Sunday, December 31, 2006

Quote for 12/31/06

"I think today was just awesome!"
Kathy Dinkfelt

This in reference to today's church service, as mentioned below.

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I think it went well

Well, if you couldn't tell from the above Quote, everything went well at church today. I was happy with how things turned out, even if we didn't have any lead instruments for worship - we sang a'capella. Oh, and I won't complain about the fact that the young lady who could've played the keyboard (which we have at the church) simply refused to do so since she wanted to play a guitar - which none of us had since none of us play one (thus our need for someone to play a lead instrument). But our time of worship was very nice. I discovered that I really don't know the words to many of our songs since I'm usually only paying attention to what notes I'm playing.
I used the following passages of scripture to form the main thought of my "sermon", and then we opened it up for discussion;

Romans 5:6-8
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His love for us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Micah 6:8
He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
John 3:16-17
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.


I started to talk about the fact that we (the Church) have been given so much grace, and yet we seldom share that with the world around us. We (the Church) recognize the fact that God was gracious enough to send Christ to die for us while we were at our worst, and powerless to do anything to change it. But we are not acting justly, or loving mercy or walking humbly with our God when we refuse to be gracious to those around us who don't know Christ. And, yet, Christ died for them as well. He didn't come to condemn them, but we (the Church) do. And I wanted to discuss how we can change that.
It was a good conversation, but it went way off topic as we began to discuss swearing and how our witness is affected by some of our actions. All in all, a good discussion. And when it was all over, everybody felt both comfortable with their walk and challenged to do better.
I'd say that's a good outcome.

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Friday, December 29, 2006

Ink-n-Fire (pt.2)

OK, I lied...
I know I said in my last post that I'd have pics in my next installment, but I don't. It wasn't intentional. I forgot to take my camera tonight, so I didn't get any picks of Z or of her studio. Besides, she doesn't allow photos in the lobby. That's OK, because it'll make pics of the actual event even more anticipated.
And just when is the event?

January 13, 2007 6:00 PM

Open invite to anyone who cares to show up and offer their support.

I suppose that I should mention that JT will be getting some ink of his own prior to my appointment.

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Ink-n-Fire (pt.1)

Well, in just a little while I'll be taking some money to the Z Spot Studio as a deposit on my brand.
I am so geeked about this!
This is going to be my first excursion into body art, and I'm doing it in a big way. I believe that I mentioned previously what I have planned - a Cross branded into my shoulder above the bicep, then a Crown of Thorns inked around that, and 39 hash marks (lashes) beneath it all.
I figured now that my life is moving in a new direction, it's time I do something that is demonstrably different. It's time I do something that reinforces that change. I think this will do so in a profound way.
When next I post about this I'll have photos.

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New direction

The papers came in from the attorney today. I'll be reading them over later and when I'm satisfied with what they have to tell me about No-Fault Divorce, I'll sign a check and mail it out.
At a quick glance, the papers tell me that I should receive the actual filing papers within 4-6 days of their receipt of payment. And if I can get Jo to sign the papers as "uncontested" we can be divorced in as soon as 21 days.

I'm not sure that I want to say anything else right now...

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Party at my house!

And, yes, if you're reading this, you're invited!

JT and I (and probably the Boy) will be doing our traditional New Years Eve Celebration and DVD Fest.
Not sure which movies we'll be watching, but I'm sure that we'll be having much of the same foods we had the last couple of times we did this...
Wings, taquitos, meatballs, shrimp ring, munchies, pop (soda to some of you), wine, and champagne for Midnight. Oh, and of course, some sort of pork for after Midnight - last year we had keilbasa-n-kraut.

OK, if you're interested in showing up, e-mail me to RSVP and to get directions.

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Biting off more than I can chew

OK, I'm an idiot!
So I volunteered to do the service at Church on Sunday. Oh, but not just to do the service, but to do the whole thing. I have taken on responsibility for the worship as well as the sermon (if you could call what I'll be doing a "sermon"). And this is nothing new for me. P.Dave has entrusted me with these things before, but usually with some sort of additional preparations or handouts. But this time I am completely on my own.
And this is what's making it so difficult this time; none of the people who were originally offered to assist me in the service have returned my phone calls. So I don't know if I'm even going to have a worship team, let alone somebody who can play an instrument (besides bass - which is what I play) so that we're not singing a'capella. Oh joy!
Oh well, at least I have my sermon topic picked out...

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Something to think about

I got this in an e-mail recently, and it gave me pause to think about what it says to me. I really try to live my life with this as one of my central themes. I hope you can all take something from it as well...

God Has Kept Me Here For A Reason:

Repeat after me: God has kept me here for a reason. I have survived because He has a plan for me. All my bad relationships, the addictions, the negative consequences, the bad credit, the repossessions, the death of my loved ones, the back stabbing from my friends, the negative thoughts, or the lack of support; I made it because I am blessed!
I release and let go of all past hurts, misunderstandings and grudges because I am abundantly blessed! I recognize them as the illusions they are, and sent from the enemy to kill my spirit, steal my joy, and destroy my faith; for God is all there is. All else is a lie!
Now give yourself a hug, wipe your tears away and walk in victory!
I love you, but more appropriately God loves you BEST! Be blessed and know that you are at one with THE SPIRIT OF THE LIVING GOD!
And may the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other (Genesis 31:49).
Amen!
"The Will of GOD will never take you where the GRACE of GOD will not protect you."


I do know, beyond any shadow of doubt, that I live because He has a purpose for me in this life. I probably shouldn't be alive - when you consider some of the stories I tell about my life (and my death). But I know that He will not allow me to leave this world before I have accomplished those plans which He has set before me. And I know that all that He requires of me is that I make myself available to be used when He has something for me to do.
I do not fear any situation that He might place me into because I know that He will watch over me. But should He choose not to, then I know that I am still safe within His hands. I know that my redeemer lives, and I will see His face one day. Perhaps a bit sooner than I would wish. Still, I know that He has a plan for my life, and I am always better off when I stick to the plan.
So, in light of this revelation, perhaps He also has a plan for you. And maybe, just maybe, I'm a part of that plan. After all, He has gone to great lengths to bring us together. And I'm not one to believe in coincidence, or luck. So, if you're reading this, it's because He wanted you to read it. He wanted to tell you something.
Now, what are you going to with this information?

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Quote for 12/26/06

"When I was a kid, focusing on the next Christmas started five minutes after you broke the toys from the last one."
Robert Kirby

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Was it Merry and Bright?

I trust that all of you, my faithful friends and acquaintances, had at least a pleasant Christmas. I know I did.
Did you get everything you wanted? I may not have gotten everything I wanted, but I did receive a few wonderful presents. And two of them came early.
The first was a phone call from a dear, new friend of mine, Carol. That was on Thursday night. She spoke words of comfort to me at a time when I was feeling quite agitated and somewhat lonely. It was a great relief to have someone to talk to at that time, and I am so grateful for her friendship. It was much appreciated.
The second early gift was another phone call, at 1:00 AM on Christmas Eve. It was Callie. She called just to tell me Merry Christmas, but we ended up talking on the phone for nearly an hour and a half. She told me that things are good with her, she sounded well, and she told me that she had just been too busy to get in touch with me lately. She also told me that she will keep in touch with me as time allows. So I'm pretty happy that she's willing to allow me to be a part of her life still.
The rest of the Holiday follows:
Christmas Eve we went to my brother's house. It's one of our traditions, sitting around eating, drinking, talking, and enjoying each others company. Mom kinda learned what "house arrest" was as Aliesha tried to explain the situation of one of her friends - don't ask!
When we got home I immediately put on 24 hours of A Christmas Story. I don't think I had to say that, but I wanted to make sure that any new visitors were aware of my love for that movie - but then again, who doesn't love that movie?
Christmas Day was nice since I actually managed to sleep until almost 6:00 AM. I'm not used to sleeping in that late, so it was a great feeling to know I still can when I want to. Kids got up around 8:30-9:00-ish. We exchanged our gifts and then they started to get ready to go to my in-law's. Aliesha got the 4 piece Cool Water gift set so she couldn't wait to get into the shower to start using it. Bob got an mp3 player, so he and I spent the next two hours downloading the software and adding songs to the player. As for my other gifts. Bob picked-up a butterfly knife for me. Aliesha gave me an IOU since she's been dumping all of her money into her car.
The kids left at 12:30 and I was alone here until 3:00. But I was OK with it. Like I said, my early gifts managed to bring a great deal of relief to my heart from the emotional turmoil that I had been feeling this year.
Went back to my brother's house for Christmas dinner. Since my two nieces were going to be visiting with their boyfriend's families, Chris and Beth decided to splurge on dinner this year. They made prime rib and king crab legs. It was hilarious watching mom fight with her crab legs. My nephew David managed to hold his own against them. And me - I'm not partial to having to fight with my food unless I had to hunt it down and kill it myself, but I really enjoyed the meal.
I came home around 7:00, watched the final run of A Christmas Story for this year, and then just relaxed. Eventually the kids returned. Aliesha had taken Bob over to his girlfriend's house, while she went out to visit with a few of her friends. Eventually they came home and I called it a night somewhere around 10:00. All in all a very Merry Christmas for me. And that's really saying something when you consider everything I've been going through lately.

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Quote for 12/23/06

"But supposing God became a man - suppose our human nature which can suffer and die was amalgamated with God's nature in one person - then that person could help us. He could surrender His will, and suffer and die, because He was man; and He could do it perfectly because He was God."
C.S. Lewis

And this is what Christmas is really all about, isn't it?

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Quote for 12/21/06

"Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won't make it "white"."
Bing Crosby

Now that I think about it, this goes well with my next post

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The weight of sudden loss (updated)

Christmastime is the worst possible time to lose someone, especially if it happens to be a parent. And today, one of my co-workers had to face that tragedy.
She's a Temp worker named Shieska who is a student here from Puerto Rico. She is a beautiful young lady who is going to school to become a teacher so that she can return to Puerto Rico and teach elementary students English. Such an honorable thing to do.
Today, shortly after lunch, she received a message that her mother had just passed away. And this is heartbreaking news to hear when you're already away from home, but she had just moved into her own apartment yesterday, and it is so close to Christmas.
But Christmastime should be a time of joy and generosity. And that did show up today in a very bright way.
As a temp, Shieska doesn't make very much money. She had just finished laughing with us at the lunch table about the fact that she has an empty apartment and she spent her first night in it playing games on her cell phone because she doesn't have anything but the refridgerator (which came with the apartment). So finding a way to afford airfare to Puerto Rico, at this time of year, was not something she was prepared to do.
Within the amount of time it took her to make arrangments for "bereavement leave" with the Temp agancy, a collection had been started on the production floor. It also moved into the administrative offices rather quickly as well. By the time she had gathered her things and was preparing to leave, she had a bag full of cash that many of us had pitched into to make sure that she could get home tonight. A neighbor of mine had her husband call an airline and he used a credit card to secure the tickets in advance. The neighbor just happens to be from Puerto Rico also, I'm not sure if they are related, but she was also the one who was giving Shieska rides to and from work.
She received a great many hugs before she finally got out the doors. I made sure to whisper a little prayer for her and her family as I gave her my hug. I hope that all of you will offer a little prayer for her and her family also at this time of loss.

Update:
Shieska's flight left Pgh Int'l Airport at 6:30 this morning. She has a one way ticket because she isn't sure how long it will take to get everything taken care of with her family. But she is hoping to return by the first week of January.
I was not aware of this, but Shieska has a 6 year old daughter who was being cared for by her mother. Now it seems that Shieska will be bringing her here to live with her. And this is good news.
But I also found out today that Shieska was recently hired as a full-time employee. She has a scheduled start date for some time in January. So she will be making more money very soon. And now for the really good stuff...
In light of the entire situation, and the Christmas spirit, a whole bunch of us from the production floor have decided to play Santa's Elves (kinda) for Shieska before she returns. Several people have furniture that they are going to donate to her. Others are giving her housewares and miscellaneous items that she will need. And some of us will be donating money or other goods to her. My neighbor, who I mentioned above, has a key to Shieska's apartment. We expect to get everything into her apartment before she gets back, that way she won't have to come back to an empty apartment, nor will she have to worry about buying it all by herself while trying to suport herself and her daughter.
The Christmas spirit is getting brighter everyday.

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A looooong talk with God

One of the best parts about being an Overtime glutton is the fact that I get into work when there's nobody else around. Quite often I like to use that solitude to pray and meditate on God's word as I begin my workday. And today just happened to be a good day for this.
I had slipped a CD into my player and was getting my work started when the songs that I was listening to seemed to move me into a really worshipful mood. Which is not something one would think would happen when you're listening to Kutless, but who am I to tell the Holy Spirit what music He's allowed to move through.
As you all know, I've been praying with great intensity for several particular circumstances and situations that have been weighing me down lately. Today was no different, but today was different.
As I lifted my heart in a spirit of worship, I prayed for those situations which have been so heavy on my heart. And God took special notice of me today. As I stood working and praying and expressing my worship to Him the Holy Spirit spoke to me with a powerful message. And this is what He shared with me.

"Why do you despair so? Have I ever NOT kept a promise to you? Have I ever left you to struggle alone?
You have been faithful to Me. Faithful to lift your prayers before Me, to love those whom I have sent to you on My behalf. You have been faithful to speak the words that I have given to you to speak. And I am faithful to you and My word.
Remember the words that your father always reminded you of; "...My word that goes out from My mouth will not return to Me empty." (Isaiah 55:11). I will finish the work that I have given to you to start. And I will finish the work that I have started in you. Just trust Me to do what I always do."


As if to show me that He meant business with this message, I returned home to find an e-mail from my friend - the one I kept mentioning that I helped out with his family's Christmas. He informed me that he will be starting a full-time permanent job on January 2nd, complete with benefits and a much shorter ride to and from work.
Next up was a friend whose daughter comes here to my house after school every Wednesday, Thursday, and every other Friday - because of custody arrangments from a divorce. As we talked today about how our respective Christmas' are looking I mentioned that I have a little bit of depression going on with a big helping of loneliness. To which she mentioned having a lady friend, who I already know from my church (the Home church not the Alternative Site), who is ready to start meeting new people to date. And that she has been asking about me recently. Hmmmmmm...
So this leaves only one matter that seems to be unresolved; Callie.
I don't know if God is telling me that I'm not going to be allowed to continue to be a part of her life, or if He's telling me that He's not done working on me through how I've been dealing with her.
I must admit, since I've met her, and since I've been praying for her, I have found my faith greatly strengthened by the time I have spent in prayer. I have found myself growing closer to Christ because I know that I, by myself, am insufficient to help her to come to an understanding of who God is and what He wishes to do in her life. I am also insufficient to help her overcome her situation unless she is also willing to help herself. But I am convinced that God is going to move in her life in a powerful way.
I desire greatly to see this happen. But I don't know if I will be allowed to, since she hasn't made any contact with me for a week now. I do hope that she is well. I do hope that she will be in touch with me again. It pains me to not know how she is since I've become emotionally attached to her. But I must be willing to trust God to deal with her in His own way, and in His own time, whether I'm a part of it now, or not.
Do I need to remind everyone to keep her in your prayers?

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Quote for 12/20/06

"I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."
Charles Dickens

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

God's relentless love

In spite of all of the turmoil in my life, God still takes every opportunity to show me how relentless He is in His love for me.

*Even though I've been feeling more lonely and hearbroken this Christmas season than ever before, I have had the support of friends who love me to carry me.
*Even though I'm not seeing the results of my efforts to help a troubled young lady (she's disappeared again, and it pains me to not know how she is), I know that God will honor my attempts to love her in His name.
*Even though my divorce is not moving as quickly along as I thought it was about to, it is still moving along (or so I've been told).
*Even though I have struggled with my faith recently, I have been praying more than ever.

I see the hand of a great and mighty God as He moves in my life. I will see brighter days in due time. And I will be stronger for the battles I have faced. He will not fail me. He will not leave me to fend for myself. He will bring me through my trials of fire and I will be refined once again. And I will find rest, secure in His undying and relentless love.

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Quote for 12/17/06

"The spirit of Christmas is - and hopefully always will be - about goodwill and generosity to others and peace on earth."
Nick Rahall

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

A cleansing of sorts

I probably don't have to remind everyone about the tumultuous nature of my life over the last couple of weeks. It's been a difficult time for me. And I thank all of you for the support that you've shown me. It has been deeply appreciated.
I have to admit that tonight started to look like it was going to be another long and desperate night for me. Aliesha went out to my sister-in-law's so she could get her brakes done. Bob went over to his friend, Ray's, to spend the night, and I was left here alone in my misery.
I thank you Jesus for JT.
I gave him a quick phone call and explained how much the weight of my life seemed ready to crush me tonight if I didn't get out of my house for awhile. He was sympathetic to my plight and we made plans to just get together for awhile.
We started out by just talking. I managed to get a lot of stuff off of my chest and out of my system in a few moments. There were a few tears shed on my part because, for the first time since Jo left, I really opened up about how I've been feeling so lonely, empty, almost hopeless. I got to talk to him about all of the things that have been bothering me lately. I needed that.
When I had finished we finally set to planning out our evening. And this is where things started to get even better for me.
Our first order of business was dinner. Chinese buffet. And I figure I deserved it since my last weigh-in at work told me that I'm now down to 255 (from my original 276). And that ain't bad since the only thing I've changed is that I have to stand at work all day.
When we finished eating we headed to Dormont to Z Spot so I could look into getting some "body work" done. I'm getting a brand, to start with. I've arranged to make a deposit on my next payday - so Z can make the actual brand - and then I'll schedule the appointment to have the branding done. Eventually, after the brand heals, I'm going to have a Crown of Thorns tattooed around the brand, and then 39 hash marks (lashes) inked beneath that. It should look awesome.
JT is also planning on getting more ink when we go. He's picked out the designs that he wants and got a reasonable price on the work. Then there's the possibilty of us bringing P.Dave along just for moral support. We doubt that he'll be getting any ink. But I do have a friend at work, Shaun, who expressed an interest in being witness to my branding. He also mentioned wanting to get some more ink. So he'll be along for the event, too.
I am sooooo psyched about this!
We wrapped up the evening by heading back to JT's. We were going to take a few movies up to the church and watch them on the "big screen" with the projector and audio equipment. But we ended up going upstairs to talk to Lori, JT's neighbor - and our friend from church - and managed to get caught up in some good conversation. Then, of course, we got sucked into watching the tail-end of Pirates of the Carribbean 2 while we were there, and LOTR: Return of the King afterwards.
I can't even begin to explain how much better I feel after tonight. The loneliness is much more bearable now. I have managed to put some of my turmoil into a bit better perspective. And tomorrow is looking a bit brighter for me.
I still need your prayers though. And I still need you all to keep praying for all of the circumstances which I've already mentioned (divorce, friends, Callie). But they feel like so much less of a burden tonight. And I believe it's because of your prayers that I have this relief.
Thank you.

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Doing the best I can

I haven't had nearly as much of the Christmas Spirit this year as I normally do. There've been a lot of unusual circumstances to happen upon my life this particular season. It's made it very hard for me to keep my spirits from falling altogether, let alone lift them with Holiday cheer. I'm just not myself lately. Perhaps some of you have noticed.
I will try do better now that Christmas is growing so much near. All I can do is ask that you all continue to pray for me through my divorce, and for those friends (both old and new) whom I have been trying to be a blessing to. And especially, Callie, in her situation.
Thanks

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Quote for 12/16/06

"Somehow not only for Christmas, but all the long year through, the joy that you give to others is the joy that comes back to you. And the more you spend in blessing the poor and lonely and sad, the more of your heart's possessing returns to make you glad."
John Greenleaf Whittier

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Sometimes, you just know...

I don't know if all parents get it, or if it's a trait that is developed over time as a parent, or even if only some parents get it. But I have this knack for hearing a certain tone in my kids voices when they want to tell me something that I might not want to hear.
Last night Aliesha came home and she called out to me, "Dad! Dad!"
I immediately recognized the tone in her voice as being the tone that is usually vocalized as "Daddy!". Which is the universal code for "I'm in some kinda trouble and you're gonna be mad!"
So I replied "Yes, what it is it?"
Aliesha: "Dad! Promise you won't yell at me, but you're gonna be mad."
M+:"Why? What's going on?" (I'm thinking, wrecked the car - is everyone OK?)
Aliesha: "Dad, just promise you aren't gonna yell at me."
M+:"I'm not gonna yell, I promise."
Aliesha: turning around so her back was facing me "I got a tattoo!"
M+:"OK."
Aliesha:"You're not mad?"
M+:"No. I know you wanted one. You're 18 now, I can't stop you. Very nice."

A very simple cross outline within a cross outline. She was going to have her name tattooed inside the cross, but it just doesn't work out since none of her letters match from first and last name. Oh, well.
Pics may be forthcoming...

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Miracles happen everyday!

God has answered my prayers once again!
Callie has found her way back to me, and I feel that my redemption is nearly complete. I say that because I know that there was a promise that I made to her that I couldn't keep, I had no way of being there to help her when she needed me. Perhaps this time we can rectify that matter.
I thank you all from the very depths of my soul for your faithfulness to pray for a stranger. I thank you all for your faithfulness to me as a friend. And I thank my God and Father, my Holy Creator, and His Holy Spirit for guiding the hearts and hands of all involved to bring me this blessing.
You may all stop reading now, the rest of this post is personal. Between Callie and I.
But I know you probably won't...

Callie,
I am so sorry that my relationship with you lead to this. I am so sorry that I could not keep my promise to help and protect you if you needed it, and you clearly did. But I am thankful to God that He didn't take you. That would've broken my heart even worse.
It is not your fault. You did nothing to deserve to be beaten up. No man should ever raise a hand to a woman. And I know that it is not my fault either, but I had no idea that your idea of a love/hate relationship meant that you were being abused. I would've exercised better judgement, used more discretion. I would've never encouraged you to stay with David. He doesn't deserve you! And You sure as Hell deserve better than that sorry excuse for what calls itself a man!
You can forgive David. As a Christian I should encourage that. But don't stay with him. You need to get out of that relationship right away, before the next time he raises a hand to you.
I realize that you probably think that you can't possibly get out of the relationship. I realize that you probably think that you've been with him so long that you can't be without him. But you can, and for your own safety and sanity you must. Let me help you, if I ever could, please let me help you now!
IM me (achenaar on yahoo), call me from a payphone, collect! if necessary, I'm home from 3:30 pm - 4:00 am almost everyday. I will answer. You've risked this much to let me know that you're out there still. Risk a little more to let me help you. I believe that's what God has brought me into your life to do. I don't want to let you down this time. I can't. It would be unbearable pain, now that I know your entire situation. It would be unforgivable for me not to try.
I'll be waiting...

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I still believe in miracles

Today is the 4th anniversary of the fire.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Redemption?

As much as I am still in some amount of anguish over the situation I discussed in my last post (Please, Pray! still), I found some relief for my soul tonight by being a part of the youth group at church.
JT and I did a little Q&A for the teens. It was a great thing to be able to share some of our knowledge with them. It's exceptionally satisfying to know that they have such a thirst for knowledge and a hunger for things spiritual. But even more than that was a young lady named Sam, who came for her first time tonight and had a few questions about God's love.
In a sense, she reminded me of another young lady, Callie (the young lady who I left nameless in my previous post), that had similar questions. It was an honor for me to have a chance to share my thoughts with this young lady, just as it was for me with the other. And I couldn't help feel as if God had provided me with some of the redemption that I've been seeking.
I am still asking everyone to continue to pray for Callie (now that you all know her name). And I still hope that she will find her way back to me, so that I can finish the work that I believe God placed me in her life to do. I just can't seem to give up on her.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Please, Pray!

There is a young lady, somewhere in Pittsburgh, who is in desperate need of Divine Intervention. She and I have been exchanging e-mails with each other for the last two weeks or so. I have been trying to be a positive influence, and a decent male role-model in her life, to the point where she even made a comment here at one of my posts that I was her personal Jesus. She believed me to be a man of character, virtue and honor.
The other night she severed all ties with me because, if I'm judging her comment to one of my previous posts correctly, her boyfriend beat her up for our correspondence.

I have done her a great injustice. I meant only to befriend, inspire and encourage her, to show her what real love looks like. I recoginzed a need in her life, from some of her own posts (before she deleted her blog, and any trace of her internet existence) for such encouragement. And this is where my efforts have lead.
I am heartbroken for her, more than ever before, because I feel responsible, in part, for what has happened. I do realize that she always has the choice to leave an abusive relationship, but I doubt she knows how. And, of course, the boyfriend has a terrible hand in this which needs to be stayed by a Greater Hand. But if I hadn't been so eager to offer her the words of kindness and encouragement, this would never had happened.

Some Jesus I've turned out to be...

I seek redemption! God, please, give me another chance!
I have been crying out to God all weekend long for her, for myself, for her boyfriend. I've had everyone at my church lift us all up before God's throne, in prayer. I am grief-stricken for the part I played in this horrible event. I wish that I could do something to redeem myself. I wish that I could do something to right this wrong which I feel has been laid at my feet. But I have no way of finding her or helping her. I wish that I could tell her I'm sorry. I wish she would take the chance to reach out to me again so I could help her in a way that would really impact her for the better.
Pray that she returns at least one more time to see this. Pray that I have my chance at redemption. My heart is so heavy with this burden. Pray that God would do something on her behalf. Pray that if I am given the chance to help, I'll do a better job of it this time.
In Jesus' name.

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Quote for 12/11/06

"Accept that all of us can be hurt, that all of us can and surely will at times fail. Other vulnerabilities, like being embarrassed or risking love, can be terrifying, too. I think we should follow a simple rule: if we can take the worst, take the risk."
Joyce Brothers

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Quotes from 11/2006

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A brighter outlook

Well, that didn't take too long.
In my last post I shared a little bit of my anguish from some of the situations that are making my life so messy. But I've been able to talk to a few friends since then, and I have to say, it's made a world of diference in me.
The most important thing for me to remember is that it's all only temporary. I've been told, that at this point, I can only leave all of my matters in God's hands and I can trust Him to do what needs to be done.
So I guess that's what I'm going to do. Well, that, and I'm going to go hang out with JT for a little while tonight. Do something to get my mind off of everything else.
Church tomorrow might help out, too.

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Restless and weary

There is so much turmoil in my life right now that I'm finding it hard to concentrate on much of anything that I ought to. I can't sleep. I feel restless and worn out. And I can't focus my thoughts on any one thing because there is just so much happening.
Between everything that is going on with my divorce now, the fact that it is finally moving forward for real, and so many things that are going on in the other areas of my life, I feel like I'm falling apart.
I am concerned for several friends who are going through rough times and difficult situations. I have acquaintances whom I've been reaching out to help in some of their own private matters who are also in turmoil. I am worried about my kids because they now have to face the stark reality of my divorce, just as much as I do. And I'm barely in any condition to help them out when I'm feeling as messed up as I am right now.
I hurt. I ache. I could really use a hug right now. I could really stand to not be alone, and yet I don't want anyone to see me this way. I wish I could make the world go away for just a few moments, but I fear my solitude.
God, please, help me. I need You now like never before...

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Chances

Sometimes we take risks in life, and we take chances without knowing what the outcome will be. Sometimes they work out for the best, other times, not. One never knows for sure what will become of the things we risk, but the risk is what makes life worth living. Without those chances we might never know some of the best aspects of our lives. We will certainly face disappointments, as we take our chances in life, but we will also see great joy at times.
Take your chances and see what happens.

I can't explain this post right now, maybe some other time, or maybe never, but I needed to get this out there.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Killing myself with my own virtue

As you all know, I have tried to do the honorable thing all through my divorce...
So I get a phone call from Jo. Aside from the pleasantries and our discussion of Bob spending the weekend with her she needs to talk to me about our divorce.
The last time we talked she informed me that because of her "low income" status (no job) the hospital where she's been having her doctors appointments has refered her to Public Assistance to help cover the medical costs not covered by my insurance. The office of Public Assistance informed her that since she is still married to me her evaluations are being based upon my assets. While they went ahead and helped her out, they told her that for her next appointment she will need to either bring in a copy of our filed divorce papers, or all of my asset informaton. Since she can't afford to pay to file (no job), she asked me if I could do anything to help since she doesn't want to drag me into the whole situation. Especially since Public Assistance will try to make me pay for the doctors visits and probably even try to make me pay her some kind of support - since she has no job.
I told her that I had 20 shares of stock that also have her name on them and that I would try to sell them and give her half of the money so she could pay for the filing fees. It's only fair. It's the right thing to do from my perspective since her name is on the certificate.
The investment firm, however, has been rather slow with getting the necessary paperwork to me. So, I haven't been able to get all of this straightened out. She needs the money to file, and I don't have it. Without the papers I could get stuck paying for her pregancy to "Cowboy". Tell me that doesn't suck!
So I call my mom. Once before she mentioned the possibility of paying for my divorce just so I could get it over with, so I decided to see if the offer still stands.
It does, of course, but it comes with a price. It isn't enough that I have to swallow my pride to ask her if she'll help me out, I also have to listen to her bitch about how I live my life. And the thing is, it's only her perception of how I live my life. She immediately begins to accuse me of not managing my money well, and acts as if I spend every extra penny I earn on frivolities. And when I tried to point out to her that I don't live my life that way, she just kept insisting that "Oh, yes, you do!"
Nevermind, mom!
I hate women right now!
Some of you might be looking at my situation and saying "Why didn't you just pay for it yourself?", or "How can you blame Jo for what Welfare is going to do?"
As I said at the beginning, I have tried to do the honorable thing through my entire divorce. And that means I have attempted to remain true to my wedding vows the entire time, because it was a vow that I made to not just Jo, but to God also. So, when I did attempt to date for awhile, God was quick to remind me that I had made that vow to Him also, and I stopped dating so as to restore my honor. Nevermind that Jo wasn't paying any attention to her vows, I should do the right thing. And I did. And a part of that was my decision, early on, to not pay for this divorce since I wasn't the one who wanted it. And I still insist that it would be wrong for me to pay for this.
As for the welfare thing. Jo had plenty of opportunity to file for the divorce when she made the decision to leave me. In fact, for two mmonths before she finally bailed out, she spent all of our bill money on God, and her, only know what. She ruined my credit, almost. And nearly forced the house into foreclosure. You would think that if she was intent on leaving me she would've taken a few dollars and filed the papers as well. But, instead, she moved out and let everything go and left it all up to me to get everything caught up. From that moment on her life has been a series of one wrong choice after the other. Haven't I paid enough?
So this is what it means to do the right thing. This is the price I will pay for standing on my principles, to either come up with the money to pay for the filing or else pay for someone elses baby.
This is integrity. Doing the right thing even when it costs you dearly.
All of a sudden I don't feel much like being a man of character, morals, or virtue. Right now I wish I could forget all about my honor, my integrity. Good guys finish last and I'm at the tail end of the pack.
Maybe it's time I rethink how I live my life.
But I cannot deny myself. I have been a Christian for too long. It is a part of me. I do not simply possess character, morals, virtue, honor, integrity. I am these things. I have become these things. They are as inseperable from my personality, from me, as my name. I cannot find it within me to not do what I know is right.
So I'll scrape up the money on my next paycheck. What's the point of working 30 hours of OT if I'm not gonna put the money to good use. I'll get it back when I do finally sell the stocks, but I hate that I have to do it this way. I hate that I have to do this at all.
Bitch!

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I need to get this fixed

My internal clock is really screwed up now. This OT thing at work is finally starting to get to me. Just look at the time on this post! I still have an hour and a half to sleep, but I can't.
Sleeping pills and alcohol are starting to sound very attractive all of a sudden...

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Being Jesus

I've been thinking a lot about this Holiday season, and what it all means. It's obvious to those of us who believe that Jesus came here for a distinct purpose. Not merely to give us a holiday but to give us a new spirit. To change us. After all, "Christian" does mean "little Christ".
So were meant to be Jesus. To whom? To everyone, or just certain people? I think we all know the answer to that. But what does it mean to be Jesus to someone? This is what I've been meditating on today. Not because I don't already know, but because I want to understand it with a greater depth of my convictions. And this is what I've come up with.
I don't need to rehash the story about helping a friend, but I know that by doing so I was being Jesus to my friend. Because we all know that if we ask ourselves WWJD, we know that He would be willing to help. And we know this for a lot of reasons. Most often because we know enough about His teachings to say with some accuracy that Jesus would help people. That was a part of His ministry here on earth, we expect that He would want us to continue to carry it on in His absence.
And one of the parables that tells us what we ought to be doing is the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. We see in this parable that Jesus distinguishes between believers and unbelievers by their actions. He tells us that we are to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick and visit those who are in prison. So by doing these things we are being Jesus. But there's something else that occurred to me about this parable.
Jesus never feeds anyone, or clothes them, or cares for them, or visits them in their prison. Jesus is the one being fed and clothed and cared for and visited. Jesus is the one with the need.
This is amazing to think about. Both apsects of our charity are being Jesus to one another. It creates a cycle. And I can show you how I know this to be true.
OK, once again - last time, I promise - I have a friend who needed some help with Christmas this year. I helped and things are well for him. But I posted my plan here at my blog and someone else, Missunderstood, read it and found it to be inspiring. She, in turn, decided to do something to help someone out this Christmas. Then she decided to come back and tell me how I inspired her to do it. And all the while she had been reading my blog quietly, never making herself known until that moment. And I have no idea how she even found my blog.
After she made herself known to me, I began to visit her blog, where she has recently laid out plains for more things that she will be doing this Christmas. And it was humbling to me that she had such plans. I felt as if my single act was insignificant compared to what she was doing. After all, I was only helping a friend, she was helping strangers, and more than one of them. And when I mentioned that I wished I had thought of those things she kindly e-mailed me to remind me that I did, in a way, because I was the one who inspired her in the first place. And I was truly blessed to know that.
So I began to look at things in a different light. I wasn't just helping my friend, I was helping his entire family. By inspiring Missunderstood to act, I was also helping out the people that she would be helping. People who might not have been helped at all if she hadn't acted, if she hadn't stumbled upon my blog one day. And through some additional personal correspondence we both have managed to be Jesus to each other, off-n-on, for a little while now. Once started, the cycle of blessings, just kept going. And there's no telling how far it will go.
I know that there are others who've read Missunderstood's posts and think that what she's doing is a great thing. I hope that they too will be inspired to act, the way that she was.
Can you imagine the good that could be done this Christmas by the compounded acts of just two people?
Oh, and one last thing, Missunderstood...
Girl, you rock!

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I like it

In my last post I included a shot of the feather that my friend gave me as a token of his esteem and appreciation.

It holds great value for me, and I've been contemplating what I should do with it as a matter of keeping it somewhere that I will be able to see it often, as a rememberance of just how valuable our friendship is to me. At first I thought about hanging it from the headboard of my bed. But I've come up with an even better idea.
I'm including it with the centerpiece that I had originally moved out of the way so I could take the picture of the feather.

I really like the way it looks with the centerpiece. I like the contrast that the softness of the feather makes with the cold metal of the roses, and the barbed-wire Crown of Thorns that I made for our Stations of the Cross service. I think this is a great use for my gift. I will get to see it every day and it will be a part of something that both myself and my friend contributed to the centerpiece.
I'd say that's a wise use for it.

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Friday, December 01, 2006

An act of True Worship

I went to Vincents Pizza tonight to meet a friend. He's the one I posted about helping out with Christmas this year.
It was great to see him again after several months. And he was pretty glad that he could get out and hang with me for the first time in a long time. I have to say that I was a bit disappointed that our other friend didn't make it. I was so hoping that together the two of us could've made a really big impact on our friend's Christmas. Oh, well, at least I did my best.
Thinking about this fact, I really feel as if this truly was a moment that represents an act of True Worship. It's at times like these, when we are helping others, that we are really showing our faith. It's times like these, that we are offering to God our truest worship. Because at times like these, we are serving Him in the simplest, yet most profound ways.
After our wonderfully delicious, questionably nutritious, heart-attack-by-the-slice pizza, my friend decided to give me a gift as both a thank you and just because he wanted to give me a gift.

You see, my friend is an Eagle Scout, and he's been active with the Boy Scouts all of his life - and still is. My friend is also an outdoorsman, a hunter and an avid student of Native American traditions. One tradition that he opted to share with me is the gifting of feathers to people who are held in high regard by the giver. This one is from his Dance Bonnet, a part of the garments that he wears at certain Scouting events.
He explained to me that he wanted to give me something that he knew I could appreciate, even though it wasn't much. And I fully appreciate his gesture. But he went on to tell me that one of the reasons why he holds me in such high regard is because I've always been something of a spiritual mentor to him. He's always been able to get good answers to his questions from me. And that my wisdom and faith have helped him through many difficult times, this Christmas being one of them.
I accepted his gift with tears in my eyes. It touched me deeply to know that as a friend, I have had such a positive impact on his life.
I am honored to be gifted with such a treasure from a friend.

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