Mar 31, 2013

The iPod Dock Healing

The Facebook version of this story (with comments) can be found here

About 8 years ago, (before we were married) my wife was given a Bose iPod docking station from her son as a gift.

The docking station is a portable sound system that amplifies your iPod  Bose makes some of the best quality sound equipment and this docking station gets a lot of use. In the summer, we put it out by the pool to have music outside. It's the only thing we have for listening to music, except our computers.

About a month ago, the docking station gave up the ghost. It just stopped working. It wouldn't power up. We tried plugging it in to different outlets and did the usual troubleshooting, to no avail. Her beloved iPod dock was toast. (With no vegemite in sight.) We were pretty bummed out.

We have friends (Gwen & Larry) who had been in the area for a couple of weeks looking for home. We invited them over and planned a dinner party beside the pool.

They're a little 'outside the box' when it comes to how they walk out their life with Jesus. Gwen is the one who taught me how to command storms to cease a few years ago. She drives her car for days on an empty gas tank. She's one of those people who has incredible faith in God and knows her identity. Miracles follow her like crazy.

When they arrived, we were getting prepared. My wife took the broken docking station outside and placed in the stand on the patio - knowing that it didn't work. I didn't think much about it at the time.

We made some margaritas and got comfortable on the patio. Gwen and my wife got to talking and decide that it was time to pray over the broken iPod dock, so we could have music. (I later learned that she had this all planned out.) She believed that if, by faith, she brought it outside, plugged it in and had us pray over it, God would repair it.

So that's what we did.

The four of us stood in agreement and declared that the docking station would be repaired.

While I was praying, I saw a vision of broken electrical wires. So I commanded them to be made new. The others prayed as they were led by the Spirit. After everyone was done praying, my wife walked confidently over and turned the iPod on.

Music came forth. The docking station has worked perfectly since then.

We all rejoiced at God's gracious hand and the love He has for His kids. It was a wonderful night of telling Holy Ghost stories and praying for each other's needs.

Mar 28, 2013

The Voice

I awoke in the morning to the awareness that something was different. As I lay in bed, I heard a mysterious voice, softly speaking in a way that brought peace to my mind. It was not external but internal.
Internal, and yet...not mine.

It’s impossible to describe what it's like to someone who hasn't experienced it. There was a soft, whispering voice blowing gently through my soul. It wasn’t my own mind. They weren’t my thoughts. They belonged to someone else.

The thoughts were distinct and different from the type of thoughts I would think. There was a quality to the voice that was like nothing I’d ever heard. Then suddenly, I remembered what happened the night before. I asked God to give me a voice to follow. This voice seemed to be exactly that.

I went downstairs to the day room. I saw a firefighter. I was about to say something to him, but the voice gently reminded me to be kind. When I met another, the voice reminded me to say something nice instead of being sarcastic. With each person I met, the voice gave me direction. “Be nice.” “Be kind.” “Don’t be grumpy.”

“What was going on?” I wondered. “Who was this voice and how long would it be with me?”

I realized that I had been born again . The Spirit of God had come to live inside of me. The voice I heard was the voice of God Himself. I was in a state of shock to think that the God who created the stars cared enough to come down from heaven and live inside of me.

“Those born-again Christians were right all along.”

It was a bitter pill to swallow. The Jesus I had always hated was living inside of me and He had come to be my friend. The Christians I hated were now my family. Talk about having your world flipped upside down.

Although I was bitter at being proved wrong, that was a minor issue. I was, in fact filled with inexpressible joy. I was going to heaven. I was loved by God. I had finally found the meaning of life. Joy filled my heart as I meditated on the sublime beauty of the death of my savior and His life in me.

I was astonished to have survived the first day of the weekend without running a call. I knew it had to be a divine set-up. God had set aside this weekend to have a meeting with me and He had my full attention. We finally responded on a call around 9am Sunday morning to a familiar address. It was my neighbor’s house. The oldest boy, who was a diabetic, had a sudden drop in blood sugar and was unresponsive in the kitchen. We started an IV, gave him an amp of dextrose and he woke up.

“It just had to be their house,” I thought. “The only call I would go on the entire weekend and it just happened to be to the only friends I know who are Christians.” I told them what happened. They were glad to hear my testimony.

For the next month, everywhere I went, twenty four hours a day, the voice was my constant companion; telling me gently how to act or what to say. Any time I was tempted to do something selfish, the voice gave me a gentle reminder to do the right thing.

I’d been an atheist (and a Darwinist) for years. But now that I realized that I was wrong about the existence of God, I had to know what else I was wrong about. I began questioning all of my beliefs. I spent the next year researching the other side of the argument of evolution and came to the conclusion that Darwin was probably wrong. There was so much evidence against his theory; it seemed foolish to continue believing in evolution. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. The way the world worked, the reason people lived the way they did, my liberal political views and the meaning of life itself, all came under the microscope for examination.

After my conversion, I bought a transistor radio and earplug. I listened to a Christian radio station 24 hours a day. I often fell asleep to a sermon or worship music. I developed an insatiable appetite for the bible and every time I read about the crucifixion I began to cry.

The pastors I listened to said we had an obligation to ‘witness’ to those who didn’t know Jesus. After all – we didn’t want them to burn in hell or miss the rapture, did we? I had a tremendous fear that the end of the world was fast approaching and that we needed to get as many people saved as possible before the rapture. So I witnessed like there was no tomorrow.

At work, I became an overnight witness for Jesus. I told everyone what happened and threw in a little fear - mongering, trying to scare them just enough to get them to accept Jesus. I must have shared my testimony 100 times in the first few months alone. It was a ‘Road to Damascus’ conversion and I felt everyone needed to know about it. The good part was – people saw a different person from the one they had always known. The bad part was – I was turning into a religious zealot and didn’t know it.

My ‘witnessing’ wasn’t well received. I was alienating friends, family and co-workers. I told myself they didn’t like me or my testimony because they hated God. And that was perhaps partly true. But part of it was my approach. Looking back, I realize that I was full of enthusiasm, but I lacked wisdom and love. I had become an obnoxious, born-again bible thumper, but I didn’t know what else to do.

During this time I learned a lot about the church, but it would be seven years before I would meet the man (known on Facebook as 'Northwest Prophetic') who would begin to mentor me in the life of the kingdom.

About six weeks after my conversion, I noticed that the voice was beginning to fade. At the time of my conversion it was loud and clear, but now it was barely perceptible. I worried about what was happening. Jesus said, “My Sheep hear my voice” and I wasn’t hearing him very well any more. I wondered if I was losing my salvation.

I worried until I read an account from C.S Lewis about his own conversion. Lewis noted that the voice of God comes alongside of us for season, to help get us on track. But after a while, we must learn how to live from our own conscience, knowing right from wrong without needing to hear from God every time we act. Like a child who needs training wheels on their bicycle at the start, with practice, the training wheels must eventually come off.

And so the voice slowly receded and I began to walk in newness of spiritual life on my own.

Mar 25, 2013

Meeting Jesus

And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment...
(John 16:8)

After my partner and I buried the hatchet, the stressful work environment cooled off and things went back to normal. We were both much easier to work with. I did something I’d never done before; I gave someone with less experience permission to correct me. My partner was agreeable to the new plan, but he still kept a close eye on me. After what we’d been through, he didn’t trust me. In his eyes, trust had to be earned and I gave him a lot of reasons not to trust me. He needed to see if I was sincere about changing or if I was just blowing sunshine up his kilt.

A couple of weeks later, he told me about a book he was reading. He said it was a fictional book that discussed a lot of things that were happening in the world and he thought I might like it. I told him I wasn’t interested in fiction, but I might check it out. I asked what the name of the book was. He said it was called Left Behind.

A few weeks after this, I signed up to work a 48 hour shift on the Saturday and Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. Knowing that it was one of the busiest weekends of the year and that I’d be working the busiest medic unit in the county, I felt like I would regret the decision when it was all said and done. Who really wants to spend 48 hours getting brutalized by going on one call after another with no chance of rest?

On the Thursday before Memorial Day, my Lieutenant and I got into a conversation about a book he was reading. He said it was a great book and he thought I would find fascinating. The name of the book was Left Behind.

“Now what are the odds of that happening?” I thought. “How strange that two people would recommend the same book a few weeks apart.”

Mulling this over in my mind, he said I could borrow the book I wanted. (There were actually two volumes published in the series by then.) I didn’t think about it again until the next day. I thought maybe I should get a book to read in case it was a slow weekend, even though Memorial Day is never slow.

I called my Lieutenant and told him I wanted to pick up the books. I drove to his house and he gladly handed them over with a smile. I tossed them on the passenger seat and headed home.

I went to work the next day, expecting a busy shift. By mid-afternoon we had not run a single call. I got bored so I went to my car and got the books. I went upstairs to the medic bedroom. No one else was around, so I got cozy in my bunk and began reading. I was drawn to one character in particular; a middle-aged pilot named Rayford Steele.

Steele was a good husband to his Christian wife, but he was not a believer himself. Ray was a self-made man, who didn’t need to depend on God. He took care of things himself, ran his own affairs and didn’t feel like religion had anything to offer him. Ray was also confident that if there were a God, he would probably make it into heaven. It wasn’t like he was a serial killer or pedophile. He was a good man, for the most part. The way he saw it – the minor things he struggled with, like the occasional crush on a flight attendant could hardly bar him from entering heaven. As I read about his life, I realized that Ray was a lot like me.

The story line revolves around the rapture, which happens a few chapters into the book. Ray is piloting a plane, when a bunch of passengers disappear, unexpectedly. He lands the plane and with fear, drives home, hoping to find his wife is still there. She’d been warning him that the times were drawing near when those who loved Jesus would be removed from the earth in the rapture. Steele comes home and finds his daughter and wife gone. He realizes they were right all along and he knows from listening to their discussions that 7 years of tribulation lie ahead.

(For those of you who do not hold to this view of eschatology – please refrain from leaving argumentative comments below. I’m not endorsing this view. I’m just reporting on what the book is about.)

As I watched Ray’s story unfold, I began to realize that I was in the same place he was. I knew with certainty that if your connection to Jesus was what qualified you to get into heaven, I was never going to get in. I hated Jesus and I despised His followers. I had a hard time even saying His name without feeling disgust and loathing. Years ago, I had rejected the religious hypocrisy I witnessed as a kid. I had no need for religion or religious bigots and certainly didn’t want to be one. Yet I knew that if Jesus was my ticket to haven, I was bound to spend eternity in hell.

As I read, I encountered the message of God’s love, displayed in the death of Jesus. This wasn’t a new concept to me. I’d known about the death of Jesus and his resurrection since I was a boy. But I never thought he died for me. I never thought I needed to do anything with it. I mean – yeah, I understood that His death was a factual event, but it never meant anything to me personally, until this moment.

Tears welled up in my eyes as I thought about him suffering and dying for me.

For me?

Why did God care about me? I was just another guy trying to live his own life and stay out of trouble. Why did He care about me?

As I lay there in bed thinking about eternity, I sensed something or someone in the room with me. I knew I wasn’t alone. I began having a conversation in my mind with someone who seemed to know everything about me.

“I’m a good person”, I thought. “Why do I need Jesus?”

Suddenly my mind began to recall every selfish thing I’d ever done and every mean thing I’d ever said. This presence that was with me, challenged me. “Are you really a good person? What about all these terrible things you’ve done?”

I didn’t believe in God. But I was becoming aware that this presence in the room with me was probably God. How else could I explain what was happening?

There was no way to hide my past. Thinking about the selfish things I’d done, how could I call myself a good person? I wasn’t a murderer, but I certainly wasn’t a saint.

I closed my eyes and tried to block out the thoughts He was bringing to my remembrance. With my eyes closed, I saw an iron gate and just beyond the gate - flames. I knew I was looking into hell. And I knew that hell was where I deserved to spend eternity.

I wept off and on for hours, wrestling with the fear of spending eternity in hell and giving in to God. I now know that the forces of darkness and the forces of heaven were engaged in a terrible battle over my soul that day. My mind was bombarded with fearful thoughts; “What people would think if I became one of those religious hypocrites?”

I didn’t want to be a believer. I tried desperately to fight the feelings of surrender, but I was loosing the battle. I felt like I was suspended between heaven and earth. I clung desperately to the life I had, but I was losing my grip. I had to make a decision. I knew that if I let go of my life, I would drop into the unknown abyss that lie beyond my comprehension. But if I clung to my present life, I would spend eternity in darkness.
It was late in the evening when I finally surrendered. Broken and desperate, I said, “God… I don’t believe in you. But I give up. I’m tired of living for myself. My life is a mess and I can’t fix it. I don’t know how to change. I can’t do it myself. If you want me to change, you need to give me a voice or something to follow.”

After saying these words, I fell asleep in a puddle of tears.

Mar 22, 2013

Feeling The Heat

The time-frame for this post is April of 2002

Pride. Arrogance. Self-confidence. The stuff Fire-Medics are made of.

I’d reached a place in my life where I was so full of pride I wouldn’t take correction from my partner. He was younger and less experienced, but I knew he was right. I was making some bad decisions. I just didn’t want to admit it.

Whenever he questioned my decision-making, I resisted his arguments with my own and made excuses. I found things to accuse him of. He accused me. I accused him. He blamed me. I blamed him. We were like a couple of unruly kinds in a sandbox. The problem is – we were supposed to be professionals doing an important job. Making a mistake can cost someone their life.

The tension was so bad that everyone noticed it. The whole department began walking on eggshells for fear of setting one of us off. We had a meeting with the Assistant Chief and asked to be split up. He laughed and told us we were stuck with each other. We began keeping journals of each other’s mistakes. When you’re afraid that your partner is out to get you – paranoia sets in. Eventually, my Lieutenant suggested that I see a counselor. I didn’t think I needed one, but I agreed to anyway.

I saw a counselor who specialized in work-related mental health problems. I drove to his office once a week for 5 or 6 visits. He saw nothing unusual in my behavior, so he cleared me to return to work without restrictions. In his professional opinion, I was just fine. But in my heart, I knew I was reaching the end of my rope.

My partner and I were best friends for years. But now, because of pride and my unwillingness to admit that I was wrong, we couldn’t stand being in the same room. We were shacked together for 24 hours, every third day. Wherever he went, I went. We fought fires together, ate together and slept in the same room together. It was driving us both crazy.

The stress fractures in my mind were turning me into an emotional mess. Something had to give.

I remember like it was yesterday. There we were, returning to the station from a call. I was weary from the battle of defending my lies. I knew there was no hope of ever reconciling with him unless I waved the white flag of surrender and stopped playing games. My will to keep up the charade was gone. I just wanted peace. So I told him I was sorry for all the crap I’d put him through. I told him he was right and I was wrong. I was making bad decisions and my pride wouldn’t allow me to admit it. I told him it was all my fault. Through a river of tears, I told him I was sorry for destroying our friendship.

He sat in the passenger seat speechless.

I confessed all the junk I could think of and asked him to forgive me. As soon as I did, I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. What the heck was happening?

Eventually, he agreed that it was best to bury the hatchet, forgive and forget and move forward with life. It was finally over. We talked about my problems and gradually, our friendship was restored. It took time, but we were on our way to having the kind of partnership we had years ago. I felt better than I had in years.

In a few short weeks, I would meet God for the first time in my life and it would happen at the fire station.

Mar 19, 2013

The Fall of a Fire-Medic

Editor's note: This message was posted previously. It's being re-posted as the first of a four-part series on my first encounter with Jesus.

"Arrogance is believing you’re more important than others. Pride is believing you’re more important than God." ~ Michael Sawh

November 1981

The Greyhound bus pulled into the station in downtown Minneapolis. I needed to stretch my legs so I grabbed my bag and waited for the bus to come to a stop. I took my place in line behind an elderly man and waited for the door to open. The old man stepped down. As his feet hit the blacktop, he lost his balance and veered into a concrete pillar, striking his head. I instinctively grabbed him by the jacket and lowered him to the ground. The laceration on his forehead began to ooze a little blood.

I asked if he had neck or back pain. He didn’t. It was a minor impact, so I didn’t need to worry about immobilizing him. I asked if he was hurt anywhere else. He said he felt fine, except for the wound to his head.  I helped him stand up and walked him into the terminal. We looked for an empty seat. A security guard spotted us. A few minutes later the paramedics arrived.

They dropped their gear and began assessing the old man. I was just a few weeks away from becoming and EMT, so I watched intently. They urged him to go with them to the hospital, but he didn’t feel like going. He was on his way to Fargo, North Dakota to meet his grandkids. The medics insisted that he go. He insisted he would be fine. They argued back and forth and it turned ugly. The medics used every kind of coercion they could think of to get him to go, but he refused.

I was shocked that they seemed so indifferent to his situation. They didn’t care about the fact that he was in a strange town with no friends or family. It seemed like the only thing they cared about was their own liability. What would happen if, in a few hours, something happened to him?  They might be liable. Their fears about liability were more important than the man’s right to do what he wanted.

I told them I was an EMT and offered to sit next to him for the remainder of the trip. If anything happened, I’d let the bus driver know and he could radio for help. Reluctantly, the medics let him sign the release form. They hopped in their ambulance and departed.

“What arrogant bastards”, I thought. I swore to myself that night that I would never become a proud, arrogant fire - medic.

Fast forward to April of 2000

I was working as a paramedic for the fire department of the city where I lived. I tested highest out of all the applicants. I had already done my stint as a flight paramedic. I was in the prime of my career. I’d finally made it to the top.

A big part of the job of a medic is critical decision-making. In the system I worked in, we didn’t transport all the patients we saw. We triaged them and transported the most serious. The less serious ones went with a private ambulance staffed by EMT’s or they went by car. Some patients were left at home, if the condition didn’t warrant treatment. The question we dealt with on every call was – do they require a paramedic intervention in the next 30 minutes or not? If the answer was ‘no’, we usually sent them by private ambulance or by car.

I’d been having problems with my partner for a couple of years. Sometimes we disagreed about who should go with us. He thought I was making bad decisions. I thought my decisions were fine. Well, actually – deep down inside, I knew he was right. I was making some bad decisions. But I’d become so proud and arrogant that I couldn’t admit I was wrong.  I’d become the arrogant fire-medic that I swore I'd never become.

It was pride and arrogance and a deep sense of worthlessness that brought me to despise what I had become a year earlier. It was brokenness that led me to embrace Jesus as my savior on May 25th, 2000.  In the year since my conversion, I’d begun seeing things differently, though I still struggled with pride at times.

My partner Jim took on the role of preceptor for paramedic students. One day we responded on a call with a student, who was doing his first ride. We saw a man in his fifties who had been having chest pain for two hours. Jim and the medic student interviewed the patient. I talked with his wife and got his list of medications. After a few minutes we met and discussed the plan.

Our patient had been seen in the Emergency Department five hours earlier for the exact same symptoms. Same length of time. Same everything. They did the usual tests and found nothing suggesting a cardiac event. They gave him a GI cocktail and his symptoms resolved. They wrote it off as indigestion and sent him home.

When Jim called the hospital, he spoke with the doctor who saw our patient five hours earlier. He remembered the case. He had the man’s EKG and labs in front of him. Jim thought he was stable enough to go by car to his private doctor. The doctor agreed. I was shocked that they didn’t want us to transport him. I understood their reasoning, but with a paramedic student onboard, I thought we were setting a bad example and my gut told me this was a bad decision. I argued that we should transport him. Jim argued back. I gave him all the seasons I could think of for transporting him. Jim said, “Look buddy. I already called base station and the doc agreed. We’re not transporting him.”

We had the man sign a release form and we left the scene. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something bad was about to happen. We went to the bagel shop for breakfast. Before we could order we got a call for a cardiac arrest in the parking lot at a doctor’s office.  My heart sank. Somehow, I knew it was him.

The engine company was already on scene when we arrived. The parking lot was a mess. The staff from the clinic had dragged out all their junk into the parking lot and had it strewn all over the place. We dropped our gear and went to work. Jim let the student call the shots. He was nervous as hell. He recognized the man we were doing CPR on. We’d just seen him 20 minutes earlier.

My role in the resuscitation was to hand drugs to Jim and chart the times they were given. Each time I handed him an amp of epinephrine or atropine I said, “Jim – it’s him”, trying to let him know it was the guy we’d just seen. But somehow, Jim never recognized him.

The story we got from the engine company was that his wife was driving him to the clinic when he became unresponsive. In a panic, she drove the rest of the way and alerted the clinic when she got there.

I noticed his wife pacing back and forth on the sidewalk. I walked near where she was and made eye contact trying to convey with a look, my sadness. We intubated, pushed the usual drugs and did CPR, but never got a pulse back. After 20 minutes, we called the hospital and got permission to stop the resuscitation. The engine company gathered their gear and split. The nurses from the clinic moved their stuff inside. We called the medical examiner and gave them the info and began cleaning up our mess.

It was times like this when I thought about quitting medicine. My thoughts took on more sobriety than they had in years.

“We killed our patient. If he’d been in our unit when he had his cardiac arrest, we could have shocked him and he’d probably still be alive. Our own stupidity caused his death. And we did it with a friggin’ paramedic student onboard. Great. Some heroes we are.”

I felt absolutely worthless.

In the back of the rig, I talked with Jim. Once again I simply said, “It’s him”.
Jim had heard enough. He raised his voice and snapped back, “Hey buddy…What the hell are you talking about?”

I replied, “Do you remember the guy with chest pain that we left at home this morning? That dead guy in the parking lot is him.”

He was speechless. The gravity of the situation began to grow heavier. He looked out the back window. I quietly said, “You see that lady crying next to the body….that’s his wife.”

We got our gear put away and returned to the station. Jim stormed around the medic office the rest of the day, being pissed off at himself. I suffered the rest of the shift in silent regret. The paramedic student would go through a de-briefing with the Captain.

Pride goes before a fall. And sometimes the impact proves fatal.

Mar 16, 2013

Reply To 'The Helicopter Dream'

I received a private message today from Sara - the woman who had the helicopter dream. After reading my message, she  wanted to share a little more about the dream and her thoughts on how God set things up. The original story can be found here.  

"Sorry about the slow response, I really wanted to write how this had all gone down, I'm glad you shared it......I'm currently on a Facebook fast but when I saw this in my email I had to check it out. I could tell you held back a little, just unsure of what to share or not, so if you want, here's the full version from my perspective.

A few months back I had a dream. I awoke in my house to find small flames everywhere. The walls, floor, etc and I was alarmed at first thinking my house is on FIRE! I quickly realized these flames were contained and not spreading. I looked out my window to see them outside too, so I went into my front yard (which as I say write these realize could represent my future? Front yard/ future? duh)

I could see these little flames all over my property and all the way to town. (we live 14 miles out of town in western Nebraska) I feel the urge to get to town as a rescue helicopter flies into the scene. I literally hear that it's carrying a message that's really important that I need to remember. It hovers and I see LAM 10:15 on the side of the chopper. I assume that is the message and focus intently on what that could mean for weeks. The chopper flies off and all the sudden I'm back in my house.

I see a mirror in the living room, full length and I'm hesitant to walk to it. I do anyway and see a reflection of a young girl. Pre-teen years who is crying and upset. She keeps crying and talking but I can't understand what she's saying. She starts to transform physically. I compare it to a meth-makover advertisement you see on the billboards but instead of going from good to worse, the reflection gets better and better.

Physically the girl is transforming but as she's changing and the tears are leaving and the sadness and grief are too. There is a healing taking place on the inside so profound it's affecting her physical appearance on the outside. I never do understand a word the reflection says, but as she's changed a normalcy returns to her image and she's at peace.....Then I wake up.

My obvious reaction was the message that I was suppose to remember whatever the helicopter was bringing. Upon my daily Facebook check I scroll across a picture of the medic chopper on PM's sight and realize THAT"S THE CHOPPER from my dream! I focused on the LAM 10:15 for weeks thinking it was a bible verse or some coded answer to something the Holy Spirit is trying to speak to me. I prayed, I sought interpretation, all to little prevail......Until one day I see Praying Medic has a post about his life story he's writing about and I'll be completely transparent and honest, the title was intriguing. (Sorry PM, it was.)

I start reading about his affair. His emotions, his turmoil, his raw desires, his regret, his pain, his torture somehow spoke to a side of me I didn't know needed spoke to. I related to his daughter who he was close to and then had her world ripped out from under her feet.

A mere week or two before I found out what my dad had done I remembered thinking how great he was, how lucky I was, how I wanted to find a guy just like him someday......Then in a blink, that pedestal you put them on is incinerated and your life flipped upside down. Somehow I could never see things from his perspective. I thought to be able to do something like that he must not of loved us at all. I thought all the times he was good, must have been a lie. All the times he pretended to care, fake. Because you certainly couldn't run your family through a shredder like he had if you cared at all.......That's what I thought.

Then warp speed 18 years and I'm reading a post from a person who's done almost the same thing. But I hear his heart. Through adult lenses I realize what he did was just for himself. Not an intentional attack to crush his children and wife. I empathized with his pain, and saw his heart. He did what he did to fill something void inside him. It's really that simple. It didn't mean he didn't regret it, it didn't mean he didn't love his kids enough, it just meant he made a mistake.

As I'm reading the post I'm balling like a baby. Reliving my event realizing sometimes we get caught in the crossfire of other people's mistakes, but those mistakes aren't about us. That arrow wasn't intended for us, it just happen to hit where it hurts. Forgiveness allows us to release OURSELVES from other people's mistakes.

Sitting at a computer on Facebook I realized the message the Medic helicopter would bring was one I wouldn't even know I was looking for. One of forgiveness and a realization that we have a Father, a good and perfect one. He never lets us down, He makes no mistakes, He's safe to put on a pedestal. He comes with a message of perfect love and wants us all to experience that. When we can set our gaze onto that, somehow the actions and mistakes of the ones around us seem a little less important, seem a little more forgivable, and that's His grace. It frees the person who made a mistake or maybe just the one caught in the crossfire. It frees us all. Amazed, humbled, and awed at the Holy Spirit's intricate set of events, seemingly random and unconnected, that heal and transform in a way only a perfect Father can.

My deepest thanks to you and your family PM. For putting your self on the chopping block and having the courage to face whatever came. There is healing that can only come from honestly and forgiveness. I found mine and it is my sincere prayer you all have found yours. I guess He really can turn a mess into a message can't He?

I realized there were parts of the dream I had condensed out of my email and wanted you to have the full version I've been intending on sending. you don't have to change anything you wrote. It's great. I just wanted you to know the full version of what had taken place. Feel free to share as you like or keep.....Thanks again for sharing God Bless."

Mar 14, 2013

The Helicopter Dream

Over the last two months I've shared a number of stories about my past. The reasons for sharing these stories are many. One reason is that I needed to be healed of the fear of what people would think if they ever found out about my past. With the help of some very supportive friends, I finally dragged the skeletons out my closet and dealt with the fear and insecurity once and for all. Instead of the rejection I expected – I found people drawing even closer to me. It’s been a very liberating experience.

I suspected that if I opened up about my past, others would too, but I didn't anticipate the degree to which it would happen. After I began writing about my past, dozens of friends began discussing theirs and many are in the process of being healed. Some even started support groups to help deal with their past.

But one story in particular touched me more than any other. It involved a dream from God that was given to a young woman I didn't know.

In the dream, she saw a rescue helicopter hovering above her town. She knew that the helicopter came to deliver an important message, but she didn't know what it was. In the dream, she heard conversations with a grieving girl who was healed emotionally and as the transformation on the inside occurred, she was changed on the outside.

She began looking for the helicopter image and when she got to my Facebook page, realized it was the same one from her dream. She sent me a private message sharing the dream and asked if I could interpret it. I didn't have a good interpretation, but we kept in touch over the next few weeks.

About a month after her dream, I began writing about my affair and divorce. When I wrote that I felt like I’d been emotionally abandoned by my wife and that I knew that my actions had destroyed the trust of my daughter, she sent me another private message:

"Wow read your post today. My dad did something similar when I was your daughters age. I remember the shock of it,up until that day I always wanted to marry a man just like my dad. What your post made me think was, wow he had a side of the story too. He was probably tormented too. He probably felt terrible too. I read your post and just felt respect for your courage to expose yourself. I felt mercy towards you, felt like you deserved grace. And your a stranger. Shouldn't those things be extended first to a loved one? Like my own father? in the world did it take 18 years to realize his decision wasn't personal it was his own mistake not intentionally to hurt those he loved, just an attempt to find something HE was missing. The truth shall set you free, interesting that truth is a person too. Liberating to realize sometimes we need set free from other peoples bad decisions because it was never about us anyway. Thank you

During her parents’ divorce, all she could see was her father’s selfishness. She couldn't see his pain or loneliness. She had no empathy for him and never considered his side of the story – until she read my story. But she realized that she needed to forgive her father and let the mistakes of the past be buried.

God has used my story to touch the hearts of a lot of people in ways I never imagined. That doesn't make my mistakes right. I did some terrible things that can never be justified. But when we're willing to talk about our mistakes in a desire to be healed of the shame, guilt and anger they can bring - there is healing for ourselves and others.

I would encourage you to share your life with others – the victories and the mistakes. You never know how your testimony might help someone who is struggling with the same problem. God can bring healing and restoration in the strangest ways.

Mar 10, 2013

Wait a minute...did you call Him Papa?

"So what part of Ohio are you from?"

As she looked at me in dumbfounded silence, I noticed the long, jagged incision on the side of her neck that had been closed with staples. I thought, "That’s gonna leave one hell of a scar."

Tina sat with her legs crossed on the gurney staring at me, trying to figure out how I knew where she was from.

"I’m from Canton….but how did you know I was from Ohio?"

 My partner let the cat out of the bag. "He looked at the hospital face sheet".

He was right. The face sheet doesn't just tell us when you’re born, but what state you were born in. It wasn't a word of knowledge. But it was a good ice-breaker. It made her think that someone cared about her to figure out where she was born before they talked to her. We talked a little about Canton and the fact that she’d never visited the NFL hall of fame. As we wheeled her to the elevator, my partner asked about the gash on her neck. She was more than willing to share the gory details.

She wasn't proud of it. She explained her suicide attempt matter-of-factly. It didn't seem as though she wanted sympathy. She ran out of money. She had no friends. She had no food. And she saw no hope for tomorrow being any better. So she decided to end her life.

"I’m not very good at anatomy, so I screwed it up. I know you need to cut your wrist the long way, but I didn't hit anything. I took a scissors and cut open the skin over that big artery in my neck…I forget what it’s called."

"The carotid", I said.

"Yeah, that one. Well, I went for it, but I couldn't find it. So there I was, in the bathtub, bleeding. And after a while, I knew I screwed it up and I wasn't gonna die. So I called 911."

"I’ll bet the paramedics were freaked out when they got a look at your neck", my partner said.

I've seen a lot of suicide attempts, but the way she opened up her neck was the worst attempt I can remember. The incision was about 5 inches long and  was crudely stapled back together. I could see something poking out sideways that looked like a piece of bone trapped under the skin.

On the way to the ambulance, she continued her story. There was no one who cared about her. Like me, she was the black sheep of a large family. Her 8 brothers and sisters thought she was a lost cause. She never lived up to their expectations. There was no one she could ask for help.

Except her landlord.

She was welcomed by her landlord when she moved to her apartment. He had a close-knit family and they treated her with respect. When she woke up in the hospital, she realized that her cats were left alone in her apartment. It was a bloody mess and there was no one around to take care of the cats. Worse yet, was the fear that her landlord would kick her out of her apartment when he discovered what she’d done.

Much to her surprise, when she spoke with him, he only wanted to know that she was safe and asked what he could do to make it easier for her to come back home.

"Come back home? I thought he was going to make me leave. But he was so kind and understanding," she said as tears filled her eyes.

"You’re part of his family, you know. He’s adopting you into his clan."

I've met people like her landlord. They’re the sweetest people on earth. They love to nurture the wounded back to health. They encourage and support people in trouble. And God had strategically place him in her life at the right time, to give her hope.

I told her that I had recently begun to share some of the uglier parts of my past with my friends. Things that haunted me for years. I told her about this blog and what’s been happening on Facebook. And about the dreams of healing. She was interested.

"You know, I used to be an atheist," I said.

"I am an atheist", she replied.

I told her I wasn't surprised. I told her how I met God and how He appeared to me in a dream and told me He wanted me to pray for my patients and He would heal them. I shared some testimonies and told her my Papa was such a good Father.

"Wait a minute…did you call him ‘Papa’?"

"Yeah. That’s what He told me to do. He said I should call Him Papa or Daddy."

"Years ago, when I believed in God, I used to call Him Papa. I never met anyone else who called him that," she said.

I told her that God was nothing like the cruel, hateful God that a lot of people talk about. He’s loving, warm, friendly, compassionate and full of goodness. He’s better than the best dad you could ever imagine.

She began to weep uncontrollably. It was obvious that the words I spoke about God were the things she hoped were true, if there really was a God. She needed a God who would love and accept her just the way she was. When you suffer rejection over and over, the last thing you want to hear is that God thinks you're a colossal failure.

She asked if it was okay for her to sit sideways on the gurney. She had degenerative joint disease in her back and neck which made it hard for her to turn her head. I told her she could sit however she wanted.

"You know…if you want to get rid of that degenerative joint disease, I can pray for you and God will heal it."

"I’d like that", she said.

I placed my hand on her neck and commanded pain, inflammation and evil spirits to leave. I asked Papa to touch her and let her know that He's real. I asked what she felt.

"I feel really cold where your hands are."

"That’s God healing you," I said. "Here, feel my hands. They aren't cold, they’re warm. So it can’t be me."

She felt my hands and smiled when she felt their warmth and knew it couldn't have come from me.

"Can He heal this?" she said, pointing to her neck.

"He might. All I can do is pray."

I placed my hand over the incision on her neck and asked Papa to touch her again. I asked Him to remove her painful memories, her feelings of rejection, and to heal the skin and make it brand new. Her eyes looked intently into mine. I normally close my eyes when I pray with a patient, but this time I kept them open. She was staring into my eyes. I could sense her desperation. She wanted to know if this paramedic really believed what he was saying, or if he was just another religious nut. I kept my eyes focused on hers and continued speaking life to her.

We talked about many other things on the way. She devoured every word I said about ‘Papa’and cried a lot more. But they were tears of joy. We took her out of the ambulance when we arrived at the mental health unit. There was a line of people at the registration desk, so she waited outside with my partner and I went inside to get her registered. I  wrote my report while I waited in line then got her checked in. I went outside when the charge nurse arrived to walk her to the treatment area.

She hopped off the gurney and gave my partner and I both a hug then  turned and disappeared inside with the nurse.

My partner looked at me. "If we have to get held over past the end of shift - I don’t mind transporting people like her."

I couldn't have agreed more.

Mar 7, 2013

The Mistress

The year that I lived in Tacoma was a season where I seldom thought about God. Even worse than my indifference to God was the obsession I had with my own needs.

I had no idea why it was so, but during this season, my life was dominated by a need for sexual fulfillment. When it came to sex, I was like a man dying of thirst. I think I know what David may have felt like when he went after Bathsheba and had her husband murdered.

I would later learn from the book, His Needs – Her Needs by Willard Harley, that most men have a strong emotional need for sex throughout their life. It’s just something we’re born with. Unfortunately – this need is not something we can turn off or wish away. Men become aware of this need early in life, but usually, their wives dismiss it as their husbands just being ‘horny’. The danger of dismissing this emotional need is that men will find a way to have it met – one way or another. If their sexual needs are not fulfilled in their marriage, men will often seek fulfillment outside of marriage. That’s how strong its pull on us can be. Women – please hear me on this point. If you want to affair-proof your marriage, take your husband’s need for sex just as seriously as any need you have. Keep him happy and he’ll keep you happy.

The bitter irony of my decision to move in with my new girlfriend would taunt me almost immediately. My wife made a call to my manager and told him about our affair. I was called into his office and we had a very uncomfortable chat. My girlfriend and I were put on opposite shifts. We would have only one out of three days off together. She was placed on a unit that got brutalized for 24 hours, running non-stop calls in the sleaziest part of town. When she came home, on our one day off together; she usually slept the whole day. The time I expected to spend with her seemed like a mirage that disappeared the nearer I came to it.

She lured me into her life with good looks and charm, but after we moved in, I began to see the real person she was more clearly. She and her teen-age daughter fought constantly. It was like living in a house with two teenagers who were at each other’s throats constantly. She was also a compulsive liar and that created a lot of mistrust.

She allowed me to keep track of our finances and pay the bills. We pooled our paychecks and things went pretty well for a while, until the day she decided to keep part of her paycheck for some personal things that she wanted to buy. It was the beginning of the end, financially, as she began withholding part of each paycheck. A few months later we were behind on the bills with no way to catch up. As bad as my marriage had been, this wasn't any better. I was now the live-in babysitter for a deceptive, short-tempered and financially irresponsible woman.

It’s amazing the level of stupidity a man will lower himself to when following his desires. The enemy will promise you everything you want, but he never delivers on his promises. What you get is nothing like what you envision at the start. The emptiness of it all will shock you.

I always knew that a woman who cheated with you, will eventually cheat on you. I knew it in my brain, but the one time I really needed this piece of wisdom, it wasn't anywhere to be found. Well, it was around, but I wasn't using it. Knowledge and wisdom aren't the same thing. Wisdom is knowledge applied. I had the knowledge about women who cheat, but I chose not to apply it in this situation. Many times we suffer not because we lack knowledge, but because we fail to apply the knowledge we have.

My girlfriend soon found a firefighter who was better suited to give her the things she wanted. It wasn't hard to see what was going on. She began receiving text messages that I wasn't allowed to see. She withdrew emotionally and started meeting him on the nights I was working. It was around this time that my twins suggested I should move out of Tacoma so they could come back to Washington to live with me. It took me about three seconds to start working on a plan.

I gave notice to my landlord that I was moving out and began looking for an apartment. I found one next door to the High School my kids wanted to attend. After a year of living with the pigs, the prodigal was ready to come home.

Mar 4, 2013


I was hired by a private ambulance service in Tacoma when I moved to Washington in 1994. The short time that I worked there left a bitter taste in my mouth. I despised the drunks, drug addicts and mentally ill people that we transported every day. In 1995 I would go to work for the fire department, but I would return to Tacoma 7 years later. God told me He had a different plan, though it would be four more years before I understood what it was.

The alienation between my wife and I grew worse every day. After losing my job with the fire department, and returning to Tacoma, she saw me as a failure. When we spoke it was out of mistrust or bitterness. We could barely tolerate being in the same house.

Our spending habits had not changed since the bankruptcy. We still took too many vacations we could not afford at her insistence. To pay for them, I worked as much overtime as possible – usually 80 to 90 hours a week. Part of my drive to work so many hours was financial but part of it was avoidance behavior. Deep inside, I didn't want to be around her any more than I had to. The pain of hearing her accusations was growing unbearable. I thrive on companionship, acceptance and cooperation from others and the lack of it in our marriage was slowly killing me.

I had a co-worker who was younger, attractive and interested in hearing about my problems at home. Foolishly, I began to confide in her. She listened intently and always took my side. I felt like I'd finally found someone who understood and accepted me. I continued sharing the drama at home with her and we became very close.

One day, out of the blue, she made her move. Sensing that I was ready to give up on trying to save my marriage and that I would welcome her advances, she began taking my clothes off. I did nothing to stop her. Though I knew what she was about to do was wrong, I so badly wanted to feel loved by someone, I put up no resistance. Although part of me was enthralled to have some kind of intimacy again, my conscience burned with guilt night and day.

If you've never been involved in an extra-marital affair, let me assure you -- the feelings of fear, guilt and worthlessness are just as strong as the feelings of freedom, fulfillment and exhilaration.  I was elated to be at work and near my new lover, but I absolutely hated being at home. The roller-coaster of emotions turned my days and nights into a living hell.

One day, my wife found out that I was having an affair. We were at school, picking up our kids. She was understandably furious and tried to punch me in the face. The commotion was noticed by others, who called 911 for help. Assuming that I was the aggressor, the police arrested me for domestic violence. A no-contact order was imposed that prevented me from speaking to her or contacting her in any way for the next three years. The no-contact order effectively ended our marriage. She hired an attorney and began the divorce process, beginning with a legal separation. The divorce would be finalized two years later.

I was forced to move out of our house so I rented a house closer to where I worked. My new girlfriend lived with me for a year. During that time, my wife didn't make the house payments, so the house went into foreclosure. It was sold it before it was seized by the bank and my wife moved out of state with our twins, who were 13 years old.

My daughter was devastated by what she perceived as my betrayal of her trust. Our close friendship had been destroyed. She refused to speak with me, text me or acknowledge my existence for the next 6 months. This is a girl who had never held a grudge against anyone for more than a day. I was heartbroken every time I thought about what I had done to my precious daughter’s trust in me and in God.

For the next year I would not go near a church or read the bible once. Every time I thought about it, the voice of God would call me back. And I didn't want to go back. The prodigal never returns until he comes to the end of himself and I had a long way to go.

After moving in with my girlfriend, we began working opposite shifts. It was strange, but we rarely saw each other from that point on. I took care of her kids while she was on duty and did what I could to keep things running smoothly. It wasn't long before she wanted to hang out with her friends instead of me. The new thing was quickly growing old.

A year after I moved out, my kids returned to Washington and paid me a visit. The said their mom wanted to move back but she needed me to have a place for them to stay, because she didn't have one. I was ecstatic just thinking about getting back together with the kids. This was the news I’d been waiting for.

I gave my landlord notice that I was moving out. My girlfriend had already begun cheating on me with another man, so I told her it was over between us. I rented an apartment next to the High School where the kids would go when they returned.  

Mar 1, 2013

The Arraignment

A criminal proceeding at which the defendant is officially called before a court of competent jurisdiction, informed of the offense charged in the complaint, information, indictment, or other charging document, and asked to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty.

I stepped off the bus and followed the jail guard, who led me and a handful of other guys to a door in the lower level of the courthouse. We waited silently in handcuffs for the loud click, indicating that the door was unlocked. The guard opened the door and motioned us inside. We were led to a holding area, where we waited for our cases to be called.

I called my girlfriend the previous day after being booked at the jail. I told her I needed a ride from the courthouse to my car, which was still at the school. She told me not to worry, she’d be there. But I didn’t know if my wife would be there or if I would have a chance to speak to her. I didn’t know what to say if I did speak to her. I felt humiliated and embarrassed. My affair had been exposed and now I was facing assault charges.

I worried a little about whether my arrest would affect my job. I spent a lot of time wondering what my kids would think. I knew their mom would tell them what happened. When I turned my heart toward another woman, I never thought it would lead to this.

The guard finally called my name. I got up and followed him to a small room with a TV monitor. He explained that the judge would address me through the monitor and I should answer back through microphone next to it. The process went quickly. The judge read the charge against me and asked me to enter a plea. I pled not guilty. He set a date for a hearing where I would appear in court with an attorney if I chose to hire one. He said that I was being released without bail and that if I failed to appear at the hearing, a warrant would be issued for my arrest. He told me that there were documents I needed to take with me, which included the information about the date and location of the hearing.

I was led from the room, my handcuffs were removed and a guard handed me my personal belongings. He told me I could change in the bathroom. I went in and got dressed. Coming out of the bathroom I was approached by a man who introduced himself as my wife’s attorney. He seemed like a pleasant enough fellow, but I was puzzled about why she would hire an attorney and where she got the money to pay for one.

He explained that my wife had been to court that morning and was granted a no-contact order for a period of one year. For the next year, I would not be allowed to communicate with her in any way except through him. He also informed me that she filed for legal separation. Lastly, he said that I had to move out of my house and that I would be allowed a short visit to the house to gather up a few things. I would need to call the sheriff’s office and arrange to have a deputy meet me at the house.

A wiser man might have seen this coming, but I was caught completely off guard.

“I had to move?
Where was I supposed to go?
What about all my stuff?"

My mind began processing everything. I wondered if I knew anyone with a spare bedroom.

I walked to the lobby of the courtroom and was greeted by my girlfriend. She was dressed to kill, wearing a revealing teal top and short skirt. Her attire was no doubt, a move to further enrage my wife who was also there. We walked to the car and I gave her the low down.

She drove me to the school to pick up my car. On the way, I called a friend who was a bachelor. He lived in a 3 bedroom house on the other side of town. I explained what happened. He was very sympathetic and agreed to let me move in with him. It would be a longer commute to work, but at this point I was just grateful to have a roof over my head.

A few days later I called the Sheriff’s office and arranged to pick up my things. I arrived at my house and waited for the deputy. We talked before we went in. He told me I had to make it quick. I would only be allowed to take the things that were absolutely necessary. I had about 10 minutes.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

"Ten minutes?
Are you kidding me?"

I was furious, but I didn’t have time to waste. I thought quickly about what I needed to live on for the next few months, knowing I couldn’t come back.

I grabbed my uniforms from the bedroom, my laptop computer which she grumbled about. I told the cop I needed it and she had the desktop computer, so he let me take it. I grabbed an overnight bag and stuffed it full of clothes. I grabbed my boots, sneakers and a rain jacket. I made a few trips to and from the car and thought about going in one more time. But I realized I didn’t really need anything else. I just wanted to get away from her.

I told the deputy I was done, got in my car and drove away.