“It’s not a hollywood dream…”

My bride and I

10 yrs ago, this coming July, I went on the adventure of a life-time and married my best friend Anisa and we began our crazy journey together!
Thus far, a large part of the journey has been spent traveling and moving all over the place pursuing God’s calling on our lives with ministry and it has been awesome!
The point of this post though, is that with every step, Anisa’s encouragement and belief in me has been amazing.
She and my 2 daughters really are my biggest fans and it humbles me to pieces.

However, early on I never promised her it would be perfect.
Contrary to popular belief 😉 marriage “is not a Hollywood dream.”
(Oddly enough, I’m writing this post while on a flight to LA with Anisa to celebrate 10 yrs, since our 3rd little girl is showing up a week or so after our anniversary)

It’s not what we see in the movies or on the magazine covers.
I mean, we are having a blast and in our home we laugh a lot!
But our joy doesn’t come from the absence of issues, rather, it’s right in the thick of them.
The bad news, the bad hair, the bad breath, the unmet expectations and consequences of bad choices… All of it.
But don’t get me wrong, it would be FANTASTIC if in real life, when the movie score comes in, you suddenly figured everything out and all the junk just fixed itself… and all in just under 2 hours!!!

We knew, as with any marriage, we’d have our share of fights.
But what I wanted her to know then and still want her to know today, is that no matter what, SHE will always be WORTH the fight.

So a few years back, shortly after having our first daughter, I had been leading worship at a large youth gathering (Bigstuf Camps) and was now sitting in my hotel away from my family and getting home sick.
So I went for a run and started thinking about how far we’d come and how in the midst of all my dream chasing, this family we have going IS THE DREAM.

Every laugh and smile, every tear and painful heart break, have all been chapters of our story.
A wonderful story that all began with a smile I caught from the other side of the room at church.

So as all this flooded my heart that day, a song began to brew in me and “When you smile” was what came out… with some pop-country flare.
And as the songs says, “When I see you smile, it’s like a melody I’ve known for a while”
I realized our relationship is like a song I’ve been singing and I realized my family are the most important songs I’ll ever write.
Hope you enjoy the song and may it encourage us all to remember when it comes to our families, we are all song writers!

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“When You Smile” – LYRICS

Verse 1:
I remember all the times we would laugh and we would sing
You’re a girl who loves to dance, I’m a little clumsy
It’s just who we are, were good together not apart

And I know there were sometimes
we thought we wouldn’t make it
But standing here now, Can you hear me saying…

CHORUS
When I see you smile
It’s like a melody I’ve known for a while
It always makes the darkest times seem light
I’m gonna love your for the rest of my life
Yeah, When I see you smile
To be with you I’d walk 1000 miles
Because our love is always worth the fight
I’m gonna love you for the rest of my life… when I see you smile

Verse 2:
And no matter what the heartache or joy the future brings
when the sun is shining down or we cry ourselves sleep
it’s Not Hollywood dream, it’s a lifetime thing

and we may not be a book that’s ever best selling
but this family is the story we’re telling…

(Chorus)

Bridge
it won’t always be perfect,
when our faith if hard to find
know this promise is forever,
every season of our lives

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Parenthood: the marriage fight

This clip is from the popular TV show “Parenthood.”

(NOTE:  Not a spoiler. This is a clip from March 13 episode and not the end of the show)

My wife and I are fascinated by this show and the characters.
I could go on and on about various parallels or funny moments that hit home, but this moment in the video below, shut me down.

The show center’s around the Braverman family.
In this current season, Joel and Julia’s are separated and their marriage is in a mess.
Joel isn’t fighting for them and seems to be giving up, leaving Julia and their 2 children broken-hearted.

This clip happens after a big family dinner where Zeek (Julia’s father) learns that Joel is opting out of his role as a godfather to their new baby niece.
Julia is noticeablly broken and we know up till now she’s beend doing everything she can to win her husband back.
As the family is fighting at the dinner table Zeek quietly leaves and head’s to Joels apartment.

The clip picks up with the conversation between Zeek and Joel.

Warning:
Before you watch it, be aware their is mild use of the words “hell” and “pissed” in their conversation.
I wrestled with sharing this and don’t want you to be caught off guard, but in light of the message of this clip,
I also don’t want you to miss it. Don’t let the words distract ya 😉

“When I walked Julia down the aisle, I gave her TO YOU!!!”

“I made a vow to support you and her in that marriage and I took you on as a son.”

How powerful is that?

You can draw your own conclusion from this, but here’s mine…
All of us at some point will experience times when we need someone to fight for us in the confusion of what we may be going through.
Not just quietly consoling, but boldy confronting.
Not just a pat on the back and a “I’ll pray for you” – but actually speaking up and saying the hard things.
Seeing an opportunity to intervene and taking it.
Maybe even helping defend someone from themselves when they are giving up and don’t have the strength.

This conversation stood out to me as inspiration for someone who may need to step in like Zeek did.
The situation may be different or it could be the same and you need to uphold the vow you took and help your kids fight FOR their marriage.
What he says in this is true… you don’t stop fighting for your kids when you give them away.

Imagine if more dad’s did this!
What do you think?

You’ll never know if you don’t try

When I dropped Ava off at school for her first day of first grade… well… I cried.
If you know me, then you know “duh” cause I’m a bit tenderhearted I am.

But as I spent the day thinking about her and reflecting on my first grade days, a certain memory jumped out.
I remember a birthday party I went to where the main activity was riding bikes.
Bikes I couldn’t ride ’cause I was still rockin the 4 wheel bike.
1 in the front, 3 in the back… commonly referred to as training wheels.

So as all my friends jumped on and took off, I remember jumping on and quickly coming up with a story,
“Guys! I’m not use to this bike, it’s got weird pedals, I’ll catch up to ya’ll in a sec, once I… uh… fix the pedals”

I was so embarrased.

I remember sitting there by myself for a long time waiting for the other kids to come back.
Then as they headed back over the hill, I picked back up with the dramatic conclusion of my made up story…
“Whew, where’d y’all go? I couldn’t find y’all but boy I sure had fun riding with no training wheels cause I mean, that’s what I do these days… just me, the open road and no training wheels. Freeze-Tag anyone?!?”
Needless to say when I got home, I made sure that never happened again and had my dad loose the wheels.

Back to Ava.

In light of memory lane, when she got home, I loaded her up with body armor and told her it was time to “try.”
She was nervously excited, but I told her if we don’t try we’ll never know and never learn.

And of course I told her all the comforting things a dad tells his child, as I walked her across the street to a huge yard with deep grass and plenty of room to wreck 😉

What happened next is the video above.
I had NO IDEA she would nail it the FIRST TIME!!!

It was an incredible day that I thank God for letting me be available to experience with her.
Of all the important things in life, as Andy Stanley says, I don’t want to miss out on the one job that’s unique to me…
Being her dad.

However, this whole experience has me asking myself this question today
“what are the things in life I could be missing out on, because I’m still leaning on training wheels?”

Wheels that are keeping me in a shallow sense of freedom and joy.
Maybe wheels in life that are keeping me suspended in fear without realizing it, because life is easier to balance and manage with these wheels on… it’s predictable, comfortable and less risky.

How about you? It could be anything really, that’s become a training wheel in your life.

Maybe a dream unrealized or a gift you’ve kept to yourself.
Maybe it’s something your heart beats for, but rejection has kept you downshifting, letting other people’s opinions decide for you.
It could be a loved one that’s no longer with you and you don’t know how to move on or you’re afraid to.

Whatever it is, the wheels are there to get us up and going… we all need them for a time…
But those training wheels aren’t the REAL ride and aren’t meant to be forever.

Trying can be scary. Trying could mean failing.
But failing can lead to learning and growing if we let it.
I’m not saying to ignore wisdom or wise counsel… I’m hoping this is being read with a base level of common sense.
Let me be clear, I took precautions with Ava 😉
I had her covered in a helmet and pads and she had been “training” for a while.
It was time.
I didn’t want my daughter to fall or get hurt, but I knew the joy that awaited and that it was worth the risk level.

When I watch that video, and see the enthusiasm and joy on her face and when she says, “I DID IT DADDY!”
I believe that’s a picture of the “more” we were made for.

It’s that moment when freedom is realized and all the pain of falling becomes worth it.

So keep working hard, pushing through, leaping and believing… cause you’ll never know if you don’t try.

We are having a…

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     …GIRL!!!!    We are having our 3rd daughter!!!  AHHHHHH!!!

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So today at a little over 18 weeks we found out we are having a girl and though we thought a boy would be a new adventure, let’s be honest 3 kids is plenty of adventure 😉  And we already have all the clothes and toys she’ll ever want!

We were told she looks great and they were able to see a lot of things that are sometimes challenging to find out at 18 weeks or in one ultrasound visit.   So she’s due early August and looking beautiful already and we couldn’t be more GRATEFUL!

Thanks for your prayers and comments on instagram and twitter, we are feelin the love.
Also, we are 90% sure what her name is, so we’ll let you know that next 😉

A dad of 3 daughters I now am,

CASE

Who’s ready to Dance? :: Home made music videos for family time

So cool to be featured on WordPress main page @freshly_pressed

Casey Darnell

“Me Without You” – by Toby Mac   *This was part of a daddy-daughter date

We have a fun thing going the last several years of making music videos.
They keep getting more involved as I get better at IMovie but mostly we make the motions up, then randomly drop what we’re doing, flip the iphone around and press play on iTunes.  It’s that simple.
I posted more below but here’s a few reasons why we do this:

ONE.   It’s silly FUN and a super easy activity to do with your kids.
TWO.   My wife is Canadian and her family all lives there, so this is a way to keep them involved.
THREE.  Ava helps me lead these kind of songs at Lighthouse Family Retreat,  so it’s a learning moment for her, making the BIG picture connection with what her dad does, the content of the…

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When You Get Knocked Down…

basketball stuffing

Yep… I am #20 in this picture.
This epic moment is one of many that would happen in my basketball career.

I was 5’1″ until 9th-10th grade with arms the size of a broom stick, as you can see here.
And sadly, this moment in 7th grade, left me flat on my back, embarrassed and humiliated.

Moments like these leave you with options… mostly quitting options.
But for me, greater then my desire to quit, was my desire to overcome.
Even in the times I hit the ground so hard I blacked out, “I believed I could fly!” 😉

However, when I look at this, I see how it represents a lot of things in my life both then AND now.
The times when life shuts you down and blocks your attempts and good intentions.

Reality: These times are a given, a promise really… THEY WILL HAPPEN.

In the end, it’s what you do next that matters.
Stay down -or- get back up?
Learn from it, make adjustments and let it grow you -or- Let defeat define you and give up.

We all have pictures like this, whether in a storage bin or in the back of our minds, we all have them.
And they’re much more then funny pictures to instagram on #TBT (Throw Back Thursday)
For me, this one is a glimpse at one of the many “David and Goliath” moments I would face in life.

However, there’s good news!
The moments of rejection, the giants and dream blockers don’t get the final say in what we become in life.

That belongs to God.
He is the master designer, gift giver and purpose accomplisher.
He doesn’t forsake us.
Not in these moments or the one’s I would face later on and write songs about like “When the Waters Rise.”

So how about you?
‘Cause it’s not a question of “will you get knocked down,” but when…
I sure hope you get up.
I hope you trust your creator and don’t give control over to those shot blocked moments and give up.

As far as Basketball is concerned, I did eventually move on to singing, but not before finishing strong my senior year.
5 years after that picture above, and a lot of blackouts, black eyes, sprained ankles and injuries later…

photo 4
(Marietta Daily Journal Athlete of the Week)

photo 3 photo 2 photo 1
(Named MVP of our State tournament, averaged 23 pts a game, including a 4 point play at buzzer)

photo 1
(Me with my coach, the Governor and some other state officials… baggy khaki’s optional)

I made it my aim to let God use me with basketball.
I worked hard and committed it to Him, claiming His word in Prov. 16:3 and Prov. 37:5.
Then I graduated and basketball lost its luster.
God used the character those days developed in me and I discovered His dreams, greater then my own.

Remember, it’s what happens after you get knocked down that matters most.

Who’s ready to Dance? :: Home made music videos for family time

“Me Without You” – by Toby Mac  *This was part of a daddy-daughter date

We have a fun thing going the last several years of making music videos.
They keep getting more involved as I get better at IMovie but mostly we make the motions up, then randomly drop what we’re doing, flip the iphone around and press play on iTunes.  It’s that simple.
I posted more below but here’s a few reasons why we do this:

ONE.   It’s silly FUN and a super easy activity to do with your kids.
TWO.   My wife is Canadian and her family all lives there, so this is a way to keep them involved.
THREE.  Ava helps me lead these kind of songs at Lighthouse Family Retreat,  so it’s a learning moment for her, making the BIG picture connection with what her dad does, the content of the songs and how we can encourage others.
FOUR.   When we are singing, dancing and videoing it, it seems to shrink those “other things” that are a stress in life and I remember what is most important and how these times are not forever.

So, we hope you’ll dance along, make your own videos and share them!  I know we’d love to see them and steal your motions 😉

“Gold” by Brit Nicole  *We’ve been singing this all summer and Ava asked if we could vidoe our motions for other kids to learn.

“The Great Divide” – From the Disney movie “Secret of the Wings” *Ava had a rough day at school, so this was my awnser to that.

“Dynamite” –  (because we had to… Ava called it “Mine-O-mine” from watching me and my band play it)

And these videos are all reminders that it is going to go by FAST!!!