Friday, June 30, 2006

How often we wish for another chance
to make a fresh beginning---
A chance to blot out our mistakes
and change failure into winning---
And it does not take a new year
to make a brand-new start---
It only takes the deep desire
to try with all our heart
To live a little better
and to always be forgiving
And to add a little sunshine
to the world in which we're living.
So never give up in despair
and think that you are through,
For there's always a tomorrow
and a chance to start anew.

Helen Steiner Rice

Thursday, June 29, 2006

A True NASCAR fan!

A Teen Challenge Graduate

I had the pleasure of attending a graduation at Teen Challenge last night in downtown Phoenix at the Inner City Church. Teen Challenge is an organization the helps people conquer their drug and alcohol addictions in a Christ centered program. He has been in the program for about 14 months now and graduated from the ranch. He now only has 2 months left at the induction center mentoring the new folks entering the program. He looked great and I am proud of him. He caught at a young age what took me years to get through. I pray that the Lord will use him and that he will serve wherever the Lord directs him.

I have been attending the Vineyard now for about a year and a half after having attended an Assembly of God church for 10 years. Teen Challenge is a program that is run by the Assemblies of God and is an excellent program. However, I have to admit that after sitting through the service last night it brought back some bad memories for me of the AOG. They use a fire and brimstone approach and the service went on and on and on. After the graduation ceremony that included 4 graduates who were introduced and spoke after the first speaker said a few words about the program, there was a pretty awesome praise and worship session. I thought it was over at this point after the praise and worship, but then another guy got up and preached a sermon with an altar call after that. It just reminded me of the many Sunday nights at my old church that you were expected to stay for the entire thing no matter how long it went. It always started at 6 and sometimes would not let out until 10 pm. Anyhow, I had a great time and am proud of Andrew.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I have been reading this book by Dave Burchett titled When Bad Christians Happen to Good People. Here is an excerpt from it that I'll share.

Your mind is made up for you, and a set of pre-
packaged values and opinions are supplied [to] you,
like a uniform and field pack in basic training.
(Robert M. Price, from Fundamentalism to
Like overprotective parents, we Christians find it easy to jump into the lives of those new to the faith and dictate their lives, just as Robert describes. We must pray for wisdom and restraint in order to allow God to work in a person's life. It's too easy to focus on our agenda (quit smoking, stop cursing, stop everything) and squelch the Spirit of God, who might want to work on a far more important issue.
Besides, Moses wandered in the desert for forty years, yet we want to see maturity in new believers within weeks. I have learned that I must step back, gently advise, support, and allow new Christians to grow at their own pace. God knows how to grow His sheep. No amount of flailing them with our Sheperd's staff will expedite the process. I am sorry for all believers who were not given the opportunity to grow in faith at their own pace. Faith is real. Faith has worked for me. But my faith did not mature overnight.

The Youth at VCCG RAWK!

I forgot to give kudos to all of the youth that served at Camp Barnabas. They served and loved these kids all week without complaint and did a fantastic job. I observed them all week and each of them worked and served in their assigned areas, whether it be a counselor or the younger ones that served cleaning the bathrooms and mess hall areas. They were awesome, each and everyone of them.

Monday, June 26, 2006

A review after a visit to Scum of the Earth Church

Scum of the Earth Church is located in Denver on Colfax Ave. For those that know anything about Denver, you know what Colfax Ave. is all about. The seedy part of town. Anyhow, I have a link to their site on my blog and check out what's going on there occasionally. This was a review written by Rodger P. Sellers of Portico Church. He talks about what he observed there while visiting the church on June 20th. Real authentic people being brutally honest with each other. I always here Ben saying that's what he wants us to be. Be able to share our struggles with each other openly and honestly. I hope you read this Ben. I just stumbled across this while perusing their site. They love the people in their community. Here is a link to the review. I hope you enjoy it. If I am ever in Denver again, I will definitely visit this church.

a review of scum of the earth church by Rodger P. Sellers

Last post about Camp Barnabas

I must say that going on this trip blessed me so much. It also stretched me much farther than I thought I could be stretched. It was emotionally and physically draining, yet at the same time very rewarding. It is so awesome that this camp is available to kids like this who otherwise would not be able to enjoy a camp like normal kids do. The Teas, who own and run the camp are true servants of Christ and they truly love and put others above themselves. It also may be the only time some of these kids hear the Gospel message and see Christ's love in action. I would highly recommend this mission trip to anyone if you want to be stretched beyond your comfort zone. I am seriously considering doing this again next year. Here is a link to the camp for those interested in reading about what Camp Barnabas is all about.
camp barnabas

Our most difficult camper

Let me introduce you to TJ. TJ was 15 years old, about 5'9" tall and 180 lbs. I'm not 100% clear on what his diagnosis is but he was probably autistic, with some bi-polar or schizophrenic tendencies. The first thing I noticed about TJ was that he wore gloves. After I got to know him a little bit better, I understood why. He loves to break stuff and hit stuff and his hands were really torn up.

The first day he got into two physical fights with Danny from St. Louis that were quickly broken up. Him and Danny just did not like each other at all.

TJ was just always angry. He would go around telling everyone "I'm going to f'ing kill you!" On Tuesday he went on a rampage throwing rocks at us. The biggest ones were probably softball sized. We would set up a perimeter around him as directed by the staff and try to direct him into an isolated area when he would start acting out in this way. We could not physically restrain him ourselves unless there was a direct threat to other campers. We had arts and crafts on this morning and he snapped at the end of the class. We were told to leave immediately and some of the camp staff stayed in the room while he rearranged it. Maybe rearrange is the wrong word here. He destroyed it. Knocking stuff off of the shelves, tipping over tables, throwing chairs. He was physically restrained and injured one of the staff in the process by a punch to the nose. He was taken up to the office and calmed down by then.

That evening he went into another rampage throwing rocks where he busted out a window in the staff bathrooms.

The next day, Wednesday, he started again and busted out all of the windows in the staff bathroom then headed down to the trail to the mess hall. He had to be physically restrained here by 4 people and head butted one of the staff members in the cheek bone area. A nurse then came down and gave him a sedative by injection and he was taken up to the nurses station and put in a room. After he woke up in less than an hour he tried to rearrange that room and several people held him down and prayed over him. He just spewed curses at us and kept saying "STOP!" He was given another sedative by injection. After the first injection the camp had called his dad who was on the way to camp to pick him up. He woke up again about an hour after the second injection. The nurses were amazed. They said they had given him the maximum dose they were allowed to give him and could not believe that he was awake again.

The dad finally came to pick TJ up and off they went. Later we learned that his medication had been changed just before he came to camp which was probably not a good idea, but I'm not a doctor, nor do I know the circumstances on why they changed his meds.

One thing that stood out to me was that after each and every violent episode that TJ had, he would break down and cry and go around apologizing to everyone for his outburst.

Father, I ask that you would give TJ peace right now. I pray that whatever is tormenting this young boy would leave him alone. Please pray for TJ. I have a gut feeling that there is much more going on here than we know.

Danny the hoodlum

Everybody meet Danny. He is from St. Louis and is 14 years old. He also has a sister attending this camp. This was probably the saddest case. They were both crack babies and their grandmother is raising them all by herself. Danny loved to act tough. He cursed a lot and was really mean to the counselors and other campers. But deep down inside, Danny is hurting and you could tell especially at bedtime. He would cry a lot at night. He has no male role model in his life at all. He would make fun of the other campers that had to wear diapers, yet he would mess himself at night too. Danny loved to be the rebel and would do just the opposite of what he was asked to do. But we loved him, and prayed with him, and would try to give him advice. Danny had to leave on Tuesday but not due to his behaviour. His little sister was asked to leave the camp because she was pulling chunks of her own hair out and was biting other campers and counselors. His grandmother, whom he called mom, decided to take them both home at the same time instead of having to come back again on Friday to get Danny. They lived about 4 hours away on the other side of Missouri. If I had had the time and the means, I would have let him stay and driven him home myself. Say a special prayer for Danny and his little sister. They need the Lord in their life and a male role model.

The two most difficult campers

I'm gonna head to the gym now as I am still on vacation until July 5th. Later on today or tomorrow I will post about our two most difficult campers and the experiences we had with them. Then I will do a final post on my experience at Camp Barnabas.

Meet James

James was the lowest functioning camper we had and also the oldest. He was a 17 year old autistic child and very low functioning. He had to wear adult diapers 24/7 and could not talk. He was fascinated by texture and touch. He would always want to touch your hair or your back. it was a gentle touch though. He carried around these small rubber snakes and lizards and would play with them all the time. He would hold them in his hands palms up and shake them around. Then he would drop them to the ground and touch them and repeat the whole process again. He did this all week. He would also put his chin on his right hand with his pointing finger on his temple almost like a "thinking" gesture. His diaper had to be changed at least 4 times a day and every single morning. His counselor was a senior in high school from Arkansas that was an all-state center on his high school football team. This was a great kid and I would have to give him the honor of counselor of the week in out cabin. His care and love of James was so fun to watch. He served James all week without complaint and was a true servant.

Meet Weston

Weston was our highest functioning camper and was 16 years old. He was a farm boy from Arkansas and he loved talking about his tractor-pulling competitions. He also loved the girls. He was ADHD but otherwise a normal kid. He would even help us out alot with some of the other campers. He would do this funny dance imitating Beavis and Butthead even to the point where he would pull his shirt up over his head exposing only his face just like Beavis. we had to take his cologne away from him because the first day he used about 3/4 of the bottle on his entire body including his hair. Talk about a nice smelling guy. But it was pretty strong and you could smell him coming from 20 feet away. It did permeate the cabin and was pretty strong but this may have been a blessing in disguise covering up other less wanted odors. Weston's parents just dropped him off and never even made it down to the cabin to meet the counselors. I think his homelife was less than perfect. I pray that the Lord will bless him and protect him and put a male role model and mentor into his life to help him along lifes journey. As we left the camp, he was the only camper in our cabin whose parents hadn't yet arrived to pick him up. He was not left alone though as the staff counselors were still there.

Meet Tyler

Tyler was a 15 year old with Downs Syndrome. He wore glasses and was a pretty good sized kid. He was fully potty trained and was one of our more entertaining campers. He reminded me of an adult I knew that had Downs Syndrome and attended a church my family attended when I was a boy. Tyler loved the Lord with all of his heart. He was loud when he talked. He always volunteered to pray and read the bible and he loved to preach. He also loved to sing. During open mike at mealtimes he sang "We are the Champions" and "I can't help falling in Love with You". He also loved WWE wrestling and had his own championship belt to prove it. We had some great times wrestling in the cabin but when it was time to stop, he did not want to. He was also a pretty strong kid. He would get mad if he did or said something that hurt or offended someone and would run away. You would have to run after him and tell him that Jesus would forgive him. he would tell you that he loves Jesus and would ask Jesus to forgive him. Then he would go around to everyone he offended to apologize and give them a great big Tyler hug. This kid was amazing and was an encouragement to our entire cabin. May the Lord use you Tyler as I see Him working in your life right now.

Meet Ian

Ian was 13 years old and high functioning. If you did not know he was disabled you may think he was just a chronic whiner. He was a smart kid, but had an obsessive compulsive disorder and was also autistic but high functioning. He would just ask questions constantly. His counselor became frustrated very early. He also was obsessed with ants. He would stop anywhere he saw one and you couldn't get him away from that point for at least 15 minutes. He would watch them, touch them, pick them up, ask questions about them, like them, then hate them, want to take care of them, then stomp on them and kill them. We had many ant funerals, literally. When it came to bedtime, he was one of the hardest to put to sleep.

The hardest part about shower time was getting him in the shower. It sometimes would take an entire hour to get through the whole process. he would ask all kinds of questions. If his soap was dirty, you had to pick off the dirty parts before he would use it. He also did not like the drain directly under the shower. he thought spiders would come out of it.

Ian would frustrate me a lot and test my patience with all of his questions and whining. It wore on me as the week went on. But in the end it was all worth it because he is a child of God and I got to serve him in a camp that accepted him. ian would not survive in a normal kids camp environment. He would have been bullied and labeled an outcast from the get go.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

My attempt at quitting Tobacco

A lot of people are probably wondering how my attempt at quitting tobacco went. Well, not so well. I was pretty much having nicotine fits by Monday or Tuesday and had the added bonus of being really stressed out with working with these mentally disabled boys. I saw a convenience store about 5 miles from the camp on the way in. Each day we had an hour of free time so I hopped into the van and off I went. I have cut down a lot on my usage, but I still need to quit entirely. I think I'm going to try the nicotine gum again. That was the way I had quit for a period of time the last time. Keep praying for me. It is tough man! But I do know that it isn't too tough for God.

I remember talking to someone who mentioned the fact that it may be kind of tough to quit while going to a camp and working with disabled kids. Had I not had access to the van I probably would have made it. But I'm not going to try and make excuses. It was my choice to get in the van and drive to that store. My bad!

The campers arrive and I meet Daniel

We were awakened at around 630 am Sunday morning and I showered and then got dressed and headed to the Bless All Mess Hall to meet my B-8 cabin crew. We ate breakfast then headed out to the Basketball and tennis courts to have an outdoor praise and worship service with a short message from the Word. We then got together by assigned cabins and prayed for and with each other and for our campers. Then the campers came in to a huge fanfare greeting, kind of like when a football team takes the field. The announcer would announce the campers name and they would walk through a tunnel of people lined up on both sides with their counselor at the end to greet them. From there the counselor would be introduced to the camper and take him to the cabin where they would meet the parents or guardians. It was very interesting to see the campers arriving. Some were very excited, some were shy and quiet, some were scared to death. But I think that I can say honestly that a lot of us that were serving at this camp that had not done this before were very scared and nervous also.

The only counselor in my cabin from our church was Kyle, who will be a Senior in High School. I greeted his camper with him and we walked him down the trail towards cabin B-8. His name was Daniel and he had Downs Syndrome and did not talk at all. He would just grunt and use his hands a lot but did understand most of what we would say. I think he was 13 years old. After the first couple of days we were able to understand his personality and could understand most of the time what he was trying to communicate to us. It got easier as the week went on. Daniel was a very friendly guy and was happy ALL the time and really enjoyed himself. He loved going to the pool. He was very leary of going down the water slides but finally did on about the next to last day, then we couldn't keep him off of the slides. He did not wear diapers like some of the kids and could tell you when he had to go to the bathroom. Well by about the 3rd day, he had still not had a bowel movement so the nurse had given him some Milk of Magnesia. Still nothing so she doubled the dose the next day at breakfast. Nothing by lunch so she then gave him a laxative in pill form. Still nothing so he got prune juice at dinnertime. The next day, STILL NOTHING! I think you know where this is going now (YUCK!). So he got the "silver bullet". That's camp speak for a rectal suppository. And can you believe still nothing? Still nothing! So before lunch he recieved another "silver bullet". Kyle then sent someone out from the restroom to get me after he had taken Daniel there. Let's just say that it was not pretty. He had completely messed himself and used his socks to try and clean it up and rubbed it all over his stomach and chest. Kyle and I almost threw up and we were both gagging. But we finally got him to the showers to clean him up and dress him.

I probably enjoyed Daniel the most because he was such a loving kid and was just ALWAYS happy ALL the time. This kid was very special. How many of us walk around all day long grinning from ear to ear on a daily basis and we are not disabled? I was glad to be able to serve Daniel. May the Lord bless and protect you Daniel. You are a very special person and a gift from God.

Camp Barnabas stretches me far

Wow! What an emotionally and physically draining week yet so very rewarding all at the same time. We arrived at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport at 630 am on Friday the 16th. There were 17 of us going on the mission trip. A few stragglers came at the last minute and barely made the flight and one of them never got their luggage in Tulsa Oklahoma, because as late as they were, the luggage never made it onto the plane. So we had to wait 3 hours in Tulsa for the next flight and luckily the luggage came on that flight.

From there we rented 3 minivans, loaded them up and began our 2 hour drive to Camp Barnabas just on the other side of the Oklahoma border in Missouri. 2 of the minivans, including the one I was driving had DVD players in them so the youth really enjoyed that. We arrived at Camp Barnabas and received our room and cabin assignments. To my surprise, I was assgned to be a cabin dad instead of a camp counselor. Counselors are each assigned their own camper and the cabin dads give them relief and help out where needed. There are also 2 staff counselors in each cabin. I was assigned to cabin B-8 that had 6 campers in it. 2 of our campers were very low functioning autistic and did not talk at all. A couple had downs syndrome, another was very OCD, 2 were what I would describe as very disturbed and got violent at times and they did not like each other or any of us and that made things very interesting in the cabin. Another one was very functional and you really wouldn't b able to tell he was disabled unless you sat down and had a long conversation with him. He was just learning disabled i think and was highly ADHD.

One thing I can tell you is that I did not have to stay in the cabin that was un-airconditioned. And it was very muggy while we were there. I slept in a seperate building with 2 other cabin dads and it had air conditioning in it. But I was only in there about 6 hours at night. I was usually in bed between 1130 pm and midnight and then up at 6 each day to get ready to help get all of the campers up at 730. We got settled in Friday night and then had training all day Saturday in 4 different sessions. What I heard at the training scared me to death and I had wondered what I had gotten myself into, and the campers had not even arrived yet. They would arrive the following day, Sunday morning the 18th.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Gone for a week

Well I am officially on vacation right now and don't go back to work until July 5th. Today was spent getting a haircut, doing laundry, and packing for my trip to Camp Barnabas. We are leaving tomorrow morning and flying into the Tulsa Airport and renting 3 vans from there. We will come back the evening of the 23rd. Patty and I are going to Wal Mart early this evening and picking up some last minute items I need for camp, grabbing a bite to eat, then I'm turning in bright and early tonight so I'll be well rested for this upcoming week.

I will be going with a group from our church and we will be serving autistic children between the ages of 7 and 17. I am so looking forward to this and pray that the Lord will bless my camper and allow me to be a blessing to him also. Pray for our entire group for safe travel, health, and a challenging yet rewarding experience. That we will be able to leave our comfort zones and be a witness and example of Christ's love for us. Also pray for my tobacco habit. Hopefully, tonight will be my last use of it. God can make me comfortable I am sure. He took drugs and alcohol away for good, He can take this too. I just have to do my part and be willing to leave it in His hands.

See you all in a week.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Do you know what "pharming" means or what "pharm parties" are? You can probably guess just by the spelling. Check out this link.

pharm parties

Sunday, June 11, 2006

A Good Old Fashioned Hockey Brawl

I found this link on one of my favorite hockey websites. I do believe this is the famous Montreal-Quebec series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 1984. Enjoy!

Hockey Brawl

A 12 Step Program

The 12 Steps of Immigration Anonymous

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Addiction is a Slow Suicide

I was watching a program on television recently about how movie stars fall into addiction. One of the saddest cases is the actor Robert Downey Jr.

He has been in and out of rehab too many times to count and has also done some prison time. While he was being interviewed he said that his dad had given him marijuana at age 8.

He also described to a judge one time at a hearing what his addiction was like and although it is a pretty gruesome quote, I think it is quite accurate. He told a judge this:

"It's like I have a loaded gun in my mouth and I like the taste of metal."

Friday, June 09, 2006

Cry Out!

“We will stand before God one day and give an account for our lives. And this generation of Christians is responsible for this generation of non-Christians. God will ask, ‘Did you do all that you could? Did you match the intensity and fervor I brought to the cross?’ People must be brought to the point of understanding that it would be a tragedy if change didn’t happen. They must not simply embrace change, but cry out for it.”

White, James Emery Rethinking The Church Copyright (c) 2001 Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI p. 151

I have a daily flip calendar and thought of a friend of mine who is going through a tough time in his marriage right now. Fight for your marriage man! I'm praying for you.

Honor means saying to our loved ones that they have our commitment for life. And then we have to back up that statement with a supportive attitude that takes our words to their emotional bank and earns interest.
Gary Smalley and John Trent,
The Hidden Value of a Man

Did I do the right thing?

Well the inevitable happened tonight. It had weighed on my mind since the day Charles was taken away by the police and paramedics. I knew that the locks were being changed on his girlfriends house and had a feeling in my gut that he would end up on my doorstep when he got out from wherever it was they had taken him.

I got off work at 11 pm and came home. About midnight there was a knock on my door and the dogs went crazy. Obviously, being the hour it was, I had a feeling it was him. After I calmed the dogs down I looked through the peephole and sure enough, there he was. I did not answer the door and began to think what to do if he became violent. He had taken a swing at me during our previous visit and actually did not even want to see me. I made sure I had a phone in my hand in case he did get violent. By the time I opened the door he was not there anymore.

I grabbed my cellphone and got in my car. As soon as I left my neighboorhood I noticed 2 police cruisers with their lights flashing just about halfway between my house and his girlfriends house. I stopped and approached the 2 officers who had detained Charles. Charles was trying to get into his girlfriends house but the locks had been changed. I'm not sure how the cops were called or if they had just been watching the house. Or maybe a neighbor called them.

They let me talk to Charles. He was not drunk because he had just gotten out of the hospital. Anyhow, he asked me if he could stay at my place for the night. If I lived by myself and did not have my wife and daughter to protect, I would have allowed him to at least stay the night. But I had to say no. Lord forgive me if I did the wrong thing. If I did, I am so sorry. It is my opinion that he is hitting his rock bottom right now and I don;t want to enable him until he gets better.

He then asked me for money. I said I would buy him something to eat but he declined. I have a feeling he would have used it for booze. The police officers told him to stay away from his girlfriends house or they would arrest him and take him to the 4th ave jail. They instructed him to sleep in the park over by the community center then go to the courthouse in the morning to see if he can get his belongings out of her house.

I kind of know the game he is playing right now. He would always get his girlfriend to feel sorry for him and let him back in and then the cycle would just repeat itself.

So basically I just put a guy out on the street so he will know that maybe he has hit bottom and now he has to get serious about staying clean and sober. It bothers me that maybe I didn't do the kingdom thing. I tried doing that and loving him even when he was drunk.

Lord, please forgive me if I did the wrong thing in this situation. I really want Charles to get better and to find hope in You. It just doesn't seem like he is willing to do that. Give me restful sleep tonight as it is weighing on my mind at the moment. Protect Charles and heal his demons that are tormenting him. Free him from all of the addictions that he has and let him find Your Grace and Mercy that is there for him.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

"Jesus promises a life in which we increasingly have to stretch our hands and be lead into places where we would rather not go."

Henri Nouwen, In The Name of Jesus

Monday, June 05, 2006

Addiction's ugly face shows up again!

I haven't talked about my friend for awhile because he has been in an inpatient facility for the past month. I was at home today enjoying a day off when my phone rang. It was a gentleman who was at the house of my friend's girlfriend. He told me that the neighbor had called him saying that there was a noose hanging from the balcony and that my friend was very despondent and had written a suicide note.

I rushed over there wondering why he was at the house in the first place. His girlfriend is in Wisconsin for the summer and her neighbor was watching the house. My friend is not allowed to be at the house because of an order of protection.

After I arrived and saw the noose and the suicide note I tried to speak with my friend. He was very intoxicated, had taken a bunch of pills and became combative. I then told the neighbor to call 911 and the cops took it from there. He apparently had a key to the house but the locks are going to be changed tonight.

He had been sober for over a month and my guess is that he started using again right after he left the facility. I pray for him, it's all I can do at this point. His name is Charles. Please pray for him.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Hockey is Awesome. No, Really!

Great article if you like Hockey.

Hockey is Awesome

Pray for me

In the past and in the present I have spoken openly about my struggles with addiction and how I have overcome them. I still cling to one addiction that I would really like to get rid of, and that is my addiction to Copenhagen Long Cut Tobacco.

Not only is it an addiction, but it is a waste of money, is nasty in terms of having to spit all the time, and is certainly not a good example for anyone.

I have sat in on many an AA meeting and it is funny how they are all talking about alcoholism and addiction, yet in most of those meetings you can hardly see other people across the room because of all of the cigarette smoke. Is that an oxymoron or what? There are however many non-smoking meetings so anyone reading this that is struggling with alcoholism, please don't let that keep you from going to a meeting.

Anyhow, to get to my point, I have a wonderful opportunity to quit my nasty habit while I am on my mission trip to Camp Barnabas. I am not bringing any with me, as it is against the rules anyhow, but moreso because I want to quit. I have tried in the past to quit but have always ended up going back to it.

Please pray for me in my attempt. I will not have access to it for an entire week. How I will react physically and emotionally to the withdrawal will be a struggle, but I will be busy and active during this time period ministering to autistic kids so I have a feeling it will go smoothly.

Mandy, you have permission to keep me in check and accountable while I'm there. :-)