The LORD is my Shepherd…

As we prepare to bid “Adios” to 2017, a year that, for many of us, has been very difficult, we need to be reminded that the same Shepherd that King David trusted in three-thousand years ago is still on His throne and will lead us onward into and through 2018.

I lost my mom to cancer April 4th of this year. She spent the last 2-1/2 weeks in a Hospice facility, and when I went to see her, I read the 23rd Psalm to her right before I left each time. Even though her thinking wasn’t very clear and she was minimally-responsive, when I read this Psalm to her, she would get the most peaceful-countenance about her as she imagined being led by her great Shepherd. It was all I could do to read the 23rd Psalm at her memorial service without breaking down.

Several of us lost a friend and brother to suicide October 12th. He left his young, pregnant wife and three adorable daughters behind. Other close friends also lost family members this year.

October 22nd was the twentieth anniversary of the death by suicide of my beloved wife, Connie. That kind of loss never goes away, and it is a loss that you don’t just “get-over”.

The 23rd Psalm is the best-know passage in the whole Bible, and even unbelievers want it read at their funeral or memorial service, because it speaks of the kind of comfort and security everyone craves. This is a phrase-by-phrase, part-by-part, meditation, and I hope to open up the richest meaning we can get from this marvelous Psalm.

King David, the author, had been a shepherd long before he was anointed as a king, so he knew intimately what the responsibilities of a shepherd were. As he applied it to us, as sheep under God’s shepherding, he has told us both what our Shepherd will do, and what our response should be.

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalm 23)

The LORD – The LORD – Yahweh…the most personal name of God, the great I AM. This was the marvelous name God told Moses to use when he went back to Egypt to carry out the mission God commanded him to do…liberate the children of Israel from bondage.

Is my shepherd – The supreme God of the universe is the One who has taken on the task of being my God, provider, guide and protector. There is no higher authority…no better provider.

I shall not want – I shall not lack the necessities of life. We have become a seriously materialistic society, and we often confuse our “wants” with what we actually need. God is the provider of our needs, and we should be thankful for “our daily bread“.

He makes me lie down in green pastures – Lying down in green pastures is a picture of rest…rest in abundance.

He leads me beside quiet waters – In all the hustle and bustle of life, God wants to lead us to a peaceful place, a place of refreshing…quiet waters.

He restores my soul – Our souls are in turmoil. We see nothing but bad news…broken relationships, violence, wars, and personal brokenness, but God wants to repair and heal our brokenness, and restore us to a right relationship with Him.

He guides me in paths of righteousness – Our first parents left us with a legacy of sin and despair. We are sinners by birth, and sinners by choice, but God wants us to depend on Him for our righteousness. Then, with His enabling, we are able to live a life that is pleasing to Him.

For His name’s sake – God has staked His own reputation on us, and if we do what is right, we are a positive reflection of Him. We should do everything for His glory, not our own.

Even though I walk through the valley of shadow of death – We will all face the valley of death, and maybe many times, as we lose friends and loved ones, but our Lord Jesus has already trod and conquered that lonely valley, and He will guide us safely through. Even though we all will die, unless our Lord returns beforehand, we should see our death not as an exit from this life, but as an entrance-ramp into eternity.

I will fear no evil – Evil IS everywhere around us, because Satan is on the prowl, but his days are numbered. Our Lord Jesus crushed the serpent’s head on the cross, and in so doing, gained the victory over sin and death. Even though evil men may kill us, our victory is assured in Christ. We need not fear the evil one or any of his schemes.

For you are with me – Is there any better assurance? God is with us, and if God is with us, who can successfully be against us. He is our guide, and He walks by our side and carries us when we need to be carried.

Your rod and your staff – These are pictures of both protection and guidance. The rod is a tool of protection from our enemies, and the staff is used to gently guide and direct us in the path.

They comfort me – What greater comfort can we have, than that we are both protected and guided by our faithful Shepherd, even though the path may be rough and steep. This life WILL bring tough times our way, but our comfort must come from the LORD.

You prepare a table before me – This is no ordinary table. It is a lavish banquet table in a magnificent celebration hall, set and prepared by the LORD Himself. We are His honored-guests.

In the presence of my enemies – Our enemies seek to do us harm, but when we are in God’s banquet-hall, all they can do is fuss and fume on the sidelines. God’s banquet-hall is a place of perfect safety and security. We are better-protected than any president ever will be.

You anoint my head with oil – Anointing carries with it a two-fold picture. It is a picture of healing, and also a picture of honor. Priests were anointed for their holy service, and we are anointed both for holy service and as a badge of honor in God’s house.

My cup overflows – A never-ending supply, and a permanent place at His table. There is a limitless supply of His wine of grace.

Sure goodness and mercy – Goodness and mercy=blessings and salvation, which come only from the hand of God. They are not things we can earn or merit.

Will follow me – They will not only follow me, but they will also surround me and en-dwell me.

All the days of my life – God, through Jesus Christ, has guaranteed these blessings for as long as we live.

And I will dwell – Live safely and securely.

In the house – We will no longer be out in the “fields” of life. Instead, we will be HOME, never to be put out to pasture again.

Of the LORD – Our eternal LORD is the provider of our “forever-home“. This reminds me of a child who has been in foster-care for many years, and who has never really had a place to call “home“, but when they are adopted, they are taken to their “forever-home“…the home of their new parents. We have been orphans, but God has adopted us, and He will take us to HIS home…our “forever-home“.

Forever – Do we really comprehend “forever“? If we see someone we haven’t seen in a long time, we may tell them: “I haven’t seen you in forever“, which to us means “a long time“, but that time isn’t even a pin-prick on the time-line of “forever“. The problem is that our minds are constrained by MEASURABLE time, so IMMEASURABLE time is incomprehensible. “Forever” is immeasurable, and we can’t wrap our brains around it, but in fact, that is how “long” we will dwell in the house of the LORD.

Is this LORD your shepherd? I pray that He is, and that you find great comfort in knowing that, no matter what kind of trials come your way, you are in good hands…the hands of the LORD.

Sola Deo Gloria!


Suicide – Twenty Years Later

It has been twenty years since Connie put SUICIDE on my “radar” – October 22, 1997 – by taking her own life on that fateful day, and in some ways, it hasn’t gotten easier. I was reminded – again, of the devastation that is left behind when someone commits suicide. I lost a young friend (29) and brother to suicide, October 12, 2017. Connie left behind our family which will never be “whole” again, and he left his young, pregnant wife and three young children behind.

His wife told me that she felt like she had lost a piece of herself, and she did. I lost a piece of myself when Connie took the “easy-way-out“. We will never regain that lost piece, and nobody can ever “replace” that lost spouse. Why do we lose a piece of ourselves when we lose our spouse? We find that answer in the latter part of Genesis 2:24: “…the two shall become one flesh.” Marriage, as designed by God, is intended to be our deepest, most intimate human relationship. In becoming husband and wife, “one flesh“, we mirror the deep, intimate relationship within the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We see “unity in diversity“.

Sadly, suicide has become an epidemic in America. Another person takes their own life every twelve minutes, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and one out of five is a Veteran. He was a Veteran, a two-tour combat Veteran. He had uncontrolled and inadequately-treated PTSD. Not even his wife knew how badly he was doing and hurting.

Suicide always demands more questions than there are available answers, not the least of which is “WHY?”. In spite of having more answers than I had a few months ago, thanks to some things I found in my mom’s files, even they asked more questions than they gave answers. I now know that I was kept in the dark about some things, which my mom knew about, for over five years before Connie took her own life. Why wasn’t I told?

Why does suicide seem to “require” a scapegoat, someone to blame? Aren’t there enough questions already, besides wondering what “someone did wrong“? That seems particularly prevalent when that person was married, and so the most common scapegoat is their spouse. Why do families have to play the “blame-game“. Any time a person takes their own life, it is easy to believe that “someone” is to blame. WHY??? Did that “someone” “drop the ball“, “fail to read the signs“, or otherwise “not live up to expectations“? Were they “not as good a spouse as they should have been“? There are people who are still blaming me for Connie’s death twenty years later.

As if it isn’t bad enough that others want to blame us, the survivors, for our spouse’s suicide, we have the tendency to blame ourselves for their suicide. Weren’t we “good enough“? Did we “do something wrong“? Worse yet, “could we have done something to prevent their suicide?“, or, “how did we miss the signs?“… The problem with those lines of thinking is that WE ARE NOT MINDREADERS, and not every person who commits suicide “telegraphs” their intentions beforehand.

As a suicide survivor, and knowing other suicide survivors, I am appalled by how many people take their own lives every year. One of the problems is suicide is that it doesn’t just affect the person who took their own life, but it also affects their family and friends. With that in mind, let’s look at the statistics from the AFSP (

* Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US.

* Each year, 44,193 Americans die by suicide. To expand on that, a person dies by suicide every twelve minutes, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

* It is estimated that twenty-five people attempt suicide for every people who actually takes their own life.

* On average, there are 121 suicides a day, of which 22 are Veterans, which means that we not only lose five people to suicide every hour, but almost one out of five is a Veteran.

* That means that 121 families and extended-families are bereft of their loved-one every day. How many people does that affect? Thousands per day? Millions per year?

* Firearms account for almost 50% of the suicides each year. The next most common methods were suffocation (including hangings) at 26.8% and poisoning at 15.4%.

* Men die by suicide 3.5x more often than women.

* White males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in 2015.

* The rate of suicide is highest in middle age — white men in particular. “Mid-life crisis”?

* In 2015, the highest suicide rate (19.6%) was among adults between 45 and 64 years of age. The second highest rate (19.4%) occurred in those 85 years or older. Younger groups have had consistently lower suicide rates than middle-aged and older adults. In 2015, adolescents and young adults aged 15 to 24 had a suicide rate of 12.5%.

* In 2015, the highest U.S. suicide rate (15.1%) was among Whites and the second highest rate (12.6%) was among American Indians and Alaska Natives. Much lower and roughly similar rates were found among Asians and Pacific Islanders (6.4%), and Blacks (5.6%).

These are real people, not just numbers. In more tangible terms:

* We lose a community every day. I live in a community which probably doesn’t even have 121 people in it, so it would be wiped out, and then some.

* We lose a small town every week. There are many small towns that don’t even have 850 residents. They would be a total-loss.

* We lose 3,400 people to suicide every week, which is the equivalent of a modest-size town.

* Our annual losses to suicide would populate a small city.

When we think about those affected by suicide, we immediately think of their immediate-family; spouse, children, siblings, parents, etc., but we often forget that suicide affects far more people than that; church, extended-family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. Nobody takes their own life in a vacuum. When my wife took her own life, it affected nearly the entire community because she was a hometown-girl who was related to at least half of the town through marriage. It was no wonder the church was standing-room-only during her funeral.

We must not forget that suicide doesn’t just strike “secular-people“, “unbelievers“, it strikes Christians as well. My wife was a strong Christian and active in our church. My friend who committed suicide recently was a Christian, as was the pastor’s wife I mentioned in “The Faces Of Suicide“. Just because Christians should always have hope, doesn’t mean that they always HAVE hope. Nobody is immune to staring down that black-hole of hopelessness. Nobody…

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention PTSD. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental disorder that can develop after a person is exposed to a traumatic event, such as sexual assault, warfare, traffic collisions, or other threats on a person’s life. While Veteran’s PTSD is the most recognized, we can’t leave out the PTSD our First Responders, Firefighters, Police, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Search and Rescue (SAR) personnel face. Nobody who deals with trauma and death is immune to PTSD, but frequent debriefings do help lessen the effects of PTSD. I was in Search and Rescue for a dozen years, and I have been places, seen and done things I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Why? Because even if we were not able to “rescue” anyone, helping bring “closure” to their families DID matter. PTSD not only affects the person with PTSD, it affects all of their close relationships, particularly their spouse.

FInal thoughts…
Is there more to say? Unfortunately there will always be more to say, because the problem of suicide is only getting worse, not better. I doubt that this is my final word on suicide, because as I learn more, I will pass on what I have learned in hopes of helping prevent even ONE suicide.

Are YOU available to help someone who is contemplating suicide? I am…


Tired Of Being “Tough”…

I “cracked” last week. No, I didn’t have a total-breakdown, but I was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted, so I “cracked“. I hadn’t slept much in almost a week. It seemed that my world has come crashing down around my ears, and I couldn’t handle it any more, so I “cracked” – at the VA, in a nurse’s office. I’m grateful that I had SOMEONE to talk to who cared, because the doctor I was there to see only cares about NUMBERSLAB NUMBERS. He couldn’t care less that I hadn’t slept much in almost a week. Taking care of me otherwise is “not-his-job“, “not his department“… That is what I have “other doctors” for….

It wasn’t “fun” sitting there admitting that I was “at the end of my rope“. I am supposed to be “tough” because I am a MAN, and men are “tough“. We don’t “feel” because we are not ALLOWED to “feel“. Our emotions and emotional-needs don’t matter, because we are MEN, and that is what we have been taught from the time we were wee toddlers: “Big-boys don’t cry“, “Suck it up buttercup!“, “Be a MAN!“… What if I am tired of being “tough“?

As I think back a few days, I did the right thing, because I AM tired of being “tough“. This year has been one emotional-onslaught after another. Now, my brother in is Intensive Care in the hospital having had surgery to remove a significant part of his foot, all because his foot hadn’t been properly cared-for when he was in a Rehab center. Oh, and I am only a month away from the twentieth “anniversary” of Connie’s tragic-suicide. When will it end?

If I could, I would gladly take the place of my brother, because he has a beautiful young daughter who badly needs her dad. I don’t WANT to have to be there in his place when she graduates from High School, but I will, if I have to. I don’t WANT to have to be there to walk her down the aisle when she gets married, but I will, if I have to. I am no “replacement” for her dad. I can only be a “stand-in“, but I can’t “replace” him. I would much rather be there beside her mom and dad enjoying those times with them. Yes, I love her, but I am not her dad.

Yes, I have people who “care” about me, or so they say, but where are they when I need them? I can’t burden my poor sister with my struggles because she has a more-than-full plate dealing with my brother’s problems AND trying to care for and raise a soon-to-be “young-lady“(tweenager). Everyone I know has their own struggles, so they don’t have the time or energy to help me with mine. On top of everything else, a hurricane went through Florida less than two weeks ago (Irma). So, I am “stuck“, “stuck” dealing with my own problems as best I can, while trying to appear as “normal” (whatever that is) as possible, so I write, or try to write, hoping that this doesn’t sound to inane.

BTW, I still haven’t had a “good” night’s sleep in almost two weeks…



What is rejection? Rejection is telling someone by your words and actions that they are not important. Rejection is telling someone by your words and actions that what you want is more important than your relationship with them. Rejection is telling someone by your words and actions that they are no longer a part of your agenda…THAT THEY NO LONGER MATTER TO YOU. Rejection is telling someone by your words and actions that you really don’t care what kind of hurt you are causing them, because you no longer care about them.

What do I know about rejection? In a word…a LOT. Being rejected by others has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. As a kid growing up, we moved around a lot, so I was always the “new kid on the block“…the “new kid in school“. I might make a friend or two, and then we would move – again.

Because of my Tourette’s, I was teased a lot in school. I was called “twitch“…and worse. Other kids made fun of me by imitating my facial tics. I was a book-worm, and read encyclopedias in my spare time, so my nickname was “Brit” or “Encyclopedia“.

Even my parents rejected me… Probably the worst case of my young life was on my eleventh birthday. My grandfather died on that day, and his death was more important than celebrating my birthday. Rather than celebrating my birthday, dad drove to Illinois to be with his family for the funeral. He couldn’t wait a couple of days, and be a part of his son’s life, before he went to the funeral. His family, and the funeral, were more important than his own son. Maybe that seems trivial, but it isn’t. It was to become a pattern, repeated at various times and various ways.

By about my thirteenth birthday, mom no longer came into the bathroom and talked to me while I took my bath. Perhaps that was to teach me “modesty“, but in the long run, it taught me that she no longer cared enough about me to take special time for me. Sure, I was getting to be a “big-boy“, a “young man“, but other than the fact that my sexual equipment was getting bigger, and getting hair around it, I was still the same kid she had brought into the world just a few years later…but I wasn’t to her. As I got older, my parent’s lives got busier and busier, and they had less and less time for me. I no longer “mattered“. I was rejected. When I didn’t do well in English, dad simply grounded me until I got my grades up. Never mind that he had been a college-English instructor, and could have helped me, but he didn’t have the time. I didn’t matter, just my grades.

After my sophomore year of high-school, we moved again, so my dad could pastor a church in Oklahoma. Again, I was the “new kid on the block“…the “new kid in church“…the “PREACHER’S KID“, and I wasn’t welcome. Sure, there were other kids my age in the church, but they already had their own clique, and I wasn’t welcome. Whether it was in church, or elsewhere, I didn’t “fit-in“. I was an outsider looking in. I vividly remember those interminably-long church-bus rides between Oklahoma and church-camp in Colorado. The rest of the kids carried on, cut-up, and generally had a gay old time…and sang “They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love“, while I sat…lonely and rejected. I hated that song for many years, because it represented what they should have been, but weren’t…loving. Even at camp, about all the people that had anything to do with me were other pastors. One particular pastor stands out in my mind as having the kind of love that I wasn’t getting elsewhere.

After I graduated from high-school, instead of going to college…like all the other kids I graduated with did, I went into the service. Once again…out of sight, out of mind. I was just a fleeting shadow, and not worth keeping up with.

After I got back home from my time in the service, I met and married a lovely young lady. She supported me through two years of college. I got recruited right out of college, so we moved to where my new job was.
Along the way, we had four kids…three girls and a boy. That presented its own unique set of challenges, because particularly when they were young, my wife’s full attention was devoted to them. While we did have some “us” time, it was never the same. I was “dad“…I was the “provider“, but the husband-wife relationship had been seriously disrupted. After we had been there about a dozen years, my wife started getting home-sick. She was very close to her family, and being over five-hundred miles away made that difficult for her. When I saw the handwriting on the wall, that the work for the group I was in was being seriously curtailed, we decide to move back “home“. That really was the beginning of the end of our relationship and our family.

Things seemed to hum along for another couple of years, and then my work started taking more and more of my time. I worked a lot of overtime due to me responsibilities. My wife and kids spent more and more time with her family, and less and less time with me. Her mom got to the point of needing 24/7 care, but her family was unwilling to put her in a nursing home, and the only person in the family that didn’t have an outside job was my wife, so she became her mom’s caregiver. Not only was our husband-wife relationship stretched from having four kids, but it got stretched thinner by her caring for her mom. I was no longer her #1 priority. At one point, she even demanded that we buy her mom’s house and move in with her. I refused that demand, because it wouldn’t have been good for anything but her being able to take care of her mom even more. The house was also way too small for our family. I saw less and less of my wife and family.

My wife started realizing what her actions had done to our family, but by then, the damage was all but irreparable. Her health was also suffering, and she refused medical help. She also refused any form of marriage counseling. She took her own life shortly thereafter. I am sure that she thought her death would unite our fragmented family, but it totally destroyed it. Suicide may be the ultimate form of rejection, because it is totally self-centered. Suicide tells those affected that they aren’t worth living for…

Because her family blamed me for her death, the very people who should have rallied around me didn’t. Old friends and family became mortal enemies, and they did everything in their power to destroy me. One brother-in-law even threatened to kill me. I had to move out of the community because I was no longer welcome there. Her family even poisoned my own kid’s attitudes towards me, so that they didn’t even want to see me or have anything to do with me. It has been over eighteen years since their mom’s death, and they still refuse to have anything to do with me. My oldest daughter threatened to call the police if I tried to contact her again. I am still not welcome in that community. The bitterness and hatred still run that deep. BTW…those people even call themselves “Christians“. Where is their love?

About a year later, I remarried, and shortly after we got married, we moved completely out of the area. The first place she started rejecting me was in the bedroom. Even though we didn’t have a truly-active sex-life, it went to non-existent…from sex every few weeks, to sex once every two or three years. That marriage lasted until I lost my eye. She decided that I was no longer part of her agenda, and she divorced me. She couldn’t even be bothered to send me a “get-well” card, let alone come and be with me in the hospital. I was thrown away with yesterday’s trash.

A few months after that divorce, I met another lady, and we started courting. I had a steady job, and she was disabled and unable to work. We got married, and as long as I had steady income, I was the greatest guy in the world. After she got her disability, and I lost my job, I became expendable. I was no longer part of her agenda…no longer desirable…thrown away with yesterday’s trash. Oh, we can’t forget that she had promised faithfully to NEVER do to me what my previous wife had done, but she did…

Maybe I should have gotten wiser, and avoided further romantic contact, but I had never been a “happy single“. I was “wired” to be married, and that was how and where I was happiest.

After being divorced for about two years, I met another lady. She had been down many of the same roads I have been down, including being a widow. She seemed to be the “ideal” wife. At least she talked a good talk. We got married in December 2013, and less than six weeks later, she moved out…while I was out of town at a doctor’s appointment. All she left was a note. We had sporadic contact for a few months, and then abruptly she wanted to move back home with me. That lasted exactly two weeks, before she moved out again. A couple of weeks later, she texted me and told me that she is in love with another man, and would be filing for divorce shortly. Oh, we can’t forget that she had promised faithfully to NEVER do to me what my previous wife had done, but she did…

Perhaps that is the most unkind cut of all…leaving me for another man. That tears at the very heart of who I am as a man. It is rejection – in spades. She has thrown me away with yesterday’s trash, because I am no longer what she wants in life. I was a brief interlude, but little more. She claims she is sorry for what she has done to me, but her actions show that her remorse is only superficial. She is unwilling to do what is necessary to start undoing the hurt she has caused.

Do I know a bit about rejection? I could probably write a book on it, but what would that accomplish?

Rejection – when a person willfully and deliberately hurts and discards another person who trusted them to never do that. Someone else knew quite a bit about rejection.

Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
3 He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

4 Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment,
And who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
9 And they made His grave with the wicked—
But with the rich at His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was any deceit in His mouth.

10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53)

One of His close associates, Judas, betrayed Him. Another close associate, Peter, denied him, not just once, but three times, after he swore that he would NEVER do that. When He was arrested, only Peter and John tagged-along behind the mob to His trial. John is also the only disciple who was there when He was crucified. All the rest had turned-tail and ran. Mark fled the scene of His arrest naked.

Yes, Jesus Christ knows a few things about rejection, and He keenly-feels our rejection with us. Who better to turn to in our pain?

In Christ,


As we grow older, our life starts coming more clearly into focus, and we start realizing, perhaps for the first time, how our life and decisions have impacted others, both for good and for ill. If we had gone through life making perfect decisions and always doing the right thing… Only one person ever perfectly-fullfilled that ideal – Jesus Christ. The rest of us are fallen sinners, and yes, we do make mistakes, and we do have regrets.

I just celebrated birthday number fifty-nine, which means that three-quarters of my life is behind me. Celebrating another birthday gave me the reason and opportunity to pause and look back on my life. The picture hasn’t always been pretty, but I am not here to paint pretty pictures. This is life in the ditches.

The famous American Revolutionary War hero, Nathan Hale, is reported to have said “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” as he was about to be hanged by the British. Many of us who have spent a lifetime in public service echo those words as our own. A few years ago, a dear friend (BROTHER) and I were discussing our lives as public-servants, and we concluded that our only regret was that we weren’t able to do more. Our bodies have betrayed us, and we are no longer able to do what we love, help others in the capacities we used to. If you haven’t been in the “family“, you won’t understand what drives us. Our “drummer” skips a beat, as does our heart, every time the pager goes off.

I have another, far more important regret that will go with me to the grave, that I wasn’t a better husband to my wife and father to my children. Every time I hear “Cats In The Cradle” I get a lump in my throat, because that is my story also. No, I didn’t seek fame and fortune, but I did “do what it takes” in my job, and my family suffered as result.

Cats In The Cradle
My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talking before I knew it and as he grew
He said, “I’m gonna be like you, Dad,
You know I’m gonna be like you”

And the cats in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin home, dad, I don’t know when,
But we’ll get together then, Son,
You know we’ll have a good time then.

My son turned ten just the other day
He said “Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on lets play
can you teach me to throw?” I said, “Not today,
I got a lot to do” He said “Thats okay”
And then he walked away but his smile never dimmed
And said “I’m gonna be like him, yeah
You know I’m going to be like him”

And the cats in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin home, dad, I dont know when,
But we’ll get together then, Son,
You know we’ll have a good time then.

Well he came from college just the other day
So much like a man I just had to say,
“Son, I’m proud of you, can you sit for a while?”
He shook his head, and he said with a smile

“What I’d really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later, can I have them please?”

And the cats in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin home, Son, I dont know when,
But we’ll get together then, Dad,
You know we’ll have a good time then.

I’ve long since retired, my son’s moved away
I called him up just the other day……..
I said “I’d like to see you if you don’t mind”
He said “I’d love to Dad, if I could find the time.
You see my new jobs a hassle, and the kids have the flu.
But It’s sure nice talking to you, Dad,
It’s been sure nice talking to you……..”
And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
He’d grown up just like me,
My boy was just like me…………..

And the cats in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin home, Son, I dont know when,
But we’ll get together then, Dad
We’re gonna have a good time then.

Yes, I have them. I can’t make it up to my dear wife, because she committed suicide in 1997. I can’t make it up to my children, because they don’t have anything to do with me. They are probably also “too busy” with their own lives and families to make time for their dad. Hopefully they are better parents than I was. I just pray that they aren’t “too busy” for their own children. That is one regret that I DON’T want them to have.

I am still self-centered, self-willed and selfish. I am not the man of God that I should be or could be. I am still a work-in-progress, and it shows. This is about struggles, not triumphs, and I still struggle.

God bless!


The Faces of Suicide

Have you ever known anyone who committed suicide? Were you close to them? Were they your best friend, your lover, your spouse? How did they end their life? Were there any clues beforehand?

For those of us whose lives have been affected by suicide, our lives will never be the same. That moment when we either found them dead, or when we were informed of their death, is etched indelibly in our minds and hearts. For those who found someone who had committed suicide, that scene is seared into their memory, and may come back to haunt them over and over again.

This is not about the “Why?” of suicide, because the whole story is known only to God, and I believe that He still shakes His head when someone ends their life this way. It is about those of us who have been left behind, the survivors. Why do we sometimes include graphic descriptions of how our friend or loved-one ended their life? Because it matters. Suicide isn’t clinical. Suicide isn’t pretty. It is ugly. It is horrible. It is horrific, and those who found that scene will never be the same. We will never be the same.

We all knew him, or knew of him. He was a well-know and popular comedian and actor, but he had battled depression for much of his adult life. Word of his suicide stunned us, as word of the death of Robin Williams spread like wild-fire throughout the media. We all wondered how someone so popular, so successful, could ever take his own life, but he did. He had it all, but all he had didn’t make his life worth living.

If there has been any good to come of Robin Williams’ death, it has been to put a very public face on suicide, and to get us thinking and talking about this very important problem.

She was the wife of a pastor, but something went terribly wrong. Her husband came home from work to find her hanging in their garage, dead. Why? Were the stresses of being a pastor’s wife too much for her to handle? What caused her to snap? He was out of the ministry for several years because of it.

I didn’t know her, and I have only met him once. He appeared to be a loving, caring man when I met him. By the time I met him, he had remarried and was back in the ministry.

Searchers found him about half a mile up the trail from the parking lot and trail-head. He was buck-naked and had a plastic bag over his head. His clothes were neatly-folded and laying on his backpack a few feet away. His car was in the parking lot, abandoned. He had left a trail of clues, including a suicide note, which meant that it wasn’t a “spur-of-the-moment” thing. He was in his mid-twenties…

Being in search and rescue has its rewards, but that wasn’t one of them. I was in that parking lot coordinating communications during the entire operation.

Good cop…rough times…
In the early morning hours of December 2008 my friend John sat beneath the peaceful canopy of a redwood grove. He removed his off duty Glock handgun, leveled it against his temple and pulled the trigger. In an instant everything would change.

Two beautiful young daughters would never again experience their father’s love. His parents would face the insurmountable pain of losing a child. Urgent calls would reach shocked siblings, friends and coworkers. John’s girlfriend, a welcome light after his difficult divorce, would become consumed by grief.

For me the first news of trouble was a predawn phone call from a trusted friend. The ringing of the phone roused me awake. Then my friend’s voice, in cryptic tones, said, “John is missing.” As a police chief I’d grown accustomed to late night and early morning calls. They were usually bad news.

Friends and authorities began searching for John. Later that morning, troubling news came that he never showed up for work. And then I got the fateful call from the county Sheriff. “He’s dead. A hiker found him in the woods. Self inflicted gun shot wound. I’m sorry. You guys were buddies, weren’t you?” I remember holding the phone receiver in disbelief. No one close to me had ever committed suicide. “Yeah, we were buddies,” I told the Sheriff.

John and I began our police careers together. We used to be roommates. We went through training together. Bought motorcycles together. Got married, had kids. Back then we were young, ambitious and the world was our oyster.

John was strong, intelligent and proud. A rock to many. Someone you could count on and turn to for advice. He was the last person I ever thought would take his life. But despair can strike down the strongest among us. (Exerpted from The Nightmare of Suicide- Six Things You Need to Know by John Patrick Weiss)

My wife, my lover, my best friend…
We had been married for 19 1/2 years, and yes, we had had our share of hard-times, but we had survived all of them until… She was a wonderful wife and mother. Only God knows what caused her to commit that final act of desperation, to take her own life in a horrific manner. All I know is that it wasn’t a “spur-of-the-moment” act. It was planned, and for how long, only God knows. She had asked me where the weapon was kept a few weeks before. It was for protection and self-defense, but… She committed suicide the day after our oldest daughter got her driver’s license. She was forty-five…

A few months before her death, she had told me that another woman would be putting her feet under our dining-room table. All I could think of was divorce, and we had never talked about getting divorced. I disposed of that table almost immediately after her death.

Is there a common thread?
They all died too young! Even though they made their “escape” before things got worse, they weren’t around for things to get better. Even though I can attest to the fact that sometimes things get worse, WAY WORSE, before they get better, the sun WILL come out another day, and eventually things will start looking up.

I believe that suicide is a final act of desperation, what the person believes is their only way out of whatever situation or emotional trauma they are in. We had marital and family problems, and my wife believed that it was her “fault” that our marriage and family were falling apart. She also had some medical problems which she refused to get taken care of. I believe that she honestly thought that her death would make things “better” for the rest of us, but her death only made matters worse.

I have been there, at least a couple of times, when things were so desperate, when I was so down, that I thought that I, and everyone around me, would be better off with me out of the way. The first time was just a few months before my wife committed suicide. I was under immense pressure from all sides, and if I had taken my own life that night, my wife would probably still be alive, but my gut-feeling was that I could “pull it out“. It would be many months before I saw the first rays of sunshine, but I still had many months of hell to go through before things started looking up. I did “pull it out“, but at what cost? My own children still have nothing to do with me.

There was a period of time in 2013 when I felt like I was totally-disconnected from anyone who might have actually cared about me. It was after my wife left me, again, after coming home for only two weeks. I felt like an abandoned-dog, a stray, a lost-soul. I was sick as a dog, and on the verge of having to reschedule a surgical procedure, because everyone I knew was “too busy” to be there for me. Didn’t I “matter” to anyone? I asked God “why?“, “Why?“, “WHY?” for a solid hour, but the silence was deafening. If I didn’t matter to God, and if I didn’t matter to anyone else, what was I doing here? Why was I even here? Would anyone even notice if I simply disappeared? Maybe I was just too stubborn, too bull-headed to give up, and I didn’t.

Reason, sanity and purpose started emerging, but my purpose for being here wasn’t for myself. Rather, it was for someone else who was alone, “stranded“, and in need of way more care and compassion than I could ever imagine. She needed “someone“, and that “someone” became me. Her other friends certainly haven’t “stepped up to the plate“, because they are all “too busy“. That is a story for another day, and I know one of the local hospitals far better than I would really like to, because she spent about a month during 2014 in that hospital. I was there to spend time with her every day she was in the hospital, and I have been able to fill in details of things that happened while she was too sedated to remember. Even though I have spent hundreds of hours caring for her, at all hours of the day and night, I couldn’t have left her to fend for herself, because I know what it is like to be alone. She also battles depression…

Who is next?
No one knows who is next, but there will be a “next“. Another family will have their hearts broken by suicide. Another lover will lose his or her beloved to suicide. While it would be nice if a person started “telegraphing” their intention to commit suicide months in advance, that rarely if ever happens. Most will be “ordinary” people who are going through extraordinarily hard-times, but very few will ever ask for help, because they believe, rightly or wrongly, that no one cares.

Some will be Veterans who have seen the horrors of war, maybe are badly-mangled themselves, and whose country has abandoned them, because they are “disposable“. He may even be homeless, having even been abandoned by his own family. There is no such thing as a “disposable” person. A country that is unwilling to commit all the necessary resources to care for its veterans has no business sending them to war.

Yes, you CAN help them, even if they never ask for help. I believe that, at their core, people who commit suicide are feeling alone and abandoned, maybe even betrayed. Their world either is, or already has come crashing down around them. What difference could a caring-friend make? It could be HUGE! Caring about them and what they are going through may be life-changing, for the better. Help them make their life worth living. If you are “too busy” to care, you are TOO BUSY! What is a life worth?

God bless!

David and Goliath

Are you faced with a “Goliath“? Are you facing what seem to be insurmountable obstacles in your life? Have you ever lost your job suddenly and without any warning? Have you ever been unemployed AND unemployable? Are you faced with financial distress so great that you don’t know how you are going to pay your bills, let alone live? Are you in a relationship that seems so irreparably-broken that you think that there is no hope of saving it? Are you plagued by a growing list of chronic health-problems? Have you lost a loved-one to death, and wondered how you could ever carry-on without him or her? Has the seemingly “organizedchaos” of your life descended into utter-pandemonium? Several thousand years ago, David, a young shepherd-boy, faced Goliath, a man who was nearly twice as tall as him, but he conquered that that giant with the help of the Lord. So, sit back, relax, and buckle up, as we look at how David slew the giant, and how we may “slay” our “giants” with God’s help. We may never completely “slay” our “giants” in this life, but God has promised to show Himself strong where we are weak.

David and Goliath

17 Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle. And they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. 2 And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered, and encamped in the Valley of Elah, and drew up in line of battle against the Philistines. 3 And the Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. 4 And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. 5 He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. 6 And he had bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. 7 The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron. And his shield-bearer went before him. 8 He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” 10 And the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.” 11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

12 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah, named Jesse, who had eight sons. In the days of Saul the man was already old and advanced in years. 13 The three oldest sons of Jesse had followed Saul to the battle. And the names of his three sons who went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next to him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. 14 David was the youngest. The three eldest followed Saul, 15 but David went back and forth from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem. 16 For forty days the Philistine came forward and took his stand, morning and evening.

17 And Jesse said to David his son, “Take for your brothers an ephah of this parched grain, and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp to your brothers. 18 Also take these ten cheeses to the commander of their thousand. See if your brothers are well, and bring some token from them.”

19 Now Saul and they and all the men of Israel were in the Valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. 20 And David rose early in the morning and left the sheep with a keeper and took the provisions and went, as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the encampment as the host was going out to the battle line, shouting the war cry. 21 And Israel and the Philistines drew up for battle, army against army. 22 And David left the things in charge of the keeper of the baggage and ran to the ranks and went and greeted his brothers. 23 As he talked with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him.

24 All the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were much afraid. 25 And the men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel. And the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father’s house free in Israel.” 26 And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 27 And the people answered him in the same way, “So shall it be done to the man who kills him.”

28 Now Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke to the men. And Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” 29 And David said, “What have I done now? Was it not but a word?” 30 And he turned away from him toward another, and spoke in the same way, and the people answered him again as before.

31 When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul, and he sent for him. 32 And David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 33 And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. 36 Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37 And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!”

38 Then Saul clothed David with his armor. He put a helmet of bronze on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail, 39 and David strapped his sword over his armor. And he tried in vain to go, for he had not tested them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” So David put them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine.

41 And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. 42 And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. 43 And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” 45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.”

48 When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. 49 And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground.

50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. 51 Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. 52 And the men of Israel and Judah rose with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron, so that the wounded Philistines fell on the way from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron. 53 And the people of Israel came back from chasing the Philistines, and they plundered their camp. 54 And David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem, but he put his armor in his tent.

How big was Goliath? Six cubits and a span translates into 9 feet, 8 inches tall. His armor weighed 5,000 shekels of bronze, or 125 pounds. and the head of his spear weighed 600 shekels of iron, or about 15 pounds. He was enormous! He was a trained warrior, he was invincible, and yet he was felled with a stone hurled from a sling. Maybe everyone else thought he was too big to fall, but to David, with the help of God, he was too big to miss.

Goliath thought that David was easy-pickings, a push-over, but he was dead before he hit the ground. Using his own sword to lop his head off was merely the coup-de-gras. Even though David removed and saved Goliath’s armor, his real reward was seeing the hand of God at work and saving the Israelites from the Philistines.

David may have been a “lowly shepherdboy“, but God had prepared him well for this battle. As a shepherd, he was responsible for his sheep, including protecting them from predators. Lions and bears are serious predators, and to go against one of them with a stone and sling would be unthinkable today, but they were all in a day’s work for David. Never underestimate the effectiveness of “primitive” weapons, when wielded by a skilled hunter. Of course the true game-changer was God Almighty. David faced Goliath as one would face a Sherman Tank armed only with a sling-shot, except that with the help of the Lord God, that small stone became a precision-guided anti-tank missile. Goliath never even saw it coming, let alone duck.

My “Goliaths”…

Why do I keep writing? Why do I keep baring my heart and soul for you, my beloved readers? Is it because I am an “overcomer” and have something to brag about? This blog is “STRUGGLES“, not “Triumphs“, because I am still a struggler. I hope that, by writing about my struggles, someone is given hope in their own struggles. I received an email recently from a very dear friend of mine, and he told me that when he read my testimony, he was challenged to revisit and think more deeply about his own faith. Thank you my dear Brother! That is why I keep writing…

The Apostle Paul, in Philippians 3:12-14, said: “12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul, even though he was an Apostle, was still a struggler.


I have lost four jobs since 1994, and all were under suspicious circumstances. Two of those jobs lasted ninety days or less, and three of the four were “management” positions. I won’t bore you with the details of each, just a thumbnail sketch, and to the best of my knowledge, none of them involved some kind of impropriety on my part.

1994 – Quality Assurance and Maintenance Manager – Fiberglass cooling tower manufacturer. “Christianowned” – less than ninety days.

1997 – Safety Manager and Maintenance Foreman – Aluminum trailer manufacturer. Three years. My wife committed suicide shortly thereafter.

2000 – Maintenance Assistant – Nursing home – ninety days.

2008 – Service Manager and Lead Mechanic – Bicycle shop. “Christianowned” – about four and a half years.

By the time I lost my last job, I was over fifty and pretty much unemployable. Companies weren’t hiring “olderworkers“.


I am very familiar with “too much month at the end of the money“, and I have faced that problem many times. I wish I could say that I always have money left over at the end of the month, but I am exstatic if I break even. Some people would say that if I didn’t write that check for my giving to the work of the Lord, I would have more money, but in my experience, if I DON’T write that check for the work of the Lord, it is garaunteed that I WON’T have enough money for the month. Non-Christians don’t understand God’s economy and never will. Finances are one of my “Goliaths“.


I wish that relationships were easy to maintain, but they aren’t. It takes two to make a relationship last, and even if one spouse is doing everything they can to keep a marriage together, the other spouse can still ruin it. I am a veteran of several failed relationships and three failed marriages. My latest “marriage” lasted less than six weeks. She decided that she wasn’t “happy” in our relationship, so she moved out, and went and moved in with another man. In spite of everything I did to try to reconcile and restore our marriage, we are still seperated, although we are still legally-married. I prayed, my church prayed, my international community of friends prayed, but to no avail. I finally had to leave it in God’s in-box for Him to take care of, and He still hasn’t…yet. Patience…


I could list all of my health problems, and yes, the list seems to be growing, but that is one “Goliath” that I don’t have to face alone. A few years ago, when I had no health-insurance, and barely had two nickels to rub together, I got fast-tracked into the VA health-care system. Over the last almost seven years, I have had an incredible group of health-care providers, both doctors and nurse-practitioners. My two ARNP urologists deserve special thanks, because the first one cared enough about me to stick with it until she was able to figure out what is wrong with me, and the one I have now has continued to carry the baton for me. My hematologist is tops, and even though we have a disagreement once in a while, I wouldn’t trade him for any other. God has definitely been at work making sure I get the best health-care that is available.


On October 22, 1997, I got the kind of news that I pray no-one else ever has to face. My wife of 19-1/2 years had committed suicide. I was devastated. My world was already crashing down around me, and that was a catastrophe of horrible proportions, but I didn’t have to face it alone. I even lost my own children. Through it all, God sent several people, including my parents and a very dear pastor, to come along-side me so I didn’t have to face it alone. Life before that had been “organizedchaos” to a certain extent, but it quickly descended into utter-pandemonium. I had lost just about everything that I held dear, including my wife and children.

These are just some of the “Goliaths” I had to face through the years, but one thing is certain, and that is that God has always been faithful to me, even though I haven’t always been faithful to Him.

Additional thoughts…

I believe that God sometimes allows us to face our own “Goliaths“, not to test our metal, but to test and deepen our trust in Him. Some of us, myself included, never seem to “get it“, insisting that we can go it alone, hoping that we are smart-enough, tough-enough, strong-enough, skilled-enough, or whatever-enough to deal with the situation. I have been a master of “doing it myself“, and a chronic “slowlearner“. Just a few days after my first wife committed suicide, a friend of mine asked me how I was doing. I told him “I am doing okay. I am tough and resilient.” Was I crazy? Maybe… Was I in shock? Probably… Grief will do that to you, and it is called DENIAL!!! That was only the beginning of many tough, rocky roads that I would travel over the next several years. It would take me fifteen more years before I started allowing myself to grieve her death, and that grieving process isn’t over yet. Some of that pain is still there, but I am no longer afraid of it. Connie is gone, but definitely NOT forgotten.

I failed that test, and have failed many since then. It has take me a long time to start realizing that I don’t have to face my “Goliaths” alone. It is a lesson I still have to learn, day by day, sometimes hour by hour, because I still don’t always completely trust God to do what I can’t. Maybe that is because I don’t always see Him topple that giant how and when I want Him to. Another lesson I still need to keep learning is that He is God, and I am NOT.

What is my only hope in life and in death? That I am not my own, but belong, body and soul, in life and in death to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.

What “Goliaths” are you facing that still aren’t toppled? What “Goliaths” have you faced with God’s help and are now buried in the “Goliath Cemetery“? If you feel so inclined, please join in on this conversation. I would love to hear your story.

In Christ,


Great expectations…

Most, if not all, of us go through life with great expectations…great hopes…big dreams. However, for most of us, those expectations get dashed, often sooner, rather than later. Shouldn’t we expect, dream, hope? Only if they are the right expectations, dreams and hopes.

In “The ‘Winter’ of Life“, I introduced two disciples, whose expectations, dreams and hopes had been dashed. They were in their way to Emmaus after their Lord had been crucified. Sadly, they were in the majority, because the concept of “Conquering King” was far more appealing than “Suffering Servant“. Instead of getting cushy jobs as ambassadors for an earthly kingdom, they were commissioned to be ambassadors for Christ’s heavenly, eternal kingdom. They didn’t understand that “Conquering King” wouldn’t come for many centuries, and that His kingdom would be over a spiritual Israel, not one literally descended from Abraham, although there will be many of Abraham’s children in that coming kingdom.

I remember many years ago, when my first wife and I were expecting our first child. Jokes were going around about me wanting twins. She wanted a girl, and I wanted a boy, and we had names picked out for both. We took Lamaze classes in preparation for our first labor and delivery, which were taught by a nurse-midwife. All our wanting and wishing got a huge reality-check one evening when our instructor came into class with her own children, a boy and a girl. Both had been born with serious birth-defects which caused both of them to be seriously crippled. Our wants and wishes turned to “Lord, we just want a healthy baby!“. I will never forget that moment when our healthy baby girl was born. We were blessed with three more children, two girls and a boy. When we asked for the right thing, God answered our prayers.

No one gets married with the expectation of failure, because marriage is expected to be “Til death do us part“. I would certainly never get married if the vows were “Til death or disconvenience do us part“, but all too often it is the disconvenience which parts couples, rather than death. My first marriage did last “Til death do us part“, however it wasn’t the kind of “natural-causes” one would normally expect, unless massive head trauma and blood loss from a bullet to the head counts as “natural-causes“… Suicide is a horrible way to end a marriage…

The next two marriages ended in divorce, after I was no longer “useful” to them. My fourth marriage hasn’t ended in divorce – yet, but she moved out less than six weeks after we got married, because she was no longer “happy” living with me. She had found another man who makes her “happy” and moved in with him. So much for the commitment in marriage which binds a couple together “Til death do us part“…

Marriage is only one of many places where we have great expectations. How about the child who is an academic-overachiever through-out grade school and high school. and has the potential for great academic achievment, but marries right out of high school and barely finishes college? Or maybe that child goes into the military, rather than going to college? My dad was an academic over-achiever, and I went into the military. I went to college after my time in the service, but only achieved an associates degree. My oldest daughter was an academic overachiever, but only finished her bachelors degree after getting married right out of high school. Were my dad’s great expectations for me justified, or were they a pipe dream, hoping I would follow in his academic footsteps? Were my expectations for my oldest daughter reasonable? Her life got turned upside-down by the death of her mother…

As children, we grow up with grand dreams and great expectations. I grew up during the early days of the space program, so I dreamed of becoming an astronaut, until I learned that they only take people with perfect vision for the space program. I had started wearing glasses while I was in the 1st grade…

I had a modest amount of musical talent, and did well in band and orchestra. I dreamed of being a professional musician, and playing in a symphony orchestra, but the closest I got was playing in an Army band and performing in a community orchestra. While in the Army band, I rubbed shoulders with guys who had been professional musicians but couldn’t make a living at it. I didn’t have what it took to make my dream a reality, so I had to settle for what I could achieve, being the section-leader in an Army band.

Do you see a pattern here? These were MY aspirations, MY great-expectations, which depended on MY talents and abilities, and they all got dashed. I had my aspirations were for all the wrong reasons. They might have brought glory and fame to me, rather than to God. God doesn’t honor selfish aspirations.

Several months ago, when I felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit to start writing this blog, I had no idea where it was going. All I knew was that I wanted to write about life in the ditches of life, and apply the Word to it. I had no grand plan, no great expectations, just a committment to write whatever the Lord laid on my heart. I dusted off a couple of moldy-oldies to get things going, including “The Old Knight“, in which I laid bare one of my greatest fears – to come to the end of my life alone and unloved. I have trusted God for my topics and my content, and He has guided my hand at every turn. There are always new articles in the pipeline because God is the Lord of infinite supply.

I certainly never envisioned having a world-wise audience. That has been the Lord’s doing, not mine. From Isaiah 55:11 we read, “So shall My word that goes out of from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” That is a promise we can take to the bank because it was given by God, and He always does what He says He will do.

Great expectations – mine were dashed, but God’s are always fulfilled. What is beautiful to me is that God is allowing me to be a part of fulfilling His great expectations. I am His humble servant, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. May His kingdom come, and His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Amen!

In Christ,


No Easy Answers…

I penned this piece several months ago, and posted it in a suicide-survivor support group on Experience Project. If you, or someone you know, has ever lost a loved-one to suicide, the sentiments expressed here will be familiar.

I wish I could say that suicide is very rare, but judging from how many people have joined this group, suicide is far too common. People…loved-ones…take their own lives every day. Suicide has become a tragic epidemic, with no end in sight. I, too, am a suicide survivor. My story is told here also. The common thread that runs through every story…every experience…is WHY? Why did your loved-one…my wife…commit suicide. There are no easy answers…

I wish I could provide answers to everyone who has lost a loved-one to suicide, but I can’t, because the answers aren’t easy. I wish I could make everyone’s pain go away, but I can’t even make my own go away. In some ways, my pain is as fresh as it was the day my wife took her life. I am still living with the fallout of what she did. Sixteen years later, my kids still will have nothing to do with me. My family was destroyed by suicide. While a person might understand why someone with a chronic or terminal illness would want to be out of their misery, what about deep emotional pain, that they have hidden from sight for many years? I believe deep emotional pain drove my wife to take her own life.

We were having some family problems, and my wife blamed herself for them. She may have been partly at fault, but I was just as much a part of our problems as she was, because I was the man of the house. I was dad… She and I had become emotionally distant from each other, and besides putting a strain on our relationship, it caused relationship problems with our kids. Some “friends” and relatives had stuck their noses where they didn’t belong, and they only made matters worse. One brother-in-law admitted to threatening to kill me, not just once, but three times. I am sure all of that weighed heavily on her mind when she decided to take her own life.

My wife’s suicide was preplanned…premeditated, and all she was waiting for was for one event to happen…our oldest daughter getting her driver’s license. Our oldest daughter got her license on Tuesday, and my wife committed suicide the next day…

I believe she thought that when she committed suicide, our family would pull back together, but the exact opposite happened. Our family…as a family…was destroyed, in large part due to the interference by “friends” and family. While they were pointing fingers at me for her death, they had more to do with it than they will ever admit, and in some ways, more to do with it than I did.

Answers…answers…answers…only God knows all the answers. There are no easy answers, because people and their motives aren’t easy to understand. All I can hope and pray for is that your experience wasn’t as bad as mine…that your answers come easier. Otherwise, there are no easy answers.

Have you ever painted a smile on your face, while you were crying inside? I did, and still do…