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I have found a peace in my heart.  A comfort that I know only comes from God and His powerful hand. I have shared my struggles with God but looking back through all of the ‘bad times’ He was always there. I never worried much about where God was taking me and my family, sometimes I did not care if He wanted to go ahead and take me, lately I have felt ready. Not to escape the struggles but just ready to go home. But I also enjoy life, I look back on stumbling and struggles and I see God’s hand constantly.

I enjoy my kids who are the greatest, my wife who understands me and the things that she does not understand she has studied and delved deep into the subjects so that she might understand. I am thankful for my friends that show me laughter and so many things that are right in the world. I am not suicidal, I am just comfortable with any direction God directs me. We are not rich by any stretch of the imagination, not by what the world considers rich anyway. We barely make it paycheck to paycheck, a lot of times we have to sell things just to make it through. We want to reach out to others but we cannot do it with money, so we try and do it with service to others, which is very fulfilling. This makes us rich.

I do not worry about what tomorrow holds, our situation is tough because I am unable to work at this time because of health issues, and legal issues. As a man I feel like I am not pulling my weight, this bothers me sometimes, but I know that God is always near. I have turned on God before, with words that sadden me. But since I have been with Nee-Nee, my kids, and my church family God has given me treasures beyond description. He is a loving Father who has not hidden His face from me, even though I have felt like He has, He hasn’t.

Sometimes I feel like Superman, a broken Superman, but Superman none the less. I do not worry about myself, and what might happen to me. I watch out for my family and I am a little protective, but I trust in God. I did not worry about the shooting that occurred here, or what my wife and I viewed outside of our window. I was saddened that it effected Nee-Nee and so many of the tenants that live here, but honestly I did not worry about our safety. I have confronted people that would intimidate others without a second thought. I am not testing God, I feel like I have a comfort with God and I feel that it is His will and His strength.

Some of you might ask then why do you suffer from depression, anxiety, compulsive, and attention deficits? The only thing that I can think of is because of my constant drug use, and a craving that I do not fully understand. But I can tell you that it is not from worrying. I am not anxious about tomorrow. God has never failed me, though when I was younger I thought He had, the truth is He hasn’t. That is another reason I like to look back into my past, because as I look at it and the times I thought that I was away from God, I see Him in the dark corners of my life at that time. I look back and see Him when I missed Him the first time. Seeing this I see that God has worked inside me and changed my faith. He has strengthened it and continues to. I know that God has a mission for me to do, I have not seen it yet, but I might even be in the middle of that mission and not realize it until later. He has kept me alive, even during the times that I was ready to leave, and take myself out of this world. My attempts were futile, because God loves me and has a purpose for me and all that He loves.

I believe that tragedies occur sometimes to be a lesson to others, and to help others grow even when we are so deep in our own sorrow, or loss. Death is not an ending but a beginning to a beautiful life, I think that sometimes instead of sadness with all the death that I have experienced, was jealousy that they do not have to deal with this world anymore. My Gramps on my mothers side was a horrible man, who obviously thought of carnal pleasures over his own children and grand-children. But when most people would say a man like that must be headed to hell after he died. And the odds are against him, but God works in different ways. There is still a chance that God brought him home. I don’t know, no one does. I just realize that I have a peace that surpasses understanding.

This upsets people sometimes because they don’t believe me. With all the tragedy, and the ‘hardship’ that we are experiencing at this time, people tell me that it is okay to ‘admit’ that I am worried. It is not impossible for us not to worry, or God would tell us it is normal and go ahead and do it. I do have to work on my patience but not with where my life is going, I have short patience with those that worry about things that they cannot change. We talk about how good God is, we talk about His love for us, and how comforting He is to us. So if we believe, TRULY believe this, why worry? If God took away all of our material things I could go on. I would miss the convenience that they offer, but I know I will live without them. If God took away someone close to me again then I know life will go on, and I will see them again, but in God’s time. I will cry because I miss them, but I will not cry that they went to a better place.

If someone was offering to sell you peace of mind, would you allow yourself to let down your guard and your control, which you don’t have in the first place, and buy it and allow it to work? God offers it for free, accept it, let your guard down and I guarantee you there will be a peace that you cannot describe or understand.

D.

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The year is 1985, I cannot remember if I was 19 or 20 yet, my birthday is June 23rd so I don’t remember if it was the beginning of the year or the latter part of the year. Either way this is the year that I decided to do acid for the first time.

My friend and I just scored a hit of acid, this was the first time either one of us had done acid, so we were not sure what to expect. We were told the worse thing that you can tell someone that is about to use for the first time, and that is: ‘be careful what you think while you are on it. Because it will magnify your thoughts.’ So starting off we knew that we would have to control our thoughts, which is not easy to do on or off of acid. We took it and sit at his house and decided to stay there to see how it was going to affect us, It takes thirty minutes for acid to take effect on your mind. Then it takes around 7 to 8 hours for the effects to leave your body. The first hour is alright, and you enjoy the trip as something different, something new. Opening your mind to new things. The second and third hour seems like it will never end, 4th through the 7th or 8th hour feels like you will never come down and you are trapped within yourself.

The first part was okay, we listened to Pink Floyd and realized what they were trying to do with their music. Or it seemed that way to us at the time. We began to watch a live video of Dio, which in the middle of the concert a cross spins around until it turns upside down. We were engulfed in it, I was holding a brass cobra that had a hole in it where it was coiled up, I held it through that hole and had the cobras head resting on my arm. I began to sweat but I had not realized that was what it was at the time. I thought that the snake had come to life and bit me, what I thought was venom was actually sweat. I threw the snake down on the ground while my friend looked at me in surprise, asking what the hell happened? This was the beginning of hell for me for that night. A classic battle of light vs dark.

Another one of our mutual friends came over, someone we never cared for anyway, because he always got on our nerves. He was drunk and we were on acid, in our minds we were so far ahead of him that it wasn’t even funny. He begged us to score him some acid, he had never done acid and wanted to join us. He was so drunk that his ramblings did not make much sense to us. My friend and I had an aversion and little patience for sloppy drunks in the first place this just intensified it. The visitor got sick and when he did it came out like tracers, slow motion. We both tripped out on that, and when the guy went to the bathroom to clean up, my friend said something about him that scared me, because I felt it too. So when he came out, and my other friend left the room, I told him that it would be in his best interest to leave…NOW. The darkness continued to seep in more and more.

After he left we felt hungry, so my friend began to cut some hamburger off of a loaf. He looked at me and said could you imagine that as an arm being sliced up? The thing is I could, and was while he was doing that. Neither one of us were THAT violent in our right mind, but we weren’t in our right mind at that time. I went into the living room were the light was off, and I had this overwhelming feeling of hatred, and then my friend came in and turned on the light, the feeling was gone. However my friend noticed the same thing, he turned the light off and said did you notice all goodness leaves when the light is off. We both noticed this, so we stepped outside for a little bit. That did not help us any, we wanted to go out and just walk the night, thankfully we did not, because we do not know where we would have ended up that night. Our feet felt like they were going into the cement that we were standing on. We were continuously pulling our feet up before we were sucked into the concrete and stuck forever.

My mind was always racing even back then, it would go from dark thoughts to good thoughts, the acid made it worse. No mater how hard you try you cannot sleep on acid, it is just too much speed to allow it. Even when the person becomes so sleepy they think that they could sleep all night, it is not possible. We laid down anyway, because it was getting late, I slept on the floor as he slept in his bed. I could feel the carpet rolling underneath my arms. I kind of got used to it, and played with it a little bit. Then when I tried harder to go to sleep I closed my eyes tight, and I could see a ying yang of dark and light, good verses evil. They turned into dragons, one white and one black. They began to fight for me, once the light became so bright and comforting to me, that I had to smile, ‘Yes’ I thought,’Good conquers evil.’ and just as I got through thinking this the dark dragon re-appeared and they continued to fight, until I heard a scream in my head, and all became black. I tried to summon the light back in, but it was gone nothing was left but darkness. In my head evil had won it’s fight for me. I broke into a sweat tried to pray but no words came out. I knew what shape I was in, how did I have the right to come to God when I was stoned?

This was just the first time I did acid, I will take you to other times as my journey continues and becomes more depraved. It was easy to know when others were on acid, for one thing their eyes have a dusty film over them. They will stare at you, talk to you, they might even break out into a sweat if they stay with you too long. Laugh at things that you don’t see any humor in. There are different other ways, but the biggest for me is the eyes. The eyes are supposed to be the mirrors of the soul, I think that fits here. Their soul is dirty, and filmed over from the real world.

Later on that year I took another hit of acid, I drove this time and was by myself. Not a good thing when you are on acid, people need someone to keep them grounded. I went over to score some coke, I couldn’t wait to do the two together. I had also been drinking my butt off, someone on acid or speed can drink and drink and never feel the effect of the alcohol. So in reality I was probably a little drunk too. When I went in to score the coke, I said something stupid about his wife or girlfriend, something off the cuff I can’t remember now what it was but I know that I shouldn’t have, but I did. Next thing I knew he brought a shotgun into the living room, bolt down putting a shell in. He also had a knife holstered on his side. He told me that he has never seen me like that and for my sake I need to take what I said back. I started to laugh, probably nervous laughter but inappropriate all the same.

He told me that he would give me three minutes to apologize to her, as he closed the chamber and readied the shotgun on me. I looked at him and said forget it, you won’t shoot me and she isn’t worth it, and neither is the stuff I came to get. I got up and walked out, this was in the country, if he wanted to kill me he sure could have and no one would have found me. I was an idiot, but I walked to my car. As I got to my car I heard running behind me, I shut the door and saw a boot come to passenger side of the car. It shook the car, I saw the knife in his hand but I no longer saw the gun. He hit my side window as I reversed it and got out of there. I was such an idiot, and I knew that what I did was wrong. The bad thing is I kicked myself for not apologizing, not because I hurt the girls feelings, but because I missed out on a quarter of coke. I risked my life for a tiny bit, a little quarter of coke. I also lost one of my ‘friends’ more like a connection then a friend, but a person that had feelings and was willing to take up for what was right.

Through this I found myself going through the different levels of Dante’s hell. Starting at the outer circle of the ring. I made sure that I had friends with me after that night, because I never knew if he wanted revenge or not, I needed to have someone with me just in case. Drugs make you do stupid things, you become a person that you do not recognize, or if you do recognize that person he has been hiding underneath and was just brought up to the surface. I hid a gun in my glove compartment for a little bit, because I was unsure who to trust anymore, not even myself.

D.

 



 

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I know that I said that I was going to go back to reflections but I feel like I needed to do this one first. God is amazing, incredible. His love is overwhelming, and unfathomable. Nee-Nee has been praying and studying, she has been seeking a closer walk with God. About a week or two ago she told me that God wanted me to talk to Him. That her prayers and all others that are praying for me will not work until I come to Him. I thought of this as odd at first, I knew that God did not actually speak to Nee-Nee, I understand how He communicated with her. The reason I thought this was odd is because in my own little world, just between God and me, I wasn’t speaking to Him anymore. Oh, I would throw the occasional prayer His way, just so He knew that He was not forgotten. But I was not following my own advice, I was not journeying with God anymore.

I kept this to myself, I was so strong in hearing His word, I wrote what He put in my heart, but I found I was becoming complacent. God continued to talk to me, even when I was not talking or asking anymore. I felt like I was an active soldier but I became sedentary in my works. So when Nee-Nee told me this revelation, I felt bad. I looked at how I have been feeling lately. Intense withdraws, depression creeping back in, closing myself off again from the world outside. So I heeded the warning, and began to pray again, more intense this time with a focus on others. The things that God put in my view was amazing.

First I saw a news story on the Today Show, of this young man that was declared brain dead, the relatives were called in to say their good byes and the organ harvesters were in route to take the organs since he was a donor. While the family was in his room, the grand mother fell to her knees and prayed to God not to take this young man. She said that he had so much to offer and please do not take him. The young man recovered, the doctors did not have any answers there was not any brain signals and he was truly brain dead. This story touched me. God works in His way and His purpose, I am sure that this touched others in different ways, but it touched me because it dealt with prayer.

The other story I saw was about the mistaken identity of two girls that were in a car crash, one lived one died. While one was in the hospital the wrong family was taking care of her, during this time the wrong family was burying someone they believed was their daughter but in reality it was not her. They had an interview with the two families that were involved, and I was reluctant to watch it because I thought that there would be blame and unresolved issues. But something got me interested in seeing it so I watched the segment that aired during the Today Show, yes God talks to me through the Today Show sometimes, and I was pleasantly surprised how the two families worked together. It was difficult news to accept of course, but the way that these people were handling the situation touched me in a way that is indescribable.

So my prayers to God came more often, my silence in His presence became longer, my meditation more intense. I went to Wal-Mart the other day, one of the door greeters is a young man who was in a car accident when he was younger and now remains in a wheel chair and suffers with his speech. Every time I see him I shake his hand and ask him how he is doing. He always tells me that everyday is a blessed day. Seeing him always makes my day. As I was shopping I thought of these three stories, each story showed that through extremely difficult times, times that most of us will never come close to, they all had one thing in common, a strong faith in God and that God is in charge, not us. So I offered up a little prayer as I continued to walk around and get the things on my list.

As I was checking out, I could hear Brad, the door greeter, telling everyone coming in and going out in a very loud and distinctive voice, ‘Have a good day!’ As I was leaving he smiled a big smile as I was walking toward him. Usually on my way out I just shake his hand again and tell him bye. This time he held my hand and said that he tries to fire up everyone that comes in about God, and let them know the love of Jesus. He looked me in the eye and told me that he loved me, without shame or any consideration of me interpreting it different then what he meant. Still looking me in the eyes, he said that God wants us to love one another, and if we don’t spread the news of Jesus’ love for us then who will? He held onto a cross pendent as he continued talking to me, ‘The world is getting bad, and we need to let them know of His love for us.’ Then he said, ‘You and I. You go out and let people know of His love. Everyone you meet do not be ashamed. I will fire people up where I go, you fire people up where you go.’

The other night I was reminded to set my sights on things unseen, and to keep my mind clear of the world. God opened my eyes once again fresh, to my ministry. To warn others, and to comfort those that are not only addicted but through my dark journeys and bouts with depression I need to realize that I have much to say. I also have come to the realization that I need to open my ears to hear others as well. Creating a bond that God interweaves through ‘random’ meetings and viewings of others in dark situations. We cannot be sedentary and be about our Fathers business thinking that He will do all of the work. He has a purpose for everyone, and everything, this I believe. In my downfalls and struggles He has made them a light for me to use for Him, in other things He has shown that this world holds nothing of interest to me, the interest I do have is showing others of His love.

Do me a favor, you might not be an addict of any kind. But I bet you have habits, little ritualistic things that you do during the day or night without thinking about. Maybe you might consider yourself a ‘chocoholic’ and laugh about it. Or bite your nails, make little annoying sounds with your mouth, the point is we all have little tics. Try to go a day or two without doing it, maybe if you can a week. I bet you will pick something different in it’s place, or you will think that it is silly and not even try it. That is a small amount of what an addict feels, be it a food addict, drug addict, alcoholic, sex addict, etc.

There is a new show that has been advertised on FX, it is about walking in someone else’s shoes for 24 hours or a week, something like that. The point is I think that it would do people good to glance into someone else’s walk. We are given so much by the grace of God, we become spoiled little children, crying to God when everything is crumbling, forgetting to rejoice despite what the world throws at you. So here I am holding your hand, looking you square in the eyes, and saying I love you. It is up to you and me to ‘fire people up’. Are you ready?

D.

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I had built a house for 27 years, it had become decrepit with each stone that was added making it darker and darker. It became a fortress not allowing anyone to enter, and I was in total control of it’s design and up keep. It had so many passages and hiding places that I became lost in my own castle. Though I thought that the work was being done to keep the clutter at bay, it became an overwhelming heap backing me into a corner of my own distress. I became a prisoner to what I had created. A part of me loved it so much that I was willing to put up with the stench and the clutter. Until it became too much for me to bear. No longer did I want to hide from the outside world, I allowed people to live within my castle. The innocent ones were kept blind to the passages in which I took in refuge, greeting them again filled from the inside with dirt and sin, on the outside I wore a mask.

I prayed to my God to remove the mask that had become as much a part of me as the castle that I lived in. To my surprise the mask was ripped from my face, and the passages that I kept a secret all along became opened as my castle began to crumble down brick by brick. I asked God to create new living quarters where my loved ones and I can feel safe and the clutter will be totally destroyed. I asked God that this time, with His help, that this building will be of glass. Transparent for the world to see. He agreed and helped me to rebuild using His strength, knowledge, and comfort into this new transition. The house was becoming a new home for my loved ones and me. One day while I was so tired from the work, and missing the place where I grew up, I went to re-visit it.

As I made my way to the site where my castle once stood, I noticed the debris had not totally been done away with. As I walked I tripped over a block that resembled the corner stone of the old foundation. I do not recall how many days had went by, but I do remember my Saviour picking me up to take me back to the new home. When we arrived I noticed that more people had joined in on the construction, family, friends, loved ones. How could this be? These are the people I had once betrayed and hid from, why spend their time on me? God said He asked them to help and they gladly accepted. I also noticed stones from my old castle visible through the glass walls. I asked God “Why do you torment me with these stones from the past?” He said, “These stones are no longer about you but about others who have built upon their own foundation. To see the darkness that it had brought, to see that with My help there is strength and a renewing of the Spirit within. These stones are yours to carry so you will not live in comfort but to be reminded of what once was.” I said, “How could You and these people love me once again knowing that I turned away from You, longing to hide once again?” He told me that I can no longer hide from Him, with all of my passages and hiding within the filth, I never hid from Him in the first place.

I was told to minister to those who are in hiding, to minister to those who are just beginning to build on their own. ‘Use the stones of experience and write on them a testimony for the world to see. Don’t worry what others say about this, just know you are about My work. I Am the one that picked you up, I AM the one that tore away your earthly love, I tore down your gods, and have opened the door to your heart to enter and create a path that is not without struggle, nor will it be without stumbling. But My hand is their to pick you up, dust off your knees, open your eyes lest you fall asleep in the journey that lies ahead.’ He let me know that others will question my work, and why I cherish a home that is made of glass with the stones displayed for all to see. But let my focus be on Him and He will guide, to make my will strong and to persevere. Some days I will not know who I have touched according to His strength, I will not always know whose hearts I prick because of my journey. But to continue in this marvelous new home, void of secret passages, void of hiding from others.

This is how I see my journey. I learned at the beginning that I have to accept what I can, lay down and forgive that which is not mine. And move forward. Though my post seem dark at times especially when I go back to my past days re-entering my struggles and what got me here. But there is no pity in these travels. When I speak of them I no longer feel sorry for the old person, I am clothed a new. I do know now that just because I found and struggle with God’s desire, does not mean others are on the same path. I know that relapse happens, I made it over a year while others have fallen within days, weeks, or months. God reached His hand to me, because of Him I reach out to others to pick them up without judging, but praying that God will heal them and put words in my mouth, or in this case guide my thoughts in my writings.

I know through counselling that one of the first steps is acceptance, and forgiveness. This is what God was telling me through the counsellors voice. I know that an illness occurred from staying around the filth that was built up around me. Do I hide it or do I allow God to use it to help in the vaccination of others in a disease that has become an epidemic? I choose to use it, I use it without pity, my words are tough, but so is the illness. I write for those that are in their own prison, I also write for those who have never been there so they might look no longer from the outside that they might throw judgment and blame on these who are far away from comfort and God, but that they see these people as sick and are in need of the great Physician. I write that there might be an understanding within the two to co-exist in the love of our Lord and Saviour.

I have found acceptance, yet my heart still gets pricked, and my words prick the hearts of others. Some things I would rather keep quite, it is not my bravery to let you know the lowliness of my heart, but it is God in His infinite wisdom and love that guides me to take a deep breath suck it up and show a side of my life that had been behind solid walls for too long.

D.

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Thank you for all of your prayers during this time with Anthony. It truly means a lot. He is doing better and the skin grafts seem to have taken and are getting better each day. I have learned a lot during this time away, not just from what Anthony has been through but seeing others travels as well.

The skin grafts that Anthony received are amazing. The graft looks like a piece of mesh, and through the holes of the mesh are ‘skin buds’. Skin that is filling in and becoming a new layer of skin on his arms and back. It is incredible how God developed the body for self-healing. Something that was so severe that worry set in and then God puts everything into place for healing. Praise to God for His work and the knowledge that He has given to the gifted men and women that worked on Anthony and other burn patients.

During this time I have been reading a book called ‘Save Me From Myself’ by Brian ‘Head’ Welch it chronicles his time with the band Korn and his journey to find God. It is really neat to see the similarities and the differences in the addiction problem that he had and what I have experienced. He smoked joints when he was younger but was on and off again with it. He had a joint that was laced with something and had a bad trip when he was younger, and laid off of smoking for a long time. In fact he did not start doing speed until he was in Korn for awhile. His use became frequent and he used everyday for two years until he realized that he needed to quit. This was a shorter time then I used yet his withdraws were just as bad as mine. The difference is I still have my withdraws he seems to be doing better except for the depression which was a pre-existing condition that he had before hand.

He found God through other people and took notice that there was a pattern. He began to listen to God even before he turned to Him. He allowed God to take control of his life, he said that he had learned that God is in control, and it wasn’t easy at first but he gave Him total control over his life. How incredible, I still have difficulty in this. Just listening and not trying to act out on my own accord. He sit up a time to talk to the congregation that he was attending and tell testify that he was giving himself fully to God, and allowing Christ into his life. Of course this became a media frenzy, a rock star of one of the biggest bands of the time turning to Christ. He prayed about this and prayed on what he should say, he admitted that he did not have a clue about what he was going to say. He just decided that God would guide him. He said that God wanted him to admit his drug abuse and addiction, how God had pulled him out of it and is now directing his life. Of course he said that he did not hear God’s voice but he knew that is what the answer was. The thing is however he did not want to do that. Here God was wanting him to admit to being a loser to not just the congregation but to the world. An addiction that he kept hidden for two years, from his band mates, family, friends. Only a select few knew of his problem and now he knew that God wanted him to confess this in front of thousands.

Pills would have been acceptable, because everyone did pills, but speed is a dirty addiction. He got up in front of everyone and testified on how God had guided him out of his addiction and led him to a path of faith. After that he had the chance to get baptized in the Jordan river. How amazing would that be? He said that he had a misconception that after he was baptized that all of the bad stuff would be gone and it would be a better life. He understood the meaning of baptism and it’s importance, and he did admit a change, a strange and powerful feeling after being raised from the cold water of the Jordan. But he knew also that the walk was going to be hard he likened it to the walks of the Disciples. After he returned home he felt good about throwing away his stash, and being a better dad to his five year old daughter.

He was exhausted, and cravings begin to set in again. He wanted to sleep, so he laid down and as he did he only witnessed the outlines of his bedroom furniture. Then paralysis sit in, he couldn’t move. He said that his voice was deep and raspy like in the Exorcist. He remembered the verse that Jesus had spoken, ‘Get behind me Satan.’ but he said that it was shaky and the same horrible noise that came out before. This happened for several nights, and he asked his pastor and his pastors wife to do a blessing on the house. They did so making sure that they got every room in the large house. The next night he laid down with his daughter to get her to sleep, and plus he was still worried about what might happen. He fell asleep in her bed and the paralysis returned. This time he said that he wasn’t afraid, just annoyed. So he laughed and in his own voice said let me go Satan. He felt like this demon or Satan was trying to tempt him into using again. He felt like using after the first few episodes just to make it stop. He did not believe in the devil or demons until then. He realized that if you believe in God then you have to believe in hell and demons.

I know that it is far fetched to a lot of people of what happened to him, but I must say I believe it. Possessions in the bible show us that the only way to remove a demon is through the power and total belief that Jesus can cast them out. And thankfully though it has never happened to me, and I do not know anyone personally that has had something like that happen to them I do know that there are things we do not understand. It made me think of a show I watched about a month ago, where a lady was paralyzed by what was called on the show, the old hag.

The legend of the old hag has been talked about forever, they cannot trace the origins they just know that it has been reported on several occasions. The hag paralyzes someone that is in a weakened state, Scientist today calls it sleep paralysis. This lady insist that she saw the lady out of the corner of her eyes, and could feel the hands holding her down. After the show was filmed the crew sit up a ‘cleansing’ of sorts for her. A religious ritual. She stated that the night before was the worse that she had experienced. But afterwards she has not been visited by it again. If you believe her and Brian’s story could that have been demons at work?

I am sorry I went astray from my original story. Later Brian was advised by one of his friends to check to make sure that he had rid his house of all the speed. He was sure that he did, but his closet was huge, it was a three tier closet and a walk in, so he went through everything and sure enough he found one last stash, in a first aid kit. His thoughts started turning, there was meth right in front of him, no one else was around he knew that he could do a line and that would be it. Just one line, then flush the rest no one would ever know. But he knew better. He fell down to his knees and prayed to God to take away the craving. He did not want to be a slave to it again, and he could not keep making excuses. He said that he was in tears. He felt comfort, he got up and flushed it. Taking a picture of him doing this so he would have documentation of his last time around speed.

I feel a jealousy sometimes for people like that. Why do I keep having cravings? I pray, I beg for God to take it away from me. Brian’s walk with God has been hard, he has had a lot of bashing from his old band mates, the media, and some other bands that have ganged up on him for announcing his new path. He knew that God told him to forgive everyone, to talk to everyone that he has hurt through his drug use. He did this, he did not like the idea and found it hard to do at first, but he did it. Brian says that when he falls he just wipes off his knees and gets back to walk with God. He knows that God has given him so much and has saved his life. He is truly addicted to God and the love He has to offer.

I am surrounded by brothers and sisters that walk and struggle with God, yet they keep their focus on Him. I don’t feel that love from God all of the time. In fact I feel far away from Him a lot. Don’t get me wrong I see Him work in the people around me, and He has recently saved me from myself, I praise Him for that. I pray that I can have the strength to follow Him. Brian is new to this, and yet God opened his eyes to an unshakable faith. I want to focus on listening to God like a new born babe. Where God is truly my Father and I am weak without His guidance. I have to focus on listening to God and realize that the things I lay aside as what I do not want to do, might just be the thing that God wants me to do.

D.

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Age 19, 1984 I had already dropped out of college, I quit the Pizza Hut after making head cook, and training to be a manager. I quit that job for one that I thought that I would enjoy more, and I was right. It was an arcade/pool hall, what I thought of for a long time as one of my best jobs ever. Here I was at 19 already experienced death, and an overdose, found it easier to move away from God then try and keep up with Him, and I was in overdrive in hustling, drugs, alcohol, and sex.

The place was Ziggy’s in the farming community where I was raised, Morrilton, AR. This was the hangout for all of the kids and cons of the area. Lot of ex-cellmates came in for the pool and I immediately befriended them and learned a lot about hustling. Here I was at 19, my paycheck alone was over 500.00 a week, I was pulling in almost that much in pool and after hour poker games. Unfortunately, I could cheat a good game of cards, but I never got the straight playing down. I was a mark for the guys that would stay after hours for a little extra money. One of the guys was the owners son, he and I had became good friends. Everyone there was my friend and would either let me owe them, or a chance to win it off in pool. I always liked the latter because I could usually get my money back, and sometimes a little extra.

I would go through my money like water, I had no bills at the time I was still living with mom and dad, had a 1984 Mustang with a Boss engine, all I had to worry about was gas and partying. Some might have considered that spoiled and I knew I was I would admit it, what I didn’t admit was I felt like all of it was payback for never measuring up, I would have rather had the acceptance of my dad then the material things that were thrown at me, why shouldn’t I enjoy it while I had it? After my shift ended I would always stay there, go out get high, or pick up some girl from the place and go get high and party. I never had an official girlfriend while I worked there, but I had some that thought that. I would pull up with one girl in my car while another one, hanging in the parking lot, would either storm off, or try and start a fight. I was pretty calloused at that time, I didn’t care. I did not want them to fight, but as far as getting nervous I would usually just laugh it off.

One of my friends and I would go out and hustle wherever there was a pool table. We had different set ups that we used, one would be that we would come in and play crappy until a couple would want to play us in partners for money. We would purposely throw the first game or two, and then we would clean them out. We would come into a place separately as if we did not know each other and one of us would always win the others money, pool players notice how others play, size them up and wait for the kill. Say if I was losing all the time against this person that I supposedly did not know, and someone put up there quarter for the next game I would ‘accidentally’ win. This made them happy, they could get an easy mark, and make some easy money at the same time. Afterwards we would have to leave separate also, as not to blow anything. Sometimes we both would join a pool tournament until we would end up facing each other and combine second and first spot and split the winnings.

I got caught hustling at Ziggy’s by a con, he was a pretty big guy all I could do was stand up to him and tell him that I just got lucky is all. He was mad and later pulled me over in a parking lot, he had a friend with him, and if I didn’t have one of my friends with me also, I don’t think that I would have made it. It was more arguing then a fight, and we both just walked off. That was the end of it and he later was one of my fellow hustlers. Hustling became a part of my social life also, I already knew how to hustle street drugs, and began to learn how to hustle prescription drugs. I was in the world and as far away from God as I could be. I still prayed sometimes, more like deals then prayers. I figured if God would do something for me then I would do something for Him. I never kept my side of the deals.

19 years old, that should have been the time that I was finding myself instead I was too busy losing myself. Drugs were my life, I had a circle of true friends though I was surrounded by a lot of people all of the time, those ‘friends’ couldn’t care less about me, as I for them. There are two sets of friends that you get when you are a druggie, friends you can count on, and a circle just there for the drugs you can supply, or a rowdy time. At that time though my circle of true friends were my family, we were all misfits with troubled lives. We would stand up for each other, we would watch each others back, we actually enjoyed each others company, but we were always high. Not a one of us would hustle each other, it was an unspoken rule. What drugs you had was what you had, you shared, if one of us had just enough for ourselves then it was understood that respect was to be shown. So then we would go and hustle someone else, or find a party, depending if we wanted to be by ourselves or not.

My mom would think that I was high when I wasn’t, and straight when I was high. I don’t know if that says more about me then her. I was learning trades for the world, I was not going to have anyone take advantage of me again. Now it was my turn. I still would not allow anyone to hurt a woman, if I saw a couple arguing I would step in the middle rather it was my business or not. I couldn’t stand it. All of my friends that were girls were raped, they felt like they could talk to me about it, I don’t know why they felt comfortable with me about it because I never told anyone what had happened to me when I was younger, but it infuriated me anytime I heard about it. Saying that, I have to say that I would take advantage of almost anyone if it benefited me. That is why it is hard for me to accept anything from anyone now, I don’t like that feeling. It feels like a hustle to me, or I don’t want them to think of me in that way, because I am so far away from who I was. I honor and cherish any trust that comes my way, I will defend it with all that I have.

At that time in my life though I now knew what the world had to offer, darkness. And if I was going to survive in it then I was going to be part of that darkness, anyone that wasn’t was foolish to me. Being guarded is one thing that I still am, it is one of the things that is the hardest for me to lay down, besides the drugs. That was the year I decided that it was time for a change, my heart was becoming harder. Coke, Meth, ‘Scripts, and a circle of friends that was all that mattered to me, I had no other family left. I had been a black sheep in my other family, here I was someone else, I found where I fit in, with people like me, young and jaded.

D.

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אני אוהב אותך

My title is ‘I love you’ It is in Hebrew, my friend that I met on Facebook told me this. She is from Israel, and I was thinking that it would be Arabic, but unlike most places in the Islamic country, most of Israel speaks Hebrew, because the biggest part is Jewish. I should have known that but I wasn’t thinking. Don’t get me wrong I am not on Facebook cheating on Noreen by falling in love with everyone I meet on there. I love you is a sentiment that means you are a great friend, I care about you and your well being.

She is a wonderful person that God has given me an opportunity to meet through this, she also made me think about how hard it is to say I love you. Noreen wrote about her love for the Church on her post. Usually we put ‘I love you’ in a romantic sense, especially between the members of the opposite sex. Noreen will tell everyone that she loves them, and it is not just words she gets an overwhelming feeling in her heart and she really feels it. She is so overwhelmed with the feeling that we will talk about it afterwards, sometimes it takes over the whole conversation up until we get back home and beyond. The conversation never gets old to me, and it makes me so happy to see her heart filled with a genuine love.

Used to I had a hard time telling my friends that I love them, just because of how it might make them feel. I always felt like I could tell my best friend Jimbo that I love him, because we have that understanding. I have another friend that I used to work out with, a man’s man. We started telling each other I love you, only after Noreen told him. She opened the door to me being more opened with my ‘guy love’ Brothers from Church will come up to me and tell me they love me, to be honest at first it was awkward for me, I was brought up saying I love you to my family, one good thing that was instilled in me as I was growing up. But I also know that it is hard for guys to say it to each other, because most of them view it in the romantic sense, and even if they feel the same way it is usually just an unspoken feeling between guys.

Now I welcome guys and women coming up to me to tell me they love me and that they are always there for me. It makes me feel good. I used to wait for them to tell me, I am still working on getting over me saying it first. I try and bring it out, I was talking to a guy at Church about some problems that he was having, I was wanting to say I love you, man and if there is anything that I can do just let me know. It came out, WE love you and if there is anything we can do just let us know. Which is true Noreen would do anything for anyone also, but I wanted him to know that he could lean on me if he wanted, there are some things that the same sex feels more comfortable talking about to each other. Like I said I am still working on it and with God’s help I will get there.

With everything that has happened to me I am skeptical about giving my love, but I am getting better. Noreen has no reigns on her love, and I pray that I get that way someday. I am usually curious of anyone with a sob story, not at church but others that need it just as much, and needs to be shown God’s love. I want to learn ‘I love you’ in more languages, I am not speaking of dialect, but actions as well. Not just romantic love, I have that with Nee-Nee, not just a deep caring, want the best for you love, I have that with the kids. The love that combines a little of all, not always allowing what everyone wants, but what they need, a love that shows a deep caring even though I don’t know you I pray that you are well, wanting the best for you, giving you the support and what I can but not that I will enable you to rely on me and what I can do, but how you can move forward. A love that reflects God’s love. He gave it to me freely, I wouldn’t even trust myself to give me that love. I need to do that to others also.

The only way I know to end this is by saying: אני אוהב אותך

.D

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