East to West


Tuesday morning, 0730, western Kansas City, cold and overcast.

Stepped outside to leave for business.  The eastern sky startled me. The western sky reassured me.

To see the sun begin to rise in the east and the moon begin to set in the west at the same time is fairly common, but rather special, too. One is so vibrant and the other so soft as it fades away due to the morning’s brilliance.

The cloud dynamic adds a dramatic element to the one, and a firm point of reference to the other…rather like some people do when we encounter them.

Had lunch with a friend of mine today. He is such an encouragement and always looks at each day as simply that…another day. If we screw up, we have another opportunity to do better (assuming we are given the chance). We both have struggled through serious depression about the same number of years and period in time, but he seems to have a firmer grip on what makes one tick and how to respond to the negative thoughts we all succumb to which affects our moods, doubts and self-images. I appreciate him so much.

Just look at the recent tragedies in Vegas and Texas. Talk about warped self-images. How sad for all concerned. In some way, all affected become victims. However, this post isn’t about those terrible incidents. It is more about beauty and awareness and life. It is about overcoming, too. It is meant to encourage instead of discourage. I see flags flying half-mast everywhere and know why, hence, the monologue about recent tragedies. Yet, the flags will fly at full-mast again. So should we after we falter from life’s harsh realities.

I know this statement may seem harsh and even naive to some, but such is not my intent. One never gets over tragedy…one must simply overcome it’s consequences which can be extremely difficult. I have personal experience with this reality. May these photos lift your souls as they did mine when I first witnessed these scenes early this morning.




East to West…emerging to fading…repeating cycle everyday…redemption waiting.






Collateral Damage from a Day of Fun


Despite the gloomy weather of late as the seasons change from Summer to Winter with little evidence of Autumn, except for the lovely foliage colors, I thought it appropriate to share this photo. Yesterday it was 70 degree F. in the afternoon, and today it was a cool 27 degrees F. this morning. Regardless, I like this image because it is the aftermath of grandchildren playing with some of their toys at our home…they eventually were picked up with their assistance. They have learned responsibility.

These toys are considered rudimentary these days, but they bring back fond memories for me. We try to keep life simple, yet Elliot (4 years) can maneuver through an iPad faster than I can turn it on!

Our lives seem so complicated these days. You may call me a bit old fashioned, but I believe there are just too many activities, too many videos, too many texts, too many tweets, too many meals outside the home, etc.. Families and friends have little time for, well, family and friends.

Funny, as I have aged I have become more introverted, but I value relationships as much-if not more- than when I was younger. Rather a paradox which I don’t quite understand at this stage of life. Perhaps circumstances are to blame, however, it doesn’t really matter.

What does matter is that we don’t take a moment of life for granted. Whether very young, an adolescent, a young adult or full-fledged adult with a family…every day is precious. I’ve been through depression so I know what it’s like to not feel this way, but feelings are deceiving. Even during my worst moments, I knew deep down inside that every day mattered, and vowed to wait for the good moments to reappear. That took quite some time. I still struggle, as do many of you, but I consider myself fortunate.

Be encouraged by God’s word; ” For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Sometimes we just need to have faith to get us through the tough times. This doesn’t necessarily mean loads of money or excellent health or even stellar jobs…It simply means to be blessed with His presence of peace which leads to a prosperity of a far better kind. I had to learn to be patient, and I am still learning. Please join me.


Why I Blog

April 21, 2014 003

Funny, but I never, ever would have suspected that illness would unlock the door to my public writing.

After years of chronic back pain which culminated in a spinal fusion, I began to blog. I’ve always liked to put my thoughts on paper. As a child I would write notes of affection to my mom. When I dated I would write notes and poems to Cheryl. Once, I wrote a poem of gratitude for my dad a few years before he died. I would often record thoughts and experiences for no particular purpose, other than to solidify what I was thinking at the time. In the ninth grade when I was forced to make a selection as to what vocation I wanted to pursue, I chose journalism. I did not walk this path professionally, but in some small way I have practiced it by scribbling my thoughts down ever since.

The years of chronic pain took their toll on my physical health. Also, during the past decade I lost parents and nieces to the grave, left a partnership which ended up in broken relationships and was involved in a ministry debacle involving leaders who were my close friends. The stage was set and I eventually succumbed to a rather serious bout of depression which lasted nearly four years. Anxiety was a constant companion, as was fear and confusion. This was not that long ago and it was an ugly time. As I walked through this illness, I felt as though I were caught in a maze without a way out. When I fell asleep at night, not waking up became a comforting thought.

The recognition of my illness was forced upon me by extreme anxiety attacks. I reluctantly sought help. It is difficult for a self-sufficient man to admit that he has been taken down by an “ illness of weakness ”, as I once thought depression was. After a few doctors, several medications, and counseling, I started to pull out of my personal hell. I prayed often during this period. They were short prayers because my attention span was short. I didn’t receive any answers which perplexed me, however, I never felt abandoned by God-just tested. I thought about Job a lot.

Once I began to experience sporadic rays of light illuminate my being, I ruminated about what had been taking place within me. I recall reading a few helpful books and many a self-help book with multiple keys to wholeness and significance. They confused me so I quit reading them. What works for one may work for another, but in general each person must seek and discover his or her own formula for wholeness. It is the ‘ living abundantly ‘ part of my existence that I struggle with the most. I’m still searching while trying to enjoy what I have and where I am. Writing has become a panacea for me.

I was fortunate to come across an invitation thrown out by Civitas Press to contribute to a collaborative effort to create a book about depression. I wrote a short essay and was accepted. The book was published and my name was among the list of authors. There was no compensation, except the hope that whoever reads this book will benefit from it. After I received my free copy, I began to read the stories of others who suffered from depression. I couldn’t finish the book. It depressed me!

This brief encounter with having a piece of my writing published gave me confidence to explore how I could continue to write and be heard. Writing is a process of self-discovery, as much as it is anything else. I wanted to know me better, and I wanted to help others in the process. I was encouraged by a wonderful young lady named Angel, who was the marketing director of an inspirational website. After we had a few chats over the internet, she said I should consider creating a blog. I didn’t have a clue as to what a blog was so I began to learn. At some pivotal point during this process, I made the leap and started a blog in August of 2012. It was liberating and scary at the same time. It still is.

I concluded my inaugural post with these words, “And, maybe, I will begin to remove the hinges from the door that I can’t seem to open wide, and instead, remove it. Why should the door exist anyway? Who do I want to keep out, and why do I want to stay in? I don’t know. However, I seek to find out ”.

This was my way of expressing the frustration which percolated within me. To be true to myself, I can’t state that I am much farther along in answering those questions. However, one thing I do know is that I am not alone. My family and close friends have been a great support. Also, I have met some very wonderful and talented people as a result of posting and following other’s blogs. The greatest satisfaction I experience occurs during my interactions with others. My goal is to encourage and inspire so I am afforded the opportunity to do both via my writing and the posting of my photography. My soul has received the beneficial balm of inspired words and photographs by my fellow sojourners. I am grateful, and encouraged, as well.

My essence can best be described as tossed salad these days as I struggle to find my place in this world, as Michael W. Smith once sang about. At this stage of my life I am astonished that I am where I am. I fully expected to be more certain about life…and me. This does not mean I don’t have a strong set of core values. I do. The road I have traveled has been full of twists and turns, bumps and bruises. But, I must ask, haven’t all of ours been like that? Jesus told His followers that each day has enough trouble of its own. Those who are going through serious trials would even say this is an understatement. Of course, our Lord never under or over stated anything. He was simply making the point that life is hard. Therefore, we are encouraged to trust in Him; the Way, the Truth and the Life. This imploring to trust is easier said than done, but not impossible or He wouldn’t have commanded us to do so in the first place. ‘Challenging’ may be a more accurate assessment when it comes to taking up our crosses and following (trusting & obeying) Christ. Dying to self is not enjoyable.

Writing for me is a tonic of sorts. Sometimes it is bittersweet. At other times it is smooth and refreshing. Always, it is different. For each thought, every idea, the occasional epiphany are unique from one another. Multiply that dynamic by everyone who holds the pen or punches a keyboard and we have a vast garden variety of words which can impact us. It is my sincerest hope that my words make a positive impression, and occasionally inspire. At the very least, I pray my words don’t offend. To challenge and question is okay…yes?  I hope you can relate. Life is too short to waste on the trivial.

One last thought; actually more of a postscript. The personal experiences I listed are not to gain pity or sympathy. They are real, they hurt, and I am still wrestling with the residual effects of depression and, of course, daily pain. However, because so many people deal with so much more hardship, I considered not posting this piece. I did post, in spite of my reluctance, because I want others to relate and to be encouraged. Please note that throughout my life I have been the recipient of so many more positives than the negatives I have identified. In a nutshell, I have been blessed.

I have gleaned wisdom from the words of Christopher Reeves, after he was paralyzed, when he simply stated that he had accepted the cards he was dealt and was doing the best he could to play them. I am coping, striving, growing and stumbling. I press on, as the Apostle Paul proclaimed. I honestly believe the goal is well worth the trials. Not to say this is an easy thing to boast of when I am at my worst. Interestingly, I have noticed this: the darker the trial, the clearer the goal. In no way am I comparing myself to Stephan when he was being stoned to death, but there is a great object lesson to be learned from this tragic incident. Immediately before he died he saw Heaven open and Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father. What a glorious vision he was given. The Good Shepherd yearns to restore souls and invites all to spend eternity with Him.