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Time’s Momentary Dance

Posted in Uncategorized on August 9, 2011 by Donny

There’s a place dirt roads can’t reach. Its a patch of mom’s hugs and God’s funny bone. Work’s rush slows, eyes close to focus, and I’m dry in the storm. Heaven’s whisper is breath to my day. The heart desires no more for home has been refined and is more than a feeling. Death to self is an introduction to the One that is life; life beyond me.

I’m going to attempt to explain why and how I have come to appreciate God has a friend and not just ruler or King. For awhile now, I have adorned Jesus with accolades that were far too short of what He deserves. I am a man and have lived as such. I am able to label God and all “His stuff” as some sort of U-haul box that needs unpacked during certain parts of the day. God can easily become a paint that covers my problems to make me feel better. I treat my Lord has some sort of makeover show. Yet, so desperately, He wants a new house all together. And as of recent, He’s been moving me in.

The more I am able to dig into the lives of others, the less I have to focus on me and my problems. In the “Christian world”, so many push the idea of having a devotional time with the Lord. We are to read the Bible and pray and invite God to be with us throughout our day. The premise is solid; the execution gets distorted. No book, no words, no song, no pen or paper is needed…a walk in the grass, skippin’ rocks on the glass-still water, a drive down the highway with no shoulder, or counting planes in the night sky. God’s a friend that needs attention.

Faces of others is where I begin. A smile with the eyes and a laughter of the heart starts the change. A God-size love is effortless. It can’t be found on a shelf, in a bag, or by one’s command. The wind delivers it, kids live it, adults take it from one another. We judge, hold a grudge, seek revenge, and battle for attention. We hide in our shame, hold onto our habits, and question God’s ever presence. Intelligence and knowledge substitute faith and trust. Self-talk, Self-denial, Self-hatred are given permission to destroy and disrupt His plan for success and true joy. We define ourselves before we give Him the floor.

My life is the recipe for give up. I have been handed the exit route too many times. Yet, I feel more like Wile E Coyote than I do a stronger man. I am 0-16,724 in fights with God. He gives me His plan, but not the time. He shows me greatness, but tells me to be patient. I feel as if He is balking at my abilities or willingness to accomplish what is before me. But then it happens, the phone rings or the person approaches and God comes from behind, “Tah-dah!” And God begins to play the music for this time’s momentary dance.

Love is the space between His outstretched left hand and His outstretched right hand. “I love you” from the depths of Candice’s raspy angelic voice is sweeter than honeysuckle found in the Smokey Mountains. Logan choosing to get up from his seat to come get close to me is the absolute replica of how my God feels when I seek to be close to Him. Hud stares into my eyes to know daddy’s heart. Sam needs to tell me about her day, everyday. Madi needs her father to pause in front of her and tell her of my pride I feel for her. My family needs me to be inspired to lead; not just lead out of “have to.” Friends need me to encourage them without anything expected in return. Strangers need me to be ready to know them before I know their name.

Work beckons, Bills call, and Problems fight back…but I can’t be defined by the fear of failure, paralyzation of rejection, or the burden of loneliness. Even humility can’t be accomplished alone. Nah, its time to get back to basics. Time to get beyond real. Lately, my life calls for simple…love the now.

I am an East Tennessee boy that went to my first college football game at age 4. I was hooked on Tennessee football. I will always be a big fan of the Hot Wheels big wheel. I will always remember the raccoons in the dumpster near our apartment in Louisville, Kentucky. A little white church in small-town America will be cherished til I die. Brazil changed me. The beach means more than most will ever know. At the age of 18, traveling on my own was the beginning of a transformation. College was a time to let go of God…and then to find Him before I left. And now, being entrusted with family, friends, church…life. I’m still dancing. And He is my music.

Love me not for what I say or do. Love me not for a story, a joke, or service. Love me for the song that is being played. Love me for the story being written. Love me for the man I strive to be.

Its okay to be quiet.  To be still, chill, calm. Time to get away, sleep, read is needed. So many lay awake every night trying to figure things out. Some lay there freaking out. The red numbers of the clock become your only friend. Wishing on simpler times doesn’t change a thing. Life feels like its sitting up all night waiting to poke you in the ribs as soon as the sun rises. But a hug changes that. A note of loving words can be bring a perspective shift. A God-sized revelation is reassuring.

Tonight…I have a lot on me. There is so much I need to do. But when placed next to His plan, its all gonna work out. And if it doesn’t, He’s still my tire swing at the lake…free to laugh and let go.

Pushing forward, one foot in front of another, one day at a time…fine. But I am on the ready to run when the gun goes off. Sunny days and rain-filled ones will still result in a smile. Choosing to love life is becoming easier. Lord, may others choose to hear this time’s music. The dance is relieving.

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Lump In God’s Throat

Posted in Uncategorized on July 9, 2011 by Donny

It is 12:28 in the morning, between Friday and Saturday. Darkness has long settled across the open fields and sleep is being taken advantage of by my family. The air conditioning kicks on, attempting to stifle the sounds of Jeff Buckley’s ‘ Hallelujah.’ Its late and I am very tired, but I need to share a story that will hopefully impact me for the rest of my life.

What I share is real and my version of it. I understand that the two stories are completed related…until they are placed into context of my life. Thank you, in advance, for sharing this with me and willing to read about some growth that took place within me this day. My prayer now is that many of you see a difference in me. How disappointing it would be to have lived these moments and nothing changes.

I’ll start by sharing with you that I have been praying a specific prayer for quite some time. Its a prayer that more often than not, relates to any verse or chapter in the Bible that I read. Its a prayer that I end with whenever I am praying to or talking with God. Despite my family’s financial, emotional, or medical circumstances, I have been praying that God would use me to impact others. I have been asking Him to use me. Most people want to be a part of something big, important, and meaningful. I want to be about something eternal. What surpasses eternal?! So, “God, use me to do something on your list. You know my life, make use of it.”

He began by telling me to get home. Work on a foundation worth building on. Make sure “the team” is with me on my quest of being used. Ever been living thinking everything was a-okay, but when given a chance to look through the window; perception and reality don’t match up. Then a choice must be made…fix it or be sent back to the bench. I had to back off from some things. I had to get some practice in. Time spent listening, learning, watching, reading, praying, and putting faith/love to action. And in turn, when God does use me for such times like today, the emotions, the life-thrill goes beyond the acts themselves. I see the ah-ha moments in them…

Last night, in Arlington, Texas, at the baseball game between the Oakland Athletics and the Texas Rangers, tragedy struck. One of the players, tossed a a foul ball into the stands in the direction of a man wanting to get a ball for his six-year old boy. Cooper was attending his second professional baseball game with his dad because the first one had been rained out. As the man reached out for the baseball, he flipped over the railing and landed 20 feet below on concrete. According to reports today, the man had broken both arms and there was a lot of blood, apparently coming from his head. The man tried to get up while paramedics were attending to him. All he kept saying was, “please, someone check on my boy, please go be with my boy…he’s alone.” Fifty-three minutes after the incident occurred, the man, the father, the husband…had passed away. This man and his words helped me to understand God’s usage of me today.

This afternoon, I followed a friend/co-worker to the home of a customer. We pulled up to the intersection Highway 75 and Virginia Parkway in McKinney, Texas. The car temperature gauge read 110F. And up ahead (I was four cars back from the light), stood a man, in his upper 20’s/early 30’s, in khakis and a yellow pillow. This was a long light because I watched him for what felt like an hour. The word used to describe the sign would be despair. This man never looked at the cars next to him. He never looked another person in the eyes. He was standing behind a sign that explained that he had lost his job, had been evicted, and in attempt to make ends meet, he was now selling cold Hershey bars out of a cooler in this weather on that street corner.

At that moment, I truly felt God telling me to call him over to ask what I could do to help. But I shrugged it off with an excuse that I was on a work errand and that the light was going to turn green anyways and that he was probably lying and he was just going to buy drugs or alcohol with whatever money I gave him. As I was trying to convince God that He surely had more for me to do or at least someone that would use what I gave them to become something incredible. I promise you…as God as my witness…at that very moment, I watched as this guy reached into his cooler, and with his eyes looking down the road at nothing in particular, he stuck the candy bar in the air and began moving his arm back and forth, as if to music that wasn’t playing; a rhythm of defeat. I felt as if God was screaming at me, “Donny!!! NOW! Now, Donny.” I did nothing. I sat there in my air conditioned car and just looked away.

The light turned green and I pulled away from the scene. I can’t tell you want song was playing in the car. I don’t remember much of the drive from that intersection to the customer’s house. God was staring me in the face and I had turned around. As my co-worker stood and talked to the customer about his new car, I waited in the car and made things worse between God and I. I felt like God was telling me to go back there when we left. So what did I do? I pulled out the ole iPhone and looked at a map to see if there was a better way out of there. Who does that? It was as if God was in the passenger seat with His arms crossed, looking at me in awe of such arrogance and rebellion.

Finally, it was time to leave. I did end up leaving the same way we had entered and I told my friend that I had to do something. And reminded him about the guy at the corner. He was fine with it. So, now I am back on track to do what God had told me to do 45 minutes earlier. Now I was praying that I hadn’t completely missed the boat. Prayed that God would keep him there long enough for me to talk to him.

As we got closer to that life-changing intersection, I am not sure if I was getting excited or nervous. But I was determined.

The corner came into view as we came out from under the bridge…he wasn’t there!!! The cooler was, but the man was gone! Wait, wait…there he was. Across the street, talking to a woman in parking lot of the Texaco across the street. So I pulled in the gas station…but , hey, what the heck, why not go for the trifecta of disobedience. Instead of turning in and kind of doing a U-turn back towards the man and where he was standing talking to the woman. I turn away from him. My co-worker sees a Dairy Queen and suggests that we run down there. I stop the corner and reevaluate everything. “Hey, see God, he’s already talking to someone. Looks like you have it covered and don’t need me.” His response, “THAT’S NOT THE POINT, HUMAN!!! I answered your prayers!!! You have been basically begging me to use you, I give you the chance and now you balk and begin coming up with the lamest excuses as to why you won’t listen.” Then, the I hear my God say something to me that gave me chills. I had no choice but to go to the man. God said to me, “Please, go take care of my son. He’s out there alone.”

Sitting here tonight, I don’t know if that man believes in Jesus, God, and Heaven. Sin, Hell, and Salvation. But I do know this, MY God considered him one of His. My God knew this man by name. My God knew this man’s path, story, needs, and knew that Donny Dixon had been praying for this very opportunity, without even knowing it.

So, I turned the car around and drove over to the corner. I was in my suit, he was in his khakis and yellow polo, but at that moment, with drivers watching from different directions, that man and I were dressed the same before God…covered in wrong, but made so beautiful by an act of love.

His name is Chris Jones. He and his wife both lost their jobs 4 months ago after being transferred to the Dallas area from Savannah, Ga. He tried a sales job for a week, but the boss there never paid him for the two sales he got, so he left. He has taken a few day jobs from Craigslist to survive, but nothing permanent. His wife and two kids were down the road at the daily rate hotel. He didn’t have a cell. I asked him what he was willing to do so that he no longer had to sell cold chocolate. He looked up from staring at the ground, he paused, and said, “Name it.” I just need to make enough each day to pay the hotel costs.

You know, the skeptic in me wants to question the whole story. The pessimist in me wants to tell this guy that life is tough and that he needs to just accept where he is and figure things out. But God in me tells me that its not up to me to know everything. If I am going to pray for something, and God has the compassion to answer, who am I to question. My role today was to “care for the least of these.” Chris told me that he had made enough today to cover the cost of tonight’s stay. I asked him about drugs and alcohol. (Again, ashamed that even asked. I swear I heard God yelling at me for such a stupid question.) He said he didn’t do drugs and that he hadn’t had a drink in over a year. This man was clean cut, hair brushed, clean clothes…yet, ashamed of himself as a man.

I thought of the times, even recently, when I needed help. How in the freakin’ world was I any different from this man that God Almighty calls son!!! Shame on me. I am crushed and embarrassed at my own audacity. But, My Lord saw through my faults and STILL used me.

Then, as He has done so often, God had to show off to prove to me who He is. I am standing there, wrapping up the conversation, when two men walk up behind me. One young guy hands him two business cards and says, “Hey man, my girlfriend just about an hour ago, drove by here. When she saw you, she felt like God was telling her to give you all of her tip money from today. She is a waitress down at Chaucer’s in Allen. When she told me that and told me what your sign said, I told her that I wanted to join her and do something for you as well. So, I wanted to come by and talk to you about a job. Give me a call and lets talk.” I chimed in and told this guy that Chris doesn’t have a phone, but does have e-mail. This young guy took back the cards and wrote down his e-mail address and then turns to look at me. “Donny Dixon?! I know you, man!” I didn’t recognize the guy. (My name badge from work was on my suit jacket. I thought he was just attempting to be humorous, so I moved on.) I turned my attention back to Chris to finish where we left off. After another minute or two, the young wouldn’t leave me alone. He said, “…no, seriously dude, I know you.” I asked him from where. “Are we working on your roof?” “Nope, sorry man, I live in an apartment.” “Ok, well, I know you…WAIT! I know! You and I go to the same church. I have been once with my girlfriend. You texted me this week, inviting me to the men’s Bible study. And I told you I was slammed with work.” “What’s your name?” “My name is Jacob.” “Merwin?” “Yeah!!”

Its as if God looked at me and reminded me to shutup, get out of His way, He knows what He is doing. Love God’s own little “I told you so.”

I gave Chris some money and told him to take care of himself, his wife, and his two kids. I promised to relay his e-mail address to others. I invited him to our church. I may never see Chris Jones in this life. But I hope the seed of hope that can be found in a Christ-like love is watered by a fellow Christian brother or sister. I have prayed many times over for Chris and his family. Chris is hurting tonight. He lays there in his hotel bed, not his home. He watches as his wife tosses and turns, worried about tomorrow. He says his two kids asleep; wondering what he will do to care for them. It is a struggle to man up in a world that does what it can to keep you down. With Father’s Day having passed recently, I am eternally grateful for a Father that allowed me to witness what it means to care for another as if he was your brother.

Tonight/Today, I humbling ask you to pray for this man…whether his name is Chris or not and whether this is his story or not. My heart says what I was a part of today was ever so real. Chris Jones’ e-mail is chrismj5@yahoo.com. Maybe you shoot him a note. May you travel to this intersection and can offer him more than I. But if you are willing, please place this family in the arms of a truly loving God.

The two stories are unrelated. One is full of pain and loss. The other has yet to end. But when funneled through a perspective of “go be with my son, he is alone”…love is painful.

And to you, My God, My King…I am not asking for forgiveness tonight. You and I have already handled that. But My God…thank you and please don’t stop. Thank you for not leaving me alone. Thank you for loving Chris Jones enough and Shannon Stone enough, along with his little boy Cooper and Donny Dixon enough to reach for us when we don’t know where to reach at all.

Rain In The Sunshine

Posted in Uncategorized on July 7, 2011 by Donny

The more life begins to spin; the larger the problems seem to grow…the louder the self-talk rises. How many times have we been in a room full of people, yet, the loudest voice we hear is the one from within. Christians are told they are loved by a God that died for them. But as we live out each day, we question purpose and meaning of our existence. Is the struggle worth it? Why do I keep trying? It becomes easier to point fingers at another, as if they are in charge of our happiness. Anger harbors itself within our hearts and we make it feel welcomed. Jealousy breeds deep in obvious corners of our being. We claim one thing, but make home in another.

We’ll give money to charity. We’ll rescue some sad-faced puppy dog  from tv. Participating in noble causes are a must. But when we stand in front of the mirror with the bathroom door closed and the world shut out, so many can’t see past their own fronts. When was the last time I laughed where I almost cried? When did I last have a heart-felt pain for someone else? How come I won’t let it all go and let someone know my toughest challenges? Too often times, there is an unfounded judgement that we think exists from our own friends and family. “They won’t understand. They will just put me down. All they want to do is fix me.” We’re so busy giving high-fives and fist bumps that a caring hug would have taken an additional four seconds.

Look, I don’t get my life. Its not even close to how I imagined it. I get that others are tired. I truly understand that plenty of people have a harder life. I am more blessed than most. But I don’t understand this path. Not only is it the path less-traveled, but it feels like I am hacking up a jungle mountain with a machete. I am not here with some mission trip tract. I am not pushing some new book, cd, or studying material. But I can speak from my heart, life, and experience…my God gets me.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to go on. I don’t know how to exist with Liz still not at 100%. I don’t know how to deal with five fast-growing children. I work and I pray. I do and I am. Its as if I am running an Olympic 400m race, but I’m the only one on a treadmill; and someone else is in charge of the speed and angle. But…God gets me. He has become my rain in the sunshine. I feel like Michael Jordan…standing on this court of a life, hands on my knees, clutching my shorts, trying to catch my breath…”God, is this my all? My lungs are stinging, my muscles are cramping, and I can’t stop sweating. Do YOU find joy in me?”

People ask me every single day, “How’s Liz?” Listen, nobody knows. She can tell me how bad the pain is or how tired she is. But inside, what’s going on? What’s wrong? Are things getting better, staying the same, or getting worse? Yes. Surgeries, drains, colostomies, pills, shots, heart monitors, and fight. This year alone, less than a full 7 months, two of my family members, the people entrusted to me to care for, have worn heart monitors. Hudson just got through battling pneumonia for a week. Liz has been out of the hospital for several weeks now, is still very limited in her activities. The quads…I looked at them the other night, as we were watching tv as a family, and remembered when they all weighed two pounds or less. I remember waiting away for their eyes to open. I look at Logan and pray to God that he gets how proud I am of him. Then last night happened. I got home from working all day and having changing clothes and getting settled, I went into the boys’ room to kiss their foreheads goodnight. Hudson didn’t even twitch. But Logan, he woke up, looked around, and then finally “came to.” He looks up at me with only the nightlight in the room casting light upon his face. He smiled and said, “Oh, hi daddy. (a sleepy pause) Can I have a hug?” For a moment, surrounded by 70 college pennants, the voices were silenced, the world gave me a break, and God reached for me in the form of my son.

Doctors appointments are before us. The unknown continues to reside as a roommate. It is easy to sit and daydream. What if my life became a real-life ‘Its A Wonderful Life’ or ‘Family Man?’ What if I did own a crotch rocket motorcycle or what if I had followed in my parents’ footsteps and became a missionary? What if I actually had money to speak of or lived in a house I was proud of? Here’s one…what if I lived out God’s plan for me? I am not talking about Mother Earth, Daddy Karma, or the ever so popular “Just go with what feels good.” So many people don’t get God cause they don’t want to. Their call. That’s fine, till its not. I used to think I loved. I thought I got this sense of energy and passion for life from people. I was close, but sorely mistaken. I have come to realize that I do actually love God and I am showing that through my passion for His people.

I sit in brand new cars everyday and show people how to operate them fully. There is a lot of new technology that can be taken advantage of in a luxury car. How in the world is that different from life. Why would I not pour into others, starting in my own home, so that they may take advantage of life’s potential. Existing and Living are two different routes. Happiness is created in one; joy results from the other. Too often times, I allow my self-talk/self-doubt dominate my day and relationships. I need affirmation. And then I question the affirmation. Who does that?!

Life’s pains exist. Troubles mount and challenges arise. So many lose loved ones, possessions, fights, and friendships. Which is the greater struggle today: to love or to be loved? Is there much in life to cherish? Is there reason to smile?

By God’s grace and His grace alone, I can say that I am a joy-filled person that occasionally allows my circumstances to overshadow said joy. I once heard someone said they would love to be a bird. When asked why, they explained that a bird can go where they want. They fly, soar, coast, and aren’t confined by bills, and jobs, and stress. Even birds can be confused, turned around, and stressed. The other day, I walked into my area at work, where we had a car waiting inside for the customer to get out of finance. All of a sudden, coming right at me is this bird that found its way and can’t get out. This sucker is flying all around the room, flying into the ceiling and walls, but especially, the big glass doors that lead outside. He couldn’t see the glass. Over and over again, he kept slamming his beak into the large glass door as if it moved in the last three seconds. And then I started getting upset at his “bird brain” because he then landed on the freshly cleaned car, several times, leaving behind little stress presents. Finally got him out the door, but really…you want to be a bird?

Over the last few weeks, as I have spent time thinking and looking into my own life, I have come to realize that breathing in and out is made better by love, joy, hope, peace, patience, kindness, self-control, envylessness, humility, politeness, and by encouraging others and forgiveness. I can’t be focused on days off, square footage of living space, or those things that I have zero control over. I talk to myself daily. I wrestle inside with big issues. I do allow myself to get caught up in the hype of more and better. This blog can’t become a replacement of an ongoing chat with God, sometimes called prayer. Thunder and rain…the warmth of the sun…the chill of the night…may I not be swayed by me. You don’t water a tree from the top. The roots are dug in deep. The lifeline is alive by the fruit. Not matter the cost of the Bentley out front of this coffee shop, its in the way when there’s no gas in it. I have given in and become empty too many times. Running on fumes, spinning, drowning, or trying it my own way, whatever you want to call it.

I’ll share a thought I have had lately…ever thought of Jesus sleeping. At night, He has said goodnight to his crew, He is staying in some “stranger’s” house that night. They walked all day, talking with people, and hanging with his guys. Did they do the guy half-hug and the three pats on the back? He buy some fruit or dates from the stand on the side of the highway he traveled. Imagine the Camelbak from those days; a bull’s horn with a string attached to each end and slung over the back. He’s tired, but can’t sleep. He’s laying on His back, looking up at the stars through the ceiling that was poorly put together. That evening, he and the guys had mashed corn, beef, and goats milk. Think He thought of you while laying there. He laid there daydreaming of His home in Heaven. Think He thought of you by name and the place awaiting you?

I have a lot going on. In the last six and a half years, I have 100’s of people help me and my family. I have been prayed for by 1,000’s. To you, right now…I say thank you. Not this simple Hallmark thank you found on a card in the back of a pharmacy in a drug store on the East side of town in a rural town in North Western Nebraska. I mean it, I thank you. I am a broken man, held together by a mercy called upon by many to a Living God who knows Donny. My golf swing needs work, my Mountain Dew intake is excessive, and my taste in music is random. I’m not looking to get to Heaven by default. I want to be expected.

Its apparent to me that I am still learning me. Its obvious I have struggles and obstacles to overcome. I pray that I get to impact and influence others have so many have helped shaped me into this mess God has called His own. Today, I am in love with life.

Life Is In The Balance

Posted in Uncategorized on June 4, 2011 by Donny

It’s 9:30 on a Saturday night and I’m not sure where to begin. I don’t know if I am numb or spinning or drowning or is it that my cup is over-running? There seems to be a soulful struggle of wanting to be blessed by God and complaining about my life being too full. My mind never seems to shut off all the way. If I am at work, I am concerned about home. If I am home, I recognize the need to serve at my church. When at church, there are lingering thoughts of finances and next steps. When focused on carrying for my family, I am running through conversations I had at work and analyzing their meanings. I feel myself slipping into the absolute need for conversation. God’s silence can either be an evening walk through waist high wheat on a blue sky day that resembles the ocean waters of Heaven. And that same silence can be a warehouse room of thunder and razorblades. I begin to question everything. Where’s peace in that? Where is the enjoyment of life when everything around me is seemingly another trial? ………who said it was my life?

Liz is not doing well. The last surgery was unable to remove any of the clot(s) in her neck, shoulder, chest, or arm. Since then, Liz has passed out several times at home, continues to have chest pains on a very regular basis, and the pain on the left side of her body is now a constant companion. Being a mom has become much more difficult, especially to 5 adoring children. Being a friend and getting to socialize has become a daunting task. All the while, the doctor has thrown up his hands, throw in the towel, and has now said there is no more than he is able to do. Liz has an appointment with a new doctor in two weeks. Pills won’t cut it. Ice-packs and heating-pads are not helpful. And time isn’t working in her favor. Not to mention, her dizzy spells are more frequent and she has begun to pass out more and more. Hospitals won’t keep her, doctors have tried surgery, and medicine at home isn’t cutting it. The latest solution was physical therapy and pain management for the rest of her life…as a mother of five. We’re playing solitaire at the poker table; makes no sense.

Meanwhile, the God squad, the five children that live with me that remind me every day of God’s perfection, are really starting to try on life. Its no longer about mom or dad or brothers or sisters. They are each coming into their own persona. Mom being so sick and dad being so stressed and busied; these kids will grow up to be the most flexible people ever. Between friends loving them, teachers growing them, family supporting them, and their parents’ constant reminder of love…I pray these five continue to become angels in training. So very proud of the work they did this year in school. With plenty of struggles comes varied victories.

Isaiah 6:8 talks about being ready and going. Be willing to go when no one else is. To step up and lead. But to me, the first part of that verse is comical. Isaiah actually says, “Here am I.” As if God didn’t know. Yes, I understand that there is something to be said in the proclaiming that I am here and ready. I see the importance of being heard when God is seeking out those that that are willing to actually stand up for something more valuable than money-market accounts, TMZ’s breaking news, and whales. So desperately, I keep trying to stand up, only to find a hand on my shoulder holding me in the chair. Ecclesiastes 3 talks about the time and place for events and life’s purposes. What if instead of “…send me”, it is “thank you for using me where I am and preparing me for where you are taking me.” If I am where I am suppose to be, I don’t have to remind Him where I am. He knows because He put me here/there. Its no longer a dark room with a door on the ceiling. Lord, “Here am I. Use me wherever.”

I am struggling with God. Its a Father to a child relationship right now. Being needed more than ever at home has forced me to cut back on other areas in my life where I want to be. Forced sounds like such a strong word, but its what I needed to catch on. How could I lead anyone anywhere when those charged to my care were left to fend for themselves. What kind of man does that? I didn’t mean to. I wasn’t trying to do that. I just want to help others, talk to others, encourage others. The time between Sunday and Sunday is more than a week. “Here am I, Lord.” “Fine. Now stay put till I call you. I know where you are,” He says.

And then, one day, He showed me why. I have been to Honduras a couple of times over the last few years. I love serving in missions. I love being a part of the foundation of revolution of a country understanding the love that is theirs to be claimed. But this year, thus far, I am unable to travel South. And I was become more and more angry at God for this. How dare Him deny this blessing from me? (I know what I am missing.) But then, God to shut up and quit my whining. My pity-party almost cost me the reason why He had me wait for His timing.

The other day, while at work, was told that I needed to drive halfway across the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex to pick up a car. I needed to take someone with me who could drive the other car back. So, got the directions to the customer’s house, found a car (not taking mine. 🙂 ), and then a rider. Sitting next to me for the next 45 minutes…was a Honduran. God brought Honduras to me. God gave me an opportunity, in broken Spanish, to talk about this man’s home country and why I had fallen in love with his motherland. And now, this man that has been there for about three and a half months has a friend. He spends 90% of the day by himself parking cars and trying to what he can to stay under the radar and just blend in. But now, we talk several times a day and I get the chance to share a Christ-like love with a man from Honduras, while my church travels to share that same love with his countrymen. ……..of all the countries in the world where this man could have been from……….”Here am I, Lord. Just use me.”

I continue to have a heart that outlasts my overly-occupied mind and worn down body. And I pray I never change. I want to care about others ahead of myself for the rest of my life. The more I live, the more unsure I am about tomorrow. On purpose. And yet, daily, you have to understand that I fall in love with who my God has always been. I’m just not starting to figure Him out, a little. There’s a part of me that doesn’t know where or how to stop. The Christian adage “Let Go and Let God” feels like I am giving up. Like He gave me a task and I was unable to complete it. I spend so much time trying to make everything right for everyone that I don’t even get the puzzle that’s being put together.

A joyful noise is made in worship. Worship is a heart thing. So it just goes to reason that a joy-filled noise is a heart thing. Being down, blaming God for not giving me a turn, or debating blessings versus burdens can not consume another day.

Done after this: earlier this morning, I came out of the bedroom as I was finishing a conversation with Liz about something at work. I am not even sure of the word, but Logan was laying on the loveseat and said, “Daddy, what does _______ mean?” (It wasn’t a “bad” word, just don’t remember at all what the word was. I promise! LOL!) I turned and looked at him and we both were smiling and about the same thing. I asked, “Were you listening to me?” He just smiles so big, kinda smirks, and says, “I always listen to you, Daddy.”

Can I say the same thing to my Heavenly Father?

 

Blank Inside

Posted in Uncategorized on May 22, 2011 by Donny

Hi, my name is Donny and I have a problem. I’m me. I am not who God made me to be. I am who I have tricked myself into becoming. I am a selfish thirty-two year old man that doesn’t care about himself. I like to be needy, but have a hard time accepting the help of others. I want to be blessed, but so often times, I sit and wait. I want to serve others, but I want the needs of others to fit my schedule. I deny myself, as the Bible commands, but too many times, have left my cross where I last dropped it. Its not me first, but I want my participation trophy. I find myself loving when its easy, convenient, or returned. I live tired, frustrated, worried and have become a juggling-illusionist.

…and yet, my God loves me. I don’t deserve the love of others, much less, the love of my Creator. But whether I hurt someone, bother someone, annoy someone, or flat out offend someone, there is love in my life. For me, it is far easier to love others than to love myself. There is more satisfaction in my hurt to say I am sorry, will you please forgive me, again, than it is to hear them say, “yes.” I don’t hold onto grudges, but I hold onto the scars I’ve caused. I have allowed my life’s circumstances to interfere with friendships and relationships and love way too many times.

Over the last few months, I have a developed a “friendship” with Ron Taylor, the Sunday morning radio DJ on the Christian radio station here in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. I don’t call in to get on-air or to plug anything. I think it actually started because I called in one Sunday morning and thanked him for some words he had shared that really spoke to me that particular morning. We got to talking about life and what it was suppose to be about and what it ends up turning into. Anyways, he and I talked this morning for about 5 or 6 minutes (it went that long because he put me on hold to do a live spot) regarding what’s going on in my life. He said something to me within the first 15 seconds of the call.  I didn’t say my name when he picked up…but he said, “I remember you.” This morning, driving alone in the car, headed for some time of worship at church, those words were not his own.

So as I rolled up to the church building, wife in the hospital, kids at friends’ house, life swirling around me…I was blank inside. And it was a good thing. So often times, I carry the same dang baggage around and it prevents God from changing me. Its my call to be transformed. But as long as I keep walking around in this dead carcass, why would and how would He bother. I am not doing myself or anyone else any favors by not changing. Forgive, forgive, forgive…times 7, times 7, times 77. But, if I can become more blank inside, the more room He has to write on my life. But today’s card wasn’t an “I love you” card and “Hang in there” wasn’t written on the inside. All it says at the end of this day is, “I remember you.”

Liz’s surgery will be this week. Another trip to the OR. Another round of talking to the anesthesiologist and the vascular surgery. Another week of depending on others for kid(s) care, laundry, meals, and well, life. But as it says in Psalm 86:7 (I am learning so much from others and how I need to change my ways…so many in my life are living Biblical truths) ” When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me.” I understand that that verse is referring to David calling out to God. But when I do cry out to Him, He continues to use those around me to take care of a need. What examples I have before me, if only I would open my hands and recognize lives opposite mine. Lives of service, humility, forgiveness, understanding, patience, kindness, and love.

Before I’m a man, before I’m 40…I want to be different than the me I have become. I want to be used more. The other night, after work, I was headed down interstate 75 in Dallas and one of the highways I needed to take to get to the hospital where Liz was had been closed. So, I rolled on down to the next exit and worked my way through downtown Dallas. One moment I am driving by Stephan Pyles place and the next, a man crosses in front of me at a red-light pushing a baby stroller, with all his worldly positions inside. And he was wearing  a trash bag. And then, within 15 minutes, I am standing in the doorway of Liz’s hospital room, staring at a barren room that is smaller than many people’s bathroom.

Life isn’t what I make it. LIFE is what I give back to God, to do something with. I may be bitter and stubborn and hurtful and downright mean…but until I am blank inside, not gonna be much use to anyone. Until I let Him fill my heart with thanksgiving, love, mercy, patience, and gentleness, I’ll continue to be stuck. Yeah, I have a problem and its the man in the mirror. Its the Donny I say I want to get rid of, yet keep returning to daily or at least every other day.

But, there’s hope. There has been hope. There will always be hope. Change is coming. Change is my future. I just pray someone is still around when it happens. Its time for me to put down the pen and choose to allow a new author to write the rest of my story. My kids don’t need a new dad. They aren’t looking for change or some new awakening. They just want the father they were entrusted to. Their eyes, smiles, giggles, and stories all said the same thing tonight as I spent time with each one of them individually…”I remember you.”

My day-to-day living has seemed the heaviest it ever has been and yet more people are praying than ever before. I pray my enemy feels threatened. I pray my friends are strengthened. I pray my family be blanketed by His protection. In Christian “talk”, there’s the old adage of “one day at a time” because the Bible says that His grace is sufficient for the day; not a day, but the day, the present. I want my prayers to be that. One prayer at a time. My prayer tonight is that I wake in the morning joy in the fact that I am alive. That I may wake my children up and get them ready and off to school with more than a pep in my step. That I may see the day as blank inside, ready to be lived. There’s no false positive when God is tested. He has won. He defines winning. (Duh!)

Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Don’t wake with a case of the Mondays, but rather, let this verse be real tomorrow. I want the “more to me and for me” to be set free. I want to be the Donny I know I can be. Blank inside………………………..

…because I can’t

Posted in Uncategorized on May 21, 2011 by Donny

I’m not sure thinking is going to help much tonight. With the combination of being hungry, being tired, and feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of what’s currently at stake, I’m not even sure I could understand today’s life. I have worried and stressed so long now that I, by fault, define myself by it instead of occasionally letting it consume me. But the most ridiculous side of it is that I have gained nothing by letting it control my words, tone or actions. Such time exhaustion has alienated me from others, forced others to step back, and led to worthless conversations about right versus enough. Life is too short and the days are too long to continue living in the wake of one’s circumstances.

I sit here, on the edge of my bed, in the absolute quiet of the night. The air conditioner just clicked off and nothing but the occasional semi-truck rolling on down the nearby highway can be heard. Tonight, my family is split apart. Liz is currently in a hospital bed, in a fairly barren room, by herself, attempting to sleep through pain. Ever since Liz came home from the hospital last Saturday evening, I knew this day would come. I knew that her coming home would be temporary because all the issues had not been resolved. I don’t want to appear as a pessimist, but I know the signs to look for now. I know when she is right. And when she isn’t.

All week long, Liz has been getting gradually worse. And like usual, Friday hits, things get real bad, and its off to another emergency room she goes. Today, this afternoon, Liz was home alone. In an attempt to get to the bathroom…she passed out. She isn’t sure how long she laid there, but pretty sure she didn’t hit her head. The over all opinion of doctors and a pseudo-doctor (me) is that the blood clots in her left arm, left shoulder, and the left side of her neck caused a lack of blood flow to her brain when she got up and down she went. Tomorrow, some decisions will be made as to what and when. Liz’s latest hospital stay was the second longest. Praying that no more records be broken. My overall opinion…surgery as soon as its safe to do so.

The kids are with friends tonight. Hudson is doing great despite his broken arm. Logan continues to bounce back and forth from being seven to seventeen to twenty-seven. The girls are growing up too fast. Which means they are observing more, listening more, and are being affected by all of this more and more.

Today, in an effort to provide for my family, the job called for me to work thirteen hours. When all was said and down, I was the last one to leave the property. I locked the doors, turned off the lights, headed to the back parking lot. At one point, I was standing outside the delivery bays and I paused. All day today, I worked and worked hard. I was busy with doing something all day long. While waiting for the last customer to finish up with all the financing, I stepped outside to breathe. The rain had finally stopped, the sky had gone to night, and I just paused. The cell phone was inside on the desk, no one was anywhere around me, and I just leaned against one of the columns and watched the traffic flying up and down Interstate 75.

There I was, surrounded by life and cars and I was alone. A-lone. But He was there. My God was there. He didn’t talk to me. He didn’t put His big God-size arm around me. He watched the clouds above. He was just there. At that moment, neither one of us needed to say a dang thing. He was God and I was His. I wasn’t lonely, but I did feel low. Then, He did give me a God-sized nudge…This morning, Liz saw on my lower back that I had a bunch of scratches and scabs. I told her it was from where I had carried the heavy cross last Friday at the men’s retreat. While standing outside this evening, I reached around to rub my aching back and felt those scabs. It reminded me of how heavy my cross was last week. But then, He took it one step further. HE reminded me that as I walked, I kept getting lower to the ground. The further IIIIII walked with MMMYYYYY cross, the further steps I could take. Eventually, I was on the ground, on my knees, head buried in the grass, crying.

That day, and today, I was low. And He was there with me. Too often times, I get all stupid and try posturing myself as if to tell God that I have failed all the other times, but this time, this time I got it. God is so much more than a King. By example, He is the greatest servant that set foot on this ball of dirt we call life. He doesn’t issue rainchecks and He has no curfew. He lives for life and life is lived for Him. He is God above and Lord here. The end stops when He says so. Healing begins before the sickness. Answers are given before we knew to ask.

The stressors feel as if they are mounting. The pressure to do more is there. The desire to be better is constant.

The lamp is still on because as soon as it goes off…I’m just here. Too many nights of clock-watching and life-wondering. But, I will say this. My God responds to me. I am closer to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ now than I ever have been. Why? Because I recognize that He hasn’t forsaken me, forgotten me, and has forgiven me. I’ll never be right enough, good enough, or most definitely not smart enough to earn, deserve or buy His grace, mercy and love. Yet, here it is. In the midst of continued struggles, here it is. My God is a high-fiver, fist-bumper, and noggey-givin’ King. He is God above all. He should be feared for His strength is unmatched.

“God, tonight, be with all the Dixons, wherever all of us are. And be with the ones watchin’ over the ones you have put me in place to lead. You find our hearts to be ones of chase and not just haste. I love you.”

Let It Go, Set It Free, Be With Me

Posted in Uncategorized on May 18, 2011 by Donny

Tonight…I sit before the computer feeling conflicted. I feel stuck in the battle of crumbling at the cross or dancing in His glory. One moment to cry out and beat on my Lord’s chest and exclaim, “Enough is enough, God. Have you no mercy? Don’t you see my struggles and my turmoil?”, but give it thirty-six seconds and I’m looking at my life and wondering how I go so blessed.

I’m not at a crossroads, but rather, standing on the shoulder of life’s highway…trying to breathe. I see billboards like sticky notes dotting each side of the road, reminding me of everything I need to do, how I should act, who I need to call. The pink ones are the ones where I have screwed up, made the wrong choice, or hurt someone along the way. Those seem to out number the rest as of late.

Look, I KNOW my God. I have read His Word more in the last 3 to 4 months than I have my whole life. But life is so hard right now. There are times when I am lied to by myself that my God just doesn’t get it. There’s no way He would allow this to go on if He knew how I really felt. I stay on edge because the battle is waging. Lies. Costly lies. They cost me sleep, peace, patience, a loving spirit. I don’t understand the weight…well, I didn’t understand until this past Friday afternoon.

At a men’s retreat in Aquila, Texas this past weekend…I picked up a cross, barely, put it on my back and walked. My first thought was that of using it to understanding, partially, but Christ had done for me years and years ago. But with each agonizing step, the tone of my heart began to change. Physically, I began to break. These bones weren’t made for haulin’ much of anything. But, through the words of others and through Scripture I had read that was begin to ring loudly…He began to speak. He needed me to hear Him. He wanted me to know where I was. He wanted me to hear Him. And for awhile on that Friday evening, God let me have it. He may have even raised His voice at me for it was loud and clear. I actually tried to shut Him up. I wanted to explain my side and what I thought I needed and wanted. Looking back, I tried to debate God.

Once I finally conceded, He lowered His tone and spoke to me like I had never heard my God speak to me. He began to lighten my load by telling me everything He knew about my life. The setting was amazing. I went and found a set of bleachers to sit on and stare out at the sun. I couldn’t see. I was blinded by the setting ball of fire in the dark blue sky. I stopped thinking, feeling, wondering, sinking…I let my God warm my skin and touch my soul. My God had managed to shut down every thought that consumed me. I was no longer Donny, the guy that learned to hate mirrors. But rather, for a time, I truly saw myself as His. I belonged. He knew my name.

But now, I have got to find a way to stop using God as my addiction and instead, make Him my life. I can’t just escape. Life has hit back with a vengeance this week. In fact, its as heavy now than its ever been. People offer to help, I don’t even know where to start. A woman I didn’t even know called me the other day and began sharing part of her life story with me. She called offering help in any way possible with all that was going on…and she ended up crying on the phone, talking about where she had been and how she, through the grace of our God, had made it through a very rough time in her life.

Surgery is coming. Liz is home, but will have to have at least one, if not two more surgeries within the next month or so. Hudson broke his arm. Kids are about out of school. Job is still being learned. And a whole lot that feel to complicated to get into.

So, I’m coming home tonight from some friends’ house…all windows down, the sunroof open, no music playing, just me and the kids. And I wasn’t right. I’m was off. I wanted to be left alone. If I wasn’t so tired, I’d be out running right now instead of writing. I wanted to stop caring, thinking, spinning, running. God..just take this from me. Then, I got on here while the kids were showering. And it happened.

I go get my headphones, turned on Pandora, and my mouth fell wide open when the first song began to play…Tenth Avenue North’s song “Let It Go.” Please go Youtube this video, perhaps even the one with lyrics so that you know what is being said. He refused to leave me alone. I don’t wanna be Superman anymore. I am done with me. The me within has died. The dead self is nothing but a selfish, arrogant, annoyance of a carcass and should be burned so that all evidence of who I was can be gotten rid of. I can’t keep doing this. Life is too dog-gone heavy right now and what I don’t need is more lies. Trapped by snares and traps laid before me. Dark nights is home for the lonely, weary, and broken. A warm hug from a stranger can mean more than the empty words of a so-called friend. But by the lips of one that knows they are loved I know I too am loved by the one that gave Love its name and definition.

“God, this is how I see you. You hear the silent screams of the one that sits in church. You know the racing thoughts of the one that stands in line at the bank. You hurt for the man behind the desk that has his face in his hands. You love the panicked, the lost leader, the man stuck on cruise control, the woman raptured by her self-destructive words. But I don’t know how you’re going to work all this out. Between you and me, you and I see the whole picture…psyche. I have convinced myself I see what you see. If You can use such a man…there’s not a person you don’t want. Why are we so bent on keeping You at arm’s length…or further. At this point, I’m on my knees, sitting on my feet, slumped, scared, tired, worried, freaking out,…asking for forgiveness. I am sorry. I am sorry to so many for failing them. You’re more than a dance move. Plant me by your waters. Feed me more than food. And tomorrow, if my eyes are opened to a new day, may I treat it as such. Cleanse a man that is filthy, bless a man who is unworthy, and love…love me.”

That Friday night, after not a word was spoken by any man for hours through a vow of silence to hear from God…I ended that time with Him pleading with me…”Let It Go, Set It Free, Be With Me.”