Friday, March 26, 2010

7 Months and a Life Time Ago

It was exactly seven months ago today.
It seems like it happened just yesterday.
It seems like it happened 100 years ago.
It is still very fresh in my mind.
It feels like it never really happened at all.
212 days, some good, some bad, all of them the same.
Some healing comes Quickly. Some healing comes slowly.
Some simply does not come at all.
I have learned so much, but I still know so little.
I am different now in many ways - but it's still me inside.

Monday starts another chapter in my life. I am leaving the world of the unemployed.
God has seen fit to revive me and give me yet another undeserved chance at normal life. In a word I am grateful, grateful, grateful.

"LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered, and that my life is fleeing away. My life is no longer than the width of my hand. An entire lifetime is just a moment to you; human existence is but a breath. "We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth for someone else to spend. And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you. Psalm 39:4-7 NLT

Friday, March 12, 2010

Here Comes The Sun

Little Darlin, it’s been a long, cold, lonely winter.
Little Darlin, it seems like years since it’s been clear.
But, here comes the sun… Here comes the sun
And I say… It’s alright…
Little Darlin, the smiles returning to thier faces
Little Darlin, it seems like years since they’ve been there.
Here comes the sun… Here comes the sun
And I say… It’s alright…

Yes it is alright, and I’m grateful. I have Lots to talk about but not quite sure where to start.
Next week (after Lynetta goes back to work) I will try to catch up.
But until then:
God is great – and he is, despite popular opinion, still in control

Friday, February 5, 2010

Crossing the Red Sea

Did you ever wonder what the Children of Israel were thinking as they were crossing the Red Sea?

According to Exodus 14, “the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left”. I wonder if this struck them as odd. I wonder how their rational minds explained or justified such a peculiar event. I always wondered if they could look into the walls of water on either side of them and see fish. (but I digress)

There had to be a rational way to explain this miracle. There had to be a way for their natural human brains to process and understand what was happening. If I am reading the story correctly, it says that a strong east wind blew all night long and pushed the waters back. I know, it didn’t happen that way when Charlton Hesston did it in the movie, but that is what the Bible says.

So, technically speaking, the wind did it. God used the wind, a common natural everyday presence, to carry out his will and demonstrate his power. The use of the wind however, makes it no less a miracle.

That has been my experience with God working in my life. The miracles that I have witnessed have been on the surface, explainable, natural, and common occurrences. But they have always had an undeniable way of revealing God’s love, his will for my life, and his power to carry it out.

I always condemned the Children of Israel for so soon forgetting the Miracles. One minute they would be happy, joyous, and free - awe struck by God’s power and care, and then the next minute they would be despondent - worrying and complaining about being thirsty, hungry, and tired. No mater how great the miracle, it was always quickly and completely forgotten.

I shouldn’t have been so quick to condemn them. I am the same way. I have witnessed many great miracles. God has taken extraordinary care of me and my family. He always has, and he always will. But, right now I’m tired and the desert is hot, and the road is long. ..
God forgive me.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Plot Thickens

OK, this is really getting depressing. Let’s skip all of this “sick” stuff.

Let’s just say that I was a little under the weather for the next 3 – 4 days. The only interesting part of that story anyway was how I was able, with the help of 9 angels, (a story in itself) to not only survive, but to actually hide my little predicament from the Onsite staff. (Apparently, they just thought that I always sweated and shook like that.)

I did not sleep. I remember praying a lot. For the first 3 - 4 days most of my thought process centered around just how to hide this mess. I was stuck in damage control mode. My overall goal was to save my job, my marriage, my family, my finances, most of all my reputation.

Through it all there was always this nagging feeling that I was really missing something important. It was as if someone far away was screaming at me - trying desperately to get my attention

I did acknowledge how odd it was that Rusty just happened to be my roommate. I told Rusty that had it not been for him, I would have told everyone (myself included) that I had come down with some sort of flu bug, and that I needed to go home and reschedule this little adventure. But there was just something about this guy. Maybe it was the odd fact that he just happened to have been through all of this before. I continued to think how very insightful it was of this place to strategically place two people with such similar stories into the same room.

I remember giving my “There are no coincidences” speech. I remember telling them about my long held belief that everything in life happens for a reason. Publicly I gave the credit to God for bringing us all together. But honestly, privately, this little miracle was, at the moment, lost on me.

I do not remember the exact day the lights came on. It was either day 3 or 4. It was one of my worst days physically. I was sweating, shaking and cramping. I think it was on a lunch break. I was coming out of my cabin (I had just spent my 20 minute break in the bathroom) Rusty came up to me with a very strange look on his face.

“You are not going to believe this” he said quietly as he led me back into the cabin and laid his cabin key on the table.

I wasn’t following this at all. “What?” I asked impatiently, what’s wrong?”

“Look at the key!” he exclaimed. “Look at the room number!”

This explained a lot. It explained why Rusty didn’t have a water bottle with his name on it. I felt sicker.

It was the wrong key. Rusty had been in the wrong room all week. He had walk in that first day while Ralph and I were talking, and had never notice that he was in the wrong room.

Something finally clicked.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Onsite (part three)

My head was spinning. I remember feeling sick.

At this point no one knew about my drug use. The word addiction had never even been suggested. My family did not know. My coworkers did not know. My Doctor, my Counselor, and my Psychiatrist did not know. I was still in denial, so in reality, I didn’t even know. How could this place have known?

Rusty tried to convince me that his story was true. He tried to assured me that he was not a spy – that he was not an undercover counselor working for Onsite. He said that he was there for his own problems. He swore that he didn’t have a clue who or what I was.

I still wasn’t totally convinced, but by now, I really had no choice. I spilled my guts. I told Rusty and Ralph my story - the whole story. They were both shocked. Not so much by my story, but by the fact that Rusty and I had just happened to come to Onsite the same week, and just happened to have been placed in the same room. What a coincidence!

Our amazement however was short lived. Rusty was, all of the sudden, very concerned.
“If even half of what you are telling me is true,” said Rusty, “Then you are in real trouble”.

“Yeah, thanks Sherlock” I said sarcastically, “I sort of figured that out”. I was thinking of the Nursing Board, my job, my wife, my family, my church and my reputation. Rusty was thinking about my health.

He wanted to know details like how much I had used, and how often I had used it. He wanted to know exactly when the last time had been. The significance of this line of questioning was at the moment lost on me, but I was, for some unknown reason, finally beginning to trust this guy – so I told him the truth.

He told me that I really didn’t need to be at Onsite. He tried to tell me how serious and painful drug withdrawals were. He said something about my needing a Detox center. He tried to tell me that I needed to be under a Doctor’s care. But in typical “Gary” fashion, I told him that I was fine. I assured him that I was not really addicted and that I could handle it.

He sadly and knowingly shook his head. “Yeah, you can probably handle it” he said, “but it is not going to be pretty.” Little did I know just how right this guy would turn out to be…

Monday, January 25, 2010

Onsite (part two) A Change in The Weather

The weather was about to change. Life as I knew it was about to change. You could feel it in the air.

More people began arriving for the one week session at Onsite. The first thing we got to do as a group was take a historical tour of the old mansion. It is called the Drouillard House and it has a fascinating history. (If you are into that sort of thing check it out at )

While we were taking the tour a severe thunderstorm suddenly appeared out of nowhere. The thunder was deafening. The rain was intense. The walls of the old mansion were literally shaking. (Or, maybe it was just me) I remember wondering just how many of these Tennessee thunderstorms this old house had experienced and survived over the past 150 years. I wondered what the worst of those storms would have been like. Luckily, the storm disappeared about as quickly as it had arrived. I didn’t know it yet, but I was about to face one of the worst storms of my life – and it had nothing to do with the weather. I kept hoping that I would hold up half as well as that old house had.

The shuttle from the airport arrived shortly after that. I made my way back to my cabin to settle in and meet my roommate.

Ralph was a jolly fellow about my age. He was from Akron Ohio. He was obviously accustomed to the treatment routine. He quickly and confidently introduced himself and starting right in telling his life story. He told me the good, the bad, and the ugly, just like we were old friends. I liked Ralph. I could relate to most of what he was telling me. But if he thought I was going to tell him my struggles and my problem, and reveal my secrets, he was sadly mistaken. I was in no mood to talk to anyone - yet.

It was about then that another guy walked into the cabin. He obviously knew the treatment routine as well. He politely listened as Ralph finished his story, then looked at me as if to say, “your turn”.I suppose he could tell by the expression on my face and my tightly folded arms that I was not talking. He didn’t miss a beat. He quickly, confidently, and unashamedly launched into his story.

He said his name was Rusty. He said he was from West Virginia. I wasn’t buying it.

Something was terribly wrong with this guy’s story. I listened in horror as this ”Rusty” fellow started telling “my” story. He changed a few little details to make it believable, but it was obvious that I was being set up. This guy had been strategically placed into the bed right next to mine to tactfully twist a full confession out of me.

The number one rule at Onsite was, we were not, under any circumstances, allowed to tell anyone what we did for a living. Rusty never said what he did for a living. He didn’t have to. I had heard enough. I was steaming.

“I’m not that stupid” I said angrily. “I came here for help, and I don’t appreciate being lied to”.

Rusty and Ralph are now looking at me as though I had just grown a third eye.

I felt the walls shaking again. I was hoping that my voice wasn’t shaking too.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Are you still with me?

I know what you are thinking. I know what I would have been thinking 2 years ago had I just been told that story. So What!? So, the names were the same - what is the big deal? You would really have to be stretching it to call that little detail a miracle. Well, it all has to do with perspective. Let me explain:

Most miracles are private events. Most are meant solely for the faith and benefit of the intimate few who are present at the time and open to the event. Most of Jesus’ miracles were done in private. He often told the people whom he healed to keep their mouths shut about it. (Which of course they couldn’t do)

John 9 has a wonderful example of how different people react in different ways to miracles. Jesus gives a man, who had been blind from birth, his sight. The man of course is thrilled. No one else seems very impressed. Most of the people think it is a trick. They justify this supernatural event, in their own minds, by saying that the man is really someone else who just happens to look like the blind guy. Even the man’s parents are not happy. The Pharisees, in typical fashion, are mad and start accusing the man of being healed by the devil. Jesus ends up saying that the people who witnessed the miracle, and denied it, were the ones who were really blind.

God, at any time, if he chose to, could simply pull back the edge of the sky, stick his head in, and yell; “Hey, Don’t make me come down there!” As far as I know he has never done anything quite that flashy. God works in mysterious ways – those ways are usually subtle. Elisha described it as a still, small voice. (I Kings 19:12)

Miracles therefore are easily missed. Our logical, natural brains have a tendency to rationalize and explain away anything supernatural. Your world has to be shaken a little before you can see the obvious. My world, at the time, was rocking.

So, I am sure that you are still thinking that the little name thingy was just a fluke, just chance, just a convenient coincidence. Well, had the name been Bill, George, Bob, John, Mark or Paul, I may concede that the chances were good - but Kendell?? Please!!

Besides, the story gets better – a lot better