Friday, July 9, 2010

The Lord is MY Shepherd

The 23rd Psalm was my Granny B's favorite passage from the Bible even having it hanging prominently in her home on a plaque. Little did I know as I spent time with her in my youth that she was preparing the way for my life's journey with her favorite passage. You see I have been walking in the valley of the shadow of death for nearly 17 years since my diagnosis with Lou Gehrig's Disease. Yet in all this time I have had no fear because as Granny B would say MY Jesus has been and will be with me. My shepherd has guided me along a path that has not been easy, strewn with many obstacles and at times I was totally blind to the path I was taking but His hand has always been there gently pushing me in the right direction. My faith has wavered and even failed but the Lord like a good shepherd never abandoned me and would come to find me when I was lost and tangled and struggling to overcome some obstacle in my way. Even when people have said your journey is too difficult and what you're attempting is impossible He has whispered in my ear, "I love you. I believe in YOU. I will give you a hand if you need it or send you help to get you through." I have and will continue to overcome anything because of the tenacity and strength that my shepherd has given me as well as the knowledge that He is always beside me to protect and assist me if needed. He has also kept His promise to send me angels in the form of people to give me comfort, a hand and most especially love.

This brings me to the other thing my shepherd keeps whispering in my ear, "Remember Jeff I have asked my followers to do one thing, to love one another. Remind them of this!" I try to live in love and be a beacon of His message but I am failing in my mission. In the land that is supposed to be that shining beacon on the hill, we are not following that one command to love one another which the Lord is not happy about. We are too busy allowing politics guide our mood and beliefs causing a canyon to form between us and be filled with hatred and disdain. We have become "too busy" texting, seeking material gain or moments of fleeting triumph that we get so wrapped up in our own lives that we don't notice our brothers and sisters writhing in anguish and pain as we step over them. Regardless of your position on health care, we can no longer let it be acceptable for anyone to suffer and lose everything they have including their lives just because they become sick whether it's from incompetence, greed or just plain laziness we are all God's children. If you're against their government program, then you must demand an immediate viable alternative or better yet contribute your time, money and energy to an organization to assure this never happens. Remember: LOVE ONE ANOTHER! When someone is hungry or suffering in poverty or trapped in a world of addiction remember: LOVE ONE ANOTHER! If tragedy strikes from earthquakes to oil spills, these are not punishments from God as some Christian leaders have suggested but rather tests of our faith to see if we have the conviction to help our fellow man until they're whole again because remember: LOVE ONE ANOTHER! Some seem to believe capitalism and free enterprise can cure all of our ills even confusing it with Christian beliefs. For reviving the economy it can help with one caveat which is that it is purely profit driven so it will not solve everything and unless we start realizing to support our neighborhood businesses it will only send profits elsewhere so remember: LOVE ONE ANOTHER! It seems today everyone lives in fear from terrorists to the liberals/conservatives to the economy to each other but why are you living in fear the Lord is with you and remember: LOVE ONE ANOTHER! No matter if someone disagrees with you or even wrongs you, it is time to unite and retake our Christianity from anyone who uses it or uses it against us because what is most important is to remember: LOVE ONE ANOTHER! The Lord is MY shepherd, He is steadfast and He is the reason I have overcome the most incredible odds, the reason I am. Be well and happy!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Summer Memories

As I sit here daydreaming this lazy summer day watching the cotton ball clouds float across the pale blue sky my mind drifts to summers past when my body was young and things were simpler. A warm breeze blowing across my face and tousling a thick head of hair which is now increasing bare. The smells and feel of a lake, river or ocean as I float, fish, swim or frolic with friends or family. The sense of sweat running down my face and back as I worked in the melon fields, played ball, climbed mountains, swung a club, rode from motorcycles to horses and mowing the yard in the sticky southeast Missouri summer sun. The smell of chlorine and Coppertone at the pool and the coming of age at the realization of the blessing of bikinis and girls tanning themselves with baby oil and iodine while hoping a well placed splash might compel a more bountiful view. The sounds of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jim Croce, James Taylor, Chicago, Aerosmith, Cool & the Gang, Bon Jovi, Footloose Soundtrack and so many others coming from a radio, car stereo, boom boxes or sound system creating the soundtrack of a summer’s good times. The smells and tastes of grilling steaks or burgers, catfish fry, fried okra and squash and of course iced sweet tea or a ice cold Bud depending on the occasion. Trips to Daytona Beach, Colorado, San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago and Houston.

Among my fondest memories are sitting by the Mississippi River waiting for the ferry while American Pie played while seeing Dad and Mom hold hands and dance with my sister asleep in the backseat of the car and my brother fell in the water trying to catch a piece of driftwood. Some other word associations that only some of you who were around may understand: Benton dances, Current River, The Plantation, The Sports Complex, summer loves, FBLA conventions, Country Club, Jaycee Pool, Sonic/Cardinal Drive-ins, two-a-days, La Jolla, Columbia/Tan-tar-a, Kimos, Kramer, mini-farms and the rodeos. These are the flood of memories as I sit daydreaming on this beautiful day!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

It's All about LOVE

As I have gone through my life's journey with all the triumphs, some material wealth and achievements as well as the difficulties, loss and pain there has been one lesson in this my human journey that has remained consistent throughout which is the most important thing in life is love. It's the love given and received from family, friends, acquaintances, strangers and yes even enemies that raise us up above the muck and filth that sometimes encompasses our lives and is ultimately what make our lives worth living. Someone much greater than myself declared that the greatest commandment we should have guide our lives is to love your neighbor. Why then do we continuously find ourselves surrounded by a world of tension, strife, hate and the worst kinds of evil where it seems that love was cast away eons ago? I believe it is because even the most loyal followers of greatest man to trod earth have become deaf to his primary teaching. We have all become cold, self-righteous arbitrators of the world as we see it and are blind to other views of it. We sit in judgment of each other preferring to right instead of embracing each others differences and find strength in them. We quibble and fight over the most insignificant and immaterial items and go to war for even less. We apparently prefer the loneliness of division to the warmth found in the unity of love.

As I continue my journey of life, I dedicate myself to one proposition to love and receive love. I reject the loneliness of self-righteousness and embrace the differences of others. I will find the strength and unity that results when we allow ourselves to find common ground, a common purpose for the common good. I will live my life in love and through that love make this world a better place to live.

I do not want to be lonely anymore and want to come out from the cold. This is my pledge, this is my oath and this is my prayer. I love you.

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