Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on our many blessings. Mary and I have so much to be thankful for. You might be thinking, “but you have ALS, you can’t eat turkey, dressing, and mashed potatoes with gravy. You can’t even eat pumpkin pie with a good cup of coffee for dessert…” Yeah, I think the same thing every year, it’s a real bummer sitting there watching family and friends eat Thanksgiving dinner while the “food” pump next to my wheelchair delivers formula into my feeding tube.

More frustrating than not being able to eat is not being able to speak when family and friends are gathered around our tble. I try to chime in using my computer’s Text-to-Speech app, but it takes me so long to type my thoughts that usually the group has changed subjects two or three times by the time I finish typing a sentence or two. Before ALS robbed me of my voice, when I was taking part in the table’s conversations, I never noticed how quickly even a small group changes subjects.

“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

The above verse doesn’t tell followers of Christ to be thankful for our difficult circumstances; God doesn’t call us to live in a state of denial. However, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can remain thankful in the midst of even the most difficult circumstances.

I am a more thankful person today than I was twenty-two years ago before being diagnosed with this dreadful disease. Way back in 1996, I was able to work, walk, speak, eat, and do all the other things that “normal people” do (I really miss being able to operate the television remote control). Like others living the so-called American dream, I took so many blessings for granted.

“If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.” (1 Timothy 6:8).

We have a home, clothing and, even though it’s not the food I’d like, this manufactured formula has sustained me for the last twelve years that I’ve been unable to eat by mouth. But, Mary and I have so much more than “food and covering.” We have air conditioning for the hot Texas summers, a heater for the cold Texas winters; we even have a water heater for hot showers. These are just a few of the many blessings I took for granted before ALS. Now, I thank God every day for so many blessings, including my wheelchair, my faux food, and my breathing machine. I am especially thankful for this eye-tracking computer that allows me to communicate and form relationships with followers of this blog.

More than the luxuries that God has given us, we’re so thankful for the family and friends He’s surrounded us with – including the friends I’ve connected with over the last six years that I’ve been posting on this blog.

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; his love endures forever.” (Psalm 107:1)

If you are going through one life’s many difficulties, even if you don’t feel like doing so, try thanking God and those in your life that are trying to help you. Give it a whirl, I know first-hand that it will change your outlook for the better.

In my post from November 2nd titled, “Do ‘All Things’ Really Work For Good,” I wrote about Mary losing her job. She’s had this job working from home for twenty-nine years. At the suggestion of a few friends, my brother set up a Go Fund Me Account for us. I included a link to the account on my last post (“The Depth Of My Pride”). And, WOW, the response from family and friends, and so many of my fellow bloggers, my blogging family, was overwhelming!

The Go Fund Me Account has been such a blessing to us. Mary has worked that full-time job from home the whole time I’ve had ALS. As I’ve become more dependent on her, especially after my having pneumonia in September, it became like she was working two full-time jobs. All day long she was running back and forth between her office and our bedroom. It was becoming more and more stressful on her.

Through the GFM account, God blessed us through all of you that gave. We are so thankful to God and to those of you who gave to GFM. We are also very grateful for those of you who have been praying for us. We know that prayer works and is so powerful. In fact, we are convinced that it was prayer that led to the GFM account.

However, as much as a blessing your gifts and prayers have been to us, nothing compares to the greatest gift that God has given to man. This is what we’re most thankful for this Thanksgiving day, and every day of the year:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)

God is good!

The Depth Of My Pride

As the followers of my blog know, I’ve had ALS for twenty-two years, I’m completely paralyzed and unable to speak. I use an eye-tracking computer to communicate and I am totally reliant on Mary to take care of me.


Chipping away at my pride

I remember when I first started having to rely on others to help me with simple tasks. Even though my body was beginning to fail me and I sounded like a drunk when I spoke, I fought so hard to keep working after being diagnosed. Not just because we needed my income, but also because I just couldn’t imagine not working.

With my job as a Regional Sales Manager, I usually traveled two or three days per week, and usually left for the airport at five in the morning. I remember attending a convention and having to ask a coworker to button my shirt and put on my clip-on tie (I had already given up on adult ties).
On another trip I swung my overnight bag up on the conveyor belt going through security and lost what little balance I had and fell to the floor. Everyone in line just stared at me, until finally a frail elderly security guard helped me up. For most people, this incident would be close to the top of their “Life’s most embarrassing moments” list. For me, after twenty-two years with ALS, it doesn’t even qualify for the top 25. The incident did mark the end of my career, though.

One would think that a person who is completely helpless would have had every last drop of pride wrung out of him. Think again.

Following my last post about Mary being Laid-off from the job she’s had for the last twenty-nine years, and her income being more than double the amount of my monthly disability check… Several readers suggested setting up a Go Fund Me Account. “I’m not going to stand on a virtual street corner with a Go Fund Me placard asking for donations,” I thought.

If even the lame and mute still retain their pride, is anyone truly humble?

Well, my brother did start a Go Fund Me Account for us and one of our daughters is helping him manage it.

I cringed when my brother, daughter, and several followers of my blog suggested that I put a link on my blog to the Go Fund Me Account. This step was even more difficult for me.

I’ve been thinking and praying about this for the last two days. I would never want to give the appearance that I was trying to capitalize on the friendships, so many good friendships, that I’ve built through this Unshakable Hope blog over the last six years.

God reminded me that over the course of this long difficult trial, financially and otherwise, He has blessed us over and over through the hands of others, and that this Go Fund Me Account is an opportunity for Him to bless us again.
(My brother set the fundraising goal without consulting me; I would have set the goal at a million dollars :-))

If you’d like to give, please click HERE. (Thank you so much, my friends).

(Please) “…don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Do “All Things” Really Work For Good?

Before I begin this post, I feel like I owe the readers of my last post an apology.
When I started this Unshakable Hope blog over six years ago, I set some guidelines for myself. One of these guidelines was replying to every comment made. I figure, if people took the time to read and comment on a post, I at least owed them a “Thank You.” Besides, I enjoy interacting with my readers; my friends.

I didn’t reply to even one comment. Mary and I read every comment on our own, and then she read them out loud to me. Thank you so much for your encouraging comments and for your prayers – both of these help us to persevere.

As I mentioned in the perseverance post on my birthday, Friday, October 5th, I planned on posting it on September 23rd, but I woke up that Monday morning with what I’d discover was pneumonia. I was transferred to hospice, and I think most people, including Mary, felt that it might be my last few days in this lame body. But, I recovered and actually felt pretty good the weekend of my birthday. The hospice nurse told me that the pneumonia was gone.

However, the following week, I came down with another unrelated infection, which meant ten more days of powerful antibiotics. I think it’s because I am fed a liquid diet through a tube in my stomach, but it takes everything I have to keep the antibiotics down after Mary pours them in. Thankfully, I did keep them down and, thank God, I recovered from that nasty infection too.

Mary and I were happy to wave goodbye to October. I am typing this on November 1st, a brand new month. As if on cue, the first real cold front of fall swept through Texas last night and put an end to the hot, humid weather of October and replaced it with beautiful crisp sunny weather. If I was still able to golf…

The day of this posting is November 2nd. Mary and I were married on November 2nd, 1985; today is our 33rd wedding anniversary. I think she’s a keeper.

I know, what was I thinking wearing a white tux? I think a white tuxedo was a Texas thing in the 1980s. Regardless, Mary wanted me to wear a white tux, and people in love agree to things they otherwise wouldn’t even consider. I was raised in the Chicago suburbs, not far from where the movie, “Home Alone” was filmed. A quote from that movie came to my mind when Mary emailed me this picture to use in my post and I cringed when I saw the white tux; (in Chicagoland) “You can get beat up for wearing something like I that.”

I was diagnosed with ALS within days of our 11th wedding anniversary. As I said, this is our 33rd anniversary. So, I’ve had ALS for two-thirds of our married life. Would Mary and I have had those smiles on our faces if we knew what our futures held? Obviously, that’s the reason God doesn’t reveal our futures to us. Like manna only lasting twenty-four hours when the Jews were trusting God to sustain them in the wilderness, the Christian life is a “one day at a time” life.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Really?

YES! This verse is true – for every follower of Christ. Unless you only think of prosperity in the financial context. If this and other passages about prosperity just referred to finances, our brothers and sisters in the third world and even the apostles missed God. Through our darkest times, including when ALS ended my career, and I had to wait seven months for my first disability check. With mounting medical and credit card bills, we were afraid to answer the phone out of fear that it was another collection agency with their heartless threats. It was then that we learned to rely entirely on God. He worked miracles on our behalf. This chapter of our lives will be a chapter in the book I am writing.

We learned about true prosperity the hard way. Having God’s Spirit dwelling inside of us, and the joy, peace, hope, and contentment that comes through the Spirit of Christ. Having a God, a family, and friends who love us unconditionally; This is true prosperity.

Way back then, Mary had a job working from home for a medical transcription business. It didn’t pay a lot, but it was enough for us to keep our two beautiful daughters, then four and seven, in a Christian school and allowed Mary to be at home with the girls. I was the primary breadwinner, so it was difficult when I was forced to resign from my job. But, through hard work and her intelligence, Mary grew in her career and has worked for the same business for the last twenty-nine year’s.

I’m typing this line at 9:12 at night, I am trying to finish so I can post it in the morning. Well, about five hours ago, when I was in the midst of typing this post, Mary came in and told me that she was Laid-off from the company she’s been employed with for almost three decades. Her being Laid-off wasn’t unexpected, the business was bought out three years ago and has undergone many changes. We were thankful that they kept her after the buyout, but we suspected this day was coming.

Are we wringing our hands and pacing the floor after hearing this news this afternoon? No way! Besides the fact that I can’t wring my hands or pace the floor, even though Mary is, or was, the primary breadwinner, we’re not the least bit worried. Why? Because, as I said, we have learned to rely on God. He is our source, not a business and not a disability check.

Since having pneumonia in September and battling the horrible infection in October, I have been needing Mary much more than I did before these two latest trials. As I’ve mentioned before, Mary’s eighty-six-year-old mother has lived with us since Mary’s stepdad passed away over five years ago. She’s always been amazingly independent, and she’s been such a big help around the house, doing all laundry and helping clean the house. She’s been such a blessing to us.

Well, last month, she passed out and took a bad fall hitting her head and injuring her lower back. The ambulance rushed her to the hospital, but after two days of testing, the doctors could not find the reason she fainted. Even though she was I was barely able to walk, the hospital sent her home. In addition to being my full-time caregiver, Mary is now her mom’s full-time caregiver. Working a stressful job and taking care of her mom and me, and also doing the laundry and cleaning that her mom used to do, was taking a heavy toll on Mary. Something had to give – God decided it was Mary’s job.

Back in June, Mary and I were looking for ways to cut expenses so she could work another less stressful and maybe even a part-time job from home. We were talking about selling our house and finding a less expensive place to live. The problem with moving is that we have a perfect set up in this home; we have a large bedroom and bathroom with a roll-in shower for me. And, we have a guest room with its own bathroom. It’s been a perfect set up for Mary’s mom and Mary and me.

I felt that God didn’t want us even to discuss making a change for the rest of this year. It’s been tough on Mary because she thinks out loud. She’ll say I something like “there’s a new neighborhood being built nearby…” I give her a dirty look, and she stops in mid-sentence, remembering our agreement.

Back in June, God gave me a well-known verse for us to cling tightly to through the rest of this year. The verse is Romans 8:28:
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Does this really mean “all things,” even pneumonia and losing your job? YES!

Somehow, if we give it to Him, God will take all of our sin, shame, disobedience, and the many difficult trials we go through. He then mixes in a big bowl, stirs in a generous amount of grace, mercy and the forgiveness that Christ offers us; then He paints for us a beautiful mosaic titled, “All Things.”

God is good!
God is faithful!

Perseverance

I finished this post on perseverance on the 23rd of last month and was planning to post it the following day. But it seemed that I had another lesson on perseverance to learn and more paragraphs to add before I posted it.

I woke up that Monday morning and was not feeling well, but I stuck with my routine of Mary getting me dressed and out of bed at 7:30. I found it so difficult to breathe, much more difficult than usual when Mary removed my breathing mask. Still, like thousands of times before, I lied to myself about being a tough guy and surged ahead.

When Mary finally got me propped up in my wheelchair in front of my computer I couldn’t breathe, even after Mary put my breathing mask back on. I struggled even to open my eyes, which is a real problem when you control your computer’s mouse with eye movements.

Somehow, by God’s grace and Mary’s adrenaline rush, she got me back in bed and called my visiting nurse Practitioner, Rebecca. She came right away (she’s the best). After checking my vitals and listening to my chest, she heard fluid in my right lung. She then called for an X-ray tech to come out to look at my lungs. On my best days, only 30% of my lungs are functioning; apparently this was not one of those “best days.”

The X-rays showed that I had pneumonia in my right lung. Even with my breathing mask on, I was gasping for air through my mouth, kind of like a Goldfish just before you scoop him out of the tank and flush him down the toilet. Rebecca later determined that my kidneys were no longer functioning and that I would probably not survive the short trip to the hospital; that I would likely die of heart or respiratory failure before even arriving. I knew that she was right.

With our agreement, Rebecca handed me off to hospice. I was so relieved with our decision. To understand my relief, you have to realize that, with my skinny arms and bony hands, it usually takes several Phlebotomists to find and puncture a vein for the IV; and that’s using the tiniest of needles, the needles they use for premature babies. They try so hard to be gentle, but it’s like a torture treatment, and my arms and hands end up looking like a pin cushions. The “stab a vein” contest is just the first step of my previous hospital visits. I’ll spare you from hearing about my catheter insertion stories. I am so thankful for nurses and caregivers, especially the caregiver I’ve been married to for the last thirty-three years.

The following is the original post that I planned to post the day I got pneumonia. I’ll give a brief update on my current health condition at the bottom of the post. Thank you for reading.

Perseverance

Among other things, perseverance is one of the lessons Mary and I have learned through this challenging Twenty-two year battle with my having ALS. In a protracted trial, the greatest temptation is giving up. So many times, Mary and I have come to a place that continuing the fight seemed impossible, but God’s grace steps in and carries us further down our narrow, bumpy path.

Have you ever been to a place where you felt surrounded by enemies and continuing the battle seemed to be impossible?

If yes, I hope and pray this simple post will strengthen your perseverance to keep “fighting the good fight.”

The definition of perseverance:
(The) continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.

Critics of Christianity, like I once was, say that followers of Christ are weak-willed for having to rely on God for strength to go on. To this charge, I plead guilty. In every way, I am pathetically weak.

To be honest, it takes perseverance for me to get out of bed every morning. I’m comfortable, and I have my breathing mask on so I’m breathing well. It’s so tempting to stay in bed. But, except for the times I’ve been sick, it’s not a temptation I succumb to because, like all that temptations we give in to, it gets easier and easier to do so every time we face it. Thankfully, this works the other way also; when we do not give in to temptation, we find greater strength to overcome that temptation as well as other temptations we face down the road. Learning to overcome temptations, even minor temptations like saying “Shut-up” to the ice cream screaming your name from the freezer, is vital for perseverance.

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Forming good habits and routines is also necessary if you are to persevere. Mary gets me dressed every morning, and, using a transfer lift to get me out of bed and dumps me into the wheelchair. She then makes me presentable and gets me set up on my computer. It’s a thirty-minute process that we have to finish before she goes into her office to start work at 8:00. This has been our routine for the last twenty-one years. Sounds very monotonous, you might be thinking. Yes; day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year – for two decades. You can see why I call my best friend and wife of thirty-three years an angel. Even though she isn’t usually angelic until after her morning devotions and a cup of coffee, which she starts at six every morning.

I don’t know if she got the joke at first, but, as was typing this post, I told Mary that perseverance is the most difficult of all virtues because it requires a whole lifetime to finally grasp.

I learned even more about perseverance writing this post. It took me so long to write what follows because I kept getting knocked off track by distractions and diversions. The truth is that I allowed those distractions and diversions to keep me from staying focused on writing this post. Do you ever allow the trivial to get in the way of the important things that you should be accomplishing? This seems to a part of our human nature.

As a devout follower of Christ and a member of the British Parliament, William Wilberforce tried and failed, for many years to put an end to the slave trade. Likely the following quote was recorded in a meeting with his fellow abolitionists. He became so ill with Colitis that he was forced to continue his fight from his bed; in so much pain that he was forced to use Morphine just to get through the day. I think he used this quote echoed through his head throughout the day:

“Our motto must continue to be perseverance. And ultimately I trust the Almighty will crown our efforts with success.”- William Wilberforce (If you’ve never seen the movie, “Amazing Grace,” the story of his, please watch it).

Followers of Christ should have a vision and goals for what we believe God wants us to accomplish in this life. To achieve these short-term and long-term goals, it takes God-given perseverance. To persevere, we must “just say no” to other things. That seems to be a hard thing to convince people of in this Twitter culture of ours. It’s something I have to recommit to every morning and usually throughout the day.

I don’t think it’s mere coincidence that the first time that the word “perseverance” appears in the Bible is in the eighth chapter of Luke, “The Parable of the Sower.” For those of you that might not know, this parable is about what followers of Christ now refer to as “The Great Commission.” It’s spreading the “Good News” to a world full of bad news. For Christians, this is, or, at least, should be, our number one priority.

In this parable, Jesus explains to the disciples that the seed being sown is the word of God – the Gospel message. He then tells them (I’m paraphrasing), “Your responsibility is to spread the word, you’re not responsible for the results you get; the hearers of your message will be held accountable for their response to hearing the message.”

When I was in sales, my boss never told me anything like that. In sales, it’s understood that, if you want a roof over your head and food on the table, you better get results. Fortunately, my dad was in sales and told me the first and most important rule to be successful in sales. This rule applies to sharing the Gospel message too: “There’s no secret to being successful in sales, the more doors you knock on, the more successful you’ll be.” I told the salesman that I managed the same thing.

Through this blog, my work as an “Online Missionary” with Global Media Outreach, and through other “fields,” I spread the Gospel message. Other than trying my best to make the “Good News” message as understandable as possible, I have no control over or responsibility for the response of the reader. “You can lead a horse to water…”

“Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.” (1 Timothy 4:16)

In this parable of the Sower, Jesus also explains that several distractions and diversions hinder the message from being received and growing inside the hearers. These same distractions and diversions are also the enemies of perseverance in the follower of Christ. You might have heard the phrase, “The world, the flesh, and the devil.” That phrase often used sarcastically, is a summary of the hindrances that Jesus lists in this parable.

The disciples didn’t understand this parable about a person casting seed the first time they heard it, so Jesus had to sit them down and explain it. It’s kind of funny to me because I can so relate to the confusion disciples.

(Jesus explains) “Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God…”
(The first group hears the message) “…then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved.”
(The second group hears the message) “…when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.”
(The third group hears the message) “…and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity.”
(The fourth group hears the message) “…these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.” (Luke 8:11-15)

Notice, only the fourth and final group perseveres.

This is the difference between churchgoers and disciples of Christ. It certainly does apply to first-time “hearers of the word,” but also to those who so proudly saw themselves in the fourth group. Are you “holding firmly” (to the “seed”)? Are you “bearing fruit with perseverance?”

While reading the Bible or when praying do you ever find your thoughts wondering or find yourself worrying? Yeah, me too. Go back and read what “destroyed the seed” in the first three groups. I bet you’ll find every wondering thought that is trying to destroy your daily devotion. Among other things, discipleship is a daily battle of the thought-life. We have to stay focused like those in the fourth-group. This is perseverance.

Two-decades of being imprisoned in my body, unable even to speak, I’ve learned that I didn’t need a body or even a voice to be a disciple of Christ – being a disciple is a matter of the spirit and soul (mind, will and emotions) of man.

This kind of God-given and daily renewed kind of perseverance includes grace, joy, peace, hope, and strength to get us through the most difficult of trials and temptations; even the temptation to give up, the strongest of all temptations while in the midst of a trial.

“But he that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved.” (Mathew 24:13)

I know that trials are a tough way to learn about perseverance and hope, and the strength of our faith. I wish there were an easier way, but only “…tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint…” (Romans 5:4-5)

This is Unshakable Hope.

If you feel you are on the wrong road, go back to the foot of the cross and begin again. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve found myself taking wrong turns too many times even to remember. I went back to the cross, and Christ accepted me every time. If He accepted and forgave this pathetic creature, I know He will accept and forgive you.

“God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome. What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them. We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.” C.S. Lewis

Health update:
As you might have guessed, I’m still alive. Except for the brief moments I died in 2015 (it was incredible), this latest case of pneumonia was the closest I’ve come to going home. It’s now been eleven days since pneumonia tried to take me out, and, while lying in bed in pain and gasping for during the first six days, I felt like God was giving me a choice to stay or go. I had no fear, just the opposite, I had to fight the excitement of being released from this pitiful excuse for a body.

I chose to stay because I’ve been working so hard on writing a book and desperately want to finish it. Maybe only my family and friends will read the book. That is fine with me; it would have been more than worth the effort for me. This is a goal I have; it’s something to make me persevere.

I’m still on hospice; our bedroom looks like a hospital room. But I feel great, or, at least as great as a guy that’s had ALS for twenty-two years can feel. The hospice nurse told us yesterday that my lungs are clear, and, I know it’s TMI, but my kidneys are functioning great. She was able to yank out the catheter yesterday morning so, except for my feeding tube, I’m completely untethered.

I was diagnosed with ALS just weeks after my 36th birthday. The neurologist explained to Mary and I that I had 3-5 years to live and most of that time I would be voiceless and confined to a wheelchair. He was right about everything except the living 3-5 years part.

My 40th birthday was a big deal, not just because I was turning forty, but because I was still alive.
As I sat in my room studying the Bible and reading books, the years clicked. I tried my best to keep an active role as the father of our two beautiful daughters, Lauren and Leah. I would type simple Bible studies and life lessons that we would read and discuss over dinner. It wasn’t the father-role I had envisioned, with me playing basketball in the driveway, teaching them to drive and walking them out on the football field when they were on Homecoming Court.

The list of things I couldn’t do as a non-disabled father increased as the years clicked by. My hair became grayer and grayer. My 50th birthday was a big deal. It was the best birthday I’ve ever had. I was so thankful that God allowed me to live to see my little girls grow into beautiful women.

I was born October 5th, 1960. Which means – Today is my 58th Birthday!!!

Please don’t feel bad if you forgot to send me a gift. But if you’re feeling guilty, click the link below and make a small donation to my Go Fund Me Account 🙂 Just kidding, I don’t even have a Go Fund Me Account.

A simple “Happy Birthday” in the comment section will do. Please be patient with me in replying to your comments. I’m still building up my strength and, it’s my birthday weekend!

I so appreciate your continued prayers. It’s inexplicable, but I literally felt the prayers of family and friends suspending me in the darkest hours of this latest trial. Mary and I both felt this, as we have so many times before.

Thank you so much!

God is good!

A Quick Reminder

As of last month, this Unshakable Hope blog is six years old. Thank you so much for following my blog!

I began this blog to give hope, Unshakable Hope, to those who were feeling hopeless. I don’t know how successful I’ve been at spreading the message of hope in Christ, the only real Unshakable Hope that exists, but the followers of my blog have strengthened my hope and faith so much over these past six years.

My family and old friends follow my blog; I am blessed with such a great family and great friends. To those of you that I’ve met through this blog, you are not merely “blogging friends,” you’re friends. You have encouraged me when I needed encouragement. You’ve prayed for Mary and me when we were in need of prayer. Through your comments and your posts, you’ve taught me so much; great lessons I needed and continue to need. Isn’t that what friends do?

As most of you know, I’ve had ALS for twenty-two years, I’m paralyzed and have not been able to speak for the last twenty years (I was able to speak like a drunk for two years after being diagnosed). I use a special computer that tracks my eye movements to an onscreen keyboard. Writing is a tedious and often frustrating process. As you can imagine, typing an eight hundred word blog post (my average) is time-consuming. But God teaches me so much through typing these simple posts, so they help me more than they do those of you who follow my blog.

Now for the quick reminder.

I said all that to say, this is the first post I’ve written without forethought and study (this is about as extemporaneous as I get). I woke up this morning and thought someone needed this message today. I needed this reminder today also. It’s such a simple message – why is it so stinkin’ hard for Christians to remember?

If you are a born again follower of Christ, you’ve made a commitment to believe God’s word over every other voice – including the lying voices in your head! When you hear ungodly voices cutting you down or you have thoughts that contradict God’s word, dismiss them – they are lies! Believe this:
“…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

If you’ve drifted away from Christ, come on back, He’s waiting for you. Believe this:
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  1 John 1:9)

Maybe you’ve never made a commitment to follow Christ. What are you waiting for? I hope and pray you’ll believe this:
“…if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)

This song (“You Say”) is SO GOOD!