Category Archives: Setbacks

A wasted week

Son, here is what has happened since a little over a week ago when I told you I was done writing my advice for you. First off, I had been looking forward to Father’s Day weekend for weeks.  It was fun but I was a dud, my mind was elsewhere.  I missed 2 days of work last week, and I skipped going to church on Sunday.  I went almost a full day before praying, and I started to feel stressed and unsure of what I was supposed to do.

Maybe the change I thought I needed was wrong.  Maybe I am just not ready for that next step.  Maybe I just needed a week away doing nothing to realize I can’t stop my current mission, or I risk going back to my old ways. 

It is time to get myself back on track and see what happens. It’s time to get back to just opening myself up and being patient with God’s plan for me.  I spent my entire day off yesterday playing online poker and watching back to back hobbit movies. I didn’t do one thing to help myself, you, or others.  The idea I had about taking it to the next level I believe will happen someday, but it sure doesn’t feel like it is this day.

I couldn’t think of one thing to write about all last week. However, last night when I was 5 minutes in to watching the sermon I missed last Sunday, I had to pause it to write this.  This is no joke son, God is so powerful!  I know I need to be “all in” to receive the help and inspiration he gives me.

I felt like a loser all week. I have to do whatever I can to make sure it doesn’t happen again. It starts with church today. Let’s see how this week goes.

I love you more than anything son!

Dad

P.S.  This may all sound familiar, but notice one important difference:  It’s only been a week, not several weeks, months, or years.

 

THE BIEBS

Son, I am so lucky we didn’t have the technology there is today when I was young. Had there been video of the things I said and did when I was a young man, people would have been extremely disappointed in me. This is why I am also very grateful I did not have the success I wanted at a young age. Just like the Biebs, most of us have said things we shouldn’t have when we were young. Although this is no excuse for his words or behavior, we must look at ourselves first. Have any of us led the perfect mistake-free life? Are we the ones who should be judging others? 

To pull out a video 5 years old seems a little much. Although I think he is still immature, I imagine he was much more so 5 years ago. Son, remember it is not about how you start off, but how you finish. As much as Justin and I would like to change things from our past, we can’t. The only thing you can have control of is right now. 

Let’s give the kid a break. Take a look at yourself first, and don’t judge others. If you disagree with someone’s behavior or what you see on TV, just tune it out.

Although being young is not an excuse to behave inappropriately or go against God’s wishes, it is the most likely time the pressures to do so will be there. This is why I am trying so hard to help teach you how to avoid it. 

Love you son,

Dad
1 Timothy 4:12
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

 

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THE SNOWBALL EFFECT

Son, lying comes natural to all of us; it doesn’t have to be taught or learned by watching others do it. If you take most 2 year olds and ask them if they were the ones who did something bad, they deny it, even when the proof is staring right at them. We are all born with the capacity to lie; it is much easier than telling the truth a lot of times. I must have been born with a double dose; I was the best at it. I would lie when I was younger, but eventually the truth would come out. As I got older I could lie and cover it up so well that I believed it in my own head. I had lies that no one would ever know about.

There are still lies that I have not admitted to yet, stupid ones that I know would be ok if I owned up to them now, but it is still hard. Lies end up snowballing and getting bigger and bigger as time goes by. They can get so big; that the original reason you lied is pale in comparison to the hole you dug yourself into keeping up with the lie. I was so good at it, I didn’t have many snowball on me. However, I felt it inside. The guilt became unbearable. In essence the guilt got bigger and bigger until I could barely live with myself. I got mad at others for questioning my lies. I resented anyone who would call me on my bluff. I would tell myself I would prove it to them by never ever owning up to it. The guilt over some stupid little mistake I made overwhelmed me. I became defensive. I became miserable. Had I just owned up to my mistake in the first place things would have been much better. I believe this is one of the many ways God tries to teach us a lesson.

Now, it wasn’t like I was hiding the fact I murdered someone or cheated on a loved one. Still, after years of hiding it and trying to remember which story I told which person, it became exhausting. Because I believe in God and his awesome power to know exactly what I was doing, I felt the guilt deep inside. I felt like a fake. I would have people ask me about things and would struggle to remember because what I told them wasn’t true. The truth is ALWAYS easy to remember.

No matter how mad you think I will be with you, please tell me the truth. I will be more upset that you lied than I will be at whatever you are trying to cover up. Admit your mistakes, no matter how foolish or embarrassing you think they may be. Remember, you can hide the truth from others, but you can’t hide it from yourself or God. The angst and misery you will feel down the road are much more stressful than had you just admitted you were wrong. Lies are why a lot of people end up alcoholics or drug addicts. The pain of the guilt becomes so bad they seek any way to forget about it. Drugs and alcohol can dull that pain for a while, but they can’t take it away. Someday you will read about all my lies, and the ways I used to cover up the guilt I had. I just hope you will take away some learning from it. I hope it will help you avoid the same pitfalls I experienced.

I love you so much son, you mean more to me than anything! That is no lie!

Dad
Ephesians 4:25
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

The Patience of Job, or Hortencia?

Son,  I’ve been working on my latest advice to you about Patience.  It is an area that I have always struggled with.   I was just about finished when I started looking for the word patience in the Bible.   Before the search results came up, I remembered the saying:  “the patience of Job”.  I remember as a kid hearing about how God had tested him, so I started reading the book of Job.   The devil thought the only reason Job was so faithful and upright was because God gave him everything he could ever need and more.   God protected Job and gave him a great life.     God agreed to the test, he wanted to show the devil how the blessings God gave Job wouldn’t make any difference in his faith.  The devil told God “if you take away his possessions, I guarantee you he will curse your name”.  God allowed the devil to do his will, but he was to bring  no harm to Job.

The devil took away everything Job owned.   He killed most of his servants.   He caused the house to cave in on Job’s 10 children, killing them instantly.   The devil  made it appear as if this was all God’s doing.  When Job heard about the devastation that had just occurred, he knelt down on the grown praising God.  He said “what the Lord giveth, the  Lord can surely take away”.  Praise be to God”.  The devil saw this and was frustrated.  He returned to God and said surely if you threaten his life, make him feel like his life was ending, he will curse you to your face.   God agreed to let the devil attempt his plan, but he instructed him not to kill Job.   The devil then gave Job  sores from head to toe.  They must have hurt badly, because  Job was in so much pain he could barely speak.  He was wishing he was never born, and he wanted to die.  Job’s wife even told him to curse God and die to be over it already.  Job replied:  “You are talking like a foolish woman”.  Why should we accept good from God,  and not trouble”?  Through all of this,  Job did not sin by cursing God’s name.  He stood strong in his faith.  God doubled his possessions and gave him 10 more children to continue his lineage.  He lived a life much better than before the devil enacted his evil plan.

After reading the story this morning, I headed in to work.  It was the end of the day when Hortencia walked in.   We talked about her insurance needs, she didn’t have any coverage right now.  She said her children pleaded with her to get insurance, but she couldn’t afford it.  She put her trust in God that he would take care of her.   She started to tell me a story about why her kids where so concerned.   She was a cancer survivor, but how she found out about it was simply amazing.   She awoke one morning and all she could think of was that she needed a colonoscopy.  She felt good, but something or someone put this medical procedure in her head.  She couldn’t shake it.   Within hours she went to get the colonoscopy completed.  Within days she found out she had cancer.  She was lucky, the cancer had not sunk in to any of the tissue, and with chemotherapy she had a great chance to recover.  Praise be to God!

When Hortencia was stricken with cancer, there was a time at the end that she wished she was dead.  The pain was unbearable.  As she entered the Doctors office for her chemo treatment, thoughts of doubts and pain were running through her body.  She almost gave up hope.   As she left the waiting room, she saw four young children outside.  They looked at her with smiles on their faces.   She saw the sign.   Those beautiful children reminded her of how important she was to her grandchildren. Her strength was renewed.   Praise God!

Hortencia then started telling me about her grandkids.  They were supposed to be triplets, but because of complications only twins were born.  It required a complicated surgery to bring these dear grandchildren of hers into this world.   Two days after the surgery their dad, Hortencia’s son, was killed in a car accident.  She remained positive, telling her other kids that they will now see the power of God and will learn about true faith in his plan.   She was grateful  that her son hit that pole instead of missing it and possibly ending up in a spot that no one would have noticed for quite some time.  His body may have never been found had he not knocked out the power which alerted rescue workers.   She felt comfort in his death, knowing that her son would live on through his children.   He was also an organ donor, so as she stated it :  “He helped people, and his veins are helping push the blood through someone else on this earth”.  She knew he was still with her.

That night while she started to ponder her son’s funeral and how she would pay for it, she had a dream.  She was assured that she would have the money in 7 days, enough money to pay for the funeral.  She was told she should go the funeral home and tell the funeral director she had a message for them.  The message was: “Our heavenly father told me if you have faith in him,  you will know I will get the costs of the funeral in 7 days.  The funeral director was a person of faith.   Hortencia was told  she could write a check and post-date it for a week from now.  The funeral went on as planned without any money yet paid to the funeral home.

Not knowing how she would get the money, but having faith it would happen, she prayed.   When she awoke the next morning she realized she forgot about the cost of the burial site.  She found the least expensive site because as she told me: “it was just a resting place for his physical body, his soul was already in heaven”.  She told me her son had dedicated his life to Jesus just 2 months earlier.  She went to pay for the burial plot and was told it had already been paid for……twice.  The money she had for that $300 plot was given back to her along with a check for the overpayment from the two donations.  Praise God!

On the way home,  Hortencia opened a memorial fund account at the bank.   She still had no idea how she would get the $8,000 needed for the funeral services, but she remained strong in her faith.   When day 7 hit, she went back to the bank.   She soon discovered that the memorial account had over $7,000 in there!  When she got home from the bank, there was a large manila envelope in her mailbox.  It had no return address, it had no postmark.  She opened it up and it was the exact amount she needed to finish paying the funeral services.  The check was a generic check, no name or address on it.  She could  pay the funeral home in full.   Praise be to God!

Hortencia now takes care of her grandchildren left behind from her son’s death.    One of her grandchildren has had many physical issues of her own.  She has had 24 surgeries.   Each time that strong little girl wakes up from surgery, the first thing she says is “Nana, I did it!”  “She is so enthusiastic” Hortencia said.   Praise God!

It wasn’t long after all of this that  Hortencia’s youngest son was at a party and was stabbed 7 times in the face.  He was on life support at the hospital when Hortencia arrived.  She told me she prayed harder and louder than she ever had before.   “Lord, please don’t take my baby boy!”   “Please let him come back to me!”   Her youngest son was on life support, but miraculously woke up and was writing on a pad of paper. (he couldn’t talk with all the tubes in him)   He kept writing “brother,  brother , brother” all over that pad of paper.    He was getting very excited and worked up.  The nurses were concerned he may have another heart attack like the one he suffered after the stabbing.   She rushed back into the room to try and comfort her son.  She saw what he was writing and tried to speak to him.  “Son, you know I am your momma, right”?  He nodded.   “You know your brother was killed in a car accident last year don’t you”?  He nodded again. “Now relax child, we don’t want you to have a heart attack”.  “If you calm down, the nurses said they will remove all these things from you”.  Once the tubes were removed her son told her he must have died because he saw his brother.  “He looked great mom , but he told me I better get back, so here I am”.  Praise God!

What an amazing woman, what an amazing God!  I had never cried when talking to a client at work before this.  We had to grab the box of Kleenex today.  As we cried together, I listened and saw how incredibly gracious she was for everything the Lord has done in her life.    It gave me the chills, and I had goose bumps all over my body .  There was a reason she came in today.   There was a reason I was there to meet her and hear about her tragedies.   She was so upbeat!  Hortencia was so gracious for her mother who planted the seed about Jesus and what he can do in our lives.   This is why I write these lessons for you.  This is why I make you go to church with me.  The most important thing I can do for you is tell you about Jesus.

As Hortencia was getting ready to leave, I asked her if I could get a hug.  She said “you get two!”   She told me how she stomps her feet on the ground every morning when she wakes up.  She said it keeps the devil underneath her feet.  She has taught this to her grandkids, and they have even shared it with their friends.  She is an amazing woman with so much hope and joy in her eyes.  She lost her family, she lost her money, and she was stricken with a horrible disease.   She is more like Job than anyone I will probably ever meet in my life.  What an amazing sign from God, that the day I read the book of Job and his story, she enters my life!  Absolutely incredible day!  Praise God!

I love you son!

Dad

Romans 12:12Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

A fall from grace?

Son, don’t idolize men.  Men are flawed and can eventually disappoint you.  They are flesh and blood, they are not perfect.

Recently a pastor at a huge church in Gilbert was asked to resign over an extra-marital affair he had with someone in his own church congregation.  He, like all of us couldn’t avoid sin.  People held him to a higher standard than most because he was a preacher of God’s word.   You should know that just because someone is a church leader, it doesn’t mean they can escape sinning.  The bible tells us that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”.  This pastor fell to temptation, but I wouldn’t be so quick to judge.  I am sure God has a plan for him.  He may come out of all this a stronger, more faithful Christian who ends up helping lead many more people to Christ.  He may end up giving up on his faith and no longer believing in the power of the almighty.  This is not for us to know, we just need to understand that God has a purpose for everything.

What you do need to know is that God works through people.  He uses us to help spread his word.  When you hear anyone preaching about God’s commandments or his wonderful love for us, you should listen.  Please understand that they are just a vessel.  Understand the real messenger is God.  Don’t kill the messenger for mistakes and sins that his followers may make.  Don’t feel sorry for the pastor who recently resigned, but do feel bad for those that will use it as an excuse to not attend church.  One human can’t make us all better Christians.  One human doesn’t decide if we are worthy or not.  Only God  has the power to change our lives and bring us closer to him.  He will however use others to help get his wisdom across to us.

This story ended up making national news.  Why?  Could it be because the devil wants everyone to see when strong Christian leaders fail?  The devil is at work creating reasons for us to doubt our faith.  There are more examples of his work now than ever before.  It’s almost as if he has free reign over this world.  There have been many  church leaders who have failed to practice what they are preaching, and there will be many more.  We are human, and with that you need to expect flaws.  The amazing part is God still loves us through it all.

Can you see why our mission is so critical?     The good news is we can be confident in knowing that God always wins in the end!  Wouldn’t it be great to be even a small part of that victory?

I love you son,

Dad

Psalms 118: 8  “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.”

Significant Setback?

Setback:  “A problem that makes progress more difficult or success less likely.”

Son, setbacks are part of life.  We will experience many on our journey.  Sometimes setbacks are the result of something you did or failed to do.  Other times delays can happen from things outside of your control.

Most of my setbacks were self-induced.  It is hard for me to blame them on anything or anyone else.  I think you will find that if you are really being honest with yourself, there is almost always something you could have done to change the outcome.

For example, when I was first laid off about a year ago, I blamed everyone but myself.   I blamed that darn Obamacare.  I blamed our new VP, I blamed the company.   I was mad at anyone who voted for our President, despite my warning that it could eventually lead to me losing my job.   After the dust settled I realized it was all my fault.  I didn’t want to be there.  I wasn’t working as hard as I could have.  If I really wanted to be in control of my own destiny, I would have done anything I could have to impress our new company leadership.  I would have shown the value I bring when I am operating at 100%.

Well, this month I suffered another big setback in my quest.  I had all the tools, but I left them sitting in the toolbox instead of using them.  I lost sight of my mission.   I stopped writing and haven’t been going to church.  I had to almost force myself to pray every day and I didn’t open the bible all month.   I haven’t offered one piece of advice to you since New Year’s Eve.  I spent countless hours in front of the TV and playing poker online.  Everything I was doing to help you was gone.

Doubts started to take over.  I found myself questioning God’s plan for me, and the stress was creeping back in.

“Maybe writing isn’t what God wants me to do.”

“I am a failure”

“I am letting you down”

“Maybe God wants me to be broke”

“How can I help you when I can’t even help myself?”

“I only have 56 days until my job ends, what am I going to do?”

These are the things that I thought about this month.   What a change from where I was.   I know the path I should continue traveling down, but I stepped off of it once it got a little rocky.

Here is how it happened:  I stopped going to church.   I stopped reading the bible.  I stopped praying every day.  I forgot I needed God’s help.  Church is so good for me!  When I don’t go, the devil gets a little more of an opening to get in and affect my plans.  I realized it is impossible to see the signs God is giving me when my eyes are shut.   I wasn’t consistent.

Now I look at the month of January 2014 as a learning lesson for me.  There was a reason God wanted me to follow this detour.  He wanted me to remember how easy it is to get off track.  He wanted to show me how a day away can lead to a month, a year, a decade…..    I went dark last month, but I refuse to let it carry on any further.   The devil thought he had it easy with me over the last 20 years, I will prove him wrong.  I will make his life more miserable than it already is.

Son, remember setbacks and delays are going to happen.  They only turn into failures when you don’t pay attention to how they happened and learn how to avoid them.  Don’t let them get you down, and try to remember all the good you have done.   If you think all hope is lost, it probably will be.  Give yourself credit for realizing your areas of improvement, because a lot of people don’t even look for theirs.

When you get in a slump, act.  Don’t sit still waiting for it to pass.  Analyze how it happened, and figure out what you can do differently to avoid it next time.    I am back, but who knows how long it will be before I endure another month like this.  All I can tell you is I will try my best and be consistent with the things I know will keep me on track.  (Church, prayer, faith, hard work, determination)  I didn’t do any charitable giving, and I didn’t share God’s wisdom with you or anyone else.  Maybe that is because God knew the person who needed the most help this month was me.

Now I feel great!  I can’t stop writing.  I feel incredibly good about myself again.  I am confident God wants me to continue teaching you these life lessons.  I feel lucky that even a fool like me is worthy of God’s love.  I will be patient and I won’t question how long it will take to accomplish our plan.  My eyes are wide open again!

I love you son!

Dad

Romans 12:12  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Decisions

Son, sometimes things in life come down to simple decisions we make.  I have one facing me right now.  It’s not life or death by any means, but it is still a decision I need to make. 

 As you know, I don’t get paid when I don’t work.  Yes, this is unlike   many of the corporate jobs I have had where you get vacation and sick time.   Every hour I work means more income for our family. 

Here is the situation:  Our offices are “technically” going to be closed until the first Monday in January.   I was told I could come in and work if I wanted to.  I would be by myself in the office and it will be pretty slow.  I was even offered the opportunity to put in 5 more hours, allowing me to get up to 40 hours a week. 

We’ve talked about many things over the last few months.   What do you think I should do?  

 

a.)     Take a few extra days off and enjoy the holidays?

b.)    Take the two weeks off and enjoy the holidays?

c.)     Work every hour I can to make sure we stay above water?

 

Dad