Archives For My Story

Teamwork!

January 2, 2014 — 2 Comments

Teamwork

Cheryl and I have been a team for over 18 years now. I can’t think of anyone else who I would rather do this thing called life with. She is just simply amazing. And beautiful. And smart. And talented. The list goes on and on!

The awesome thing about all this is, we really complement each other. She’s somewhat serious and driven. I’m goofy and happy-go-lucky. But we’ve rubbed off on each other over the years – I think I heard her tell a joke the other day, and not too long ago I actually had to write a check for something.

When we met, it was just one of those things – we both knew we could do life together, do it not just well, but do it great! And time has proven this, over and over. Through all the hard stuff, illness, injuries, surgeries, loss of jobs, birth of kids, anniversaries, date nights, and the random alone times – we were meant to be together.

The question “WHY” was posed to me this morning. Yesterday, I made a goal of blogging more, and I stated that Cheryl and I would combine each of our blogs. Why are we doing this? Because we are on the same page – we have a simple message, that through Jesus, all people can become free of every entanglement. We each had our own blogs, and were hitting the topic from different angles, and seeing quite a few people respond to the message. We think we can do more, and do it better, together.

The real “why” here is – we have been through so much! Both good and bad – and still we are able to give praise to our Savior! We have been in the wilderness – for most of our marriage, most of our lives in fact – and now we are coming out of that time of hardship – healed, set free, able to minister to others.

There are two verses that come to mind – 2 Corinthians 3:17 - “Now the Lord is Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” and Galatians 5:1 – “Christ has liberated us to be free. Stand firm then, and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

We want to continually be in the presence of the Holy Spirit, so that we can continually experience the freedom that Christ has provided, and since we are free, we want to encourage each other, and you, to learn to stand firm so that none of us experience any kind of bondage every again.

The message is simple – living it can be a challenge. Which is why we need to work together, pray together, encourage one another, pray for one another, help meet each other’s needs – just like the first Christians did almost 2000 years ago. The model they left for us – “they devoted themselves to the teaching of the Word, to fellowship, to breaking bread, and to prayer” – is what we should be doing today, all these years later. I want to see my family become like this, and I want you to join us, or even start something new on your own. I want you to be a part of my team – free people, who help free others!

Why? Because no one should be left behind. Our God has provided salvation and freedom for all who ask – my job is to tell the story of the great things he’s done for me, so that others can experience how great he really is!

 

Aftermath

November 7, 2012 — Leave a comment

arch

Aftermath. It can be pretty messy. Have you seen pictures of the devestation of Hurrican Sandy? It’s not good.

Most history books have pictures of wars and natural disasters. In a few of them, if you look just right, you can get a sense of not just the destruction, but of the human suffering as well. It’s scary, sad, gut-wrenching.

Have you every been through something like this? I know my home town, Harrah, OK has been through some tough times in the last few years – tornadoes and wildfires just to name two things. I have friends and family who have been affected. Some have lost everything.

About a year and a half ago, a tornado swept through Joplin Missouri and caused massive damage. Less than a week later, I was in my front yard here in Texas looking straight up over my house at the circulating wall cloud thinking, “We are in bad trouble here.” Many tornadoes touched down that day all around us, but we were spared.

I had panic attacks for weeks after that. I had never been scared during any kind of storm before. But I never had a wife and two little girls crying and praying for their lives in cramped closet before either.

I saw how close it was. I saw with my own eyes. The cloud, the part that was spinning and dipping down and going back up. My heart was racing, I was almost hyperventilating. I was well and truly scared – like I had never been scared before.

None of this was in my control. All we could do was pray and ride it out.

It was completely out of my hands.

How much of life is like that? Things happen. Bad things. Horrible things. Things that tear up our bodies and minds and souls. Things we have no control over – illness, loss, abuse, job loss, families torn apart.

These things change us, these things scar us. They can even destroy us, and what we are left with is a wasteland in our hearts and minds and bodies. Who can pick up the pieces? Who can make us whole, when we have been so completely torn apart?

Tonight at church, an assignment was to make a diagram of our families, and using symbols, show a variety of things – addiction, divorce, mental illness, death, just to name a few. Mine looked like the pictures above – the aftermath of a nuclear strike. I was not prepared for this.

I know everyone has their own baggage, and they all deal with it in their own way. I discovered that I haven’t dealt with it.

My birth mother is dead. She ruined her life, and ultimately her liver from drug use. She was bi-polar. She was abused and abusive to my birth father. My mother was adopted, so I have no idea what her parents were like, but I do know her mother got pregnant either outside of marriage or due to an affair with someone she wasn’t married to. She always felt like she was unwanted, and she always acted like nobody loved her.

My father was a hippie and from what I can tell he got over it. He was a drug addiction counselor, and is selling real estate in Las Vegas now. We don’t keep up with each other.

I was adopted, along with my sister, by our great aunt and uncle who were the opposite of my birth parents. Very strict. My new dad was career military, a command sergeant major. Tougher than nails. A veteran of three wars. He has his own scars from what he had seen and done as a soldier on the battlefield. He never spoke of it.

My mom raised the family while he was away – I have three older siblings – 2 brothers and a sister, who were the grown children of my new parents. I think my youngest/older brother is 17 years older than me.

When I say they were all great, I really, really mean it. But I was already screwed up. When I was four my mom injected me with heroin. She rolled me up in a rug once. She would put me in a dark room and scare me just for fun. I got thrown around a bit, too. But the worst part was when she would disappear for days on end, with just me and my one year old sister in the house alone.

The little family tree I drew tonight was supposed to give me some insight into areas where I still need to experience freedom, so that I can help guide others to freedom as well. The purpose was to help identify life patterns, and to break them – in ourselves and in others.

Folks, I have a ways to go. All of this devastation, all the broken pieces still laying around in my soul were brought to the surface tonight. I’m a mess. Most people are in some way, and sometimes they don’t even know it. Now I know it – and now I have the tools to deal with it. And maybe one day I will be able to minister to those who are going through this as well.

We’ve been in Freedom Training for about two months. This was the last night. Every single week, this one verse always pops into my head – “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.” (Is 53:5)

Yes, Jesus died for our sins, but look at that verse – we can have peace and healing through him! Not just forgiveness – we can have that and we need it, but we can have healing in our souls and in our bodies! We can have peace! We don’t need to have a stiff upper lip, we don’t need to bury our hurts, we don’t have to act like everything is ok – everything CAN BE OK! You can have what God has promised – if you ask!

What is God saying to you right now? What are you struggling with? Ask God to show you if there is a lie associated with that. What is the lie? Ask God to show you what is true – accept his truth, and live in it! Be free!

Roach Motel

October 20, 2012 — Leave a comment

roach motel

I used to live here. This is a google street view screen shot of where I used to live. It was a long time ago. The place doesn’t look any better than it did back then.

No heat, no AC, about 100 square feet of living space. I had a sleeper sofa and a 13″ tv, a little bitty fridge was built in and it had a small sink and a single burner on top. The person who lived there before me must have had a dog because of the smell and the fleas.

There were asbestos ceiling tiles, dark fake wood paneling, and a single, bare light bulb hanging down from the middle of the ceiling, which was plugged into the only outlet in the room. Basically it was an extension cord with a light spliced on at one end, and it was stapled to the wall and across the ceiling. And yes, it had a pull-chain on it.

The bathroom was 5×5 and had a 5 gallon water heater. I would fill the tub up with hot water only, wait 30 minutes and fill it again for a lukewarm bath. The door would not lock or stay shut. It had a padlock on the outside, and I put a box in front of the door at night.

I lived here for a year. The rent was $100 a month, plus utilities and cable tv. When I moved in I was making $0. I didn’t know where I would end up or how long I would be allowed to stay.

None of this was the worst part. Not even close. The worst part was the roaches. Now, in a regular home, if you get up at night and turn a light on, there might be a roach, but it’ll disappear pretty quickly – under the sofa, behind the fridge. This is when you know it’s time to get an exterminator out.

The roaches in my little slice of heaven had no shame at all. They didn’t bother hiding because this was their domain. I was the interloper. They would sit and stare at me, waiting for me to go to sleep so they could try to eat my face off.

I tried to get rid of them. I complained to the landlord and she gave me a can of spray. Which they laughed at. I tried glue traps next. I was going through about 12 a week and didn’t put a dent in them. I didn’t know what to do next.

Now, at that time I was working at a local Ace Hardware. I had a lot of roach related items to choose from. Bombs, glue traps, sprays, powders. The only thing I never tried was a roach motel – I figured, I’m already living in one, why buy another. So as a last resort, I got a pack of 4 bug bombs.

I knew I was going to be gone for a weekend, so I set off all 4 of them on a Friday night, and went on my way. I came back on Sunday around 5. When I opened the door, this nasty, greasy mist came out and hit me in the face. It was covering everything. I turned on the light, expecting to see a bunch of dead bugs. Out of the literally hundreds of roaches, maybe only 5 had been killed, and I’m pretty sure they died of old age, or maybe a laughter induced aneurysm.

So I did the only thing I could do. I gave the owner two weeks notice and found a better place. A way better place. A nice little place.

When I did that, a lot of things changed. I got promoted at work, I met Cheryl, I got a new to me car that actually ran, and I started getting heathy. It’s a wonder how healthy a person can be who doesn’t have bugs crawling all over them at night.

None of this is a metaphor. It’s all true. But on the other hand it is a metaphor because I was in a very dark place – physically yes, I lived in Satan’s armpit, but it was really bad mentally and spiritually as well. I was depressed and felt abandoned – by friends, by family and by God. All my dreams were crushed, my spirit was crushed. I felt like I deserved to be where I was because I was a terrible person, and terrible people suffered like I was suffering.

Did I ever mention my neighbor? A very old man. VERY very old. He coughed all night and during the day he watched soaps. One day I was working on my car, trying to get it running, and he came out with some iced tea for me. He asked me if I went to church anywhere, and I said no, I had been a pastor, but now I’m working at Ace.

He invited me to come to his church, and I did. Just a sweet little church out in the middle of nowhere. After a time, I became their youth pastor. I was so messed up when I went there, but they were patient with me, very gracious, very loving. I didn’t do much more than play games with the kids on Wednesday nights and lead singing on Sundays. But they loved me and after a time, I began to feel better about everything. And then I met Cheryl somewhere along the way and we moved to Texas and got married.

Listen – it was no accident – not any of it. The roach motel, the old man, the church, meeting my wife. God led me through all of that. He was with me at rock bottom when I had roaches biting at my fingers, and he is with me where I am today.

The situation is, I still need a little rescuing. Who doesn’t, right? We all go through times where we forget that God is there, that he’s real, that he is in control. But he is. Things are so great right now! Family is good, cars are running, we have a nice house and great kids. Any or all of that might change tomorrow. But today I will praise God for what he has given me, and when tomorrow comes, I will continue to praise even if its all torn away.

My lesson from the pit was to learn to be thankful – and I am so thankful!

Where are you right now? Mentally, physically, spiritually? Thank God for it even if you can’t see anything to be thankful for. He will hear you, and things will improve. I didn’t just get lucky, I was blessed, and the same God that pulled me out of the roach motel wants to bless you too! Learn to give thanks in everything, and everything will change in your life!

 

It Ain’t Me

October 15, 2012 — Leave a comment

That song really speaks to me sometimes. CCR has always been a favorite band. Love their sound, and their lyrics still hit home all these years later. Seems like we’re still fighting some of the same battles we have always fought. They just seem different because there’s different people involved, but really if you think about it, it may be a different generation, but the song is still the same.

I’m thinking about my own life while listening to this song, and some of the battles I’ve fought. Some I’ve won, some I’ve lost, and some I didn’t even need to fight.

Because of some of the things I’ve been through in life, I’ve always had some identity problems. I don’t know if all adopted children go through that, but I did, and do to this day. Who am I? Whose am I? Did I do something wrong all those years ago? Did I do something to make my birth parents do what they did?

I know the answer in my heart – NO! They were already adults, and they were who they were, and I didn’t do anything wrong. In my head, when it comes up, I still struggle with it. Most days I win, too. I know WHOSE I am! And on the days that my thinking gets the best of me, I resolve to give it to God and do better next time, through him.

Like I said, I don’t know if most/all adopted kids go through this, but I do know a lot of people in general deal with it. I talk to people at work almost every day who feel trapped, who think that life is passing them by, who don’t know who they are or what they were made for – what their purpose is. Most of them say the same thing that I feel and that is in this song – “It ain’t me!”

Thinking back to the cross…Jesus knew exactly who he was, and what he was here to do, and when the time came he did not hesitate to fulfill his mission. And because he did all those things – living, dying, living again, and all that that entails – because of that, we all have identity through him!

Romans 8:17 says that we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. Think about how huge this is! I think of the prodigal son, whose brother did not accept his return very gladly. The son had already taken his inheritance and squandered it, then came home with his proverbial prodigal tail between his legs. And the father accepted him gladly, running to him, throwing a huge party in his honor. The other son grumbled and complained and said, “you never let me have a party and I was here the whole time!”

That is not Christ’s attitude at all! He has everything, he is at the right hand of the Father, and he wants to share it all with us!  He wants to give it to all of us who have gone astray! Who are we? We are sons and daughters of the King, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, and we have the Holy Spirit as the down payment of everything that is to come. We will inherit, and in fact have already inherited the Kingdom!

Crazy, right?

Who am I? I spend a lot of time saying, screaming, whimpering, whispering, thinking “It ain’t me.” God who am I? What do you want from me? What do I do with this life you have given me?

His reply is a still small voice – “Be my child. Just be. And as my Son said what he heard me saying, and did what he saw me doing, so you should say and do as well.”

I am a son, I am a prince, I am a saint, and I am a priest! As my savior was before me, so I now am. My life is a message – everything about me is a song to the King. He loves me, he accepts me, he approves of me and he even likes me! I do not disappoint my Father, and nothing I do or say or think could ever change his love for me! Why? Because when he looks at me he sees Jesus!

And still in this life I will struggle. My spirit is connected to God. My physical body will die. My soul – my mind, will and emotions – I will need to submit to him every minute, every second of every day. When I do he renews my strength. When I don’t I worry, I wonder, I wither.

What do I do with this life he has given me? What do I do when I’m at work thinking, “This ain’t me. I was made for more than this. What about these dreams I have? What about these gifts you have given me? I feel like it’s all been wasted!” I give it to him, and I be his son, and I serve those around me. And I forget what I was whining about to begin with.

What is the Holy Spirit saying to you right now? About who you are? About why you are alive? I bet he’s telling you the same things he just told me. You’re special! You’re loved! And God has a plan for you – to just be his!

Fear

September 28, 2012 — Leave a comment

scared_face

Fear – not something that’s easy for me to talk about or even think about. I feel like I have to be strong, hold it all in, deal. But it’s there, showing itself in a variety of ways – panic, blood pressure, negative thinking, various minor illnesses.

My church has a wonderful healing ministry. Every Monday night, people come from all over to be prayed for, with, over. Many of these people have experienced healing from illness and injury. It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.

I went last week because I’ve had constant allergy problems for over 40 years, including sinus infections, tinnitus, vertigo, hives, and other pretty nasty symptoms. I was assigned to a prayer team and walked into the room and as I was walking in I looked at everything going on around me – people crying, praying, laying hands on people. There was laughter, too, and excitement and some shouts of joy. I didn’t know what my experience would be – I just wanted to be made well.

I was led to my prayer team and saw the look on their faces – there were three people all looking at me – eyes wide, mouths slightly open, like in shock. I thought maybe my zipper was down or something…And I’m going to tell you what they told me. It’s hard to talk about and I’ve been processing it all week. I’m not making this up either -

The first lady shook her head and smiled and told me there was a glow about me and something that draws people to me. The second lady said she felt calm and secure in my presence, then all three of them started telling me I would minister to multitudes of people – “thousands” they said. But at this point it is just potential – I need to deal with my fear.

This is the point when I told them about my sinus issue. It’s like they didn’t even hear that part. I was dizzy, my ears were ringing, and I hadn’t tasted anything but snot for days. Gross, right? And I went to be prayed over and experience a miracle healing event and never have to blow my nose again.

They did pray over me. They prayed that God would show me the root of fear that was holding me captive, keeping me from my destiny. They layed hands on me and prayed that I would be strong and courageous. They got on their knees around me and prayed even more that I would learn to trust God and his provision for me instead of focusing on what people have done to me or against me.

And this is when it gets weird. Some very specific things came to mind. Things I don’t think about much.

When I was five my dad walked me to school and said he’d be back to get me but he didn’t show up and I walked home by myself. I was afraid because I’d never done it and I didn’t know what happened to my dad. I didn’t see him again until I was nearly 40 years old.

I got home, and my mom was there but had to go out. She said she’d be right back. My little sister was there with me. We were left alone for several days and finally rescued by my aunt and uncle, who eventually gained custody of us and adopted us both. I saw my mom several times after that, but never lived with her again.

After that, I never really trusted anyone. I was afraid to trust. I did things to keep people away, to make people not like me. I was rude at the very least and even violent a few times. I prayed that God would kill me sometimes. I never felt on the inside like anything was right.

Before all this, I knew things weren’t perfect, but I felt loved and protected. Then that was gone. I thought it was gone forever. I’ve always, always felt that way. Even as a Christian, I’ve felt and acted like I was on my own, like I had to do everything under my own strength.

My fear is the fear of abandonment. Everybody leaves. Everybody dies. My real mom died years ago and I still don’t know how to feel about that. Sad? Relieved? Happy? My Grandmother died next. I miss her every single day. I still feel like I need her. Same for my dad – the one who adopted me. I miss them both so much.

I had a wife a long time ago, and she left too. Will Cheryl? How about my kids? They’re growing up so fast. Yesterday they were babies, tomorrow they’ll be living in Possum Trot Indiana with kids of their own.

I’m afraid that God will abandon me, too. I’ve felt like that for a long time, like he already has. I know in my head that’s not what he does, but I feel like he has anyway.

All of this goes back to the day when I was so happy my daddy was walking me to school and that he’d be there to pick me up at the end of the day. And he wasn’t. And I never saw him again until almost 35 years later. With no good explanation of what happened. I was never sick before that either. And I’ve been sick ever since.

Crazy, right? How an emotional wound can turn into a spiritual wound which can turn into a physical illness that can keep you from being who you were born to be. How it can cause you to hold people at arms length your whole life. How it can cause you to wonder if anyone really cares or if they are just saying that because that’s what people say.

I need to get past this. I know where it came from, what it has caused. And I know I can be free from this.

I don’t know if this is helpful to you or not. But whatever is blocking your path, whatever is keeping you from being who God created you to be – you can’t turn it around by yourself and neither can I! Now that I know, I’m taking it to God, and he will be strong for me. He’ll tear it all down and I may just turn out to be who he dreamed I would be. You can do it too!

How do you honestly see yourself? And how do you think God sees you? God thinks you’re amazing, wonderful, beautiful and worth dying for. If you see yourself as anything less, you need to realize you’ve been lied to, and it wasn’t by God. He’s not going to condemn you or make you feel guilty. He wants to free you from that! Learn to trust him, and trust him to be everything you need. Trade your fear for freedom and be his child. He won’t let you down, you’ll never walk alone.