Childhood Memories – Rafting the Green River

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We spent many summer vacations traveling by camper around the west coast with our family, aunts, uncles and cousins.  These wonderful opportunities to be with our cousins have provided many of the great and amazing memories of my childhood.  My cousins and us were very close friends growing up, that closeness can still be felt today at those rare moments when we are all together.

One such memorable trip was to Flaming Gorge and river rafting the Green River.  River rafting can be such an exhilarating experience, especially for young children.  We would launch the raft below the Flaming Gorge Dam and ride the current, with its many rapids for seven miles, all the way to the first stop at little hole.  We would unload the raft, load it on top of the truck and do it again.

Oh wow us kids had fun!  We would fish along the banks of river as we anxiously awaited for our turns to ride.  These were wonderful times we spent together in nature and great opportunities to build friendships.

My dad was a avid fisherman so we would also fish along the river as we gently floated along.  My dad fished this river often and knew all the best fishing holes to stop in along the way.  We would pull off to the shore and eat our sandwiches and have ice cold soda.  Afterwards we would all head to the campsite where we would eat dinner in front of a roaring fire, roast hot dogs and marshmallows. 

One trip down the river was uniquely memorable and extremely different for us than all the others.  I remember I had to have been about ten years old.  We floated gently along river in one of my dad’s fishing holes, when a couple of the fishing lines became tangled together.  I can still vividly see my father as he sat on the back edge of the raft working to untangle the lines.  He was wearing his faded blue fishing hat, his tan fishing vest and his legs crossed in front of him at the ankles as he worked to untangle the mess we boys had made with our fishing poles.

My dad, being the expert fisherman he was, quickly untangled the lines, replace the hooks and bait on the first pole and handed it back to us.  He then went to work on the next pole, replacing the hook and the bait.  While we floated gently along the river, the raft suddenly dropped a couple feet as we went over the first of many rapids ahead of us.   My dad had his head down of course while working on the fishing pole and was unaware that we had gotten to the next set of rapids, as minor as they were.

As the raft dropped out from below we watched in panic as my father fell over backwards out of the raft.  Everything moved in slow motion as I watched my dad first reach for his precious fishing hat and then the fishing pole.  He gathered himself and prepared to ride the rapids with his hat in one hand and the fishing pole in the other.  There was no sign of panic in his face whatsoever.

I turned to watch the rapids and in wonderment watched my cousin Deb, who must have been about sixteen at the time as she paddled her little heart away attempting to reach my dad.  The amazing thing is that as fast as my cousin Deb was paddling you would have thought that she would have defied the current of the river and moved us upstream faster than any propeller could have.  Sadly, Deb forgot one little thing as she paddled her little heart out…… she forgot that the oar had to go into the water in order to be of any benefit. 

My dad could see her paddling and missing the water.  He laughed as he caught up to the raft and held on.  Safely we made it through the small rapids and over to the shore where my dad made certain we were all safe and then climbed back in to complete our journey.

This image of my dear cousin as she frantically tried to reach her Uncle Dave and save him while missing the water all together has stayed with us over the decades.  It’s a memory I treasure, not only for the humor, but for the amazing times with my mom and dad, my aunts and uncles, and my cousins and the love for the outdoors I developed as a result of these amazing trips.

There are No Rules in Domestic Violence – My Story

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 I was asked to speak today to some of our state senators and representatives.   Here are my remarks:

I am a survivor and former victim of Domestic Violence.

I have been mentally, emotionally, verbally, physically and financially abused by my ex wife.  I have been bitten, hit, kicked, cut, and bruised.

There is a lie in our society that men cannot be victims of abuse and that if a woman abuses a man the man is somehow weak, or they did something to provoke her and deserve it.

There are no rules in domestic violence.  It is not conditional based upon gender or age.   It is not specific to your level of education, race, income, religion or social status.  It is a plague that is destroying families and our children and we must act to put an end to this scourge.  Abusers will blame the abused for making them into the abusers they are.  This is part of the manipulation process abusers use.  Sadly, many of us fall victim to this lie and believe it.

If we falsely believe that domestic violence will go away by ignoring it, or if we fall victim to the many lies about this plague we are abandoning our children and grandchildren to continue perpetually down this evil path in our society.

Domestic Violence impacts every one of us in this room.  Whether or not it is public knowledge or anyone outside the victims immediate family knows about it, such as in my case, we all know someone who lives this hell.  It could be your daughter, your son, father, mother, grandchild, or neighbor.  It could be a leader in your church or a teacher at school or your coworker and friend.  Most victims are silent, looking for help and not knowing where to turn.

In Utah we are surrounded by many who by outward appearances have great and amazing families.  From an outward perspective, I had it all, a great family, a great wife, a great job, a beautiful home and great kids.  No one ever suspected the hell I and my children were living as a result of her abuse.

Many have asked me afterwards why if things were so bad would I stay in the relationship for so long.  First and foremost I will tell you that I love my children and am a deeply devoted father.  I worried for their safety and well being if I left.

Remember I had been told by the many police officers and those in the legal profession that I turned to for help, that a man cannot be a victim of domestic violence and if it is happening then he provoked her to it.  Utah has a terrible history in family law, one that quite frankly we should all hang our heads in shame over and that is the blind obedience of the judges to mothers and custody.  This was the single largest issue that kept me in this abusive relationship.  I didn’t want my children to suffer without my protection for them.

In the end, like most abusers, she left when she found someone new.  My relief at this being over was minimized as the courts gave custody to her.  My biggest fear in leaving came true.

My other primary reason for staying is abuse doesn’t always start off being physical.  Abusers manipulate and make the abused feel worthless and that they don’t deserve anything better and that they deserve what they are getting.  This lie held me hostage for years.

It was upon finally being freed from this abuse that I began to know about the resources in the community like the Domestic Violence shelters and what they do.

I have spent countless hours volunteering to help with anything the local shelter was in need of, from painting, to moving furniture, to fixing toilet seats and washing machines.  I have spent the time to know and understand what they do and why they do it.    While a handful of the shelters will take in men, and shelter them from abusers, there are many that do not primarily due to funding issues.  I don’t believe I would have sought shelter as financially I was in the position to leave if I needed.

What I wish with all of my heart and that would have saved me and saved my children from witnessing the abuse is the knowledge available through the community outreach efforts of the shelters.  The education and resources they provide that would have given me direction and support were not known to me.  I was unaware that anyone could help my children and I during this nightmare we were living.

The South Valley Sanctuary currently operates a community outreach center in West Jordan to assist those in need of resources and support prior to the need to seek shelter.  We need more of this in our communities.  We need to ensure that our children are protected and that the resources are given to those making a difference on the front line of this plague everyday!

The domestic violence shelters need your support to continue to operate and not only provide the shelter from the violence, but the ongoing community outreach, training and resources to those in need prior to the need to flee. It is far less expensive to make certain that resources are available to those in need than it is to prosecute and house the perpetrator and bury the victims when the violence turns deadly.

We cannot end the violence if we are merely reactionary.  We must provide the resources in addition to just shelter that many in this community are in dire need.

As you review the funding this year, I hope that my story resonates with you and opens your eyes to the need for additional resources that will help these shelters continue to provide safety as well as resources to your daughters and sons experiencing violence at home to get the help that they need, before your need to plan their funeral.

There is No Tomorrow – A Fathers Heartache Part 12

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Oh how I have missed having my children with me.  These past couple of weeks without being able to see them due to the Thanksgiving holiday was difficult for us.  It is frustrating to think anyone would keep their child away from a parent, yet that is the unfortunate reality that my children and I face.  It was 14 days since my last 4 hour visit, and I only had 4 hours to spend with them last night, 4 hours to last us another week.

These nights are about what the kids want to do.  Interestingly enough they all wanted to go spend some time in our home.  My wife was working late, so it was the 4 of us at home.  Alexa and Londyn wanted to play together as they missed each other so much.  The girls quickly took off to the bedrooms to laugh and giggle, followed much later my a game of hide and seek with all of them.  My son Bridger wanted to shoot on his nerf hoop in his room, so we shot around for a little while, while our baby Bella chased everyone in the house in her walker.

The house was full of noise and laughter.  A far cry from the normal silence we face when the oldest 3 are away with the other parent.  I hunger for those moments of sweet music as the children laugh and play together.  My home is meant to have the sound of little feet as they pitter patter across the hardwood, the giggles and the joy that comes from them when they are together.    I treasure these moments in time as they are fleeting for us.  Our children are growing so fast and these few opportunities go by so fast as I try to hold onto them and stay in the moment.

As our night was coming to an end last night, Bridger asked me about this blog.  I suggested he write a story and draw a picture for it that we could post.   He loves to write and draw, yet thinks he isn’t very good at it.  As the eternal optimist and wanting to encourage him to chase his dreams, i posted his story last night to show him that people would read it and like it.   Thank you for proving me right.

https://jisbell22.wordpress.com/2013/12/05/tim-and-his-monster-by-my-11-year-old-son-bridger

I was once told by someone dear to me, whom is married to his first wife and has raised their kids in a traditional family that I spend more one on one time with my kids than they do.  This saddened me to think that could even be possible.  I yearn for time with my children and live for these moments when I get to see them.  I have spent my life wanting to be a great father and do the best I can with very limited opportunity.  I truly live for these moments.

Over the years as I have pondered these comments, I wonder if the reason that was said was due to the fact that I give my children the attention they need when I have them with me.  We pray, we play, we cry, we laugh and we love one another and spending time together,  Maybe its because we don’t get the time we would otherwise have that we spend every possible minute together.  Maybe others take for granted that time that we do not as a result of our limited time together.  Maye our time together becomes more important because we don’t have tomorrow to ride bikes, play and laugh.  We can’t procrastinate the time we spend together as a family whereas others might put things off because they can where we can’t.  Maybe by putting things off, they never get to it?  I have never fully understood his words, nor how it is even possible.  I can only guess.   I have learned over the years to always find joy in the journey.

Magical Meals – A Fathers Heartache part 11

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The unlikely moments of school lunch are often the anchor to my children that keep us connected.  As many who have read this series knows that except in the most extreme circumstances, my ex does not allow my children to call me.  I am relegated to my one 4 hour visit per week and every other weekend, with exception to the scattered holidays we get together.  My time with my children becomes limited and often times painful for us as we are apart.  School lunch allows me the moments with my children to make up some of our lost time.  I travel 25 minutes from my office to their school as often as possible to spend 10 minutes with each of them sitting at the lunch table with them and all of their friends.  These moments are what I refer to as the magical lunch moments in our life.  Simple and short opportunities for my children and I to laugh and talk about school and what is happening.  Our time together seems to go quickly, yet these brief moments in time help secure our bond together. I live for the smiles I get from their shining faces when they see me standing in the doorway to the cafeteria waiting for them. They never know for certain what days I can break away from the office to have this time with them so it is always a surprise.

Over these long lonely years of missing my children, I have needed to search for the magical moments when I can make a difference for them in their lives, when I can show them how much I love and adore them.  Our school lunches together has been one of these magical moments I search for.  I learn so much about them as I sit and laugh with their friends at the table as we eat, they open up and tell me everything that is happening, they feel secure and safe, just like home.  I discover the games they play on the playground with their friends and how they treat others as well as how the kids at school treat my children.  I learn about the homework, the books they are reading and any issues with school and their sports.   I treasure these moments with them and the opportunity to connect.

Our mealtimes have become some of the most amazing opportunities to connect with one another as we sit around tables talking with one another.  My wife and I have found that our children thrive at the dinner table together. We talk honestly and openly about the things that are happening in our lives and it is an opportunity for our children, where they feel safe and secure in our home, to relax and truly open up to us.  The other day while sitting at dinner together, my dear wife asked Bridger and Londyn what they liked most about coming to our home, with no hesitation whatsoever Bridger responds, “this is family.”  WOW!  The emotions I felt as I tightened my grip on my wife’s hand under the table were overwhelming.  Finally!  I received the confirmation that what we have been doing has been the right thing and we were making the impact we have been striving so hard for all these years!

These opportunities to connect with my children have provided anchors to my soul to help me through some of the dark times when they are away.  This connection is what gets us through times like we enter now, as over the next month we will only have two 4 hours visits, 8 hours in 30 days of time together as a result of the holiday and weekend schedule and the conflict created with the holiday happening on my regularly scheduled weekend.  It is times like this when our school lunches become ever more magical, precious and all important.   The times that will anchor our souls as one.

TENDER MERCIES – A Fathers Heartache part 10

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I have never seen my children on the first day of school.  I don’t know what that is like to see the excitement of the first day of school, their new teachers, classroom and friends.  Most often I am unable to find out how the first day of school went for almost a week, when they come to visit.  They aren’t allowed to phone, the only time I find out sooner are those occasions when I can get to the school for lunch with them.

I seldom get the opportunity to take my kids to school, maybe two or three times a year I get this treat to pray with them in the morning before school and wish them a good day as they head off to class.  Most people take these moments with their children granted as a regular occurrence, for me these are tender mercies and opportunities to experience a wonderful time with my children.

Today was such a rare wonderful opportunity to experience this moment in time with them.  This morning was extra special as I was able to wake them and get them ready for school, take them, pray with them and see them off. Today,  I got the extra special treat of picking them up from school on the same day.  Days like this are rare, I treasure them and realize the blessing that they are.  These moments with my children are what keep me pressing forward everyday.  I try not to focus on the issues my ex creates in her controlling nature and enjoy the moments that are mine.

My children attend a school with a year round track schedule and today was the first day back to school from being off track for the past 3 weeks.  With Veterans day this year falling as my holiday I was able to spend the weekend, an extra weekend with them and take them to school today.  As I watched their excitement and nervousness at going back to school after this break, I reflected upon this day and the similarities it must have to an actual first day of a new school year.

I have missed out on many opportunities, ones that I will never be able to get back with my children, today was a gift from God, an opportunity to experience ever so slightly something I have yearned to experience with my children for a lifetime.  Although today wasn’t an actual first day of school, I am grateful to have this opportunity to have as close to one as I have ever experienced.

I OFTEN SIT IN SILENCE, I OFTEN SIT ALONE – A Fathers Heartache Part 9

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Last night was my sons annual football banquet.  Each year I put together a highlight video for the boys and their families to watch, each boy is given a copy as a memento of the season.  Last night was no exception and after hours of preparation the video was again ready to go and copies made for each boy.

I arrived at the restaurant early to make certain that everything was ready to go and that video would play on their televisions. Once this was finished I anxiously waited for my boy to arrive.  I hadn’t seen him in days and was excited for the opportunity to talk with him.  I quietly sat and  waited about twenty minutes for him to arrive. 

Suddenly I felt him place his arms around my shoulders as he hugged me and said hi dad, I love you.  My heart swelled momentarily until I heard his mother sternly inform him that he couldn’t sit with me and had to sit with her.  I watched a sadness appear on his face as he gave me another quick hug, whispered I love you and went to sit near his mother.   As I surveyed the room, I noticed that the other boys were all sitting together in the center tables, my dear boy was sitting head down next to his mother as he quietly obeyed her demands.

I sat there, my heart aching for my boy as he humbly and dutifully did as he was instructed, all the while watching the other boys laugh and play.  I was grateful to see his mothers friend arrive nearly 30 minutes later when she finally allowed him to sit with his friends, so she could have her moment to “talk”. 

Alone I sat at my table, watching my boy both quietly sitting next to his mother and also as he laughed with his friends. I fought the tears and anger at the way his mother controlled him.  I thought to myself how much I would have loved  to have been able to sit with him, yet this was his night to be with his friends, it wasn’t about what I wanted, it should have been about what he wanted, this was his night for him and his team.

I often sit in silence.  I often sit alone.  The numbness from the continual hurt at watching my kids many times from a distance pierces my soul.  I hunger for the days when they can express their love for me, their dad, without fear of the reaction from their mother.  My only hope and prayer is that one day my children will come to grasp the magnitude of my love and devotion for them, even if at times it is from a distance created by others…

SMALL MOMENTS AND THE GRANDEST OF MEMORIES – A Fathers Heartache part 8

I finally had the most wonderful and  AMAZING time with my children on Halloween.   I have waited 8 years for this moment to come, when Halloween would fall on my day for a visit.  In years past I would attend … Continue reading

A BLESSED WEEK – A Fathers Heartache part 7

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The school that my children attend is year round.  They are on a track schedule where they are out of school for 3 weeks and then go back for 12 weeks and then off again.  During the 3 weeks from school, I am able to spend time with them for one week during each off track cycle.   I look forward with great anticipation for this golden moment in time.  This is a time for my children and I to reconnect, a time when we can let our walls down and strengthen our relationship.

Last week was one of those precious moments in time that I treasure above everything else.

I left the office at noon everyday last week in an effort to maximize every single second I could with my dear children.  We went to the movies, the arcade, the ballpark.  We carved our pumpkins and went for hikes.  We laughed and we cried together.  It is in these tender moments of mercy that I am able to have with my children that keep me energized and capable of continuing on during the difficult times in between.

My children were able to participate in the primary program on Sunday. I fought the tears as I watched them sing and give their little parts during the program.  It was the first time I had ever been able to see them in a primary program, I savored the moment watching them.  During dinner Sunday night, my dear wife asked the kids what they liked most about spending this week with us, the answer that my son gave me brought tears to my eyes as he replied, “our family and being part of it.” Words are incapable of expressing what I felt at that moment.

Sunday night, as I sat on the couch with Londyn laying in one arm and Bridger laying on the other, we reflected together on the fun times we had during the week.  I was able to tell both of them how deeply I love them and how grateful I am to be their dad.  We cried together as we felt the realization that our week together was coming to a close.  We took courage and strength in knowing this would be a short week apart as the coming Halloween and weekend would be spent together, our first Halloween that had fallen on a night with dad.

As I dropped them off early Monday morning, on my way to work, I thanked my Father in Heaven for the time I was able to spend with them.  I pondered the coming silence I knew would take place without the phone calls and communication.  I looked forward to the coming weekend and holding them in my arms again.

I live for these moments with my children.  I yearn to be a full time dad to them, to tuck them in each night and to hug and kiss them each day.  It is through the weeks like we just shared that I know I am making a difference in their lives, and they in mine.

MOVING FORWARD IN FAITH – The story of William and Elizabeth Xavier Tait

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In 1842, while on a mission to Scotland, Parley P Pratt met and baptized a young man named William Tait.  Sometime after his baptism William joined the British Military and was sent to Bombay India where he met a beautiful Indian woman named Elizabeth Xavier.  Elizabeth was a member of the royal family in India, she was a woman of privilege, highly educated, attended by servants and familiar with the finer things in life.

William and Elizabeth fell madly in love.  William had continued to profess his beliefs in the mormon church, although it had been 8 years since his baptism and he had no contact with the church members.  Elizabeth, was in love with a man who was out of her culture and out of her family’s religion.  She was upper class and expected to marry within her culture and religion.  She married William in 1850 and joined the church in 1852 when Elder Hugh Findlay was called to serve a mission in Bombay, India.  She was ostracized and disowned by her family.

William served in the Branch Presidency of the fledgling branch and helped bring 19 souls to the gospel, He and Elizabeth had two children while in India, Her younger son passed away of cholera while in India, her oldest son John would leave with his Father to join the saints in Salt Lake while Elizabeth, now pregnant would remain behind while she delivered her baby and then she would quickly join them.

On April 22, 1855 Mary Ann Tait was born. Then on Monday October 15, 1855 Elizabeth finally set sail to Liverpool England with her infant daughter Mary Ann,  after a torrent of pleas from her people to stay and abandon this church and people.  While on her journey, little Mary Ann contracted pneumonia and died, only to be buried in Liverpool.   Lonely and distraught Elizabeth could not go on.  She was heartbroken and longed for William.  An inspired mission president of the Liverpool mission encouraged her to Move forward in faith.  Elizabeths soul ached as she boarded the ship Enoch Train which departed Liverpool for Boston on March 22, 1856 leaving her dear Mary Ann behind.

Elizabeths journey would continue where she would join the ill fated Willie Handcart Company.  Alone she traveled pulling a handcart as she witnessed and lived the many tragic events that occurred in that fateful journey.  It is reported that William was part of the rescue party that left Salt Lake in October 1856 to rescue his beloved bride and daughter, for William did not yet know that Mary Ann had passed away.  When Elizabeth saw Williams red hair and red beard reportedly her screams filled with tears of Joy at the reunion could be heard echoing in the camp.

Elizabeths story doesn’t end there.  William and Elizabeth settled in Cedar City Utah, yet her most formidable challenge was still ahead of her.  You see, Elizabeth had incredibly dark skin as a result of being of India descent, she was the target of discrimination, her wealthy upbringing provided an initial lack of preparation as pioneer, as such, she was ostracized and treated poorly by her relief society sisters.

Elizabeth had given up her wealth, her religion, her culture, her family, her people, her status, her children, suffered immensely crossing the plains, to become ostracized and treated  poorly by her adopted house of Israel.

Her story doesn’t end there!  William and Elizabeth are my Great Great Great Grandparents.  They taught us through their faithfulness and example how to Move Forward in Faith:

You see,   William and Elizabeth never questioned the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

They had a great love for the Lord and a deep testimony and conviction of their Savior and his love and atoning sacrifice for us:

They listened to and abided the counsel of the prophet and apostles.

They kept an ETERNAL perspective on life.

They exercised FAITH, they understood well that faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mindset and that without faith there cannot be any hope

They heeded and hearkened to the promptings of the Holy Ghost

They served the Lord in every capacity asked to do so. They walked to the edge of the light.  They lived and understood Ether 12:6 “Dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith”

They found Joy in the Journey

They Proceeded with Trust in the Lord

They did not take counsel from their own FEARS

They waited patiently upon the Lord and his revelation for them

They knew and understood that God would provide

And they MOVED FORWARD in all things asked of them, understanding that Faith Precedes the Miracle.

In D & C 121: 7-8 we read that “Peace be unto thy soul:”   “Thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but for small moment:”  “And if then thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high:  Thou shalt triumph over thy foes.”

The Lord is providing comfort and speaking peace to us.  He wants us to be at peace and have joy.  He wants to exalt us if we will endure well.  To endure well we must be moving forward.   We must do so in Faith.   Sometimes we must move forward in faith until our way is illuminated.  The gradual increase of light radiating from the rising sun is like receiving a message from God, line upon line, precept upon precept,

When we are uncertain of the path ahead, we fill up our hearts with faith, go forward into the unknown and stop and pray again and again,  Then we move forward.  Faith is a principle of action.  The answers to prayer and the solutions to our problems generally come as we begin to act.

May we always act in Faith as we move forward in this Joyous Gospel plan.  May our testimonies reside in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and in his atonement.

The Office Can Wait, My Daughter Can’t – the simple things

 

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This morning I arose early with the expectation that I would head into the office earlier than normal.  I had planned on clearing all the little projects from my desk that seem to always be brushed aside.   As I was getting ready to get in the shower, I heard a tiny giggle from the crib where our 9 month old daughter was.  My wife picked up our daughter and hugged and kissed her.  She turned her towards me and  I was met with the most amazing and beautiful little smile.  My heart melted.  Plans changed.

Gently I took her and held her and kissed her.  She beamed!  Her beautiful brown eyes danced like a ballet as she kissed me back!  My heart was pounding with the intensely deep love that I have for my children and our little daughter this particular morning.  We sat on the bed and she crawled over me multiple times giggling.  She would scoot next to me and lay her head on my chest.  The world outside stopped.  I spent the next hour playing on the bed, everything from hide and seek under the blankets to peek a boo to singing nursery rhymes.  My heart swelled with love and joy as we played.   She soon became sleepy again, she had woken earlier than usual, and she was soon fast asleep on my lap.  I gently placed her back in bed and continued getting ready for work, to arrive at the usual time.

I found myself reflecting much about this morning and my precious time with my daughter.  My thoughts turned the the simple tender moments in life and how it is in these moments that we have the greatest joy in our lives.  Our lives are spent racing against deadlines, running to appointments and working long hours just to survive.   We fill up the little precious time that is remaining plugged into ipods, social media, television and what I call NOISE.  We are barraged by distractions and interruptions in our day to day lives.  Some is placed upon us by work, some by ourselves and some by other people.  Many of us chase dreams in the search for the ever elusive joy and happiness that is our deepest desire to feel.

I asked myself what other simple joys in life can bring such happiness and peace that I felt this morning playing with my daughter,  For me, it can be a time with my dear children, a quiet hike in the mountains, the fall colors, the peaceful breeze the ocean waves against a sandy shoreline, and many many more.

When I unplug from all the outside distractions and reflect upon what brings the greatest peace into my life, it’s simple.  The simple things.  It’s not the money, the career, the car, the house, social circles etc… It is my children and the quiet times with them as well as the simple things in nature.  The simple things in life bring the greatest opportunities for me to reconnect with myself, my family and my God, all things that in the end provide the joy in my life.  The truly deep joy and happiness that I seek, the kind that energizes my soul are all the simple things.

Today was a reminder to me of the simple things, taking time to unplug and focus, if even for a minute on the things that matter in life.  I am grateful that I have always been grounded enough to understand that my children truly bring me the joy and happiness that nothing else can.  They are and always will be a top priority, right next to my dear beloved wife.  These priorities prepared me the make the right decision this morning, a morning where I was filled with that immeasurable joy, the office could wait, my daughter couldn’t, and it was that choice the provided me the joy I would not have felt otherwise!