Death Brings Perspective

About a week and a half ago, I received word that my cousin had a stroke. They removed a blood clot from her brain and were attempting to clear up an infection in order to perform some much-needed heart surgery. Things were very risky. Almost a week later, I received some messages from family saying they were removing the life support and transporting her to a hospice facility. Around 1:00 am this morning, her suffering ended.

I have thought a million things since I received the initial news. The first was that this was my “little cousin”. She was 36 years old. We were almost 2 years apart. I was an only child, she was an only child until she was 8, and our “littler” cousin was an only child who came along when we were 5 and 3. We played together at grandma’s house. Despite the fact that they were both girls, they were always kind (for the most part). We played well together (for the most part). In those early years of life, we were raised more like siblings than cousins. The only benefit was that we got to go home to our parents.

This “little cousin” was now a mother of 3 children. I moved away, and we went different directions in life. Unfortunately, I have not seen her since our grandma’s passing in 2004. Today, she leaves those 3 children, her parents, a brother, sister, and other family and friends behind. If we had our way, we would have kept her here but not in the condition she was in for her last days.

Through this tragedy, I have had the opportunity to be in contact with relatives I have not communicated with in quite some time. Sickness and death have a way of bringing people together like nothing else. The death of someone so young has quite an impact on people. I pray that, through Tabby’s death, people will unite, healing will take place, and people will wake up to the fact that life is short so we better not take one thing for granted.

To close out, I’m going to share some pictures of her and some that include others in the family. This is my tribute to her.

Tabby is on the far right along with me and Suzanna in the middle.
This was before the girls had siblings.
Tabby is in the back with her parents and her little brother,
Jaren, who came along 8 years later.
Tabby is on the far right, now with 2 siblings. My Aunt Christina (second from left) had each child 8 years apart. Ellyza (far left) came along when Tabby was 16.
This picture was taken a while back because Ellyza is now 20.


For the last several months, I have posted a lot less than normal. Honestly, I’m in a season where I don’t feel like I have much to give in the area of writing. I could flood this blog with worthless posts, but I don’t see any use in wasting my time or yours. I sit down with the intent of writing, only to find myself reading the writings of others. To put it simply, it is time I refuel my tank.

Many of us spend so much time giving of ourselves that we do not refuel the tank. We do not take the time to feed our minds and souls. It is important that we take that necessary time. So, I find myself more frequently taking the listen to listen (or in this case read) what God gives others. That’s the joy of the blogging experience. Time would not allow me to name the many great bloggers who bless me with their content. I’m so thankful.

Is your tank empty? Do you find yourself with little to give? It might be time to refuel.

The Desires of Your Heart

Many of us have a distorted view in relation to receiving our own desires. While some propose that we deserve everything what we want, the Bible gives a prescribed formula. Psalm 37:4 says that the requirement for receiving the desires of our hearts is for us to delight in the Lord. When we delight in the Lord, our desires align with His perfect will.

I must say that I have received the desires of my heart frequently, but it has often been for the wrong reasons. I can assure you I was not delighting in the Lord. I was delighting in my selfish pleasure and desire for personal gain. God allowed me to have what I wanted, but it came with a lesson and sometimes long-lasting consequences.

I have also discovered that some of my desires were not bad, but they were not God-given. Preaching is something I am passionate about, but that does not mean I am supposed to pastor a church or plant one. I have done all of the above. There are aspects I have enjoyed, but these are not for the faint of heart. I am passionate about music and worship, but many modern churches don’t have a fit for someone like me. That may be changing.

I have been contemplating the desires of my heart for the last several months. In fact, I have been assessing many things over the last several months. I have asked myself if my ability to preach was something that is a God-given gift or something a bunch of grannies lied and told me I’m good at. I have asked myself if I was pastor material since my church planting effort did not end as well as I would have liked. I have also asked myself if my musical ability was in my head. I guess, in these cases, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure”. I had to interject some humor, while there is some truth to that.

I do know that I began to desire church ministry again early this year. I applied for a church that was way out of my comfort zone. It was very clear that God was not leading in that direction, but I met some really great people. I met with another church, and God clearly revealed that I was not the man for the job. I knew I would go into that and be a horrible fit. A most recent opportunity opened without me looking. The month of June will reveal what God is doing there. More info to come!

A final thing – I have wanted to be a consultant for smaller churches that were looking for some help in various ministry areas. Not the kind of “know it all” consultant who comes from out of town with a briefcase and has no idea of how to connect principles to a particular context, but someone who can take the principles and help churches apply them to their individual context. This is a rare find. It looks as if God is affording me an opportunity tomorrow night to explore a situation that I was contacted about last week. It is a very unique situation, but I should know this week if I can be of help in their context.

At the end of the day, the one thing I know is that you and I should be available to God. A guest speaker at church this morning said something along the line of “Your will, Your way, Your timing”. I honestly struggle with that, but God is reminding me to remain surrendered and available. God has so often taken available people who had some raw talent and multiplied their ability. As the game of my life is coming to the end of the second quarter, this is my prayer – God, take what little bit I have and multiply it for Your glory!

An Unusual Mother’s Day

I must say that Sunday, May 12, 2019, was the most unusual Mother’s Day I have ever experienced. I am accustomed to attending a morning worship service and maintaining the typical Sunday structure. Yesterday defied it completely.

The day began with me going to my Mom’s to pick up my Dad so I could meet up with the person with whom he rode down here. FYI, my parents are still married but live in separate states…it works beautifully that way. And, yes, my Dad stays at my Mom’s when he comes to town. Now I will proceed. I left at 10:00 am to take my Dad to his destination and returned around 1:00 pm. I picked up lunch and took it to my Mom’s so we could spend some time together on Mother’s Day. I could not stand the thought of not attending a worship service, so we attending a church that meets at 4:00 pm. Here is where I saw a church that looks a little more like what Christ intended.

This church started in 2014 with a goal to reach people that other churches would not touch. It has accomplished its goal. When you walk into the room, you will find people who have very little to their name, no church background, and some who are homeless. They sing worship songs to the top of their lungs and cheer on the pastor to where he can’t help but preach. They provide food each week for those who need it and meet various needs. It’s a beautiful thing. A struggling ministry in the area reached out to this church and offered its assets. These are exciting times.

After encountering this taste of Heaven, my wife, mother in law, and the kids went out to eat. The day ended with the normal chaos of trying to get kids in bed.

While we have our ideas of how schedules should go, God has other plans. These plans are far sweeter. Don’t get so busy scheduling and organizing that you fail to leave room for the Holy Spirit to work.

Mental Health Awareness Month (and How It Relates to My Life Story)

This month is Mental Health Awareness Month. For many of us, mental health was never on our radar as children. For me, it was. As a young child, I was depressed. I was no stranger to depression because I saw my mother struggle. Her journey with mental illness began in adolescence, when much of mental health was crazy experimentation with the use of horse tranquilizers and things that would now be considered inhumane. The worst of her journey hit when she was in her thirties. It would be something that would change our family forever.

I remember my mother being hospitalized when I was in first grade. If my memory serves me well, she did not return until I was in sixth grade. The visits were very frequent for about two to three years. Repressed memories of sexual abuse resurfaced during this time, and she was facing things that were what I call “hellacious”. I am an only child, and this caused my Dad and I to really lean on each other. I was going through those awkward middle school years during this period, so life was challenging.

I faced my own journey of depression in 2010 when I admitted to my doctor that I was depressed. After two years of being a “guinea pig”, I was referred to a psychiatrist who treated both my depression and the new “resident” of my life also known as General Anxiety Disorder. That began the most stable years of my life.

I am happy to say that my depression and anxiety are, for the most part, under control. My mother is also experiencing her best days. She still has bad days. So do I. But she and I can both testify to how God has used these difficulties to broaden our ability to minister to people.

If you don’t understand mental illness, I encourage you to do some research. The saddest thing I see is that some of the ones who are least educated in this area are those in the church. We want to blame it on demons, sin, and a lack of prayer, Bible reading, and faith. The worst thing we can do is be ignorant on the matter.

To those who struggle, I admire you for waking up to face another day. I know it’s difficult. To those who love someone with mental illness, be understanding. Hang in there. Don’t criticize. Just be present. To those with the right knowledge, share it.

This Is A Story All About How (Skipping Chronological Order)

Because today is a special anniversary, I will skip a part of my story that I will pick back up in the next post. Today marks the 22nd anniversary of when I surrendered to the call to ministry. It was a call I fought knowingly for two years. That day was a game changer. I have never been the same.

What events in your life were game changers? I would love to hear from you.

One of Those Weeks

Have you ever had one of those weeks when your workplace gets inspected? That is us right now. They have set up shop for the rest of the week. As you can imagine, stress comes with this.

I am reminded that the psalmist said, “This is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad IN it.” Despite the stress, I can rejoice IN this week. That does not mean that I rejoice because of the week or for the week, but I rejoice in the midst of all that is happening in this week because I see the Lord in the midst of it. I see God’s hand in placing a good team together. I see God giving us grace when we want to scream. I see God in the midst of the unexpected. So when you are having one of those weeks, remember God is still God and is making all things works together for good.