Thursday, December 27, 2007

Unexpected Christmas Present

We were eating at a friend's house last night. It was great time, enjoying easy food and long friendship. And though it was tight around the table - the three of us, the five of them, and the two dogs, Nalo the mutt and Shadow the one-fanged Pekingnese, sharing elbow and knee room - we were making merry of it. And things got better in the personal space category when Little Annie excused herself and started stirring a pot of Christmas cookie cutouts on the floor. Up on chairs, the rest of us continued sharing our cozy quarters and telling stories in between bites of pepperoni pizza.

A few minutes later, from behind me, a little finger started tapping my behind. So I turned to find Anna Rose looking up at me with a smile on her face. "What's up, A-Ro?" I asked. She was rocking back and forth and I could tell she was excited. "Boop!" she exclaimed. "Boop? Oh dear," I said. (Boop, I have learned, means that she has done something malodorous down below.) So wiping my chin free of pizza sauce, I reached down and took Annie in my arms and carried her to the livingroom grabbing her diaper bag on the way.

I pondered the best place for a changing but was having a hard time. The couch, the coffee table, the hearth - they all felt a little too invasive. So I proceeded to the foyer and spread out the changing thingy on the floor.

This being my millionth diaper change, things went along fine. It wasn't the largest of poos, but it was plenty. So I placed the dirty Pampers to the side and started wiping the vestiges off her rump. My right hand holding her ankle, my left holding the wet wipe, I was amost done when all of the sudden, I looked over and Shadow, our friend's one-fanged Pekingnese, had her face in the discarded diaper! "Oh crap!" I shouted as I lunged. But it was too late. Shadow's mono-toothed chops were chomping down and munching away.

I apologized to my girl for saying crap (something I need to work on), and immediately started laughing. "Anna Rose," I said, "That was your very first Christmas present. It was even partially wrapped." She smiled up at me and said, "Boop!" "That's right," I replied.

(to protect Shadow's fragile esteem, the above picture is merely a representation)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Is this Christmas or what?

Y'all, the only thing funnier than this picture was being there and seeing it first hand. Even Santa wanted to take a look at it when it was all over.

Prior to it all, Lia warned Santa that A-Ro was going to have a conniption. He said, "I don't mind if they cry, but I'll throw them to the ground if they start kicking."

Good thing Anna Rose only screamed, but I'll tell you, she was on and off of his lap in two seconds.

The worst part of it was, Lia and I totally knew this was going to happen. And we still did it! It makes you wonder where exactly the line is for child abuse.

A-Ro, I'm sorry, but this picture will figure prominently in your rehearsal dinner slide show.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thankfulness Quotes

“If ‘thank you’ is the only prayer you say, that will be enough.”--Meister Eckhart

“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some.”--Charles Dickens

“Of all the "attitudes" we can acquire, surely the attitude of gratitude is the most important and by far the most life-changing.”--Zig Ziglar

"One of life's gifts is that each of us, no matter how tired and downtrodden, finds reasons for thankfulness.”--J. Robert Maskin

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”—Cicero

There is no better habit than the habit of thankfulness. It is the surest, quickest way to fill ones heart and lift ones spirits.

This morning, I am thankful for these fingers, this computer, the gift of words. I am thankful for this coffee. And I'm grateful for this place. I am thankful for the turn in the weather, for the run I am about to go on, for the afternoon I get to spend with my girls. Yes, I am thankful for my family - both immediate and extended - I am thankful that you are my mother, my father, my sister, my brother. I am thankful for you. And I am thankful for my Lord. I am thankful to Jesus for all of this - for by him all things are made. He is the sweet source. And if I am only this one thing - his - it is enough. For it all springs out from this one reality. I am my beloved's; he is mine. And he can be yours... So come, I invite you...come into the beauty - the marvel of my Master, the ecstacy of nature and love, the wonder of all of this... Come.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Kent's Night

Oh, my brother
won't you stand here beside me
we shall carry each other
and should your soul grow weary
or the strength leave your bones
oh my brother
I will carry you home.
"Oh, My Brother"
– Eddie From Ohio

Many of you have been able to join us the last two Thanksgivings, to remember our brother, friend, and son, Kent Welch. Coming together has given us a chance to feel his presence again, and to share memories, stories, and relationships in honor of Kent. Through us – his family, friends, and loved ones – his legacy continues. We hope that you can join us once more for Kent's Night at THE WEREHOUSE on Friday, November 23. The doors will open at 9 pm and we will once again be accepting donations to the Edward Kent Welch Memorial Fund, in care of the Winston-Salem Foundation.* Music will be provided by Kent's first banjo instructor, Rex McGee, and his band Dixie Broadway. We hope this finds you well and ask that you help us spread the word by sharing this invitation with family and friends. We look forward to seeing you all on November 23rd.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

a halloween poem for you

It’s Halloween!
And it can’t be beat
There is no better day
To do tricks and get treats.
And get dressed in costumes
And walk around town
And get so much candy
You weigh it in pounds.
This year I will go as
A blithe buccaneer
With a patch on my eye
And a ring in my ear,
Or maybe I’ll dress
As a slick unicorn
With a mop for a mane
And a pole for a horn,
Or maybe a tiger
Or maybe a ghost
Or maybe a wizard
Or maybe some toast.
I really don’t care
I'm in it for treats
As long as they’re chocolate
Or nutty or sweet.
Oh Halloween! Halloween!
Halloween! Halloween!
It’s the best holiday
If you know what I mean!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

NEWS! Lower Providence

After four years, I have just finished my first draft of my first novel, Lower Providence. The next months and years (hopefully not) will now be devoted to convincing someone to publish it.

What's it about it? I get that question a lot, and I need to come up with a better answer. Simply, it is a coming of age story about two boys growing up just outside of Philadelphia in the 1980's. But it is also a story of love and fear and brokenness and hope. And it is in some ways mostly the story about the hidden hand of God - of lower providence...a providence that "meets us in the dark recesses and the messes we have made of ourselves. And maybe we see it, and maybe we don’t. And it may never explain itself, it doesn’t say a thing, like it was necessarily, imperatively mysterious. It is lower providence. And it touches us on the everydays, directing us down the long, wide river like the passive fallen leaves of autumn. And it may drown us or save us or break us. It may do all. And it will often leave us uncertain and always leave us changed. And that providence may be the most divine of all."

I'm tempted to write more, but for now I'll leave it at that. And if you wouldn't mind praying for open doors, I'd much appreciate it.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Group Studies - Chilling with my homies

The following are testimonies for the Bible Study entitled: Chilling with my homies

Homeless Guy: Member of a gang, attempted to murder a preacher

Nicky was only 3-1/2 years old when his heart turned to stone. As one of 18 children born to witchcraft-practicing parents from Puerto Rico, bloodshed and mayhem were common occurrences in his life. He suffered severe physical and mental abuse at their hands, at one time being declared the "Son of Satan" by his mother while she was in a spiritual trance.When he was 15, Nicky's father sent him to visit an older brother in New York. Nicky didn't stay with his brother long. Instead, full of anger and rage, he chose to make it on his own.

Tough, but lonely, by age 16 he became a member of the notorious Brooklyn street gang known as the Mau Maus (named after a bloodthirsty African tribe). Within six months he became their president. Cruz fearlessly ruled the streets as warlord of one of the gangs most dreaded by rivals and police. Lost in the cycle of drugs, alcohol, and brutal violence, his life took a tragic turn for the worse after a friend and fellow gang member was horribly stabbed and beaten and died in Nicky's arms.As Cruz' reputation grew, so did his haunting nightmares. Arrested countless times, a court-ordered psychiatrist pronounced Nicky's fate as "headed to prison, the electric chair, and hell."No authority figure could reach Cruz - until he met a skinny street-preacher named David Wilkerson. He disarmed Nicky - showing him something he'd never known before: Relentless love. His interest in the young thug was persistent. Nicky beat him up, spit on him and, on one occasion, seriously threatened his life. Yet the love of God remained - stronger than any adversary Nicky had ever encountered.Finally, Wilkerson's presentation of the gospel message and the love of Jesus melted the thick walls of his heart. Nicky received the forgiveness, love and new life that can only come through Jesus. Since then, he has dedicated that life to helping others find the same freedom.
(For Nicky's complete, dramatic testimony, order your copy of Run Baby Run today.)

Muslim: Militant, trained to kill Christians

I live in the Middle East. I was born as a Muslim, and at the age of 18 I became a member of one of the Islamic groups, as I had a relative who was one of the leaders of this group. I thought I was doing everything I could for God as I knew him at this point.
After a short time I started to get some training in using guns and making explosives. I wasn't very comfortable with what I was doing - hurting people for God's sake. I thought that either I or the group had misunderstood the teachings of God. I started to study the Qur'an and the Hadith all over again, (with the help of one of the leaders of the group, without telling him my real reasons for studying) to see what I had missed. After a couple of years I was astonished at what I found. I found that Islam is not the peaceful path to God, as I used to believe; on the contrary, it's so violent.
I never considered myself leaving Islam for anything else, yet at this point I was sure that it wasn't leading me to God. I had a kind of breakdown for some time when I found that every thing I had believed in wasn't right; I started doing drugs, and not talking about God at all.
Then I met a Christian who didn't know much of the Christian theology but who was full of love to others, whatever and whoever they are. One of the [members of our group] said about him that he must be killed because he was Christian, yet this didn't stop [the Christian man from] loving this man. I asked this friend if I could have a copy of the Bible.
After starting to read the Bible I found a very big difference between what is actually written in the Bible and what I had heard people (Muslims and even nominal Christians) say about it.
I was really struck by one thing in the Bible, namely the teaching that no one is righteous but Jesus; even those who were called God's people like David, Jacob and Abraham, the twelve apostles - everyone has done something wrong. It took me some time till I finished the whole Bible. After about one year of hard struggle with myself, I decided that I wanted to follow God as He shows himself in Christ, not as anyone else says He is.
I prayed to Him and He was here; for the first time in my life I felt that God was here, and to say it was a very strange feeling for me would be an understatement. I was so happy, so sad. Happy to know he is here and sad for what I had missed. It felt very peaceful and I wanted this feeling to last for good. I still remember this very first time I prayed; I ran out of the room because for the first time in my life I felt the Presence of God. I have been following Him since then. He changed all my life. I went off drugs; I became a whole new person to every one that I know, but as I said before I live in the Middle East where every one thinks that he IS RIGHT and every one else is wrong, so I had some trouble with my family and they kicked me out of the house. As Jesus says "Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death" (Matthew 10:21) and that is what happed with me.
My father delivered me to the Security Forces and they arrested me and put me in prison for converting out of Islam. I had a very bad time there, as they tortured me to force me to return to Islam. They used electric shocks, beatings, and hanging me from my wrists all night. After few week of this I was put in solitary confinement for almost a year. But I couldn't deny the one that gave me life. Now I am out of jail and I have left my home country as I am still wanted there for apostasy from Islam. I am still walking with Jesus, and I love Him because He loved me first and put Himself on the cross for me. I knew from the very beginning that I was going to have some trouble; didn't He say about Paul "for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." (Acts 9:16)
Now I am free from everything. I have a lovely wife whom I met after getting out of prison, and who is supporting me in everything I do for God, but the most important thing for me is I have my eternal assurance that I am going to be with Him for ever, whatever might happen. And as a result I decided to spend my life telling people about his great love to us. As he ordered me "Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no man shall attack you to harm you; for I have many people in this city." (Acts 18:9, 10)
Please feel free to write me if you want to know more.

Mother: Alcoholic

It was Feb. 21, 1988 10:00A.M.. I stood, outside my home, drinking orange juice mixed with white wine. Now days I was drinking a little over 1/2 gallon of wine per day. To say I was bewildered is an understatement. I felt numb or a better description is, I felt dead inside.
I had read every self help book around. I tried rejoining the church, [but] I was drinking more then ever and teaching Sunday school with a hangover. I was 40 years old and had now been drinking alcoholically for 20 years.

Why did I drink like this? I was a successful Real Estate Broker with all the material trappings that should make one happy and secure. Instead I was in a very unhappy 22 year old marriage. My two beautiful and gifted children age 16 & 19 were showing signs of alcohol and drug abuse. Everything seemed to be unraveling and I couldn t stop it. All of my positive thinking and affirmations seemed empty and lifeless. So as I stood looking at all my material possessions that February morning the void in my heart seemed unbearable and I wanted to die. I cried out to an unseen, unfelt, unknown God and said "if you are really there I need help. I can not do it by myself any more." The next day I attended the first of many AA meetings that were the beginning of my path to Christ.

I had to find Jesus Christ of the Bible. God had a plan. My family and I started family counseling trying to recover from the chaos my drinking had caused. I didn't know that the councilor was a Christian. She started praying for me and my family. At first it seemed like the more I recovered the sicker my kids and my marriage got. My family of origin, 2 brothers and a sister were also into drugs and alcohol. My nephew Steven came to live with us for a while. I didn t know that when he was 12 years old a neighbor family took him to church and he gave his heart to Jesus. Now at age 18 he realized that there was only one way for him to live an abundant life and that was to make Jesus lord of his life. He made that commitment when he was staying with us and began seeing our family counselor. I saw him change over the next months. He was excited and peaceful at the same time? There was a look of HOPE in his eyes that I knew I wanted. The end of that month Steve left for college but his prayers for me, along with our counselors prayers were being answered. All of a sudden I heard the Lord Jesus calling my name and I stopped to listen. I started asking my counselor and Steven questions and bought a Bible.

When I had been clean and sober for 3 years I was dismayed to see my marriage and my children were in worse shape than ever. My husband and I took a trip to Kailua-Kona Hawaii. We were going to try and rekindle our relationship. For no reason other then it was Gods plan, we decided to sell out in California and move to Hawaii. My daughter had already moved out and my son was going to leave for college. Neither of them was interested in moving to Hawaii. God placed me in a community of strong Christians and a group of mature Christian women began descipeling me and praying for my family. My children were not doing very well. My daughter was suffering from a dangerous eating disorder, drinking heavily, living in her car and dating an abusive man. She was very depressed over a second abortion. When she narrowly escaped serious injury in a drunk driving accident my counselor and my nephew Steven intervened and put her on a plane to Hawaii. The first six months she hooked up with a partying crowd and started cocktail waitressing in a bar. However our prayers prevailed and at the end of those 6 months she accepted Jesus as her savior and became a Christian. One of her boyfriends saw the difference immediately and asked to go to church with her. He also accepted Jesus and became a Christian and immediately quit a 7 year habit of smoking marijuana daily. My daughter Kim and this young man Josh went into missions in Washington state and Philadelphia for a year and when they returned they were married They now have 2 beautiful children .

When my husband and I moved to Hawaii we started a new retail furniture business. The day before our opening my husband fell off a ladder and crushed both of his heels His recovery has been very long and painful. During one of his 6 surgeries I was in need of help and asked my son to come and help me. My son had been living with a young woman but had recently broken that off and was now living in a camp ground. He was aimless and spent his time using drugs and going to rock concerts. He agreed to come and help me but wanted nothing to do with our religion and packed LSD in his suitcase. When he arrived in Hawaii he saw the difference in me and his sister. He was at a low point in his life and wanted to know how we knew our belief in Jesus was real? I told him our relationships with Christ were personal and he would have to seek the truth of Jesus himself. Well he did and within the month he became a Christian. Within a year he was married to a Christian girl. They spent 5 months on a honeymoon doing mission building for Youth With a Mission in Europe. Now my son works with us at our furniture store. He has a 2 year old daughter and another on the way.

Because of the difference Christ has made in our family, my mother, brother a nephew and a niece have become Christians. For a while my husband stayed on the sidelines watching his family change. My husband is a good man and didn t see a need for a savior for himself. Some of our sins are not as glaring as others and his were more hidden sins of deceit, manipulation and unforgiveness. However our prayers prevailed and my husband was baptized 3 years ago. As a family we survived what appeared to be insurmountable odds only by the Grace of God. My husband and I just celebrated our 32 wedding anniversary. I also celebrated 11 years clean and sober. My children are clean and sober and my sister just celebrated her 1 year wedding anniversary. Our lives are not trouble free. We daily face challenges just like everyone else. Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
There is much more to tell you. How God turned our misery around and has used our life experiences to minister to other alcoholics, homosexuals, failing marriages and on and on. The Bible says "to whom much has been forgiven, they will love much" This is true of our family and I give you this testimony to encourage you to give Jesus Christ your life.

Aloha Ke Akua,Linda Fite

Prostitute: Has had three abortions

My mother and father migrated to New York from the Caribbean looking to get out of their small town. Uneducated, they found themselves mixing with the wrong crowds and soon their lifestyle was filled with drugs, alcohol and violence. As a child growing up in that environment, life was very unpredictable. Every day was a different drama, causing my siblings and me to live in fear. My mom eventually divorced my father and remarried, but my father never accepted the divorce. He was always causing conflict and strife within the family…He would show up drunk and threaten to hurt my mom. Many times we had to call the police to get him out. I remember everyone being afraid of him. Living with him felt like being in a prison.

I used dancing and music to fade out the noise in my environment. I loved to dance. That was my outlet. I would turn up the music and dance until I dropped. My mother managed to put me into ballet school and I dreamed of one day becoming a ballerina. I took lessons, but with all the moving and instability I just couldn't stay focused. Without real support, I never developed the discipline to become a professional ballet dancer. I was left with broken dreams and became resentful of my parents.

In my teen years my mom pretty much vanished. She made sure we had food, clothing and shelter, but she was doing her own thing. I was left alone to raise my sister and myself, so I started to experiment with sex and drugs to take away the loneliness.

By 14 years old I got pregnant and had my first abortion. A neighborhood friend raped me at 16, leaving me feeling betrayed and fearful. This experience really altered the direction of my life. I began looking for love in abusive relationships. By 18 I had gotten pregnant two more times and had abortions. It was very painful, but I couldn't see myself having children. Abortion was how I solved all of my problems. I was very promiscuous and didn't trust anybody out on the streets. I hopped around from one relationship to another, searching for someone who would protect me from the storm and take away the pain.

By the time I turned 25, I had had enough of my destructive lifestyle. I was at a crossroad in life. I was searching for a way out of the hell. I was living at the Hell's Angels Club House, a bikers club in New York City. I was dabbling in witchcraft, trying to find some peace. But I ended up in even more confusion. I couldn't escape my past. It was like living a bad nightmare. I became an abuser and everybody who crossed my path left wounded and victimized. I wanted everyone to pay for the rape, abuse, abortions and neglect. I was at rock bottom and headed right toward the path to prostitution.

One day a person came -- a girl stopped me in the street and invited me to a Bible study. That same girl, her name was Angel, later came to my house and began studying the Bible with me. She showed me the way out of hell through a relationship with Jesus. A year later I surrendered my life to Christ. That was ten years ago. Out of all the bad decisions I've made, giving my life to Christ has proven to be the best decision. Change is a process and it took many years to be set free from old habits, but with God I made it!

Now I have all the love, support and security I need. I can feel, cry and love myself. I couldn't do those things without Christ. I was self-destructive and now I’m productive. In, Christ I have divine protection, wisdom and boundaries. I love that I now have a guide to help me deal with life’s challenges. I’m not alone, even when everyone is gone -- he stays! I love Jesus because he is the Father I never had growing up. He has healed my broken heart, giving back my dreams and forgiving me from the past.

Today the most valuable thing I have is the peace I've found through my relationship with Christ. I have peace with my past, my enemies, my abusers, my family and most of all, myself. Nothing in the world can compare to God's peace. I’m now a godly wife, mother, and speaker. When I take my 5-year-old daughter to ballet class, I stop and say to God, "Thank you for giving me a second chance at life." • Learn more about Michelle's ministry - Soaring Higher Ministries.

Boy Raised in Church: Drank and did drugs in high school

Permalink Posted by: Jonno at 9:54PM EST on May 31, 2007
Christ changed my life in so many ways. I was born and raised in church. Like many others, I was a church baby; I grew up going to Sunday School and Wednesday night Bible Study. My dad was on the board of trustees, and my mom was a Bible Study teacher. As I grew older I began to play clarinet. I also sang in the children’s and youth choirs. I was one of those kids that knew all of the answers to those Bible trivia questions. You know, those questions like, “Who was fed by ravens?” or “Who built the temple?”

I knew church life, and knew so much about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. It really wasn’t until I was about 14 or 15 when I started to explore. I explored different types of secular music. Later I explored alcohol and tried weed. That was all short lived, because I would drink, but wouldn’t get drunk, and I would toke up, but wouldn’t get high.

I was sitting in the balcony of my church, listening to a slender white guy singing soulfully, with a raspy voice, and playing a silver trumpet. The guy could play. Being a musician myself, I tuned into the man’s testimony as he shared about his prior drug addictions. I felt the anointing in his music. The Lord used Phil Driscoll’s ministry to change direction, and set me on a path towards a musical career.

I gave my life to the Lord…for real this time.

I started recording with my brother, and started to minister in music at other churches. I began getting calls to come play here and minister there. I thought that I wanted to be a Christian artist/musician. I continued in this vein for some time. I began to meet and befriend prominent people in Gospel music.

Over the next dozen-plus years I have received more confirming words from pastors, bishops, and evangelists. Each word brought more clarity and encouragement. The word “worship” began to gain in significance.

Now, I have come to a fuller understanding of what it is to be a worshipper. I have come to better understand my purpose. I no longer have the desire to be an “artist” rather a worshipper or worship leader. I consider everything that I do, every word I sing, every note I play, every principle I teach to be acts of worship. I encourage you to find the worshipper in you, and max it for all it’s worth.

Hindu: Taught to worship idols and statues

I was born and brought up from an orthodox Brahmin, Hindu family. I used to worship idols and images as other Hindus do.

Nonetheless, I did not have any peace in my heart. In addition, I used to get severe headaches. Sometimes, it persisted for a long time and the pain was unbearable. Although my father who was a medical doctor treated me well, my headaches were agonizing.

Even specialists could not help me. One of my hobbies was in reading books, especially novels. One day, I was searching for some books to read from my father¡¯s shelf. In the midst of his books, I found a very old copy of the New Testament. I started to read from the Gospel of Matthew. While I was reading, I began to question, "Who is true God? If Christ is the true God, He must bring right personal to tell me more about Jesus".

Undoubtedly, I was expecting an answer. The next day, an old couple from Tamil Nadu who spoke Tamil (my mother tongue) came to our house. They were sharing the Gospel with my father. Gradually, I joined in and asked a few questions about Christ. That very day, I accepted Jesus and the couple asked me to confess my sins. While I was asked to kneel down for prayer I saw Jesus on the Cross-. He told directly "Daughter, Your sins are forgiven." Immediately, I was filled with the Holy Ghost. What¡¯s more, my incurable headache was gone that very moment. Furthermore, the peace I was longing for was overflowing from my heart. As time passed, I was able to share the Gospel with my sister, brothers and my parents. Since 1989, I dedicated to the Lord and Savior Jesus and His ministry.

Single Guy: Homosexual

Permalink Posted by: trendyjesusboy at 2:17AM EST on May 12, 2007

At first i didnt even know they were gay feelings. I grew up a Christian in a Christian family - we had all asked Jesus into our hearts & were dedicated to our church & to God, so what could POSSIBLY go wrong?! I wonder how many other Christians have ever asked that....
[Home life was almost perfect. But] within that perfect time, there were many things that didn't add up to perfection. Personally, I was molested by a so-called family friend, a guy we called 'uncle Bud'. It didn't seem like a big deal at the time, but it has had reverberations ever since. It doesn't have to be violent to be crushing.

My parents…divorced when I was 13, and suddenly to add to the weight, I was the 'man' of the family. It was too much. I turned inward, and kept a distant from everyone, especially men. I became like an indoor cat - safe, yet isolated. We lived with my mom and 'didn't trust men' so my normal need for male mentoring became a kind of general loathing & a secret desire of desperation. And of course, 'desperate people do desperate things'.It also was what set me up to crave male companionship - normal cravings that were denied by: my situation, my insecurities, my lack of self-worth, my self-hatred, my…deep needs. At college, I met the 'perfect' guy, felt guilty & yet compelled to him, and he…responded equally. Looking back, it was God who kept showing me all along that there was the way He wanted my life to be, and then the way I craved it to be. I chose *my* way then.
I resigned that despite the crushing label, I was 'gay'. I now say 'gay identified' - b/c first, 'you are you', and you are made in the image of God - above any label. Like anyone who REALLY meets God, I had to get REAL with God. I decided to follow Him, but on one condition: He'd have to deal with *ALL* my baggage - I wasn't going to let ANY of it hide ANYMORE. I got serious with Him. And with myself. Every bit of me was surrendered now. And next, I had to receive His Love - and receive it OVER & OVER &OVER. I also had to find people…to be vulnerable to. It was so refreshing!!!
I still would struggle, but the Lord told me once that my male attractions only exposed my unmet need for male companionship: they're not wrong, just desperate feelings mixed with fantasy. When I connected honestly with guys on a personal level - past the "news, sports & weather" (sometimes called a 'wall of words'), I'd find a satisfaction that rightly filled that desperate feeling. I saw them as people and not objects. A big, solid step.
And when I'd step out trusting God, He would flood me with exactly what I needed…I hope this makes sense & helps everyone who reads it. "Just spread the love He give to You."

In Him, ~Tom

Physician: Addicted to Pornography

by Anonymous*

I am a family physician in Edmonton, Alberta. I am also a sex addict. I do not recall ever choosing to be the way I am, but my earliest pre-sexual memories are of watching “Tarzan” on television. I felt a deep, inexplicable thrill at the scantily clad women on this show, whose helplessness necessitated weekly rescue. I was drawn to these images of power and suffering — they filled me with a longing and excitement for which I had no name.

My self-esteem, which was never good to begin with, took a beating [because I was never good in athletics or popular]…My fantasy world became a safer refuge. I discovered masturbation at the same time I discovered soft-core pornography. It had an almost drug-like effect on me. This powerful source of pleasure combined with my cauldron of insecurity, self-hatred and loneliness created a firestorm of emotions I could neither understand nor control.

The jaws of addiction's trap were about to snap shut. I have read of the experience a heroin user has the first time he takes a “hit” — that's what I felt the first time I read a pornographic book. I felt at peace. In reality, I had just taken an enormous leap toward losing my soul. I had come to believe that I was a bad person, that no one could possibly like me if they really knew me, and that I could not rely on anyone else to meet my needs — the most important of which was sex.

To help cope with these beliefs, I entered a helping profession — a common pursuit for people like me. Medicine is particularly appealing with its blend of status, power and healing nature, and to my great satisfaction, I was quite good at it. Yet my addictive behaviors were never far away, and I returned time and again to pornography in times of stress or to relax. My loneliness finally drove me to trust a woman — the one who became my wife. She was honest and had an infectious zest for life. She was a Christian, I was not. We had vigorous arguments about religion and finally agreed to not talk about it, though I was keenly aware that in her faith she had something I did not.

After our son was born, my wife attended church regularly with him. I stayed home and fed my addiction, without my wife's knowledge. With the advent of the Internet, I became adept at downloading the pornography I craved, often staying up all night doing this. The hours I wasted were taking their toll, and my life became increasingly unmanageable. I loathed the filth I created, promising each time would be the last, and I lived in terror of being found out by my wife. I hated the lies that were necessary to cover up my detested secret life. I contemplated suicide, thinking that killing myself was preferable to living with the monster that was overpowering me.

When my wife insisted that I attend church on Easter 1992, I grudgingly agreed. And while sitting in church that Sunday, I heard a message of Jesus' love I hadn't heard before. At that moment, my 33-year-old soul battered and empty, I accepted Christ. I believed that with my newfound faith my 20-year-old behaviors were conquered. But they remained. I was, at turns, both angry with my new Friend for not removing them as I had earnestly asked and remorseful at breaking His rules I had pledged to obey. The fall backward convinced me that I was too unlovable and bad for even God to help. Suicide seemed the only way out.

At a men's retreat, a pastor courageously recounted his struggles with sexual addiction and pornography, as well as his 12-step recovery program. It was the first time I saw my problem as addiction. I sought the pastor and told him about my twisted life. I sobbed with shame as I confessed all that I had done before God, recognizing I had nowhere else to turn. Once a week, my pastor friend-turned-sponsor helped me walk through my own 12-step program.

I have been in solid recovery for more than two years. Granted, it's been the hardest thing I have ever done, but my marriage is deeper, my faith in God a joy, and I am a far better doctor than I was before. In fact, I find myself reaching out with compassion to addicts, people I previously did not understand. Their shattered lives, healed with Christ's love, are an ongoing source of wonder for me.

*Due to the nature of this testimony, Physician has agreed to keep in confidence the identities of those involved.
Copyright © 2002 Focus on the Family. This article originally appeared in the September/October 1999 issue of Physician magazine.

Friday, October 05, 2007

1st Fourteener

The family, minus Winnie the Dog, headed back to Anna Rose's native land of Colorado a few weeks back. I had some business to get done for the Sun Valley Youth Center (one of the coolest groups with whom I had the pleasure of working), which was the impetus behind the trip. However, the "real" reason we ventured west was to take our daughter up her 1st fourteen thousand foot peak. (Psyche. It was to see friends and get some Kaladi Coffee.) We managed to do them all.

We summited Mount Evans, the closest in proximity to Denver. She is an inviting mountain. One of the things I like about her is that she offers a route for anyone, everything from pavement to class 5 leads. We took the short route up a shoulder from Summit Lake with our Lifer friends the Kobergs and Kleagers. And Anna Rose was a true champ. She made it to the top with out a Pip or Squeak (and she is both). And if it hadn't been gusting on top, sending the temperature lower than anything our Carolina warm blood had felt in almost two years, we would have been fine. In fact, we were. Annie just started screaming that's all. I ended up cradling her in my arms, a position in which she immediately fell asleep. I didn't have the heart to rearrange. So down the mountain we went - Anna Rose snoring, me fretting the next move. Mercifully, I only fell once and was able to contort my body in a position never before that moment attempted. She didn't even stir.

It was a great time. Congrats to Kelly Koberg in particular. It was her first fourteener as well. Thanks y'all!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Mr. Davidson

Let me just say it was an honor to participate, to just be in the presence of such distinguised and capable gentlemen. This, my first Mr. Davidson competition, was both exhilirating, humiliating and a little bit of everything in between.

For those of you who have not heard of Mr. Davidson. We are guys who graduated from the college in 1997, who every five years return to test our minds, bodies, and wills in a series of ten individual and three team events in order to see which one of us is Mr. Davidson. This year, Hayes Trotter ran away with the title. I managed to climb myself to second place going into the final event when I made a devastating tactical error catapulting me down the leader board to a lackluster yet respectable sixth place. Ha! It was a weekend of athletic ups and downs: winning the illustrious yet grueling bar hang, then immediatly finishing dead last in the car push, and being the only one to literally lose my lunch in the notoriously gut wrenching "Mr. Davidson shuttle run" (After doing dizzy lizzies and memorizing a Shakespearean couplet, we had to eat a McDonald's cheeseburger and fries). It was a memorable time on many levels.

And it was so great to be back with the crew. We honestly don't look bad for thirty-two year olds...

I can't wait for 2012.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Glacier. Wow!

I'm gonna let the photos do the talking.

(Photo 1: The whole crew left to right: me "Super Cham", Robbie "Huckleberry" Fischer, Ross "Russ" Mangin, and Kyle "Carbon Fog, Big Bird, and The Rabbit" Mezger. 2. View from Sperry Campground, our last stop. 3. Wild flowers in Floral Park. We went off trail the last day for a wild ride. 4. Gunsight Pass and Lake. Spectacular place. Mount Jackson, which we summited is off camera to the left. 5. Kyle and I hanging out on the outcrop. 6. A big old bull moose that got too close for my comfort. 7. A beautiful sunrise up Gunsight pass. 8. Nameless Iceberg Lake. Ross and Robbie jumped in. I did, eventually after much name calling and remarks about my manhood. 9. Ross and I taking it in at Red Eagle Lake. 10. Me on top of Mt. Siyeh, the largest sheer cliff in the lower 48 to my right 4,500 feet straight down!)

Monday, July 30, 2007

First Camping Trip

Lia and I took Anna Rose on her first camping trip this weekend.
We were accompanied by our dear friends, Tim and Lindsay Musser and their one year old, Daisy. It was her first time, too. And I've done some relatively hair raising things in the outdoors, but few things felt more hard core than trying to survive through a night car camping with two one year olds.

But as it turned out, the girls did great, and us moms and dads actually managed a few hours of shut eye. It was a great first time. And instead of erasing the allure of taking the family backpacking, it has actually emboldened my dreams.

For instance, in September, Lia and I are planning on doing some hiking in Colorado. I'm now thinking about which fourteener I want to take Anna rose up first. Further, next summer, I am planning to join an expedition to Kilimanjaro. I had been working out a babysitter strategy, but now I am thinking we won't be needing one. Look out world! Here come the Ericksons! Ha!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Cheap Sunglasses

I am a strong believer in buying cheap sunglasses. In fact, the cheaper they are the better. And not only because they are cheap. Or maybe for the sole reason they are cheap. I don't know. There is just something about them. Maybe it is the China in them. I don't know. But the thing that happens with cheap sunglasses is that they last forever. They stick to you. I bought a pair last weekend for a $1.99, and I have treated them like crap. I even left them in my parents car. And you know what, they are probably in the mail as I write this. Because the harsher you treat your cheap sunglasses the more loyal they become. I was given this pair of Pink Kim Possible Sunglasses from my friend Gary Oberg. He gave them to me because they fell out of the trash in his car. And three years later, I still have them. And if you know me, you have seen them. I have actually stopped wearing them lately because too many people have told me how cool they look. Speaking of looks, take a gander at how beautiful my wife is in her $12 knock offs. That's all she needs to spend to be smoking hot.
That stuff never happens with designer lenses. You put them in your pocket and before you know it, you have sat on them. Or you left them at the restaurant, but their gone when you go back. My mother-in-law left her cheap sunglasses at this restaurant last week. When she went back to retrieve them the next day, they were there. And the hostess lady said she fended off three others who wanted to steal them. 9 dollars! If they had been real designer lenses, the hostess would have kept them for herself. So trust me on this, stick to the cheapies. There are plenty of other things to splurge on. So the next time you buy sunglasses, buy cheap. You might never need another pair.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

the best way to watch fireworks

the Dash (Winston-Salem) is not the best place in the world to see fireworks. i wouldn't call the ones we saw lame, but i have seen better. though i have never seen them a better way...

it was a quarter past nine, and anna rose was in my arms as lia and i ascented the small hill at sherwood elementary school where the rest of winston-salem was. and the fireworks were going off with the booms and the fizz. and i laid this mexican blanket down. and as we sat i watched the fireworks in the very best way: through my daughters eyes.

facing away, it was the greatest position to watch them. and anna rose stood so still, leaning up against her mommy. and saying not a word. if you know my girl at all, you know she is a talker. but not this july 4th. she made no sound all night. from the moment i woke her to the moment i laid her down. she was wide eyed and closed mouth. and to her it was probably all just a dream. it was certainly so for me. as the booms and the lights sparkled in her eyes.

and then the finale. and her mouth finally opening. an awestruck moment of light and wonder. and my moment and my heart full of love. and gratitude.

it was her very first 4th. and it was the best one for me. at least it was the best way.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Group Studies - What Do You Want?

Icebreaker: Hear it, Smell it, Taste it, Touch it. Take three people out of the room; then, arrange four paper bags on a table. In the first bag, place a Nalgene of water; the next bag, an onion; the third, something edible; the fourth, a mouse (preferably white). Have the first person come in blindfolded. Explain that this is a race to identify what is in each bag. Each bag requires a different sense. Bag one, you hear; two, smell; three, taste; four, touch. When they understand, tell them, go! As they proceed, they should be successful, but they won’t be expecting a mouse at the end! You should get some hilarious reactions. But here is the kicker...

When the leader goes out for the last contestant, have somebody switch the last two bags so that the mouse is in the taste position. Supposedly the leader doesn’t know. Have the last contestant (who is also in on it) go through the bags. However, when he or she gets to the taste bag, she will reach in and grab a fake mouse (two marshmallows with a string strung through the middle) and stuff it in her mouth! If done right, the joke will be on the crowd! The secret is to double bag the mouse bag (the outer layer contains the fake marshmallow mouse). When the switcher makes the change, he folds over the inside bag, so when the contestant reaches in, she grabs the marshmallow mouse and quickly stuffs it in her mouth. The crowd will go nuts...

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Group Studies - You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet

Loneliness Quotes

“The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.” Mother Teresa (future saint). Do you agree? Why is loneliness so bad?

“The whole conviction of my life now rests upon the belief that loneliness, far from being a rare and curious phenomenon, peculiar to myself and to a few other solitary men, is the central and inevitable fact of human existence” Thomas Wolfe (writer). Do you believe everyone is lonely? Why or why not?

“Loneliness is the first thing which God’s eye named, not good.” John Milton (poet from back in the day). Why do you think God thinks loneliness is not good?

"No one would choose a friendless existence on condition of having all the other things in the world." Aristotle (philosper from back in the day). Do you agree? Why are friends the most valuable thing?

"the night can be a dreadful time for lonely people once their loneliness has started." Ernest Hemingway (writer). Why do you think people get lonely at night?

"When Christ said: "I was hungry and you fed me," he didn't mean only the hunger for bread and for food; he also meant the hunger to be loved. Jesus himself experienced this loneliness. He came amongst his own and his own received him not, and it hurt him then and it has kept on hurting him. The same hunger, the same loneliness, the same having no one to be accepted by and to be loved and wanted by. Every human being in that case resembles Christ in his loneliness; and that is the hardest part, that's real hunger." Mother Teresa (future saint). Do you really think that Jesus experienced loneliness? How could this be?

"The body is a house of many windows: there we all sit, showing ourselves and crying on the passers-by to come and love us." Robert Louis Stevenson (writer). Do you think it is possible to be loved enough? Why or why not?

"Fame doesn't end loneliness. " Claire Danes (actress). If you were famous, do you think it would cure your loneliness? Does anything exist in the world that can cure loneliness?

"Loneliness seems to have become the great American disease." John Corry (journalist). How is loneliness like a disease? Do you agree with this statement?

Pigeon Feathers

“Though the experiment frightened him, he lifted his hands high into the darkness above his face and begged Christ to touch them. Not hard or long: the faintest, quickest grip would be final for a lifetime. His hands waited in the air, itself a substance, which seemed to move through his fingers, or was it the pressure of his pulse? He returned his hands to beneath the covers, uncertain if they had been touched or not. For would not Christ’s touch be infinitely gentle?” (Updike, John. “Pigeon Feathers,” The Early Stories 1953-1975. (Ballantine Books, New York, 2003). p20).

Group Studies - Over My Head

Icebreaker: Thermo Nuclear War. Give each person one water balloon. Explain the boundaries (they can be anywhere from a small 20’ x 20’ square, to a soccer field). The object is to be the last one with a water balloon. You are alive as long as you have a water balloon. However, if someone pegs you, and their water balloon explodes and you get wet, then you are out, and you must give your water balloon to them. If you go out of bounds you are out, and you must implode the water balloon upon yourself. If you throw your balloon and it explodes not hitting anyone, then you are out. If you throw your balloon and it does not explode, you can re-gather it and stay in the game. The last one standing wins.

Background Summary: JC finds out that his cousin John (the Baptist) just had his head chopped off for standing up for what was right. After it happens, John's buddies go find JC to tell him the sad news. And JC is clearly upset by it. All he wants is to go off and be by himself for awhile. And so he took some of his closest friends (the disciples) across the Sea of Galilee in a boat (probably from the west to the mountains on the east side) to get away from all the crowds and craziness that was always around him. (map)
The Sea of Galilee is about 60 miles from Jerusalem and at one time was 13 miles long and 8 miles wide at its greatest extent, although recent changes have reduced its length. Its surface is about 700 feet below sea level, and it is about 150 feet deep at its lowest point. The Jordan River flows through it, providing much of its water supply, there are springs in the lake floor. The fresh waters of the lake are clean, and they have always been well stocked with a variety of fish.

Several towns dotted its shores in NT times, but almost all of them (Bethsaida, Capernaum, Tiberias, etc.) stood on its northern and western shores because the eastern slopes rise more precipitously from the water. The sea was the highway for considerable traffic between Damascus and the Mediterranean, and the customhouse duties from which Christ took Matthew brought huge revenue. Hot springs along the western shore, especially at Tiberias, brought multitudes to be cured. The high hills surrounding the below sea-level water combined with abrupt temperature changes contributed to sudden and violent storms on the lake, as various NT passages indicate (Mark 4:35-41; 6:45-52; John 6:16-21).

It was on or around this lake that Jesus did many of His wonderful miracles. 18 of the 33 recorded miracles of Christ were probably done in the immediate neighborhood of the Sea of Galilee. In the city of Capernaum alone He performed 10 of these.

But the crowds find out where JC and the disciples are bearing. So they hoof it around the shoreline. It’s likely that this large crowd (estimated at over 10,000 people) traveled over ten miles by foot over some pretty rugged terrain. By the time JC and disciples land, the people are waiting for them, and the crowds is totally exhausted. And the Bible says that JC was so moved by their devotion that he healed those who were sick, taught them about God and then worked some crazy miracle where he fed all 10,000 of them with five loaves of bread and two fish. Somehow, there were leftovers. Pretty incredible. And then afterwards, JC tells the disciples, who were probably tired too, to get back in their boat and head back. JC stays behind and hangs out with the crowd awhile longer before they all head home, too. Finally, JC takes a deep breath and gets that peace and quiet, he had been wanting. Remember, he was upset about his cousin. And it is evening by now, and it says that JC hikes up to this mountainside and prays until really late. JC was a night owl it seems. The, instead of going to sleep, at the fourth watch (3 A.M.), JC does something really crazy: he walks across the water, on the water!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Princess or Tomboy

I am in love with Anna Rose Erickson. With a name like Anna Rose, you would think that the girl likes flowers and dolls and playing the piano. And you would be right. Anna Rose does like those things. Which is why I catch myself calling her Annie. An Annie likes dogs and dirt and big time swings. And this is Anna Rose, too. And as a father, I am guilty of rolling balls to her and taking the pretty clips out of her hair. But we also dance and admire the flowers that her mother tends so well in our front yard. It is all and everything a paradox. And I am in love...I love "Annie" Anna Rose Erickson. Become what may...a ballerina or a shortstop. I love you.

So what do you think? Which picture is most becoming? You tell me. Have you ever seen anyone more beautiful?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The 40 Challenge

Robbie Fischer, Michael Plazza, and Peter (who needs no last name), and me completed all forty miles of the appalachian trail from fontana dam to newfound gap on april 20. For those of you not familiar with "the 40", at least this "40" (I used to think a 40 was something different in high school), it is one of the most exhausting treks I have ever done. Most people call this 40 mile stretch the most rigorous of the entire trail system. Even for Robbie and I who have done this several times, it is never easy. And for Peter and Plazza, I am not sure if they will ever do it again. Ha! This year was record breaking in the time it took us...16 hours! Two of them in the pitchest of black. Fortunately, we were guided by "The Lighthouse" Michael Plazza's cellphone light. By the end, as our faces show in the pictures, we were pretty spent. But all in all a great memory and a good time. All are invited for next year's journey.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Ocean Drive Marathon

I did it! Despite steady winds of 20mph in my face, yes 20 miles an hour!, I finished the Ocean Drive Marathon in 3:07, which is fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon, one of the many goals on my "before-I-die" list. For my pride, I would love a physics major to calculate what my time would have been without the natural hinderance. I'm serious, the wind made running really stinking hard! Regardless, I qualified and I am thankful and I will probably never run that fast again on purpose.
Here is a picture of the course. The weather report had 20mph wind from the northeast all day. Notice the angle we ran! Fortunately I logged enough fast miles in the beginning to allow me to walk over 12 minutes during the last 10k. And other than dealing with a nagging cramp in my stomach after sucking down a GU, I felt pretty good the whole way. I spent several miles yelling at God, reminding him how he calmed the storm, and how there was no positive reason that the wind needed to be this bad. Clearly, God decided to teach me perseverance and to give me the strength to make it to the end.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Kerith Juliana Bell

Kerith is a beautiful little girl that is full of cancer. We are praying desperately on her behalf today. She is going in for a kidney biopsy this morning.

You can visit Kerith Juliana's CaringBridge site at

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Kayenta arts Festival - St. George, Utah

I am in St. George, Utah for the Kayenta Arts Festival with my great friend Tim Zandee. He is a spectacular nature photographer. Check him out at We are going to be here through Sunday and then we are going to head into Zion to do some exploration. I had the great gift of seeing some old freinds in D-town. They are actually current friends and my age; I am just not in as close proximation as I used to be with them.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Welcome to the world, Anna Rose

I woke up at 5am and Lia wasn't in bed. So I rubbed the crusties from my eye sockets and walked into the living room to see what the deal was.

"What do you think about having a baby on July 9th," she said.

We were supposed to have the baby on July 11th by induction or something. But hey, whatever. I said, "Sure, the 9th would be fine." And I went off to fix coffee. Then, it dawned on me. Today was July 9th!

A few hours later Anna Rose was born. 6 pounds 10 ounces of screams and tears. She has stolen my entire heart.

Falling Into Love...Book Released!

Ned's first book has arrived. Falling Into Love: How an Average Guy Got the Girl of His Dreams came out this summer 2006. It is a heartfelt, humerous memoir. As one reader puts it, "a seriously funny book."