A Final Call!

Yesterday, I had the awesome, yet heartbreaking opportunity to witness the funeral of a young man that was loved by many.  He was and is a son, brother, a grandson, a father, a veteran, and a friend to many.  This young man was also a police officer in the local police department and the Honor, Respect, and Loyalty paid to him from his local brothers in Blue was unlike anything I have ever seen.  Police officers from Lamar county, Madison county, officers from Texas and Georgia and the whole police force showed up to pay their respects to a fallen brother, along with others that I am unable to recall.  What an experience!  My words can only shed a small amount of light onto an experience that was heartbreaking, yet so awesome at the same time.  Literally, hundreds of Police Officers, paramedics and firefighters were in attendance.  Police officers often times abuse their authority and/or labeled “BAD” cops, but what I witnessed yesterday changed the way that I view their career choice.  As I thought about the negativity that is associated with the few bad ones, there are many many good ones that try and do the right things.  Let us remember that these men and women are doing a job that comes with minimal pay, they do it out of love for service. It is often a thankless career choice and the lives that are touched or changed by an officer is often silenced by the loud roar of anger and hatred toward a small number of “Bad Ones”.  You do not hear people cuss the bad “Doctors”, “Preachers” or “Teacher”, etc.  We live in a society that requires men and women to enforce laws, without these laws we would be an uncivilized society, nobody wants that.  So, today I salute you, Officer Zac Denny, Lt Mark Denny and the other men and women that serve their communities.

Zac’s parents, are two friends of mine that I have known for 30+ years.  Zac’s uncles were very close friends while growing up and  Zac’s Grandmother’s house was a second home to me as a kid growing up in Rawls Springs, so we have a history together.  The neighborhood kids always met up at their house and we tore up the ‘hood’ out there in the 80’s.  Great memories!  As a kid you never think of something like this happening to a loved one or a dear friend, Its So Unfair!

However, as I watched with wide eyes and a tear throughout this event, I was struck with a some very obvious characteristics of a mother.  A mother that was laying her son to rest in a grave, to never see again.  To never hold again.  To never listen to his heartache again.  A mother that will never look into her baby boys eyes again.  A mother that will never know what many opportunities and accomplishments he may gain.  It is so final!  A mother that, her last look at her son was in a casket wrapped in a flag with many articles surrounding him, like his sunglasses, dog tags, I think were in there.  Finally, as soft music played the funeral directors carried them away for a final word, possibly a prayer and  the casket was quietly shut.  That was the last time she would ever see him again on this earth.  I wondered if she realized that this was it.  The time no mother or father should experience.  The final call!  I saw a proud father speak of his Boy.  How they had their ups and down and had since made peace.  How beautiful!  I saw a proud, strong father stand and talk about his boy, his accomplishments, What a great soldier he was and what a great police officer he was. How, one night he had worked a long night of overtime, his son was involved in some police activities and the fear he experienced from hearing radio silence.  Then, there it was, the squelch broke and his son replied with a 10-4, suspect apprehended and all is well!  What relief his dad must have felt upon hearing that.  I heard how over the last couple of days of his life, the family had spent some time together and how the bonds of family were built stronger.  How this young man had made things right with other family members, that at one time may not have been so right.  I wondered if maybe, God was preparing him, for that final call.  To make everything right with himself, just in case something was to happen.  Life is crazy at times and I can’t help but believe this was the case.  I heard a Dad, proclaim to his son, that as his father and the grandfather of the young child(Zac’s son),  on behalf of this child, “I’ll Take Over from Here!”

There were other family members experiencing very much pain.  A sister, a young senior in high school.  She didn’t say too much.  A quiet young beautiful girl with much pain and feelings of not understanding, I am sure.  That’s okay, because her mother and dad were the example of how to live life in times of adversity.  They will walk with her closely these next few years and guide and protect her.  I saw the grandparents grieving and supporting their children through all of this.  I saw numerous aunts and uncles grieving, wiping tears, along with other extended family members and friends.

When all of this happened, Zac’s mother and my wife are dear friends, she told my wife this, as her son was battling serious injury and grave chances, she told my wife, “God is still Good, no matter what happens.”  Now, my mind, thought well you are a better person than I because I’d be saying the opposite, knowing me.  Throughout this terrible ordeal this woman has been an example of what Christian people should be in this life.  She has showed unwavering faith, strength and  peace, in what has been the most difficult time of their lives.  She is a rock, a foundation, PETRA!  We visited the funeral home on Tuesday night and while waiting in line with my 17 year old daughter, who recently lost a dear friend (a second mom really), This mother put aside her grief and and showed true concern and care and compassion to my daughter concerning this other issue.  Even today, not even 24 hours after having laid her son to rest she texted my wife and other close friends in a group text and she said this, “God is so Good!”  Wow!  Today, I honor you, you are an inspiration with a quiet roar that God is proud of.  I believe that he is going to provide you with much peace and love to you and your family the next couple of days especially.  God Bless You!

Arriving at the graveside services, parking was not a planned event for this many people at the small cemetary in Rawls Springs, where he was laid to rest by his Grandfather.  Police cars, Police motorcycles and ambulances were the vehicle of choice for a lot of folks there.  We walked a 1/4 mile after parking on the side of the road.  Zac’s police car was on a wrecker with the lights on, blue lights will never carry the same dread for me now.  Following a 21 gun Salute and taps, a few words by the Minister,  a Final Call was given on the police radio, loud enough for the whole community to hear.  The dispatcher called out, “Standby to copy the final call to 306, Officer Zac Denny.   Hattiesburg  to 306…..Hattiesburg to 306…Hattiesburg to 306.  All units, 306 is forever 10-7.”  Strong!  Heartbreaking!  Honor!  Respect!  We never know when that Final Call is going to ring, May we always be ready and may we never forget 306, Officer Zac Denny!

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Oh, God! How Could You? My Letter to God

Dear God,

Many times I cried out to you and I heard the silent reply.  I often wondered, did you even hear me?  How could you allow All of This?  Didn’t you see me or hear me?  What about that night I was minutes away from taking my life?  Is that what you had planned for me?  What about the lonely Sundays and Holidays that I wept and begged for you to Help Me?  Where were you?  Do you remember seeing me sitting by the fire out there and feeling so alone and hurting and crying?  Where were you?  What about those nights I was blasted outta my brain and falling victim to the very adversary that I was taught was gonna ‘Get me’ if I was not prepared, but if I would just cry out, you would help me.  You fed Elijah by sending Ravens with meat so he would be sustained.  Wasn’t I your beloved, as Elijah?  Where were you when I walked out on my life?  Aren’t I your beloved?  Did I have to walk through all of that?  Don’t you see me, I am dying here?  You are the God that placed the sun, the moon, and the stars.  You are the creator and you are the giver of life.  Through you, all things are made new, wasn’t I important?  Your word tells me that you know my thoughts even before I think them.  Your word tells me that you even know the number of hairs that are on my head.  Where were you?  How could you?

As a kid I felt your call on my life.  I remember asking you to come into my life when I was 11 years old. I remember feeling like a prince after that night and I tried my best living for you for many years. I gave you my formative years and my young teen years and I gave you all my years as a young adult.  I know there were some blunders in there but at the end of the day, I still loved you.  As I entered my mid-twenties and early thirties, I knew that my plan and your plan was about to be quiet different.  After all I didn’t ask for such a high calling on my life.  I finally accepted your call and now, This!  I didn’t sign up for this!  I feel like I gave you those years of my life and I was glad to do it, after all it felt right, this was my Destiny.  Now, look at me, out here Alone, Broken and Hopeless.  Am I just going to live like this the rest of my life?  How could you?  I am your beloved, remember?!

Look at me, how could I have fallen so far?  I have ruined the greatest relationships of my life, I am jobless.  What kind of man am I without a job?  Your word says I am an infidel.  Is this the life you destined for me?  I am out here in this abyss of a life that is sucking me into a place that I am not familiar with.  How am I supposed to survive?  I am afraid!  How could you?  I feel like road kill and the vulture is picking meat off of my bones.  If I remember correctly, you gave life to a field of bones.  Not only were they bones, they were dry.  How could you?  I can’t survive out here.  This life is not the safe life that I had or had hoped for.  Am I not important to you?  This abyss is dark, as I can’t see beyond a short distance out into the open.  I am hopeless!  What about the relationships with my kids and my wife?  Do you not see me or hear me, that is all I know.  I do not know this life.  I do not know how to adjust to this.  I need them, yet I am too angry to run back.  How could you?  Being alone with a room full of people is lonely.  I do not know how to handle it here.  This is not what I wanted.

I am tortured here!  Yet, I am reminded that these were all my doings.  God, show me something, anything!  I hear the voices that keep telling me that I am this or that and most of the time they tell me nothing good.  What do you say I am?  Please, tell me?!  These conversations went on for months, that seemed like an eternity. I know, you did send bits and pieces of relief on occasion.  Like that time I heard Dying to Live the first time.  I really appreciate that, it was timeless.  I needed to hear those words, because believe me, “I was pissed” there at the end of November into December.  I also remember Kim telling me through text that “when you were at your best with God, he knew this was going to happen”.  How could you?  Was this really necessary, All of this?

Well God, here we are.  I made it through.  What a wild ride it was!  I see things a little different now.  You and I are closer than we have ever been.  I know I am still being groomed for your service and for that I am grateful.  I have no doubt about you now.  I know that I am your beloved and I know that my plans and your plans are much different.  Thank You for that.  There is no telling where I would be if this life was all up to me.  Thank you for not giving up on me, God.  I am sure you wept many a tear for me.  I still remember the night I came home to you.  I know how the prodigal must have felt.  I saw you with your arms stretched out and I went running toward you.  I remember leaping into your arms like a child.  I will never forget how you made me feel that night, I was a child again.  A child of the most high God and you were welcoming me back.  It is a feeling that I will never forget.  Now, I stand back and look around and I have deja vu because I see me at different times over the last couple of months but when I look a little bit closer I see you were standing right next to me.  I know that is your way of showing me that you never left.  Thank you!  Over the period of years that my addiction took over my life I begged you to take it away from me and you never did.  I have often wondered why you didn’t, but today as I reevaluate my life I see you did take it away.  When I came running back to you with a pure heart and good intent, you took it away.  I am happy and I feel relief today, God.  I know not one more breath can be taken without the acknowledgement of you.  I cannot lie down at night or get out of bed in the morning without thinking of you.  This is what life is.  This is the good life.  I know that all those things I have lost are going to be returned to me seven fold.  Because your word promises me that it will.  Today, I know that I am your beloved.

P.S.  You have restored so much in my life and I will forever be grateful.  Like I have stated before, God, I gave the evil one 110%, I am going to give you 110% as well.  I owe you that.  I will tell my story to whomever will listen, because the sadness of my story is not even comparable to the greatness of this story.  Lead me Lord and I will Follow.  Open the Doors and I will go in.  For I am not ashamed!  Oh yeah, I will never forget, this is all about you!

Going Forward in Reverse,

Tim

You Just Can’t Read One Page…Turn It!

Just like a book, in life, you must turn the page to continue to live.  I am not a huge reader.  I enjoy reading but sitting down for a long period of time reading a book does not inspire me.  I wished it did.  As a matter of fact, I am going to make it a point to do more reading.  I read a lot of things online, but the articles are relatively short pieces.  I admire a person that can sit for hours and read.  Reading is fundamental, remember RIF in elementary school.  (Insert Laughter).

In 1972, Bob Seger penned a song titled Turn the Page.  Not only is Bob one of the greatest voices in recent history, he is also a profound songwriter.  This particular tune is about a touring musician and his life on the road.  Sometimes that life can become a “pain” according to this song.  Driving down long, lonesome highways, out in the middle of nowhere listening to the hum of the engine.  Thinking about that girl you had and wishing the trip would end.  Getting up on stage, playing the star.  Walking into restaurants, eyes piercing you because you may look a little different.  Monotony of the road and life is overwhelming at times.  Many songs describe that life in a very dark sad descriptive.

Motley Crue’s song Home Sweet Home is another cry for home.  The long and winding road and can’t wait to be home.  Vince Neil’s high-pitched cry for home is overwhelming, as you feel what he is singing about.  Ozzy Osbourne penned Mama, I’m Coming Home in reference to his wife upon his retirement after what was, I am sure, a very ‘difficult’ tour.  I feel confident that his life on the road was filled with drugs and debauchery on every level.  It was time  to turn the page for both of these two bands.

Corey Taylor of Slipknot fame wrote Zzyzx Rd. in reference to his alcohol abuse and thoughts of suicide while living the crazy life of a rock n roll star.  Another Cory Taylor, a singer and songwriter with the same name, wrote about the road and madness of nights well spent.  His past escapes him as he takes the backroad.  Just him and the stars.  Waiting on the sunrise to shed some light on all these changes.  Tonight, I am taking the backroad home, trying to find my piece of mind.  To face these changes, I must face em alone.  Find some comfort in despair, breathe some sense into the senseless.  I wonder what I am fighting for and will I one day get it right.  Both, Corey and Corey, must turn the page.

Life is very much a song, a book, a movie and a poem.  The story that is told ranges through many different emotions.  Often times the most compelling stories turn out to be the saddest of tragedies.  I think, as human beings we always want to hear the tragedy.  Think about this, for the Nascar fan that watches from home, the most exciting part of the race is the crash.  Sure, we want our favorite driver to win, but a good crash (as long as it’s not so bad someones dies) is epic.  We always root for the underdog.  Every movie has a tragic event.  One of my favorite movies is Transformers.  I love it, I am amazed how real Optimus Prime, Ironhide and Bumblebee seem.  I find myself throughout the movie feeling emotion for these robots.  Optimus Prime gets his butt whipped and I am on the edge of my seat, almost in a panic, yelling for Optimus to “GET UP”, “FIGHT”!  What about the movie King Kong, I watch that movie and almost weep cause the poor monkey is getting handed a raw deal and eventually shot to pieces.  We love those stories.

Several years ago, I read a book called, Beautiful Boy, about a father that watched his young son spiral out of control due to addiction.  Great read.  I read Slash’s Autobiography about his trip through success and addiction and then success again.  I read The Heroin Diaries, Nikki Sixx’s book about his life on drugs.  The tragedies are the most compelling stories.  Why would we want to read a book about great things from the beginning to the end?  I don’t know why, why?  We are drawn to the saddest of tragedies like Romeo and Juliet.  The sad songs move us.  The sad stories put a fire under us to do a thing, to make something happen.

Youtube is full of ‘Fails’or viral videos.  They range from funny pieces of people tripping, falling down, crashing or fighting.  These videos will have millions of views.  I wonder if I could post a video of peaceful sunsets across the water,  a field of wild flowers, or the beauty of a waterfall and put it to beautiful music and get a million views.  Chances are slim.  VH1 had a series of shows called “Behind the Music’, a very popular show, but every story of every band or musician or rapper had tragedy in it.  Each band, each songwriter, rapper, or author had to turn the page.

Isn’t life similar?  We turn the page from adolescence to youth, from youth/teen to adulthood.  Every aspect of our lives can be put into chapters or pages.  Wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to stay on one page, kind of like groundhog day?  Everyday the same beautiful tale.  No, it would be boring.  Every area and aspect of my life I have put into a timeline, a book form.  I can use my memory and turn to a certain page and reread it like a novel.   Many times I have wanted to rip some pages out and throw them into the trash.  However, the novel of my life, I don’t have that luxury.  I have to face it page by page and live with it.  I can read a page and then turn the page.  I can do this over and over until I get to the last page and that is where I can continue writing my novel.  I am at that place today.  My novel has some beautiful stories in it.  I can read about the good days of my youth.  How my parents gave me unconditional love.  How I met my beautiful wife and ultimately we had a beautiful family.  How God guided us to where we are now.  However,there is another side of my novel that isn’t quiet so beautiful, it tells the tale of darkness, addiction and hurt and tears and sadness.  When I turn those pages they seem like they could go on forever.  It becomes very hurtful rereading those pages, but it is part of the novel nonetheless.  Today, I am turning the page of that old life and starting a brand new chapter.  These next couple of chapters will have a better end to this novel, to this tragedy.  I am feeling rather optimistic about these next chapters.  The author of this novel has promised me a better life if I just follow him and be still.  Sometimes being still during the writing process is very difficult but I know he has a better plan that I can not see.  Reality is,  I must Turn the Page!

Going Forward in Reverse,

Tim

Its Time to Man Up, Boys!

I got excited about writing a blog a year or so ago. Then, my life took a nosedive and I put it off, again.  Over the last week and a half I didn’t feel much inspiration and I injured my back blah blah blah, therefore, I haven’t written much at all.  Upon starting this adventure I always had something to say or had a particular thought or idea about this or that, but not so much lately.  Things are going well in my life, life is getting on track.  My family and I are doing well.  I JUST NEED A STINKING JOB! I simply couldn’t find inspiration, and I enjoy doing this.  What’s the problem?  I also realize that this tool (writing) has been a major healing for me.  Maybe, that’s why I didn’t feel inspiration,  was I searching to hard?  Maybe the Evil One knows I need this and he try’s to keep me away from it?  Or maybe I just didn’t have a thing to say.  Here I am, pecking away at the keyboard and all these thoughts and emotions come to mind….I”M BACK!

I troll Facebook and Twitter religiously, I enjoy reading news articles, things relative to my favorite bands or music, quotes and just random stuff.  I enjoy seeing my friends and families posts about their lives….All is good.  However, one observation that is compelling me today, is the assault that is on families and men.  Understand this, I am no exception.  I have failed my family, but I am no longer that same man and I am working on repairing everything that I destroyed.  We are facing a deluge of ideas, thoughts, and lies that we face and fall victim to everyday.  Things are popping up in our lives that we never thought we would be foolish enough to fall victim too.  Think about these things, money, pornography, extramarital affairs, career, arguments, bitterness, suicide(what man in his right mind thinks about suicide….it happens, I was convinced it was right for me) and the list could go on and on.  Are these the things that should keep us from being in love with our wives and families?  No, but it’s happening to good people everyday.  I have already  written about what I thought being a man was, but I’m still not so sure that we as a society knows what a man is.  Our churches are filled with women that stand in the gap for their husbands while he just attends with her rarely just so she will stop nagging him.  Shouldn’t we be the spiritual leaders!?  Everywhere we turn there is something there ready to entice us and take us from the very things we love and cherish the most.   Drugs and alcohol, of which I fell victim to, is wreaking havoc on our lives.  They make us so blind to the truth, so blind to the fact that we are losing the battle.  We walk out on our families because this drug is so superior to everything else in our lives.  Then we listen to the lies it tells us….You are no good!  This isn’t going to hurt you!  I can stop any time I want too!  They do not want you!  They are better off without you!  Bullcrap!  The truth is, these substances are way bigger than you are, they will only take you places you do not want to go.  You can not and will not beat drug addiction or alcoholism on your own.  Ask for help, there is no shame in asking for help.

Having a great career and making money is a beautiful thing.  As a matter of fact, it is very honorable.  Providing for your family and your self is the right thing to do.   However, when that job or career rules your life, it is a problem.  Remember that old saying, All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  Well, it’s true.  Nothing should come in between your relationship with God and then your family.  Many times we don’t even realize this being a problem til it is brought up by the spouse.  Can’t you ever take a day off?  Can’t you work a normal 8 hour day, just once a week?  Have you ever heard those things.  I know, some of you are saying, “Well, this clown doesn’t even have a job, easy for him to say.”  Frankly, I have much regret and despair over that fact.  I made mistakes, huge stinking mistakes and I and my family are paying for it.  But God is my source now, he will not see us begging for bread.  My point here is this, if you are more consumed with your work than your God (no matter what you believe; you do not have to believe like I do) then you are creating a problem for yourself and your family.  Keeping up with the Jones’s is not what it’s cracked up to be.  Colossians 3:23  Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.  Work, but don’t let the dollar rule you.

Hmmm?, let us talk about pornography.  This is a very serious issue.  As a matter of fact, I did not realize it was as serious as it is.  I am not addicted to pornography, let me clear that up from the start here.  However, I have fallen victim to the lure from time to time throughout my life.  Pornography has to be the most seductive lie that has ever been told.  It will steal your very soul.  It will entice you til you are so entangled that it seems impossible to escape its grasp.  Here is my question about pornography, is this something I would look at if my wife or my kids are around?  Will I clear the history or quickly X out of this screen if someone walks in?  I am quiet sure that this is one of the most hidden things among us men.  According to author Laurie Hall, studies show that 40 to 50% of christian men are involved in pornography.  Now, I know that some of us men are not ever going to tell the truth, so what are the real numbers?  Dr. Mary Ann Layden says that studies show that pornography is more addictive than cocaine.  Drugs are tough to break, breaking the addiction of pornography is tough.  Ask for help, It is ok.  If someone points their crooked little finger remind them that they have 3 pointing back at them and find you someone you can trust.  MEN!, ASK FOR HELP!  It is ok.  Pornography has been proven to cause sexual dysfunction, sexual anorexia (which is the unwillingness or the inability to engage in sexual intercourse with your spouse).  This all sounds too gnarley or sounds like something that could never happen to me.  Men, it happens.  Another thing that pornography has proven, is its ability to take your “natural affection” away.  Now, I am not here to argue homosexuality etc., I am warning us men that these things happen.  If we do not guard ourselves we will fall victim.  Remember, the evil one roams around seeking whom he may devour, I don’t want to be caught with my pants down.  No pun intended!  Further studies have shown that porn causes abuse.  A recent study of 1700 jr. high students found that 65% of boys and 57% of girls believe it’s OK for a male to force a female to have sex if they have been dating for six months.  That does not make me happy as the parent of a daughter and a son.  I found that so disturbing.  There is help for this, but you have to ask.  There is no shame in asking someone you trust.  Please ask for help if you find yourself in this situation.  God can take this away from you, if you believe!

Over the last couple of years, my wife and I had become bitter toward one another.  We never had a fist fight, we just had become very isolated from each other.  Although we were in the same house and the same room we just didn’t connect for some strange reason.  My addiction had become a problem and she had so much loss in her life we just became angry and bitter toward each other.  I no longer wanted to be married to her and I left.  Little did I know, what the next 7 months (From Nov 2013 until present) were going to do to me.  I can’t speak for her but anger, bitterness and resentment just became all I could see.  I was PISSED at her.  Just for, well, it didn’t matter.  Our 22 years together became a crutch and we took for granted our relationship.  I guess we always thought things would be good between us.  It didn’t seem that way at the time.  After I left, I really became more and more angry and I wanted a divorce and she wasn’t gonna stop me.  I was using again and nothing really mattered.  We spiralled from a long secure marriage to a broken relationship that only God could fix.  Needless to say, Kim went to “work” on herself after I left.  She began to seek God for herself and when she felt comfortable with herself, she started praying for me.  At first, our communication was limited but eventually I started noticing a change in her.  I didn’t need to change, HaHa, joke was on me.  After a couple of months, I started to feel God wooing me back.  I resisted.  Ultimately, Kim became the girl I married and she was in love with God and my heart began to change towards him, her and everything in my life.  God restored our marriage and made things brand new.  Do not Give Up, Men.  God has a plan and you may have no idea what he has in store.  I love her more than ever and we are good again, only this time God is first in my life and she is second!  It Works, trust me!

Lastly, suicide seems to be another lie that is making itself known to us.  Daily I see FB posts or twitter feed about someone committing suicide.  Lots of time, it is a wounded warrior that has returned home from war.  Sometimes,  it is John Doe, the average everyday man trying to live his life the best he knows how.  Back in November, November was a Gnarley month, I was so close to purchasing a gun and ending my life.  I was minutes away from it, thank God I chose not to do that.  Gander Mountain was in my sights and Fortunately for me it was getting late and time didn’t allow me to go through the process of purchasing a gun.  Other times, I was just gonna drive into a tree and end it.  Again, thank God, I chose not to do it.  My family and my kids needed me.  My relationship with my parents and siblings was not good and I would have ended it with a very bad ending with them as well.  I thank God daily for giving me the wisdom and courage to live out what he had planned long ago,  I just took a detour.   Please Men, know that suicide and depression are nothing to be ashamed of.  Depression made me such a miserable man.  I was ashamed and I thought that I was no more a man, than anything.  I should be strong.  Depression is real and if you do not guard yourself it will show up and destroy your life.  Again, talk to someone, please!

These are just some of the issues we face, there are many more.  Point is, if we do not become aware to these things we could fall victim to them, quickly.  I hope to share more as time goes on.  There is a war for us.  Pick you a team and go fight or lay down and fall prey to something that ultimately will steal your happiness.  It has taken me 40 years to figure out some things and I am still working and learning.  As long as I work it and learn, I am good.  I have to do things daily to ensure my safety…..I try and put positive things in my brain, I try to think before I speak, and I love God, first.  It has changed my life.  Thank God for grace and redemption.  Rise up Men! Love your wife and family, but be on guard because life has a way of kicking you in the teeth and the way we respond can determine the outcome of life.  Fight!

Going Forward in Reverse,

Tim

 

Mirror, Mirror on th………….

I never once in my life claimed to be an Adonis, you know, the God of Beauty and Desire.  Here lately, I feel like Buddha, the guy with the big fat belly.  Truth is, the mirror doesn’t lie.  It will give you an accurate view of the person you have become.  It will show you things only YOU want to see.  Which is a good thing because most folks wouldn’t want to see that anyway.  However, there is another mirror that isn’t physical but is all too real.  It’s the mirror you look into that shows you what you look like on the inside.  No, it’s not an x-ray machine.  It is that soul, that conscience or that moral thermometer that displays all the good and bad that makes you who you are.  Alcohol Anonymous calls it a moral inventory.   Oh, it can show the ugly side of me.  I hate looking into it and wow, how that person inside of me has changed since I was old enough to acknowledge that it was there.

As a youth/teen the person inside me was certainly not who I am today.  I was good and kind kid.  I spent most of my time as a kid, playing in the dirt or playing in the neighborhood with friends.  A pretty good kid.  I went to church when church was in service.  I feel like I never gave my parents too much trouble, just a pure delight.  HaHa!  As a child that grew up in church all the basic things that came along with learning about God, well, I possessed those traits.  I was loving, respectful, acknowledged God in my life, caring and sensitive.  Later, as I grew into a man, that sensitive side is the side I despised the most, it was weak, so I thought.  Things were good as a kid, life was fun and easy, never had any major disagreements with my mom and/or dad, and developed into a normal teenage boy who kept those similar qualities.  I was a good guy.  In my teen years, not much changed.  Of course, I didn’t play in the dirt anymore but I did have friends and we hung out on the weekends and went to church on Sundays, all was well.  The mirror back then showed me much of the same traits it did as a kid.  Let me add, it was in those first 10 or 15 years that I knew God had a plan for my life and I was ok with that.  I wouldn’t start running from God until I was in my mid 20″s.  The mirror wasn’t mean to me when I was young.

I joined the Marine Corps at 18 and that is when some of those traits started to fade a little, they didn’t go away, but they did fade.  I suppressed them.  However,those years in the military taught me some more great traits, like honor, commitment, courage, tenacity, faithfulness (Semper Fidelis), integrity and esprit de corps.  It was also during this time that I started to party.  I mean, we were Marines!  General Douglas MacArthur said, “I have just returned from visiting the Marines at the front, and there is not a finer fighting organization in the world.”  So, what better way to honor such a great fighting force, we honored it by partying.  We did it big, too.  It was just what we did, it’s what most Marines did on the weekends. Remember, I grew up going to church and now that I was over seas and legally I could buy beer at 18 on the Marine Corps base, church became the farthest from my mind.  I had forgotten my First Love, Jesus Christ.

Those  great traits remained with me throughout my life, until about 7 years ago.  Let me note that those traits remain with me today, I have just had to dig a little deeper to bring them back to the forefront of my life.  As I look at my life over the last seven years many things come to mind.  I remember going through that event/trauma that caused me to slip.  It was after I left ministry that I used my first pill in a way that wasn’t safe, I started abusing them.  I remember taking that pill and as I look back on it now, that was the beginning of a ride that I wasn’t ready to take.  I should not have taken that ride!  I regret that day in my life, that day that I added “drug addict” to my resume.  I took those drugs to take away the hurt and pain of  losing  something that I loved and was dear to me.  I didn’t want to be a failure in the eyes of God.  It was then that I started harboring hate, resentment and unforgiveness toward God’s people.  I didn’t want anything to do with those folks and I sure didn’t believe anything that I had learned about God as a kid was true, anymore.  So, now that mirror was showing me hurt, anger, resentment and unbelief in a God that I had grown up believing in.  Little did I know that this is would be only the beginning.

As the next 7 years went on, I became an angry, bitter man.  I became a liar.  I became so much of a person that I didn’t even like.  Shame and guilt became my crutches.  Self-pity was a great friend of mine.  Needless to say, the mirror was not my friend, both mirrors, the one that showed myself and the one that showed me what was inside of me.  I became a disgrace in my eyes and there was nothing anybody could do or say to make me different.  I lost trust in people and I always loved people and was outgoing, never met a stranger.  Drugs are never an answer to anything.  I regret taking that first pill.

So, here we are today, life has changed for me, I no longer am angry or resentful.  Things happened to me for a reason,  although  I am not sure the reason yet.  If only it was to bring me back into the arms of a loving God, it worked.  I have been very careful with this soul searching process.  I wanted to make sure that I was sincere  and serious about it.  This was no joke for me, it was life and death.  All the negative crap had to come out or I would be right back down that road again.  I had to take it serious.  Like I have said, I put in 100% in living outside the realm of God, I am determined to give God 100% as well.  I have to say, this decision saved my life, give it a sincere try, it may work for you.

Now that life is going well for me, I look at what is going on and I want to make sure that I am legit.  In making sure I am legit, I have dug up things that I didn’t realize was even in there.  One, being a Christian means to be like Christ, I can’t be like Christ if I don’t love.  Love starts here with me, if I can’t love me or forgive me then how can I expect to give that to other people.  It is not possible.  Forgiveness, how can I forgive if I can’t forgive me.  I don’t want to hold bitterness and anger inside me.  That is not the way Christ lived.  I had to learn to forgive me.  I am no longer that man, for I am a new creature.  I now treat people the way I want to be treated, I feel the love of God inside me  and it is a great feeling.

Smile, for it may be the only sunshine someone may see that day.  It works, try it.  If I don’t smile and I am a ‘bitter’ Christian, nobody is going to be interested in what I have to offer.  It doesn’t work!  I have learned that it is so much better to give than it is to receive.  No, I don’t have a job yet, but I can give something far more valuable than money.  I can love and respect another person now.  Again, I might be the only love they may see today.  It starts right here at home.  I have to love my family and treat them well.  It is not fair to treat others you barely know better than you treat your own family.  I see it all to often,  I refuse to live like that, if I fail, I will get up and try it again, til I get it right.

Throughout these adventures many things about my life have come to face me.  Today, I do have to say I am a better man than I have ever been.  I am closer to God than I have ever been.  I am not saying I am where I need to be, I still have much work to do.  But I am certainly better than I was.  I no longer crave drugs, God took that desire away from me.   I may crave tonight, but I have a friend that I can call on when I need him, his name is Jesus. When shame and guilt raise its head in front of me, I remember that I am flawless.  I have some relationships that are a little damaged, maybe broken, but I trust God will rebuild those for me.  He is faithful.  I am determined to live my life and share my story because I see hurting people all around me.  People need encouragement, love and a listening ear.  I will be that ear for people.  Thank God for redemption as it is so sweet.

 

Going Forward in Reverse!

Tim

 

 

 

 

Inspiring: Rescued Lab Dogs See the Outdoors for the First Time

Very Moving!

WGNO

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Earlier this month, nine beagles who have been kept in cages their entire lives, touched grass, felt the wind and received love.

The Beagles —  called the “Lucky 9” — were rescued from a lab in Nevada by the Beagle Freedom Project.

The above video shows their first cautious steps outside, according to the project’s website.

No one knew how the dogs would react after a lifetime indoors, but soon their instincts took over.

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The Chi-Lites, Brad Paisley, MercyMe and Me!

    In 1973, the Chi-Lites recorded a song called “A Letter to Myself”.  Do not ask me what I know about the Chi-Lites?  I may fool you.  They are a vocal group born in the late 50’s and early 60’s with several top 10 R&B hits throughout their career.  You may have heard “Oh Girl” and “Have You Seen Her”, but this song is one of my favorites, also.  The Chi-Lites are one of the great groups of that era and genre, often not getting quiet the recognition they deserve. The Chi-Lites are a long time favorite of mine, as their music is timeless.  Lead singer, songwriter, and producer Eugene Record wrote this song and I gotta tell ya, the dude must have been in love, heartbroken and lonely.

  In 2007, Kimberly Williams-Paisley wrote a book, entitled, “What I Know: Letters to my Younger Self”,  Upon hearing of the book, her husband Brad, felt that idea and title would be a great country and western song.  He wrote the song within a week and entitled it, “Letter to Me”.  The song is much like you would think it would be.  It is about young love and break-ups,  life experiences (both good and bad), reckless driving, algebra class and homecoming bonfires.  Great tune, you should check it.  Furthermore, the song “Letter to Myself” won a Grammy in 2009.   
 
  Fast-forward to 2014, MercyMe has a great new song out, on their newest album, called “Dear Younger Me”.  I encourage you to listen, as it is a great tune.  As I listened to this song, I thought about life and the trials that it has brought me.  Some of these trials have been self-inflicted, however, they have been trials, nonetheless. Reality is tough to swallow, sometimes.  As a matter of fact, there are times when reality will kick you in the throat.  Memories flooded my mind as the tune played out.  Tears began to flow as all those memories made their way to the front of my brain.   So, I asked myself, “Self, what would you say to yourself if you could reread/rewrite your life.  What would you say to your younger self?”  Hmm, interesting question!  There are so many things I would say to me. What would you say to the younger you?  Would you say the things you wished someone had said to you as a younger individual or would you just say let the younger you learn on their own?  Would you give you valuable advice?  Would you give you spiritual advice?  Would you talk to you about the birds and bees?  What would you say to you about life and the things that go along with it?  What would you tell you about love? This is my letter to me:

Dear younger me,

  Hey there, You!  I hope you find yourself well, as you are about to embark on some very important years.  I know you have already made some important decisions in your life.  How proud I am of you in choosing the Marine Corps as a foundation for your life.  I am sure the Marines will teach you some great things.  I think they found one of the few good men in you.  I know you have found the love of your life already.  Some folks spend a lifetime looking for that “one” person, you found her early.  That decision alone will save you some heart break along the path of your life.  Embrace her.  Now that life is just beginning for you, let me tell you some things that will give you a small edge when you are older.  I offer these only as advice, had I heard them when I was your age life may be a little different today.  

  First, Love, and love with all of your might.  Love deeply, compassionately and without any limitations.  Love is an action and you use that action on the ones you love, in the way that I described it.  If you still don’t get it, go to scripture, 1Cor 13:4-7.  That is the perfect  example of love.  However, love can come with some hurts along the way, but let your love go deeper.  1Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sin.”  Tim, not only are you to love your family and friends, you are to love the people you don’t know and be sure to love your enemy.

  Secondly, Forgive.  Life is tough sometimes, people will fail you and people will hurt you.  Forgive them.  Just as you would want to be forgiven.  Some people will not forgive you or they may put stipulations on you, forgive em anyway.  It will be so beneficial if you learn this now.  Holding in unforgiveness will ravish your very soul.  It will eat at you until you are eaten up with anger and hate.  Trust me you do not want that.  It’ll eat away the very good that is in you.  FORGIVE! 

  Third, Be Brave and take Chances, life is going to offer you many great opportunities, take em.  Do not be afraid to take chances.  If you fail 7 times, get up and try 7 more.  If it is college, a career, or a dream take the chance. The regrets will not be in the failures or successes of your hopes and dreams, but there will be regret if you didn’t try.  Try and Try again.

  Fourth, be a man, being a man is way more than just providing, a career, or knocking heads around.  Providing is good, that’s a start, but be there when the ones you love need you.  Do not make excuses, or estrange yourself from the ones you hold dear. They may not be there forever.  Be that safe place she can land when she needs a shoulder.  If she needs to be held, hold her.  Dress up for her and for you, look good, she’ll be proud of you.  Always show her how proud you are of her, all the time.  Start and end everyday with a prayer.  Oh, she’ll dig that.  Compliments, they mean a whole lot.  Be vulnerable, show them (the ones you love) the real you, the person you are when no one is looking.  Look, this next one took me a long time to figure out, cry.  Let the tears flow when you need to.  There is no shame in it.  Ultimately, those tears become tiny barbells, as they will strengthen you. This things are what make a man! 

  Fifth, is Fear.  Fear those things that can hurt you.  Drugs, don’t touch em and don’t even look at them.  There is no shame in not knowing what they look like, smell like, etc.  They will destroy you.  You are not bigger than drugs.  Fear them!  Alcohol, what greater  testimony than to be able to tell someone you have never even tried the stuff.  You know that alcoholism and addiction run in your family.  Don’t touch the stuff.  Cigarettes and snuff,  just stay away from em, they offer nothing good to you.  Fear can be a healthy thing if you use it properly.  Fear God!  No, do not be afraid of him, but acknowledge him as the Power he is.  Read about him.  Learn about him and fear him.

  Last but not least, I have seen you as a young kid embrace God.  Embrace him, love him, and spend time with him.  You spend time with him by reading your bible and praying.  Do not forsake this.  You have been doing these things a long time, do not let these habits go.  If you lose your faith you will be lost.  Do not turn your back on him, he will never fail you.  He will let you run around like a knucklehead searching for whatever it is you want to search for, but ultimately he reaches his arms out, longing for your embrace.  That is what he wants from you.  He loves you.  Embrace him.  Go to church too.  Do not foresake the gathering of the saints (Hebrews 10:25).  They are not God and God isn’t religion, remember that!  I left this one last because chances are you will remember the first one and the last one, but the ones in between are going to get blurred, you will learn.  I believe in you!

  I wished I could tell you that life is going to be with out any bumps in the road, but I can’t.  Chances are good that you are going to encounter some things that are going to knock the wind out of you.  Be brave young man, keep moving.  Chances are good that things are going to come along to try your faith, remember this, Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world!  I wished I could assure you that every decision and choice you are going to make are going to be great ones, but I can’t give you that assurance.  You are probably going to make some stupid mistakes and choices, its part of growing, GROW!  I can assure you this, that those choices you make will eventually make you the man you will become.  Life is confusing at times, the only instruction we have is the Bible, read it like your life depends on it. I leave you with one more thing, Laugh.  Laughter does the heart good like a medicine.  If you walk around with a sour face, people will never take your “good” words serious. Besides, who would want what you got if you look bitter and sound bitter all the time (Its called Joy)?  Not me!  

PS.  Never touch a snake and always wear sunscreen!