A Child’s Restless Nights and the Answered Prayers for Help

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The late night silence was broken with faint whimpers and wheezing as my precious little one struggled for air.   Restlessly she lay sleeping on my chest as I, unable to sleep, kept a vigilant watch over her.   My wife, equally as restless lie next to us, her hand gently holding that of our daughter as we helplessly tried to comfort her. 

There had been five visits to the doctor and emergency rooms over the past two weeks with no relief in sight.  It was a virus we were told and had to run its course.  Each night as the fever would spike upwards of 102 and with her breathing more labored each day we worried more and more. 

We had experienced ear infections, strep, colds, the flu and other common illness with our other children.  This one the doctors continued to repeat that there was nothing they could do for it and it had to run its course.  My wife and I continued to pray and make our daughter as comfortable as possible as her 13 month old body struggled to fight off this “virus”.  Each night we watched as her fever spiked and her breathing became more labored. We knew that something had to be done.  Somehow the doctors were missing something and she was too small to take chances waiting for the doctors.  If it was a virus, then which one?

One of the most frustrating feelings I have ever felt in my life are when my children are ill and I cannot do anything to make them better.   As she would look into my eyes crying from pain and discomfort, watching her chest heave up and down gasping for air I find myself fighting the tears of anguish for my daughter and my overwhelming helplessness.

Finally, as we could take no more of this we headed back into the doctors office.  This time my beloved wife had taken video of my daughters labored breathing at night and early morning while attempting to sleep.  We had been telling the doctors of this for weeks and nothing, upon seeing the video they ordered a chest x-ray and surprise.  Pnuemonia!    I felt releived at having a diagnosis and also irritated that after this many visits and more than 3 different doctors why none of them would rule this out in the beginning. 

It has been 5 days since my wifes video of our daughter finally made the doctors act.  It’s amazing to see her improvement now that she is properly being treated.   I dread to think what could have been with our precious little 13 month old daughter had my wife not acted upon her impressions to record it. 

I do believe that our prayers were answered in this process.  My wife was guided in knowing what to do to get the help we needed.  After nearly 3 weeks, our daughter is back in her own bed, no fever and sleeping through the night.  I still can’t help but be frustrated at the lost time and the danger my daughter was in had it not been properly treated soon enough.

The divergence of these emotions and my gratitude for answered prayers has created quiet a conundrum for me to resolve within, yet the gratitude I feel for my daughter getting better overshadows all of it.

God’s Laws Can Never be Changed by Man

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Many friends I know feel as though the commandments are antiquated, outdated and not relevant in today’s world.  This belief seems to be prevalent in our culture,   Each of the ten commandments have become glamorized through our movies and invade our homes daily through the internet, television and music.  We are falsely led to believe that the only way to have fun and enjoy life is to break the commandments and live a life without rules or restrictions.

This is the greatest lie ever told to mankind.

Happiness, joy, and peace can never be found violating these laws of God.  The commandments are not given to us to restrict our lifestyle, they are given to provide direction and guidance that will bring about that happiness, joy and peace we long for.  Living a life in harmony with Gods law is the only way to find that deep peace that our spirits hunger for.  God’s laws are not meant to restrict us, he has given these laws to enable us to know how to bring about true joy and happiness in our lives.

Those who live the way of the world rush from one placebo to the next in looking for the happiness they long for.  These placebo’s deceive the individual into believing they have found happiness, only for it to be fleeting and without substance or staying power.

Those who do all within their power to live God’s laws find great peace and comfort in abiding these commandments. These individuals are not prone to the heartache that comes as a natural consequence from violating these laws.  They avoid the emotional roller coaster that comes from chasing after one placebo to the next and eliminate much worry and stress from their lives.  As a God who loves his children, these commandments are designed to bring about joy in our lives, God desires that we are happy and have joy, his laws are the road map leading to it.

As society tries to eradicate these laws from our lives, through countless legal actions and maneuvers there are those who desire all to lose hope and chase after these placebos instead of discovering for themselves the inner peace and happiness that can be.  Man continues its assault on God’s laws.  Making a law declaring something legal, will never make it right. Making laws declaring something right as illegal will never them wrong.

There is only one way to true happiness and joy.  All others are a deception.

The Hidden Power of Music

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I love music, I always have.  I am enthralled with the messages that can only be delivered through the power of music.  Good music speaks to our spirit in a way that nothing else can.  Over the years I have toyed with writing lyrics, some have been pretty decent attempts while others, not so much.  My desire has always been able to share a story through the lyrics that will make someone smile, or touch their spirit in a way that will move them for the good. 

Over the years there have been many songs that have spoken to me.  Many of the Christian artists have particular songs that really touch home with me, yet there are just as many songs outside this genre that have had an important and lasting effect on me in my life. 

Two songs in particular outside of the Christian music genre that have stuck with me over the years are Unanswered Prayers by Garth Brooks in 1991 and Ever Since the World Began by Survivor in 1982.

Unanswered Prayers has been truly a blessing in my life as many of the desires of my heart that I prayed for never came to pass.  At the time they were difficult to accept and it felt as if my prayers were bouncing off the ceiling and not heard.  As I look back upon those times now I can clearly see why they were unanswered..  God had something far greater in store for me than I could ever have imagined at the time.  The happiness in my life would be non existent today had those things that I prayed for been granted so many years ago.   God heard my prayers all those years ago and instead of giving me what I thought I wanted, He put in motion those things that I needed and truly desired yet didn’t know at the time.  He heard the desire of my heart and not to words that I prayed and granted me the unspoken desires.   I am happier today than I could have ever dreamed possible as a result of my unanswered prayers.  He knew better than i what I needed and gave it to me.

Ever Since the World Began is a song that has truly made me realize that our lives impact each other in ways that most of us do not even realize.  The line in the song “how one life touches the other, is so hard to understand” is for me powerful and very thought provoking.  This song also drives the message home for me that we here on this earth have been waiting for our time to come here since the beginning of this earth.  We are pieces of a grand puzzle that all fit together to form the fabric of this existence.  Each interaction that we have with one another impacts many on this earth in one way or another.  We all have a unique and very important role here on earth as part of the big puzzle.  It really drives home the concept of the Butterfly Effect.

Music is a powerful tool that impacts our emotions.  It can either inspire us to greater heights or depress to new lows.  Music can unite people together as well as tear asunder.  The music we listen to and learn to love has tremendous power in our lives and can influence so  much of how we view the world and how others view us.

Overcoming Fear with Belief

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Fear is probably the single biggest cause for failure in our lives.  It is most often accompanied by worry and doubt.  When these are present in our lives we cripple our ability to excel and thrive.  We create our own obstacles and stop our progression.  Fear will usually cause a fight or flight reaction.  More often than not, the majority of people will fly.  They run and hide from the fear instead of fighting it.  While hiding from our fear, we begin to doubt ourselves and worry about the future.  Instead of taking control of our future, we cripple it.

I understand that many of us have some real fears in our lives, these can be more challenging and difficult to overcome.  We also each maintain many fears that are not only self created, but unfounded.  We may fear for a family member and their  struggles, or a fear of losing a job that we already have.  This creates many times a self fulfilling prophecy, we fear we will lose our job, the worry and doubt in our abilities that accompanies the fear impact our abilities and performance in our job and we then create our own dismissal from our employment as a result.  We bring to pass our own fears into reality.  We may fear getting ill and the worry and doubt that accompanies it as we hyper focus on it in turn truly makes us sick, again we fulfill our own fears.  These are just a couple of examples that lead to the fulfillment of our own self imposed fears.

Conversely, hope and belief can create an opposite effect.  As we hope for a better life and believe that we deserve one, when our actions align with those beliefs we will open doors for ourselves that will lead to our own success.  The old adage, if we can dream it, we can achieve it,..  this is true yet belief must accompany the dream for us to achieve those dreams.  I have many acquaintances whom believe that they do not deserve anything better than what they have achieved or been given.  This becomes true for them as they never move beyond what they have.

I remember as a young man starting out in my career for a whopping $4.75 per hour.  I was happy because it was not the grocery store where I had been working prior for a mere $3.25 an hour.  I had taken a step forward and I knew in my heart and believed unequivocally in myself that I would excel in this career and do very well for myself.  I exceeded the expectations of everyone around me and created through hard work and my self belief tremendous success in my career.  My success in my career became an anchor in my life and a road map in overcoming obstacles and challenges.   Each time fear would show its ugly head I would fight it, face it and conquer it.  I never allowed the doubt to accompany the fear and each time worry would enter my mind, I eliminated as soon as I was able to clearly identify why I was worried. 

We can can achieve anything we want in this life with hard work and belief in ones self.  In order to do so we must eliminate fear, doubt and worry from our lives.  The future is ours to design and create.  What we choose to bring with us will determine the level of success and happiness we achieve.

Voices from the Dust

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I am fascinated by our ancestors and the civilizations that came before.  I reflect often upon the people, the cultures, and the influence that these ancient societies have had upon our present day.  Like voices from the dust, the writings, architecture, art and the many clues left behind allow us to create a picture of what their lives were like.  The social, economic and political cultures within these ancient peoples are constructed based upon the relics they left behind.

This also brings me to pondering much about my own personal ancestry and my family members whom proceeded us.  I am oftentimes in awe of the strength of character shown by many who came before. The trials and challenges that they were faced with often provide me with an inner strength as I face my own challenges.  I have read as much as I can get my hands on of my pilgrimage ancestry crossing the ocean by ship, the storms and difficulties they encountered as well as those who crossed the plains as they settled west in the United States.  Many of them left journals detailing their accounts of hardship in search of a better life.  Journals that have provided insight into the people from which I descend.

We are the recipients of the sacrifices made by those who came before.  Our lives are inextricably intertwined to our ancestors as well as the ancient civilizations that have left an indelible mark on this world in which we live.  We have been given much knowledge from the past, some serve as guidance for us while others serve as a warning to prevent us from the same disastrous  fates as those civilizations that have been destroyed.  While I greatly fear that we as a people have failed to heed those warnings, I also fear what impact our society will have upon future generations.  How will our actions shape the lives of those who come 100 years, 500 years, 1000 years from now?  Will the knowledge we leave behind be used for guidance or will our generation serve as the warning voice to future generations?

As a think personally upon the legacy that I wish to leave for my posterity, I pray that it will be one like my ancestors have left me.  A voice of faith and hope driven by a strength of character that will provide my posterity the wisdom needed to overcome any challenges and obstacles they may endure in their lifetime.  100 years from now what will they say about me?  Will I leave behind a positive impact, or will it be a warning on what to avoid so as not to duplicate my mistakes in life?  I am certain it will undoubtedly be a combination of both.

I do pray that my legacy to my great great grandchildren will be one of inspiration and a source of strength and wonderment, much like I have gained from my ancestors.  I pray that they will learn from my mistakes and gain courage from our fortitude in facing challenges with dignity, grace and courage.  I pray my  voice will  rise from the dust in love, strength and courage to those left behind as a testament to my faith, my love and my compassion for my posterity.

Happiness vs Pleasure

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What is the difference between happiness and pleasure?   Is there a difference?  I believe that there is one at least within the confines of today’s usage of the words.   I also believe that many individuals confuse the two and seek pleasure while searching for happiness.

It is estimated that only one in three Americans are happy.  What key differences exist between those that find happiness and those that do not?  I am of the opinion that one of the key drivers leading to this sad statistic is that many individuals seem to believe that pleasure brings about happiness.  I disagree, I believe that if ones searches for pleasure, then happiness will be ever more elusive, for it seems that happiness brings about pleasure, however rarely does pleasure bring about happiness.

We live in an ever increasing world of instant gratification.  This is a pleasure principle. Most people no longer seek for happiness, nor do they understand that they are no longer seeking happiness as they are driven to fill one carnal desire after another. 

Happiness is a state of positive emotional well being.  This is found when driven from our spiritual self.  Pleasure is typically obtained through carnal desires, the physical side.  One has a lasting effect, while the other one wears off quickly and then the pursuit of pleasure begins again in an effort to replace the rush normally associated with pleasure.

I believe that happiness over pleasure creates a more peaceful life.  It provides harmony with our souls, (body and spirit) which then turns our moments of  pleasure into a more lasting and fulfilling experience.  This leads to joy.  Happiness and pleasure in a perfect balance for the soul.

I believe that in order to find true happiness, which leads to joy lives, we must first stop chasing after pleasure and place the desires of our spiritual self ahead of that of our physical self.  Many find the fleeting moments of pleasure yet never find happiness. Some find happiness in life and not necessarily experience pleasure, yet find life more fulfilling and worthwhile.  Few find the Joy of obtaining both happiness and pleasure in this life, for those are the ones who seek and find happiness and then allow those moments of pleasure to happen as a result of the happiness they have found.  

Atheists and Christmas

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Every time an atheist  takes the name of God in vain, they invalidate their own arguments.  As they celebrate and enjoy the Christmas and Easter holidays they do the same.  So why is it that an atheist wants to remove God from these holidays, when they are celebrations of the Savior Jesus Christ?

I have friends whom are Jewish and do not celebrate these holidays.  I have friends whom are Muslim and do not celebrate these holidays.  Why then do atheist’s have such a strong urge to not only celebrate these holidays, but remove all symbolism attached to these days they by their own arguments have no belief in?

Atheist’s do not celebrate Eid Mubarak, nor passover, nor Hanukkah.  Why Christmas?  I have heard all the arguments that Christmas is not the same as it originally was and that it has been commercialized, or that it is based upon pagan traditions.  That argument is weak and holds no merit, if this were truly the case then why do non christian religions not celebrate them? 

Atheists have taken to attack primarily Christianity and its beliefs and traditions.   I find it amazing that they want destroy these holidays for Christians by removing the very reason for the season when they claim no belief in the very reason for them. The other irony is that it is ONLY the atheists that want all references to Christ removed from these holidays, yet my Jewish and Muslim friends will all wish me Merry Christmas as they understand and respect my beliefs, as I do theirs. While my atheist friends get quite agitated and irritated by any reference to Jesus Christ during Christmas, they seek to remove all nativity sets and religious music from the holidays.

I will never ask that my friends whom are atheist ever be forced to participate in any religious celebration.  If they do not believe they do not need to celebrate these days with us.  I have other friends who choose not to, yet respect this day as a religious day for me.  I expect that the atheists do the same.  I wont make them celebrate a day they do not believe in.  Besides, for them to celebrate these holidays invalidates their arguments.  I would never ask them to ever do that. 

A moment to ponder; Facing the Judgements

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Moments spent pondering creates opportunities for us to learn and be taught by the spirit.  Many times these quiet moments of reflection allow me the ability to resolve issues and challenges I may be facing.  Recently I dealt with someone from my past that has been extremely judgmental of me and the issues I have faced in my life.  A moment to ponder this morning provided extreme clarity on the issue.

A judgmental individual is a stigma that is difficult at best to overcome, especially for individuals whose holier than thou attitudes have created extreme duress and difficulty for others along the way.  Try as one might to move beyond that reputation, every future encounter with someone who was on the receiving end of a judgment views that person with extreme prejudice, and almost certainly never to trust again.

This weekend I had to opportunity to bump into a local dentist of ours who lives in the neighborhood and at one point we attended church together. Just over ten years ago while my family was being torn apart from some repeated affairs of my ex, this individual assisted my ex in hiding the affairs and in preventing me from seeing my son for some time.  During this extremely difficult and challenging time, as i dealt with the heartache of another affair, the desire to see my son and the desire to keep our family together which we did for another 3 years, this neighbor became very judgmental of me as I fought to keep our family together,  I watched as I would walk down the hall at church to see him notice me and walk to other way.  He was my dentist for a short time prior to this and I soon found it impossible to get an appointment with him.  I noticed that he became indifferent with many people around him and began to treat others equally as poor as I was being treated.  I watched him as his anger got out of control in a basketball game and he picked another player up by the throat and choked him, while pinning him against the wall.  It appeared that this man’s world too was falling apart.

I struggled with this for some time.  I wondered what I had done to this person, whom I considered a friend both in and out of church.  Someone whom I had respected over the years.  I am certain that he too may have been facing his own demons.  Over the years, this has bothered me greatly.  I must admit that at times I wondered if he too may have been having an affair with my wife. Maybe he hoped that she would leave me and he could step in.  Over time I dismissed these ideas and attempted to move on.  I stopped by his office once or twice, trying to open doors again.  He would have nothing to do with me.  I still have no idea what I may have done that so deeply offended this individual.  I could think of nothing.

Sunday I bumped into him again.  A decade has passed and I am no closer to understanding this than I was when it was fresh and he and my ex were close friends.  I had personally thought that I had moved past it, then he did the same cold calculated move as always in the past.  He looked at me, said hello to my mother and without a word to me turned and walked out the door. The coldness towards me that came from this man would refreeze the polar ice caps.

I have thought much about this encounter this week.  At first I was angry with the arrogance and judgmental nature this man has and continues to  display towards me.  Then I took a moment to ponder and pray.

On my drive into work this morning, after I had said my prayers to forgive again and move on, in the quiet moments in the car a thought entered my mind.   Maybe he is not being arrogant or judgmental at all.  Could it be that he is so deeply ashamed of his actions  over all these years that he does not know how to react and his shame drives him from my presence?  Maybe this man is carrying a burden from past events that prevents him from being able to face someone he has wronged?  Maybe facing me brings back unresolved and possibly unrepentant issues from his past?  I do not know.

I do know that what I felt today was significant.  I was able to see someone whom has judged and treated me poorly for all these years in a different light. One where maybe what i interpreted as him being judgmental was actually his sorrow and shame for the past.  There are always two sides.  I in fact over the years began judging him based upon the judgements I felt coming from him.

My eyes were opened this morning.   I wonder when we stand before God, how many of us will feel the shame of our unrepentant actions and be like my friend, unable to stay in the same room or look upon him, as my friend was with me.  How much heartache  will that shame bring when we face our God and not some neighbor, or some stranger.  “For inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my bretheren, ye have done it unto me.”  We will have a sudden knowledge of all our past actions towards others.

I know I see the world differently today after a moment to ponder.