Greatness is Within You

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to do something “great” with my life. I’ve wanted to impact the lives of tens of thousands of people and leave an indelible mark on humanity. I’d be lying if I said, at times, it didn’t have anything to do with an insatiable desire to be famous.

In elementary school, I just knew I was going to be a famous baseball player. I was a utility player on the field, which means, I could play any position the coach wanted me to and I could bat anywhere in the line-up he saw fit. I was a pretty good ball player. My favorite position was shortstop. I collected baseball cards and dreamt of being the next Ozzie Smith, Ken Griffey, Jr., or Mark Grace. Baseball is where I thought I would leave my mark.

In high school, however, I switched sports and moved to playing football full time. The man reason was because the baseball team had to be on the field at 5 a.m. every morning for practice. I mean I was good, but I also loved sleep. The more I played football, the more I could see my dreams shift from being famous in baseball to being the next Jerry Rice. I wasn’t the biggest, strongest (I was literally the weakest), or fastest kid on the team, but what I lacked in physical ability, I made up for with heart and determination.

At the beginning of my sophomore year, some of the seniors told me they would understand if I quit the team. They said they wouldn’t hold it against me and doubted I would even last the season. Being on the scout team means you’re just a tackling dummy to get the starters prepared. Not only did I make it through the season, in practice, I intercepted a pass over one of those seniors and took it end zone to end zone. I just knew I was destined for greatness, and this was just the beginning.

Throughout my childhood and even into high school, I also dreamt of going to Hollywood to become an actor. I’ve always been dramatic and really enjoyed the plays I was a part of, memorizing lines, becoming someone else, and making people laugh. It was a dream for sure, but I did give it serious consideration as I approached my senior year of high school and had no idea of my next step. The biggest thing holding me back was fear of the unknown. How would I get there? What would I do to survive? Would I be any good? Could I learn to be great?

In college, I dreamt of being an incredible youth pastor that spoke to 5000 teenagers every week and would see thousands of teenagers give their hearts to God. Subsequently, when I became a children’s director, 5000 teenagers turned into 5000 kids. I don’t know what it is about the number 5000, but it always just seemed fitting.

If I am being completely honest, I still have the thoughts and feelings even to this day. But, it’s not about a number anymore. It has morphed into making the greatest impact possible through reaching men, women, teenagers, and kids. It’s going above and beyond to serve the community that I am a part of and to make a difference.

I have since learned a few valuable lessons about what “greatness” is and how I can leave an indelible mark on the world.

1. Greatness happens in small moments with people, not huge, life-altering events.

Coming from a broken home and growing up without a father, I always knew that I would have a special bond with others who have or are currently going through the same thing. Greatness isn’t necessarily about reaching tens of thousands of other people who have the same type of experience. Greatness is making the most of every opportunity to impact someone’s life, here and now.

Sunday afternoons are usually a time for me to just slowdown and me to hit up my “nothing box” because for the first six hours of the day I am managing numerous volunteers, the safety of kids, and speaking to our elementary students. So, before I go to our connect group, I try to shutdown. I’ll scroll through Facebook and Instagram, catching up on what I missed throughout the day. Also, checking to see what people’s reactions to church were that week.

Last week, however, I chose to take on a task around the house. Just before we headed out the door to our connect group, I checked Facebook and Instagram as normal. But, when I came to Instagram, I got a notification that someone had mentioned me in a comment with a picture of me and her son.

*Picture of Landen and me above

Kameron Morrow, Landen’s mom, posted this comment:

“What do you see here? Just two goofy dudes taking a selfie right??! You know what “I” see? I see admiration. I see a role model and a child who needs shaping. I see an opportunity. I see Jesus’ love. I see the start to a beautiful relationship..

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This is my son Landen and @sammyfloyd. Sammy is the children’s pastor at our church. This morning after service, Landen came and asked if he could borrow my phone to take a selfie of him and Sammy. Sure. No prob. When he came back, he was smiling ear to ear. He was so proud of that picture. Then he requested I send it to his iPod touch so he could save it as his lock screen.

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This might not seem earth shattering to you, but to me, it was huge. You see- Sammy didn’t have a father growing up. And he has made it his life’s mission to reach out to others (esp kids) to make sure the feel their HEAVENLY father’s love.

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Landen’s biological dad abandoned him a few years back and life just hasn’t been the same. I’m so thankful for  loving kids pastor that takes the time to invest into these kid’s lives. Thank you, @sammyfloy for all you do @fc_tulsa. We are so thankful for you.”

Sometimes we get so fixated on the big events that will make the greatest impact, we lose sight of the small opportunities right in front of us. When Landen had asked to take a selfie with me, I didn’t think anything of it. I wish I would have seen it at the time for what it was. It was a small opportunity to make a great impact. Getting this message brought tears to my eyes.

2. Greatness happens in small moments with my kids.

It is still a tendency for me to strive to be the greatest.

I was even so bold enough to pray and ask God to make His name great through me and then I begin to tell God how He could achieve this goal. Sometimes our “noble deeds” are rot with a little bit of self-centeredness and wanting the recognition.

God has a funny way of turning how we feel on it’s head. And for me it was while praying this way one minute and then seeing my two kids the next.

It was as if God were sitting next to me and saying, “The greatest mark you can leave on humanity that changes the world, is being “great” in your kids eyes. It is being a great dad, making Jesus known to them, and also, raising them to treat others the way they want to be treated. It’s teaching them to love God and love others as themselves.”

I don’t want to be the guy who saves the whole world, but loses his kids. My family is my greatest legacy. Jonas and Eliana are my stamp to leaving an indelible mark on this world.

3. Greatness happens in small moments with God.

Mark Batterson, pastor and author, puts it this way in several of his books, “If we do small things like they are big things, God will do big things like they are small things.”

The small things we need to do consistently over time to make the greatest impact is pray and read the Bible. It seems so basic and trivial, yet most of us struggle to make the time to do either. This way we can effectively commune with God. Prayer is us talking to God and the Bible is God’s word to us. Yet, we tend to rely on our last experience with God to get us through to the next experience.

Prayer, communion with God, gets our hearts in tune with what God wants. It, also, makes the desire to do great things less about us and more about making His name famous.

“We have a tendency to confuse our job and God’s job. We want to do amazing things for God, but that isn’t our job. That’s God’s job! He is the One who does amazing things for us. Our job is to consecrate ourselves. And if we do our job, God is going to do His job.”

To consecrate ourselves literally means to set apart. It’s doing things that don’t make sense to the world, but brings us closer to God.

“Greatness” doesn’t come from what other people (friends, extended family, people I don’t know) think of us. “Greatness” comes from the legacy we leave behind. When people think of us, are their hearts filled with love for Jesus or thoughts of a self-centered person. Am I someone they can turn to and rely on? Do I make myself available to them? Put their needs ahead of my own? Serve them? Lead them towards Jesus?

Time spent with God is the only way we can keep our hearts and minds attuned to those around us. It is, also, the only way we can fulfill loving God and loving others.

Greatness isn’t defined by the job I have, but by the life I lead. Making the most of every small moment with people, with my kids, and with God will lead me to make the greatest impact and leaving an indelible mark.

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Trust and a Broken Tooth

We’ve all experienced the trust fall when we were in school. You turn your back towards someone, cross your arms, and when they say, “Ready!’ you lean back, keeping your legs straight and trust this individual will not let your head bang against the ground. And if they do let your head bounce off the ground, at least catch it on the rebound

Trust is a firm belief in someone’s ability or strength. To have visceral trust means to believe so much in someone or something that it goes beyond thoughts. To viscerally trust someone, you can feel that trust deep inside of you.

Trust is hard to come by these days. We want trust, but then a senseless act of violence thrusts us back into guarding our families and ourselves. Trust is something that we don’t just offer to anyone, unless they are some type of authority.

The three-legged race takes complete trust in another individual. In elementary school, I should have started off every introduction of myself with, “Hi! I’m Sammy and I am incredibly clumsy.” This would have given fair warning to all those around me, if I got injured in someway, they don’t need to be shocked. If an accident could happen to me, it seemed to just happen. One particular day in gym class was no exception to this rule.

We were all going to do team competitions all over the gym. The teacher began to pair us off, two by two. I watched as all of the athletic kids, or not so clumsy kids, got paired up with one another. Finally, I was paired up with someone. If I were the clumsiest in our class, this guy was a close second. Our first event was the three-legged race.

I remember like it was yesterday. The teacher tied my left knee to my partner’s right knee with a couple of bandanas. We got set to take on several other groups in our class. My partner and I talked strategy. We would move our inner legs first, that way we could get a great start to syncing this run together. When the whistle blew, we were off and moving in sync. It was something of a miracle that the two of us could move the length of the gym floor they way we did. It was as if we were meant to be tied together.

Most of the other groups struggled to get going or fell half way down the gym, we, however, seemed to glide to the other side. We became confident. We just knew we were going to win. Then came the turn. We didn’t talk about the turn in our pre-race strategy session. We tried to talk our way through it as we neared the end of the floor, but stumbled a couple of times. These weren’t huge stumbles, but they were enough for my shoelace on my right shoe to come untied and subsequently get stepped on by our inner legs.

As we made the turn and began our sprint back, my shoelace pulled my foot our from under me and we came crashing down. Being tied together, I only had one hand to catch myself with, which I was unsuccessful at doing. My face planted on the hardwood gym floor, mouth first. I watched in a daze as one of my front teeth chipped and scattered across the floor in front of me. The gym teacher rushed over to see if I was ok and sent me to the nurse. My race was over.

Eventually, I went to the dentist, they repaired my tooth and everything was back to normal. I may have been a little jaded towards being partnered with the other kid ever again because I lacked trust in him, well us, to not have another accident.

Over the past two months, we have been teaching elementary students about God’s promises. God promises to be with me, God promises to fight for me, God promises to work in my life, etc. Promises take trust that the Promise Giver will come through. None of us are strangers to broken promises. If you are, I am completely jealous of your life. Sometimes promises are blatantly broken for something better, or they are unavoidably broken because we are human and can’t do anything about the situation.

As a kid, I loved playing baseball. My mom took me to every game. I was one of the best players on my team and just wanted my dad to attend some of the time. Every time I asked, he would promise to be there, but whether unavoidable or not, my dad broke those promises, repeatedly. Broken promises from parents or grandparents hurt so much because they are the ones we trust the most.

Trust is given to two types of people, authority figures and those we get to know. Parents, grandparents, teachers, pastors, policemen, just to name a few, are authorities in our lives, that because of their position garner trust immediately. Authority figures in or lives garner more trust when we get to know them. Anyone we have a relationship with, garners more trust the longer and more deeply we get to know them.

In the Bible, Hebrews 11, is known as the chapter of the heroes of faith. Faith and trust are closely related. Faith is a deeper form of trust. The chapter begins by talking about Abel, the son of Adam and Eve. It was by faith that Abel gave his tithe, by faith that Enoch trusted God and was taken to heaven. It was by faith that Noah spent years building an ark even though he had never seen rain. He trusted God was going to flood the earth, so he spent years building.

Abraham moved where God told him to and trusted God to give him a son, to which he waited until he was 99 years old for God to do the unthinkable. Sarah, Abraham’s wife, was past childbearing age but believed God would fulfill His promise to her. Isaac, by faith blessed Jacob and Esau. Jacob, by faith blessed all of Joseph’s sons. By faith Moses lead Israel out of Egypt. By faith the people of Israel walked through the Red Sea on dry ground and when they reached the land God promised them, marched around Jericho 13 times before the walls fell down.

How do we have the trust in God which everyone of the these “Heroes of the Fatih” had? What did they understand about God that gave them this confidence? How did Abraham trust God for decades before his son was born? How does anyone trust God for an incredible length of time before He fulfills His promise?

Trust in God comes like trust in anyone else. We can have ultimate trust in God, because He is our ultimate authority. He is the one authority in our lives that can’t let us down. I believe these “Heroes of Faith” understood Numbers 23:19, “God isn’t a mere human. He can’t lie. He isn’t a human being. He doesn’t change His mind. He speaks, and then He acts. He makes a promise, and then He keeps it.”

Breaking a promise isn’t something God is ever going to do. He is a promise keeper. Whatever promise He has made to you, you can trust He will come through.

We can grow our trust in God through our relationship with Him. The immanence of God means that He is closer than close. He cares about our minutest of details. If we will only draw near to God, He will draw near to us. The more time we spend in His presence, the more we get to know Him. The more time spent with God, the more we recognize His voice. Our ability to trust God is directly correlates to the time we spend with Him. And it is not about quantity of time spent, but the quality of time spent with God. So make every moment with God count.

I can trust God because of His authority and the relationship I have with Him. My ability to trust God is dependent on me spending time with Him. When I lack trust or faith, I just need to get alone with Him and hear His voice.

My trust in my teammate and myself cost me a broken tooth, and my trust in my dad showed me that people can let us down. According to Numbers 23:19, God won’t let us down…“He can’t lie…He doesn’t change His mind…He makes and promise, and then He keeps it.”

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When God Doesn’t Intervene

Reflecting back over the school shooting that happened in Florida…my heart aches. My heart aches for the mothers and fathers whom have lost their sons and daughters and for people’s lives whom are forever changed, because one person made a horrific decision.

It’s easy for us to hate the man, Nikolas Cruz, because we start to dehumanize him. We are disgusted by his actions and don’t understand how anyone could all of the sudden snap. “He can’t be human,” we tell ourselves. But, the truth is, he is human and he made a horrible choice that took 17 lives that were cut short. Cruz was mentally unstable and has a history of mental illness. Does that make what he did any less grotesque? No, but it simply brings a little clarity to the situation and begs the question, “why was he sold the guns in the first place?”

His actions don’t only affect those 17 kids and the ones that are in the hospital that will live with the physical and emotional scars, but all of their families, friends, loved ones, and every parent across America who have their kids in public schools. My heart aches for all of these people. It’s not fair. Why does this keep happening?

I just finished reading a book by Brené Brown, “Braving the Wilderness”. In this book one of the topics she writes about is our ability to hate others is directly tied to our dehumanizing them. That what makes racism so prevalent in some cultures. It’s easier to hate a people group, if you think they are less than human. But, no one is less than human. According to scripture, God created us in His image (see Genesis 1:27). And that’s the beauty of humanity. We all, no matter our race, nationality, or social status, reflect the image of God.

God is pro people. God loves all of us…equally. He is pro humanity. Even when we are at our worst, God still loved us and sent Jesus to die for us. Even the worst of us.

When you tell people that you are a Jesus follower, especially in the wake of tragedies, you will inevitably be asked, “If God is real, why would He allow violence to happen.” “If God is all powerful and all loving, why does he allow people to die this way?” “Why does he allow violent things to happen to women and children?” “Why does God allow senseless violence?”

It’s the great paradox of understanding God. God loves us and gives us free will. That is, he gives us the ability to choose what we do and how we live our lives. We are free to choose everything from how we live, whom we worship or don’t worship at all. If he didn’t allow things (good or bad) to happen, then He would be taking away our free will, or at least the free will of horrible people.

God loves us and sent His Son, Jesus, to die for us because we as humans have a long history of making horrible choices. Because God gave us free will, sin and evil entered the world through one man’s actions (Adam eating the fruit in the garden of Eden see Genesis 3:6).

When sin and evil entered the world, we became capable of evil. Everything became about putting ourselves first. Thinking of ourselves more highly than others. Evil happens because we don’t put ourselves in the other persons shoes. We don’t love each other the way God intended us to love all.

God is Good. His Goodness gives Him the distinct privilege to be the Moral Lawgiver. It is this moral law by which the majority of humanity choose to live.

For God to intervene when bad things are about to happen, would be to take away someone’s free will. If God, takes away free will, even just from one person, He would cease to be God and would be reduced to nothing more than a puppet master and we, His marionettes.

God loves all of humanity…Black, white, yellow, red, brown…it doesn’t matter your race or color, nationality, or decisions you’ve made in the past (good or bad). Whether you were born in a mansion in America or a grass hut in Africa. God loves us equally. Just as a parent loves their children. It is up to us, as humanity, to return that love to God by accepting the free gift of salvation through His Son Jesus.

When you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, Jesus said that the two greatest commandments were to love God and love your neighbor as yourself (see Matthew 22:37-39). Love God, Love Others.

So where is God and why does He not intervene?

God is constantly watching over each and every one of us. He is deeply grieved when violent things happen. His heart breaks when a human chooses to act out evil towards another person. But, He loves us and has given us free will, so he can’t intervene in every situation. God cares about every person in every situation. The one promise we can rest on is that God will never abandon us…

Deuteronomy 31:6

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

My thoughts and prayers are with all of those whom are directly or indirectly affected by this and every tragedy like it. I can’t imagine the loss and pain you are feeling, but I am praying that God will comfort you.

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Successful Communication in Marriage

I am an emotional, experience oriented person. I am constantly looking at how I can connect with my kids, my wife and my closest friends. This is a great personality to have, especially for what I do: ministry. The problem lies in the fact that I don’t see the details. At home, it is as if I have tunnel vision and I only see what I want to see. I’d rather be in the moment, or even sometimes in my own head, than to search out or look for responsibilities I could get done at home.

Alissa, on the other hand, seems to see everything that needs to happen. She is great at balancing, time spent with kids and making sure things get done around the house. She also works outside the home. She is doer and great at making sure we function well as a family.

Alissa’s dad, Scott, was a doer. From sun up until sundown, he was working as a postal carrier or accomplishing something around his house. I always felt so lazy when we would visit and I was just sitting down watching TV while he was out re-roofing his own house or changing the oil in my car. He could accomplish more in a day than I could in two weeks. It was amazing to watch. Alissa is just like her dad. She sees what needs to be done, almost instinctively. She doesn’t need a list, because it is all in her head. It’s almost as if she has bionic vision that scans a room and detects the disorder.

I could clean the house and miss huge piles of clothes or several dishes just because they were in a place I’m not use to them being. Alissa, however, covers every detail and seems to know where everything is all the time. She sees everything it takes to run our house smoothly and effectively. She is looking ahead while I am trying to just live in the moment. She sees the messes made, the floors needing vacuumed, kids needing to be bathed, the dinners needing to be cooked, and the events we need to attend or plan. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. Understanding her dad and where she comes from, helps me communicate with her and better see the world (and our house) the way she sees it.

If you are an emotional, experiential person like me, I am not knocking us. I have recently discovered part of the reason I am the way I am is because I don’t want to miss any experience with anyone. I have a drive to be better than my father. I want to be present for my kids, my wife, and my friends. I feel like I am giving my family the best life by simply being present. Being present these days doesn’t come easy. With our need to be connected to the world, phones and social media feed that need, I’m not always great at experiencing the moment in the way I should.

We help bring balance and peace, at least sometimes, to doers. Doers bring balance to us because they have a perspective we don’t see. They also don’t allow their emotions to take over. I can get all bent out of shape because of a conversation, I just want people to love me, but then I can talk it over with Alissa and she is able to show me where I may have read to much into a statement or an action made by the other person.

What I have to do is be better at helping Alissa accomplish the tasks she sees. If I slow down enough to try to see things from her perspective, it allows us to talk out all that needs to be done and for us to finish the tasks that she sees so that she can be present in the moment with the kids and me. It allows her to experience what makes her feel good and come alive.

There are times where Alissa let’s it all go and relaxes, but then its double time from both of us to complete the tasks later. We bring balance to one another.

In order for us to get to a point where we fully understand each other, we have to take the time to listen to understand, not to respond or defend.

Frustrations in our relationship usually stem from how we communicate. Sometimes, we can be saying the exact same thing, but in two entirely different ways. We butt heads trying to get the other to see the our side, only to later realize we were saying the same thing.

My insecurities make our communication ugly, because I constantly get defensive. Most of the time, I can’t help becoming defensive. I can’t figure out what it is inside of me that builds the wall, brick by brick, whenever Alissa doesn’t see things the way I do.

So you have two people saying the exact same thing in two different ways and one of them is becoming overly defensive because his insecurities and emotions take over.

There is a technique I once read about and have heard others talk about called, “active listening.” This is where you listen, understand, and then repeat back to the person what they said in your own words. You do this, not to build a five step resolution to their problem, but just to show them you were listening and are trying to understand their perspective. There are a lot of hurting and lonely people in marriages where the “fixer” just wants to make the problem go away. Which, if you think about it, is pretty presumptuous and arrogant to think we can fix it.

I’ve come to realize, Alissa doesn’t need me to fix her or her problems. She needs me to feel what she feels and process through her emotions with her. That is active listening. Putting myself in her shoes and exploring how it would make me feel. Not fixing it. Just sitting in the moment.

We are living our best life now, because we are beginning to understand each others perspective. As Alissa says, “we will never fully know one another, because we are always changing.” We have a lifetime to fully discover one another.

Listening to understand takes knowing where each other comes from and how we were raised. Listening effectively takes great perspective and time to cultivate. To be great at anything, we have to be willing to put in the work.

The way to effective communication is to stop and listen. It sounds incredibly simple, but is increasingly difficult in a culture where we need to constantly be busy. I can only truly listen if I am doing so in order to understand, rather than listening to build my defense. My insecurities have to be made to realize, complaints are not a reflection of how anyone feels about me, but are usually just a need for clarification.

Listening to understand brings clarity. Listening to understand and being aware of where each other comes from brings you closer to one another.

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The Greatest Catch

Fear is an emotion which we all have, that seems to grip us in some area of our life and just won’t let go. We are only born with two fears, the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. Every other fear we have in life is a developed or learned fear.

Looking at my kids, I see this statement to be true. Jonas use to love for daddy to throw him high into the air and now he’s terrified of it. I still have yet to figure out why he is so afraid, and I promise it’s not because I missed catching him. I guess my question would be, when did his fear of falling become greater than his trust in dad’s ability to catch him?

As kids, we all have moments that we can look back on and see how fearless we were. We would suggest something that was out of this world, only to be shot down by a sensible adult, “Oh Sammy, that will never work. You can’t do that.” We believed in ourselves like no one else. No jump was too big for us to handle. “I can make that!” we tell ourselves.

When I was about seven or eight years old, my dad had a blue 1976 Chevy truck with a cloth bench seat, which he named Betsy. My dad loved that truck. You would have thought Betsy was a part of the family.

At the house we lived in, there was a chain-link fence around the entire yard with metal spikes of death protruding from the top. The fence was set up in such as way as to give us a makeshift driveway. It had to be done this way because our house was off of a one-way alley. My dad would back Betsy up into our driveway and pull right up to the fence gate. The fence, at the time it seemed to be ten feet tall, but in reality, was probably only five or six feet tall.

Every little boy has at one time or another thought to himself, “I can make that jump!” and then preceded that thought with the greatest act of courage ever imagined. The stakes are made higher when mom or dad, in this case, tells you not to try and jump over the fence because, “you could hurt yourself.”

It was a warm, summer day. I was wearing a light blue tank-top and some Hawaiian shorts my mom had made for me a few weeks prior. My dad and I had just gotten home and he backed his truck into the driveway to unload stuff from the bed of his truck. To get all of the stuff out, we had to open the tailgate. And on this day, the tailgate fell just inches away from the fence.

We got everything cleared out of the back of the truck and as my dad went inside, he warned, “Don’t try to jump over the fence, you could hurt yourself.” Now in my defense, isn’t it a green light to try something stupid when your parent tells you not to do something and then immediately leaves the scene? As my dad walked inside, I hopped down out of the bed of the truck. I turned to walk in the gate, but something inside of me wouldn’t let go of how great I would feel if I jumped over the fence from the bed of Betsy onto the ground on the other side. It seemed like a much better entrance into our yard than walking through a boring gate. It was my destiny.

I hopped back up into the bed of the truck and got as close to the cab as I could. I knew that if I got a running start I could make the jump. I mustered up all the courage I had inside of me to defy my dad and make the grandest entrance our yard had ever seen. I got ready, I got set, I counted down, 3…2…1…and I was off and running. With each step came a little bit more excitement, until I got towards the end of the truck and realized I had misjudged the distance of the truck and the fence and how far up I’d actually have to jump, but that didn’t stop me.

As I leapt off of the tailgate into the air, I picked my feet up to clear the fence, the problem was, I didn’t even get high enough to clear my thighs over the fence. I crashed into the metal bar that ran along the top of the fence, which sent me into a flip over it. But, instead of completing the flip over the fence and landing on the ground, the metal spikes of death grabbed my shorts in the middle of my thigh, stopping my momentum, tearing my shorts from the middle of my thigh down to the hemmed seam at the bottom. To which, I was left dangling upside-down with my shorts around my ankles, a huge scrape down my leg, and my shoe snagged on one of the metal spikes. I couldn’t shake free either. There was nothing left to do, but to yell for my dad’s help and deal with the consequences of my defiance.

At what point in our lives do we stop taking risks? Even though others told us we can’t do it or that it is too dangerous, we still attempted to defy all odds and make the grandest of entrances. We believed that we were different and we could accomplish what everyone else said we couldn’t. Instead of living our best life and taking risks we’ve succumbed to the fear of failure, insecurities, and the fear of what others think of us. We begin to listen to those around us, tell us who we are and what we can accomplish instead of believing in ourselves and defining who we are in our own terms.

I’m as guilty as they come. I have, for far too long, been afraid of what others have thought of me. I catch myself from time to time, instead of listening to the conversation I am having, clamoring over the thoughts that those I am talking with have of me.

I understand that everyone isn’t this way, but I believe the vast majority of us struggle with our fears of what others think. The fear of failure and the fear of what others think may not solely depend on one another, but are closely related. Not only has fear made me socially awkward at times, it has brought me some of my biggest regrets of chances I didn’t take. I feared failure and people more than getting wrapped up in the excitement of what could be. In high school, fear of missing a catch in a football game, kept me sidelined more times than not for fear of letting my team down.

What we fail to realize is our fear of letting others down, actually causes us to let them down in one way or another. We have people in our lives that, at times, need us to be fearless. They need us to lead and not hold back. They need us in the game, no matter what the stakes, and not sitting on the sidelines in the crowd.

I’ve taken some risks, but they were always calculated and I knew I already had the support of the majority of people in my life to which I look to for acceptance.

I’m learning that husbands and fathers not only provide security in their houses, which gives comfort and stability, but we also provide security in our kids lives of who they are. After all, our identities are given to us by our fathers and so we find security in them as well. Fathers are so incredibly important to the development of children. Part of the reason we are a culture full of insecure people is because we are also a society of a fatherless generation.And there are more ways than one for a father to be absent. He doesn’t have to be out of the home to be absent from his family.

However, for those of us that grew up without a father, we can’t allow it to be an excuse for who we are for the rest of our lives. Eventually, we have to take responsibility for who we are and find our security in something else…someone else. If we don’t confidently determine who we are and who we are going to be, there is a world full of people out there that will take great joy in defining us. They will tell us who we are and what we should do and keep us trapped in the confines of their picture of us.

Which is why my relationship with Jesus will be my saving grace. My security is no longer found in who I am or who my father says I am, but in who God, my Heavenly Father, says I am.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Romans 8:37

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”

Philippians 4:13

“Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.””

Matthew 19:26

We have to get to a point where our fear of falling is swallowed up by our overwhelming  trust in His ability to catch us.

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Patience in the Meantime

At Christmas time as a kid, I was crazy impatient. Who am I kidding? I’m still impatient. I’m the guy that buys a gift for my wife, wraps it and then wants her to open it right away because I know this year, it is going to be the best gift she has ever received. I want it to blow her mind, “Oh my gosh, Sammy! How did you know I wanted this? It’s so perfect!!!” all of this while running through the house leaping for joy. Or at least be as over joyed as Jonas who says, “I’ve always wanted one of these.”

Back to my story as a kid. I, like every kid, impatiently waited for Christmas to arrive. As I got older, I became more keenly aware of all of my mom’s hiding places for our gifts. I just had to make sure I was getting what was on my list. I, also, became really good at my “surprised” expressions on Christmas morning. (Mom, if you are reading this, I’m sorry. It only happened a few times.)

I just couldn’t wait to know what I was getting on Christmas morning. I only did this a few times though, because it really ruined the surprise and lure of Christmas. Part of the excitement of Christmas is the uncertainty of the gifts received. 

As adults, we tend forget this fact because we don’t give or get presents that are not on a list written by us or the one whom is giving us a gift. We don’t want to be the giver or receiver of the wrong gift. (My father-in-law actually liked to get socks because there was always a sale on them around Christmas. He always made me laugh. He was a practical gift giver. It was always something you can use.)

Many of us don’t do well with uncertainty in life. We want to have a controlled environment, a controlled life. Anytime there is a feeling of not knowing, we get uneasy and sometimes we do whatever we can to regain control. I believe it is one of the reasons it’s harder for adults to accept the message of Jesus. Ultimately, a life in Jesus is giving up control in order for a better way of life. Trusting God is giving up control.

The hardest time to trust God is in the meantime. What do I mean by this? Meantime, according to dictionary.com, is the intervening time. It’s the time between where we were and where we want to go. The meantime is the space between starting a new career and seeing the success we desire in that field. It’s the time between the diagnoses and the healing. It’s the time between surgery and recovery. The meantime is the years between a prayer and it’s answer. In the meantime.

The meantime is monotonous. It’s flat out boring. It’s the humdrum of life. The meantime is the daily routine that gets so repetitive that you long for something, anything different to come along. It’s the job that seems to be going nowhere fast.

In the meantime is when we ask ourselves, “Is this it? Is this what I am going to do for the rest of my life? Day after day, week after week, year after year? There’s got to be more than this God. I want something more.” And the meantime can last a day or an entire season of life. The meantime happens when we pray and it seems like God isn’t even listening. It’s the prayers that seem to hit the ceiling and reverberate back to us that there is no end in sight and we might as well give up. How do you I not get impatient for what God has for me next?

In his book, “A Shepherd’s Look at Psalm 23”, W. Phillip Keller (here’s a link to amazon, you need to read it.) describes in full detail what life as a shepherd is like and goes verse by verse helping the reader to understand what David is trying to convey in Psalm 23.

If you are not familiar with Psalm 23, it starts out, “ The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…” Every time I get to the part that says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil. For you are with me.” I’ve always picture seasons of life being highs, on the mountaintop, or lows, the valley below the mountain. And we are on a lifelong journey of these highs and lows. But, Keller describes the valley in a more clear way that gives us hope in the meantime. 

The valley, according to Keller, was actually the location of a river that shepherds would guide their sheep along on the way to the plateau on the mountain that was sure to have greener pastures. It was a place of incredible foliage that would feed the sheep and sustain them on the journey up the mountain. The valley was always a place of great danger because wolves could stand on the edges of the valley and pick off any straggling sheep. This causes the shepherd to be more keenly aware of what is going on with his sheep. He knows them by name, how they are doing, if they are wounded or in need of anything. All the while, he is leading his sheep to a place of great reward.

The meantime is our valley on the way to where we are going. God does his best work in our lives in the meantime. The meantime is our opportunity to work on being even more close to Jesus, our Shepherd. The foliage that we need to sustain us is the Bible, God’s Word. It is our, “ever present help in times of trouble.” The enemy is prowling around like a wolf looking to see whom he can pick off.

Abraham was 75 years old when God promised him many descendants and 100 years old when his wife, Sarah, gave birth to Issac. In the meantime…

Moses tended sheep for 40 years before God told him to go set Israel free. In the meantime…

Jesus waited 30 years to start his ministry. In the meantime…

The meantime isn’t fun and exciting. Many times our prayers are for God to show us what’s in the box. What is the next great surprise? I’m learning that part of the excitement of life is the uncertainty of the gifts received.

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Difficulty and Reward

Sammy Floyd family

After 15 years of marriage and two kids, I’ve learned one thing to be true…the most rewarding things and the most difficult things in life are usually one in the same. My wife and I will tell you that there are peaks and valleys. There are times when it feels like you are so high that nothing can touch you. But, there are also times that you have to wage war together.

In marriage, you have to work at your relationship daily. You’ve got to make daily deposits in order to feel all the feels 15..20..50 years later. It’s work because sometimes you just don’t feel like giving anymore.

As men, we just want to fix the problems away and we feel like it should be that simple. Analyze, assess, and execute. But, life doesn’t always work that way. I am learning that sometimes Alissa just wants me to “feel’ through it with her. To feel the emotions she is feeling and process my emotions along the way.

I’m a fixer and a doer by nature. If Alissa is upset, I either want to fix the situation right away or do something, like clean the kitchen or bathrooms or the whole house, just to help make things better. It’s the only thing I know to do because I’m not great at processing my feelings.

I’m learning, however, it isn’t about my fixing and doing. It’s taking the time to actually listen and to understand how she is feeling and how I or someone else has made her feel. It’s putting myself in her shoes with her emotions to understand and empathize. Then, and only then, can we truly connect and work through whatever comes our way.

Love isn’t a feeling, it’s an action and a choice. You don’t always feel like it, but working on your marriage is a daily choice. You gave an oath to do it for the rest of your life. Don’t take the easy way out. If love is worth it, it’s worth the work.

In parenting, a lot of the same principles of a loving relationship apply. To be a great parent, you have to be willing to empty yourself and give until it hurts and then, give more.

From sleepless nights to toy room fights, patience plays a huge role in everyones survival. Early on, your children are completely dependent on you and when you get one child to a stage of some semblance of independence, you have a second. Your second child is nothing like your first, in the way they act, feel, and respond. You have to unlearn what worked for the first child because it doesn’t work for the second.

Through all the ups and downs of parenting, it is hard to not lose your spouse in the shuffle. It’s as if you are two robots, constantly meeting the needs of your two pint-sized owners and you only see each other in passing. By the time you get your kids to bed, it feels as though you have climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and came back down all in one evening. Your bodies begin shutting down from exhaustion. Where in the world am I going to get the energy to work on my marriage?

As I am learning, in this current stage of life, you’ve got to be intentional with your time. If you don’t plan it, it won’t happen. Not only is this true with your kids, but especially true with your spouse. Become creative in how you spend time together. We can’t afford a sitter every week, but we can still plan an evening of putting the kids to bed early so that we can just talk, connect, and be a couple.

I’m not perfect as a husband or a father, but I am committed to one thing…working through all the difficult parts to bask in the sunshine of love and marriage.

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Perception is Reality

After months of having a hard time reading the chalkboard at school, signs which we passed by on the highway, and getting headaches from squinting, I got glasses when I was in 8th grade. What a world of difference it makes to be able to see the world clearly, especially for the first time in a long time. I had to wear glasses for an entire year before the eye doctor would let me even try contacts. If you’ve ever worn glasses, you know how cumbersome they can be at times. So, a year later when I was able to get contacts, I welcomed the change!

The goal of every refraction is to get you to see 20/20. When your eye sight is as near-sighted as mine, without contacts or glasses, everything is incredibly blurry. Dark rooms are even harder to see what or whom is in the room. I’ve mistaken people as objects or for someone else completely. Glasses and contacts help me to see the world as it really is.

A truth I have learned, and even more so as I get older, is perception is reality. Our perceptions, whether they are accurate or not, become the reality in which we base our judgments. For instance, on the playground at school, if you were to be punched by the class bully and you retaliated and punched back and were the one caught, you were the one that got in the most trouble. Why? Because they teachers perceived reality is that you are starting a fight. Everything you say after your actions becomes a “he said, he said” debate, especially if the bully denies his actions. For the principal, whatever the teacher perceived to be the truth is all they can draw on to render their verdict.

As a Jr. High and High schooler of the 90’s, it seemed that everyone’s family structure was incredibly sound. I only knew one person whose parents divorced, but by the time I met Brandon, his parents were remarried and it all seemed to be going really well. But, in our worst moments we don’t see the dysfunction in others lives, because we can’t see past our own. The water is murky, especially when it is crashing against you like a tsunami tidal wave.

When my parents’ divorced, I didn’t want anyone to know. I was incredibly ashamed. I no longer invited friends to my house, because I was completely embarrassed. And on top of the embarrassment of divorce, the reason for the divorce, my dad going to jail and the grotesque reason for going to jail, further propelled me into embarrassment and shame. I didn’t let people in to see the mess that was my family. My perception was that my family is more dysfunctional than any other and no one would want to be around me if they truly knew what was going on at home.

I constantly steered conversations away from me. Through my teenage years, it was easy for me to help people through their struggles, because I knew if we were talking about their lives, they wouldn’t ask me about my own. They wouldn’t know about the deep, dark secret in my family life.

I did everything I could to cover up what my dad did and to just blot it out from my family life. I was so embarrassed and ashamed that I wanted nothing to do with the parts of me that were like my father.

A year or so after dad went to prison, I was about 13, and an aunt of mine, nonchalantly made a comment comparing my personality to my dad’s and said, “You are going to be just like your daddy.” By that comment, I thought I was doomed to make the same mistakes and life choices in which my father made. That comment sent me on a trajectory to rid myself of anything that resembled my father. I didn’t want to have anything to do with being “like my daddy.” I was embarrassed. I couldn’t handle it. My perception of what she meant set me on a life-path as far away from reflecting my father as possible.

Today, I know she meant nothing by the comment and didn’t even remember saying the statement. She meant that we had similar personalities and that we were both a joy to be around, but in the throws of the embarrassment of my father going to jail and my family being the only people I knew of having to deal with this situation, it wrecked me.

We have to be careful in the assumptions we make and in our perceptions. We have to make sure we fully understand the situation and get all the facts. In this instance, not getting clarity, was my fault and that is an assumption and hurt that I lived with for over 20 years. Not until last year, was I willing to look past my perception to find out the truth. Our perception is our reality, but it may not be the truth. Seek truth over feelings.

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Fatherless Father

I spent all of my teenage years fatherless. I do have some memories of moments shared with my dad, but those are few and far between. Vaguely, I can remember some of the times I spent with him learning to fix things around the house, playing video games on Atari and Nintendo, fishing, and going bowling (this was before they had no smoking in public places and you could see a line in the air from the cigarette smoke).

I wish I could say I had all of these grandiose memories and times that I spent learning what it meant to be a man, a father. It was just ripped away from me before we had the chance to get there.

My dad use to be around from time to time, but it wasn’t the same. Now, we don’t even talk. If we do it becomes a blame game about why our relationship is horrible. It’s hard to pick up where we left off. I’m not the same and so it feels like we are two separate people, on two different planets when in fact we are in the same room.

For the last 26 years, it has been hard to be in conversation with people when they talk about how amazing their dad is or tell tales of adventures they have shared. There is a sense of envy, when a friend says they are going to grab lunch with their dad. It hurts deep down when someone tells me that their dad is their best friend.

What’s that like?

What is a father suppose to be in someone’s life?

Here in lies the reason it took me several years, 10 to be exact, to be ready for Alissa and me to have kids. I honestly didn’t know what a father was suppose to be like. What is a father suppose to be? I was a little afraid that since I didn’t have a father present for most of my life, I would mess up as a father myself.

How do you teach a boy to be a man?

How do you treat a girl properly?

What does a dad do for his kids in a way a mom cannot?

To be honest, these are still some of the questions that keep me up at night.

How do I do this fathering thing?

Who can I turn to?

How does the fatherless learn to be a father?

I can’t say that I have learned everything I know on my own, nor that I don’t make mistakes from time to time. I have had some pretty incredible father figures that I have met throughout my life. Seeing how they interact with their kids built confidence that I could do the same. I’ve always known that I’d want to emulate some of those characteristics I see in their relationships.

A wise man isn’t someone who learns only from his own mistakes, but someone who also learns from the mistakes of others.

Ultimately, looking at how God loves us and is our Heavenly Father is the best way for me to learn as I go. There really is no greater example.

So, I’ve jumped into fatherhood with both feet. My son is 5 and my daughter is 2. I’m not perfect. I’m not called to be perfect, just called do the best I can.

I’ve learned to be the father I always wish I had. I try not to take for granted any of the moments I have with both of my kids. Being a dad is the hardest thing I have ever done, but it also the most rewarding. I do my best to put their needs ahead of my own.

I want my kids to learn that I will always be there for them and they can always count on me. My goal is to help them experience life and be adventurous. I want them to see that it is ok for a dad to be soft and kind to them, and to also know I mean business when I correct them. I want to make memories with them that we can talk about for years to come. My kids always know they are not a far away thought from my mind, but that I care deeply for them and would do absolutely anything for them.

I finally understand why God loves me so much and would send Jesus to die for me. Everything that I want for my kids, He wants for me and even more.

How can a fatherless man become an incredible father?

I’m not exactly sure, but I’ll let you know when I get there.

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This is My Story

Sammy and Ray at home

I come from a broken home.

We had a pretty normal life. I am from a lower-middle class family. We moved often all around the West Tulsa and Sand Springs area. My parents did everything they could to make ends meet.

Looking back, in those moments, life the way we were living it, seemed normal. Nothing out of the ordinary for sure. My dad would take me fishing on occasion or let me help with whatever project he was working on around the house.

I attended, from time to time, a Baptist church in Sand Springs with my aunt. I specifically remember learning about Jesus on a flannel board and then being bored to tears sitting in “big church”. Playing cars and coloring down on the floor beneath the pew was the only way to pass the time. When I finally got to go home, I’d plead with one of my parents to not make me go back.

I occasionally went to Vacation Bible School with my cousin and even got baptized once or twice. Even still, I never fully understood what Christianity was all about.

I was a good kid, excelled in school, and loved life.

Then, something unbelievable happened that turned my world upside down. My dad went to jail.

As an early adolescent, I had a tough time understanding how something like this could happen to our family.

I remember placing blame, not fully understanding the weight of my words on those around me and just being hurt. Words can’t describe the roller coaster of emotions I went through.

In those following months and years, I was pushed into a role that was never meant for a child. There are so many insecurities and identity issues to contend with when you grow up without a father. I left so many opportunities to have amazing experiences on the table because I was too afraid to take the risk. It felt like my responsibility, duty even, was to help raise my brothers and help them navigate life, and to protect them from outside forces.

I looked for acceptance and influence in any relationships with guys that were older, to be a part of what seemed to be a family. I spent about a year hanging out with a couple of teenagers that were a part of a gang on the north side of Tulsa. The acceptance I felt made me want to be a part of this gang. Fortunately, my friends never let me join. Maybe because I was a white boy amidst 20 hispanic boys or they truly knew I didn’t know what I was getting into. All I saw was a family of guys of which I could belong to.

Eventually, mom remarried and we moved nearly an hour away. Most of my teenage years I had a really hard time connecting with my step-dad and step-brothers. Once you become the alpha male of the house, it is very hard to relinquish those reigns. Especially, when you feel you are more fit to lead your siblings than the next guy. I never looked to my step-dad as an actual father figure, but more of a person with whom to coexist.

A teenage life in a blended family. I struggled to figure out how to become a man and find my identity and to fit in this new family. Constantly, I wrestled with protecting and leading my brothers and helping them to become something I had no clue how to become myself, a man.

My parents started going to church because they wanted to “raise us boys right.” I commend them both. It would be hard to handle six boys and raise them to be good men without a community to influence them.

When my parents started going to church, I was 15 yrs old and well capable of taking care of myself and my little brothers. My sister had moved, so I was the oldest of my siblings and step-siblings in the house. I came up with every excuse you can think of to not go to church. I remembered church as this place I’d waste most of my day at for something I didn’t really understand. “Coming down with something” was a regular occurrence…until my parents forced me to go.

I went to this new church my parents had found. I gave my heart to Jesus. It wasn’t an unusual day for the church, just a normal Sunday. For me, however, it was a day that forever change the trajectory of my life. I finally found acceptance. I finally found the love of a father, of which I had never known. Since that day, my life has been on a course to align my hopes and dreams with that of God’s for my life.

The Holy Spirit has helped me break down a lot of the barriers that have kept me from letting people in and has enabled me to become a better version of me everyday. I don’t claim to be perfect or think I will ever reach perfection, but I know that God loves me just the way I am.

Knowing Jesus, fully, has given my life meaning, given me a purpose. I don’t know how I would ever live without Jesus in my life. I am so thankful for the blessings God has given me and the way He always sees me through the difficult times. It’s why I still believe today.

When all seems lost, Jesus is more real to me in those moments then any other.

God has placed some pretty incredible men in my life at just the right time to help me with every aspect of becoming a man, husband, and father. Here is a thank you to Scott Price, Aaron Malusky, Tim Beitzel, Justin Graves, Scott Heckeroth and countless other men whom have and are living their lives as an example for so many young men to emulate. I wouldn’t be who I am without each of you.

Lastly, I am thankful for my Heavenly Father, for showing me a father’s love. Learning that I have to continually lay down my life for my kids has shown me what it means to fully love them.

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