Tag: writing

Focus On What Matters

This past week I was at Tim Horton’s.

Sitting across from me was a man that I did not know.Related image

The reason he and I were sitting at the same table is such a coincidence if you believe in such a thing.

I don’t believe in coincidences.

I was soon to find out that the reason for me meeting this man at a random table at Tim Horton’s would change my perspective on some of the things I considered important.

Jack would tell me about his situation.

He would tell me of the diagnosis. How they found cancer. He would give me Image result for cleveland clinic cancer centerdetails of his surgeries and of the treatments. The doctors removed one of the largest tumors recorded at the Cleveland Clinic from his colon. He would tell me he has been dealing with this for almost 5 years now. He has been told by the doctors that there was nothing more they could do. He has been told on at least 2 times that he only had a few months to live.

He recently had more tests run and again, the prognosis is not good. They will do another round of chemo and they will attack it as best as they can.

He has survived. He has overcome. He has lived.

But that isn’t Jack’s story, at least not all of it.

Jack’s story begins with a desire to write a book about his situation.

He has wanted to write a book called “Blessed With Cancer”. 

It is as important as life to him.

Sure, he wants to write this book for his wife and for his children to read in the future, but more importantly, he wants it for those that are walking the same path in life.

He wants to share his story of how he has survived. How he has overcome and more importantly how he has lived to those that are battling cancer.

He has tried to get his book published. Some publishers would tell him that the costs of putting this into a book form would be thousands of dollars. Others would tell him that it will be over a year away for it to be published in book form.

Jack doesn’t know if he has a year to give.

This is where I come into Jack’s story.

I am not sharing this to get any credit, to be recognized or to be seen in a better light.

I just know what Jack feels like when it comes to wanting to write a book and the process it takes to get it into book form. It’s brutal.

I have developed a publishing process to where I can get Jack’s book into book form at almost no cost to Jack or his family.

I can help him achieve his desire while he can enjoy the fulfillment of reaching a lifelong dream.

This is what I am going to do for Jack.

As Jack and I finished up our discussion and details that need to be completed to publish his book, I see that this book is something that he is living for. The compassion to tell his story and a desire to leave something that gives evidence that he was here.  A way to thank his doctors… his friends and most of all his TEST DPI FINALfamily.

Here is the front cover of the book I am publishing for him. I just submitted the book and it will be on Amazon in the next week or so. I am proud to have been part of his dream to publish a book.

The lessons to be learned in his story are evident long before a book gets published.

For me, I realize that in light of his story, many of the things I consider important… simply are not. Whether or not the Browns win another game or the Indians win a World Series is not important. It simply doesn’t matter.

I am reminded of a movie I watched many years ago.  It wasn’t a great movie by any standard, most of the movie I forgot about soon after it was over. However, there is one scene that I have never forgotten. In that movie, called “Meatballs”, Bill Murray is Image result for what matterscoaching a summer camp softball team. Just prior to the final game between his team of nerds and the super-jocks, Bill gives his team a pep talk, reminding them that whether they win or lose, it just doesn’t matter.

Most of the things we face in life really do not matter.  Not in the big picture of life. Our perspective will change when we face our mortality. When we face an uncertain future.

I am aware that we all have to face these things in life.

We have to play the cards we are dealt.

We need to focus on what matters.

What matters is having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

What matters is showing up and doing the best you can.

What matters is your family.

What matters is stepping up to the plate and taking your best shot.

What matters is not letting your fear or your cancer define you.

What matters is living life until God calls you home.

It’s trying to squeeze out every last drop of life knowing that it is so precious.

So… when I see a man who has endured the last five years dealing with cancer and then he writes a book called “Blessed With Cancer”…  the game that the Browns won last week… just doesn’t matter.

Advertisements

Only Time Will Tell

Only time will tell…

I hesitate to write this.

In truth, I am hesitant to write much of anything lately.  I have been drained of motivation and my desire to write is probably at an all-time low. 

Image result for Only Time will TellFor the past few months, I had dedicated myself to finishing a project that I have always wanted to do.  I have posted a few short excerpts from that project on this site.  They are just shorter versions of the stories I have written about growing up in Oak Harbor, Ohio. I have had some wonderful comments and encouragement from those that have taken the time to read what I have posted. I struggle accepting them because are they just being nice or do they really mean them? Who knows? 

Only time will tell…

I have most of it completed but I can’t seem to find the motivation to sit behind the keyboard and finish the remaining chapters. I am not sure it is just discouragement or if it is fear.  Discouragement because I am not sure it is worth reading.  I am not a trained writer. I have always said I love to write but I have never thought I was good at it. There is a bigger part of my thinking that tells me to have some fear of it.  Fear because someone may actually read it. 

I think I understand how musicians feel when people listen to their music for the first time. I am sure they feel exposed and vulnerable for putting their “work” for everyone to critique and judge.  That is how I feel.  I put my thoughts down and put them out for all to see and I am fearful of the critique.  Fearful of the judgement. It is why for years I never shared my love for writing.  It is why I buried dozens of handwritten notebooks of my writings. 

Never ever to be found again.  They were the best writings I have ever put to paper.

Can I handle the discouragement?  Can I handle the fear? Will I ever get the motivation to finish this project? Will anyone ever read it?

Only time will tell…

I need to find a way to get myself back on track to write for me.  I know that the reality of my project ever becoming something that other people would want to read is a pipe dream.  So I will try refocus on it simply being a file tucked away on a computer thatImage result for only time will tell will be tossed away when the computer crashes or becomes obsolete. These things happen to those things that are temporary and have no eternal significance.

Only time will tell…

As I grow older, I am aware of the fact that I am drawn to life between two worlds. 

One world of the temporary and one of the eternal.

A world of the temporal, the temporary, a world ruled by time.  A world with an end, a “due date,”  a life controlled by time and lived in moments.

And, I also live in a world where I, at times, see the edge of eternity. It’s as if in these moments of time I sense it.  In God… I am given life.  He lives in me and He gives me opportunity to enjoy each moment of life.  I am keenly aware that I am growing older and most of my life is behind me. 

I have the awareness, in light of eternity, things of temporary importance have no real value.

This includes my writings.

And yet, as I live between these two worlds, with one foot in time and the other in eternity,  I begin to understand a life of eternity with God. 

It surges through my mind, giving me a new vision, a new desire, and a different purpose.

More and more, as I think about how I want to spend the rest of my “temporal” moments, I’m drawn into eternity… drawn by the awareness of God and eternity. 

And more than ever I want the edge of eternity to be my constant reality.

Will I ever finish the project?  Will it ever be read by anyone?

Only time will tell.

 

 

Not Fooling Anyone (A Chronicle of Bad Conversations and Storefronts Past)

A few weeks ago, a co-worker popped his head in my office. He said “So, are you ready for next Wednesday?

I sat there going through my mental calendar and couldn’t come up with what the significance Wednesday had. I finally had to ask “What’s Wednesday?”

He then reminded me that Wednesday was the day on the calendar that I age one more year. He asked if I had any words to impart to impart the wisdom I’ve gained in my many years.

Nope.

To be honest, I was just happy that he reminded me what Wednesday was because I needed to renew my license tags.  That summed up the depth of the wisdom that was flowing through my brain. I mumbled that I would write a post about “all the wisdom I’ve gained over all my years”.  He laughed and said sarcastically that he “couldn’t wait” to read it and something about that it should be a short read.

That Saturday, as I sat at the DMV, I was reminded of this conversation I had the previous day. I thought about what wisdom or perspective I could have actually shared.  What gold nuggets of wisdom have I gained? What words can I put in a post?

I had nothing.

But I valiantly tried to post something. I spent the next few days writing a post that I published a week or so ago. I called it “Thinking Back, Looking Forward”  Click here to read

I’ve spent the days since that posting going round and round about this subject.  While I liked the article I posted, something just told me that I needed to share something more. 

What could I write that would show what I truly have learned over the years? What I have learned in these years on this big rock that I can pass on to my kids and grandkids, not to mention, anyone else that might read this? 

Then it hit me… while staring at a picture that sits on my desk.  I had actually wrote about him in my post that is linked above.  My closest childhood friend, Bryan Blakley died the day after my birthday in 2009.  I have written about him a number of times and I have always felt a part of me is missing since his passing.  We lost him all too soon. I could never deny the influence that Bryan had in my life.  I can’t say that all of the “influence” was good either.  I got in trouble with Bryan on many occasions and there are secrets of things that we did that I will take to my grave. 

But the one thing that I could always say about Bryan is that he was true to himself.  He lived what he believed.  Even if he was wrong.  He never tried to hide who he really was.  I always tried to hide and fool people into thinking I was some kind of innocent kid. 

I wasn’t innocent.

Bryan was a person that really did not care what people thought of him.  He was who he was 24 hours a day. The good, the bad and the ugly.

I always looked up to that because he was true to his convictions and to what he believed.  He never tried to fool anyone.  I thought back to the words I spoke at his funeral. A simple sentence that I still believe summed up Bryan’s life and in it a truth that sticks with me to this very day…

You can say what you think but you’ll live what you believe.

That’s it. 

That basically is the foundation of all wisdom.  In other words,  to quote Shakespeare, “To thine own self be true”.  Under all that we think, lives a life that really shows what we truly believe.

I’ve said multiple times that it is really easy to sit behind the keyboard and act like you’ve got the world on a string. For 9 years, I have posted personal thoughts and hopefully, https://itsyet2bt0ld.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/img_3064.pngshared the struggles too. Life has knocked me down a few times. Those events have shown me things about myself I never wanted to see.  I believe that in those events, I caught the glimpse of who I truly was. 

It’s like really seeing yourself in a mirror.  What if we honestly just saw our character instead of our image in a mirror? In reality, that is how God sees us all the time.  Because He sees through the fake image we try to show the world. What God sees in those moments is the character that sums up who we are.  It scares me to consider what God thinks when He sees and hears the lies we tell Him and others.

I have often thought about what a book about my life would look like.  How would it read? How would it be perceived?  I have even gone as far as coming up with the title.

 “Not Fooling Anybody (A Chronicle of Bad Conversations and Storefronts Past)

What I have learned about life is that I haven’t really fooled anybody.  More importantly, I know I haven’t fooled God.  I don’t think many people understand that.  I think there are many people who think they are fooling others, they in turn fool themselves into thhttps://i1.wp.com/notfoolinganybody.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/logo.pnginking that they have fooled God.  It is not possible to fool God.  I have learned the hard way this great truth.

Sometimes, late at night, when I am trying to go to sleep. I am reminded of the conversations that I had with people over the years.  Those conversations when I tried to defend my sin. Those conversations when I tried to fool people that I had my act together and I was living the kind of life that God would be proud of.  Those conversations when I tried to fool myself that I was something that I knew in my heart I wasn’t. I have memory of more of these conversations than I care to remember.

My life has always been either honored or betrayed by the “storefronts” that I have built over the years.  The people who have known me over the years can stroll down the main street of my life and see the evidence of my life that is seen in the storefront windows that line the street.  Like in times of old, before the malls, when people would shop local and go window shopping.  The product that each store sold was placed in that window for all to see.  I have many “storefronts.” Most of them are good.  However, there are a few that I wish I could make go away.  Now before you think I dwell on these “bad storefronts,” I don’t.  I know that God has dealt with me about the content of those storefronts and He has forgiven me and has allowed me to live a great life. But I would be lying if I said that in the quiet times that I am alone, that these storefronts don’t flash in front of my eyes and I am reminded of them. They do.  Some bring me happiness and others embarrassment. 

Such is life.

At the end of the day, I hope that whenever my number is called, those that knew me personally or from afar will all be able to say the same thing. I hope they will say that I said what I thought and it matched the way that I lived and what I believed.  I know that this was not true in my younger years.  I have had to be shaped, molded, poked and prodded by God to fix many areas of my life. 

Even at 55, I am a work in progress. 

We all are.

I hope, before I die,  I can point others to Jesus Christ and the salvation that is found in Him.

I hope that I can encourage others to create a life that feels good on the inside and not just one that looks good on the outside.

I hope you’ll see that I didn’t just speak highly of my wife, I honestly treasure and honor her above all others.

I hope you’ll see that I love my kids. Even if I disagree with some of the choices they have made. I made it my goal to treasure each moment and never leave a doubt in their mind as to how I felt about them.

I hope you’ll see that I didn’t throw around the word “friend” like it’s something you accept on a social media site. I believed that relationships are important and that people – no matter who they are – matter.

I hope you’ll see that I didn’t just talk about faith to be high and mighty. I live a life filled with questions, doubts, struggles, fears and wrestled through the journey to be not high and mighty, but second and humble.

I hope that you see that I didn’t intend fool anybody.  I was what I claimed to be… a sinner, saved by grace.

That sums up the wisdom in this small brain of mine. 

Maybe this was too long to convey a simple point of wisdom but that’s the best I’ve got.

The calendar turned on another year older.

It’s another chance to say what I think and more importantly….

Live what I believe.

What Can I Say? It’s Part of My Story

I’ve read where a few people have questioned why people would honor Prince.

He was, after all, controversial, edgy and so on.

I’ve asked myself why I was saddened last week when I heard of his passing too. It took me a few days to process why and I have finally come up with the answer.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak for myself.

It boils down to this – Prince is a part of my story.  Now before you fall off your chair from laughter, let me first clarify something. While I liked some of his songs, I am not nor have I ever been a purple rain loving, party like it’s 1999, little red corvette driving, let’s go crazy, raspberry beret wearing, sad when dove’s cry crazed fan.

But to say that Prince wasn’t part of my story would not be telling the truth.

I have written about it before but I have based almost every lasting memory around the music that I was surrounded by at the time of the event.

For me, the music memories are so vivid that at times they overtake the memory itself. You see, music, invokes such memory that at times I can even remember the smells associated to those memories.  A simple melody has the power to burn a memory in my mind—engraving its memory on me so that every time I hear it I return to that emotional place.

I love that—the power of a song.

I first felt the impact when I was nine years old. Listening to CKLW out of Detroit and hearing the song “I’ll Be There” by Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five.

Over 45 years later, when I hear that song, it invokes memories of my brother Bobby.

It was such a big song… #1 from October all the way through November 14th 1970.  My brother was killed on a Thursday, November 5th. Normally, I have always struggled to remember my brother.  I was five years younger and he was too old to really play with me when I was really little and at the age of nine, I was just a pest to him and his other fourteen year old friends.  He was taken too soon and I never really got to know him.  I was devastated by the loss but this song brings him back to memusic memories.  I only think of him every time I hear it.  It invokes good memories and softens the hurt that came so many years ago.  It is when I remember him most.

I could tell every story that is associated to a song that is burned into my memory.  But that would be a really long post so I will just leave it at that.  I am sure you understand what I mean.  I will write about those memories and songs as I continue to write this blog.

Music influences every post I ever write. No matter how well I map out what I am going to write, I can’t catch my flow of words until I have music playing in my headphones. And almost always it’s the music that reveals what I need to write about.

While I always have music playing when I write, I can’t stop myself from singing along with it.  I envy the writer and the way lyricists can tell a story in a few stanzas.  I struggle to put a sentence together, let alone a song.  It is one of the great mysteries of life that I ponder. The whole process of writing a song is one of the great mysteries in life.  I do not have the talent to write lyrics and for me, someone who can write lyrics has truly a gift from God.  My favorite artists are those that sing and write their own music.

So, basically, for as much as I love music, I’m locked out of the process of making it. I really can’t sing, I can’t play an instrument, and I can’t write lyrics. But the artists who can?  They rock. I wish I could do it.

So there you have iMusic Storyt.  Music is what I use to define periods of my life.  Music tells my story.  It’s that important to me.  It allows me to write pages of my life and my music will tell you more about me than I ever will.

I’ve learned that until you fully embrace your story, you can’t move forward writing new pages. The story will include good and bad. There will be wonderful memories and times you wish you could erase. Removing those memories, removes pages from your story. It minimizes what made you who you are.

So now back to Prince. Prince was big in the early 80’s and at a time when I was in my college years.  I was going to a Christian college and trying to hide the fact that I loved music.  Most of which was banned at that time when I was in college.  Rock wasn’t allowed and I had to be very discreet with my music. I was a young man trying to figure things out, in time when legalism flourished in the church.  Anything with drums was taught as being evil and I tried to hide it as best I could.  It was a time of friends and dates.  It was the age of excess with big hair, fluorescent clothes and the music.

Oh… the music.

I could go on and on and tell so many stories from those years. They are treasured. Sure, there were broken hearts and scars. There was puppy love and having no clue how to treat our dates. But we were writing our story. We were learning the mistakes to teach our children to avoid at all costs. The habits, the trials and the things our parents said we should avoid.  These memories are locked into the music from that time.

I’ll leave you with one last thought.  My parents bought a VCR in the summer of 1984. Not everyone had one. We finally got ours. I had just returned from a summer of travelling across South Africa.  I came home to find that VCR hooked up to our TV.  I made my first trip to the movie rental place.  The first video I ever rented and watched was one I have never had the guts to admit to until now.

The movie?

“Purple Rain” by Prince. Not exactly the way to bring confidence to the purchases you make. It was edgy. It was a little raunchy. It wasn’t a highlight for me choosing movies for sure.

But now you know the rest of the story.

What can I say? It’s a part of my story.

I embrace it. I lived it, loved it, recovered from it and at times, miss the simplicity of it.

That’s why I mourned Prince last week. I mourned another reminder that my story, my songs and my history is slipping away.

 

Turn the Page

I love turning the page.

To be honest, I always have. I try to make as much noise as I can turning the page of a book – or a pad TurnThePageof paper – or a calendar. I love the cracking sound. It sounds like progress to me. It feels like I’ve accomplished something, and my reward is that now I get to see what happens next. 

The same can be said of when I turn a page in my life. I can’t help but see our lives as stories we’re writing and telling as we go through life. Page by page we fill up the chapters of our life because I believe that each morning we wake up to a blank page and fill it throughout the day with our thoughts and actions. Both the good and the bad. And as I look back on the chapters of my life – and forward to the unwritten page before me, I can’t shake the question, “What kind of story am I writing?”.  Is the journey in this life of mine a love story? A how “not to” book? A mystery? A tragedy or maybe even a comedy?

Sometimes when I look back at some of the drivel I have written over the years, I see each of these aspects in my writing. There are flashes of a love story. A love story of how the love of Jesus Christ has brought me through some difficult times. Definitely the pages that I have filled with words are (at times) a warning of how “not to” do certain things. I also see aspects of mystery because I won’t share everything or name names when I could have and at times should have. I am glad that I have not called out certain people for how they have treated me over the years. However that does not mean I still don’t struggle at understanding how some people hide behind their Christianity. Smiles on Sunday morning but disdain and judgement on others throughout the week. That being said, I am glad that each morning I get to turn the page and see a blank sheet staring front of me. I get to start over and dwell on better things.
tragiccomedy

Probably the best words to describe my words may be linked to them being both a tragedy and a comedy.  A tragedy because of the years wasted at life. I single-handedly destroyed my ministry.   I did it to myself. By my own hand.  There is no one to blame but me. There is tragedy found in what could have been.  But what about the comedy? Yes, I still see comedy in the words that I have penned. I have experienced many things in this life that when taken in context are hilarious.  There are things that have happened to me that if I did not personally experience them firsthand I would not have believed them myself.  I have honestly been asked if some of the stories I have told are true and I am here to tell you that every word I have ever written is the truth of what has happened to me.

Yes… it’s been all of these descriptions at times, and more.  But more than anything, as I look to the future of adventurewhat I want my story to be, I want it to be an adventure. Who wants to read a story where the same thing happens page after page? No plot twists. No great success. No failure that leads someone to find to a better part of himself. Nothing out of the ordinary or unpredictable. Who would want to read that story?  Who would want to live that story? Not me. I want to live my life to the absolute fullest.  I want to open my eyes to be all I can be. I want to travel roads not taken. I want the life that I live for my remaining days to be an adventure.

How about you?

Here is where we stand.  Some chapters of your life have now been written. For some of you, those chapters are filled with struggle and hurt. For others, the greatest success and happiest moments of your lives. But one thing we all have in common is… it’s in the past. A new year of blank pages is before all of us, ready to be filled with the greatest adventure we can dream up. A new year of second chances. A new year with another chance to get it right.

You have a story to tell and you have to face the unwritten page each day. That can be harder to face than itWe-all-have-a-story-to-tell sounds.

There are all kinds of obstacles in your way, tying your pages together, boarding up your heart, building walls around your dreams – doing anything and everything to stop you. It can seem easier to put yourself up on a shelf than to write a new chapter. But regardless, whether you intend to or not… your history will be written.

Even if you don’t get out of bed, your story continues. Even if you do exactly what you did yesterday, your story continues. Even lack of thought will fill the page. Even if you’re unaware that you’re creating your history in every moment of every day, with every choice and every thought your having… you are still writing your history.

Don’t let what has been dictate what will be. You have choices. Just because something has been a certain way for some time doesn’t mean it must continue. Just because you chose something yesterday doesn’t mean you have to choose it today. Even if you can’t change your circumstances, you can change your thoughts and actions. You can absolutely change the story you’re telling.

What if you would approach the new year as a blank page waiting to be filled with the greatest story you can tell? What if you would lay down your past experiences, expectations, mistakes, successes – and start fresh?  What if you would reassess the importance you give all that fills your lives and choose again?  What if you would walk forward knowing that if you’re still here there’s something beautiful waiting for you to discover? What if you would turn the page of the story you’ve been writing and face the unwritten page before you?

As a wise man once said:

“A person unfamiliar with their own history are destined to repeat the mistakes of their fathers.”

Welcome to your new chapter. Live it beautifully.

Now… turn the page and write it well.

Finding Purpose in Life

As I pass the five-year anniversary of this blog, I have taken some time to reflect over the topics I have shared since I started writing.  I have covered just about all aspects of my Christian walk and along the way I have told some personal stories from my life.  It is hard for me to write about someone or something that I do not have a connection with.  I have tried to be open and be “real” in the sense that most of the advice and experiences I’ve shared are things that actually happened to me.

I’ve talked about some things that I am not proud of and I have shared most of my failures and even some of my victories. If you take the time to go back and read the archives of the posts from when I started writing you would find me in a different place in life than I am today.  A mere five years ago, I was still very bitter and unforgiving of those that I felt turned their back on me when I struggled in life and my Spiritual walk. 

I struggled with losing my ministry and I struggled with the realization that I was the only one to blame.  I could not find peace and I could not forgive myself for the damage I had done to my kids, not to mention what I did to my relationship with God. 

Many people never really find their purpose in life as it pertains to their relationship with God.  They spend their life trying to find it and they viewed their “purpose in life” as something that they would find in their future. I found “my purpose” very early in life.  As a believer, when you were right where you were meant to be, doing exactly what God had intended for you to do it is easy to know what your purpose in life is.finding-your-lifes-purpose-3 Lose that and your life is suddenly in a free fall. This is what happened to me.  I lost my purpose and I experienced fifteen years of really dark times in my spiritual walk.  

I had lost my purpose in life as it related to my relationship with Jesus Christ.  I remember desperately longing to know my purpose and wondering if I was ever going to find it again.  For years, I couldn’t relax in my life (and otherwise) for fear that I was so off course and somehow I would never be used of God again. 

That is when I found my pen again.  I say “again” because years ago I would write and share my ramblings and perspectives of a young man trying to find his way through this life.  I have stashed away dozens of  those notebooks from that period of my life.  I have made sure that they will never ever re-surface or be read again… at least not while I am alive.  

Whether or not people read the words I write is really not that important.  God knows the words I write because they are the words that reflect my heart.  It has been a wonderful experience and I have no doubt that writing this blog was what I was supposed to do over these past five years.  It was my purpose in life.  It was what I was supposed to do and more importantly it was a way I could still share my faith and have a part in a ministry that could help others in their walk with Christ. 

What I have learned is that in spite of the failures in my life, God can still use me.  I have failed a thousand different ways over the years and when I came back to Him, He was faithful and true to forgive me and though I cannot be used in the same way He did years ago.  He still has a purpose for my life.

Probably that is the underlying theme of this blog.  It has been about trying to find “what the purpose in life” is after you have failed in your Christian walk with the Lord.  Can you relate?

How can you know and find life’s purpose?  I don’t suggest that you follow my lead in your journey trying to discover it because I know that God had a different plan for me and I am the one that took the detour from the original plan He had for my life.

But this is the truth I have discovered. The phrase, “What is my life’s purpose?” is one of the least helpful questions you can ask yourself. Why?   Because here’s the thing – it’s unanswerable. We’re obsessing over a question we don’t have the capacity to answer.  It is no wonder why people struggle with finding it. Purpose in life is not something that is found in the future.  Rather it is found in your words, actions and thoughts that you have today.

There is a better question for all of us, one that will help focus our efforts on today and lead us where we belong tomorrow.  We need to ask ourselves, “What is my purpose for today?”

This is the real stuff that makes a life. What is my purpose…today.

Today… am I passionately pursuing the things I know to do?

Today… am I listening to the stirring from God inside me that’s calling me forward? 

For years I was so worried about what my future “purpose” was going to look like that I missed what it was supposed to be today.  Will I have a great future moment in history? Probably not.  Will I do or say something someday in the future that will change the world?  I doubt it.  Do I know what my “future” purpose in life is? I have to say no. How could I?

What I do know is that I have to write this post today to release when I am done as planned.

Will I feel like I’ve “arrived” by having accomplished any of these things?  Will trumpets sound; will I receive an award? No. But by completing my purpose for today, I’m setting up myself for tomorrow. And by completing my purpose tomorrow, I’ll set up myself for the next day.

now is the timeIt may seem obvious, but look around. How many people in your life are waiting for some big revelation before they’ll start doing something for God? As we do the things we know to do (especially the hard things), we stumble into things we could never plan and in the process, we change our world in a thousand ways.

You have an ultimate purpose, and in the scheme of life, I’ll bet it’s something that God will be pleased in. Your purpose “today” will get you there.  How do you know what your next purpose is?  I can’t say for sure, but it starts today… not tomorrow.  Tomorrow never comes.  It starts with the needs of those who are directly in your life. Seems like a worthy place to start to me.

So maybe it’s time to give up trying to solve the unsolvable, time to give up what’s unknowable. Time to stop focusing on things that are unseeable.

Maybe it’s time to ditch the question, “What is my purpose in life?”

And replace it with, “What is my purpose for today?

For those of you that have played along over these five years and have witnessed the progression in my life, I want to say thank you and I hope that you find God’s purpose for your life … today.

Words Are Easy to Write, It’s Living Up to Them That is Hard.

This is an acknowledgment that this post has taken a considerable amount of time to write.  Not because it was too long or that the subject matter was too deep to explain properly.  I have struggled with writing this one.  The reason why is file cabinetthe same reason that I have 175 to 200 posts that are written that I will probably never publish or post on this site.  More than likely they will forever be locked away in a file cabinet never to be read by anyone, only to be thrown out with the trash after I am gone from this world.

The reason?  Words are easy to write, it’s living up to those words that is hard. 

I have learned that you own every word that you write.  You cannot not really take them back like many do with the words we speak.  Many times we fly off at the mouth and say things that we shouldn’t and it seems as if a person can gain forgiveness a lot faster if they verbally ask for it.  It is like all a person has to say is, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that.” and for the most part people forgive and forget.  Also, people have a tendency to “hear more” than what was actually said and can twist your words around to make something worse than what it was.  People also choose to “hear what they want to hear” and not really acknowledge what was really said.  Just a take a look at our political environment of today.  People only hear what they want to hear and disregard the rest and that is true on all sides of the political spectrum.

That is not how it works with the written word.  The written word is a permanent reminder of what you said.  You cannot deny nor can you take back those things you write down.  In a court of law, the best evidence is that which is written down and documented.

The challenges are even greater when you write about spiritual matters.  I am convinced that anyone who consistently writes about their relationship with Jesus Christ is prone to have the microscope placed squarely in their lives.  It comes with the territory.  Every word that tells of success or failure in your walk with Jesus Christ is there for everyone to read.  As I reflect on the past fours years or so of writing this blog, it never occurred to me that I would experience the trials and struggles that would come my way as a result of trying to get my life back on track and be used of God once again.

I would sit at my desk each night and old wounds would re-open with each written word. 

Like the burdens that we pick up and carry with us each day, I would do the same with the pain I was experiencing.    I would use my words to share the pain that I felt in my heart.  I would share my lack of faith.  I would express my struggle to forgive others.  I took considerable time to share my inability to forgive myself for my failures.  I would pour my heart and my thoughts into expressing the lack of forgiveness that I was not receiving from other believers.

I would try to be open as much as I could without naming names.

It was all leading up to the point in early December of 2012.  I was sitting down at my computer just thinking about how I could write something that would ease the pain for another day and find a way to focus on the meaning and without_words_ldepth of grace that God had placed into my life.  As I sat there staring at an empty page, I had this overwhelming feeling come over me.  I can’t explain it exactly… I just simply had nothing to say.

Without words. There were no more words that I could share that would ease my frustration of being on this long journey to find out what God has in store for me.  I couldn’t believe it. I  was simply without words to express what was going on in my heart and in my head.

After four years of writing had I finally come to the end of the words I needed to write?  Was I done?  Had I said everything I needed to say?

At that time, I had over 410,000 people visit my blog and I was averaging over 10,000 visitors a month.  I had witnessed the blog grow far beyond my wildest dreams.  God had really blessed me with the opportunity to share my faith and I received a lot of encouragement along the way from other believers.  I have made friends that I will never meet in person until I get to heaven as a direct result of this blog.  I also have had my share of detractors.  There are those that have taken the time to be extremely critical of things I would write.  For the most part, I didn’t know those who would be so critical, but I have to admit there are a few  people I once called a friend that have made known their displeasure in me and in the things I write.

Over the course of the next few weeks in December I had deleted many of my posts and dis-connected all of the links to other blogs.  I was sure that I was going to move on to something else… I just wasn’t sure what that was. Immediately the volume of visitors to my blog disappeared.  The 10,000 readers per month are now running about 2,200 per month. It seemed as if overnight I lost 80% of the people who visited my blog.  I was shocked at how quickly it changed, but I did not blame them for it.  I was without words to share and I, in fact, told people I was going to stop writing.

I have loved writing for as long as I can remember.   It is something that I have always done.  But it is hard to keep a blog going for an extended period of time.  It probably is one of the hardest things I have ever done in my walk with Christ. 

It is common aspect in the blogosphere.   Dead, unfinished, incompleted blogs that were started with good intentions.  People who get the idea that they want to start a blog and start writing.  Some with the delusional idea that they even want to write a book.  It starts with the premise that they believe blog-failthey have something to say, something that will be a help and will be an encouragement to another person.  It is done with all the vigor and excitement that they can muster.  The ideas are just flying all over the place. They sit down and empty themselves into a post and when that first post is revised a 1,000 times they finally post it and in many examples it usually isn’t that bad.  

Then the problem starts.  It doesn’t take them long to realize that writing is hard.  They spent so much emotion and personal information in that first post that they find,as they sit at the computer, they are staring at an empty page.   If they are lucky, they may post a few more and then it happens.  They quit. 

As it does for the vast majority of those that start a blog it sits empty and eventually deleted because of inactivity.  It is like the one-hit wonder of a rock band.  They get one good song and they can’t seem to get past it and eventually the creativity is just a rehash of the original song.  They all just start sounding the same. 

That was what I was afraid had happened to me.

I love writing and the words have come pretty easy to me over the years.  As I stated earlier, what I have discovered is that words are easy to write, it is living up to those words is what is hard.  I do not want to deceive anyone, especially my family because they know if my words match my actions.

Four months have now passed since all of this happened and I have posted a few times over that period of time.   I have come to the realization that I have been focused on the results of what this blog was doing in terms of reaching other people.  I was getting caught up in the “ministry” side of what this blog could do.  While that has value to me, I now realize that I had strayed from the original purpose of this blog.  The words that I write are intended to keep me accountable.  I have to write and I have to post because it keeps me on track to “live up” to the words I write.  It doesn’t matter if anyone else reads these words because the words are directed at myself.

Simply put… writMyJourneying over the past four years has been quite the learning experience.  I have grown in good ways and God has helped me change my perspective on a few things that I would not have learned if I had not been writing.  I am not the man I was 20 years ago when I failed in my marriage and lost my ministry.  I am convinced that my story is one of caution.  Caution for all, because if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.  It is a journey that is more common than anyone wants to recognize.

If you’ve also made mistakes in your life and you long for restoration and wholeness, I hope you’ll come along and share my journey.  But please understand…these are my words and I am accountable for them.  They tell my story and my journey. 

MyStory

My story… follows a well-traveled spiritual pathway that leads from sin and failure right up to the Cross of Calvary, where our Savior died so we could know forgiveness, grace, and unconditional love.   That’s where you’ll find me today, gathered with all the other people who are scarred by their past but who’ve been forgiven, redeemed and gratefully clinging forever at the foot of the old rugged cross. 

You will have to forge your own path and tell your own story… with your own words.

Write On

Sometimes you just can’t win. 

Some well-meaning friends have taken a portion of their time recently to provide some insight into my writing.  It’s not that I am not appreciative of the input.  Like everyone else I like to be liked. 

Some encouraged me to write the same way I have been writing for the past few years.  Short illustrations of what God is doing in my life and trying to be an encourage people to live for Christ.  They tell me to write for the sake of others who are facing similar struggles and goals for their life. 

Others feel that I write too much about my relationship with Jesus Christ.  Even a few asked me to spare them the gruesome details of the failures in my life. They say,  “Don’t hang out your dirty laundry for all to see.”  They tell me that it is self-serving and it shows that I have not truly moved on in life.

Honestly, I don’t feel that I’m doing that.  But what do I know?

So, who do I listen to? 

I see the casualties in the blogosphere.  Dead, unfinished, incompleted blogs that were started with good intentions.  People who get the idea that they want to start a blog and start writing.  Some with the delusional idea that they even want to write a book.  It starts with the premise that they believe they have something to say, something that will be a help and will be an encouragement to another person.  It is done with all the vigor and excitement that they can muster.  The ideas are just flying all over the place. They sit down and empty themselves into a post and when that first post is revised a 1,000 times they finally post it and in many examples it usually isn’t that bad.  

Then the problem starts.  It doesn’t take them long to realize that writing is hard.  They spent so much emotion and personal information in that first post that they find,as they sit at the computer, they are staring at an empty page.   If they are lucky, they may post a few more and then it happens.  They quit. 

As it does for the vast majority of those that start a blog it sits empty and eventually deleted because of inactivity.  It is like the one-hit wonder of a rock band.  They get one good song and they can’t seem to get past it and eventually the creativity is just a rehash of the original song.  They all just start sounding the same. 

If anything I struggle with that.  I am open to the fact that my writings may be repetitious on some level.  I have fallen in to the cycle of being torn between wanting to quit or being compelled to continue on.  Then just about the time I am about to quit, I ask myself,Have I caused others undue heartache and pain through my actions in this life?”   Without a doubt!  Am I pleased about that?  Absolutely not!  “Do I want to correct the pain I caused others in this life?”  Of course! I have found that the only avenue I have to try to make these crooked paths I once walked straight again is to write.

There is no doubt that my failure in my life is something that is still not completely healed.  The pain of it sits just under the scar that I carry on my heart.  Sometimes the fog of life only lifts long enough to allow me to see the face of God, the Scriptures He left to be our lifeline or even the outstretched hands of family and friends.  I am thankful for those times when I see Christ so clearly but does one’s heart or spirit ever become truly immune and insensitive to heartache?  Immune in a sense but the pain still persists.

At times I am blinded by circumstances and need God’s healing hand lovingly applied to my scars that I carry.  The evidence of a scar does not always show the true damage that was done in a person’s life.  That scar we carry on our heart and in our life is only an indicator that the healing process has begun.  It is no longer an open wound but is still a long way from being completely healed.  I fear that some of the pain I carry will be with me until the Lord calls me home.

But this I know… in my heart,  I know that for every scar I carry and the pain that sits just below the surface, I am reminded that it is just another opportunity to tell another story.  

At this point in my life, I will listen to these promptings and I will continue to write!

So here I sit, baring my soul.  Some will be blessed by my comments, encouraged to know that they are NOT alone.  Others will be critical that I have been so honest and transparent.  Some will stop reading because all I talk about is my relationship with Jesus Christ.  For those that would stop reading because of my relationship with Jesus Christ I am honestly saddened.  It is not my intent to cause offense.

Because only the sovereign God knows my heart, my struggles, my joys,  my pain, my all. 

He knows why I do what I do. 

In the end, only God will be my judge and for now He wants me to “write on”.

And so I shall…

Four Years and Counting

When I graduated from college I received a gift. 

I slowly opened the box and pulled out the Waterford pen.  It felt great in my hand and immediately I knew that it was meant to tell stories.  It was meant to share thoughts, beliefs, feelings and perspectives.  It was meant to be used.

If you have never held a Waterford Pen then I guess you will never know.

All it and I needed was a blank piece of paper.

I started to write.  I wrote about everything.  I wrote about growing up in a small town.  I wrote about my family.  I wrote about losing a brother.  I wrote about my college experiences.  I re-told stories that my grandfather shared with me.  I wrote about my future dreams and how I truly felt about the things in my life.  I wrote everyday and I kept my musings in note-books and hid them so that no one would ever find them.  I was embarrassed, afraid that someone would find them and expose my thoughts and feelings.  My life story hand-written on paper.   Nobody ever knew that this was what I did in my spare time.

That was over 25 years ago.  Long before there were computers in every home.  Long before word processors and the internet.  Long before the advent of people even having “blogs”.

Unfortunately… life got in my way.  Responsibilities of a young father and a man trying to save his struggling marriage sapped any desire and passion I had for writing.  I just simply stopped and put the pen down.  I hid my notebooks and today I assume they are where I placed them all those years ago.  I am sure that some of my “best” writings are embedded somewhere in that “buried treasure”.  They will stay where I put them.  I have no desire to unearth them and relive the raw feelings and perspectives of that time in my life.

Simply stated… like almost everything I had in this life, I lost it in my divorce.  That included my Waterford Pen.   For almost 15 years I really did not write much more than my sign my name.  I swallowed any desire or passion I had about writing.  There were times during that period where I wasn’t really sure I was passionate about anything.

But as the years have passed, I have found I still have a few passions in my life.  Today, I am still passionate about my relationship with Jesus Christ.  My wife, Pam is the primary focus of my earthly passions.  I want to live the rest of my life making sure she is happy and taken care of.  My children and grandson are extremely important to me as well.   My family, my mom and dad, brother and sister are important as well.  I still find myself being passionate about listening to music.  I listen as much as I can.   There is a sense of urgency for me because I fear that with my onset hearing loss there may be a day when the music will be silent to me.  

The bottom line is  that after all this time, I still find that I am passionate about writing.  I am still drawn to write.  I started writing this blog on September 3rd of 2008.  So today I celebrate my four-year anniversary.  My original intent was to re-write some thoughts and stories that I had written so many years ago.  I wanted to write them down and store them someplace where my children and grandchildren could read them one day.  I never really intended to have anyone else read this except them.  I just started to write and one thing led to another and the next thing I knew I had over 100, 000 visitors to my blog.  I then said that I would continue to write until I had 200,000.  I reached that goal and really did not set another goal.  I only told myself that I would keep writing until I lost the motivation and/or came up with another outlet for me to express what I need to share.   Soon I will reach 400,000 visitors to this site.  

As I have always said, I love to write… I never said I write well.  I know that as I strain to remember some of the stories that I wrote all those years ago, the details got lost in the fog of time.  I don’t remember like I used to.  Some stories blur into one and the end result is something different from what really happened.  I can’t change the fog of time… the senses dull and some of the details will be lost forever.  

That doesn’t mean I have nothing to say.  I write much more than I ever post to this site.  I have over 150 rough draft posts sitting in my file.  Waiting for me to review and just waiting to be posted.   Most will not ever be posted.   Sometimes I guess,  I worry about being too interested in the writing aspect as opposed to the content and if what I write really helps people when they read it.

A true writer, ( I am told) in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions:

1. What am I trying to say? 2. What words will express it? 3. What image or idiom will make it clearer? 4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?

I think I fail at all four points but I am reminded that George Orwell did not write his two master pieces (Animal Farm, 1984) until close to the end of his short life; leaving the planet at 47 from a severe lung disease.   Orwell did not start to write until he was in his late 20’s.  But once the decision was made, he tackled the task like a man possessed.  Most of what he wrote was never published.  Orwell lived a short life though his body of work is still being sorted through by academics and historians, because writing was his passion, and he wrote every day…and the pages go on and on.

Now I do not compare myself to Orwell.   The only similar aspect that is even remotely similar to Orwell is that I try to write everyday.  I’ve been DRAWN to and COMPELLED to write for most of my life.  For the most part it is crap, but it’s my crap…and I will simply continue to do it.

I mentioned a few posts ago that I have a critic.  Someone who keeps me humble in my writings.  He told me (and I quote) that, “My writing was  a stain on the white shirt of society.  Now for the record, like most people, I am a person who likes to be liked.  BUT… if you don’t like me I am okay with that as well.  It is alright for someone to not “care” for me.  I have a list of people I am not too fond of myself.  I do not wish them any ill, I just would prefer to let them live their life and I will live mine.  That being said… I did want to point out that while my critic may be right about my writings, he  missed the whole point of my blog.   I am not trying to be a writer.

In the end, really, if  nobody ever reads my work that’s alright.  It is the act of writing itself that gives me the most pleasure.

Writing is my passion.  Writing makes my heart soft and pliable towards the things of God.  I believe to have a passion in one’s life is important; somehow passion gives us Meaning to our lives in this huge universe.

Happy Anniversary to me!!!  Four years and counting of writing this blog.   I wonder where the next four will take me?

So… if my writings are truly a “stain on the white shirt of society” than so be it.  

It’s my passion and that is just fine with me.

Choose A New Direction

Even after more than three years of writing this blog, I am still amazed at the direction it has taken me.  Over the course of the last two weeks, I have been shocked at the total number of people who have visited my blog site.  I have already exceeded my record of monthly total visitors and have set new daily records five out of the last seven days.  In the past six months, I have had more visitors than the previous two years combined.  It has been fun to watch.

I do not want to come across sounding brash or over-confident about this.  Truth be told, I am extremely humbled by it.  I am aware that my writing skills are not up to par to ever be truly considered a writer and most times the thoughts in my head come across somewhat different when they get translated by my hands on the keyboard.   

I look back at the time when I started to write.  I  intended to make my writings private and only for my children to read.  I called it “Letters to my Children”.  I started to write and share some stories about my life.  My children do not remember the time in my life when I was in the ministry and they are filled with memories of a man who was in a free-fall in his life.  Their memories tainted by images of a man who lost his ministry, his marriage and a man who was consumed by bitterness and unforgiveness.    Their thoughts poisoned by gossip and accusations from people who are Christians and once called their father a friend.  Now that my children are now on the path of adulthood, they have shared some of the things that they were told.  I am sure they have only shared a small portion of what they truly endured in order to not have to relive the memories or to not stir up the past. 

I know that one day I will stand before God, He will address my sin and my responsibility in how I dealt with my children.  However, there will be others that will have to give account for their actions that affected my children.  I have had a number of these people come to me over the past few years and ask for my forgiveness.  Honestly, I had forgiven them years ago in my heart, but the damage has been done.  The rumors and accusations simply were not true.  But that does not change the fact that my actions and theirs impacted my children more than I want to admit.

Father’s Day is still one of the most difficult days for me to endure.  Over the past few years it has been better.  I think that my children have seen the change in me and that I am no longer wandering  in the backside of the desert like Moses.  That still doesn’t mean everything is ok.  My children have emotional and spiritual scars and as a father I am responsible for many of them.  

Now back to my blog site…  I shared that I have written a private blog for my children.  It was during that process that God started to melt my heart.  It was during those early days of writing that God held me in His grasp and helped me to ask for forgiveness and to forgive those that hurt me.  He softened my heart and took away my bitterness.  I struggled for a few years with forgiving myself but eventually, that too was taken away. 

Make no mistake… sin has its consequences.  On this earth, I will pay for many of these sins for the rest of my life.  In eternity, I know that God has forgiven me and I will be judged by the One who is allowed to judge. 

As a divorced man, I was no longer qualified to be a pastor.  This was made very clear to me over the years.  I believe that a man is “called” to be a pastor and I never believed or felt that I was “called’ into the ministry to be a pastor.  However, I still longed to be involved in a ministry.   I was not the man that I once was.  I was more than I had been and I still had something to give.

God’s Love will break you.

On a whim, I started another blog called “Maybe It’s Just Me”  It was blog to where I could share my perspective on my journey to find forgiveness and how I dealt with the spiritual scars that I had earned in that process.  Soon I changed the name to “It’s Just Me” to better reflect that this was who I was and not just my perspective.  Just as I have grown and journeyed  down a path filled with stepping-stones and stumbling blocks, I wanted to show that I had changed and God was working in me to soften my heart.  It was great to just put my beliefs and what God was doing in my life in words.

I’ve learned that God’s direction isn’t a path clearly marked out for years to come, but instead its guidance for the moment.  God’s direction for life are much like a GPS… “In 1/4 mile turn left…”

The directions of the GPS are as you need them.

Walking with God is much like that.  It’s not a course revealed for the next 40 years, but a walk of steps and turns and moments.  Each day is a new day.  Finding God’s direction for you in the moments, in the encounters of your life.   As it clearly has done for me, the direction, as it looks to you, might go around in circles for a bit, but God has a plan and it’s only revealed as we come to each turn in our journey.

That leads me to announce the  latest change in my blog.  I have made a change that will probably be the last one as it concerns my writingI have changed the name to, “Footprints of a Legacy Left Behind”  I chose the name as a reminder to me that I leave a legacy wherever I go.  I leave a “footprint” and  an influence on those I come in contact with.    My prayer is that for the rest of my life that I will leave a legacy of faithfulness and love for Christ in the footprints I leave behind.

For so many years, I had been caught up in waiting for God to open doors for me to be able to teach from God’s Word again, that I made myself walk that desert longer than I needed to.  Somewhere near the absolute end of my journey is where I began to find myself.  I realized its okay to start over. 

The same is true for you as well. 

For now… this is my ministry.  I embrace it and am thankful for it.  Now I know that I am not doing anything epic or maybe not anything significant that changes lives, except for mine.  But it is what God has provided for me where I am allowed to express my love for Him.  I have a ways to go in growing in Jesus Christ but I honestly want to live for Him with the same compassion that He had when He died for me. 

Maybe it’s not to late for my children to see that.  Hopefully there will be clear footprints of a legacy that I show for the rest of my life.

You don’t need to know the route, you simply need to obey God’s direction for today and forget about tomorrow.  You may not know all the turns and twists in your route, but you simply need to trust the guidance you receive as you walk with God through the moments of life.  

Walking with God is a fascinating adventure.  You never know who you will meet, where it will take you.

Want a new direction in your life?

It’s up to you.

 

 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make your paths straight.
Prov. 3:5-6