My Valentine: For Better or Worse


We spent the better part of six months on hiatus from one another. It was a time of anger, agony, and running from God. It was a time of breaking down barriers and busting up ground. I didn’t know it then, but God was doing something in my life that would change me forever. It was the most brutal six months. During that period, LaRaye tried very hard to fight for me to “come back.” I remember Valentine’s Day came and she had sent me a card. I bought her some chocolates, but I was mad at her and ate them. That was the last time she had got me a card or present for anything: February 2013. Honestly, I can’t blame her because not long after that we started having twins. This year LaRaye wrote a letter to me. My busy wife. She’s like a firmly planted tree; beautifully knotted with elegant, lengthy arms of wisdom. She bends for no one except God.

Most people view Valentine’s Day as an excuse to ask a crush out, or they dread Valentine’s Day because they don’t “have someone” to share it with. Valentine’s day is a celebration of love. It celebrates the love between people no matter the relationship. I hope you thought about the people in your life who mean the most to you and celebrated the love between you. Valentine’s day is for lovers, but it’s not always so black and white.

            I wanted to include the letter my wife wrote. It was so beautifully written that I had to share it. I bawled like a baby. Though this woman doesn’t say it much, I know without a doubt she loves me.


Dear Joshua,


            Do you realize it has been seven years since you asked, “How do I know you?” It snowed that year, and I made my first snow angel. I remember watching videos of your bulldog, Boss, playing in the snow so I could hear your voice and catch a glimpse of your face. I had no idea that you had been thinking about suicide. You had no idea how much I already adored you. I had crushes during my one month of singleness, but what I felt for you was not a crush. It felt entirely different. I could see exactly how my life would play out with any of those other guys, but life with you was a total mystery.


Now, I know why. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined we would be parents to six tiny humans less than seven years later. I could never have imagined we would have changed our address so many times, or that at one point we would have claimed separate homes. I couldn’t imagine the measures God would take to wrestle us onto the right path, or how many fights we’d have over whether I love you (starting with the argument we had the first time I spoke those words to you.) Now that we’ve built this family together on a beautiful Rock foundation, I can certainly “imagine” what our future holds from here; but if I know God, I know that the truth of our fate is wilder than anything you or I could conjure.


Be assured that I will keep on loving you through it all. My love for you is like… a banana tree. At first I was so excited that God handed me this beautiful, exotic creation of his (which I blissfully knew nothing about) to plant and tend. I quickly realized that banana trees are more particular and much needier than I expected. Every time I decided to throw my hands up and give up on that tree, it started showing promise again and drew me back in. I never could escape the drive to tend that crazy tree. Before I knew it, little banana plants started popping up everywhere. Now, I’m standing in the middle of a banana jungle with my hands in the air thanking God for that beautiful, exotic tree. I’m glad He didn’t warn me of the efforts or sacrifices necessary to grow it. The surprises and curveballs have nourished my love for you. And, the storms our love has weathered leave me standing in awe.


Only God could have orchestrated this journey we’re on. I’m so glad to be riding shotgun with you. Or to drive when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Or to climb across to the back row to check on the baby because you won’t pull over the van and I’m terrified of that sound he just made. I’m down for seven more years. How bow dah?


With all my banana plant,


Everywhere the Kids Are


Everywhere the Kids Are

Written by J. Philip Harris


Kids are here, Kids are there

The kids I see are everywhere

I’m swimming in a toddler pool

Of poop and pee and puke and drool

The chaos ripe, as it abounds

That rhythmed, cacophonic sound

It’s heightened ring, I hear resound

Everywhere the Kids Are


The messes here, the messes there

The messes roaring everywhere

Like little flames set forth to fire

Consuming up the precious briar

And through the forest manor

It’s hectic, yes, I’m quite aware

With passing hyper critic stares

But something lingers in the air

That few will ever know


Kids are here, kids are there

Bringing with them pungent airs

Of joyous love eternal

A moment captured amongst the war

Of happiness felt like that of lore

But truest ever known


When time has left us standing here

Aged, creeping heads of steer

We will hold that love so dear

Everywhere the Kids Are


The air is sad; I feel it, too

The seasons change from green to blue

The light has left us in the dark

With our glowing flame

It may be small, but we can see

That Christ is leading you and me


Though the funny pits and pats,

The banging walls, the clicks and clacks

Are faint and distant echoes,

The love we gave in toiled past

will seeds be sewn in futures vast

Everywhere the Kids Are