Saturday, January 30, 2010

What a Day!!!!!


I have had a heck of a couple of days! It all started when I dropped my cell phone in the toilet! Before you go grossing out on me...there was nothing else in there but clean water. So, having that understood you are probably wondering how I dropped my cell phone in the toilet. Well, that is another story all together. Perhaps we will get to it in another blog session. Be looking for it! Now back to the real story. Believe me; you will want to read this one!

So, I dropped my phone in the toilet and, I swear to you, it was a fraction of a second that it took for me to grab it out of the toilet. Nevertheless, after immediately drying it off I checked to see if still worked. AHHHHHH! It doesn’t work at all. It won't even turn on! Oh crap, what am I going to do now? Everything I know about people is inside this silver colored box! I immediately felt my blood pressure rising and, I'm not sure but, I found myself on the edge of a full blown anxiety attack.

So, with sweaty palms and with my heart racing at about 900 beat per minute I assessed my situation. Well, I can't call anyone, I don't have a phone. Immediately I began wondering how I might have handled this problem before cell phones were invented. The problem was my neurosurgeon removed the part of my brain that stored that information! I was stuck! I had to come up with a plan that didn't include a cell phone. I was already starting to feel a little bit of nausea coming on so I sat down in a chair to think. How do I survive without my cell phone?

The plan I came up with was bold. To fix this problem took a plan that was both innovative and inexpensive. I got it...I will go and buy another cell phone. I had done it, between the waves of nausea and the pounding of my head due to the high blood pressure I had come up with a great plan, or so I thought!

Heading to Wal-Mart to purchase a new phone was a challenge in itself. As I drove I felt like I was all alone in the universe. I had no way of communicating with the world and the world couldn't communicate with me. I felt like I was in the middle of the Mojave Desert searching for an oasis or at least a telephone booth. Then I shuttered again because I can't remember what a real phone looks like let alone a phone booth. I wasn't going to let that stop me though; I was going to get myself back into the land of text messages and voice mails!

I arrived at Wal-Mart and hurried to the electronics department. My strides weren't long but to anyone who was looking at me had to know I was a man with a purpose. After checking to see if I had an upgrade available I picked out my phone. It has a few bells and whistles but the greatest point it had going for it was it! I took Jacob's upgrade status and because Jacob had his phone at school I had to wait until he got home from school to activate the stupid thing. I don't know which is worse, having no phone or having a phone but it doesn't work. As I drove home I felt the overwhelming urge to call someone but that was impossible at the present time. My mind raced as I imagined the voicemails piling up! Oh, the humanity!

Well, I busied myself with other things during the day as I, impatiently, waited for 3:15 PM. That is the time that Stephanie goes to pick Jacob up at school. I could feel the surge of adrenaline that filled my body as my fingers readied themselves to, feverishly, dial numbers! I was so close and then.....Stephanie fell asleep and I fell asleep on the couch. We awoke at about 3:35 PM and we began to wonder why Jacob hadn't called. I quickly took her phone, which she was not happy about, and set off to find Jacob. He was the key. He was the one that held that treasure that would get me back in the cell phone game. I drove quickly, obeying every speed limit restriction, to La Junta Middle School. As I turned the corner I could feel myself getting excited about activating the, until now, dead new cell phone. I was so close and then.....NO JACOB!

Where had he gone? Why wasn't he there? I grabbed Stephanie's phone and dialed his number and this computerized voice came on and told me that the phone I was using wasn't programmed anymore! I couldn't believe it. It was like God wanted me to suffer through an entire day with no cell phone capability! What do I do now! I have two cell phones on my person and neither one of them work! I truly was a nomad traveling from place to place seeking something I cannot have. Just then, my mind began to work at a pace that, up until now, only the greats like Einstein and Plato had achieved. Churning the waves at Niagara Falls my mind spit out this thought. How do I find my son without a cell phone?

Refusing to believe that anyone ever found a lost child without using a cell phone I began to, once again, panic. The sad part of this was that I wasn't panicking because I couldn't find Jacob, I knew he would turn up somewhere, I was panicking because I felt even more lost than I supposed Jacob to be. Dear Lord helps me find my way back home! I have no means of communication and I feel lost in this world! Help ME!

Just then, Christine drove up behind me and told me that Jacob had called her and she had taken him back home. Relief flooded my soul. That relief was felt, not because Jacob was safe, but because I knew the answer to my sad predicament was finally within reach.

I arrived at home and, even though Jacob wanted to tell me the funny story of how he got home, my mind was focused on one thing...his phone. "Where is your phone, Jacob" was all I said. I quickly grabbed his phone and went upstairs to call the geniuses at Verizon. I dialed the number on Jacob's phone and waited for the sweet moment when my phone was up and running. The rings came and, after waiting on hold for 22 minutes, I heard "Welcome to Verizon how I may help you". I had been waiting to hear those words all day. Those were the magic words that set my cell phone free. Much like "abracadabra" or "open sesame", "how may I help you" was what I waited for all day. The problem was what the man at Verizon said and what I heard were two different things. Now, I have nothing against anyone who lives in India, I just can't understand them when they speak. YOU"VE GOT TO BE KIDDING?!!!!

I was so close and then...I can't understand the guy on the other end of the phone. However, it took a little time but I, finally understood what he was saying. Eureka! I told him what I needed to do. II told him that I upgraded on Jacobs number but I wanted to activate my phone with my number. Okay, cool, we can do this. The only problem was I had to call him on another phone besides Jacob's! You can imagine my response. I had three phones in front of me. I had a phone which wasn't activated, Stephanie's, which needed reprogramming, and Jacob's, which I couldn't use to call from. The room began to spin I was sure that a seizure was coming! I have always wondered what it would be like to be on the verge of a total mental breakdown. Now I know! "We can do this", the man on the other end of the phone said. Well, at least I think that's what he said. Whether real or imagined I heard him say that we can fix this.

He walked me through the reprogramming of Steph’s phone, the activation of my phone and, to my delight, placed insurance on each one of the phones. So, next time my phone takes a belly flop into the john, I am covered. At this point you are probably thinking two things; 1) This story has a happy ending and 2) I can't believe how long this blog is! If that is what you are thinking them you got one answer right and it wasn't number one!

After checking all of the 1,692 messages I had missed I began to think. All my contacts are in my old phone...and I felt something. It wasn't anxiety; it felt more like...loneliness. How would I call people? I never knew their numbers I just knew their names. If I wanted to call Dad on his cell phone I just went to
"Contacts">"Dad">"Mobile 1" and his cell phone rang. What was I going to do? This day has already been met with cell phone terrorism. What could be worse?

Well, I said allllll of that to say this....isn’t we a little bit like that story. In the business of our day don't we treat people just like a contact? Sure, we might know their name but we don't take the time to find out the details of life. They remain a contact by name only. Are we like that in our churches. "Well, there is Susan Pottermey, what an upstanding lady!” The real truth is that we only really know Susan Pottermey by name only. She is a contact in our cell phone world. That's it, no background, no details. We are too busy to get to know Ms. Pottermay. We don't want to take the time to get to know her.

I want to encourage you, this day, to step back from our cell phone world. By the way, the answer to my question of, "What did people do before cell phones?” is quite easy. The answer is, even before phones were widely used, people talked to each other face to face. Don't get me wrong, technology is wonderful. If it weren't for technology I wouldn't be writing this, enormously long, blog. My point is let us be people who seek to know others better. Let's be interested in people for what is inside them and not just the contact name that defines them.

I finally got my phone to work and, yes, I did load my contacts back into it. But every time I went to put in a name I stopped and thought about that person. Why was it important that they be in my phone? What do they mean to me? I found it very refreshing to think that there people in my contacts and they are important to me. My mom and dad are more than just the number 4 on my speed dial. People in my life are more than just the numbers I dial to talk them so I can quickly end that call just to talk to someone else. We need to slow down and think about those people in our phones. They mean something to us and we need to remember that. Maybe we should turn off our phones and go and visit them? Well, when we go to visit them I'm sure it wouldn't hurt if we kept our phone on and we just set it to "vibrate". Either way, recognize the ones who mean something to you today. You may learn something about them that you didn't have in your phone.   Until next time!



Thursday, January 28, 2010

You Can't Rush It!


As I sit here in my study it is snowing outside. I have just made the 20 mile trip that it takes to get from church to my house. The roads were covered and so I decided to back my speed down just to be safe. Wouldn't you know it, there are cars who are passing me going over the speed limit that is set for when it's dry outside. I guess that is the way everywhere and not just Colorado. There are always people who want to rush things. Got to get there faster, got to cut in line to be served first, got to get mine before you get yours.

When I stop to think about it I am probably like that as well. I can't wait for winter to be over so that I can play golf and tennis. I don't know about you but I am ready for winter to be over as soon as the Christmas decorations are put safely to bed for another year. I found this attitude welling up in me today. Yesterday, I had the chance to play some tennis. The day was gorgeous. The temperature was perfect, just a hint of a breeze, just a few clouds. Perfect, I thought, until today I find myself putting on gloves and going out to clean the snow off of my car. RATS!

I wonder if our faith is like that. What I mean to say is this, are we impatient when it comes to God? On my journey home to God I found myself with no patience at all. After each brain surgery I, somehow, expected God to increase my time of recovery and when it didn't happen I found myself getting very angry with God. It doesn't have to be recovery from surgery but I will bet that there have been times that you have put God on the clock. It reminds me of the prayer that goes, "God give me patience and give it to me now!"

I think that there are times when our lives seem to exist within the cold and bitterness of winter. Light that might illuminate the darkest corners of our lives seem non-existent or limited at best. The bite of life's bitter winds cut to the core of our despair and we yearn for the warmth of life's summer. We have all been there. Yet, when we find ourselves there we do have a tendency to be impatient with God. He can do everything, why doesn't he rescue me from the darkness of my winter? I think I know the answer.

Everything that I experienced during my recoveries I needed to be the person that God wants me to be today. My time on the "anvil of life" or "life's winter" made me who I am today. God needed me to be who I am now so that I could do the work that He has planned for me. It can, at times, seem as if we serve a mean and vengeful God. We don't! Who we serve is a God who loves us enough to want to make us more than we are. The trials of winter are needed so that we can have even more in the summer.

Today, you might be finding yourself not only in the season of winter but in life's winter as well. If this is you then I want to give you great news. God is with you. He knows your struggles and you pains. When you weep so does He. Be encouraged with this thought, God is with you. I know it may not feel like it. Believe me, I know, I've been there. My life's winter was full of pain and disappointment, of feelings of rejection and abandonment. I have had my time on the anvil. The anvil is where God takes the metal of your life and pounds into the shape that makes it possible for you experience God more. It's not fun. It hurts like hell! But when it's over, when you have truly faced the bitter cold of winter and have patiently waited on God's timing, you will find that the warmth of summer will be greater than you ever imagined.

So, let us be a people of faith. Let us people who are more interested in God's timing rather than the world's timing. In the end, if we are patient, we will find that the darkness of winter will give way to the Son. It is there, in the midst of are waiting, where God truly makes us into all that He wants to be. Find patience in your and look for the presence of God. He is there we just have to find Him! Until next time may your life be filled with goodness of God's grace!



Monday, January 25, 2010

I Will Persist Without Exception


I pray that this week is finding you blessed by God.

Today we come to the end of the road for David Ponder. Through his travel through...whatever it is he is traveling through...he comes to the last of his successful statements. This statement is my favorite. It's my favorite because it talks about dreams and the determination that it takes to make those dreams happen.

At last David finds himself in the presence of another figure of time. And, yet, this is probably the least known individual. I am sure that there are subsets of humanity that know of this figure but I have a tendency to think that there are many who might read this book and say, "Who the heck is that?". I am speaking of the angel Gabriel. That's right! David Ponder finds himself standing in front of the angel Gabriel!

For those of you who might not be familiar with Gabriel I will take a few lines to introduce you to him. Gabriel is an archangel. That's means he is upper management in heaven! If God is the president than Gabriel is on his cabinet! Actually, Gabriel is the messenger of God. Remember Mary, the mother of Jesus? He was the angel that came and told her that she was going to have a child and that it would be the son of God. Pretty cool, huh!

Well, after the shock of being in the presence of an angel, David hears the great statement that Gabriel has for him...I Will Persist without Exception. That statement alone could fill volumes of books telling us how we can achieve that very goal. Gabriel has another idea. David is taken to a giant warehouse where he is show every object imaginable. He sees vacuums and hair dryers, car parts and kitchen parts, light bulbs and lampshades and the list goes on and on. Amazed at the sheer volume of all that he sees he asks Gabriel what the point is to all of this "stuff". That's when this book ties it all up for us.

Gabriel explains that this is the "place that never was". Obviously confused by the statement David asks Gabriel for an explanation. Gabriel then takes him and shows him things that are in the warehouse and the first thing they talk about is a cure for cancer. Within this warehouse is the cure for cancer! But, Gabriel goes on to share that this warehouse is completely filled with ideas, dreams, and endeavors that never came to be because the individual or individuals who has started creating them simply gave up. WOW!

The statement that we talked of earlier is the best statement at all. Persistence is what makes great dreams come true. Yet, so many times we fall short of our goals and dreams simply because we give up. On my journey I have learned that persistence pays off. It wasn't easy recovering from my brain surgeries but I swore to myself and to God that I would never give up. Granted, there were times when I felt like just falling into my bed and letting apathy and fatigue consume. However, God always gave me that little bit of extra strength to overcome those doubts and fears.

I believe that out of all of the statements we have looked at God likes this one the best. I truly believe if we could ask God for the best advice He could give us he would use this one, Persist without Exception. Don't ever give up! I think He would say, "Don't ever give up on me because I will never give up on you". God persists without exception. In the midst of my unbelief, God never gave up on me. When I cursed for sending me to Alaska, God never gave up on me. When I would lie in my bed with tears streaming down my cheeks because of the pain, God never gave up on me! God persist without exception!

So, what about you? Where is it your life that you to carry on? Where is it in your life that you need to not give up but to persist? Is it your health, your finances, your relationship to others or to God? As we end this book I want to absorb the statements that we have shared. However, if you apply any of them to your life today make it this one. If we are going to be people who have a say in what we do and what we succeed in we are going to have to persist without exception.

Jim Valvano, also known as Jimmy V, was a basketball coach at the North Carolina State University. You might remember him as the coach that ran up and down the court after NCSU won the national championship. What you might not know was Jim Valvano died from cancer and before dying founded the Jimmy N foundation for cancer research. The reason I bring him up is that, before dying, he gave an interview. That interview would produce one of the greatest quotes I can ever remember. When asked what advice he would give to others he said nine words that, for me, helped me get through my surgeries. It was nine words that I would say to myself through all of the really painful times of recovery. Those nine words were, "Don't ever give up, baby. Don't ever give up"! Jim Valvano knew what it meant to persist without exception.

So, maybe as we leave The Traveler's Gift we can make an effort to change our lives. Maybe we take back what life has seemed to steal from us. Perhaps, we can take control of who we are and what we want to be. Maybe, just maybe, we can start living the way God created us to live. So, perhaps, the traveler's gift can be our gift as well. So, until we meet again, remember to keep telling yourself: The Buck Stops Here, I will Seek Wisdom, I Am a Person of Action, I Have a Decided Heart, Today I Will Choose to Be Happy, I Will Greet This Day with a Forgiving Spirit, and I Will Persist Without Exception.

Don't let your life contribute to the place that never was! AMEN!



Friday, January 22, 2010

I Will Greet This Day with a Forgiving Spirit


I appreciate all of the messages that were left, thank you. Now, let's get back to David Ponder and his travel through time. For those of you who might be new to my blog you can read the archives and catch up with what we are talking about. Out of all of the people in the Traveler's Gift by Andy Andrews I like this one the most. His name is Abraham Lincoln! I am not sure if I like him so much because he saved our nation, emancipated the slaves, or just because he was a Republican! Either way this turns out to be a very inspiring chapter.

Just like before David Ponder finds himself being hurled through time and landing in a tent. Now, it would be a great experience just to meet Lincoln at all but David's learning experience is about to take a great twist. Ponder meets Lincoln as he enters a tent that has been set up in a field. Lincoln introduces himself and then shares the next, great decision for a successful life and it is this...I Will Greet This Day with a Forgiving Spirit. Boom! There it is!

For me this is the hardest one to even come close to achieving. Forgive? Oh no, not me! As I said, there was something more for David Ponder than just a normal message. He was about to experience something that would engrain that message of forgiveness in his mind and in his spirit forever. For, this message of forgiveness was given to David in a tent, in a field, at a place that held great significance then, and still does today. David was meeting Lincoln just before he delivered a speech...The Gettysburg Address.

Lincoln tells David that going around with an unforgiving heart keeps from fulfill our true destinies. He uses the battle of Gettysburg as an example of death and destruction, a place of hate and division. Yet in the midst of this much tragedy and sorrow, forgiveness can be sought. For it is when we truly begin to carry out the idea of a forgiving spirit it frees up to do the things that we like to do, want to do, need to do, the things that God has called us to do.

Having a forgiving spirit is not saying that all of the bad things that were ever done to you is ok. It is not saying that we let people off the hook of consequence when they wrong us. We just have to think of forgiveness in a different kind of way. Forgiveness, true forgiveness, is about us and about our relationship with God. Forgiving someone of something doesn't say to that person that they no longer need experience the consequences of that action. What true forgiveness means is that we forgive others so that we can get closer to God. Unforgiveness is a road block. It makes our journeys home to hard to travel. Unforgiveness is not saying it's alright what you did, it's saying I forgive you because I need to get closer to my Father. It's not OK what you did but I forgive you for my sake and not necessarily yours.

How about you? Are you a type of person who can hold a grudge forever? Are you the type of person who is mired in unforgiveness? Abraham Lincoln was right, an unforgiving heart can derail a person's whole life. But the real question is not can you forgive others. The big question is this...can you forgive yourself?

To me, that is the biggest question of all. Being able to forgive yourself frees you up emotionally and spiritually. Having an unforgiving heart towards yourself keeps you bitter and sad. To be successful in life we must learn how to forgive ourselves. It is not going to be easy. Some of us have some garbage in the dumpsters of our lives. We have thrown it away but, for some reason, it sticks with us. It eats at us and takes our focus off of more important things. For me, it blocks my relationship with God. Unforgiveness eats at you and it show no mercy to anyone. It wrecks marriages and friendships and it wrecks lives.

So, how do we find this forgiving spirit? We find it through God and His spirit. You want to know about real forgiveness, ask Jesus. Won't you try to resolve the bitterness in your heart today? Won't you try and say to God, “I need help and I need you to help me”. A forgiving spirit means that forgiveness is constantly being utilized in our lives. We not only forgive those who have wronged us but we also seek to be a person who inspires forgiveness in others and that is where Abraham Lincoln comes in.

When Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg address he was speaking about both North and South. Great killing went on there. Over forty five thousand troops lost their lives on that field. Bitterness was rampant between the north and south. I find it poetic justice that Andy Andrews would pick the Civil War to talk about forgiving. But, enough about David Ponder and more about you.

Is your journey home filled with the potholes of unforgiveness. If so, you need to get rid of them. I know that I am making it sound easy, but I know it is not. That is why God has said that He will help. The love of God can fill your heart so that there i s no room for anything else. A key to a more successful and full life experience truly can be realize by waking each morning and deciding to have a forgiving spirit. I pray that you will consider it. I also pray the other statements are being integrated in your daily lives. Remember, forgiveness does not say it's ok, it says I don't want anything to interfere with my relationship with God. We forgive because God tells us to! So, give it a try! It's going to be easy in some circumstances and very difficult in others. Seek to live each day with a forgiving heart. And while you are at should probably start with be continued!



Thursday, January 21, 2010

Good Morning!

 Good Morning,

If you don't remember me I am the guy who is writing about his life's journey! I understand if my name is kind of fuzzy in your brain. It seems like forever since I have posted a blog. Actually, it's only been a week but that seems like a long time for me. As I sit at my computer I wonder if anyone has noticed that I haven't written anything in a while. I am sure that mom and dad have noticed. They notice everything and I love them for that! I am sure my sister has noticed because she is the third person who I know reads my blog. But, I wonder how many other people missed my blog. I wonder if anyone else cared that there wasn't anything else new to read?

I guess the real reason I haven't written anything lately is that I just kind of ran out of words. I didn't have anything else to say. I wish I did, but the truth is I didn't. Until this morning! I woke up this morning and I had this overwhelming attraction to the computer and to this blogspot. Actually, I woke up this morning and I wanted, no needed, to talk to you!

On my journey home I have found out one solid piece of truth in my life, follow your dreams! I am not talking about your hopes and goals of a better life. I am talking about listening to and being sensitive to what I dream about. I think that dreams are important and, for me, they have become an important part of my life since my brain surgery. To make a short story even longer I had a dream last night and I want to share it with you.

Last night I dreamt about people! That's right, just a lot of people! The truth is I didn't know any of these people but there sure were a lot of them. One of the people came up to me and I noticed that he was very sad and worried. Upon noticing him I suddenly realized that all of the people were sad and worried. The man came up to me and told me that my words were important to people and that I needed to share them with other people. I awoke from this dream with a deep sense of sadness. Yet, I felt that I had experienced something wonderful, something meaning ful. I felt like I had experienced...purpose.

Let's admit it everyone wants to be and feel needed. This blog started out as a way for me to journal my thoughts, feelings, and experiences as I traveled my road of life back to my journey home. Then, it turned into something else. After a while it turned into a place that people actually come and read the words that I have written. Suddenly I realized that there were more people coming to my site besides my family. I began to feel responsible to them and that made my journey home change.

First of all, I love sharing my ideas with people. Anyone who knows me knows that I have no problem sharing my beliefs with other people at any time, in any place. Second of all, I hate to write! That's right, I hate writing. The truth is, I hate formal writing where every comma has to be in the right place and every verb has to agree with every noun, participles, adverb, fragments...blah,blah, blah! I hate it! What I do love is talking to you. My dream encouraged me to think about, it's hard for me to say but I will, my readers.

So, I want you know that I appreciate all of you stopping in to check out my blog. I hope you find hope. I hope you laugh a little a little, cry a little, and learn something little about me and about life itself!

My journey home has many twists and turns, dead ends, and even some cul-de-sacs. But it's a great story and I am glad that I have the opportunity to share it with you. So, I am back. I am refreshed and renewed. There will still be times when I run out words so be patient with me and know that I even though I am not writing to you I am thinking of you. Your dedication to this simple blog amazes me and challenges me to be a person of hope and of encouragement. So, thank you. I hope that you have missed my words as much as I have missed writing them.

The only thing that I would encourage you to do more of is to comment on my posts. You can do that by clicking the comments bar after the post. Let me know who is following me. I can never tell who is following I can only see the number of people who come to this site. I would love to know!

So, until I post again I love all of you even though I may not know all of you. I pray for all of you because God does know all of you! I thank you for making this blog mean something more to me! I pray I won't let any of you down!



Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Today I Choose to be Happy!


I have found on my journey home that life has a way of socking you in the gut!  Just when you think you have things all planned out and you believe that you are traveling in the right direction...Wham!  I write that because I had planned to make sure that I was very prompt with my posts.  Then, WHAM, life socked me in the gut.  Life is like that though and so I want to share my "gut socking" with you in hopes that, in my misery, you might find comfort....and, perhaps, laughter!

Last week I received a call from Horber funeral home.  John Horber, a member of my congregation, told me that an individual had passed away and that, since I am filling in for the Methodist pastor while she is away, he was wondering if I could officiate at the service.  I told him that I would be glad to do it.  Then he told me that it was a 26 year old who had died suddenly.  Obviously my whole attitude changed.  Not to say that I don't have some sadness in officating funerals.  Services are always filled with some sort of grief.  Due to their very nature some grief is inevitable.  However funerals of those who are elderly give family and friends a chance to remember the long life an elderly person has lived.  In the case of a 26 year old the grief is centered around the fact that the young person's life has been cut short.  I don't want to spend the time in this blog to discuss and debate the purpose and practicalities of funerals.  What I do want talk about is the way that God challenges us to enjoy and rejoice in the day we have been given.

Being asked to officiate the funeral and the sadness that accompanied it would not have been that hard if it were not for the fact that I had been preparing to publish my next post.  You see, David Ponder's next historical figure just happened to be Anne Frank.  For those of you who remember your history Anne Frank was a young girl who spent months hiding in an attic away from the cruel clutches of the German Nazi regime.  Their circumstances were very hard as they struggled to survive.  Yet, when David Ponder meets Anne she shares with him his next statement for success...TODAY I CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY!

You can imagine, with my mind focusing on the upcoming funeral services of this young man, how I reacted to writing anything regarding this next statement.  Yet, within the book Anne shares with David the idea that, even though she is faced with great hardship, she chooses to be happy.  Notice that she doesn't tell David that she wakes up everyday finding herself in a happy mood.  Nor does she tell him that she is happy with her circumstances in life.  What she does tell him is that she chooses to be happy.  I finda great difference between that statement and the previous ones.

I began thinking to myself that I let many of the circumstance of my life dictate my happiness.  Goodness knows that I have had the opportunity on my journey home to fall into the abyss of sadness.  To be honest with you, there have been times when I have fallen into that abyss.  Only through the grace of God and the love of friends and family have I found the way out.  Still, I am amazed at the simplicity of what Anne shares with David.  Yes, her life is hard and yes, she and her family is struggling.  But in the midst of those struggles she chooses to be happy.  In essence she is saying that I am in control of what I feel and how I feel it.  I know that some emotions come upon us in a moments notice.  Some emotions are instantaneous and, eyt, we are still responsible for how we deal with those emotions.

In the middle of preparing for the funeral I asked myself and God (maybe not in that order) how was it that I was suppose to choose to be happy while this family grieved.  This is what I got from the big guy: You aren't supposed to be happy about what they are going through you are suppose to be happy that you have been chosen to be the one to help them through it!  BAM!!!!.....another sock to the gut!

I am sure that I had no idea what He was talking about and I am even more sure that I pretended that I did just so I wouldn't look like an idiot in fron of the creator of the universe.  Over the days, however, I began to get a glimpse about what God had meant and what Anne had meant as well.  Through everything we go through we have a choice to find that blessing but finding the blessing isn't always enough.  Choosing everday to be happy is a way of life.  Being positive about the negatives is more that just a montra.  True happiness, I believe, comes from the realization that we are children of a God who loves us so much that He would send His son to die on a cross just so we could get closer to Him.

Happiness is different things to different people.  What might make me happy, say the Cubs winning the World Series, might not do anything for a St. Louis Cardinals fans.  I have a tendancy to think that placing my happiness on the Cubs winning the world series is alot like planning my financial freedom on the fact that I am going to find the leprechaun's pot of gold at the end of his rainbow!  Nevertheless, my point is that true happiness lies inside of us in the presence of God's spirit.  As a Christian that should be my focus.  I should wake each day with the happiness of God's presence in my life not basing it on whether my life is going well or poorly.

I challenge you to look at today differently.  I challenge you to wake up tomorrow choosing to be happy.  Seek God's presence in your life.  Choose to recognize the difficulties but don't let them dictate the level of joy in your life.  Continue your journey home!  Through all of the twists and turns, ups and downs, ins and outs, there is happiness to be found each and every day.  You just have to choose to see it!

Until we meet again!



Friday, January 8, 2010

Just A Thought


I pray that our time together has been encouraging for you.  I know that I enjoy re-reading The Traveler's Gift and I pray that the statements that we are discussing have found their way into your daily lives.  I want to step aside and talk to you about a matter of importance to me.

If you follow the gadgets that I have placed on my blog you will know that they all mean something to me.  From a verse of the day to pictures of my family to websites about important matters each gadget says something.  You might notice that I have placed a number of Andy Andrew sites around the blog in hopes that you might find interest in some of his new material.  However, there is one site that I want you to check out.

You will notice that I have a picture of a fine looking young man at the top right of my blog.  This picture will take you to a website about this little guy named Hunter Hart.  He has recently undergone surgery for a cleft palate and the blog journals his recovery.  I know about Hunter through my father and I have spoken through comments with Hunter's father.  In that comment he spoke of how important it is to bring attention to children with cleft palates.

I, probably, would not have gone any further in mentioning Hunter if it were not for yesterday.  Yesterday, I was going through a number of pictures that Christine has saved over the years.  It is not only fun to look back but I also use them to re-learn any of the past I have forgotten.  The pictures were of me, my family, and some of the mission trips that I have taken with my senior high youth groups  over the past 17 years.

In looking at one picture I found a small baby that we had met when we worked at an orphanage in Mexico.  This beautiful baby had a cleft palate that could not be surgically repaired due to the fact that their family  had zero funds.  In looking at that picture I was reminded of Hunter and the brave manner that both he and his family are dealing.  I went on the web and discovered a wonderful website called You will find a link to it right below Hunter's picture.  When you have time go and check it out.  Actually, stop reading this blog and go see it right now!  Go on...I'll wait!

Now that you are back I want to encourage you begin thinking of ways that you can play a part in the lives of these kids.  Cleft palates can not only be physically scarring they can impact the spirit as well.  No child should have to live their lives without the opportunity to regain that life through innovative surgery.  I look at Hunter and I amazed at that little guys strength.  Mom and Dad talk about how he has to have his arms down at certain times so that he won't pick at his lip.  Can you imagaine!  I pray for Mom and Dad.  I know some kids in high school that their parants can keep them from picking their nose.  You go Hunter!...and hang in their mom and dad!

I wanted to take the time to mention this because I believe that anytime we stop to help others we help ourselves.  Hunter is going to make it through this...our prayers for him will be answered.  Yet, so many other children will not have the same opportunity.  I believe we can make a difference.  So, keep up with Hunter by clicking his picture, find a way to help others by clicking the link below him.  Life seems so much better when we help others.

Until Monday, may God bless you and hold you in His loving embrace!



Thursday, January 7, 2010

Christopher Columbus


I find myself having to make certain decisions in my life that are harder and harder.  No longer do my powers of deliberation rest upon paper or plastic, caf or decaf (like that's a real choice), or1-ply or 2ply!  Life brings about real decisions that affect our lives in meaningful ways.

The last time I blogged I shared with you my decided heart to work towards the publishing of my book idea.  I have been doing that these past few days and that is why I have not written on this blog.  Now, sitting in front of my computer, I am experiencing this overwhelming sense of guilt.  I feel as if I have let down the nine people who read this blog.  If that is the case I apologize. 

So, to make this a more organized endeavor and to try and serve two masters I propose this schedule.  I will be posting to my blog on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  I pray that my calendar will allow me to follow this schedule.  Anyway, look for new posts on these days.  Now, let's get back to David Ponder!

As I said in my last post David Ponder comes in contact with Christopher Columbus.  During this encounter Columbus challenges David with this statement for success... I have a decided heart!  I want to share with you the author's, Andy Andrews, words at the end of the chapter.  They are powerful and I think they will give you an idea of the point that he is trying to get across.

""I have a decided heart.  I am passionate about my vision for the future.  I will awaken evry morning with an excitement about the new day and its opportunity for growth and change.  I will lay my head on my pillow at night happily exhausted, knowing that I have done everything within in my power to move the mountains in my path.  As I sleep, the same dream that dominates my waking hours will be with me in the dark.  A person without a dream never had a dream come true.  I have a decided heart.  I will not wait." (The Traveler's Gift, p. 88).

What words!  On my journey home I can remember times after surgeries when I had no dream at all.  My goal in life was to get from the bathroom to the bedroom.  I concentrated on one minute at a time.  I was not interested in moving mountains.  I was only interested in trying to keep my head out of the toilet while I puked my guts out!  That sounds reaaly distasteful and gross and it was.  I share that with you only to let you know that there are times in each one of our lives when dremas and goals present themselves as mountains and obstacles.  It is during these times that we are called to greater heights in our thought process.  God has promised His presence with us through His spirit and it is with His presence that we find the courage to travel on.

How about you?  When you go to sleep at night do you "lay your head on my pillow at night happily exhausted, knowing that you have done everything within your  power to move the mountains in your path."?
I understand, believe me I understand, that sometimes the mountains are so big and the energy in which we have to move them seems so insignificant.  I know that the trials and tribulations in life seems so heavy at times that we are convinced that there is no possible way that a single pebble could be moved not to mention a mountain.  I know, I have been there.  There are times when I am still there.  Yet, even in my darkest days I can remember days before when I was sure that I would never be doing the tings that I am doing tooday.  There were times when I would curl up in bed and shed tears of disappointment in knowing that my life was never going to be the same.  And I was right!  It isn't the same!  Yes, there is constant pain, yes,  there are medical bills, yes,  there are mounatins that seems so high and so big that even thinking about tackling them seems a fool's errand!  But within all of that I have one thing that I did not have before...a decided heart.  I have told myself that God has given me more time on this earth and I am going to do more with it.  God never promised me a life with no mountains only that, through Him, I could overcome them.  He never promised me a life with no pain only that, through Him, I could bear it.  God has only promised me His strength and His presence to deal with that which stands between me and His will for me, and I am going to take it!
Whatever you may feel about Christopher Columbus really doesn't have anything to do with David Ponder's experience or yours.  What we take from this statement is that people of ordinary status become remembered because of their undying attitude that decided hearts accomplish great things!  For me, getting up in the morning, placing my feet on the floor, and rising to face another day is great!  Shouldn't I give all that I can to move the mountains of disappointment, to cross the valleys of despair, and to come out on the other side a person with a decided heart.  Shouldn't you as well?

Having a decided heart doesn't mean that you are going to get everything in life that you want.  None of us ever do.  It does mean that each of us spend our lives striving for the goals that we have set four ourselves, seeking to overcome the obstacles that are placed our path, and making our wildest dream come true. 

So go and dream!  No matter what you are facing today dream a dream for your life.  Seek what is good and right, ask God for His will for you and then make every effort to make that will come true.  It is part of life to struggle.  I have and so have you.  It is in the struggling that we become stronger.  So go after today...Carpe Diem, seize the day.  Find that mountain and attack it with a decided heart!



Saturday, January 2, 2010

I Have a Decided Heart


1 down only 364 more days left in the year.  I want to take this moment to let all of you in on a couple of prjoects I have my heart set on this year.  First of all, I hope you noticed the banners I placed on my blogsite concerning Andy Andrews.  He has a new book out called The Noticer.  Also, he has started something called The Noticer Project.  This website, which can be found by clicking the top banner of my blog, contains a challenge to each of us.  That challenge is to notice 5 people who have made profund impacts on our lives.  The site gives people an opportunity to share their stories with the world.  I encourage you to check it out, it is very uplifting.  The second project I want to share with you is that I have decided that 2010 is the year that I challenge myself to complete and attempt to publish my book.  What book? What the heck is he taliking about?  I didn't hear anything about any book!  Derek's been holding out on us!  I can't believe he would think about writing a book and not tell us!  Hold On!  For some of my closest friends and family they have been aware of my writing for quite some time.  Since beginning this blog I feel like all of you readers have become like my family (even though I don't even know some of you).

This book project of mine has been going on for about two years now.  I don't consider myself a writer, although I love to put down in words my thoughts, feelings, hopes, and dreams.  I told all of you, as I began this blog, any sense of grammatical accuracy I could have ever hoped for in my writng flew out the window with my first brain surgery.  However, in all honesty, I don't think I was ever that good at grammar.  So, I have spent some time reading and preparing myself for the writing of this book.  The idea for this book actually began to take shape with the creation of this blog.  After my surgeries I found it very helpful to journal my thoughts.  In doing so I felt like the story of my surgeries, road to recovery, and events that have changed me might be helpful to others.  In short, I wanted to let people read about My Journey Home!

I will be refining my effort and will be seeking an agent/publisher who might be interested in taking on this project.  I have no great illusions, I realize that the chances of being published are astronomical.  However, I truly believe that being published is not the end goal of this project.  It would be nice but it is not necessary.  The end goal for me is to try and live out the very things we have been discussing over these past months.  I always tell my youth group that I would never ask them to do something that I wasn't willing to do myself.  I find it hypocritical for me to challenge you to follow these great statements for success without following them myself.

So, in the spirit of being responsible for my future, continually seeking wisdom, and being a person of action, I have challeneged myself to complete this project in 2010.  I must admit I have some reservations.  The thought of putting out a manuscript detailing the intimate parts of my recovery from brain surgery, overcoming addiction to prescription medication, and not to mention my spiritual struggles, has me feeling a little exposed.  Nevertheless, it is a good story and I think it should be told to the nine people I imagine who want to read about it!

I would ask for your prayers as I bring this project to completion.  Writing is hard for me.  Well, writing well is hard for me.  I have much to work on to make this manuscript of my life into a readable format.  But the journey should fun and rewarding.  I will dedicate myself to being a person of action in this arena!

Tomorrow I want to share with you David Ponder's next historical encounter.  I wanted you to have some time to prepare yourself for the next figure that David Ponder meets.  I say this because this individual has been surrounded by controversy.  American history has a way of being changed as it passes down through the years.  It has been said that conquerors write history and perhaps this is the case regarding...Christopher Columbus.  There are many Americans who are not that big on ol' Chris and rightly so.  However, whether you think of Christopher Columbus as a great explorer, a heathen, or a fraud, David Ponder finds a great truth in him and Columbus shares a great statement of success with him...Having a Decided Heart!

So, until tomorrow, I pray that your life is on the path of responsibilty, wisdom, and action!  May God inspire us to great things for His kingdom!



Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

Greetings in this new year,

2010!  What a great sounding number.  Each New Year's day Christine and I rejoice!  Not so much for the fact that we can experience the newness of a new year, rather for the fact that we get to spend a new year together.  Everyone, well maybe not everyone but most people,  who has gone through a traumatic event in their life find a sense of accomplishment, a blessing, for a new year that has been given.  Having been on and off the operating table with three brain surgeries I am mindful of the blessing of life.  Each day is kept as a treasure.

Speaking of keeping treasures let's get back to David Ponder and his amazing journey through time.  Just as an aside I am now following Andy Andrews, the author of our book, on Twitter.  The great things is that he is following me.  I am now 1 in 10,744 people that he is following.  It may sound small but I am excited nevertheless.  Okay, back to David!

It is during his meeting with Joshua Chamberlain, who we spoke of yesterday, that he is given an old tobacco pouch.  It is in this pouch that he keeps the statements for success that he is given.  A normal, old, beat up tobacco pouch, yet, a very important reminder of what has happened to him.  The pouch becomes very symbolic and powerful at the end of the story but...well, let's just wait for that!

I have a question to ask you.  Where do you keep your memories?  What did he just ask?  That's right, I asked you where you keep your memories.  Some keep their memories in pictures that hang on the wall and remind us of the days of hair that would not sit down, glasses that would not stay staright on your face, or clothes that you wished were outlawed (matter of fact they probably are today).  Some keep their memories in the form of physical reminders.  You know, the rose from prom that has been crushed in the Bible for 45 years.  There is also the class ring, which was so cool your senior year, yet now rests at the bottom of a giant tupperware conatiner that can be found, third box from the left, in the cold dark attic!

Don't get me wrong, all of us have these type of memory reminders.  But do they do that?  What I mean is if the pictures are found in the basement and the ring is in the attic how many times do we really rember those times, places, or events.  This doesn't mean that we have do start that Spring cleaning early so that we can grab the boxes from the basement and trip on the stairs taking them upstairs.  Nor does it mean that we have to charge up to the attic and grab the boxes only to expedite the delivery to the living room by taking the shortcut that has been made from the hole in the ceiling you just created by missing the studs and stepping onto the unprotected sheetrock floor/ceiling!  What it does mean is that we might want to take a moment and realize where our true memories lie...within us!  You see, we are the old tobacco pouch!

After my second brain surgery I had a terrible bout with loss of memory.  No, I didn't forget who I was, although there were times that I wished I had.  I had trouble with names, faces, and yes, events.  I forgot the births of my children even though I knew that my children were mine.  I forgot my wedding even though I knew I was married (Christine told me I was her husband and I believed her)!  I forgot names of relatives, congregational members and friends.  I still have trouble with my memory today.  I wish I had a nickel for everytime I wrote something down only to forget where I had placed the paper I wrote it on.  There are times when I have discussions on the phone and then hang up only to have forgotten I ever had the converstaion.  So, how was I to deal with the fact that my memories, those things that reminded me of a life lived, had been stripped from me?  The answer became quite clear to me.. I try to make memories each day.  Granted we all do that in way or another but I don't have the luxury of relying on memory to recal the memories of days gone by.  In other words I try to live in the moment.

I am going to try and appreciate the memories of today.  Another day that God has given me, my loving family, and good friends in whom I can share my life, that's what I am after.  As I have said before, everyone has bad days, weeks, or months.  Actually, I know people who have had bad years...poor Tiger Woods (remember, we are responsible for our past and our future!).  However, even in the midst of the crappy times we can take a moment to recall that which we are blessed with.  It doesn't make the bad go away but it does help us to remember that there are positive attributes of our lives.  Truthfully, I am excited when God gives me the opportunity to wake up and put my feet on the floor.  If He has taken the time to bless me in such a way then I should probably do my best to recognize the blessings that He has also provided.

So, I challenge you on your journey home to make a memory today.  It doesn't have to be a trip to Disney World.  Nor does it have to be a great gathering of family around a stuffed turkey to be followed by a night of Pictionary.  All we have to do to make memories is to realize that we are in the middle of a day that has unlimited potential for memories.  I have found that memory is a tricky thing.  It can be taken and never given back.  Memory is also a thing that can be minute at a time.  So, be thankful for the memory of now, live for today because tomorrow isn't promised.  Address the important, the needed, and the vitals of today but never forget that one true statement for success is that we have a God who loves us and will be there with us.

I pray that this new year will be a year of change for you.  I pray that, on this first day of 2010, you will begin a journey towards a greater faith, greater wisdom, and a collection of greater memories.  If you are like me and you have a little trouble in the memory department, it's OK.  I have an old tobacco pouch that will do the trick for you!  Welcome to 2010 and the beginning of a brand new life!