"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25
Midnight Blue (1963): Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell featuring Stanley Turrentine on tenor saxophone, Major Holley on double bass, Bill English on drums and Ray Barretto on conga. Midnight Blue is one of Burrell’s best-known works for Blue Note Records. In 2005, NPR included the album in its "Basic Jazz Library", describing it as "one of the great jazzy blues records".

He said, She said...

"You are not designed for everyone to like you - Wise Man Phil

FRAGILE: Sting, Yo Yo Ma, Dominic Miller & Chris Botti

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Moving Forward

Evolving: to come forth gradually into being; develop; undergo evolution: The whole idea evolved from a casual remark.

sbb . 16.8.14
 Moving Forward . Israel Hougton

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Here Comes The Son

Hope: a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

This past Sunday I had the great pleasure to view "The Beatles Salute" on CBS.

It was nice to just simply listen to music. There were no over the top performances that were more about the artist than the actual music, no half dressed women or obscene gestures, just great music that has proven to be timeless. I'm not a prude, but I do appreciate a show centered around music the entire family can come together and watch.

The same can not be said about the Grammys. 

John Mayer & Keith Urban 

It was amazing to watch truly talented artists pay homage to great music. All of the artists showed why they're stars in their own right.

Even Kati Perry was good, and she looked amazing.

Katy Perry

In the end, a whole new generation was introduced to something that was special and culturally relevant 50 years ago. It was a culture movement that will never be repeated or successfully imitated.

The Ed Sullivan Show: Feb. 9, 1964

The show was so good not even Yoko Ono could ruin it, though she unconsciously tried.

One of the most significant highlights for me personally was when Pharrell and Brad Paisley began to sing "Here Comes The Sun".

Pharrell Williams & Brad Paisley

The song was featured on the "Abby Road" album In 1969.

George Harrison wrote the song, which would later be considered one his best contributions to the Beatles, in the spring of 1969 while enduring a personal and professional crisis.

It was during this time Harrison was arrested for marijuana possession, his tonsils were removed, and he had quit the band temporarily. I think its safe to say things weren’t going great for Ole George, but in the midst of the storm Harrison produced something wonderful and lasting.

The message here is that in the midst of tremendous peril we all have the ability to create something worthy of applause, something great.

                              They Did....                         

The good news is that God has been doing the same for countless souls over the past 2000 years.

The Beatles song, a personal favorite of mine and among many Beatles fans across the globe, is a reminder to me that the “Son” will always appear in the midst of a storm and create something wonderful. Webster defines storm as a disturbance of the normal condition of the atmosphere, manifesting itself by winds of unusual force or direction, often accompanied by rain, snow, hail, thunder, and lightning, or flying sand or dust.

As we've seen this winter storms can be brutal and long lasting.

The truth of the matter is that all of us will experience storms during our lifetime. That is a fact. Everyone is either in a storm, just got out of one, or one is on the horizon. The good news is we all have the opportunity and ability to produce something beautiful in the midst of our personal storm, crisis.

As a believer, I acknowledge that for "the" beauty to be fully realized one must put their trust and faith in God and let him navigate the stormy waters, guiding us to a land that will produce spiritual growth and increased faith.

The challenge is to trust him; not ourselves.

When dealing with the storms of life one must understand that we cannot control the length or the severity of the storm, nor can we control the time or rational behind it. Psalm 55:22 whispers these words of wisdom; “Give your burdens to the Lord and He will take care of you." Psalm 62:8 shares these words with the reader: “O my people; trust in Him at all times. Pour out your heart to Him. For God is our refuge.” Those are great words of reassurance and promise that reminds us that we don’t have to go it alone in our time of need.

Paul & Ringo

In closing, “Here Comes the Sun” ends with these words:

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right

Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right
It’s all right

As a believer don’t forget, the “Son” will always come. In our time of need Jesus Christ will shine brightly for all of us who choose to see his blinding power manifested in our trial; our storm.

Remember, everything will be alright. Everything will “always” be alright.

God has a plan for us that includes dark clouds and storms, but it also includes blue skies and the sun. That is a truth that will shine brightly today, tomorrow, and forever.

Can you see him? Here He comes.

Here comes the Son.

sbb 11.2.14

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Gift: Revisiting Christmas

Perspective: a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.

The Gift 
(written on 11.1.13)
James 4:3 (Read the Chapter)

"When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."

 Central Thought:

The source of all good things is God. {And}, in knowing this fact we come to realize that God loves us too much to give us everything.

Christmas is approaching. Quickly. In 55 days families from all around the world will be huddled around their Christmas tree quietly wondering and not so secretly hoping that they will be receiving the "perfect gift." Most of those who will be waiting for that perfect gift will be children. The other part of the equation will be those "not so little ones" who are hoping that they're giving that "perfect" gift. The holidays can create high levels of anxiety. They can cause consternation and high levels of stress for many people because they fight unrealistic expectations and limited funds, like people who fight crowds on "Black Friday." It can often be a season of torture for many.  

So what constitutes a good gift? 

Before we can answer that question I think it's important to understand its true definition. Webster defines the word "gift" in these terms: "Something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion, or make a gesture of assistance; present." 

When it comes down to it a gift is a sign of favor. {And} who doesn't like favor? 

Unfortunately many people often open the sad gift of disappointment every day because their wants exceed reality and they hold within them improper motives. My mother's words from my childhood days still ring profoundly in my head; "You don't get everything you want." 

That is a true statement for good reason. 

In the end, any good parent realizes that it's not a good thing to give their child everything they want. We know this because our heavenly father operates in the same manner with his earthly children. James 4:3 shares with the reader that "when you ask, you don't receive, because you ask with the wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." God does this to protect us from ourselves and our evil nature.

Left to many of our own vices and desires we often fail to display virtuous living that is pleasing to God. 

As Christmas approaches be mindful of the perfect gift that God gives to each and everyone of us if we are willing to accept it - the gift of eternal life through salvation. Take notice of God's perfect gift which is threefold. Direction. Correction. Protection.

God blesses all those who are willing to follow Him with proper direction that He has gifted us through His Word and the Holy Spirit. He provides correction like any good parent would do to teach us and to train us up in the way we should go.

Lastly, his correction is about protection. 

God protects us from ourselves and the devil's schemes that are intended solely to devastate and destroy our lives. His protection is wrapped up in His mercy, grace, forgiveness, and unconditional love. 

This holiday season as we are shopping for that perfect gift for our loved ones remember that the best gift we can give is one of appropriate and wise direction, fair and reasonable correction shared in love, and behaviors that protect the innocence and fragility of the many vital relationships we are involved in. Remembering all the while that the only source for which all is good is God, and the most precious and perfect gift that has been offered to all of us is His son, Jesus Christ.

sbb 1.11.13

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Advantage disadvantage

Faith: confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability. belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact. belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.


Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. - Hebrews 11:1

There are numerous threads of commonality that weave themselves throughout our life. We all have dreams and aspirations, flaws and shortcomings. Some are more noticeable than others. But the threads that so tightly knit us together as one fabric are the ones stitched around pain and crisis.

It's an undeniable fact that every individual on earth falls into one of three categories: currently in a crisis, just got out of a crisis, or a crisis is on the horizon.

The trauma can be in form of a health, family or professional emergency. Disaster and dilemma can also be success-related. Difficulties in life are universal and inevitable. To live with constant anxiety and stress while enduring these "storms of life" can be one of the most harmful and destructive choices we can decide upon.

Dr. Hans Selye defines stress as "the rate of wear and tear within the body."

Our body's initial reaction and response to stress is to create an alarm reaction. One of the most powerful and empowering books I've read concerning stress was, “In the Realm of the Hungry Ghost”, by Dr. Gabor Mate. 

Dr. Mate’s book on addiction, and it’s devastating consequences, pointed out three universal truths and reasons for stress in our lives: uncertainty, lack of information, and a loss of control. To deal appropriately with the troubles of life there needs to be an understanding of these three truths, and a developed skill set representing logical and reasonable behavior and thinking that will thwart the devastating ramification of stress in our lives.

Knowledge is the knowing, but wisdom is the doing.

It takes more than just dealing with and acknowledging stress, there has to be a deeper understanding of why the stress is present in the first place, and what we can do to eliminate it’s destructive force.

Last night I finished Malcolm Gladwell's book entitled: "David and Goliath - underdogs, misfits, and the art of battling giants", and what I learned is in numerous instances, where a severe predicament is present in our life, we often feel more like how David was perceived, with the results we experience being on the level of Goliath.

We think of our self as the "disadvantaged David", being chased down by the overwhelming giant, Goliath, forgetting that David was the actual winner, not loser.

I also was learned how little I knew about that epic battle which took place over some 3000 years ago.

What we think of as an advantage many times is not one, and the disadvantages we entertain can often be an advantage.

Twelve presidents — George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson, Rutherford Hayes, James Garfield, Grover Cleveland, Herbert Hoover, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama — lost their fathers while they were young. Major disadvantage. Marvin Eisenstadt, a psychologist, researched a number of major encyclopedias, looking for people whose biographies "merited more than one column" — and of 573 people, Gladwell reports, "a quarter had lost at least one parent before the age of 10. By age 15, 34.5 percent had had at least one parent die, and by the age of 20, 45 percent. Even for the years before the 20th century, when life expectancy due to illness and accidents and warfare was much lower than it is today, those are astonishing numbers."

Losing your father at a young age is a major disadvantage… right? Losing any parent at a young age is a tremendous blow, but it doesn't have to be a handicap for the rest of your life.

We all have the potential to triumph over any and every dilemma, or tragic event that may occur in our life. 

On the flip side we can look at first generation mega wealthy families and their perceived advantage, and see all the problems the parents encounter raising their children. The intention of a first generation wealthy parent to give their children everything and expose them to every positive opportunity is a good and noble thing… right? Who doesn't want to give their child everything? So again I ask you, "That is a good thing right?" The overwhelming response would be, "no." Unfortunately, most of the time it is a prescription for failure.

If we were playing tennis it would be "Advantage - disadvantage."

What we think as an advantage is not necessarily so, and what we perceive as a disadvantage can often be the advantage we need in order to thrive.

In crisis there is tremendous difficulty, but there are times the difficulty can be desirable leading to a positive outcome. In the "Theory of Desirable Difficulty” Gladwell tells the story of David Boies, who credits his dyslexia for forcing him to compensate by developing skills of observation and memory.

David Boies is an American lawyer and chairman of the law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner. He has been involved in various high-profile cases in the United States.

Gladwell asks, “You wouldn’t wish dyslexia on your child. Or would you?”

No one wants their child diagnosed with a learning disability, but the truth of the matter is many CEO's were diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age. Many, if not all, credit their success to the simple fact that their handicap aided them in handling failure at a very young age, and they credited their dyslexia with cultivating an environment which aided them into becoming great at something.

That "something" often is the precipitous factor that propels a person to great heights in their career, and life, all the while reminding us that it rains a lot during a storm, but the sun will/can eventually come out, shinning its rays upon the face of a once tormented soul.

There were other topics Gladwell covered such as the "limits of power" and the "principle of legitimacy" when it comes to authority that were illuminating and interesting.

Before I dare say anymore, I will let you read the book.

It's worthy of your time.

Tanzio da Varallo, David and Goliath, c. 1625

In the end, everything starts with the mind, a thought. Proverbs 23:7 states; "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he." We are what we think, what we do. James Allen wrote in “As a Man Thinketh” that “action is the blossom of thought, and joy and suffering are its fruits; thus do we garner in the sweet and bitter harvest of our own plantings. We are what we think we are. If our mind has evil thoughts, we will suffer pain; if our thoughts are pure, joy will follow.”

Ultimately, what we say yes or no to will find its genesis in our mind, with our thinking and ruminations. What we decide is worthy of stress and anxiety will deliver just that, anxiety and stress.

God's word is replete with passages that admonish us to "cast our burdens" upon Him, and "to pray about everything, and worry about nothing." But countless tales will tell us what we think of our crisis is what that crisis will become.

A catastrophe doesn't have to be fatal or final.

Even in the crisis that is called death we can still reach tremendous heights. Just ask our twelve Presidents that lost a father at a young age.

The storms of life are difficult terrain to navigate, but in more instances than we could ever imagine we can be the David, perceived disadvantage and all.

Sometimes a "sling shot" of a chance is all we need, especially when the sling shot is God, and the ammunition is a little pebble of faith. 

sbb 11.1.14


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Seeing the Stars

Hope: to cherish a desire with anticipation: hopes for a promotion.

“Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey towards it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us. ...Hope sweetens the memory of experiences well loved. It tempers our troubles to our growth and our strength. It befriends us in the dark hours, excites us in bright ones. It lends promise to the future and purpose to the past. It turns discouragement to determination. -Samuel Smiles

My initial thought was to share with everyone my "new" relationship.

I've been thinking about this new love for some time, knowing this was the perfect time to pursue where my heart has been leading me for years.

These were the words I posted on Facebook about my new love:

"I love my new favorite football team, Chicago Bears. I'm so glad I broke up with the Browns years ago. The courting process was flattering, even romantic at times. The Harbaugh brothers were impressive and thoughtful, Miami was beautiful, New England was very smart, and Seattle was exciting, but the city of Chicago was too much. The uniforms, the stadium, the history, and the fans won me over. Even with a loss to the great Green Bay Packers today it still wasn't as bad as watching the worthless Browns. I even ask Direct-TV to block all Browns games from being televised in our home. Serious. The Browns organization is embarrassing. I love the Bears. Congrats GB... You guys -Green Bay- have a lot of class. 1st class organization."

I could go deeper into how my heart is a flutter with my new fall/winter partner, but decorum and discretion are in order. Giddy 48 year old men gushing about how hot their "new" girlfriend is on Facebook can be as embarrassing as your kids cursing in front of a pastor - in your presence -, or an adult farting during church service prayer.

Trust me, it's not pretty.

"Older" dating couples wearing matching sweaters or coats is a bit disconcerting too.

I'm not speaking from experience mind you. I've just seen -heard- all three occur and like I said, it wasn't pretty.

Anyway, I digress.

What I really want to share is the Facebook post that caught my eye while I was on my iPhone the day after Christmas. The post was from Jeremy Gilchrist.

It was as honest as it was touching.

"Sleeping on a floor when the sheriff came to evict me, was probably the saddest day of my life.

It was 3 days before Christmas in 08.

The weeks following that day were "survival mode" at its finest. I had to constantly remind myself about the tough times growing up, when we had nothing and still made it through life. I would visualize Christmas mornings growing up when my mother would play holiday songs and make the best of the day, even when we had just one gift each under the tree. I would remember my father taking pictures and my mom singing to the songs, that was enough for us.

Fast forward to Christmas day 2013.

I awoke today and immediately went to the iPod and started playing Christmas songs, waiting patiently for my girls to wake up. Iwalani, my 19 week daughter woke first. I let her mother sleep in. I took Iwalani to the living room and we danced together to the beat of the Christmas songs. We laughed, we smiled and we had our moment. After 10 minutes of doing this I began to break down, sobbing like a little boy. Tears streamed down my face, for I realized that I was repeating the yearly habit that my parents instilled in me some 28 years ago.

I share this with you all for it was the grandest Christmas moment I've ever had, in my entire life.

Christmas and any other day you choose, is not about money. Whether it be 1984 when I was 5 years old, 2008 when I was forced to the street or today when financially I am OK, I realized it was all about love. The power of love is something miraculous, when you choose to allow it to perform its magic. To the wealthy, frustrated, poor or lost, stay close to those who you share true love with. Do not wait for Christmas to shift your heart, do this on a daily basis.

Make it a goal daily to stay true to who you are and what you stand for.

I wish everyone reading this the best end to a year that you have ever had. I pray that you take the time to plan your 2014 and set some goals, so that come day one, you are ready to take on the world. You are ready to let your love shine, your actions speak for you and the results keep you motivated.

I want to personally thank everyone in my life that has been a part of shaping me into who I am today. The people who supported me, loved me and never gave up on me. To my family, closest friends, Sarah Humphreys and Iwalani, I love you all so so much. With love, Jeremy Gilchrist."

After I read the post, I contacted Jeremy to seek his permission to use his words in my TBTT piece. He said; "of course you can use my story. Plz tag me in it!"

Jeremy's words were powerful, causing me to reflect upon my past.They made me realize the best time to see the stars is when it's completely black.

Not so long ago I was preparing to be the father to two young boys, born eight months apart, with two different mothers. I was living in Christopher Wren apartments in Gahanna getting eviction notices on a monthly basis.

When my older kids came to see me it took all of my strength to just hold it together. Most nights I quietly cried until I fell asleep. "How did I get here?" was the silent question that swam around in my mind.

"How did I get here?"

A short time before moving to Gahanna I lived on West Case Rd in a condo. The condo wasn't much to look at from the outside, and even less to look at from the inside. It was home, but I often ask myself, "How did I get here?"

What I would later learn is the penalties of your choices as a man are costly.

Each year I go to Florida to visit my best friend Joe Ceravolo (Alec Ceravolo Matt Ceravolo). During those tough times in the past Joe would tell me to get down to South Florida to play some golf, have dinner(s), and to relax.

"Don't worry about anything, just get down here", he would say. There were times he even bought my airplane ticket to ensure my arrival to sunny South Florida. Joe was/is a true friend.

But it was one time coming back from Florida that I remember like none other. As I walked up to my condo I noticed how terrible the grounds looked. The landscaping in Florida was/is well manicured, and to see reality set in so quickly upon arriving back home was a little more then I could bare.

Hope can come in many different shapes and sizes, you just have to be open to looking for it.

To this day I'm beyond driven when it comes to our landscaping because of that very moment when I told myself if things ever changed in my life and the responsibility of lawn-care and landscaping were left up to me I would always take care of my yard. Flowers in the yard and on the porch, boxwoods, perfect edging, and a fresh cut lawn at least twice a week.

Now you know why I spend so much time in my yard. It's more than a yard to me, it's hope realized.

But, it was this one time when my mom shared with me her feeling so poorly over the mismanagement of the property from a visual stand point, feelings she would later share with my Dad, that stuck with me. My Dad only said these words in response to my mother's sad sentiments; "Shawn is where he is because he put himself there. When Shawn wants more then he will have more."

Again, the penalties of your choices as a man are costly.

True words spoken, tougher words to hear, especially from your father.

I'm not big on motivation because motivation is so short lived. A coach can give a rousing speech in the locker room before a contest only for the words of sincerity and intensity to be forgotten by the players 5 minutes into the game.

What I "do" take notice of is inspiration.

Inspiration needs hope and gives hope. Hope might not be a plan, but it has merit. Hope is indispensable, paramount. Hope is fearless and sustaining.

Jeremy's words reminded me why hope is so important, so powerful, inspiring. His reflections reminded me we all have a story, but not everyone invites hope in to be a part of that story.

Hope is the key.

Emily Dickinson puts it this way in her short poem; "Hope is the Thing with feathers":

"Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me."

Hope might not be a plan, but it has merit.

Jeremiah 29: 11-14 says these words: "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."

Hope is indispensable, paramount. Hope is fearless and sustaining.

Thanks Jeremy for inspiring me with your story. Thank you for having the personal courage to share your heart, and thank you for reminding me nothing is as vital as never losing hope.

I hope everyone has a great 2014, remembering the importance of never giving up, never surrendering hope.

sbb 4.1.14


Monday, December 23, 2013

This Christmas...

Blessed: blissfully happy or contented.

December 22, 2013
...around 2:30pm

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Choice: the right, power, or opportunity to choose; option: The child had no choice about going to school.

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is 
unhappy in its own way.” 
-Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Last week I posted the question that was shared with me from a good friend. She happened to be single lady who wondered aloud why so many couples seem to choose their children as a priority over their marriage? She also ask the question; “should couples stay married for the sake of the kids or divorce and try to find happiness?"

The question was posed with no personal advice needed, just the desire to share a reflection and observation.

When she ask me to comment on the sensitive topic with my Truth Be Told Tuesday forum I was flattered and honored, but I was also concerned if I were the right person to post my opinions on Facebook. I recognized my multiple marriages and even more children might make me some kind of authority on the topic, but I can assure you it does not. In the end, my main goal, as always, is to instigate conversation not a religious like conversion to my beliefs and opinions. I don’t have all the answers, and I’m quite sure I don’t know all the correct questions to ask either.

It's about conversation, not conversion.

After I requested the aid of the readers in sharing their thoughts, opinions and comments poured in, running the gamut of motherly advice to contemplating the economics of such a decision.

My favorite, if not one of the best responses, borrowed from the airline industry, are the words stewardess share countless times a day with their passengers: “If you are traveling with small children, or are seated next to someone who needs assistance, place the mask on yourself first, then offer assistance...."


 “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.” 
-George Burns

It goes without saying our beliefs on any topic are shaped by how we were raised, our vast amount of past experiences, and by our philosophical and/or religious beliefs. In the end, much could be written in relation to this subject, but brevity is rewarded in forums such as this.

In response to this personal request I believe simply sharing a few Bible verses to support my belief and shouting, “ God, Wife, and Children” to be an unattractive approach in speaking to this dilemma. The Bible carries tremendous weight with me and many other Christians, but not everyone subscribes to the belief that God’s word is a referendum on how one should live his or her life.

I respect that.

What I would like to do is provide one example, share from personal experience, and pass on one piece of scripture from the Bible that provides more than a glimpse into how relationships are to be lived out here on earth, whether married or not.

Allow me to share.

Last Thursday, while I was riding my driveway of snow, I began to listen to a Ravi Zachariah podcast entitled The Christian Privilege. As it were, on this evening, when the sky was a canvas painted black, with only little white dots representing the stars and moon, I listened to the podcast for the hundredth time.

It was a message that detailed the horrific account of a family torn apart by the decision of a husband/father who decided to abandon his family to be with another women. This decision was done only after he did the unthinkable to his wife.

It was on this night that the powerful message spoke to me in away it never had before.

The story finds it starting point with Ravi being in Auckland, New Zealand, and after finishing his talk a young woman, with eyes full of tears, approached him and shared her haunting account with him. She was an Indian girl that was in her twenties. She told Dr. Zachariah that it’s often too difficult to share her story because of becoming overcome with emotion, finding it almost impossible to talk. But this day would be the day she would give a detailed history of her horrific experience because she was seeking help, and believed Dr. Zachariah to be the one who would fully understand her pain and dilemma.

The young girl went on to unravel the story that centered upon her mother’s almost heaven like beauty and her father’s inflamed jealousy that left him almost paralyzed, and rendered him helpless more times than not. She went on to explain that her mother had married a man that was extremely jealous of her and couldn’t accept the fact that other men to great notice of her mother’s beauty. He was crazy with paranoid thoughts, continually accusing her of countless acts of unfaithfulness and cheating.

And though her mother would often say, ‘I love you and I’m married to you,’ it was never enough to ease the demons that resided within her father.

So as awful fate would have it, her father came home from work one day with his briefcase in hand, and he asked his wife to come in the bedroom to talk with him in private. Unbeknownst to her mother, her father opened his briefcase and removed a bottle full of acid and threw it on her face. She screamed and screamed as she endured the pain of her skin peeling off her face like rubber on a tire when it skids on the hot summer pavement.

Her face was completely burned and would be horribly scared for life.

This once beautiful face, one that was looked at with awe and praise, is now looked at with faces that cringe and eyes that squint. The young lady went on to say that after the horrid incident her father took off and left her mother with the momentous task of raising seven children alone.

She didn’t talk or see her father for years, but one day her mother received a phone call, it was her dad. Her father explained to her mother where he was now living, and that he was dying of cancer. He told her he had no one in his life to care for him, and ask if she would take him back?

She said yes. 

Families can recover and make it. It takes work, but it can be done.

And as the young girl cried uncontrollably, she told Ravi that she was angry with her mother and couldn’t seem to relinquish the grip of anger that she so desperately wanted to hold on to. She held on to Ravi like the father she never had, one she desperately always wanted, and simply asked him to pray for her. And as Ravi held her like a young child in his arms, as she heaved and struggled to gain any composure, he said these wonderfully wise words to her:

“Salmbia, let your mother do what God is telling her to do. It may be a love that the world will never understand, but it is a love that would normally supernaturally engendered, if that mother of yours is as Godly as you says she is let her be the Godly women that God wants her to be. Don’t stand in her way.”

To have the type of response the young girl‘s mother displayed takes a standard of belief that is greater than any parental upbringing or guidance. It would take more than believing in the words of a Greek poet or Roman philosopher. No quote, earthly friendship or government law could galvanize one into making such a selfless decision. That brave choice is made only when one has a standard that is all knowing, powerfully perfect, and has the ability to transform the mind, heart and soul.

That standard is Jesus Christ. Abiding by this type of standard can only be accomplished by the “renewing in the spirit of the mind.” – (Eph. 4:23). 

 Rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life!  
~Albert Einstein

On that cold night, where the awesome beauty of nature provided a type of peace and serenity that is only reserved for those who are open to receiving it, I realized the power of transformation. No different than the majesty that is recognizable when the summer turns to fall, or when winter becomes spring, I intimately acknowledged “spiritual metamorphosis” to be an extraordinary thing to observe.

Whether the revolutionary renewal of the heart takes place within us or the reconstruction of the spirit takes shape in another person’s life, transformation, true transformation, is a beautiful thing to observe and experience.

When a women that has her face burned by acid is willing to lend a helping hand to the culprit of her pain speaks volumes of a heart that has been transformed by the love of Jesus Christ. Her behavior/decision is not a natural one, but a supernatural one that can only be gained by accepting the power of God’s love in your life, and even then a decision like hers is no guarantee.

Rev. Billy Graham's daughter, Ruth Graham, has been divorced twice. Like I said, there are no guarantees.

To achieve a life that merits masterpiece status one has to have a standard that is higher than a desire, want, or motivation. Time after time those short-lived inclinations and motivations are destined to become no more than ashes from the burning fire of realism, temptation, and the uncomfortable heat of hate, revenge and bitterness. The transformation that God provides has the ability to change unforgiveness to forgiveness, hatred to love.

It’s unexplainable, but it is true. It’s real.

Should we stay or should we go?

I can’t tell an individual what or not what to do when it comes to their marriage, but what I do know is that “leaving” is often not the problem, but merely the consequence for giving up long before. What I do know from personal experience is that the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence, but the fact still remains you have to cut it. The fact that the divorce rate for remarried people with children is over 70% supports the “grass isn’t always greener” theory.

Without children the divorce rate is over 60%.

“In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds 
for divorce. The trick 
is to find and continue to find grounds for marriage.”
Robert Anderson

Christian and non-Christian alike suffer the same fate of divorce when they consciously begin to distance themselves emotionally, spiritually and physically from their spouse. Do you want to limit the potential of ending a marriage? If the answer is yes, then take every precaution when you first notice the other person is letting go of you, or vise verse, by prioritizing other things over you.

That includes children.

No one should stay married for the sake of the kids, no more than you should love your spouse because it would please your in-laws. When a parent seemingly chooses to be more involved in his or her child’s life than their spouse’s life is not because the love is greater for the child. Many times it has more to do with one, or both spouses, avoiding the hard work and heavy lifting that is involved in loving another person deeply when one is hurting and they're participants in an unfulfilled relationship.

It has more to with avoidance than it does with priority.

Putting our kids first will at times let the parent off the hook emotionally because of the positive emotions we’re awarded with for our good intentions. No one can fault anyone for loving this or her child right?

Remember, Our children only get one childhood. Only one.

In the end, staying for the kids or leaving and breaking up the family are poorly limited options. It doesn't have to read like a scoreboard with only a home and visiting team. The option of seeking help and counsel that could aid in saving a marriage must be an option – obviously there are massive limitations in the success of a marriage if one partner chooses to leave.

Personally, I failed at creating more options that could’ve saved my first marriage, setting me up for nothing short of failure in my second marriage, a marriage that was created 6 months after my 1st divorce. That marriage was doomed before it even got off the ground. Many times leaving one relationship in search of another often entails carry with us unresolved issues like carry-on luggage on airplane. I was the passenger that was trying to shove everything in the overhead compartment of life, trying desperately to close the door with no success. I was exhausted, emotionally/financially broken, and spiritually lost. All I did was take those issues from one airport gate to another when I left my first wife and married my second.

Finally, God’s word in Luke tells us to love our enemy. Sadly, there are times that our spouse can become the enemy. It also tells us to refrain from judging. Unfortunately, many times judging a spouse occurs more often than loving a spouse.

Luke 6:27-42 says these things.

Love for Enemies...

27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others, as you would have them do to you.
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Judging Others...

37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” 39 He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.
41 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

I don’t have all the answers when it comes to marriage but I do believe we can find guidance in those scriptures when it comes to our relationships and marriages.

I really should read that piece of scripture every day.

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
-Matthew 22:37-39 
It goes without saying, my opinion finds it source and inspiration in the gospel, but in no way is my opinion the gospel. My belief is fueled by reflection, an introspective perspective, and personal experiences that have a firm foundation built upon the concrete slabs of failure, not the limestone of success.

With that, I believe the airline industry gets it right. We need to help ourselves before we can help someone else. That includes our family.

We have to love our self with a healthy dose of humility and courage- seeing our self as God see’s us- and begin to put the oxygen mask that is God’s love and salvation over our nose and mouth, and take all of His glory in. It is when we begin to inhale God’s spirit we are able to give more freely, forgive more often, and love more openly.

And aren’t those the qualities that every marriage - and family - needs to survive? 

sbb  19.12.13