7/7/14

I'm Broken!

“I’m Broken.”

After sobbing for 20 minutes, these were the only words that I could say to express the way I was feeling.  Broken.  I knew it was a lie, yet it was how I was feeling at the moment.  My wife, so wonderful through my long struggle with a head injury, continued to speak affirming words and prayed with me before we ended our phone call.

The day started off innocent enough, just going through the normal motions and doing my job.  What precipitated this emotional upheaval was looking back.  It has been 2 years since my 6th and most significant concussion.  After 18 months I finally felt like I was getting back to my “normal” self.  I was finally implementing all the tools I had been learning at the Brain Injury Association and had found a medicine that relieved some of my lingering post-concussion symptoms.  I had a good month and then, bang, concussion # 7 arrived.

Discouraged, emotional, tired, frustrated and sad would be just a few of the words I would use to describe the way I felt afterwards.  I thought I was finally hitting a stride, only to stumble and falter as I continued the race of recovery.  I made the mistake in the midst of this emotional upheaval of looking back at things I had written and done last year.  Where I thought I was doing well, I realize now I was not nearly as “recovered” as I had assumed.  I more “maintained” than anything else at work.  I made mistakes, simple mistakes that I should have caught, and began beating myself up.

As I returned to work, the Lord reminded me of a prayer I prayed a few years back.  I had been studying the passage of Scripture where Jacob wrestles with the Lord. (Gen. 32:22-32) He came away with a blessing and a limp.  I prayed that the Lord would take me deeper, whatever the cost and make me more dependent on Him.  Shortly after that, I acquired concussion 6 and then 7.  I have spent the last 2 years learning to cope and accept what has happened to me.  I saw the blessings in my situation.  Sarah and I had many a conversation about how God has used these concussions to change me for the better in my walk with Him and my relationships with others.  I have become more contemplative, reflective and still, listening in ways I never have before.  I have found a heart of compassion for those suffering with head injuries and mental health issues.

In all of that I have been blessed….but until recently, I ignored the limp.  I knew it was there but I never really “grieved” over what happened.  I have suffered a loss.  I have a “limp” called an acquired brain injury.  It hit me recently that I will, barring a healing from God, never be the same again.  Yet in that grief, I also see how I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:13)  Despite the loss, I am still a new creation in Christ Jesus. (2 Cor. 5:17) Yes I have lost much, but I have gained so much more.  I can count all things as loss (Phil. 3:8) and look to Jesus Christ and Him crucified! (1 Cor. 2:2) I am honestly not ready to “rejoice” in my situation but I am ready to acknowledge God is still using, leading and guiding me.  Darkness may last for a night but there truly is joy in the morning.  (Psalm 30:5)

Night is ending and I see the cracks of dawn.

For now, I can rejoice in that.

7/4/14

I Am a Citizen


I am both a US Citizen and a Permanent Resident of Canada.

I love my country of birth and my country of current residence.  My family celebrates both the US and Canadian holidays.  Though I am proud to be an American, because my wife and kids were born in Canada, I will likely one day seek dual citizenship.

We have just celebrated Canada Day and the 4th of July and as these patriotic holidays pass,  I am reminded that this is my temporary home.  I am not talking about where my earthly citizenship resides but where my eternal citizenship is registered.

“For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,”   (Philippians 3:18-20)

I am a citizen of 2 worlds.  The one I live on in the here and now and the one to come.  Jesus spoke of this second world leading up to His crucifixion.

John 18:36, “Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.  If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders.  But now my kingdom is from another place.”

I am proud to be an American but I am prouder still that my name is written in the Book of Life.  I am filled with joy to live in Canada but will have joy never-ending the day I enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.  One day this life will pass and my eternal life will begin.   On that day, I will gladly exchange my citizenship on earth for the one that will not end.  I look forward to spending eternity with Jesus Christ.

Everything else pales in comparison.

6/19/14

The Fast Facts Bible


Zondervan has released the Fast Facts Bible.  It could also be called the Trivia Bible because in a nutshell that is what it is.

With over 1,000 facts about God's Word trivia nuts can find lots of tidbits of information.  Sadly not all of it is useful.  I am not sure what to do with some of the info.  Each book introduction has a By the Number fact which includes the number of chapters, verses and words.  Interesting but not really useful.

I was expecting a lot more from the trivia sections.  Most of the stuff included is just pointing you to specific passages.  I thought the facts would be more background stuff which would be far more helpful for Bible Study. 

So each book begins with a fast fact page and ends with a trivia quiz.  The quizzes are designed to see how well you read each book and the answers are at the bottom of the quiz page (albeit upside down to prevent peeking!)  The quizzes are really helpful to see if you are taking in what you read.

The rest of the Bible is pretty standard.  Basic NIV text, no concordance or other features. 

Overall I can see this as a great Bible for a teen/young adult/new Christian but not a great Bible for in depth study.

I received a copy of this Bible for review via bookbloggers.com

6/18/14

D.L. Moody - A Life

I love a good biography.

I particularly enjoy biographies of men and women of God from days gone by.  A quick scan of my bookshelf reveals biographies of William Booth, Corrie Ten Boom, A.W. Tozer, George Muller and Hudson Taylor to name a few. 

So I was excited when I saw a new biography about D.L. Moody from Moody Press.  Author Kevin Belmonte has written a pretty good book with, D.L. Moody - A Life.

This book is fairly comprehensive and detailed but Belmonte's writing style makes the book an easy read.  The depth of material is there but I was able to go through the book fairly quickly.   I learned a lot and found some quotes by Moody that had me sitting back and reflecting on my own life.

I can't ask for much more than that in a biography. 

Moody only lived 62 years but his life is still having an impact today. The schools, church and publishing company he founded are all still in existence and have changed lives for generations.

Moody was a humble man and not afraid to admit his faults and yet his passion for God broke across denominational boundaries.  Belmonte does a good job of showing the many facets of D.L. Moody's life and I believe he has written a book that will become the definitive biography of D.L. Moody.  Do yourself a favor and get a copy of this book.

6/9/14

What I Learned...


A friend has passed away.

He will be missed.

He taught me so much over the years.

Things like compassion, love, humor and respect.

All attributes he displayed to me over the last 8 years.

Some looked at him and saw his "issues", I looked at him and saw Jesus Christ.

I will always recall the hours we spent talking about the Lord while sitting on the couch.

I will never forget the day he made the choice to follow Jesus.

Today he is in glory, walking and talking with the Lord.

I look forward to the day I see him there.

His race was long and hard, but I know Jesus was smiling when he walked into the Kingdom!

-----------------

"The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."  Zephaniah 3:17

No one is beyond redemption. 

Everyone needs compassion.

We are called to love one another.  Let us share the truth of Jesus Christ in love and compassion.  By doing so we can see God change lives, including our own!

5/19/14

5 Questions With Edgar Harrell

Welcome to 5 Questions With.....

Today's guest is Edgar Harrell.

I just recently reviewed his book, Out of the Depths and Mr. Harrell has graciously agreed to discuss the book and his experiences here.

A brief bio from his website, www.indysurvivor,com:

Edgar Harrell owned and operated the Pella Window Company, Inc., Rock Island, Illinois for thirty-five years until his retirement in 1985. During the years 1970 to 1985, he served on the board of trustees of the Moody Bible Institute, in Chicago, Illinois, and has been a popular Bible teacher and lay minister throughout his adult life. He has enjoyed many years of fishing and big game hunting in the Rocky Mountains from Alaska to New Mexico, and currently resides in Clarksville, Tennessee with his wife Ola, together enjoying their two children, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. As a survivor of the USS Indianapolis (www.indysurvivor.com), Mr. Harrell speaks extensively around the United States about his experience at sea.

OK, let's get started:

1. During the tail end of WW2 your ship, the USS Indianapolis, was sunk by Japanese torpedoes. You and your shipmates were in the water for 5 days. Was there ever a moment where you felt like giving up?

I must say there were moments when I believed life on this earth might be over, especially when I saw the carnage of the many bloated bodies, unrecognizable, floating in our very midst, even slamming into us as they tumbled off a 10 foot wave of water, leaving some of their putrid flesh on us. Likewise, seeing a shipmate so exhausted that they were willing to just give up, or hearing that blood curdling scream, to see that kapok go under and see it surface in a school of sharks was indeed a test of faith. 

From the 80 or so in our group just after leaving the ship, and only 17 the third day at noon, was a test of our endurance. I often say "it is much easier to die than to fight to live". To see a body that had been disemboweled, or the bottom torso gone, left you with despair. Some of our shipmates were drinking salt water and became delirious and thus your enemy, even thinking that you had a canteen of water in your kapok jacket and thus might stab you  to get that sacred water. However, there was too many things happening daily that told me that somehow or someway I would survive. I had that assurance given to me when I looked into the oil covered water below when I was praying just before I left the ship. I had poured my heart out to the Lord, whom I knew, telling Him, "I don't want to die, I want to live. I have a Dad and Mom back home, two sisters and six younger brothers. I also have a brunette that promised to wait for me." (Yes and she waited and has been my companion for these past 67 years.) "I want to live and have a family, I want to live for you." As I prayed, the Lord responded by calling to mind the Scripture that says I will never leave you or forsake you or John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." Those words flashed into my memory as if the Lord was personally speaking to me. That was the hope that ultimately sustained me those days. That too became my prayer of praise and thanksgiving, yes His Divine Providence.

2. Have you ever felt bitter about what happened?

With Commander Hishimoto? No.  With the Japanese people? Absolutely not. I would liked to have met Commander Hishimoto and thanked him that he did not surface and strafe us. I have met his grand-daughter and great-grand-daughter and embraced them with tears and delight of restitution on each of our parts.

3. Your Captain was eventually exonerated of culpability in the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. How important was that for you and your shipmates?

Three hundred seventeen survivors fought for 50 years with the Navy, Pentagon & Washington to have our good Captain exonerated. This took the survivors organization going before the Armed Service Committee in Washington, DC and getting a joint resolution from the House and Senate, which President Clinton signed, getting Captain McVay exonerated. We could wish that our present President would go the next step and have the Court Martial EXPUNGED from the record. That is the need today for the miscarriage of justice and the court martial of Capt. Charles B. McVay III in 1945.

We have been promised by the Sec. of the Navy to have another surface USS Indianapolis in the not to distant future.

4. Throughout your book, Out of the Depths, you talked about the Lord protecting you, providing for you, etc. Did your understanding of God and His grace change in any way through the experience?


Yes, yes in many ways. It has become one of praise and thanksgiving. It has driven me closer and closer to the Lord. There is never a day that passes but what I remember those days and remember His assurance, plus His mercy and grace. Each of those 4 1/2 days God revealed Himself to my most present needs.

5. What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I could wish that readers would read the details of our daily experiences, plus realize the cost paid by my shipmates, which was the largest disaster at sea in the history of the US Navy. Respectt our service men who have and our presently sacrificing for our freedom.

 
Thank You Mr. Harrell!

God Bless & Semper Fi

Edgar Harrell USMC
Survivor USS Indianapolis

If you get the chance, check out Edgar's website here 

Notes on the above interview: 

A kapok is a type of flotation device. 
Commander Hishimoto was the Captain of the Japanese submarine I-58 that sunk the USS Indianapolis. 

5/18/14

Out Of The Depths

I love history.

In particular, I love to read about the generation that served during World War 2.  They have often been referred to as the "Greatest Generation."

Out of the Depths is the story of the USS Indianapolis.  The men of the USS Indianapolis fought valiantly during the war.  Then the unthinkable happened.  On July 30, 1945, she was hit by two Japanese torpedoes.  The Portland class heavy cruiser sunk to a watery grave in twelve minutes. Only about 900 of the 1,196 men aboard entered the water. A series of Naval mistakes meant that no one knew the USS Indianapolis had been sunk. For five horrifying days the men drifted at the mercy of the seas. They were exposed to shark attacks, hypothermia, severe dehydration and salt-water hallucinations. Finally, the 317 men who had survived this terror were accidentally spotted and rescued.

Written by Edgar Harrell, one of those survivors, Out of the Depths takes you on board the USS Indianapolis as it fulfills its missions during WW2.  Edgar's first person account is coupled with the memories of other survivors and paints a vivid and horrifying picture of the struggle to survive against overwhelming odds.

Despite those odds, Edgar also shows how the hand of God was with them during these terrifying days.  This is a story of sacrifice, courage and faith that grips you as you read through the accounts of what happened during those 5 terrifying days.  It is a miracle that anyone survived this ordeal and throughout Edgar's story, you see how God provided for he and his shipmates as they drifted on the waters day after day.

This book is a must read for any history buff and for anyone who yearns to see God moving in peoples lives today.  Edgar Harrell shares the story of the disaster but also of the recovery and the impact it has had on his shipmates and their families today.

Do yourself a favor and pick up this book today.

I received a free copy of this book for review by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.