My Fibro Fourth

Living with chronic illness means one never know when it will rear its ugly head. Yesterday started off great with a blogger chat. Then I was blessed to give an English lesson for a friend from Bosnia via Zoom. As we were studying, that old nemesis fatigue decided it was time to visit again. So I had what I call my Fibro Fourth of July.

It could have been any of the three chronic illnesses I live with causing it, but Fibro Fourth sounds fitting.

As I write this on the evening of the 4th, I can hear the fireworks going off. As I write this I am also grateful for something that happened Friday. A friend and former student from Brazil messaged me that she has a friend who needs help with English. By the time we finished chatting, we set up an appointment for my friend Monday afternoon and one for her to introduce me to her friend on Tuesday. So I will be providing English lessons for Brazilians living in Canada. 🙂

So even though we are still in the midst of COVD-19 problems, God blessed me to interact with friends from Bosnia and Brazil. Jesus has work for me to do. 🙂

Oh forgot to mention that my 4th of July did involve me taking a four hour nap, so that was good. I love naps 🙂

How was your 4th of July or if you live in another country how was your Saturday?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Happy 4th of July- Independence Day in USA

As I write this Friday night on the 3rd, I can hear fireworks being set off. I can look out the window and see the bright colors lighting up the sky. The 4th of July is here and in my city people start celebrating early. It is fun to celebrate with fireworks, barbecues, friends etc.

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But what it really is all about is Freedom. The famous line in the Declaration of Independence reminds of that:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

A bold proclamation to make that all men are created equal and that God gives us the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The King of England did not agree with that, so a war was fought and we know who won.

The problem was that the document while stating truth was written by imperfect men. It took much longer for the unalienable rights to be experienced by all men and women in the USA, and the struggle for that in practice in every day life continues.

The problem is that documents and laws of men can not change the human heart that is full of sin. The pet sins vary from person to person.

The good news is that true freedom, freedom from the curse of sin, can be found in Jesus. In John 8:36 Jesus said:

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Jesus came to set us free from sin and the punishment for sin. Jesus can change the hearts of people and transform us. That is true freedom.

Let Their Voices Be Heard- Interview with Pastor Kevin Part 5

First of all I want to thank Pastor Kevin Pringle for doing this 5 part interview with me. I respect him as a man of God, a godly husband and father. I admire his willingness to share his story with me and my readers.

If you missed the first four parts, Part 1 Kevin shared about experiencing racism as a child, Part 2 Kevin shared about facing racism in the church, Part 3 Kevin shared about what the church can do about racism, and Part 4 Kevin shared about what individual Christians can do.

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This one is deeply personal for him as you will see in the question. I have shared all 5 parts unedited.

Again, THANK YOU KEVIN!!!

As a husband whose wife is white and a father with children who are ‘mixed’ what concerns do you have for your wife and for you children?

I intentionally reserved this question for last!  The reason being, is centered around the uniqueness of our family dynamic and the pride I take in who we are now and who we are becoming.  At the inception of my wife and I’s marriage I sincerely believed our children could experience the best of two worlds.  My wife and I were intentional about ensuring our kids understood they have a white heritage as well as one that is black.  We wanted them to know and understand they were equally white as they were black and race identity, in their case, was at the very least trivial.

I must admit, I was naive in my thinking… Unfortunately, the world around my kids does not see them as part black/part white.  They only see them as black!  As a result, my children identify as black.  I’m not overly concerned they see themselves this way but I am concerned that the world does.  My wife and I have two sons and two daughters.  My concern for my sons comes naturally because statistically, it is far more dangerous raising a black male in our country than any other race (hence the reason we began this discussion 5 weeks ago).  

There are realities I’ve had to teach my sons about being black in America that I likely would have been able to bypass had they been identified as white.  When my oldest son was in high school he had to deal with racial discrimination from teachers and administrators.  I don’t want to go into detail about those incidents but it was clear he was “profiled” because he was one of a few black students in a predominately white school!

My 2 daughters, unfortunately, faced abrasive and derogatory slurs from peers that left them defenseless.  My opinion may be biased but I consider my daughters as two of the most beautiful women I know.  However, they have been told they were pretty for “Black Girls”!   Why does pretty have color as a disclaimer?  Beauty is beauty regardless of color!

In regards to the concerns I have for my wife, there are few!  I say this because Beth is one of the strongest people I know.  She is clear and unwavering in her choice to love me!!!  My concern for her rests in her concern for our children.  She was never to tolerate anyone profiling or stereotyping her kids!  My wife has a tenacity that is unmatched and offers me tremendous strength in my weaknesses.  In many areas she is less naive than myself.  She understood far better than myself that our children would be identified as black.  She also knew she would suffer judgement when with me or when she was with our kids without me.

There was a time when our kids were small, she was out with the four of them without me.  She was approached by an individual and they ignorantly assumed she was a single mother that had been abandoned by their black dad!  It goes without saying this did not go well… I would love to share her response but it would need to be censored, LOL!  Needless to say the individual was unlikely to make that mistake again! 

As we close our discussion I want to thank all of those who have engaged in our conversation and shared their replies…Blessings to you all and I hope you’ve been encouraged!

Story Time- Silly Boys on the 4th of July

When I was a child, my friends and I had a habit on the 4th of July. Actually it was on the morning of the 5th. We would walk around the neighborhood pulling our red wagons behind us. Why?

Photo by Miguel Acosta on Pexels.com

We were collecting our ‘treasures’. What were our treasures? The burned out fireworks left in the streets that had not been cleaned up yet. The burned out cones from fountain fireworks were the best. We collected them to take to the driveway of one of our homes to talk about fireworks.

I am sure our parents and neighbors got a kick out of watching the small group of 7, 8, and 9 year old boys walking around picking up burned out fireworks like we had just found gold.

The fun would usually last for an hour or so until the mom of the house would come outside to tell us to throw them in the trash can all while trying not to laugh.

Reminds of the saying one man’s trash is another man’s treasure only in this case it was one man’s trash was a group of boys’ treasure. 🙂 We did not view them as disposable items. They had value to us.

Sometimes we can feel like trash in life. We have our struggles. We might feel like we are not worthy. But in God’s eyes, we are treasures. In all of creation, there is nothing more valuable to God then us human beings. He showed how much he values us when Jesus came to die for us and defeat death for us.

But God’s doesn’t pull a little red wagon around to pick up his treasures. He works through his children those who have trusted in his Son.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Jesus Cares about Refugees

I watched a video on Youtube by Kristina Kuzmic that explains what many refugees experience on the 4th of July- being triggered by fireworks.

As I watched the video, I remembered what happened one day when the Blue Angels were practicing for an air show in my city. They were flying over the city and the sound of the jets caused the children in English Language Learners class to hide under their desks in fear. They thought the war their families had fled in their country had come to my city. Translators had to come explain to the children there was no war here and the jets were practicing for an air show.

A Yazidi family from Iraq was being taken advantage of by a woman who worked for the property management company they rented a house from. The woman came and collected cash giving the husband a receipt each time. She actually pocketed the cash. The husband showed me the eviction notice letter for lack of paying rent for five months. He showed me the receipts the woman gave him. I told him we need the police to investigate. The thought of interacting with police scared him, so I told I would go with him. Happy ending was that the woman was fired from her job, arrested, and the husband was sent an apology letter from the company.

Just a few real life stories of what refugees experience. If these stories do not cause you to feel empathy, then consider this- Jesus was a refugee. Read Matthew 3 about Joseph being warned by an angel to take Jesus and Mary and flee to Egypt because the soldiers were coming to kill Jesus. The soldiers came and killed every male child under a certain age. Fleeing government soldiers who seek to kill you means you are a refugee.

My contention is that refugees have a special place in the heart of Jesus.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

July Is Here-What Will Happen?

Each year when July comes, I wonder what will happen. I wonder what Jesus will do in my life. There is a good reason for that. July has been a month of major things happening in my life.

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In July 1989, one Saturday I was at a Christian outdoor concert in a park called Love Fest. While I was standing and listening to music, I felt the presence of Jesus so strongly that everything else faded away. The next morning, I drove out to a park and rededicated my life to Jesus.

In July 1991, I resigned my position as an office furniture rep so I could move to Minneapolis to go to bible college.

In July 1995, the doctor finally diagnosed the cause of a two year health struggle as being hypothyroid.

In July 2001, I began teaching English Second Language for the college where I still teach.

In July 2017, I was diagnosed with Celiacs Disease.

There are other years that significant things happened in my life in July.

So here we are, it is July. I wonder what Jesus will do in my life. Will it be ministry related? I prefer that. Will it be another major health thing? I hope not. Whatever it is, I feel a sense of adventure every year when July comes.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

What Do We See When?

Serving, teaching, helping people from so many different countries and cultures the past twenty years have given me a multitude of blessings. One of the big ones is appreciating how important it is to not judge by appearance and not buy into stereotypes. Getting to know a person for the individual they are is so important.

So what do we see when we see someone walking down the sidewalk who is different than we are?

What do we see when a young black man walks down the sidewalk? Do we see the person or do we see a stereotype?

Perhaps a person might assume a young black man listens to rap and hip hop music only. Yesterday I watched some videos on Youtube. Two blessed me so much. They are videos by young black men reacting to Opera. Yes- OPERA. I want to share their videos with you because they can help break stereotypes. Please watch these videos and be blessed. Please watch them and let stereotypes wash away.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Blessed by Seeing Others Reach Goals

Ten years ago a 16 year old girl from Vietnam joined my weekend study groups. It was obvious from the start that she was an intelligent girl. A year later after only studying English for one year, she was enrolled in Advanced Placement classes at her high school.

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It was a joy to help her with English and prepare for the ACT Test. A few moments I will never forget are the time she was upset because she got a Health Sciences Scholarship to cover all of her college expenses for four years but not the scholarship her friends got. It took a little explaining to help her understand that for her goal of becoming a doctor, the one she got was better for her.

The other moment was when I was in Brazil in 2015. One morning I was cooking some eggs and checked my Facebook. She asked me to read her essay for her Medical School application. We chatted for about 45 minutes. When we finished, I remembered I was cooking eggs. They burned real badly.

She is near the end of Medical School and is applying for Residency in Family Medicine. She wants to be a Family Physician. Through Google Docs we went over her personal statement for the application. She did not really need my help, but it was a blessing to interact with her again. She mostly just need reassurance from her old teacher and a reminder that Jesus knew she would be applying for a Residency before she came to America.

As a teacher one of my greatest blessings is to see former student achieve in life. My friend from Vietnam is certainly achieving.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- Trust In You by Lauren Daigle Starstruck Session

I love Lauren Daigle’s song Trust In You. I had shared it a few years ago, but this is a recent version she shared from a session she sang in.

The lyrics

When You don’t move the mountains
I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers
As I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You

seem so fitting for the times we are living in now.

Six months ago no one would have thought that a tiny virus would wreck so much havoc in the world, We are living in what is for us unprecedented times. The last time there was a global pandemic was over 100 years ago.

We do not know what tomorrow, next week, or the future will bring into our lives. But Jesus knows and he loves us. We can trust him for our future in this life and for our eternal future.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.