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.

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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.

Look to the Light, and Live!

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We each experience pain and heartache in our life.  These pains can become deep emotional scars that paralyze us from experiencing the joys that are to be found in this life.  Finding joy in the journey can be difficult when the pains and wounds are so deep that despair almost seems inevitable.  These wounds can become chains binding us from feeling anything but sorrow and despair.

Many times these pains come from those we have allowed into our lives, to be part of our life and to share our journey with. It can be from death to disagreements to rejection, anything,  that create this intense pain, sorrow and loss.  Sometimes they are family members, spouses, children, neighbors, friends and even our church leaders.  Whoever they may be, many times this heartache burns deep within our souls and left unattended can crush our ability and desire to press forward.  These sorrows for many create the inability to trust another, to open themselves up to another, to love again or let anyone close.  It affects current and future relationships.  The ghosts of the past haunt the individuals present and future happiness, becoming victims again to the already overwhelming sadness and heartache, thus creating a vicious cycle of sorrow.

One of my favorite speakers/authors Jack Christensen taught me a lesson that has never left me in his talk/book “Healing the Wounded Soul.”  Jack explains that many of our wounds need to be healed from the inside out.  He also explains that many people react through outward behaviors based upon deep emotional wounds.

It was upon listening to his talk that I was able to finally look deep inside of me in an attempt to discover what my wounds were and as I pondered this, I allowed the Atonement of Jesus Christ to work within me to identify the wounds that were causing my sorrow and to begin the healing process. I never fully understood nor comprehended how these wounds, hidden from not only everyone else, but from myself for years had impacted my life.  The freedom that entered my life upon conquering these wounds and allowing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to heal me from the inside out has been life changing. Not only has it allowed me to find true love with my beloved wife, it has also changed my eyes and how I view others who are hurting and manifesting that through their outward behaviors.   I see others differently than ever before.

As we struggle in life and deal with past wounds, as well as the current ones, if we look to our Savior and allow Him to enter our life, He can heal us from the inside out, the way we are meant to heal and thus eliminating the scars that come when we try to heal ourselves from the outside in.  We can find the inner peace and joy in our lives that can never be taken from us.  We can prevent our past from damaging our dreams for the future.  We can reclaim our lives and find joy in the journey as we look to the light, and live.

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.

MY PRINCESS WITH A HEART OF GOLD AND A BROKEN WING – A Fathers Heartache part 6

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My dear sweet little girl turns 9 next month.  She was only 20 months old when my ex left.  Over the years this precious little girl has experienced tremendous turmoil in her life.  The man that my ex left with turned out to be very abusive physically and emotionally, not only to my ex but to my children.  My kids would tell me stories of his abuse, how they would hide together under the bed every time this man became angry, which apparently happened a lot.

When my kids were little, I used to be frustrated at finally getting to spend time with them and they would crash!  Within 20 minutes of my getting them they would be fast asleep.  This happened nearly every single time for two plus years.  I longed to play with them and to be able to spend quality time, yet each time they would come over they would spend the vast majority of our time together sleeping.  I would normally sit on the couch holding both of them, one in each arm for hours as they peacefully slept.  This was difficult for me to have my time with them spent sleeping.

I spoke with a friend who is a psychologist to express my feelings about this.   She informed me that my kids were falling asleep so quickly because they felt peaceful and safe with me.   Their lives were in such disarray and turmoil that they were exhausted when they came with me, the peace they felt allowed them to relax and fall asleep.  She told me that they needed this time desperately.  I was relieved to know why, yet heartbroken to think that they would be living this way with their mom.

My daughter was being potty trained at the time that my ex left and married him, as you can imagine, all the changes and turmoil led to many accidents for her.  Bridger expressed their fear to me again one night and told me how Londyn had been spanked hard bare bottom for having an accident and how Wade had yelled and yelled at her until she was too scared to even move.

I confronted them on their doorstep that night regarding this, I had called the police and met them at the house.   The police simply told me it was a civil matter and I needed to go to court again to resolve this issue.  Again I headed into the courtroom to protect my children from this abuse.  The judges ruling was appalling.  Since it was not her mother abusing her she would not change the custody and I was reprimanded for getting the police involved.

Needless the say my children have experienced much pain and heartache over the years as a result of the many men my ex has brought in and out of their lives.  This has created, especially for my precious little girl, an emotional distance from people.  I see the walls she has built to protect her tender little heart.  I see glimpses of hope in  her eyes as time goes by, especially during the times when she is with us for longer than a weekend.  Those few opportunities each year that they get to spend more than 2 days in a row in our home seem to open her up where she can express her love.

Londyn is my Angel With Broken Wings.  My heart aches each time I see her struggle to say I love you to anyone.  Her heart is so incredibly large, she is the first one in the family to help others.  She shows her love through her actions each and everyday of her life, yet the emotional sharing and connections she struggles with deeply as a result of what she has experienced.

We try so hard to carefully help her take down her walls.  My wife and I focus on her needs as they relate to feeling unconditionally the love and acceptance and safety in our home.  As she gets older, she is able to more effectively express her thoughts which have led to a greater opportunity for those moments when she will share her feelings.   I make certain that the days when Bridger has practice and Londyn does not have cheer when they are with me that time is sacred time for Londyn and I.  We have our regular daddy daughter time when it is all about her and her needs.   I wish deeply that I could have more opportunities to spend one on one time with her.

A couple of times each month I will have lunch with her at school.  Each time I walk into the school cafeteria her eyes will light up and she scoots over to make room for me at the table with her friends.  It warms my heart with each opportunity to sit at the table with her and her friends as they talk about school and their recess plans.  The hugs in school when I leave are getting stronger and stronger.  She will whisper in my ear each time I love you daddy, thank you!  I pray that these little things that I am able to do will help to heal her broken wings.

I dream of the day when I can see my little girl soar.  When her tender heart has healed enough to be able to fly on her own.  When sharing her feelings and emotions with those she loves comes naturally.  In the meantime, I watch her put on a brave smile everyday as she tries to conquer the world, while knowing how much her tender heart aches.  She is a Princess, with a heart of gold and a broken wing.

THE DAILY HEARTACHE – A Fathers Heartache part 5

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The hole in my heart never leaves.  I feel its presence with each heartbeat.  I feel the pain with each breath I take.

There isn’t a single day when my heart doesn’t ache from missing my children.  Each morning as I drive to work my thoughts are on them.  I wonder what outfit they wore to school.  I wonder how they did on yesterdays test.  I wonder how they slept.  I worry that they didn’t eat breakfast. I wonder how practice went, how Londyn is doing with her cheer classes and how football is going for Bridger.

These thoughts race through my mind complicated by the lack of communication I am able to have with them.  Sometimes they will sneak me a text message from their ipod when their mom isn’t looking just to say I love you dad!  I live for those precious little messages and moments in life when they aren’t with me.  While I drive, my mind stays focused on them, I fight the urge to cry as I long to see them, to hear their voices and talk with them, to see their smiles and feel their hugs.

I yearn for the time when my children can spend time with me without the shadow of the issues we are forced to deal with from others.  I see the sorrow in their own eyes with each goodbye, as they too know that the communication and contact will be vacant from their lives until our next visit.  I know all too well the pain that I feel daily, I see that same pain in my children’s precious tender hearts with each hug and kiss goodbye.  We hold on just a little longer and little tighter each time we part.

I worry what this does to my children.  I get angry that someone would hurt their children in this manner.  I get angry that by her choices to leave our family and run away with another man that my dear children are forced to suffer and hurt.  My heart explodes in sorrow each time I think about the life that has been forced upon them by her actions.

Then I take a deep breath and slowly let it out.  I regain my composure and put on my happy face for the day.  Time to work.  I take a few moments to look at the blessings I do have in my life.  I have amazing children, including sweet Alexa,  whom I love deeply and they love me.  I have the most wonderful and amazing wife possible, who’s unquestionable love and devotion to our family and myself provides deep rooted anchors in my soul for me to weather the heartache.  I have a beautiful, kind loving mother who never fails me and 5 brothers who will always be there.

I realize daily that I have been surrounded by loved ones to strengthen me so that I in turn can be strong for my dear children.  I only pray that they can borrow my strength so that their tender little hearts aren’t shattered.

SOCIETY SUCCEEDS WHEN SELFISHNESS FAILS

I was asked yesterday why my ex wife does some of the selfish things that she does in an attempt to hurt me.  Why does she use our children as a pawn to manipulate situations to meet her own selfish desires. My answer was simple and direct.  SELFISHNESS, it destroyed our marriage and she was hurting our children by the same behaviors.  She put the things that she wanted first, above anyone else.  Whether that was another affair, another boyfriend, spending the mortgage payment to go shopping for clothes, whatever it was it was done out of selfishness. A concern only for what she wanted with no thought to her family or those around her.  Now, she has her children to use as pawns to maximize further her selfish interests and desires.

As I pondered further upon this question and the reality that is the larger picture in society, It became extremely evident that it is through selfishness that nearly every problem we face in society is derived.  Selfishness not only creates many of our problems, it then compounds them into at times insurmountable obstacles.  We by our examples of selfish behavior are teaching our children to repeat this process, oftentimes worse than we ourselves have done.

Sacrificing ones personal needs and desires for someone else is becoming a bigger challenge in the world we live.  We are bombarded with examples of selfishness by the media, our televisions are full of it, the movies make it seem normal, even our music hums the idea daily into our minds, In fact, many times those who do sacrifice for others are often viewed with disdain.  Our religious leaders who serve endlessly to help are ridiculed and berated for their beliefs, our veterans are neglected.

Selfishness is becoming rampant in our society. We see daily examples of parents who place their own selfish desires above the welfare of their own children.  Some use the children as weapons in divorce to hurt their ex spouse, some leave them home alone at night to go out and party, and we have even seen examples of parents who will kill their children to avoid the “inconvenience” of being a parent.

It seems to me that as we continue to fight for personal rights, many times we address these issues from a standpoint of selfishness.  We are teaching our children through our behaviors to be self centered, egotistical, selfish individuals in society whom are only concerned about what they want, when they want it and how.  There is no thought given to the aftermath of the individuals choices and the impact that these have on their children and communities.

While we all have desires in life, needs and dreams, when we focus on them without concern for the impact that they will have on our families, our neighbors, our communities and nation we abandon the hope of improving our society and in creating a world where all can succeed.  We are teaching our children to do the same.

Society succeeds when selfishness fails.

BRIDGERS COURAGE – A Fathers Heartache part 4

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My son is devoted to his football team.  He loves playing football, he even turned down a trip to Disneyland with me so he wouldn’t miss a practice, he wouldn’t let his team down.  He has spent the past 3 1/2 years playing quarterback and loves to be in the middle of all the action.  His team took 2nd place two years ago and are the defending champions from last year.  Sports have helped keep my dear boy on stable ground during all the tumult of his short little life.  In spite of all his mothers moves, we have been able to keep him on the same teams throughout these years which has allowed him to develop some deep friendships on the team, many of the boys play on the same competitive football, basketball and lacrosse teams.

One week ago today after practice Bridger called me, which is extremely rare and NEVER happens so I knew something was up. I could hear the sorrow in his voice as he fought back the emotion coming from his broken heart.  I quietly listened to my son through his cracking voice as he told me that the coaches had decided to bench him because he missed a block in Saturdays game.  Immediately my mind raced back to Saturdays game and I could recall the block he missed, I couldn’t forget it as I vividly remember the assistant coaches tirade directed toward my son from the sidelines.  As a parent, it is often difficult to hold my tongue when a coach goes off on the 11 year old boys.  I choose instead to discuss privately with the coaches that my opinion is that the yelling is overboard and that they can be more effective and get better play from the boys with a calm criticism instead of the ranting and raving.

My heart ached for my son.  I knew how deeply important this is to him.  I know all too well that this is what has helped my son cope with the heartaches he feels and the sorrow at not being able to see me when he wants.  Sports, especially football have been a lifeline for him, he has devoted himself to his team and being there for them.  His example of commitment and what that includes has been inspiring to me.  His focus and dedication to practice and game time has been exemplar.  My immediate thought as a loving father was how can they do this to him for one play?  Wisely I kept my tongue and asked first how he was doing with the change.  His voice broke now, with tears as he told me he understood and wanted what was best for his team.

Now it was my turn to fight back the emotion and the tears as my heart broke for my son.  I cleared my throat and asked him what now.  He informed me that the coaches said he could play on special teams and fill in at safety.  I asked him who the new quarterback was going to be and if he would still be the backup.  He quietly told me that it was the coaches son who would take his place and that he wouldn’t even be backing him up.  Never in my life had I had to deal with the politics of little league sports in this manner.  How can I explain to my son that it is ok that after 3 1/2 years in his position and being very successful in it that he was now taken out so that the coaches son, who had never even taken a snap could be the star player?

Then as I was fighting the building frustration at the incredulous politics of little league football, my son said, “it’s OK dad, it will be best for the team.  i just want our team to do well.”  My son reinforced in me at that moment that all the long conversations over the years we had shared, about being a leader, about teamwork, about lifting those around you and making them better, about how leaders lead from example, that these conversations had sunk in.  My boy understood more about life, more about people, more about leadership, more about compassion than most adults do.

Sadly, the call had to end as I could hear his mother telling him he had to get off the phone now.  I expressed my deep love and admiration for my boy as he quietly whispered, “I love you Dad” as he hung up the phone.

My heart was breaking for more reasons than my sons sorrow.  It was full of love and gratitude with the knowledge that although our time is extremely limited and our moments to talk rare, my son had learned the important things in life that I have tried so hard to teach him.  My efforts have not been in vain and those small moments of time when we are together have impacted my sons life.  I had made a difference in his life that I never thought possible given the circumstances we were forced into.  I ached to hold my son in my arms and comfort him, yet I knew he could feel my arms around him without me being next to him to hold him.

Saturdays game came. The team suffered their worst loss of the year.  I watched him as he awkwardly paced the sidelines while his offensive teammates were on the field.  I watched as he cheered for his friends and congratulated the new quarterback when he made a good play, i could see his heartache and longing to be in the game written in his eyes, yet he hid that from his team. I took tremendous pride as I watched as my son stepped in on defense and prevented 2 touchdowns. Yet during all this, he made a contribution to his team that I am not certain even the other boys realize,  my son showed by tremendous courage and true leadership on Saturday. Although he wasn’t the one leading the offense, he led the team from the sidelines with his quiet courage and strength as he accepted willingly the decisions others had made, while cheering on his teammates in a futile loss.  My son has learned that choices of others impact everyone, even his own.

My Beloved Wife – A Miraculous Journey Together

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If I had to live every pain, sorrow, anguish and heartache that I have ever experienced and walk through the depths of despair in this life as a requirement to meet my dear beloved wife, I would have gladly done so with rejoicing in my heart!

Many times in my life I have wondered why am I going through these heartaches and struggles.  My dreams and desires for my life have oftentimes been dashed upon the jagged rocks of the emotional cliffs I have been thrown over.  I have found myself in the depths of my sorrow crying out why me to my God as the heartaches nearly crushed my spirit and will to live.  I at times have felt the despair of a life that went completely contrary to the plans I had made for me.  I had always lived a clean life, free from the vices of men, I am a devoted husband and father. I had always helped and served my fellowman, I gave to the poor and needy.  I did everything I was taught to do yet my life was not where I had imagined it being.  I lived the “leave it to beaver” life with a polar opposite result.

Each day I would arise and go forth, working to build a better life for myself and my children.  I would shake off daily the self doubts and frustrations that would haunt me as a result of unbearable heartache and sadness.  As I did so I became stronger and prepared for the gift and blessing from my Father in Heaven that I had so pleaded with him for over the countless years.  Doors were opened that would allow this opportunity to take place.

Then one day nearly 3 years ago it all changed.  As I continued to press forward, believing that there were better things in my life than what I had heretofore experienced, I met my dear Karla.  Prayers were answered and blessings granted as the most amazing women entered my life.

Never in my life had I imagined, nor believed that a noble women of such grace and beauty existed.  I still to this day vividly recall the first time our eyes met, across that meeting where she had come to meet with me for the first time as a potential  business consultant for her shelter.  When our eyes met that first time, my soul exploded with the knowledge and joy that this woman was to play a significant role in my life.  Immediately all the pain of my past vanished, it was replaced with a certain knowledge that which I had earnestly prayed for was beginning to unfold around me.

I recall that time of wonder and excitement as the true realization of the blessings I had sought were at my doorstep.   My prayers had been answered.  Karla had been brought into my life through a very unique set of circumstances that led both of us to a point where we could meet.  I don’t question the miracle that I had been given at that time, for to do so would invalidate all the pain that I had experienced and the prayers that I had pleaded to have answered.

My Dear Beloved Karla is the sweetest most compassionate, loving and accepting individual that I have ever known, which says so much if you have ever met my mother!  Karla’s love for people is deeply evident by the long hours of service that she gives to those individuals seeking shelter, her family, neighbors, and friends.   Karla is the first person to be there when needed and the last one to leave.  There are many times, where due to the demands on this amazing woman that we don’t see each other until late at night as we are tiredly climbing into bed.  As she collapses into the pillows from exhaustion, I wrap my arms around her and thank my God that he led this remarkable woman to me.  There is never a day that goes by where I do not give thanks for this blessing.

Karla’s service to the rape recovery center, the domestic violence shelter, Centro De La Familia, the statewide coalition against domestic violence, her service as a board member for her daughters charter school, the community outreach centers she has created, and too many more to mention are unfathomable that one woman can accomplish all that she has.  The lives that she has impacted and helped will affect generations to come.  It is no wonder that she has been recognized as a top 30 women to watch in addition to the humanitarian of the year award she recently received. I have been blessed beyond measure with a woman of remarkable ability, grace strength and beauty.

I gladly accept every challenge in life that I have been given, without them they would never have led us to the same spot, where years of prayers could finally be answered.  My angel, my soul mate, my confidant, my best friend, Thank you for loving me and letting me be a part of your life.  I will love you through the eternities. The miracles that brought us together will keep us as we continue our miraculous journey together!