Dear Camille… This Thanksgiving Will Be Different

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Dear Camille,

It’s been a very long time since I have written you and before I tell you why this will be a better Thanksgiving, I have to update you on all your milestones. I have been keeping myself busy so that you can have an even better Thanksgiving this year than you did last year. The last time I wrote you was just after your first Christmas and A LOT has changed since then. Sorry it has been so long. You’ve been RUNNING everywhere and have picked up a ton of words such as shoes (“ishes” as you like to call them), Jesus, Momma, Papa, Nana, bar, ball, bottle, cookie, cheese, chicken, brother (“bruba”), no, woof, puppy, and many more. You also know where your hair, eyes, nose, toes, ears, mouth, belly button, and hands are! You are so smart!!!

You’ve been climbing on EVERYTHING and love being around your brother. In fact, you can’t even walk by him without hugging him and kissing him on the head. It’s one of the sweetest things we’ve ever seen. He smiles more for you than he does for anyone and yesterday he just made his first real laugh. He’s super happy in general, but by far the happiest when he’s around you.

So let me tell you why this Thanksgiving will be different. A few years ago, before you were even born, I knew that I wanted to give your mom the opportunity to be home with you all the time. I knew that before I even knew your mom. So I removed all excuses and went to work so that when I met your mom she could have that opportunity. I was able to make that happen in a short amount of time and I thought that if I could accomplish that goal then all would be good; however, after you were born something changed. I still wanted your mom home with you, but that wasn’t going to be good enough for my little girl. You deserved much more than to just have your mom home with you.

Every day as I would leave to go to my job I would kiss you goodbye probably 50 times and you would smile. Then when you could stand up you would stand in the window of the door crying and screaming “Daddy!” every day as I left. It broke my heart to leave you every day. There were many mornings when I had to fight back tears backing out of the driveway and some mornings when I lost that fight. Then throughout the day I would watch you grow up through pictures or videos that your mom would send me while I was at work and it would tear me up even more. I would have the hour after I got home from work to spend with you and the majority of that was feeding you, bathing you, and then putting you to bed. It wasn’t enough for you and it wasn’t enough for me.

Then when your brother was born I took 12 weeks off of work and it hit me. Why not just always be home with your mom and the two of you? After talking it over with your mom we have decided that we would both be home to raise you and your brother and that is why this Thanksgiving will be better than the last. So instead of just enjoying the holiday weekend and then going back to a job on Monday only to see you cry in the doorway, I will wake up Monday to get you out of bed, hug you, kiss you, feed you breakfast, take you to the park or even chase you around the house because I can. I no longer have anyone telling me that I have to come into work from 8:00 to 5:00. I no longer have to ask off for vacation to take you to fun trips around the country. I have fired the boss and given up the 40 hour work week so that now we can always be on vacation my little love! We no longer live life on someone else’s terms. We live life on our own terms. Happy Thanksgiving Sweetheart!

I love you,

“Dada”

Monday Motivational Shorts… “Make Time”

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When I share an incredible opportunity with people the most common objection I hear is, “I don’t have time.” I said the same thing when someone introduced the same opportunity to me 3 1/2 years ago. At that point in my life I was working 18 hours a day (4:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.). I “didn’t have time” for anything else. The truth is, you’ll never “find” time to do anything, but you can always “make” time for things that matter. People make time to watch their favorite t.v. shows, they make time to go out with friends, they make time to go get a few drinks, they make time to fool around on social media for hours throughout the day, etc. There are 24 hours in the day. You’re sleeping only 6-8 of them. Make the time to do things that matter. If I didn’t make time to do things that mattered 3 1/2 years ago then our family would be burdened with daycare costs, hardly ever get to see our child, we would have an unreal amount of debt, and be living with financial stress month after month. I know that life sounds familiar to the majority of Americans and may even be considered “normal” by today’s standards. Instead, my wife has the opportunity to raise our child, we’ve eliminated over $170,000 of debt, and we don’t stress when the bills come around every month or when we have a “surprise cost” when something breaks. Our goal is to make the “normal” type of life a rarity or non-existent for as many people as possible. ‪#‎thankyouadvocare‬ ‪#‎whowantstobenormal‬ ‪#‎maketime‬

24 hours in a day make time

If Nothing Changes…

If nothing changes nothing changes

Have you ever noticed people (family, friends, co-workers) complain about their circumstances, but they keep living the same old routine day after day? They don’t change anything. They wake up, go to work, come home, eat, watch T.V., go to bed, etc. in hopes that someday and somehow their life will just get better. I have news for those people… it won’t. The hard truth is… if nothing changes then nothing changes.

Are you one of those people stuck in the hamster wheel of life? The never ending rut where you find yourself constantly saying “next month we’ll be doing better” and then something else comes up?

Ask yourself this question… are you okay if nothing changes?

Are you okay if nothing changes?

If you answered “yes” to that question then ask yourself the following…

If you lost your job, would you still be okay? If not, wouldn’t you think it would be wise to have a “Plan B” income even to give you peace of mind?

Is your marriage the best it can be? Are you the best spouse you can be? If not, why don’t you look into ways to improve your marriage? (Marriage conferences, read books on marriage – “The 5 Love Languages” would be a good start, or hang out with couples who’s marriage you would like to emulate)

Are you the best parent you can be for your children? Children spell “love” T-I-M-E. Do you give them enough of it or just what’s left over at the end of the day?

richard branson if someone offers you an amazing opportunityFor things to change, you must change. Nothing is going to change by you “going through the motions” day in and day out. I know because I lived that life. At 32 years of age I was working 18 hours a day trading hours for dollars because there was always too much month at the end of the money. My student loan payments were crippling. Instead of hoping that the government would come to my rescue and bail me out by forgiving my loans, I took personal responsibility for making the choice to borrow the money in the first place, which meant I had to work a second job. Then I lived that 18 hour a day life for years until my friend introduced me to AdvoCare. In the past 3 1/2 years, AdvoCare has helped us eliminate a personal loan, three student loans, and five nearly maxed out credit cards. It’s given us the option to allow my wife to stay home and raise our children. It allows us to have more money to give to causes dear to our heart. It gives us peace of mind that we never even dreamed of until we were surrounded by the culture and the people involved with AdvoCare.

If you don’t have a plan to give you more time with your family, eliminate your debt, or a Plan B income to take care of your family if you lose your job then it’s time to make some changes. If not AdvoCare then what’s your plan? If not AdvoCare then that’s okay… just do SOMETHING to better your situation.

 

 

WARNING… Graphic Post, But A MUST Read For The Betterment of Our Nation

Precious Feet Pro lifeWARNING… graphic post and an explanation of this picture:

This past weekend my wife and I prayed outside of the abortion clinic in our city for the conversion of the hearts of all of the clinic workers, abortionists, and those that seek to end the lives of their children. Many people don’t even realize that we have an abortion clinic right here in our city. You wouldn’t realize it is an abortion clinic because it doesn’t broadcast itself as one. Instead, it goes by the name of “Reproductive Health Services” and it is located literally next door to a YMCA. If you were to walk out of the doors of the YMCA and kept walking for 30 yards, you’d run right into it since it’s directly next door. The people that know about it don’t wish to speak of it because Americans tend to like their abortions hidden and sanitary. They know it goes on and the majority disagree with it, but they don’t want to talk about it because it makes them uncomfortable. It’s very similar to how the Nazi regime was able to take over. People knew that they were killing Jews and no one spoke out because they were afraid or it was uncomfortable or both.

One thing I do to speak out is to wear these feet that I’m wearing in the picture. They are called “Precious Feet.” They are the EXACT size and shape of a 10-week unborn baby’s feet (the same size feet that can and are ripped off of a baby’s legs during an abortion). What’s terrifying is that our state’s law allows for women to kill their babies by ripping their body parts off piece by piece up to twice the age (20-weeks) and well more than twice the size of these precious feet. Get this though, if the father did something to intentionally cause that baby’s death, instead of the mom having her baby ripped to shreds, he would be charged with Capital Murder and be eligible for the death penalty. Which means that the baby is a “person” if the father kills the baby, but not a person if the mother does. There’s no explanation for that other than extreme hypocrisy.

We legalized murder in this country many decades ago and by doing so legalized infant genocide; however, we don’t have to allow it to go on any longer. Over the last couple weeks I have had conversations with many Christians (many being of my own faith, Catholic) and I’ve heard them say, “Roe v. Wade will never be overturned” so they move on to focus on other important issues.

So many people have given up, but don’t realize that the US Supreme Court has overruled itself, just up til 2001, 220 times! There have been SEVERAL 5-4 decisions going the wrong way with this current supreme court. That’s ONE person on the court making a drastic difference in the outcome of cases and guess what… the next president will likely be replacing 3 to 4 of the current justices. So it’s more likely now than ever that Roe will be overturned and the worst time not to speak out about this issue. We have so much more technology now than we did when Roe was decided and with a conservative president we could be closer than ever to overturning one of the most horrifying rulings in American history.

So this is not the time to be quiet and just “hope” that everything turns out okay. It’s the time to be a voice for life. The GOOD NEWS is… Millennials are now leaning to the “right” on abortion and are increasingly becoming more and more pro-life. smile emoticon

If you’re not comfortable being a voice for unborn children, please pray for them. They need your prayers and so do the people that participate in the act of taking a child’s life. Love them, pray for them, and comfort them when they see what they’ve done.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

If you want to see what speaking out on this issue of abortion did for a self-proclaimed super feminist, progressive liberal, pro-abortion woman’s viewpoint, I encourage you to read the article below:

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/430152/abortion-roe-v-wade-unborn-children-women-feminism-march-life

Checkup On Baby #2 Was Anything But Regular – Here’s Our Story…

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I posted this to Facebook this past week and wanted to post it here as well.

After you read this, please follow the CALL TO ACTION:

Thursday we went to the doctor for my wife’s 12-week baby appointment with Baby Rutter #2. I know I don’t have to go with her, but I do. I went for every appointment when she was pregnant with our first child mainly for one reason, and that reason was brought to light this past week.

We were brought back to the room where the doctor would see her and he saw us almost immediately. As is routine, he checked for the baby’s heartbeat. With Camille he found it almost immediately every time; however, that wasn’t the case at all today. Using the heart monitor, he moved it up and down, left and right, and pressed down hard enough that he had to ask my wife if it hurt her or not. He relocated the device multiple times for several minutes searching for the heartbeat. I knew immediately what my wife was thinking. It was the same thing I was thinking. I closed my eyes, held Camille tightly, and began to pray. I said several Hail Mary’s and prayed that we would hear the heartbeat, but after several long minutes he didn’t find it.

The doctor ordered an ultrasound to make sure that everything was okay. It didn’t take the ultrasound tech long to get in the room we walked to, but Mariah was already covered in her tears. As scared as I was I had to tell my wife that everything was going to be okay. Camille sensed her mom being upset and for the first time since we had walked into the doctor’s office she reached out to her because she wanted to console and be next to her mommy. It’s amazing how at less than a year old she already has those instincts. A million thoughts began running through my head, but I did my best to block them out and focus on praying and comforting my wife.

My wife handed Camille back to me and then laid on the ultrasound table. As the ultrasound tech moved the device around on her, we saw our sweet little baby. All the fingers were there. All the toes. The arms and legs looked perfect as did the head. We waited for what seemed like an eternity for the heartbeat… and then we saw it, and then heard it. It was a huge relief. my wife hadn’t stopped crying and now her tears were of a different origin. They were coming from happiness and gratefulness. We thank God that He has given us a healthy baby. We thank God that He is giving Camille a baby brother or sister to play with. We realize how fortunate we are and in the same token, we realize how many people aren’t.

After posting this on Facebook we had people say, “that’s why you shouldn’t tell people you’re pregnant until well after your first trimester.” We are of another mindset. We told everyone almost immediately upon finding out that my wife was pregnant. It’s a reason to rejoice. Another life is being created and we would want people praying that this child comes into the world healthy. If something went horribly wrong we would want people knowing why we were acting different. We would want people to be praying for us and for the soul of our child. That’s why we tell everyone and why we always will.

So the call to action is to please pray a prayer of thankfulness for those of you who have been blessed with healthy children. Please pray for those who have suffered the loss of a child. Pray for the Lord to comfort them because I can’t imagine the pain they have endured. We just experienced the beginning of what we thought could’ve been a long journey of tears and heartache and that’s something I wouldn’t want anyone to experience. God bless you all who have experienced that.

So that’s why I go with my wife. Because if we ever experience that, I don’t want her to experience it alone.

How We Came Back To The Catholic Church

Not too long ago Mariah and I shared our re-conversion story in a two-part series on ArchAngel radio. We shared it in hopes that many other people that walked a similar path as us would hear it and help shine some light on the path they were traveling before they grew further away from Christ. For those of you that didn’t hear it, here are Parts I & II:

Part I

Part II

Here’s our story in a nutshell:

Both Mariah and I grew up in Catholic families going to mass every Sunday not really knowing why, but only because that’s what we were supposed to do. We also both attended Catholic schools. She attended a Catholic school all the way through high school and I attended one for four years from 5th to 8th grade and then another four years in a Catholic college. You would think that with all that Catholic schooling and attending mass with the family on Sunday and by being alter servers that we would’ve had a great understanding of why attending mass was so important, except that we didn’t. We actually didn’t until after we were married.

Mr. Bean asleep at churchTo be honest, as a child I despised going to mass. My mom would have to basically bribe me by telling me that if I didn’t go to mass then I wouldn’t be allowed to go eat with the family when we dined out after the 7:00 p.m. mass. If you know me well, then you know I LOVE food! So I went, but that was the only reason. I thought church was boring. The music was terrible and mostly all on an organ, which didn’t help. There weren’t many people there my age and pretty much everyone there was already collecting social security. I had a tough time staying awake and keeping my eyes open during the readings, the Gospel, and the homilies. It also didn’t help that the church we attended was where it seemed all the priests were sent to retire. They were all old… very old. To stay awake I would talk during mass to anyone that would listen, therefore, I didn’t pay any attention.

Then I went to a Catholic College. While there I played guitar in the church band and that may have been the only reason I went to mass with the exception of a few other times. I’m not sure why I decided to play in the band, but I did for about a year. During my college years the Catholic church was hit by a flood of priest sex abuse scandals, which didn’t exactly help my faith in the church. I thought, “If you can’t trust a priest, who can you trust?” There were so many things that I never understood. I never understood confessing to a priest, why we took the Eucharist, transubstantiation, and many other parts of the Catholic faith and I don’t feel like it was taught, or at least not well, while I attended Catholic schools. I do have one small caveat: I have always had a short attention span (pretty much major A.D.D.), which could’ve lead to me not paying attention when certain things were taught.

I graduated from college in 2004 and after I received my bachelor’s degree in Theology… just kidding, it was in Graphic Design, I decided to go to law school. During those three years I can probably count the number of times I attended mass on two hands. I took a break from going to church for a while… a long while. It wasn’t until the end of my third year that some friends invited me to a non-denominational church service. For some reason I definitely did not want to go. Something inside of me was telling me that I was not doing the right thing by going, but I went anyway and I liked it. The band was great, the preacher was great, the people I met there were all great, but something felt missing.

I had attended that church service, or “worship service” as many people like to call it, several more times for a little over a year and then began going to another non-denominational church service for another couple years. I felt great! I was finally feeling like this is what church was supposed to be like and this is how I’m supposed to live in communion with Jesus. I would come out of the service “on fire” for Christ. I’d be so pumped up that I just wanted to talk to everyone about Him and live out my life the way Christ did. I wanted to read more of the Bible and get involved in Bible studies, which I did. I began learning more and more about Scripture. Man, this was great stuff! So you may think that this is where my journey ended and remains today. That couldn’t be farther from the situation.

undertaker-sitting-up1Something kept pulling me back to the Catholic Church. So although I felt like an outsider and possibly an outcast after attending non-denominational services for so long, I began going to both non-denominational services AND mass in the same day. Guess what… after all these years of not going to mass, nothing changed. It was the same old mass except this time I did my best to follow along with the readings, the Gospel, and the homily. I had to tell myself that although the music may be just as terrible as I remembered, that wasn’t why I was going to mass.

I did the dual-church thing for several months all the way up to the point of my marriage. At that time Mariah was also attending a non-denominational church in Baton Rouge. We discussed all the commonalities in our faith and religious walks and couldn’t believe how similar they were. We were engaged soon after we met and began planning our wedding. Then the question came as to where we would get married, as in which church. Just like something started pulling me back to the Catholic Church before, something was pulling me back there once again. I had to get married in a Catholic Church. I could not articulate why, but I knew that I would not get married if it wasn’t in a Catholic Church. So that was the plan. We went through the marriage prep and met with the priest that would preside over our wedding and promised him that we would live out the teachings of the Catholic Church including being open to children (which I don’t think anyone could say we have been otherwise since Camille was born before our one year anniversary) and we promised to go to keep holy the Sabbath (A.K.A. go to mass every Sunday).

As the soon-to-be “man of the family,” I knew that I would have to be the faith leader. So I began to listen to educational talks on CD. I learned more about my faith on those CDs than I had in all of my Catholic school years. I continued to listen to them up to the date of our wedding and soon after. We had gone on a weekend engagement retreat to a monastery where we grew closer than ever as a couple and were forced to confront many possible issues that may arise in our marriage, such as where we would take our children to church and where they would go to school. We both decided on homeschooling or Catholic schools for our future children’s education and both decided on taking them to mass on Sundays because taking them to both services may be confusing. I’m glad that wasn’t a foreseeable problem for us and came to that decision on our own and together.

We went on our honeymoon the week after our wedding and then came back home and went to mass. After being home for a week, in my eyes, the worst possible argument topic that could come up in a marriage presented itself. It was 10:30 at night and Mariah and I were both in bed. I could tell that something was bothering her, but was afraid to ask. I didn’t have to because she wound up telling me. She asked, “when are we going back to the non-denominational church?” That hit me like a ton of bricks. I was at a crossroads. Do I do what I believe God is telling me to do or do I put my wife first before God and do what will make her happy? That was an easy decision for me, but it didn’t make the pain I felt after giving her my answer any easier to deal with. I turned my head, took a deep breath, turned back to her and my exact words were, “We’re not.” She immediately began to cry. Two weeks into our marriage and I had my wife in tears. I thought to myself, “Way to go bud! Now your wife is going to cry herself to sleep.”

Set All AfireAs hard as it was to give her that answer I actually felt peace about it. Although I felt peace about it, I knew that my two word response that we weren’t returning to the other church was not going to satisfy my wife. I felt like I owed her more than that, but at that time I could not articulate why we weren’t going back. So with my wife crying in our bed I walked to the back of the house into the office, popped a CD into my computer called “Set All Afire” and began to listen. It was a compilation of seven talks by seven different speakers. I prayed that through that CD God would reveal to me how to articulate my reasoning to my wife. I didn’t just listen to the CD once. I kept listening to it for 4 straight hours until 2:30 a.m. After 4 hours of listening to the talks I decided it was time to go to bed. To my surprise, Mariah was still awake and still crying. So I was not looking forward to the next morning. I knew if I could get Mariah to listen to what I heard on the CD that the message would be received much better than if it were coming from me. So I circled four of the seven talks and pleaded with her the next morning to listen to them. Thankfully I have an AMAZING wife who was open to doing just that. She listened to all four the next morning while I was at work.

I had to travel later that day and asked Mariah if she wanted to join me for the ride. I thought she’d most definitely decline since she wasn’t happy with me after the previous night, but she did come along. I asked a friend if he had anymore CDs that would help me with the issue we were dealing with and he gave me 5 more, 3 of which we played to and from our destination. It was on that car ride when our journey began. I asked Mariah if we could listen to the first CD my friend recommended. She said that was fine and I put it in the car CD player. We listened to a talk called “True Worship” by Father Michael Schmitz. He’s both hilarious and captivating. He also likes to explain with analogies or parables, which is how I also like to explain and learn things. Although hilarious and captivating, his talk was so powerful that it absolutely broke me. I came undone and felt extremely convicted listening to it. It was a good thing I was wearing sunglasses that day because if there’s one thing that can get me emotional it’s the feeling of God working in my life and how great He is. “True Worship” is to this day the most powerful talk I’ve ever heard. When it was over I told Mariah that she could plug her phone and play from her iTunes or listen to the radio if she wanted, but she surprisingly asked if we could listen to another talk on CD. That was it. Everything changed after that. We began to learn things we never knew or have ever heard about the Catholic faith we grew up with. Our journey back Home had started.

I plan on writing exactly what it was that brought us back to His church and what we learned that somehow we missed after over 2 decades of Catholic upbringing. Now that we know what we were missing, His church and His love have become extremely beautiful to us and become more and more beautiful every day.

True WorshipIf you would like to listen to the 3-part talk that changed our lives forever, you can do so by clicking the link below:

Fr. Mike – True Worship (Click to play or right-click to download)

Dear Camille, Your First Christmas…

Dear Camille,

Your first Christmas was AWESOME! It was great for many reasons and one is because on Christmas day you turned NINE MONTHS old! We can’t believe how fast you’re growing. It’s so neat to see you learn and watch you think. If there is a way to pause you at this age just a little bit longer I’m going to do it. Everything is going by too fast. So it’s been bittersweet.

We put the Christmas decorations up right after Thanksgiving and because you can crawl now your mom and I thought you’d be pulling all of the low hanging ornaments off of the tree. To our surprise we made it all the way through Christmas without that happening AND THEN you suddenly became very interested in the glass ones. I must say, determination must run in the genes because you sure have it girl. There was nothing mommy could do to keep you from the gold ornaments. Just look at your determination!535346_702131521970_2497673959976117419_n
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You were given a lot of cool gifts including a little nativity scene, which you apparently thought was a nativity snack since all you did was chew all the pieces. Gram and Papa gave you pajamas that you’ve already worn multiple times. Nonnie and Papa got you some books, which you’ve also turned into snacks and plenty of toys (I’m sure to chew on as well). Your mom and I got you the best gift of all though! While Uncle Ryan was FaceTiming Gram and Papa so they could see you open your pajamas, we gave you a pajama shirt that we kept secret from everyone else. It said, “The Best big Sister.” That’s right, your mom and I gave you the gift of a baby brother or sister! 🙂 We are not sure when you are going to find out because your mom and I are in a debate as to whether we should find out early or when your baby sibling is born. I want to wait, but your mom can’t keep secrets from herself. So who knows when we’ll find out. I’ll tell mom that you said you’re on #teamwait with daddy. 🙂

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We also went to your great grandmother’s house for Christmas dinner and you got to see the most Christmas bows you may ever see in your life. There had to be several hundred of them! We took a tour of the house and you got to see all of the decorations and pictures of when daddy, Uncle Ryan, Aunt Emily, and Nonnie and Papa were little. We also were reminded of how great of a man your great grandfather was. I wish you had a chance to meet him and I really wish he had a chance to meet you. I took a picture of when President Reagan wrote him a letter for some jeans he sent someone on the President’s behalf. Your dad’s family used to own a clothing company that your great-great-grandfather started all on his own. Did you know that you come from a long line of hard working successful entrepreneurs? Well, you do. Maybe that’s why daddy always knew he’d start his own business. The best part is, mom and I get to build our business together and we do that by helping other people. 🙂 You’ll get to be a part of it soon my love… in 17 years and 2 months. 🙂 Can’t wait for you to read all these letters! We need to teach you how to read soon!!!

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Love,

Dad