Please check out my NEW website!

Please check out my NEW website!

https://AttitudeOfGratitudeBlog.com

Folks, I have made the move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. If you’re not a blogger, I’ll spare you the details on why that made sense for me. The short story, however, is that my new website will give me much more flexibility to do exactly what I want with it, to better serve you, my readers!

If you’re already an email subscriber, your contact information has been transferred to the new website, so there’s nothing for you to do. THANK YOU FOR FOLLOWING ME! If you are a WordPress follower, however, I was not sure how to transfer those subscriptions, so please follow me on the new site!!

If you’re not yet a follower at all, I am asking – heck, I am begging – for your support! Please link over to my new website (AttitudeOfGratitudeBlog.com) and simply add your name and email address to the subscription box you’ll find there. Since I rarely post to facebook and other social media (though you will see me on Pinterest), an email subscription is the best way to receive my blog posts.

My current schedule is to post every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. With Saturdays reserved for Inspirational posts, the other two weekly topics will range from Health & Surgery, to Romance, to Recipes, to Home Business & Organization Tips and Personal Tributes.

THANK YOU again for all of your support thus far, and I hope you will continue to follow my posts. There is a great lineup of content coming. Did you know that while I’ve published about 17 posts, I actually have more than 60 posts written already? Here’s a taste of what’s to come:

Personal Tributes to my Parents

5 Ways to Organize Your Email

5 Ways to Speak with Your Wife

A Crisis of Faith

The Best, Most Tastiest Salad Dressing Ever!

Forgiving Yourself

Mom’s Famous Zucchini Bread

The Handy Husband Checklist

Reflections of a Four-Year-Old

Introduction | Family | Wife | Kids | Motivation | Vision | Mission | Home | Personal | Icebreaker | Myself

We’re in this together…

We’re in this together…

Introduction | Family | Wife | Kids | Motivation | Vision | Mission | Home | Personal | Icebreaker | Myself

The wedding song I share with my wife, Sybil, is “God Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts. It is certainly a metaphor for my life…our life. And I’m sure many of yours. You have an idea about how things are going to take shape when you’re in high school, and soon enough, the paths you take are like nothing you’d ever imagined happening the way you expected.

Mine, I’m quite certain, is a journey not unlike millions of others. I’m not special. I’m not a pastor, or a successful businessperson, a high-powered executive or some kind of super dad or super husband. I’m no expert on anything, but I’d like to think I have something to offer.

We all have something to offer. We all learn valuable lessons around every corner of our lives. Most of us take them in stride and appreciate their value, hoping that when the same situation makes its way around again, we are better equipped to handle it the second time around. It’s called learning and growing.

Again, I don’t pretend to contend that my learning is very much different from yours and certainly no more profound, but since I enjoy writing and sharing with others, I’ve decided to document some of my life’s struggles and triumphs with the mere hope of inspiring others who may face some the same challenges and grapple with similar reflections on life.

I intend to share a lot of life experiences that you may find unique and interesting. My surgeries, my battles with depression, my return to Faith, and a number of just fun short essays meant to make you smile. I hope that some of you can benefit from its posts. I have written many of them already, but will release them gradually, a couple each week. Please feel free to provide some feedback. I value your opinions. Thank you!

See other posts about my family:

MQDs

My Marriage Proposal…doin’ it right!

Grandpa Prayer

Waiting for Noah

About Me

Landing at Cornerstone (post 4/9)

Landing at Cornerstone (post 4/9)

depression | anxiety | sadness | bipolar | therapy | mental health | therapist | OCD | suicidal | recovery | overcoming | struggles | battling | treatment | medication | severe | support | coping | alone | feelings | demons | inspiration

So, there was the nine-year-business and four failed attempts at being an employee. Now what? Fortunately, this last job change came while I still had the current one. I was still with ServiceMaster and got a random text message from an acquaintance named Mike. “Hey, how’s the ServiceMaster thing going? Do you ever keep your eyes open for other opportunities?” I had no idea what to think of this. I’ve been through every kind of multi-level marketing approach you could ever imagine and this certainly sounded like one of those. And I was done with those.

But again, my curiosity got the best of me and I responded in the affirmative. Mike was the son of John and Joanne, whom I had known – still mostly as acquaintances – through the Warner Theater in Torrington. They had both performed in countless musicals that I had drummed for through the years. They were folks I would say hello to in passing, but that was about it. They had, however, recently climbed a few rungs in our life because Sybil and I credit Joanne with our having met. Joanne was in Oklahoma! with Sybil and was the one who encouraged her to come to the bar after closing night, where I had introduced myself. So, someone who had long been an acquaintance turned into someone who certainly had a special place in our hearts. Anyway, I barely knew their son, Mike, who is a few years younger than me.

He went on to describe this job that he had been doing for about 8 years and worked in a small office with his father, who had done this for his entire working life. He said he was looking for some help; someone who was good with people, a good communicator and I think he even called me a “genuinely good guy.” That was about all he knew about me. To this day, I have no idea how they landed on me. Perhaps it was a simple discussion Sybil had with Joanne at some point, indicating that I was having trouble finding a good fit for work. At any rate, an interview was set with Mike’s bosses.

This has come to be one of the biggest blessings in my life. The interview went very well and I was hired. I was finally on a salary. Almost my entire working life was based at least in part on commission, and I came to realize how much stress that caused in my life. I still believe in business ownership and I can’t say that I might never go back to some sort of sales, but this, for me, at this point in my life, was a complete Godsend. Security, reliability and predictability for my family was a huge blessing.

cornerstone

Cornerstone Energy Services, Inc. is a large company that provides many services to the public utility sector. Our office’s charge is mainly as real estate consultants. Companies like United Illuminating and Eversource will hire us to help them acquire easements, rights of way and access roads to their transmission and gas line projects. This, as I said, has been a perfect fit for me. I love the research end of it, the client communication, and especially, the map reading. If you can’t tell, I do like to write and take pride in my communication skills. And here, I don’t have to sell anything! Such a relief and breath of fresh air. I spend my time communicating with landowners, banks and the utility companies, carrying out the projects they hire us to help them with. What’s more, is that I often get to work from home, since so much of my job is simply phone and email communication. When I do get to go out on the road, it might be to visit a city hall to perform landowner research, or even hike through the woods now and then to get eyes on access roads that the construction crews will need to perform their upgrades and new installations. I couldn’t be happier.

Employment Satisfaction…Finally

Absolutely amazing how a little job security and satisfaction, and the rekindling of my faith in God can bring those endorphins back into play in my head! I was finally coming home after a fulfilling day of work, and embracing the warmth of my beloved boys and the wife who waited a long time for me to come back to her…the way she really knew me. I am ecstatic about the state of my emotions right now and the promise of a new day, each and every day, with new opportunities and chances to show those you love how important they are.

birdsonawire

Sadness Lingers

Do I still cry once in a while? Of course. I’ve been through a lot this year and when I think of the enormity of if and how deep the despair was before I was brought back to the surface, sometimes the emotions overcome me. Thankfully, though, I can report that most of my tears these days are definitely happy tears. I am so grateful for the life I have that I never waste the chance to thank God for his grace and patience with me. He was there at every turn and always trying to point out the blessings that were ever-present in my life. When they were hard to notice, He forced me to recognize them enough to keep my wits about me and keep me moving in the right direction.

There is HOPE around every corner. In my life; in your life. When you don’t see it, just keep looking. If you’re serious about being healthy and being an inspiration for someone else, you’ll find it. And like I always say, when it’s nowhere else to be found, it can be found in the Bible. Go there, live in its pages, and you will find the strength you need to take one more step, one more leap of faith, and if you fall again, Jesus is there to rescue you…no questions asked. He will reach out His hand…just take it and follow Him.

Please say tuned for post 5 of 9.

Finding HOPE (post 1/9)

Finding Maria, my Therapist (post 2/9)

Finding My New Identity (post 3/9)

Finding My New Identity (post 3/9)

Finding My New Identity (post 3/9)

depression | anxiety | sadness | bipolar | therapy | mental health | therapist | OCD | suicidal | recovery | overcoming | struggles | battling | treatment | medication | severe | support | coping | alone | feelings | demons | inspiration

So, there I was with Maria, trying to figure out what to do next. How do I take this business owner passion and either parlay it into a different business, or somehow set it aside for the life of an employee? Leaving behind my entrepreneurial spirit was almost unthinkable to me at that point, if it wasn’t for my family’s need for an income – any income – something to hold us over in helping my wife pay the bills. This was not going to be an easy road. There would be four failed jobs before landing where I am today. Four stressful periods of being new, learning new systems, working for pennies, and struggling with my identity.

First, I called an acquaintance I knew at the local Subaru dealership. He brought me right in for an interview and I flew through it. Looked like I would be selling cars. After a few weeks of training on poverty pay, I’d be sent to the wolves. I don’t even like cars. I mean, give me a Vette or a Ferrari and I’m going to be thrilled, but to sell them? I don’t know the first thing about them and certainly don’t get excited about them. This job ended with a mental breakdown of significant proportion. I was driving into work one day, I couldn’t bring myself to turn into the dealership, so instead I drove myself to the hospital, crying hysterically. I wasn’t suicidal, but I didn’t know where else to turn. My life seemed to literally be crashing in around me.

identity-2

A Little Bit of Luck

Life is filled with luck. And I like to think when you’re a good person, luck comes your way when you need it most. Almost immediately, I got a message from an associate in the interior decorating business and she knew of a job opening at a lumber yard for a kitchen designer. After a long, heavy sigh, I picked up the phone to set up that interview. You see, the kitchen cabinet and countertop business had been the business I was in, and failed. Home Depot and Lowe’s were both in-town competitors and as I foolishly grew too fast, there simply wasn’t enough business to go around. So, did I want to go back into this business in the next town over? Certainly not. It was a painful subject for me. Most of me wanted a clean break from it and to move on. Unfortunately, I didn’t have that luxury. I was very good at the actual design and sales of kitchens, I couldn’t deny that, and here was a job that just landed in my lap. I had to take it – my family needed the income – and if I had sat home one more day thinking about all my failures, well, that wasn’t going to be doing any good for anyone. But I hated this job too.

It was right at this point when Elliott was born. I took a few days off from the lumber yard to be in the hospital with my wife and son. All the while, I was having another severe nervous breakdown. The same, frustrating parts of the kitchen business had been rearing their heads again at work. Trying to fulfill my promises to customers while my sub-contractors weren’t returning phone calls, showing up late…just not being professional. And I took the disappointment extremely personally. My customers were counting on me to execute their projects and when product constantly came in damaged or late and I couldn’t control the subs, it was on me. And that was too much for me. I always put myself in my customers’ shoes, always strove to do the right thing every time, but I was getting no satisfaction from my efforts. After a few days at home with our new baby, I tried going back to work, but only lasted a few days…I couldn’t go on like that.

Calling In Favors

Next, it was on to another phone call to a trusted, dear friend, who had decades of success in the furniture and mattress business. Again, not the identity I necessarily saw for myself, but my family was desperate and though I knew the hours were going to be horrible, Sybil and I talked about it and were willing to give it a try. The income potential was literally six figures. Peggy got me an instant interview at Raymour & Flanigan and it was on to a six week (again, poverty-level training pay) orientation into their sales team. I learned a lot and enjoyed my time very much at this large company. It was well run –  something that was refreshing to me – and I finally got to work with a large handful of people whose company I genuinely enjoyed. Most of my working life had been rather solitary, so it was a nice change to have co-worker camaraderie. I had mentors who cared about me and took me under their wings. It started to grow on me. Until the hours started to wear on me.

I could be “Up” – the term we used to indicate that the next customer in the door was yours – and literally sit in a chair or stand on the tile floor for sixty to ninety minutes just waiting. This was not good for my head. I’m a doer. I’m a thinker. When I think too much, I get frustrated that I’m not doing enough. But that was the job. We had a very small handful of chores, but for the most part, your job was to wait for your next customer, especially if you were ‘up.’ You weren’t expected to do anything but wait. And waiting was not my style. Couple this with the stress of getting home at 7:00 or even 9:30 some nights and working most every Saturday and Sunday…this was not good for my young family. So again, I needed to move on.

dj

My great friend, DJ Murphy, with his sister Lesley

Friends are everything. And I had a great one in a guy named DJ Murphy. After I had quit Raymour & Flanigan, I had put out a text message to a few of my closest friends. “Hey, I need a job, any ideas?” Now, I don’t blame anyone for their responses. It was nobody’s job but my own to find myself a job. Everyone’s got their own bigger fish to fry than to worry about me. But DJ, I will always be grateful for, in that he was the only one who sent back a thoughtful, useful response. He literally sent me three very solid leads on folks he knew of looking for help right then. That meant the world to me, and I called them all right away.

I landed with ServiceMaster disaster cleanup and restoration services as their new Marketing Director. This seemed like a great fit for me. The owner’s job description for me said that he was looking for someone to attend 2-3 networking events per week to really get the word out on his growing business. Well, I could literally attend almost 2-3 networking events per DAY, based on all my experiences and connections within the business community. To me, this was the perfect position. I’d get to network – which I loved – and talk up our company to warm contacts. I wasn’t even really selling – how do you sell a disaster? – so it was really more of a PR position than anything else. Yes, I would be paid a base plus commission, but I didn’t feel like I had to go out every day and get somebody to sign on the dotted line for something I sold them…it just wasn’t going to work that way.

So, I designed an entire Marketing Plan for the company, found the best organizations to join, researched a huge list of the biggest potential clients and lead sources, and was off to the races. Then, another big blow to my enthusiasm. Once the plan was outlined, the lists were in place, and the networking events only turned out to take up a small fraction of the week, the only thing left for me to do – in my boss’s eyes – was to cold call insurance offices. And I mean all of them – across the entire western side of the state. This was to be my daily routine going forward. “Hi, I’m Tyson, with ServiceMaster, just want to make sure you know who we are and I’ll pop in every now and then and say hello. We’d love for you to think of us when one of your clients has an insurance loss.” That type of spiel, every single day, all day long to 15 – 20 stops per day! Now, I would be back to begging for my living. These were not warm contacts, these were completely cold calls, people who had absolutely no interest in me interrupting their day. But I was going to have to annoy people for the foreseeable future. It’s just not me, not my style.

Stay tuned for where I landed next…it gets better! On to post 4 in the series of 9.

Finding HOPE (post 1/9)

Finding Maria, my Therapist (post 2/9)

Weekly Inspiration – 2017 Week 3

Weekly Inspiration – 2017 Week 3

hope | faith | Bible | inspiration | Scripture | Jesus | God | Christ | Lord | Christian | prayer | Catholic | healing | love | strength | cross | family | verses

My very good friend, Daniel Mathews, is guest-authoring this Weekly Inspiration post. It has been an honor to have him in my life and truly a blessing to be a student of the religious proficiency that he brings to the table. He is a Good Sheep of our Great Shepherd and I cherish the time I have with him to sit and reflect on the Good News of the Bible. This is a story that hails from Dan’s recent vacation to the Tampa Bay area.

Just when I thought this trip couldn’t possibly go any better, two experiences took place which… well, you’ll see.

Blessings To Count

As I have done every evening since I got here, I repaired down to the water tonight to watch the gorgeous sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. There was a young married couple standing next to me. The wife asked me if I would mind taking their photograph against that dramatic backdrop, which I did. Then we got to talking. It came out in the conversation that he is a youth minister for his church. He told me that the most important lesson he tries to impart to his students is to be grateful.

HE:     God is so very good to us. If only people would take time to be thankful for all that they have, instead of focusing on what they don’t have, perhaps their attitudes about life would be better. Just listen to all those beautiful sounds… The crashing of the waves, the cries of the seagulls, the live music being played on the beach… And the smell of the salt air, the scent of the barbecues and the fine cigars… How could we not be grateful?

ME:     I quite agree. There is so much for which to be thankful… Of course, standing here on this beach I suppose it’s easy for you and me to say that. Most people on this planet have it a lot harder than we do.

HE:     Perhaps. But they still have blessings to count. Everyone does.

At that point dinner beckoned, and I rose to take my leave. I held my hand out to them and bade them good night. I was a little surprised that he didn’t take my hand. He just stared at me.

SHE:    Mark, Dan is holding his hand out for you to shake.

HE:     (finally extends hand)

ME:     (looks in confusion from him to her, and back again)

HE:     You’ll have to excuse me, Dan. I’m blind.

ME:     (shaking his hand) You see farther than most…

hope | faith | Bible | inspiration | Scripture | Jesus | God | Christ | Lord | Christian | prayer | Catholic | healing | love | strength | cross | family | verses

 In a second way, on this very same night, experiencing the kindness of others and the grace of our God, Dan was enlightened by a simple gesture of a tiki bar guitar player. Cindy, Dan’s dear friend back at home, was certainly on his mind.

 On the way back to my hotel, I was drawn to a musician who was playing at a Tiki Bar. I thought that if I greased his palm he might consider playing a song for Cindy (with whom I was speaking on my cell phone). I did, and he said into the phone, “Cindy, this one’s for you.” Then he played on his guitar and sang “Souvenirs” by Jimmy Buffet, to Cindy’s great delight. When it was over, he took the phone from me.

HE:     I hope you enjoyed that, Cindy! It was a pleasure to play for you. God bless you.

SHE:    (clapping over the phone) Thank you!

I had never heard the song before, but the final verse stuck with me:

“Pieces, bits and pieces
Add up through the years,
I’ve collected a small fortune
In souvenirs.”

What a day. What a night. WHAT A LIFE!
I bid you all a heartfelt good night.
Daniel Sean Mathews
Tampa Bay, Florida
January 16, In the Year of Our Lord 2017

hope | faith | Bible | inspiration | Scripture | Jesus | God | Christ | Lord | Christian | prayer | Catholic | healing | love | strength | cross | family | verses

Finding Maria, my Therapist (post 2/9)

Finding Maria, my Therapist (post 2/9)

depression | anxiety | sadness | bipolar | therapy | mental health | therapist | OCD | suicidal | recovery | overcoming | struggles | battling | treatment | medication | severe | support | coping | alone | feelings | demons | inspiration

I’ve spoken briefly about Hope. It’s certainly not a one-word cure, and while I pray that you find something to focus your Hope on, there are many things that can work in conjunction with Hope to help you on your path to healing. I took this notion to great lengths in order to find my peace. I knew I needed help.

Dr. Maria Cresham of “Therapy on the Run” in Torrington, CT

First of all, there’s my therapist, Maria. Maria is wonderful and it took me a long time to find her. I had been through many therapists. First of all, they’re not always easy to find, when you’re working with insurance. There’s that whole thing to contend with. Then, trying a new therapist is often more traumatic that the reason you’re there in the first place. The important part is finding someone you can personally relate to, I think. I had seen a 70 year old man with one foot in retirement, a frail grandmother, and a ‘child’ counselor because that’s all I could find…all manner of people I had nothing in common with and a hard time opening up to. And when I did, I could feel my pain flying right over the top of their heads, quite literally, like they were barely listening to a word I said. And I wasn’t even a particularly tough case. Not suicidal, a lot of things still going well in my life, namely a supportive family and a rather intelligent mind, if I do say so myself.

Relating to Your Therapist

Finally, then, I found Maria. She is just a few years older than me and a fireball to say the least. She gets me. She got me right from the start. I challenge her, but she understands me, can predict my reactions and knows how to steer me in the right direction. She does it with finesse. I use the word finesse, but probably shouldn’t. I don’t mean finesse in the sense of gentleness or grace, I use it because she’s relatable. She swears – like a sailor – but it makes me laugh. I tell her my problems and she tells me hers; it’s a give and take and sometimes I feel so fulfilled when I leave her not because of what she’s done for me sometimes, but because of what I feel I’ve done for her. We’re buddies, and we get each other. We can finish each others’ sentences and it works. And on top of it all, she’s technical…she knows her shit, pardon me. She is a Ph.D. and brilliant at her craft. Knows enough about the medicines out there, that she can help steer my subscriber to the right formulas for me. I appreciate Maria each and every day and am so proud to call her my friend before my therapist.

maria-2

Getting to The Source

I started seeing Maria very shortly after the closing of my business. This was, of course, the instigator for my pain at the time. I had a huge battle brewing in my head. At the age of about seven, my mother and Aunt Jean had helped me run a carnival in the backyard of our house after a neighborhood 4th of July parade. This was my very first entrepreneurial adventure. Aunt Jean had brought over a bunch of her old stuffed animals to use as prizes, and I charged all the neighborhood kids a nickel to play different games for tickets toward those used stuffed animals. I was hooked. I counted up all those nickels at the end of the event and must have had two dollars! That morphed into selling candy to the neighborhood kids out my bedroom window, a neighborhood handyman service, babysitting, and even an Amway business when I turned eighteen. I was destined to be an eternal entrepreneur. I never imagined I would be anything else. I wanted to be rich.

My Uncle John – when I was maybe twelve – had a small cabin cruiser on the Long Island Sound for a couple years. I used to go fishing with him and even slept out on that boat once or twice. I loved it. I can remember shortly thereafter, picking up a magazine called “Boating” from the local grocery store, and I was hooked. I thought for sure my life’s work would culminate in the purchase of a million dollar motoryacht and I would sail the seas in the lap of luxury. Then life throws you a curve ball. Fast forward twenty-five years or so and my business is gone, I’d scraped by for nine years, barely making a living, and now I was left with a two-year business degree from a community college and a resume that could boast only of a failed business. I spinned it…I did what I could: Great at sales, wore every hat as business owner, well-connected in the community, tons of volunteer time. But it boiled down to somebody having to take a chance on someone who had already had his chance.

Losing My Company

Needless to say, I was not handling the last years of my company well. I felt like I was losing control. With five showrooms and six employees to pay, I never had anything left for my family, neither money nor energy. Every day I was putting out fires. When you depend on so many other people; contractors, suppliers, manufacturers; shippers and designers, it’s very easy to lose control. Nothing seemed to ever be done the way I would do it personally and thus, the quality never met my standards, let alone my customers’. Products that I was counting on that would come in defective and now the project was put on hold. People I was counting on to be honest, responsive, on time and independent were always letting me down.

I take responsibility, however, because in the end, it was up to me to make sure the systems were in place to counter these hurdles. I just never had time to implement any good systems. When I wasn’t running around trying to keep customers happy when I couldn’t blame them for being upset, I was at the office paying bills…for hours! At times, I thought my entire job was to get up, go to the office and just pay bills all day long. I was drowning in unproductive activities with no time to really improve our company’s initiatives, morale, training and execution. I gave it my all, but it wasn’t good enough in the end. We simply grew way too big way too fast and I held immense amounts of guilt for allowing that to happen.

I let people down and it made it very hard to express love at home and even harder to sleep. Maria would be a ray of sunshine for me during the ensuing couple of years. We’ll continue this discussion about where I went from there in post 3/9 of this series.

And if you missed the first in this series, please check out: Finding HOPE (post 1/9)

Finding HOPE (post 1/9)

Finding HOPE (post 1/9)

depression | anxiety | sadness | bipolar | therapy | mental health | therapist | OCD | suicidal | recovery | overcoming | struggles | battling | treatment | medication | severe | support | coping | alone | feelings | demons | inspiration

This next progression of 9 regular posts – not including the Weekly Inspiration posts on Saturdays – document some of my struggles with depression. It is an immensely personal story, but I’ve decided to share it with the hope of reaching just one person out there who can relate to it, and perhaps see through to the other side of it. Mine was not a severe case; I was never suicidal or hospitalized. However, I’m sure there are millions more people who suffer from minor cases of depression and anxiety, than those that have severe cases. So, I would think that some of my experiences – while not as serious as others’ – would be relatable. Please respect the personal nature of my battle and those of others who may comment. And while Facebook is a great outlet, and I welcome comments in both spots, I highly encourage you to link into the blog post itself and leave your comments on the blog’s website, so that as my following grows, more and more people with similar struggles can read your encouraging words. Thank you so much in advance!

There was a time in the not-to-distant past that I was crying multiple times a day, each and every day. If I skipped a day, it was literally because I didn’t have the energy to shed one more tear. I had a hard time recognizing and certainly defining the Hope in my life. 2016 was an extremely tough year for me. I had just lost the business I had run for 9 years, and poured my heart and soul and life savings into. I was so passionate about being a business owner and an entrepreneur…a community man involved with so many different organizations because of my business affiliations. I was Past President of the Rotary Club, active in the Chamber of Commerce, especially with the Young Professionals Organization. I was a Corporator for a couple of local non profits and my wife called me “The Mayor,” because everywhere we went, I knew someone. It was a life I enjoyed and I took a huge amount of pride in playing the role of successful local businessman.

Losing My Company

Unfortunately, it was a losing battle. Though we had double-digit growth for the first 3 or 4 years in business, that, of course, was starting from zero, so you’d better hope there was some early growth! It clouded my judgement however, and I got greedy. Soon, I was opening offices quicker than I could pay for the existing ones. Expanding product lines like it was going out of style, all the while thinking that more was better, bigger was better, and that the short term investment would pay off in big dividends quicker than you could say, “check your financial statements.” Well, it didn’t. And the next big job we kept thinking would put us over the edge to easy money never came quick enough and the thing imploded. Way too much debt and not enough customers. So, there was this loss to contend with…personal bankruptcy…the whole nine yards. Not a fun year.

The Blessing that is Elliott Francis

elliott

Fortunately, for my family, Elliott was born on December 28, 2015, so although 2016 was a year wrought with stress, Sybil and I had something to be very thankful for, waiting for us at home every day. He was a Godsend. Not to mention, of course, that Noah was 3 and already keeping us plenty busy. My relationship with my wife has always been rock-solid and because of this – though as I said, I had a hard time acknowledging it consciously – I always had Hope in my life…Hope in the form of my family’s undying love and support. Now, I’m going to contend that if you are struggling with depression, you have Hope too. You just have to find it, and grab a hold of it with everything you have. It WILL get you to the other side. And it doesn’t have to be a big thing. The love of family was huge for me, but I know that not everyone has that. In fact, it’s probably one of the main reasons people fall into despair…feeling like they don’t have anyone.

Hope Around Every Corner…if You’re Looking

Consider this, though. Perhaps there’s a girl at the coffee shop, who you just can’t wait to lay eyes on every single day. Perhaps even that you’re homeless, but that the Tuesday night meal at the shelter is your favorite part of the week and you can latch onto that. Consider that maybe your little apartment, even though you’re out looking for a job everyday and there might be nobody waiting for you when you get home – that when you do get home to your space, your oasis…you feel good, you feel at home, you feel safe. These are all things that can bring a glimmer of Hope into your life. Hold onto the good things for dear life and let them be stepping stones to bigger and brighter things. And if all else fails, or really – long before all else fails – remember that there is an unending supply of Hope in Jesus. The Bible can bring you the comfort you seek and will carry you to the other side of darkness, no matter what that darkness feels like to you.

Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the one who lifts my head high. I call out to the LORD, and he answers me from his holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me. I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me from every side.       Psalm 3: 2-6

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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy, He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.                    1 Peter 1: 3-6

My prayer for you is that you find HOPE. It can be in the smallest corner of your life, but if you find it and hold onto it, you can reach peace and comfort again, especially in the Lord. This, of course, is not my whole story of depression. There were to be many more struggles and very difficult times. But I talk about Hope early and the fact that it’s had a huge impact on my healing, so that you’re not reading eight more posts of doom and gloom before you get to some brightness. Stick with me…there’s more pain…but there’s a boat load of happiness on the other side too.

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In my next post, I will continue this discussion about finding Hope and how I used the gracious help of my therapist and my church and a few other resources to bring me to the happiness I experience today. Please stay tuned for post 2 in this series of 9.

Finding Maria, my Therapist (post 2/9)

Weekly Inspiration for 2017 Week 2

Weekly Inspiration for 2017 Week 2

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Since I was literally stumped by this week’s calendar verses, I decided to take a different route this week: I received a lot of get well cards when I was in the hospital, recovering from surgery. This was the text on the card that hit me the hardest. I think it speaks volumes to God’s love for us and how we can use it to propel us into a new year of health, happiness and prosperity.

Acknowledging His presence the whole year through

“Take hold of your gentle Father’s hand…Walk in His Son’s footsteps, for they will never lead you astray…Let the Holy Spirit fill your soul with the joy of the season and the peace of knowing how deeply you’re loved. Whatever your dreams, whatever your hopes, may they come true for you in the new year through God’s leading and His loving grace.”

HOW GREAT IS YOUR GOODNESS…    – PSALMS 31:19

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He is with you Always

The first step is to acknowledge His presence and know that He is with you always. Take His hand. Not just when you need it, but before you need it. Let Him guide you through the fields of challenges you will face each and every day…be they large or small. With your hand in His, you are already a step ahead of meeting those challenges with strength, grace and humility on your side.

Footsteps in the Sand

We all remember the “Footsteps in the Sand” poem. As God walks with us, there are two sets of footsteps and we eventually ask where He has gone when there remains only one. “It was then that I carried you,” says God. I believe that taking His hand is the first step to having a relationship with Him and when times are good, you hop, skip and you jump with joy as you travel together. When times get tough, if you’re already holding His hand, it’s that much easier for Him to pull you close, pick you up, and carry you through to better times. And when it’s your time, He will literally carry you to the Light. Stay close to Him, and allow him to walk beside you…welcome Him to be by your side.

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Walk in the footsteps of Jesus, “for they will never lead you astray.” The Bible says that we were created in His image. I have to believe that to be created in His image, it seems only logical that we were divinely intended to be like Him in every way. Now, the devil and the sin of man have led us astray as a people, but if we walk in His footsteps, and abide by His teachings, we can come back to Him. Everything we need answered in our life, is addressed in the Bible and by heeding his direction and doing our best to walk in His footsteps, we can come around to humility and hope in the glory of Life Everlasting.

A Christ for All Seasons

The season can be any season. I know this card is referring to Christmas and the rebirth and dedication of a new year, but we should let the Holy Spirit fill our soul with the joy of every season. Most especially, we should rejoice at the birth of Christ, but think of how fulfilling our life could be if we were rejoicing around every corner of the calendar at the wonder that is Jesus Christ. He has no timeline for your salvation. Come to Him whenever, and as soon as you feel so moved.

Unimaginable Love

He loves you more than you can imagine and whether or not you think you love Him at any given moment, HE LOVES YOU, regardless. There is something unique and lovable about every human being, and whether or not you can find it, God knows what that thing is, and frankly, He probably has a whole list. He loves you EXACTLY as you are at this moment. With all your faults and your failings, you probably hold yourself to a much higher standard than God does. Sure, we need to try to follow Him, but as we fall short, God loves us no less. This, I believe is what this verse means by “the peace of knowing how deeply you’re loved.” We can’t comprehend the depth of God’s love for us. But we can certainly accept it and share it with someone else. Reach out a hand to someone who needs it and see if you can’t get that struggling soul to reach out their other hand to God, with your help.

How do your plans and God’s plan match up?

“Whatever your dreams, whatever your hopes, may they come true for you in the new year through God’s leading and His loving grace.” This too, is a powerful statement. “Through God’s leading,” I believe is the most important part. We all have dreams, we all have hopes. Many times, they don’t line up with God’s plan. That doesn’t mean He thinks your plan is bad or your timing is right. I know for sure that when my dreams in life fell short, my hopes seemed smashed, it wasn’t because they weren’t noble or I wasn’t worthy. It most often meantt that I had some learning to do first and some challenges to overcome on my way to earning the right to see these come true in my life. Many I’m still waiting on, but God hears my prayers and I trust that in His time – which may not even be when I still walk this Earth – all of my hopes and dreams will come true. I bow to His great plan and accept that I have a duty and a purpose in this world that take precedence over my earthly rewards. We’ll leave that for Heaven…I hear it’s nice there.

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Please see the other posts in “Inspiration”:

Weekly Inspiration of 2017 Week 1

Weekly Inspiration – 2017 Week 3