2018 Christmas Contemplation

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Christmas used to be a joyous holiday filled with family, friends, food, and gifts.  For some people, that is still the case.  For others like me, circumstances have made Christmas and all other holidays become more difficult as people move to different areas of the world while everyone grows older and loved ones pass away.  I have lost quite a few people in a short amount of time.  Just as a brief recap, I am listing who I lost and a glimpse of the impact they made within their lives.

My mentor lived from 03/17/1956-03/31/2012.  He was the first person that I confided in with several issues.  Even after his cancer diagnosis, he continued to care for others.  I remember when I went to his funeral, the church was literally full of everyone that he had played a part of over his many years of service.

My mom lived from 11/01/1959-04/25/2015.  She knew how serious her health had been getting but she never shared how bad it was because she wanted everyone to continue living their lives and to continue to find happiness and peace.

My grandmother lived from 12/24/1940-02/02/2016.  She lived a long life and always wanted to make sure her family was taken care of.  She occasionally called me at work while I was on the midnight shift just to chat.  We would always end our conversations with me telling her a good joke that I had recently came across.

My aunt lived from 02/08/1956-11/11/2018.  The simple things made her happy such as taking a walk, going for a ride, cleaning up around the neighborhood.  Even on her death bed, she was still in a giving spirit by insisting that I get food and something to drink for myself and not to worry about her.

Regrets have had a huge impact on my emotions, namely anger and sadness.  I regret being silent when I should have spoken up.  I regret isolating myself when I should have remained open and outgoing.  I regret spending more time at work and focusing more on tv shows when I should have been enjoying the company of my family.  Let these regrets of mine be a reminder to you reading this to refocus what and more importantly who you have your priorities set on.

I have always had a lone wolf personality but after losing my aunt, I had never felt so lonely in my entire life.  I grew up living with my mom and aunt with frequent trips to grandmother’s house.  Naturally, after each loss, part of my world as I once knew it had gone.  After the loss of my aunt, the last person that played a part of my upbringing, my entire world as I knew it had gone.  I got lost in the darkness of grief and had no idea what I should do or where I should go.

I have checked out a few churches within my neighborhood over the years.  I even got involved in a couple and had attended on a regular basis.  Unfortunately, my default lone wolf personality kicked in and the feelings of not belonging had overwhelmed me to the point where I just stopped attending and nobody thought much of it.

Have I thought about ending my life?  Several times because of a variety of circumstances.  I am human and have temptations like everyone else and situations tend to intensify certain temptations.  I know the feeling of being lost in the darkness where there seems like there is no hope and no way else out.

Will I follow through with those thoughts of giving up?  NEVER!  One thing I know for sure that has kept me going and will continue to keep me moving forward in my life is this: The same person who was born in a manger whose birth we still celebrate to this day is not only present but continues to be active in my heart as “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” This is my testimony of the good news of great joy that is for all people that was promised so long ago and continues to this very day. This is the Truth that led to this scene:  “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Throughout my life, there have been several times where I asked the question, “Why Me?”  Why is this happening to me?  Why am I going through this?  It was not too long ago where I realized that God once again answered a question with a question: “Who better than you?”  We are not able to provide a testimony without going through tests in our lives.  Just as in the classroom, the Teacher is always silent during the test, but it is critical to remember that silence does not always mean absence.  When it comes to God, He is always with us and is the closest to the brokenhearted.

Christmas is a time to celebrate the day Jesus Christ was born with peace on his mind, love in his eyes and the cross on his heart.  The King of kings and Lord of lords left His heavenly home to be born in a manger and live a simple life so that people may believe that not only does God exist, but He has a plan for each and every individual and within that plan is eternal life.  2 Corinthians 4:6 says that: For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

Sarah Young provided an excellent excerpt in her Jesus Calling Devotional: “As you wait attentively in My Presence, the Light of the knowledge of My Glory shines upon you.  This radiant knowledge transcends all understanding.  It transforms every fiber of your being: renewing your mind, cleansing your heart, invigorating your body.  Open yourself fully to My presence; be awed by My glorious Being.”

Let me end this entry by saying that if I can continue after all my experiences, then anyone can.  The best advice that I can give is as hard as it may be, try not to get swept up in self-pity.  Remember that your heart is an ark and when the presence of God rises from its rest, the ark follows.  Keep your focus on the Mighty Redeemer as He guides you to other people that not only you need but who need you.

Whatever you have been through, whatever you are going through now, and whatever you will go through in the future, know that you are never alone.  If circumstances have overwhelmed you to the point of giving up, that is the time to reach out to anyone whether it is a family member, friend, pastor, or even a hotline or chatline that are available 24/7/365.  Below are just a few references anyone may use:

Text “help” to 741741 to chat anonymously with a counselor

Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to speak with a counselor

Visit a website such as:   http://remedylive.com/ or https://hopenet360.com/help/






Get Out of the Zone

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There are so many self-help articles and books telling people to “get in the zone” and discuss random steps and tricks to get there.  I want to share how to get in the zone by getting out of it.  What good is being in the zone if you are alone either at the end of the day or all the time?

It’s amazing on how easy it is to fall into complacency to just live in the “comfort zone” and realize that you are not living at all but existing. The comfort zone is just a curse in disguise and the real blessings can only be found outside and you can only grasp them when you reach out.

Although a comfort zone may seem right for a moment, one moment can last a lifetime of living with a void inside of us.  There is an emptiness that can only be filled when we keep moving, stop existing and start living.  Living a life that focuses on people rather than just on ourselves.  At the end of the day, when all is said and done, we need to ask ourselves, did we truly say everything that needed to get said and did we truly do everything that needed to get done?

It is important to have a mission, a purpose, a passion that lives within us that must be released and shared with others.  There are so many new challenges that show up every day on social media.  A lot of those challenges get viewed and responded to.  What about a challenge of a lifetime that lasts a lifetime?  Here is the challenge: Keep the chain of love flowing each and every day.  Invest in others every chance you get.  Your time is more important than your finances.  Money can always be earned and spent, but time is the most valuable gift that can be given because time is proof that there is care, there is support, there is love to give peace and hope to the person who is desperately seeking answers in all the wrong places.  When you live for others, you will find fulfillment within yourself.  Don’t wait for the perfect moment or the perfect person to help, make the moment perfect and make a stranger feel important.

Strength of a Soldier

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Strength seems to be a popular subject these days.  As I have conversations with friends and family, the issue of strength has come up in one form or another.  As I scroll down my Facebook newsfeed, I see so many posts and quotes regarding strength.  With Memorial Day coming up, I believe that the topic of strength seems to be a suitable blog entry.

Memorial Day is a time where America remembers the brave people who provided the ultimate sacrifice so that the citizens may live freely.  I have the utmost respect for everyone who has served and is currently serving in all branches of the United States Military.  If you are reading this and you are a veteran or in active duty, thank you for your service.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWrMeBR8W-c  (Toby Keith – American Soldier)

This particular entry widens the boundaries to the extent where every person is considered to be a soldier.  I was never in the military, and you may not have served in the military, but the fact is we are all soldiers of life.  We all have our own battles to fight.  They may not consist of fighting with guns or the latest weapon technologies against those who wish harm against our families and country, but our greatest battles are fought in our minds.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xo1VInw-SKc  (Rachel Platten – Fight Song)

Soldiers in the military are trained to be strong mentally and physically.  The purpose is to make sure every person will be fit for battle and for the enemy not to find any weakness.  From the perspective of a regular individual, what are your enemies?  Addiction?  Anxiety?  Anger?  Depression?  Hopelessness?  Insecurity?  Loneliness?  Oppression?  From the perspective of a Christian, I guarantee you that the enemy knows every weakness you have and will use it in every opportunity that you provide.  That is why the Bible gives clear instructions:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.  Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.  In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;  and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.  To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:10-18)

There are times when we have to act strong in front of others so that there is a sense of security and stability.  There are times when we need to just drop the act and just be honest with ourselves, with others, and with God.  Being able to discern on when and where these times take place is critical to keeping up with reality and being able to stay reasonable.  My suggestion is to be honest first with your relationship with God because if there is a problem with that relationship, then all the other issues will seem much more significant than they really are.  In our weakness, God is our strength; that requires us to have a close and personal relationship with Him so that we are better able to handle the challenges in this world.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLLy4oSLGN4  (Mark Schultz – He Will Carry Me)

In 1 Kings 19:11-13, we read the following passage:  And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.  And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

What can we learn from this?  There will be storms in our lives that will try to break us in any possible way and those storms will succeed if we allow them to.  1 Peter 1:6-7 says, “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” After the fire, we will hear the voice.  The voice of hope.  The voice of joy.  The voice of love.  The voice of everlasting life.  Just as Elijah went out and stood at the entrance of the cave, we must go out and stand once more for another day of battle until Jesus returns to us or He calls us home.  At least once a day, find a quiet place and let your heart open up for Jesus to take up all the hurts and fill it in with His Spirit that consists of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3Wf2ptiAbk  (Jeremy Camp – Christ in Me)

For those of you who have doubts or straight out do not believe in the Christian faith.  Let me tell you about my experience.  It was not my strength that had me function after I was informed that my mother had passed away.  It was not my strength that allowed me to sleep at night and get up every morning and return to my daily grind with my mother no longer around.  It was not my strength that allowed me to go to work just hours after receiving the news that my grandmother had passed away.  Unfortunately, not even a year went by before I lost two close family members that played significant roles in raising me to the man I am today.  It certainly is not my strength that is keeping me writing to this very day.  I may not be posting as many blog entries as I have before, but I continue to observe and note the everyday experiences that I have and witness to those around me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QD1QMSYKL6Q (Jeremy Camp – Same Power)


Quantity and Quality

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There is a peace that surpasses all understanding because it is everlasting and comes from the Creator, who is the source of peace. If we were to understand peace, than it would only be a temporary feeling, but our Father offers us more than just a feeling that lasts a short time, He offers us Himself and asks that we be with Him in this moment. When we are able to live, love, and have hope in the moment, we can strengthen our faith and have just enough peace and joy to get us through the next moment as well as the next and so on and so forth. The Bible is an excellent place to start. Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” Further along in Proverbs 20:24, “A man’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand his own way?”

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

“Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.” Psalm 37:5

“The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:6

“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.” 1 John 2:15-17

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Let us not dwell on the past or worry about the future, but let us fix our eyes on our Father and allow His Holy Spirit to guide us every millisecond for every thought and every action from now on to eternity. I would like to take this opportunity to go deep turning some complex mathematics into simple equations where if I can grasp these than anybody can understand the formulas in this entry. When I first began my research on time measurements, my only understanding was milliseconds with no knowledge of what comes before that. My mind was completely blown away by the shortest and largest capacity of numeric value, especially with their Greek origin.

To help the SI units apply to a wide range of phenomena, the 19th General Conference on Weights and Measures in 1991 extended the list of metric prefixes so that it reaches from yotta- at 1024 (one septillion) to yocto- at 10-24 (one septillionth). Yotta is the largest decimal unit prefix in the metric system, denoting a factor of 1024. It has the unit symbol Y. The prefix name is derived from the Greek οκτώ (októ), meaning eight, because it is equal to 10008. Yocto comes from the Latin/Greek octo (οκτώ), meaning “eight”, because it is equal to 1000−8. So, what is so special about the units mentioned? Well, the numbers 8 and 24 both have important symbolism.

The number 8 is the number expressing the matter, it is also the symbol of the incarnation in the matter which becomes itself creative and autonomous, governing its own laws. It is the number of the perfection, the infinity. In mathematics the symbol of the infinity is represented by an 8 laid down. It is the number of the balance and of the cosmic order, according to the Egyptians. It represents the earth, not in its surface but in its volume, since 8 is the first cubic number. The Pythagoreans have made the number 8 the symbol of the love and the friendship, the prudence and the thinking and they have called it the Great “Tetrachtys”. In mathematics, the Pythagorean Theorem, also known as Pythagoras’ theorem, is a relation in Euclidean geometry among the three sides of a right triangle. It states that the square of the hypotenuse (the side opposite the right angle) is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. When you take in the fact that our God is a Triune God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), the relation of numbers have a meaningful purpose.

The number eight in the Bible signifies Resurrection and Regeneration. It is the number of a new beginning.  Eight is 7 plus 1 and since it comes just after seven, which itself signifies an end to something, so eight is also associated with the beginning of a new era or that of a new order. In the bible one can find many examples which bring forth and which associate the number eight with a new beginning. Boys were to be circumcised on the 8th day. The number 8 symbolizes circumcision of the heart through Christ and the receiving of the Holy Spirit (Romans 2:28-29, Colossians 2:11-13). Those in Christ are becoming a new creation, with godly character being created by the power of God’s Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 2:10; 4:23-24).  There are eight beatitudes in the sermon on the mountain that can be found in Matthew 5:3-11).  After the 7 weeks of the spring harvest, the next day, the 50th day, is Pentecost. This day is also the eighth day of the seventh week. This 8th and 50th day combination pictures the first resurrection when the saints will be raised from the dead and made immortal (1Corinthians 15:20-23, John 3:3-12, Revelation 20:4-6). After the 7 days of the Feast of Tabernacles there is an 8th day, called the Last Great Day.  The New Testament was penned by only eight men.  Eight is the number of Jesus, whose name in the Greek adds up to 888. Jesus showed himself alive EIGHT times after his resurrection from the dead. His first appearance alive was to Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9-11). He then showed himself to two disciples traveling to Emmaus (Luke 24). Next, he appeared to all the disciples except Thomas (John 20:19-24) then a week later to all of them when Thomas was present (John 20:26-29). According to the apostle Paul, Christ also was seen by 500 believers at one time (1Corinthians 15:4-7). Jesus also met his disciples at the appointed place in Galilee (Matthew 28:16-17) and on Galilee’s shores (John 21:1-24).  His final meeting was on the Mount of Olives, where he gave his followers instructions before ascending to heaven (Acts 1). The eight steps of the staircase leading to the external square of the Ezekiel’s temple.  Ezekiel’s Temple is a Jewish Holy Temple architecturally described and prophesied in the Book of Ezekiel, a house of prayer for all people with a sacrificial service. It is noted by Ezekiel as an eternal edifice and permanent dwelling place of the God of Israel on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

The number 24 is associated with the priesthood. Since it is composed of a multiple of 12, it takes on some of 12’s meaning (which is God’s power and authority, as well as perfect foundation) except in a higher form. Twenty-four, therefore, is also connected with the worship of God, especially at the temple.  The number 24 has significance in the book of the Revelation, where mention is made of “twenty-four elders.” These elders most likely represent the church as represented by the twelve tribes of Israel (or the twelve sons of Jacob) and the twelve apostles. Every time they are mentioned the book describes them as falling on their faces and worshipping God. So the only real significance we can get from that number is that we ought to be humbling ourselves and praising God.

Psalm 72 lists 24 things that Jesus Christ, as High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, will do when He sits upon His throne and rules as King and Priest during the Millennium:

  1. He will righteously judge the people
  2. He will judge, with justice, the poor and needy
  3. Peace will be brought by the mountains
  4. Small hills shall also experience peace
  5. He shall judge the poor
  6. He shall save the children of the needy
  7. Those who oppress will be crushed
  8. He shall rule like rain upon grass
  9. He shall rule like the water that showers the globe
  10. He will cause the righteous to flourish
  11. He will bring the righteous an abundance of peace
  12. He shall rule from sea to sea
  13. He shall rule from the river unto the ends of the earth.
  14. When he hears the needy cry out he will deliver him
  15. The poor and those who have no help will also be delivered
  16. Those who are needy and weak will receive compassion
  17. The lives of those in need will be saved
  18. The needy who are oppressed and experience violence will be redeemed
  19. The blood of those in need will be precious in His sight
  20. He will cause an abundance of grain on the earth
  21. He will bring an abundance of fruit
  22. He will make those of the city flourish like grass
  23. He will make His name to be continued
  24. He will bless all men

Year of Firsts

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There is an adage expression that says “there is a first time for everything.” Normally when people say that, it is usually expressed with some excitement or the last words as someone jumps off from the top of a ski lift for the first time with help from their friends of course.

(With A Little Help From My Friends by Joe Cocker) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCrlyX6XbTU

On the other end of that expression is grief centered with a first time for everything after losing a loved one. A first event, first holiday, first birthday, first anniversary…This blog entry is about my experience over the last 5 months.

(Say Amen by Finding Favour) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfWaMVh4dZM

The first mother’s day was not as hard since it was not that long after my mom’s passing. The full acceptance did not fully sink in. The first fourth of July was a little more difficult. Watching fireworks on the roof by myself, remembering the good times of the past when my mom and I watched fireworks and even shot off our own on some of the years. I just recently had my 30th birthday and unfortunately, it was my first birthday without my mom. The closer the day got, the more discouraged I became. I was not getting too much sleep, I had been eating more and exercising less, I have had a lack of motivation to do anything. I just recently came to the realization that it has been with my self-centered attitude that I have dug myself right into a pit, burning those metaphorical bridges rather than expanding them to anyone and everyone who would most likely would have helped me through these stages in life if only I would have spoken up about the situations and asked directly for help. This life is a journey and people in your life were strategically placed there only for a specific amount of time.

(O’Lord by Lauren Daigle) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHp585tdIjQ

We are here by grace and until we fully comprehend that concept, we will never be as productive as we were created to be. Every day is a gift, what are you doing with it? That is a question that I confess have not been asking myself much. What are people saying about you now when you are alive? What will they say about you when you are gone? What do you need to change in order to leave a more positive legacy for those who knew you to carry on with them as they continue living?

(How Can It Be by Lauren Daigle) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wt5X91ciE6Y

I came across a note that was in between some old school work and disciplinary papers from my middle school. My mom had written it and placed it there and the contents of that note expressed how proud she was of me to watch me grow up and she apologized for not being too open with me about her life, the things she had gone through and how those had developed the hopes and dreams she had for the future. At the end she said that if she were to die she just wanted to let me know that I was loved. That got me thinking of how great and strong love can be. In the midst of imperfections, love pulls rank and strengthens the bond. I came across a few statements over the internet that fit right in, “Grief never ends but it changes. It’s a passage not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness nor a lack of faith…It is the price of love. Grief changes us, the pain sculpts us into someone who understands more deeply, hurts more often, appreciates more quickly, cries more easily, hopes more desperately, loves more openly. Grief can be a burden, but also an anchor. You get used to the weight, how it holds you in place. Hold on to the love, not the loss.”

(Just Be Held by Casting Crowns) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIZitK6_IMQ

If you meddle with your wounds, not only will it prolong the healing process, it will make the wound in worse shape. If you focus on the problem, you will get lost in darkness, but if you focus on the answer, you will be walking in the light. If you focus on the truth, no lie can take you down. John 14:1-7 says, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.  And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

(Trust In You by Lauren Daigle) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_aVFVveJNs

Dealing With Grief

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On April 25, 2015, my mom went home to be with the Lord at age 55. I had known that she was suffering in this life, but I did not know how much until I talked with her doctor a few days after her passing. I knew that my mom has had type 2 diabetes most of her life and as a result developed other medical complications from that such as spinal stenosis (narrowing of spaces in the spine caused by degeneration of joints and discs). A few years ago, she was diagnosed with CHF (congestive heart failure) and her doctor had informed me that she had severe COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease which is a group of lung diseases that block airflow and make it difficult to breathe). About a month prior to her passing, it was discovered that her kidneys were in bad shape due to an infection and dialysis was recommended but my mom refused that treatment knowing how bad her COPD was she felt there was no point to go through the mental and physical side-effects dialysis would bring. Some facts that have given me comfort is that my mom did not want to be on life support or pass away in a hospital. She got what she wanted by passing away in her sleep at home. She also did not want to be seen by a lot of people for a funeral service. I discovered that funeral expenses can add up very quickly to thousands of dollars so since my mom did not have life insurance and I did not have money to pay for a large funeral, especially if it was just going to be a closed casket service, my mom got that wish as well. I complied to her final wish by having her cremated and her ashes are now in an urn behind a couple of pictures of her in the living room.

https://youtu.be/WmIqYDAncOs (When You Come Home by Mark Schultz)

It is never an easy feeling to witness suffering, especially when a person is a family member who you dearly love and care for. In the worst times of my mom’s sufferings, I shared in that suffering to the point where my entire body would just numb up and I would have no specific feelings at all, just a combined mix of feelings to the point where my body would just blank them all out. That is what I felt the day before my mom passed and have been feeling at random times since then. Although I was in emotional shock and felt completely numb, I was also at peace because I knew that my mom was no longer in pain or suffering. She went to be with the HEALER, the very presence of LOVE. It is no coincidence that my mom wrote out lyrics to this song and had that piece of paper in an easy place to find:

https://youtu.be/XRlYbgagnN8 (Wish You Were Here by Mark Harris)

The thoughts and prayers from family members and friends have also played an important role in my loss. As a good friend of mine always says, “isolation is bad and community is good.” If we did not have other people in our lives, life would be a lot more difficult than necessary. Most importantly, if we do not have Jesus Christ in our life, we would be completely lost, especially in the hard times. Hebrews 4:14-16 says, “Since we have a great high priest, Jesus the Son of God, who has gone into heaven, let us hold on to the faith we have. For our high priest is able to understand our weaknesses. When he lived on earth, he was tempted in every way that we are, but he did not sin. Let us, then, feel very sure that we can come before God’s throne where there is grace. There we can receive mercy and grace to help us when we need it.”

https://youtu.be/oI_h_IRfRe8 (Somebody’s Praying by Ricky Skaggs)

Max Lucado described the experience of brokenness as this: “Before your pain, the view was clear; God seemed so near. After your pain, well, he was harder to see. He seemed a bit distant…harder to perceive. Your pain distorted the view—not eclipsed it, but distorted it.” Although there have been times in my life where my view was distorted, I believe that it was because of those times that when I found out that my mom had passed away, my view of God became more clear and I knew without a doubt that He was closer to me at that moment more than ever. I greatly enjoy this one quote: “God’s light in our dark nights are as numerous as the stars, if only we’ll look for them. When God comes, we doubters think, all pain will flee. Life will be tranquil. No questions will remain. And because we look for the bonfire, we miss the candle. Because we listen for the shout, we miss the whisper. But it is in the burnished candles that God comes, and through whispered promises he speaks: ‘When you doubt, look around; I am closer than you think.” Healing begins in a place where our grief merges with God’s grace.

https://youtu.be/Qni5bIN5qmU (Amazing Grace by Celtic Thunder)

I have been noticing, lately more than ever, that in spite of all circumstances, there seemed to be just enough to make it through the day. There has been just enough food, there has been just enough money, there has been just enough comfort for the day. I am reminded of 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you.’ So I am very happy to brag about my weaknesses. Then Christ’s power can live in me. For this reason I am happy when I have weaknesses, insults, hard times, sufferings, and all kinds of troubles for Christ. Because when I am weak, then I am truly strong.” When sorrow comes and we begin to fall apart, the best place to be is on our knees so that in the midst of our chaos, God can bring order. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” I like how the last few words of that verse is worded. When our heart gets broken and our mind becomes confused, we only need to call on Jesus and he will see us through it all. He is always with us walking with us in the good times and carrying us in the bad times. Romans 5:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

https://youtu.be/DavJ9UKS2ps (Your Not Alone by Owl City)

Max Lucado comments on Lamentations 3:1-66 as: “Jeremiah’s sorrow and consolation represented the nation’s agony. Surrounded by sin and sorrow, Jeremiah saw hope in God’s steadfast love and mercy. God renews our lives day by day.” Because God renews our life each day, we should take to heart the passage from Job 22:21-22: “Obey God and be at peace with him; this is the way to happiness. Accept teaching from his mouth, and keep his words in your heart.” The promises of Scripture can give strength to the weak, courage to the fearful, love to the lonely, and peace in the commotion.

https://youtu.be/JsLk-Prtsn0 (Your Love Is Like A River by Third Day)

I encourage everyone to check out the following organizations to see how you can support them:

American Diabetes Association

American Heart Association

American Lung Association

I would like to conclude this entry with 1 Peter 5:6-12: “Be humble under God’s powerful hand so he will lift you up when the right time comes. Give all your worries to him, because he cares about you. Control yourselves and be careful! The devil, your enemy, goes around like a roaring lion looking for someone to eat. Refuse to give in to him, by standing strong in your faith. You know that your Christian family all over the world is having the same kinds of suffering. And after you suffer for a short time, God, who gives all grace, will make everything right. He will make you strong and support you and keep you from falling. He called you to share in his glory in Christ, a glory that will continue forever. All power is his forever and ever. Amen…I wrote this short letter with the help of Silas, who I know is a faithful brother in Christ. I wrote to encourage you and to tell you that this is the true grace of God, Stand strong in that grace.”

https://youtu.be/7ttTfcu8gQo (Mercy Said No by Greg Long)

Trapped in Hell

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Many people hear the word, “hell” and picture fire everywhere with little red devils with horns running around poking everyone with pitchforks.  There is a much more frightening concept about hell that needs to be known.  The truth of the matter is hell is more than just fire and demons, it is a separation from God.  There are many circumstances in life that will make one FEEL like he/she is in hell right now.  We live in a fallen world that is filled up with sickness, pain, sorrow, and death.  The worst thing Satan can do is throw in a combination of attacks where you have one family member who is in pain and ill, you have a close friend that had recently passed away, you bury yourself in your work to try not to think about the events that are happening all around you resulting in having no free time to spend with your family and friends.  A few days of being a busy-body turns into a few weeks which in turn becomes a few months to a few years.  In that process, you get the feeling that you have been abandoned by those you love, that they have forgotten about you and have moved on with their lives which completely excludes you.  Loneliness and depression sink deep into your soul creating a huge empty space inside of you and regrets of the past and uncertainty of the future flood your thoughts.  Eventually you have gotten to the point where there seems to be no hope at all and you just want to give up.

If you are at that point in your life right now or you feel like you are reaching that point, I urge you to give up right now.  Give up your worries, your regrets, your sorrows, your anger, anything that is bringing you down and holding you down.  Seize on to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of your life.  Let him fill you up with his Love, Grace, Mercy, and Truth.  In other words, empty all of yourself and ask God to fill you up with Himself and allow him to live through you and guide you on this journey of this life to life everlasting.

http://youtu.be/-pD2zIuiC2g  (Break Every Chain by Tasha Cobbs)

Romans 5:3-8, “There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!  Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.” (MSG)

When Satan makes you feel like you are trapped in hell with lies and various negative circumstances, pray to your Father in Heaven to free your mind with Truth and Blessings that He has given in the past and assurance that there is light at the end of the tunnel in the future.

http://youtu.be/7IUMTJoH-PQ (Blessed Assurance by Third Day)

Revelation 21:1-7, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.  And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.  And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.  And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.  And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.  He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” (KJV)

http://youtu.be/ezd2PkwXlEU  (All My Fountains by Passion Band)

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