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The Power of Keeping a Journal

November 13th, 2012 Comments off

I have been a blogger going on 7 years now. I started with a simple person website where I took some pictures and posted them online in a type of photo-blog. This turned into a family website as the kids were born and from there several other blogs were started to post info on various subjects and topics.

Along the way I felt the need to express some feeling on some personal issues that I was facing. I wanted to have a place where I could say anything that I wanted but did not ever want that to get out. I needed a place to unload so that I did not unload inappropriately towards anyone.

Thus my personal journal was born.

I setup a personal password protected website online. This was so that I could access it anywhere I had an internet connection but at the same time if someone accidentally stumbled upon it they would not be able to access it. I didn’t feel comfortable with keeping a hand written journal because that could easily be opened and read and because I prefer to type as opposed to write with a pen.

What do I write in my journal?

Anything and everything except people’s names. If by the slim chance that someone did find my journal they would really need to know me and the people I know in order to really know who or what I was talking about. My journal is not for others to read anyway. It is a place for me to empty and collect my thoughts so that when I do interact with other people I can do so more effectively.

For instance, today before I wrote this post I wrote a post in my journal. The post was about a disagreement that I had with someone. When I started the post I was extremely upset at this person. But as I wrote the post and saw the reason that I had stated that I was upset I realized that it was not such a big deal after all. I ended the post writing about how thankful I was that this person was in my life and how thankful I was that I knew God was going to resolve this issue. I went from anger to thankfulness in 500 words or less.

The God Factor

The other thing that I write about a lot is my relationship with God. I actually type/write prayers to God in my journal. There are even times where I express my anger or frustration with God because I either don’t like a situation that I am in or I don’t understand it. By doing this it helps me to work through my feelings and I feel it has really help my relationship with God grow.

I think writing to God is very similar to the psalms where David and the other authors expressed their wide array of feelings about and towards God. Here are some examples:

Why, O LORD, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
- Psalm 10:1
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?
- Psalm 22:1

I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”
- Psalm 42:9

I heard a message where the pastor spoke about how it is actually healthy to express our anger towards God. He mentioned that God can handle our anger and that when we open up to God in that way it can actually strengthen our relationship with Him. Now I am not saying that you should just open your journal everyday and yell at God. I believe that dialogue with God should be a two-way street. We talk – He listens, He talks – we listen. Communication is at the root of any good relationship.

The public journal

Just as I believe that it is healthy to have a personal and private journal I think having a public journal (or blog) is also a good idea. With a public journal it forces you to take what you have worked out privately and share it with others. Just as I shared here about how I worked through a disagreement in my personal journal, it shows the human side of me. It allows me to show people that I am not perfect and that I do have disagreements and make mistakes.

I also believe that a public journal can be a form of accountability as well. When you post something on your public journal you are opening yourself up to be scrutinized and judged by others. Other people can and will be quick to point out when your may be a little off in your views and/or thinking.

Due to the high probability of people judging your written words a lot of people opt not to be public with their thoughts and views, and I think that is a very wise decision. People have a tendency to be mean and cruel to each other especially when they are masked by a computer screen.

I have had my fair share of negative comments on this site. I have a choice to either approve or delete each comment but 99.9% of the time I opt to approve the comment for all to see. I am aware of the risks of posting my thoughts on religion for anyone in the world to see but I believe that when you allow people to express their feelings without censorship that you will gain their respect. This website is not about me forcing my opinion on others, but to share my experiences in walking with God so that others can see that I am human and do make mistakes. But even when my life is broken and in need of repair, God is still their to pick me up, dust me off, heal me, and send me on my way. I want people to know that if God can do it for me then He will do it for them too.

The wrap up

I believe that with any good blog post or journal entry you need to have a wrap up. The wrap up is a summary of all the things discussed in the entry and what the lesson that has been learned is. For this post, the wrap up is, that I believe that journalling is a healthy and productive way for a person to work through their own thoughts and issues in a non-judgmental arena. It is a place where they can talk with God and get perspective on things.

With a public-facing journal people can share what they have worked through in their personal journal for others to benefit from. It is a place where a person can spawn a discussion around something they feel is important that they want other people’s input on. It is also a place where a person can show their human side so that others can have a reasonable expectation of them.

I believe that the happiest and most productive times in my life have been when I have journalled both privately and publicly on a consistent basis. In the times that I have dropped off journalling is when I feel that issues and problems seem more overwhelming and difficult. For me journalling helps me to keep the perspective that I believe God wants me to have.

Categories: Christian Living, From the Network Tags:

Getting Back on the Horse

November 13th, 2012 Comments off

In life we all have times when certain life events can through us off the back of the proverbial “horse”. It can be embarrassing to be tossed from the horse because as humans we always want to portray that we are in control no matter what life throws at us. The truth is life has a way of unseating us seeming at will. It is not a matter of whether you will every get bucked from life, but when.

In the book of Proverbs there is a verse that says:

For a righteous man may fall seven times
And rise again, But the wicked shall fall by calamity. Proverbs 24:16

In my own life I have fallen several times, sometimes by my own hand, but other times through no fault of my own. Either way, the majority of times I get back on the horse quickly and try not to get into the same situation again.

How did I fall?

This time around my “fall” as I would put it was my cancer diagnosis. As far as the doctors tell me I did not cause this to happen to me but I have been doing everything I can to make sure it doesn’t happen again. The good news is that I have been cancer free for 2 1/2 years now. Praise God! The not as good news is that I am not fully recovered from the extensive treatment that I went through to help me to be cancer free. 3 years later, I am still dealing with side effects of treatment and am only about at 60% of my old self that I was before I got sick.

While that would seem like the “fall” that is the major thing in my life, for me, there is another fall that I am still struggling with. This fall is the testimony that I have been given. For the 1-1 1/2 years of my battle I was avidly blogging about my experience. People would come to my site for encouragement and I would also be encouraged by them.

Along the way the road got hard. I was no longer battling cancer, I was battling recovery. I thought I was going to have some treatment, recover for a couple of months, and then go back to work. Now, I have no set time on when that will happen. I am still believing that I will return to a “normal life” someday but I don’t know when that will be.

This is where my true fall has taken place. for the past year I have not shared about what God has been doing in my life. I have stopped talking to people. I have stopped sharing and being a part of my local church. I died socially. Part of that was because I didn’t have an answer anymore. When I spoke with folks I didn’t have an update as to my status. “Have you gone back to work?” someone would ask, I would reply “no, not yet”. “Are you going back?” they would continue, “the doctor says someday, but they don’t know when”. “Oh” they would reply and the conversation was over. It was awkward and it got old. After 6 months of the say Q & A session I just didn’t want to play anymore so I withdrew.

What do I do now?

This has been the question on my mind for the last year. What do I do now. I am not laid up in the hospital but I am not well enough to return to work either. What do I do? I tried helping out at church but it was too much for me physically and I fizzled out after a couple of months. I graduated from physical therapy which was great but quit the YMCA after 1 week because it was too much for me. The question slowly changed from “what do I do now” to “what CAN I do now?”. That’s the scary question.

This has been the question that I have ben hiding from all this time. I haven’t wanted to talk about it and I have done a pretty good job of eliminating everyone around me that would ask anything close to that. I stopped pushing and challenging myself. I had been knocked off the horse and decided that the ground was a good spot to say. After all, I couldn’t ride the horse – right?

Where I’ve been and where I’m going

So that is where I have been, for a while now. While I didn’t die from cancer, I gave up on life. I gave up on it because I didn’t want to think about being limited in this life. I didn’t want to talk about it and honestly I really still do not want to.

The reason that I am writing this though is that I have to talk about it. I cannot stay where I am. It is not fair to all of those who helped me to make it through cancer only to check out on life because it got hard. I know life is hard without cancer and all those things. To be honest though, life is harder when you are trying to be a husband, father, son, grandson, friend, business man, and all the rest and you are recovering from cancer.

See, I did not know about this recovery thing. I guess the doctors really didn’t talk about it because they weren’t sure that I was going to make it to this point. Well I did. Now I have to fight hard like I did when I was battling for my physical life, only this is more mental, and spiritual.

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.
“Eat and drink!” he says to you,
But his heart is not with you.
Proverbs 23:7

and

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:2

I believe that these truths have not been as much of a focus in my mind as they were when I was battling cancer. After I got victory over it I relaxed but that was not the time to do that, the next battle was just around the corner (it always it).

So what changed?

What changed for me was the death of my grandfather who was 101 years old. I spent time with my father celebrating his life and saw what God was doing in their lives – He was blessing them. I realized that the same blessing that they were experiencing was also waiting for me.

I don’t want to have been saved from cancer only to die spiritually. God turned the thing that satan intended for evil into a glorious testimony. God used faith, prayers, doctors, medicine, surgeries, and a whole host of other things to heal me so i could be here today.

Yes, life is different and harder then I thought it was going to be. This has taken me by surprise but it did not surprise God. He knew that there would be this chapter in my life and His plan is to bring me through this to the next chapter. Everything that I need is available through him. He did not bring me this far to leave me here.

I also know that he has given me a story to tell so that it can give other people hope. Yes, God can heal you from cancer. Yes, God can provide for you even if you haven’t worked for 3 years. Yes, you can fully recover from extensive cancer treatment (this is the one I am working on).

It is my job to tell the story of where God brought me from and also where He is taking me. I cannot shy away from it, that is a disservice to Him and everyone else that put their faith out there for me too. It may be hard to put myself out there and not everyone may receive my message, but that is alright. As long as I know that I am doing what God wants me to I will be alright.

So what happens now?

My intention is to finish the book that I started on this website. I had more then one of my family members tell me that I should write a book about my experience. Yes, I should. I also want to write here more. This site helps me to be accountable to the message that God has placed in side of me. I cannot say when and how often that will happen but I will make a concentrated effort to post here more.

So if you have made it this far congratulations and hopefully you have been inspired by my writing. I am not a perfect person but I do love God and am thankful for what He has done in my life. I believe that I can truly demonstrate my thankfulness by letting others know of the hope that I found in Him and His Son. I hope that is what you see when you read what I have written here.

Until next time…