Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Being Thankful

This morning, my bible study challenged me to think of some every day small things that I may take for granted but that I should be thankful for. It caused me to think and examine my life and current circumstances.

After living in Tennessee for over 21 years, I finally packed up my stuff and moved back to Florida where I grew up. I left behind memories, hurts, mistakes, friends, family, and even my daughters who are now grown-ups and in the working/academic world. This was one of the toughest decisions that I've ever had to make, yet I've never been more sure of a life decision in my life. I can't describe the feeling of "just knowing" it was the right thing to do. I believe that God truly laid it on my heart and has guided my steps in this direction for a serious purpose. For that, I'm thankful.

That brings me back to the initial question of; what are the small things that I need to be thankful for? First and foremost, I'm thankful for my life and my health. I'm greatly thankful for my wonderful children that I don't get to see enough of. And I'm immensely thankful for the amazing woman in my life that has caused me to see things, life, and myself so drastically different.

God has a continued plan for my life and I know that I'm a continuous work in progress for Him. Life has new meaning and purpose and for all of this, I'm thankful.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Picking Back Up

In the past, I've done some intensive blogging about a bunch of different things. Mostly as an outlet to get what was inside out. Lately, through the events that have caused a significant life change and re-focus on my personal and professional life, I've been compelled to pick it back up. Through the inspiration of some friends and co-workers (Daniel White), and with working more in the athletics and fitness side of my job, I'm thinking of jumping back in to the blogging foray. Mainly as a documentation to be able to refer back to when I'm helping other people with their training and/or nutrition.

Pretty soon, I'll be transitioning locations and ramping up my work with FH World Sports in working with athletes that compete in races for worthy causes. These are both pro athletes and regular weekend warriors that have a heart to help the poor and impoverished through raising funds for a multitude of different causes. This is some wonderful and tangibly rewarding work that I'm passionate about spreading to a wider audience.

If you're interested in tips for training, training programs, nutrition advice, competing in a race and raising money for a cause, advice on gear, etc., contact me here. I would love to help AND help people in need in other parts of the world at the same time. Let's make a small difference to make a big impact.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Graduation Day















Today is a bitter/sweet day for me. Today I travel down to Montgomery, AL to attend the high school graduation of my twins Shelby and Taylor. I'm excited for them. They are about to embark on another journey that will take them into their adult life and career. I'm also excited that they will be living with me over the summer, and that's something that I've been wanting and praying for since 2008 when I was divorced. It was their decision to want to live with their Dad and that makes it even that much sweeter! I can't wait!

I'm also a bit sad because in this monumental time, I can't help but reflect back on what my "babies" have meant to me, what I've partially put them through, how they've endured, and where they are now. I think to myself (like every parent), "where did the time go?" They're all grown up and they aren't the little premature twins that I could literally hold in the palms of my hands anymore. They are beautiful, smart, responsible, charming young women. I certainly don't feel responsible for that in them and I can only praise the Lord above that He has given me such a wonderful and special gift.

Today is a day of celebration, joy, and anticipation for what's ahead. The past is behind me. Past mistakes can't be undone. I can only learn from what I've done and continue to teach my girls the lessons that I've learned the hard way in hopes to protect them from the perils I've endured.

Thank you God for such a joy that you've given me in Shelby and Taylor. I am not worthy of such a beautiful gift!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Reflection


It's officially the holiday season! The commercials all scream of shopping and Christmas cheer, the music that's heard is normally some type of Christmas music, and there's a certain seeming change of attitude in people. People seem to be more joyful, more giving, even more philanthropic. I too would get caught up in all of the seasonal changes and cheer. However, just under 3 years ago, I found myself in the middle of a horrific divorce. The Christmas season, for me, has sadly taken on a whole different meaning and feel. I try to get into the spirit of the season. I try to have the holiday cheer. And I try to be the jolly 'ol TC. But the fact remains, I no longer have my children for Christmas. I no longer have my family and the traditions that we made. I no longer have that Christmas spirit.

This time two years ago, I was sitting at a friends house alone for the whole holiday. No kids, no wife, no extended family, no money, gone through bankruptcy, lost my house, no job, and very depressed. I was just about as low as I could've imagined. It was then that I began to contemplate taking my own life for the second time. I don't exactly know what it was that kept me from following through with it. I could've done it and been successful! Nevertheless, I didn't. I guess the Lord was purposefully sparing my life for some reason. I made it through that dark period, but not without some serious scars that come to light at this time every year. The Lord led me through that forrest in spite of myself because now I can see what He had in store.

I now have been on the road to recovery for quite some time and continue down a healthy path to this day. I have a great job that has great meaning and kingdom work, I'm slowly recovering financially, I no longer live a life of depression, and I love the relationship that I have with my children and my Lord and Savior. Things in my life are no where close to being in a perfect place. . . or even remotely close for that matter. However, I'm focusing on positive things, people, and relationships in my life that the Lord brings across my path and I'm grateful daily for these small "life gifts" even though the Christmas holiday is still very painful.

Christmas has now become a time of reflection for me instead of a time of tidings and good cheer. It's still very painful to navigate through this season, but as time passes and life continues to cause me to change and evolve, I continue to progress and heal. One day, I believe that I will have the "fairytale" Christmas setting that I've built in my mind. A wonderful, amazing, and supportive wife and partner, a modest place that we both call home and can celebrate what the holiday truly means, and internal peace and happiness. I know the Lord has this in my future. Otherwise, He wouldn't have laid it on my heart.

To all that see this, I wish you a very merry Christmas and may the Lord bless and keep you in His will.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Port au Prince, Haiti

Yesterday, October 2nd, 2010, I returned home from an international trip to Haiti with my work for Food for the Hungry. I've been on many overseas trips and missions trips as well. However, this one was unlike any that I've ever experienced. My job with FH is relational. I deal with music and entertainment artists that speak on behalf of our organization and for children and communities in need. This past weekend I accompanied a pastor/author named Palmer Chinchen to Port au Prince, Haiti to let him view what it is that we do on the ground in the fields. I wasn't prepared for the complete and sheer devastation that I saw in this disaster torn country. As resilient and loving as these people still are, they are still completely crushed and devastated from the earthquake almost a year ago.

I've always believed in the work that we as an organization do in communities around world, but there is still so much need for us as a people and a nation to be the hands and feet of our Lord. The situation there is daunting!

I witnessed a child dying from Typhoid fever, a pastor that had lost his child the morning of our arrival to their community, yet he was still concerned for us and his people. I saw women and men walking up and down a mountain for hours every day just to get a bucket of unclean water. I saw children that only eat once a day and are perpetually hungry. It's sad. It's devastating. It's emotionally draining, and it's hard to process! If anything, it has greatly put my life and personal situation into perspective and has changed me. It's changed me for good! It's made me look at "non-eternal" things quite differently - and that, for me, is growth!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Letter To Grandma

September 22, 2010


Grandma,


At 4:30 am this morning, I got word from my brother that you passed away and went on to be with Jesus and leave your pain and illness behind. I just wanted to write to you this one last time to tell you how sorry I am for my past selfishness and pride in our somewhat distant relationship as I grew from a boy to a man. We had different views on things. You showed favoritism at times and you were tough on me occasionally. However, it wasn't until I went through my divorce that you became the Grandma that I hadn't previously experienced. You loved me, you loved your great grandchildren, and you even continued to love Ashley. Thank you for being a model of selflessness and understanding to an otherwise selfish and tormented guy. You seemed to understand my plight without even having to verbally dig deep. You just knew through your own experiences and wisdom. You selflessly helped me financially through my divorce process and never batted an eye - even when I wasn't able to see you face to face to say thank you.


Grandma, I was never able to say the things that I felt inside to you, but I want you to know that you were a huge influence in my life. You passed things down to me that I still use to this day and for that I thank you.


After getting word this morning and doing the round of calls while walking up and down Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles, I came back to my room in the Wilshire Hotel on the 9th floor and it was quiet and peaceful - reflective in fact. I opened the drapes to the windows and let in the overcast and dreary day. All that I could hear was the noise of the cars on the street below. But then it happened. I gentle peaceful message from the Lord to sooth my sorrowful soul. At that moment, a street musician playing a trumpet started warming up. After a short time of warm-up, he began to play the song "Amazing Grace". It (and a new special friend) made me think of the lyrics to the song that go, "Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail, and mortal life shall cease, I shall possess within the veil, a life of joy and peace." Was that a message from you to me as you were on your way to meet Jesus? Was that the Lord speaking directly to me? Whatever the case, I got the message loud and clear! It proved to be a pivotal, emotional, and releasing moment for me. Thank you for the timely and peaceful message. I'll now not be able to hear that great traditional hymn without thinking of this moment and of you. Oh the greatness of our Lord and Savior!


Thank you for your life and what it meant to so many. Thank you for all of the things that you passed down through my mother that will live on through me! I love you very much and I regret not telling you that enough. Please forgive me. Until I see you again soon in the great by and by, you will be greatly missed.


Love always,

Your first grandson, Todd

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sleepless Nights

Once again, it's been quite a while since I've waxed a bit of poetic here on the blog. It's about midnight and I currently find myself in the middle of a whirlwind travel schedule that takes me all over the country and to Haiti. I've been laying in bed and I feel frustrated as tonight is another one of those "hard to sleep" nights. I can't seem to get all of the things going on in my head to take a break for a while. In the end, I guess this is a good thing as I can remember a day when I had nothing from losing everything. I prayed that God would allow me to find something I enjoyed and could excel at and He gave it to me. As a result, I find myself alone in a hotel room in Orlando, FL in the middle of a massive travel schedule. The Lord works in mysterious ways - especially in my life.


It's times like these that make me wonder what the Lord has in store for me down the road. What lies around the next corner? What's beyond the horizon? Where will my girls go to college? What's in store for me and my career? Will there be another woman in my life? Will I be content to be a single father for the rest of my days? These are questions that I find myself asking the Lord in the quietness of my thoughts in the middle of sleepless nights.


For now, I'm content with where He has me and what He continues to do in my life and the people that He brings in and out of it. I'm grateful to Him. I'm humbled from being humbled. And I'm anxious in His timing, yet I know His timing is perfect. It always has been with me. I'm happy with where He's allowed me to come and grow in my spiritual walk. The people He has allowed me to align with have been, in my eyes, specifically chosen by the Lord for my growth and healing. For that, I'm grateful.


So in essence as I write this to myself, I guess I'm thankful for the sleepless nights and moments of contemplation to be able to slow down and be still and just think. Maybe I shouldn't be so frustrated after all (except for with the couple next door)!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Letting Go

It's Monday night. It's beginning to get cool at night and that seems to be a welcome consensus due to the sweltering heat bearing down on us for the past months. Football was on tonight which is another indication that fall is just around the corner. I continue to settle in to what my position is at Food for the Hungry and I love what I do, who I work with, and the humanitarian good that goes with the job. I'm grateful that God has answered my prayer in that area. He continues to strengthen me and shine new light on spiritual questions that I've had for so many years. I continue to grow and see that God is good, merciful, loving, and most of all (with me), patient.

Why then am I somewhat sad in other areas? I think the Lord is still trying to speak to me quite loudly in other areas. I have been divorced for almost 3 years from a woman that rightfully despises me. She took away my children and moved to another state so that I don't have access to them as I used to. That, in many ways, makes me feel so inadequate as a father. In many respects, a failure in fact. I don't get to see them in many school activities, church functions, family get-togethers, swim meets, or volleyball games. It seems I miss out on everything and therefore I feel I'm missing out on their life. As my beloved girls grow older, I feel as if they're growing into women that I no longer know. Do I really know them? Do they know me? Do they WANT to know me? I feel as if a piece of myself is missing and I don't really know what to do about it.

Additionally, due to the fact of my immense failure in being a husband with truth and integrity, I feel unable to adequately be in a true loving relationship. Even with a woman that I've found that I dearly love and want to be with, I can't seem to give myself over to her. I have walls that I myself can't even seem to tear down! I have failed so miserably once, and adversely affected so many people's lives, that I (evidently) can't bring myself to failing so ruthlessly again. And in turn, that only proves to make for worse problems.

I say all of that to say this. I feel that God is telling me to let things go. Stop holding on and gripping so tightly the last few things that mean so much to me. The Lord is impressing upon me to give to Him my children. Let Him take control of that situation and how the future unfolds. He's telling me to let go of the woman that I love dearly. She's securely in His hands now and I need to trust in that - whatever the outcome and whatever His timing.

I've given over everything else in my life to the Lord except those last two things and He's done some amazing things thus far. However, God says that He wants ALL of me. Not 99.9%, but 100%! And that includes the loves of my life; my children and the woman of my dreams.

I must continue to let go in order to continue to grow.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

New Relationships

It's 10:24 pm and I am gearing down to go to sleep after a full day of meetings at the job that I'm so grateful for! It's also been quite a long time since I've updated this blog and after meeting with a new friend (Daniel White or @GOAdaniel), I've been inspired to do some periodical updating. Not necessarily to "live my life on the web," but instead to be able to go back and see exactly where I was. Plus, there's a therapeutic aspect to getting your thoughts out on "paper" and some positive accountability that goes along with that. I like that and need that!

My new friend Daniel is a wonderful guy and has a HUGE heart! That was apparent within the first 5 minutes of us sitting down and discussing both business and personal matters. We have much in common and I can tell he's a deep well that I can draw from.

Follow him through his blog or on twitter. He's got great perspective on life, spirituality, family, etc. He's actually one of those guys that has something substantial to say. I like that too.

Personal Update:
Since joining Food for the Hungry as their Artist Representative, it's been a crazy, hectic, wild, but enjoyable ride. I'm learning so much and really enjoy who I work for and with. It is, once again, proof of how the Lord knows exactly what we need and answers prayer according to His timing and will. I'm looking forward to many more years of being in the ministerial work of Food for the Hungry and I count it a privilege to get to tangibly see the effect of the work that I'm a part of. It's greatly rewarding and deeply spiritual.

Until next time.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Passing of a Friend

Today is May 28, 2010. This past Tuesday the very best friend in the whole world to my twin girls (Shelby & Taylor - age 17) passed away from severe head trauma attained from a freak car accident. I have had the unfortunate opportunity to have to sit back and watch the pain of my children affect just about every area of their lives. I could do nothing outside of try and be there for them and love on them. I couldn't relate to their loss because I've never had a close loved one or best friend die a tragic death. I didn't know what to say. . . I didn't know what to do!

The past few years have been a great struggle for all three of my little angels. They have endured the pain of their parents' divorce, living with an understandably bitter and searching mother, their lives being turned upside down by moving away from the only home they've ever known, and now this! What is God saying in all of this? What is God teaching in all of this? In fact, where IS God in all of this? I don't know and I can't see it and quite honestly, I'm hurt and angry! I'm angry for my ailing children. I'm angry with myself because I feel that some of their hurt has been caused by me and my past actions. Are these the consequences that I have to live with and they have to suffer from? Why can't I just fix it? Why can't I just be the one to atone for all my wrongs and mistakes. Why can't I just protect my girls from this sort of pain and turmoil? Just WHY?

Today is the funeral for their friend Hannah Ridling. I knew Hannah because the twins so loved her that they wanted to bring her with them on a visit to Tennessee from Alabama to meet their Daddy. She was a sweet, wonderful, vivacious, lively, and outgoing child. She always loved to laugh and smile with a warm compassionate heart. She was very polite and respectful to adults and always wanted to please others. Even though Hannah's funeral is in Montgomery, Alabama, today in Franklin, TN is noticeably gloomy and quiet. There are no birds chirping and singing outside my office window. It's noticeably quiet today (especially for late Spring) - almost as if nature and the Lord is respecting a wonderful life lost on earth. Hopefully one day, we'll see and understand the good that God will bring from this tragedy. But until then, I choose to believe that God loved that child so much that He wanted her to be with Him this very moment. I'm sure she's in Heaven laughing with Jesus and looking down on all the ones that love and miss her so greatly.

She will be missed - especially by the Collins girls! May she rest in the peace of the Lord and may her family find comfort in Christ.

Hannah Ridling - 1994-2010
video

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Getting Acclimated


It's Thursday and today is the fourth day of my new position at Food for the Hungry as their newest Artist Rep. So far, it's been a whirlwind of conference calls and instant messaging with the corporate office, getting acclimated to the business protocol, setting up my office space, etc. Everyone I've talked to has been unbelievable and the common thread that I've noticed is that everyone seems to be genuinely in love with what they do and the cause it stands for. These are some incredibly and truly compassionate people! I'm anxious to continue to learn from them and glean as much knowledge as possible. I have a ton on my plate and am looking forward to getting in the trenches with my colleagues.

I'll be working with artists and anyone involved in the entertainment industry while also doing a fair amount of domestic and international travel. All for the cause of helping others in the name of Christ! What a great and humbling responsibility!

My Mom used to say to my brother and me when we were young, "Be careful what you pray for. You just may get it." Well, this is a perfect example of this coming true. This whole job situation has been what I asked the Lord for and He has gone above and beyond every one of my expectations. He truly knows the heart of His children and knows our needs. I'm learning that more and more every day.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Knowing the Heart


It amazes me how, when you live righteously and upright, God will bless that. He promises that in His word. I guess I've never truly grasped that concept in my heart. I've always heard it and had the head knowledge, but it's never really taken hold in my heart. . . until now, that is.

You see, in the past, I've done my fair share of deceiving, running, hiding, etc. I don't really know why. I was certainly not brought up that way and I don't have those core values. However, that's how I was during a critical period in my life. Critical for my children, that is. The beautiful thing about our Lord and Savior is that He forgives unconditionally if asked. There's never an alloted amount and you can never run out of times that He'll forgive. Nothing we can do can separate us from His love and forgiveness. That's a wonderful feeling when you truly know that in your heart. I've been on a long, arduous, and painful journey to get the this point of truly knowing, but I just know. How do I know? I can't explain it other than it's deep in my heart and soul. I know that He is watching over me. I know that He cares for me. I know that He will provide for me. And I know that He'll never leave me.

Lately, God has been truly blessing me in very small ways by answering subtle prayers that I've been praying for for quite a while. I've been diligent in trying to wait on His timing and He has begun to bless me for that. I know that the Lord is about to open the floodgates of blessing for me personally. I know He's about to use me as a tool for His glory in a mighty way and I'm ready, willing, and excited.

He's blessed me already in so many different ways and for that, I'm thankful.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Grains of Sand


I wanted to take this time to say thank you to all of my family and close friends that have helped me, fed me, encouraged me, and most importantly prayed for me through my tough time of transition in searching for a job. The Lord has blessed me with a dream job that I can't be more excited about! I feel as if there's a whole new start awaiting me.

I'm happy to report that I accepted a job offer of Artist Representative for the global relief organization called Food for the Hungry. It is a ministry-oriented job that I feel that Lord has called me to and I can't wait to get started on March 15, 2010. The Lord has heard my desperate cries and the prayers of so many of you that have been standing in the gap on my behalf. God is good and today is the beginning of something powerful and exciting for His glory!

Thank you again for all of your prayers and support. Especially the few that have been so close to me and embraced me in such a time of need. You've truly exemplified the meaning of being a follower of Christ and have proven to be a great testimony to my life. I love you!

Psalms 129:17-18

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

No Game Winning Shot!


First of all, let me start by saying God is good. In the past 2 years, the Lord has taught me a lot about waiting on Him and His timing. This is a huge lesson for me that I continue to grow in because I've always been this competitive type to want to take things in my own hands and fix them or work things out on my terms and timing. When you feel in control enough to "win the game" or directly effect the outcome of a certain circumstance, it's hard to change that mentality into one of humility and complete faith in the Lord. I've had the opportunity of learning this valuable lesson the hard way because I'm a hard-head! It took the Lord hitting me over the head with life to realize that I'm really not that in control and that put together. He's finally got me exactly where He wants me. I'm finally to a place of full submission and readiness for what He has in store and it's taken me all this time to get there. For that Lord, I'm sorry. It's been a long journey and yet still a long way to go. However, I'm in a good place right now and truly ready for God's will to finally take hold.

I feel that God has something great in store for me that just around the corner and some really great prospects in the works for me professionally in a time when so many are struggling. Is it something amazingly lucrative? No! But it seems to be so valuable on a human and eternal level. It seems to be a place in which God is doing a great work and I hope it is in His will to have me join Him where He is. Pray for me, my family, and my friends that have helped support me along this journey. I feel good about the prospects of turning the professional corner into the next chapter. I've gotten good feedback along the way and my gut/spirit is sending me good signals. Let's just pray that that is the Lord's still small voice and not my human hopes building up.

Training has been slow and steady, but tough. I'm truly ready for Spring so I can get outside and enjoy my time with friends and my time with Him. So many dreams and goals to go after!

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Birthday Wish


Today is (obviously) February 19th. It's a special day because 17 years ago today, my then wife gave birth to our twin girls Shelby and Taylor. Today is a bitter sweet day for me. It's sweet in the fact that I love my girls more than anything and I have a truly special relationship with them that I'm blessed with. It's so undeserving yet I'm grateful for God's amazing grace. It's bitter because I no longer get to see my angels on a daily basis. I've been divorced for more than two years now and my former wife and all three of my children moved away to another state. I only get to see my kids sporadically and I so desperately hurt when I'm not with them and getting to see them grow up and develop in to wonderful Godly women. It's bitter because I don't get to be with them on this special day. And it's bitter because I still harbor quite a bit of guilt in playing a major role in the drastic change in their lives. I don't know that I'll ever truly get over that. In many ways, it motivates me to be a better man and father. It causes me to continue to grow in a way that I never want to be the person I was.


There's so much that I want for my little girls that are growing up so quickly. There's so much that still have to say and teach to them. There's so much life that I need to live with them! There's still a lot left for me and so much room for improvement. They are my motivation. They are the reason for who (and who's) I am. They are my life and my loves!


Happy birthday girls! You are truly a gift on loan to your Mommy and I from the Lord above. I hope this birthday is a wonderful one because your next one will be the best one ever! Daddy promises!