Tag Archives: God

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

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

 

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?!

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 ahead, I just didn’t know.

The battle for my soul led me down a dirty road. A road that I am not proud of. I have heard that God isn’t this or he isn’t that, or there is no God and that is ok that one believes that. Reality is, there is a battle going on, a battle for my very life. You see, I knew God, I have to look in the mirror everyday and see a Fallen Down Man of God, that’s not easy. Not too mention, a disgrace of a husband, a father that walked out of his families life,  I am a brother that didn’t cling to his siblings, I am a son that was estranged from  his mother and father.  I was an employee that took advantage of one of the greatest opportunities and the greatest man that God had ever put into my life.  I blew it!  I was a friend that didn’t stick closer than a brother.  You see I was a drug addict and then I started drinking because I couldn’t get drugs when I needed them.  There is a battle going on for my soul!  I was suicidal because I let darkness in. I had begun to cut ties with my family, eventually I was gonna kill myself.  I listened to the lies of the evil one that told me I was all those things. Let me say this, not one time as a follower of Christ did I ever feel those ways or do any of those things.  Even if he isn’t real, the goodness of life is worth the change.  Scientifically, he is the great physicist, there is no explaining with our simple minds.  Sure, I could rationalize this, but there is no need for rationalization when I can smile today!  It wasn’t that long ago that I couldn’t smile.

In April of 2007, I decided in my mind that I was no longer gonna listen to, believe in a God that allowed me to feel hurt like I felt.  I did not want anything to do with him or his people.  They had hurt me and my family.  Why would I wanna associate with something like that?  My kids are almost grown now, well, one is right on the precipice of being grown and one is still a little short of it, though she thinks she is grown.  They both are very hesitant of God and his workings, but they will get there.  It was that month, in 2007, that my life would never be the same. At 33 years old I took my first hydrocodone, in a way that was not proper, or Dr prescribed.  My life and use rocketed from there. I couldn’t control it, but it took my hurt away.  That’s all I wanted it to do.  I had failed at something I felt was my destiny, my calling, my ministry and those little pills became my mistress.  They became my life, as I would go to whatever length or pit I had to do to get em.  They were my God.  Now, at this point in my life I was not an atheist, because I believed there was some kind of spiritual being out there, but that he was no longer interested in me because I SUCKED!  He was for other people, why would he want me back?  Maybe I had become agnostic, but again, I do not think so because I believed in a Higher Power (God), he just wasn’t for me.  I guess I was indifferent,  or I thought claiming to be agnostic was a cop out and I certainly am not a “coward”, I gotta believe in something.   I was to afraid to call Satan, my God, because I was terrified of that whole scenario.  I have seen the Exorcist. I was a speck of dust just searching for something.  Everywhere I turned led me to more darkness.  I just think that we as human beings should believe in something.  Heck, I even thought about Buddhism at one point, great idea there, some of it!

Christianity, today, seemed so unstable, it involves so many different aspects of belief (religion). We have Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Evangelicals, Holiness, etc etc.  You understand what I am saying.  Let me clear this up, I am not bashing any of those.  I grew up Pentecostal (Church of God), I say do your thing.  I just wasn’t sure the whole religious identity was for me.  I didn’t get it anymore.  There should be a Christian organization called Hypocriticals, I believe they would be the largest group involved with religion, if they would admit it and form it, just kidding, don’t get your briefs in a wad, that was a joke.  Seriously, I felt like Gandhi when he said, “…..I do not like your Christians.  Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”  That is were I was, DONE!

Back to 2013, my life had spiralled out of control.  My marriage was failing, at this point I had left the house, I was addicted to pain killers, I was burning a couple trees, I was pretty good at drinking beer, I was depressed beyond anything I have ever felt before, I had lost my job (which is a story in itself; how the greatness of God had even given me that job), I was picked up by police and put in a hospital because I literally felt like I was losing my mind, suicidal. I felt alone, I felt my kids hated me, I felt my wife hated me, I felt everybody hated me.  I didn’t have any hope, but there were days I remembered what Andy Dufresne said in The Shawshank Redemption, “Remember, Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.” I clung to that occasionally.  I certainly had blocked out all the love that ever existed, full of anger and hate, regret, shame, guilt and Alone.  While in the hospital, I even blocked calls from my wife, I didn’t want to hear her voice, after all, “She put me in there”.  I laugh now, at the time it was far from funny.  I put me in there!

My wife was dealing with issues of her own.  I will let her fill you in on that if she so desires.  However, I will tell you, I went to rehab on November of 2007 and again in May of 2008, her father passed away in 2009 and her mother passed in 2010 (May they both RIP in Heaven).  She had a hysterectomy in 2010.  She had a lot on her.  After I left, in November of 2013, she did a whole lot of soul searching and a bunch of work to get herself mentally where she felt she could function.  Let me tell you, she went to work, her and God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  Throughout November and December and into January, I wanted nothing to do with her.  I didn’t want to talk to her, see her or even think about her.  However, she and God had other plans.  Don’t get me wrong, we have loved one another since we were kids at church, teenagers really.  She was the one I saw and I knew that God had plans for us and I would always love her but the marriage was over, as far as I was concerned. There were days she would text me the kindest words, loving words, words that started to penetrate my heart.  I was a stone though.  I was not gonna let her back in, after all she was the reason I was hospitalized.  HaHa!  Joke was on me!  After a while, and occasionally those few months we would talk and I could tell she was no longer the same person that she was when I left.  She was so kind and loving toward me, so caring and even supportive of me, not the choices or the life I was making and living, but my heart and soul.  She was supporting the man that I was and I never wanted to be again.  She was loving towards me, even after all I have done and said to her.  She loved me and believed in me when I felt no one should. She saved my life.  She will tell you that it wasn’t her and I know it wasn’t her, but she was a willing vessel that was being used by God.  I could never thank her enough.  Today, she is better than the girl that I married 22 years ago. She is the most beautiful person I know.

Today, I write this with a new heart.  Today, I am home, our marriage is reconciled. But, early this morning (30 April 2014) at 0130  I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep.  I believe it was a divine awakening. I felt a baseball sized lump in my throat and I knew what I had to do.  I talked to God. Sobbing, I told him what I thought and he listened.  I asked for forgiveness for all I have done and I asked Jesus Christ into my heart and to be the lover of my soul.  He graciously welcomed me back.  I know how the prodigal son must have felt, because, I was him.  Today, my slate is clean.  I am a new man with a new heart.  Why is this such a big deal for me?  Because, I said I would never do it again after he failed me.  He didn’t fail me, I failed him.  But, Thank God for second chances, third chances or even fourth chances.

Blue Monday! Screw Monday! What About Embrace Monday!

 Here we are, another week, another Monday.  Wow, it started like any typical Monday.  I felt very discouraged this morning.  Well…… I will tell you why, I have lost more things due to my STOOPIDITY than I care to count.  My wife got her a second job and I can’t find ONE job.  One vehicle family, sucks, I am forty years old, I should have a job and a car/truck……I guess it goes back to being a Man, I didn’t feel very manly this morning, titty baby maybe but whatever, it is what it is!  I don’t have a lawn mower as I was gonna buy me one but messed around and lost my job because once again, my STOOPIDITY.  I need to cut my stinking grass!  My daughter is sick, spent Saturday nite and early Sunday in the ER.  Sunday, I was so tired I couldn’t think strait, I was really in a crappy mood.  Should I go on, I believe I will.  First, let me say, I am not crying out for help from anybody, please do not think that.  I am just crying, moaning and complaining so you can Feel where I was this morning and the last 24 hours.  

 

  So, the last couple of days I have been doing this and that, reading, writing, and getting very encouraged. Even, got to the point I said to myself, “Tim, I think its time for you to get down on your knees and fight like a man (pray…in case I confused you)”, even was at the point of having a talk with God about cleansing my soul and washing me white again, and coming in to be the master of my life.  Cause believe me, being a slave to drugs, anger, hate, sadness, guilt and shame drove me to suicidal thinking.  Which I am glad I didn’t go that far.  I will save that far a later date to talk about.  I would rather be a slave to God than that other Madness.  Anyhow, as I searched out my heart, I thought,” lets try again God, lets see if all those things I was taught as a kid about you are true.  Lets just see if you are real.  Besides, if I do allow you in my heart, its gotta be better than that life.”  I still haven’t found what I’m looking for, thanks Bono.  Then, it happened, I woke up, pissed off and mad about that. So discouraged, ringing my hands, and shaking my head. I should have known, the evil one was gonna be lurking about.  He comes in like a thief, and I wasn’t armed.

 

  Trying to get my head outta my butt this morning, I just started thinking about different things. I tell you the truth, it was stuck, I couldn’t pull my head outta my butt.  Then something hit me, I started thinking about the valley.  I remember several years ago, Lamar Harrison, I am sure he wouldn’t mind me telling this.  He was preparing to sing a song or he was just ministering about the valley.  I remember he said there is life in the valley. Things grow in the valley.  It is green in the valley.  What do I do, I google valley and search the images and there it is.  Every picture I see, every valley is green and full of life and there are cities there in the valley.  Flowers grow in the valley.  Animals live and thrive in the valley, waters flow through the valleys.  You think that’s coincidence, I think not.  But, I did continue on with those thoughts and I thought about Mt Everest.  My son came home from Orlando last night…Imma break in and brag  about him for a sec.  My son is President of the Honors Program and is an officer in Phi Theta Kappa at Pearl River Community College. The PTK had their annual, national convention this past week in Orlando, therefore he went.  Proud of that young man.  He came in telling me about this lady that climbed Mt Everest (3 times), she is a scholar and she was speaking at the convention, but I can’t recall her name.  Nevertheless, she spoke about her adventures and how one time she attempted to climb but there was a storm therefore she and her team couldn’t do it that day.  Storms will destroy any great plan.  She spoke of her journey and how she had to prepare for her ascent to the summit.  I can’t remember exact detail but this is the meat and potatoes of what she spoke about.  Upon getting to the first of three base camps, you have to stay there several days to get acclimated to the elevation and lack of oxygen.  Once the allotted time is met, you have to hike to the second base camp, stay there the night and return to the original base camp. then repeat.  Once you are back at the second base camp, you prepare for the third base camp, hike up to the third base camp and repeat.  Back to the second, you get what I am saying…..Then to the summit, this takes much work, stamina, determination and tenacity.  In other words, it ain’t no easy adventure.  Not too mention, as you ascend to the top, for every step you take you have to stop ten minutes to catch your breath.  Yep, I said for every step.  SO, again I ask you, do you think my son came home to tell me about Mt Everest was by chance.  I think not.  I think a lesson was needed for Tim because I was getting weary.  Feel free to believe what you will.  It takes work to get to the top, all the while life is blooming down in the valley.  Sure, there is jubilation at the top.  There is celebration, joy, happiness, warm fuzzy feelings, etc.  Notice there is no life on top of the mountain, no flowers, no animals, nobody or no thing lives on the top of the mountain.  Those feelings are temporary.  Now, you have to walk down that mountain, and be careful, if you fall, its a steep drop, may be fatal.   

 

  Dear brother or sister, if you are feeling discouraged like I was, know you are not alone.  I too was there and am there, but things feel so much better this afternoon.  I think I can make the rest of my day that I am blessed with. I hope this encouraged you like it did me.  If it didn’t, thats ok, my life and your life may be on a different path.  So be it, life is good.  I am drug free today.  I can smile today.  I am loved today and I can love em back.  The tears I shed now are happy tears or they are tears of cleansing, cleansing of my soul.  I love you all!

 

Going Forward in Reverse,

Tim 

 

http://youtu.be/O_ISAntOom0  U2_ I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

In the Beginning…….

 

  Church was always a big part of my life, I knew that God had great things for me but never really questioned it until I discharged from the Marines.  While serving, we stopped going to church.  It seemed odd for me not going to church but I was a Marine now and I didn’t think of it as important.  However, back home in Mississippi it was time for us to get involved with church again and so life went on.  From 1996 until 2000, our life was  just as any other couple, learning, laughing and loving. Spiritually, we were well.  I was a happy man, with a good life and a great family.

  I began to struggle with my my spirituality in those few years between 96 and 2000.  I wrestled with God and even  one point wept, pleading with God to just leave me alone and let me live my life as a good Christian man.  He had other plans.  Finally, in 2001 I accepted the call of God in my life. My family and I left the church we had known as kids, the church I first saw my future wife in when I was 15 and knew that she was gonna be mine.  The church I first kissed my future wife at, in the parking lot, after church of course.  The church she and I were married in.  The church we dedicated our kids to God in.  The church my mother still goes to today.  The only church I knew.  This was a very difficult decision but we made the decision and rocked on.  We started attending another smaller church, with a great pastor whom I love dearly.  Later, I would become youth pastor and ultimately pastor.

  There is so much more about my formative years, teenage years and my young married years I could tell, but we will talk about that later, as this is just to let you know who I am. This is just the beginning of a journey I have never taken.  I don’t know what is compelling me to tell my story, other than the fact that this is a healing for me.  Believe me, as you will see later I am a sick man.  If I can tell my story and it helps one person then I can say it was worth it, but until then, I still ask myself “why me”.

  Throughout this journey of blogging, I hope you can feel some of my hurts, feel my inspiration, feel the love that is being restored to me.  I hope to share some of those  feelings of love, hope, peace and joy.  Grant you, this is starting out as a spiritual journey.  I didn’t intend for that to be, it just is.  To understand fully what I am saying, it must be understood that I was a church kid, a spiritual kid and a loving kid but somewhere along the way I lost those things.  My blog is not to preach to or convince you that my way will work for you, you have your own beliefs, I just wanna tell you my story.  I am gonna try my best to tell you what being a Man is.  I will tell you what drugs will do to your life.  I am gonna share with you how darkness invaded my life and made me do things I thought I would never do.  I am gonna share with you my thoughts about music and share with you the “Metal” tunes that I love.  I love music, you are gonna hear some great tunes.  Bob Marley said, ” One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”  How true is that? Someday’s I may share with you other things that interest me, things I may find beauty in.  Other days, I may share some compelling news.  I assure you, you will find something you will enjoy.  

  Several years ago, I had a dream that I was gonna one day write a book.  Now, I am not a writer by profession, heck, I am not even an amateur writer, but I woke up with a title of a book and that is why I chose my title, Going Forward in Reverse.  The thought is, throughout my life I have moved along but it always seemed backwards to me, thus the title.  Maybe, the blog was what I was gonna do.  I do not know.  This is a brand new trip for me.  I invite you to come along.  If there is a day that you do not agree with me or I offend you, please email me, we can talk.  Don’t judge me, this is my life.  This is life through my eyes.

  Thank you for reading.  I am pretty excited about this blog.  I look forward to reading yours.  Sit back and watch what this  is gonna turn into.  Going Forward in Reverse!