Sunday, June 21, 2015

Patience Meets Frustration - Shouldn't Have to be This Way

I've seen it happen. I know it exists. I admire the way some folks can put aside petty differences to allow their kids to be involved with both parents. Kids need this to flourish and grow into healthy and mature adults. Kids stand a much better chance in life when they are involved with both parents after a divorce. Overwhelming amounts of research show how important both parents are to a child's life. With as hard as society can be on a person we need to give kids every chance they can get.

When I went through a divorce the first time I was so concerned with how it would affect my kids. I wanted to be a part of the lives of my children but not being able to drive made that a challenge. I was born with visual issues that challenged me in life enough to keep me from being able to drive. I knew this was going to compound the issue. However, when the divorce occurred I tried to make it the few hours I needed to so I could see my children as often as I could. The help of many friends made that possible. I am very thankful for those people.

Then I met her. We got together very early in a relationship and dragged a lot of baggage from our pasts into it as well. She made promises of how she would make sure I had the opportunity to see my kids and even said to my ex wife at one point, "You should be happy that there is someone in his life that cares about his kids now."

I thought she meant the things she said. I found out differently in time.

Logan and I
Unfortunately with the baggage we dealt with we both fell back into old patterns and made mistakes. We got deeper involved in our relationship and there were things I learned to live with that just continued to take small bites at my conscience as our relationship progressed. Part of that included her deciding at some point early on that she wasn't going to continue to help me pursue a relationship with my kids from my previous relationship. At that time in my life I felt bad enough about myself I felt I deserved to not see them. My youngest son Chuck was a toddler the last time my oldest two kids saw my youngest two kids - almost 11 years ago!

I was walking home from work when I got the text message from my soon to be ex-wife that she had found trucks and moved out. As we went through the separation period I was starting to get reacquainted with my oldest son Logan and the times we spent together were extremely precious. Seeing Logan play basketball in High School and then graduate. Spending time with him and Dylan, his younger brother, made me realize much time had passed. I wasn't going to get the past back but there was hopefully some future to restore relationships. As Logan and I got closer it became obvious that he wanted to get to know his younger brothers and that has become a desire of mine as well.

I was able to see my younger kids throughout the separation process. When she felt they needed a haircut or something she called and brought Brock and Chuck to me for a few hours. I knew what the pattern was here but I just wanted to see my kids. If she wanted something she allowed me to see the kids. None of that was more evident when she called one day shortly after she had moved out and told me she was going to bring the kids by. What I found out that day is that she was going to bring friends she had with trucks and was going to use the kids as an excuse to come clean out the rest of the house. She knew that if the kids were there I wasn't going to put up much of a fight. The approach that all of the pre-divorce videos that we were warned against became a real life scenario. The kids were indeed being used as a riot shield and there wasn't a thing I could, or would, do about it. All I could do was watch her and friends I used to have from a Church we both went to take things as if I had no say in the process at all. It was a frustrating day. I realized at that moment some of our friends would start taking sides without realizing what exactly had happened throughout the process. People just didn't seem to care what had happened in our split; I was simply the person that was in the wrong and my opinion of the process didn't matter.

There were so many things I have found out as the relationship split. Truths that were uncovered that I just didn't realize made me see why things happened the way they did. I have realized that the woman that hasn't allowed me to have time with my kids more than a handful of times since the divorce had a past of embezzlement and dishonesty. So, I suppose it's not a surprise that she would think it's okay to steal time that my kids and I should have together. it's just something else that she feels like it's okay to take. It's not money, but rather an embezzlement of time.  I don't blame God for any of what has occurred; I simply realize that some that say they follow Christ don't see some aspects of their lives as transgression. After all, Christians have started wars over things that God would never see as acceptable. When she left, it seemed a whole Church that I had tithed to for over 2 years never contacted me once to ask if I was alright. I suppose the Church had no real reason to hear both sides of a story. When you are a Mega-Church like James River you can discard a person here and there and not really miss a beat.
Logan, Brock, and Chuck

Good news is my oldest son has had the opportunity to see my youngest two sons shortly after Logan and Brock and I got together for the first time in eleven years.This has been a long time coming and I am so thankful for the opportunity. I was hoping to be able to spend more time with the youngest kids over the summer and hopefully get all four boys together because a friend of mine came to town for a couple months and wanted to help me with transportation. However, it seems my ex wife had other plans. It seems that every time I have tried to contact her she has either ignored texts, emails, and phone calls. Regardless of what the parenting plan states she has decided that what she wants in these situations is more important. She has even used my Son's phone to send a message telling me that they wanted to see me without the friend. However, it turns out that it wasn't my sons message at all- his phone wasn't in his possession at the time it was sent.

Logan, Me, and Brock. First time together in 11 years
I will say I am thankful for my opportunities in life and I am in a place now personally that is head and shoulders better than I have been in so many years. I am not perfect, and I have made mistakes. However, I am a Dad who has never stopped loving his boys and I look forward to every opportunity I have with them. I am hoping for the right legislation to fall into place for a Dad to have a chance to have a relationship with the kids. It seems like Missouri Child Services is much more involved on the money collection end of things than they are in the Father's visitation enforcement. I pray for the right people in my life that may be able to help pave the way for this. I love my boys and I want to know them and be there when I can be. A Father should have access to his kids and kids should have equal access to both parents.

I know this was a bit of a long winded post, but I had a lot to say. I would love feedback as well as your stories. I have seen that I am not alone in this struggle. I have come across many stories in support groups that simply break my heart. I also know that there has been a lot of legislation in places that Fathers have been assisted by. I look forward to the future, and seeing what my boys become. I pray for opportunities to be a part of that whenever possible.

Some of my favorite and most recent pics of Logan, Dylan, Brock, and Chuck

Sunday, June 7, 2015

It is What it is... True Inspirational Bravery Versus Something We Water Down

I remember back in the day when Charles Barkley did a commercial that got a lot of attention. Remember the Nike commercial where he loudly proclaims he is not a role model? I remember it really well. Back then I was working with kids as well as raising boys. I really liked what the short commercial has to say. Unfortunately, Charles caught a whole lot of criticism regarding this commercial and how he should be embracing his role. When in fact I feel like he had a really good handle on what his role was to be in life. In a society where so few parents are willing to take responsibility for their kids and rely on the "Village" to raise them for them we are more than willing to allow kids to follow whatever they feel is worth following. He said in a later interview on CNN that he knew he would take criticism for telling kids to listen to their parents. In so many cases parents just don't want to pick up that ball for many reasons. Unfortunately, we point our kids in some really strange directions to find inspiration.

English: Source:
Like Charles has stated, in many venues, there are many better places to find role models in the world. I was raised to value my freedom and those brave people that with great courage and valor have given that freedom to us. I had the opportunity to be involved with the Congressional Medal of Honor Convention in Branson, Missouri several years back, and I was able to meet some of America's true heroes first hand. Ladies and Gentlemen like John William Finn who did things that required such courage in World War II. In fact, the humility of these men and women is worth admiration as well. They did what they had to do to save lives. The stories of the men and women who received the Congressional Medal of Honor can be found on the CMOH Website.

Oklahomacitybombing-fema-1568I am also reminded of the bravery of so many men and women that serve in our Police Forces and Fire Departments that spend time each day giving of their  time to try and make the world a better place. Seems like we are so busy today pointing fingers in situations where some of those professionals abuse the system we forget about the countless many who are here to make our lives better by doing their best to protect our homeland.

I think the thing that has become definitively evident is that we have allowed the media and social media to dumb us down a little. They have taken a vernacular that was reserved for truly incredible individuals and made it a part of everyday society. Words like courage and valor and heroism have been bastardized and cheapened to lower the bar for truly special occurrences. Makes a person wonder if a lot of this is done to camouflage other things that really matter by a barrage of media coverage that is considered important by a not so silent majority.

Bathroom Doors at Eureka Springs Ale HouseIn the wake of the Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner story I have seen examples of such a situation where catering to a not so quiet minority exists. I can not put myself in Jenner's shoes, I am not willing to join a society and cheapen words like bravery, and courage to apply them to Jenner. A personal decision that is made in the limelight of all of society is simply a personal act seeking attention - it isn't courageous. The fact that it is done out there in plain sight isn't heroism, it's a statement. I realize that some are going to accuse me of being a bigot for taking this stance, but that can't be further from the truth. The fact is, I see this differently than others. There is a difference.  An article by Christy Lee Parker does a better job defining the difference. Check it out.Regardless of whether or not ESPN recognizes Jenner of an award for courage doesn't make Jenner any more courageous for making a personal decision to receive attention. The sad part is, the amazing things Jenner achieved in the Olympics will simply become an asterisk in his life story. All I know is John's Hopkins speaks pretty clear about the issue.

Perhaps we should look at what is going on in society supposedly behind the scenes and see if perhaps there are things that are occurring that may be hiding real issues that might be real and potentially dangerous. While Bruce Jenner is making the news and several people looking for a little attention are stomping on flags there are real big issues that are being hidden from plain site. Do you realize that all of these items provided great camouflage for the Patriot Act to be reassembled in a more dangerous package than before? The DHS found that TSA has failed to find 95% of weapons smuggled through airports. In all of this it seems that NBC was found to be altering footage of the shooting of an unarmed college student. 

There is so much noise being made by folks of minorities that seek a voice we are losing track of real things that are going to truly effect our kids later. .I am certainly not asking you to agree with me. I would love any feedback you may have. I am always looking for new ideas to write about as well. Life is full of inspiration!

Interesting articles...

Why Bruce Jenner Could Never Truly Be a Woman