night cooking at friends’ apartments when we should have definitely been studying. My chaotic time of getting out of ROTC and transferring to Southwestern Assemblies of God University to intern at the Oaks Fellowship via the Oaks School of Leadership. The community I built there and the friendships I developed are still some of the ones I cherish the most. My times in Mexico, Guatemala, Uganda, and all over this country. My summers at Camp Barnabas, where my love for the special needs community grew and my relationship with the Lord deepened. Venturing to live on my own for the first time in San Antonio. It all seems so recent, but when I think about where I was mentally, emotionally, spiritually, etc. it seems like an eternity ago. 

I didn’t realize how important it is to not only remember the good times I’ve been through, but it’s also incredibly important to remember the hard times. In remembering the hard times, I began to remember how strong I am and I began to remember how important the people that were in the middle of those seasons were and how important they continue to be. Those people shaped me. They changed me. They taught me that community is as necessary as the air we breathe. 

I know I’m not done growing, and I know I’m not done learning. That’s a process that will never end. I’m grateful for where I’ve been. I’m grateful for the people that have played a part in my journey. I’m grateful for the people that are still in my life that are a part of my journey. 

“And so it turn[s] out that only a life similar to the life of those around us, merging with it without a ripple, is genuine life, and that an unshared happiness is not happiness…and this [is] most vexing of all.” –Boris Pasternak, Dr. Zhivago 

“Happiness [is] only real when shared.” –Chris McCandless

Why I’m Proud to be a Snowflake

I think we’ve all heard the term “snowflake” by now. Most of the time, it’s meant as an insult, and people typically take offense to it. People who are deemed “snowflakes” are said to think they’re special. They’re said to take offense too easily and are too delicate, like a literal snowflake. Here’s the thing. Are we really offended too easily, or are we just bold enough to speak out on what’s been offensive for so long? Speaking out in solidarity with those who have been hurting silently for generations.
“Back in my day, we used to be able to dress up as ‘Indians’ for Halloween, and nobody was offended then!” Think again. There are videos of Native Americans speaking out about how offensive it is that a stereotype of their culture was and is a costume to you.

“Why can’t I use the word ‘retarded’? It’s just an expression.” Wrong. Mental retardation is an actual diagnosis. Well, it used to be anyway. Now it’s Intellectual Disability, but for years “Mental Retardation” was the actual diagnosis for someone with an IQ below 70 and deficits in two or more adaptive behaviors that affect their daily life, and many parents still use it. So to equate an unfortunate situation, or a dumb thing that someone did, with the word “retarded” is to equate someone’s child with that unfortunate event or with something dumb. It hurts. It has always hurt. People are just now speaking out about it.

Here’s a gem. “We’re too politically correct these days!” Want to know what the actual definition is of political correctness is? “The avoidance…of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.” So to say that you’re against “Political Correctness” is to say that you’re ok with forms of expression that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against. You’re ok with it.

These are just a few examples, but there are hundreds more that we’re “too offended” by. So, maybe us “snowflakes” are too easily offended. Or maybe we’re just more perceptive of what hurts others. Maybe we’re perceptive of what’s culturally insensitive and are actively choosing to not purposely hurt people. Why would we want to do that? Why would anybody? Regardless, snowflakes are here to stay. And one snowflake may not be powerful. But get enough of them together and you get a blizzard. Sometimes, with enough snowflakes, you get an avalanche. An avalanche that completely changes the landscape. Keep on keepin’ on, snowflakes. Let’s change some things.

What’s Your Favorite Season?


Each season—Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring—has its own characteristics. People prefer different seasons for different reasons. But really, it’s a matter of perspective, right? I mean, someone’s favorite (or least favorite) season is based on what he or she chooses to focus on. We can dislike any season if we choose to focus only on the negative aspects of that season. In the same way, we can learn to love any season if we focus on positive aspects of that season.

The middle of winter. You go outside. Your bones immediately chill. The cold is relentless. Its indifference angers you. Everything is the same color. Gray. Everything is dead. Animals are hiding. No noise, aside from the creaking and cracking of the trees. Ready to snap. Even the sun goes into hiding. Darkness comes too soon. Dark. Dead. Gray. Cold. Winter. You hate winter.


The middle of winter. You sit by the fireplace. Warm cider in hand. Blankets draped over your shoulders. Your soul is warm. The smell of cinnamon. Of pine. Of cloves. Of sugar. It’s intoxicating. Family surrounds you. Their laughs. Their company. Their familiarity. It brings you joy. It brings you comfort. Comfort. Joy. Food. Warmth. Winter. You love winter.


In life, we go through different seasons. Some are longer than others, but they’re seasons. We can choose to hate the season we’re in, or we can choose to embrace the positive in that season. Choose to see the good.

But what if there’s literally nothing good about the season in which you find yourself? It could be that you should have moved past that season but you’re still living as if you’re in it. Wearing your coat in the summer, to keep the metaphor going. Or it could be that you’re trying so hard to move to the next season that you’re not living in the present one. Wearing shorts and a tank top in the middle of winter, in desperate anticipation of summer. Be present.

“No one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins” (Mark 2:22, NIV).

As wine ages and ferments, it stretches the wineskin in which it’s contained. If you put new wine in old [already stretched] skin, you’ll burst the skin. Likewise, you can’t try to fit new circumstances [a new season] into old ways of thinking. Change your ways of thinking. Change your perspective. Sure, you can put old wine into new wineskin (thinking about past seasons with new perspective), but you can’t stay there. No growth happens there. Only new wine in new wineskin grows and stretches.

Recognize the season you’re in. Stop dwelling on the past, and stop living in the future. Living and dwelling too much in past seasons can lead to depression. Living and dwelling too much in the future can lead to anxiety. Be present. If you don’t like the season you’re in, change your perspective. Choose to embrace the good. Choose to see the good.

Lessons I’ve Learned About Sailing

“A ship in a harbor is safe, but that’s not what a ship is made for”

I’ve heard this phrase a few times over the years, but for some reason, when I heard it today in church, it resonated more than it had in the past. This statement, while simple, is something that I think a lot of people struggle with, myself included. It’s much easier to not risk being damaged, not risk failing, not risk falling short of expectations. It’s easier to keep it safe than it is to risk anything. But you’d have to wonder, what if? What if you took a chance? What if you risked the safety and security of the harbor to sail the ocean? Yes, it’s scarier and takes more effort, but it’s what you’re made to do.

For those of you that know me, you know that my life has been a wild ride so far. From giving up my 4-year ROTC scholarship to pursue what I felt God was calling me to at the time, to deciding to go on a 5-week trip to Uganda a couple months before the trip with no idea how I would raise $4,000 and get all the necessary shots with no health insurance; my life has not been short of “faith building” events. However, many opportunities have come up that I felt God has put in my path that I didn’t pursue. I was afraid. I was afraid, despite all that God has provided, and despite how faithful He’s been in my life. I was afraid that I would fail. I was afraid that it wouldn’t come out the way I thought it would. I was afraid of what others might say. The list goes on. I stayed in the harbor instead of sailing. And while I have been secure, and God has proven Himself faithful in other ways, I’ve been asking myself “what if?” a lot more than I’d care to.

The Bible is full of people who got a call from God to do something beyond their capabilities, but they said Yes anyway. People that come to mind off the top of my head are Joseph (Old Testament), Moses, Rahab, and Paul. All unlikely leaders, but they took a risk and trusted God. It wasn’t easy, and they all faced tons of difficulty, but God remained faithful. And not only that, but a lot of people were affected by their obedience. Our obedience—and our disobedience—affects more people than you would imagine.

Our lives have significance. They are meant for more than just working, making money, and dying. We have a role to play in the grand scheme of humanity. We have passions and desires that are not there by accident. What are we doing with them? How are we bettering the lives of those around us?

Yes, the harbor is safe, secure, predictable. But it’s not what we’re made for. The ocean can be a scary place. But one thing I’ve learned is that oftentimes the things worth pursuing are also the scariest.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain

Happy Sailing.

Cancer Doesn’t Have to Kill You

Cancer is something I think everyone has dealt with on one level or another. Either we know someone who has battled cancer and overcome, love someone whose life was cut short by cancer, or have even battled cancer ourselves. It’s something we know all too well.

The thing about cancer is it’s really sneaky. Granted, sometimes you can see it via an external tumor. Sometimes you can feel it, you can feel that lump. But more often than not, it’s beneath the surface. It’s hidden. And it’s not until you get an examination that it’s revealed to you. Only when you become aware of that cancer can you begin to seek restoration and healing. The thing is, if you’re not looking for it, you won’t find it. So many people are walking around with cancer and they don’t even know it.

Just because you don’t look for it—or ignore it— doesn’t mean it’s nonexistent.

Cancer is like sin.

The Bible says in Romans 3:23-24, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (ESV, italics added for emphasis). All of us have sinned. All of us have cancer. All of us are dead men. Sometimes we can see the results of that sin externally. Sometimes we can feel it, in our soul, in our spirit, that something is amiss. But more often than not, it’s beneath the surface. Hidden. But if we ignore it, or don’t acknowledge it, it doesn’t mean it’s nonexistent. It may start out small, but if we ignore it, it only grows. It grows until it takes over and eventually kills us, spiritually, or even physically.

But there’s good news. Jesus died for us, so that we didn’t have to. That’s grace. We received life when we didn’t deserve it. It was our cancer to deal with, and He dealt with it for us. In Romans 10:9, it says, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (ESV, italics added for emphasis). But here’s the thing. As with any gift, we have to accept it in order to enjoy it. We have to agree to be treated by the Doctor. If we don’t accept it, it’s not ours. Healing can’t happen without treatment. And treatment can’t happen without acceptance of that treatment. And even after we’ve healed, cancer has a way of sneaking back into our lives. However, with regular Doctor visits and examinations, we can catch it, acknowledge it, and deal with it at the onset. But again, if we ignore it, it’ll grow. It always grows.

My prayer for anyone who happens to read this is that you would acknowledge the cancer in your life. Acknowledge it and accept the free gift of life and grace that is found in Jesus. He loves you. He always has and He always will, and He wants nothing more than for you to be set free. Cancer doesn’t have to kill you.

When a Student Teaches Me a Lesson in Humility

Today was one of those days that “frustrating” doesn’t even begin to capture what it actually was. I have a student that was being extremely stubborn. She has made it a habit to do something that will potentially harm her. Since we have noticed this behavior, we have tried to redirect her, tell her why we don’t want her to do it, we give her consequences, etc. We have told her that we’re telling her this because we don’t want her to get hurt. Her response is to show us everything but gratitude and understanding. Instead, she either laughs at us and continues to do the behavior, or she just gets mad and starts to rebel. Leaving work today, my frustration level was as high as it’s ever been.

Then God spoke.

That’s you. You can be stubborn but I love you still. You rebel, but I love you still. You make light of my warnings and continue to disobey, but I love you still. I know what’s best for you, even if you don’t see it in the moment. I love you.

To say I was humbled is an understatement. I’m human and I frustrate so easily. However, I serve a God that loves me regardless of how I act. It doesn’t mean He approves of what I do, but He loves me unconditionally. There is literally nothing I could do to make Him love me more or less than He already does.

Because of this, I want to love Him through my actions and words even more.

Gosh, He’s so good at humbling me. It’s frustrating. Ha.

When God Lets Us Walk Away

walking away

A few days ago, I was reminded of a story from Uganda. A lesson I learned. A lesson I’ve had to learn often. Two years ago, summer of 2013, I and 9 other people were in the middle of Uganda. We were working with an organization called A Perfect Injustice. While we were there, we worked between Kampala, Uganda’s capital, and a village called Bombo for 5 weeks. In Kampala, we worked in the streets. In the slums. We fed kids, did devotions with them, taught them, and played with them. The boys in the slums were given the opportunity to move to the orphanage in Bombo when they were able to demonstrate an ability to abstain from drugs, violence, etc. for an extended period of time. They were counseled and before long, they were given a ride to the orphanage.

While we were in Kampala, we got word that one of our favorite kids from the streets, Abdul, would be going to Bombo. We were thrilled. We knew that he would no longer have to fear for his safety every night, as danger lurked around every corner. We knew he would no longer have to beg for food, beg for money. He would no longer have to hide. We could hardly wait to go back to the orphanage to welcome him and celebrate with him. A couple days later, we started the drive back to Bombo. While we were still about 20 minutes away or so, we saw a kid with a backpack walking toward us on the street. It was Abdul.

David, one of the missionaries we were working with, stopped to talk to him. He talked to Abdul for maybe 10 minutes and walked back in the van. We drove off, and Abdul continued his walk. We asked David what was going on, and he told us that Abdul was running away back to the streets in Kampala.

Why didn’t we just pick him up?
Why did David just let him keep walking?

Before anyone asked out loud what we were all thinking internally, David answered. He said that he didn’t pick up Abdul because the boys have to make the decision to stay at the orphanage. He’s brought kids back who have run away before, and they just keep running away. It has to be their choice. The kids have been homeless, living on the streets for so long, that they often don’t know how to handle security. They don’t know how to deal with safety. It’s unknown to them. The unknown is oftentimes scarier than what they know, even if what they know is terrible. At least they know what to expect. It isn’t until they choose to come back and choose to stay that they really start to make progress.

We were crushed. We knew that Abdul was making the wrong choice. If we could, we would just pick him up and bring him with us because we know better than he does. We know what he needs more than he does. And in that moment, in that moment of pain and hurt, I got a glimpse of God’s heart for His people.

God has brought so many people out of some terrible stuff. He has rescued us from our own demise. He offers us security. He offers us unconditional love that so many of us have sought to find in other things and other people. He has given us everything we need. Yet, so often, we run away from it. We go back to what we know. We leave the safety and security of all that He has given us, all that He offers, to go back to what we know, even if what we know is terrible for us. At least we know what to expect. And though He longs for us to return, He doesn’t force us to do so. He has given us free will to choose. It’s the most loving thing He could do for us. When we choose to love, that love is more authentic than if we were to be forced into it. Like the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32, He longs for the day that we choose to return. And whenever we do, He runs to us with open arms, ready and willing to accept us unconditionally.