On May 28th, 2014 at around 8:30am, my mom took her last breath. I put my hand on her chest and left it there until I could no longer feel … Continue reading The Last Picture
Several years ago while going through my divorce, and during my weekly brain purge with my shrink at the time, I was struggling with the possibility that I would never … Continue reading Everyday Daddy
My Dad died September 21, 2005. He was 66 years old; I was 27. His passing devestated my Mom, and ultimately led to our family becoming even more estranged. I never knew my Dad was the glue that held our family together; I never knew he was my hero. Today would have been his 75th birthday. I think of him often, possibly even daily. I miss him. I miss having a Father, especially now that I am a Father. So I reflect.
Growing up, my Dad wasn’t a big part of my life. We seldom played catch, or spent quality time together. He took me hunting a few times, and occasionally we’d go fishing. We didn’t watch sports together, and although he did attend many of my games, he never took a genuine interest in me, or the things I was interested in. You see, my Dad was an addict, and his addiction robbed him, and his family of many things, however, somehow, he managed to function in society, build a business, provide for a family, and most of all, he loved us. I vividly remember watching him so desperately try to get back all he’d lost in his dying hours. I swore I’d never let anything come between me and my family, but I did. I am the son of an addict who for the past 15 years have too battled with addictive tendencies and selfish behavior. I am my Father.
I remember feeling angry at him for many years, and even at times today because of the life he chose. He wasn’t there for the birth of my kids, he wasn’t there through my divorce. But I got over the anger, and now I just feel sad. Sad, he’ll never meet my wife Ashley, who would have been his trusted ally. Sad that our children will have to learn of him through pictures on the wall and memories we share of him. Even now, I weep.
I’ve made many mistakes since my Dad’s death. With the business, my family, and myself. However, in the past few years, I’ve grown in as many or more ways. For the first time in a long time, I feel happy…I feel fulfilled. I’m learning how to live life to the fullest, to speak my mind with love on my tongue, and be comfortable in my own skin. I’m beginning to see the good that came from the bad, and people let me tell you…there are good things to come. At my Dad’s funeral, I read a poem I wrote. It reads as follows…
I can only imagine… what life will be without him. Shoes too big to fill; an act too hard to follow; a life never to be outlived. A great man; a captor of the hearts of people. Filling every room he entered with an energy only described by experience. A mystery to many, a legend to all. As he epitomized the American dream, generosity never escaped him. Simplicity was his suit, hard work his trump. A leader’s leader, a deal-maker, a lover of life. Hard-nosed, but loving. Opinionated, but kind. Confident, but not arrogant. Proud but not boastful. A patriarch. Never will he be replaced, and life on earth for those who knew and loved him, will never be the same. However, pushing through our grieving, we must celebrate. Because in death, there is life, for all those who believe. He believed in the one who came that we may have life; that is Jesus Christ. He accepted the free gift that is available to all of us. But like you, I still wonder, what is he doing now?
I can only imagine.
Although some things have changed, all of the things I wrote about my Dad nearly nine years ago remain true. He was an incredible man. He touched the lives of so many through his huge personality and generous heart. Although he wasn’t the type of Father that coached my little league baseball team, I learned a lot about life, and although he and I were very different in some ways, we are similar in many more.
He was funny, generous, and very affectionate. He’d cut my fingernails in church, and take me for grape juice when I was suppose to be in trouble, and of course, he’d smoke on the way to and from. He taught me how to sell, and always said…”if you learn how to sell, you’ll never be out of a job.” He was right. He taught me how to make it on my own by telling me no, however, I always knew he would be there if I really needed him. I could go on and on about my Dad, and probably will for the rest of the day with family and friends. When you lose someone, all the things that drove you crazy are exactly the things you miss most.
So Dad, if you can here me. I love you. Dad, I miss you so much. I still pick up the phone to call you before realizing I can’t. I miss your laugh, your heart, and sitting on the porch with you. I miss picking you up for breakfast. I wish you could meet Ashley, Kyson, and Sariah. Oh and Dad…Ashley’s pregnant! Ashley told me not to tell anyone, but I can’t stop. I’m trying very hard to be the man I want to be; a loving Father and Husband, but I often fail. I took over the business you built, and did some cool things before having to sell the company. It was a very difficult decision, but I didn’t have much choice. I’ve tried to look after Mom, but she seems to be handling herself fairly well. I know how much you loved her, and she talks about you all the time. Dad, I’m not sure if Heaven is real, but I sure hope it is, so I can see you again. Life on earth isn’t the same without you. I love you Dad.
I don’t watch much television, but when I do, it’s not Duck Dynasty. Frankly, I’ve only seen parts of a few episodes, which didn’t keep my attention for long. That’s not to say that the show isn’t entertaining, because if it wasn’t, then millions of people wouldn’t be tuning into every episode. Whether you like the show, hate it, or have never seen it, chances are you’ve heard about it, or seen their merchandise at your local Wal-Mart. The Nation has officially gone Duck Crazy, and with Phil’s recent comments, there will be no one left from hearing the Duck Gospel.
What I find interesting is how so many evangelical Christians are inflamed by A&E’s decision to ban Phil from the show. Their majority position is that Phil was excercising his freedom of speech, based on his Biblical convinctions. However, what they aren’t acknowledging is the apparent bigotry and ignorance, particularly involving homosexuality. Phil went on by lumping homosexuals in with terrorists. Whether his heart was in the right place or not, his mouth and mind weren’t, and to compare homosexuality to terrorism is completely irresponsible to say the very least. Freedom of speech doesn’t give anyone the right to say whatever they like, regardless of the injury to others, and then blame it on their belief system. The family did release an official statement this morning, which did not include an apology for Phil’s comments. They did acknowledge them as “unfiltered” and then offered a scripture on loving thy neighbor, which I thought was odd, because it certainly didn’t sound like his comments were promoting love and acceptance.
Every member of the Robertson family are now household names because their show was pitched to A&E who bought it, produced it, and created a Duck Dynasty nation. However, they didn’t buy the show because of the Robertson’s Christian values. They bought the show, because the producers thought their viewers would find blue-collar, bearded millionaires, racing lawnmowers in the front yard entertaining. It’s only because of A&E that Phil and his family of duck hunters have a platform by which to speak openly about their faith, which ironcially could be the very reason the show sees an early grave. I’m indifferent either way, and who knows, perhaps this will extend the life of the show. “There’s no bad press.”
From what I’ve seen, read, and heard about the Robertson family, they seem like good people. Perhaps this will give them an opportunity to grow, learn, and gain a whole new demographic…LGBT. Wouldn’t that be crazy? Some real Jesus stuff.
How has Phil’s comments affected your attitude towards the show?
When I was four years old, I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior. This is of course what I was told anyway, because I certainly don’t remember it. I do remember however vaguely a time when I was about ten or twelve feeling compelled to recommit my life to Christ. It was very emotional, as was most experiences in my church growing up. Many people cried during worship, and then after the preacher was finished with his thrashing, everyone one go to the alter for 15-20 minutes to pray, and cry, and in some cases speak in tongues, or perhaps be slain in the spirit. If you’ve never attended a service in a Pentecostal or Assemblies of God church, this may all sound very foreign to you, but for me, growing up, it was very normal.
I was taught not to lie, cheat, steal, curse, drink, dance, lust, among many other things that were thought to displease God. So, I worked very hard to be a “good Christian,” by following these teachings, and many others that I understood at the time to be “the Truth” and what would lead to an eternity in paradise with our God and Savior.
Over the past ten years, I have experienced a great deal of spiritual evolution. In other words, most of what I believed to be true as a child and young adult, I no longer believe to be true. Specifically, and most disrupting to most, especially those close to me, or who have strong Christian convictions; I don’t believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven, which disallows me to profess Christianity as my religion of choice. Before you judge, please understand that for me to say that has required a death of my own faith, years of soul searching, traveling the World, hundreds of hours of study, research, discussion, and prayer. In other words, it’s a much bigger deal for me to say that and mean it, than to be concerned about the consequences of doing so. In other Words, don’t email me, call me, or pray for me in hope that I will return to the Faith. I’m happy, whole, and convicted in my own belief system. Keep reading, and you may be surprised that we’re not as different as you think.
Very simply, I believe that if what the Bible says is true; that no man will enter Heaven that has not accepted Christ, the rest of it questionable. The acceptance of Christ as God in the flesh, and Savior of the World is the most important and most fundamental part of the religion, which is what so many overlook, and so few truly understand.
If you ask most Christians the question; “Do you believe that if someone doesn’t accept Christ, they will go to hell?,” their answer will be “no,” or “probably not,” or “I’m not sure.” The reality is that the Bible is very clear; death and eternal damnation. This is where I draw the line, as it would mean that every friend I have that is a Muslim, Hindu, Jew, Mormon (yes I said Mormon,) or of any other religious flavor is going to hell, which I think is ridiculous.
Although I would very much enjoy providing life experience, logic, historical evidence, and opinion to support my position, I will just say that I very much agree with Mark Twain when he said; “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
I’m not arguing Jesus’ existence, or the fact that he was and is to this very day, the most influential person who has ever walked this Earth. Jesus was in fact, a Badass by anyone’s account, including religious leaders and scholars of many other faiths and religions.
I aspire to be like Jesus, and can’t imagine why anyone in the World wouldn’t want to do the same. He was kind, compassionate, selfless, generous, and exemplified true Love and Acceptance. I’m grateful for many of the things I learned as a result of growing up in Church, and I’m equally grateful for God giving me a mind and a will of my own, that has allowed me to remain curious, and develop my own set of beliefs, that stem from experience and personal conviction.
All religions; there are thousands, require Faith, not just Christianity. My challenge to those of you, who call yourselves Christians, is to open your eyes and your hearts to those around you who believe differently than you. You don’t have to agree with us, but the World would certainly be a better place if we all could learn to accept others as they are. Standing up for what you believe, doesn’t mean forcing those around you to lie down. Jesus invented Christianity, disrupted the World’s religious community, told everyone he was God, and never raised his voice, or his hand. He hung out with tax collectors, lepers, and whores, only to be later hung on a cross. I’m not making this up, it’s in your Bible. Let your life be your witness, not your tongue.
Leading up the the 14 hour mediation my ex and I endured prior to our divorce being settled, I thought we had at least an agreement in principle. That was of course until I stepped into the conference room and began what ended up being one of the most difficult days of my life. It may have been less emotional had kids and money not been a big part of what drove every decision, but nevertheless it was a hard long day, and the biggest takeaway for me was that I never knew who I was married to until I divorced her. Money + kids + hurt = MPD.
You’ve heard the story before. I gave her virtually every free and clear asset I had; I kept all the debt, and she kept the kids. Literally. Because of some laws that need to change, and my own ignorance, she managed to keep the kids in her hometown, which is two hours from Houston, and coerced me into a ridiculous step-up program with my daughter which required me to spend a few hours at a time before I was able to get her overnight, and then later for the weekends, etc. It was as if I were a criminal. I certainly didn’t have to agree to any of that bullshit, but I did, because I was wrought with guilt, and emotional pain. Anyway, all of that’s over with now, but when I think about it, all that anger comes back. On to the point.
During the mediation, I unknowingly agreed to alternate Spring Breaks, although by law, I wasn’t required to do so. I caught the mistake the next day, called my ex, but she wasn’t budging. Over the next few years, my ex and I had many conversations about her “allowing” me to spend more time with the kids. I would propose every imaginable option, few to which she was agreeable to, and never to anything that included any multi-day or week long options, even when neither of the kids had school or any other restrictive reasons to keep them from spending a great deal more time with their Dad. If you are a parent, I’m sure you can imagine how difficult this has been, and for all those Fathers out there, and on some occasion Mother’s, who have restricted access to their children, I know you get it.
A few months ago, I took my ex back to court and managed to get the judge to grant my wife and I every spring break with the kids; a huge win for us and our kids. We were not successful in getting relief on spousal support, which ends in December, but frankly, I didn’t care one way or the other, and I felt we had a better chance with the judge if we had two things for him to decide on, kids and money. Her attorney put on some real theatrics too. He actually showed me drinking a beer as part of his “evidence.” What an idiot. The good news is, our judge is a fair, just, reasonable man, and he made the right decision. She keeps getting paid, and we get the kids; kind of.
My ex and I don’t get along very well, but things have progressed some, and I think over time, our relationship will continue to improve. It’s hard to forgive someone who’s kidnapped your kids, and then tells herself and everyone else that she did what was best for the kids. Good news is our kids are smart, and they’ll figure all that out when the time is right. In the meantime, I’m going to fight for every minute I can get with them.
I have always tried to write in a way that has an optimistic outlook on circumstance and life, but nearly all of my hurt and anger that lies just beneath the surface of my skin involves how I feel for my children. I’m thankful for the time I do have with our kids, but it’s never enough. I miss them before they leave, I miss them when their gone, and sometimes I miss them when they are here.
As fate would have it, five days before I leave for Tanzania, I get extremely ill. Sparing you the details of my illness, the take away is quite profound, and it’s the humility that sickness brings, coupled with a story of tragedy, slavery, and freedom; and the cause behind the mission of 12 to climb over 19,000 feet so that people hear that story, that compells me to write.
Sold into Slavery
Ursella was 11 years old when she was sold by her birth family to pay a debt. For five years, she endured a life full of mental and phyisical abuse, until she escaped, to avoid being killed the very same night. Fortunately, she found shelter in the home of a family from the UK. Ten years later, Ursella’s former village of Vea, Ghana, was struck by a severe famine. Filled with compassion, she organized a food drive, and led the three trucks of food and supplies and personally delivered the first bag of rice to the very same family that had abused her as a child. The act of kindness quickly traveled through the village, and reached the chief, who called for Ursella, making her the first woman ever to be allowed to meet at the sacred stone. The same day, 12 all-but-abandoned children, were allowed to leave the village; Micah’s son Eli, was one of the 12 children. Today, Ursella and her husband live near Vea, and help children whose parents die, are labeled “demon children,” or who are sold into slavery to pay a debt. Everyone in Vea knows her story, she has helped hundreds of children, and she has proven that love is stronger than hate.
My illness reminded me of how precious our health is, and how limited our time is. Everyday, countless children lay ill, mainly from hunger related diseases. Many will die. Tonight, my six-year old son asked me for a cold bottled water instead of warm one, which allowed me to share once again why I’m traveling to a far away land to climb a mountain in the middle of a jungle so that children like him can have clean drinking water. I also reminded him that there is no running water, no doctors, and very little food. It’s incredible how compassionate a six year old boy becomes the instant he realizes people need help. Kyson knows Eli as well, which makes everything real, tangible, believable. For those that don’t know Eli, I’ve included one of my favorite pictures of him. He’s an incredible young man, with an incredible story, that has just begun; all because one woman chose love over hate, and a Father who had the heart to listen to God’s direction on his life.
I get asked for money all the time, so I am very sensitive when asking others for the same, however, we are raising $100k for medical supplies, water filters for every home, a school, and an economic community center. If you feel compelled to give, please do so by visiting ChangeGhana.org. Regardless if you decide to give, you can help make a difference by following us on Facebook, and sharing our page. Every dollar, like, share, tweet, mention, voice, hand, thought, prayer…counts.
Two and a half years ago, my divorce was final. After more than 12 hours of mediation, we had a settlement. Very simply, she got everything we had that wasn’t levered, the kids, and I got all the debt, and a 2 hour drive one way anytime I wanted to see my kids. At the time, I thought I was doing the right thing, by buying her a house, not insisting on her and the kids coming back to Houston, etc. I was the one who had been unfaithful, so I “deserved” to be left with nothing but debt, and limited access to my kids, right? Since my divorce, I avoided bankruptcy, met an incredible woman, remarried, found peace, and in the process, discovered that I’m an incredible man, father, and friend. Most recently though, I decided to start fighting for my children.
Today, we are in court again. This makes the second time since we were divorced, and of course, over money and kids. It’s sad that two parents can’t compromise in order to avoid court intervention, but when two people truly believe that they are acting in the best interest of the child, it makes things quite difficult. I keep telling myself that to make it easier to process. It sucks.
Often, I want to sit down at my computer and write a blog that makes me look like a hero and my ex the villian, but honestly it would be a lie. I hurt her, she hurt me, we couldn’t reconcile, we got divorced, and now we have two incredible kids in the middle of what has always been a challenged relationship. Both of us are trying like hell to bring up our kids in a way that mitigates the deficiencies of our past and previous experiences. I constantly remind myself that the kids are alright.
So many times, children are the only victims of divorce, and with tears in my eyes and a heavy heart, I say to you, all who will listen, my kids will not become victims. We will surround them with lots of love, respect, and SHOW them how to forgive, demonstrate grace, even when it is not reciprocated. Yes, I get angry, and frustrated, but when I see their sweet faces, full of innocence and curiousity, I want to be the man they need me to be.
For those of you from broken homes, I want to challenge you with a thought. The only difference between broken homes and blended homes is love, and remember, the kids are alright.
Half the Woman
Three daughters later,
A son was born.
But just as planned.
She taught him to work,
Fear God and forgive,
Played catch, and held his hand.
Showed him how to love,
How to give,
To stand up for what is right,
To never give in.
As the boy became a man,
I just hope,
I become, half the woman,
She’s always been.
I have always loved you,
And always will.
Last week, I traveled to Phoenix with my EO forum to attend the Bondurant school of high performance driving. It was an incredible experience, and I highly recommend the school to anyone interested in improving their driving skills. We also got a chance to meet the founder, and former Gran Prix driver, Bob Bondurant, which was a huge bonus.
Although the driving school was most likely a once in a lifetime experience for me personally, it wasn’t what I’ll remember most about the trip. I left Phoenix with a much more valuable nugget. I learned that my personality, coupled with my insecurities and past experiences can make for a frustrating experience for strangers and friends alike. This “quality” is a defense mechanism that I’ll explain later, and is one I share with the late Marylin Monroe.
If you Google Dan Henderson, you’ll most likely discover the UFC champion Dan Henderson, or Hendo. However, if you Google Daniel Henderson, you might find me; a self-proclaimed blogger, entrepreneur, and truth seeker. No, I don’t have my own Wikipedia page, but I have staked claim to my own little spot in cyberspace, where I can make up ridiculous tag lines, challenge people to think, and share my most recent experiences and discoveries.
Contrary to what some might say and/or believe about me, and like Marilyn Monroe, I’m an introvert. I enjoy close friendships, recharge with time alone, and fittingly use sharp, self-deprecating humor as my primary defense mechanism. It’s often raw and disruptive, and secretly in an attempt to cause a person to judge, and when they do, I’ve got them. It’s gross when you think about it in that context, so I prefer to think about it as a way to guard my heart, however, thanks to a few friends, I’m now exposing it for what it is in an attempt to grow.
So to those that don’t know me and would like to, think you know me but don’t, or coudn’t care less to know me, but somehow stumbled upon this blog post because you’re a Marilyn Monroe fan, don’t bother Google with the query. There is little you will find, save this blog, that allows for a look inside my soul where hurt and hope share a room, and truth remains the hidden treasure.
I accept you.