Scottish Paws

I’ve been thinking back to the days that I first heard the wobble and whoosh that gave way to the steady beating of a heart in each of my kids, remembering all the emotions that burst through, unveiling the thoughts of the possibilities of the life to come. The adventures that will be had, the love that will be shared, the memories that will be created. All to be cherished and looked back on as a priceless treasure no one could ever steal or destroy.

Lost in a moment of deep memories, my mind flips to memories to the other side. The side of looking at life through the eyes of a child. The memories of what it was like to grow up. The memories of love and pain, adventures and struggles hit me like a wall of water that swallows me to the point of almost drowning. Gasping for a breath, I struggle to the surface, following that familiar beating sound that steadily encourages me to push on up to the breaking point. Pushing through, breathing deeply, I clear my mind to focus on the sound of the heart monitor beating steadily. I’m whisked back to reality to knowing that when I focus my vision, life will not have miraculously changed.

My Dad will still be in the hospital. He will still be on the ventilator, and the future will still be uncertain. I can’t go back in time to change or prevent anything that has happened. He had fallen and hit his head, and then because of that first fall, he fell two more times over a few days causing more injury to his head. This, in turn, caused stroke-like symptoms that needed to be treated within the ICU. That is how we arrived at this point. He had to have brain surgery to alleviate the pressure in his brain that the blood had caused. This, in turn, was making his symptoms worsen. This is where we are now.

I say to myself, one last touch before I’m drug back to overwhelming reality. I reach out and clasp onto the thick, strong, familiar rough surface that I have hung onto for safety so many times before. A dear friend of mine, Gerri, always called these particular type hands Scottish paws. This seems to be a common trait of someone with a Scottish heritage. But this time is different than other times I have held his hand.

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There is no return in the grasp. I breathe deep holding onto the air in my lungs, I clearly hear and feel my own heartbeat, almost in sync with the monitor.

At that moment, it was like all the memories of life gone past flew through me. I tried to lock onto one, but just as quick as they fly into reach, they are snatched away, replaced with others. 49 years of experiences flutter by like fingers skimming the pages of a thick, old book. Some pictures impress deeper than others, causing me to laugh, others make my heart sink a little deeper.

The ones that hung with me were some of the stories I loved to hear him tell over and over again.

Like the time our family went to the shore and brought back crabs. I was young, maybe 5, if that. I can still smell that pungent crustaceans’ odor. As the story goes, there were some stray cats that loved to sit on our porch, singing and wooing the night away. The loud calls of the lovesick felines drove my parents nuts. So, my dad got the bright idea of using his saltwater catch to its fullest potential.  As the story goes, he placed the crabs out on the front porch where the cats would gather for their nightly serenade. I have no clue how he kept the crabs on the porch, but I do remember the occasional screech of a cat being pinched. For some reason, the chorus of cats never came back to our house.  I don’t know why this one has stuck with me so strongly, other than that he would laugh every time he told it.

Another thing that resurfaced was the many times my dad was willing to help me try and achieve a new goal or be willing to do some of the craziest things. Back when I was teen, I started a Christian singing group, and we would use backtracks to sing and added some simple choreography. My dad was our sound guy. He would hit play on the tape deck and adjust microphone levels. He would also flip the toggle switches on our custom light board that he had made. This was his thing, and whether he would admit it or not, he loved doing it. Somewhere along the line, we got him a sunvisor from a Christian music radio station to wear when he was on the job. This was no ordinary sunvisor, folks, oh no, this visor had small chasing LED lights powered by a 9v battery attached to the back strap. He called it his “Kit Hat” because it was like the hood light on the car in the TV show Knight Rider.

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Another funny example of the ends to which he would go to help is when I entered a lip sync contest. There was $75.00 of Christian music at stake here. This was a huge deal! So, I came up with an idea to perform. Just to make sure the odds were in my favor, I entered three different times once by myself, second with my singing group “Live Wires For Christ,” then lastly as a trio. The trio didn’t start out as a trio. At first, it was only my best friend at the time, Sam, with me. I thought it would be fun to do a funny song that had… shall I say an Italian flair. Sam was a proud Italian and loved to let everyone know it. So, the song we wanted to do was by an artist named Carman; the song was called “Spirit-filled Pizza.”

We started to plan out our song and what we would do to act it out and everything was awesome, until we got to the last part of the song, because we needed just one more person to make it really work.

Here is the idea of the story portrayed in the song. Two cousins wanted pizza, so one sends the other out to an uncle’s pizza joint. But the one going to get the pizza got distracted, wandered into a church and got saved. When he returned to his cousin, he “claimed” his life for Jesus. Then six months later the other cousin accepts Jesus. Then all he wants to do is find his little brother, and claim his life for the Lord. And that is the song in a nutshell.

So, we had Sam and me, but we needed a little brother. Somehow, we convinced my dad to play the part of the little brother. My dad has a full beard and is pretty straight-faced. He was not the upfront, on-stage kind of person unless it had to do with being a cub scout pack leader. He was kind of a serious guy. Dad has always worn jeans or work pants, with a pocketed polo, and most of his polo shirts were of a pastel color. You could always find a pen and a small tablet in the shirt pocket, and if you saw him right after work, he would have half a Zagnut or Butterfinger bar in there too.

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So, besides dad being like a fish out of water with this, he had one other issue that no one thought of. On the week of the contest, my dad had his teeth removed, and had false teeth made. He got his new teeth the day before the contest. I recall him having a difficult time with the fit of the dentures. He was saying that unless he clinched his teeth together they felt like they would fall out or worse he was afraid that if he squeezed too hard they may pop right out of his mouth. As a teen, this all seemed very amusing to me at the time. I assured him that it would all be good, and we would go easy on him.

See, when it came to the part of the little brother, dad would come out, sit down. Sam and I would grab ahold of him, kind of doing the revival evangelist routine, pushing him back and forth with laying on of hands and such. We really did shake him a bit, but I promised we would tone it back a bit for the actual performance.

When it came time for our number, everything was going great. We had the audience eating out of our hands. Then it was time for my dad when he came out the crowd erupted and that energy transferred to Sam and I, and we hammed it up. The only thing dad could do was sit there and hold on to his teeth for dear life. He couldn’t help but laugh. So, he sat there looking at us like we were crazy, but he had the funniest smile that didn’t change throughout the whole time. He looked like the Cheshire cat smiling.

He admitted at some point his teeth started to move but he kept them in his mouth. We came away with third place with that song. The song I did alone actually won first place. I have a VHS tape of the contest; I’m sure it would make great YouTube content.

I could go on with other experiences that stick like glue, trains and slot racers, matchbox cars, touring buses. He always wanted his own touring bus/RV. I’m sure as any dad, he had and has dreams and hopes for me and my children. All too much to take in, but in times like these, we long to drink from the firehose to get as much as we can, because the moments are not guaranteed.

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The visions that rush my head are overwhelming, but the one thing that is a common thread that he showed and taught me was love. You work with what you have and do your best to provide for those who God has entrusted to you, all the while loving in a way that is so deep that it’s almost impossible to express. All except when you feel the touch of a rough, strong hand grab on to your hand, and then you just somehow know. You know that you are loved, and have been loved as only a proud pop can love.

It almost physically hurts to let go, but the hope is there that better days are coming. Knowing that three things remain… faith, hope, and love, which love is the greatest of these. Love is all we really have to give and receive. To quote my dad’s favorite band of all time, The Beatles, “All you need is Love. Love is all you need.”

As I write, my dad is still fighting to overcome this place that he is in. My faith stays solid, and I look to the future with the hope that he will recover. I’ve been told that it will be a very long road to recovery. The daily updates give me more hope that this 73-year-old man has a chance to live a vibrant life again.

 

 

The Christmas Code

I sat there, half asleep on the couch, as the kids excitedly prepared for the day’s festivities. I found myself, coffee mug in hand, staring at a pile of Christmas gifts, thinking, “What did I do to get us in this situation?” Yes, it was Christmas morning. The tree was decorated, as well as the house. This year, Chrissy had the foresight to wrap almost all the presents in advance, which made things easier, but definitely not great. You see, Chrissy was 30 minutes away, laying in a hospital bed, fighting for her life.

Here I was at home, with our kids and Chrissy’s parents, who had arrived in their big RV the night before. Just thinking how is it that I’m in a place where I may lose my wife, best friend, lover once more?

Let me back up and start from the beginning.

It was in the beginning of December 2004 when it all started. Recently, we had received dental benefits with my compensation package at church, so we were on a dentistry kick. Getting everyone’s teeth looked at and fixed, cleaned, you know the drill. Chrissy was in for a simple cleaning, being new to all this dentistry stuff, we really had no clue of things you should be careful of. One such thing is that if you have a heart murmur, you should be medicated prior to dental work. Most dentists will ask you this, and then make sure you have what you need prior to the dental work. Chrissy has a heart murmur, and well, she should have had an antibiotic before her teeth were cleaned. Hindsight is always 20/20.

Chrissy had her teeth cleaned, and everything seemed to be fine, for several days afterwards. That was until she started running a fever; we thought she had gotten the flu. She got sick and then she would seem to gain her strength, only to relapse. Finally, it got worse. Chrissy had a fever and started getting a rash. So, we went to the local convenient care because we had not yet established a family doctor. We had just moved to Chicagoland the year before.

We went to the immediate care, and the doctor who saw her said it was just the flu, not to worry, and get some rest. So, we went back home. A  few days passed, and she still had not fully recovered. Then she started to complain of a crushing pain in her chest. This really scared me. She also started to break out in hives.

We thought this must be an allergic reaction to something. We went back through everything she ate, and if we changed anything like soap or detergents, anything we could think of and the answer was no, so we headed out to the convenient care again.

This time, different doctor. Chrissy was short of breath and on the verge of a panic attack because of not knowing what was going on. She still had a fever and when they went to take x-rays of her chest, she passed out for a few seconds. After all that she tried to explain everything that she was feeling, but the doctor concluded that it had to be a allergy to something.

Side Note: I was not able to go back with her because I was on kid duty in the waiting room.

The doctor prescribed some meds and sent us on our way. Chrissy felt like they thought she was crazy. We got her on the meds and saw some improvement.

Somehow, we managed to Christmas shop, attend work parties, and go to church. Chrissy and I also decided while wrapping presents that it would be a smashing idea if we used a secret code system on the Christmas tags instead of names.

This year, we had not only gotten better insurance, I had also received a nice pay raise, and we were so excited that we could buy some nice presents that the kids really wanted. This was going to be a very special year.

We did have one huge dilemma; we had a peeker in our family. You know the kid who likes to look at their gifts before Christmas and guess what they were. Oh, Ben is a peeker, and a good one at that. He would shake and squeeze things. He had even been known to unwrap things and rewrap them.  If we would hide the presents, he would find them. He could never keep it a secret either, he had to let his sister and brothers know what he did. He was so proud of himself.

So, this year we came up with a diabolical plan. Looking back, I think Chrissy was having some sort of delusion from the fever or side effect to the medications she was taking because this was just a crazy plan. Actually, it was a genius plan.

We thought we’ll code the presents and hide them in the garage. That is exactly what we did. We would wrap the presents. Chrissy would get out the highly secret code key and label the presents, and I would take them to the hiding place in the locked garage.

This code thing really was genius! Somehow each code was different so there was no telling which present would go to who without Chrissy and the key. This was a brilliant plan for sure! We would have our sneaking peeker foiled this year!

Then Christmas week was here, and Chrissy still had not gotten fully better. I was in charge of all the kid’s ministry Christmas services, all 6 of them. We had 2 on what we call Christmas Eve-Eve, and then 4 on the actual Christmas Eve.

On Christmas Eve morning, we got up, and Chrissy’s body was absolutely covered with hives. She had a high temperature, the shortness of breath and the crushing chest pain. So, I decided to call a doctor I had recently seen and luckily was able to make an appointment for her that day. We arrive at the doctor’s office, and they got us in quickly. The doctor looked at her and told us that she needed to be admitted to the hospital, and that this was very serious. He gave us orders for blood work and told us to go now and they would be calling the hospital to let them know we were coming.

We got to the hospital and they admitted her and had the blood work done and started her on a course of penicillin. Her fever had spiked to 104. My love was white as fresh fallen snow. They hooked her up to all kinds of monitors. They said that they were doing all they could to make her comfortable. When the Doctor finally came in he told us that she had sepsis of the blood and that the next 24 hours would be the most critical. Not the words you wanted to hear. I remember praying as hard as I could.

I called to let my boss know that I would need to call off. I was then told that no one could fill for me, so I needed to be there. On top of that, Chrissy’s parents were on their way in, and I needed to take care of my four children. This was turning out to be the Christmas celebration from you know where.

I left Chrissy, got our kids around for Church, and headed off to work with them. After the last service, we rushed to the hospital to see Chrissy one last time for the night. She seemed to be doing better, but that was just my opinion– the Doctor had an opposing one. He said she seemed to be reacting well to the meds, but needed rest.

I remember Chrissy pulling me in close and whispering that she loved me and not to forget to get the train table put together for Silas and have the clown bike put together for Jonah. I said I would, and I told her not to worry.

At this time, I had not given any thought to the codes we put on all the presents. I was just trying to figure out how I could get the kids to wait for mommy to come home and see them unwrap the cool presents that we had picked out for them.

Presents are a big deal in our family, and there is a lot that goes into choosing the right gift for that receiver. This goes all the way down to how it’s wrapped and even sometimes how it is presented to the receiver.

Side Note: For some presents that are given to special people it takes months of preparation and orchestration, especially if it’s Chrissy giving the gift. She puts her whole heart into making it a positive memorable experience. I absolutely love this about her.

I got the kids home, did all our Christmas eve traditions, and put the kids to bed, As soon as I started to work in the garage on the last presents, in rolled the big RV with the in-laws. I tried to get them welcomed and settled, so I could finish up my projects. I do remember it being around 2 am when I finally crawled into bed and prayed one last payer for my love.

The next thing I knew was that I had four very excited kids bouncing on my bed wanting me to get up. I thought I could buy some time with having the kids go see Grammy and Pop in the RV. That didn’t take long. I was able to get a cup of coffee and get myself dressed.

Now this is where I started this post. With me sitting on the couch. My mind was overwhelmed with thoughts on what to do. I wanted Chrissy to be here to watch the kids open the gifts, but who knew when she would be home, it could be days or maybe even weeks.

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I told the kids to go ahead and open their stockings. This would give me time to seek wisdom from the in-laws. I then remembered the codes. Oh no, those terrific, horrible codes! I thought I got it! The Grandparents always bring tons of presents… I’ll just have the kids open the presents from them now, and then when Chrissy gets home,they can open ours. Brilliant!

So, I thought. But I was shot down by my mother-in-law, and told the kids needed to open our presents. I tried to convince them otherwise even reasoning that I would make the kids wait until I knew when Chrissy would be coming home. That was when the guilt trip started, and I totally lost all strength to fight.

I set up the video camera, and away we went. It was a disaster.  The biggest mistake I can remember is that everyone was opening each other’s gifts, and Ben opened up Tori’s American Girl Doll. Which seemed so funny to everyone, but me and I’m sure to my wife later when she found out. I believe the dog’s present was even messed up.

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Afterwards, I was told that when Chrissy got out of the hospital, the kids could open the presents that the grands brought.  I was so frustrated!

I told the kids to get ready; we were going to see mommy. We got to the hospital and they got to see Chrissy. She looked tons better, but still was super weak. The doctor told us that she was lucky to be with us. They also said she needed much rest and care.

We left the hospital and stopped by a Churches Chicken– one of the only places open on Christmas to get a take-home meal which was our Christmas dinner.

Side Note: We never ate Churches Chicken because of a horrible shooting that took place in one of the restaurants, so Chrissy would never ever go there. She refused to.

So, the next day we went back to the hospital and the Doctor said Chrissy should be in there a few more days. Chrissy’s mom asked the doctor why, in a challenging way. She argued with him that Chrissy would be much better at home with her family. After much banter, he told Chrissy that she could sign herself out against doctor’s orders and go home if she wanted to.

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Chrissy’s mom convinced her that would be the best thing to do.

So, she signed herself out and we took her home.

By now the news that the kids had opened everything we had gotten them sunk in. This was a hard thing for us both as we watch the kids tear into the presents that were brought from Pennsylvania. We tried to make the best of it, joking about the clothes that were always too small for me or the strange presents that one of the kid would get that only someone who didn’t really know our kids would get them.

The next day the RV pulled out of the drive, and was off to Pennsylvania again. Leaving our family to care for each other and hopefully give Chrissy the rest she needed.

Unknown to us, but this was the start of a new battle for Chrissy. This sickness did much damage that in the years to come, we would slowly uncover really how bad it was. This was the start of anxiety and depression, as well as a few other issues that still to this day are challenges for my wife.

We now look back and cherish this year and will never forget how blessed we are to have Chrissy with us to celebrate yet another Christmas.

Don’t Be Anxious! Yeah, Right!

As soon as he walked through the door, he knew that something was not right. The house was quiet, too quiet. He called out her name as he looked around and moved through the house. No answer. Stopping at the bottom of the stairs, he listened for a moment, before continuing up the steps and down the hall to the bedroom. Opening the door slowly, he heard the sound of quick short breaths mixed with whimpers. It was the sound of someone hyperventilating. As he walked through the door, he saw on the bed, in a fetal position, his beautiful bride. Her hands clenched over her face, crying uncontrollably. His heart dropped, and he thought, “This is a serious one.” He felt so unequipped to handle this. He went to her asking, “What’s wrong?” She leaned into him, rocking her body back and forth, shaking her head. She sucked in a big breath. Through a quivering exhale, she whispered, “I, I, I, don’t know.”  He asked, “Are you okay?” She shook her head no. He could tell she was trying to get herself under control, but something was paralyzing her, locking her in what seemed to be a state of fear. As he wrapped his arm around her, he lovingly whispered to her, “You’re safe, you’re okay. Slow down your breathing. Breath with me.” He loudly drew slow, long breaths, trying to get her to match his breathing. He silently prayed, “God, please help her. Give her peace, give her your mercy. Cover her with your love.” After what seemed like hours, she slowly calmed down and fell asleep from exhaustion, in his arms. He watched as her body slowly relaxed and released whatever it was that had captured her.

This was not the first time this happened, and it wouldn’t be the last. Each time seemed to get worse. Each time it seemed like it started with a small thought that just got stuck. Most times it was a “what if” or an “I wonder” thought that was a little negative. Like, “I wonder if they like me? I seem invisible to everyone, no one really cares about me.” Most times, they were lies whispered to herself that grew into screams. All he knew was that they needed some help. Who could he trust though?

This is what it’s like for someone who has a loved one who suffers from anxiety and depression. This is a mild example of a panic attack. The unfortunate part is that, even in a mild attack, the stakes are life and death. For some with no intervention, they can’t take the overwhelming darkness that covers them, and it seems the only way out is death.

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Unfortunately, those who battle this are often tormented when they try to make a heroic comeback because they are only met with opposition. I know that seems ridiculous, but it’s true. Because of the darkness that has been shadowing them, the light is so very hard to see. So, they start with questions like, “Who really likes me, or let alone the big question, is there anyone out there who loves me?” Each step on the road to recovery is difficult; it’s often like having a noose around your neck, constantly pulling you back. They fearfully think, “If I stop even for a moment, I will be pulled backwards and drug back down into the pit.” The thoughts race in their head.

It’s almost like they are stuck in a puddle of quicksand. One false move, and they will be sucked down, but if they don’t reach out for a saving branch, they certainly will die. So, isolation comes into play, keeping everyone at a distance is of utmost importance. This insures that no one can get close enough to hurt them– or love them. The loneliness is better in their eyes than sharing that they need something or someone. Besides, there is the fear that others will think bad of them or think they are crazy. When anxiety covers you like this, you need to seek out professional help, a physiatrist and a counselor is a good start.

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I am not a counselor or any authority on this in the sense of an educational degree. All I have is life experience, and this is what I have come to know and understand through loving someone who faces these issues each day of her life. I’m writing this to give you a glimpse of what it’s like for someone who faces these challenges, as well as how and why we need to help.

Part of the reason for the isolation is that when others find out that you have anxiety or depression some think oh, just get some drugs and move on, or get some counseling.

I have heard people say that it’s not like they have a broken bone or a chronic disease or something, that could actually kill them. The thing is, that’s not true. Anxiety and depression can kill, and they have. It is just like a physical disease or an internal injury. You really can’t see the disease itself, but you can see the symptoms of it.

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Most times when this disease first comes out or when we first notice it, we can easily mistake it as the person being moody or aloof, or even stuck-up. They may even seem shy. All of these things are attributes that could be part of a normal person’s life. So, how do you know?

You need to take time establish a relationship, if you really want to care and try to make a difference for them.

My bet is that you may know someone who is very close to the person, like a partner, spouse, or best friend. Ask them if the person in question is okay or do they need anything? Do this authentically with genuine concern, and they may let you know the truth…if they feel they can trust you, and you won’t hurt them.

Those closest to these people tend to guard them and try to protect them as much as possible. They know that it doesn’t take much to drive them deep into the darkness, even when they are in recovery.

Taking some meds and talking to a counselor may be a great start but unfortunately, it’s not so easy to fix this.

If the anxiety has been severe enough for long enough, they may need to have their self-esteem re-built; they will need to be loved both closely and from a distance at times. They will need help finding out that they are of worth and have purpose. They will need to be shown that their life counts, and that they can make a difference in this world. This takes people who care deeply about the individual.

Yes, some of the drugs and genetic tests we have today can assist, but nothing replaces human relationships. Boy, can they be hard.

As I have stated, being a friend or a partner of someone who suffers with this can be challenging, but let me also say this, it can be very fun and rewarding. In my experience, these people love deeply, they are both passionate and compassionate. They also can be a blast to be around when they are in a safe place or having a good day. Please understand they are not special projects, don’t try to treat them like that because they will see right through you. These people need people in their lives who are not going to try to fix them and then walk on to the next project. They need friends who are in this walk for life, and that is often rare and hard to find.

So, beware, they may try to reject you before you even scratch the surface. This is their litmus paper test to see if you are really serious. Yes, it may seem harsh at first, but you just have to remember they are in a survival mode most of the time.

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These hurting people are no different than anyone else; they have dreams and goals. They have amazing talents and gifts waiting to be uncovered. If given the opportunities and outlets to use those gifts and talents, they will rise to the challenge, and even blow away your expectations.

For this to happen though, it requires that they trust the provider of these opportunities. You don’t have to have a deep relationship, though a close relationship may inadvertently develop because you prove you can be trusted. But, you always have to remember that there is the risk that they may have a bad day or a relapse. And there is always the possibility that because you are associated with this person, well, you yourself may look bad.

All I can say to that is, who cares?

This is when the real question needs to be asked, what is at stake here? To be blunt, it is life or death. That’s not fair, some may say. But t’s true that the one opportunity that you offer may just be a lifeline. It may be the one thing that keeps them from totally giving into the darkness.

Honestly, people who face life with this illness believe they don’t even have a chance because others think they are crazy, or they are just too unworthy of having a chance to share themselves with the world. I believe that those who don’t open a door for these people are the crazy ones. What is a life worth?

So, what can you do? That is the question that should be asked.

First you should know that having anxiety is difficult, and there are times that they can’t communicate effectively to others exactly what they are feeling or going through. So, sometimes, they just need someone to be there for them without judgement. No words– just your presence and the knowledge that you accept them, just the way they are, where they are. Then sometimes it maybe the opposite– just a few words of encouragement and lots of space with open, accepting arms. The key is always to meet them where they’re at and love them the way they need loved in that moment.

Yes, this can be hard, and sometimes you can be hurt (which can be very hard), but it’s never in my experience intentional. Lashing out is sometimes the only way they can get the feelings out that have been trapped and captivating their thoughts.  Sometimes you need to just put your feeling on the back burner to help someone out of a difficult situation. If you’re a Christian, we have a great example of how to sacrifice for someone you care about or even for people you don’t know.

I can’t help but think about all the times Jesus loved people where they were, and because of His love, compassion, and sacrifice their lives and our lives have been changed. The adulteress, the woman at the well, Zacchaeus the Tax Collector, and the list goes on.

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Jesus met people where they were, and he loved them up to where they needed to be. He never worried about what others thought, only what His Father in Heaven was thinking. I’m sure it wasn’t always easy.

I’ve heard it said, “We’re reaching out, but they need to reach out too.” When you’re paralyzed with fear, you can’t push yourself up to grasp an outstretched hand.

There was the time that four friends carried their friend to Jesus. When they were faced with opposition of not being able to get directly to the Lord, they tore the roof off a house and lowered their friend down to place their friend at the feet of Jesus for healing. They didn’t meet him half-way– he was paralyzed! They carried him to Jesus. Sometimes we need to carry our friend to the feet of Jesus.

There are also the times when we need to get dirty and do more than reach out.

We need to get some spit and dirt on us. I recall Jesus spitting into the dirt and rubbing it onto the blind man’s eyes, so he could see again. Jesus did more than reach out; He got dirty. He didn’t dismissively say to those who came to Him, “Oh, I‘ll pray for you.” He took time and ministered to them.

This is part of being more like Jesus. Honestly, I have watched people who suffer actually minister to others hurting in amazing ways that no one else could. It’s because they know what it’s like to hurt or be an outcast, and they can empathize with them.

This can apply to so many things in life I know, but who has God placed in your path to help carry to Jesus or get dirty with in the process of healing? Who are you crying with? Who are you loving and encouraging, near or far?

Has God placed someone in your path that you just stepped over or worse kicked them to the side, because you have been too busy going where you want to go rather than looking where God is leading you? The Bible says that God directs the steps of man. So, look where you’re going. We ask for God to use us, but we miss the opportunities that are right in front of us all the time.

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I have also heard that this is a person’s spiritual issue, and you are accurate. But it’s not just their spiritual issue, it’s yours too.

We are to love one another and encourage one another; sometimes people go to these dark places because we didn’t love like we should have. I know that statement will not be popular, but it’s true. If we took the time to genuinely care, some people may not feel so invisible.

People with mental health issues sometimes need more of the people who claim to have the Light surrounding them. Darkness is the absence of light. How do we make the darkness go away? By bringing in the light. The Bible says we are the light of the world. The light we have comes from the Holy Spirit. If we obey Him, we will be sharing his light with others. He will be working through us. So yes, it is a spiritual issue– ours and theirs. It’s not just their issue, it’s ours too. We need to do something about it.

How can we help? Love them unconditionally the way God loves you. Take a moment to smile and see them, don’t let them be invisible. Be genuine and compassionate.

Provide opportunities for them to come into your light. This takes time, you have to be in this for the long haul. This is not about you; it’s about loving someone else the way we should love one another.

I hope this is an encouraging post that helps some to have hope and to others, perhaps this will challenge them to see who God has placed in their path.

If you suffer from anxiety or depression or any other non-visible illness, please know you are loved and cared about. I know this is not easy, but with the right environment and people surrounding you, things can get better. We shouldn’t have to walk this road alone.

The Challenge!

So one day I got to thinking…

Side Note:  Thinking for me is always a dangerous thing because usually this is followed by some sort of hair-brained, crazy idea that either gets me into trouble, or I end up doing something that is larger than life. Go big or go home. Right?
Anyway as I said, I was thinking that I needed an outlet where I could be creative and express myself. I also wanted to get some of the fun, crazy stories my family has experienced on this adventure we call the Life of a Hunter.
Side Note: When I told Chrissy (my amazing, smart, beautiful wife) my idea, She encouragingly said, I don’t think we have a lot of entertaining stories from our lives; of course I had to emphatically disagree and press on.
The last thing I needed was to have some accountability.
I decided to challenge myself to a year of stories. So I made my mind up, I would come up with 52 stories over the next year.  I may do more, and that’s okay, but the challenge is at the end of 52 weeks I would have completed 52 stories/rants/experiences that in some way gives a reader a glimpse into the Hunter Adventure.
To keep me accountable I thought what better way than to post it somewhere for the entire world to see.  Brilliant!
Side Note: Some days I feel like a live in a fish bowl, so why not let the entire world see things from my point of view? 
Not that I would have huge following that would rave about how funny my life has been and send fan mail to beg for more stories of my life.
It’s just the fact, that there maybe someone out there who notices that on one week, I don’t write. Then I see them and they say, “Hey, don’t I know you? Yeah, you’re that guy that challenged himself to that crazy idea of writing a story a week, and then posting it for the world to see?”
Then I will have to say shamefully,” Yes, yes! (emotional crying out loud) It’s me!” I will then hang my head in despair, take the cone of shame, place it around my neck, hunch over,  slowly turn and walk away.
So, yup pretty sure this will motivate me and keep me accountable for the 52 weeks.
I’m not sure it will be entertaining, witty or even funny. More than likely it will not be grammatically correct. It may even have a few misspelled words.  What I am sure of is that it will be authentic, truthful, and full of crazy thoughts. It may even have some raw transparency that shows who I am.
So to start I have a list of topics that well exceeds 52.  If you want, follow my blog and help keep me accountable, this way I don’t have to wear the cone of shame! I would welcome it your help!
You could even subscribe to my blog! That way if you miss a post for some reason and we see each other in public, we won’t have any kind of huge argument, that store management or local authorities would have to break up as we get our pictures on the nightly news. Yeah… so, you might want to bypass all that and subscribe.
Okay, well…  start week is done!
On to the next weeks topic: Frogs, Frogs, and More Frogs!