At midnight tonight I turn 40 years old...4-0. WOW! How time flies when you're having fun. As I reflect back I can see that God definitely had his hand on me and my life.
(If you don't feel like reading all of this stuff or you just don't have the time, you can just skip past all of my ramblings to the bottom to get the good stuff)
Growing up I was blessed to have so many influential people in my life that loved me. I learned from my grandfather at an early age that it is so much more fulfilling to GIVE than to take. He was an amazing man. He owned a funeral home.
Have you ever visited a funeral home JUST to visit the funeral director? I swear EVERY DAY my grandfather had at least 10-20 different people that would come to the funeral home just to have a cup of coffee and a laugh. He was the kind of guy that would bend over backwards to make everyone he met feel welcomed and loved. They loved being around him. He brought out the best in them, and me.
He passed away when I was 10. I remember at his funeral, there were so many in attendance people were lined up outside AND the funeral was televised for all those that couldn't make it. He and my grandmother (Granny) ALWAYS saw to it that I was in church and new that God loved me and had a plan for my life.
My mother had me at a young age of 17. As the son of a young mother, I have had the benefit of a close relationship with my mom. I remember her being much taller and stronger as a kid.
Being a single mother the majority of my youth was difficult I'm sure, but she always made sure that I had everything I needed and most of what I wanted. She has been a blessing to me throughout my life and even today. I learned from her that strength comes in all sizes.
I have the very good fortune of having two fathers; my biological father and my adopted father. These two men demonstrated to me in two very distinct ways how to be a man. Sometimes I learned from them by what NOT to do. But that's how life is, right? Always be learning friends.
I love both of them dearly and am very happy to have a great relationship with each of them. I honestly don't feel I'd be where I am today without the two of them pouring into me in their own ways.
Let's fast forward a few years. At age 20 my first son, Jaicob, was born. He was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and I was in love at first sight. I didn't expect the flood of emotions I experienced when they placed him in my hands. Two years later I got to experience that a second time.
Noah was born in the afternoon in a tiny little hospital in Natchitoches, Louisiana. It was a Tuesday. I have enjoyed watching them grow up. Unfortunately they had to experience the inexperienced, impatient, poor, uneducated version of me. Thankfully, throughout the years, they've been kind enough to give me an over-abundance of grace. I've quite often reciprocated and extended to them a similar level of grace. They are two great young men. I am more and more proud of them each and every day.
In 2008 I met the love of my life...
Let me digress for a second. The institution of marriage was created by God. His plan was not for people to give themselves to each other frivolously. Consequences of pre-marital sexual relationships can be many. Some of these consequences include stress, emotional hurt, depression, anxiety, and even loss.
Sex was never meant to be casual. Unfortunately, many, myself included, have given in to their desires and to that little voice in their head in the heat of the moment. Some even rationalize that they will one day marry this person anyway. I'm not here to judge. I'm just speaking from experience. Pre-marital sex will alway lead to pain, and that pain can and will be experienced by not just you or your partner but also by the eventual result. You both deserve better. Your children deserve better...wait. You'll be glad you did.
Back to 2008. I never in my life thought I could experience a love as deep as the love I discovered when I met Melle. We were married in Las Vegas in 2010 and my life has been an amazing ride ever since! I have so much fun being around her and hate to be away from her. She's an angel on earth that, for some reason, God blessed me with. She's so strong and yet so tinder. She's so talented and yet so humble. She's so brilliant and yet committed to always learning. She always inspires me. I have laughed more over the past 9 years than all the years before them combined. Everyday she makes me want to be better than I was the previous day, and she's patient enough and loving enough and supportive enough to put up with it.
When Melle and I found out she was pregnant right before Halloween in 2011 we were shocked. We were almost two years into our honeymoon and we weren't ready to come down. I once heard someone say that if you want to make God laugh, tell Him what your plans are! I delivered Maximus Ward at our home on May 9, 2012 and I experienced God's love and grace for the third time. He was perfect and Melle showed me what real strength looked like. I have never in my life before nor since been any more awe than I was as I watched Melle in labor with each of our two boys. Trust me friends, she's the strong one in this relationship. I had the privilege to watch her in action once again when I was blessed enough to deliver our second son, Titus, again in our home.
My grandmother (Granny) always told me "Brandon (that's what I go by at home) if you're the smartest one in the room, go to another room." I've always lived by that advice. I always try to surround myself with people who make me aspire to be better. That being said, I have been so blessed to become friends with SOOOOO many great people. Stay humble friends.
Everybody is better than you at something and have experiences and lessons you can glean from. I've also heard it said that you are a mirror reflection of the top five people you spend the most time with. Is that true for you? Look at those you hang out with. See any similarities? This kind of goes back to what my Granny would say. If you desire greatness, if you desire more for your life, hang out with people that will inspire you and push you to be greater.
Life is an amazing journey. It's a symphony with different movements being represented by many different seasons within a lifetime. It can be sad and somber, it can be fast and exciting, and it can be painful. It's beautiful. Because with each experience, you get to learn a little bit more about yourself and about life. I believe the bad times are just as important as the good times. Without the bad, you never really know how good the good is.
One more thought about that; I believe God allows us to go through tough times for a couple reasons. One, to draw us nearer to Him. Second, so that we can help others going through similar situations. It's difficult to help others effectively without experiencing similar rough patches, isn't it? We're here for a reason, and that reason is not just to exist in our own little bubble. These are just my opinions.
So, today I'm 40 and life has never looked so good. I'm in the nurse practitioner program and it takes up a lot of my time. However, I don't let it run my life. I've learned to compartmentalize through the years. One way I've learned to do this is to set an hourly timer. Each day I workout for an hour. I practice my violin for an hour (or whatever instrument I'm learning at the time). I read for an hour (30 minutes in the Word and 30 minutes of something else). I'm very intent on doing these things in front of my children. They won't always do what you say, but they will ALWAYS do what you do. If not now...eventually. So always be aware of the person you are in front of your kids. They are always watching, whether you think so or not.
I don't know what God has in store for me, but I will continue to become the very best version of me I can be. I will continue to seek His will for my life and to serve others as best I can. Many people may look at 40 as getting old or even experience mid-life crises. Well, friends, I'm just getting started! The first 40 years was just so I could get my bearings-the foundation. Now it's time to make some big things happen.
Here are 10 life lessons I've learned up until this point:
1.Put God first
2.It's not about you
5.Take care of yourself
6.Surround yourself with others that inspire you
7.Love and laugh often
8.Always be learning
9.Enjoy the little things in life (the little things are actually the big things in disguise)
10.Set an example for your children
I wish I could name every person that's made an impact on my life. I have soooo many people that I love and hold so dear to my heart. I could literally right a book expressing my love and appreciation to so many people.
Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! I appreciate you for giving it a look. If you enjoyed reading it, I'd love it if you shared it with someone that might benefit from reading it. THANKS!