Hope Now.

When my life is like a storm
Rising waters all I want is the shore
You say I’ll be ok and
Make it through the rain
You are my shelter from the storm

Everything rides on hope now
Everything rides on faith somehow
When the world has broken me down
Your love sets me free

Hope.  What a powerful word.  With hope there is promise.  Without it…

Have you ever suffered from depression?  I have.  It’s a dark place.  It sucks you in and makes you feel abandoned and alone.  It suffocates and blinds.  Pretty soon you don’t even want to get out of bed… what’s the point?  The world is better off without you anyway…  As a matter of fact, maybe the world WOULD be better off without…  STOP.

First, you are NOT alone in more ways than one.  You are not the only person to feel this way… nor will you be the last.  Also, regardless of how separated you may feel, Jesus NEVER leaves you alone.  You are His.  You are Precious.

There seems to be an epidemic around here right now:  Suicide.  It’s not a topic we talk about very often.  In fact, I remember hearing about it growing up and being told that to talk about it would “glamorize” it.  I don’t pretend to be an expert on suicide.  I do think there needs to be more information and teaching about it though.

I’ve been so depressed that I’ve contemplated suicide.  I’ve gone so far as to plan it out and think in my mind what reactions would be.  Surprised?  I’m being honest.  It’s part of my testimony.  It doesn’t lessen who I am as a Christian.  Satan is a crafty adversary.  He knows my weaknesses.  He knows yours too.  In my case, I felt hopeless.  I didn’t feel I had anything to offer.  It didn’t last long… but it was long enough.  It was last February, just after the second major snow storm we had in VA.  I had just returned from our Birthday Cruise where we’d been listening to Christian artists all week.  I had been snowed in FL for an extra 3 days and should have been in great spirits by the time I made it back to VA.  Instead I was so weak and depressed that I couldn’t see straight.  To make matters worse, the Brocks went on a ski trip and I was stayed here alone for an entire weekend… Valentine’s Day weekend.  It was not good.  I called several friends and family members but nobody was available.  I was alone.  In the midst of my plans, God intervened.  I got ahold of Benji (my youngest brother).  He had no idea how badly I needed him and I don’t think I told him.  Actually, I don’t remember.  It’s all blurred.  What I do remember is light breaking through the darkness just a little and being reminded of the hope that we have in Christ Jesus.  I made myself get out of the house for the evening and the Brocks came home that night.  It was a very long weekend.

Have you had a loved one take their own life?  Have you had thoughts of doing so yourself?  Talk to someone.  Talk to me.  Just talk.  There is HOPE.  Life is worth living.  You are Precious.  You are His.  Hope now.  Hope.

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FAIL!

“FAIL!”

That’s what I keep hearing all around me.  It’s become the “it” word.  Oh, but that’s not enough… it could be:

“EPIC FAIL!”

Oh, how it makes me tingle inside!  Oh wait, that’s my security and self-esteem trickling away each time I hear it!

There are things I fail in.  I fail at being loving when I should. I fail at algebra now (I’m so terribly out of practice!).  I fail at following through on a commitment or promise (Sorry Misty!!!  I really did mean to bring the table to you!).  I fail at being a friend for someone when they need me.  I fail at putting others first.  I fail at being patient.  I fail at being kind.  I fail at setting a good example all of the time.  I fail at filling in for a parent who isn’t present in their children’s lives.  I fail at getting up on time every day!

I fail in so many ways.

BUT!

Jesus thought I was worth His Life.  God didn’t look at me and say, “FAIL!”  Instead He sent a Savior to rescue me.  Praise God He NEVER Fails!

Look, I’m going to have bad days.  I’m going to have bad hours and minutes.  I’m going to do epically stupid things!  BUT…  I am not a failure.  Neither are you.

Those days when I’m driven to my knees because I just can’t do anything right, those days, yeah, today was one of them, I can be certain that I have worth.  I have value.  I am loved and I’m forgiven.  If I fail, so what?  Try again.  Do it again.  So I get back up and keep going.  THAT is NOT a fail!  That’s a WIN!

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Compassion

“Everyone needs compassion
Love that’s never failing
Let mercy fall on me
Everyone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Savior
The hope of nations…”

This song chokes me up.  But then again, a lot of songs choke me up!  The kids just look at me and shake their heads and say, “Marty’s crying again.”  You know what?  That’s alright with me.  I have a tender heart and I know it. 🙂

Funny thing is though, I have a tender heart, but I don’t always show mercy and compassion.  I guess that’s not really funny.  Sometimes I’m lead to do something or confess something and I don’t do it.  Anyone else do this too?  Yeah, I thought so.

There are things that I know I cannot do, watch or listen to.  For instance, are there any Law and Order fans?  Sydney LOVES Law and Order, specifically CSI.  I cannot watch these shows.  I get so empathetic for the victim and I can’t stand to put myself through something for “entertainment” that so many people have to live every day.  On the other hand, I LOVE spy movies and shows!  I know, I’m weird.  I can live with that.  Let’s get back to what I was saying though…

We were discussing homeless people this week.  When we drive or walk by someone in distress, what do we do?  How do we feel?  I was told that a certain percent of people holding a sign for money (pan-handler) might make as much as $40,000 a year!  This person giving me this info doesn’t think much about helping people on the street since there’s no way to know if it’s a scam or not.  To a certain extent, I kind of agree… then my compassion kicks in.  I don’t know what someone’s background is.  I don’t know where they lay their heads at night.  I don’t know where they will spend the money they are given or earn… but God does.  He sees everything.  He knows the heart of each person.  Whether the money or food or clothes or whatever that I give is used for the intended purpose or if it’s misused for something else, God sees that too.  He’s looking at the heart.  Please don’t let scams pull you off of helping “the least of these”.

I took the kids for ice cream one afternoon last Spring.  It’s a seasonal place so it was pretty busy since it was a nice afternoon.  As we pulled in, we noticed a guy sitting on his bike holding a sign that read, “homeless, please help”.  He was shamelessly looking at people as they pulled in and out and offering his cup.  As we placed our orders, I had my eye on the guy.  I asked the people working there if they knew him.  They didn’t.  He’d been sitting there all day but nobody had thought to go and talk with him.  Drew said, “You’re going to go give him your change, aren’t you.”  It wasn’t a question.  I just smiled and told the kids to be on their best behavior and have a seat and wait for me.

I had money in my hand and walked over to the guy.  I had planned to just slip the money into his cup and walk away, but I was compelled to shake his hand and ask if I could have a seat on the ground next to him.

Ok, this guy was BUSHY!  He was dirty, smelly and hadn’t shaved in who knows how long!  He was also downwind 🙂 Think Forrest Gump when he just decides to go run… and run… and run… only without the following!

I asked his name and where he had come from… where was he going?  Come to find out, his name was Alan and he has been riding his bike back and forth between family members in SC, PA and VA for 20 years.  His bike was an old cruiser bike but he had everything you could imagine needing attached to it.  He had a water cooler strapped to the handlebars, on the back was a bedroll and small hiking tent.  Beneath the seat was strapped a backpacking stove and shower!  He explained that he would travel and then get work for awhile.  He would use the money he was given and had earned for hotels when the weather was bad. He was a construction worker by trade.  He would like to learn brick laying.  He wasn’t afraid of hard labor.  But he just couldn’t stay in one place very long before he would need to move on.  He said his Dad died when he was young and it was a hard subject.  So I told him I understood, when a parent (or anyone close to you) dies, it alters your life and I shared with him that my Dad had also died when I was young.

That’s all it took.  Alan opened up and shared his story.  He told me that when he was young, his Dad had been diagnosed with Cancer.  He was dieing and didn’t want his family to see him weak.  So he had sent his son away.  Alan said his Dad died after he left and he didn’t even get to go to the funeral.  (By now I’m in tears.) So he had been riding ever since. He had been in a few places where he had good work and could have stayed, but he couldn’t bring himself to get attached.

Oh how my heart was breaking for this man I didn’t know!  He had the appearance of an older man but his eyes were not all that much older than mine!  He was running.  He didn’t know what from or who to, but he was RUNNING!

I told him I didn’t understand how people could make it through all of the pain without hope… my hope is in Jesus.  He said he knew about Jesus but he wasn’t sure he believed in Him.  I didn’t push faith on him.  That day I felt I just needed to listen.

Then the kids brought me back to real time.  I looked over to check on them and found many people watching us.  He noticed I was looking at someone and I told him I needed to get back to the kids but I thanked him for sharing his space and his story with me.  Yes, I handed him the money in my hand… and wished with all my heart I could give him a whole lot more!  It wasn’t money this man was seeking.  This man was in search of a Savior and he didn’t know it!

Some who read this story may be bewildered why I didn’t sit down and give the whole plan of salvation to Alan that day.  You know, sometimes we just have to plant a seed.  We’re not going to be the one to grow or reap the harvest every time.  How can they believe if they have not heard?  Somewhere along Alan’s past, someone had already shared with him about Jesus.  This time I think God was using me to show him Jesus.  Alan is another chapter that has been added to my heart.  I hope and pray that someday he will find the One he is searching for.  Maybe it will be you who is asked to sit and listen and share.  Will you have the time?

Everyone needs compassion, love that’s neverfailing.  Let mercy fall on me (and you, and you and you!).

God bless!

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Speak the Truth in Love

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.  A couple of weeks ago it was mentioned in the sermon that everyone should have a “Nathan” in their life… referring to the prophet Nathan who confronted King David about his sin with Bathsheba.

Nathan spoke in a parable to David.  When David heard the parable he was angry and wanted justice.  Then Nathan “POW’ed” David with “it’s you I’m talking about”.  Then David was repentant and was brought back into fellowship with the Lord.  Everyone needs to find someone in their life who will tell them the truth.

We hear the phrase “speak the truth in love” a lot.  I guess I want to know what that means.  Does it mean to be politically correct and only point out what isn’t socially acceptable?  Does it mean to cushion the truth so it doesn’t hurt?  I can be political and try not to offend… I think this is often called “tact”.  I can be gentle and offer words of advice in a quiet voice that doesn’t embarrass.  I can be passionate and tell someone they are WRONG and show in the Scriptures where that is true…  but what I REALLY think it means to “speak the truth in love” is this:

To tell the truth about what needs corrected with a sincere heart.  Not to condemn a person but to warn them that they are stepping outside of God’s Word and they are in dangerous territory.  You are offering truth to bring them back to safety… back into fellowship with the Lord.

Now, I believe that sometimes well-meaning people offer opinion disguised as truth.  There’s a difference.  Truth is always going to be found in God’s Word.  What does His Word say about this situation?  If He says “don’t do it” then it’s not a “grey” area just because “everyone else is doing it” or it’s “socially acceptable” or “modern”.  As much as I HATE confrontation, there are times when it’s necessary.  We’re not called to judge one another, but we are accountable to one another.  We are 1 Body.  Sometimes we may not LIKE what is being said to us… but let’s always refer back to absolute Truth:  God’s Word.

Also, let’s be honest here… if someone you love comes to you and tells you something that you don’t want to hear but is true, no matter who it is that told you, or how it was delivered, there is always going to be a moment of pain. Nobody likes correction.  It’s not fun!    It’s not comfortable.  Let’s continue being honest here… if your reaction is to reject the truth then anger, frustration, feelings of judgment are going to fill your heart and mind.  If your reaction is to hear the truth and repent, as David did, then healing will begin.

Ok, to sum up:  Everyone needs to find someone in their life who will speak the truth in love.  Truth is truth.  Sometimes it hurts.  Delivering the truth isn’t meant to harm someone.  Doing so in love doesn’t mean watering truth down; rather speaking truth with sincere intentions to bring about restoration.

So what do you think?

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Marty, why UdoA180?

I thought I’d try my hand at blogging!  I had to pick a name.  It was easy for me… “UdoA180” has been my screenname and on my license plates for years!

I get a lot of people who ask me what it means.  Well, that was my whole reason for coming up with it back in high school–so people would ask.  Then I get the opportunity to break it down “You Do A 180”.  When I was little, going to Junior Church on Sunday mornings, our youth minister was defining “repentance” for us.  He said it’s like when you’re on a 1-way street and you realize you are going the wrong way, you do a 180.  You turn around and go the right way!

So now you know what my blog name means.  Now you know what my license plate means.  And, of course, now you know what my screenname means if you ever catch me in chat!

What am I going to be blogging about?  Hmm… that’s a good question.  I have a lot of thoughts inside this head of mine.  Then there are a lot of things in my heart as well.  So I’ll be sharing some of each.  Sometimes it may be humorous.  Other times it may be quite deep.  All of it will be a part of me… so I guess it will all be part of my testimony!

Have a great day and God bless!
Love muchly,
Marty

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