I love how God blesses me!

I have to admit that I have always had a problem with Christians saying that they were blessed. Before I was a Christian it sounded like an arrogant boast in an attempt to win me over to their way of thinking. What I was hearing them say when I asked how they were doing was 'I am doing far better than you because the creator of the universe loves me and is giving me my every whim. You should become a Christian and get in on this'. 

Then when I became a Christian in November of 2003 what I heard when someone said they were blessed was "I have been following God's law very well and He has been rewarding me with earthly delights". As I matured in my faith I have developed a far more nuanced translation of the "I'm blessed" response. 

 There are for sure people who really do "measure blessings" based on how comfortable their lives are. This despite there being overwhelming evidence in the scriptures that God doesn't bless people in order to make them comfortable. For example Romans 8:17 says; we are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. In Isaiah 55:8 God explains My thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways my ways. In other words don't expect me to bless you the way you want me to bless you or how you you would bless someone you love if you were God. 

Today was a huge reminder to me that God blesses me in ways I never would have dreamed! I was walking in the Vista section of Columbia after visiting some of my clients. I had about 30 minutes till my next meeting and decided to eat lunch at Black Bean Company because I'm trying to eat healthy and they make healthy taste good. Anyways a black man in his mid 30's approached me on Gervais street with the familiar greeting of someone who is about to hit me up for money. "Big man, yo big man let me ask you something". I was walking towards him but my wall was going up to tell him to bug off, I simply grunted "what". He said "I don't want your money or a ride. I don't drink or do drugs. I just got out of jail and I'm HIV positive and really hungry. Could you buy me something to eat"? I was startled by the HIV admission. My mind was scrambling. I tried to pray real quick and it was like God shut me down. "What do you think I want you to do for him"? So I said I was just going to lunch down here at a health food restaurant. Do you want to join me? He smiled and said yes sir! 

The lady taking our order clearly didn't think we were together because I asked him if he was ready to order and he said not yet so I ordered first and she started to give me my total and I said hang on my friend hasn't ordered yet. He was confused by the whole thing and I honestly began to wonder if he could read. He eventually said "did yours have chicken? I'll get what he's having. She asked if he wanted to make it a combo and he said "I don't want to push my luck". I laughed and said let's make his a combo. 

He told me his life story about being raised by a single mom. His older brother having Lupus. He dropped out of school in the 10th grade. He has 2 kids and an ex wife. He has been trying to turn his life around and support his kids but he was driving on a suspended licence when he got pulled over. He ended up in county jail for 67 days. His landlord threw away his possessions and his car has been impounded and is sitting there at a $25 a day penalty. In other words it's gone too. He got out this morning and has been asking people to buy him lunch for about 3 hours when I came along.

We talked about the scriptures. He said sitting in jail he had read the Bible and books about the Bible. (Maybe he could read after all). I could tell he had been studying them. He quoted some of his favorites. But more importantly was developing a real relationship with God. He said he realized that God had stripped away everything because he had been trying to shortcut the process. He had sold some drugs. Not often he said but just enough to make rent or car payments when his job in construction didn't quite pay as much that month. He said God wanted him to rely on Him. Allow Him to work miracles to prove He was in control and every time my new friend ruined that. "I have to trust God to provide me with everything" he said. 

He had no place to go, no plans to move forward. He was just going to return to the street and beg for dinner he said. I made some calls and found him a shelter. I also found him a program that he can go and be assessed at tomorrow. He almost started crying. Then I gave him $40 and said I hope this helps. He really was in shock. I offered him a ride to the shelter which wasn't too far away so he said I can walk it. I said I know you can but you'll have plenty of time for walking the next few weeks, and we may never see each other again. So we rode together for a final 90 seconds or so. He said Kelly my cell phone is shut off but I hope to get it turned on again someday. I sure would like to talk to you again, Would you take my number? So now he's saved in my phone. I'm praying that God will work some more miracles in his life so that one day when I call he will answer. 

I know he was blessed by the meal, the money and the conversation. But I think I was the one who was really blessed. And that what I mean when I say I love how God blesses me! If you had told me an hour earlier that a guy who just got out of jail, is going to approach you with a story about HIV, homelessness, and hunger, I would have asked how to avoid it. God's ways are not my ways, and I often don't want to follow His ways, but whenever I do He pours out the riches of heaven upon me. Thanks God!   

A book that might save any marriage

I just finished a book that I wish I had read years ago when I was married. It's called "Boundaries In Marriage". Why is a divorced guy reading this book? Because I'd like to get married again and I would like to be the best husband I can possibly be if God blesses me with another wife. 

The concept of the book is rather simple. The way most of us deal with frustration in our marriage is not effective and God has a better way. In fact the purpose of marriage is not what most of us are looking for. Most are looking to their partner as someone to make you happy for the rest of your life. But marriage, like all of life, is to bring glory to God. That happens when we grow to become more like Jesus. Being locked in marriage will put you under pressure. Pressure reveals a lot about people, which is why a spouse should know you better than anyone else.  Scripture describes marriage as 2 becoming 1. Hollywood turned that into "you complete me". The problem with Hollywood's version is that means you were incomplete without your partner. The Bible is calling for 2 complete people to become one, which is completely different. 

By placing boundaries in your marriage you are helping your partner to become more like Jesus. How so? God has made all of us in His image. We all fall short of that image due to the sin we are born with in our life. It's easier for us to find where our partners are falling short than it is for us to see it in our own lives. So you place a boundary on them. For example your husband has an anger problem. Rather than ignore it, or try to placate it, you tell him about it. Not when he is angry! But in a quiet private moment. Explain what you're seeing. You 're not looking for him to agree with you. You just want to tell him what you are experiencing and then place a boundary on it. Perhaps the boundary is, next time he flies off the handle he will have to sleep in another room. Or maybe even you will move out. You're not giving up on the marriage, you're just telling him that his actions are unacceptable. You still love him, but this behavior isn't Godly and until it changes there are consequences. 

The Bible teaches the "the wounds of a friend can be trusted". You're helping your spouse by bringing into the light their problems and putting boundaries on what is acceptable. You are not helping them, or effecting change, when you nag or ignore the problem.  So this book is fantastic for anyone considering marriage, already in a marriage, or like me, want to learn some of the mistakes I didn't know I had made in my marriage. 

Amazingly tragic video shows all human emotions in 60 seconds.

I saw this video this morning that was shot on a dash cam in China. It shows a drunk driver kill a man and then himself by accident. All of this takes place in a minute and you'll see the guy go through just about every emotion possible. 

It starts with him wanting companionship. He tells his friend on the phone "let's meet up for a drink". Suddenly he hits a bicyclist. He starts to pull over. He has done something horrible and recognizes it as such. Then he contemplates the punishment and decides against stopping. He accelerates and tells his friend "I've got to get away. Where can I go". The friend on the phone having no idea why his pal needs to get away offers that he should come to to his house. Surprise, joy and relief all hit the driver at once. "You're at home? No way"!  His friend then questions "is this real".  That makes the driver angry. "This is very real"! Suddenly he loses control of the car and realizes he's about to die. His final words "I'm crashing...it's over". 

This 60 second video is rightfully being shared as a warning against drunk driving. But it's more than that. It shows the natural progression of human beings when they have done wrong. If he had pulled over he may have saved the bicyclist. At the very least he would have saved his life. But he decided to run away from his responsibility. When Adam and Eve sinned, they tried to hide as well. God was able to get them to show themselves, but they would have preferred to hide from their sin and act like it didn't happen.  But admitting your guilt and facing the consequences now begins the healing process. Without it, you can not heal yourself. It's no different than a wound. If you pretend the wound isn't there it doesn't go away. It get's infected, or the bone sets in a way to cause you pain the rest of your life. 

When you do wrong, admit it, or as one of my old bosses used to say, "get the ugly out early". The sooner you do, the sooner you can heal. You can't out run it. You can't hide from it. And God wants you to be healed and free of the pain your sin is causing you!  The Bible puts it this way in 1st John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 

How would you have handled this situation?

Today I was entering a business where you have to take a number and wait your turn. As I was about to get to the back of the line, a boy around the age of 6, sprinted in front of me. I heard his mom and sister walking up behind me and assumed Mom was going to grab his hand and pull him behind me and explain that it's very rude to do that. Instead she looked me in the eye, said "sorry about this" and then proceeded to implement the grade school classic "back cuts" and pulled her daughter in front of me. 

I was stunned silent. I was already in a bad mood and thankfully was so stunned, that I didn't start lecturing her on how to be a better parent. I did stew about it as the family of 3 all had to be served before me. I don't want to say where I was but it takes about 5 minutes per person, so this was an extra 15 minutes I had to stew. 

As I was about to leave I saw a friend of mine. He mentioned that I looked ticked. I told him what had happened and asked him what he would have done. He said "you just have to take it". Part of me says he's right. But another part of me says this can't be. I calmed myself down with the realization that not being able to make my next appointment because of this delay means nothing in the long term view of my life. But another part thought about this boy, and how he is not being taught that manners are what keeps society civil. Perhaps his mom never learned that lesson. Now she's raising 2 kids who go through life ticking people off. Do I owe to all of us to help these kids learn right from wrong? 

Those of us born before 1980 all either have stories, or it was just understood, that if you acted out in public, some adult was going to take care of it. And if your parents saw you getting yelled at by a stranger, their instinct was to ask the stranger what you had done. They didn't bother asking you because you were the one in trouble, hence you had an incentive to lie.

Since the 80's there has been a shift towards believing the child over a stranger. This may be the result of kids never being believed about anything previously. In the instance of molestation or something where the child is making an unprovoked accusation against an adult, I think society used to lean towards it being a lie, and a lot of damage was done. But if an adult is scolding a child for something specific, in most cases the kid did it.    

We have now lost a generation, or two, because society no longer feels they have the right to help teach children about proper behavior in public. I'm sad about this, because parents and children can use all the help they can get. Raising kids is probably the most difficult thing a person can do! So they need the help, and we all want the children to do better, for our sake and future generations. So I feel like I let them down today. A simple "hey there partner you can't just start jumping in front of people" would have probably helped that family out even though they wouldn't know it today. Next time I'll be speaking out! I'll let you know how it goes. 

Knowing where you came from

Most people are aware that I never knew my father. From all reports he was not healthy to be around at that time of his life. So my mother took me to live at her folks house for a while, got a divorce, and moved on with her life. She married another man who gave me his last name and raised me as his own.

When I began trying to get a job on the radio, my legal last name, was deemed to be too long. So I suggested my birth name and the bosses loved it. When I was a kid I never thought about father, or missed him, or wondered about him or anything. I had a family. But when I became an adult I started answering medical questions about family history. It began to nag me that I didn't know anything about my Nash heritage. 

About 10 years ago I began a half-hearted attempt to discover my heritage. I discovered my dad eventually got his life together and ended up marrying a really nice lady in Hawaii. I have some half brothers out there and a sister in Texas who I have corresponded with a few times on e-mail. Sadly my dad died about 10 years before I started searching so there won't be any reunion.  

I just quit the search at that point. There were no living Nash's from my family to speak to. His 2 sisters had died as well as my grandparents. So that was that. Or was it?

Recently I have been feeling the urge to start searching again. My cousin Kim, on my mom's side, is really into documenting the family tree. I've seen some of the stuff and was fascinated. She has her family tree going back to the 1400's! She encouraged me to join Ancestry.com. It's not cheap if you want to see the documents. But I went all in, and am really glad I did. I've been having so much fun the last few days "clicking on the leaves". Leaves are documents they think might be attached to a family member.

I've traced my Nash heritage back to 1600 so far and just found the first one to come to America. 

James married Alice in 1626 in Somerset England. Their first child, James the II or as I would have called him lil James, was born in 1629 in Boston. So that means they must have sailed over in that 3 year window which was within a decade of the first Pilgrims landing at Plymouth rock in 1620. 

One thing that is obvious from looking at the documents of the Nash's, Kingman's, Dyers, Stearn's and dozens of other names that are a part of my family tree, is life is tough. There are countless stories of babies lost, or children dying in their teens, or men killed in battles. There's also divorces, bankruptcy's, and extended illnesses. It dawned on me that every family is filled with survivors. If you are alive, and not a direct decedent of a royal throne, then you came from a family that had to endure some amazing hardships. We all come from hearty stock! No matter what you're going through, there's probably someone in your family history who has survived it, so you can too. 

The other thing I'm reminded of is how short our time on earth is. Some get a day (yes I saw several death certificates for children who died in 1 or 2 days), some get 100 years (I haven't seen anyone in my tree get that long yet, but a bunch made it till their 90's). None of us know how long we'll be here. We all know it's not forever so stop acting like it is. Make the most of every day. 

My final thought is how closely we are all related. I'm finding relatives from all over the place! We really should treat each other like family, because if you trace it back far enough, we really are family.