From The Inside Looking Out

It is never fun being in the middle. I see all sides and I am helpless in trying to solve the dilemmas hanging in the balance all around me. I have neither the power nor the opportunity to bring all involved parties onto the same page. Even if I had that kind of power, I’m sure that I would not be taken up on my offer. You see, people like to hold on to their beliefs. They often don’t want to have to change how they feel about a person or situation because those feelings are serving them well. To change their feelings would require that they change their behavior, and who wants to do that?

I have seen it so many times. People get hurt and they hold on to their opinions of the other person. They don’t realize they are holding grudges and might even be under the impression that the past has no effect on their future dealings together. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. And yes, I am just as guilty. When a person is hurt, trust goes out the window, and in my opinion you almost never get it back. It is one thing to forgive a person so that you can move on into the present but it never erases the memories of what has happened. Ah, if only we could live with the “Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind.” Perhaps then we would be able to truly move on and learn to trust again, but we can’t live in a movie world. Still, there is one thing on earth that is within our reach, and that is God.

God can move mountains. No really, He can because I’ve seen it. My mother didn’t talk to me for 12 years and now she is back in my life. I had given up; I was convinced I would never hear from her again. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life but I think the biggest one I made with my mom was failing to understand and heed her advice. It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I think I finally started to fully understand and appreciate the wisdom she had and could offer me. It wasn’t until I turned my life over to Christ that I finally had enough sense to pray for healing in my heart and for hers.

The details of how my mom and I started talking again is another testimony altogether. For now, know that Jesus is there and that He alone can mend broken hearts. Does my mom trust me 100% now? No, but we are all a work in progress and I pray for healing in her life. For me, I have shed the demons that remind me of my past hurts, those that kept me bottled in the misery of loss and estrangement. I just don’t live there anymore because my focus is on God and no matter what happens in life, I know that He has a hand in it because it will glorify Him in some way. This is also true of those things that happened in my past.

We all make mistakes. We all fail to communicate properly and then assume the worst about other people. We often just can’t seem to get it right. Being Christian means that we should be giving others the benefit of the doubt or at least trusting that God has a purpose in your current trial. I honestly think that most people are decent and mean no harm to others.

If you are having a hard time trusting someone or you find yourself always thinking the worst about their intentions, stop and think: what if God felt that way about you? What if Jesus had decided you weren’t worth dying over because you made mistakes? He didn’t ask for us to be trustworthy. He didn’t ask us to even be loving but we owe it to Him for the sacrifice that He made. We were made in God’s image and that is the picture of love.

The Bible says to love others the way you would want them to love you. I challenge you instead to love them the way that God loves you: unconditionally. Don’t put them on the cross before you will put your faith in them as was the case with Jesus. We, as a society, are in enough pain.

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Follow-Through Is Key

I’m not really sure what happened. Maybe I’ve gotten complacent or something. Perhaps I was tired or too wrapped up in myself. Normally, when I see a homeless person and I think I should do something to help them, I act. This morning as I walked by Treaty Oak Park, I saw a guy walking toward me with a sheet draping over him. I knew that he had slept under the canopy of the huge tree that takes up the majority of this little park. The tree provides some shelter from the winds with the way its branches reach over and hug the ground. My first thought was to give him a granola bar. I’ve been carrying some around with me in case my fiancee’s toddler gets hungry. Recently, we even handed out some out to the homeless in Hemming Plaza. It just made sense in my mind. But for some reason, it only remained a thought and as the gentleman got closer and passed me, I hadn’t even reached into my purse to get the granola bar.

I kept walking, not really understanding. The idea was still ruminating in my head but I continued on my way to work, and I’m sure he headed to the I-95 exit down the street to panhandle. As I passed a hotel, I thought of all the empty beds they have there that could be put to use. I thought of the empty homes in our city. I thought of the Sulzbacher Center and if they still had room for people to sleep. When I got to the office, I was still convinced that I should have turned around and I felt full of shame. I thought that I could just get to the office and then head back. I started thinking about something warm he could drink since it was freezing outside. I peered into my purse as I was opening the door at work and there were the granola bars. All I could do was frown.

As soon as I walked inside, I dropped my bags off at the front desk. I reached into my purse and took out several granola bars and then headed for the kitchen. There was old coffee sitting on the burner from yesterday. It would take too long to make a fresh pot before I headed out. I looked in the cabinets thinking hot chocolate would be a good option, but I didn’t find any. There were tea bags and we had a hot water dispenser, but my brain was insistent that I find something like hot chocolate. Then I remembered that my old boss had handed out some recently so I headed to my desk and checked my drawer. Oh yeah, that’s right – all of my stuff was still in storage from our recent renovations. I headed to the closet and rummaged through some containers before I found the packet of cappuccino I was thinking of. Small glimmer of hope.

I went back to the kitchen and grabbed a cup with hot water and a lid so it wouldn’t spill. Now, I just needed a blanket. An idea – my co-workers wanted to throw away a blanket that was hanging around in the office with cancer survivor hand prints on it but I refused to part with it. I thought it would be perfect. A glimpse at the tag after grabbing it from the closet revealed the message, “I am not alone.” Amen.

I left the building and made my way down the street to where the homeless man would be. I see them from time to time, waiting at the exit, hoping that one of the cars will stop and offer some change or a few bucks. As I was walking, I noticed a man that turned onto the sidewalk in front of me carrying a McDonalds bag. I thought of the money we waste on frivolities and conveniences, and how that guy could have bought that food for the homeless person. We walked in the same direction and made our way to the I-95 exit. I could see a homeless person there but I wasn’t sure if it was the same one without the sheet covering him. He was wearing a backpack.

To my astonishment, the gentleman with the McDonald’s bag walked up to the homeless man and handed him money. They exchanged a few words, and I heard the homeless man say something about getting something warm to drink. Whoa! I was standing right there with a cup of something warm to drink. I waited my turn, smiled at the McDonalds guy before he passed me and then handed the drink to the very appreciative man. He was quick to tell me that he couldn’t use the blanket though. Confused, he explained that he would have to carry it around and that it wasn’t big enough to completely cover him. Ok, makes sense. But he did say he could use the granola bars in my hand. I gave them to him, and then handed him a business card that has a link to my Christian music videos. I encouraged him to check them out when he goes to the library, and told him to have a blessed day.

It’s sad that blankets have to be sacrificed so he can get around. I’m sitting here now thinking of stories of when my best friend lived on the streets and how things would be stolen. They can’t store things anywhere so they really are carrying their lives on their back. To know that they need help and yet they still have to make compromises so they can survive is heartbreaking, and one has to wonder how or if they will ever get ahead.

I’m ashamed of my actions this morning. I really don’t understand how I failed to heed the call or even why. But I’m thankful that the pleading of my heart got stronger and encouraged me to follow through. That’s when you know that God is trying to reach you. When I help a homeless person, I’m helping in a way I couldn’t for my best friend. Sometimes in life, it really is the little things in life that count… but nothing shows love and compassion more than the thought and follow through action of a considerate act to a complete stranger.

What is Your Testimony?

KNG Music

Have you ever stopped to think about your testimony and how it came to be?  As for me, I was saved when I was 6 years old in a Sunday school class.  Growing up as a Christian, I learned about the Bible, Jesus, and many different stories that have helped shape my character today.  Still, my testimony for you today isn’t about the beginning of me finding God but the first time I felt a relationship with God.

Every man is told by society that in order to be successful you must have: a big house, a brand new sports car, a great paying job, and a family.  I was on my second house that I purchased, I had my 2 door sports car, my job was paying me well, I had a wife, and a total of 3 kids.  Even so, I still felt like I was a robot just going through the…

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Cry Baby, Cry

I want to talk about crying, you know, that thing that makes other people uncomfortable? Why did God give our bodies this beautiful gift, and how can we learn to react with love instead of fear when someone close is in this emotional state? Read on…

Tears are a relief valve. They are the result of too much pressure in the system. Circumstances and situations may start off as an irritant, and unresolved can grow into frustration. Keep adding fuel to the fire and you wind up with an inferno in an enclosed space. The windows buckle under the high pressure and blow out. Remember the saying that “the eyes are the window to our soul?” It’s true, and stress literally goes out those windows too. Crying releases stress hormones and return us to a state of calm. Wait, so if it reduces stress then why don’t more people allow themselves to cry or even other people? Let’s call it a simple misunderstanding…um, on a societal scale.

Most people associate crying with a sign of weakness. It is tolerated at best when we are infants while our parents do everything in their power to get us to settle down. Funny, now that I think about it. Crying actually is settling our body down, but I digress… Really, at any age it is frowned upon. We set up “societal norms” that say men don’t cry and women do, but then we don’t even let women cry because we don’t want to deal with it. I don’t know about you but the women in my life are stressed and need to cry…

***BREAKING NEWS***

MEN NEED TO CRY TOO.

If more men cried, I think our society would start to change. Men would start to realize how much better they feel after crying, and those experiences would help them better cope with their girlfriends and wives that are crying.

I think we should have a crying party, one big societal cry at an inappropriate time because really… when is it ever a bad time to release stress in a healthy way? Let’s say goodbye to alcohol and to drugs. Ours is a society that abuses itself because running away from our feelings supposedly shows emotional strength. I don’t know about you but this doesn’t make sense to me.
Be strong in relieving stress. Stand with me and shed your tears proudly because afterwards we’ll hug and feel great. Don’t feel the need to cry? That’s ok too, but I might need to and I’m going to need you to be understanding and supportive of my crying now that you know how good it is for me. I thought so. Now, wasn’t that simple?