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Cross Shaped Stuff Blog repost – 4 Things Porn makes you believe

Just recently I came across a blog called “Cross Shaped Stuff“.  I love this blog because it talks about Christ centered stuff. The material is dead on correct and does not worry about hurting your feelings.  Simply put this blog delivers the truth in light of God’s word.  I read this article called 4 Things Porn Makes You Believe and I want to share it with you.  Porn is a million dollar industry and most men and some women get ensnared by this monster.  We live in a hypersexual world where sexuality is everywhere we look.  Prime time TV shows us the Victoria Secret models and the Hardees Thickburger commercials with women who are portrayed as some sort of sex objects who are wearing little of nothing.  Marketing folks do that for a reason.  Sex sells.  Plain and simple.  People (mostly men) love to look at it and that is why it is a billion dollar industry.  I would encourage to read this article and pass it along to others that might be encouraged by it.

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Surviving the storms of life

Fathers Refuge has been a vision of mine since 2001 when my daughter Jessica lost her battle with cancer.

As a family we walked through our Jessica spending 14 months of treatments at MUSC Children’s Hospital in Charleston South Carolina. Nothing prepares you for that type of journey and you find yourself clinging to any type of hope and support system that comes along.

Support came in the form of local churches in Bluffton SC and Goose Creek SC. Support also came in the form of Camp Happy Days, Courageous Kidz and the Make a Wish Foundation.   Through the many things that these organizations provided for us, and our faith in God, we survived the passing of our daughter.

I remember how I described living through this chapter in our lives. I likened it to standing on a beach and watching an approaching storm.

I remember the night when we took Jessica to the emergency room at the hospital on Hilton Head Island after she started to show signs of head trauma. Jessica kept telling us she was dizzy and could not keep food down. When the doctors put Jessica through a battery of tests the CT scan identified a brain tumor the size of a baseball and it was wrapped around her brain stem.

The doctors performed an emergency surgery and removed 95% of the tumor. I will never forget the surgeon telling Katy and I that if Jessica lived for 12 months it would be a miracle. That is when the storm landed on the beach and the wind, rain and lightening descended upon our entire family.

Living on the East Coast we are always on the lookout for Hurricanes and between the months of June and November we are warned to have a hurricane survival kit. We are encouraged to have an evacuation plan in place for our families. Planning and preparation is key to surviving this type of devastating storm. Our family found out that there was no amount of planning or preparation that could have prepared our family for the storm we were experiencing with our Jessica.

Our master plan was to pray to God and ask him to heal our little girl. We pleaded for him to remove the two types of cancers that were wrapped around Jessica’s brain stem and that she would return to perfect health. Despite our prayers and pleading Gods’ master plan was to bring out Jessica out of this world and into his loving arms.  

That particular chapter in our lives turned out to be a storm that lasted 14 months from beginning to end. Like most major storms in life it left behind some wreckage. Our family was changed forever and would never be the same. The storm threatened the very foundation of our faith in God. While our faith in God never faltered I am sure that it cracked in several places.   

As we walked through the aftermath of this particular storm I noticed that as a father that most support systems were designed to reach out to the mother. I will never forget the funeral director telling me that within a year the chances were good that Katy and I would wind up in divorce court. Apparently this type of storm is conducive to wrecking families. As a father and a husband I vowed that we would not be another statistic.  

As a father I remember how I felt not really having much of a support system. It turns out that men and women process grief differently. I know now that women are more demonstrative of their feelings and men tend to turn their feelings inward and internalize the grief.

I remember speaking to a chaplain from MUSC about Fathers Refuge and how I wanted to help bring healing to other fathers walking through that type of storm. The chaplain told me that one of the biggest hurdles to reaching out to men is to get them to a place where they would be willing to talk about the grief, and begin the healing process.

I realize now, in that moment, in that stage of our storm, I was not ready or equipped to help others in their grief process. Katy and I still had a lot of processing to do. We had a lot of emotions to work through and lots of questions about why this happened to our family.

As I look back 31 years ago I realize that loosing Jessica is not the only storm I have been through. In my early 20’s I wound up in jail and spent some time living on the streets of Houston Texas. I also found myself living through the aftermath of a divorce.   Each individual event or storm has taught me some very valuable lessons. Each storm has its own unique story. Today I realized that while losing our daughter to cancer was a horrible storm, I also have several other stories to tell.

I am hoping that Fathers Refuge will be a mechanism that I can use to tell my stories. Hopefully I can tell the stories of each storm in such a way that men and fathers will be able to identify with their own unique struggles. I know that I am not alone and that there are other men who have struggled or are struggling with the many things that life throws at us.

As I look back at each storm of my life I realize that if it were not for the power of Jesus Christ in my life and the different godly men and women who influenced me, that I would have wound up in prison, a drug addict or dead. Thirty-one years later, I can look back at the storms and ahead to the future and say, “to God be the glory”. He is the one who brought me through each storm. He is the one who carried me through each storm. He is the God that never turned his back on me, even when I walked away. Through each storm God revealed himself as my redeemer and provider when I needed it the most.

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The storm is coming

How many families are one or two paychecks away from being homeless? How many families have no savings or no one to turn to in case of emergency? How many families want to help loved ones but is unable to, because they too are facing economic hardships?

These are tough questions that most folks would rather not contemplate. A majority of Americans have a roof over their heads, clothes to wear, the utilities are on, and there is enough food for three meals per day. Most of those folks have never been homeless or know of anyone that has been. Looking from this vantage point makes the reality of homelessness easier to swallow.

Having been homeless as a young man I can relate to the first story that was aired tonight on 60 minutes. The story is about the homeless population in one county in Florida. The 60 minutes reporters followed the lives of three specific families who were living in their vehicles. All of these families had at least one parent present and multiple children. Having lived through the struggles of being a young man on my own, and living on the streets of Houston Texas, I now realize how much easier that was compared to having a family right there with you.

How does one become homeless? In my case, I was far away from home and alienated from my adoptive parents.   First I lost my job and due to a lack of income I was no longer able to pay rent or make a car payment. I will never forget my first three nights living under a bridge in Houston Texas. I had three large plastic garbage bags full of belongings.

I selected this particular bridge because it was close to a mall that I had just worked at as a security officer. I was able to go there and use the restrooms, clean up and get whatever food I could. As a single person I was able to survive my experience. I guess you could say that I had hit rock bottom. Looking back at my life I can honestly say that it was good that I did not have a wife and children who would have been looking to me for help, guidance and protection.

As I watched the story about the parents and their children living out of their vehicles in Florida I have great empathy for them. Thanks to the story that was aired several organizations and people from all over, were able to donate money, food and clothing for these families. Over four million dollars were raised in order to help over 400 school-aged children and their parents.

If you watched the story on 60 minutes I can only imagine the hopelessness that you felt, as you watched the parents talk about their daily struggles to keep their families together. They spoke of the struggle to find food and a safe place to park their vehicles at night. One dad spent the nights watching over his family as he sat on a cooler outside of the vehicle.

One particular family consisted of a dad who was a construction worker who was unemployed and his 15 yr. old daughter and 13-year-old son. The father was camera shy, but I learned that the family lost their mother due to illness, just before the father lost his job. They showed a utility truck the father spent his last 1000.00 on because they could no longer stay in their home, and were forced to move out and live in the utility vehicle. It was amazing to me, how independent and strong these two teenagers were. Not once during the interviews did I hear these kids being bitter, nor were they angry with their lot in life. They said that they were viewing this time in their lives as an adventure.

The 13-year-old girl said that you have to do what you have to do to survive. These teenagers kept their chins up, did what they had to do, and attended public school during the day. They used filling stations to get cleaned up in the mornings, and in the afternoons their dad took them to the public libraries to study and get on the Internet.

In the 1980’s when I was homeless myself, I did not have access to this thing we call the Internet and the World Wide Web. Every day we are bombarded with images of suffering here in America, and all around the world. We see so much of it that we have become disconnected and insensitive to the plight of others. I am not saying that we do not care. Absolutely, we care and if we are able, we would like to do something, anything. The only problem is, we can only do so much. We can only care so much. The numbers of homeless families are staggering.

One of the ways that we deal with our inability to help is by saying that those people live in whatever state, city or country they are in, but we are here in the low country. How in the world can we hope to make a difference? What about the needs in our own back yard? Yes, I am talking about the low country. Just last year I found myself in a conversation with one school official at West Ashley High School. During that conversation I learned that there are kids in West Ashley High that do not know where their next meal will come from when they are out for summer vacation. When I learned this, it brought the reality of this recession much closer to home.

Yes, we are living in a recession. As I understand it, we are all looking at the possibility of a global recession. Things are not looking so good in Europe these days and that economy is ultimately going to affect our economy. Our government has us in debt to the tune of 14 Trillion dollars. I heard that China owns almost 50% of that debt. I am wondering if our view of the current recession is being clouded because of our ability to survive, for now.

I am not sure about you but when I see my fellow Americans facing these kinds of hardships, it forces me to take a hard look at how my family is doing today. It also forces me to think about how my family will be able to survive if this recession goes global. Will we be able to survive something worse than what is going on now? If my head is in the sand, which it is not, I need to pull it out and do whatever I can to get prepared.

Among the feelings of despair and hopelessness I believe that there is hope for us. I believe that our nation draws a lot of strength from our diversity. No matter what our differences are, when the chips are down, I believe that we will be able to put them aside, and do whatever it takes to survive. The important thing to realize is that we are in the eye of the storm. I predict that things are going to get much worse before they get better. When the storm does hit, we need to be prepared to do whatever is necessary to survive.

Are you ready?

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