The question isn’t whether He misses me but if I miss Him

Let’s face it there are seasons in our lives when we are seeking God more. The time my brother was dying was certainly one of those seasons. I was just wondering if God missed me when the season passed and life went on. I still spent alot of time seeking His presence and comfort after Paul’s death in July until Nov. 17, 1997. I got the answer I’d been searching for. And once you find what you’re looking for, you don’t keep looking do you? I still was prayerful but not as much and slowly but surely my life got to the place where I took God for granted. Sad but true.

As I think on the question of if He missed me when I wasn’t seeking Him so desperately I realize the real question is if I missed Him. Yes, I did. So I got myself back into the habit of prayer.

He is never more than a prayer away and He wants us to share all our life experiences with Him, the highs and the lows.

Advertisements

Testimony Time

Testimony Time.

Testimony

Today I bring you the testimony of a young man in my church. It has been my pleasure to watch his growth over the last year. Here is his story in his own words: I lived a rough childhood. I was raised in Perris, CA until the age of 6. Broken home doesn’t really get the type of home I grew up in. It was no home at all. Mom and Dad fought alot. Constant flow of Dads friends or “Homies” coming through the house. Mom wasn’t really ever there. Lots of drug use as my dad was a well known heroin connection in the area. My dad was locked away for life on Dec. 24th 1994, a day I will never forget. You see growing up in that type of atmosphere taught me that drug use, sex, and trouble was okay. By this time in my life my mother and I were living in Anaheim, CA and my sister had gone to live with my grandma. At the time my mother was a main supplier of marijuana in Anaheim, so on average she hid anywhere from 20 to 80 lbs. in the house every week. Life was good or so I thought … I started smoking marijuana at the age of 11. My mother and I kind of “bonded” when we would sit around the table and smoke. My mother was also a Meth addict so she was always doing something or locked away in her room for hours. I didn’t know it at the time but I was living a life of utter chaos, unpleasing to the Lord and satisfying the devil’s every need. “Mom, I like these shoes. Do you think you could buy them for my birthday?” I said. “No! I don’t have the money son,” my mother said. “If you want something you need to find the ways and means to get it yourself,” she said. So I started selling drugs to get the stuff I wanted, just like my mother did. She was my main supplier and the money was good. I was 14 at the time. The crowd I hung around was the type that liked to party, fight and get into trouble, like the phrase says, “Get in where you fit in.” I was in! Oh and by the way I got the shoes I want. “Sit down, shut up, take all your clothes off, bend over and cough three times,” the deputy said. I had landed myself in the Youth Authority right before my 15th birthday. (YA is prison for underage kids) They booked me for grand theft auto, resisting arrest, possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute and trafficing. I ended up doing 1 year and 9 months and when I got out I was 16. This continued the long and vicious cycle of sex, drugs, and getting locked up. I am a 23 year old male and have been locked up all together 5 of the last 8 years. Today is Dec. 24th 2011. I have been out from behind bars now for about 14 months and am celebrating 1 year clean and sober. I never would have thought I would be leaving that lifestyle behind to be adopted into Jesus Christs’ family. I am now a child of God. Thank you Heavenly father. You see in the book of Psalms chp. 18 verses 4-6 it says, “The ropes of death entangled me; floods of destruction swept over me. The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death itself stared me in the face. But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from His Sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears. (NLT) This was my life. I was living a life pleasing to the devil. My release date was coming up. I didn’t want to live the same life. I wanted change. I longed for it. So in my cell. I cried out to the Lord, “Lord! if you’re real, help me, guide me to a new place. A place of peace where I may grow to trust you. Amen.” Just 21 years old and completely tired of the same old thing. I wanted a new lifestyle. I have been through a lot of things a 40 year old grown man in prison has been through. In Psalm chp. 18 verses 16-17 it says: “He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters. He delivered me from powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me.” (NLT) I was released Nov. 19th, 2010 and on Dec. 24th 2010 I was brought into the Inside-Out Men’s Home, a Christian based drug and alcohol rehab for men who suffer from chronic relapsing. A chronic relapser is someone who has been clean and sober for a period of time and ends up relapsing. And the cycle goes on and on. It’s been a long year of growing in the Lord’s Grace and Mercy. Dealing with 8 different men’s attitudes who have been through the same thing I have is hard. I have learned that I need to crush my pride and walk away from arguments. The Lord hates pride. That’s the hardest thing for me. I’m very prideful. But I’m daily growing in the Lord’s Humility! I’m going to close with Psalm chp. 18 verse 30: “As for God, his way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.” (NLT) “Prayer!” Prayer is what has got me through this last year. I cast all my cares, concerns, burdens, etc. at the foot of the cross and let my Lord take care of it. I thank the Lord for what He has brought me out of, who He has made me and where He is going to take me. God bless everyone who reads this! If you are struggling with addiction, in and out of jail or prison and want freedom from the bondage and live in Southern CA contact Rich Mathisrud @ 714-504-1457 or the Main Place Thrift Store @ 714-573-7503 and ask for Donald Furhman.

Seasons

Coming in out of the rain I picked up a scrapbooking template that had fallen on the floor.  Holding it in my hand the refrains of Paul’s favorite song ran through my mind. We had joy we had fun we had seasons in the sun but the stars we could reach were just starfish on the beach. 

I’m writing a novel now and in it are some of those seasons in the sun we enjoyed. It’s a refreshing change from the memoir which talked about all the seasons but seemed to focus on the rain. There were some pretty heavy rainstorms and they needed to be dealt with so I laid it all out there in black and white.

I remember one time that I only hinted at in a poem that I want to share here. It was Paul’s first winter on the streets and this particular Sunday it was rainy and cold, much like today. I was volunteering with the youth group and had arrived early to church. Another volunteer came in shivering because there was no heat in her car and I cringed. It was all I could not to cry all during the service as I watched the rain out the side doors.

Paul was out there somewhere and he didn’t even have a car. It had been impounded when he went to jail for DUI charges.  I hoped this storm would make him want to find his way back to sobriety. If he sobered up our mother would have taken him in until he could maintain his own home. Sadly it didn’t. So began 5 winters of worry.

    We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun. But the wine and the song like the seasons have all gone. 

(Seasons in the Sun Terry Jacks, 1974)

Progress

Well the interior of Then Monday Came: The Party’s Over But The Celebration Has Just Begun is finished. I am just waiting for my cousin to do her magic on the photos I want to use on the front and back cover.  Meanwhile I’ve been working on the novel based on people in my life but with the situations changed up quite a bit. Paul’s character is a bit more spiritual than I remember him being but is an aspiring artist.  It’s fun writing fiction. I can change what I want and leave in the fun memories.

That being said, it wasn’t that writing the memoir wasn’t enjoyable. It was hard to face the truth, yes but it brings me hope to think our story can help others.  Then again maybe it just helped me. I don’t think that’s true. I think it is meant for others to read. Otherwise I wouldn’t have gone to all the trouble of self-publishing. I had to learn a thing or two about formatting, while avoiding going bald. Yes, it was stressful and at times I thought I’d pull my hair out.

So keep watching this space. I hope to have a pic of me and the book here soon along with ordering info.

Up In Chicago

Inspiration for worship is like a pebble on a dirt path near a pond.  Someone kicks this little stone down the path as long as he can.  The final kick lands the pebble off the beaten path near the shore of the pond.  Later someone comes down to the shore and starts looking for flat stones to skip across the surface.  At the narrowest part of the pond a good stone can skip to the other shore.  Skipping stones gets boring so the person starts tossing pebbles into the water.  They have a different sound, a different effect.  They make ripples, circles that embrace the pebble and each other.  Some pebbles encourage more ripples than others.  Then that one special little rock is tossed into the pond.  It hits the center, the deepest part of the pond.  Its ripples are many and they reach the shore.  You find yourself stepping out, each ripple encouraging you as you come closer to the source.  And so it is that you walk with Jesus to the heart of God.

I have always admired worship leaders as they strive to put together packages that lead us progressively into worship.  We had such a man in our church.  He was a talented and gifted singer who was filling in until we could fill the position.  It was sad to see Eric go but on the upside he joined the Crimson River Quartet so when he came to visit he brought three other talented friends with him.  When they came in December of 1998 they performed their most requested song, Up In Chicago. I still cry when I hear it.  Don’t worry they’re tears of joy and gratitude to God because one Monday morning He came and took my homeless brother out of a hospital off Main street.  And it is with extreme gratitude that I say He did it before the storm system El Nino hit, causing the worst flooding in these parts in years. I used to think of homelessness as being as simple as not having a home but in my brother’s case he didn’t deserve the home he did have. That is what’s so great about God. In His infinite Grace and Mercy He provides what we do not deserve, including a beautiful new Home with Him someday.

This youtube video is from 1996 before Eric joined the group. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceHB-gg1fHU

 

Then Monday Came–poem

Although born on a Friday

Your life was full of Mondays

The first Monday was my birth

It started a sibling jealousy

That created irrationalities

I’m sorry dear brother

I didn’t mean to

Things mellowed by adolescence

You chose to mellow out more

Just a few beers with the guys

But another Monday came

May 10, 1982—the day daddy died

The last day you were sober

   (except for that six weeks in rehab)

You danced with the devil for 15 years

I had four short days to teach you a new step

To teach you everything I knew about

Grace

Forgiveness

Love

Mercy

Four short visits to show you God

That last visit I sang songs

Songs God knew and loved

Songs I’d hope would comfort you

Songs I’d hope you’d hear

God heard and He came

He cut in on the devil who fled

The next morning God walked you home

It was Monday

And I’m not sorry it came

I lost you long ago

This Monday was about deliverance

We were both delivered from alcoholism

You are once again a brother

I’m no longer an alcoholic’s sister

Yes dear brother the life you chose killed you

But the God you chose redeemed your soul

See ya on the flip side

September 22, 1998

%d bloggers like this: