Blog

Returning Home

Returning Home

After a week in paradise it’s time to make the long flight home. After the time here on this beautiful and majestic island I find myself slightly torn. While there are aspects of my life back home I miss dearly, the time here in this beautiful place has rekindled a fire within me, and I know feel the urge to drastically change my circumstances to promote a better, more healthy lifestyle for myself. The point of the clinic was to open your eyes to new possibilities, teach yourself to interact with others again, and to push yourself to new boundaries. There are things I never thought I’d actually do, and even more then I ever thought I could do.

We can be amazed at the possibilities when we are actually pushed to go beyond our comfort zone, work as a team and find some kind of accepted level of accomplishment when it’s greater then the sum of what we gave ourselves credit for. The chance of a lifetime can sometimes only come up a small number of times, and it’s important for us to catch it before it’s gone.

When you’re riding into the waves it feels like you aren’t getting anywhere. You can paddle and paddle, but feeling the strain and the fatigue that comes with the effort put in, do you feel you have gained in equal amounts? When you go surfing you paddle to get yourself in a good position, the work you put in to get out to your spot may not give you instant gratification. Sometimes in surfing you wade in the water for a little while. But when the wave comes and you begin to paddle with the wave, and you can pop up, and ride it, standing up on the water, seeing, and feeling the fruits of the labor you’ve put in, that’s what surfing’s all about. Isn’t life the same way? We are a nation of microwave oven, fast food, right here right now, instant gratification, loving people. We no longer wait for the work to take hold, we expect it right here right now, and our way. You may not catch every single wave, and when you learn to read them, you learn that a particular wave may not be for you. That doesn’t mean you aren’t in the right place though. We need to learn to be patient with our efforts, and know that eventually the right way will come along, and God will give you the tools to be able to ride that wave when the time is right.

I think one of the biggest things we do is get ourselves into a comfortable routine, and we no longer stay in motion like we should. It’s easy to fall to the wayside of life and flounder, not really going anywhere. We can’t always maintain a particular pace, but we at least need to doing something. Even then sometimes being patient and scouting the waves, allowing ones self to watch for the right opportunity, that to can be an advantage, as long as we don’t stay in that holding pattern forever.

Trust in the Lord and you will be taken care of. Some waves are bigger, some are smaller, some will let you down, and some with thrash you all around, but no matter which wave you’re on, use your situation to glorify the Father, and never stop seeking your next wave.

Advertisements

Finding your center

Finding your center

Sitting on the side of the ledge of the island looking at the sunrise, the waves glistening from the sunlight making the water look like diamonds. The breeze tropical, the smell of the salt, the few clouds occasionally making the sun playing peek-a-boo with the ground below, the only thing you can think about is how wonderful life is. While this can sometimes be an allusion, the fact remains, you must learn to find your center in any situation you may find yourself.

As a Veteran I’ve had to place a lot of energy into keeping the anger built up to be subdued, and while for me particularly angry out bursts are rare for some, it’s an everyday occurrence. It’s so important to learn how to keep yourself centered and grounded. The Bible tells us to Love our neighbors as ourselves. If we are to love, that means we much learn to love others as we are taught what love is, and that’s patient, kind, not boastful, it doesn’t keep score, it doesn’t boast, and if we can find that love for one another, we would be much more in tuned, and we would find that we can live more harmoniously with those around us.

Through prayer and meditation, we can accomplish so much. We can truly allow our bodies to heal better, and we can find ourselves having a better grasp on mental health then before. While this isn’t something that comes easily for everyone, it is something that just like practicing at any sport it takes time, energy, focus, and practice. Allow yourself to reconnect with yourself, and be kind to yourself, and your surroundings. Peace can be found with a little love in your heart.

While this is my last post from the beautiful state of Hawaii, I find myself both sad and excited. I have felt a rejuvenation deep down into my soul and I know I needed this trip. The Aloha (Love-Kindness) I have felt since I’ve been here has been so warm, and kind, and even a little unexpected. This is an island where there’s a lot of beauty, and awe, and love. Nearly everyone I met greets with a hug, some even from strangers a kiss on the cheek, and the generosity of the people from this island has been beyond amazing. The lessons for surfing and all the surf boards were donated time even as last minute as it was, just because of what CORE stands fore. The amazing things these guys are doing, helps us find something we’ve been missing, and sometimes lost. The Canoe lessons were also free, both times. This has defiantly had an impact on me, and I hope to find a way to pay it forward. God has placed me in paradise at a time in my life when I couldn’t have needed this more.

Finding your center 2

I’m able to close my eyes and see Diamond Head in the distance, across the water the giant peek springs from the ocean towards the sky. Its beauty is unmatched. I can only hope to keep that place in mind, and allow myself to reach back to the moments I gazed upon the stunning sight, and I am able to remember the ocean sounds and breeze, and find a sense of peace. Finding ones center, and reminding myself, there is still beauty in this world, even when we can’t see it.

On the water

On the water

While plans may change sometimes suddenly, the key to happiness is not letting those things knock you off your keel. You need to remain solid in your footing and learn to brace with the waves. When life’s gets into rough seas you have to learn how to deal and adapt to the changing winds and learn to navigate without your ship sinking. While there will always be times when you may loose a lot, always hope and continue to sail the open seas.

Be sure to remain flexible, but firm. Stand your ground against the sin, and relax when you can about the small stuff that really doesn’t matter. While plan A, and plan B fell through today, plan C actually worked out pretty darn well. While we are on this great adventure I find myself being reconnected to people, and for me, since it’s been too long, feels great. I haven’t felt connected in a long time.

We must learn to take advantage of the ups when we are there, and much like surfing, use the wave to propel you but never stop paddling till you stand up to ride it. When we get the perfect ride we can’t miss those opportunities. Never give up hope your wave will arrive, you just have to be patient and it’ll come. Have faith in the Lord and when it’s your run, you’ll be given the perfect ride.

There’s some peace on the water that you don’t usually find in other places. The only other place I found peace was at the top of the mountain looking over the earth from such a high place. In the grand scheme of things you are so small in comparison, and instead of feeling small and insignificant, it made me feel so much more important because if the world is truly so big, and I am so small, how special am I to know that the King of all things took the time to create me, to look out for me, who hears my prayers, and provides in all aspect of my life. I am grateful to my King my Abba that I am special enough that I have been given beyond my wildest dreams opportunities like the one I find myself on this week. The ability to travel to the other side of the world, and enjoy such a beautiful and wonderful magical place has been more of a blessing then I ever deserved. I’ve had people tell me these last few days that I have deserved this trip, and I question what exactly I’ve done to deserve this kind of blessing. The truth is, it doesn’t matter, what does is that I have been given this blessing, and that I don’t waist it. I use it, and I move forward with this blessing and use it to the betterment of those who I connect with. Paying forward is such an important aspect of Christianity, and we often fall short in doing that. \

I think one of the biggest things we need to do in our lives is find our thing. Find the thing that can reconnect you. Find it, whether it be meditation, hiking, running, reading your bible, whatever it may be, find that thing, and do that thing often. There are plenty of things that are safe and within reason that will ultimately change your life. Keep yourself in tune with God, and keep yourself in tuned with the beauty of this planet and treasure it because it’s the only one we get. We have been given such a beautiful place to enjoy our lives, I think it’s about time we get back to actually enjoying it. Bad things happen to everyone, and we can either let them hold us back, or push through, and find our joy again. Find your joy in the gifts God has given you. Enjoy the beauty.

Hawaii

Hawaii

One of Gods greatest gifts to us, Hawaii is both tropical, and relaxing, yet connects you to nature and love like I’ve never seen. The warmth of the people here is beyond reproach, and although my experience may be a little skewed because of the nature of my visit here, Hawaii has shown me a new appreciation of Aloha. While I’ve been here I’ve noticed the pure beauty of the people on this island. They are both physically very attractive, but the spiritually very connected to both the energy of the island and the needs of the waters surrounding them. I’ve never seen a people so consumed with the preservation of a wonderful way of life. From the oceans to the trails, to the city itself I’ve seen so many concerned with cleaning up after themselves, and even down to the sunscreen people wear and being concerned with how the oils in the cream not only affect the body, but also the damage it’s doing to the natural reef surrounding the island.

God has certainly blessed me on this trip, and I could never have imagined how wonderful this experience would be. I’ve been able to see and do things I’ve never thought I could. I have surfed, I’ve 6 man canoed, I’ve sailed, I navigated hairpin turns in a sailboat, I’ve seen octopus, I’ve done yoga looking out into the Pacific, and we’ve got so much more planned before this trip is over.

While on this trip I’ve met vets from all walks of life. Sailors, surfers, artists, actors, and we all have one major thing in common, our ability to adapt through our pain, our suffering, our disabilities, and we are able to find the joy for life, and the love of helping and spreading the good will towards other vets, especially those who are less fortunate then us. We all want to raise awareness for the suffering of veterans, who come back and don’t know how to cope with their demons, and often find themselves in isolation mode pushing away everyone around them. Veterans who become displaces can only hope to survive for a short while when they feel they have no hope left. Events like this one that I’m on can and will open the eyes to the veterans who can reconnect with people, work as a team, and feel useful again. The idea of CORE and many of the other organizations out there is to show veterans that despite their disability, or even the severity of them, they can still thrive. While on this trip each of us has different disabilities ranging from leg amputees, moderate PTSD, hip injuries, near blindness, wounds from IED’s, even an RPG blast. Not one of these men I’ve met allow their injuries to prevent them from doing what they love. Each of us has found a way to do what we love doing within reason to be sure to take care of our bodies, but in a way that we don’t continue to exasperate our injuries.

In the few days I’ve been here in some ways I’m sore, but in others I’m more loose then I’ve been a year. My neck has felt the most relaxes then it’s been since the surgery. I’ve pushed myself, but I’ve learned new stretches, and along with the motion, and the Yoga, I feel more alive then I have in years. My connection with the water, the sea, the boats, and the social connection I’ve made here will be one experience that will last me a lifetime. I know now that God had planned to have me come here all along, and just that everything fell into place when it did, and I was able to come even with less then 48 hours notice, I know that miracles are real, and in this time on the majestic island, I have found a new sense of calm and peace I’ve not known in years, perhaps I dare say a lifetime. Even with feeling slightly under the weather with my sinuses, and my chronic hives, I’ve not let that slow me down, and I’ve been able to enjoy every second of it. I love the experience and the blessings that have been bestowed upon me. I can never repay the kindness that’s been places on me this trip, but I can share the story, and raise more awareness, and spread the blessings.

Overcome

Overcome

Yesterday I did something I never thought I’d be able to do, I went and successfully surfed at North Beach in Hawaii. I was instructed, and taught, but the more important thing was I didn’t let my physical challenge to get in the way. Now, within reason of course, this can be a good and bad thing, but the risks, and the soreness from after the fact aside, I was able to surf after having major back surgery. Now the day after, sure I’m sore, but my heart feels good. The things I saw while on the water blew my mind. I have heard of people being able to overcome amazing injuries, but what I saw, renewed my hope and my spirit that anything is possible.

One of the guys I’ve had the pleasure spending time with is an Iraq war amputee. He suffered a major injury from an IED blast and after struggling with that injury ended up having his leg cut off from slightly below the knee. He is one of the guys I was able to go surfing with, but it’s not just that, he bikes, he skateboards, and yea, he surfs too. How amazing is it, that a guy with only one leg, a piece of modern technology, and a will, a drive to accept his situation, and allow himself to overcome the challenges of this world to live out a dream! Watching him get up on the surfboard and ride some pretty good size waves and doing it with grace and finesse was truly an amazing sight to see.

When we have major things happen in our life, it’s so easy to say we’ll never be able to again, or it’s to hard, or it’s to difficult, or even, it’s impossible. Yesterday I saw what it means to throw the word impossible and destroy it. Every single one of the Veterans, every one of us was able to get up and ride the waves. All of us has our own distinct physical limitations. All of us have suffered major injuries, and while back surgery and amputation are the worst of them, we all hurt on a daily basis. Now I’m not saying be reckless, but know your limitation. It’s okay to push the boundaries a little. It’s okay to follow your dreams, and when it comes to the body, it’s okay to know in your heart you can push it, and not hurt yourself. None of us pushed too hard, just enough to feel that sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

In life we will always be hit with problems that seem so large we have no idea how to solve them. We see life and we feel it’s too big, and much like Luke Skywalker and the X-Wing in the swam at Deghoba, it’s just to big to lift. But Yoda a third of Luke’s size lifts it out of the water and moves it to a safe place. Why can’t we attack life’s problem in the same way? The lies the devil throw’s at us is one to keep up subdued. It’s meant to stop us from being able to thrive in this world. There are always options open to you, and sometimes it’s not pretty, but we always have a way through the darkness. When bad things happen we must find a way to change our circumstances and use that for good. It’s so often I hear the word can’t from everyone in this walk of life, and even myself have used the word can’t. Let me explain, first off, I have used the word can’t often after my back surgery. I have said I can’t go rock climbing anymore, and I can’t do push ups or sit ups anymore, but the truth is, even though I shouldn’t, that’s not to say I can’t. I have major back degeneration and I need to know the limits as to not hurt myself. That in no means, means I can’t do it. Should I surf every day when I know I have a bad neck? Nope, of course I shouldn’t do it every day, but taking opportunities, and living life is part of the wonders God created in this world. 4 months ago when I had surgery, I never would have imagined I would be on a beach, in Hawaii, and surfing, along with learning how to sail, learning how to canoe with a big group, bike riding around parts of the island, it’s truly an amazing feeling to know I have safely been able to push the bounds and continue on.

While there are physical issues that come from pushing those boundaries, that’s all part of the game. Cause and effect, which is why you need to know your limitations, but always push yourself. Don’t do it and over do it, but don’t stop living life either. God wants for us to enjoy the beauty and wonder of this world, and if you never dare to dream big, then you will be the one to hold yourself back. Doing the impossible is only impossible because of how we hold ourselves back. Don’t allow yourself to fall into depression from an injury, learn to see it for what it is, and learn how to use it. I most certainly won’t be doing things to hurt myself, but it’s in those times where I can go and find a new way. I can’t run anymore, but I can swim. I can’t lift weights anymore, but I can do yoga. I can’t to push ups anymore, but with the right bike I can ride. All of these things I can do of course I have to be careful of doing in moderation. It’s all about how much we do it, and to know when to stop so we don’t overdo it.

In the Army we are taught to read a situation, adapt and overcome. We never know why some things happen, but even in the worst of tragedies there is hope and beauty. We can’t loose sight of it and don’t allow whatever obstacles you face to be the end all for you. Never quit pushing, and never quit trying. There is always a path for you and though it may not be easy to find, God’s got something planned for you. This week I have seen the beauty of perseverance and great kindness from total strangers. Watching them overcome what they have been through and thrive. Many of us have very little money, struggles with work, struggles with relationships, but they are happy, and thriving. Don’t allow yourself to struggle forever. Find your way, and follow what God wants for you. As it’s said, I have plans for peace. God will allow us to go through trials, but ultimately, if it destroys you, it’s on you. Pick yourself back up, brush yourself off, wipe the tears from your face, and drive on.

Life’s Winding Road

Life’s Winding Road

While in life it’s interesting how we can see the curve in the river behind us, and then we can’t see beyond the curve in front of us. Have you ever seen the river from the sky? When you look down sometimes it looks like the river is going to wrap back to itself, but it doesn’t, and it slinks and slithers along the ground. Isn’t it how we look at life? The life I have lived has seemed to be like the winding river. It’s sometimes unforgiving, and it’s winding and twisting, and sometimes it seems completely random.

It’s easy to look at life and feel hopeless, and helpless. It’s in those moments when it looks like your river is now a waterfall to your own demise. For me, only once did I get to a point when I felt there was no hope, no way out, and it nearly destroyed me. The faith it takes to carry on and continue to move forward, allowing the river to naturally take its shape, it’s own course.

Much as when we are on the river we can’t truly wrap our heads around the intricacies, the beauty of the winds and curves, how are we so certain in our lives things will never get better. Our view is so small, and yet when something bad happens to us, the end of the world is upon us and we just can’t see the way out. We have to remember that the river continues to move, and we must move along with it.

Life isn’t an easy path, and it certainly isn’t one that will always go the way we have planned, but when we trust in the Lord to guide us, navigating the river will be easier. It’s about having the faith to trust in the twists and curves and remember that no mater what twists and turns exist, we will always make it off the river to the vast ocean, and in our case, that’s Heaven.

If we remember that the road isn’t the most important aspect, and we truly remember to focus on the things we have the ability to change, and let go of the stresses and worry for those things in which we have little to no control over, we would actually be much happier. Remember whatever we are going through today, God’s still in control, still on the throne, and we still know how the story ends. That should give us comfort and although it won’t always provide the comfort it ought to, I urge you to reach out to a fellow Christian and allow them to help you bare your cross.

Don’t short change yourself, and allow yourself to focus on the long game. Life’s about the long trek down the river, not the speed boat rout. Believe in yourself, and help others along their path. You will always find help when you need it. God will always give you what you need. Always.

Mile High

Mile High

Here I sit, the roar of the engine echos throughout the cabin. The ground is obscure by a thick layer of fluffy clouds. The sky is a pink with the morning sunrise. How beautiful is God’s creation from this perspective. How blessed I am to be given the chance to see this sunrise. The start of my journey, one I hope to be one of self exploration, a journey to find something within myself perhaps I’ve not lost, by merely misplaced.

It’s so easy to allow the world to distract from the beautiful chance we have to live. Living as it’s said is not for the weak. It seems almost unfair that we live our whole lives to work, to make money, to pay bills, and we can get stuck in a place within our lives where we are merely existing, not truly living. Someone asked me not to long ago where all I’ve been. As I began to think about it I had to check the map to actually make a solid list. Now as I’m flying over the beautiful blue planet of ours I find myself thinking how many places I’ve gone on the silver wings. Even if I were to die tomorrow, I’d would go with peace knowing I had seen much, experienced a great many wonders, and have loved deeply.

From a mile high or several, or somewhere in between, I am full of comfort and joy that God has blessed me. Even though I don’t make the best decisions always, I have always attempted to live a life that would bring a smile to the King.

Sometimes to gain a little perspective you just need to gain a little altitude. Let us all remember that in the weeks coming into the Holiday season. Don’t let the negativity the Devil loves to send as gifts to all, get you down. Rejoice that even in the darkness we’ve seen in our nation as of late, that Gods still in control, and even when it’s hard to see, have faith that it’ll all work out.

I know many of you are entering into, or have been on a season of hardship, but no matter the storm, it will pass. Storms always do and even if they leave a wake of distraction, know that you can rebuild. No it may not be easy, and yes there will be stumbles along the way, but you can build if your foundation is solid. Let your foundation be the God that makes all things new. Trust in the Lord and let God take your hand and guide you through whatever storm you face. If God doesn’t call the storm there’s a reason. If God keeps you in the storm, find the why. Learn, and grow, and be at peace, because no matter what, the sun will rise tomorrow.

As cloudy as it is on the ground beneath me, from where I sit the sun rises. The colors are bright, and here shows the truth, God’s Kingdom is beautiful and His Son, did rise and from a mile high, there is no doubt.