A Time For Reflection, An Attitude Of Thanks

Like many others, my last several months have been heavily preoccupied with the midterm election and doing all I could to inform and encourage others to participate in this historic vote.  I am quite happy to have this behind us now and must say I am pleased with how things turned out.  Of course, there were some disappointments (Nevada immediately comes to mind), but overall I am excited about the change and the sluggish awakening of American Conservatives.  Bring on 2012!

However this, my first diary entry, is not really meant to be about politics as such but about where I find myself at the end of another tremendously difficult and yet very satisfying year.  November is a time for me to clear my head and begin to summarize where I am, remember where I have been and determine where I am going.  I believe it is essential for all people, who desire the best for themselves and their families, to go through an honest self evaluation from time to time.  Now is the time for my reflection because exactly 25 years ago my life was forever changed on a cool November evening.

Let me first say, God is.  There was once a time when I did not believe in God as revealed in the Bible; that time is long gone.  As the days go by, I become even more convinced of His sovereignty and presence in our daily lives.  I am saddened for those that do not believe in the Creator and have their hope in things that will most certainly fail them.  I also pity those whose faith is minimal for they are cheating themselves out of a far more joyous life than they can imagine.  This is not to say that I am anything special or am putting myself above anyone else.  Quite the contrary, I’m a schmuck and I know it.  It is only by God’s grace that I am what I am and to Him alone belongs the glory.

As I said, my life was forever changed.  The result of a self gratifying life and youthful ignorance to all the warning signs is now plain to see.  Driving home after midterm finals and a few beers with friends, I fell asleep at the wheel and lost control of the car going into a sharp curve.  I had stayed up half the night before studying and got up early to open the store at my part time job.  “Burning the candle at both ends”, my dad would say, but that was nothing new for a semi serious student that was enjoying life as he saw it.  As I started for home that evening, I honestly did not believe myself to be overly intoxicated, rarely did I.  I had been drunk before, many times in fact, and so felt comparatively capable of getting myself to home and to bed.  The combination of little sleep and too many beers made my attempted drive home an impossibility and resulted in the tragic death of a young man and the permanent wounding of many lives.  Although I was  technically still a teenager, I had been wanting for years to be treated as a mature adult and believed I was deserving of it.  The presiding judge obliged my wishes and sentenced me to a total of 19 years in the state penitentiary.

The imposed penalty for my crime was much less severe than my own self condemnation.  For the next four years I relived that night almost daily and vowed to find a way to make up for the pain I had brought to the young man’s family and to my own.  I tried to console myself at times with the knowledge that I had never intended to harm anyone, but that notion didn’t really change anything.  After seeing the futility of my actions and the mess I had made of things, I sought out what was for me the last bastion of hope and surrendered my life into the hands of God.  Much has occurred since that time and maybe additional entries will be needed for that.  Suffice it to say, when you give yourself to God, He takes it seriously and so should you.

Pondering all of these things and so much more, I have nothing but thanks for everything that is in my life, even the difficult things.  As a direct result of my incarceration and with the help of a wonderful couple involved in prison ministry and a certain young lady, I met my future wife, the most beautiful of all of God’s creation!  After nineteen years of marriage, we have four healthy children, a home and a decently surviving company I started seven years ago.   I have had the indescribable joy of participating in and then leading teams of adults and youth to visit a very special orphanage in Honduras.  Imagine me, being asked for three years in a row to lead and be responsible for other peoples’ children for a week in a third world country!  I am humbled beyond words.

I do not mean to ramble, but each time I go through this exercise I kick myself for ever having complained about anything this past year.  I have been so caught up in politics lately that I have allowed myself at times to lose sight of the bigger picture.  Anger, even bitterness has crept in and I must now take a step back and reorganize my thoughts and emotions.  My faith, my family, my country, my friends; these all must be taken as a whole.  My hope, should some Redstate reader stumble across this entry, is that they too would be able to draw the same conclusions from their own life as I have from mine.  We have so much to be thankful for, sometimes we just need to pause and let it find us where we are.

Redstate has been a big encouragement to me and I have learned so much from the staff contributors and from other members.  The amount of wisdom found on these pages concerning politics and life is second to none as far as I am concerned.  Being able to read and comment on what other like minded adults have learned is a highlight of each day.  Even when the rare Blam Stick has to be used, or a nut job pulled from the mailbag, it can be a teachable moment or at least good for a hearty laugh.