Thursday, June 1, 2017

Kathy Griffin...& Fairness

I place no value on being Democrat or Republican. What I value is fairness. What Kathy Griffin did was wrong & I would feel the same regardless of who's image was displayed.If you think that it is okay because you dislike Donald Trump so much than in the sense of fair play how would you feel if it were Hillary, Obama, Bernie...take your pick? Be honest. Honesty, especially the ability to be honest with yourself is something I value greatly.
There are people who excuse her actions because of their hatred of President Trump. I hesitate to write anything even remotely political. Last year during the craziness of election time I posted nothing on the race. I made a couple of comments on other people's page. Nothing in support of one candidate. I was mistakenly called a liberal & another told me they were disappointed in me. Both mistook my comments to mean something they did not. That is what happens when you become zealous about politics or anything else for that matter. You react first..You think later..One person apologized. One did not. That is okay.  

At one point this year I took several weeks off from Facebook. I grew weary of the ugliness. One astute poster wrote that they found they were spending so much time on blocking or deleting people because of their comments. I found myself doing the same.

Post about politics if you must but try to be fair. If it is okay that a bloody photo of  a dead Trump is posted  than I expect you to feel the same if it is Obama, Hillary, etc. If you are okay with it being one of them but angry if the same thing is done to someone else than you have lost me. 

Occasionally, I think about posting something political, not in support of a candidate but just in a sense of fair play. The edge people perch on is so precarious that no doubt I would be called names & judged even if they thought for a moment that I did not agree with their entrenched stance. 

For instance if I were to comment about  people who say if Trump is elected I am leaving the country. My comment would be, "No you are not. You are being overly dramatic." 
But I feel the same way if anyone was to say if Hillary were elected I am leaving the country. But when people are just waiting to engage they don't take time or at least ask if that is what was meant. Shoot first. Ask questions later.

Personally, I find it hard to believe that you could look at our state of politics today & be proud of either party. I am still waiting for one of our senators or representatives to say we receive way too many perks & that money could be better spent. Where else can you spend such a short amount of time & receive benefits for life? 
So take time to think before you respond. Being a Democrat or a Republican or an Independent like myself does not make you right. It is your opinion. Don't value it more than you should. 

I don't know if someone has said this before or maybe said it better but I posted a short comment on my Author Page not long ago. I would like to think it contains some wisdom.

"Imagine if we respected other's opinions as much as we value our own."

I wish we could all live by the above statement. Be kind to each other. Respect other people's opinions even if they don't coincide with our own.  Imagine if our politicians would try to live that way.
As for me I will return to posting puppy photos or trying to encourage people. During my absence from Facebook I was touched that a few people contacted me & said they missed my encouraging posts. That was very humbling. My dear friend, Nicky, once said that being encouraging is the greatest of spiritual gifts. There is a lot of wisdom in that & I have come to agree with my wise friend.

But I sure wish we could start a Facebook Friendly Friday. No politics. 
Teke says, "Hi."

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

My Regrets

Have you ever met someone that stated boldly that they have no regrets? It sounds good to say that but do you believe it? I don't. Oh, I get the thing about experiences shaping us & how we learn from our mistakes. All of that is true. But I made some ill fated choices that hurt people. Am I forgiven by them, by God? Yes. Do I regret the pain I inflicted? Yes!

Turning 60 has brought so much to light. Don't get me wrong. I believe my best days with God are in front of me. I hope one day to look back 20 years from now & say, "Wow, God. What a journey. The final chapter of my life was the greatest." My prayer is that I will be a living example of the scripture. Corinthians 1:27.

But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

My regret today is that I hung on to what I wanted-what I thought I needed & despite a dramatic Born Again experience at the age of 19 I never really let go of the wheel of this life & placed God above all else. I was always holding on to something. My hopes, my dreams...for many years even holding on to my anger toward Him. My disappointment in Him. 

I marvel at people at Lifepoint Church who are decades younger than me. They are so sold out for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A young couple we know scrapping it all to go into the mission field in a far away country. Leaving behind all the comforts of home. A young man who has befriended a homeless man & devotes his time to helping him be clean, offering him encouragement...hope..friendship.  So many examples. They humble me.

First above all. Not a relationship you cling too that you know you need to let go of. Not religious practices that grant temporary comfort but not real relationship. Not money, things. If only I had this or that. First let me get this. I was the poster child for that line of thinking. No...First....surrender...

I only wish I would have started sooner.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas 2016

It is that time once again that can bring us to such glorious highs & lows. Our memories that occasionally visit during the year seem to arrive at a precipice for the Holiday season. Many of those memories are bitter sweet. Last night, as I sat home waiting on my wonderful wife, Julie, with our new addition for this Christmas, Teke- I had the overwhelming desire to pick up the phone & call my Mom. She has been gone now for over three years & that is one of the things I miss most. A simple phone conversation.

Christmas has often been a very low point in my life. There was a time when I truly hated Christmas. The broken/failed relationships. The dreams that never materialized. The many failures. The many bad choices I made. The unfairness of this life. I have a story I wrote long ago that I hope a publisher says yes to one day that the main character leaves before Thanksgiving & stays in a small cabin in the mountains away from everyone until after the first of the year. I never did that but I wanted too.

I remember those days & though I am grateful today to enjoy Christmas. Julie with her childlike excitement brings so much to the season & my life-as well as family & the wonderful friends God has blessed me with. Still, I don't want to lose sight of the people who struggle mightily at this time of year just as I once did. 

We are also blessed to be part of a dynamic church. Lifepoint Church in Wilmington, NC. This weekend we have three Christmas Eve services. One on Friday night & two on Saturday afternoon. All the services are the same.  Julie will be part of the worship team. I will be serving at the booth for first time guests.

I realize that of my own wisdom, my knowledge, that I have little to offer. What I ask of God, particularly for this season is for me to be aware of the people who walk into church-maybe for the only time this year. Those that are beaten up by life. Those that are weary & want a new way. Those that are truly alone. Those that desperately need some hope..some encouragement. I ask of God to lead & help me encourage them. To be quiet & listen to their stories. We all have one.

Initially, I did not plan to serve for three services but as I thought about it--what an honor it is. To remember my struggles & hopefully help others with more than just information about our wonderful church.

It is way to easy for people to get caught up in thinking about what they have to offer. I have nothing but as my team leader, Randy, so aptly put it when I shared these feelings last week. "But we can make ourselves available." And in the process my hope is that I can do & be what our Pastor Jeff Kapusta taught earlier this month.

"My purpose is to illuminate Jesus."

Merry Christmas



Sunday, November 6, 2016

That Is Your Opinion (It is neither right or wrong)

The title of this blog derived from numerous conversations with a very young Micah Beasley. I know this will shock some of you who know him but Micah pretty much arrived into this world with many strong opinions. He was quite animated as he shared just what was what. Many times I would calmly state to him.

"That is your opinion & it is neither right or wrong. It is what you think."

Of course he challenged me on this but I kept on....Wash, rinse...repeat.

Those of you who have followed my journey on this blog site have become pretty accustomed to my honesty about the mistakes I have made. How I have been my own worst critic throughout my life.  So allow me this time to actually pat myself on the back.

I have opinions. We all do. But I don't state my opinion with disdain for those that dare to have a different one. I am pretty respectful of others thoughts & I don't make the assumption that just because I think a certain way that makes me right & the opposing view wrong. We all like different things & I often say, "It would be a boring world if we all liked the same things."

I think it is a habit-a very bad one & many people don't realize how rude they are being by dismissing someone & what they think just because it does not align with their thoughts.

My two cents since this is my blog. Is it possible that when we really love something that we just can't believe someone else can't see how great it is? A food.. a place to activity. My friend, Ray (my age) shared with me recently that he had people make fun of him because he has really got into Frisbee Golf. I didn't make fun of him & in fact I told him next time we have our quarterly meeting that I would join him in his favorite activity. People criticize so easily something that they are not interested in.

I worked at Wrightsville Beach for over 32 years & I love it & many of the people there but when I moved to Carolina Beach..boy the comments.."the redneck beach..."   "Well it is not Wrightsville Beach.." (Picture that statement said with nose perched in the air) & the list goes on. Honestly, I got kind of weary of it & most the people that offered these statements had not visited Carolina Beach two times in ten years. Now I could never have afforded a home at Wrightsville Beach but if I had 30 million in the bank I still would want to live here...a little closer to the water perhaps but I prefer Carolina Beach, however I would not make a disparaging remark to someone that lives at & loves Wrightsville Beach.

In fairness, I worked at Wrightsville Beach while living at Carolina Beach the last nine years of my career. I heard a lot of unkind comments at Carolina Beach when they saw my Wrightsville Beach P&R staff shirt. I didn't care for those comments either, especially when the assumption was that anyone living at Wrightsville Beach had to be a snob. Nothing could be further from the truth.

While I am on the subject of homes-I was a single man for a very long time & boy regardless of where I lived a woman that was I dating would inevitably walk in my house & say, "This place needs a woman's touch." Why would we decorate the house like women lived there when they didn't? Somewhere I wrote once that a home is to be respected & I don't care if I enter a house for the first time & they have a 8' by 10' mural of NASCAR in the living room. Would I do it? No. I don't even like NASCAR. I know you can't believe a southern boy like me who grew up around it & had a cousin next door that raced NASCAR for a couple of years but I don't care for it. But I don't look down my nose at people who do enjoy NASCAR.

Don't disregard someones home-where they choose to live. I think that is pretty sacred to people. I respect that. There is no better. It is what we prefer & that is not a right or wrong answer.

When you have a strong opinion about something you can tend to make every story play your way to the point of not even verifying the authenticity of the story. No better example than politics. Sometimes you become a zealot with your opinions & it is easy to rule out rationale.

How about a hot topic item? Global Warming. Honestly, is the weather changing? Yes. Do I know if it is related to fossil fuels or just a change over time that will revert back? I really don't. But both sides are so absolute in their beliefs that they want to be right regardless if their data is fudged. I think people are often more concerned with being right than getting at the truth & a possible solution.  

"We can disagree without being disagreeable." I don't know the origin of this statement but the first time it really sunk in for me was hearing it when President Gerald Ford died. It was one of his favorite quotes. Some of his best friends were Democrats & often a beer was shared after debating on the Senate floor all day. I don't think that is happening too often these days. Stay divided seems to be the theme of political parties. Both parties are guilty. Horribly guilty.  

I don't know if anything can be accomplished here. There is another word in play called introspection & some people don't seem to have any of that..

It is far too easy to take what we love..what we enjoy...& just disregard what others like...not even really listen to what their opinion is because they have the audacity to have a different opinion..

Care to see examples of this at its worst? Read comments after any article/story online. The ridicule...the arrogance of people.. Calling people stupid & worse just because they don't agree with them. If this is what your life is about...spending each day calling people names...over a difference of opinion...people you don't even know...well to me that is one sad existence. 

I am certain God does not desire us to behave that way. We can make following God so complex. But how about this one rule for how we treat each other?

Galatians 5:14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

Imagine if we lived this scripture each day to the best of our ability. If we love our neighbor as we love our self. We won't lie, cheat, steal, covet, be jealous of, look down upon...ridicule them because they are Republican, Democrat, a different a different lifestyle.......& the list goes on..I will add one more..We would be happy for our neighbors triumphs. If they win the lottery we would not say, "I am more deserving. Why did that not happen for me instead of them?" 

A great example of this would be my best friend, Jack. He is not a reader. Not a writer. His passion is boats, fishing...salt water. But I can't even begin to tell  you how happy he was & is for my getting The River Hideaway, published. Even now as I struggle to find a second publisher for my other stories he told me recently he did not think that it was over. He knows writing is my passion & he could not be more encouraging. We both love the salt water. He loves it from a boat with a fishing rod. I love it sitting on the beach with a good book in hand. 

Recently I watched as a young kid in the mountains met Jack. Jack mentioned fishing & the kid just lit up. He started talking about fly fishing & reel fishing & how the creek needed running water to catch trout. Jack obviously knew more about salt water fishing but the connection made by the two of them. I enjoyed watching the exchange...the passion the two of them hold for fishing. It doesn't matter that it is not something I care to participate in.

The danger is becoming so convinced of our opinions & disdain those daring to think-feel differently we can become quite judgmental about it. We judge others who do not like what we like. Pretty sure the Bible covers not being judgmental on a couple of occasions. 

So try to respect other people & their opinions even though gasp they may differ from yours. Who knows in the process maybe you can learn something & view things in a slightly different way & maybe, just maybe we could even choose to  show grace to people regardless of who wins the election Tuesday. My world will not end one way or the other.

....Of course all of this is just my opinion I guess..Have a great day..

Or what Toby Mac said....

Friday, September 30, 2016

Writing World Update

Little Update..

Occasionally I get asked if The River Hideaway is still available & the answer is Yes. It is contracted for another two years but that may or may not be the case. The owner of the Publishing Company has been very sick & plans to be back but many things are on hold right now.

I was looking for a different publisher before this news for works that I have already completed. Many of you realize that getting traditionally published is about a 99% rejection rate. Having no name recognition makes the journey very difficult. No complaints.. That is just how it is. Knowing someone helps in any job related search. I was able to get a novel in front of a publisher that only allowed it because of a dear contact..They liked it but their finances at this time concerned them. It is a tough world for Publishers as well as authors. I appreciated their honesty.

Of course so many people suggest self publishing & that is a good format for some people & their works, however, I would encourage any writer to research any publisher very carefully as there are a lot of shady book publishers. Some say they are traditional & the next thing you know they want $$$ from you. Be careful..Some of the self publishing companies lure you in & the next thing you know they are charging you thousands..I certainly did not sign any great contract for The River Hideaway but I also did not fork over any of my hard earned money to see my book in print.

I will not consider self publishing & I mean no offense to those that have. It is just not for me.
At the end of the day this is all in God's Hands & believe it or not I am getting much better at really letting go of my desires & trusting Him.

My answer for what is a Christian & by no means do I think this is the right view for everyone. It is just my answer for my walk. I knew that to really call myself a Christian I had to seek what God wanted more than what I desired. It was not there for the majority of my life-even after a Damascus Road experience almost 40 years ago to the day. Today, though I fail at times-for the most part I am there.

Do you ever shock yourself with something you say? One day I was frustrated over book sales & I exclaimed to no I was alone.."Rather a thousand copies with You than a million without You." I realized I meant that & for most of my life & this writing adventure I would have chosen the million with the attitude that I would catch up with God on the flip side. Isn't it easy to do that in so many areas of our life? Relationships, living a life style we know God did not call us too. The list goes on.

So this is an update for those that ask if The River Hideaway is still available. I do have a few copies of The River Hideaway at home if you want a signed copy. I can mail them or if you are local I can find a way to get a copy to you. Also for those of you that enjoyed The River Hideaway & want more. God bless you. The kind words from many of you are treasured. The River Hideaway touched people. Made people told me that they reflected about their faith-if they were still harboring any prejudices..Their words-not mine. To tell a story that touched people-made them think about their relationship with God.. That is the good stuff & I am deeply humbled.

One exciting thing did happen in my writing world this year. I had an article published in Optimist International Magazine about my my Coach & the man who rescued from the scrap heap of this life many years ago. It is in the Summer Issue 2016. Here is a di

Thank you & God bless each & everyone of you.
PS For digital readers The River Hideaway is available on Kindle & Nook..…/…/ref=sr_1_1…

Once again this beautiful photo was taken by my friend, Robbie Johnson.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

JOURNEY (Pre Blog Time)

 I wrote this before blogging-before I turned the wheel over-before I would attend Passion 2012 (I did not even know about the event at the time) Before I knew who Julie was.

I have no idea why I wrote this other than God knew real change was coming for me & he wanted me to see where I had been before he took me to the next step.

December 18, 2011

It was nearing the end of summer in 1975 as I walked that night in my neighborhood. I was nineteen, troubled, and the walk much like my life had no particular destination. A girlfriend that I treated badly walked away and decided to fill her own emptiness with someone else. It was not until she was out the door that I realized that I actually loved her, though that was the last thing in my life I desired.
It was strange that I would be out on a night as this and not be high on some substance, but for whatever reasons I was not.  

I don’t recall a thought as I walked the street I lived on and turned left on to the next road. What I do recall is that I walked gazing at the sky for much of the walk. I can point to the place I was at today all these years later when what I can only describe as a whoosh that began in the top of my head and permeated throughout my entire body. I hear a whisper with unmistakable clarity. “Come and admit that you are wrong. Come and sing my glorious song.” One lone tear dribbled down my left cheek.  
A few steps later I gazed up again to the dark sky and asked, “Is that You God?” I did not need an answer because I already knew.  Over thirty five years later I still don’t know why this happened to me. My family referred to it as my Damascus Road and indeed it was.

It would be pleasant if this story was a happy one and that I turned from my life immediately and walked a different path with happiness and harmony. I did turn from my life of promiscuity, drugs, parties that saw the sun rise on a regular basis. My life began with that supernatural moment and I thought that there would be so much more to come but I had to learn to live in the natural, and by faith which proved an obstacle I could not overcome.

I made a rash of hurried decisions and the worse was a marriage born of a small church group that had all the answers and from my loneliness. Remember the girl that found solace in another? Well I blocked all that away. I married someone while still in love with another. It was a not so great start for a lifetime of happiness.

I spent ten years unhappily married-never letting go of my Damascus Road completely but at the same time when your home is misery for both of you how can you walk a fruitful path? I could not.
At age 32 I was single, alone, and seemingly never able to escape the fight over our child, property, and money. I longed for fairness in an unfair world and when it became apparent that I was not going to get it I lashed out at God and my festering anger toward him grew exponentially for the next twenty years. Often my prayers turned to cursing at a God powerful enough to whisper to me on a dark road and change my life but who was miles away when I needed him most.

I had several failed relationships after divorce. I sought love and intimacy and found it, however fleeting it proved to be. I was flawed, vulnerable and I found the same in partners. Some of the experiences were enthralling but the downside grew too steep.

Depression loomed but I could always flip the switch and walk out of any dark places but then twice the darkness became so severe that I reconciled myself to the awareness that I was not Superman after all. One night as I drove around listening to Bruce Springsteen and drinking heavily I drove into the garage and left the music playing and the car running. I was playing a game. It won’t really be suicide if I just fall asleep drunk never to wake again. I don’t know if I fell asleep or not but at some point my beautiful son’s face appeared and what I could not do for myself I had to do for him. I cut the car off and walked inside, wondering if I could outlast this particular debilitating bout of darkness.

During this time I went to a Saturday night church service with my son Micah. The minister was talking about what is holding you back? What is keeping you from turning your life completely over to God? Micah has a recall for details of his childhood that are incisive. He turned to me and asked softly but with conviction not expected from a young teen ager. “What’s keeping you Dad?” He has no recollection of this event. It was God speaking through him but still I had my plans, my dreams, and my desires. Let me achieve those first and then maybe I will get around to God.

It was a Saturday night, March 2007 and I was talking to my mom on the phone.  During the course of our chat she mentioned that Jim Glasgow was back at Myrtle Grove. I was a member at Myrtle Grove but I had not been to a service in many years. I was not attending church anywhere.  I attended a few but none felt right. I had always liked Jim. He is a humble man with a heart for the broken. Something clicked when Mom said that and I decided I am going to Myrtle Grove in the morning. I knew that once while it thrived under the leadership of my dear friend Horace Hilton it had fallen on harder times. It was no longer the church that people lined up at to get in the door.

I did not know that it would become a church home for me. That it would feel right. I went sporadically for the first three years. My anger at God for circumstances that he refused to change would surface and I would in my mind defy him and refuse to attend for several weeks. Still I kept returning.

There was no life changing voice this time but as I reflect back now I see a few events that did not seem big at the time but have had a profound effect on my life. I witnessed them not realizing that they would stick with me as major teachings in my life.

The first I can recall was sitting alone at the end of the pew-as usual refusing to reach out to anyone. I had to keep a distance and protect myself from any religious people.  It was before church began and I without thought picked up the Bible in front of me. I opened it to Galatians 5:7. You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?

The second event was when a man brought his potter’s wheel to church and began to mold as a woman spoke. I don’t recall if the man ever spoke and I can’t recall any word spoken during that service. Something however gnawed at me. What I sensed was God saying, “You have tried to mold me into what you think I should be. I am the potter you are the clay and it is not the other way around.”
I don’t recall thinking to much that day about the service but it has been a few years now and that is still my lesson. I think it always will be. I see it not only applying to my life but often in our church of today. I resist religious behavior. The tightly held religious person with their ordinances often seem hard and cold to me. It is about our heart isn’t it? The best examples that I lean on were Horace, and today
David Foster and Steve Wallin. They are men who live the gospel in their hearts not with pointed finger but rather a hand up.

Still, as our world has become extremely liberal haven’t we assumed God has moved with us? I know I have. But I return to the reminder of the potter and the clay. I need to not only understand but accept that I am the clay.

Jim shared a message and the part I remember was about small groups and the need to belong to one. I had attended one and it never felt right to me. Nothing against the people involved. It was just not the right fit for me. I felt pressure when I began to break away from the group. I don’t react well with pressure.
I talked to Jim about this and asked, “Do you really think every member should be in a small group?” He thought for a few seconds and replied, “I think you need to be known.” Now that was big for me because I am introverted and I came each Sunday but I sat in my corner alone and while cordial I refused to reach out to anyone. God has slowly changed that in me.

Steve Mattis also returned to Myrtle Grove where he assumed the role as senior pastor. The recurring theme in all messages by Steve is we can’t make it by being good. We can’t make it with our religious behavior and rituals. It is only with grace that we have hope.

One example that Steve used one Sunday with Jerry Cannon also resonated with me and does to this day. It also tied into what Jim shared about being known or in my case I believe God speaking softly for me to get out of my corner. Steve quoted a scripture about how we are to exalt or encourage one another. He said something about Jerry that was very true and then asked how he felt. Jerry replied awesome. It got a little emotional for both of them because it was heartfelt.

What I took away from that was certainly not to false flatter someone but how hard this life can be at times. You never know what one kind true word can mean to someone unless you speak it. It was an easy way for me to slowly get out of my corner that I am so darn comfortable in. I have certainly been on the other end of it when I felt like I was at that last strand of rope and someone offered kindness and hope. I remember during the darkest times of depression my mom saying, “Billy, you have to have hope. Without hope you have nothing.”  

I am self centered-stuck in what I do not have. My failed dreams, emptiness, but from that one little message there have been many times since then when I have prayed, “Lord if I can offer someone some encouragement today who is struggling led me to that opportunity.”
Horace once told me that each Sunday on each pew there was someone with a broken heart. Often it was me.

Steve shared a poignant message several months ago about how we should literally die to ourselves. That sounds so harsh. I can only tell you what it means to me. The more of my heart that I allow to die the more room there is for Jesus to come and replace my self centered desires. And if Jesus fills my heart more with his spirit and his love then I won’t need ordinances to tell me what to do. I will do it because of who has taken up residence in my heart.

I spent so much time in darkness that I could not even imagine being happy in Heaven. I often would ask God to take me now and I will opt out of any afterlife. “You can have it God,” as if I had anything to bargain with. Steve spoke of Heaven recently and how being in the presence of God we will be so full we will overflow. He used the example of a cup is not overflowing until too much water is added. It must go beyond full.

But I am not to wait for that but to long for that while I am here. Again it goes back to my heart. How much is me? How much will I let go of to have it replaced with something better.
It is a journey, and one in which I struggle mightily. Listening to Michael Mattis in his message December 18 caused me to explore my nights. That is the time when it can rain down on me the most with negativity. The times I feel so alone and it is as if all that I face comes together as one mighty weight to crush me. The dreams unrealized, the mom such a spiritual force and suffering now with dementia, and the one person I want brought into the fullness of God more than me but as the spirit calls holds on to that last entrapment.
Often these nights are so bad that it influences darkly the next day. This brings times when faith is so very difficult for me to find. What did the man say to Jesus when asked if he believed? Yes Lord I believe. Help me my unbelief. Mark 9:24. I love the raw honesty that I find in that scripture.
A few weeks ago I was looking for a scripture to post on my Facebook status. Something inspiring but fresher than one I would typically turn too. I found Jeremiah 32:27 “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for me?”
I believe that was a scripture to take root and prepare me for hearing about the night. Last night as I prayed and as the obstacles came to me one at a time I named each one and said, Lord you are bigger than my loneliness. You are bigger than mom’s dementia. I continued to name each one and I followed it with Lord you are bigger than ….
One thing in my favor as I walk down this road is I returned to Myrtle Grove over four years ago with an honest heart. I resist when people judge me because I am my worse critic. I know the good, the bad, and the ugly. I will not give in to church speak, tradition, clich├ęs, religion, or rituals. I won’t say I believe it if I don’t. That does not make me right, and I could well be wrong. But God will have to show me and I am more than willing to be wrong.

There is no Damascus Road this time and the process slow but the foundation more sturdy and I have more hope in finding the path God calls to me. As I search for the next step what I feel is in a world of outwardly trappings that God wants to make me beautiful from the inside out.

A few years ago Jim suggested a book for me to read. What’s So Amazing about Grace by Phillip Yancey. It seems to be appropriate to end this letter of journey with a quote from that book.
"As a child, I put on my best behavior on Sunday mornings, dressing up for God and for the Christians around me. It never occurred to me that church was a place to be honest. Now, though, as I seek to look at the world through the lens of grace, I realize that imperfection is the prerequisite for grace. Light only gets in through the cracks.”
May we all leave our religious clothes at home and come each Sunday with an honest and open heart. Luke 12:34 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Fishhook, Teke & Was it a Miracle from God?

Teke, our Australian Cattle Dog, turned five months old yesterday. We have had her since she was two days shy of eight weeks. It has been an eventful three months to say the least. It had been decades since my wife Julie & I had dealt with having a puppy. I forgot the joys of it. ;)

We have been over protective & I have been a chronic worrier over her safety. It has been just shy of two years ago that we lost Sydney-Julie's rescue Chihuahua mix that I fell deeply in love with when he came to live with me. It was a two way street. I can't seem to escape the worry that came from Sydny dying hours after surgery to remove a pit that lodged in his intestine.

There was the day that I was walking Teke in our neighborhood on her leash when a large dog-maybe 100 pounds charged Teke with intent to maim. I had no time to think-only to react & spin her away from his charge into my arms. Fortunately the negligent owners of the aggressive dog got there in time to prevent a second charge. I had bad images for a long time over what could have been. The part that got to me the most & that I choked up about when I told Julie later that night was when I was still holding Teke long after the incident & discovered my shirt was wet with my then 14 pound puppy's urine.

The fish hook incident I will leave for you to decide. Miracle, luck that either can or can't be explained. I am all ears. For the record, I don't go around claiming everything is a miracle or the devil is hiding behind every bush.

It was several weeks ago & Julie had taken Teke to Carolina Beach State Park & allowed her off lead near the river. No big deal I had done the same thing the week before. Teke found a dead fish in the marsh & you know how a little puppy will eat about anything. She ate a big chunk of the fish before Julie could catch her. Julie came home & washed Teke & herself to remove the rancid smell. Julie called the Vet & they said to keep an eye on her & if she started to vomiting or got diarrhea to bring her in.

Fast forward about 14 hours later to the next morning at sunrise. We wake up to the sound of Teke throwing up. Julie reaches her first & ask me to take her outside to see if she has finished. She had. Julie cleaned the kennel.

As Teke & I reentered the house I hear Julie sobbing loudly in the bedroom. I rush to her & this was the following conversation.

Me: What is wrong?
Julie: She swallowed a fish hook.
Me: What? I am pretty sure there was a head shake of disbelief at one point. Is it all there?
Julie is holding a pillow from the kennel & presses it toward me. Yes. Look.

Was it my prayer over Teke the previous afternoon that she would not be sick or injured from the fish? Could it be traced back to the day we picked her up at Sleepy Hollow Cattle Dogs where my son, Micah drove to meet us? Before we left the farm & Micah was to return to Raleigh & Julie & I to Carolina Beach-I retrieved the bottle of anointing oil I had placed in the side door of my truck & prayed over her protection. I even reminded God that the last time I did this over a dog that it was Sydny & he died. Why one prayer granted & the other not I have no clue. That is why He is God & I am not. His ways far higher than mine- even if I don't always care for the result. And I don't always care for the result. 

Julie called the Vet with the update. They asked the same question many of you have. She swallowed the entire fish hook & it all came back up in tact? Yes & yes. They even called twice the next week to check on Teke. I think they had a hard time understanding.

Later as we had time to process & this is the part that makes me believe it was a miracle from God & not ridiculous luck. I ask Julie who has a good medical background. "Did you check her tongue, gums, cheeks, throat-basically everything you can see?"

She had as I knew she would & what she found was not one scratch. Not one drop of blood. That is so much like God because when He does something He does it completely. Perfectly. I probably would have still believed it was a miracle-if say she got a nasty cut on her tongue in the process but for there not to be one mark. Not a moment after throwing that entire fish  hook back up that had been inside of her for approximately 14 hours did she show the first sign of anything other than complete wholeness.

You take from this what you will. I know what I believe & in case you have to ask she is not allowed off lead near the river any longer.