Tag Archives: Tiffany

Once Upon a Time … Four Quests

Once upon a time, there was a little boy. Though born into a household with ordinary parents, this was no ordinary little boy. He is destined for greatness and glory.

This little boy’s story all started like many stories, with a love between a man and woman. And this man, a nomadic cleric, and woman, a picture of beauty, grace, and selflessness, had just this one child. And no child in the history of children has ever been loved more than he.

His story is more than just one tale, but today we share a little bit about the places this boy called home.

Because of the fathers occupation, this threesome moved around quite a bit. They traveled from the land of just one star to the East. They lived in the forest of Wake, in the fields of Chester, studied on the hills of Clover, travelled on the roads of Hampton, and even spent time in the dales of Ware, the oak’s of Red, and the borough of Rox. Yes they moved around and this little boy, who has now grown up to be quite a young man, has no real place to call “home.”

So this young man has made his way back to the land of just one star.

As stated earlier, he is destined for greatness. But to do this, he must face four challenges – four life changing events that will define him.

The first is a quest for a priceless treasure. This treasure will be both hidden and visible. Like a Diamond hidden among glass baubles, the lad would have to discern the true worth of what is before him. And once he finds the treasure, he must convince the treasure that they are destined to be together. For this treasure is alive and will be the boy’s greatest asset in life. The treasure wants to be treated like, well, a treasure.

And this first challenge has been completed. For the lad has discovered his treasure, he wooed it, values it, and knows this treasure will always be at his side.

Now the second challenge – a quest to find the place to call “home” – for every great journey has a place to call home. Every great story has a house, a palace, a castle, villa, cave, treehouse, candy coated cottage, tower, or even a shoe to call their own.

And this home was not just for the two of them – but for the companions picked up along the way. Two magical beasts called Daisy and Gracie.

Two worthy companions stand guard over the young lad

With the treasure advising him, the two went asearching. They would face fierce competition in fellow quest seekers. There would be hidden traps of homes that held dangers within. And some houses had been enchanted by magic to hide what they really were. Like a dream that starts beautiful but ends up a nightmare. They had to see past the spell of seeing brick to discern if the houses were really made of straw.

Dragons would come against them in the form of paper work. They would spew fire called “deadlines.” And the lad and his treasure would have to answer all kinds of questions to show themselves worthy.

Great wisdom would be needed to cross the valley of a thousand decisions. Great courage will be called upon to climb the mountain of no regrets. And great strength will be needed to face the task of domicile preparation.

Much would be sacrificed on this quest.

And then they found it, with the help of a road gnome called Damian. A castle to call their own. A palace for the young lad, his treasure, and their companions. In the state of just one star, on the boundary of the fort for the worthy, is their place they call …


A young lad and his treasure find their home

But this young man can’t rest too long. For he has two more challenges to face. What will they be?

I love fairy tales.

Heroes … here is a big THANK YOU

Heroes. We all have them. And as we grow older, the heroes may change. As a kid, I remember the Apollo astronauts. The bravery. The patriotic aspect of standing for America. And Buzz was such a cool name.

As I got older, maybe not too much older, it turned to comic book heroes – Superman, Batman, Spiderman. I mean, who wouldn’t want super powers. But I kind of always turned back to space – Captain Kirk. To boldly go …

Then college – where it was certain professors who seemed so brilliant and having it all together (having taught college since then, I can say they may be brilliant, but very few have it all together.)

I kind of stuck with the Academic realm since then – favorite scholars, brilliant theologians, insightful minds that spent their lives researching and sharing their knowledge with young minds. John Sailhammer and others.

But the kid in me still wants to go to space – the first chaplain on Mars.

Now the older I get the more I see heroes are not those that do amazing things in a short period of their lives, but the ones who stick through it no matter what life throws at them.

  • The husband who for years sits by his wife’s bed as she struggles with Alzheimer’s (Doug B)
  • The pastors who serves faithfully at smaller churches, knowing fame and recognition rarely come their way (Bob B)
  • The parent who raises a special needs child and cares for them through adulthood.
  • And nurses, first responders, nursing home personnel who are the front line of a war like we are in (all those with my mother)
  • A son who desired to stay pure till and in marriage in a world that pushes the other way (Calvin)
  • And a woman who would take my only son knowing what she knows about him and his family. Nobody in their right mind would marry into a preacher’s family, yet she did and they love each other so (Tiffany)
  • And a wife who sticks by me even in my childish stupidity (Lisa)

These are my heroes. These are the ones I applaud and smile when I see them. Not football superstars, not Hollywood celebrities, and not any politician. They may be great people, but heroes – that is a special place in my heart. And in all we are going through, I say thank you.

Today, maybe you too can say thank you to your hero. This blog is my way of saying thank you.


Okay, maybe I still want to go to space and admire those who do. Maybe I could be a Jedi.

Special Addition …

Somewhere in the world out there

Once up a time, in a land far, far away … in a land of amazement and wonder … there was woman in great pain. It was a pain that also brings joy. I don’t know how long the pain lasted, but in the end it brought a gift, a blessing, a joy for the world to behold. This pain gave way to a direct manifestation of God. It was girl. But not just any girl. This girl would end up changing my life forever.

This gift grew in grace and splendor. I didn’t know this gift. She was never on my radar. That would happen 26 years later. That one day, she entered into my son’s circle of influence.

My son … now that’s a long story with some great plot twists and an amazing story line … my son had entered an establishment of music and of bodily gyrations. And across the room, this gift, this now beautiful young woman, walked across the wooden dance floor. She walked up to my socially clumsy, yet kind and sensitive young man … she asked him to dance. Before the night was over, they danced. And they still are dancing.

Last month, on a FaceTime call with my son … she yelled across the room, “Hey dad!” Never before had I heard that from one I could call my daughter. I felt a warmth, a sense of pride, a love unlike I’ve experienced.

Tiffany = “manifestation of God”

The two who brought her into the world deserve praise. They have two daughters, and now two sons brought by nuptial vows. But this one, this manifestation of God, this “Tiffany”, is now in my circle of what I call family.

Today is her birthday, I don’t know how to say thank you enough. I don’t know how to express my love … but I do want you to know I have known you ever since my son was born. We have prayed for you even before you were born. You are the answer to that prayer. For I used to say somewhere in the world out there is one I don’t even know her name but loved her just the same. But today, I know her name.

Her name is Tiffany. And she is my daughter (in law).

Happy Birthday

He Needs to Know

29 years ago, he came into our world. He was an answer to prayer and a gift from God. My wife and I lost our first child. Well, not lost. We know where he/she is and we will see him/her there one day. So, the day our son popped out was a day we will always celebrate. And on the day I write this, the date of that event is tomorrow.

He is a GIFT … every life is precious and from above. But this life, this young boy, was for us. We have been given the pleasure, the pain at times, and the joy to call him our son. As a gift, we treasure him but we know we can not keep him. Now we also know he was made to be a gift for a beautiful young woman as well. And as a gift, we should always be grateful to the Giver.

He doesn’t belong to us, He belongs to GOD … from the earliest of his life, we gave him back to God. We dedicated him to God and committed ourselves to raise him in the Lord’s ways. Probably even more than the day he was born was our excitement on the day he believed in Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Our son will not live just 60, 70, or even 80 years – he will live for eternity. And we know it will be with God. That is worth getting excited about.

He is a WARRIOR in the King of King’s Service … not a professional soldier but a warrior who fights to honor God in his life, a warrior who fights to keep his family Christ-centered and to protect his wife, and a warrior who carries the name of Christ wherever he goes.

He needs to know … I believe in him, I am proud of him, I will love him – no matter what.

The Giant Killer

On this celebration of 29 years, I am giving him a necklace. A custom made silver necklace that contains a rock. Yep, a rock. Ain’t I the loving father. But this is no ordinary sliver of a rock. It is from the brook in the valley of Elah. This is the same brook that many believe David ventured to select five stones – one of which struck Goliath with that mortal blow. May it be a reminder that He needs God’s strength, God’s armor, God’s provisions, and mostly, he needs God.

Son – I believe in you, I am proud of you, I will love you – no matter what.

Happy Birthday.

Your Journey Isn’t Over …

It started on a farm in Jetersville. This is not the largest little town In central Virginia, but this is where the story starts. It was a tree that had grown mighty and tall. But something happened. Was it an act of nature? The edge of man’s chainsaw? Or just the natural time for this tree to fall? I don’t know. But fall it did. The once mighty Black Walnut was down, but not out. It was now ready for the next stage of its journey.

The tree was then taken to a mill where it was sliced, diced, whipsawed, rived, and planked. Some of it made it to the brother of the man who worked the lumber mill’s saw. And from there, the lumber was taken to an artist. An elderly gentleman who saw the value, the possibility, and had a vision of what this Black Walnut could now become.

He shaped, sanded, molded, formed, and artistically formed a beautiful pulpit in the shape of a cross. With extra pieces, he made a wall board (where we would place prayer prompts), a shepherd staff, and a smaller tabletop display of Calvary with three crosses.

That artist passed away, but the beauty of his work remains.

But the journey of the wood still isn’t finished. The smaller display was dismantled and put to another use. The crosses are still crosses, but the base was reworked to be part of my son’s love relationship with his now bride of one week. The wood was taken and made into the boxes that would hold the symbol of their love … the rings.

The boxes were placed in a secure box and escorted down the aisle by the stud of the event … the ring bearer.

A small walnut to a large tree. A large tree to fallen pieces of wood. Wood to planks and slices. Planks to pulpit and more. And from there, to the holder of a young couple’s love.

Lessons of the day … you may feel you are great and mighty, but you are one moment away from falling on the ground. But a setback doesn’t have to be the end.

God is a master artist and as long as you are still around, He can and is still working on you for something that can bring Him glory.

The box seems such a small part of the wedding. But no part is unimportant. They all have significant roles and meanings.

Thank you mighty Black Walnut … for being part of my son’s wedding. Thank you Lord, for never giving up on me and for still working in and on me.

Coming soon … did you know the Black Walnut has a curse, but that curse can teach us a great lesson. Look for this story in a future MuddyShoes.

The Princess Danced

She is a free spirited joy to her parents. Strong willed (much like her mother I hear) yet with a spirit that is tender in a way that most don’t see on the surface. Life had been good to her in so many ways … a family who loves her, a big sis that taught her, and a few animals that bring her joy overflowing. She is one that loves her God and walks in His way. But this princess has felt sorrow too. Pain that no one should have to endure. She turned that into a service to others going through tough times … just one of the ways she has been used by God. But she also took that pain and decided to stay in her castle, safe and secure as she snuggles with her royal protectors … two dogs that bring great joy just with their presence.

But no … a traveling soul, a naive, dorky, goofy, yet lovable cavalier (defined as a dashing and attentive man, especially one acting as a lady’s escort) would enter into her life. He too has had a good life. Parents that treasure and love him, raising him to be a cavalier of integrity and honor, teaching him the ways of the Lord. They had no real castle. They traveled the countryside, ministering to those around them, sharing the hope and grace of the Lord. He did sit still for a while as he resided for a time in a land called “the 804” where he was blessed with friends and family. But his soul still drew him to wander. This cavalier … never having a single place to call home, never having siblings, and never sure where the nomadic life would take him … returned to the land of his birth, a land of cowboys, longhorns, and patriots – away from his parents. But as the Lord would have it, in to a close proximity of the princess who was safely and snuggily secure in her world that was about to be rocked.

They met at the royal ball wearing boots and denim. And as fate would have it, this princess asked the cavalier to dance. Silently, scared, and overwhelmed by the beauty of the princess, he said yes. It didn’t take long. He was smitten, bad … real bad. I mean really bad. The night ended, the princess left with her friend and the cavalier with his entourage. But he had something. He had her digits . All ten of them. It was as if she left her glass slipper at the ball … he knew to whom it belonged, but it would take a while for the princess to admit it was her slipper.

Days, weeks, and months, he would work to win the heart of the princess that already had his heart in her hand. He patiently, prayerfully, and nobly wore her down. Oh she tried to keep the drawbridge to her private castle up, not letting anyone in but her dogs. But this cavalier was persistent. No gun toting father would deter him. No being defeated by the princess in the sport of which thought he was master would do it. She tried to run him off. Oil over the castle walls, arrows from the fortified castle towers, and so many other acts of war. Her sister begged her to cut him lose before she broke his heart.

But that is not the way this story goes. He won over the parents, he befriended the canine protectors, and he kept at it … and it happened. Her shell cracked just a smidgen. Her inner soul had opened up and through that little crack came pouring in a love that has overwhelmed her – and would rewrite the story she thought she controlled.

Yesterday, the princess and the cavalier stood before family, friends, canines, and the Lord. They committed their life to each other. They made vows to each other. They shared tears. And they became one.

The festivities will be sung about for generations. The bus that brought delights. The cakes of cheese that melted on the tongues of attendees. The dances of so many young and old. And the blending of families. Yes, poets and bards will write … and the story will be told and the songs sung.

But as food was gone, the delights were all eaten, and the music was ended … all waited outside for the couple to exit heading to the beginning of the journey called ‘together forever’. But inside, on an empty dance floor … the two stood. The only witnesses were the parents of the two. And a song was played. And the two ended the night the way the journey began …

They danced.

The last dance of the celebration, but not of the journey.

They danced … eyes only for each other, the world spinning around them, yet all they saw was the one before them. Arms around each other, smiles with a depth of love that only days like this can produce, he thought only of the princess, she thought only of the cavalier. And …

They danced.

Never stop. Keep on dancing.

I Met Her a Year Ago … Oh How Things Have Changed

Tiffany Sheffield … a young, beautiful, strong woman who rolled into my life through a close relative’s connection. I sat down with her, along with my wife and my first born … at one of my favorite brisket places – Hard 8. We discussed life, God, and her plans for my son. In two weeks from today, she will share wedding vows with him.

Sooo … a lot has happened in 12 months. I moved 5 states away the day after our dinner, she visited once – just once, her and Calvin have taken the first steps in a life long journey together, and lots of prayers have been raised for her, for her wisdom, her peace, her strength, her walk, her patience with my 28 year old goober of a first born.

We hiked Old Rag together, got caught in a storm, stayed connected through social media, visited my mother (Calvin’s grandmother), and have come to a mutual acceptance that soon we will be related. I am excited, not so sure about her. After all, only visited once.

To my readers … how in anyway does this keep you reading. Maybe you need a reminder that sometimes people come in to your life and go out. Sometimes people come in and take up residence. Sometimes we have choice, sometimes we don’t.

No,matter how they come across your path, you have unique opportunity to be a blessing to them. Maybe a passing smile, a simple opening of a door, or helping them return a grocery cart to the cart collector. Yesterday, I greeted two young guys playing basketball at our church … with a flat basketball (that’s all was out there). So I got my air pump and let them use it. Simple, no strings, random kindness.

I challenged Tiffany 52 weeks ago …

Make a difference – leave a mark.

I keep challenging her, and myself, and everyone the same thing.

Tiffany, I will leave any crazy and heart tugging words for the approaching day of nuptials. But today, one year to the date after I met you, I say that I am glad you are in our lives. And even if only one visit a year … I’ll take it. It makes the rest of the year seem that much brighter, that much more special, and that much more full of love.

But I also repeat what I said last year …

I will be watching you and if I find that you are trying to corrupt my first born child, I will bring you down, baby. I will bring you down to Chinatown.

Old Rag Mountain: Lightning on the Ledge

Some days the bear gets you, some days you get the bear. Some days it’s like you’ve been beaten and eaten by a bear. Such was Monday.

Calvin, Tiffany, and I attacked Old Rag Mountain. The most popular, and possibly most taxing, day hike in all the mountains of Virginia. I’ve done it before, which helped, but it seemed God threw more boulders down in the scramble … and made the last leg twice as long. Basically, harder and longer than I remembered. I recommended a few other hikes, but Calvin had his heart set on this trail, so we went. Me to my physical draining, muscle pushing, knee scrapping event. Them to their love bird stroll, simple hike in the woods, first time on Old Rag, never seeming to break a sweat, 20 something bodies I wish I still had, photo taking trek.

It was wonderful to see groups that hiked near each other, leap-frogging at times, encourage each other. It was a blessing to see Calvin and Tiffany encourage each other, talk and express their love, and interact without distractions. And I already miss the ability to look at my son, talk face to face, and stay connected.

Personal note of gratitude … we may have had to journey the 11ish miles of rock and mud … but Lisa was the hero of the day. She went with us and stayed at base camp (the parking lot). She did venture into Sperryville for coffee and a stroll, but since our hike was 3 hours longer than I planned, she waited in the parking lot quite a while. Text service was zilch. I love that girl more than I ever let her know.

On the trail … Old Rag is one of those that when you think you’ve reached the final peak, you haven’t. When you think it can’t get any more beautiful, it does. Higher and greater views were over the next rocks or past the next cluster of pines. Photo ops never stopped happening.

On the scramble (the rocks that you had to slide, jump, climb, crawl, drop off, etc.), there were a few times I had to just rest before the jump or slide. Calvin was the champ and took my Osprey backpack. Later I tried to reclaim it, but he was quite selfless … maybe showing off for her, or maybe she felt pity on me and made him take it from me.

On the way up, we met a foursome that was about the same pace as us. Three were Navy, and the 4th was a Navy wife. We also met a father/college-age-son. The father had an accident and hit his head. The three groups all came together to help each other

The pictures show the beauty, but nothing prepared me for the apex. We reached the top right as small drops of soft rain began to fall and refresh us. But the soft and light rain didn’t last. Lightning was seen in the distance. We took a few pics and next thing you know, lightning hit a rock a few feet away. The thunder and lightning were at the exact same time. We checked on each other and found all were shaken but not scorched.

Interestingly, I had joked about a mile prior I might need an AED, defibrillator at the top … God provided it.

Funny, none of us felt fatigue anymore. We pretty much all said, “Let’s get off this mountain.” The next four plus miles were done at the fastest pace I’ve ever done on a trail. The soft rain turned to strong electrical storm with a monsoon type downpour that penetrated every part of my being and made my waterproof trail shoes soaked inside and out. It was all down hill and much of the trail was like a free flowing creek.

We made it back to the parking lot, right after the navy foursome, side by side with the father/son, and with Lisa waiting and relieved with our safety. Struggle? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely. Do it again? Not till my legs can feel again, but yes.

Some days the bear gets you, some days you get the bear. Some days it’s like you’ve been beaten and eaten by a bear. Such was Monday.

Enjoy the pics … and be encouraged to spend time with those you love. And I love these two.

My son’s fiancé … just got a wake up call

For a few days, we are being blessed by a visit from our son and his fiancé. I had met her once … we ate out at Hard 8 … a great Texas BBQ place where I always eat toooo much. I was moving from Dallas to Virginia, my son had struck up a friendship with this wonderful woman, so he wanted her to meet me before I headed out. My wife hung out in D for about 3 more months, so they got to know each other some more.

That was 9 months ago. A lot can happen in 9 months. A lot. They started to date, they changed their Facebook status, he met the parents (while her daddy held his gun), they dreamed, planned, doubted, dreamed more, and then he surprised her with an engagement proposal. She figured it was coming, but not yet. But that timing is in the past now. Rings have been bought, the date has been set, registration has begun, and so on. (This will be nothing compared to the following 9 months as they wed and start a life together as husband and wife).

They flew up to see us some. And here lies the lesson.

Over about 72 hours, she has gotten to experience the life and ways of Todd. She has seen me preach, interact, pushed to physical limitations (come back tomorrow for that entry … Old Rag Mountain: Lightning on a Ledge), and more.

I pity her for having to go through this. I really feel sorry for Lisa … she can’t go anywhere – forever. But Tiffany said, that in these few short days, she now sees where Calvin gets so much of who he is. She sees so many physical and relational mannerisms. I am not sure if she meant it as compliment or not. I will take it as such … mostly. But she got a wake up call about Calvin’s background.

As I ponder this, this is exactly what it should be for each of us. But not our earthly father, though that is not bad per se. I am talking our Heavenly Father. Wouldn’t it be great if people looked at us … wondering what makes us do the things we do, what makes us act the way we act, and what makes us be the way we are … and then they realize it is because we are like our Heavenly Father … or, more specific, the Son–where we have been transformed into the image of the Son.

What does that take …

  • Hang out with Him (you become like the people you hang with)
  • Learn what He loves, cherishes, desires for people (look through His eyes)
  • Get rid of things in your life that doesn’t honor Him.

I’m not there yet. But what I would love for my son, is that when people, specifically Tiffany, sees his ways, his actions, his mannerisms … they see he is so much like Jesus. I want the same for me, for you, for each of us. What a world that will be.

You’re in Love

Pic from Movie Still of Princess Bride

Who is it? How do they make you feel? What passion is it that drives you into their arms?

In all the lands, there are love stories and love songs. I have my playlist that I go to when I enter into that mood where I think about my beloved Lisa. Music can calm you, lift you, and motivate you to soar, or even bring you to mellowest lows. Sunday I asked my small group their love song … maybe what they danced to at their wedding. I shared my song for Lisa is Brick House. Oh yeah. She may not think that is our song, but it is one that when I play, I smile.

Back to point. 1 Timothy says our goal is love from a good conscious, a pure heart, and a sincere faith. Pretty strong goal. I am also reading a classic work … The Princess Bride. A little diff from the movie, pretty close but so much more. But there is a paragraph when Westley declares his love for the first time to dear Buttercup …

Westley: I have stayed these years in my hovel because of you. I have taught myself languages because of you. I have made my body strong because I thought you might be pleased by a strong body. I have lived with only the prayer that some sudden dawn you might glance in my direction. I have not known a moment in years when the sight of you did not send my heart careening against my rib cage. I have not known a night when your visage did not accompany me to sleep. There has not been a morning when you did not flutter behind my waking eyelids. …. is any of this getting through to you, Buttercup, or do you want me to go on for a while?

Buttercup: Never stop.

Three thoughts …

A … that’s the obsession I want to have in my love for God, filling every breath and every thought in living in light of His love for me – and you.

2 … Lisa, if I don’t express this enough, I love you … As you wish!

Third … Calvin, this better be the way you talk to that girl down there in Texas. If you don’t, then start. Tiffany, let me know if he doesn’t.

May your day be filled with love. Thank you for this personal reminder to me! And you!