Yes on Prop 8

I had a dream four years ago as I contemplated entering the political arena. I was driving down a one-way highway in the middle of the desert headed toward a mountain range somewhere in America, and in front of me was a jubilant crowd of people keeping all other traffic behind them from passing. As I got closer, I noticed that they were wearing hats -- the hats people wear at political conventions, decorated with red, white and blue stripes and stars -- and they were celebrating excitedly. It struck me as odd, and I was curious. Then I realized somehow that everyone in the group was gay. There was much more to the dream, but I'll spare you...

As we in California face the real possibility that marriage will be redefined, I have to take a stand for what I believe. As much as I respect those I work with and know in the homosexual lifestyle, I have to vote Yes on Prop 8. I'm doing it for two very special young boys...

You see, it's not really about marriage. All of the rights and benefits of traditional marriage have already been granted to homosexual couples in this state via civil unions. It goes much deeper than that, and drives at the heart of religious freedom and freedom of speech. For more information about it, visit ProtectMarriage.com, ProtectMarriageCA.com or iProtectMarriage.com. You can also watch this video called Prop 8 in Plain English.

In the end, if Prop 8 fails, it appears we'll have quite a time fighting for our kids in the future, and may even find it difficult to speak freely (read the article in the Gay People's Chronicle). It's real, everyone.

Vote Yes on Prop 8.

From his career in professional baseball to an attempt at professional golf and the tragic loss of his wife, Jon Graves is on the journey of his life.

Creative cleaning

Yes, this may be cheesy, but it served its purpose tonight. Welcome to Boys in the House, the Graves Boys' new reality TV show where two contestants and the show's producer are learning to live life cleaner.

And if you haven't yet seen what RJ, Jesse and I are trying to do at SingleDad.com, have a look at our Oprah segments... Can you imagine three single dads on Oprah? Lord, help us.

From his career in professional baseball to an attempt at professional golf and the tragic loss of his wife, Jon Graves is on the journey of his life.

A Little Heart's Cry

As I waited outside the boys' tutoring center this evening watching their friends and former karate buddies spill out of the dojo, I couldn't help but lose heart for the boys. School has become their occupation, and homework their recreation. And I have to admit that I hate it.

So tonight we broke home policy and watched a movie on a school night. And after I tucked them in bed, I felt a tug at my heart to visit this blog again. Not knowing what to write or how to start, I thought of the boys and the quiet time they spent in the learning center as their friends left for home. And out came my first effort at poetry. Is that lame? I don't know. But as I read the end product, I couldn't help thinking about the boys and all they do to keep going each day. How wonderful it is to have hope in God...

Oh my troubled heart,
How do you go on as you do?
Urging yourself on each morn,
you fight and claw your way
through the day with the hope
God alone can provide.

Is that why you endure?
Is that why your beat remains constant?
Is it merely because you have hope from above,
or that you hold to the promise of
an everlasting and undying love?

I wonder where I'd be without you...
Could I face the trials of each day,
or smile the darkness away,
or laugh nearly as much as I do
without the beating heart that
carries me through.

But is it really you, or is it something more?
Don't take offense, but I believe it is...

For within you lives the Super Man,
the eternal Hope of all mankind.
It is He who has given you your beat,
your hope, and your willingness to survive.

It is He who breathes life into this soul
when all else fails. It is He who formed
me and you for a single purpose...to live,
and to live for Him alone.

So do not fret, oh troubled heart.
For He who promised is faithful, and
He will never let you down.

No, He has a plan for you that will
never be broken as long as you follow
Him. Look to Him, dear troubled heart.
He will not fail. He will never let
you down.

From his career in professional baseball to an attempt at professional golf and the tragic loss of his wife, Jon Graves is on the journey of his life.

These Experiences

I've had many people tell me over the past year or so that "kids are resilient." That's true to a certain extent, but I have to give credit to God for the way each of them have handled the most difficult experience in their young lives. It reminds me a bit of Abraham Lincoln, whose mother died when he was 11. Lincoln had memorized three books by that time: The Bible, Pilgrim's Progress and Aesop's Fables. Can you imagine that? But that was all his family had in the shack in which they lived. There was no TV, Nintendo, Internet or even Karate. He had three books. Years later he changed the direction of America.

Is that what God has in store for Everen? For Christian? Can they maintain their sweet innocence and enduring faith and change the world in which they live? It's not out of the realm of possibility. Years ago I would never have thought that I'd share stories with the founder of the Mexican Mafia (Donald Garcia) or speak at prisons in the U.S. and Mexico. Yet somehow God uses our experiences to encourage other people.

As I looked into Christian's eyes tonight and told him how proud I am of him for reading so well, he beamed with delight. It was as if I spoke joy into his soul. God does indeed have a plan. I anticipate a great and interesting future for these two young warriors of mine...

And Nadine......thanks. You're great.

From his career in professional baseball to an attempt at professional golf and the tragic loss of his wife, Jon Graves is on the journey of his life.

The SingleDad crew

The SingleDad crew: Jesse Lozano, Richard Jaramillo, and Jon Graves The SingleDad crew: Jesse Lozano (DJ for KIIS FM in LA and 93.3 FM in San Diego), Richard "RJ" Jaramillo (founder and president of SingleDad.com), and yours truly. It's odd to see myself in pictures like this, but I'm so honored to stand beside these two men and raise the flag for single dads. We should start a rock band. Oh wait, we already did. See?
The SingleDad Rock Band photo shootLife has changed so much. A year ago today I was trying to find my way through the boys' first school orientation just a week and a half after Jeseca died. Today was the second version of that, and while I talked with the people I knew from last year, I realized that I've gone through a metamorphosis. I'm different than I was at this time last year. I guess it took school orientation for me to see it.

I honestly don't know how I've changed, just that I have. But you know what? I've given so much thought over the past few months about staying who I've been or venturing out to discover more of me, or who God may want me to be, that I'm kind of glad I've changed. I want to go beyond my comfort zone and allow God to use me more fully.

I'm proper. Maybe I shouldn't be, at least not all the time.

I can't dance. I want to learn.

And I want to take this gift God has given me as far as it can possibly go without giving in to that nagging feeling that I haven't done it before so "stick with what you know."

Nope. This really is the beginning of the next chapter. I've learned to accept that this is the life God has for me, at least for now. So I'm gonna do my best to embrace it all and look for that place in each day where God is smiling big and asking me to join in the fun.

The life God offers is full of promise and hope, regardless of our failures, our pain or our disappointments. But you have to watch for it. You have to listen for it. And you have to learn to act on it the moment it presents itself.

I'm not there. Not yet. But I'm learning... JG

From his career in professional baseball to an attempt at professional golf and the tragic loss of his wife, Jon Graves is on the journey of his life.

Allowing for New

We went to the beach today. It was the first time in a long while I'd been in water anywhere outside of our community pool at the condo, but it was so great to get out and clear my head. My mom watched the boys and her dog, Rocky, while I jogged around a bit, and then Everen and I raced up the beach and into the water a few times. Christian, pictured above, simply wanted to play in the water and make "mud balls." I had to drag him away...he didn't care. Silly kid.

Sprinting is so much fun. I love the push it requires as you go from zero to full acceleration. Some of life is like a sprint, but it's distance running that tests your character. And that's what I face now...the longer race.

For 11 years I pursued only one thing: a better life with and for Jeseca. We had dreams and aspirations, both individual and joint, and together we built on them with the hope that one day we would look back and enjoy every moment we spent together achieving them. That was what made life worth living...that we would do everything together. And we did, actually. We did everything together.

Did we ever accomplish our dreams? No. I still can't putt to save my life (a requirement on the PGA Tour), and despite her incredible talent, she never became the most well-known portrait artist in America. But as we planned for those things, life happened all around us, and we had the opportunity to grow and to help others grow in the process. We grew closer to God, and we taught the boys about His amazing love and grace. We watched our marriage grow stronger in the face of adversity, and we had the opportunity to be an example to our cousins (Bob and Joy, you two are so amazingly great...I love you both and am so proud of you!) and other married couples we knew. And we learned that communication is the cornerstone to any great relationship. (We didn't always get it right, but we sure did try.)

Now the storyline has changed. And while I'm trying my best to take the next step, it sure is difficult to know where to place my foot. All I can do is trust that this is exactly where I am supposed to be.

Someone recently told me that I will always carry Jeseca with me. I really will...

From his career in professional baseball to an attempt at professional golf and the tragic loss of his wife, Jon Graves is on the journey of his life.

August 15, 2008

One year from Happy Heaven Day, I watch the clock wondering what's changed. How am I different? Am I different? Are the boys? Have I led them correctly? Have I mislead others in this new life of mine? I have many questions of myself these days, and so few answers. And yet, as I look at the photo above, I have hope.

I once asked if I could be the same man or better without my wife. The answer to both questions is no. I'm merely different. Not better, nor the same. Just different, and so much more complicated.

Over the past 12 months, I've experienced many firsts. For one, I'm a single dad for the first time in my life. Where I once relied on someone else to wash the boys' sheets or do their laundry or cook their breakfast, lunch and dinner, now I am responsible for each of those things. Ugh. I've lost nearly 20 pounds. I finished transcribing Jeseca's journals. In the dozen or so rounds of golf I played, four were under par. I began karate and kicked the sensei so hard I had to stop for two months so my foot could heal.

I went from listening to all of the music Jeseca and I enjoyed together to albums only I've heard. I began making new memories all my own. I met new people. I went to the batting cage for the first time in 13 years. I jumped out of an airplane, and had dreams of tattooing my entire left arm.

I've wanted to fight, cry, run, give up, stand strong, and cling to all I've ever known. I've struggled to find purpose for my life again. I've spent more time on Katie Jones' "couch" than any other therapist I know, which isn't saying much since I've never been to therapy. And I've slept more on the living room floor than my bed.

There's more to this than I care to write tonight, but through it all, I've learned one invaluable lesson: I can't do anything without God's grace, love, and provision in every aspect of our lives.

Though I desire to love again, desperately I do, only God can make a way. Only God can bring about a change in our routine or facilitate healing for the boys. Only God can take a bad situation and shape it for the better. Only God can make things new again.

"I am about to do a brand new thing. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness for my people to come home. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland." (Isaiah 43:19)

That's why I hope. For even if I let go of his mighty hand, he won't let go of mine. He's always by my side, telling me that I can take all this life can dish out, and with his help, I can smile.

So here we go. Year two. I don't know what, when or how, but I look forward to a life renewed by the neverending hope and love of the God who's promised never to leave me or forsake me.

Will I jump out of a plane again? Probably. Fight? If it comes my way. Get that sleeve of tattoos? No. (Hey, I have to draw the line somewhere.)

There will be more memories to make. More stories to tell. But there will never be a day when God changes his mind about me. He believes in me, just as he believes in you. And he will make a way. I know it more than anything else in the world. God will take the ruin in my life and make a way for restoration. I can't wait.

From his career in professional baseball to an attempt at professional golf and the tragic loss of his wife, Jon Graves is on the journey of his life.

37

37. Wow. As I see it on-screen it's not that bad. 36 sure sounded better, though. Today was hard...different...but it certainly wasn't mundane.

I got out of work early, headed to the DMV (boy was I dreading having to take the Drivers License renewal test...it turned out that I didn't have to...phew), and then headed off to ARTS to pick up the boys. When we got home, the boys ran ahead of me (they'd planned a surprise birthday party for me), and as I opened the front door, jumped out from behind the couch and out of the kitchen with a big "Surprise!" What love they have for their dad...

We finished out the night at Boomers with my mom (and Nadja, a foreign exchange student from Switzerland), my brother Mike, and our dear friend Sarah and her kids. We had a lot of fun racing the go-karts around the track, and inflicted a number of drivers with mild cases of whiplash. (Sadly, I won only once and placed 2nd twice...drat!) But when the evening ended and the boys were fast asleep, it was still just me in the living room thinking about this season of life.

It's just a season, right? So I hold on to hope, for he who promised is faithful. And I look forward to a year of entirely new experiences.

From his career in professional baseball to an attempt at professional golf and the tragic loss of his wife, Jon Graves is on the journey of his life.

Bleeding again

It's been 13 years since I last played a professional baseball game. 13 years. In all of that time, I've swung a bat once more than twice. (Somehow 3 times just didn't fit with "all of that time.")

The day I retired I gave away all of my gear and memorabilia. Spikes from Ken Caminiti. Bats from Tony Gwynn. My favorite gloves from Wilson, who sponsored all of my equipment... I went home with two bats (I still have one of Tony Gwynn's bats) and a big question mark for what the rest of my life would become.

Last night I used one of those bats at the batting cage as I sought some much-needed wisdom from above, and it felt so good to do it again.

It was great to smell the smoke from the bat after tipping a fastball. It was great to get a blister on my hand and bleed again. And it was great to see the ball jump off of the bat as it once did. Unfortunately, I am now down to one bat...I got a bit too aggressive and hit a ball off the end of the bat, which, as you all may know, causes a fairly large splintering effect if you're using wood. Oh well. I still have the bat from Tony.

Why, after 13 years, did I go to the batting cage? I needed some one-on-one time with God. I needed to draw close to him again, and for some reason, he put it on my heart to go back in time and meet him at Boomers. Pounding Plumb's I Can't Do This (by myself) and Cut, and Skillet's Rebirthing into my soul, I swung at 120 straight pitches, pouring every ounce of strength and effort into each swing. And when I was done, I felt different. I felt relieved.

10 minutes later I headed to Sunset Cliffs to continue this escapade with God.

With headphones still on, I walked along the cliffs until I found a spot above the crashing waves to sit and watch the horizon. Although people meandered around me, I found a moment when I was completely alone...a moment when I could just listen, not to the music, but to the voice in my heart. And the tears started to fall.

In his way...the way he always reaches me...God wanted to tell me to put my trust in him again. He loosened me up with 120 swings, taking me back to the days of my dreams. Then, there at the cliffs, as I looked toward the horizon, he tugged on my heart to venture out onto the water once more.

I don't know what the plan is. In fact, I've never been more unsure about my life than now. But somehow a little bit of blood and the power of the ocean revived me, and I feel rejuvenated because I know, at least, that there is a plan.

So even if the pace has slowed of late, I am...

Marching on. JG

From his career in professional baseball to an attempt at professional golf and the tragic loss of his wife, Jon Graves is on the journey of his life.

Running

I went running a couple of nights ago. I'd been working out for a while and decided to go for the first run in a really long time. So I took the windy road up and around the first few blocks, turned left at the second stop sign, and left again at the next to begin my climb up the hill. It had been uphill from the start, but the next 1/4 mile was a steady incline followed by a steep hill that peaked to overlook all of downtown San Diego. It was a test.

With Krystal Meyers blaring through Everen's iPod, I charged up the hill, ignoring the voice inside that told me to stop. And I prayed. I prayed for guidance. For mercy. For grace. And for the wisdom required to take the next step in this race God has given me to run.

I admit, part of me wants to give up. With "When I finally make it home..." running through my head constantly, I can't help but think about how much easier it will be when I stand before the King and no longer have to keep my feet moving down here. This race......

And then, just as I'm ready to give in to it, a still, small voice inside encourages me to keep going...to ignore the voice begging me to stop...telling me I can't do it...that I can't make it.

Keep running, Jon. Run to me and I will give you rest.

Ah, yes. Now I remember the way.....

From his career in professional baseball to an attempt at professional golf and the tragic loss of his wife, Jon Graves is on the journey of his life.