Thursday, 1 March 2012


I absolutely love the word "Revival".  The word "Revival", to me, has only good memories attached to it...

My Grandpa Barney suffered a massive heart attack... pronounced dead and un-hooked from all life support... a few hours later he was talking to my mom... "Revival".   He lived for seven days and was able to see all of his children and grand children... he wanted water from the farm because the hospital water tasted funny... he went to heaven peacefully... "Revival".

My Grandma Emma was injured during the birth of her first son... slipped into a coma for 3 days... left for dead by her doctor... she met with God during her 3 days of absence from this earth and vowed to speak of the goodness and salvation of God every time she had the opportunity if He would allow her to live and raise her child... "Revival"... When she woke up she was told she would be unable to have anymore children so, she began the task of raising my Uncle Vent... then Aunt Vernice, Uncle Alvin, Aunt Kate, Aunt Madge, Aunt Onieda, MY dad, and Aunt Flo... "Revival"... The local methodist church saw my Grandma Emma fulfill her vow... every time they opened the floor for testimony she would stand and speak of Gods goodness and salvation... her "Revival".

My friend Mitch Goskie died after his mini-bike crashed into a guideline from an electric pole... for 18 minutes his lay motionless and lifeless... his throat and voice box crushed by the impact.  He is a recording artist in Nashville... "Revival"

My friend "Old Tom" (Ollif)... we call him "Old Tom" because he is old... dies from a heart attack, left his body and watched the doctors try to save him... he enjoyed the feelings of heaven, the light of God and then returned to earth to tell his story... and it is a good one... "Revival"

My Dad recently came through a time of what appeared to be certain death... he is at home now, resting, getting stronger, talking on the phone... "Revival"

My brother Jack... WOW! ... enough said.

I love "Revival".  "Revival" has been very good for me.  "Revival" has never harmed me... "Revival" has blessed me with life... Life.

I am the Grandson of "Revival", The friend of "Revival", The son of "Revival", the brother of "Revival" ... "Revival" has touched my life in every way possible.  I believe in "Revival"... the ability that something dead or dying can be instantly and completely made alive... "Revival"... the thought that bones can rattle and flesh can grow... breath return... and a lifeless body stand... "Revival".

I am the evidence of "Revival".  My life stands as proof of "Revival"... The word "Revival" is made flesh when you look at me... when you see me in my physical body... you see "Revival".  The first time I can remember "Revival" was when I was five years old and prayed with my Dad to receive Jesus... I was revived throughout my teenage years at Bible camps and Bible studies... "when the light went on".  I was revived in 1983 when I decided to go to Emmaus Bible College and "get to know God better"... I was revived in 1987 when I made the choice to give my life in service to God and ministry... I was revived in 1990 at a Pastors Convention in Chicago... I was revived in 1993 at a youth convention in San Fransisco... in 1994 on a mission trip to Grenada, Westview Bible Church in Montreal, Airport Christian Fellowship in Toronto... I was revived from my first round of being sick with depression at the same time.  I was revived in 1996 at Peace Portal Alliance in White Rock B.C.... I was revived in 1997 at The Langley Vineyard in Langley BC ... etc. etc.  My latest "Revival" was in November of 2011, February of 2012, and last week... I was dead and now I am ALIVE! ... "Revival".

The reason I have received so much revival is simply due to the overwhelming amount of death I have experienced... For every death, I have received... "Revival".... Beauty from Ashes... Joy from Sorrow ...  Health from Sickness... Life from Death ... Real, Live, Active, Transforming... "Revival".

Many times after "Revival" I have stood there like a mummy... alive on the inside... but, still all wrapped up... Many times I have received "Revival" ... the bones rattle ... but, my fear, concerns or unbelief have choked it out...

But, thats okay...

I am allowed to have as much "Revival" as it takes to keep on living... and so are you.

We have the privilege of living with the potential of "Revival" all the time... at any time... anything and everything that is dead or dying in our life can instantly and completely become a space where "Revival" happens.

Remembering times of "Revival" brings me great happiness, hope, and peace... remembering "Revival" lets me see where I came from and helps me dream of where I am going... The word "Revival", to me, is 100% Good News...

I love "Revival".
I desire "Revival".
I enjoy "Revival".
I celebrate "Revival".
I welcome "Revival".

"Revival" is a great word... thankfully, it is more than just a good word... "Revival" is an action... To me, "Revival"is a reminder that a Being, a Higher Power, is kind enough and powerful enough to take action... to change death to life...   This Being, my Heavenly Father, is so full of life that His action... His simple glance in our direction causes bones to rattle... His action... His words cause flesh to grow... His action of an out stretched hand gives lifeless bodies the ability to stand.  He is so kind.  His actions of kindness makes us think at a higher level... We begin to think that because of His actions of love and kindness "the dead" (we) could rise up and live... Our thoughts, at this higher level, become faith and belief that He is powerful enough and kind enough to take action... His action, no matter how small...  can transform anything... absolutely anything ... no matter how hurt or sick, dead or dying... Remembering "Revival" is remembering that my Heavenly Father is so loving and so kind that He takes action... I love "Revival" of any kind... great or small... because when I see a "Revival"... I see my Heavenly Father in action... right before my eyes... on the earth... in you, in me, in "Us".

I love "Revival".
I want to see more "Revival".
I love seeing my Heavenly Father in action...
He is fun to watch...

For You.
For Me.
For "Us".


Its happening.

Friday, 27 January 2012


Seven days ago I came to Fairfield California to take the opportunity to be with a good friend of mine... I have many sanctified memories with my friend... his name is Tim.  Like so may other adventures in my life this one has revealed an unexpected arrival... a co-star... His name is "Ernie".

Ernie is 88 years old.  He does not say a lot.  He drives a Mini Coopper.  He wears an old felt hat and long sleeve shirts always.  He goes to Starbucks every morning and orders a Green Tea... He sits at the same table on the same chair... outside.  He goes to the library everyday and checks out a book.  He reads a book a day... if he likes the book he finishes it... If he does not like the book he throws it over by the door to be returned in the morning so, he won't forget.  After Starbucks and before the library he goes for a two mile walk... everyday.

Everyday for the past seven days Tim and I have gone to Starbucks with Ernie.  We sit at the same table in the same chairs.  We find out if the book was worth reading or not.  Words and laughter are in perfect balance... very few words and laughter for almost every word spoken.  When the drinks are nearly done Ernie will lean back in his chair and its time to go... He gets into his Mini and drives to the place were he walks... He sets the pace.  I follow.  We walk down Rockville Road... over a little bridge... down to the Country Club driveway... Ernie used to walk in the country club by the golf corse but, they put up a sign that reads members only... so, we stand there at the entry and look at that sign for a minute then we turn around and walk back down Rockville Road.  We then turn down Green Valley Road... by the twisted old trees along the highway... beside the stubby, pruned vines in the vineyards, palm trees and massive, sprawling homes... we stop at the pump station and lean on the fence... look at the vineyard and check the progress of the new house being built... then we turn around and head back.  At the end of Ernie's walk he gets into his Mini and drives to the library... I slide into the passenger seat of Tim's Jag and we drive back home.

Walking with Ernie is an adventure.  Some times he sways from side to side... Sometimes he stumbles... Sometimes he leans to far forward and has a hard time catching up to himself... Sometimes he has to lean on the fence or stop and rest... Sometimes he has to lean on his son to make it back to the car... (not because he is 88... oh no... its because "I put to much honey on my cereal this morning")  Sometimes he has to sit in the car for awhile before he drives to the library...

While I was on Ernie's walk this morning I wondered to myself... "What am I learning... What am I getting from my walks with Ernie"? .... Something inside of me said... What?  You want to take something away from this?  You honestly want to gain something from this?  I struggled to find the right answer in myself... I wanted to say yes... because I have been trained to suck the learning out of everything...  to take something for myself.  I wanted to say no... because to say yes made me feel selfish... because, I was being selfish... For a moment I kind of stumbled along in Ernie's dust.  It was then that I heard deep in my soul... "Sometimes its just about walking with somebody".

You see... I don't go on walks... I was on Ernie's walk.  I was joining him.  Why would I want to take anything away from that?  The walk is enough.  If Ernie decides to give me something while I am on his walk that would be very kind of him... but, my place is to just walk with him.  If Ernie decides to say something while I am on his walk my place is to listen... if he asks something... to answer.  To look for what I can take from his walk... that is not my place... Ernie gets to enjoy his walk... I get to enjoy being with Ernie on his walk... thats all I get... enjoyment.  He sets the pace... I walk along with him... beside him... behind him... just enjoying the walking.

Thank you for all the times I have been allowed to walk with you.  Forgive me for the times I have tried to gain something, tried to take something away from our walk together... tried to take anything... from our times together on your walk... for being selfish... for wanting what you have... Thank You!  All of you... my walk with you is enough.

Thanks Ernie... I really like being with you on your walk.


Friday, 13 January 2012

"The Prodigal Dad"

"I'm going Home"... echoed in the ears of a herd of pigs one day many years ago when a young man realized his condition and made the choice to go back to his roots... the place he had left by choice... Home.

"I'm going Home"... rings in my heart... sings ... repeats... vibrates my soul... quickens my spirit... moves my feet... "I'm going Home".

My journey home started in the end of August 2011 when I left Langley.  I knew I had to leave Langley... I knew I needed space and time... new scenery... old friends... family.  I called my sister and explained how I was feeling... she heard the urgency in my voice and moved with compassion as usual... I left for Michigan a few days later.  Roger and Karen opened their home to me for two months in Holland... they fed me, they listened to me, they comforted me... they loved me... they cared for me... they helped me... they made me feel at home.  Michigan was wonderful... it was not home.  Being with my sister and her family was really good for me ... we reconnected... It was hard for them.. stressful... I was not well, not better.  It was good for me.  It caused me want to be well... better... miss  home... made me want home... made me realize how important home is... A place to return to when life has wiped you out... Thanks Sis... Thank you Roger... you were wonderful to me... healing... eye opening...  "I'm going Home".

The next step in my journey home was moving to Bentonville, Arkansas and to the home of my best friend Scott Burford.  I arrived here the weekend before Halloween.  I took out my banjo on the first day and picked some bluegrass with my dear friend... it felt like home... it sounded like home.  My time in Arkansas has been an absolute blessing... an oasis... healing has happened here... wholeness has begun... I got better.  I have gotten well enough to get back on my knees.  They fed me... (man have they fed me)... they included me... (just the other day Matthew, while singing a song, called me Jesse Burford) ... they helped me... they listened to me... (over and over again)... I love being in their Home... I love it... they are family.  But, its not my Home.  Arkansas is not my home... felt like home... sounded like home.  Thank you Scott... Thank you Jenni... Thanks Boys... Thank you for being there for me... Thanks for everything... "I'm going Home".

I know how the prodigal son felt... when he woke up and realized his condition.  I know exactly how he felt... I understand what its like to be so down, so low... feel so helpless and lost... so ashamed.  It's easier to just live with the pigs in your life... sleep with them and eat their food...  When you get past the smell, pigs are pretty good company and if you listen real close they can talk.  Pigs say things like... "just except your condition"... "you caused it "... "You wasted everything you have been given"... "it's over"... "just lay down with us"... "eat the slop"... "it's all you deserve"... "things will never get better"... I know how the prodigal son felt... he felt alone.  I know what the prodigal son thought.  I know he had thoughts and desires to go home all the time... not just once... not just in the end...  He had thoughts of going home all the way down... all the way down to the pigs level.  I remember the first time I wanted to go home... December the 4th 2008... I was in my shop... I was drunk... I was high... I was on antidepressants... in a state of voodoo blackness... and I clearly hear... "Jesse, you owe me a life"... I recognized the voice... He wanted me to come home... I wanted to run home right then... I tried...I was to dizzy to stand... my world was spinning... I could not get home.  I've felt like going home hundreds of times since... I was not my time... It would not have been good for "Us"... I was still very sick... not ready to admit my failure... my faults... to proud... and the pigs liked my company.  "Hey Pigs" ... "I'm going Home"!

One of the differences between the prodigal son and I is he was a son... a young man.   I am a dad... older... "The Prodigal Dad".  I am a dad who lost his way... a dad who lost his friends... a dad who lost his inheritance, his life, his health... his faith... and I ended up in something much worse than a pig sty... it was a pit.  "I'm going Home" was faintly heard in the pit... the walls seemed to suck the sound out of the air... sucked the life and light out of everything.  Then something changed... My world stopped spinning... I felt steady... stronger... I got up, I got out... my journey home began... "I'm going Home".

The journey home is not easy.  I know how the prodigal son felt as he walked home ... afraid.  The Prodigal Dad is afraid... I am struggling with fear... fear.  My friend and counselor Paddy once explained anger to me in this way... "Unresolved fear and hurt turns into anger... Jesse, you must accept and admit your fear".  So, friends and family I confess that "I am afraid".  I have fear in these areas... I am afraid I will fail... again... I am afraid I will get sick... again... I am afraid I will let my kids down... again.  (I have others but, thats enough for now)  I'm sure the prodigal son experienced many different fears along the way home... fear of what would happen when he saw his Father... his brother... others... but, he kept walking... he probably thought he could stop or settle down along the way... but, he kept walking... Or maybe, "this is close enough, I could drop by for the holidays"...  he just kept walking.  Imagine if he had stopped... imagine if he had let his fear stop him... what a bummer ending to a great parable... "He got half way home and stopped".  I like the traditional ending better.  I am afraid... and ... I am going Home... all the way... I am afraid and I am going all the way Home.  I hear the words of my mom ... "Trust in the Lord with all your heart... Don't lean on your own understanding... In all your ways acknowledge Him... and He will direct your paths".  He "will" direct my path... my path Home... I am going Home... He will get me Home.  I can Trust Him He has never let me down... ever.  I have learned that leaning on my own understanding is very risky... 30% of the time it works 60% of the time.  Acknowledging Him is easy... I just did.  Therefore, I will pack my fear in my suitcase between my socks and my shaving creme... right on the bottom.  "I am going Home".

My daughter and son had to watch the demise of "The Prodigal Dad"... they watched their dad fall... they saw me at my worst... they watched me slowly disappear into a vapor of my former self...  they saw me with the pigs.  There are no words available to describe the depth of my sorrow.   They have worried about me... cared for me... cried for me... longed for me... loved me...  There are no words available to describe my gratitude.  I owe them a life... I owe them my life... I gave my life to them the moment I saw them... I knew what I was doing... I was serious.  I hear them... I feel them... always. "I"m going Home"!!!  They are waiting for me... and when I get there... when I see them... while they are still a long way off in the distance... I will run to them... I will hang on their necks... I will say "Just let me be your servant... just let me be near you"... They will say "DAD! ... everyone look... it's our dad... we thought he was dead... lost... done... but, he has returned... Dad is back... Dad is Home! ...  The Prodigal Dad has returned... "I'm going Home"... "They" are my Home.

 When I get home I am going to have a feast with my kids... We are going to go to "Memphis Blues" and order the "Elvis platter"... all the bar-b-qued pork we can eat... thats right... we are going to eat a pig... thats all they are good for anyway.

I am "The Prodigal Dad" on my way Home ... I am also a prodigal son.   I am a son who left home and made a mess of things... listened to the wrong voices... followed bad advice... made bad choices... sinned.   My Father has been calling me home too... my Spiritual Home.  I'm going Home.  I heard something the other day... "You have left your first love... go do the things you did in the beginning"... I'm going Home.  I owe God a life... my life.  I gave him my life when I was 21 years old... and He accepted it... He wanted my life... He still wants my life.  I was serious... I knew what I was doing... I gave Him my life, heart, soul, mind and strength... He accepted it.  "I am going Home".  It's hard to wrestle something out of the hand of God... I have tried.  When He holds something... He holds on tight... He never lets go... I am glad He never lets go... I am glad He has watched the whole thing... I am glad He never took His eye off me... always whispered encouragement ... "Come on... you can do it... get up... come Home"... "You can make it... just keep walking... Your almost Home"   I know the second I top the horizon I will see Him running... He always runs when a prodigal comes home... ring in hand... new clothes waiting... table set.

I am going "Home"!

I just heard the sound of feet.



Post Script:  I have one more scheduled stop on my journey home... California.  There's gold in California.  I'm going to pick some up on my way home... A little gold will be good for "us"... Home.

Monday, 9 January 2012


Brave Heart...  The Patriot...  Super Heros... "Son".

He arrived in June, 1992... in Montreal.  He was delivered at the Royal Vic Hospital.  We arrived less nervous, more dressed... very excited... unable to hold off the arrival of our second baby... our "Son"

The intern in charge of Karen's care and monitoring was more nervous and less prepared than we were.  How could he have possibly known how to be prepared for the two of us...  When we were admitted into the "Royal Vic" we were lead into a hallway that had been turned into the pre-delivery room.   Curtain dividers, paint peeling off the walls and a blinking floresant light.  Karen was amazing... full of joy... her face glowed with anticipation.  The nervousness of the intern caused us to giggle and whisper when he would leave our space... he struggled to understand if Karen was dialated... he fumbled with the instruments ... mumbled his words.  A misunderstood phrase caused Karen and I to erupt into laughter... her water broke... with tears of laughter running down her cheeks she informed the intern and He froze.  Imagine a mother in the early pains of labor... laughing and enjoying the arrival of her baby...  a "Son"

When the pain began to become more severe and more often Karen became quite, peaceful and patient.  Her labor moved quickly and soon the epidural was administered... we forgot our cards, no clowns, no circus... just Karen, myself and a nervous intern.  There was no time for a card game... Karen quickly moved into the time to deliver... our doctor arrived... and began to advise Karen on what to do... I stood by her side, I held her hand... I watched in awe.  Dr. Ben calmly asked Karen to stop pushing for a moment... I saw her make a quick and determined move of her hand... the umbilical cord unraveled... Dr. Ben asked Karen to push and she did... seconds later I welcomed him into the world.  I said "Karen, its a boy... she smiled... I cut the umbilical cord (my big part #2) ... I placed him in Karen's arms... they embraced... beautiful... perfect.  We named him Dylan Scott... our "Son".

Dylan lay with Karen for a while... I held him for awhile... after a few minutes Dr. Ben said they needed to take him for a closer examination.  The umbilical cord had wrapped itself around his neck during delivery and they wanted to make sure everything was 100%.  I remembered the way Dr. Ben had calmly asked Karen to quit pushing and her quick and determined movement... Doctors are a gift from God... Dylan was 100%.

Karen and Dylan were moved into a private room... grey walls, a twin bed, a bathroom in the hall, chipped and falling paint, and construction workers walking by the door.  Karen had to inform the staff that Dylan had jaundice... I took in Madison to see her new brother... she was so excited,,, so cute... I placed Dylan on her lap... She was instantly in love... The sight of her holding her brother... reclined on her mother... the look of majestic spender on her little face... Our love had created a life... Two had become one... Three had become four... it was complete... full... fulfilling.  A brother... a "Son".

We couldn't wait to get him home.  His room was painted blue Alladin, Prince Charming and other heros from the Disney world were painted on his walls... life size... including a seven foot face of "Genie",  An antique rod iron crib from Margret Call a 150 year old rocker from my great great grand mother and gifts from his friends and family.  Dylan was a "cuddler"...  he wanted to be with you and in your arms all the time.  For two years Karen did everything with one arm and hand... Dylan was always in the other... very happy... very content.  He was his mothers side kick.  He was his sisters biggest fan.  My "Son".

When Dylan decided it was time to walk... when he was ready... he hit the ground running.  A blur of curly blonde hair.  He would literally run his socks off... I can still see them flopping as he ran.  When Dylan decided to talk... when he was ready... he called Karen "Mom"or "Mommy"... he called me "dad" or "daddy" and he called Madison... "Mathon".   His favorite person in the world was his big sister... He wanted to eat what she ate, play what she played, sleep where she slept... they where "two peas in a pod".  He dressed as a pirate, loved swords, wore a chicago bulls outfit for two years until it was absolutely to small... and loved to pee outside... what a boy... Dylan Scott... my "Son".

My "Son" is gentle... sensitive... loving... I spanked him one time... just once... while trying to score a goal against his sister in hockey he became frustrated and hit her in the nose with the little plastic stick... it really hurt... Madison cried.  I explained to Dylan that he could not hit his sister like that and that he would need to be punished... He bowed his head and agreed... "Yes Daddy"... he was so sorry... so sad he had hurt his sister... so pure.  I gave Him one swat on the bottom... he folded into my arms... I told him how much I loved him... He went and hugged Madison and apologized... I went upstairs and wept... my "Son".

Dylan went through Elementary school, Jr. High and High School just like he used to run through the house... full speed ... full of joy... laughing.  His hair was no longer  long and curly... he kept his socks pulled up and he was a blast to watch and be around.  Tee ball was all about the cup... clack clack... soccer medals and trophies... drama class and musicals... My "Son".

My Son is loyal... committed... long term... Dylan has had the same group of friends since Kindergarten... Like all friends they have had their growing moments but, they have remained friends and have grown closer throughout their life together.  My Son  has a good heart... full of goodness... He treats others with respect... My son is full of honor... authentic... real.  My Son walks with peace... he does not make trouble nor does he look for trouble.  My Son is fun... funny... great company... entertaining... talented.  My Son knows how to party.  My Son is spiritual... a believer with strong values... anchored... accepting... quality... My "Son".

At one of my lowest moments in life my "Son" looked me in the eyes and said..."Dad,  you are the greatest man I have ever known". ... my son gave me life and hope.  About a month ago my Son in a very honest and moving conversation... like before... looked me in the eyes and said "I love you ... I miss my Dad... I want you back in my life... you have not been there for a long time... I want my Dad back...  I want my Dad in my life".  The words of my Son pierced my heart... opened my spirit... healed my soul... My "Son".

Dylan Scott Padgett...
My Pride.
My Joy.
My Healer.
My Super Hero.
My Future.
My Friend.
My Brave Heart.

My Son.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Madison Blair

She arrived in the fall of 1989... in Cape Girardeau, Mo... In Southeast Hospital... I fell deeply and forever in love with her the first moment I saw her... she is my little girl... Madison Blair.

Karen and I were so excited and as each day brought us closer to her arrival we got more excited... what would it be like to be parents, would the baby be a boy or girl, ... it was a wonderful time.  Our love created a life... Madison Blair.

When the time came to leave for the hospital I packed a pink 1960 Plymouth Fury with a suitcase and before Karen got in the car I thought it would be a good time take a picture... we did...  Karen looked at me and said "you should probably go put your shirt on" ... yes, I was so excited and nervous I had forgotten to put my shirt on... it was a wonderful time... we went to the hospital and were told it was false labor pains, or braxton hicks, so we decided to head back home... Karen looked at me and said... " I have a craving for some Long John Silver's"... ( imagine that statement coming out of Karen Thralls mouth... unbelievable) so we stopped and had a bite to eat.  It wasn't long after that when Karen looked at me again and said "It's time"... and she was right... soon we were checked into the hospital... Exciting expectations, a pink 1960 Plymouth Fury, dad with no shirt, Long John Silvers... Madison Blair.

Karen lye on the bed we where assigned and said very little... she made no sounds when the labor pains came... I tried to remember what to do... (I was just happy I had my shirt on)... every few minutes Karen would turn and ask... "Can I have my epidural now"... The Nurse would reply... "not yet Mrs. Padgett"... this was the rhythm of the next few hours... Silence.... "Can I have my epidural now"?... "not yet  Mrs. Padgett".... silence... (repeat)... finally the nurse said "Mrs. Padgett  it is time for your epidural"... they inserted the epidural and after a few seconds Karen turned and said... "I don't think this is working"... "I can still feel a little pain"... I reminded her that those were the first words she had said other than "can I have my epidural now"  in over four hours... she smiled and said... oh yeah... before long we were playing card and watching Karens contractions get stronger and stronger on the monitor ... Karen would say... "Wow, look at this contraction it's really strong"... the epidural was working... we were having a blast... we had clowns show up in the delivery room ... CLOWNS! ...we had friends dropping by to say hi and good luck... we had family in the waiting room... it was an absolute circus.
Peaceful, patient mother ... pain... cards, clowns, and a circus... Madison Blair.

Soon, the Doctor showed up and it was time to meet our baby... I was so impressed with Karen as she went through the process of delivery... she was amazing... The Doctor said "Mr. Padgett I can see the top of her head would you like to see"?... I watched her enter this world... and before she was completely here... she cried... I heard her voice... I said "Karen its a girl"... I cut the umbilical cord... (my big part) ... they placed her on Karen's chest... they embraced... beautiful... perfect... We named her...  "Maidson Blair"

I got to hold her for a few brief seconds and they took her away... she had swallowed something during the birthing process and needed immediate attention... they were concerned that her heart may have shifted... we visited her in the ICU... we had to leave her in the hospital for a few days while she healed but, we never left her side ... it was very difficult... she was strong... she was determined to live... her heart was fine... Madison Blair.

The ride home was fantastic... Karen loving on her while she sat in her pumpkin seat... (early car seat)... me driving like a old man.  If i drove over 30 miles an hour I would be surprised.  We arrived home ( a mobile home in a trailer park) and couldn't wait to show her around... her room was painted with the entire cast of Mickey Mouse and friends... all of them... an antique cast iron crib from Margaret Call... a 150 year old rocking chair that belonged to my great great grandmother... stuffed animals from all her friends and family... It was wonderful having her home.. holding her... rocking her... watching her sleep... Two had become One ... our little girl... Madison Blair.

Watching her grow was a daily miracle... she was on the move from the moment she opened her eyes until she closed them for sleep... she started walking around the coffee table and pulling herself up in her crib when she was 9 months old... she was ready to go.  She was not afraid to use her voice when needed... she talked early... She called Karen "Mom" or "Mommy"... she called me "Daddy" but, her preference as "Jesse"... she was always into things... Karen always keeping a loving watchful eye... she like to pull all the food off the bottom of the refrigerator and crawl in... she would take all the pots and pans out of the bottom drawer and sit in the drawer... or bang the pots... she once drank turtle wax car polish... she loved watching "Cinderella" and hated the step sisters... She had a unique sense of style... all her clothes that she loved, all at the same time.  She liked to dress up like Indiana Jones... boots, Hat and whip.  She was a southern girl with a southern accent.  She loved heels I can still hear her clacking around the house in her mothers... Madison Blair.

Pure enjoyment is the only way to describe her development from child to pre-teen, teenager to young lady and the memories are to many to write down in this small space.  The images, sounds and stories are stored in my mind like a photo album and I flip through them every day.  Movies and songs play in my heart of her and my soul rejoices... Madison Blair.  To bright to argue with... to much alike to fight with... "The Spark that is becoming a Star"... Madison Blair.

Madison is 22 now.  She is amazing.  She is strong, smart, talented and beautiful... an outstanding person... a woman... but, still my little girl... the princess of my heart.  Madison is loyal and consistent... she knows what she wants in life and she is willing to work to get it.  Madison prefers justice over un-justness or injustice... she is intuitive ... she sees the heart of the issue... Madison has had a group of friends that she met in the 4th grade... the "girls"... they have grown up together... they have been good for each other... there "for" each other.  Madison is a believer... not, a traditional believer... a curious, inquisitive, believer... she is not afraid to take things apart and look at them... Amazing... Madison Blair.

Madison has had to endure the judgement of others since she was a little girl.  She was called a "Strong Willed Child" when she was three... DUHHH!.. she was three.  She has been misunderstood, put in her place... etc. etc. etc.  It's strange to me how people react to a child or a teen or a young woman simply because she is un-box-able... undefinable... unstoppable... and beautiful... Madison Blair.   It seems like the clowns showed up often in Madison's life.  She has handled their comments well... she has felt the pain... deeply... she has been hurt by mean words... mean actions... Yet, she springs back to her feet... thinks it over... and remembers that "shit makes stuff grow"... and she grows... she flourishes... she blossoms... like a rose surrounded by thorns... delicate... fragile... soft... fragrant... stunning... Madison Blair.

In many ways Madison has already lived more in her 22 years than most will live in 72.  She is wise... She is intuitive (did I say that?... well then she is "very" intuitive) ... She it Thoughtful... She is Kind... She is Strong... She walks with Grace... She is Attractive right down to her Soul... Her Heart is like Gold... Pure... Loyal... She stands for what is Just.  She is my daughter... my little girl... the princess of my heart... my friend... my hero... my Madi... Madison Blair.

I love Madison Blair.
I think she is perfect.
I am proud of Madison Blair.
I am honored to be her Dad.
I love everything about Madison Blair.
Especially her name.
... Madison Blair...

Friday, 30 December 2011

2012 - "It's all about US"

Every year during the week between Christmas and New Years celebrations I try to figure out what I want to be about or live for in the new year.  It was really easy this time.  In 2012 I want to live for "Us".

I have always been an "others" focused person.  It is one of my life values.  Its why I wanted to be an evangelist and an entertainer.  It's hard to be either of those without an "us" somewhere... the "us" is the crowd and as an entertainer or a preacher you are just in front of it... part of the "us" .  It's hard to have memories without an "us".  When there is no "us" it sounds like this ... I remember when I was with myself and I told a joke and... or I remember me sitting there alone and... and then I said to myself ... and I laughed and laughed... those are boring memories... and even a little scary.  But, when you throw in a few other characters the memories become something to remember.  2012 is all about "us".

I like people and I care about people other than myself... It actually brings me a certain level of fulfillment to know I have helped someone... or can help someone.

Over the past few years I have been unable to help anyone.  "I" needed help and it's really hard to give when your hand is empty.  I have spent a lot of time on myself... thought about myself... prayed for myself... taken care of myself... I have been very focused on myself... and it needed to be done... but, I really started missing "US".  The more I thought about it the more important "us" became.  Now that I'm feeling better I am ready for some more of "us".

"Us" is better than me... "Us" is stronger than I... When one of "Us" is weak, or stumbles the other "Us" can help... I really like "Us"... "Us makes me feel safe.  "Us" is more important than me... "Us" is more valuable than I ... "Us" includes I ... "Us" embraces me... "Us" weaves me into a story or an event ... "Us" makes me feel loved and accepted and wanted and needed... I love "Us".

"Us" has had a lot of fun.  "Us" has some fantastic memories.  "Us" did some silly things.  "Us" did some great things.  "Us" did some unbelievable things. "Us Partied hard, Played hard and Prayed hard.  The best part about "us" is that it only takes one other person and "you" instantly becomes an "US"!

Some of my favorite "Us's" today are... Madison, Dylan and Dad...  Mitch and Jesse... Martin and Jesse... Scott and Jesse... Mom and Jesse... Adam and UNC... Some of my favorite "Us's" in history are... Karen and Jesse (my all time favorite "Us")... Karen, Madison, Dylan and me (The Ultimate "Us")... Dan Greene and Jesse... Toney and Jesse... Jim Grey and Jesse... Tom Huff and Jesse... Graham Cooke and Jesse... Graham Ord and Jesse... Steve Lee and Jesse... Billy and Jesse... Matt and Jesse... Mark and Ian and Jesse... Jordan and Jesse... Leith and Jesse... Ross and Jesse... Joe and Jesse... Tony Morton and Jesse... Hal and Jesse... Dr. John and Jesse... etc.  Man, I wish you could see in my head and my heart as I write out those names... the memories and the emotions... so sweet.... so good.

My favorite spiritual "Us" is Jesus and Jesse and a close second would be Holy Spirit and Jesse... I also enjoy God and Jesse although its hard for me to grasp.  Since I mentioned it, one of the names that Jesus was called is Emmanuel (I guess he is still called Emmanuel especially at Christmas time... oops sorry, during holiday season) ... Emmanuel means, God with "Us". God likes the "us" too.  I feel like I kind of forgot that... or set it to the side... or misplaced it.  I have been so focused on me and God or what God did for me or Jesus and me or me and Holy Spirit that I forgot to notice God likes "Us"... God is with "Us".  ALL of "Us" and all of our "Us's"... I am really happy that God is not just about me... I can be pretty boring... Imagine if all God had to talk to the angels about was Jesse.  Hey angels... says God... want to know what Jesse did today?..... (long pause) .... soft "yes Lord" from the angles.... "Well," says the Lord "he ate oatmeal and a banana and had a Starbucks... then he went to work... he swore twice at the wrench's ... had a turkey sandwich at Subway... asked for strength around 2 oclock, doubted Me around three, said He was sorry, then he went home.... and he still wants to quit smoking... That would be it... everyday.... thats so boring even the angels would want to die.  God with "us" makes for a much more interesting heaven.  God even says "When there is an "Us" He is there too."  God can't resist a good "Us".

To all the "Us's" in my life... past and present... "Thank you for making my life a much better life... without you it would be very lonely... thanks for the love and the laughs... thanks for a ton of wonderful memories and thanks for letting me be a part of your "Us".

2012-"It's all about Us" is my new years resolution.  My goal in 2012 is to ask one question that will direct my decisions... the question is... drum roll please.... Is it good for "Us"?  For example:  Is it good for us if I quit smoking?  My answer... Yes, without me there is no us because, smoking will kill me and the "us's" I care about... or  I would really like to take my kids to Hawaii... would that be good for us?  My answer... Absolutely!  (and I can pay for it with the money I save from not buying cigarettes)  My goal in 2012 is to bless the socks off of the "Us" that is Madison, Dylan and Dad... We are my most important "Us".  Here's a couple other questions I'm going to ask along the way.  What will make "us" happy?  What will make "us" whole?  What will make "us" healthy?  What will make "us" wealthy?  What will make "us" wise? I'm looking forward to 2012... it's going to be a great year for "Us".

2012-It's all about "Us"... So, lift a glass and repeat after me... "To US"!!! ...

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

"Better is Better"

For the past few years I have been very sick... not just a cough due to cold as Forest Gump would say... but, sick right straight through my soul.  I can't tell you how I got sick or what caused it... I can't remember waking up one day and saying "man, I think I'm sick"... All I know is that one day I could remember being well... I could look back in time and see that I was no longer myself.  By then I had already been sick for a long time... months or maybe years.  As I look back at the the years before I became sick I can recognize myself... light in my eyes, love in my heart, purpose, destiny and a six pack you could grate cheese on... (that last one is a lie but, what the hey) but now, in the present, when I look back at when I was sick I can hardly recognize myself at all... the whole picture looks dark and blurry I can see things moving around but its hard to recognize them and I can hear voices but they are jumbled and confusing...when I look at the sick me I look like "Gollum" ... pale, shriveled, confused, extreme, fearful and guilty.  It's better to be able to remember what its like to be well.

I remember the spring in my step, the laughter in my spirit, and being able to hold my head up and feel good about my life... I felt good all the time. ... I was happy... really happy... deep down inside my heart joyful... all the time.   I saw the best in things... the potential in others, the goodness in the heart of people... I trusted with my whole heart... believed... had huge faith and the energy to chase the things I dreamed of... not, just my own dreams... I loved helping others reach their dreams.

I remember being so giving, generous, always believing that as I gave I would receive.  When I was well I bought strangers their lunch without them knowing just to see the look on their face.  When I was well I had all the time in the world for others... loved parties and campfires and the sound of good old fun... and speaking of fun... I was fun!

However, when I got sick I slowly started morphing into Gollum... I became selfish, worried and greedy... I was only concerned about what was in it for me and how I could prosper... I trusted no one... no one.  When I was sick I had no dreams and was jealous and resentful of those who did... I envied the well... I hated the "healthy" people... because it reminded me that I was sick...  When I started to realize I was no longer myself my sickness became my "precious"... it consumed me ... I  hated it for what it was doing to me so I hid it ... it became my secret... I kept acting like I was well or at least tried...  but, it swallowed me whole... It transformed me and I couldn't stop it... I tried to ignore it but it constantly whispered my name... it was always there waiting for me... waiting... I prayed that God would heal me... I begged... I pleaded... but, before I would get off my knees I would look across the bed and see the shadowy figure just waiting... and it got me.  (sounded like  a line from Frank Peretti's "This present Darkness" for a minute)

Thinking of getting better was torturous... I would have to admit that I was sick ... at first that was hard to do because I didn't know that I was sick but, after awhile it was just my pride... I was to proud to be sick... people like me don't get sick.  Protecting my image was more important to me than being honest... after all I had been sick before and was miraculously healed... I couldn't get sick again.  To get sick was more than humbling for me it was humiliating...  I would be dependent on others to take care of me... its hard to lets others care for you... it says you are weak, it says your sick, it made me feel like a failure... a burden... I was tired and exhausted all the time I couldn't work like I used to and eventually not at all and that made me feel guilty... because I could remember being well.   So, I would try to act well.  When I was sick and I tried to act well I actually acted sicker... going out for a drink became a hugh risk for all those involved... the embarrassing things I did caused me to feel ashamed...  I was so sick that everything I did was sick and caused sickness... I felt like the walking plague... there was only one thing to do for the good of all those around me... Hide.  So, like Glollum I crawled into my cave of sickness and decided to let it turn me into ... well, Glollum.  I was sick, afraid, hurt, humiliated, guilty, embarrassed, ashamed and isolated...    While in my dark cave of sickness I would remember being well but, it seemed like some distant memory of the shire... just a small ray of light that would illuminate the condition I was in... I could see for those brief moments what I really looked like and I had become hideous... so, I hid from the light.  I went blind I couldn't see one good thing... and I could not understand the words of others anymore.  I could not feel their love or their care.   Everything got filtered through my sickness... I was really sick. 

I was sick.  I was really sick for a very long time... years.  What was my illness?  Depression.  I got depressed... I don't know how or why... could be stress or the common struggles in life but, those questions don't matter.  I got depressed.  It wasn't my fault... it wasn't anyones fault... I got depressed.  I got depressed and I didn't know how to cope with my life.  I tried many things to cope ... to fill the emptiness in my soul... but everything I tried just added weight to the blanket of sickness I was under... ie was heavy like lead and cold ... it shifted with my ever move and just held me down. I wanted to be happy again sooo bad... I wanted to be well again sooo bad... I tried everything.

Like all sickness depression doesn't say "Hey I'm making you sick with depression" ... it lies to you.  Like when your arm hurts cause you are about to have a heart attach.  Depression sends you the false signal that something else or everything else is wrong...  I tried to get better but, my sick mind gave me sick information... my brain was sick... the thinker had a virus, a glitch... and everything I thought was sick... my heart was sick it struggled to love and couldn't feel ... even my soul was infected... it felt black... lost... barely alive.  I was very sick for a very long time.

Then I got Better.

Just like the day when I could look back and see something had changed and knew I was sick... I could look back and see I wasn't sick... I was better.  I am better, I am well, I am thankful, I am soooo thankful.  I have a heart that feels again... it feels everything... my spirit is awake and my soul is free and full of light... It feels good to stand in the sun and feel the warmth ... it feels good to care.  I'm not afraid to be seen... I was hideous but, I'm better.

I don't know how it happened but, I remember what helped and I remember what didn't help.  Booze didn't help it just opened the door so all the sickness on the inside could come outside and harm the ones I love.  Weed didn't help it just made me not care about myself or anyone else.  Yelling did not help... it never does.  However, medication helped, therapy helped... Paddy Ducklow helped... he gave me tools that fixed my ignorance and my arrogance and he helped me realize I could change and not repeat the things that made me sick...  kindness helped, friends helped, my sister helped, Scott helped, loving words helped... my doctors helped... Karen Thrall helped... she helped more than anyone will ever understand.   Madison and Dylan helped... wow... my kids really, really helped.

How did I get better?  I don't know.  All I know is "Better is Better"!

Post Script:  While writing this I was reminded how much Karen, Madison and Dylan had to endure.   Their love and support and words of encouragement... their faithfulness and constant attempts to help will never be forgotten... I can see them now and I can hear them now... you are my most valued sanctified memories.  My heart overflows with gratitude and thanksgiving to you... I recently had the opportunity to speak with some friends who had to care for their mom when she was sick... it helped me see, a little better, the pain each of you endured... I was enlightened by their story and know I can never repay you for all you did and tried to do to take care for me.  I know it was hard, frustrating and exhausting...  I love you deeply.  I know it was very hard to live with me when I was sick... very hard. Thank You for loving me even when I was sick.... and Thank You for helping me get better.

Better is SOOOOO much Better.