Life, Marriage

I Need Help.


“She perfect for you. Man there’s got to be somebody for me.”  Adam Duritz 

The least of these is sex.

Guys I knew in college had countdowns set up on their computers.  When I asked what they were for they said, “This is counting down to the day I get married, then I can start having sex!”

What a terribly confusing message.

So the goal is sex?

One thing I share with people who are planning to get married is that Kimberley and I didn’t kiss or allow things to get physical before we were married.  This isn’t a boast; it’s cautionary.   I knew that she was smoking hot and that sex with her would be amazing – she communicated that she felt the same way about me, but…is that the goal?  Isn’t the real issue that we are right for each other?

What does that mean?

It means that all our time together was spent getting to know each other and finding out is this really who I want to spend my life with?

Jesus said, and I’m paraphrasing, “Do not be unequally yoked.”

So marry another Christian?

I can’t express strongly enough how wrong this type of thinking is:  You think they’re hot + they’re a christian = marriage.


Let’s turn to the positive.

Why do I know that Kimberley is amazing and perfect for me (and I’ll leave the physical completely out of it)?

Kimberley is a Christian and loves Jesus.

Yes, the person you marry should love Jesus.

In depths of deepest darkness, in fields of peace, she turns me back to Jesus before sharing her own thoughts.

A woman of great wisdom.

She is an amazing piano player and has a beautiful singing voice.  Music was very important in my family growing up and it’s something I always wanted to give to any children I may have.

Her writing, speaking, and editing abilities are off the chart.  I’m always in awe of her when she does speaking engagements.  I tell her,  “Without your understanding of me,  knowing who I am and how I want a piece of writing to look,  you are able to draw that out exactly.”

It’s a perfect match. I can’t believe it, she’s amazing.

She is a loving mother.  I see the care she gives our children and all I can say is, “Thank you baby, you are the best mother in the whole world. I can’t believe the ways you show our children love.”

Her counsel means everything to me.  The guidance and truth she speaks into my life are something I’ve learned to trust implicitly.  She sees me waver on a decision or making the wrong one and comes alongside to guide and direct.  I’ve seen many great men fall because they didn’t listen to their wife’s insight; not a mistake I want to make. I trust Kimberley.

Finances: My wife is a fantastic financial manager.  I’m so proud of her ability to always know what we have in our accounts and spend only what she needs.

Laughter.  I live to hear her laugh.  She is so funny too.  The funniest person I’ve ever met.

As I sit here writing, I know I’m coming up short.

“Words all fail the magic prize.” -Gordon Gano-

Kimberley is the perfect example of a Genesis 2:18 wife; the definitions of a suitable helpmate because there are so many ways in which I need help. But it’s so much more than that.

After sixteen years nothing about our love has faded, it’s only accelerated.

I see her across a room and I move towards her without even thinking.

She smiles and I stare for longer than I should, until she shakes her head and laughs.

She says she’s going to Target for fifteen minutes.  When it takes her half an hour she returns to find me curled up in a ball on the couch crying because I’m certain she died.

There is not enough time in the world, in a day, in a lifetime, to spend with her.  I always tell her after we’ve been on dates or out together, “That wasn’t enough time, I need more of you.” She smiles, gently touches my face and says, “I know, I feel the same way.”

I send her out to coffee and time alone, 3-4 hour chunks at a time and then the kids and I go nuts.  We crank up the music, clean the house, wash and fold all the laundry, do the dishes, get on pajamas, grab a snack, and pop in some old movie and wait for my bride to come home, kiss the kids and put them to bed.  I do all this because I know that I have removed all distraction, and she and I can be alone together for the rest of the evening in the unencumbered presence of the person we love the most.

So, if you’re looking for perfection, you won’t find it.

Find compatibility, but also find someone that you can’t live without.  They have an indefinable quality that makes you feel something no one else can make you feel, that cannot be defined with words other than that when you find it, only you know what it is and it makes you crazy to be without it and gives you peace when you have it.

When I asked Kimberley last night, as we lay snuggled up together under 20 blankets,  why she loves me she said, “Because you’re you.”

Everything I am is everything Kimberley wanted and so much more she didn’t know was hidden beneath the surface, waiting to whisper words of love into her heart.  I feel the exact same way about her.

“If I found you outside I would kiss you and none would despise me”  -SOS-



Life, Madison House

Missing Children

Story One.

The phone won’t stop ringing. Why is there a phone call in this dream?

It’s 2:30am, and the police are calling.   I arrive at work to find empty bottles of alcohol, drugs, an underage girl, and six drug dealers.

Later we find guns, a backpack full of acid, marijuana, cocaine, meth, more guns and so on.


The police ask, “Do you want to press charges?”

“For what? All you have them on is possibly trespassing because no one is claiming the drugs and guns.”

The officer shrugs as if to say, “You’re right.”

“No,” I sigh, “Just get them out of here.”


Story Two.

“Tony,  check out what I brought to school today.”  He bypasses the code on his cell phone and shows me a picture of his open backpack.

“Is that a submachine gun?” I ask.

“Yeah,” he laughs. “I took it to school today to protect myself. It’s a MAC 11.”

He is 15 years old.

He’s in jail now for attempted murder. Told me once he started out dealing Marijuana in the fifth grade and just kept moving up in the gangs.  More drugs, guns and money.

I’m told if you fire your gun, you just throw it in the river. Deal some more drugs and go and buy a new one. All you need is $200 to a local drug dealer/arms dealer.


Story Three. 

Smart kid, always liked him, great personality; kind of kid I would have hired to work at my business.  Personable, could sell anything.

Apparently the drug dealers and gangs thought the same thing.

Last year, while high on acid he put a gun in his mouth and blew his brains out.  I had just given him a new bike and was helping him fix it a few weeks before that.



I could go on and on, but the truth is most of the kids we work with are from single parent homes where drugs, that started with Marijuana, ruined entire families.

Story after story that I could relate about how drugs, gangs, violence and all the money they’re connected to is ruining our society, but I don’t think anyone would listen too closely because of one key word I put in this sentence: MONEY.

And that’s what it always comes down to.

We want something;  PRIDE OF LIFE, LUST OF THE EYES, LUST OF THE FLESH (1 John 2:16) and we’ll come up with reams of statistics and analytical data in order to justify our desire to get what we want.

In this case, money.

I don’t care if the money is going to legal drugs or illegal drugs.

It’s all drugs. 

I don’t care if Marijuana is more or less addictive than other drugs; it’s still addictive and leads to harder drugs.

Final Thought.

“Hey Tony, my dad blew my uncle’s leg off with a shotgun and is in prison for life; all over a drug deal gone wrong.  I was there and witnessed the event, and then I tried to hang myself.  If my mom hadn’t found me hanging in my bedroom and pulled me down I’d be dead right now.  I was 7 years old.”

I have four children of my own and I want them to have better future.


Jesus Said in Matthew 18:6;

“If anyone causes one of these little ones-those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to drowned in the depths of the sea.”

Jesus Said in Matthew 19:14;

“Let the little children come unto Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Every day I’m going to lead children towards Jesus.

That’s all I can do.








Life, Madison House

Sex Trade.

“The lights go out and I can’t be saved.” -Chris Martin-


I’ve received fantastic feedback on my book; everyone that gets into it says the same thing without prompting, “I couldn’t put it down!”

For this praise, I am very thankful.  Then there’s this follow-up, “It’s very redemptive, and deals with a lot of tough subject matter.”

You ain’t whistlin’ Dixie.  Try writing all that down.  Putting it together was an extremely difficult, very emotional process.  A straight month of sleepless nights.  But would I rather a really tight, fast-paced, action-packed thriller, that no one can put down, or the most boring book you ever read?    I’ll take the pain if it means a great product that deals with social/class/religion, and every issue in between.

Here’s the thing: it’s part of what I see every day.  Children disappearing without a trace, drug dealers, gang-bangers, detectives, racism (from every race), unparalleled class privilege, violence, murder, suicide, prostitutes, religious failure, and redemption.  So instead of asking, “How could you write this?” instead ask the question, “How could anyone live through this?”

Not me, the children I’m working with.

What bothers me the most is what is happening to the girls and women.  Maybe it’s because I know what happened to my wife as a little girl, maybe it’s because I have three beautiful daughters that I don’t wish any harm upon.

“I’m deep inside your children, they’ll betray you in my name.” -Zacharias Manuel de la Rocha-

Two months ago I was walking past “the Blue House.”  All the staff have to walk past this house for different reasons from time to time.  Now and then, when business is slow, they  put the girls out front.  Today was one of those days; but like I said, I have to walk past.

She sees me as I see her and she crosses her fishnet stockinged legs, staring me down, lifting her arms and adjusting her jet black hair.  I haven’t looked directly at her yet but she looks very young, too young.  No one should ever be in this line of work, I don’t care how old they are.  Instead I focus on the pimp behind her.   Out of my peripheral she steps directly in front of me as I approach and opens her stance, staring me down and pasting on a smile.  I’m still watching the pimp, and as I pass her (having to step off the sidewalk to do so because she’s completely blocking the way now), he starts to move towards me while holding out a cigarette, and asking, “Do you have a light?” He realizes that I may be an undercover cop and so, “Do you have a light?” is not really a question, it’s an attempt to re-direct my attention to the poor dolled-up girl on display without really soliciting me for sex.  I also feel compassion on the woman; I’m sure if she doesn’t come on to me as hard as she is, there will be consequences from her pimp.

“No I don’t, I actually work at the youth center with the little kids and am just looking for someone.”

He recoils, more so than if I had slapped him and I keep moving, praying for the poor girl in the thrall of sex and drugs.

“They say the devils water it ain’t so sweet, you don’t have to drink right now, but you can dip your feet every once in a little while.”  -Brandon Flowers-

My little four-year old snuggles into my lap, puts her hands to my face, smiles and says, “I love you, Daddy.”

Tears come to my eyes because she is so sweet and precious. I never want anything to hurt her.

Maybe that’s why I don’t have any judgements on the girl by the blue house or any other woman that’s ever made a pass at me.  All I see is brokenness.  All I see is Rahab the Prostitute, or the Woman at the Well, or the One Caught in Adultery.  Such stories of amazing redemption, and I pray for the women who in their broken marriages and painful daddy issues see me as a way out instead just another trap door.

I see my three daughters and I pray, “Dear God, these women you’ve put into my care will leave this house one day and make their own decisions. Please help them to choose Jesus instead of pain followed by pleasure in an endless vicious circle.”

All I can do is pray and love them, every second, at every opportunity.

My wife has me completely, body, mind, and soul…but only because Jesus has all those things first.

“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by Me.”






Life, Madison House

On Bullying. All Fat and Phony

I’ve tried never to be a bully.  I’ve also never taken bullying and have always stood up for myself or ignored it.

I had to;  I was always “the new kid”, “the nerd”, “that religious kid” that no one invites out.

Moving all over the place when we were children…Let me see: Canada, Oregon, Canada, Joseph Oregon, Mt. Vernon Washington, Sublimity Oregon, Dilley Oregon, Canada, Laurel Oregon, Beaverton Oregon, Oceanside Oregon, Hailey Idaho, Seattle Washington, Idaho, Minnesota, Idaho, Canada, Seattle, Canada, Yakima.

There. I’m sure I missed some along the way or got some out-of-order but still, point being, we moved a lot.

Along the way I picked up a nickname.  I believe it was in Dilley Oregon.  We didn’t have much money and my father refused to put us on a government-funded lunch program.  Something about model Americans needing to pull themselves up by the boot straps.  At the age of 6, the metaphor was completely lost on me.  I just knew that I really loved chocolate milk at school and no matter how much I examined my boots, they had no straps.

So every day I took the same items for lunch to school.  Some fruit, apple or orange,  and a Bologna sandwich stuffed in a brown paper bag.  On Fridays, when lucky, I would get a Bologna sandwich with cheese!  When I asked about a beverage, I was told to drink water from the drinking fountain.

Yum, takes like aluminum.


So there I was, in the lunch room, skinny and alone with my Bologna sandwich.

“Hey new kid, why do you always bring a sack lunch? You poor?”

“No, I’m hungry. I eat the sack too.”

“Ha! What is that? Bologna sandwich? You like Bologna?”

I sigh and look down at my crumbling food, “Sure, it’s great.”

“What’s your name, new kid?”


“Cool, what if we call you Tony Bologna All Fat and Phony? Ha, ha! That’s a good one.”

He starts to sing, “Tony Bologna, All Fat and Phony, Tony Bologna All Fat and Phony.  You like that?”  He slaps my shoulder. “Funny, huh?”

I take another bite and give a shrug that involves my upturned palm, eyebrows and shoulders, “Sure, it’s great.”

So that was me for the rest of first grade, ‘Tony Bologna All Fat and Phony.”  I went with it. I somehow instinctively knew that fighting back would garner worse results.

We moved at the end of the school year and the nickname stayed behind, until recently.

A kid was getting picked on at my job so he punched the kid making fun of him.

I pulled him aside and got down on his level, “Hey man, you can’t simply punch everyone that makes fun of you.  Do you know how many people I would have punched by now if I had slugged everyone that called me names?  Even today I have people that don’t like me, talking trash behind my back and tellling lies and saying all kinds of things that aren’t true.  I can’t punch them. You have to let that stuff go and just walk away, otherwise they know they can get to you.”

He frowns unconvinced, so in an effort to cheer him up I say, “Hey, when I was a kid do you know what they called me?”

He shakes his head, still frowning.

“They called me, ‘Tony Bologna All Fat and Phony.'”

A glimmer of a smile twists his countenance, “Really, they called you that?”

“Yeah of course! If you smile and let it roll off your back you become the leader of the joke and not the butt of it.”

He grins and walks away, nodding and saying something under his breath.

And that’s why, for the last six months, wherever I go anywhere at work, kids yell at me with big smiles on their faces,

“What’s up Tony Bologna All Fat and Phony?”

And I smile, point back at them and say, “That’s right! I’m doing great!” And with no emotional response, the joke is getting old on their own lips without me ever having to call it out.

No one can bully you unless you let them and there are innumerable ways of fighting back, the last resort being physical confrontation.

Blessed are the Peacemakers.










The Blessed Curse

“Hey dad, didn’t one of your ex-girlfiends die?”

“Huh?”  I’m driving and lost in thought as my middle daughter’s question invades the empty space.

“Your ex-grilfriend. Mom told us she died.”

“Oh did she now? Well yes, that’s true, she did die.”

“Didn’t she die of cancer?”

“You seem to already know all the details…why are you asking these questions?”

“Just curious,” she responds with a flip of her hair.  I glance at her dark hazel eyes in the mirror and tell by the look on her face the interrogation is not over.  Like all women, hearing the story second hand isn’t good enough; she wants every detail, of every thought, from all corners of the room.

I sigh and wait.


Sure enough.

“Dad? Were you sad when you found out your ex-girlfriend was dead?”

Toys R Us is not that far away, but it feels like we will never get there.


I pause, “Yes, but I wasn’t sad for me; I was sad for her husband and family. They were very good people.”

“Do you think they were sad?”

“Yes, I’m sure they were devastated.”

“Are you glad you have mom instead of her.”

“Yes, I’m very happy with your mother, she is perfect for me. I love her very much.”

“Did you love the other girl too?”

“As much as someone can convince themselves they love someone at the age of 22. In all seriousness Sweetheart, I can barely remember what she looked like. I’m so filled with love for your mother it makes it impossible for other women, past, present or future to gain access.”

“Why do you think God didn’t allow you to be with her?”

“I can honestly say we just weren’t right for each other. We both loved God and each other but knew it wasn’t right.  I also believe that God knew he was going to take her home with cancer the same year that my father killed himself and that I wouldn’t have been able to handle both losses mere months apart.  What seemed painful in 1997 would have killed me in 2009.  The curse at the time was really a blessing, it just took twelve years to realize that God was saving me and not casting me out.  Besides kid, you and your sisters and brother wouldn’t even be here right now if it I hadn’t married your mother,” I tussle her hair as we climb out of the van, “and that would be the saddest of all.”

She laughs, her 10 year-old-girl giggle, and gives me a giant smile as we head into Toys R Us.

I know a lot of you reading this feel disconnected or have lost loved ones over the years, but it doesn’t have to be a curse.  Finding my father’s body on New Years’ Eve was truly terrifying, but my wife and I were determined to follow Jesus.  He has shown us all the fatherless children that are lost and hurting and need a Savior.  A father abandoning you can cause immeasurable pain and without my own scars, I would never have been able to see where the children we work with are coming from.

Jesus promises to never leave you or forsake you.

There are loved ones that have gone before us and it’s easy to lose focus on the task at hand and feel sorry for ourselves.

But the truth is that the dead are no longer in our sphere of influence, it’s those that are lost and dying that we need to focus all our love and attention on.

This holiday take your eyes off yourself and your own problems and back onto Jesus, asking this simple question, “Who needs to see the love of Jesus Christ today? How can I pour myself out for them?”