Monday, January 31, 2011

Good news, Storms coming

1/31/11 Monday
Hard to believe, it’s the last day of the month. Wow, sure flew by fast. It’s been an interesting month, but every month is interesting, at least to me. The frustration of the bathroom is still going on, but at least there has been progress. This fiasco has caused deep depression in my wife and seems to be creating problems elsewhere.

In church I asked the lady, who started all this with a lie, to forgive me. “Why” she asked, so I started to tell her I had been angry because she started this mess 3 months ago and then disappeared. I never got to finish my sentence. She went off, saying “Your not asking for forgiveness” as she pointed her finger at me accusingly. Cherie, having deep hurts because of this, left the room, not desiring to hear any of this ladies tirade. And it was a tirade. She told me she was tired of me harassing her and that if I kept it up she would be forced to do something about it, very much a veiled threat, of what I haven’t a clue. When I protested that I haven’t even spoken to her about this, and for that matter haven’t spoken to her in three months, it fell on deaf ears. She practically screamed “you want me to forgive you? I forgive you, I forgave you last time we talked about it” and stormed out. (I've never talked to her about it) Every contact with her come with a display of this tension, obvious evidence, at least to me, that there is no forgiveness and a definite lingering bitterness, for what I don’t know for sure but have some suspicions about.

Unfortunately this all happened publicly in church. I had waited till Sunday school had ended and most had left the room but it spilled out to the sanctuary. Now I must wonder what will come of it. The pastor talked a bit about gossip and the power of the tongue, quoting from James. We long for friendships there but there has been no closeness that has developed yet. Why is there this distance? What do people say behind closed doors? I will trust in the Lord, and trust that He will work it out, that Jesus’ only command, that we love The Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and Love our neighbor as our self, will be practiced. Meantime we feel like we are outside looking in. I try to assure Cherie, telling her that God led us to that church for a reason and that we should submit to the leadership and wait till His purpose is revealed.

So it’s been three months and we still don’t have a complete bathroom, but we are much closer now. I called Ricardo yesterday and apologized for being angry the day before. He had promised to be here Saturday and work on it but his plumber friend blew us off again and Ricardo was in another part of Texas working on a job. When I called him to see when they would show up and learned this I expressed my frustration. The pastor mentioned something about how people want others to do for them all the time and I had to wonder if she was expressing her feelings about us. As a result I told Ricardo that we would take care of our bathroom our self, and wouldn’t rely on anyone else to help. Relying on others to keep their word hasn’t worked out well. We never asked for this, we never said a word about our bathroom, it was all someone else’s idea that was thrust on us. And now someone is judging us for it? Ricardo offered several times to help us buy the parts needed but I told him no. He’s a great brother and was roped into this so it’s not his fault at all. Fact is Ricardo is the only person in the church who has spent any time talking with me regarding anything of depth. Basically that means he knows me better than anyone else there. I know his heart and he is real, and we are blessed to know him.

There’s good news, a storm is coming. It’s supposed to blow in tonight and bring with it snow and ice. I bought a new bar for the chain saw, so it’s back up and running. Sure have worn out some parts on that machine. With this storm comes some pretty cold temperatures so I will go cut a load of firewood and get it inside the house today. It hasn’t rained in over three months so we are grateful for any moisture we can get but I must prepare for what’s coming. I sense in my spirit that there are some other storms coming as well, and they are not as easy to prepare for. For them we have God as our cover and comforter. Through it all we will be stronger for the difficulty.

Got to go cut some wood so bye now.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The dog barked!!!

This morning's sunrise

1/26/11 Wednesday
It’s a wonderful day. Why? Because I choose to view it that way. There are many things that could be better, like perhaps having a bathroom with a tub and shower installed so we could take a bath. Cherie is still fighting off whatever kind of bug she picked up from me, and it seems to be coming back hard. That and the mess the house is in because of the bathroom fiasco makes it hard for her to be upbeat. When my wife is down I’m down too and work hard to make her feel better. Money is tight, things in our future look bleak, but it’s a wonderful day, for we trust in the Lord. We trust that God will walk with us through all the hard times and no matter how bad it gets we know there are millions around the world who have it much worse than we do. The bible says “The joy of the Lord is my strength” but it’s hard to grasp when the joy we have must often be manufactured.

Last night we heard Buddy (our new dog) bark for the first time. He’s howled a lot, echoing the coyote’s he hears, or just letting us know that he is lonely, (Like he did at 3:00 this morning) but we’ve never heard him bark. It was good to hear because we need him to be a watch dog, warning us when intruders are on the property or something is wrong. Buddy is a happy dog, always grateful for, and craving, pets. He’s a wonderful addition to the family but we worry because he doesn’t have a fear of the highway that has claimed so many of our pets.

I’m planning on going to Odessa today, to attend a Christian luncheon that Chuck Lane holds every week. I’ll stop by GLC to check on if their maintenance guy still needs some help, and perhaps see if I can promote Ron Charles a little so he might get some more air time.

I’ll run by the jail this morning for the jail ministry. While there I want to talk to the sheriff and let him know I’m available should a need arise in the community. They had a situation last week that ended with a man having to be shot. He died but evidently had been mentally sliding downhill for quite a while, was suicidal and paranoid, with guns and booby traps set up all over his house. I suspect that police departments are not encouraged to put pastors in touch with troubled individuals, for all kinds of legal reasons, but if a family member requests it I’m sure it would be fine. It’s just like the guy who shot congresswoman Gabriel Gifford. There is no question that there were clear signs he was sliding into madness and hindsight wonders if anyone could have helped. I’m no psychologist, but my theology degree carries a major in pastoral counseling. Add to that the fact that my personal life experience touches on an enormous range of the things that afflict society, alcoholism, drug addiction, criminal activities, and other aspects of life that tear a person down. Plus I believe I have the answer to all of man’s problems, in the life that comes with Jesus Christ, who came to set us free from all those chains that bind us. Whether I could have helped the man who was shot will never be known, but a life is gone now and I sure wish I could have had the chance to try.

Time to run. Y’all remember, that God is and that He loves us all.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Thank God it's Monday (each day is a gift)

1/24/11 Monday
Thank God it’s Monday! Many say “Thank God it’s Friday” because it is the end of their week and time for the weekend to begin. For some it’s a time of partying, for some it’s catch up on work around the house, and for some it’s a much needed period of relaxation. In my mind I see Monday as the exciting start of another week in the adventure that our life is. For me, every day is a gift, a gift of life that I didn’t deserve, a life that far exceeds the expectations of many. The medical experts thought I would be a vegetable in a nursing home, having to be fed and bathed, suffering the consequences of paths I had chosen. A worthless waste of societies resources as taxpayers monies were spent caring for me till I would finally pass away. But the Mercies of God intervened, and the wonder of life was restored to me, the most undeserving of all. So “Thank God it’s Monday”!!! I am grateful for every day I am given and intend to always maintain that attitude, to always remember the grace of God and His loving hand on our lives.

So does that mean our lives are easy? No, not even close. There are many difficulties we face, many hardships and obstacles to overcome. Having God’s hand on your life doesn’t mean that everything is coming up roses, for even beautiful roses have thorns. Some preach that being a Christian means you will have all kinds of financial wealth, but they do so sometimes for selfish reasons. They often are selling books on how to get rich based on a few bible verses, often taken out of context. Jesus was pretty clear on this subject, as He usually is.

Jesus said, in Mathew 6:19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

Does this mean that all Christians are to be poor? Oh no, it doesn’t mean that at all. We must always look at everything the bible says and seek the true balance that is always there. It’s when we get out of balance that error comes in. That’s why one of the most dangerous ways to study the bible, or develop doctrine, is to pick out sentences from their context and put them together any way you see fit. By doing this I can make the bible say anything I want. “I want” is the central problem, when it comes to our study of the bible. We all have our own personal desires and ideas of how life is, what we like, and what we don’t like, and those personal desires often are at odds with what God says is good and is not good.

1 Timothy 6:3 If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5 and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.

There is a world of people who have discovered that religion is a great way to access other peoples money. I remember well the man I met in Toledo, who told me “There’s good money in the god business”. He is a con man who was scamming all the churches he could get into to support his street mission. When I researched him I discovered he had been doing this all over the country. We know people locally who also have become adept at fooling others with their spirituality and thus gain financial rewards. One of them seems to be unaware of their own deception, so perhaps has even fooled themselves. Meantime they leave a wake of destruction behind them, though often hard to see behind the smokescreen of godliness.

Paul went on, in his letter to Timothy, to expound more clearly on the subject of riches.
1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

I remember with sadness a brother who fell into this trap. He had even one time quoted the portion of this scripture we are probably the most familiar with “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” to correct me when I had erroneously quoted it off the top of my head as saying “the source of all evil”. This brother flung himself headlong into a Ponzi scam, ignoring my warnings about it, and come to find out had been sucked into many schemes over his life.

Again comes the question, “Does God want us to be poor?”. No, He doesn’t. Listen to this quote from the prophet Jeremiah, as he speaks for God.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

“Plans to prosper” is a central part of this. When we look at the life of Abraham, Jacob, Job, Solomon, and many other great people of God found in the bible, we often find they were people of great wealth, who had been blessed tremendously by God. The key, the balance in this is our relationship with God, what is important to us and what is not, what our priorities are. Ultimately God wants us to place Him at number one and the principle is that anything that is more important to us than God becomes our god.

Colossians 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

Greed, which includes but is not limited to the love of money, is identified here in Colossians, as idolatry. That’s another way of saying it can be your god, that which you bow down too and worship. That which leads you away from the true and living God.

We started this out with the words of Jesus as found in Mathew 6. It’s always wise to include everything said in a statement, to see the complete thought, so here is the rest of Jesus’ words

Mathew 6:25 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ? 28 "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

The key to this all is found in verse 33. “Seek first His kingdom, and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”. There it is, straight out of the mouth of Jesus. It’s all about priorities, what’s important to you first. If we seek God and His kingdom, God will bless us tremendously. Of course getting out and working hard is a vital ingredient to this all, another part of the balance we seek to achieve. God judges the hearts and motives (1 Corinthians 4:5) Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. It’s not what you do, but why you do it that is important. If you try to be Godly in order to gain wealth, you have just defeated yourself.

The 700 club is on TV this morning. They are doing their fundraising telethon thing and frankly it can be frustrating so I often turn the sound off. I enjoy listening to the news they give at the start of the program, for it is often news that mainstream media chooses not to tell us, and sometimes flatly reveals lies we are told. It is refreshing to hear positive things and of how God changes lives. Something inside me says that I may one day be on that show, given a chance to tell of the power of God in our life.
(Click to enlarge)

There’s work to do and I’ve spent more time on this than I planned. But I suppose that someone somewhere needed to read this so will trust it was God inspired. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wow! Another tale of brain injury survival

1/20/11 Thursday
Wow! I read this comment on yesterday’s blog post, and boy did it bring back memories, along with a renewed appreciation for how blessed I am to be alive, and to have the quality of life I enjoy. Read this and understand it describes very well the state I was in when I began to wake up from the coma.

hi this comment isnt about the current post. i found this blog while researching life after a coma. my friend has just woken up from a 2 month coma/ vegetative state after a car wreck that would of killed most. he has sheer damage to his brain and the doctors said he would be in a vegetative state forever. but a few days ago he started waking up and today he is talking and moving and seems almost like before the accident except that somethings seem different he cryed when his icecream was too cold and says things that dont make sense sometimes. he laughed at jokes and spoke normally but a little slower but sometimes said strange things like "its dangerous" and gas chamber or electric chair and things like that after napping. Will he progress from here and be less confused or is this pretty much it. thankyou

This picture is of the car I died in. Was flung out of the rear window as it rolled end over end, and pronounced dead at the scene. Still listed as a fatality by the state of Oklahoma.

Like this person’s friend, I was not expected to live, and if I did I was expected to be a vegetable till I finally died. We all have been hearing about Gabriel Gifford a lot lately, and will continue to as she recovers from her bullet wound to the head. Think of this, despite having a bullet pass through her brain, she is in better shape than either I or the person talked about in the comment were. Our coma’s were not medically induced and the brain trauma’s we incurred involve the entire brain, not a specific portion of it. Gabriel is already able to process information, to see, walk, grasp, and many other tasks. She has a long road ahead for sure and there will be issues that will only become apparent as time moves on. She has family, friends, and the best medical help available, so will do well, just as journalist Bob Woodruff did. I wasn’t that lucky. I had a brother who refused to understand and for that matter was upset when I did seek out some help from the Brain Injury Institute in St. Louise. As soon as I started therapy there I was extradited to Ohio, where I was eventually dumped onto the streets and wandered homeless, seeking help from any place I could.
I carved this from a piece of wood that had been in the car I fell asleep in and wrecked. Click on it to enlarge and read it. Says what I believe

God intervened, and I suppose had a plan for me. After being featured on ABC as “Toledo’s John Doe” I was reunited with Cherie, my first and then third wife. Cherie read the above comment and cried, telling me of how hard it was for her to understand and endure the problems that came with my TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). But she loved me and that love enabled her to keep going. We’ve run into so many church people who would say they understood brain injuries but in reality chose not to see past the eccentric behaviors and rejected us instead of showing the love of Christ I had hoped for. This is why I desire to increase others awareness of TBI and the problems that come with it. A key to helping those with brain injuries is simple, listen, and talk, communicate and work to understand what is going on in their heads. Sometimes we interpret what we see wrongly, or when we try to express our thoughts the wrong words come out so we say something we didn’t have in mind.

Part of the problem with me is that I am so smart. It’s hard for people to accept that I have a problem when it’s so obvious, to them, that I am lucid. Before the accidents my tested IQ put me in the top 2% of the nation, and that was how I was able to build successful companies and got paid so much to advise others on how to run theirs. Part of my brain still operates at that level, but other parts don’t. I can’t remember what I am doing and require written to do lists in order to complete anything. I don’t get hints or understand subtle signals, tending to take what others say very literally. Ten percent of my brain simply isn’t there any more and the rest has billions of little hidden tears and misfirings in it. Each day I am improved and am an amazing testament to the power of God and the wonder of our human body and brain’s ability to repair itself.

Enough of that. Cherie is still sick. I need to go heat up some of the chicken soup I made for her earlier. Then I will run to the jail and minister to the two guys who are incarcerated there. Cut enough firewood to keep warm all day and through the night. Need to see what I can do to keep Buddy warm when it goes down into the low twenties tonight. Time to go.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It boggles my mind

1/19/11 Wednesday
Windy and warm is the forecast today. Then the temperature drives down to well below freezing towards evening, with a forty degree drop. Typical for West Texas. There was a beautiful sunrise that I hurried out to capture with the Kodak, that somehow is still working. Today I will spend some time cutting more firewood in preparation for the cold snap.

I went to the jail this morning to minister to whomever might be there. Usually I go on Tuesday’s but I attended the two day pastors prayer summit so couldn’t make it. Turns out that the two guys I saw last week are still there, and the only ones in jail, but they were asleep. The deputy said they stay up all night and sleep all day so suggested I show up later in the day. I’ll do that but have to wait till tomorrow. Today will be a busy day with cutting wood, visiting the widow in Midland, and then going to church.

Things are always interesting around here, sometimes more interesting than others. It boggles my mind, the places God puts me. Last week two of the people I meet with on a regular basis asked, and then encouraged, me to attend a yearly event of the Midland Ministerial Alliance called the “Prayer Summit”. This is an organization for pastors, and I suppose people in full time ministry. Wasn’t quite sure how I qualified or fit in that parameter, but I was licensed and ordained and worked as a pastor in a church, along with being currently involved in several areas of ministry. I’m anxious to be involved in things of God so, after Chuck explained there was scholarship money to pay the cost, agreed to go.

I really didn’t know what to expect, having never gone to something like this before. Arrived early as I didn’t want to make a bad impression, so had time to meet with the three people who were setting things up. One guy said “I’m happy to meet you” and I quipped “Well, let’s see if you still think that when things are over”. I joke like that sometimes but am never sure how it will be taken. That’s all part of the residuals of the brain injury, from the early days when I thought I was making a joke and it ended up not being funny at all. But it was an honest statement too as I often seem to make others uncomfortable. At the end of the two day summit he came up to me and said “I’m still glad that I met you” so it was comforting to hear that.

As ministers from Big Spring to Odessa began to arrive things began to coalesce. They were from a wide variety of churches, from a Messianic congregation to Presbyterians, covering the gamut in doctrinal beliefs, but doctrine was never discussed. This was good to see. Ultimately they were there only to learn how to serve their Lord better. No one was there to blow their own horn or to impress the others in any way. This is how it should be and how it was here. None of that petty “I’m better than you are” garbage that must break God’s heart. Ego’s were checked in at the door apparently, or had been properly subdued in each pastor’s life anyway. I had a lot of people introduce themselves to me, but unfortunately couldn’t remember much of what they said. We had name tags and that was nice cause I certainly didn’t remember many names. I was asked often “What church do you pastor?” so just as often would explain that I wasn’t a pastor and told them were I attended, but would always throw out that I was involved in prison ministry to at least justify my presence. It was kind of strange, feeling like I didn’t belong yet was supposed to be there, that I wasn’t worthy to be in the presence of this entourage yet had a purpose to be there.

I sat down and started reading my bible as many of these pastors, who knew each other and had things in common, gathered into groups and engaged in conversations of mutual interests. Chuck and Cecil arrived so Chuck sat next to me and we began to talk.

Then it was time for the summit to start. Mike, the leader, was introduced and there were opening statements from him and some others, along with introductions. Each person was to stand up and say his name along with what church he pastured. There were others there who weren’t current pastors so that made me feel better. Some were involved in various ministries and some were retired pastors so I wasn’t totally out of place.

We sang some songs and then the summit began with a fantastic teaching on the prodigal son, that uncovered some aspects of that well known parable that I had never seen before. It was great but I wondered how that related to prayer. It’s always an eye opener when you realize that your presuppositions about something are incorrect. The summit had a lot to do with praying but it wasn’t about “How to pray”. This one was mostly focused on our relationship with God, and the things that get in the way of that.

After the hour or so teaching we broke up into two groups for discussion and prayer. Our group didn’t have much discussion and the leader jumped right into prayer after one person explained his perception on an aspect of the teaching. It was strained at first, quite a surprise to me considering this was a group of pastors used to leading and expressing their thoughts. The first guy prayed and then, when he finished, waited for someone else to pray. There was a long awkward silence before someone else prayed, and then another long silence as we all sat with our heads bowed and eyes closed until someone else finally chimed in. I’m new here and not nearly as qualified as the rest of these people so wasn’t about to pray. I don’t play or pretend so opened my eyes and watched, wondering about this. It seems like this went on for an hour, but I’m sure it wasn’t that long. Often the prayers were more akin to someone expressing their thoughts on the video, talking to the others as they prayed, but towards the end the prayers were real appeals to God, expressing serious deep emotions and concerns. For that I joined in.

It was a relief to reach the end of this period, to get to the time we all took a fifteen minute break where we could stand up and get the blood moving again. I met some more people and pondered on the teaching till it was time to start again. This time the leader would play a two minute segment of the teaching and passed out a sheet with questions and statements regarding it and the segments planned to be addressed as this session progressed. It was clear now that this teaching DVD would be the focus of the Prayer Summit. I don’t think it’s original target was pastors but knew it would be interesting to see what came of it.

Things got a lot better quickly. The leader, I think recognizing a need to adjust his format, had the whole group circle up as one. Now there was opportunity for serious discussion of the ramifications of what the teacher had revealed from the parable of the prodigal son, and now the depth and hearts of these pastors was revealed. This was what the Summit was here for, to create unity of heart and soul, and to empower them to better serve their Lord and congregations. I listened with a quickening heart as these men of God expressed their needs and desires while discussing the relationship between the prodigal son and his father.

Suddenly I found myself in the spotlight. I didn’t ask to be there, had only taken my turn telling what God had revealed to me through this teaching. It was as if God took over my tongue as I heard myself preaching to these men of God. I heard myself explaining the heart of God and telling them how to build their churches, to reach out to the poor and broken, the lost and rejected of this world. At one point the statement “Why am I preaching to preachers” came out. I ended my speech quickly, as I wondered if I had been far out of line, but it seemed to have been accepted. I spoke up several times over the next two days, always trying to be constructive. Part of what I feel I contributed was an outsiders view of the church, the perspective of someone who wasn’t a pastor. I shared about being rejected by more than one church, and how truly loving others and ultimately really loving God is the key to breaking down barriers in peoples lives and churches.

It was a long first day. I didn’t get home till after ten, and was certainly tired by then. But it was a great first day, with hours spent in corporate prayer that was effective. Through that one video a wide variety of topics came up for discussion. The next day things got started at 8:00 so I left shortly after Cherie left for work.

The second day ended when we broke for lunch. By this time hearts were breaking before the Lord as many, including me, repented of a wide variety of things that hampered our relationships with God and others. There was great discussions on many things, and in the end we all were improved. I met some great people and look forward to seeing what God will bring out of this. I wondered, as things came to a close “Who am I, that I should in any way influence such great people”. Of course that presumes that I had any influence on them at all, which I can’t say for now. But to be accepted and have my words regarded at all is an honor.

Meanwhile, today will be a busy day. I’ve wood to cut and then must run to Midland and spend some time with the widow before I do some grocery shopping. Cherie is sick now, predictably caught what I had. Hope it won’t be as bad as my cold was. Got her taking big doses of vitamins and eating healthy stuff. She had to call in sick to work, first time ever for that.

Monday, January 17, 2011

New dog has a name now

Meet Buddy, we hope he stays a while and stays healthy

1/17/11 Monday
Today I will attend the yearly Prayer Summit put on by the Midland Ministerial Alliance at the Circle Six Baptist Camp. While meeting with Cecil and Chuck at the Hebrew Friday Chuck asked if I would like to attend. I expressed an interest but explained we don’t have the finances. Chuck said that there was some scholarship funding available and that he would check on it for me. This event is normally for pastors of churches but evidently Chuck and Cecil view me as being active in the ministry, which I am through jail and prison ministries along with touching a few lives here and there. I am grateful for the respect showed by this, but wonder how some others will respond to my presence at this event. It will be interesting but life around me is seldom boring so we’ll see.

The new dog has a name now. We will call him “Buddy”. I’d been kind of thinking that and Cherie suggested it so that’s the name. He doesn’t stay off the highway and chases our trucks down the road when we leave so we worry about that. At night we lock him in the veranda area and do the same whenever we leave to keep him from chasing. Today I go to the event at Circle Six and am debating whether I should lock him in that long. I think I will. It has hurt us so much each time we lost a dog and that’s a pain we wish to avoid. Buddy is a wonderfully gentle dog and beautiful too.

I’ve been fighting off a cold for five days now. It started after I visited the Stanton jail and the two guys there were both coming down with something so odds are they shared it with me. So I’m taking massive doses of vitamin C along with vitamin D and Echinacea along with doing some salt water gargles. Still it is creeping slowly down into the lungs. Had a fever of 101.2 Friday or Saturday but that’s gone now. We’ll continue to pray and eat healthy so I’m not worried.

I’ll continue to work on the bathroom best I can. Will tape and put some goop on it to smooth things out for future painting or wallpaper. I think they call that mudding but am not sure. There are a few warm days predicted, starting today, but come Thursday it’s predicted to get cold again. This cold and fever has kicked me a bit, making it harder to get moving but I’ll keep pushing through. Need to clean up for this two day prayer summit so it’s time for a kitchen sink bath.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Lo and Behold! A new stray dog

1/13/11 Thursday
Some things are predictable here on the farm. One of them has to do with stray dogs showing up here. I was just talking with the sheriff when I went there to report a suspicious car that had been obviously scoping out the place and mentioned how two of our dogs had been shot and one poisoned. “But wait, we know someone will drop off their dogs or a stray will show up” I said. As I was out cutting wood with the chain saw I was surprised to see a dog come right up to me. It wasn’t aggressive in posture at all, kind of submissive waiting to be rejected yet obviously seeking acceptance. He’s thin and shows signs of being involved in some tussles with a large open wound on his tail. There’s no question this dog has a lot of pit bull in his lineage so that naturally raises some concerns, especially regarding how he will get along with Rascal and Trixie. The temperatures were predicted to go down to about twelve degrees overnight so we tried to create a safe warm spot for this new arrival. He seems to be familiar with going inside a house and sure wanted to come in but we won’t allow that.

So the as yet unnamed dog was still with us this morning. He had eaten much of the food I put out along with drinking plenty of water. There is no collar on him or any other identification so I’ll check the bulletin board at the grocery store and see if anyone reported losing him. I went out with Rascal and Trixie this morning to carefully supervise how they related. Trixie wanted to play with him but Rascal isn’t as happy and more interested in making sure this new arrival knows who’s boss. New arrival is really not sure about this. He kind of played with Trixie but clearly wasn’t sure if they were playing or not. With Rascal it was more of a standoff though new arrival did run at first. I’ll have to watch closely and make sure they can get along.

Cherie had just been thinking about having another outside dog, and there has been a recent rash of home burglaries in this area so that’s an idea I certainly had been thinking about. Lo and behold, a dog shows up. These strays cost us a lot of money. We finally got the vet bill for Midnight and it cost us $470.00 for him to die. The bill was a shock and will be hard for us to pay. If this new dog proves to be able to get along with Rascal and Trixie we then need to make sure it has it’s shots and isn’t sick, but we’re not comfortable taking him to the vet when we owe her so much.

Today we want to go to the IRS office and talk to them about the money they have confiscated as well as learning how to do our taxes for last year. We had employees for the first time and that makes it more complicated, along with having a farm and lots of expenses related to it.

I need to dig through the many cans of paint we have to see if there is any of the primer we had that is mold resistant so I can use it on the drywall in the bathroom. I’ll tape and put the drywall plaster stuff on all the joints today so it’s lots of drywall work. Got the tub in place but need to play with it to make sure it’s level. As I write I can hear the new dog outside whining and scraping at the door, wanting to come in or to have company.

I need to take a kitchen sink bath first. Want to wait till the fire helped warm the house up some first. No doubt it’s cold outside cause it certainly is cold inside. We so look forward to the day we have a bathroom again. This is much harder on Cherie than it is on me, and it isn’t easy on me.

Poor dog, breaks your heart to hear it outside. I’ll go give it a reassuring pet and then get to work getting cleaned up so I can put warm clothes on and supervise them all when I let them out.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Lots of muddling to do

1/10/11 Monday
It was a rough start for the morning. Woke up at 5:00, started the fire in the woodstove to drive away the chill that had settled in the house overnight, and we began our preparations for the day. Cherie gave me a list of things she’d like done, fixed coffee, and I scrambled some eggs for us. At 6:30 a headache hit. It came on quick and hard to the point I turned the news I try to watch off just to reduce the noise, and crawled under the covers to protect my eyes from the overhead light Cherie needed on to do her make up. I got up and started her truck so it was warmed up by the time she left and coming back in, hid under the covers again. Crawled out to start the day with prayers, kissed her goodbye, and went back to trying to hide from the headache that pounded my temples. It’s ten o’clock now and the headache has diminished to the point I can function. I resent even losing the three hours it cost me for there is much to do.

We made some progress on the bathroom over the weekend. Got as much of the wall built as I could but had to wait till we located doors to finish because the last part of the wall must be just right size wise for the doors to fit. We went to Lowes, because we have some gift cards for them, and decided this job required bi-fold doors and got them. We are so grateful for the gifts and help we get, including some Christmas presents, that can be applied to this project, but necessary things like gasoline and food eat into that despite our intention for it not to. Our appeal with the VA regarding their improper seizing of all federal money, such as the USDA payments for the farm and our income tax refunds, is still in the “Pending” file. The VA rep said he’s seen things sit in that status for years with no movement and it means the government will continue to seize all federal money we have a right to. This is hurting us real bad and now it looks like we won’t get an income tax refund this year despite qualifying for it, plus it means I can’t qualify for any USDA programs or help to build this farm.

I want to write about our year, 2010, kind of do an end of the year review, but wanted it to be an upbeat, inspiring narrative, to look at the positive, not the negative. That will be hard to do for it has been a tough year with many hard times, but I will try. Fact is I tell things the way they are, without fake window dressing to dress them up in a way that is not true. As my mother in law once said “I live in reality, not fantasy”. Don’t remember exactly how she worded it but that was essentially the message. So to do this I must go back and read this journal, to use it as intended, a tool to remember events gone by. It’s 10:30 already and I have much to do so hesitate to spend valuable time on this, but feel it’s important to do so. There are many other things I’ve neglected that involve writing and this laptop, bible studies and letters among others.

Today Cherie needs me to run some chores and I desire to work on the bathroom some more. We talked to Ricardo at church yesterday, and he expressed his frustration and regret regarding the plumber friend who disappeared on us and left us in this lurch. Ricardo apologized for him and promised to see what he could do. All we want at this point are the right parts. This plumber came in and said everything we had was wrong so we returned them to the store because he said he would get us the right parts from his plumbing supply house. At this point I don’t expect the plumber to show up or do any work, but I would at least like the parts so I can muddle through it myself.

There’s lots of muddling to do so time for me to get moving. Cold weather is coming so I cut some firewood and probably need to cut some more up today. No snow or moisture in the forecast, just cold as in 16 degree mornings and 35 degree highs. With the woodstove as our principle source of heat we’ll go through a lot of wood. Eventually we plan on getting a nice efficient air tight woodstove, that will eek out a lot of heat from each piece of wood and can last all night when laid right. We’ve got lots of plans and dreams but in the meantime do the best with what we’ve got.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Faith in the storms

1/7/11 Friday
It’s another day. I remember the times when each day was something I dreaded, something I did not look forward to. That is no longer the case now because I understand my life is a gift. Each day brings struggles and hardships but despite that I know I am blessed. Our enemies are camped around, ready to overwhelm us if we let them, but our God is stronger than all of them put together, and always there to help, as long as we reach out to Him. That is always up to us, always our choice. This brings to my mind one of the times Jesus walked on water. It’s found in Mathew 14:24 “the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 25 During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." 28 "Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." 29 "Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."

We can all be like Peter, who faltered as he walked on water, when he looked around at the stormy waves around him, and took his eyes off of Jesus. He (Peter) was walking on water, actually doing it, in the midst of miraculous success, at a “WOW” moment in life, when he looked around at the circumstances that surrounded him and allowed fear to exist in his mind. That’s when his fear became reality. There’s a proverb (10:24) that says “Whatever the wicked fears will come upon him”. Now Peter was in no way wicked but the principle holds true regardless of your level of righteousness, what you fear often will happen. Faith is a hard thing to have when things are difficult. It’s easy to have faith when all is going the way you like it, but let the storms come on and then we have a true test of the reality of your faith. We are surrounded by storms, by those who say one thing but do another, by futures that look bleak with little relief in sight, and by obstacles that are seemingly impossible to overcome, but through it all I know God is here with us. His hand will hold us up, but only when we call out to Him and reach out to grab His hand. If we, in our pride or despair, choose not to trust in God, then we will suffer the consequences of that for the reality is that in not choosing to depend on God we choose to turn our back on Him. It’s one or the other, either God is God and is there for us, or He’s not. He will let us falter and fall, knowing or hoping we will turn to Him and accept His mercy and grace. We choose life, or death, and suffer the consequences of our choice.

Got to go.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

This morning's sunrise

1/6/11 Thursday
It’s almost 1:00 in the afternoon. I am forced to lay down, and always hate these reminders that I have difficulties. Was doing well this morning, got up and going and getting things done. On the way back from picking up the mail had one of those headaches that have plagued me since the accident ten years ago. They had reduced in severity and number of occurrences over the years but sure have been coming back with a vengeance lately. Don’t know what is triggering these headaches, or if there is a trigger at all, but I’ve had a resurgence of the confusion and slowdowns that are a part of the TBI (traumatic brain injury) as well and it causes concern. Called Cherie to let her know we needed dog food and told her about the headache. As I talked I could hear me slowing down. It always becomes more apparent when I have to converse.

3:26 – Still slow and still have the headache. I finished patching the hole in the bedroom wall Cherie wanted me to fix. That needed to be fixed six months ago but it was out of sight so I never remembered it. She finally put it on a list so that helps me remember. I’m not walking well. If anyone saw me they would think I was drunk. Glad no one sees me except if they drive by when I’m walking outside. Right now everything is loud, kind of like when you have a hangover, and light is painful. Hard to believe I used to drink, knowing I would suffer like this the next day from the alcohol poisoning. At least I got something done today. These are frustrating times, when this happens.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Monday's post on Wednesday

1/3/11 Monday
It’s the first Monday of the year. Ahead of us lies another year, more opportunity to build and grow, to forge the life we plan to create for our future. Behind us lie many missed opportunities and hard lessons about people and faith. Lessons learned that will hopefully increase our wisdom regarding future decisions. There have been great disappointments and many smashed hopes, but in the process there have been many revelations, many things our eyes have been opened to.

On a spiritual level we’ve seen the slow insidious creeping in of deceptions with ministries and people we know. Sometimes it hasn’t been slow, but quick and obvious to us though others are still blind to it. We understand that there is a real devil and he hates all that is good, working hard to disrupt and destroy every work of God. It’s like a big celestial chess game with the lives and souls of mankind hanging in the balance. We’ve been hampered and attacked in many ways, with the words of others effecting how we are viewed, creating distrusts and judgments that hinder relationships. Someone convinced the old man I was taking advantage of him and destroyed that relationship along with my vision of creating a farmers market at his place on the highway.

Former friends, who had been so generous, were consumed by their greed and thus their true heart was revealed when their plans to take 75% of the income from mineral rights on our land came out. What a shock and surprise that was, especially when their reasoning, that they had children and we didn’t, so we had no need for a legacy, was explained by them. Then came the utter rejection because we didn’t bow down to their desire, an almost hateful animosity from people who had formerly ended every conversation with “We love you guys”. When I tried to talk to him there was no repentance, only threats to sue me for slander and a legalistic weaving around to insure he had no obligations to us, and a total absence of comprehension of the heart of God and truth regarding to how Christians should relate.

We’ve watched another “friend” make some bad choices and in the process have seen what lies beneath the very holy enthusiastic religious veneer the person wears. We’ve learned of a pattern of lies and deceptions that boggle the mind in their depth and complexity. Watching as the individual says one thing to us and something totally different to someone else. Lies about money, that they were denied unemployment when the truth was the person was getting it, and all the while saying they were a victim in great need to get money from others. One lie after another, all the while parading the people that person has “ministered” to like trophies that prove what a wonderful servant of God that person was while drinking and sleeping with another, whom they were trying to “bring back to God”. And I am not allowed to say anything about it because God let me know that anything I say won’t be received because I’m judged as a selfish ambitious man who doesn’t hear from God. So I’m to wait till it all gets exposed and must watch the damage that will happen. This is hard to do. It’s so strange to watch someone laugh and be “religious”, fooling everyone while I know the truth. Does that person believe their own lies? Have they fooled themselves? I think so.

2 Timothy 3:1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-- 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. 6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth--men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9 But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.
Paul's Charge to Timothy
10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings--what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

Note the last sentence, “evil men and IMPOSTORS will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” Not only are these people fooling others but they are fooling themselves as well. This is nothing new, it’s been going on for as long as man has been on the earth, but in these last days we will see much more of it at a rapidly increasing pace. There are no accidents in my life so I suspect that I am being shown these people for a reason. I will watch and pray regarding the last case, being ready to pick up the pieces when all gets exposed and comes to light. It will be sad to watch the hurt as some realize just how fooled they were by this person who is so friendly and got into their hearts but in the end I believe they will be wiser for it.

I started this journal entry on Monday and obviously never finished. There was much internal debate about saying anything regarding the last person but I made it less obvious who it might be and printed it anyway. The truth is the truth and I haven’t really spelled out the details and documentation I have so will wait for God to uncover that which is done in darkness.

It’s been cold lately so I cut some more firewood. Will work on repairing the wall in our bedroom and do some other stuff around the house. Kind of at a stand still on the bathroom but may attempt to do some more despite not knowing what I’m doing. I was at Lowe’s with Cherie earlier this week to get parts and had a bad spell. I looked and looked trying to sort out all the parts and figure out what we needed but got lost. Finally found someone to ask for advice but my ability to process what that person was saying became increasingly hampered as the slow down came on with a vengeance. I got so bad that we just called it quits and left the store. By that point I had to have Cherie drive, wasn’t able to safely do so myself. It is so frustrating to have this happen, especially when I’m out in public. A reminder I suppose of why the government said I’m disabled.