It’s strange for me to use the word readers is strange, because so many who only knew me, or knew of me from reading one or all of my books, eventually became friends or acquaintances. I am grateful for this journey of writing, and it’s truly a journey I never intended to embark upon, that is, until the Creator of my understanding guided me to write three books so far, and thankfully there’s another one in the works. And although the Creator of my understanding is God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, if I were to dare call myself a Christian, it would be specifically a red letter Christian – the pure love, forgiveness and service that Jesus Christ not only spoke about but lived – that is what I adhere to and do my best to follow. I am not some zealot who thinks I have the right way and others are wrong. If I see someone walking in love, then I see God, regardless of what religion, spiritual practice, what name they use to address God, or if the person has no religion, spiritual practice or particular name they use to address God, if I see, hear and feel love then I know I am blessed to witness God moving. So, my dear readers, thank you for finding benefit in what God has given me to share with you. Thank you for supporting what God has given me to share. Thank you for inviting me to your communities and embracing love together, not only in the books God wrote through me, but in our conversations, when we broke bread together, and in the love and welcoming of not only me, but my wife and children.
I truly don’t think you’ll ever understand what an honor it is to hear from you when you’ve shared that something God wrote through me has blessed you and helped you through a difficult time. I truly don’t think you’ll ever know what an honor it is when I am blessed to sit at a table, look you in the eyes as you’re holding one of the books God wrote through me, ask your name and then write a message upon the first page of the book. I don’t think you’ll ever understand it because I truly could never describe it in words. Thank you.
Readers, please know that God is real. Please know that whatever you’re going through or whatever rivers you will go through, that there truly is an All Knowing – Omnipotent – Loving Creator in you and walking with you. And for those of you who have moved from reader to friend in my life, you know that me bearing my heart and being what some would call vulnerable is not something I fear, to the contrary it’s the only way I know how to truly connect with God, myself and you. I am writing this blog post for those who need it, and simply put, because God told me to. It is a thank you to you, my readers and friends, but most importantly this is a testimony to God and God’s all knowing all loving power. Take heed and take courage.
When I began writing my first book, God, Help Me Tie My Shoes! The Sacred Contract of Fatherhood, I was living in Michigan on about a three month layoff from work, working odd jobs under the table, several months behind on rent, no working vehicle, and going to the Salvation Army once a week to get food for my family. At the time I first began writing the book I didn’t know the difference between your and you’re, and there were so many grammatical mistakes in the book, yes, even after it was published and made public, that I beat myself up and almost lost all hope that I truly heard from God to write. I mean, how could I have heard from God to write if I made that many mistakes, right? After some more writing practice, study and research I went back and edited the book to the best of my ability, and there are still and always will be mistakes in the book. I could go back and rewrite the entire book now, especially with a much better understanding of writing, grammar and some friends who are professional editors, but I am not going to. Why? Because it’s a testimony, especially to the youth I am blessed to speak with all over this country. Despite all the mistake, my frailties, the circumstances my family and I were in when I listened to God and began to write it, that book was still nominated for a few national awards, was in the top thirty finalists in a Hay House Publishing writing competition, and was utilized by actor/author Hill Harper’s Manifest Your Destiny Foundation as a guide for youth mentors. The last words of that book were written at around 3:00 am, after having a gun put to my head while I was working full time as a gang interventionist in Dallas, Texas. Despite us, our frailties, challenges and mistakes, if we’re willing, God will pour through us a river of life to bless others with. God is real and really shows up when we bring all our brokenness to His throne of Love, Grace and Forgiveness.
When I began writing my second book, The Four, my family and I were still living in Dallas, Texas and I was still working full time as a gang interventionist on-call 24/7, and even when there weren’t any crisis calls (which was rare), I still worked six days a week with an average of sixty-four hours or more each week dealing with deep layers of trauma, mostly on the streets in uncontrolled environments, maneuvering through violence, bullets and simply offering peace to those who were willing to receive it. Where my family and I lived at the time was in the heart of where I worked, so gunshots, fights, and violence in all its forms was literally in our front yard. During those years, I was literally working and living on the battlefield, yet our home became a safe haven for many, and I have so many stories about our backyard being filled with rival gang members breaking bread together and looking at things from a different perspective that I could write and entire series of books about that alone. The last lines of The Four were written through me after my family and I moved to Montgomery County, Texas where I accepted a job offer as a Street Outreach Crisis Counselor, which I thought would be a break from gang intervention (just typing that made me laugh), I was wrong, it wasn’t a break, but that’s for another time. Those last lines were wrote near a park after handing out food, clothes, and gift cards to homeless youth a little after midnight. One by one, each of those youth opened up to me and told me of all the horror they’ve experienced in their short lives, and how they desperately wanted to know what home is, but resigned themselves to thinking they’ll never know home other than the streets. That night, after story upon story, tear upon tear, scar upon scar revealed by the youth about rape, being trafficked, hunger, and their heroic ability to hold on to something they’ve never experienced – compassion, they vowed to care for each other, and offered a generosity I’ve seldom witnessed. We cried together, prayed together, and although I was exhausted that evening, when I went home and my family was asleep, God wrote the last lines of The Four through me. God, through that book has taken me to many places in the United States and has given me true friendships that have blessed me more than words can say. God is real and really shows up when we bring all our brokenness to His throne of Love, Grace and Forgiveness.
When God began writing my third book through me, Rain of Thoughts, which is a book of short stories and poems, I was working full time as a Street Outreach Crisis counselor, on-call 24/7, dealing with some of the most horrific, trauma-filled situations involving children you’ll ever see. Truly a calling to the ground-zero moments in the lives of youth and young adults. Many days and nights were twelve to twenty hour shifts, little sleep, little food, and run after run that I haven’t fully processed, nor do I know if I ever will. I was ran off the road by sex traffickers, had my life threatened many times, went inside more dope houses, trap houses and hotels filled with kids drenched in trauma than I care to remember. But the focus was always exclusively on God and getting the child and/or children to safety. Also during this time, my mother who almost died from not being medically treated, and sitting on a bed with a broken hip and severe infection for two weeks in Mexico had just been medically evacuated here to us. The entire process took almost two weeks of sleepless nights, endless phone calls, fundraising, and more diplomatic tape to maneuver through than I can possibly explain. After my mother was stable and getting better, my family lost most of our material possessions in an apartment fire. The organization I worked with and still do, came together and got us new beds, blankets, etc., and even provided us grief counseling, because we almost didn’t make it out of that fire. And it was after all this that God wrote the last lines of Rain of Thoughts through me. God is real and really shows up when we bring all our brokenness to His throne of Love, Grace and Forgiveness.
I am chipping away at a new book as God guides and provides the lines to me. I still work as a crisis counselor and administrator at our emergency youth shelter. During the past fourteen months, our oldest daughter, who was not sick, suddenly passed away at the age of twenty-three. The last man who I called dad passed away. A horrific crime was committed against our niece. And in my full time job, day and night, me and my coworkers carry the years and tears of the trauma of children. We break up fights, stop suicides, and get beat up pretty good on a daily and nightly basis, both physically and emotionally. Guess what? My family and I are still praising and thanking God. We’re still looking for and finding the gems, the gifts, the beauty that God always has waiting for eyes that see, even in the most difficult storms. Sure, my family and I cry and will again. We mourn and will again. We feel the numbing, inexplicable pain of a heartbreak so profound that it literally feels like your soul is shaking, and will again. Moments like that happen in this life, and those moments suck, but we don’t have to be sucked into those moments and allow those moments to become the rest of our lives. God is real and really shows up when we bring all our brokenness to His throne of Love, Grace and Forgiveness.
Dear readers, thank you. Not for reading what God wrote through me, but for allowing God to rewrite your tears and fears to smiles and love. I know, my family and I know, that some moments are hard, seemingly impossible to survive, but you will, we will, and not only will we survive, we’ll thrive. There’s victory in Jesus Christ – an inexplicable victory in simply holding His hand, and allowing His hand to guide us in every and any situation. I am not talking about religion but I am talking about relationship. No matter what challenges you’re going through, if you allow God, God will transform the poisons of the painful moments to healing medicines. God is real and really shows up when we bring all our brokenness to His throne of Love, Grace and Forgiveness.
I’ll never know enough to have conclusions. I simply toss my love, prayer, laughter and tears upon the canvas and allow God to paint what He will. And I am most certainly not superman, a hero or martyr, I am just your brother in Christ who wants you to see Him and His love reflected in your eyes and life. Maybe God isn’t guiding you to write, perhaps it’s painting, singing, a degree, diploma, parenting or business venture, whatever it is, the time will never be perfect, just take one small, prayerful, inspired step at a time and see what manifests despite your frailties, obstacles and challenges. God is real and really shows up when we bring all our brokenness to His throne of Love, Grace and Forgiveness.
Dear readers, thank you. I just wanted to share a little bit about me, and a lot about He Who writes through me.
~ Walk in Beauty,