Thursday, March 9, 2017

Willingness? Hmm how about you?

Hello all, hope everyone is doing great things with all this beautiful weather we're having. Oops, maybe I'm rubbing it in this 75-degree sunny weather is not being enjoyed by everyone just those of us smart enough to move south during the winter months.

No matter where we are in our lives we all have our missions to serve. A wise man once told me that we must figure out what our talents are so that we can share them with others and glorify the gifts that God has given us to the fullest. Becoming willing to live our lives this way is not an easy decision because it means we have to give up our selfish nature as much as possible. For me especially that is not easy to do. Naturally I want to be there for others as much as possible but do I want to sacrifice my comforts and time?

I heard an awesome bible study the other day talking about servanthood and what that used to mean back in the day of the apostles and Christ. We're not talking about someone who serves today and is then thanked we're talking about an entirely selfless person who is at the bottom of the food chain! Someone who never gets simple thanks no praises nothing. Today we, especially Americans are very appreciative of people who serve. I was brought up to treat the janitor and the CEO with the same respect. It's common courtesy today, so to grasp that level of servant the Bible talks about is hard to do. To become willing to live my life as a servant helping others is even more challenging.

I'm not going to delve into all my personal issues, but I will say that over that past few years I've become much more aware of how I must serve if I'm going to be able to live with myself. Focusing on others has allowed me to see life from a different angle and freed me to understand that living not just for the day but the moment is paramount the freedom from self truly is worth the journey. Mike, my service dog, has opened so many doors to my mission and life that I'm so grateful today. He has allowed me to step up and out of myself even when I may not be in the mood. I finally understand why these four-legged creatures are named God spelled backward. Dog.

I thank God for the willingness to move forward with my life when I just wanted to quit. Today I spoke to a seniors club and to engage with them and share the story of how these dogs change lives, was just wonderful. It's not about me feeling good it's about making a difference in the community and helping others to understand that no one should ever have to quit before the miracle of life. My story is not all that unusual, but the message resonates enough to allow others to get on board. When others become aware of the suicidal rates of veterans and the other issues, many veterans have then learned that these four-legged blessings can bring about changes it is so worthwhile.

If you have not been touched by one of these service dogs or a veteran who has had a miracle happen to them look around, they are all over. Some are WWII veterans, and some are current conflict, but all veterans have a story that should be told. Sit them down and listen to them I bet you will be transformed.

God Bless

Monday, March 6, 2017

Ye of little Faith?

“How would your life be different if…You stopped making negative, judgmental assumptions about people you encounter? Let today be the day…You look for the good in everyone you meet and respect their journey.” 
― Steve Maraboli

Being a parent and how God must feel? God is not a Grandfather to anyone, so he has an intimate relationship with each and every one of us. I know when my children were little I was responsible for their well-being, but as they've aged they grew into responsible people, and I only wish I could remove the pain and suffering they may have to go through. To think that God has had to do that same release with everyone allowing us to be human and still loving us in spite of who we are and what we do is amazing.

“Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding.” (Proverbs 3:13)

The fact that I have to focus on my life and live to
my best ability not living for people places and things around me, not trying to control or make things happen. When I focus on my world accepting my faults and admitting my wrongs I can live forward. I can put my hand out to help others not because I want to look a certain way or because I'm better than someone but because when I'm helping others, I'm not doing the wrongs that my human nature naturally does. As a wise man once told me if you are busy doing the do's you don't have time for the don't that life has to offer.

I love the story told to me when I was fighting against my beliefs in a higher power (God), and I was so sure that no power out there could ever run a world such we have here on earth. This world that is so tortured and stricken with tragedy after tragedy. I was fighting with a personal daemon of drugs and alcohol that told me I didn't have a problem it was everything around me that was wrong. A little old lady looked at me, a juvenile delinquent if ever there was one, and said if you are not an alcoholic and you go to AA, what have you lost? Then she said, if you are an alcoholic and don't go to AA oh God what have you lost! By this time I had accepted, I could not drink and be normal like most kids my age so that statement rang true. Her next statement just as simply blew me away!
She took the same simple philosophy and stretched it into a statement about God even I could not dispute. She said if there is no God and I believe in God, what have I lost? But, if there is a God and I don't believe in that God oh God what have I lost! Wow, profound at best my mind could no longer flat out deny nor dispute on the grounds I had been, which were completely self-centered ego, me not wanting to admit I was not in control. That simple statement allowed me to see the light at the end of the tunnel as it was not that it might have been the train coming to run me over.

Over many years I've grown and tested that same faith. It has wavered many times, to say the least. I've seen things that most should never have to see. Encountered events that's still to this day cause me to shiver with the thoughts of them. I saw the birth of two miracles, my son, and daughter which I would never have expected to been blessed with. I've been so depressed in life that I played with a 45 caliber pistol wanting nothing more than to have it over. The lonely feeling that no human power could understand me and I was alone with myself locked in a dark, dismal cave of life's bottomless pit.

It was not the help given to me that brought me out of that cave so much as it is the constant reaching out of hands of others. Those hands weren't hands passed in pity as I had always perceived them but hands up as if the person below or above was push/pulling me along with them on their journeys. You see the gift is the giving; it's the process, not the wrapping. The community of brothers and sisters interwoven together creating a tapestry of life.

So that is my take on faith today. Somehow I felt moved to share this so here it is. Maybe this is a new direction in my blogging God knows I have these thoughts all the time maybe I'll start doing this more often. Let me know what you think.

God bless

“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” 
― Wayne W. Dyer

Sunday, March 5, 2017

“Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn't stop for anybody.” 
― Stephen Chbosky

So here we are again wondering why it has been so long since I last wrote, chastising myself for being so neglectful of this blog. The bottom line is that with all that I seem to be doing I somehow forget to do these things I truly do enjoy doing. Maybe someday this will take a bigger stage, but for now, you are all stuck with the rantings on the untimely nature they happen.

“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.” 
― Steve Maraboli

My life over the past year has been a whirlwind ride if nothing else. So many changes for good and bad but most importantly I have been changing myself not the world. The freedom that comes from finally realizing that taking control over what needs to be done instead of wishing I had control over what I have no controls over. For those wondering what that is, it is owning myself and letting everyone else be who they are. My health and mind are so much better when focused on the one person I can control then all of the turmoil of the outside world. 

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 

That particular verse rings so true in my life over the past 12 months. So much has changed I have embraced the fact that I have a mission that I am pushed forward and into, sometimes with the fingernails getting stuck on the walls as I grasp trying not to do what I know God is pushing me forward too.  Having moved into a small western NC county that you would think would allow me some obscurity but finding that it has a veteran population of over 10,000 and a true need for people to get active. I continue to find that Mike opens doors with people that would not talk to someone from the VA or other VSO's. (Veteran Service Organizations) 

These interactions while part of my daily life have changed my life and I can only hope others around me. Telling my story and helping others to become comfortable with their stories has become part of my living life on life's terms. This week I had a remarkable experience while traveling north in the camper. As usual, I rarely stay in a campground. Instead, I do what many seasoned RV'ers call boondocking. (Dry camping, "walmarting" or many other names also.) I had stopped in at one of my friends along the coast of New Jersy, having a great dinner and conversation. After dinner, I was ready for a rest before heading up and around NYC, so I started looking for available parking. My friend mentioned a pastor friend and his church as an option. Not one to turn down a safe-haven (no this is not Bethlehem, but the story could be I guess.)

His friend said sure, come on by so we drove on over, and I found a safe level space to park. The pastor came out to meet Mike & I which is not at all unusual, but his greeting threw me for a loop. I am a Christian, and there is no hiding that. I am not a bible thumper nor am I a real prayer out loud. To be honest, I get all tongue-tied if asked to say a prayer of any length in public. All that said, when the Pastor came up shook my hand and said tell me about your ministry I was a tad taken back. Don't get me wrong I do consider the daily interactions I have with people to be God inspired and a mission of God to help other Veterans in whatever manner I can. What I had never thought of though was being referred to as a missionary. (I mean come on people, I was a grunt in the Army, and I am not really what I would consider the typical missionary.)

We all talked for a while, sharing stories and all but my mind could not just let go of what he had said. Who would have thought that a couple of words could change the way I looked at my daily actions and interactions. He wasn't saying I needed to open a church or change at all; he was saying I already was a missionary. That blew me away, it still does. We have all been given so many gifts in this life, and it is our responsibility to recognize them and then use them to glorify God. I hope and prayer that I do that already but after that conversation, my mind has been spinning. The wonderment of "am I doing enough or even doing what I am supposed to be doing?" continues to seep into my thoughts.

“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.” 
― Roy T. Bennett

My choices have made me who I am. God had given me free will to become the person I am leading me even when I wasn't looking or was so stubborn that I fought hard to run the other way. Today my life is an amazing collection of trials and tribulations that create a story many people find inspiring for some reason. To me, it is my life, and I would not trade it for anyone else. I do not regret the past nor wish to change it. The future is so unbelievably beautiful because I know that God is here guiding me. 
The most important part of all this is not that someone pointed out that I am a missionary, but that life moves forward with a design so much greater than anything we could ever have planned. Who would have ever expected this juvenile delinquent kid from Wallingford CT to amount to anything? Well, the most important answer to that and the only one that counts is God! He lets me know daily how much he loves me through that one on one interactions in the grocery store or on the street. All I have to do is say thank you, God.

Mark 10:45 - “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”