Questions

A song for any of you who are struggling with why…

From one of my favorite bands ever, 7eventh Time Down.

Let them know how the song has encouraged you and helped you out.

https://www.facebook.com/7eventhtimedown

Be blessed!!

YouVersion Bible App Reading Plans:
31 Days: http://bit.ly/2DNy6E6
7 Days: http://bit.ly/2DTHQwD

Book: http://amzn.to/2ctwjHp

 

Gain Strength

So many times in our lives, we struggle to find the strength we need.  Whether it is the strength we need to get through our current crisis or the strength to just get out of bed.  We need strength to attack another day of family, work, and whatever comes our way.

Personally, I am not near as strong in my life as I need to be.  I miss going to the gym, I don’t post here enough, and I miss out on getting things done for my family.  To be honest, it is not a lack of strength.  It is a lack of discipline.

I lack building my physical strength when I decide that going to the gym is not as important as another activity.  I lack building up content for those who are looking for help and encouragement in a time of need when I decide that my time focused on something else takes precedence.  I lack building my family’s confidence in me as a provider and maintainer when I do not get things done around the house and furthering my career.  Why is that?

The dictionary has many definitions of strength. Here are the top 3:

1: the quality or state of being strong: Capacity for exertion or endurance
2: power to resist force
3: power of resisting attack

It is interesting in all off these, strength is actually describes and defined in terms of resistance and endurance.

Strength cannot exist without a force purposely being thrust against it.  It has no purpose but to withstand a force dead set on keeping you being better, being more that you are right now.

There is a force that wants you to stay where you are now and not experience what true strength brings.

Is it possible that part of our weakness and lack of strength is not recognizing the force that is coming against us?

 

Ephesians 6:12 (MEV)

12 For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

 

Complacency and weakness are partners.  Ever notice that when you settle for where you are now, it feels like there is more out there?  Why does it seem so difficult when you start to improve yourself?

We pray for God to bless us and help us out of our situations, yet could we be unwilling to build our strength in the areas where God wants us to grow?  Could He know that we are leaving real life on the plate after we have only eaten the junk food live hands us?

As Christians, we have given our lives to Jesus.  He desires to give us all that we need.  He has promised us strength and peace.

 

Psalm 29:11 (MEV)

11 The Lord will give strength to His people;
the Lord will bless His people with peace.

 

Why do we choose not to seek strength whether it is physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual strength?  When we think other things are more important than spending some quality time with Jesus every day in prayer and devotions, we lose out on building our strength through knowing and becoming more like Him.

True strength to win the battle against the forces fighting against our relationships, family, finances, peace, and well-being is only built through the truth of God’s Word and focused time spent communing with Him.

Reading the Bible, praise & worship, devotions, fellowship, weekly worship services, and daily time spent in His presence away from all that distracts us (even for a few minutes) allows Him to build the muscles of faith that we need to grow and have the strength we need to live this life.

 

1 Chronicles 16:11 (MEV)

11 Seek the Lord and His strength;
seek His face continually.

 

Today is a new day.  You don’t have to be focused on the forces coming against you when you focus on the God of the universe who is over all of them.  Even if it is just 5 minutes today, just quiet yourself and focus on Jesus.  Not what He can do for you, but who He is.

He is love.  He is truth.  He is power.  He is strength.  He is all you need.

 

Be blessed!!

YouVersion Bible App Reading Plans:
31 Days: http://bit.ly/2DNy6E6
7 Days: http://bit.ly/2DTHQwD

Book: http://amzn.to/2ctwjHp

Milestone !!!

Just wanted to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart!!

From those who have encouraged me to follow God into His calling to all of those that trusted me to speak into their lives via the Reading Plans, THANK YOU!!

Feel free to continue to share these Godly, free resources to those dealing with the effects of divorce and separation. You never know the lives you may change because of this simple act of kindness.

Reading Plans:
31 Days: http://bit.ly/2DNy6E6
7 Days: http://bit.ly/2DTHQwD

Book: http://amzn.to/2ctwjHp

Be blessed!!

Sharing a little of my story

My Story

“Jesus and I are movin’ on!!”

 

It was during a counseling session with my pastor and associate pastor in a small office in a small church where God gave me the statement that would carry me during the worst days of my life.

Looking back, I was still a baby in my walk with God. Even though I had been saved a few years before and did my best to gain wisdom through going to church and hanging out with the right people, I found myself trying to hang on with all I had.

Divorce papers were serve on the day that OJ Simpson was found not guilty in the murder of his wife and friend. The one thing I really remember that day was the thought that he was found not guilty and I was found guilty; of having to serve his sentence through divorce. Well that sucks!!

Now I can see how my inabilities to communicate my feelings, even on a basic level, led to issues in our marriage. I did everything I could to reconcile and in the end, she just wanted out. (Insert blame, speculation, and the past here)

Thank God I had my brother, Dave, and his family along with my church family to help me during that time. As a Christian and striving to be more like Jesus every day, it was the hands and feet of those God blessed me with around me with flesh and bones that just loved me through my struggles.

What Dave did for me was exactly what I needed, though it may not work for you. He told me that he loved me and would be there for me anytime, anyplace, and for any reason. He also said he was not going to be all up in my business about it, but to just come to him when I needed him.

My dad is a wonderful man and raised us boys to be rather self-sufficient. In so many ways, it has allowed me to figure things out on my own, thus learning through trial and error. It worked, to a point.

What Dave did was to give me the space to figure it out on my own while providing the support I wanted when I was ready. But I needed more, so much more.

That more was Jesus!! I had to fill in all the space with the love, grace, and mercy that only God could give me. I was saved, yet I needed to allow Him to guide and lead me, and heal me to make me whole again.

The best example of this was one night in an evening when I felt so discouraged and beat down. I just needed to spend some time with Dave and his family. Guess what. They decided to head out of town to get away for a couple of days without telling me.

I lived just a few doors down, so I walked back to my dingy apartment. I think I cried more tears that night than I ever had before or ever will again. I needed my brother, my best friend. I needed…….. God!!

Looking back, it was the best thing in my healing process. I needed to get to the point of total desperation. I needed to hit rock bottom. And I did!!

And then God. What did He do? Sitting here writing this, I have no recollection of what happened next, but I can tell you that it was Him using what I thought was my strength (Dave) to show me that God is now my strength. Fully and completely, I now received God as the only answer to all of my needs.

What is sort of funny is that the statement above was something God told me before I missed Dave that night. I finally knew, deep down in my soul, what it means to walk with Jesus.

Fast forward a few years and I am now living in another town and guess what? Yes, it happens AGAIN!!!

Divorce #2. What in the flip just happened, and now what? I trusted God and did everything right I thought, but yet again, I am facing the tragedy of divorce.

After only a few months, I am faced again with that foundational relationship with God. This time, I was prepared. Yet after two and a half years or trying to reconcile, it was final.

But God was there for me every step of the way. Dave and his family moved away right after I did, but I had a relationship with God now that was my foundation, unmovable and unshakable. Even though the enemy did his best to cause me to stumble, my God was faithful and held me in His arms through it all.

Now you may be wondering why I am telling you all of this. Well, I want to encourage you that God loves you and wants you to be blessed, even through your toughest and most difficult struggles.

After my second divorce was final, I immediately called my boss to tell him I was moving and had decided to transfer with the company. I had decided to become involved with an amazing church in Jacksonville, Florida and to join their worship team. God had something awesome for me, but I did not know how awesome, until I let go and let God lead me.

I met my brother, Dave, (this is now the third place where I have moved to be close to him and his family) at his work the moment I rolled into town and we went to lunch. He told me the worship team was having a little worship time as part of a huge New Year’s Eve party.

That night I met my wife, Christy. She was a member of the worship team and close friends with Dave and his family. On New Year’s Day, the very next day, she had already planned on being at Dave’s family’s house. God was up to something.

Within 17 days, were went on our first date and we were married less than 9 months later. We have now been happily married for over 12 years and have 2 wonderful children. Together we have helped hundreds of people in various marriage and divorce groups over the years while serving in other leadership roles at Celebration Church.

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.   Romans 8:28

My point in telling you my story is not to tell you that everything will work out for you like it did for me. I wanted to share that what God did for me He can and will do for you, if you let Him. God gave me a foundation of peace and wisdom that led me to healing and wholeness in Him.

 

I Want to #$%@!$# SCREAM!!!!

Ok. Before I blow my witness, I should just gather my thoughts. Calm down, mister……

I am PISSED!!!

MAN, why does this happen?!?!?

I received a text today from a very close friend in my life. They told me that they found out what caused their co-worker to go to the hospital with chest pains on New Year’s Eve. You wanna know why?

They moved out this last weekend. They are now separated from their spouse.

&#$&!%$!@^&!@

I have no idea what kind of situation is going on. I only know of this person because it is a co-worker of my close friend and they found out the news.

I don’t know if there was infidelity. I don’t know how long they have been struggling. I don’t know if abuse was involved.

Will I seem insensitive if I say “I DON”T CARE WHY!!!!!!”?

This just has to stop. Am I the only person who thinks that people just take others and relationships for granted? NONSENSE!!!!!

OK, back to reality…. Serenity now…..Serenity now……

I am sorry. I must now know that the thing I am most passionate about in life is not making more money, reaching new levels of success in my career, or becoming famous.

I have a heart for those that have to deal with separation and divorce. And it sucks. It really does.

It sucks that I cannot help people before it happens. Of course, I would if I could. Or can I.

Maybe I am just a bleeding-heart with no real answers that just feels bad for people. Maybe I think I can help but I really can’t. Maybe because I am not educated in whatever brain science they teach in college and have a piece of paper on the wall, I am helpless to help those that are helpless.

I call BS on that!!!

I have been there and done that, TWICE!!! I have felt the pain, that stabbing in the gut, back, head, heart, and every other part of me. I know what it is like to hurt. I know what is like to love someone and have them just crap on your marriage.

I know even more after today that I need to find a way to be a practical and effective help to those that desire help. I know people would get help, if they actually want it and choose to value their relationship.

If you happen to be looking at this blog and have not yet, but are deciding if you need to get separated or a divorce, let me help you. Let others help you. Reach out to those who will tell you the hard truth, not just what you want to hear. Find someone that you can trust to give you life-changing advice that will save you from one of the most painful and hardest things you you can experience. Take time to think things through and get help. Don’t go it alone.

As a Christian, the ONLY way I could make it through was to let God take over my thoughts, feelings, and emotions. I did everything in my natural strength to save my marriages. It didn’t work.

I can tell you and my wife will tell you too, my ex-spouses screwed up. I am a great guy who needed some time to learn how to be a husband, friend, and lover. I needed to learn to communicate and not just listen. I had things to improve, but in this microwave world of ‘you are not my soul mate and it’s been 5 days or 5 weeks or even 5 months’, it was convenient for them to just jump ship.

I am not perfect. I have never claimed to be and I know more and more each day that I never will be perfect.

That is not a reason to give up on a relationship.

(climbing down from my 100ft high soapbox)

Thanks for letting me rant. I just needed to vent. It really has helped me to see that I must do all I can to help those that want and need the help that I can give.

I will have some more blog posts coming soon. Hopefully, you will get something that you can use to help in your own journey.

Be blessed!!

Who Needs a Hug?

baby hug photo:  Step5.jpg

No matter what you are going through or how you are feeling at this moment, could you use a hug?

Even though you are just reading this on a screen and you may be all by yourself, lonely, depressed, or just needing someone to encourage you….here is a virtual hug for you.

Take a deep breathe, close your eyes, and hug yourself.

Know that you may not be with another person right now, but you are never alone. Someone else somewhere else is going through the same things you are going through and are there with you, just in a different place.

You may be lonely, but you have someone thinking about you, wondering how you are doing, praying for you. It may be a friend or a family member. It may be someone you don’t even know that is just knowing you are struggling. You have someone somewhere that cares.

God is always near. He will hold you in His arms. When you need a hug, just reach out to Him. He will comfort and hold you.

Be blessed!!

Starting Over

Where do I begin? Is there anything left? Where is God in all of this?

Sound familiar? These are some of the exact questions that people have when needing to recover from a divorce.

I have a hard time telling people what to do. It’s hard enough to be a dad and tell my daughter she needs to go to bed when she doesn’t want to or my son that he needs to take care of things before the last-minute. Maybe it is just my way of allowing people to learn, or maybe it is just me wimping out on my responsibility as a dad. I need to work on that.

But,  do you REALLY want someone to tell you what to do? Do you REALLY trust the advice you are getting is in your best interest? How do you know?

Ok, here is where the rubber meets the road. Are you ready? What I am going to tell you is going to be something that most people will never tell you. It is groundbreaking information that will work 100% of the time, if you follow the directions. The problem is most people either never receive the advice with a willing spirit to change or they attempt it for a while and then think the advice has to be wrong so they just go it alone.

If you really want to know what to do, here it is:

1) Pray

2) Seek God

3) Turn away from the wrong things

Simple as that. If you truly want the recovery and peace that will last and sustain you as you heal, you need help from above. Only God can heal a broken heart.

Praying to God, no matter what the prayer sounds like to start, opens the communication to Him. It brings forth an openness for change in you, which is what is needed to heal.

I can remember times of just screaming and yelling at God. Every part of me wanted to vent my frustration and pain while pushing the blame onto someone or something else. I wanted them to feel pain like I felt and it really didn’t matter what I said. It just felt good to say it. Praying for justice took on a whole new meaning, meaning it would make me feel better. but eventually, God changed my heart.

He caused me to start praying that I would be all He had for me to be, no matter what happened. I knew that the future held so much more pain, but I knew that deep down, God loved me with a love that no human can have. It help the healing process to start. And it will help you.

Seeking God is just that, looking for Him. Looking for Him in everything, not just a pretty sunrise, your child’s face, or a song that moves you. It is something that should happen daily and be sincere in knowing Him, not finding verses to curse your ex-spouse with (I’m sorry, but I am guilty in doing that for a while). Building a relationship with God, founded on the written word of God (bible), is what will sustain you for the long road ahead as well as setting you up for peace and wisdom to handle what is coming next.

Turning away from the wrong things should be obvious, and for most people, it is. We tell ourselves that we will change our behavior, but it seems like it just will not happen. It takes a decision and the fortitude to manage that decision from this day forward.

What kind of behavior do you need to change? Hopefully, you already know. Most people know where they need to make changes because they have told their spouse things like, “Oh, I can quit drinking or doing drugs if it means you will give me another chance” or “You keep telling me to do (x,y,z) and I don’t think I need to change. It is you who needs to change”. Well, for just a moment, think about it. What behavior did your spouse say caused problems? Start with that. Through more prayer & relationship with God, you will get direction in how you need to change and grow so that you can become the person you need to be.

The points above come from 2 Chronicles 7:14 which says “then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and PRAY and SEEK my face and TURN from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”

If you want your land(heart) restored, you need to PRAY, SEEK, and TURN to God.

It is the only way to a true, lasting, and complete healing.

Or, you can keep doing what got you here in the first place……It is your choice.

In my own strength, I failed.

I will take the Creator of it all, the One who loves me and gives me my every breath. My faith and trust is in the One who knows how to heal the broken heart.

He can and will, if you let Him.

Nine Minutes After Sundown

"Nine Minutes After Sundown." Photo from 1,500' over Decatur Island, looking to the Southwest, Lopez Island, and the Olympic Peninsula. Photo by Jeffery A. Lustick
“Nine Minutes After Sundown.”
Photo from 1,500′ over Decatur Island, looking to the Southwest, Lopez Island, and the Olympic Peninsula. Photo by Jeffrey A. Lustick

When my lawyer/pilot friend Jeff posted this picture from one of his recent flights, it inspired me. First, to ask him if I could use it and then to use it to inspire a blog post.

A sunset is so beautiful, unlike the end of a marriage. If anything, they are a stark contrast to each other. One beauty, the other ugliness. One peace, the other war.

For a moment, take a breath and look at this picture, I mean really look at it.

The sun is going down. It is so colorful. It makes you want to reflect.

But the temperature is going to fall. The darkness is coming. That is the hard part.

Do you ever wonder why God created the sunset (and the sunrise, for that matter) to be such a brilliant display of color? I think it has to do with him wanting to get our attention. There is a change coming, and He wants you to know that it is ok. He wants you to get ready for change, but not to fear it. There is life(color) in the coming change, but it is before the change happens.

I love the title, Nine Minutes After Sundown. It means the sun has already fallen, yet the beauty is at its peak. It doesn’t mean the darkness will not come, it is just reminding us that we need to pay attention and reflect on the changes to come.

Just as with the sunrise, the colors are back in the sky, but it is before the sunrise(change). Every wonder why? Just like in the sunset, the colors precede the change. Again, I think it is God’s way of saying, “Ok, here is the day that I have made for you. It will be full of life, full of grace and mercy. Get ready!!”

Lamentations 3 (NLT)

21 Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:

22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease.

23 Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.

24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

We all understand that the sun will rise again and life goes on. Even when Jesus died, the sun rose the next day. No matter how bad the coming or current darkness is, in due time the sun will be back and life will continue.

Let this picture be an encouragement, to give you strength to face the battles you have and to know that very soon, the sun will rise on your life again.

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