A Pilgrim's Journey

Various accounts of my life's experiences as I continue my journey through the unknown portals of life. Accounts both past and present while looking to the future.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

As my journey continues...

It's been a while since I've written a blog and thought I would add another post.  God has been working in a very mysterious way and one that has truly tested my faith these past two years, however, I kept believing somehow God would provide.  He has miraculously provided for Nita and me these past 21 months as I have had to work through my illness and accept new barriers and limitations place upon me that I have not welcomed.

I still have not completely arrived at accepting my limitations, but I know that in time, I will find a way to compensate.  I still want to make a positive difference in people's lives and recognize the fact that as my life has been turned upside down, those positive differences will have to come through different means than I have used in my past.   Those means remain to be seen.

God has provided for us in ways unimaginable to us before.  He has been found once again to be faithful even when I doubted.

I have felt the urge to go one step further and formulate my thoughts into a book for the Glory of God.  I continue to travel down the road he has chosen for me and I am still a man in progress, flawed but forgiven.  What God has in store for me is unknown at this time.  I am simply taking this step of faith and trusting Him with the outcome.  

I still have issues I'm dealing with that relate to life in general as well as my illness.  With God's guidance, I fully expect Him and humbly ask Him to guide my thought process in the development of this book so that He would be glorified and those who read it will find nourishment for their souls as well as some answers to the perplexities of life that haunt us everyday.  

I truly covet the prayers of God's people as I begin this leg of my journey.  I humbly ask for God's Spirit to guide me and give me the courage to write this book.  It's a tall task for me and in some ways even fearful,  but with God's help not an impossible one.

I truly am a pilgrim on a journey of life.  I have no illusions of what lies ahead.  I simply take a day at a time, sometimes a moment at a time.  May God be glorified and once again be found faithful as I embark on this leg of my journey.  All is in His control,  Forgive me Lord when I forget that truth and try to do things my way.  

Blessings to all who may read this and thank you for your continued prayers.  Without prayer, all is in vain.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Wow, What A Year!!

Well, it's Christmas time again.  It is a very joyous occasion when we celebrate the birth of Christ.

This has been a year of personal reflection for me and I have found that my focus for too long was on materialism, getting ahead in life, going up the corporate ladder, achieving great things and reaching one milestone after another, and having the mistaken notion that I was invincible.

This year everything that I had worked so hard for and achieved came crashing down all around me.  What I thought was important suddenly changed.  Everything that I had worked so many years to achieve was gone in less than a year.  The greatest thing I lost was my health.  I am now in a position where I must re-evaluate my priorities.

Was climbing the corporate ladder that important?  Was trying to be everything to everybody worth it?  Was trying to live up to the monumental expectations forced upon me by myself and others even possible to achieve?  Was sacrificing my own self awareness for the sake of pleasing others really making a positive difference in people's lives?

Okay, so yes, by human standards I had achieved success but was it really??

What were the costs?

My costs were much greater than any gains.  I'm not just talking about finances.  I'm talking about life itself.  What did it cost my family all of those years I was gone on business trips and working 12+ hour days.  Sure, we had nice things, we had material blessings, we were beginning to build our retirement nest egg, everything seemed to be looking up for us, with no end in sight.  We were living very comfortably and were also giving to the church and other charities.  We gave to individuals in need and felt such a blessing to be able to do so.

So, why then would God allow all of this to come crashing down all around me?  My career was over, my health has deteriorated greatly and all of our assets are gone.

My focus was misplaced.  Instead of focusing on God and His greatness, I was focusing too much on what the world had to offer and based my success on human standards instead on God's standards.

Success is more than the accumulation of things, advancing up the corporate ladder, pleasing others, achieving wealth, etc...

Success is first and foremost found in Jesus Christ.  HE is the reason for living.  HE is to be our focal point in life.  HE is the one that has designed us and planned our days before we were even born.

This year, I have found that all I ever really needed was Christ.  My family is a gift from God that I cherish very much. I count myself very blessed indeed with a wonderful loving family.

So what if we had to sell all of our assets.  So what if we end up losing our house.  So what if we end up losing our car.  These are only things.  They are STUFF.  Stuff can be replaced.

What is REALLY important in life are the relationships we hold dear.  Our relationship to God.  Our relationship with our family.  Our relationship with our friends.  Our RELATIONSHIPS are the true assets in this life.

My relationship with God should be my prime focus.  If I focus on God, everything and everyone else will come together as it was designed to do according to God's will. 

Our lifetime here on Earth is only microscopic compared to all of eternity.  I made a huge mistake by misplacing my focus and desire on the things of this world.  Now I am paying that price dearly.

However, I also know that it's never too late to change.  I believe God loved me and my wife so much that he allowed all of this to happen to us so that we would be drawn closer to Him and realize that HE is the only one we should depend on.  Not ourselves or anyone else, but only HIM.  God is really all we need.

So, now what?  Like I said, it's never too late to change.  It is going to be a long road back to health for me.  I am going to have to learn to accept new limitations, I'm going to have to learn to compensate for what I have lost.  I'm going to have to learn to deal with my past, warts and all.  Even so, I know that in the end, it will be worth it all.  I like that old hymn that says:

"it will be worth it all, when we see Jesus, life's trials will seem so small, when we see Christ; One glimpse of His dear face, all sorrows will erase, so bravely run the race, 'til we see Christ."

How about you my friend?  Where is YOUR focus today?  During this Christmas season and the years ahead, why not realign your focus and set it on Christ.  Let HIM be your basis for success.  Allow Him to finish the work He has started within you.  Begin by reading His Word and praying to Him DAILY.  He will guide you all of the way if you follow Him.

"My Lord knows the way through the wilderness, all I have to do is follow, my Lord knows the way through the wilderness, all I have to do is follow.  Strength for today, is mine all the way and all I need for tomorrow.  My Lord knows the way through the wilderness, all I have to do is follow." 

Merry Christmas everyone!  Christ is the greatest gift and is all that we will ever need.

The journey continues...

Friday, December 11, 2009

David's Prayer

Dear Readers,

As I was reading my Bible today, I came across Psalm 143, which is a prayer of David.  As I read it, it seemed so much like a prayer that I would pray and so I did and made it a personal prayer.  I wanted to share it with you.

Here are excerpts as recorded in Psalm 143: 1-12 (NIV):

"O Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy, in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.  Do not bring your servant into judgment for no one living is righteous before you.....

I remember the days of long ago, I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.  I spread out my hands to you, my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.  

Answer me quickly, O Lord, my spirit fails.  Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit.  Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.  

Show me the way I should go for to you I lift up my soul.  Rescue me..... for I hide myself in you.  

Teach me to do your will for you are my God, may your good spirit lead me on level ground.

For your names sake, O Lord, preserve my life in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble....."

Amen and Amen!!!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Master Designer

Dear Readers,

The longer I live and experience the mountain tops and valleys of life, I become convinced that everything has a Divine purpose.  God after all is the "Master Designer". 

Having said that, the Lord is always working on our behalf even when we don't sense His presence or see changes taking place.

I am in the midst of the greatest struggle of my life with no end in sight.  My emotions have been all over the place this past week in particular but even before that.

I know in my heart that God loves me and only allows things to happen to me for His purpose.  What is that purpose, I ask?   I don't know.  I may never know. 

Sometimes I am tempted to think that maybe God is punishing me for some reason.  After all, God is a God of Love but He is also a God of Justice.

We are living in a day of grace which means that God loves us enough that he sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins and He conquered death 3 days later when He arose from the grave.  He now sits at the right hand of God intercessing for each of us in our behalf.

Does that mean that God does not punish His children or allow bad things to happen to us?  We live in a fallen world which means that SIN reigns for the present.  However, God is still in control and nothing happens to us without His knowledge or consent.

Therefore, when difficulties come our way, God is fully aware of our needs and is working "behind the scenes" for our own good.  This is where FAITH comes in.  When all else makes no sense and yes, even when God doesn't make sense, we need to rely on our FAITH to pull us through.  Trusting our "unknown future to our known God".

I write this after receiving a MAJOR disappointment in my life just today.  It leaves me with many more questions than answers.  All I have to rely on now is my FAITH or TRUST in God.  How strong is my faith?  How much do I trust God?  I wish I could say it's never been stronger, but I'd be lying if I said that.  However, I DO have faith and I DO trust God.  The Bible says that if we have the "faith of a mustard seed" we can move mountains.

Well, I have a major mountain to cross right now, I'm tired and weary.  I believe what the Bible says and based on that truth, my faith should be enough to carry me through and help me cross the mountain one way or another.  I'm tempted to give up at times, and yet my faith will not allow me to give up.

How about you?  Can you relate to my story?  How strong is YOUR faith?  How much do YOU trust God?   What is YOUR mountain that you are facing?  Do you have the "faith of a mustard seed"?

Think about it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Old Steel Mill

By:  John Edwards

One quiet evening I looked up at the sky gazing upon the morning and evening star,

  I asked the God of the Universe "why do you seem so afar?"

"I served you with distinction striving to follow your every will,

Now when I need you the most, I'm told to be calm and still."

I then asked myself "how does one remain calm and still when he sees his life desinigrating like an old steel mill?"

Like the old steel mill, I too was once thriving with activity, purpose and bright hopes for the future,

Like the old steel mill, my life is now full of "what used to be's" along with it's memories of success and regrets to be sure.

So what does one do when life isn't what it "used to be" and is now painful, uncertain and lacking in purpose?

There are no easy answers since in His divine wisdom God sometimes chooses not to disclose His plan,

Yet, this one thing I know, He has promised to faithfully provide for us if we willingly take His hand.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Acceptance and Contentment

Hello Readers,

I had a good day at physical therapy on Monday.  Last week, I began going every M-W-F.  I go again tomorrow.  Looking forward to another good experience.

While there, I kept saying "I used to do (this or that)".  I finally realized what I was saying and told my therapist that my wife keeps reminding me that I need to quit focusing on what I "USED" to do and focus on what I CAN do.  He agreed and said to me "you need to play with the hand that's dealt you and keep playing".   I liked that statement and it is very true.  The important thing is NOT to give up. 

It is much easier to keep focusing on what "used to be" instead of accepting what IS.  Once I learn to accept what is, I will find myself to be more content and in a position for the healing process to work. 

Of course, this is easier said than done.  However, these past couple of days, I've been trying to change my focus and mindset to accepting what IS and realize that for some reason, God has chosen to change my life in such a way that has shaken me to my foundation. 

It has put me in a position of relying solely upon GOD rather than my own knowledge and ability.  I realize now that before, I was too self sufficient. 

I have a long way to go in the recovery process, however, I realize now that my sufficiency cannot rest on MY abilities, but totally upon God.

Whatever God's plan is for my future I want to be able to accept His plan wholeheartedly even if it should mean restricted abilities.  Only God can help me with becoming content, but at least now I'm WILLING to allow Him to do what He deems necessary to bring me to that position.

How about YOU?   Are you having difficulty accepting life as you know it today or are you content with the way you are living and the life you have?   In either case, God is the answer and will provide the ability for you to make any necessary changes to help you in your time of difficulty and thus become more content. 

None of us have "arrived".  We are all on a journey and I know beyond a shadow of doubt that our journey is made much easier when we rely upon God for our strength and wisdom.

So, let's quit fooling ourselves and wrestling with what "might have been" or "what used to be" and start living for today....  "play the hand that has been dealt you and KEEP PLAYING."   Let's not give up.  Life is too short and too precious and well worth the living.  The journey continues.



Sunday, September 20, 2009

Uncharted Territory

Hello Readers,

I'm not sure how many read these posts, but it DOES help me to be able to put my thoughts down in writing.  If you have been reading these, I hope that my thoughts and experiences help YOU in some way also.  Your feedback / comments are always welcomed.

My journey is one that ranges from euphoria to despair and everywhere in between.  The only constant in my life is God.   It is true that God never changes... He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  I'm thankful that God is always there for me regardless what my experience is in life.

Since January 2007, I entered personal uncharted territory.  My earthly experience has gotten worse since then reaching a climax on August 13th, 2008 and I have seen definite changes taking place in my life regarding my outlook, hopes, dreams, decisions, plans, desires and general psychological and physical well-being.

I have seen an erosion taking place in my relationships largely due to the struggles I have had to encounter and to no small degree my responses to these struggles.  Even though I don't doubt that my friends and family love me and care about me, yet I feel a sense of paranoia growing within me which is screaming out for greater affirmation from others.  It's hard to explain, but it's like my "head" knowledge and my "heart" knowledge are at odds with each other and there is an inner battle taking place.  The fight rages on but I truly am growing weary and wonder how much fight I have left to withstand whatever lies ahead.

My wonderful wife has been a stronghold for me and I would hate to think what state I would be in right now if I didn't have her unconditional love and support.  She herself has her own health issues to tend to and yet she stands by my side as we travel this journey together.  I am very concerned for HER well-being as well.  We BOTH continue to support one another and stand by each other as we have now for nearly 35 years throughout the good times and bad times.  God no doubt has been her strength and has sustained her as we have traveled this latest difficult road.

As I stated earlier, I am becoming weary, confused, somewhat paranoid and unsure about my life's purpose.  One thing I know is that God is there for me.  He seems to be silent these days.  Nothing seems to make sense.  Yet, I know in my heart that God will make a way.  I wish He would answer the question "Why?".   I wonder what lessons he wants me to learn?   As I sit here a phrase continues to go through my mind that "the battle is not mine but God's".  Although that may be true, it doesn't minimize the struggle and misfortune that my wife and I have had to endure these past 2 1/2 years.  There is no end in sight.  It's like I'm going through a long dark tunnel, so dark that I cannot even see the hand in front of my face.

Well, I guess I've rambled long enough.  I know God holds the answer.  The problem is, His answer is slow in coming.  I will continue to seek God's will in all of this.  Maybe one day, I will understand.

If you have read to this last sentence, thank you for listening.  My journey continues.



Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Victim's Mentality

Hello Readers,

Well, it is Thursday morning, 12:40 am as I write this. I sure have been doing much reflecting these past several weeks. I continue to struggle with my new imposed limitations and it sure isn't easy to say the least. However, as I reflect upon my present situation (with no end in sight), I realize that I must make a choice which will affect me the rest of my life. Do I continue to go down the road of self pity, dwelling upon what I cannot do, beating myself up in the process, or do I accept my given situation as God's will and embrace it with a humble spirit knowing that He is always by my side and only allows struggles to come into my life to make me a better person in the long run?

It is sooooo easy to give in to the victim's mentality as I have done and inadvertently isolate myself from those who truly do care and love me, including God himself.

I am reminded of a sermon my friend preached one time regarding friendship.... the illustration used regarded an individual who felt all alone and that her friends had abandoned her when in reality, she was soooo wrapped up in her own life and troubles, that SHE was the one who had distanced herself from her friends rather than the other way around. She discovered that she needed to place the needs of others before her own and focus on BEING a friend and take the focus off herself. When she did that, she became a different person and people were happy to be her friend and associate with her. She also learned to be content with her life. It's like the old saying, "to have friends, you need to BE a friend".

I am in the midst of the darkest and loneliest time in my life and I realize after careful reflection that my focus has been too much on ME and not enough on GOD and OTHERS.

Time is precious, Life is precious, Friends are precious, Family is precious. How unfortunate it is when one forfeits Time, Life, Friends and Family while they focus selfishly on self.

Relationships, Life and Time are too important to waste. We have a choice to either spend time worrying about ourselves or we can invest our time building our relationships with God, Family and Friends. Life is very short and our focus needs to be on things eternal rather than on the temporal aspects of our earthly pilgrimage.

As I continue to journey through life with all of it's pain, suffering and misfortunes... my desire and goal is to change my focus away from self and back to God and others. Yes, problems will continue, but as the song that's been playing in my head for the past several weeks says "His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me". I pray for wisdom, strength and more faith to follow God wherever He leads me, even if it means poverty and strife. I know God will never leave me nor forsake me especially in my deepest time of need.

How about you?? What is happening in YOUR life. Are you focused on your circumstances, or are you focused on the One who is the giver of life and has promised never to forsake us.

I'm not perfect and have failed God in many ways as a human being, but I have never doubted his love for me and have decided to once again to take my hands OFF and let God have his way. I would recommend that YOU reflect upon your own set of circumstances and your relationship with God just as I have done. If you find yourself lacking and/or distancing yourself from the God who loves you unconditionally.... why not turn your focus back on Him and let him guide you through life one day at a time, one moment at a time... walking side by side with him.

I'm sure you've read "Footprints in the Sand". I have seen only one set of footprints in recent months and had given into the feeling that God was punishing me or at least refusing to intervene in my behalf...... however, I realize now that it's been during this time that he has been carrying me along and continues to do so.

I thank Him for his everlasting love and watchful care over me. I know that whatever my future holds, it is in HIS hands and there is no better place than that.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

More Than Conquerors

Dear Readers,

I was reading this morning's devotional in the Daily Bread and the latter part of the devotional really hit home and thought I would share it with you. Dennis Fisher is the author and he said:

"..... the loss of health, relationships, or finances can make us feel as if our life has been destroyed. But for the believer, nothing could be further from the truth. Through our spiritual union with Christ, we have the promise that we'll share in His own indestructible life (John 14:19)".

Those of you who know me know the struggles I've gone through with my health and finances especially since August 13th, 2008. There ARE times when I feel exactly as he describes, that my life has been destroyed. I also realize that as a believer, God is in control and has been very faithful to provide in various ways during this past year. He has given me "tangible" proof of His love and care for me. It seems whenever I begin to feel as though all is lost, God reminds me in subtle ways that all is NOT lost and that my future is in HIS hands. Therefore, I continue to plow ahead through life and trust Him to provide all of the necessary resources to experience the ultimate victory.

How about YOU? Are you facing hardships due to declining health, loss of relationships, reduction in finances, layoffs, unemployment, or any other calamity in your life? It is always good to remember that as believers, we have one much greater than we are who is capable and willing to get us through our trials and difficulties. Put your complete trust in Him.

Struggles and hardships will continue but our anxiety and worrying does not. God is forever faithful, that I know.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

An Interesting Devotional

Dear Readers,

I was reading the "Daily Bread" today and it spoke about the value of friends. It referred to I Samuel 20: 12-17 regarding the friendship between David and Jonathon. "Jonathan . . . loved [David] as he loved his own soul" (I Samuel 20:17)

John Chrysostom was one of the great preachers in the early church and he said regarding friends:

"Such is friendship, that through it we love places and seasons; for as . . . flowers drop their sweet leaves on the ground around them, so friends impart favor even to the places where they dwell. With friends even poverty is pleasant . . . It would be better for us that the sun were exhausted than that we should be without friends."

David drew encouragement from Jonathan when he was being hunted down by the demented King Saul. (Jonathan was King Saul's son). There was trust, understanding and encouragement between them. It would have been much more difficult for David to endure the ongoing pursuit of King Saul if it hadn't been for Jonathan.

We all need friends. Friends who will be there through the tough times as well as the good times. How rich a person is who has at least 1 - 2 of such friends!!!

What kind of friend are you? How do you evaluate your relationships with your friends??

The poem at the end of the devotional says:

"Since I have no gold to give, and love alone must make amends; my daily prayer is while I live, 'God make me worthy of my friends'.
That is my prayer as well.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Time of Reflection

Dear Readers,

Today, I've been doing some personal reflecting upon my relationship with family, friends and God. I am very blessed to have a close knit family who love one another despite their differences. We don't always agree, but that is okay, we agree to disagree and yet our love for one another remains constant.

This past year has been a time of mixed emotions ranging from euphoria to depression and everywhere in between. As I look back on my past year's experience, I realize that my focus was misplaced. In recent years, I was blessed with a nice income and material blessings. I was privileged to help others financially as the needs arose as well as giving to charities.

After suffering ill health for the past two years and especially a TIA (mini-stroke) which I suffered in August of 2008, my life changed dramatically. Thus, there have been many struggles as I have learned to cope with these changes and limitations. I was resistant and becoming rebellious against God blaming Him for my misfortune (which I'm ashamed to admit). In anger and disbelief, I prayed to God "... if you truly love me and care about me, I need tangible proof, show me that you love me... " . Over these past several months, God has done just that. Even though I have been unemployed since August 2008, God has provided for us in every way as He continues to display "tangible proof" of such love and caring.

Last Thursday (6/11), we sold our F-150 Pickup which represents the final major asset we've had to sell. It will be enough to get us through the month of June. Since August, we have been taking it one day at a time and doing everything we know to do and leaving the rest to God. Through the generosity of others and the selling of our assets, we've been provided for each and every month.

July 7th, Nita, I and a friend of ours will be going to Mayo's Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota for a diagnosis and treatment of my chronic health conditions. What will happen? Only God knows. I have learned however, to be at peace. What was important to me (material things, career, climbing the corporate ladder, etc... ) no longer have a priority in my life. The first and foremost priority I have in my life now is to be obedient to God. Nurturing my relationships with my family, friends and God are of prime importance.

The things of this world come and go. As the Bible says, ... The Lord gives and Lord takes away, bless-ed be the name of the Lord." So be it.

I wrote a while back about my struggle with learning to cope. I have found that the first step is to surrender my situation and all that relates to it to God. Second, I need to accept my situation for what it is knowing that I will probably never be able to return to the life I once knew. Therefore, I will achieve new goals and fulfill a new purpose in my life as the Lord leads me.

I had to come to a point of accepting the "death" of my old life and embrace my new life for whatever it may include. My good friend who responded to one of my latest posts did much to steer me in the right direction by recommending a book regarding a brain surgeon who suffered a major stroke and made a miraculous recovery. The book is her own account of how she struggled with many of the struggles I am going through today, but only not quite as traumatic. Her story is an inspiration and I thank my good friend for taking the time to respond to my request for suggestions on learning to cope. God uses different people in our lives to help us along our journey and in this particular case, He used my friend.

Are there areas in your life you are struggling with? Do YOU need to take time to reflect? How long has it been since you've had a good talk with God? If you feel distant from God like I did, it's not because He moved, it's because you or I move away from Him. Reach out to Him and He will reach out to you.

Priorities are what we make them. Our future is directly affected by those choices. It's NEVER too late to change course. I KNOW because I did and I'm GLAD I did. If you need to make changes in your life's direction and rearrange your priorities, PLEASE, don't wait too long. None of us are guaranteed a tomorrow.

No matter what perplexities you struggle with today, nothing is impossible with God. He DOES love you and care about you... He is waiting for you to surrender your struggle to Him just like he was doing with me. I encourage you to think on what I have shared and take that step of trust and faith... let God take control.

I regret not having done so sooner. I hope you will decide to give God control of your life and situation sooner rather than later. Life is too short to wait.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Becoming members of the WhiteRose Fellowship

Nita and I have been attending the WhiteRose Fellowship Church since April of 2008 and will be joining as full members tomorrow morning.

It is a wonderful church, non-denominational with a structure and environment patterned after the early church in the New Testament. It is very unlike any "institutional church" and certainly doesn't subscribe to what many would call "organized religion". It is only a little over 2 yrs old and has an Sunday morning attendance of between 90 - 115.

More about the church can be discovered at our website which is updated on a regular basis. Our call is to Love God, Love Others and Make Disciples. Check out our website and then come and pay us a visit sometime. We'd love to see ya. The website is simply: www.whiterosefellowship.org .

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Are You Committed Or Surrendered??

Dear Readers,

As I continue my journey I have been contemplating the issue of coping with my limitations and I received one response from another reader/friend of mine which truly helped me see my situation from a different perspective. Then on Sunday, our pastor was preaching on the difference between being "committed" and "surrendered". We can commit to anything without being totally surrendered. For instance, I can commit my life to Christ and yet not surrender my whole life to Him. Holding areas of my life back from His control. The same is true with my situation. As I have said in an earlier post, the battle is God's, not mine. Therefore, it is important to not only "commit" my situation to God but totally "surrender" it to Him. I need to trust Him no matter what the future holds. Sunday, I surrendered my health condition and all that goes with it including my difficulty dealing with limitations to Him. Now I have a peace about whatever lies ahead. The friend that responded also helped guide me in the right direction by recommending a book written by a brain surgeon who had suffered a massive stroke and fought her way back. I find her story to be inspirational.

How about you? Are you struggling with issues that seemingly have no answers? Are you trying to live life on your own? Are you struggling with changing circumstances that are completely out of your control with an uncertain future? I recommend that you consider drawing closer to God and ask yourself, who is in control of your life and situation?? I challenge you to cross the line and put Christ in control by surrendering your life and your struggles to his care and keeping. He will NOT let you down.

Blessings to all.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Coping Skills????

Dear Readers,

Well, as I continue on my pilgrim's journey through life, I find myself faced with an unknown future. I believe that God has His hand upon me and will guide me safely through this portal, but what lies ahead only He knows for sure.

I find myself wrestling with many different emotions stemming from my inability to perform at the level I once did before my mini-stroke in August of 2008. Feelings of inadequacy and loss are paramount. I sense myself losing such things as my sense of independence, dignity and self worth. I once was one who contributed to society and to the lives of others and now I feel that I have become a burden to society and those around me.

Coping skills are slow in coming. There are many limitations that I am resisting and yet realize deep down that sooner rather than later I will need to accept them or continue to suffer from self imposed regret and failure. Success is measured in so many different ways. At this point in my journey, I'm not certain how to measure success. All I can see is the "inability" to perform at the level I once did and to me that is NOT my idea of success.

I find myself struggling more and more in this area..... if you, my readers, have any suggestions on how I might better cope with the multiple chronic health conditions with which I find myself, I would be open to hear your suggestions. Please be kind as this is a very sensitive area for me but yet I know I MUST get past this hurdle if I am to "succeed" in life under these new circumstances and physical limitations.

I will be heading for Mayo's Clinic in the near future and hope to find not only diagnosis but effective treatment and prognosis.

Those of you who know me personally know how difficult this is for me knowing the active lifestyle I once enjoyed. I am eager to hear from anyone who has some constructive "words of wisdom" in dealing with my fractured physical, emotional and yes, psychological state.

One thing I know for sure, God is still faithful and hasn't forsaken me. I know He cares and I am attempting to draw closer to him. I'm looking for "practical" steps which will aid in developing coping skills. Any suggestions/ideas out there???

Maybe you have experienced similar struggles in YOUR life, It would be helpful to hear how you managed to cope while facing major life changing circumstances.

Feel free to comment or email me. I'd love to hear from you. All are welcome to respond.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


This has been a time of personal reflection for me these past several months. During this time, I have been moving through an enormous process of adjustments since my damaging TIA in August, 2008. While in this process, I have been gradually drawing closer to God. A few nights ago, I opened up a devotional called "Daily Bread" at random and came across the devotional dated for April 6, 2009. If you happen to have this devotional, you may want to read it in its entirety. What I want to do in this post is share the part that really made me think and helped me gain perspective on my present situation. It goes as follows written by Joanie Yoder, Daily Bread April-June Issue, 2009, dated April 6th:

"A wise Bible teacher once said, 'sooner or later God will bring self-sufficient people to the place where they have no resource but Him--no strength, no answers, nothing but Him. Without God's help, they're sunk'.

.....In today's Bible reading (2 Chronicles 20: 3-17
), the people of Judah were also in trouble. They admitted their lack of power and wisdom to conquer their foes. All they had left was God!.... the people saw this as reason for hope, not despair. 'Our eyes are upon you' they declared to God (2 Chron 20:12). And their hope was not disappointed as he fulfilled His promise: 'The battle is not yours, but God's' (verse 15).

Are you in a position where all self-sufficiency is gone? As you turn your eyes on the Lord and put your hope in Him, you have God's reassuring promise that you need nothing more. -
Joanie Yoder-

After reading this devotional, I realized it was describing MY experience since August and gradually all of those things in which I had mistakenly placed my security including "self-sufficiency" are being eliminated and now I find that I have nothing left but God to depend on.

Having said that, I thank the Lord He has blessed me with my loyal family and a few loyal friends. It is during trying times like these when a person finds out who his/her loyal friends are. Although some have deserted me in my time of need, I am reminded that all I need is God. I thank God for my wife, family and friends and His continued presence in my life.

I ask you the same question as the author,

"Are you in a position where all self-sufficiency is gone?"

Whatever you are battling today, remember that according to the Scriptures, "...the battle is not yours, but God's". (v.15)

Although I continue to struggle with developing coping skills to help me gain acceptance of my new limitations imposed on me due to my illness, I am now constantly reminding myself of this main truth that the battle is not mine, but God's.

There in lies my hope.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Have you ever noticed how that in today's fast paced world, people are less likely to take time to pause long enough to exchange pleasantries, let alone really get to know one another as friends. I have found that to be so. Now-a-days, when you pass a stranger on the street or at the market and simply smile at them, they look at you strange like "what do you want with me?" or "why are you smiling at me?".

What ever happened to common courtesy and sharing a smile or nod of the head without thinking there is an ill motive behind it??

We live in a very different world today. It is very impersonal and individualistic. There are hurting people all around us and we rarely notice because we too are all caught up in our busy lifestyles and fail to pause long enough to show concern.

When was the last time you paused long enough to pick up the phone and call a friend or relative just to let them know you were thinking of them and to have a friendly chat?

When was the last time you took out a pen and paper and wrote a friendly personal note and mailed it to someone you care about?

When was the last time you invited someone over to your house for dinner or just to have some time of fellowship together?

When was the last time you told your friends or family that you loved them?

You know, one day, it will be too late and we don't know when that day will come for any of us. I have people in my life that I love and care about and I want to make a special effort to make sure they know..... life is too short to take our friends or family for granted.

How about you? Are there people in your life that are hurting and lonely? Why not slow down and pause long enough from your busy schedules, take the time and let them know how much they mean to you before it is too late. None of us have a guarantee of a tomorrow. Life is precious and so are relationships. Let's not take those relationships for granted.

It is written in the Scriptures that the greatest command is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself.

I for one do not want to neglect my friends or family even in the slightest way. I challenge you as well as myself to make it a point to slow down long enough to show love and concern toward our friends and family. In order to have friends you need to BE a friend.... therefore it's a "win-win" situation.

Just some food for thought as we live in a chaotic and fast paced world. May you enjoy each and every one of your relationships and PLEASE guard against taking any of them for granted but do everything you can to preserve them.

"People who need people are the luckiest people in the world!!!!"

Monday, April 13, 2009


Dear Readers,

Last week I was at first shocked, angry and then hurt as I moved through the normal emotions that are associated with a person whose TRUST has been violated. You see, my trust was violated by a person I had considered a "real" friend. I had confided in this person with some personal issues that should have been and had been assured me would remain confidential. I found out "through the grapevine" that this person had shared some of the confidential information with others which put me in a very precarious position.

TRUST is foundational in any relationship whether it be a friendship or marriage. After much thought and prayer I have decided to forgive this person and remain friends, however, I will NOT trust this person with any more sensitive or personal information.

Trust is EARNED not given. I thought this person had earned my trust, but I was mistaken. Does this mean that I should never trust anyone anymore? Absolutely not! I still have one person in particular, besides my wife, with whom I can still share personal information. I'm sure there are others with whom I could share but the trust factor has not been established yet, but as they EARN my trust, I will not be afraid to share with them also.

One of my life verses has been and continues to be Proverbs 3: 5 and 6 which states in the King James Version :

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not unto thine own understanding but in all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct thy paths."

One thing we can be certain of is that we are all human beings and we will fail. There will be times when we will fail others and others will fail us. That is where the spirit of forgiveness comes in. The Lord's prayers states in two different versions:

"...forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors..." (or) "...forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us..."

You see, GOD will never fail us nor forsake us. We can TRUST him with every aspect of our lives. I find comfort in the truth knowing that when others may fail us and violate our trust..... we can be assured that God will never do such a thing. Yes, we need to learn to always trust the Lord with all our heart and lean not unto our own understanding... this is FOUNDATIONAL in our personal relationship with Christ. After all, if we cannot trust God, then WHO can we trust?

In whom are you putting YOUR trust????

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Value of True Friendship

Dear Reader,

I've been doing much pondering over the past few weeks since my last blog. I continue to suffer from chronic health issues which I won't go into here. Many questions linger regarding the "whys and wherefores" concerning so many issues surrounding my illness including the acceptance of new physical limitations being forced upon me.

I was talking with a very dear friend of mine the other day. We have been mutually very supportive of each other over the past several years. One thing about this friend is that she is a "straight shooter" and tells it like it is. I don't always like to hear what is being said and yet deep down in my heart, I know that her intuition and objective perspective regarding the issue being discussed is usually correct.

We had one of those discussions the other day and I must say that I have been reflecting upon our conversation. One of the issues that we discussed was that of giving into a "victim's mentality". I had never viewed myself as giving into that emotion however, as I have been reflecting upon the thoughts shared by my friend, I realize that I WAS entertaining a victim's mentality regarding my illness and difficult situation that I find myself in.

Since our conversation, I have become more aware of this tendency in my life and am searching God's Word for answers. Life is not always fair and problems, sickness, sorrows, disappointments, changes, etc... all occur sometimes in an instant and leave us feeling totally out of control.

After talking with my friend, I realized that part of the problem was that it was I who was attempting to be in control instead of allowing GOD to control my life and situation. When suddenly faced with a situation in which I had NO control is when I began to entertain the "victim mentality"... feeling sorry for myself and constantly focusing upon the things I could no longer do instead of focusing on the things that I still CAN do as well as those things God desires to do in my behalf if I let Him.

I thank God for a friend who is willing to be a "straight shooter". It is always easier to say what a person WANTS to hear instead of what they NEED to hear. My friend cares enough to share with me what I NEED to hear even though it may be difficult at the time.

How about you?? Do you have a friend who cares enough to tell you the TRUTH?? If so, are you willing to listen and accept the truth even though it may not be pleasant to hear or do you get defensive?? What kind of friend are YOU??? Are there people in your life that need a TRUE friend??? If so, are YOU willing to be that true friend and stand in the gap??

Our society today is in short supply of "TRUE FRIENDS". It is not easy to be one and certainly not easy to find one. If you have a true friend, count yourself very blessed and strive to be a true friend in return.

On the other hand, if you find yourself coming up short of true and lasting friends, first I would suggest that you examine what type of friend YOU are because I firmly believe that to have friends one needs to BE a friend. So it is with TRUE friendships, if we expect and desire a true friendship, we need to exhibit that trait in our own lives as well.

Of course, Christ is our greatest friend and he will never fail us nor forsake us, but God knows the importance of having human friendships as well.

Let's not forsake the importance of developing true and caring friendships. It is well worth the effort and creates an environment where we can help one another through this journey called LIFE.

Saturday, February 28, 2009


Well another week has gone by and I still am in the dark concerning my immediate and long term future. My life changed two years ago as I've stated already in prior blogs. I am experiencing the greatest challenge of my life which is affecting me physically, emotionally and spiritually.

I have no idea what my future holds. There are some days when I am more optomistic than other days, but I know that whatever I am going through right now is part of God's divine plan for my life. Sometimes, God just doesn't make any sense and when that happens, FAITH has to take over.

I must say that since my mini stroke on August 13th and subsequent medical leave for the past 6 months, (not physically able to hold down a job due to extreme fatigue), God has stood in the gap and in miraculous ways provided for us financially and in other ways. It is nothing short of an ongoing miracle. One day, when I look back over these past few years and reflect upon God's involvement in our lives and situation, I will need to write down an accurate account of God's provision which has quadrupled my faith. My hope is that all who will read that account will be blessed and that their faith would be strengthened to know that God cares and is still very involved in the lives of those who are Christ followers and put their faith and trust in God.

My life verse has a much greater meaning for me these days than ever before. That verse is Proverbs 3: 5,6 which states:

(KJV) "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto thine own understanding, but in all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct thy paths.." .

I don't know what tomorrow will bring, but this I DO know, that my God is faithful and will perform His will in my life whatever that may be. In the meantime, I'm learning to REST in Him even when He doesn't make any sense.

How about you? Are you going through a difficult time in your live today? Are you wondering where God is in the midst of your struggles? God is ever present during the good times and not so good times. Remember, when God doesn't make any sense and all seems hopeless, that is where FAITH comes in. TRUST him with all your heart. God is faithful and will not let you down. He will provide for you in His own way and in His own time.

One of my favorite songs is titled Through It All and part of the lyrics reads:

"I thank God for the mountains, and I thank Him for the valleys, I thank Him for the storms He's brought me through; for if I never had a problem, I wouldn't know that He could solve them, I wouldn't know what faith in God could do".

Amen and Amen!!!!!