Thursday, December 18, 2014

A WOMAN'S BEST FRIEND TOO!!

A Story Of Hunter...More Than Just A Pet



In one of my last posts I spoke about several unique dogs and their loyalty and dedication to their owners.  But....let's cut to the chase here.  It's more than that. It's a two way street in most cases.  And well it should be. 

If you didn't read my previous story, let's rewind to the end where Dr. Bonne Doron was relating the death of her Golden Retriever, Hunter.  Her words, spoken with such love and candor were directed to the volunteers of the Iowa Golden Retriever Rescue. 

"I just wanted to let you know that Hunter had to be put to sleep last week. He was failing badly: couldn't walk or stand without wobbling, coughing, etc.  At 12 1/2, he was entering the final parts of his life.  The vet and I had pulled him away from the brink several times, but he was really suffering recently".

"I wanted you to know how much having Hunter in my life meant to me. Admittedly, I am a cat person, so Hunter and I always had issues.  They eventually lessened as he wove his way into my life and heart. 

"He was a therapy dog at the homeless shelter where he was read to by the kids once a month.  They too LOVED him.  One time we were going down to the community building when a young boy was coming towards us, followed by an adult who was offering up discipline.  You could tell the boy was really upset.  I called out to him, "Hunter is coming to see you."  The boy hugged Hunter tightly and smiled.  Hunter had that effect on people.  He welcomed them with a bump to the leg (he knew I would pet him if he put his head on my leg).  No matter where he went or who was there, Hunter made them feel comfortable and welcomed.

He was my companion through the hard times.  Always he stayed near me (which could be annoying as he followed me from room to room until I settled down . . . he made sure he was nearby).  He traveled with me in the car sitting tall in the back seat to catch the wind in his face.

And he loved camping and would whine until I let him run to the camper.  In reality, he taught my friend's granddaughter who often camped with us to learn to not be afraid of big dogs.  It took a summer trip or two, but she finally would walk the park with him on his leash and asked about him often.  The young kids who live next door would run to the fence and ask their parents to lift them over so they could throw sticks for Hunter to retrieve and chew up.  All of these friends will be sad to know Hunter will not be there again for them".

But I found a great book I will be reading to them about a land where an animal goes after it dies.  Within those pages are words that capture an  animals' specialness to us and even though it is fantasy, it helps with the healing.  I will miss my boy like no other animal I've ever had.  Thank you for letting me share such a special life".

Dr. Bonne Doron

    
How does one summarize the life of a family pet?   More of Bonne's words: 

I will try to keep this scenario short and sweet.  First,  Hunter was not a pet. He was the center of my family life and loved by many outside our circle.  In fact, he never met a human he didn’t like and want to be next to every minute of every hour of every day. He followed me from room to room and when outside, searched the window for my shadow for hours, with beseeching eyes. 

He loved my son most. I allowed him to take care of Hunter while I was visiting him in Texas one year. Because Hunter loved playing catch with a Frisbee and my son loved Frisbee golf, the two of them would play in the green areas until after dark. Once the Frisbee drifted into a nearby creek, complete with moccasins and who know what else. However, Hunter didn’t consider any of that...but bounded into the water with abandon and recovered the Frisbee in record time. My son was amazed as a drowned-looking dog lifted the prize up to him with pride of “a job well done.”

The groomers were especially happy to see Hunter because he never refused their washing, blow drying, and brushing but he was always the cooperative, willing client.   I always got the report that he was such a “good dog”.  Even for his regular anal gland cleaning at the vets, I could see his tolerant, yet reluctant, eyes patiently waiting until the humans were done when he would jump down from the huge sink, with a wide, long-tongued smile that it “was finally over.” And he forgave them in an instant.  Every time.

There was one little girl who was deathly afraid of dogs.  She was the granddaughter of a friend of mine who camps with me. She was scared of the “gentle giant” and would squeal with fearful surprise at his size and hugeness compared to her little 6 year old stature.  She would give him a lot of distance around the campfire with hand held high to avoid his touch....until he gave her time to learn of his sweetness. At our last camp out, she walked him on the leash by herself, let him insist on a pet from her with a nudge, and played “retrieve” with a ball, Frisbee, or fall leaves. He taught her so much in a few short years. 

Hunter in dress-up mode
Even with other animals, Hunter showed his loving ways. With five cats in the home, he thought at first that they were there for his personal play time. With some instruction, “NO CATS,” or “That’s GOOD cat,” Hunter realized they were part of the family although mostly for his healthy snoot full of their back ends but they were fine with that. Especially my fearful Starr, a black beauty who feared all other humans and outside noises which meant hiding for hours long after the danger passed. However, she absolutely loved her doggy buddy, crying for him to pay attention to her.  If that didn’t work, she wove herself around his legs and looked longingly into his jaw, waiting for a sniff. She still looks for him to come round the corner.
What Hunter did for me is difficult to explain. He taught me much about myself that needed improvement, But....he loved me in spite of those "learning moments".   He return after a scolding or a particularly difficult bath time with that smile and wag of his sweeping tail. “Am I forgiven?” he whined.  To which I answered, “It’s the other way around, buddy.   Do you forgive me?” “No problem,” he grinned as he waited for his treats. 

He also brought the best out in me as I learned patience and calmness in crisis, most of the time. When he mischievously ate cat litter (“Really they are treats, you know,”) or chewed on my new slippers, his eyes would plead for me to look the other way or he would slowly drop his treasure and pick up his green monkey as a substitute. “I’ll be good. Really, I will. Actually until you look away!” 

Hunter was my protector when I camped.  He was always the first one to the camper door.....my   driving companion with the windows open for breathing in the fresh air..... my walking buddy bounding ahead or sniffing out everything along the trail......and most importantly, my friend to hug and cry with.  His looks often exhibited, "I am so sorry! What can I do?”  when times were tough.  AAAHHHH, for the memories. 

Those are images that will never be replaced.  Are they unique?  To Bonne they most likely are.  And for many others, probably not because it's all too relatable.  We've been there.  Done that.  Lived that and LOVED that.  Because each dog, has it's own treasure, waiting to be unleashed.  But wait.  There's more to come....

Check back soon.  When the Story of Hunter, Continues.

YGG,

John 
 

Friday, December 12, 2014

GOODBYE TO WAYNE'S WORLD

It's terribly difficult to sum up a person's life in a reflection or eulogy.  For gosh sakes, it's only a microcosm of the time they spent on earth.....the people they affected.....and how they lived their lives.  But.....let's attempt to put a few words down.  Something that will be there for the ages.  After all, in this instance, once it hits the internet, it will be there for eternity.  And for Wayne Blythe, that's the least we can do to pay back what he did for so, so many.

Since his passing Wednesday, I've seen Facebook post after post listing condolences, reciting memories and in some instances....shock.....that this day came.  I mean, how could it.  It was Wayne's World.  And now, it was no more. 

If you ever had an opportunity to meet Wayne Blythe, you know what I mean.  He was, in so many respects a "Pillar".  A pillar to his friends, to his church, to his family and to his friends. And when I say friends, he had lots of them.  Lots.  Encountering Wayne was something you never forgot. There was no facade.  He was an open book.

My first meeting with Wayne came during a mission trip to the Dominican Republic in February of 2012.  It was apparent Wayne had a special interest with the island and it's people. He connected, not so much through language...but with a smile, a wave and a hug.  This was my first trip to the Dominican.  I'm not really sure what number it was for him.  Regardless, we spent many mornings sipping a cup of coffee together.  We were the early risers in our group.  That's where I got to know him and love him.

We'd talk about all sorts of things.  I knew he had lost his grandson, Treye, several years ago.  Wayne told me Treye had been murdered in Cedar Falls, Iowa just prior to entering his freshman year of college at the University of Northern Iowa.  The trip we were on was an offshoot of that tragic event.  Project 52, a non-profit organization, honoring Treye was formed.  A gymnasium was built in Los Alcarrizos at the Lighthouse  School in Treye's honor.  Yes, this place was special to Wayne.  He talked alot.  I listened alot.  I asked alot.  And I choked back tears alot.  The stories he told me about getting a phone call that Treye had been stabbed......having to endure the loss of his grandson.....how he had to tell his son Dustin, who was returning from a mission trip, that his son had been killed (via a phone call when his plane landed in Omaha) .....and the trial for Treye's murderer were so, so moving.

I could say that it was the loss of Treye that changed Wayne....that made him into a man wanting to give back more and serve more....making him more giving. more appreciative of life.  But something tells me he had "his" style down, long before then. 

As we tipped our cups each morning we talked about other things with our world.  But most importantly, no matter where our conversations went, we always came back our God.  "You know Wayne", I said.  "My wife, Joane, talks about how fortunate we are to have been born where we were.  And that out of all the possibilities where God could have placed us, he chose the United States, to be our home.  How amazing is that?  But how little do we appreciate it.  And even more disturbing, is do we even stop to think about it". 

Wayne looked at me with his little smirk and said, "you know John, I talk about that alot.  And it's painful to see people with blank looks on their faces when I do.  I've thought those same thoughts and said those same things. Wow".  Those conversations, those memories gave me a peek into Wayne's World.....               

When I heard of Wayne's death, I immediately placed myself at the picnic table outside the little kitchen in Los Alcarrizos.  And I could recall one paragraph that has always stuck with me.  One little nugget, so to speak.  And it went like this.  "No one is perfect.  We should spend our days giving to others and not keeping score. That's so hard to do. We should try to reflect on all of the times in our lives that we are completely selfless.  But it's hard to think of those times, isn't it?
Wayne at work serving at Lighthouse Schools  

I've taken some words from the obituary via the Abels Funeral Home website for further information: 

"Wayne Lee Blythe, 66, passed away on Wednesday, December 10, 2014, at his home in Wellsburg while under Care Initiatives Hospice after a brave battle with cancer. A funeral service will be held on Saturday, December 13th at 10:00 AM at the AGWSR Middle School, 609 S. Monroe St., Wellsburg, Iowa. Visitation will be held on Friday, December 12th from 4 to 8 PM at the middle school and one hour prior to the service at the school. Burial will follow the funeral service at the Faith Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Ackley. Memorials may be made in Wayne's name to Project 52, P.O. Box 3681, Urbandale, Iowa 50323. He is survived by his loving wife, Joyce and two sons, Dustin and Vaughn".

Wayne Blythe
In a last thought,  we should take great solace that Wayne has joined his grandson, Treye.  That is the most awesome part of his passing.  Wayne wanted that alot.  And....

Even though we say Goodbye to Wayne's World there could very well be something on the horizon.  That is.  Wayne.  Waiting for those he MENTORED with that smile of his.  And spreading his arms wide open for his HUG.

Isn't that out of this world?

YGG,

John

And Jesus came and said to them,  “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of  all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”-Matthew 28:18-20



Friday, October 10, 2014

UNTIL DEATH DO US PART

It's been quite some time since I've sat down at the old laptop and let loose with something that has moved me and hopefully will move you as well.  When I say it'd been a while,  little did I realize just how long it had been since my last post.  September 11, 2013

Much has happened since then.  Not just in my life, but in yours.  Change, change and more change,  Some have been for the good and others.......well, who really knows.  Perhaps I'll delay some judgment for now.  You might want to do the same.

I do know that my attitude and my perception has been altered on several topics.  Most notably, faith and family.  Could it be that I'm entering a "golden" time in my life that I'm much more reflective....  much more passionate in leaving something that marks my time on this earth, or is it that I'm much more observant of people that have done things the right way?  And they've done it the right way time and time again.  That could possibly be. 

One area I know there will be change in, is in our family dynamics.  Monday, Lorne Haun passed away......the husband, father and grandfather figure in our circle......and WE WEPT.  Some of those tears were of sadness, others in relief that he didn't have to suffer anymore and there were those of joy in knowing that he was now on a journey to a much better place.     

Is this the stairway to Heaven you envision?
 Lorne will be missed, literally and figuratively.  I've mentioned to many people in the past few days  that he was the most humble man I've ever known.  A jokester, for sure, but quiet and unassuming.  But, he was first off, a devoted husband to his wife, Eleanor, of 67 years.  67 years.  That in itself is an accomplishment in this day and age when parting seems the "thing" to do.  He cherished  his wife to the very end.  For sure, she was and is the "luckiest woman on the face of the earth".  For her, and those who knew Lorne well,  the hardest aspect of his death was "letting go".   That might be the thing we're all afraid of.  The "physical" letting go is one thing, the memories are quite another. 

I think back to my marriage as most of you can yours.  Typically, there are the words "till death do us part" within the vows.  Yet, it might be the most forgotten.   As a reminder, here might be a typical marriage liturgy.   " I,  (husband or wife}, take you,  (wife or husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God's holy law, and this is my solemn vow".  Doesn't seem all that difficult with such a short sentence of words...but oh, how we fail, time and again.

Lorne and Eleanor you have set a bar for all of us to shoot for.  I salute you both, not just because your are my father and mother- in-law, but because you capsulize the true meaning of marriage.   As Eleanor said at his bedside after he passed, " God can indeed say,  job well done". 

I recall my father's death nearly 26 years ago.  As I look back, much of what happened during his passing was a blur.  He passed so quickly.  I'm sure I was in some state of shock for a number of days.  But I do remember this.....and I pass it along any time I can.

A friend of a neighbor of mine sent me a card in the mail.  At first glance, I thought, who is this from?  As I opened the letter the words jumped out at me, "I know your loss and I understand".   What?  As I read further, this little gal spelled out how she had lost her dad a couple of years before and....she received a card from someone that said,  "I know your loss", because they had lost their parent.  "Since then", she continued, "I've made it a practice to send a card to someone that suffered the same thing I went through.  I felt liked I had joined a fraternity of people who truly understood what I was going through".  Frankly, I was blown away by her words...and since then, I've done the same thing.

So to you Joanne (my wife) and sister-in-laws, Chris and Kathryn....."I know your loss and I understand.  As we get ready to celebrate your dad's life (Saturday) know it doesn't make the hurt go away but just knowing someone KNOWS makes all the difference in the world". 

YGG,

John

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A 9-11 REVISIT....WHERE WERE YOU AND WHERE ARE YOU GOD?

**THIS IS MY ANNUAL REPOST OF A 9-11 STORY I WROTE SEVERAL YEARS AGO...

Most of us have experienced something tragic in our life.  And when that happens, often times our response is....."where were you God".   Those words might be a knee-jerk reaction or it might be a question we know we'll never get an answer to here on earth.  Nevertheless, the feeling is there.

These past few days, I've heard a number of people ask questions in regards to 9-11.  "Where was God that day?   Why did he let that happen?"  Well......there is an answer.  One that will be useful to you anytime you reach a point of despair.  The story I'm about to share with you is a God-thing.  Told only by the one that knows.....     

I was there................

You say you will never forget where you were when you heard the news on September 11,2001.  Neither will I.  I was on the 110th floor in a smoke filled room with a man who called his wife to say "Good-Bye".  I held his fingers steady as he dialed.  I gave him the peace to say, "Honey, I am not going to make it but it is okay......I am ready to go.

I was with his wife when he called as she fed breakfast to their children.  I held her up as she tried to understand his words and as she realized he wasn't coming home that night.  I was in the stairwell of the 23rd floor when a woman cried out to ME for help.  "I have been knocking on the door of your heart for 50 years!", I said.  "Of course, I will show you the way home-only believe in ME now.

I was at the base of the building with the Priest ministering to the injured and devastated souls.  I took him home to tend to his Flock in Heaven.  He heard my voice and answered.

I was on all four of those planes, in every seat, with every prayer.  I was in the very hearts of the believers there, comforting and assuring them that their faiths has saved them.

I want you to know that I saw every face.  I was in Texas, Virginia, California and Afghanistan.  I was standing next to you when you heard the terrible news.  Did you sense me?

I want you to know that I saw every face.  I knew every name-though not all knew Me.  Some met ME for the first time on the 86th floor.  Some sought ME with their last breath.  Some couldn't hear ME calling to them through smoke and flames"  "Come to ME....this way......take my hand",  I offered.  Some chose, for the final time, to ignore ME.  But, I was there.    

I did not place you in the Tower that day.  You may not know why, but I do.  However, if you were there in the explosive moment in time, would you have reached for ME?

September 11, 2001 was not the end of the journey for you.  But someday your journey will end.  And I will be there for you as well.  Seek ME now while I may be found.  Then, at any moment, you know you are "ready to go".

I will be in the stairwell of your final moments....

GOD


We are just days removed from honoring 9-11.  The sting is still there...but for how long?  Will the words God offered in this story be something you can hold onto for more than a couple of days, a week, or perhaps a month?  Or will they be something you can grasp for eternity?

Know this...He was there on September 11th, 2001.  He is here today.  And He will be there tomorrow.


YGG,

John  

Sunday, July 14, 2013

MEMORIES CONTINUE OF NAVY SEAL JON TUMILSON AND HAWKEYE

Nearly two years ago we were left with the image of Hawkeye, the black Labrador friend of Petty Officer Jon Tumilson laying on the floor near the coffin of his owner.  It was a picture worth more than money and fame could ever provide.  It was the "ultimate gift" one friend gives another, regardless if one of those happens to be a dog.

This past weekend the small northeast Iowa town of Rockford paid additional accolades to the fallen hero and his buddy.  The following is from Laura Bird of the Mason City Globe Gazette.

"U.S. Navy Seal and Rockford, Iowa native Petty Officer Jon Tumilson and his dog, Hawkeye, will be able to forever run through the prairies of the Rockford Fossil and Prairie Park.  A bronze statue of Tumilson -one of 30 American troops killed in Afghanistan on August 6, 2011, when their helicopter was shot down en route to a combat mission-and Hawkeye were unveiled and dedicated Friday night at the park.

"Thank you to the board for allowing us such a beautiful place for Jon and Hawkeye to run forever", said Tumilson's brother-in-law Scott McMeekan.  The statue was made by Jeff Adams of In Bronze in Mt. Morris, Illinois.  It depicts Tumilson and Hawkeye running, which the two loved to do.


Kathy Tumilson (left) mother of Jon hugs a family member at dedication
I can't tell you what an honor it was to be entrusted with the image of Jon", said Adams.  He said he spent six to eight months trying to "breath life" into a man he never knew.  The Tumilson family sent photos and measurements such as shoe size and Adams read Navy SEAL books, but it was the stories of Tumilson that inspired him.

"Here on this extraordinary hilltop we dedicate this statue to the memory and intensity Jon brought to life", Adams said.

U.S. Navy Lt. Robert Bradshaw spoke about Tumilson's character, too.  He was chaplain for Tumilson's SEAL team.  "Jon was a gift to us", he said.  He was fully secure in who he was.  JT was a man of faith, a warrior".  All of the speakers, including Iowa State Rep. Josh Byrnes, encouraged the more than 200 people in attendance to never forget the people who serve the United States.  "Everyday is Memorial Day and everyday is Veterans Day", said Byrnes.  "It shouldn't be just one day we honor these people".

People were also encouraged to crush their excuses like Bradshaw explained to the families of the 30 SEAL members after their deaths.  "I will never forget what he said", McMeekan said.  "These are the type of men who crushed their excuses".

That quote inspired the GO Crush It 5K Challenge and Operation Go Crush It Collection Drive for military families, which were both part of the events on Saturday.  There was also a meal and benefit concert held later on in the day.  All proceeds from the event will benefit 3 Minutes Out, the foundation the family set up after Jon's death.  For more information on the charity go to www.3minutesout.org

And I should add....yes, Hawkeye made it back for the festivities.....

Family and Friends around the tree of HOPE
This past Wednesday evening I had the distinction of traveling with two of the co-founders of Project 52, Dustin Blythe and Bill Clark, to Rockford.  As part of the ministry of Project 52, they plant trees with the following commitment...."plantings seeds of Hope one tree at a time".

There must have been 30 friends and family members who were invited to the tree planting.  And...it was an evening to remember.  The Tumilson family was terrific......after the ceremony Kathy ushered the three of us into their home to show us the memorial room Navy Seal members had erected in honor of Jon.  It was moving....and it was special.  And as we shared traveling home that evening....an AMAZING day.

YGG,

John

Monday, May 27, 2013

IN MEMORY....CARRY THE LOAD AND MORE OF FREEDOM ROCK

I served our country as a Navy SEAL.  Every Memorial Day I have a persistent, dull, deep ache.  It's the memory of all of the buddies I'll never be able to talk to again.  I couldn't express my feelings with words, so I put on my boots, loaded my pack and I started walking.  With every step, I thought about those buddies I lost.  As I walked, a man stopped me and asked, "Son, who are you carrying?  He understood what I couldn't say.  At that moment, I knew that other people felt like me.....and Carry the Load was born".

Those words came from Clint Bruce, Co-Founder of Carry the Load.  They are impactful and to the point.  And they pack at wallop. So what is Carry the Load and what is its significance to Memorial Day?

CARRY THE LOAD
The mission with Carry the Load is to bring the meaning to Memorial Day by honoring the sacrifices made by members of the military, law enforcement officers, firefighters and their families while serving our country and communities, especially those who have died or were wounded while carrying the load for their fellow Americans.  "The truth is, there is a disconnect between what Memorial Day means, and how it is observed', said Bruce.

This year the group began with a 2,000 mile relay that began at West Point, New York on May 1st and will conclude with the annual 20-hour walk in Dallas.  The National Relay was broken into 348 legs along its journey to Texas.  Each leg represents an opportunity for some group to honor a selected individual or individuals. The Dallas walk began at 4 p.m. yesterday and concludes today (Monday).  

One leg of the National Relay comes into view for the pass off.....
Twenty thousand people registered for this year's event, more than a million dollars has been raised but it's more than that.  One walker back for his second year is Luke Benson.  If he has a beef with anyone, it's that the true meaning of Memorial Day has been lost on so many people.

"A lot of people have taken away from the tradition, you know, just to sit on lake and drink beer and barbecue", he said.  "I think you have to go back to something like this walk to realize the importance of what the Day is about".

Marine Staff Sgt. Jacob McCormack carries a flag with the names of Marines he deployed with to Iraq in 2005.  Two were killed. On his backpack are pictures of the five Marines killed when he went back in 2006. He and his team were walking at 4 a.m. as I posted this story.....making each step along the way count.  His thoughts on the marathon summed up so, so much to the event.  "It's important to us, and there's nothing like a little bit of pain and suffering to make you remember and never forget what those guys sacrificed for us", said McCormack.   For more information on Carry the Load go to http://carrytheload.org/splash/

My best guess is that this event is going to grow in its numbers......and here's hoping those figures are off the chart.......and then there is the Freedom Rock.  Here's what I wrote about in October of last year.

"It's only thirty some miles from where I live.  Hardly a long trek.  That's why it's hard to comprehend any  reasons its taken me so long to get there.  But last weekend I finally did.

It weighs some 56 tons and is roughly 12 feet tall.  It's about a mile and a half off of Interstate 80 at exit 86 (about 35 miles from Des Moines) among the cornfields of Iowa.  And it's one huge, huge focal point for what our troops preserve for us each and every day.  Freedom.  And appropriately it's called by that same name, Freedom Rock.

For years, the rock served as a graffiti piece.  Something vandals used to pen their mindless dribble and sayings.  That was until 1999 when a nineteen year-old from nearby Greenfield by the name of Ray "Bubba" Sorensen came to the rescue".

"It was around Memorial Day when I was driving past the rock when I wondered what it would be like if I actually took the time to go out there and paint it.  And so I painted it with the flag raising from Iwo Jima.  I got a huge response from it that I kept painting it. And I've been painting it with tributes to Veterans on Memorial Day".

Thirteen years later, Sorensen's still at it.  He usually begins his process each year by putting scenes on a blank canvas.  And then the process begins.  Each side of the rock save one has a coat of white paint and awaits a new theme".

And then I found out about this nugget, one, I hadn't seen anywhere. This Spring, Sorensen began the Freedom Rock Tour with a goal to paint a rock in every county in Iowa....99 in all, creating a unique statewide veterans memorial for the state.  How cool is that??

A Sorensen Masterpiece....Again
YGG,

John



Thursday, May 9, 2013

IF ONLY I COULD ELIMINATE THIS FROM MY LIFE......

You've no doubt felt frustrated and angry about something in your life and said, "if only I could eliminate this from my life, things would be just fine".  And if you haven't said it, you've no doubt thought it.....or if you can't admit to that, my guess is.........that feeling has existed deep down inside the innards of your soul. Somewhere.  That's the kind of being we are.  Prone to wanting everything to be hunky dory.  But as most of us have experienced, that's just not possible. Have you ever wondered why?

Recently I read a piece which hit home on the subject courtesy of  Sarah Young's "Jesus Calling".  Here are her words:  "Do not long for the absence of problems in your life.  That is an unrealistic goal, since in this world you will have trouble.  You have an eternity of problem-free living reserved for you in heaven.  Rejoice in that inheritance, which no one can take away from you, but do not seek your heaven on earth.  Begin each day anticipating problems, asking Me to equip you for whatever difficulties you will encounter".  Wow....if that's not spot on!!!
We're wired one way.....or so we think
Problems aren't causing you trouble; you are using problems to cause yourself trouble.  A problem for you may not be a problem for your best friend.  And a problem you had a year ago may not be a problem any longer, even if it is still present.  Here is an example from a young person trying to make sorts of life.  "In 2004, I was 18.  I was comfortable.  I had money, but I didn't have peace.  Happiness was out of sight.  I thought money would provide happiness, but it didn't.  As time went on, I became frustrated with the endless search for happiness.  People all around me were looking, but weren't happy.  I became frustrated, then impatient, and then curious.  Why were some people happy, while others wallowed in their own misery.  Some were happy with little, while others were miserable with a lot.  It tickled my brain".      

Where our young lad found a "tickle"....many others would perhaps describe it as a "weight on the brain".  Because that's what the days have become to them.....a constant search in ridding themselves of life's hiccups.

I found myself drifting to the Bible for a thought...."who would I think faced one of the biggest problems in their life?"  Let's see.  There was Noah, Joseph, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Isaiah, John the Baptist and Peter, just to name a  few.  And of course, Jesus.  He would be the problem sufferer leader hands down.   But then I thought of Daniel.  And clearly, he made real sense to me.

Many of us know the story of Daniel in the Lion's Den.  Daniel, in Daniel 6, is a highly esteemed government official whose colleagues become jealous of.  Seeking to get rid of him and knowing that he is a religious man, his colleagues convince the king to enact a decree saying that prayer can be made to no God except for the King.  Once the decree is made, Daniel continues on praying and giving thanks to his Lord just like he always did.  When he is caught, his colleagues tell their king and he is forced to throw Daniel into the den of lions.  The next morning, the king finds Daniel alive.  The lions had not harmed him.  The point?  Daniels faith in his God is what made him great in the first place.  Knowing he would not recant regardless of what happened to him....despite the problems he's facing.

Is there a simple solution?  Some would say yes and some would argue that it's a life-long battle....however,
"The best equipping is My Living Presence, My hand that never lets go of yours", concludes Sarah Young.  "Discuss everything with Me.  Take a lighthearted view of trouble, seeing it as a challenge that you and I together can handle.  Remember that I am on your side an I have overcome the world".  

YGG,

John

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight"-Proverbs 3-5;6