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Years Go By

By imjohnnykelley, December 6, 2013

5 years ago today, I had the most important conversation of my life

I was preparing to start my first bike tour across the nation with Bike For The Light. I had just quit my job, sold nearly everything I owned, and moved into my parents guest room to get ready to go cross country doing whatever I could to change the world. I wasn’t looking to start a relationship. But most people know, that when you aren’t looking is when you find it. A couple weeks earlier I had met Sarah Casey. An unbelievably loving, character filled, beautiful woman inside and out. I knew that my future was unsure. I knew that I was about to leave for nearly a year without coming home. I knew that while I was gone, I would be busy and may not have a lot of time to take care of a relationship. But I also knew that I was crazy about this woman. So I had a conversation with her. I laid out what the future looked like for me. I didn’t sugar coat it. In fact, I tried to make it sound worse than I thought it would be. I didn’t want to over promise and under deliver. Then I said we had 3 options.
  1. We could stop seeing each other right then, and just part ways as friends that had a great few weeks.
  2. We could date till I left, then call it quits and see if we were both available to pick it back up when I returned.
  3. We could take this really hard road. We could swing for the fences. We could try and make this work despite the future that was so unsure.
We decided to go for it. And it was the best decision of my life. I am blessed beyond measure. It was tough. Really tough. But within two years I was married to this incredible woman. No matter what I do for the rest of my life, I know I made the right decision in that all important conversation.

Cut to 2 years ago today, the most important day of my life

My son Arlis was born. After 3 days in a hospital room. Less sleep than I should ever have. Months of preparing car seats, strollers, cribs, clothes, painting the nursery, and baby bags. They finally decided to do an emergency c-section, and within minutes I was staring at my family. No longer was I responsible for just me and a wife. Now I had something so incredibly scary yet fulfilling. I had Arlis James Kelley. He is my heart and soul. I love this kid so much and cannot explain what it feels like to have him crawl in my lap and say “I love you too!” as he kisses me goodnight.
Now I don’t pretend to be the best father or husband in the world. That prize goes to my father. But I spend every day trying to keep up with him. I want to do the best I can to spoil, love, disciple, and raise up my family the same way Jesus would. I am a pastor, evangelist, and speaker. But all that pales in comparison to my real calling. To be a Godly man, father, and husband. I would let everything else fade away an work peanuts if that meant I could be a success where it really matters….in my home. I screw up. I say the wrong things. I get aggravated. I get grumpy. But I try my best to be better today than I was yesterday. There isn’t an instruction booklet with a family. It is a living, breathing organism that requires love, light, pruning, and discipline. So when I make a mistake, I hope to learn from it and keep moving forward.
Sarah, I love you with all my heart. Forever. Thank you for choosing option 3.
Arlis, you are the joy in my life that makes me smile more in the last 2 years than all the years before it combined. I hope that I can be the dad to you, that mine was to me. I hope to live a life that you are proud of.
peace – love – recycle

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