Fatherhood…Is It Worth It?

A friend recently asked me this question, and honestly, I’d never thought about it. My default response was always, “Of course!” But he knows much of my story and was wanting a more considered response. “With all you’ve had to deal with and go through, would you do it again?” Whoa! That’s no small consideration!

My initial response was basically that strictly “on paper” it makes no sense. I see these scenes in shows and hear folks in real life say things like,” I’m just not ready!” Often, I just chuckle because no one ever is! And if you think you are, you’re probably about to find out how wrong you are or about to foul up without knowing it until later. Being a father, or more specifically a Dad, is not something you’ll be wholly ready for; it is more of an adventure with challenges you’ll have to figure out along the way. Some challenges will even feel impossible!

On paper, a child is prohibitively expensive. A child will test you, leave you sleepless, and will take a toll on your physical & mental health! And that’s an average child! Your kid might be special needs or need extensive medical care at some point! Some children will even run afoul of the law or, at least, be accused of such choices. That doesn’t sound like fun, right?

So, why would anyone have children? Simply put, because it’s not about living life “on paper!”

Some children are surprises (no child is an accident). Some are the result of considering if mom and dad are willing to take the risk and then intentionally getting pregnant. And some are adopted by families who want to share their love & resources beyond whatever children they already do or do not have. But all children are an adventure!

Adventures carry risks AND rewards! And children carry such unique rewards! Sometimes it’s a sweet note. Other times, it’s a surprise hug or a sweet snuggle while watching some Disney show. Then there’s the moments of pride when something you’ve tried to teach comes back out. Or the times when they do something fantastic that you never imagined they could/would. These moments tend to make all the hardship and struggle worth it!

Children stretch you & force you to reveal your selfishness, resulting in either a decision to remain selfish or to sacrifice. If you have kids and haven’t changed, either you’ve not been a parent or you’re lying to yourself. Kids, like any adventure, will change you, if you engage with the adventure!

At the end of the day, the bottom line is this; if you will love your children and do what is best for them, despite what it means for you, personally, then parenthood is totally worth it! But it will require all you can give your children, especially in one modern world that seeks to separate parents from their children and defraud/rip-off our children with lies in pretty packaging.

And, truth be told, we need more committed & dedicated parents, or foster parents, in this world. Our children, biological or adopted or fostered, deserve parents committed to raising them, sacrificing for them, and sticking with them. This doesn’t mean we agree with or condone every choice or impulse, but it means we don’t give up the fight and we hold the line, loving them, and encouraging them to seek the Truth and discourse with us as they grow. And, though this shouldn’t have to be said, it also means you never quit on them; you pray, encourage, dialog, and reach out, even hoping against all odds sometimes. But you never quit.

As a final thought, and maybe I’ll do a separate post on this, our children’s needs shift as they grow. The baby that needed locks on the cabinet has different needs than the teen that has started thinking more like an adult and needs to discuss rather than just being told. This doesn’t change our responsibility to hold the line but it changes how we go about that. Sometimes this reality isn’t obvious, and we all need little reminders now al then.

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Loving While It Hurts

Hollywood lied to me!

That’s likely no surprise to anyone! However, it is a regular event for me to realize that I bought some Hollywood lie! And it’s annoying to find I did so!

In this case, I bought the lie that love is easy & always feels good!Hollywood makes it look so easy to fall in love, to be in love, and to maintain that love. It is such that my kids and I can often predict who will match up, and when, in a given TV show. And as much as Hollywood may try, the reality of life is nearly impossible to portray.

This is not to say that I don’t know how to love. I was married to a good woman until she changed and left. I’ve raised three kids, nearly adults, who know they are loved. And most of the folks that know me would probably be surprised to read this post. Still, there’s a subtle misstep that I am now aware of, and maybe this is a common misstep; hence, this post.

To love is costly! This is the thing Hollywood rarely portrays, and it is quite difficult to portray, I think. Love may-well cost you everything! And in today’s world of “me first!”, that is anathema! But that’s love; it takes everything you can give, but it often gives back more. Yet, I’ll get to that part in a moment.

I was recently listening hot some TobyMac, and the song Love Feels Like came on, and for the first time, I heard the chorus anew.

This is what love feels like
Poured out, used up, still willin’ to fight!

Most anyone who has walked my road (spiritually-speaking) with me has heard me say, “I’m worn; I feel empty” or something similar. Well, it’s merely a change of the words to say that I feel “poured out, used up”. And most anyone who has seen me take on a challenge knows that I’m always still wiling to fight, though I have wanted to throw in the towel more than once. It takes more than wanting to throw in the towel to get me to quit.

Yet another song came on after Love Feels Like, and that was Francesca Battistelli’s Motion of Mercy, which contains this nugget

Living for the lost
Loving ‘til it hurts
No matter what the cost
Like You loved me first

If you don’t know what Jesus’ love looked like, then please let me illuminate that! He left Heaven, a place of perfection, to take on human form/flesh, being born as a baby, growing up, and then at ~30 years old, He began His ministry of preaching what was called the Day of Salvation, that God had drawn close and the long-foretold sacrifice that would make man right with God was finally here. He was that sacrifice and He was tortured, brutally beaten, and then hung on a cross for 6 hours before giving up His spirit and dying. He was pierced in the side to confirm death, and blood and “water” flowed out of the wound. He was then buried and 3 days later, He rose from the grave.

So, Jesus love took Him outside His comfort, into quite the uncomfortable human state (mind you: no indoor plumbing then, no central heat, no air conditioning, no bamboo shirts, and deodorant hadn’t been invented yet. None of it!). He lived 30-33 years in this state, and then gave Himself to be brutally murdered. The Bible even tells us that He did this so we could have a chance, a choice, to know Him. Giving everything up, enduring pain, discomfort, and brutality, all to give someone the chance to do the right thing…that’s love, y’all!

Hollywood lied to me, and I’m ashamed that I bought the lie. Even so, thanks be to God Almighty for showing me what real love looks like! And by Him, by accepting His sacrifice in my place, making Him Lord of my life, and relying on His Spirit, I can live that love!

I may feel poured out or used up, but He restores! He fills! And He makes me able to keep going, day after day and blow by blow!

I could probably go on and on, but I am trying to keep these latest posts more brief than in the past. So, let me summarize by saying this, love doesn’t always provide immediate rewards (like TV or the movies often show). Sometimes, it is a lot of giving for a reward in Heaven. Sure, there are the hugs that I get from my kids, the words of thanks, or even blessing, when they realize something I’ve done for them, but quite often, love is for an eternal reward. Because I have trust Jesus with my life, have trusted in His sacrifice for me, and seek to serve/follow Him in everything, I know I will see Heaven.

But for now, I’m content to identify with Christ in His sufferings through my own. I’m content to love, not knowing if I will see the outcomes I have hoped will come out of that love. But I love not for rewards or blessing; I love because He loved me first, and I seek to follow His example.

Dear Reader, if you don’t know Him, I encourage you to dig in and know my Lord. He is worth everything you can give, everything you have, and all that you will ever be or have!

Godspeed! — 1 Corinthians 15:10

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Sentiment, Nostalgia…and Grief

If I may process some thoughts aloud… What is it that causes us to cling to our pasts? It even seems that the worst of pasts is still clung to in the high points, perhaps a unique Christmas or a day when a parent was not they’re usual-less-than-good self. What causes us to hold these breakpoints (if you’ll forgive my geek speak) on our past, often to the point of ignoring or denying the bad parts of those same times.

The days leading up to this post have given me time to reflect and an abundance of examples of this kind of nostalgic grief. I’m struck by new buildings on once-beautiful landscapes, old buildings that are (or will someday soon) come down and be replaced by a new building. I’m struck by a grief I can’t explain nor quantify. I’m struck with a grief of “oh, for that time when…”

What is it that allows, even encourages, mankind to have similar experiences? Perhaps we’re just struck by the passage of time? Maybe we miss a time when things seemed similar? Or maybe we are just sad to see what we’re familiar with be replaced with something else?

My personal perspective, after said reflection, is that it’s mostly a loss of that which is familiar, but I believe that’s connected with our desire to go back to a time when we, now, knew what was coming. We don’t like change, and we like the unknown even less, but let me break these ideas down.

First, we don’t like change! We get used to having things a certain way, and we like things that way! Some of us like to change things up, and not being able to change things up is the loss we don’t like (such as being isolated via the COVID madness?). Others of us like things the way we have them, our organization, system, or way of functioning is what we consider optimal, and no one should change that, least not without our explicit permission.

But beyond that, there appears to be an even more sinister reason. When we look back on “simpler times”, we’re looking back on a book that’s been completed. We know how that’s going to work out. We know the beginning, middle, and ending, like a movie we’ve watched before. And, I dare argue, there are times when we prefer the predictable past rather than the unknown of today or the future.

“Well, that’s all well and good, but do you have a suggestion for how we deal with this?” But of course! What good is identifying a problem if you don’t then direct toward a solution?

This grief we feel is both proper and sinful. The proper side is in the reality that we are grieving that life isn’t what it should be; after all, if you’re a Believer, we are citizens of Heaven, ambassadors of reconciliation, sent by the Almighty, and one day, we’ll go to where such change is no longer a problem and is all positive (if there’s any changes at all; I don’t presume to suggest there is or is not change in Heaven)! For now, though, it is ok to grieve, to cry, to pound our chests in pain, crying out, “I hurt, Lord! I hurt!” The Bible, Psalms quite specifically, gives us plenty of encouragement that this kind of realism with the Almighty is ok! And once we see our Savior, all will finally be made right and we will have rest from that which so plagued us on earth.

Hence, the sinful side will be gone. The sinful side of grief is insidious and, by nature, subtle. It is the fact that in this grief, we can begin to grumble and complain about our present circumstance(s). We look back and find ourselves saying, “Why can’t it be like that, God? Why must I go through this?” And, my dear Reader, that’s not the questions we should ask, though it is natural to ask them. We should be honest with ourselves and say, “I didn’t understand, then, how You would see me through, Lord. But I see how You led me then; help me to see how You’re leading me, now!”

So, where does that leave us? It leaves us with a choice! Will we be real with God when our pains hit? Will we be willing to be honest with Him as to how our heart aches? And will we be equally honest with ourselves that these precious memories aren’t for us to hold as “perfect” but for us to look upon as Ebenezer stones and say, “thus far, the Lord has led me; He will lead me yet onward”?

My dear Reader, I don’t know where you find yourself in life, but I know that my own life has led to me to places where I could barely breathe and where I wondered if I could get up again. This leads me to weep for those of you who read this, experiencing extreme grief. But whether you are overflowing with tears or are on the other side rejoicing at the end of a trial, I can tell you this, a statement that has always helped me, and which I leave off this post with:

“Tomorrow, the sun will rise again. The power that raised Jesus from the grave will help me rise from my bed; and I will take the next step, and the next, following Him.”

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My Life Motto

Recently, I’ve found a few folks have really benefited from this tidbit. Consequently, I’m posting it here for the benefit of those who might be reading here.

In becoming a single-Dad, and since, I’ve found many times when I’m faced with seemingly “impossible” situations. I’ve made a career out of being the guy folks come to when others say something is “impossible”, and one day, as I was driving home from work, I considered what I would say to those who wonder how I can “do this”, being a single parent, working full-time, etc.

Well, there it is! Let me under-pin this with the reality that this only works because The Almighty is the God of the Impossible. Without Him, these are nice words, but they don’t work in every situation. But with God, all things are possible! (Matthew 19:26, I highly encourage you to read it and the surrounding context!)

When faced with an impossible situation, immediately abandon the option to “give up!” For without that option, all other options, however improbable, become entirely possible!

author: Ben Messer
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Who Am I? The Lost Art of Character Building!

(N.B.: After writing this, I realize it bears a similarity to this blog post from 7+ years ago (https://nerdylenses.com/2014/08/23/a-heartfelt-mind-meld-who-are-you/). However, I believes these to be two sides of the same coin. The below speaks more generally to one’s moral character while the prior post spoke more to one’s identity in Jesus. With that, I hope you enjoy both posts for their unique takes.)

When I was younger, the original Robocop movie came out. While I cannot say that it was a great movie (too much gore), it had a number of great qualities, but one of the most memorable lines, for me, is when Robocop confronts one of Murphy’s murderers at a gas station. Robocop is starting to experience Murphy’s memories, and he vaguely recalls this guy, but he doesn’ t know who he is. So, he says, in a very robotic fashion, “Who ARE you?!”

That question has become a hidden guidepost to my life. Who am I? Who do I want to be? And who am I intent on not being?

Even this blog, if you’ve read through it, shows that I wasn’t always who I am today. Sure, the basic foundation and the subtle lines are there, but if I were a house, the house you see today sits on the ruins of a much more fragile and unstable house that fell years ago. Yet, the questions remain: who am I and who will I be?

Truth be told, I’d love to be the guy who has time to relax, to chisel his abs, to “enjoy the good life.” But my life has not afforded me such opportunities. So, I have to make choices, and those choices are directed by my character.

Over the years, there have been different phrases for it: work-ethic, lifestyle, ethics, values, even morals. But character is made up of all those things, in truth. And ultimately, character is powered by our Creator. Without Jesus, I cannot make consistently good choices. I may make a few ones, but most will be selfish or self-motivated. Even if I play that I’m doing it for others, I’m doing it to make myself feel good/better.

Within Jesus, the Christ/Messiah, I am empowered to step outside myself and make the choices that sometimes suck! Choosing to endure pain because I trust that Jesus’ plan is better than mine, even though I don’t see the payoff yet. Taking an action when the final outcome is unsure. Losing out on an opportunity I wanted because my child needs to experience discipline. Or even choosing to show my child grace, taking the consequence on myself rather than letting it fall on them (a limited case, to be sure). These are all things which Jesus enables me to do, to step outside my selfish, sin-sick self and be moved by His Spirit to do.

So, dear Reader, who will you be? Who are you? Will you step up to the challenge of working hard for your employer or building your business with integrity? Will you sacrifice so that others might enjoy? Will you raise children who do the same? And above it all, will you follow Jesus, accepting His sacrifice and His light yoke while casting your cares on Him, into the unknowns?

Every time I hear The Who’s famous song “Who Are You?”, I am reminded to find my identity in Jesus, and let my character flow from the example He has set (and many supporting examples in the Bible, as well).

Godspeed, as you seek and serve Him, with renewed purpose and perhaps renewed character!

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Discouraged by Challenges

I’m told my Nana had a saying that went something like this, “Discouragement is an opportunity for His Encouragement!” Smart lady! In fact, having never met her, I can still say that my Nana was quite a smart lady due to the legacy she left behind, and some of her recorded teachings that I am privileged to listen to. Such a smart lady, and I can’t wait to get to meet her in Heaven!

But this post isn’t about my Nana! Ha ha ha! No, rather, it is about discouragement. You see, in the time I stopped blogging, I found out that Autism runs in my family. While I don’t know if it runs from my parents, I can say that my kiddos are on the Spectrum. For me, finding out I was Autistic felt like someone had put their hand on my shoulder and said, “you can stop fighting yourself!”

For my kids, it was validation that raising kids can really be THIS difficult! In my view, the key pang of Autism is that it makes it hard to see, feel, and hear others. And to a parent dealing with an Autistic child, it can be hard to know if the words got through. Obviously, I’m not talking about the senses. I’m talking about full-scale connections with others.

One of my kids is particularly difficult in this respect. Sometimes, it feels as though words go in one ear and out the other. Other times, it’s like I have been talking to myself. For my child, though, things reverberate and thoughts scramble against other thoughts like a big mosh-pit. My child’s intention is to hear me, to do better in life, to improve behaviors. But when I speak, my child’s mind spins! And often, a simple conversation spins off an essay in my child’s head. This is a key challenge of every aspect of the spectrum, the ability to manage thoughts and ideas and communicate them in a meaningful way, coupled with the child’s self-impression.

So, when I say, “You need to work on your paper.”

My child hears, “Me. I have something to work on? Oh yes, I forgot about that project I wanted to finish, it was so much fun….wait, paper, but I was working with styrofoam…..no, the paper for school. Yeah. I do. But I can’t. I’ll never get it done! It’s too big, and that styrofoam ship; I can finish that! But you want me to work on my paper, that paper, I did all the work, why should I have to write it all down! It’s in my head, isn’t that enough? I’ll never finish it, in fact, I’m already late, so what’s the point? I’d rather finish my ship, I can do that!”

Consequently, it becomes a battle to get my children to get things done, and the hardest part of the battle is grappling with them in love. There’s the internal desire to “just do it!!!!”, to want to force them to just do their work, but force doesn’t communicate love. So, how do you loving battle someone? I’m reminded of the various movies or TV shows that deal with some supernatural aspect and there’s often a showdown wherein a loved one is possessed by some evil being or power. The battle has to happen, but you can’t harm your loved one, it’s not their fault evil is using them. (Don’t take this too far, but when it comes to special needs kids, it tends to be a good analogy.)

So, how do you fight in love? Well, you stand, like Gandalf, on the bridge between the Balrog and the Fellowship of the Ring, and you dig your sword into the ground and declare, “You shall not pass!”, even if it means you will not see the light of day again. I have truly come away from such emotional battles and gone right to an hour-long nap! In the midst of it, you seek to feel where they are at, try to see what might be in their head, and try to call out the man or woman you know lives inside of them! You remind them of all they are, of who the Almighty made them to be, and you remind them that this battle isn’t between you and them, but between their will and what’s right.

So much easier said than done. And as such, here I am today, woefully discouraged after many battles with my child. Recently, there have been many challenges we’ve had to face, and for so long, my child had stood tall, committed to excellence, pursuing a noble next-task. But today…well, the last few days, my child has begun to lapse back into old habits of self-doubt, self-depreciation, and doing the bare minimum.

I’m angry because I know my child can do better. I’m anguished because I know there’s more behind this, and some of it is my child’s own struggling with “I can do it.” My child wrestles with being abandoned by my child’s mother; it is a struggle, of my child, to reconcile the lack of love (and some truly unloving moments) my child’s mother has communicated. And I don’t know which, if any, are the present challenges, but it’s all mixed in together.

So, ultimately, I am discouraged. I know my child and so much that my child is capable of. I and others have seen it, now and again! And then, days like today, I feel like I’ve just lost all progress; 10 steps forward, 11 steps back.

It’s moments like these that I need to remind myself of my Nana’s words. I am discouraged, but He is Encouraging. I am looking at today, this moment, and seeing the pain and the frustration, and the loss that is in front of me. He sees the whole of history, the pains, the loss, the joys, and the wins! He sees how this plays out. He knows where we’re going and how we’ll get there. To me, we’re on I-40 headed East. To Him, we’ve got a cross-country tour with an international circuit after that.

I’m chuckling and crying, as I write that last part. The paradox of life (perhaps everyone’s life) is how often I find myself burdened by the present but lifted by His grasp of the future! My heart aches for today, for the challenges that are present, for how tenuous some improvements are. Yet, I hope not in this world but in Him. As the song says “Jesus Christ, my LIVING hope!”

So, today will finish, and tomorrow will come! And regardless of both, He will be in control, and His plans are perfect! I rarely understand them, but I am always amazed when I get to glimpse at how He has led me to a certain moment; it is always just what I needed, exactly when I needed it, presented precisely how I needed it, so that I could continue to serve Him, once more!

All He provides is all I ever truly need! I don’t know why I would ask for anything more than that!

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5 Years Later…Still Sacrificing!

It’s been nearly 5 years since I closed out the Heartfelt Mind-Meld. Truthfully, I didn’t feel like I had much more to share. When something did come to mind, it seemed to leave before I could get it down. And so, 5 years has flown by. And where am I?

I still dream. I still hope, but I am battle-worn. You see, prior to COVID, when the world was still holding to it’s traditions and jollies, my family cracked. Some nonsense had been going on, unaware, and it boiled to the surface, and I had to take some serious actions to get my family healing. I had no idea then, but it has been the most exhausting battle of my life, even worse than the traumatic divorce of over a decade ago.

It serves no purpose to go into further details, but I have had to learn about sacrifice; this isn’t the popular “die to self”, “oh, isn’t it great to sacrifice for the Lord” sacrificing. Rather, I’ve gotten to experience the moments when I cry out, like David, “why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” And yet, I have also had to remind myself, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”

The coming months and year hope to see a return to blogging, for your sakes, dear readers! I believe God has provided this blog and my pains to encourage you in yours. He is good! And even when everything feels bad, He remains good and His will remains perfect!

I am currently contemplating the trials of Job, a man who went through excruciating pains, and for whom, God never provided an answer for the pains he experienced! In the midst of this, and other examples we have in Scripture, I’m learning a new depth to Romans 12:1b, “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

It has dawned on me, and I leave you with this, that a sacrifice doesn’t have a life left to live. So a living sacrifice must regularly give up it’s life to be lived for Jesus. Perhaps this is what can be so painful about sacrifice, as it flies directly against our flesh, that sin-sick part of us that only wants to live for ourselves. If I want to truly live for Christ, I must be willing to endure the pain of surrendering my life, my desires and goals, my ways of doing things, to His.

Truthfully, I don’t like that. Parts of me even hate that idea, altogether. But that is the greatest reason why I must submit myself and lay my pride, plans, and desires down on the cross, daily, hourly, sometimes moment-by-moment. A sacrifice can’t get up off the altar; so, why should I?

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Heartfelt Mind-Meld: An Ending…Dream!

Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith, it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” (empahsis mine)

Dream.  To be honest, I just don’t dream anymore.  In the last 7 years, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve dreamt at night.  And half of those are from the first few months after my ex-wife left.  It’s a depressing thought, but it’s my reality, and I refuse to allow my reality to be depressing, even if I find tears in my eyes now and again.

It’s been a busy couple of years since I last wrote on this blog.  As a blog post some months ago noted, we’ve moved back to our original site and purpose.  The time writing under Messy Truth was good, but God clearly closed a door there (a door He used to bless my life, as well; but that’s a completely different story!).  I’ve changed States and my kids are all on the cusp of puberty, which has me one very alert and active Papa!  Ha ha ha!

In that time, the Lord has been working in my life to listen to Him more and to trust Him implicitly.  However crazy the ask may sound, if it aligns with His word, I’m learning to run toward what He’s asked me to do.  It certainly hasn’t been an easy process, but it has been beautiful to see what He has done in the midst of it.  And to think, this is just a glimpse!!!

All of this brings me to today.  I’ve tried to compose this post, the closure of the Heartfelt Mind-Meld, but I have never gotten my thoughts together enough.  Something was always missing.  And yet, now, I see it.  As we continue to walk this journey, reader, you need to DREAM!  You need to pray for vision to see where God wants you, the wild things He wants to do in and through your life, and pray for them to come!  Let Him give you dreams!

This is VERY difficult for me to do.  My analytical mind says that dreams are futile, who knows what tomorrow holds?  Further, my cynical side is more than happy to lob motors on my dreams.  After all, I was living a dream, and it blew apart at the seams in a day and a night.  Dreaming is dangerous.  It’ll only lead to heartbreak.

Well…to be honest, that may very well be true!  Your heart may break, for there is an abundance of pain in the world.  And dreaming may very well be dangerous!  After all, who knows what crazy thing God will ask of you, how much ridicule you’ll endure, or what snares the devil may set, and God may allow them to snap, to build in you the man/woman He needs to reach the people of this world.  So, yes.  It may be dangerous and heartbreaking.

Even so, a dear friend once illuminated to me that “risk is measured not by the probability of success or failure but in the value of the goal that we achieve.”  And what is that goal?  Further service to and a greater relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus!  When those hardships come, and they will, press into Him!  When the pain and anguish rise, and they will, press into Him!  He will sustain you, and in the midst, you will gain the opportunity to know and be-known by the One Who made you in a deeper way that supercedes all ideas or conceptions!

Dear brother or sister, you have been through a trial that some never survive and most are never the same, but your life is not over!  I know it feels that way!  There are times the enemy still tries to convince me that it is!  But if you are surrendered to Christ, if you seek only to serve Him with every breath you take, your life is just beginning!

You may not have control over whether you dream at night, but you can still dream.  So, dream.  Dream big!  And see what the Lord might do through your life!

Two more thoughts before we part; first of all, if you know me, you already know that I do not subscribe to the Prosperity Gospel nonsense.  I do not believe that I can just believe on God for something and He’ll pop it out like some sort of Divine Candy Machine!  That is an insult to the character and Persons of the Almighty!  He is SOOOO much more than that!  In fact, some of the most important people in history, including Biblical history, never set out to be something big.  They just sought after God and let Him direct their course; in some cases, that course turned out to be something big.  In other cases, folks were used to influence or lay the foundation for what God would later build into something big!

And while I don’t buy into health-and-wealth preaching, I do believe God can provide us crazy big resources for His purposes.  If I need an airplane to get medical supplies to a remote village for Jesus’ sake, you better believe one will become available, or a guide who knows a hidden way that will still get us there, or something!  But if He doesn’t, I trust Him even so!  And if I find myself with a large raise or a chunk of spare cash, then I look to what He wants to do with that, not my will, but His be done!  I hope you see what I’m saying; in short, I believe God will always provide what is needed when it is needed.  And if He doesn’t provide, I trust it is not yet needed or there is another way.  But it is trust placed in Him, not my creative wits or resourceful prowess or even what I think.

Secondly, I want to thank you for reading and encourage you.  I’m not sure how you got here or if you’ll be back, but I hope that this has blessed you with the reality that you are not alone and that Jesus truly loves you (burly bear-hug type LOVES you!) and will help you if you will only surrender your life into His hands, trust in His death to pay for your sins and His resurrection, and let Him guide you.  I hope that our time in the mind-meld has helped you to see that the struggles you are facing have been faced by others.  I ache that you have to walk through this trial, but as one who is somewhat down the road, I can honestly tell you that you will make it.  I look back and cannot explain how I have made it through sometimes, but God is always faithful, and He has always made a way for me to endure through it.

As we end the mind-meld, the blog will continue to exist, with various Bible studies or analytical observations of the world.  Perhaps there will be a time when I come back around and do another mind-meld, but for now, I don’t know what more I can share with you about this path.

I have had disappointments, dreams that I thought were going to come about but never did, and I have seen things I never thought would be possible again become reality.  It has been a series of ups and downs with triumphs aplenty and some failures.  The one constant thing is that God has never stopped working in and through me, even when I thought there was no way He could use me, He would, in ways I still don’t even fully know, having only heard testimonies by one or two folks who referenced “others” who were watching.

Be encouraged, brother!  This life is not the one you wanted, but it is the one that will bring you the closest to Christ, if you will let Him be Lord (ruler) and Savior (rescuer), allowing Him to call the shots, guide, supply, and comfort!

Almost two decades ago, I was given a book.  While it was both humorous and serious, I have reflected on its title as an encouraging reminder that God is not done with me while there is breath in my lungs.  While it sounds ominous, I now seek to encourage you with the same title that, as it is truly beautiful when you get to look back from the other side of whatever fire you may be in right now.  So, I close our time with this:

Oh, The Places You Will Go!

– Vires et Honorem –

1 Corinthians 15:10

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We’re Baaaaack!!!

Well, y’all!  I stepped off this blog and domain for a while, but circumstances are bringing me back.

Soon, messytruth.com will no longer be my blogging home.  We are returning to our roots, here.

As you may notice, this blog is now publicly available at the simpler URL of nerdylenses.com.

Thanks for reading!  I hope you enjoy the posts to come!

Vires et Honorem – 1 Corinthians 15:10

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A Heartfelt Mind-Meld: Confessions…

You know, the Bible says we are to confess our sins, one to another.  But this is a bit of a different confession.  I started this blog as a place where all my nerdy observations of life, things God placed on my heart, could be collected for others to enjoy (should they so enjoy that!).  It then morphed into this journey that I’ve referred to as the Heartfelt Mind-Meld, wherein two minds become linked and experiences/emotions are shared.

Often, this forum has been a place to share what God has shown me, and sometimes, it has been a place to share other emotions or feelings along the path.  Today, it is an open door in which I place a piece of my heart for you to hold, if you desire.  Ha!  That kinda sounds flowery and totally inappropriate; what I mean is, here is where I am today.

I am struggling.  Grief, depression, weighty decisions, and all manner of impulses are pulling and pushing at me, threatening to drive me mad!  There are car troubles and school troubles.  There are kid issues, and spiritual issues.  There are deep pains for loved ones who are going through trials I wish not on any enemy, and there are enemies I wish would be dispatched from my life!  And it is honest, but it is also depressing because I want to be better than this!  I want to be beyond the frustrations of life, beyond the sinful thoughts that creep in when someone or something is hurting you or loved ones.

My children are growing, and as they are growing, I’m allowing them to be exposed to more serious content.  Today, that took the form of Soul Surfer, a movie about Bethany Hamilton and the events and struggles of losing her arm in a shark attack.  It sparked a good conversation of why terrible things happen.  And I shared with my growing kiddos that there are three things I know about terrible things:

  1. They are a result of sin.  If a man is shot in a war, it may not have anything to do with his sin, but the person above him, who refused to do the right thing such that war had to be declared…his sin resulted in that man’s injury or death.  If a boy falls from a tree and breaks his arm, that slip and that breakage are because our bodies are so fragile now because of sin.  It may be a bit extreme to some, but the ultimate source of all pain and suffering in our world rolls back to original sin, which introduced pain, suffering, and death into our world.
  2. God is always at work in that suffering.  Whether God is drawing someone to Himself for their salvation, or if He is growing them in some way, or if He is showing them as an example to someone else, He is always at work in that suffering.
  3. God always has reasons for our sufferings.  It may be that He has a single, solitary reason for it, but I find there’s usually a myriad of reasons God is working something in my life; this journey is not only about me!

As I sit here tonight, I find a longing in me, a pain.  My heart is gripped and wrenched by so much pain in my world and those around me.  I desire the freedom and solitude that many enjoy when they don’t have kids.  And yet, I don’t want my kids gone from me, as they are my greatest blessings, ever pushing me to press into Jesus for my daily strength!  I desire the companionship so many have, with friends who are either able to get together or who are inviting others to get together.  Yet, I know God has me in this place I am for a reason, stretching me and teaching me patience and compassion.  I desire a wife,  quite simply.  Still, I trust God to work that into my life when He’s ready, knowing that my singleness grants me a degree of focus on Him I would not necessarily have in marriage, nor would marriage really solve many of my problems or difficulties.

Still, with all the logic I can argue against it, and with all the prayers I pray for it, I find these desires lurking in me.  I have often raged against them in prayer, begging (and even demanding) God to take them away and give me peace to just enjoy what He has given.  And yet, they persist and remain.  I feel worn, tired, beaten, and very, very thin.  I have often wondered what God could possibly want with me that He’d pull me so thin?

Recently, a dear friend dropped something into my life which I believe was a word of God.  He was speaking to a group on something totally unrelated to my personal pains.  He said, “God is long-suffering.  Long-suffering means stretched over all time until it is very thin.”  And with that, God hit me.  He’s teaching me to be long-suffering.  And what is the fruit of the Spirit?  Love, joy, peace, long-suffering (often translated patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Encapsulated in long-suffering, though, is often faithfulness, which is His second lesson for me.

My dear reader, God doesn’t need you to be a perfect Dad or a perfect Mom.  He doesn’t need you to be a perfect Christian or a perfect worker, etc.  He wants you to reflect His Son, Jesus.  And Jesus reflects (as He said) the Father.  And the Spirit reflects the Son as well.  And it is in the fruit of this Spirit that God often works out things in our lives, often through discomfort, which is one of the greatest tools God uses to get our attention.

I leave you, my dear reader, with one final thought that God also graced me with through another dear soul:

“How does God greet us in Heaven?  Well done, good and faithful servant.”

In your pain, reach out to the others that are in pain, as often and in whatever capacity He so allows, as a servant to them.  And you just might notice your weight doesn’t feel as heavy in those moments.

But whatever your state, you are not alone!  There are many of us fighting with you, even if not in person.  And I am praying for you, wherever and whomever you are.  Be found a faithful servant, long-suffering, for His sake.

A final verse that encourages me is found in Hebrews 12.  Jesus suffered before He faced the cross.  He prayed in the Garden, like so many of us have prayed, “If there is any way, please take this cup from me! … Nevertheless, not my will but Yours be done.”  The writer of Hebrews gives us a glorious insight that may help you make it through each day:

“…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:2, emphasis mine.

Vires et Honorem – 1 Corinthians 15:10

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