Katelyn and Micah * Engagement Photos

Katelyn & Micah got engaged a few weeks ago and we met up on one of the only 34 degree days this December to photograph some of their love story.  When we were scheduling the session Katelyn told me that they really didn't want to wait for a warmer day, they just wanted to go for it.  I love that approach to life:)  I hope that you can feel it in the photographs that we got.  Here are some of my favorites from our time together.  Enjoy!

a dream come true.

For the last 3 or 4 years I have been dreaming of developing a space in Lancaster that would be a home for creatives and entrepreneurs. About a year ago Kevin Hurst and Ryan Weaver and I began talking more about the idea of creating a headquarters for Revolution Builders that would also be a home for Hingework and a community for creatives.  In late March the 3 of us walked through a building on Mulberry Street in Lancaster.  In April two more friends, Jeremy Peifer and Caitlyn Snyder, joined the team and the vision for the building took shape.   In late September the 5 of us purchased the old cigar box factory on Mulberry Street in Lancaster and began the process of transforming it.   We will be unveiling the Hingework portion of the project in the next few weeks and we are excited to show it to you.  It will be home to an incredible group of young creatives.  In the meantime I wanted to share some images of the process.  Enjoy the photos and have an awesome weekend!

Family Portraits with Guy and Emily. More people to Love.

Guy and Emily contacted us earlier this summer about family photos.  I was immediately excited about the chance to connect with them.  Emily follows Heathers blog and was drawn to some of the images of our children playing on their bikes around the farm where we live.  Guy and Emily have 5 daughters including 2 year old triplets.  She loved the idea of photographing her family in their element as they spend time in their backyard on a typical summer night.  

We had a sweet time with Guy and Emily getting to hear more of their story and learning to know them as we photographed them being who they are in the back yard at their house.  Guy shared with me the story of how Emily gently informed him that she was pregnant with not one but three babies!  I was curious about how Guy responded to the news.  "Emily, if our biggest problem in life is that we have too many people to give love to, I think were doing alright."  

An awesome response from a man who had just graduated from being a father of two daughters to five practically overnight.  Heather and I loved photographing this clan.  And we love the way that affection flows in this family.  Guy and Emily clearly love each other and they do a great job carrying that love to their daughters.  We had a sweet time together.

 Here are some of our favorites from the session.  I love these images because I photographed Guy and Emily and their family the same way that I photograph mine.  I hope you enjoy these images.  This is how we do family portraits.

the pause.

What are you gonna do with your weekend? Why?

This morning I was gonna drive an hour or two and take care of some shopping for the business or plop down in front of my screen to do some editing that needs to be done sometime in the next 3 weeks.  Instead I decided to take a pause.

I remember my friend David Lee talking about how at his company they value the pause.  A time to sit back and look and listen and allow space for something to unfold.  Perspective, a slight redirection, rest, a moment for key relationship to be put into place.  Pause.  For something. Allow it to unfold.  I was reading a post by Seth Godin a few weeks ago and he was writing innocently enough about various kinds of laziness when he unleashed this little gem:

Or consider the simple laziness of not being willing to sit with uncertainty..

Today as I prepared to rush into my day I decided to pause.  In the pause I realized that the things that felt most important about my day are actually things that can and should wait until another day.  They need to be tackled but if I would have rushed into them I would have missed the things that are most important about this day.  So I embraced the pause.  I sat with uncertainty for an hour or two,  and this is what I found:

My children came across the campfire from last night that was still smoldering and invested 45 breathing life back into it.

My wife and I talked about options for the day and ended up deciding to create space to connect with a couple that we love later this afternoon.

I walked around the property and watched the light move across the garden and the porch.

I got my camera out and got a shot of my oldest daughter and my wife wrapped up in summertime life.

I realized that it is important for me to write.  So I am writing this.

I sat with my oldest son and listened to him as he recited the laundry list of items that we need for our camping trip in 10 days.

I deleted instagram off of my phone and fought off the urge to reload it and post a perfectly styled image of my morning because I am tired of seeing other peoples perfectness and being distracted by it.

I sat down in the midst of this life that I am incredibly blessed with and soaked in it instead of running away from it.

Now I am off to market with a few of my kids in search of some food for the lunch guests that are joining us a result of the morning pause.  

So, as you head into your weekend embrace the pause, there are good things waiting to unfold.

Monday Morning Perspective.

So last week I was fresh off of vacation.  Monday came and I was ready.  Recharged and ready to go.  Ready to put my flip flops away and lace up my boots and charge into the flood of new opportunities that were waiting for me.  Ready to go.  Prepared to make this business thrive.  But somehow it seemed like there was nothing that required my immediate attention.  There was no one waiting on a proposal.  No one asking for pricing.  Nothing urgent.  All of that stuff had already been taken care of.  I started feeling a little anxious and frustrated.  The freedom of being your own boss is awesome - except when you embrace fear.  As I walked around my office (our house) trying to figure out how to be productive and accomplish something I sat down and started looking through the photos that I had taken on our vacation.  In a matter of moments I was undone.  Things shifted as I looked at these photographs of my wife and our children.  I was filled with thankfulness for all that I have been given.  I spent some time remembering vacation and some of my favorite moments along the way. This is what that Monday morning was supposed to be about.  Perspective, thankfulness and joy.  

Sometimes Mondays can be hard, but pictures have a way of reminding us what we value, what we have been given and what we are really investing our lives into.

That is why I love what I do.   

I hope you enjoy this glimpse into our lives and the sweet time that we had at the beach this summer.  It helped me to remember what is most important on Monday morning and it shifted the course of my week. 

(photo credit for our family portrait goes to the amazing and talented Amber Martin)

 

What's in Your Garden?

the Buckwalter garden 2015 edition

the Buckwalter garden 2015 edition

In 2009 Heather and I moved to an old farmhouse just outside of Lancaster.  That year after 7  years of marriage we attempted our first garden.  We just kind of dove into it.  Thirty, 100 foot rows of flowers and vegetables.  Zinnias, sunflowers, corn, beans, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, peppers, onions, carrots, peas...you get the idea.  Along the way I realized that I love to work in the garden.  I love tending the garden.  Especially the flowers.  I discovered that evenings working in the garden with my children playing around me was one of my favorite places to be.  

Last week as we planted our garden I thought back to that first garden.  We are on a different farm now, but we still love to put seeds in the ground and watch them sprout and bloom in July and August.  Our garden is very different now than it was in 2009.  That garden helped us to realize what we loved and it also helped us to realize what we didn't.  As I look around the garden now it is much smaller, more simple and more of an expression of the things that we love.  

Four Simple rows of flowers, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, beans and a tiny row of corn.  We set up our garden the way that we wanted it to look.  It isn't a half acre of weed-free perfection because that isn't what brings us life.  The way that we set it up and the seeds that we planted in it are the the things that we love to see on this property.  It is a perfect fit for our lives and our family as we savor life in this place that we call home.  

Heather and I were talking to friends last week and they were sharing about how they realized that while they enjoy canning and freezing they don't like gardening or the process of it at all.  So they decided this year that they were just going to buy produce from the Amish farms all around them and not carry around the pressure of doing a garden.  It made me think about our lives.  I wonder what it would look like if we took away the pressure of what other people are thinking and the way that things have always been done and just lived from a place of being who God has created us to be.  What if the things that we invested our lives in flowed out of the things that God has put in our hearts?  Our garden isn't a typical Lancaster County expression of productivity - it's not supposed to be.  It's supposed to be something that provides life and beauty to those who experience it.

So as you head into a long weekend think about what's in your garden and why it's there.  Is it filled with things that bring you life while bringing beauty and nourishment to those around you?  Is is planted in passion, vision and anticipation?  Or is it tilled in heaviness and expectation that comes from age old voices in your head that are designed to steer you away from the passions of your heart?

Here's to tapping into what's in your heart this weekend and investing in what is there.  It's going to produce something beautiful. 

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Next Lancaster Gathering: Tuesday May 19th @ 355 E Liberty Street, Lancaster, PA

entrepreneurs, revolutionaries, creatives, dreamers and business leaders wanted

entrepreneurs, revolutionaries, creatives, dreamers and business leaders wanted


The May edition of the Lancaster Gathering is next Tuesday, May 19th at 355 E Liberty Street, Lancaster!
Come join this tribe of entrepreneurs, creatives, dreamers, visionaries and business leaders.  Doors open at 6 pm we will get started around 630.  Please feel free to bring like hearted friends.  RSVP to markbuckwalter@gmail.com

Some of David Lee's friends from The One Year Road Trip team will be joining us on Tuesday to connect and share some of their journey with us.  Excited to see you guys and meet a few new revolutionaries too.

The Lancaster Gathering exists to set the table for connection among passionate, revolutionary creatives, entrepreneurs and business leaders who know that they have been created for more.  Our desire is for you to rub shoulders with like hearted world changers and make a difference.  Community.  Perspective.  Fathering Leadership.  That is what we are about.  Can't wait to see you all on Tuesday!

parking is available on the east side of the building and on Liberty Street in front of the building. please use the front entrance on the street side of the building.

Perspective.

Perspective.  It seems like so simple of a word that I hesitate to use it as a title for this post.  It is about the way that we see things. I looked it up this morning and the following definition struck me: 

true understanding of the relative importance of things; a sense of proportion.

As a business coach and a photographer it is what I am paid to do.  Bring perspective.  Help people be able to see things from a different angle. 

Why is it so easy to lose perspective?  I don't know.  I have explained many times over the years that perspective is like oxygen.  Our bodies can go 3 days or so without water, and 40 days without food, but if you remove oxygen for just a few moments we are unable to survive.  That is what it feels like to me when I try to push my way forward without understanding what is really going on.  It feels like the life is being sucked out of me and it feels hard to move forward.  Perspective sets the tone for the way that I walk through life.  It allows me to focus on the things that are truly important instead of on the things that are screaming the loudest for my attention.

So how do I handle it when I lose perspective?  How do I regain it?  How do I get back to a healthy place?  How do I move forward?

The answer for me generally involves a connection.  Sometimes it means that I need to connect with God.  Go for a walk, go for a drive.  Sit on the porch.  Look out over the farm.  Get out my journal or my laptop or my camera.  Get on my motorcycle and ride through the river hills where we live.  All of these things can help.  Connecting with God is vital to perspective.  But sometimes it doesn't seem to help.  Then what?

It's funny.  I love sitting with people and listening to what is going on in their lives.  When I get insight that brings them perspective it is awesome.  I love it.  One of the things that I was made for is to help people see what God is doing, saying or thinking.  I love to help.  Ironic then that I so often hesitate to reach out to others when I am struggling and gasping for air in my own life.  I was sitting with a friend yesterday and he was sharing how he had recently heard that if you want to take an inventory on your relationship with God just take a look at the relationships with people that are closest to you.  The condition of those relationships should be a good barometer of how you are doing at connecting with God.  Simple and true.  It is easy to try to do it without God or without letting our friends in.  We can run to God or we can run away from people.  Or we can be so enamored with what other people think of us that we can run away from God and into the arms of people.  We are designed to understand and receive perspective from both places.  The key is walking in humility and knowing when we need to go to God with our issues and when we need to ask our friends for some help.

So as you go through your day today.  Let God bring you fresh perspective that reminds you why you are doing what you are doing.  And if you are struggling to connect with him maybe it's time to reach out to a friend and talk to them about what's really going on.  And if you're finding yourself let down and disappointed by people maybe it would be good to reach out to God and see what He wants to say to you.  He wants to bring you rest and perspective so that you can move forward in a healthy way.  Have a great week!

Wisdom From a Father

I got up this morning and went for a walk around the farm where we live.  I was thinking about all the things that I have to be thankful for as I watched the morning light stream across the hills that surround our house.  I had pushed through the typical Monday morning barrage of responsible thoughts and came to a place of rest surprisingly quickly.  I found myself thanking God for all of these ridiculous blessings in my life.  As I did I was reminded of a story about a father and his son.

One of the great pleasures of my life is sitting with the people that I coach and listening as they share their hearts and their experiences with me.  I hear God in the midst of these conversations.  A few months ago I was sitting with a client and he was sharing a story about his father.  He told me how just before his wedding his father had approached him and given him some advice.  His father was a faithful man.  He had raised his children and handled his business responsibly.  He was not saddled with debt and he was a position to transfer his assets to his children as he moved into retirement.  He looked at his son who was preparing to move into the unchartered waters of marriage and this is what he said:

Son, before I got married I had a lot of fun.  I joked a lot.  I laughed.  I knew how to have a good time.  But when I got married.  I got real serious.  Things had more weight.  Responsibilities.  Heaviness.  I wanted to proved that I was faithful.  I want to encourage you son, don't do what I did.  Don't get so serious.   Have fun.  Laugh with your wife.  Don't carry the weight of the world on your shoulders.  It is important to enjoy your wife and the blessings of your life.  It is important for her that you don't become so serious.

As this client and friend shared this story with me tears filled my eyes.  It stunned me.  That is how you counsel your son who is about to marry the woman of his dreams.  Perhaps it was so loud because of what he didn't say.  He didn't say, "well son, you've had your fun, now it's time to buckle down and be responsible."  He didn't confuse faithfulness with heaviness, worry, work, anxiety and stress.  He rightly recognized the trap that was waiting for his son as he moved from being a single man to being a husband and father.  "Be more serious.  Worry more.  Work harder."  These voices are all around us.  Worry masquerades as faithfulness all the time.  It is important for us to realize that.  Jesus saw worry for what it was and so did this father.  He released wisdom to his son that day and it prepared him to be the husband, father, entrepreneur and leader that God desires.  One who will actually do things differently.

I think that this story popped into my mind today because it was what God wanted to remind me of as I started my week.  I had an incredible weekend.  I photographed Friday night and most of the day Saturday.  When evening arrived on Saturday at our house I was surrounded by my friends.  We laughed together as we made dinner.  We celebrated.  I am turning 41 on Tuesday and these guys came to love on me.  It was awesome.  Then Sunday arrived.  More awesomeness.  A breakfast feast and morning with my family enjoying the warm weather outside.  I spent the afternoon on an absolutely epic motorcycle ride through Chester county.  Great times with my wife, my family and my friends in the midst of doing what I love to do.  Great weekend.

Then Monday arrived with it's typical voices.  "Time to get serious.  Time to get to work.  Or at least start worrying about something.  C'mon.  Be Faithful.  If your not going to work from 7 to 5 today at least freak out about something to prove to the world that you care!  You've had your fun son.  Now it's time to get serious.  Prove yourself."

As I walked and prayed I moved past those voices.  It is so easy to think that they are actually God.  Like that is what He thinks when he looks at our lives.  I think that is why this story came to my mind after I moved past the Monday morning demons.  Because that story is what God wants to say to us.  It is wisdom.  He doesn't want us to get more serious, more heavy or more anxious.  He wants us to walk with him and be at rest and know that he is with us.  He wants us to be able to experience the joy and blessing of the relationships that he has given us now.  Worry steals that.  It keeps us from living in the blessings that are already upon us.  

So here's to having a great week.  Receive the wisdom from the father in this story.  Savor the blessings that are all around you and know that your Father takes great delight in watching you enjoy them.   He is proud of you when you take time to do just that.

Pulling the Plug: Overcoming Disappointment

Disappointment.  Obviously it is a part of all of our lives.  You open your heart up to a dream, a desire.  Something that you want.  Maybe you know it is a long shot, but you begin to hope.  Maybe you even feel an invitation.  Almost like God is wooing you.  Wanting you to open your heart more, dream more, bigger, beyond what makes sense.  So you dare.  You step into it.  You lean into it.  You hope.  You choose to believe.  You buy in.  Along the way life is happening around you and it is good, but you are going beyond just good.  There is going to be a dream fulfilled and you are going to be a part of it and God is on your side and it is going to happen.  Like a sailor with the wind at his back - you are going where you want to go and all the momentum is in your favor.  There is little better than this feeling.  You know that this is going to happen.  

As your hope and your dreams grow so does your boldness.  The naysayers and the pharisees come with their “just take it easy son” commentaries.  Instead of listening and dismissing their rabble privately you invite them in.  You put yourself out there.  You let them know that God is doing something different here.  You thank them for their time - but you know that there are brighter days coming.  You are excited about the story that is going to come forth when this comes to pass.  Not only is it going to feel awesome.  But people will know.  They will see a difference and they will be invited to recognize that God is moving.  This is the stuff that great stories are made of.  This is how it happens. 

 Dream.  Risk.  Believe.  Hope.  Move into action. Pray.  Believe.  Live it.  Celebrate.  This is awesome.

Except when it doesn’t happen.   The dream comes crashing down.  The financing doesn’t come through.  The storm does.  The doctor doesn’t say what he is supposed to.  The promotion never comes.  The accountant has some bad news. The man or woman that you thought you married walks away.  The house gets sold out from under you.  The business fails.  It goes bad.  Then what? 

When a dream dies you have a few choices at your disposal.  You can  huddle up with the pharisees and thank them for sharing their infinite wisdom with you while you apologize for daring to dream.  You can shut down your heart and drink from an unending flow of bitterness that will flow from the disappointment that is inside of you. You can stay in bed and try to block out the world.  You can grit your teeth and keep moving. Bound and determined not to let things get you down you can keep stepping forward.  You can surround yourself with safe small minded thinkers who nourish your fear and encourage you to become and remain risk averse.  You can become jealous and angry of anyone who has the courage to dream.  Or you can do something different.  

You can be honest about the pain and you can let it go.

Letting go of a dream is hard.  Letting go of the disappointment that comes with it -even harder.  Perhaps it is one of the defining moments of our lives.  Can we let go of the disappointment and move forward?  For me the letting go is not pretty.  Usually it involves tears and snot, colorful language and at least one close friend looking me in the eyes and loving me enough to firmly challenge me to let it go.  Then when it rears its ugly head again 5 seconds or 5 minutes or 5 months later I have to go though the process all over again.  It is like grieving.  Because it is grieving.  The only thing that you can really do is make a choice to keep your heart open to the Lord and to those who love you.

So I let go.  I start to feel better.  It feels like I am letting go of control.  In reality I am letting go of the ability to be controlled by the past.  When I do this I inevitably end up feeling like myself again.  Criticism and irritation go and peace comes.  Anger and frustration leave and vision for the future is released.  I can dream again.  Letting go of disappointment is hard.  It is a process.  It is also the only way to move forward armed with all that we have learned in the journey up until now.  We have been given a lot that is meant to serve us in the next season of life.  We just wont be able to access it the way that we are supposed to without letting go of the disappointment first.  

So get honest with God today.  Get honest with a trustworthy friend.  Pull the plug on the disappointment and let it drain out.  And as you do embrace the peace that comes.  Embrace who God has made you to be and start dreaming again.  That is who you are.  A dreamer who is making a difference.

Monday Morning: What does yours look like?

Monday morning.  What does yours look like?  It seems like it is an interesting barometer of our hearts.  Do I wake up excited about what is in front of me?  Am I dreading another week doing something I hate?  Do I want to run head first into the opportunities that are there?  Am I hiding? Do I have to put on a mask and head back into the office?  What thoughts are filling my mind?  What is winning the battle in my mind?  Fear?  Worry? Impatience? Love? Kindness? Hope? Dreams? 

Regardless of how you answer this question on Monday morning - it seems like a good question to ask.  I can remember years ago when I first started coaching business owners.  No one wanted to meet on Monday mornings so, I would walk around the city of Lancaster praying and observing.  One of the things that struck me was how unhappy everyone seemed as they plowed into their weeks.  It didn't feel right to me then and it still doesn't now.  I wish I didn't battle it myself.  But I do.  Recently I have realized how many times I say no to my wife and children because I am feeling a pressure that seems real but has no substance to it.  Do I really not have 7 extra minutes in my day to walk with my children to the bus stop?  Is that really going to make me late or am I just giving into something that is distracting me from the very things that I value the most?   

I think one of the things that has  been helpful for me is to recognize the temptation to shut down my heart and get to work.   Once I realized that battle was there I could begin to look at my life and my Monday's in a different way.  I began to consider the significance of how I began my weeks.  Times like these have a way of exposing how much we really trust and believe in the things that we say we do.

So, what does it look like for you on Monday morning?  Is there a difference?  Do people notice?  What does your staff, your team, your clients, your vendors and those that you are rubbing shoulders with receive from you on Monday morning?  How about your family?  

Are you gritting your teeth and complaining about how the weekend is over?  Are you taking time to hear about the peoples lives around you?  Or are you slurping down a cup of coffee and flailing into another 50 hours of treadmill performance?

I wonder what God thinks when He looks down at Lancaster County on a Monday morning.  Is there a difference?  Does he see people whose actions on Monday morning are consistent with what is in their hearts for their lives?  And for Him?  As you head into this work week it might be worth asking God what part of your Monday morning routine he wants to invade.  

 

Spring is Here!

Today is the first day of Spring!  Finally.  The arrival of spring is probably the most anticipated of all seasonal changes that we go through.  Unless of course you are a #PSL autumn person, but that is another post for another day:)  Perhaps that fact that it is so anticipated is what makes its delayed arrival so irritating to us.  I am watching 3-6 inches of snow fall from the sky as I celebrate the arrival of this new season.  I have been waiting and watching for it.  Hoping that it would arrive and that it would arrive on time.

I was reading through my journal from last year this week and I was reminded of something that I wrote last year as yet another snowstorm continued to blast us even though February was long gone.  "This storm is simply an indicator of the season that you are coming out of - it is not a harbinger of the one that you are entering into."  It is important to remember this as we are preparing our hearts for what is next.  Sometimes we can get stuck with things that are behind us instead of focusing on the good things that are in our midst and the great things that are right ahead.  

I remember sharing at the First Lancaster Gathering this year that it was important to be focusing on what was out the windshield and not what was in the rearview mirror.  I feel like God was reminding me of that today as I consider this week and the arrival of spring in the midst of snowflakes flying.  This snow is not going to last and the beauty of spring is going to come forth.  As it does I want to be leaning into the newness of spring;  not meditating on the bitter cold of winter.  It is time for a new season.  Enjoy it and know that there are good things coming.  Spring is here!

Cinderella Man

I remember watching the movie Cinderella Man in 2005. A story of tremendous courage during the Great Depression. It is the story of a fighter, a professional boxer and his journey through life as a husband and a father. It is a story about leadership and strength, I remember writing in my journal after watching it that I wanted to be a Cinderella Man. 

In the past ten years I have smiled through tears more than once as I reflected upon that journal entry. When I wrote it, the scene of his victory over a seemingly undefeatable obnoxious villain was fresh in my mind. The reason that I would smile when I thought of that entry was because I had the end of the story in mind when I wrote it. Sure, Ihad admired the Cinderella Man's character throughout the movie, but I hadn't been thinking about how the dream to be him would play out in my relatively peaceful life. I certainly hadn't realized that in order for there to be a victory worth cheering about there would have to be some losses, broken bones, and unexplainable circumstances along the way. Ten years later I understand.

 

I remember the first time someone in ministry turned their back on me. The time a close friend that I had invested in told me that I was deceived and that there was a black cloud hanging over my home. I remember wanting to call the bank and tell them to come repossess the car, because I was tired of trying to explain that they would get their money as soon as I got mine. I remember believing that a breakthrough was coming and that I was going to land a consulting job, only to find out that they weren't actually interested in what I brought to the table. I remember getting to the ultrasound room just in time for the technician to tell my wife and I that there was no life in Heather's womb. I remember how angry I was when the doctor came in a few minutes later to tell us that there had not been one life lost, but two. Heather had been pregnant with twins as God had told me she was, but they had just stopped growing.

 I remember wanting throw in the towel as I sliced mushrooms at the beginning of 12 weeks of kitchen training that was now somehow part of my destiny. I remember sitting at what I thought would be an encouraging breakfast and being told that I couldn't carry the heart of God to the youth group as originally intended because some people didnt feel good about who I was as a person. I remember asking if there were specifics, only to be told no. I remember weeping with my wife after our fifth miscarriage, when she had spent the bulk of that year surrendering the decision to get pregnant to the Lord.  

During these times it didn't feel like I was learning how to be a Cinderella Man, but I was.

In order to live a story that is going to get anyone's attention there has to be some challenge in it. There has to be some snot on it. Anyone can smile and love those around them when there is money in the bank and favor all around. It takes character to live through challenges and deal with nastiness that comes to the surface, both in you and in others. To continue loving and trusting and moving forward, free from bitterness. It is like the difference between smiling and reading stories from scripture that communicate 1 Corithians 13, and sharing stories from your own life that exemplify love with tears streaming down your face. Both have some substance, but one has more depth. It has more authority and it has the ability to connect with those who have a few wrestling matches in their own lives. 

 

I am glad that I told God I wanted to be a Cinderella Man. While I am not positive that he needed that request to throw into motion some of the things that he has in my life, I am glad that he did, and I am glad that I am still walking with him. I have the ability to relate and connect with people now in a way that was foreign to me before. I understand the offensiveness of hollow words that come from well intentioned hearts. I have little time for cute sermons or fiery declarations that do not involve personal testimony of how the message has been interwoven into the words of their story. I have learned how to love, and how to fight, and how to bleed. How to be healthy, and how to listen along the way. Not waiting to talk, but listen. I have learned to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. Have I learned to be a Cinderella Man? I have learned how to win by learning to handle a few losses.

And for that, I am thankful.