In tragedy and loss, how can we be encouraged

Little did I know how timely my blog post would be when I posted it last Saturday. Tragedy hit suddenly on Sunday when a fellow student shot and killed three members of the UVA football team and injured another football player and a manager of the track team. This event pushed forward the need for Having a firm foundation when adversity comes our way. 

Someone I know wrote me after we received an email where the sender used the words, “We’re so grateful and Be encouraged”  He raised the question how can someone write these words after such a horrific act took place?  I have thought a lot about that question and waited until after the memorial service for these 3 fine young men to try and put my answer into words. 

Two comments that were made by UVA football coach, Tony Elliott, shed some light on why we can be grateful and encouraged. 
First, this tragedy will be turned into triumph. Psalms 30:5 reminds us, “Weeping may stay for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” He went on to say, “we may not know how long the night will last but just like the morning our joy will return. Lavell, D’Sean, and Devin would want it that way.  Several teammates spoke and time and time again they shared how grateful they were to have had these guys in their lives and that they would carry them in their hearts forever.  The second comment he made was “doing hard stuff brings people together.”  We can be encouraged and find how to be thankful in all things when we are reminded that adversity bring Unity.  This was evident around the country. In solidarity, former coaches wore UVA gear as they coached for their current teams.  Schools shined blue and orange on their buildings.  UVA and Baylor basketball teams met at mid-court to pray after their game Friday night.  Baylor also wrote notes to their opponents 

How do we find gratitude and encouragement in the midst of sadness and loss?  By having a firm foundation that comes from having confidence and hope in the promised word of God as revealed to you. It is taking God at His words knowing that He is too faithful to fail, and will never go back on His promises.  Promises like Psalms 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” There was no doubt yesterday that the families of Lavel, Devin, and D’Sean and those who spoke had that confidence and hope.I believe they left the service yesterday with sadness but grateful to the Lord for the encouragement they have received. They understand their hope is not in this world but in the world to come promising them that yes, they will see their loved ones again.
I hope you have been encouraged by what I have written this week.  I can be reached by email at  For those interested, here is a link to the entire memorial service.  I think it is well worth watching

When the storms of Adversity come, is your life on a firm foundation

I turned 70 this past week.  I thought 60 got my attention!  Yikes! I was fortunate to receive many gifts for my birthday. It reminded me of the thought, “God has given us a gift to be in relationship with Him. All we have to do is open it up in our hearts.” Like Nicodemus, we can have a spiritual birthday as well. I am grateful that I will celebrate my 44th spiritual birthday later this month.  I accepted the gift God offered me through His Son at Hilltop Ranch in Maryland on a Young Life weekend. 

When asked what I wanted for my birthday, my only wish was to get my family together and that is what happened.(see picture above) After dinner, everyone read Haikus (Maikus 🙂 they had written about me. It was such an affirmation of their love for me and an acknowledgement of the way I have tried to live out the gift God gave me in 1978. 

Philippians 1:29 says, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him.” Oswald Chambers writes in My Upmost, “If you are born again, the Spirit of God makes the change very evident in your real life and thought. And when a crisis comes, you are the most amazed person on earth at the wonderful difference there is in you.

I knew I believed in God but I had never really suffered until my bout with Guillain Barre Syndrome. As I lay paralyzed in the hospital bed, I experienced the Spirit of God in an entirely new way. It was made evident in what was my real now health challenged life and in what I found myself thinking. I was the most amazed person as I realized there was a wonderful difference in me. I was not scared. I was not fearful. Why? Because there was no doubt, God was with me as He had been for most of my life. The suffering drew me deeper into my faith because it was made real in a way that, when all is well, it is just not the same.

I love the lyrics of a song.
Jesus You”re my firm foundation, I know I can stand secure
Jesus You”re my firm foundation, I put my hope in Your holy word
I put my hope in Your holy word
I have a living hope 
I have a future 
God has a plan for me 
Of this I”m sure.

I am confident whatever comes my way I can trust the Lord with the outcome. My birthday gift to you is sharing that you can have this same foundation on which to weather any storm. It come when you put your hope in the One that created you and has made it possible to be in a relationship with you. There is no greater gift I can offer. As many of you know, “you will be the most amazed person on earth at the wonderful difference it will make in you.

I can be reached by email at I would love to hear from you.

We all think we know what we want, but do we?

Our move back to Charlottesville has given me the opportunity to become friends with many UVA coaches. One friendship resulted in my serving as a character coach for the UVA Men’s tennis team for four years. During that span they won 3 National Championships. Several coaches here have also led their teams to National Championships. When I talked with them after the excitement died down, each made a similar comment. They were surprised how quickly the high they felt in reaching the pinnacle of their profession, turned into a feeling of “Is that it”? Each of them spoke of being discouraged because, the exuberant feeling they had worked so hard to achieve, only lasted for a very short period of time. For those of us who have never had that kind of success, we might wonder how that could happen. The answer is quite simple…….

Although they had a worthy goal, it did not fill the void that has been created in each of us. The void that can only be filled with God. St, Augustine explained it this way. “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you (Confessions 1.1). When we seek to fill our hunger for God with anyone or anything but God, no matter the success, we are left wanting for more.” It is like the childhood toy that is a ball or a box that has different shapes cut out.

The goal is to find the shapes and fit them through the appropriate shape until they are all inside. No matter what achievement or great relationship with someone, it will never allow you to fulfill your true purpose in life and as Augustine teaches, your heart will remain restless.

Jim Denison made this point when writing about the great sportscaster Vin Scully after he died this past week. “You may not be as legendary as Vin Scully in the eyes of society, but your soul matters to God as much as if you were the only person who had ever lived. His Spirit is ready to fill the “infinite abyss” that only he can fill.” We need to stop chasing what is only temporal and focus on the things that only God can provide us.

The Lord is our strength, He directs our lives, and He is our deliverer. There is no substitute for our need of the Lord. Our tendency is to live life our way without looking to Him. We may experience temporary and short lived happiness but as Psalms 1:4 reminds us,

“it is like chaff that dries up and the wind blows away.” Proverbs 17:3 says this about where our purpose lies. “The crucible is used to test the purity of silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart.

What will God find when He tests your heart? The world’s successes and blessings are great but the reward of His presence on earth and the eternal glory to come, is our true life’s purpose, unlike the feeling of a National Championship, will never disappear.

“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”  Fredrick Buechner

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The importance of having routine in your life

I met with a young friend last week who asked me about the intentionality he saw in my life. He wanted to hear how I went about living a life of faith in God which led to this blog post. Two things came to mind.

1) When Guillain Barre Syndrome left me paralyzed, God made Himself present in so many ways. I shared how my illness and subsequent recovery deepened my faith by making it so much more real for me. If you haven’t already, you can read my GBS story at

2) I also explained having a routine was instrumental in my recovery. I have pretty much followed that routine for the last three plus years with my morning routine being most important. My friend asked me what a morning routine looks like. For me to make the most of each day, I need to get it started out right. I try not to schedule early morning meetings because it leaves me feeling rushed into what is almost always a crazy, jam packed day. Heather Riggleman writes about routines using Mark 1:35 “One of the reasons Jesus got up early was to be alone with God. If nothing else, choosing this step is vital. It is so worthwhile to seek first the Kingdom of God. God wants to meet with us. He has so many things he wants to share. He’s waiting to commune and communicate. He’s waiting to fill our souls before we race through the day.” Glenn Lundy writes about his proper morning routine in

My morning routine starts the night before. For me to get up at least an hour and a half before the day’s activities begin, I have to go to bed at a regular time. That way, my body is ready to wake up between 5:30 and 6am every day. If I am honest, there are nights where I go to sleep looking forward to my coffee in the AM. I set it up the night before so all I have to do is push the button when I wake up. My devotionals start before the coffee is ready. It consists of reading scripture and other devotional books and blogs. I pray and journal asking the Lord for guidance on things I know will be happening throughout the day. As people come to mind, I text and email them to let them know I am thinking about them. I then create and send out via social media and text a motivational thought for the day and for fun, post a recently taken picture with a personal haiku. Knowing I am going to do that keeps me focused during the day on something I will want to post the next day which I hope will help people be thankful in all things. Another way of walking in faith throughout my day is what I call the 6-9-12-3-6-9 BSKHIG smart phone reminder. On those hours of the day, my phone reminds me to Be Still and Know He is God no matter how the day has gone so far. It makes me stop and do a reset. Often times I recite my own paraphrased versions of The Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23.

This type of routine might not be for you but I encourage you to find one that fits your schedule. This anonymous quote sums it up. “If every day while waking up, you put yourself at the top of your to-do list and take care of your needs first, then everything else will fall into place.” Michael Hyatt shares, “Like the air bags in the airplane, If you don’t take care of yourself first, you won’t have the ability to help others”

Over the last three years, my routine has reinforced Ms Riggleman’s thoughts on having an established schedule. “We were created to work in rhythm with the world around us through rest, work, and play. This includes how we start our days, what we put into our bodies, being nourished by God’s word, and how we move our bodies.” We do this by remembering John 15’s teaching “that we are the branches and God is the vine. Only by being attached to Him can we be nourished to produce the fruit so that others can be nourished too. Each morning and throughout the day, I remember Oswald Chambers charge. ”Ask yourself, who am I to serve. ”I cannot give up my will, I must exercise it. I must will to obey so it is never a question of what He will do, but of what I will do to serve and honor Him.” Answering like Isaiah did, ”Here I am Lord send me”

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How did Easter cause you to seek God?

UVA Easter Sunrise Service

Charles Stanley reminds us that we need to be mindful of our priorities. Where do you invest our time and energy? What or who occupies our thoughts?  “As important as our earthly pursuits, responsibilities, and relationships may be, they cannot compare to the value of a life spent seeking the Lord.” The beginning of the year brings New Year resolutions? Easter brings the hope of a new life and the promise that our lives can be made new when we look to Him. How did you seek the Lord during the Easter season? I hope it was a time of refreshment and led you to a renewed desire to reorient your priorities so that life can be all God intends for it to be.

What does it mean to be renewed/refreshed? Why is it important? It is getting warmer outside again. As you walk by a pond, stop and look at it. It may look fine but in fact, it may be stagnant which can lead to fish kills and the rapid growth of floating green organic matter. It happens when there isn’t a constant exchange of living water that keeps a pond environment alive and healthy. Water comes in and fills a stagnant pond during a rain or a snow melt. But there is no outlet to keep the pond water fresh. The same can be said for how we live. Our lives can become stagnant because we are set in our ways which keeps us from receiving the fresh ideas and living water God wants to give us. Like a pond, we have to have an outlet to get rid of the stuff that holds us back from being a better version of ourselves so God has room to intervene and make us better.

Easter gives us that outlet. It comes in two ways. Confession and Forgiveness. 1 John 1;9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” This becomes the outlet that takes away the toxicity from our hearts. Forgiveness does the same thing. Buddha says it this way, ““Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” That is why Jesus teaches us in the Lord’s prayer to ask God for forgiveness and then do the same thing to others.

So let’s remember that Easter is not just a one Sunday deal but an event that happened which changed the world forever. Let knowing God sent His Son to die be the living water that brings hope to your life every day. How awesome is it that gives us the outlet through confession and forgiveness to let go of the old so that we can be continually be refreshed and molded into the people for which God created us.

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The power in learning how to wait

Like Advent, Lent is another season where we are taught to wait. This blog originated after my recovery from Guillain Barre Syndrome. GBS paralyzed me from my head down. March 17th marked three years since my arms went back over my head.
“We will be encouraged and strengthened in our faith when we recognize the ways in which God is operating. These glimpses of His handiwork will motivate us to stay the course and help us maintain a godly perspective on life.” This Charles Stanley’s quote reminded me of the fact that God has made many wait until they were ready for what He had for them to do. Sarah, Moses, Noah, Esther, Ruth, John the Baptist, Paul and yes, even Jesus, all were made to wait. Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill lost elections before being raised up to do great things. We remember that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead but forget that his sisters, Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that their brother needed His help, but Christ delayed before traveling to their home (John 11:3-6).

As we wait over these next four weeks to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus at Easter, ask yourself, ”for what are you waiting?” Have you made a request to God that hasn’t been answered? Are you asking for relief from some type of adversity? Change your question to, ”what is it that you are preparing for me? What do I need to be doing to be ready for the task ahead?” It really is a matter of perspective. No wonder they say ”patience is a virtue”

The season of Lent is a time for personal reflection. If you are facing what seems like a dead end, why not take the time to stop and check out what is around you. Like the Israelites in the desert, what might look like the end, may just be a bend in the road that though longer, will take you where you are meant to go. As Charles Stanley shared, no matter what challenges we face, ”we are to stay the course with the proper perspective”

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Fearful or being Prudent?

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy‬ ‭1:7‬  I wanted so much to travel next week to our company’s conference in Las Vegas. Many of my agents were going and I wanted to be there with them. I registered and made my plane reservations. This was going to be the time where life was going to start getting back to normal. Last week I regrettably decided not to go. This weekend marks when Guillain Barre Syndrome changed my life forever. As much as I wanted to be there, I was unsettled. I could not find a peace that given my experience with GBS (a rare, autoimmune disorder in which a person’s own immune system damages the nerves, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis) it was worth the risk as Covid can, although rare, can cause a sequential Guillain Barre episode. I would rather not have that experience again.

Since cancelling my travel plans, I have been wrestling with did I do it out of fear or was I making a prudent decision? Timothy writes that we are not to have spirit of fear but in the same sentence he says, God gives us a sound mind. If I am honest, I have found it difficult that most folks I know are back to living their lives as they did before Covid. I see the pictures of everyone travelling, gathering for parties and being in crowded sports arenas. Like going to Vegas next week, I have been tempted to throw caution to the wind so I can enjoy these things again. I do not want to live my life in fear but at the same time I would rather not see if getting Covid would bring on the rare chance of a GBS relapse. Not just for me but for the people (including my wife) whose lives would be impacted should it happen. I also struggle when I am the only one who has a mask on at the functions I do attend. I wonder if folks see it as a weakness and I know it makes some feel uncomfortable to be around me because they aren’t wearing a mask. And so I wait for an answer to is it fear or being prudent? Friends help me with this answer by supporting and understanding why I remain somewhat tied down. Some even said, “Are you crazy?” when I shared my thoughts on going to the company conference. For those who follow this blog, you know my faith and those around me have been what has gotten me through what is now a three year journey.

Wearing the mask is the easy part. I know many don’t think it matters and express they have the right to not wear one especially if they are vaccinated. For me it is personal choice and it has in my opinion been effective. Since wearing a mask, I have not even had my once or twice a year cold. My doctor says he continues to see a very low number of patients with the flu. If wearing a mask keeps me from getting sick, I will continue to wear one in crowded places where I don’t know who I am with or who they have been around who might be sick. Travelling in public transportation is for another day in the hopefully not too distance future.

When I do; “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1,2 If He made the heaven and the earth, I can certainly trust that He has made me of sound mind and will provide me the peace to venture out knowing He is with me always. Until then As Jodie Berndt shared on Twitter recently, ““Friendship doubles our joys and divides our griefs.” “We need to cultivate a spirit of humility—one that is quick to celebrate someone else—instead of a spirit of criticism and contempt? freely.” Let’s be generous with our love, coming alongside others in their hard times and, even more, in their rejoicing.”

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If you focused on One Word in 2022, which would you choose?

Undeniable, Never Ending, Intensity, Toward Yes!

The One Word several years ago by Dan Britton, Jon Gordon, and Jimmy Page. .
I am not sure they have ever thought about how cool it is that we choose our Word after Advent and Christmas right before the manifestation of Christ in what is called the Season of Epiphany. Epiphany also means “a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way” I..E. Allowing your word for the year coming into focus 😀

I had no idea that I would need so much PRAYER in 2019 until I was diagnosed with Guillain Barre Syndrome. (Link to the story here ( ) In 2020 I chose GENEROSITY because of how folks cared for Dottie and me in 2019. Little did I know how many folks would need help because of Covid. EMBRACE has been my One Word in 2021 because I wanted to embrace whatever came my way personally or professionally. Our company merged with a larger one in March.

I may not have known why the last three years, but it is clear what I will concentrate in 2022. I really thought it would be BREAKTHROUGH. It is defined by Merriam-Webster this way. “A sudden increase in knowledge, understanding, etc. an important discovery that happens after trying for a long time to understand or explain something” The world we live in is desperately seeking understanding and explanations to the many challenges we face these days. However, for us to experience true breakthrough, we must have a desire to enact change and to make that happen we need my 2022 word UNITY.

Why? If we are to have UNITY there needs to be an UNCOMPROMISED NEVER ending INTENSITY TOWARD YES! If we can come together and proceed in this effort, we can allow God to use us in forming community (committing to Unity) that brings breakthrough. Together we can help Him release this bound up world. 
Let me be clear. Being Unified does not mean uniformity. We are not and do not have to all be or look the same. In fact Unity is more powerful when it is made up of people who don’t think and look alike and come from different places. I wrote a few weeks back about how the different colors of the leaves make trees more beautiful in the fall. An orchestra or a choir make beautiful music when they are unified in their harmony and when they know their time to sing or play an instrument

This can not be an individual effort because we will grow tired and weary. No. As John Tillman writes, “rather than attempt to sweep our own house clean and empty, may WE invite Jesus into our mess (Revelation 3.20) so we can be UNITED with Him. He promises to do a renewing, revealing work within and through not you and and therefore, US. He has work of renewal for US to join Him in now. And He who begins a good work in US will see it through to completion (Philippians 1.6). When he is finished, we will have revealed Him to the world.” Like a light shining in the darkest of places.

Light always defeats the darkness!

Yes friends……………Christmas is over. The waiting for Jesus is over. The fun and celebration is behind us.

Howard Thurman’s poem so beautifully reminds us the hard work is now to be done.
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers [and sisters],
To make music in the heart.

“Lord, may we glorify You this coming year by letting go, embracing and rejoicing in Your reign over all things. May we trust Your word never to return void, but in UNITY may we strive to accomplish all You marvelously intend”

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Traveling through a Season of Sadness

The picture above captures how many of us live our lives. Like the clouds, our day to day existence, doing the most mundane of things, keeps us from seeing the splendor of the hills and all life has to offer. The word keep means “to guard, to watch over, or to attend to carefully.” The clouds cause us to miss the beauty that is beyond and above them. The psalmist reminds us that we are to “lift up our eyes to the mountains— where does our help come from? Our help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1,2. This passage reminds us that life is a journey of faith that requires reliance on God. the chapter ends (v 7 & 8) with the promise that will God will “Keep us from all harm— he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”

I don’t know about you but I am doing everything I can these days to claim the before mentioned promise. These past several weeks God has moved me into a Season of Sadness. It started late in July when my dear friend Laura Huyett died. Some takeaways that come from funerals – Thankful in all Things Then I found out my very special caretaker, Teresa Jordan passed away with me, because of Covid restrictions, not even knowing she had been sick. 🙁 You, yes You, can make a difference in the world. – Thankful in all Things. Now in the last two weeks, two high school friends, a fraternity brother, and now a dear business partner have died. I am just at the beginning of grappling with it all but it certainly has taken a toll and has clouded my perspective like the clouds do in the valleys. Losing loved ones makes you examine your own mortality and whether one is living life in a way that matters most and in some way makes a positive difference.

Philippians 4 says we are not to be anxious about these things because when we bring our concerns and worries to the Lord, He will provide us peace which surpasses all human understanding. The misnomer here is that having a faith in God means we are never to feel discouraged or depressed. Scripture shows us nothing is father from the truth. Why does Jesus say, “I am the light of the world“? John 8:12 Because the world can be a very dark place and we need God to be “a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.” ( Psalm 119:105) It is not hard to stumble or lose our way in the midst of the darkness that comes our way. A light as small as the pin light on your key chain will cut through the most pitch black of surroundings. God promises to do the same with whatever circumstances come your way. As Ellen Foster shared in the most recent Center for Christian Study newsletter, “I don’t think anxiety or depression have to be things we’re trying from which we are to rid ourselves. Like a check engine light, those feelings may be an invitation for us to pay more attention.” That way, we can endeavor to focus intently on what clouds our vision knowing that through them there are hills from whence our help will come. As for me, I am claiming that promise and trying to walk toward the light that will lead me through this Season of Sadness.

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You, yes You, can make a difference in the world.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about what I learned from my friend Laura Huyett’s memorial service. In it, I shared how she would always ask those who came to care for her, “How is your day going?” One person responded, “my days would be much better if I had more people like you in it“. I was sadly reminded of this very thing last week. I met a woman while recovering at Albemarle Rehab Center from Guillain Barre syndrome. Her name was Teresa Jordan and she absolutely made my very challenging days and nights much better. Unfortunately, she died this past week after a battle with cancer. Her job obviously was to care for her patients but God created a special bond between her, Dottie, and me. When I was well enough to go home, she and I hugged and cried together. She was always so happy when I would stop by to check on her. The restrictions placed because of Covid robbed me of more time with her. In fact, I didn’t even know she was sick. I am saddened that I did not get a chance to go visit, cheer her up like she did me, and pray. Thankfully, a mutual friend texted this after she died. “She would have loved seeing you. You were her number one patient “of all time.” She cried every time you walked into AHR.” I am glad I made her life better by being in it as she did mine.

Teresa, along with many others like Sheri, Susan, Tony, Rob, Jarrett, and Hilary, exemplified the mantra, my life was better because she was in it. I had no idea I would be writing about her when I posted about Laura’s death. I will now do my best moving forward to carry out both of their legacies in wanting to make other peoples lives better. My hope is that you will be encouraged to do what Matthew 5:16 instructs, “In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven.” Get out of your own mindset and look around you. There are people crossing your path every day that are really hurting and discouraged. Galatians 6:2 says we are to “Carry each other’s burdens and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.” … You may be just the person God has chosen to lift them up. Will you respond like Isaiah did in Isaiah 6:8, saying “Here I am Lord, send me”

Teresa, thank you for your life and for what it meant to me. I will never forget you and will always try to find ways to make others feel as special as you did me. Please subscribe to this blog to get email notifications when new content is added. You can reach me by email at