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!

 

 

 

 

The Battle is Mine! A History Lesson

Battles have been fought for as long as men have been alive.  They have fought for land, power, ego, religion and political gain.  Men will go to war at the drop of a hat these days and days gone by.  From the Revolutionary War to the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli, men have fought.  We fought in the War of 1812, to the Civil War and many battles in between.  Battles have been fought in Nicaragua, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, known as the Banana Wars to WWI.  During WWI, we fought at Chateau-Thierry, Soissons and Saint-Mihiel to deep inside Belleau-Wood. We shed blood in Normandy, Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Saipan, Peleliu, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.  From there, we saw Battle in Korea then to Vietnam, Tehran, Lebanon and Grenada.  The 90’s came and we fought the Gulf War, and small battles in Bosnia and Somalia. Only to welcome the 21st Century with war fighters fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. God Bless our  Marines, Soldiers, Airmen, Seamen and Coast Guard!  Battles are inevitable.  We will continue to fight until this life on Earth is over.

I joined the Marine Corps on 9 March 1992, I shipped off to Parris Island and my life changed forever.  No longer was I the young kid that came from Mississippi.  I was a Marine.  I was a part of a Band of Brothers unlike any thing else the world has known.  While training at Parris Island, the young Boot is put though a rigorous training for 13 weeks, (actually 12 as the first week was administrative, medical and miscellaneous antics the drill instructors saw fit to put us through).  Haircuts, were a first necessity upon entering Parris Island, my glorious locks (mullett) were shaved off.  We looked alike.  Our clothing, down to our skivvies, was identical, every thing we owned inside that gate was identical.  The only difference was our dialects.  Things we had taken for granted were now being done as a Marine Recruit.  No longer did I have the luxury of going to the HEAD in privacy, I now had to share that with other dudes and that wasn’t Cool. Simply going to the toilet now involved 55 other men, that had been holding out from going to the rest room for the first 10 days we were there.  No Way, was I going to go set on a toilet that didn’t have walls separating each toilet! I would just die from holding IT in.  Let me clear this up for you, The Head consisted of approximately 12/14 thrones, with one set of thrones(toilet) on one wall and the other set of thrones on the other wall and THEY WERE CLOSE TO EACH OTHER, REAL STINKING CLOSE!  If you have never looked into the eyes of a stranger that was taking a #2, you haven’t lived.  HaHa, just kidding, one of the great rules as a man is, when going to the restroom, never look at anybody or talk to them.  Showering became a community event, strip down, towel around your waste, line up and walk into the shower, all the shower heads were turned on and we walked through each shower head IN A LINE, A NAKED MAN BEHIND ME, JUST WASN’T COOL.  Believe it or not, those things quickly became unimportant, homesickness and a steady schedule kept your mind off the trivial.  Weeks blasted by with miles and miles and miles of running, did I mention miles.  Side straddle hops were the closest friend we had, oh, except for the mountain climbers!  Pull up bars became our vehicle of choice.  The creeks at Peps Point and the Rapids on Peps Point road were exchanged for a swimming pool at Parris Island, the only real difference was you swam with your clothes on, a pack that weighed in at 600lbs, not really but it felt that way, and our Rifle which became our Lover.  Our motto became Semper Fidelis and our creed became the Rifleman’s Creed.  We traded Mom’s cooking for the freshness of a chow hall.  Our weekend rides through the mall parking lot became a hump through the mosquito infested, 100% humidity that was Parris Island.  Oh, the sand fleas, little vampire blood suckers that latched on like a pair of vice grips holding metal in a vice.  Sucked, they really did!  Furthermore, if you had the courage to brush them off of you and the Drill Instructor saw that Brave Action, you and the whole platoon was going to pay for it.  By pay, I don’t mean with cash, I mean your physical abilities.  You were about to do push ups until the DI got tired and that rascal wasn’t even doing them.

Among these adventures, the Boot is put through rifle training that was a two week part of that 12 weeks. The Boot learns everything he needs to know about the M16 A2 Service Rifle, because every basic Marine is a Rifleman upon departing Parris Island.  Parris Island consisted of  boxing, pugil sticks and close combat training. Inspections of everything, uniform inspection, hygiene inspection (everything from finger nails to toe nails and everything in between) rifle inspection, and squad bay inspections.  Everyone was the same and had the same goals, to graduate that Hell known as Parris Island.

Close order drill was an integral part of recruit training.  If we weren’t doing the things I have mentioned already, we were outside, inside, it didn’t matter where we were, we were filling all spare time on drill.  Everything had to be done in an order.  Close order drill is used to maximize combat effectiveness.  When a man or a unit maintains order they already have an advantage over their enemy.  Close order drill builds confidence, discipline and ‘esprit de corps’ and these are key to a warriors character.  The sounds of cadence that are sung by the Drill Instructor and Senior Drill Instructor is a sound that rings in the recruits ears forever.  Those cadences that were sang to us became a spiritual hymn of sort, it made us march with perfection and perform our responsibilities with accuracy.

I was naturally born again hard on 06 June 1992, the day I graduated Recruit Training, and went to a couple of schools and ultimately joined the Fleet Marine Force to serve these United States as a Marine.  I served until March of 1996 and was honorably discharged.  The Marines and the life of a Marine taught me a lot of great things, along with the occasional bad things that men and women learn in the military.  I cherish those young years, it was a great experience and I encourage all young people to pursue it if they wish or if they aren’t sure what their life holds, the military offers a lot of great opportunities.

My story doesn’t end after I left the Marine Corps, matter of fact, it was only the beginning.  I believe, right or wrong, that we are put here for a purpose.  Not that our lives are predestined, but our lives are meant for something. Whether or not, we make the most of it is up to me.  I believe the things we do in our lives shape us for either something good, bad or great.  My military path was a plan greater than my own.  The life of a war fighter is tedious, it requires a mental toughness that can only be gained through much work, training and exercise.  His life is a disciplined life.  His life is one of obedience and authority, as he is under authority and has authority over younger war fighters.  He rises early and eats a hearty breakfast.  You see, he has to replenish himself as he is worn down from the affairs of the day before.

The battle I fight today is much like the battles that men and women have fought in the past.  There is a strange comparison, except the weapons I need are different.  I traded my Rifle for a bible and the Drill instructor that once stood over me has now become the most High God.  I must put on God’s armor early in the morning or I will surely lose the days battle (Eph. 6:10-18).  My steps are ordered by God now and I must prepare or I will be held accountable (Psalms 37:23).  We all have a decision to to make.  We can choose to fight on the side of God that stands for life, happiness and truth or we can just throw our hands up and lose the battle before we even start.

I threw my hands up and life became ugly.  I lost all the fight that was in me.  I gave up and was over run by the enemy.  The enemy is cunning, and subtle.  He is well prepared to defeat you and feed lies to you.  The lies can seem so real.  They will lead you to a place you do not want to go and you will lose.  Oh, its tempting, and its seductive, but it will only be temporary.  The reality will leave you gasping for air.  I was gasping once I realized the serpent was latched on to my neck. He seduced me with drugs, that took all my pain, hurt, shame and guilt away.  However, once the fog lifted I had more of those negative things on my shoulders than when I started.  I decided it was time to fight.  The battle rages but the serpent is no longer squeezing the life from me.  I am FULLY ALIVE now.

We are in a war, its not one that you can see but its a spiritual war.  One that is going on right now for yours and my soul.  The bible tells me in Ephesians that we do not battle flesh and blood but we are in a battle against principalities and powers of darkness (Ephesians 6:12).  We must prepare ourselves or we could be seduced by his lies.  I never dreamed that I would have gone down that dark road, Ever.  I encourage you today, my friends.  Take a look inside, if everything is good, that’s great, no need to change.  But if everything inside that heart is not good, ask God to help you remove it. Then, sit back and watch him work, you will be amazed.  I was.  This battle is real, it is no joke!   Here is the deal, regardless of our beliefs, we are either gonna win this battle and help our fellow Soldiers (Fellow Marines in my case) or we are going to lose.  I am tired of losing!  We are going to advance or we are going to retreat!  I am no longer going to retreat.  This place is to good to give up without a fight.  What’s it going to be?  ENGAGE!

Going Forward in Reverse!

Crying Out, Nobody Heard Me! I Thought?!

Thanks for reading and reblogging! 👍

goingforwardinreverse

Some days I didn’t want to move,didn’t want to get up out of bed. Other days I wanted to die. Sleep was my only friend as the depression consumed my soul. Thanksgiving was here, I wasn’t thankful for anything, I was angry because I was alive. Alone, I walked out to a field, very secluded area and fell down on my knees, begging for relief, something, somebody, please take this hurt. Please take the shame and guilt from me. I wasn’t worthy to even cry out to God, I wasn’t even sure there was a God. If there was a God he didn’t show up that day, but believe me, the Darkness was close by. I wept for what seemed like an eternity. I was ringing my hands that day, picking my scabs, that day I was lost. Thanksgiving 2013 was a dark day. There were many a dark day…

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