Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

If I Ruled the World!

Posted: July 6, 2011 in Life
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Have you ever sat and daydreamed about what you would do, if you ruled the world. I mean… really ruled the world. Ultimate power, anything you wanted. Whatever you said would be done. I have thought about this and here are a few things I would change:

 First off, broccoli would taste like chocolate. In addition, so would every other vegetable that is supposed to be good for you but is the table nemesis of millions of kids at dinnertime. “Eat your broccoli… it’s good for you!” Well, if it’s so good for me then it should taste good… like chocolate! There is no way that something that tastes that putrid can be good for anything! Just saying! All of you broccoli fans just keep eating away… I’m holding out for the chocolate version… and it’s coming, because I’m going to rule the world!

Second, and I hope I don’t offend anyone with this, just being honest. I would make all “passing of gas” smell like flowers. Wouldn’t that be great?! I mean, no more blaming it on the dog, or on a child or relative. No more nervous stares in the middle of crowded elevators when the smell is passing by. Instead, people would turn to you and say, “Thank you!, I love the smell of roses!”

Next, everyone would be nice. There would be no mean people! Traffic jams would occur only because everyone was preferring each other, not because of road rage. Moreover, the court systems would go extinct because no one would be prosecuted and no one would sue anyone and everyone would just be nice!

Lastly, everyone would be a millionaire. There would be no poverty or lack of food for anyone. There would be no homeless people. There would be no sickness or need for doctors. All disease would be banished.

If I ruled the world, everything would taste good, nothing would smell bad, everyone would be nice, and no one would have a need.

Sounds like heaven doesn’t it? But… I don’t rule the world, and neither do you. But, God does and He has created a real heaven. Heaven…that place sounds real good. No wars, no disease, no evil, no sorrow.

The hard part to understand is, if heaven is so great, then why didn’t God just put us there to begin with? Because this place called earth is no heaven! There is death and disease and mean people and really bad days. So what’s the deal?

Think about this… if I never saw darkness, I would never appreciate light. If someone wasn’t mean to me, then I would never know when someone was being nice. If I had not experienced pain, I would not truly appreciate comfort.

The reality is if I ruled the world I would create a world without consequences and people would basically be robots who just did what I said, because that is the only way I could make everyone be nice and not let there be any pain! God wants a relationship with us… His creation. And He wants us to choose a relationship with Him. But if He makes us choose Him, then we do not have a genuine relationship. So, He gave us all a free will. And in our freedom to choose, we as people sure do bring a lot of pain, and heartache to one another, don’t we? But, we can also choose to follow God. We can choose to receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We can choose to repent, say we are sorry for all of the bad choices we have made with our freedom and we can receive God’s forgiveness. And we can spend eternity in Heaven with Him. Heaven will be full of people who chose God. Who received His gift of forgiveness of sins through His son Jesus Christ. And it will be full of people who can appreciate His love, peace, kindness and forgiveness because they have experienced the pains of life.

The bible says in James 4:14-15, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

Our lives on earth are a brief moment in the light of all eternity. And I think we would all love to rule the world and have things our way. But, if we had everything our way, would we really appreciate what we have? Would we truly understand what a gift life is? And would we appreciate God – the true ruler of the world, who in His infinite wisdom does not give us everything we want, but does supply all that we need for now, and is preparing a place for us in Heaven.

5 Days in Joplin

Posted: June 11, 2011 in Life
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On Sunday May 22, 2011, @ 5:41 pm, one of the largest, most devastating  EF-5 tornados on record landed in Joplin MO.  

The almost one-mile-wide tornado touched down for an estimated six ½ minutes and when it was done, around 8000 homes and buildings were destroyed, hundreds were injured and the death toll was climbing. To date, the death toll has reached around 150.

My son Bryce and I just returned from a week of volunteering with the relief effort.  We joined a team from Buffalo and went to work with Franklin Graham’s Disaster Relief Ministry “Samaritan’s Purse”. We spent a week working with hundreds of others from across the nation assisting homeowner’s in the beginning of debris removal and rebuilding. Primarily, we were helping to clean up the mess.  Rebuilding cannot truly start, until the removal of rubble is complete.

Many people have asked me questions about our experiences.  However, one question has prompted me to write down some thoughts about the week I spent in Joplin. The question is simple:

 “Did you feel like you made a difference?”

Good question. Maybe a great question. Perhaps even “THE” question.

As I thought about that question in the light of the week I had just experienced, I could not help but ponder something.  Is that not the question that secretly twists and turns in stealth like fashion through the hearts and minds of every human on the planet. Not just when doing disaster relief work, or being on a missions trip, or working on some type of outreach to our communities. But every day.  Living normal life.  Just getting up and doing what we do, then laying our heads on our pillows at night.

Don’t these questions continue to churn through our being: Am I making a difference?  Does my life count? Did today even matter?

Just a thought.  One I will continue to ponder. But for now, let me attempt to answer the question of questions through the prism of my personal experiences and observances of others that I experienced while in Joplin, MO.

Day 1 in Joplin began with our first drive into the epicenter of the destruction.  We were staying in a church that was one mile away.  In the church and surrounding area the only sign that a tornado had occurred was the presence of relief volunteers, organizations and relief provision.  There was an abundance of food, water, portable showers, clothing and other household items available for whoever had a need. However, the buildings, streets, stores, homes, churches in this area looked as normal as before the tornado had come. I did not see the visible sign that anything had occurred. Until…  we drove one mile over. 

That’s all.  One mile.  Because one mile over was the beginning of what I was not prepared to see.

As we drove into the destruction zone, silence invaded our van.  Eyes were taking in what we had only seen on TV or the internet.  It always seems so far away on television. Almost unreal.  But here it was.

We stopped.  We had a job today.  A homeowner without a home had requested our assistance in beginning to clean up the mess.  I stepped out and tried to hide behind my big dark sunglasses. This worked for only a moment, for the tears insisted on making their appearance. The only physical response that matched the heartbreak inside.

And we began… cleaning up.  Digging through what was once a home.  Dividing the debris for removal.  Wood in one pile.  Metal in another.  Appliances, if there, in their own section.  Any personal items thought to be of value or of a sentimental nature were put aside for the owners.  So began a week of digging through the rubble of people I did not know, in an attempt to assist in helping them begin the process of rebuilding their lives.

Here are some highlights and random thoughts:

After we cleared a property for one homeowner, our team of fifty volunteers that day gathered around to pray for him and his wife.  In addition, Samaritan’s purse provides an incredible Billy Graham Study Bible that we all signed.  We prayed and presented the Bible.  The man began to weep as he thanked us for our help.

This man had about a 5 acre piece of property.  On the back of the property, there were three trailer houses that he rented out.  During the  tornado, one trailer was picked up in the air, spun around three times and landed upside down. The tenants were in the trailer when this happened and none of them were hurt.  Miraculous!

Also, the home owner had a friend that came out and worked with us in helping to clear the property.  When we all gathered together, the friend shared how his own house had burned down over two years prior.  He told us that the man we all helped had spent almost every weekend for the last two years helping him rebuild after the fire.  He said now God was paying him back by sending all of us to help. 

We saw homes where nothing was left but a stairwell, and that was where the family gathered and they all lived. 

We cleared one house that had a storm shelter in the front porch.  The family had never used the shelter in ten years. But the dad felt like they were supposed to this time.  Because of this, the family lived.  The front of the house totally collapsed on top of the shelter when the tornado came through and the family, though safe, were trapped after the tornado was over.  Their neighbor came by and dug them out.  The entire family was saved. 

Another homeowner we helped shared how her husband had been the only one home.  A wall collapsed over him, but instead of killing him, it was what held him down and kept him safe.  Again, miraculous.

Besides the question of, “Did we make a difference?”, the other question I have heard is “Where was God in all of this?” 

Well, I don’t claim to have all of the answers, but all I can share is what I saw, and the stories we were told.

We heard one story of a lady who had been estranged from her adult children.  During and right after the tornado, her children attempted to contact her.  They had not talked in years.  They were unable to reach her and feared the worst.  Unbeknownst to them, their mother had been out of town.  When she came back home, a few days after the tornado, she went to see how bad her home was.  It was demolished.  However, when she arrived, she found her adult children in her front yard, cleaning up the debris.  They ran to each other, hugged and cried.  Just thankful everyone was alive and well; their relationship was instantly healed and restored.  The lady called the Pastor of the church we stayed at to share her story.

This was the amazing thing I witnessed; in the midst of tragedy and devastation, we saw and heard so many miraculous stories.  People who were supposed to be home but were delayed, and because of the inconvenience, were now alive. 

I can remember arriving at one property to begin cleaning up. A volunteer looked at the mass accumulation of trees and debris and exclaimed, ” Where do we start?” Almost as soon as she asked, another volunteer member went and picked up a piece of wood and began walking it to the curb. That simple act said it all. Our team of volunteers cleared that property that day. But it started by picking up the first piece.

Meeting many of the home owners and hearing their stories was amazing.  I could go on and on for paragraphs at a time. I saw God working through volunteers from all over the country.  I saw God in the eyes of people who lived through the tornado and were so thankful to be alive.  I saw God in the cooperation of strangers, neighbors, families and acuaintences unified by the hope of rebuilding after the storm.

So did we make a difference? … absolutely, but it was because we were  a part of a mass army of volunteers who were pouring out their lives, time, energy, finances and love.  And, strangely, in the midst of tragedy, I saw, sensed, felt, and observed God at work.  Out of the ashes, beauty is rising.  Out of tragedy, compassion is flowing.  Out of heartache love is being reborn. 

The lives of my son Bryce and I were changed forever.  We were deeply moved by the people of Joplin, by the outpouring of love and by the Grace of God that was undeniable.

My heart and prayers will continue to be with the people of Joplin, and I look forward to going back and seeing the miracle of a town rebuilt.  Please continue to pray for Joplin, donate money to relief organizations such as Samaritan’s Purse, and consider going to volunteer.  God Bless Joplin.

R U Ready to Run

Posted: May 26, 2011 in Life
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Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 1 Cor 9:24

So…who out there wants to win?  Doesn’t winning sound better than losing.  We generally think that in any race, if we are the winner, then someone else is the loser.  But here’s the great part: God gives each and every one of us a race to run.  He gives us a path to follow.  A dream to pursue. A goal to accomplish.  Our individual journeys, our race, on the way to the finish line looks different for each and every one of us.

We all have different families, different upbringings, different education, different interests, different styles, different tastes, and different ways of doing things.

Nevertheless, God says run in such a way to win your race.  Your race, your journey is going to look different from mine, and yet God wants us both to win.  So, in reality, we each have our own race in which we can win or lose and we can win without making anyone else a loser.  In fact, the way God does things, if we run our race well, if we run to win, then we put ourselves in a position to encourage others.

The best thing we can do in life is to run well, run far, run to win. 

In the end we can say as the Apostle Paul said,  in 2 Timothy 4:7, “ I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

God gives us grace to run, grace to continue, grace to win. 

He gives us a way to win, through His Son, Jesus Christ.  What a gift, huh?!  Jesus takes our sin, our failures, our shortcomings.  And in return, we receive forgiveness, life and grace to run our race.

Most importantly, through Jesus Christ, we are given the ultimate finish line: eternity with God, the creator of all things.

How sweet it will be to hear the voice of God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.”

Oh how those words encourage me as I run.

The Open Curtain

Posted: April 5, 2011 in Life
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The light shone through the crack in the curtains. Pulled together, but never quite shut. The man sat in the darkness with his hand positioned a few inches in front of his eyes. A halfhearted attempt to keep the sunshine from stealing away the preferred absence of light.

Darkness matched his mood. The black of night hid his heart. Light betrayed his pursuit of lonely isolation. Depression was his only friend. His companion that never left. All others were agents of betrayal, filled with smooth talking promises, which never came to pass.

 Life was existence, nothing more. Everything else was a fraud. A ruse of meaningless attempts to justify something more than just being. Because being is all there is; there is nothing else.

So, let the darkness come in. Keep the light at bay. Cold is my heart and comfortable I am with the emptiness it holds. For I am the man, and depression is my friend. Please don’t pull back the curtain. Don’t let the light in. Don’t tell me there is purpose or something more. For I welcome the darkness of night but reject the cruel temptress of false hope. I have danced with her before, and she broke my heart. Never again.

Let the darkness prevail, keep the curtains closed and let depression take his place at my side, in my heart in my mind. For I will embrace my companion, dark as he is, for he is loyal and will never leave me.

Ok… !!!!

That was dark and depressing, and very real. It is a realistic glimpse of the prison of depression I once lived in. Darkness of the soul that is so overwhelming, I became friends with it. I gave myself over to the sense of hopelessness that strangely became the one and only thing that gave me comfort. Hope, love, peace and purpose seemed to be transient drifters in my life that wanted to steal away the comfort of despair, which had taken up residence in the depths of my being. Sounds crazy!

I now speak openly of this brutal, deceptive darkness. Why? Because I have met so many others who are entrenched in the battle with the enemy that wants to be their only companion…depression.

 I am no longer in a relationship with this Dark Prince! I found hope! I found purpose! I found freedom!

Depression, for some… is a disease. A chemical imbalance that can be treated with medication.

Me, I found my way out through realizing that there was light attempting to shine through. I found my way out through realizing who I was in the eyes of God. I found my way out by reading the stories about Jesus, and what He did for me, and how much He loves me.

He and I became friends, and… depression had to go! He was no longer welcome. I began to find that the more I focused on God and His love and forgiveness and grace, the less depression wanted to hang around. My focus became less about me and more about Jesus. Then, I began to see others as He did. Light was breaking through! God helped me, not only open the curtains, but rip them down! Let the light of Jesus Christ shine in! Let the light of His Word dispel the darkness.

If you struggle with the darkness of depression, I want to say… Don’t give up! Get Help! There is hope! There is freedom! There is light, not just at the end of the tunnel, but in the tunnel!

And, you are not alone! Many people fight the private battle of depression. Don’t fight it by yourself! Find someone to fight with you! And look to the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ! He is the light in the darkness.

It has been a few years since I ended my friendship with depression. Sometimes he still comes around. He knocks on the door. He even breaks in occasionally. The problem is… all the curtains are open now and he has nowhere to sit, nowhere to hide. The darkness is no longer welcome, because the Light has come.

Psalm 43:3

 O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me;

Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your dwelling places.

Snow Well!

Posted: March 2, 2011 in Leadership, Life
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Living in western NY, I have grown accustomed to snow. It snows here, and then… it snows some more. After that, when spring has come and the season of snow has ended, it snows again!

We have reached that point of the season where, honestly… I am done with snow and ready for spring. So, last week I looked out the window and could not believe what I was seeing. More snow. As I began to complain, my six-year-old son interrupted me in mid-complaint. Right when I was voicing my snow grievance, he says with childlike exuberance, “Dad! Snow is like a dream come true! It makes everything white and pure!”

Wow

I was speechless.

The perspective through the eyes of my six-year-old, presented me with an alternate point of view. With one brief childlike expression of honesty, I was challenged, corrected and received an attitude adjustment. Thank you Josiah! This momentary encounter got me thinking. There are many areas in life where it seems like “seasons of snow” just will not end. As humans, we do not like hardships, or trials or testings of any kind. I know I don’t! I like sunny days without rain. I like days where everything goes well. Days where I get my way, where I am right, where I get to do what I want to do and nothing gets in my way. I like days where every traffic light is green, and I get a raise and a bonus just for showing up.

Ok, let’s be REALLY honest!

In my humanness, I want money without work. I want to be paid to sleep in. I want to do what I want, when I want without anyone telling me what to do, how to do it, and why. I want to be in control! I want, I want, I want…. And I want it all without any cost! That’s me… just being human. But, when I look at things through the eyes of my six-year-old, I realize something. Snow ain’t all that bad! There are many seasons in my life I would like to forget or erase or get a “do over”. However, those seasons have led me to where I am. They have assisted in making me the person I am.

We read in James 1:2-4

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Another version reads like this: James 1:2-4

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

Remember, after the snow, comes the spring. After spring, comes the summer, where – even here in Western New York State – it gets hot. Then, comes the temptation to complain about the squelching heat! Every season in life has it’s challenges. I just need to remember the lesson learned from my little son Josiah. Perspective is everything!

The outcomes of life seasons are primarily determined by the attitude of the person living them.

Well, I think it’s snowing again, so excuse me while I go enjoy the end of a season.

Launching Forward In Life

Posted: January 26, 2011 in Life
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From the beginning of childhood, most everyone begins to dream of what they want to be. We all develop hopes of doing something great. Baseball player, fireman, tv star, singer. Some even dream of being moms and dads. Little girls dream of being a beautiful bride, they fantasize of meeting their prince charming and being swept off their feet. In addition, little boys start off dreaming of being a cowboy, a sports star, or an army man and end up dreaming of mortgages, bills, life insurance, and college tuition for their children!

We all have dreams, but as life goes on, we learn that we will never go forward, unless we start right where we are. Going forward is all about taking the right steps. Where you start from is not near as important as where you are going. You just need to make sure you have the right destination. Too many people let their starting point hinder their ability to going forward. Just remember, your starting point does not have to be your ending point.

 One of the greatest inventions of modern times is the GPS. Being able to type in a destination and have your GPS guide you there is an incredible convenience. However, 20 people can all start from different places but end up at the same destination if they have the right directions. Some will take longer to get there, but they will get there if they will stay on track. Nevertheless, there is a problem with GPS units, they are not perfect. And they do get people lost sometimes. And they don’t always account for weather, storms, traffic, accidents, detours and construction. Life can be that way. Sometimes, even when we think we are headed in the right direction, the storms of life can take us off course.

I have found that the greatest way to launch forward and stay on course is to listen to the One who made us and gave us life. Check out this scripture found in God’s Word.

Ephesians 5:15-17-Therefore be careful how you live, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

God gives us three keys in launching forward in this scripture:

 • Be Careful how you live

• Make the most of your time

• Understand God’s Will

When we are pondering our future, our destiny, our purpose in life, we will take steps in the right direction by heeding these three simple keys. When we are careful how we live, we won’t create obstacles by bad decisions. When we use our time wisely, we will do the things that will take us towards our destiny. And, when we seek to understand God’s will, we can live our lives doing what we were created to do.

 So…go ahead. Launch forward! Nobody’s stopping you!

 

I believe most people desire to live full, meaningful lives. However, life often seems to turn into a treadmill of performance, where we do the same things over and over each day, turning even good actions into monotonous acts of repetition. If you ever feel like life is just not what it should be, here are a few tips to living life to the fullest.

 • Be thankful.

Nothing changes our outlook on life like, “counting our blessings”. Be thankful for what you do have. Be thankful for your family, your spouse, your kids, your friends, your neighbors. Be thankful for the gift of life itself. Be thankful for a place to live, for food to eat, for transportation. Do not waste time thinking about what you don’t have; be grateful for what you do have.

 • Be courageous.

Do not live your life in fear. If you have a dream, go for it. Do not allow fear of failure to stop you from trying. Do not allow people to tell you why you cannot fulfill your dream. Be courageous and live life to the fullest in spite of fear and in spite of other’s opinions.

• Be compassionate.

Kindness and love open up the hearts of those around you. If you want your life to be full of compassion, kindness and love then sow it in the life of everyone you can. As the old saying goes, “You reap what you sow”. It is easy to sow cynicism, anger, selfishness, and the like. However, life is difficult to live to the fullest, if that is what you are reaping. Live a life of sowing compassion, and then as you grow older your life will stay full, because you will be reaping the goodness of others, until your days come to an end.

• Be encouraging.

The world we live in is full of negativity and criticism. It is easy to put people down and let them know everything they are doing wrong. Don’t do it! Instead, be encouraging. Encourage everyone you meet. Support people in their life dreams. Tell people what you like about them. Let people know they are important and that they matter, their lives have meaning, and they have a purpose. Encourage, encourage, encourage! The world is full of discouragement, but those who truly live, have learned to be encouragers.

• Live for what matters.

Invest your time and energy in what is eternal. Devote yourself to building relationships. Devote yourself to faith in God.  Devote yourself to love, kindness, mercy, grace, and generosity. Possessions will pass away, but our faith in God and our investment in others can last forever.

Live for what matters!

Vive Fidons

Posted: November 17, 2010 in Life
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Vive Fidons

Powerful words. Two words that can be looked at as a command, a mission or a lifelong vision statement.

Vive Fidons

Words that can haunt or inspire when faced with impossible challenges or mundane daily living. Words that can cause you to live to the fullest: or at least make the attempt.

Vive Fidons are the words tattooed on the arm of one of the Arnold brothers – it means “Live Courageously”. These tatooed words are the reason I am writing these thoughts today.

In everyday life, what does it mean to live courageously? As a parent, a husband, a wife, an employee, a student, a teacher, a priest, a soldier, a citizen…How do we live a courageous life? I have my own ideas and concepts of what it means to live courageously. But my own ideas seem insignificant when I witness someone wrestling with life in a way I can’t comprehend or I see someone who gave their life away…courageously.

The story of Chad and Ryan Arnold continues to haunt me, challenge me, provoke me, break me.

Ryan donated part of his liver so his brother Chad could live. Then, Ryan passed away. And Chad lives on…attempting to “Live Courageously”. I read his blogs often. Why? Because Chad’s honesty about his journey is strangely refreshing, compelling and blunt. Honestly, I grow weary of hearing empty words from people who have developed life concepts and beliefs in faith, but have never truly been challenged. When, I read of the honest journey, thoughts and struggles Chad and his family are wrestling with, I want to live courageously. Why? Because, though his questions are many and the answers are few, Chad continues to have faith in God.

That is faith that is real and compels me to cry out “VIVE FIDONS”! Live Courageously.

If you want to see a picture of real life, real struggle, real faith…check Chad’s blog and read for yourself.

Vive Fidons.

http://cometoofar.com

You Matter. God Says!

Posted: September 30, 2010 in Life
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Have you ever had someone ask you a question that you just were not ready for? Maybe they asked you to do something that caught you off guard. I remember a time this happened to me. My wife, Melissa, and I had been married for a little over two years.  We were at a celebration for something, a party for someone…all those details are vague, but her request…that, I remember.

In the middle of the party, in the middle of a conversation, someone asked Melissa about one of our family members.  And my wife says, “Oh, they’re doing fine.  In fact, I have a recent picture.”  Then without missing a beat, she looks at me and asks, “Honey, will you go into my purse and get that picture?” Seems like a simple request, should be no problem. However, you should know that at this point in our relationship, I had been asked to go get her purse before; I had even been asked to carry the purse.  However, I, as a man, did not have the proper training to open the purse and find anything! In my mind, I thought you needed a degree, or special training or at least some kind of manual.

 Why was this a dilemma for me? Well, let me be honest.  As a man, I don’t know what all is in the purse, and I don’t want to know!  In addition, for my wife to ask me to retrieve something out of it caused me stress.  I immediately began to wonder… “So, how do you find something in the purse…is there a filing method? Is it organized by most used items first? Is it alphabetical? Because, one thing I do know, there is a lot of stuff in the purse; and somehow, by, what I can only assume is God Given magic female powers, out of that purse, my wife can retrieve whatever is needed, when it is needed. And, if there is something that I can’t find or I am in need of, I have learned to ask my wife, when she’s holding her purse, cause I figure “hey…you never know. ”  

I first observed the mystery and the power of the purse when our first child came along. With the child came the “diaper bag.” Now the diaper bag I had no problem with.  I often carried the diaper bag; sometimes I filled the diaper bag, and took things out of the diaper bag. And… I even changed my share of diapers!

One day, we went out shopping and Melissa asked me to bring the diaper bag and make sure it had diapers.  I said “OK” and away we went. As we were shopping, a moment came in which it was evident that our little two year old needed a diaper change. We knew this because other people in the Mall began to make faces and move away from us as we walked toward them.

Melissa found a place for us to change our little one, and I did my duty to open up the diaper bag and get the diaper. However, when I opened the bag, it was empty.  And I was the one who was supposed to make sure it was stocked with diapers.

I sheepishly told Melissa of the dilemma, and let her know I was sorry. My amazing wife looked at me and said, “Oh, no problem, I think I have a spare.”

I watched with amazement as she effortlessly reached into her purse and pulled out a diaper. The emergency was thwarted and I was off the hook.

As well, I once again was in awe of the power of the “Purse”!

Ladies, this is why men do not want to get stuff out of your purse.  Besides being afraid of what’s in there, we are also afraid we will mess something up!

Here’s the point: As complex as the workings of a woman’s purse is to a man, it is nothing in comparison to the complexity of the world we live in.  And just like I honestly feel some anxiety when asked to get something out of my wife’s purse, I think we all, as humans can feel overwhelmed, even stressed at times when we experience the complexity of life and wonder…where do I fit in? We can begin to ask, “Do I even matter? Does my life even count? What is my purpose? Well, I believe there are answers to these questions, and the best place to begin is in listening and reading a thought given to us by God, our Creator.

In Jeremiah 1:5, God says: 

Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you.

Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you.

Now that is a powerful truth we all need to embrace.  God made us with a holy plan. Think about that, we are not just an accident of nature; we are a well thought out creation of Almighty God.

 No matter where you are today in your life. No matter what you think of yourself, what other people think or say about you; whether you are up, down, battling depression, struggling in a relationship, facing a mountain of impossibilities… no matter how complex your life appears…whatever is going on in you…

You Matter, simply because God created you. Your life counts; God has plans for you.

This truth can be alive in you today, simply by surrendering all you are and hope to be to the one who made you.

You Matter; God says so!

Just got back from vacation. Had a wonderful time. What an adventure we had as my wife and I loaded up our four children and trekked down to Florida. Moreover, what a wonderful time we had as we explored the magical kingdom of Disney World.

Having four children, it was fun to see things through the eyes of two teenagers, an eight-year-old daughter and a just-turned-six year old son.

 One of my favorite moments occurred as we watched the fireworks display at The Magic Kingdom. My six year old looked up at me and said, “Now will all of our dreams come true?”

I did not answer; I just smiled.

 I love the innocence of children. Their ability to believe and have faith is untainted by the disappointing moments in life. My son heard the announcer say at the fireworks display that all of our dreams would come true. He simply believed. What a wonderful lesson in simple faith.

I did learn some other things while I was on vacation.

One, I learned that if you are miserable, angry, and unhappy…even Disney cannot fix that. I saw many people fighting, arguing, and tearing each other down. It was sad.

Two, I also learned that the best part of my vacation was what I left with. Incidentally, it was also what I came with. I arrived at Disney with a wife who loves me, and four wonderful children who like me! I arrived at Disney with peace in my heart that comes from my relationship with God. I arrived at Disney with hope for the future that stems from my faith in that same God.

As wonderful as Disney World is – and yes, I am just a big kid when I am there – the best part of my vacation came home with me. For true happiness and genuine fulfillment is not found in where we are or what we are doing; true contentment is discovered in the relationships we have.

 I look forward to my next vacation. However, though our tour of the wonders of Disney is over, I am still smiling as I hold my wife, gaze at my children and pray to my God.

Hmmm…I guess all of my dreams did come true.