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.
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.
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.
What a great first weekend of college football. The Buckeyes looked like they might be better than last years team. You know, the team that had a record number of NFL draft picks. It is early. We will see how how the rest of the season goes.
It was great to see the upsets. Houston beating Oklahoma. Texas A&M beating UCLA in overtime. Wisconsin beating LSU. Clemson almost losing to Auburn. Tennessee almost losing to Appalachian State. South Alabama beating Mississippi State. Western Michigan upsetting Northwestern. Richmond upsetting Virginia.
Texas upset Notre Dame on Sunday night. Texas was my first choice of schools to go to but out of state tuition was/is too expensive so I became a Buckeye instead.
Most of the SEC struggling to win or lost. Seven SEC teams losing in week 1.
Alabama losing. Oh yeah, that was just a dream. They looked unbeatable , but they said that two years ago also.
All these great games, close games, upsets, etc…..
But sometimes it’s more than a game.
James Conner, star running back for Pittsburgh, coming back from Hodgkins Lymphona cancer. He broke Tony Dorsett’s records that had stood for 38 years. He was invincible…until he wasn’t. He played in the first game in 2015 then was out the rest of the year battling for his life. You can read his story in his own words here : http://www.theplayerstribune.com/james-conner-pittsburgh-college-football-cancer/
Travis Rudolph, Florida State wide receiver, was visiting a school and saw a boy eating alone. He sat down and joined him for lunch. The boy, Bo Paske, has autism and often eats lunch by himself. Travis says he didn’t think it was that big of a deal. We are all the same and one man can make a difference. You can read the full article here: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/09/02/us/photo-of-fsu-football-star-sitting-with-boy-eating-alone-at-florida-school-charms-internet.htmlnyskyz.com.
Sarah Hill, the wife of Weber State’s head coach Jay. She was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. Weber State football players, coaches, family and friends shaved their heads in support. At the end of each practice they chant How strong are we? Strong like Sara. You can read the story here : http://www.sltrib.com/sports/4275503-155/weber-state-football-wildcats-rally-around
My cousin said some powerful words to me that I can’t explain how humbled I was by them. I had been thinking about writing this post since I wrote about my dad but other things kept popping in my head. I wanted to try to make sure I came up with the right words so I went for a nature run on a bike trail I had not ran in a few years to clear my head. As usual in these times I felt God telling me what to say, I just have to remember them, so I hope this comes out okay.
I had regrets when my dad died. That I didn’t visit him enough. That I didn’t this or didn’t that. That I would never see him again. My mom told me over the last few months before he died he was seeing a pastor and had given his life to God. That brought me a lot of comfort because I know I will see him again.
The first thing that came to mind is not everyone grieves the same. Everyone remembers their loved ones differently. The flood of memories that came back to me as I stepped on this trail were awesome. I remembered the first time I ran it and wondering what I got myself into. There are two six mile bike trails and this one is said to be the easier for bike riding so I chose it. It sucked. I tripped on roots three times and fell and got skinned up. By the way, the second trail is easier to run. I remembered when I brought Kim out here and how she hated it. She is a road runner, not a trail runner. I remembered running these trails when I was recovering from injury, because trails are softer than roads. I remembered when I fell one time and my key fell out of my hand and was lost forever. I looked for it for over an hour going back and forth over a 100 yard area and nothing. I had to walk to the nearest store and call Kim to come pick me up. All these things I remembered four years after I had ran this trail.
That brings me to memories of loved ones. How things come out of nowhere and hit you hard. I can hear my dad playing drums each time I hear Kylie playing his drums. When I want to feel him, sometimes I go play them. Not even 1% as well but I play. When I do everything I can to see Kylie play sports I remember the times dad couldn’t make our events because he was on the road. A song comes on that I haven’t heard in thirty years and I can remember asking my dad to play it on his drums. I remember him when I do the same stupid things to my kids that he did to me growing up. Things I said I would never do or say.
I feel his presence just like I feel God’s. Sometimes it’s just in a butterfly that floats by out of nowhere. Sometimes it’s in gentle breeze on a breezeless day. Sometimes it’s when I mow the grass and I remember how he taught me to mow. Sometimes it’s when I go out to get the paper and I remember the times he drove me around on my paper route in the dead of winter so I wouldn’t be in the cold for an hour.
What did God teach me on the trail today? He taught me that there is a time for everything. A time to run and a time to walk. A time when the lush green of summer turns into the abundance of color in fall. He taught me for every time I went up that there would be an easier time just on the other side. He taught me that when I am lost and in the middle of nowhere He will build a bridge to help me cross.
He taught me that sometimes old paths are made new for new memories. This picture is of a bridge that didn’t use to be there. It crosses a creek that I would have to run through to get to the other side. Now I can keep dry.
He taught me that even on a long bridge when I feel safe and secure that sometimes rocks will come up and I will have to navigate over. He taught me that He is there to help me and when I overcome this set back that He will guide me back to where I am safe and secure.
He taught me that if I trust in Him that He will carry me through these rough times. If He doesn’t carry me, He will take the obstacle out of the way for me.
He taught me even out in the forest all by myself that He will send a reminder to me. How amazing that a butterfly flew in front of me and landed right beside me.
He taught me that as I look back on the path behind me that there is still a path in front of me. That when I forget, which I often do, that He was there then, building bridges for me to cross, that He is here now and that He will be there on the path ahead. I must pick up my feet and continue forward.
He taught me that, just like Jesus, my dad is here. He is in everything I do. He is at every sporting event. He is inside of me. He helped make me who I am today and I know he would want me to continue on. He is watching from the best seat in the house. That makes me want to be a better person.
I pray that you bring comfort to those that are grieving. I pray that you will send them a reminder that their loved ones are watching over them. A gentle breeze on a breezeless day. A butterfly out of nowhere. A rain cloud on a sunny day or a rainbow on a rainy day. Have a song come on that lets them remember. Most of all God, I pray that you help them take the next step forward. That you remind them that they will see their loved ones again. In your name, amen.
Best Seat In The House by the LoCash Cowboys-
Healing by Blessid Union of Souls –
About You by Soulidium-
Together Again by Janet Jackson –
Where I Belong by Building 429 –
A Father’s Love (Only Way He Knows How) by Bucky Covington –
He Weeps by Fireflight –
I Will Remember You by Sarah McLachlan –
Holes In The Floor Of Heaven by Steve Wariner –
Old King James by Scotty McCreery –
See You In A Little While by Steven Curtis Chapman –
Can you believe it has been 14 years since 9/11? The babies are now in high school. I remember where I was and what I was doing. Actually. I am in the exact same seat at the same company I worked for then. I remember someone saying a plane just crashed into one of the World Trade Centers. We were all in disbelief. How could an airplane crash into it? Did the pilot have a heart attack? Where was the co-pilot? Then we heard the news of the second plane crashing into the other World Trade Center building and that it could be a terrorists attack. Then the plane that crashed into the Pentagon and the plane the passengers took down in a field near Shanksville, PA.
Do you remember where you where?
9/11/01 is a day that forever changed our nation. Airport security. Wars- that we are still involved in. The loss of thousands of lives in these wars. The tens of thousands of injured soldiers, soldiers with PTSD, depression and traumatic brain injuries returning back to our country. The billions of dollars financed to fund these wars and the impact on the world economy. Suspicious of certain ethnicities. Government surveillance in all our lives.
Many rescue and recovery workers that helped at the site have lung diseases and other health problems from the toxic chemicals that were in the air. They also suffer from PTSD. depression and injuries.
Not to mention their families and how they have been impacted. Children growing up without parents that either died in the attacks or in the wars after. Psychological, physical and emotional trauma from the attack, loss of loved ones, loss of health, loss of income.
Some may ask where was God in these attacks? He was there. The flights could have had 684 passengers but only had 266 aboard. Of the 50,000 employees that could have been in the towers, only 10-14,000 were said to be at work at 8:46. The stories are numerous of people running late because of “mysterious” events like alarm clocks not going off, missing buses, late taxis, sick kids, they woke up sick, couldn’t find their keys, unexpected subway, traffic, and commuter delays. The towers fell inward instead of toppling over, saving unknown amount of lives. He was there in the cross that was left in the rubble. He was there.
I know my God was right there with us, holding us in his hands, weeping with us, comforting us. He was there then and He is here with us now and He will be with us always.
We must never forget. We will never forget.
10 Years I Miss You Daddy by DJ Sammy – this brings tears to my eyes every time, guess it’s a daddy thing –
Beauty Will Rise by Steven Curtis Chapman –
Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning by Alan Jackson –
Have You Forgotten by Darryl Worley –
Didn’t They by Taylor Swift –
Never Forget by Harmony Roads (fka Beyond the Veil) –
Last Fallen Hero by Charlie Daniels –
Hands by Jewel –
Little Did She Know (She’d Kissed A Hero) by Kristy Jackson –