Happy Birthday Marijo!!

Today marks the birth of my wife and life partner, Marijo. We’ve had our share of joys and sorrows and have come through those fires scorched and scarred but stronger and forged together.

I met Marijo more than 14 years ago at her moms house shooting tequilla on New Years…not with Marijo, but with her mom. Since then, we’ve seen the loss of her father, weddings of friends, Cancer and sickness of family members, the loss of my Grandparents, her graduation from college, our engagement, our wedding, five different apartments, 4 cars, 1 house, 1 dog, 2 cats, and three beautiful children. We’ve danced in the moonlight and played music, read books and enjoyed works of art. Kissed and held hands on sunny days and rainy ones. We’ve been to Puerto Rico, Fredricksburg, Luckenbach, Perdido Key, San Antonio, Las Vegas, Hot Springs, New Orleans (a bunch), Memphis, Gulf Shores, and the occasional out of town weekend trip. We’ve dreamed and planned. We’ve seen presidents come and go. We’ve been to the hospital over 19 times, some wonderful, some not so much. We’ve celebrated holidays full of family in our little apartment and in our loving home. We’ve snuggled each other and slept soundly and been up with crying children in the middle of the night. We’ve weathered storms both man and nature made. We’ve scrimped and saved and done our share of partying. We’ve changed jobs and schools a few times and found our niches where we think we do the most good. We’ve searched for happiness in good places and bad ones…and keep finding it…everyday…in each other. We’ve done all these things in our life, together. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Happy Birthday Dearest.
I’m proud of you and love you,
Your Husband.

Simple Church

Simple Church

Me and Marijo made the trip to Simple Church today for our fourth visit and were suprised at what we have been finding. At first, I thought, “Who would I know HERE?” and was shocked to find two co-workers, a member from Lodge, a friend from Marijo’s school and a guy I meet and have a drink or two with from time to time. The dress code alone speaks volumes about what “type of place” this is. It’s Northface to Real-Tree to Columbia, Dockers to Levis to Carhartts. Boots to loafers to mocassins. It’s Wal-mart and Wall Street. I saw doctors, lawyers, electricians, service men and their bosses. 

The message is the reason we keep going. That and the free coffee, donuts, and the easy secure way we check the kids in upstairs while me and MJ jaunt down to put our minds in the right tone. The trips usually go something like this:

We get dressed and decide to go to the 11:00am service so we’re up and out of the house by 10:05 or so which is an accomplishment in itself with three kids. We get to the parking garage downtown and usually drive right to the very top, not because we like it up there, but it’s because that’s where the street bridge is that connects the garage to the Shreveport Convention Center…that and Lewis likes to check out the view. We take out the stroller and strap the kids down, load the diaper bag and prime Lewis to behave. We walk down the street bridge, take the elevator up to the top floor and get in the kiosk line. We easily search for Marijo’s name, print tags for the babies bottles and bag and number tags for the kids (also checking them in). We drop off the twins and walk Lewis down and stay long enough for me to chat with a guy I know there. Next me and MJ take a deep breath, go down the escalators (stroller free now) and get a cup of coffee or a coke and usually a donut and proceed inside. It’s dark, the stage is set and the countdown is going. I spot a friend of mine’s wife on stage with a microphone. She’s got pipes. I start thinking bad thoughts about how this isn’t our normal church, how these guys are just after our money, how church shouldn’t be comfortable, regurgitating scriptures in my mind…then the “show” starts. A true and trusted brother takes the stage and the cameras zoom in. He’s excited, full of life, happy to be there, and one hour later Marijo and I are wiping tears and laughing or laughing and wiping tears. I get a little cautious every time I go expecting for a bucket to pass by me or them to have the “we need your dollars to make Jesus happy so you’d better give your 10% tithe to get back blessings” sermon. Guess what? It never happens there. But something truly amazing does. People line up to GIVE them their money at the “giving stations” positioned at the doors. Literally, a cue forms to donate without an alter call, without a call to tithe, without a promise of return on your dollars. People give becuase they want to.

After we collect the kids and leave and are heading to lunch/nap, Marijo and I start swapping stories that we heard that day from the different people we ran into about the place. “I heard they get the donuts donated to them and the coffee they purchase is to a great place, not just Starbucks”, says Marijo. “I got a chance to ask about them bringing Ms. Kay and Sinbad and I can’t believe that when For King and Country came they actually tried to GIVE THE CHURCH money instead of asking for dollars” I say. It’s not Mass. It’s not supposed to be Mass. It’s not a one stop shop for eveything religious. It’s a place for broken people to share in the word of God, worship and each other. A powerful, uplifting message, safety for our children and a chance to do something locally in the community. Not the worst way to spend Sunday with my wife and children.

A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

-Matthew 7:18