Friday, November 13, 2009

The Pair of Shoes That Changed My Life

The Pair of shoes that changed my life

Hello all, I hope you have been well. Today is just a little story on how God will do what is best for you no matter how much you resist, change your ways, or even HAVE SURGERIES to change your body and how it works.

Rewind to 1992, Nirvana and “Smells like Teen Spirit” owned the radio waves and MTV, and Bill Clinton was elected President.

My wife and I got married a bit early, I was 23 years old and she was 26. We only dated for about 10 months before a “surprise” happened and yes, before we were married, God gave us a son. When I was about 25 or so and year after we got married, another “surprise” happened, god gave us another son. And almost to the day when I turned 27, guess what? God gave me another son. SO, at the tender age of 27, I was married w/ 3 kids, all under the age of 5 and I felt like I was done having children and decided to get my tubes tied. Despite my wife’s objections, I went and got a vasectomy, I was now going to be free from worrying about any future “surprises”, or so I thought.

I will not paint the picture of our perfect little existence and happy life that it was all warm and fuzzy and “lovey-dovey” a lot. Matter of fact, it was the opposite at times, sad to say. We fought, sometimes a lot, sometimes not, sometimes about the lack of sleep, money, friends, etc. There was always an underlying “resentment” to my surgery I think. Or at least I interpreted it that way anyway. Don’t get me wrong, we had and still have great times, I am happy to report that my life and our marriage is on an upswing, big time. We are gellin’ like Magellan and we have the good Lord to thank for our blessings.

I believe the turning point for this was after a very sort of “gloomy day”, where I went for a car ride in the rain. My wife and I had gone head to head for a while and I was getting to the point where I just could not take the hot and cold of the relationship anymore. The stress was giving me chest pains and I felt suicidal at times.
I can vividly remember driving down the road and the repetitive motion of the wipers, and the pounding rain against the windshield was putting me into a trance-like state. I could have easily driven my little car into the oncoming traffic of 18 wheelers that were spraying water off the back of their rigs little salt shakers. I calmly pulled off to the road and said “God help me” and slowly turned the car around and headed back home.

As I pulled up the driveway, the winds were whipping the tree limbs like the devil and the rain was headed sideways like you read about. However, in the midst of the storm, I noticed a very small pair of baby shoes, sized super small. Now, all my kids are between 1 and 5 yet these shoes did not fit any of them. Why were they there? Who’s were they? When I looked closer at them, WHY DID THE SOUND IN MY EARS GO SILENT, WHY WERE THE SHOES COMPLETELY BONE DRY AND SHELTERED BY A LONE BRANCH COVERED WITH LEAVES AND WAS FIXED MOTIONLESS TO PROTECT IT AND KEEP IT DRY IN THE MIDDLE OF GAIL FORCE WINDS? Do you see what I see?

My heart skipped a beat, then another, and I caught my breath. The tears welled in my eyes, (as they are now as I write this), because that was the first time I had ever felt God had spoken to me. Maybe not in words like some people hear, but he SHOWED me what to do.

I walked into the house, very quietly, dragging my feet, wet from the rain and sat down on the couch. I must have looked like I saw a ghost or something because Michelle came over to me and was like, what is wrong? I looked at her with a very concerned look on my face and said, “I am ready to have another baby”.

She threw her arms around me, we cried for a while and sobbed and then it kinda hit us, uh,,,,I kinda had my tubes tied so how in world am I gonna pull this off?

Micro-surgery, that’s how. I will spare you the operating room details, but let’s just say that a very gifted surgeon performed on operation on me called a “vasovasectomy”. This is where they actually sew my tubes back together, from the inside out! They use micro thread 100 times thinner than a human hair and the difficulty of the procedure can be compared to sewing two pieces of wet spaghetti together, end to end.

This ain’t cheap and it is not covered by health insurance, nice. So I did what other self respecting home owner would do, I re-mortgaged my house to pay for it and took out some extra to finish the basement for more bedrooms.

Well, about 10 weeks had gone by and we paid a visit to the Dr for a follow up and he said that my sperm count was low. I asked a few questions, he said to “be patient, all it takes is one” and he was right.

A few weeks went by and my wife and I found out we were pregnant, God was to give me another child to watch over for him and I was accepting of this gift. This time though, he would give me a daughter, daddy’s little girl. Michelle and I had a deal that if it was a girl, I could name it, if it was a boy, she would name it.

I appropriately chose the name “Nevaeh”, which is Heaven spelled backwards. I did this to signify the backwards way in which the more we try to resist God’s Will and retreat, the more he will course correct us, no matter what we do.

Hope you enjoyed the read, god bless you all- Joshua

Monday, November 2, 2009

Bent but not broken

I am sure some of you can think back to when you a child, there may have certain things that helped “shape” who you are today.

Some of them may have been positive, like being the star player on the basketball team and shooting the winning basket for the championship, “He Shoots,,,,he SCORES and wins it for the Home Team, Hooo-Rah!”, you get the picture.

Or maybe you were the victim of abuse, neglect, or worse?

In any case, how you respond to these changes and situations that happened to you in your life will greatly have an impact on what choices you will make and your behaviors or quirkiness, and your attitude in general.

Well, grab a hot cup of Joe, (that’s coffee for all you non-New Englander’s), and read on, what I am about to share with you has only been vaguely talked about with my wife, (if she was listening, ha-ha). These are some true stories that happened to me when I lived in Hawaii as a child in the late 70’s for a few short but memorable years when I was about 11 yrs old.

I know, I know, this has to be a feel good story, right? I mean, come on, THIS IS HAWAII we are talking about, palm trees swaggering in the island breeze, Pina Colada’s, White Sandy Beaches. What on earth could go wrong in Hawaii? Everything.

May dad, my middle younger brother and I moved out to HI alone and left my mom and my youngest brother back in RI. They were due to come out with us about 6 months after we set up shop, got a house and got settled, etc.

My first real memory of when things maybe were not going in a positive direction is when we were living with my dad’s friends while we looked for a house and me, my brother and our friend Chris with whom we were staying with decided to venture out into the neighborhood and meet some other kids. In a matter of about 20 minutes, I was in a fight with a local kid, don’t remember his name, didn’t see him coming, but he beat the crap out of me, while my younger brother stood there defenseless. I must say for the record, I was a total puss at the time. I did not know how to fight or had a mean fighting type of personality. Blonde hair, blue eyed, and bambi-like innocent qualities.

When I sorta came to my senses, Chris picked me up and walked me back to his house and was kinda like, “welcome to Hawaii”,,,oh by the way, plan on getting beat up all the time by the local kids because you are white.” Hmmmmm, I don’t remember seeing that in those fancy books or brochures they let you read on the plane on the 15 hour flight over there from Boston. “Come to Hawaii, relax, enjoy, see the wonderful sights, and get ready for the can of whoop-ass that is coming your way Haole”, (this is the local term for white trash; think the “N” word and pronounced “How-Lee”)

It seems like Hawaii, (or back then anyway), had a sort of discrimination thing going on with white people. Not tourists mind you, but white people who came to Hawaii to live. They considered it an invasion and a take over to some extent. If I can find a pic of me in the school photo and upload it, you will not believe it, I am the only white kid on the school.

From that day forward and what would seem like an eternity, I got my butt whooped on the way to school, on the way home from school, on the weekends, in my own yard, in their yard, all over, almost every day. I mean they didn’t really take any days of from this, they stole from me and they took my toys. To elaborate on some of the things I was faced with I vividly remember skipping going to the playground one day when my friend Kiave call me up. That same friend called me later that day to tell me that my next door neighbor Patrick Borden, (white kid), was shot in the chest at close range w/a shotgun by a local kid Shane Johnson because of a scuffle turned bad. Patrick was 12 yrs old, looks like a picked a good day to stay home, Patrick was not so lucky.

I also remember walking home from school one day with my brother and two older teens drove up to us and stuck a gun in my eye socket and cursed at us and told us to make sure that when we saw them again, we moved out of their way. My brother was so scared he jumped into the ravine that was on the side of the road to hide while I yelled for him. We laugh about it now because we told my dad what had happened and we went to the local Police Dept to do a sketch of the guys and put out an APB. I could not remember what they looked like because the gun barrel was kinda blocking my view (ha-ha), but my brother took forever to draw his best recollection of the perpetrators, a smiley face, like this :-) “Attention all units, attention all units, please be on the look out for a 17 yr old male driving a late model powder blue Beetle and resembles a smiley face”, dang dude.

In some respect I felt like on of those battered dogs you see on TV in the PETA TV commercials. Bent but not broken. I would find myself very jumpy and ready to defend myself at nothing, like a shell shock war veteran. I had to go to therapy to work it out because I was wound so tight that I really had a hard time unwinding and still do to this day.

At the time, it hurt, a lot. And it changed something inside me for the good; it made me a fighter, tough, and against racism because I vowed at an early age to NEVER hate someone, fight, or otherwise based on their skin color. As I became a Christian later in life, I learned to love and love others, and that the love you have heals the sin no matter what.

I do know one thing though, My God Loves Me No Matter What. He created me, and in some respect, allowed this terrible thing to exist in my life to make me better, improve me, and alter me. He also delivered me from Evil.

In some ways, I am kind of like the Olive. The Olive in itself is OK; it tastes pretty good, maybe a bit salty on its own. But crush it, push it, kneed it, press it, and work it and the most wonderful oil comes out of it. So sought after back in JT, (Jesus’ Time), it was considered a rarity.

When you first meet me, I can be a bit harsh, salty, and sarcastic, but under this hard exterior is a decent guy who had some hard times as a kid, (more stories on that for another blog), and when you get to know me and connect with me, I ain’t that bad after all.

Don’t get me wrong about Hawaii, there were lots of wonderful times out there, it really is an amazing place filled wonderful nature and the fishing and surfing is A1 top notch.
I would love to go back to Hawaii some day to visit and catch up with a few of the guys to say hello. No chips on my shoulder, only forgiveness for all and to make peace with it, maybe then I will not be so jumpy and restless.

God Bless you all for listening- Joshua

I am linking this blog post up to the carnival over at Peter Pollock's place with a "remembering" theme. Make sure you head on over and check out all the other great blogs!