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Go tell the World…

December 4, 2010

I spent a few hours late last night in the hospital visiting some  friends who are in the process of saying goodbye to their 17 year old son. Due to some complications from a heart surgery he is going to meet his maker in Heaven. This visit was an emotionally difficult one for Shira and I to make as we knew it would bring us back a few years to when we “lived” so often in an ICU environment. Yet, we felt as they we were being called to shine HIS light.

Upon our return home in the middle of the night, I lay restless and awakened again a short hour or so later. As I tossed and turned, I prayed that God reveal to me what HE wanted to tell me, as I knew I was only awake because of a message that was forthcoming. After many minutes of this I “heard”… it is not what I want to tell you, but it is what I want you to tell the world.

Wow! I could ignore this or I could be obedient and share. As I listened more and more in the still of the wee early morning hours I was led to life is but a vapor. A message that is so often ingored because we do not want to think about the sting of death. Death is an uncomfortable topic. We want to believe that somehow it will only effect us or become real to us later on down the road. The harsh reality is my friends, we are not promised our next breath. Count the blessing you have in this moment. Live your life for today – plan for the future perhaps, but harvest what’s in season. We are such a “plan” oriented world – I feel we often miss out on what is under our noses as we stretch out to grasp that which is just out of reach.

James 4:13-14  Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money,  you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

Often we might get an indication that life is nearing its end, yet there are times when it hits us blindsided and we are brought suddendly there. Are you ready, if it happens to you? Do you know where you will spend your eternity? In this Christmas season, we are given to choice to exchange gifts. Have you ever received the gift of Jesus? Do you know what that means?

A billboard I saw in Florida over Thanksgiving read “Eternity is a long time to spend in Hell.” Sounds harsh, but is truth! Yeah, just maybe the Bible story is not true, Perhaps there is no Heaven or Hell, but what if there is? What then? I would rather believe and it not make a differnce in the end versus not believe and have it be the difference at the end.

Jesus was sent to earth to die for you and I and to cover our sins in exchange for our eternal life. HE was not sent here to condemn us.

John 3:17  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

We are not perfect while still here on earth in the flesh, man will continue to fall short of the glory of GOD. However, one can submit to HIM and let a transforming work begin in their life. I have experienced this transforming work – it is an ongoing process. I have also experienced this pain of death and life being taken away. Both situations have become real to me.

Will you open this precious gift from God to you?

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Christians are like Jack-O-Lanterns

October 30, 2010

As I carved pumpkins today with the kids it dawned on me that this analogy was so true…

God picks you from the pumpkin patch and brings you into his home. He washes off all the dirt on the outside that you got from being around all the other pumpkins. He cuts off the top and takes out all the yucky stuff on the inside. He removes the seeds of sinfulness and carves you a new smiling face. He puts his light inside of you to shine for all to see.

It’s not about the outside – the outer appearance, but its about the transformation that occurs inside of you. After there is an internal change most definately the outward appearance and actions can change in due time or even quite rapidly. This change is directly because of the exchange that was made for old ways to a new way!

What good does a Jack-O-Lantern do if we keep it hidden inside? Nobody can see it. Likewise as a Christian we are to let HIS light shine from within us for others to see. We are called to share the effect God has had on our lives with others – to witness. Pumpkins grow in all different shapes and sizes and colors, so do Christians.

Matthew 5:14“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Instant Gratification Society – Step Back!

October 23, 2010

As I awoke sitting 20 ft off the earth perched in a tree stand secure in a safety harness, my first thought was, “what did I miss?” Yes, of course I had my bow in hand and was curious if any venison on the hoof had passed by, but my question echoed deeper than that…

I had been out in creation enjoying the cool breeze, sunrays glimmering through the trees, squirrels frantically preparing winter stashes of nuts – I had escaped the hustle and bustle of life for a few hours. I had no cell phone, no email, no internet. Time seemed to stand still for a few hours and I had fallen asleep given the chance to just slow down and relax. No distractions!

Is distraction not a major issue in our world today? We have all these modern advances that bombard us with immediate information – news, opinions, and deadlines fly at us from all directions. Technology has advanced so quickly that tools once thought of as mere conveniences now are relied on as means of communication. A phone that a few short years ago used to be plugged into a wall in our homes, is now a computer in our pocket – many travel throughout the day with the internet in their palm.

So many news stories as of late have broken and the headlines run across the country and around the world at a rapid pace – the facts often being left behind, far behind and seemingly not even needed for the story to hold weight. Our access to information is almost to easy and too fast. Is the pace of this information at our disposal healthy for society?

As if our daily lives of kids off to school, ballgames, dance clubs, bible studies, work, eating, and bedtime routines were not enough to fill our days – now we must cram in texting and emailing as we commute in traffic! I thought the bluetooth earpiece was clever and safer for business folks driving, but I see more on people walking in the stores than I do  drivers. Really? Are we that important as people? I think in the midst of all our technological progress we have lost touch with who were are and what we were created for.

Do you ever write a note and send it snail mail? Read a book that has a spine and not on a Kindle or Ipad? Read the newspaper without scrolling down with the mouse? Make a phone call by actually dialing the numbers and not speaking a name into the device or mashing a speed dial button? Can we even get off the couch to turn on a tv anymore or do we just freak out because we cannot find the remote? What hard work it was to flip the album over versus selecting a playlist on the iPod! Does anyone heat water in a teapot anymore? Can you relate to any of these?

I challenge you to slow down this week. Perhaps start in the morning – cook breakfast like our Mom’s used to, on the stove top and not the microwave. Read a book, take a walk, maybe break out Monopoly, Operation, Uno and spend the day as a family  playing games! Take a nap in silence. Can you run errands one day without taking your cell phone and not feel naked? Try using your key to unlock the car door and not the nifty remote.

All of these advances are great when used and not abused. However, as a nation maybe we are not ready for all that we have. Are we disciplined enough to handle it all? Yes, it all makes life “easier” and quicker, but do we really need the decay to happen faster yet?

The sun had set, it was time to climb down from the tree. No deer seen tonight, but relaxation achieved! I was unaware of being tired but the nap was so refreshing. A few hours removed from the chaos that life throws our way can recharge the battery. Can you do without a couple of modern distractions? Is there any technology idolatry in your life you need to address?

Perhaps take a few of these fast paced moments each day and exchange them for silence, to be still and listen…

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature — trees, flowers, grass — grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence. We need silence to be able to touch souls. – Mother Theresa

F.R.O.G.’s, Balloons, and Butterflies

October 11, 2010

 

 

 

Today yet another butterfly stopped by to pay me a visit! I found it a bit odd given the environment that I was in when it happened. I understand it when I am out in the backyard or on a hike in the woods, but today’s encounter with said butterfly was at Bank of America stadium in the heart of downtown Charlotte. It was midday during the second quarter of an NFL game. Not what I would call a prime target for a butterfly destination. The butterfly out of thousands of seats to choose from was sent to land on the back of the seat  directly in front of me. Odd? Coincidence? Ironic? Destined? You decide, I know my thoughts…

This in itself is no big deal to most people and honestly it was not a bid deal to me for most of my life, admittedly perhaps it was even unnoticed when it did occur. However, that has all changed and it is huge when it does happen, which is seemingly often. Let me explain…

You see butterflies, free floating balloons and frogs remind me of Cayden. There are reasons which I will explain in brief, but these reasons are not the whole point to the post. Butterflies are calming to me, peaceful — yet determined. Balloons are released at Families for Hope Conferences while remebering  HPE children that have passed away, a touching ceremony that we as a family has adopted as ritual on Cayden’s born on earth and born in Heaven dates each year. F.r.o.g.’s – Forever Rely on God. Not that these are the only things that make me reflect on my boy, but they certainly are 3 key trigger points.

Butterflies are seen fairly often, but it is interesting the places in which I notice them as of late. Today was indeed among the most powerful of impact given the location, but as has happened often this fall while hiking as a family we have been paid visits! Balloons – they too are not rare to see floating away from the hands of kids, but again there have been a few interesting out of the ordinary sightings. Two of which I recall that stand out happened this summer. First at the Family, Faith and Freedom concert we saw a single balloon float by our seats mid song at twilight while Steven Curtis Chapman was singing and talking about the death and loss of his daughter. Having not seen a balloon vendor all day or any other balloons at all this was powerful and the timing was indeed orchestrated. The second time was at Charlotte Blues, Brews, and BBQ event when balloons of different colors than those of any we had seen being sold or carried all night went sailing into the evening sky above our heads. Not leaving out our friendly frogs we had a day full of them while hiking at Morrow Mountain as we celebrated Caydens birthday this year camping. On the top of a mountain peak we crossed paths with a single frog hopping through the leaves and twigs. Earlier, as we had settled nearby a pond in the woods to have our picnic lunch we startled numerous frogs off their logs and sent them splashing into the water.

Any of these moments in time always bring a smile to our faces and generally a tear to our eyes as we get a warm sense that Cayden is still on the journey of life with us as we travel. Yeah I know, he is not really with us — he has finished his good fight. His journey is over, but in our eyes at least we are reminded of him and it feels like he is reminding us to remember him as a piece of our family and to keep him in our thoughts and adventures. Maybe it is just coincidence that these things happen and I read into them more than what they are, but you will never convince me of it! I think they are all messages from Cayden through the power of the Holy Spirit being relayed to us in many forms and situations. They more that I seek them, the more I will find and the less they will be hidden. I do not understand how it all works nor do I need to — faith is just believing that it can and does.

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

 

Parenting 101.now what?

October 8, 2010

 

So today as I took a lunchhour run to relieve some of the stress from a weeklong battle of high bloodsugar angst, I was taken back a few years to a poem I connected with. You see this entry will have nothing to do with running or bloodsugar, but much to do with a place called Holland. Simply because as I let go of the stress and turned down Old Holland Road at about 1 mile in – my eyes focused on the word Holland and my mind was rolling the rest of the run!
For many this poem may be familiar, for others perhaps you can relate to it in a perspective other than a special needs child. I can identify with this poem as it was an unexpected and dare I say undesired trip that I encountered in 2003. I, not unlike most, had visions of anything but a disabled child when I embarked on fatherhood. However, at 20 weeks into my wifes pregancy I was issued a boarding pass…

Welcome to Holland!
by Emily Pearl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel.
It’s like this . . . When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum, the Michalangelo David, the gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting. After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes and says, “Welcome to Holland.” “Holland?” you say. “What do you mean Holland? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.” But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place. So you go out and buy new guidebooks. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It’s just a different place. It’s slower paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around, and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills, Holland has tulips, Holland even has Rembrandts. But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say, “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.” The pain of that will never go away, because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss. But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you will never be free to enjoy the very special, very lovely things about Holland.

 

 

As it turns out my trip was anything but undesired – it was perfectly planned! Of course it had challenges, it was not easy, but is parenting a typical child easy? No, that too I know. Not only did I find Holland to be much more beautiful than I had expected, but it was such a place of growth for me personally. If I had not been forced to face the challenges that I faced I would not have been molded to who I am. I can say that with full confidence. Not only did I watch my child grow up, I too had a rapid growth spurt! I clearly can see that I am a much more well rounded person and parent now for my second and third children. I know not to take things for granted and to cherish the small moments.

Celebrating Holland- I’m Home
By Cathy Anthony
(my follow-up to the original \Welcome to Holland\ by Emily Perl Kingsley)

I have been in Holland for over a decade now. It has become home. I have had time to catch my breath, to settle and adjust, to accept something different than I’d planned. I reflect back on those years of past when I had first landed in Holland. I remember clearly my shock, my fear, my anger, the pain and uncertainty. In those first few years, I tried to get back to Italy as planned, but Holland was where I was to stay. Today, I can say how far I have come on this unexpected journey. I have learned so much more. But, this too has been a journey of time.I worked hard. I bought new guidebooks. I learned a new language and I slowly found my way around this new land. I have met others whose plans had changed like mine, and who could share my experience. We supported one another and some have become very special friends.
Some of these fellow travelers had been in Holland longer than I and were seasoned guides, assisting me along the way. Many have encouraged me. Many have taught me to open my eyes to the wonder and gifts to behold in this new land. I have discovered a community of caring. Holland wasn’t so bad. I think that Holland is used to wayward travelers like me and grew to become a land of hospitality, reaching out to welcome, to assist and to support newcomers like me in this new land. Over the years, I’ve wondered what life would have been like if I’d landed in Italy as planned. Would life have been easier? Would it have been as rewarding? Would I have learned some of the important lessons I hold today?

Sure, this journey has been more challenging and at times I would (and still do) stomp my feet and cry out in frustration and protest. And, yes, Holland is slower paced than Italy and less flashy than Italy, but this too has been an unexpected gift. I have learned to slow down in ways too and look closer at things, with a new appreciation for the remarkable beauty of Holland with its tulips, windmills and Rembrandts.

I have come to love Holland and call it Home.

I have become a world traveler and discovered that it doesn’t matter where you land. What’s more important is what you make of your journey and how you see and enjoy the very special, the very lovely, things that Holland, or any land, has to offer.

Yes, over a decade ago I landed in a place I hadn’t planned. Yet I am thankful, for this destination has been richer than I could have imagined!

In this second poem I want reflect on the “fellow travelers.” We all have those people surrounding us that are on a journey along side of us – some of them might even be beside you and they are there because they were given a “Holland” ticket at some point in life. Would I even have the circle of friends that I have if I had gone to Italy as planned? I may have some of them, but many I would not even know of as our paths would not have crossed. If it had not been for that single change of direction in my life, so many things would be drastically different or atleast potentially so. I challenge you to invest in a fellow travelers journey, they might need a helping hand or encouragement at this point in their travels. Perhaps in turn they might even dare invest in yours.

Although my “Holland” was only here on the earth for 4 1/2 years, my journey continues along the projected course. Grief overcomes me certain days and that is ok. I am not angry, although certainly some situations frustrate me and I wish desperately that my child was still here for me to grow up with. I am full of Joy for him that he is free from the bondage that so captivated him here in the flesh. I believe that he is free from those chains as he runs through the fields of Grace in Heaven. Consequently, I am more free here for the remainder of my days because of the lessons I was taught through Cayden. I do not understand still all of the burdens my son had to endure, yet I know through many of them I learned valuable lessons to apply toward living a much fuller life.

Possibly you can find a few lessons in this third and final poem…

I AM THE CHILD

(Author Unknown)

I am the child who cannot talk.
You often pity me, I see it in your eyes.
You wonder how much I am aware of — I see that as well.
I am aware of much, whether you are happy or sad or fearful,
patient or impatient, full of love and desire,
or if you are just doing your duty by me.
I marvel at your frustration, knowing mine to be far greater,
for I cannot express myself or my needs as you do.

You cannot conceive my isolation, so complete it is at times.
I do not gift you with clever conversation, cute remarks to be laughed over and repeated.
I do not give you answers to your everyday questions,
responses over my well-being, sharing my needs,
or comments about the world about me.

I do not give you rewards as defined by the world’s standards — great strides in
development that you can credit yourself;
I do not give you understanding as you know it.
What I give you is so much more valuable — I give you instead opportunities.
Opportunities to discover the depth of your character, not mine;
the depth of your love, your commitment, your patience, your abilities;
the opportunity to explore your spirit more deeply than you imagined possible.
I drive you further than you would ever go on your own, working harder,
seeking answers to your many questions with no answers.
I am the child who cannot talk.

I am the child who cannot walk.
The world seems to pass me by.
You see the longing in my eyes to get out of this chair, to run and play like other children.
There is much you take for granted.
I want the toys on the shelf, I need to go to the bathroom, oh I’ve dropped my fork again.
I am dependent on you in these ways.
My gift to you is to make you more aware of your great fortune,
your healthy back and legs, your ability to do for yourself.
Sometimes people appear not to notice me; I always notice them.
I feel not so much envy as desire, desire to stand upright,
to put one foot in front of the other, to be independent.
I give you awareness.
I am the child who cannot walk.

I am the child who is mentally impaired.
I don’t learn easily, if you judge me by the world’s measuring stick,
what I do know is infinite joy in simple things.
I am not burdened as you are with the strife’s and conflicts of a more complicated life.
My gift to you is to grant you the freedom to enjoy things as a child,
to teach you how much your arms around me mean, to give you love.
I give you the gift of simplicity.
I am the child who is mentally impaired.

I am the disabled child.
I am your teacher. If you allow me,
I will teach you what is really important in life.
I will give you and teach you unconditional love.
I gift you with my innocent trust, my dependency upon you.
I teach you about how precious this life is and about not taking things for granted.
I teach you about forgetting your own needs and desires and dreams.
I teach you giving.
Most of all I teach you hope and faith.
I am the disabled child.

Trust me, if you ever find yourself in Holland and you wanted to go to Italy… just hang on for the ride and keep an open heart and mind.

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Journey with me?

October 7, 2010

Welcome!

A blog? Why? What is with a Journey in the Conduit?

I ask myself these questions and more… I do not know the answers clearly at this time, however, I am hearing that this is my next phase of witnessing. If I am obedient to these messages I believe that the answers will be revealed as the blog unfolds.

Journey in the Conduit will be an attempt to document snapshots of life. Journey representing the trials, both the good and the not so pleasant. Conduit being the source of delivery, myself in this application. At times these tidbits may be through words, sometimes a song, perhaps even in pictures. I know going in that not all who indulge will agree all the time, perhaps even ever. I am ok with differeing opinions and controversial issues. Yet, if controversial, my intention will be to provoke thought and study not just emotion.

My interests and activities involve the out of doors mainly so subject matter will most likely be revealed to me while on a run, or in the woods, possibly while I am knee deep in a stream on a mountain. As the birds tweet in the morning hours as I weed the garden thoughts get enlightened. The flames from a campfire licking at the crisp night air makes ones mind shed cares and burdens as wisdom enters in. Life is challenging and seemingly unfair at times – I am no different than you, I have had my share too. I have worked through some of these trials and anticipate sharing them in hopes that the perspective in which I now view them versus how I did will impact the way in which you might think in return.

Often I intend on referencing scripture from the word of God, as my faith in HIM and HIS word has transformed the way in which I view many things. Without this reference of the Bible and my belief in it, I would not be encountering this blog to begin with. If you believe, I hope it serves you encouragement. If you are a skeptic, sift through the reference for the story anyway it might just impact your life anyway!

Will you join me for the Journey?