Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas At Home

  If we really take the meaning of Christmas seriously, it seems that we are always called fanatics or something similar. But, Christmas is supposed to be a time of peace on earth and goodwill towards men. Read the words found in Luke 2:8-14 in the King James version of the Bible.

"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, & the glory of the Lord shone round about them: & they were sore afraid. "And the angel said unto them, `Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, & saying, `Glory to God in the highest, & on earth peace, good will toward men.’"
How wonderful do you think our homes would be if we put this into practice? How wonderful do you think the world would be if we put into practice the blessing of peace on earth and goodwill towards men? And as Christmas once again approaches, we think that maybe it's not impossible that our hearts can be filled with love and that maybe we can be kind to each other all the time.

 I am sure most everyone has started their shopping, I am sure most everyone also spends a lot of time and puts in a lot of thought into the gifts you choose. Then you go shopping and buy that special gift for someone, spending a lot more money then you planned. You spent time gift wrapping it and making it look really special, and then that someone opens the gift your sure they are going to love and their is no joy or delight for your gift. And, if there is no expression of joy or delight, you get disappointed because with the receiving of this gift they are receiving you. Or, if your gift is rejected, then you feel like they are rejecting you. And , if you are watching someone else's face to see how they receive your gift, then you can bet they are watching yours. Because, giving and receiving is an important part of the Christmas season.

  What do you think was God's gift to us at Christmas time? Most of you would probably say that He gave His only begotten son, and I could not say you were wrong. There are some who might say that He gave us evidence of His love, and I could not say that that was wrong either.  But what if we get a little more specific with this question? Because I believe that God gave us several gifts at Christmas.

  First, in Jesus Christ, God gave us the opportunity for the forgiveness of our sins. We will never have peace with each other until we have peace with ourselves, and we will never be at peace with ourselves unless we are at peace with God. And we will never be at peace with God unless we have forgiveness of our sins. I see it like a recipe in a cook book, God has given us his recipe for life. His recipe is finding forgiveness through Jesus Christ, and living by His rules and principles he has set. Because these are the ingredients that make it possible. Now if you stick in some worldly ingredients then what happens? Life blows up in your face. That is why there is so much rejection, depression, and suicide. Because so many are following the wrong recipe. So God offers his gift, not just a baby but  the offer of forgiveness and salvation.

  The 2nd gift that God has given us is help with our present situations. If you think of the shepherds sitting out on the hillsides keeping watch on their sheep through the night. Life was hard and harsh for them. They were poor, with not much hope of improving their lives. Then on that glorious night the angels appeared and made their life changing announcement, "Unto you is born this day in the City of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord." And then suddenly everything had changed for them. God had become real to them, and had come to help them, to be their savior, to bring "peace on earth, goodwill to all men". Now , if you look at the other end of the ladder, you see the wise men, Magi, people with wealth, power, and authority. And they too had an emptiness in there lives, a hunger maybe that can't be filled. So when that star appeared to them, they followed looking for the one thing that can fill that emptiness.  So whether you are powerful or weak, rich or poor, you need help, no matter who you are.
God has promised that when we let Christ into our hearts and lives then we will receive his help. And when you are helped and filled by the Holy Spirit of God then we will bring "peace on earth, and goodwill to men".

   My wife and I were standing in line at the grocery store the other day and the man in front of us couldn't pay for all of his groceries, so he started to put some items back. A lady was leaving from the next line over heard what happened and used her change to pay for the rest of the mans groceries. The man looked at her in amazement and then thanked her. The lady answered with a smile and a Merry Christmas and then walked off on her way. For some reason we seem to be more sensitive to one another around Christmas time. So we go around delivering food to someone who is hungry, or reach into our wallets to help someone at the grocery store because God has sent His Son to help us and now we want to help others.

  I had heard a story from a High school in Paducah, Ky. 5 students were praying together and just as they finished another student started shooting, leaving 3 of the 5 dead and the other 2 critically wounded. It was a very terrible and senseless tragedy.  Then I heard about the mother and father of one of the students who were killed let the doctors use vital organs from their daughter to save at least 3 others who desperately needed them. I was moved by the tears of sadness, but also the tears of joy as they heard that their daughter's lungs had been successfully transplanted into a young man who's family had been told that he only had days to live.

  So, If we are moved by these stories of sorrow and joy, imagine how much more we should be moved when we realize that the King of Kings and the Lord of all Lords has visited us in our world to share our tears, but to also rejoice with us and help us to over come the hurts and hurdles of life itself.
When we realize this, then "peace on earth and goodwill toward men becomes more realistic.

  One of the final things that God has given us at Christmas time when he gave us Jesus Christ is hope for the future. What kept the sheperds going? It was hope. God promised the people that one day He would send a Messiah, the Anointed One. And when the Messiah comes, everything would be alright,
and that hope burned in the hearts of the people of Israel. Do you know what kept the wise men going? It was the hope of every night  that they would go out and find that star of a promise. And when they finally saw it, they knew they must follow it wherever it led them, because it was a sign from God that the promise of a messiah had come. Hope kept them going.

  God brings us hope at Christmas. " Peace on earth, goodwill towards men. Impossible dream?  Maybe. Maybe there will be wars or rumors of wars, maybe the homeless will always be hungry, maybe we will always have to deal with crime and violence we see everyday. But, there is one thing that will always give us hope. One day the gates to heaven will open up, and God will return and that promise will be fulfilled. "Peace on earth and goodwill for all eternity.

  Let me tell you a story about a 7th grade boy I knew. He was very big for his age and a little slow mentally. All the kids liked him because he was a great kid. When the news was put out for the Christmas play tryouts he tried out and wanted to be a shepherd.  Because he was so big the teacher thought he would make a better inn keeper, so she gave him that part. So, as the play went on and Mary and Joseph came looking for a room to stay he told them that there was no room at the inn. Joseph told him that Mary was pregnant and needed rest. There was a long pause and everyone thought the boy had forgotten his line. You could here people back stage telling him his line, but the boy was still quiet. He finally said " There is no room at the inn, you will have to find somewhere else". Mary and Joseph turned to leave and all of the sudden the boy shouted out "Wait, you can stay in my room and I will sleep in the shed". The crowd was stunned and the teacher thought the play was ruined. Then, she thought about the words the boy had said. Hadn't he just communicated the true meaning of Christmas in his words, "Wait, you can stay in my room and I will Sleep in the shed".

  Is that not what Jesus Christ has done for us? "No, you don't have to die for your sins. I will take your place on the cross". Christmas has made the difference, God wrapped His gift and gave it to all mankind.  Now he stands back to see what we will do with His gift. What we do with His gift is what we do to Him, we will receive this gift with joy and except His gift of forgiveness, or we will reject it and reject Him. God offers that gift to all, He waits to see what you will do. I pray that you will open yours arms and heart and receive His gift of salvation............Amen 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I have been at my job now for a year and a half. I have a co-worker that I used to let get on my nerves every time I had contact with him, the guy was just a jerk. This job I have is an awesome job, it is like it was created for me and this guy was screwing it all up. I started praying to God, asking him to make this guy come around to my way of thinking. I prayed like this for 8 months and nothing ever got better, it was as if God was not answering my prayer. So one day I was sitting around on my lunch break, I had finished my lunch and was taking a little power nap when I had this thought. It just entered my mind, I was dead asleep and this thought woke me up and made me sit up in my chair. What if it wasn't God not answering my prayer, but Him saying no, you're not praying for the right thing? I tried for the rest of that day and night to try and figure out the right thing to pray for, and by the next morning I had an idea what it was. That morning in my daily prayers I prayed for God to help me understand what the guy was thinking, to help me understand where he was coming from. And things got a lot better at work. I pray this daily now with a little twist, I ask God to help do that for everyone I come in contact with in that day, and now my days are much easier to get through. Don't get me wrong, there are still some people out there that are difficult, but now I just brush it off and keep on moving. I learned a couple of things from this experience. First, God will always answer your prayers, but sometimes the answer will be no, and that no might be because you aren't asking for the right thing. The 2nd thing I learned from this is you don't always know what is going on in people's lives to make them act the way they are. I show everyone the same love and kindness no matter what, and I found that does it not only help them, but it also helps me get through the day.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

As I grow stronger in my faith I have felt called to lead, or teach, or maybe just help people who need it in some way. I thought at first that I was definitely being called to become a pastor, but as I started to go that direction doors were closed and paths were blocked. So I prayed to God to show me the way He wanted me to go. I prayed about it 2 or 3 times a day for about a week when a friend of mine, who was a Stephen Minister, told me that my church was going to have a Stephen Ministry training course. I thought this was God's answer to my prayer, that it was the helping people part I was being called to. I enrolled in the class and went through all the training and became a Stephan Minister. Everything was going great, or so I thought. My life was too busy, I wasn't spending anytime with my family and they missed me. I was doing things selfishly, for my own joy. When my wife had expressed her feelings I blamed Stephen Ministry, that it was the over the line on my time away from family, so I walked away,which disappointed a lot of People, including me. I kept doing the earthly things that I thought made me happy, but took me away from the things that truly make me happy, God, and my family.
Don't get me wrong, I still play, but I do it differently. I make sure I spend time with God and my
family, because they are the 2 most important things in my life.

I have been spending a lot more time with God, trying to open up my heart a really listen to Him. I have gone back to Stephen Ministry, and also been asked to help lead a book study on a series of discipleship training books I have studied. I have also been asked to talk about my faith journey to the AOB students at my church. For some reason that one has me a little nervous. I know, I just threw it out there for the whole world to see right here on this blog, but typing at a computer screen and talking in front of a bunch of teenagers is different. We will see what happens, maybe that teaching thing is still around. I am just keeping my heart open so I can here and see where He will lead me next.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

On the first night of Alpha I had decided that I would say nothing during this whole course, but after the first night you couldn't shut me up. The class would watch a video of this guy from England, where this course originated, and he would talk about who Jesus was and is, and every time I had a question about what he said, he had an answer in his next sentence. I learned a lot about Jesus, and about the Holly Spirit and what the Holly Spirit Does and how I can be filled By the Holly Spirit. On the last day of the last weekend we had a retreat we went to, and that is where I had learned about the Holly Spirit, the pastor who led the course and who also became a very close friend and mentor was asking if anyone would like to pray to ask the Holly Spirit to come into their life, and for whatever reason I could not bring myself to ask. At the end of the night we went home and I was so disappointed in myself for not praying that I could not sleep. My daughter was not feeling well and wanted to sleep with mommy and since I couldn't sleep, I let her. I was sitting on the couch in the dark, and I just started talking. I wasn't sure who I was talking to and I can't really remember what was said, but next thing I know I am being woken up by my daughter. I usually sleep with a C-PAP machine and when I don't use it I am very grumpy in the morning because it is like I don't sleep at all. My daughter wanted to play a little game we used to play when she was very little, but my wife warned that daddy might be a little grumpy, but we played our game and I felt like I slept better than I ever have. As I started to get ready for church that day and something was different, I felt this tingling in my stomach, not really sure how to explain it. I was feeling joyous, I had this inner peace that I had never felt before. everyone at church had noticed a change in me and was commenting about how happy I looked, I had this smile on my face that just would not go away. I was filled with the Holly Spirit, I was filled with love and joy. My life has been changed forever, I am a better husband, a better father, and a better person. Being a follower of God does not make your problems go away, but knowing that he is with me every step I take makes it easier to deal with my problems. I have become a Christian and it has changed my life in such ways that no one can believe what it has done for me. The joy and comfort I feel is so very hard to explain, but I want everyone to feel it. I want to share with the World what I now know. I want people to know the love that Jesus has for each and everyone us, and know that Christ died on the cross for all of our sins so that we could be with Him. May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. Amen........

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

We liked this Church we had found and decided to become members. One of the first people we met was a lady who would help us through the process of becoming members. She asked about our membership from our other church and we found out that she was the sister of one of the ladies from our other church who had been in love with our daughter. Out of all the churches we could have gone to, we find this one with a connection to my first church, it just had to be coincidence right? Anyway, we became members and our daughter started going to Sunday school, and my wife became a Sunday school shepard and they both were becoming involved in the church while I was sitting on the sidelines watching and being a ''pew warmer." It felt to me like something was missing in my life, but I couldn't put a finger on it. My wife was trying to get me involved with things going on at the church, but I was too busy or tired from work. I wanted my weekends to relax and rest for the work week ahead, and then all of the sudden I had no work week anymore, I had been laid off and my life was turned upside down. I was unemployed with nowhere to turn and no idea how I was going to provide for my family. My wife had become a real estate agent and property manager, so I took all of our savings and got licensed and bonded to do maintenance on her rental properties, but that was only a small supplement to my unemployment. Things were getting tough, we were struggling to make our mortgage payment let alone all of our other bills, we thought we were going to loose our house. Then on one of the days I went to church I heard about this course called Alpha. The Alpha Course covers the basics of Christianity and answers questions about Jesus and who he was. I asked my wife if she would like to take this course, and she said she had been trying to get me to take this course for a long time. So we signed up for the course, and by the end, my life had been changed in ways no one, not even myself would have ever guessed. My daughter who is 10 now says I was once Saul and now I am Paul.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

While living in the apartment my daughter had met a little boy and girl who were about the same age. When we met the parents we found out they were Christians and they were very strong in their faith. It seemed like all they talked about was God, praise God for this, praise God for that. I couldn't understand how they could think everything that they had or happened in their lives, God was a part of. It started to become very annoying to me and I actually started to avoid them. How could people be that joyful and happy? One day my wife comes home and tells me that the Christians were moving away. The husband had gotten the job they had been praying about for a long time. I was glad to see them go, I thought sure God could make it so you could have a baby, but having a hand in getting you a job? Really? No way, why would a God take time to help you get a job? Anyway, right after they moved away our lease came up and we decided to move again. We found another apartment in Kenmore set back kind of in the woods a little bit, and it happened to be right up the hill from a co-op preschool. My wife had been talking about finding a co-op preschool, another coincidence? My wife started working at the preschool and then working part time waitressing and bar tending at night, and then somehow it became a full time job. During this time I had applied for a job as a maintenance guy for a local credit union. I would be driving around taking care of their branches. My current maintenance position was in one 36 story building in the city and I had gotten bored and my new boss was an ass hole. I ended up getting the job, which was for more money and better benefits and it seemed like things were going well. We made a bunch of new friends from the preschool that we still know today. everything was going fine until my sister called and told me that her and husband were buying a house. I immediately got jealous and upset, how could she buy a house? Then I thought if she could buy a house I could buy a house, and even used the same agent. After 3 or 4 months of searching we finally settled on a house in Auburn that was 98 yrs old at the time. We got in on a shady loan that we probably never should have got. We were living there for a few months and it was right around Christmas time when my wife comes home and tells me she had seen a Lutheran church while she was driving around town and wanted to go to the Christmas Eve service.  We go to the service and when we walk in there is someone waiting to welcome us and wishing us a merry Christmas. Both pastors walked over and shook our hands to welcome us to service. We felt so welcomed and the love in there was almost overwhelming, there was definitely something different about this church.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

When my daughter was about 8 months old my wife went to work for a friend of her sisters as his property manager, he had a number of houses he rented out , but never had time to take care of them.
One of his houses we liked so much we rented ourselves and moved in. Right away it was made clear that we weren't welcome in the neighborhood, they didn't like renters. So even though we had our child, my wife's new job, and rented this big house, we were not happy in life. My job was making me miserable, her job started making her miserable, but that is her story so I will let her tell it if she chooses. That combined with the stress of the neighborhood was really hard on our marriage, we weren't going to church, we were stuck in dead end jobs, we were just being. I am not sure if I had lost what little faith I had or if I just stopped thinking about it, which is most likely the same thing, but God was not a part of our life. The funny part is we had a pastor living right next door to us and not only did he never once try to talk to us about God, he was one of the neighbors that never talked to us. Anyway, my wife's problems with her job came to a head one day and they had a mutual parting of the ways, so we moved into a small 2 bed room apartment and lived on my salary for awhile. My wife had started taking these free parenting classes at one of the community colleges and we started making some friends with other couples that had children our daughter's age, and I even scraped up enough money once a week to start bowling in a league again for the first time in 10 years at least. Things were going OK, and we thought we were happy, but it still seemed like something was missing in our lives.

Monday, July 9, 2012

On October 20th, 2001 my daughter and I were baptized. being baptized at that time was just keeping my end of the deal, not out of faith. I had no idea what it meant to be baptized. I didn't even bother to find out or study anything in the bible, I went to church on Sunday, when I went, and listened half halfheartedly to the sermon and then went home. It went on pretty much like that for a year, my daughter was the hit because she was the only baby in the church. There were a few younger children and teenagers, but our congregation was pretty old. I had made a pretty good relationship with the pastors and started to look for other ways to get involved in the church when it was decided because of financial reasons that our church would blend together with 2 other churches and become one church. I think now that I look back that these 3 churches became complacent with where they were at as far as membership goes. There were not any new people coming to the church, there was no discipleship going on. Anyway, the council in it's infinite way decided it would be better to bring in new pastors to save money. Just like that I lost the connection that was getting me to church and had me looking for other things in the church. I started going less and less and eventually quit going all together. We had tried other churches, but none of them seem to draw us in. No one welcomed us and made us feel at home like that first time we walked in to our first church. I had broken my promise to God and eventually even forgot about it, but little did I know He had a plan for me and I don't think anyone could imagine how it would transform my life. I know I sure didn't.  

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

On August 14th, 2001 I received a call at work that my wife was going shopping with a friend of hers. My wife at this point was very impatient (As she said) "to get this thing out of me", so she thought she could walk it out. They were shopping at Ikea when she started having pains. They were 20 mins to a half hour apart and not very consistent so she kept shopping. The next stop they had to make was at the Home Depot for a screen door, because my daughter could not be born with out a screen door to keep the dog in (LOL). When they found the screen door and tried to find someone to help them carry it there was no one to be found. My wife's friend when up to the customer service and told them that a lady was about to have a baby and if they didn't help carry the screen door for them she was going to have her baby right there in the store. Needless to say every male employee at the store was there to help her with in seconds. I got home that night and immediately had to install the screen door, my wife's contractions were consistent now at 30 minutes timed right to the second. I had called everyone to let them know this could be the night and went to bed, at this time contractions were down to 15 minutes apart and my wife kept saying it was just gas, I told her you couldn't time gas. At about 2 AM my wife woke me up and told me I had to wash the cat because she wasn't bringing her baby home to a dirty cat. At this time her contractions were 10 minutes apart, but she wouldn't let me call the doctor. She had an appointment set for 8:00 AM that day so she would just go then. So at 3:00Am I called her best friend and told her to be here before 8 because today was the day. We got to her doctors appointment and were sent straight to the hospital to check in. After 13 hours of labor and the baby being stuck in the birth canal for 3 hours they finally decided to do a emergency C-section. I had to change into this paper gown and wash my hands for 15minutes before they let me in to the operating room. I sat down right by my wife's head and laid my head next to hers so I wouldn't see anything (LOL). When my daughter was born and started crying I couldn't move, I was scared to death. I just sat there for a few minutes, until my wife told me to go get our daughter. She was still screaming and crying when I got to her, I said it's OK baby daddy is here and immediately she stopped crying and looked for me, she recognized my voice. I thought to myself holy crap I am a dad, I don't know how to be a dad, nobody told me how to be a dad..........God, please help!!!!!   

Sunday, June 24, 2012

I had planned on telling you the story of my daughter being born, but I left someone out of my story who I think deserves to be talked about. I am not sure if your mind has a way of blocking things out or moving them to the deep back parts for storage or something, but i think he was a big part of my faith journey. At the start of my 6th grade year, maybe 1978 or 1979, there was this new kid at school and it turned out he had moved into the neighborhood right by where I lived. We met and hung out a little bit, we had mutual friends so I had smoked some pot with him or something but not great friends. I was walking home one night right after dark and I took my normal short cut through the back side of the apartment complex, along this path that ran right along the edge of the woods. As I was walking these 3 kids jumped out from behind a tree and surrounded me. They were a couple of kids my age I had seen around school and another kid that looked like he was a 7th grader. They had heard that I usually had some pot on me and they wanted to take it from me. Next thing I know this guy comes out of no where and jumps on the 7th grader and just totally beats the crap out of this kid. I took advantage of the surprise attack and kicked one of the kids between the legs as the other one ran off. I kicked the kid a couple of  more times to make sure he didn't get up and swung around to defend myself against this new threat and discovered it was the new kid. He had saved me from a complete ass woopin and from that point forward we were the best of friends, we were pretty much inseparable. We were the type of friends that could not talk for a month and call and talk like we spoke to each other the day before. As I got older and started selling drugs he had my back and I knew it. He would give his life for me and I would have given my life for him, the only person other than my mother I could truly trust. On Christmas eve of 1997 he called to wish us a Merry Christmas and talk, but we were on the way out the door to my sisters house and I kind of rushed him off the phone and told him I would call him in the morning. I didn't know it would be the last time I would ever talk to him. At about 4:00 AM on Christmas day I got a phone call telling me that my first true friend I had ever had died in a house fire. Wow, here I was supposedly celebrating the birth of Jesus, OK maybe not me, but others in the family were, and He took another person in my life from me. How could there be a God?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

As the pregnancy went on and my daughter started to move I would love to put my hand on my wife's stomach. I would read to her and talk to her, I just couldn't quite get a grasp on the concept that I was going to be a dad. I had accepted the fact that I would never have children, and cursed a God who would let someone they are supposed to love suffer. And yet here I was, about to be a dad. I think this is the first time that I started to pray or more like talk to God on a regular basis, feeling a little awkward and not knowing if there really was someone listening, I didn't tell anyone. When it got to the point where I would walk in the room and my daughter would start to kick at the sound of my voice, I thought maybe someone was listening. That is all I kept praying for, my wife's and my daughter's health.
I kept going to church most of the time, sitting on the sidelines being a "Pew Warmer". We would sit in the very back and I never paid close attention to the sermon, but I thought I was holding up my end of the deal I made with God, that all I had to do was get baptized and everything was good. My wife tried to get us closer to the front every once in awhile, but she was just happy to get me in the church, so she never tried really hard. I had made a decision to get completely clean and made a Doctor Appointment right away, and when I got in to see him I told him I was concerned about addiction and if there was something else he could give me. My pain was and is to this day still real, I just chose to deal with it in a different way. I think that for the first time in my life I could say I was actually happy and mean it. I also think this is where the spiritual part of my journey began, that maybe for the 2nd time I chose the right way to go when I came to the fork in the road. God was some part of my life now whether I liked it or not.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

So those 9 months were the longest 9 months of my life. I was excited and scared and every other emotion you can think of. After my wife found out she was pregnant she wanted to move out of the city, so we rented a house and moved to the burbs. My wife's family is Lutheran so she wanted to find a Lutheran church to go to and when we went to find a church there happened to be one 2 blocks from our new house. Since my wife looked for for our new place to live while I was at work, I am not to sure if that was more than just a coincidence. When we went to check it out the pastor used a baseball story as an example in his sermon later when we talked to him we found out he was a baseball fan, so I was like OK this church is good. We went through the process of becoming members and started attending every Sunday. OK so not every Sunday, when the Seahawks had an early game or NASCAR was on early I didn't go. I had never been baptized so talk of that started happening but I wanted to wait until our baby was born and be baptized together. So on the Sundays that I went to church I really didn't pay attention to the sermons or anything, I stood during songs but never sang or got into it at all. One of my good friends now called it being a "pew warmer." Anyway, right at about this same time we found out that my one of my sisters had developed breast cancer and was going to need a partial mastectomy. I took that pretty hard and started questioning God again, but I kept going to church kind of regularly, but I also kept popping pain killers and was also smoking a pack a day of Marlboros.
Oh yea, I was also freaking out trying to figure out how the hell I was going to be a dad .

Sunday, June 3, 2012

My wife had tried for years to get me to pray for God to give us a child. I had always told her to pray for the both of us because I wasn't going to waste my time, so my wife continued to pray and I just kept going. I had finally quit smoking pot and had a decent job, but I was still addicted to pain killers and had a doctor that kept writing the prescriptions. So while my wife was praying, my employer changed insurance coverage that raised my premiums by a hundred dollars, but supposedly we had better coverage. Since we had better insurance my wife tried it out and scheduled a doctor appointment for her check up. While she was at her appointment the doctor had told her that at 35 if she wanted to have children she better do it pretty quick. She had mentioned to the doctor that I couldn't have children, he left the room and came back with some pamphlets about how my new insurance would pay for 6 cycles of insemination, but only 6 for a lifetime. My wife came home so excited and told me the news and that God had answered her prayers, but I still didn't believe that a supposed God so big would care about the life of one unimportant couple to make things happen in there life. It was all just luck or coincidence. So we started doing the inseminations once a month, and every time we would get our hopes up and every time we would be let down. On the 6th month we went into the doctor's office and did all the same things as before knowing the whole time that this was probably our last shot. My wife kept saying God wouldn't give us this opportunity and then take it away like that, and I kept saying maybe if there was a God he wouldn't. So the night before we were supposed to do the pregnancy test I am sitting up alone in the dark, my wife had long gone to bed, and I was thinking about the fact that if she didn't get pregnant we would never be able to afford anything like this on our own. So I am sitting there and all of the sudden I started talking to God, not even knowing if there was anyone listening. I said God if you are up there I am asking you for a child to call our own. I said that if you give me this child I will raise her in your house, just please give me a child. I had fallen a sleep on the couch and my wife came screaming out of the back of the apartment and I thought the house was on fire. I can still here her screaming IT'S POSITIVE, IT'S POSITIVE, I don't think I had ever seen her so happy but it still wasn't 100% for sure. I went to work and she made a doctor appointment to find out for sure. I was so nervous for the first half of the day and then she called me right after my lunch break and told me the news. We were having a baby, I was going to be a daddy. Maybe there was something to this God thing.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

A couple of days after the ER visit I could barely move, my wife had to help me stand and walk so I could go see my own doctor. After examining me he referred me to a back specialist and after he looked at My X-rays and CT scans he decided I needed a 3 level spinal fusion, and after a 2nd opinion I said OK. The only problem was that it was an on the job injury paid for by the state which means they wanted to do all other kinds o treatment before surgery. All these other things took a year to complete and the whole time I had an unending supply of Oxycoton. During this time my marriage was falling apart. I treated my wife like garbage and didn't care about anyone but me and just before my back surgery was Ok'd my wife kicked me out. This time I got my own apartment so I didn't have to stay with my sister and it was the only time I had ever lived alone and could do what I pleased. My wife had suggested once that I should go back to school and at least get my GED, but I blew it off. So now I figured it was time to do that, I went to the community college and found an adult continuation program where I could get my actual High school diploma and also my credits would count for my degree as well, So I became a high school graduate. Right after that I had my back surgery and my wife had come be with me during the surgery which had some complications which caused severe pain so that led to more pain medication. The one good thing about the pain medication was that I didn't have to smoke pot to get high and I ending up quitting. During my recovery my wife and I talked and made some agreements on some things like quitting pot for good and treating her better and she let me come home.
After six months of recovery and physical therapy I received a settlement check and was no longer taken care of by the state. My wife prayed that I would find a good job and it only took 2 weeks to get one. It was a building maintenance job working for the company that owned most of the buildings in the downtown area making pretty decent money. My wife believed it was prayer that got me that job and I laughed and said it was because of my hard work, that some God had nothing to do with (Wow was I wrong, but that comes later).

Monday, May 21, 2012

The first 7 years of my marriage were very rocky at best. All I wanted to do was hang out and smoke pot. I treated my wife like I treated every other person in my life. I loved her with all my heart, but I didn't know how to show that love. She would try to do everything she could to make me happy and make our marriage work and I just kept lying to her and smoking pot. I had finally got a break after a bunch of dead end jobs. I met a guy who was willing to let me be his apprentice and learn the flooring trade. It was a great opportunity for me except for the fact that I would get him pot. Even at work we would get high, after lunch before going back to work at the job we were on. I was pretty much high from the time I woke up until the time I went to bed. Now that I think back I used to cut myself a lot and have to go to the hospital to get stitches when I was a carpet installer, and it was always after lunch. Anyway, into our 8th year she had finally had enough and we separated and I went to live with one of my sisters. After a few months of separation I developed appendicitis and had to have an appendectomy. After the surgery she let me come back home and we got back together. None of the issues we had or I had were ever settled and it was right back into the same old same old. Another 3 years went by that way and my addiction actually cost me my own business (Mikey's Flooring). I went to work for this flooring company, which I thought at the time was a lucky break, but 3 months into that job I tripped going up some stairs while carrying a 20 ft roll of carpet on my back. It happened on a new construction site and I was the only one around. I felt 3 pops in my lower back and my left leg was completely numb. After what seemed like 20 or 30 minutes, but was probably 4 or 5, some of the feeling came back and I was able to drive myself to the hospital and meet my wife there. I was told that I had ruptured 3 disks in my lower back and the doctor wrote me a prescription for some Oxycontin and told me to make an appointment with my doctor. That was the start of another addiction in my life which led to other problems in my marriage.

Monday, May 14, 2012

As I was sitting in church on Sunday (mother's day) one of our pastors asked the congregation to think about our mothers or the motherly person in your life. He asked us to remember what it was like when they gave you a hug or comforted you or how they took care of you. So I am going to tell you about my mother. My mom was the nicest person in this world, she never had a bad thing to say about anybody. She would go out of her way or spend her last dollar to help someone. For the first 22 yrs of my life my mother was the only person I loved or trusted, I didn't even trust my own family.When I was at home the outside world didn't exist, the drugs, the guns, the stealing and hustling didn't exist. It was like my own safe haven, I didn't have to look over my shoulder, I didn't have to wonder if the next person I saw would try to rob me or worse even kill me. My mother loved me and cared for me and would just sit and talk with me. I knew that when I was with my mother that I was loved. I remember my mom would call me Mikey Darlin. It would embarrass me but it also made me feel special that there was someone out there who loved me. I can't tell you in words how much my mother meant to me, When she died it was like a part of me died with her, like there was this big hole in my life. I didn't realize until I got older that when my mom and dad got divorced that she dedicated her life to take care of her children. She went to work and gave up her life so she could give me the best life she could. I remember when I went to school she made sure that I had all the fashionable clothes and all the best school supplies as all the other kids. She had gotten a Lamont's credit card and only used it once a year to buy me my school clothes and then would spend the whole year to pay it off so that the next year she could do it again. My mother gave up her life for me and I just wish I had been a better son to her. My heart aches not knowing if she knows of the man I have become, and whether she sees her granddaughter and how beautiful she is. I wonder if she can see that I have learned to love and to care about people. I hope that I have become the man/husband/father that she would have wanted me to be. Mom , I miss you with all of my heart but I know you are in Heaven with God and that one day I will be able to hug you again. My wife started calling me Mikey Ray and when I hear it it reminds me of my mom, but also reminds me that there are people in this life who love me, but also that there are people in this life whom I love. My mother and my wife were the only people back then that looked inside me and saw a good person, someone who needed love. It probably took a lot longer than my wife expected to come out but she stuck by me through thick and thin and we have celebrated 21st anniversary this year and I wouldn't be where I am at today if I didn't have her in my life.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

When my mother was alive we would get together every other Sunday for mom's spaghetti dinner. When we were at mom's house all differences were put aside. No matter who was arguing with or wasn't talking to each other, it didn't happen there. It was like mom's house was a safe zone or home base. That all went away when my mom died, it seemed like my family fell apart. After my one sister took off it was left up to me and my other sister to clean out my mom's place. I really didn't like my sister's husband at the time, but for my sister I tried. I got what I could get of my mother's stuff and my sister and her husband put the rest in storage. I offered 2 or 3 times to help pay for this storage unit and was told that they had it and we didn't need to. I remember my sister saying as we were closing the door on the storage unit that if we ever decided we didn't want something of mom's to offer it to one another first before we sold it. Next thing I know everything that my sister and her husband didn't want was sold, never offered to me. I was told the reason it wasn't offered was because I never helped with the storage unit rent. I felt so betrayed, I know it was most likely her husband, but I remember thinking it was all her fault. I thought that even my own sister was just like everyone else I had met, out for the hustle to take advantage of anyone and everyone. So I pushed the people closest to me away, I didn't know how to let people love me. I didn't know how to love. I had this big hole in my life, something was missing and I thought pot filled that hole. For that couple of hours I was high I didn't have to worry about anything.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

About a month after my mother had passed all the siblings got there insurance money and we were supposed to all pay for my mother's funeral and burial. One of my sisters took her share and took off and left the three others to pay for everything which was a big thorn in our relationship. I used part of my share to take my wife on a honey moon. We took a ferry up to Victoria and stayed three days in a bed and breakfast. It was the first time that I can remember being on a trip somewhere. we had such a great time, it was like all of our troubles had just went away. When we got home though they were all still there. Our marriage was rocky at best, I was in and out of employment wanting to go back to the streets where I knew how to make money. About every six months she would catch me smoking pot and each time was the last time and I promised I would quit smoking, but I didn't. After our first anniversary we decided to try and get pregnant. We both made doctors appointments for physicals and to get checked out, she had her appointment first and everything was great. I went to my appointment and everything was going good, just one more test. So they gave me a little cup and sent me to the bathroom with a Playboy. I did what I was supposed to do and was told to come back tomorrow for the results. So the next day we go back and the doctor tells me that I can't have children, he had looked at my medical record and told me that I had mumps when I was an infant and that had made me sterile. Today I think it was from all the drugs and chemicals that I had put into my body that caused it. When we found out the news she was devastated and our marriage suffered. When ever we went out with friends or hung out all the moms would get together and talk about their children and my wife felt so left out and got so tired of explaining why she wasn't pregnant. I took it as a blow to my masculinity, I was somehow less of a man. I once again turned to my pot smoking as a way out, a fake happiness that was getting harder and harder to get. I remember once again that little church on the side of the road where those people told me that God loved me, and thinking yeah, if God loved me I would hate to see what he did to people he didn't like. Mostly though, I just felt forgotten.

Friday, April 27, 2012

After dating for a couple of months we moved in together. I had never lived anywhere other than with my mom, so this was a new adventure for me. We were still working at the same place and I was still smoking a lot of pot, which was a very touchy subject around our place. One day I got tired of her always complaining about me smoking pot so I told her I would quit, but I didn't. I just didn't let her know I was still doing it. After about six months of living together I asked her to marry me and she said yes. It was right around Christmas time and so we decided to get married the next year on Christmas.  As Christmas got closer my mother's cancer grew worse and worse and we weren't sure she would be around for another year so on Christmas eve 1991 we decided to get married on News Years Eve 1991, and that is what we did. Since there wasn't a lot of time for planning we got married in a court house by a judge. I think that it is kind of ironic that after everything I had done in my life up that point, that the only time I have ever been in a court house in front a judge was to get married. We didn't go on a honeymoon because I thought my mom would die while we were gone and also the fact that we had no money. Shortly after we got married my mom had a serious complication with some blood thinning medication she was on. It had caused her brain to shift and put her into a partial coma, so the first six months of our marriage was spent sitting at my mother's bedside waiting for her to die as one by one her organs started to shut down, and in July 1991 my mother passed away. It was actually Kidney failure that had caused her death, but on that same day another tragic incident happened, my family fell apart. Still today I have not talked to one sister and another was out of my life for nearly 5 years. There was something else that was not going well either and that was my marriage. It seemed like everything was piling up on top of me and I couldn't talk or wouldn't talk with anyone and all I wanted to do was smoke some more pot. It seemed like the answer to everything was just to smoke some more pot.  At that point I remember thinking back to that time in that little church with all those people telling me how much God loved me, and there I was 23 yrs old both my parents dead and a six month long marriage that most people didn't think would last a year.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Should have not gone to Idaho

  So the week before I was supposed to go out on my first date with my soon to be wife, the son of a long time family friend of my mom was in town. He was in the navy and his ship was in Seattle for something, I don't remember what. Anyhow his family lived in Idaho and my mother had asked me to give him a ride to Idaho for the weekend so he could see his family. I had taken that Friday off so we could get to Idaho and still have the whole weekend to party.
   So we get to this town where his family lives and it has a store/bar, post office, and a little shack that was the police department. Saturday night we are partying in the bar and a few of the locals are staring at me and when someone would walk by me they would comment on my long hair and call me a girl and things like that. I kept my mouth shut being in a strange town and not really knowing anybody. It started getting worse as people drank and this one guy would walk by me and flip my hair and was threatening to have his buddies hold me down so he could cut it off. I told the people sitting at the table with me that the next time that guy touched me I was going to (excuse the language) beat his ass! And all they would say was that would not be a good idea.
   I got up from the table and went into the bathroom and while I was in there that guy walked in and started talking trash to me. I finally had enough of this guy and told him to go out in the parking lot and I will show you how much of a girl I was. So we headed out into the parking lot and when I turned around to face this guy, I noticed the whole bar had followed us outside and made a circle around us. I remember thinking am I going to have to fight the whole bar? So the guy takes his coat off and his arms are guns, this guy is built like a fire hydrant. He was probably 6 inches shorter than me but was rock solid. The guy went to take his shirt off and I thought I better hit him now, if I was going to fight the whole bar I was going to get in some good shots first. So, when the guy had his shirt over his head I rushed towards him with my arm cocked ready to hit this guy as hard as I could, but before I got close to him I was face down in the parking lot getting handcuffed and kicked a few times. You see, I had just picked a fight with the deputy sheriff.
   So with a fat lip and bloody nose, I got thrown into a cell in the little shack. I remember thinking as we walked through the door that I had been thrown back in time and we were in Mayberry. The whole thing looked just like Andy's office with the 2 cells next to each other and a guy I assumed was the town drunk sleeping in one of the cells. I was thrown into the other cell and told I was going to have to sit there until the circuit judge came through town on Tuesday or Wednesday. I thought there goes my job, there goes my date. I started talking to the sheriff, begging for him to let me go, I told him that he would never see me again. I don't know if he got tired of listening to me or what, but on Sunday morning he decided to let me go.
    I got back in time for work on Monday, but I was not in very good shape. I had told my so called friend about what had happened and next thing you know it was all over work. A friend of my soon to be wife told me she was scared to go out with me but that Saturday night she went out with me. A couple years later I found out she had her friend sitting at home waiting for the rescue call. We went to the Mazatlan restaurant because Her friend had told me she loved Mexican food. She had the Arroz Con Pollo, and we talked all night. After dinner we went back to her place for a drink and then I went home. When I got home I said to my mom that she was the women I was going to spend the rest of my life with, and then I went into my bedroom and smoked a bunch of pot. You see, I hadn't concord all my demons.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The day I met her

When I found out that my mom had cancer it was like something changed inside of me. I am not quite sure how to explain that feeling, I just knew something in my life had to change. I had never even considered life without my mom and that scared me. The doctors said 50-50 I think it was, but we had a shot. The first thing I did is something I had never done before, I got a job. Since this was before the days of drug testing, that wasn't very hard. One of my family members had a friend who got me a job being a parts runner for a refrigeration company. They worked on fishing boats and warehouse freezer and cooling units, so I delivered parts to job sites and things like that. Lucky for me I remember thinking at the time that it was a easy job. After about a week of working, it was a slow day and the bosses had me painting the entryway. Just before the shop opened for the day the front door opens and in she walks. She took my breath away, I couldn't take my eyes off of her. I scared her when she walked in and she said the F word, Earlier in the week the company started a cuss pool and every time you said a cuss word you had to put a quarter in the jar. She had me so tongue tied that the only thing I could say was "That's a quarter." She looked at me like I was stupid  and said "F you" and walked up the stairs to the office. I remember feeling embarrassed for not being able to say anything to her, I have never had that happen to me, I was always Mr. Smooth.  For the next couple of months every time she came down to the shop and I was around I would just fall apart. I couldn't say or do anything right when she was around and it was obvious to everyone, including her. All the guys in the shop would tease me and tell me she was way out of my league, that she didn't date guys like me. At that time I was a want to be biker/gangster, maybe a hell's Angel want to be. I wore a jean jacket with cut off sleeves over a leather jacket and had long hair past my shoulders and a long beard. ( Think ZZ Top style beard). I had it so bad for this girl that I sat home at night trying to figure out ways to get her to go out with me. I had money, I had drugs, and I was told by some I had looks. So why wouldn't this girl go out with me? I decided one day that she wasn't the type to do LSD or Meth, so I just gave it up. I didn't even think twice about it, just gave them up. As strong as those 2 addictions are, I think there was some form of help from higher up, but I would never had seen it then. After a few months of being off the LSD and Meth I started to put some weight on and look healthier, but I still couldn't get her to pay attention to me. It got to the point where I shaved off my beard and even got my hair trimmed up a little, but even that didn't work. One day I was in the shop talking to the job scheduler about how bad I wanted to go out with this girl and how she wouldn't pay attention to me. He told me he would talk to her and put in a good word for me, right about that time she walks right into the shop. He turns and yells out to her "Hey ********, Mike here wants to go out with you". I was so embarrassed, I must have been so red I glowed in the dark. I am not sure why, probably out of pity, or a little coercion from her girl friend who was there giggling, or just maybe that higher power I mentioned earlier, She agreed to go out with me. This, I now believe was the start of a new chapter in my life's experiences that God wants me to share with and maybe help bring others like me into his flock.

Monday, April 9, 2012

By the time I hit 7th grade I was shop lifting, breaking into cars and houses, finding anything I could take to sell.
I was a bully at school taking kid's lunches or lunch money. By the time I was in 8th grade I was selling pot at school. By the time I was in 9th grade I was using the money I was making and drugs to have sex with girls. I was having sex with juniors and seniors while I was a freshman. I was a big man, I was popular, everyone wanted to be my friend. One time I went to score some more pot from my connection and he told me about some new product he had, that was my first experience with cocaine and methamphetamine. I found a new consumer to sell to, parents. By the time I was 17 I was barely going to school, I was sent to a school for troubled kids, but my mother struggled to get me to go to school. When I was supposed to be going to school I was actually going over to this lady's house and we would do a bunch of coke or meth and smoke a bunch of weed then we would have sex. I was such a big man, I was 17 and 18 yrs old having sex with a 35 yr old woman. One time I went over there and she introduced me to LSD. Wow, sex on LSD was so wild. We would stay awake 4 or 5 days in a row doing drugs and having sex. How I never got aids or became a father was an act of God, because all this sex I was having was unprotected. This was my life until I was about 20 yrs old. My mom came to me with some news that would lead me down the path that 22 yrs later led me to God.
She had cancer.

Friday, March 30, 2012

1st addiction

I don't remember a lot about my parents divorce, I don't think it was talked about in front of me. it was just like one day my dad didn't live with us anymore. I would see my dad every Saturday when he would come to take me bowling or to my baseball game, but even then I noticed kids and other parents treated me different when I was around.  The first time I remember I was probably 8 or 9 and at my little league game. One of the kids was having a birthday party and I overheard him ask his dad if it was ok if he invited me to the party. I can still to this day hear his answer as if it just happened. He said you can't be friends with him his parents are divorced. That was the first time and not the last time that people assumed and labeled me a bad kid because my parents were divorced or because we were on welfare. I remember walking to the store one day and seeing these kids from the neighborhood standing by some garbage cans smoking cigarettes. As I walked by one of them called me over and offered me a smoke, I remember thinking well if I am such a bad kid why not? That was the first day of 26 years of smoking cigarettes and also the start of my first addiction. At a early age I was labeled a bad kid and I started to believe it. the more I was called bad, the more I believed it.

Monday, March 26, 2012

My Story

On October 20th, 2002 I was baptized with my 2 month old daughter. I didn't know what baptism meant at that time. I thought it was just a way to show your allegiance to God. It took me 8 yrs to figure it out, and even then I needed some help. I want to help others find the peace that God has given to me. I want share my story in hopes that I can help someone stay away from the life I led, or if you are headed down that same path that it is never too late to change.

Growing up I didn't have a lot of good adult influence in my life. My parents were divorced when I was 4 or 5, I saw my dad on weekends when he would take me to my bowling league or hunting at Mt. Saint Helens, things like that but he passed away when I was 12.

My mom had to go to school and then work so I was raised a lot by my older sisters, but they were teenagers and had their own things they wanted to do so I spent a lot of time out on the streets.

I started smoking cigarettes when I was 10, and took my first hit of Marijuana when I was 12. By the time I was 16 I was using Cocaine and Methamphetamine and by the time I was 18 I was regular user of LSD. I stole, I robbed, I beat people up, and I used women as sexual objects and treated them like trash. The only person I cared about was my mom. This is just a view I guess of the different chapters of my life. I will go into further detail of each chapter in hopes of showing you that it is never to late and that no matter what you do, God loves you.