Monday, January 21, 2013

The Beginning

I know it's been a while since I've written, allow me to just say my life has been moving at the speed of sound lately. I do apologize to my one faithful follower (and anybody else) who I'm sure have been anxiously waiting on pins and needles for the better part of several months for a new post...this one's for you.

So obviously this post isn't going to be about my conception (because that's gross and kinda creepy), or my first steps (because I can't remember that), or my first crush (because that's cliche), or my first prison sentence (because that never happened) but it will be about my first induction into what we call REAL LIFE.

Driving home today I was pondering where this poorly managed blog would take off. Would it be a story tellers journey through life? Would It be a blog about sports (like my previous ones)? would it be a "and let that all be a lesson to ya" blog? I felt a sudden urge whilst sitting in traffic that I wanted my blog to take the shape of a testimony. Up until about 2 hours ago I thought I only had one testimony and it is as follows:

"When I was 5 years old my mom and dad sat me down with a Bible and said 'Devin, Jesus died on the cross for your sins so that you can have eternal life in heaven, your sins were washed away when he died for you and if you believe in him you can go to heaven' Instead of denying that as fact I decided that that sounded like a good idea (you know, cuz heaven sounds awesome when you're 5) so I bowed my head closed my eyes and prayed a prayer asking Jesus into my heart, and that is how I found God"

Pretty neat huh? I don't think so.

Up until I was 18 (and here's where my new testimony starts) I had it all. I had parents who loved me and did anything to keep me out of harm's way. I had a bevy of amazing friends for whom I would do anything, and who would return the favor for me in a heart beat. I had a car that was given to me on my 16th birthday. I got good grades in school without ever cracking a book. I had a pretty cool girlfriend whom I thought was going to want to marry me someday, and I had just gotten accepted into a very selective Junior College in the north Georgia mountains.

I thought I had everything figured out in my life. I was going to go to school at Young Harris College, graduate in two years with an associates degree, I was going to transfer to UGA and get a bachelor's in a TBD degree and marry my high school sweetheart. We'd grow up in Atlanta and raise kids and I'd be rich and successful and yadda...yadda...yadda.

But those were my plans. What I failed to ever notice was the fact that the more those plans were being laid out before me, the further I was pushing God away. His plans were not in line with my plans, but to me my plans were more important. Who better to plan my life than...ME? Exactly!

My plans started falling apart in October when the Girl and I broke up *again* (it wasn't the first time and it wasn't the last, Devin learned about a little something called closure when him and this girl finally parted ways for good, closure is a blessing in disguise). But it didn't keep me from planning my future without God's consent. I still laid plans to get the girl back, get those degrees and become successful in my eyes. All the while, once again, separating myself from God.

January rolled around and after settling back in at school for the spring semester (and getting a tongue lashing from my parents for bringing home 2 B's, 1 C and an F for the fall semester) I continued falling away from my walk with God and it was in one short month that he showed me who was really in control.

In one day I wrote a 22 page term paper, was told I am not a serious student, wrote an angry email to that professor and was kicked out of school.

And this is where my real life started to take place. God took a seemingly harmless angry email that just about every 19 year old college freshmen would write to a professor who just criticized him for not taking school serious and turned it into a life changer.

Where would I be had I not even written that 22 page paper in the first place? I probably would have dropped the class, taken a lashing from my parents and graduated a semester late from college just to make them happy. I would have gone to UGA and been a Bulldogs fan (cringe) and gotten some degree in something I didn't care about while moving to Sarasota to pursue a career in whatever degree I obtained. I wouldn't be where I am now and that means I wouldn't be happy.

Where would I be had I not written that angry email? I wouldn't have gotten parent appointed counseling for threatening a professor, I wouldn't have learned valuable things about my inner being, I wouldn't have learned (at that moment in life at least) that if it's not something you feel comfortable saying to somebody's face then it probably isn't something you should email, tweet, facebook or myspace (bad example) about either. I wouldn't be where I am now and that means I wouldn't be happy.

Where would I be if I was a serious student and wrote the 22 page paper? I more than likely wouldn't have learned any lessons and would now be in serious debt after taking 4 years to earn a 2 year degree. I wouldn't be where I am now and that means I wouldn't be happy.

Every now and then I still think about that day, and I realize there is SO MUCH to be learned from any experience we encounter, good and bad.

After sending said angry email, I crashed without thinking any other thing about it. I slept in my dorm, having spent the entire night writing a paper about the dangers of people driving while talking on a cell phone. About 4 hours into my rest I was awoken by a knock on the door. It was my RD John Kent, a really likable guy, we often stayed up talking just the two of us, me my cigarettes him his favorite chamomile tea. We got really close in the 6 months I was living in his dorm.

"oh hey John, what's up" I said to him.

"Devin we need to go to the Dean's office" He replied.

So away we went. I didn't know what had happened, was I a witness to plagiarism? Did I not make my payment for class on time?

When we got to the Dean's office I was directed to a conference room with a huge table with 20 seats around it. The Dean was there, Dr. March (the man I threatened) and his wife who was in tears. They were also flanked by 4 security officers for the campus and as I noticed when I turned to John there were two Police Officers from the Hiawasee Police Dept.

"why all the fire power?" I said jokingly

"for protection from you" said John.

It was all a very surreal experience. They told me what I had been accused of, that if I didn't withdraw from my classes and never come back they wouldn't take this to the Board of Directors which would have me expelled and permanently taint my college career. They put two sheets of paper on the table in front of me. I was to choose one to sign. One was basically saying I choose to take on the system and represent myself in front of the Board, the other said that I will gracefully ride off into the sunset without any sort of lasting impressions on my future collegiate pursuits. I chose to sign the one that allowed me to leave peacefully.

I was upset, I was sad, I was kinda pissed off, but most of all I was surprised that God would allow something like this to happen.

After the paperwork was signed I was told that my Dad has been called and he is on his way up to pick up myself as well as all the stuff in my dorm. I left the meeting and outside in the hall John asked me if I was interested in lunch, though I had no appetite I accepted his offer.

We sat in silence for the most part. He really felt bad for me, I could tell by how he was looking at me, as tears began to fill my eyes.

"This is bullshit you know that right?" Said John. "If this were a public institution they would write it off as an angry college student who just busted his ass to turn in that long ass paper and slap you on the wrist with requirements to see the college counselor. You're the nicest kid here, you don't deserve this."

After discussing this for a little while longer I finally just came out and said it. "WHY WOULD GOD DO THIS TO ME?"

I'll never forget what John said next. He told me about when he was in college "longer ago than I care to admit" he got kicked out for getting into a fight with another student. "It was over a girl, and we were was a dry campus and it being a small private Christian college, they decided they didn't want drunk angry kids around". So they kicked him out, without any trial, without any discussion and it went down as an expulsion. But what he told me next was something I'll never forget. He was ordered to seek professional mental health, and go to 2 AA meetings a week for a year. Without knowing it he had chosen to see a mental health counselor who was a Christian, and in the one hour a week meetings they had, a lot of stories were told. He found God in doing this, this counselor told him his testimony and it gave John hope. He was invited to church and soon learned about how much God loves even the drunk and violent. Furthermore, these AA meetings he had to attend he happened to meet a lovely young lady who eventually became his wife.

After lunch we went back to the Dean's Office and waited for my Dad to pick me up. When I got in the car I was so exhausted I didn't even talk, I just sat there and noticed that snow was slowly starting to fall on our drive back home and I realized that even though I felt that God hated me in that moment (and many more after this story) I recognized his existence. I saw the snow falling on the windshield as I slowly drifted off to sleep. And I thought to myself, snow washes away all the imperfections of this world and makes it whole, if only God could do the same for me.

Fast forward nearly exactly 9 years ago and I have a beautiful wife, a home in Lakewood, CO, a quirky mini schnauzer and an amazing little 4 month old Corgi puppy and I still look back on that day as probably the biggest and most incredible life changing moment of my life. Had I taken school seriously, not pulled an all nighter writing that paper, written that angry email and gotten to have lunch with John, I can seriously say: I wouldn't be where I am today and I wouldn't be happy BECAUSE WHERE I AM NOW IS EXACTLY WHERE GOD WANTS ME TO BE.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Man With The Masterful Plan

When I write I'm seldom vulnerable.

I like to have the appearance that I always know what I'm talking about. When I blogged for the Thrashers my opinions were thrust about and if my opinion ended up being misled, I never admitted it. I saw it as a sign of weakness.

Which is just what I avoided.

I liked to feel like I was in control of my own destiny. Could do what I wanted, could date who I wanted, could drink what I wanted, could smoke what I wanted. It's funny how with every day that you continue to live your life like that the more and more your secular heart and mind convinces yourself that the one true God you had relied on for the previous 18 years of your life was really just a facade.

This was me. For roughly 5 years I grew more and more apart from God. Things went well for me actually. I was in control and I was loving it. I went about a year and a half without even realizing I hadn't gone to a church service, and when I realized that it didn't phase me. I lived my life on my terms. I played World of Warcraft, I smoked weed, I hooked up with girls I considered friends but also knew wouldn't be able to say no to me. I wasn't living in Christ. And I didn't care.

I felt that if I still led a life full of love for my fellow man and didn't harm anyone then I would still be appeasing in God's eyes. My mind convinced me that it was OK to not walk with God, but walk just beside him so if things started to go wrong I could shout and he would hear me.

Then I moved to Denver. Save my cousin and the occasional visit from my younger brother while on holiday from college, I was alone. I clung to the things that kept my mind off of just how lonely I would feel. I'd play video games or watch sports exclusively, whilst continuing to smoke weed. I used these as crutches, a distraction from the reality of how alone I really was. I didn't know it yet but I NEEDED GOD.

My mind once again convinced me that I needed the soft touch of the fairer sex. So I put myself out there. I started meeting lovely women, each of whom I tricked myself into thinking was "the one". But every time things started to move towards the inevitable "dating phase" an unseen force would swoop in and nix the plan.

I grew frustrated, which only drove me further from God. Little did I know he was in the process of bringing me closer to him than I've ever been.

Last December my best friend came back from her missions trip to Poland for what was supposed to be only a 6 week recovery trip in Denver. That has turned into an indefinite stay in Denver for the foreseeable future. It was God's plan that she be blessed with a friend and mentor who was kind enough to allow her to stay at her town home for free. God's plan that that mentor's house was only a 10 minute drive from my house. God's plan that I inexplicably take a major risk and ask her out knowing full well that after she completes raising enough money to return to Poland my girlfriend will have to travel halfway around the world to continue doing God's work. God's plan that she suddenly felt called to do God's work in her own back yard. And God's plan that we're engaged to be married on May 19th, 2012.

In all of this, God has touched my life in a way that I've never experienced. It is mostly an amazing feeling but also has a slight tinge of uneasiness to it. Some would probably say that it's narcissistic to admit that but I don't feel that way at all. Faith, unbridled and unrelenting, requires an incredible amount of trust in what you can not see. It's not always supposed to be comfortable.

So in this short span of my life if there's one thing I've learned to do is this. Embrace the uncomfortable moments in life, because they're the most enriching you'll ever experience.

That is all.

Monday, April 25, 2011



My name is Devin Howard

I had an easy, settled, comfortable, boring life in Atlanta, GA and then one day everything changed.

I've never written a blog about life, particularly mine. I have blogged about sports up until this night so the thought of blogging about life stories, events and what I have learned, haven't learned or in some instances still am in the process of learning scares the crap outta me. But just tonight driving home in the rain it all hit me like a ton of bricks. I needed to start writing again, I wanted to write about something more meaningful than sports and I had to write so that if need be people could read, respond or even learn from the words that spill onto this pixelated paper I have at my disposal.

This blog/journal/diary/memoirs what-have-you is just that, a meaningful thought inducing whateverness.

It will probably seem a bit rambling, this is my writing style. I only attended 2 semesters of college and of those semesters I passed 2 classes and either dropped classes or failed out so you'll have to forgive me if my grammar makes you cringe. This is me and this is my story...get used to it.

I don't really know what my intended purpose is for writing this blog yet, and I'm completely ok with that. I will try to keep up with this the best I can but with the crazy life I lead I can't make any promises.

Anyways, there I go rambling already and I haven't even started the story. Where was I...oh yes Atlanta. I had a great girlfriend, I had a job that paid handsomely, I had the closest knit group of friends in the world. But I didn't have God. I was a Chreaster (one who only shows up to the major religious holidays at church) and I was ok with it. I struggled with the church having grown up with a church which was perfect for so long but outgrew itself and lost it's identity in the process.

Aside from that everything in my life was peachy and God was allowing it to happen. When suddenly he started nudging me to something greater, something he wanted, something in line with his PLAN for my life. My girlfriend of nearly exactly 1 year and I broke up without any real rhyme or reason on Valentines Day. It was purely mutual, we both weren't feeling it anymore and we split.

Two weeks later my mother asked to talk to me about something. She said "Devin, your father and I are moving to greener pastures, we're moving closer to family in Denver Colorado, I understand you have a job that pays you well and a great base of friends here so the choice is up to you, if you want to move with us you're welcome to do so, if not you'll be just fine living here as well."

I still don't really know why I said yes. But that is how this story starts.