Monday, July 16, 2018

Reading Camp Warrior

School starts here in Colorado in exactly 3 weeks.

Yes... 3 weeks!

And that means Z-Dogg will be the 'hood's newest first grader.

This summer he got invited to be part of a reading bootcamp - to prep him to be extraordinary in first grade when it comes to reading.

So this morning we got up early while his sisters snoozed away - walked through the typical pre-school morning prep - and then headed out the door for the first day of reading camp.

He was stoked about it - and I know he's gonna put his best foot forward.

Take no prisoners, Zechie... read, read, READ!!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Created in Christ Jesus to Do Good Works...

Okay - in all seriousness - and no offense to anybody (truly) - this is my favorite mall group bible study crew ever.

Only thing missing was mommy!

When we made the decision to pull out of Awana a while back (for several reasons) we collectively said "We're gonna make a real effort to get something in place to help us work at studying and remembering scripture."

We've just been super slow to launch...

But we changed that today!

With a steady rain pouring down - the time was ripe to grab our bible, our journals and hit Starbucks to kick off our first family memory verse!

We chose Ephesians 2:10 because... well... it just speaks so much truth to our souls.

Truth we desperately need in these weird, odd, freaky, scary hateful times we live in.

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
Simple. To the point. Perfect and true.

We are God's workmanship...

We took some time to all write it down in our journals and kinda pray about it and come up with what we thought it meant.

And then we jumped in and started having a conversation.

These guys were HUNGRY for it man!

The conversation was so good as we dove into what they thought the words meant ("what is workmanship?" and "what does unmerited mean?" [we saw it in a footnote]) and what they thought the application of this verse was for them individually and us as a family.

Honestly - I was kinda blown away by it all!

I mean... I'll stop short of calling it "church" cuz ya know last time I did that I got dragged through the mud for 8 months by "church leadership" so... oh heck... no I won't...

This was the BEST Church we could have had today!

Yeah... I said it.

Take that - silly "leaders"

Even Z-Dogg got in on it and spent a good chunk of time copying the verse down in his journal!

We wrapped it up with each of us reading the verse out loud and then closed in prayer.

We committed to working all week together to try and recite it every day and lock it in to our memory and our hearts!

I am so proud of these guys - my favorite little crew of bible study folks.

Not only were they willing and engaged - they were the ones pushing it!

Lord... work in us and draw us near so we may bring honor and glory to You in all we say and all we do...

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Daddy... do you know my birthmother?

I never know when the questions might come from these three right here - but I know they exist - right there under the surface - looking for an opening to come out and get some insight.

And while I may not know when they're coming - I know they MATTER - so I have prayed for YEARS about them - asking God's words to flow through me when they do come.

And last night... they came.

We were driving - all in the van - and conversations about race, strength, all these goofballs had overcome in their lives already - gave the questions just the little crack they needed to come flooding out...

"Daddy... tell me again about how that police officer named me?"


"Daddy... you okay?"

No. I mean yes... but no.

I couldn't talk from the lump in my throat and the single tear rolling down my cheek.

Meron saw it.

"Awww Daddy... it's okay..." she said.

Their stories are so hard. So raw. So real. So full of redemption, grace and His undying love.

They get me every single time.

But it didn't stop there...

"Daddy... what happened to my birth father? And how many Ethiopian brothers and sisters do I have?"

No pain in their voices - just curiosity.

More tears. I'm weak in this space.

I'll admit it... when the Holy Spirit is present - I find myself weeping.

And the Holy Spirit was all kinds of present.

Answers through tears... more discussions.

Some laughter. Some more tears.

Then a small voice from the far back seat of the van...

"Daddy... did you know MY birth mother?"

These kids are some of the strongest human beings I have ever, ever met.

Their stories are theirs and theirs alone - to share or not to share... at their pace. In their own time.

But I'll tell ya this... I'll never stop telling them how beautiful their stories are and how full of God's love they are.

Just HOW loved by their Creator that they are.

We pulled into the garage and the girls hopped out and headed in.

I saw Z-Dogg was moving slow while wiping his glasses and then I heard the sobs...

I snatched him up and hugged him and said:

"Bubba... what is it? You can tell me anything..."

And he whispered in my ears through deep, chest heaving sobs:

"I just wish I had gotten to know my brother Brighton."


More tears on my cheeks. Me too, Zechie... me too.

Adoption is beautiful. Like - to the core - beautiful.

But it ain't always easy.

I fully believe it's a redemption plan He built for a fallen world - so I lean on Him with full faith when these hard questions arise.

And I do my best to point to the beauty in the brokenness of it all.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Ewwww. I'm stuck between two dark people...

The girls have been regular swimmers at the YMCA this summer and they LOVE it. They're really a couple of fish.

But when they came out of the locker room today after my quick treadmill run - something seemed off.

"How was swimming?" I asked 'em...

Meron was quick to respond:

"It was great except for the girl who made a racist comment about us."
Whoa... pump the brakes...


She went on to explain that about 20 minutes in to swimming, they climbed out to get in line for the slide - and a girl was in between Mebbie and Meron. This girl looked at them both - then turned and looked right at Mebbie and said:

"Ewwww. I'm stuck between two dark people."

It was all I could do to maintain my composure.

"Take me to her," I said.

They tried but we couldn't find her - it looked like her and her mom had left.

I shared the details with the front desk - but with little they could do - we left to head home.

Meron was MAD.

Mebbie was HURT.

Zechie was UPSET that somebody hurt his sisters.

And me? Well I was waffling between wanting to cry at the shameful place our country has become and wanting to punch things.

And in it all... here is why I love my crew so much.

We jumped in the van and had THE ABSOLUTE BEST conversation ever.

Real stuff. Tears. Anger. Authenticity.

I know my kids' feelings well because they feel free and safe to share them.

And they know their daddy ain't taking crap from anybody when it comes to them.

When I posted earlier this year after we had some similar comments during an incident at the school - I had some people argue pretty strongly that "racism wasn't any worse these days." That it's "not just against black or brown people." All kinds of disgusting white privilege arguments.

I wish they knew how stupid they sound.

The leaders of our country have empowered and awakened a sleeping giant called racism. They have given it the confidence to remove its "hood" and be loud and proud with the hate and superior white privilege complex that is running rampant in our country these days.

And if you don't see it - you are willfully ignorant.

Ultimately - this girl here is who i was most concerned with. She was quiet as we headed out to grab dinner... close to tears it seemed.

We chatted a lot - and when I asked her how it made her feel she said:
"Why would she say that? She made me feel so less and so not worth anything..."
Tonight - after we watched a movie as a whole crew (and I fell asleep in between my beautiful brown children - no "ewww" involved)... I made the signs up there and showed them to Mebbie.

"What do you think?" I asked her.

"It's perfect daddy," she said. "And it's true. I AM stronger than that."

And she is. All of them are.

I stand in awe of all they have overcome and all they continue to stare down and do it with grace and humility and strength.

Some people are like "Dude... Tymm... yo talk about race and racism a lot..."

And to that I say: "Yep. And I'll keep talking til it's no longer a relevant subject with anything left to talk about..."

And P.S.A. for anybody inclined to show their true self to my kids, my self or my family in any manner... we're calling folks like you out. So stop being racists.

Racism still sucks...

Thursday, July 12, 2018

There She Goes Again...

Pajamas on and everybody snoozing as we head back from Denver at midnight can only mean one thing...

We just dropped mommy off for the first flight of her trip to Ethiopia!

10 years of going to Ethiopia annually (multiple times a year) and we're still going strong!

Will you join us in covering Laura in prayer as she travels and as she is in-country hanging with some of the best humans on the planet?

And this crew right here - we miss mommy BIG TIME when she's gone.

But we couldn't be any more proud of her and the heart she has for Ethiopia and people all over!

We can't wait to hear all about the kids, our friends and how the new school is coming along!

Godspeed, mommy!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Always and Forever...

Just a little reminder that this here statement?

It's the truth... always and forever!

Seems like now more than ever - we need to declare this and declare it LOUDLY and BOLDLY - as our country seems to have lost its ever-loving mind!

And while this may be one of the first posts without the goofballs in it... it was worth it to drive home the point of where we stand as a family.

Wanna show where you stand too?

My friend Tasha sells these shirts over here:

So go scoop ya one or two of your own!

I know our whole family is gonna get some here soon...

I get lots of head nods, hand shakes and "Yep, it sure does" comments when I wear this around town.

So let's keep the conversation going because...

Always and Forever... RACISM SUCKS.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Hey, Meron...

That's literally all I said...

"Hey, Meron..."

I was trying to get her attention to snap a picture of her as we walked back from VBS.

And she turned without missing a beat with this look on her face.

The girl is an absolute nutcase.

But ya know what...?

I love it!

Monday, July 9, 2018

VBS-ing It...

The goofballs missed our church's VBS program while they were on their "Hang With Granny" road trip... so we were excited that the church that meets in our neighborhood announced a vacation bible school in the park directly across the street from us...

And everybody was invited!

They were super excited about it - and so were me and Laura since we could go squeeze in a "date night run" together!

Ya always wonder how these things will go and if the goofballs will have fun...

Well - we got our answer when we picked them up!

Somebody was super stoked about his craft mask he made - and Meron and Mebski just kept saying:

"I am so glad we went! It was so much fun!"
Hearing that made our night!

I love that these guys are so willing to roll into a space that they have never been and just fall right in place with those around them!

I hope that piece of them never, ever changes!

2 more days of it guys - have a BLAST!

Go be a BRIGHT LIGHT for Him!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Love Thy Neighbor...

Like any neighborhood - ours has its drama and craziness... but when it comes to GIVING... these neighbors of ours blow the socks off of folks!

Laura is headed to Ethiopia this week and on a whim she posted in our neighborhood Facebook group asking if anybody had any excellent condition shoes they would be willing to donate to help us bless some wonderful ladies in a ministry we work with there.

Just look at these results!

I love this so much!

So many shoes, so many styles, so many sizes... and all in EXCELLENT shape!

This is legit how it had us feeling...

Humbled, amazed and in awe!

I absolutely dig it when God presents an opportunity for Brighton's short but enormous 76 days to make an impact all around us here domestically as well.

These neighbors of ours loved and loved well!

Thanks neighbors... for rocking some seriously huge and giving hearts!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

I Think They Have Gills...

I am pretty sure if I looked hard enough on these three - I would find gills!

They absolutely LOVE to be in the water!

And our main neighborhood pool had a little mishap that led to a delayed opening - with today being the first day it was open - and guess where these goofballs were?

Right smack up in that pool, that's where!

They get insane amounts of cardio and workouts in the summer... IT'S CRAZY!

And I love watching them have a blast out there!

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...

Friday, July 6, 2018

Spices With A Kick!

Who would have thought that a company selling spices would be the one that shows us how to be bold and stand up for what's right?

Not me... that's for sure... but guess what

Penzeys Spices be knowing... and they ain't staying quiet about it!

And we're loving it!

Laura recently got an email from them detailing this special they were running:

"So today and tomorrow (July 6 & 7) we are spotlighting the danger of supporting this President while celebrating the decency and goodness of those his administration and Party seek to dehumanize with a free $31.95 value Embrace Hope box."
So Laura and the goofballs hit up the store here in Colorado Springs for a free Embrace Hope box and to tell these folks how proud of 'em we were!

Inside this awesome little gift box was some salsa spices, some vanilla extract, an awesome magnet and pin and some cards detailing their hearts.

The Embrace Hope card had this to say:
America is an immigrant nation. It is the strength of immigration that has propelled us from just another colony to leadership among the free world. one of the greatest gifts America receives from each new wave of immigrants is an ever refreshing sense of hope, that from our Spice travels we can tell you is so rare in most everywhere else around the globe. To see America through the eyes of immigrants is to see an almost magical place where, no matter where or who you were born, your hard work can amount to something, and even better - a place where your children can receive an honest opportunity to earn a better future.

Each new wave of immigrants brings with it their own unique culture. We are so lucky to live in a time where the traditions of the wave we get to experience are so rich, and so very tasty too. Please take a moment to celebrate the kindness they bring, appreciate how much they've given up to be here, and embrace the hope at the heart of their journey. They are our future. Now is the time to thank them.

Three years ago, our President rolled out this campaign including these words: "Likewise, tremendous infectious diseases is pouring across the border." Anyone with a sense of 20th century history has no doubt who he was channeling with these words. America has always had its racists, and something about immigration has always brought out the inhumanity in a segment of our population, but what this administration is attempting is something much, much worse. In saying they are diseased, they are animals, their children should be taken away from them, this is so far beyond mere racism, this is actually Nazism and it now lives in the White House. As long as it is there, everything good in our country's history is at incredible risk.

If these beliefs ever become mainstream, the suffering will be unimaginable. But yet there is hope. In the tremendous outpouring of human decency in response to what this administration was inflicting on the most vulnerable and the most innocent, there is hope that America's best days are not behind us. Yes, two years ago suppression, collusion, lies and unlimited political spending could change the outcome of an election, but all of that combined could not change the kindness at the heart of the American spirit. November's coming.

Embrace Hope! - Thank you.
Man... they had us at the first few sentences!

Laura and the goofballs got the chance to talk to the employees and really tell them thank you for what they stand for!

They got the free Embrace Hope box - but also bought some other spices... and I can tell you where ALL of our spices will be coming from going forward!

So go check 'em out here and look for a store near you and be encouraged by the idea that morals, character and integrity DO still matter to some in our country!

Stay spicy Penzeys - and thanks for the encouragement by just being you!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

All Boy All the Time

This dude right here... he is 100% boy 100% of the time!

He is snarky, silly, funny, crazy and pushing all the boundaries and testing all the rules.

He keeps us on our toes!

If he has proven anything to us - it's that little boys are NOTHING like little girls!

But in a super good way!

We love ya, Z-Dogg... stay crazy!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

I'm Proud To Be An...

Ahhhhhh.... this day.

July 4th.

Independence Day.


Red, white and blue.

All the things...

Man - never before have I wrestled with this holiday before this year. Before this last year we've all lived out here in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Let me be super clear... this isn't about lack of respect for soldiers who have valiantly fought for freedoms here and abroad.

Not at all... I have the utmost respect for them.

And this isn't about the outta control, terrifying and creepy Christian Nationalism that seems to be sweeping the "Church" these days.

You know - the one that screams "Anti-American!" at anybody who dares to question our leaders' motives or doesn't pledge their allegiance to a piece of cloth.

That'll never be me. EVER. However...

I am lucky to be an American.

I am happy to be an American.

I am thankful to be an American.

But proud... I dunno man... pride is the last thing I'm feeling about our place these days.

I mean... at times... I am embarrassed to be an American.

Because at times... America's hubris is totally negating all the efforts those valiant soldiers put forth.

At times I am disappointed in America and what she seems to be becoming.

At times I'm incredibly saddened by friends who seem to have completely changed to the core of their hearts over the last year and a half (or maybe they're just suddenly comfortable showing who they really are).

And that's the America we seem to be in these days.

And then - I got these three beautiful souls to consider.

And I wrestle with it all - daily.

We want them to be equally as proud of their status as a citizen of this country as they are of being born in Ethiopia.

We spend a LOT of effort trying to convey that and teach it and show it and support it.

And then the leader of the land of the free and the home of the brave includes their birth country in what he calls "sh#@ hole countries."

But I should scream how patriotic we all need to be, right?

Or another young man who looks like my three kids do - beautifully brown by design - is gunned down in the streets by the very people charged with protecting them.

And I tell my kids about peaceful protests to try to bring about change - but the protestors are painted as anti-patriotic haters of America.

And I'm supposed to press an unhindered, unadulterated patriotic nationalism on them and call it "pride."

I can't and won't do that.

Nope... today we celebrated the historical greatness of this country we live in. Because 'Murica HAS done a lot of great in it's life time.

So today - we study the great history of America and we lean on it and we pray and hope that the legacy of this great country has the strength and perseverance to survive the today of this great country.
And believing in what this country has done and stood for in the past? THAT is patriotic.

A friend of mine said this recently:
"Wanting your country to actually live up to the words in its creed is patriotic. Resisting principles contrary to that... is patriotic."
And I couldn't agree more.

You wanna know what I AM proud of these days?

People raising their voices... standing for what's right... knowing what it might do to their relationships, their friendships, their families...

But standing and speaking anyways... and doing it because they know in their heart of hearts... America is better than what we're showing the world today.

Happy Birthday, America.

And what is it they say? "And many more..."

I certainly hope so.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Sandwiched in the Middle!

This girl right here... man I love her to death!

She's creative, athletic, loving, joyful, funny, caring, compassionate and full of life.

And she is...

Sandwiched in between two BIG personalities!

But Mebbie - here's the deal, girl...

Daddy sees you!

I don't miss any of ya, girl!

You bring me joy and you make me feel loved with your endless cards filled with life-giving words!

I'm thankful for you and I never miss seeing you!

Stay awesome, Mebbie - cuz we see you!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Of the Stuffed Persuasion...

I love that every night she still surrounds herself with some of her favorite stuffed animals!

As a stuffed animal lover myself - this brings me joy!

Laura would love to purge the downstairs of stuffed animals - but I just can't bring myself to do it!

And I love that she loves 'em too!

Cling to 'em, Meron - never, ever let go!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Giving with Granny!

One of the things the goofballs got to do when they were in North Carolina was spend a little time at a ministry that their Granny started called "Sew to Sow."

Inspired by seeing a picture of Mebbie in a dress before she came home - Granny started this ministry to deliver clothes and school uniforms to children ALL OVER THE WORLD and to date has shipped something like 11,000+ outfits all over the globe!

Granny and her friends sew insane amounts of clothes and chase down insane amounts of donations from people to help kids all over feel better about what they're wearing!

These two right here were SO EXCITED to be able to lend a hand!

Granny called them the "Junior Sew to Sow" crew!

Even this little homie got in on the action!

Meron summed up how she felt by saying:

"Granny... if I lived here I would help you every single day with this!"
And I believe she and Mebbie would do it!

And little Z-Dogg too!

The goofballs were stoked that they got to help pack up uniforms and outfits that will be headed to Brighton Academy this fall to be handed out as Christmas gifts by the Ethiopian staff to all of the students!

And of course - as we would absolutely expect from Granny - not a single thing leaves this place without being prayed over!

I now one thing is for certain - this crew of little goofballs is super proud of their Granny for all the hard work she puts in to help kids all over the place!

Thanks Granny for the awesome model of giving you are providing to those around you!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

His "Evil Eye"

He was sitting across from me when he did it.

He looked at me and said:

"It's my evil eye, daddy..."
I laughed...

He didn't seem to take that laughter well...

I told him it looked more like the "goofy and maybe a little deranged eye"

He looked at me like I was crazy!

And I said, "What? It's true!"

And this was his response!

Man... I'm glad this goofball is back home!

Your "evil" is more "goofy" Z-Dogg... and that's a good thing!

Friday, June 29, 2018

I Need 'Em Back!

These are my people right here...

Without them around - I tend to be a little bit incomplete.

And for the last NINE NIGHTS they have been gone.

The house has been WAY TOO QUIET.

The dogs are tired of me and have basically agreed to not look me in the eye any more.

The cul de sac is far too empty.

But it all changes tomorrow!

That's right. They are recharging right now for the final leg of the trip and the universe will be set back to "PROPER" tomorrow.

I am so glad they made the trip East and had a good time... but I am even more happy that they are back tomorrow!

Get home, homies... the camp misses ya!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

I Didn't Even Know I Had it...

She was standing by my desk with a ziploc baggie marked "From Mebbie" in her hands.

I asked her what was up and she thrust the bag towards me and said:

"Here... I want Brighton Their World to have this... it's thirteen dollars!"
We have regularly reminded them about giving - but $13 was a lot for her... so I said "Mebbie... are you sure..??"

She said:
"Yes, Daddy! I just found it in my room - I didn't even know I had it! So why do I need to keep it?"
This girl...

I kept pressing her - was there somewhere else she wanted to give it to? Something else she cared about? Something close to her heart?

She said:
"Brighton Their World IS close to my heart..."
I do not deserve the joy this girl brings to our world...

But I'll take it!

Mebbie - you rock! Never stop being the you He made you to be!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Way Too Long

It's always WAY TOO LONG in between visits with Grandma Judy!

And while I was bummed I didn't get to see her - I was so glad the goofballs got to get a little time in with her.

She loves our crew well and we're thankful for her!

We love you, Grandma Judy!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

They Sat So We Could Stand Up

A rainy morning in Greensboro, NC - so what better thing to do than go visit the International Civil Rights Center and Museum located in the original Woolworth store where the famous Greensboro Sit In took place!

What do you know about that sit in?

On Feb. 1, 1960, four students from all-black North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College walked into a Woolworth five-and-dime with the intention of ordering lunch.

But the manager of the Greensboro Woolworth had intentions of his own — to maintain the lunch counter's strict whites-only policy.

Franklin McCain was one of the four young men who shoved history forward by refusing to budge - and he shared this about the feelings he had when he sat down:

"Fifteen seconds after ... I had the most wonderful feeling. I had a feeling of liberation, restored manhood. I had a natural high. And I truly felt almost invincible. Mind you, [I was] just sitting on a dumb stool and not having asked for service yet,"

"It's a feeling that I don't think that I'll ever be able to have again. It's the kind of thing that people pray for ... and wish for all their lives and never experience it. And I felt as though I wouldn't have been cheated out of life had that been the end of my life at that second or that moment."
On that first day, Feb. 1, the four men stayed at the lunch counter until closing. The next day, they came back with 15 other students. By the third day, 300 joined in; later, 1,000.

The sit-ins spread to lunch counters across the country — and changed history.

The Greensboro Four are worth remembering! Say their names with me...

Joseph McNeil

Franklin McCain

Ezell Blair Jr.

David Richmond

On Monday, July 25, 1960, after nearly $200,000 in losses ($1.7 million today), store manager Clarence Harris asked three black employees to change out of their work clothes and order a meal at the counter.

They were, quietly, the first to be served at a Woolworth lunch counter.

While I am a little jealous they got to go learn of this incredible history and I missed out - I am SO GLAD they did.

In these times were in right now - these precious lives I've been entrusted to raise need to know STANDING FOR WHAT'S RIGHT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO.

I have no doubt that they would willingly do the same - and they know their mommy and daddy would be right there beside them!

Thank you Greensboro Four - for what you did then - and for your story empowering the lives and minds and spirits of my little crew today.

Always stand for what's right guys - in words and actions - and I will ALWAYS have your back!