This Is Going To Hurt

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I ran.

As soon as he took a step towards me, I ran.

I can’t tell you how far or how long I ran.  I am willing to bet my last dollar it was farther and longer than I thought was possible.

I stopped to catch my breath and two questions popped into my head. What did I do for him to be here? Why was he following me?

I started to run again. In between my breaths, I heard the roar of rushing water below. It was in that moment I knew I took the wrong path.

I had three choices. Two of them would surely end in death. I could jump off the cliff into the cold rushing water. Death. I could stand there and do nothing and let him catch me. Death.

Since the first two choices would end in death, I had one choice left.

I had to escape.

Come on, come on.  THINK!! I looked around, evaluating my options. Looking for another way. Time was running out. I could hear him coming.

I threw a rock over the cliff into the water. Hoping he thought I jumped. Then I looked at my only option left. The thickest thorn bush I had ever seen.

This is going to hurt.

I jumped in.

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I tried quieting my breathing. I tried curling up into a small ball. I tried wishing that the moon wasn’t full. But it was.

I heard his footsteps. Getting closer. And closer. How did I get here?

I remember the day it happened. One year ago. One year ago today to be exact. I was in one of my “seasons,” as I like to call them. Nothing was going right. I was sinking into the quicksand I called depression. I was spiraling out of control. Failure was coming and I couldn’t stop it. Shame and guilt knocked on my door and I not only answered, I let them in.

Have you ever done something and one second after you did it you said what did I just do? I am so stupid. Why did I do that? I just let everyone I know down and I know they could never forgive me. I couldn’t even forgive myself so how could they?

I had to keep what I had done a secret. NO MATTER WHAT!! The truth would kill them, therefore killing me. Since I was already dead, there was no need to kill them. So I kept it to myself.

I sank further into my guilt and shame. I withdrew from everyone. Oh, I still had a killer smile and was wittingly charming. I could get by. I faked a lot of happiness. Inside, I cried a lot of tears. I was rotting inside and I knew they could smell it. I knew they knew I was a fake. But they never said anything.

Maybe I was better at hiding it than I thought. Then I started thinking, I am such a good liar. Which led to more guilt and shame. Which led to him.

At first, I didn’t pay much attention. I would see him at the gas station or maybe at the store. You know the feeling you get when you think someone is watching you. I would get that and look up and he would be looking at me. He wouldn’t look away. I got chills down my spine. What a creep, I thought.

Through the first few months, I would seem him every couple of weeks. As the year progressed, I would see him more and more. Recently, as I was falling apart and my lies were catching up to me, as my guilt and shame were eating at me, I was seeing him every day.

EVERY SINGLE DAY!!

ALWAYS LOOKING AT ME.

NEVER LOOKING AWAY.

I finally was getting the courage to approach him and ask him what his deal is. That’s when he took the first step to me. I froze. Then, I ran.

I ran and here I am. In this thorn bush. Scratched and bleeding. Dying inside. Hiding from a man who wouldn’t quit following me.

As smart as I thought I was by throwing the rock into the water, he was smarter. As quiet as I thought I was being, he could still hear me. As dark as I thought my hiding place was, he still found me.

I, for the first time, took a good look at him. I mean, a really good look. I wanted to know who was going to end my days. That’s when I saw the crown of thorns around his head. He didn’t say a word. He just reached his hand down and by the light of the moon, I saw the scars on his. A sudden peace came over me and for some unknown reason, I reached out and took his hand.

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The thorns parted as he pulled me up. My bleeding wounds stopped bleeding. It was like a giant boulder was taken off my shoulders.

“I forgive you.” In those three words that he said my heart changed. It was like clean air was poured into my dirty lungs. Tears of guilt were replaced with tears of joy.

I walked back home, with him by my side. I knew it may be a long road to recovery, but I knew I had to tell them. I knew they had to know the truth. I could not keep living with this.

I also knew with him there was no condemnation, no guilt, no shame. I had to believe that they would forgive me also. I had to hope and pray for a better future. No matter what happens, I knew I had to continue to walk with him, not run away from him.

I took a deep breath and walked into the house. I knew we would be okay. I knew that I would be a better man. I knew they would forgive me. I knew we would survive the lies. Even so, I knew this was going to hurt.

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Never Stopped Loving by Jeremy Camp- 

Grace Will Lead Me Home by David Dunn – 

Fear Is A Liar by Zach Williams – 

He Still Does Miracles by Hawk Nelson – 

Worth It by Lecrae- 

You Waited by Travis Greene- 

Always Faithful by Ashes Remain – 

Love Not Hate: Love on Trial

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As with humans, the birds keep repeating history instead of learning from it. Catch up on their history with the links below.

I posted this one a year ago, hope it reminds you where God is in all of this and we need to continue to love.

Love, Not Hate: Part 1

Love, Not Hate: Part Two

Love, Not Hate: Christmas Eve

Love, Not Hate: A New Chapter

Love, Not Hate: A New World

Love, Not Hate: The Division

Love, Not Hate: The Reconciliation

Love, Not Hate: Tragedy At Mandalay Bay

Love, Not Hate: Continue To Love

Love Not Hate- Trick or Treat, Halloween Night

Love Not Hate- The Virus

Where's God in All of This?" is a... - Willow Creek Community Church |  Facebook

Some of the birds were in pain

Some of the birds cried in the rain

Another shooting, another tragedy

An opioid epidemic to escape reality

Nothing in their world was making sense

Every bird suspicious and on defense

One question asked by the birds of prey and the birds of love

Where is the eagle? Why has he abandoned us?

All of you were born with a heart to love

The cardinal, blue jay, vulture, warbler, the dove

But love has gone away over the last few years

While anxiety has increased, and with that fears

What can we do? The birds ask as depression looms large

Darkness has overcome the land as it seems no one is in charge

Then out of nowhere the eagle lands

Only to be taken into the trial to take his stand

“Where have you been?” the birds proclaim

On vacation or don’t care,” his reputation they try to defame

They all throw words of hate at him, both birds large and small

The birds all say you said you would love and stay and defend us all

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Then the eagle looks at the birds scattered around, clears his throat and boldly speaks

“Your schools, your courts, your homes and some of your churches, you asked me to leave

I say love all and teach acceptance

But you preach intolerance

While the poor become poorer and the rich become more prosperous

Have I ever said not to help the least of us?

I ask you to lend a hand, to help each other out

But you scream hate and racist remarks you shout

I ask you to pick a brother up when he is down

But you use your beaks and claws to stomp him in the ground

I ask you to protect each other with your lives

But you kill each other with words as sharp as knives

I ask you not to store possessions but to give to those in need

But instead of sharing most of you would rather bleed

I give each of you a light inside yourselves to change all of our kind

But each of you denies that light, instead, acting as if you are blind

You ask where have I been? I say I have never left

I will even go so far as to say you have never been more blessed

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But what have you done with all these blessings

That’s a good question, many of you will be left guessing

But some of you will recognize the truth

I have given it all to the elders to teach all the youth

Parkland, Las Vegas, El Paso, Dayton. When will it stop?

I tell you when you love and all this hate you drop

You place me here on trial

But you, my friends, are in denial

I was there when the bullets took your loved ones away

I was there when you cried those tears of pain

I was there when the questions came

I was there when it was I who you blamed

I was there even though you have asked me to leave

I was there in your moments of joy and your moments of grief

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I was there in the deaths of the battlefields

I was there, protecting you with my shield

I was there when it didn’t rain in your barren lands

I was there when food was bountiful in your hands

I was there in every misfortune and every blessing

I was there when your tongues cursed me and when they were professing

I was there in those moments you felt uninspired

Yes, I was there when those shots were fired

Now I have answered your question on where was I

And I have said that hate is the answer to the question why

But I leave you with this when you wonder if I am here at all

Where is the love? Where are you all birds big and small?

Where is the compassion, empathy, and kindness? Listen to what I say

Fight for love, do not let the land be taken over by all this hate!”

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Why God by Austin French-

Where Is God by Michael Farren –

Questions by Tori Kelley-

Parkland by Duff McKagan-

Common by Maren Morris-

What If by India Arie –

Change by Mavis Staples-

1000 Promises by Building 429 –

A Tree That Touched The Sky

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I saw a tree that touched the sky

It hurt my neck to look up so high

I wondered if I could climb to the top

But after a few feet, I had to stop

Doubt crossed my mind, am I worthy?

I think I am a little too dirty

What if I went a few more feet?

I wondered just what I would see

But another doubt, am I good enough?

Am I really worthy of love?

But a voice from somewhere inside

Told me to continue to climb

A quarter of the way up a whisper so small

What are you doing? Don’t you know you could fall?

Somewhere inside something told me not to fear

Don’t look down because the top is almost near

Halfway up I grew weary and tired

Voices everywhere telling me he’s a liar

Do you really believe he forgives?

Look at how you have lived!

So many wrongs, so many mistakes

Half your life you’ve been a fake

I reach for another branch, I must continue

Leave the past in my rear view

Why do you continue to climb?

What is it you are looking to find?

A voice says it’s not that far down

Let’s get back to solid ground

Another voice says you are almost there

It’s getting harder to breathe with this thin air

Maybe I should turn around

Back to the earth so green and brown

But something pushes me to go higher

I swear I can hear an angel’s choir

Three fourths the way I have climbed

Pushing onward, I am no longer blind

The negative voices telling me I must stop

Are still there but I listen not

I know why I found this tree

But this knowledge isn’t only for me

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I must tell you of all the truth I have acquired

On this journey where I had all my heart desired

But nothing ever seemed to satisfy

I was always searching but empty inside

I learned more the closer I got to the top

About grace and forgiveness and a true love

A few more branches, just a stone’s throw

When I heard a voice from a long time ago

Give it up, you are not good enough

Look at you, so unworthy of love

Do you really believe you can change?

Why don’t you turn around, reverse your way?

You are ugly and you have a terrible past

Even if you find love, it won’t last

The tree offered me another of its arms

I climbed higher, knowing there would be no harm

I knew in that instant my past did not define

The future was there for me to climb

Another branch or two

I was that much closer to the truth

But I felt the tree start to sway

I wondered if this is why so many walk away?

When the tree sways, people become afraid

So, way up here, I started to pray

For those in mansions, homeless on the streets

For those that always seem to win and those who are always beat

For those that are addicted to fight their pain

For those that have so much more to gain

I prayed for things unseen and those that are seen

I prayed for you and I prayed for me

Forgive me for what I’ve done

Into your arms I want to run

I no longer want to hide my face

I want to accept your love and grace

If you could help me climb a little more

I know I will never be who I was before

Then I felt a hand grab mine

He pulled me up to finish my climb

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Dear God by Hunter Hayes-  

Breakthrough by Chris McClarney – 

Here I Am by Lincoln Brewster – 

Breaking Point by Sanctus Real – 

Days Gone By by Hillsong Young & Free – 

What If It’s Everything

Worry Doesn't Change Anything, but Trusting God Changes Everything ...

I wrote this song a few years back.  I tried everyone I know to help me record a demo for it so maybe I could send it out. I was willing to pay but could not find anyone willing to help. Finally, I found a local musician, who was in a band I liked called Acoustic Ghost, who said he would help with some demos for my songs. Joel is an old time rock and roll guy and said he would do his best to make my songs come out the way I was hearing them in my head, but they did not.  He did a good job, just not the way I wanted them to sound.

This song, I hear it like a spoken/rap song, like Jason Aldean’s Dirt Road Anthem  type of sound.  I can picture TobyMac, Matthew West, or maybe Lecrae recording it, but that is wishful thinking. I just think the music they make would go well with this song.  Joel made it into a classic rock/blues sound, which I really do like and maybe it would bring a different audience to it that I was not expecting.  However, I would still like it done the way I hear it but I am grateful for Joel’s efforts.

I have included it at the bottom.  If you have some time today, take a listen and leave me a comment on what you think.  If you know someone who knows someone who knows someone that knows TobyMac or Matthew West or anyone else, feel free to forward for me.

It is six minutes long but I think it could easily be reduced to four, four and half minutes.

Deep, contented joy comes from... - SermonQuotes

Here are the lyrics:

I was walking down the street, smile on my face
Full of Gods love and forgiveness
In my head I was thinking how great is His grace
but it seemed everyone that looked at me looked away
They didn’t care or they didn’t know
Then I heard someone yell, what do you have to say
So I looked at him and told him our story
That You lived and died for me
I told him of Your love and Your glory
Then he looked at me and said I’m not bluffing
But what you say, what if it’s nothing
Then I smiled at him and started to sing
What if my friend,
What if it’s everything
What if it’s everything
So I walked on with a pep in my step
Living my life for Jesus
I wasn’t turning back, I won’t have regrets
Then I saw someone down on their luck
I went up and talked to her
I said hello and gave her my last buck
She thanked me with tears in her eyes
then she said, so what’s your story
I told her our story and how You had to die
She asked how do I know that it’s really something
You know my life’s been a rough one
Then I smiled at her and started to sing
What if my friend,
What if it’s everything
What if it’s everything
By then a crowd gathered around
They all wanted to know
How they could have this hope I had found
So I told them our story, told them to believe
Told them of the book, told them of your words
Told them I only know of one guarantee
In this life you will have troubles
But your sins you must confess
Give your life to him, don’t be on the bubble
Then they said we want to believe in something
But what if, what if its all nothing
Then I smiled at them and started to sing
What if my friends,
What if it’s everything
What if it’s everything
What if it’s the only thing
When your confidence comes from God, no matter how unstable things ...
What If It’s Everything by me and Joel Rollo-

The Man That Needed Grace by Matthew West –

See The Light by Tobymac –

Set Me Free by Lecrae –

Together by for King & Country (with Kirk Franklin and Tori Kelly) –

 

Yes, Kylie, There Is A God

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Dear editor:

I am 14 years old and a freshman in high school. I grew up in the church and believed in God, but now, I am not so sure. I see what is going on in this world, this country, and my hometown and I have to wonder if there is a God, where is he? I have friends whose parents both work full-time jobs and just barely have food on the table. She told me yesterday that they couldn’t even afford a single Christmas present this year. I see people starving not only all over the world but right here in my town. I read about human trafficking and people doing opioids to escape their pain.

I see people in my school that are so stressed out and have such low self-esteem that they hurt themselves or do whatever it takes to be liked. I see Instagram and Snapchat pictures of smiles on their faces but I look in their eyes and see nothing but hurt. I know I am loved, but there are so many people my age who do not feel loved or do not know who they are.

I have friends I  go to church and Wildlife and now Younglife with that are having these same issues and are leaving the church or just quit believing. I want to believe there is a God, I want to believe there is hope and love in this world, but I am struggling.

Mr. editor, I am 14 years old, I should not have to worry if today is the day I go to school and someone will shoot me and my friends.

So, is there a God and if so, where is he?

Dear Kylie,

First, thank you for your letter. I want you to know that you are not alone in feeling this way. It does not matter if you are four or fourteen or forty-four, we are all frustrated with the world we live in.

I am not a theologian, simply a writer, and I will do my best to answer your questions.

A simple answer to your question, where is God, would be that we, or some people, asked him to leave our schools, we told him we didn’t need him and we stopped praying, we told him we could do it on our own. So, he simply left.

But like I said, that is a simple answer and also the wrong answer because I do not believe he left at all. I see teenagers every day that are making a difference. You probably see them, and maybe you are one of them, that take a stand against bullying, that reaches out to someone who is hurting, even if that person is not in their “circle.” They are the ones that will do what is right, not what is popular, no matter what others will think about them. Kylie, that is where you will find God.

I know our church collects gifts to give to those in need and can’t afford Christmas presents. Not only our church but churches and communities and individuals that give to the needy, like your friend’s family, so that they can have a Christmas. I know this time of year is hard for families with financial hardships, but when you see others giving and volunteering to help those in need, that is where God is.

I see the same news and social media you see about the evil in this world, such as human trafficking and drug overdoses. That’s what the news wants you to see, but they do not show the good that is out there. You truly have to search for it to know that for every bad news story, there is a good one. The Bible says seek and you will find.

I ask you to do that Kylie, turn away from the news feeds and search for good. Organizations like ECPAT-USA, ecoatusa.org, who are also international, or Polaris Project, polarisproject.org. Even right here in central Ohio there is Out Of Darkness Columbus Ohio, outofdarknesscolmbusoh.org and Live United Delaware County, liveuniteddelawarecounty.org.

There are thousands and thousands of other organizations and individuals that are fighting against evil in this world. That is where God is Kylie.

How do I know  God exists? Take a look at our planet Earth. If it were positioned just a few inches from where it is located, it would not exist. Think about that Kylie. If the earth was located less than half the size of your iPhone, it would not be able to support human life. Scientists can’t even disagree with that.

How else do I know God exists? Well, it is you and me and every other human in this world. None of us are exactly the same. Who could make billions of people and not one of them is the same? How could billions of people exist that are all unique down to the tiniest DNA in their bodies if they were not created by God? Do you think that could happen by chance? I do not.

I did not always feel this way. Unlike you, Kylie, who grew up in church and knew about God and his love from the moment you were born, I did not. I did things my own way and ran my own life and was desperate to change the way I was living and one day I just stopped and turned around. I let God, who was pursuing me my entire life, catch me. And when he caught me, my life changed. I fell to my knees and I wept. Which was strange to me because I was raised to not show my feelings. To keep it all inside and be tough like a man. But that very moment God caught me, I was overwhelmed with love. As I learned about God, I learned about who he made me to be and what my identity is in Him. Not what everyone else thinks of me, but what God thinks of me. That changed my life.

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Kylie, I have made many mistakes in my life. I have been divorced twice and tore apart my family because I was selfish and did things my way. Christians are humans and like all humans, we all make mistakes. After I accepted God into my life, seven years ago the unthinkable happened. My wife had an affair. It started around this time of year and I kept hearing a voice, or having a sixth sense if you will, to check her emails. Call it God trying to get involved before it got too far or call it the devil trying to tell me to look at what I helped your wife do, I do not know, but I ignored it because I trusted her. Until I could not ignore it and I found out the truth. In my anger, rage, hurting, and how could you, I wanted a divorce. Then on January 17th, I could not sleep. I was tossing and turning and crying and at 2:37 am, I felt the need to bundle up and take a walk. I remember the exact day and time because it is the first time I heard God speak to me. As I walked outside and tears streamed down my face and I yelled at God why, how could he let this happen, I looked up and saw the many many stars. In the stillness of the cold night,  I heard him say stay, this is not about you, it’s about her and I need you to stay and be strong and help me help her come back to us. Over the next few weeks, a peace came over me and instead of yelling and saying hurtful things, I spoke words I never thought I could speak. They were not my words but God’s. Seven years later, even though not all is perfect, no marriage is, we are still proof of God’s grace, forgiveness,  mercy, and love.

Kylie, Only God can heal a man like me, a marriage torn apart by an affair, and the brokenness of the people in this world.

We only have to be still and ask for him to help us and tell us what to do.

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My dad did not believe in God. Thankfully, to his wonderful wife, my mother, who had a heart of gold and to his caretakers over the last few months of his life, and maybe to the way I lived my life after I accepted God, he accepted that Jesus is his lord and savior and invited him into his life shortly before he passed. I wish he could have had more time to know how much God loves him but in my grieving, I also knew that I would see him again. Only God can heal the grieving and the hurting Kylie.

Kylie, I wish everyone your age, or any age, knew what their true identity in Christ is. I believe that if everyone knew how much they were loved, how they were chosen to be born and that there is a plan for their life that there would less hurt in this world. I wish that they defined themselves as God defines them. That they would understand that false identity comes from the brokenness in this world. Trust that Jesus died on the cross for their sins and that they were forgiven and that there is a better way to live this thing we call life. I wish that they would find their plan and purpose for what God has for them, not what this world tells them they should be.

Kylie, do not choose happiness. It is an emotion like sadness or anger or excitement. It comes and goes with circumstances. Choose joy and love Kylie. No matter what you are going through choose to love, choose to be joyful. That is where you will find God.

You can choose what your heart will follow, Kylie, and what your heart follows is where you will be. Choose goodness, compassion, empathy. Choose to follow the good in the world and people will follow you because they will see how you live. Kylie, that is where God will be.

I recently saw the movie Overcomer. I could tell you a million quotes that I wish every teenager would know in this social media world where everything is based on smiles and likes but one I would like to share is this: people always try to tell you to look like this person or do something this way because it is popular but knowing that God loves you and he made you, why would you want to be anyone else.

Be yourself. Kylie, When you realize and accept that, your self-image and your identity and your view of the world will change. Filter out the negatives and live in the positives.

You, Kylie, are a child of God and you are here for a reason.

Kylie, I wish this world was not what it is. I wish and pray today when you go to school that it won’t be your last day on this earth. But, I beg you Kylie, do not live in fear. God does not live in fear. Live with hope Kylie, go out today and change the world. Be the one who shows the world that God is alive and well and that he lives in you.

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Kylie, even in the bad I see all around me, I choose to see the good more. From the morning sunrise to the evening stars, from the leafless trees of winter to the first flower that blooms in the spring. From the first breath a baby takes to the last breath someone breathes. There is a shell that covers this unseen world and people choose to believe in what only they can see but there are mysteries in the unseen that we will never fully understand but it is as real as the next breath you take. You must have faith, hope and love, Kylie. That is where God resides and that is where you will find him. From the beginning to the end, I choose to see God in all of it and that is how I know God was here yesterday, he is here today, and he will be here tomorrow.

Kylie, God is alive and well and he is in you. He made you and he saved you, he loves you, he blesses you, he protects you, you are chosen and he died for you, Kylie. If you will find it in your heart to believe how much you are loved and chosen then you, too, will see him everywhere for he will be with you everywhere you go.

In the good and the bad, in the laughter and the tragedy, seek him, Kylie. He is there.

And that my dearest Kylie, is how I know that God exists and that he is here today.

Your friend,

Rob

You Say by Lauren Daigle –

Enough by Koryn Hawthorne –

Who You Say I Am by Hillsong –

What Mercy Did For Me by Micah Tyler –

Father by Jeremy Camp –

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The Room

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image credit: willomailley.com

 

For the last fifty nine days, every day has been the same for me. I didn’t expect day sixty to be any different.

I wake up, look in the mirror and tell myself today is the day. Today will be the day that I can do it. I am stronger than I think I am. I can do this.

I then walk out of my room and go exactly five feet three inches and stop in front of the room. I reach for the door knob then pull my hand away. I stare at the door for what seems like hours but it is only minutes, maybe seconds. I then take a deep breath and walk away.

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image credit: The Sabbath Recorder

 

I go about my day like a robot. Doing without thinking. Lost in my guilt. Lost in the what if’s. Everyone looks at me the same. Fake smiles. I fake smile back. They say everything will be alright. I want to scream at them that it will not be, but I don’t.  I only want to hit something. I have so much anger and hurt and it’s all my fault. They say it is not but I know it is.

I go home. I hesitate as I turn the key to unlock the door. Do I really want to go back inside? I don’t know what else to do so I turn the key.

I make dinner and set two plates out of habit. I know you won’t be joining me. I eat in silence.

I go upstairs to go to bed and I once again stop at the door. I reach for the door knob and pull my hand away. I take a deep breath and walk away. I go into my room and yell at myself in the mirror. Why are you so weak? Why can’t you turn the knob?

God help me! Where are you? I need you. She needs you. Why won’t you make her wake up? I need a miracle.

I fall asleep listening to the hissing and popping of the machines that keep her alive.

I have the same nightmare, but it’s not a nightmare. It’s a reality. You fell down the stairs and couldn’t move. Ten minutes. That’s what the doctor said. If I could’ve gotten you to the hospital ten minutes earlier you would’ve made it. If I would’ve came straight home that night you would’ve been okay.

But I didn’t.

We were fighting and I took the long way home to clear my head.

Ten minutes.

I wish I would’ve driven straight home. That’s why it’s all my fault. That’s why I can’t go in there. I know I did that to you.

I wake with a startle. The house is silent.

It shouldn’t be silent!

The machines have stopped. I jump out of bed and run to the door. I reach my hand out and pull it away. Maybe it’s for the best.

She needs you.

I look around. No one is there.

She needs you. She is still alive. Appreciate the living while they are here. One day she will be gone and you won’t be able to tell her anything.

Tears pour out of my eyes and before I know it my hand turns the door knob. I slowly walk to your bed and reach out to hold your hand. I am so sorry. Please wake up, please. I love you. I need you. I am sorry I haven’t been here. I will always be there for you from now. Wake up!  Please God, wake her up.

I feel her hand squeeze mine. It had to be my imagination. I look up through the tears and see her eyes open.

I didn’t expect day sixty to be any different. God knew it would be.

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He Still Does Miracles by Hawk Nelson – 

Miracles by Alisa Turner – 

God Of The Impossible by Lincoln Brewster – 

Faithful by Sarah Reeves – 

God Who Moves Mountains by Corey Voss –  

Mountain Of Sorrow by The Taylors – 

 

Your Rose Garden

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I watched you for what seemed like hours as you tended your rose garden. I never understood why you would want to have so many roses and why you would want to spend so much time out there. You would always say you loved the way the dirt smelled. You would spend countless summer days bent over the garden, sweat dripping from your brow, pulling the weeds and pruning the roses. You would come inside sweaty, dirty, and looking exhausted but you always had a smile on your face.

I don’t get it I would say. You would reply, what’s their to get. It’s my time to do what I love and it’s my time I spend all alone with God. You should hear the conversations we would have. I would always reply I don’t know if I want to and we would laugh.

Even in the dark cold days of winter you would get bundled up and go outside to walk the path through your garden. Talking to them, touching their dead branches. Of course, I didn’t get that either. Why on earth? You would always say that they aren’t dead. There is life inside of them. They are like a lot of people in this world. Walking dead but there is life in them. It’s up to us to bring that life out. Waiting patiently, for today they may appear dead but with tomorrow there is always hope.

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You are like that. You had a natural beauty that I was instantly attracted to but it was your inner beauty that would light up my heart. You could walk into a dark room and it would be like someone turned on the lights. It is the type of person you are.

Until one day you were taken from me. A teenager was texting and driving and ran into you. Neither of you survived. God needed his angel back and I had to pay the price. At your funeral the pastor recited your favorite bible verse, Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Forget you God. If this is your plan then I don’t want any part of it. I looked out the back window and saw your rose garden. In my grief, I ran outside and I pulled and broke and cut every rose bush. I screamed and hollered your name. I screamed at God.

Out of breath, cut, scratched, and bleeding from the thorns, I dropped to my knees and let my tears water the lifeless dirt.

Summer turned to winter and, like the days , my heart grew darker and colder. I didn’t know how to live without you. I didn’t want to live without you. God should’ve taken me with you. My pain was too much to bear.

I looked out the window and saw the bare garden. I finally understood what you meant. Even if they appeared dead, at least they were still there. Now there was nothing but bare dirt. I grieved more as I recalled that day I destroyed what you loved.

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As seasons go, winter turned to spring. We had an early spring this year. I looked out the window and could not believe my eyes. Somehow in the very back of the garden, barely visible from where I stood, a rose bush had survived and now had two roses blooming.

I ran outside as fast as I could. I had to touch them to see if they were real. As I did, I could swear I caught a faint scent of you. Then in the spring breeze I could swear I heard your laughter. I immediately dropped to my knees and grabbed a handful of dirt. It smelled so full of life.

In that moment, I felt my heart start to beat again.

I went out and bought as many rose bushes as I could find. There had to be at least a hundred of them and I was going to fix what I destroyed. I was going to fix your rose garden.

I labored for hours that first day. I went to bed exhausted, sore and smelling like dirt but I would wake up refreshed, ready to start again. I realized I could not do it on my own.

I looked at my phone, hesitant to dial their number. I dialed anyway. I called the teenagers parents and they came over to help. I think all of us healed a little bit that day.

I watched every day as your garden came back to life. I spent hours out there talking to you. I slowly learned to talk to God again.

Summer rolled around and I was still in the garden. Sweat rolling off every inch of my body but it was okay. I stood up to take a break and I swear I felt your hand touch mine. I closed my eyes remembering what your touch felt like. I looked down at my hand but yours was not there. I started to lift it up when a beautiful butterfly landed in my palm. Then a sliver of light fell right on it, giving it its own spotlight. I smiled, then the butterfly fluttered toward my face and touched my cheek, as if giving me a kiss. Then it flew to a nearby rose and I did something I hadn’t done in a long time.

I said your name out loud. Kim?

Then a summer breeze picked up and I swear I heard it carry your laughter. Tears fell down my face but I smiled.

In your rose garden I found life again. I found you again. I found God again.

I miss you every minute of every day but it was right there and then that I knew I would never be alone.

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Maybe Today

 

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There was a time

When I would hit my knees and pray

 

Thanking God you were mine

But that was before He took you away

 

I was upset, no, I was angry

Eyes sewn shut

 

No light could get in

I never thought to look up

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Running in circles

Can’t catch my breath

 

Don’t want to live

I would prefer death

I am out of tears

I scream and shout

 

I don’t want to grab the hand

I can see reaching out

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It never occurred to me

That I was on the wrong side

 

Until through a single crack

Appeared a slither of light

 

A feeling I can’t explain

A weight lifted off my chest

 

I could suddenly breathe again

A time to heal, a time to rest

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All the hurt and pain diminished

Understanding the tears I cried

 

Then a voice, I understand your pain

For my own son died

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Spinning by Disciple- 

Pull The Plug by I Prevail- 

On My Way  by Hayden Panettiere- 

Keep Your Eyes on Me by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill – 

The Wound Is Where The Light Gets In by Jason Gray – 

No Valentine’s Day

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There will be no Valentine’s Day today

For those whose life you took away

I’ve been at a loss on what to say

How could you be so void of love?

Why would you kill those here to protect us?

Prison time for you is just not enough

A 911 call and they went running

They had no idea what was coming

A knock on the door and you started gunning

You have a history of being a crook

Did your multiple times, then off the hook

But that’s no excuse for the lives you took

You’ve left children without a dad

Wives, trying to be strong when they are sad

It breaks my heart, I am more than mad

Your senseless act of violence

Now there is nothing but silence

But I pray they find God in the quietness

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I wish I could say tomorrow they will be alright

I wish I could say tomorrow the sun will shine bright

I just pray they know our love will surround them tonight

So many lives were changed that day

I pray for strength for the families to make it through today

I pray that  God will show them the way

I pray our community will be stronger

I pray that hate will be no longer

I pray we will remember these heroes of honor

They were husbands, fathers, and friends

Someday, maybe someday, our hearts will mend

Tomorrow their brothers will answer the call again

Today, thank a policeman, who willingly puts his/her life on the line

Today, thank all first responders as they do a lot more than just fight crime

Today, pray for the families whose loved ones won’t be coming home this time

We see it all over America, seven times this past week alone a police officer killed in the line of duty. As a reporter said, it feels completely different when it happens in your neighborhood. I will second that. Westerville has a strong police presence. Everywhere I go, it seems like I see a police officer. I tend to take it for granted. I cannot, we cannot, take them for granted anymore.

Thank you for being at our schools, protecting our children.

Thank you for being at the library I visit so often.

Thank you for being at our church, protecting our congregation.

Thank you for patrolling our streets,  protecting our families and our neighbors.

We do not show it enough but know that you are loved, respected, and appreciated.

Thank you for keeping us safe. Thank you for sacrificing your lives everyday. Thank you to your families.

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Heal (Find A Way) by Brian Courtney Wilson- 

Officer Down by Hannah Ellis – 

You Still Put The Uniform On by Holly Cahill- 

Hold The Light by Dierks Bentley – 

Last Call by Dave Bray – 

Even Then by Micah Tyler- 

Shelter by Carrollton-  

Sleeping In The Stars by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill-  

If I Had Only Known by Reba McEntire –  

I Miss You Daddy –  

This Is Going To Hurt

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I ran.

As soon as he took a step towards me, I ran.

I can’t tell you how far or how long I ran.  I am willing to bet my last dollar it was farther and longer than I thought was possible.

I stopped to catch my breath and two questions popped into my head. What did I do for him to be here? Why was he following me?

I started to run again. In between my breaths, I heard the roar of rushing water below. It was in that moment I knew I took the wrong path.

I had three choices. Two of them would surely end in death. I could jump off the cliff into the cold rushing water. Death. I could stand there and do nothing and let him catch me. Death.

Since the first two choices would end in death, I had one choice left.

I had to escape.

Come on, come on.  THINK!! I looked around, evaluating my options. Looking for another way. Time was running out. I could hear him coming.

I threw a rock over the cliff into the water. Hoping he thought I jumped. Then I looked at my only option left. The thickest thorn bush I had ever seen.

This is going to hurt.

I jumped in.

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I tried quieting my breathing. I tried curling up into a small ball. I tried wishing that the moon wasn’t full. But it was.

I heard his footsteps. Getting closer. And closer. How did I get here?

I remember the day it happened. One year ago. One year ago today to be exact. I was in one of my “seasons,” as I like to call them. Nothing was going right. I was sinking into the quicksand I called depression. I was spiraling out of control. Failure was coming and I couldn’t stop it. Shame and guilt knocked on my door and I not only answered, I let them in.

Have you ever done something and one second after you did it you said what did I just do? I am so stupid. Why did I do that? I just let everyone I know down and I know they could never forgive me. I couldn’t even forgive myself so how could they?

I had to keep what I had done a secret. NO MATTER WHAT!! The truth would kill them, therefore killing me. Since I was already dead, there was no need to kill them. So I kept it to myself.

I sank further into my guilt and shame. I withdrew from everyone. Oh, I still had a killer smile and was wittingly charming. I could get by. I faked a lot of happiness. Inside, I cried a lot of tears. I was rotting inside and I knew they could smell it. I knew they knew I was a fake. But they never said anything.

Maybe I was better at hiding it than I thought. Then I started thinking, I am such a good liar. Which led to more guilt and shame. Which led to him.

At first, I didn’t pay much attention. I would see him at the gas station or maybe at the store. You know the feeling you get when you think someone is watching you. I would get that and look up and he would be looking at me. He wouldn’t look away. I got chills down my spine. What a creep, I thought.

Through the first few months, I would seem him every couple of weeks. As the year progressed, I would see him more and more. Recently, as I was falling apart and my lies were catching up to me, as my guilt and shame were eating at me, I was seeing him every day.

EVERY SINGLE DAY!!

ALWAYS LOOKING AT ME.

NEVER LOOKING AWAY.

I finally was getting the courage to approach him and ask him what his deal is. That’s when he took the first step to me. I froze. Then, I ran.

I ran and here I am. In this thorn bush. Scratched and bleeding. Dying inside. Hiding from a man who wouldn’t quit following me.

As smart as I thought I was by throwing the rock into the water, he was smarter. As quiet as I thought I was being, he could still hear me. As dark as I thought my hiding place was, he still found me.

I, for the first time, took a good look at him. I mean, a really good look. I wanted to know who was going to end my days. That’s when I saw the crown of thorns around his head. He didn’t say a word. He just reached his hand down and by the light of the moon, I saw the scars on his. A sudden peace came over me and for some unknown reason, I reached out and took his hand.

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The thorns parted as he pulled me up. My bleeding wounds stopped bleeding. It was like a giant boulder was taken off my shoulders.

“I forgive you.” In those three words that he said my heart changed. It was like clean air was poured into my dirty lungs. Tears of guilt were replaced with tears of joy.

I walked back home, with him by my side. I knew it may be a long road to recovery, but I knew I had to tell them. I knew they had to know the truth. I could not keep living with this.

I also knew with him there was no condemnation, no guilt, no shame. I had to believe that they would forgive me also. I had to hope and pray for a better future. No matter what happens, I knew I had to continue to walk with him, not run away from him.

I took a deep breath and walked into the house. I knew we would be okay. I knew that I would be a better man. I knew they would forgive me. I knew we would survive the lies. Even so, I knew this was going to hurt.

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Never Stopped Loving by Jeremy Camp- 

Grace Will Lead Me Home by David Dunn – 

Fear Is A Liar by Zach Williams – 

He Still Does Miracles by Hawk Nelson – 

Worth It by Lecrae- 

You Waited by Travis Greene- 

Always Faithful by Ashes Remain –