Sunday, November 27, 2011

What am I thankful for???

I carved this in St Louise, while recovering from being dead

11/26/11 Saturday
Thanksgiving is over. When I visited the guys in the local jail, they asked what I was going to do for thanksgiving. “Nothing” I told them and seeing their stunned response explained “All of my wife’s family lives far away. I am not close with any of my family and none of them live close either”. I told them that it was just me and my wife for holidays and that we are thankful for every day we have. There were some new people in the jail so I shared again the miracle of my life, how I had lived a life fraught with drugs and crime, had died in the accident, and how God, in His love, had restored my mind, faith, marriage, and life. I explained that I now know there is a real and living God, who loves not only me but all of them too. At the end I asked what they would like prayer for. I prayed for their families and for one of them that he would find favor with the judge. I didn’t talk of the disappointments we had experienced with the church people who lived close, to whom we had reached out to, hoping for fellowship and to share the love of Christ with, for that would not help build them up. Instead it would reinforce the feeling so many outside of the churches have regarding the hypocrisy of those who call themselves religious, but only have an outward show with no inner true care, concern, or love. They are springs without water, vines without fruit, empty and in danger of facing a fearful judgment when they stand before the living God, who will call us all to account for what we did and did not do while here on the earth.

What am I thankful for? I watched the ABC special on Gabriel Gifford, the senator from Arizona who had been shot in the head. They showed early clips of her rehabilitation, as they taught her to talk, nod her head, and all the basics of life. This brought me back to that hospital in Oklahoma where I woke from the coma. On a strictly medical basis my injuries exceeded Senator Gifford’s. I didn’t suffer a bullet tearing through my brain, instead my brain was torn to shreds through violent impact. That type of injury damages the entire brain, tearing billions of connections throughout that precious organ that enables us to live, breath, and think. In me a focus of the damage was on the frontal lobes, a kind of self-induced accidental lobotomy. Fully ten percent of my brain no longer exists at all and they discovered that I had incurred a stroke at an earlier time of my life along with evidence of multiple brain injuries that date back to childhood.

I watched as Gabriel Gifford struggled with basic tasks, and as she broke down crying in frustration, and remembered well my tears and even screams while still in the hospital. She has the benefit of the best medical help available and the most valuable healing tool, the love of her husband and close family, as well as a nation. It is a marked contrast to what I had. Her coma was medically induced to allow her body to cope with the trauma, my coma was not induced, in fact they doubted I would ever wake up, much less live. I had no insurance, had signed a divorce the day I left town running from the law, and there was no close family there at all, just my brother, who chose not to understand what I had endured or needed.

In essence I was thrown out by the hospital and barely tolerated by my brother, evidently an inconvenience he wasn’t pleased to be saddled with. But to his credit, he did more than anyone else, I’ll give him that. Through the help of social agencies, that I was put into contact with after wandering to a hospital desperate for help for the intense pain and confusion I was experiencing, I was enrolled at the Brain Injury Institute in St. Louise. There I was finally given some basic tools on how to live and function, but I was suddenly extradited back to Toledo, where there were warrants out because I had fled the state.

It didn’t take the judge long to figure out I was a mess, and would be expensive to keep, so I was placed on probation and kicked out to the streets. There I wandered lost and confused, homeless and not remembering much of my past, just bits and pieces like a giant jigsaw puzzle. The Veterans Administration put me in their homeless program and provided some basic medical attention, but seemed anxious not recognize I had incurred a brain injury or was disabled in any way.

But look at me now. Ten years later I can carry on a conversation and function well in society. There are still some issues with my memory and it appears that my ability to socially connect with others is hampered, but I suspect that is as much their fault as it is mine. There are many we get along great with, but always a few who seem to choose to judge and look down their noses rather than love and accept. The saddest part of that is they so proudly wear the “Christian” label and are apparently unaware of just how far from that mark they fall. We pray for them every day.

So life isn’t easy but I am incredibly blessed. I have a roof over my head, I have the first love of my life back and our marriage miraculously restored. My mind functions well, and despite being partially paralyzed and suffering serious pain my body does too. But most importantly, my faith has been restored. So now I have a hope for eternal life, a future forever to look forward to, a goal to aim for of standing before the living God and being found pleasing in His sight. With that is a realization of how far I have to go to achieve that goal, an understanding of my faults and inadequacies, but also knowing that my God loves me and is merciful, extending grace that helps me overcome these faults.

So I am thankful for every day I wake up, for I realize that each one is a gift. I am grateful for all those who display how little they think of me, for it reminds me of who I am with Christ and allows me to practice the love and forgiveness He made the foundation of our faith. I am thankful for every meal, for I have wandered lost without a clue where my next meal would come from. I have been blessed with going hungry for it helps me understand those who have no food to eat. I have been honored to be poor for it has strengthened my faith and dependence on God. Experiencing poverty helps me appreciate the little we have and understand we are truly rich, and that the worlds riches mean nothing in Eternity. So I learn to be content with what I have, and true contentment cannot be bought at any price.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Power is out

11/21/11 Monday
This morning we are without power. It’s foggy out so I fear someone had an accident and hit a pole. Power went out at almost exactly 6:00 am and I said a quick prayer for the protection or health of whoever had an accident, if indeed that happened. Cherie had already made our morning pot of coffee so we had that. The fog means moisture and when I took Cherie’s phone out to the truck, in order to charge it up on the truck battery, the soil was wet. Out here on this desert farm any wet is welcome. There is a chance of thunderstorms predicted today so we pray and hope some comes out way. The winter wheat and rye I planted is sure starved for water, along with everything else.

I got a door put up in the bathroom yesterday. Was grateful to Cherie for her encouragement and reminders to accomplish that task. The new used truck is now legal for the road but I need to pull wheels and investigate the brakes, for there is some grinding and squeaking to be heard while I drive. I also need to see if I can find some exhaust pipe in order to take out the soot collector device that is part of the exhaust. It looks like a catalytic convertor but isn’t and is not legally required on this year diesel. They are known to plug up and that could account for the steady decline in mileage. The shop that repaired our rusty exhaust so we could pass inspection pointed it out to me and will do the work for fifty bucks. Fifty dollars right now is a lot of money. We had gone up north with four thousand budgeted for the new truck but when all was said and done the $1550.00 we spent was all we had left. So I’ll see if I can do that exhaust job myself.

It’s 8:19 and there is still no power. There is a good lesson in this for us. Our reliance on electrical power is an issue we need to address when it comes to our long term plans for this farm. Out here on the farm power outages happen but in the days to come there may be serious interruptions. Iran has published plans that reveal a strategy to destroy or hamper our electrical grid and China has teams of computer hackers that regularly attack the computer systems that control our electricity, along with everything else. To be self-reliant is one of our goals, and that is why I bought a diesel truck. Should things all fall to pieces we can at least run the tractor and truck on vegetable oil. I can buy vegetable oil for a buck a gallon or so but need a filtration system to process it into bio diesel fuel. A press designed to extract oils from seeds would be great for the future too. We could grow our fuel then.

2:41 – The power is still out. I called this morning and learned that a substation that Sharyland Utilities (our power company) shares with Oncor, another power company, had caught on fire. He said they hoped to have the power on by noon. It’s obvious that won’t happen. Must have been one heck of a fire.

I have a fire going now in the woodburner. It was pretty cold here so a fire was a good idea. Plus with the woodburner I can heat up water for coffee or hot chocolate and in a pinch cook food. One of these years I would love to get a real wood fired cook stove. The kind that every house had before electricity and electric appliances became the norm. They still make them new, but those run about ten grand for the real good fancy ones. There are plenty of antique wood stoves out there, mostly up north, that can be found. So it’s on the dream list.

right now I am at the McDonalds in Lamesa. Came for the quest for manhood class I help teach at the prison and figured I could use the wi fi at Mcd's to go online.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

It's good to be home

This morning's sunrise

11/20/11 Sunday
We are so back home. Been back for a week now and still catching up. There was great concern regarding our outside dogs, as we had no one to come and check on them. We had left out several tubs and containers of food, confident we would be home in a week, but it didn’t last two weeks. Driving up to the house in our new used truck we were ecstatic to find both Buddy and Duke in the driveway, loyally waiting for us to come home. Seeing how thin they had become, especially Duke, who’s ribs were pronouncedly visible, brought home how sad it was there was no one we knew close by we felt comfortable asking to check on them.

But what it also did was cause me to think of the spiritual principle our dogs illustrated. Their food bowls were empty and had been empty for quite some time. Both Buddy and Duke are strays we rescued, so they had been on their own before, yet they stayed. Why did they stay and not go wandering to at least look for food? Because of loyalty and also a form of faith deep inside them, faith that we loved them and would always take care of them. Now I know they are only dogs and don’t display the higher cognitive thinking abilities we humans have, but there is a core deep inside them, a trust and faithfulness that we should all make note of.

Just as our dogs stayed, faithfully waiting for their masters to come and provide their needs, so should we wait and trust in God. Oh, there was rejoicing when we got home. They bounced and leaped, excited to see us, and we loved them intensely back. I ran and got food for them and even had to encourage them to eat for they, despite being desperately hungry, were more interested in crawling in my lap and being close. There is a lesson in this for me. Just as they trust in us, to the point perhaps of starving, so need I to trust in God, to truly believe He will take care of us and knows our needs even before we do. When things get bad, when situations all seem to go wrong, when church people who are supposed to love and care reject and gossip instead of doing what they know is right, I need to understand that God is still God. That He loves us even more than we love those dogs and will always lift us up. We pray every day for the pastor and others at Hosanna, intercede for them, ask God to be merciful but also ask that He help them see and understand how their actions directly contradict everything our faith is about. We are to lift up, not tear down, strengthen, not destroy.

I went to the Lynaugh prison yesterday. So missed attending the 4 day Kairos event we had planned so hard for. At the prison I shared something I had read when I was in prison over 30 years ago. It was a poem that I no longer know word for word, but the message still remains with me. The poem told of a man driving along and noticing a group of workers busy tearing down a building. He stops and talks with the foreman of the group, who tells him, “In a minute or two, I can tear down what others took years to do”. When I first heard this decades ago it had an impact on me, for the truth is it is much easier to tear down than it is to build up.

I shared this with the new converts and new members of the Kairos community because we are laying a foundation for them to build on. In prison, and out here in the free world, it is important to be builders and encouragers, to help each other out, protect and nurture our brothers and sisters in the faith. But when pride, ego, envy, jealousy, and all those other shortcomings we all must control, are allowed to rise up, then there comes discord, strife, and all manners of evil, and the Love of Christ, the foundation of our faith, is shoved off to the side. This is a dangerous thing to allow, for with it comes the judgment of the living God, who makes it clear many times that He will protect His little ones and hold accountable all who wear the label of “Christian” but harm the least of God’s children.

Mathew 7:21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23 Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

I watched a pastor squirm regarding this verse not so long ago. She said “It says many people will “say” they do these things, but doesn’t say they do, in her attempt to make sure it didn’t refer to anyone she knew. Fact is there will be many false teachers and prophets who do have signs and wonders following them, they WILL prophesy in Jesus’s name, they WILL cast out demons, they WILL perform miracles, yet they are not pleasing to God.

1 Corinthians 13 says 1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

It’s not what you do, but why you do it that is important. True love is shown in actions, not empty words. True love forgives and always works to build up others, to choose what is best for them, not best for yourself. There are so many who seem blind to themselves, deluded they are all that in the church when the fruit of their lives reveals the truth.
The truck we bought in Indiana
That’s it. Got work to do so must go.