My One Word for 2020 will be ……..?

Several years ago I read a book titled, One Word. It was written by my friends Dan Britton and Jimmy Page with help from well known author Jon Gordon. It is quite simple. It provides you a “how to” on how to boil the upcoming year into a One Word focus. You spend time thinking about where you are in your life and what One Word can help you become a better you in the coming year. If you have been a follower of my story here, you know 2019 was quite the year. If you are finding this blog for the first time, you can read previous posts here or go to to find out about my year dealing with Guillain Barre Syndrome. The journey I embarked on 10 months ago was one I never expected when I made the decision to choose Prayer for my One Word focus in 2019. I chose prayer because of my desire to be more diligent in my own prayer life. I wanted to trust God more and felt through an enhanced prayer life, i would draw closer to Him as I watched how my prayers would be answered for me and for the others who i committed to pray for regularly. Instead, through my illness, I learned that I was the one who would need everyone else’s prayers. I can’t even number how may folks lifted Dottie and me up not just once but over and over again. The bible says, “Make your requests know to God and you will experience a peace unknown to man” . It also says, “the prayer of a righteous man has great power to prevail” . I am grateful for the multiple of people who have consistently prayed for me and my family from Day one and throughout my continued recovery. There is no doubt that it has given me the power and strength to prevail. My renewed health is an answer to those prayers and for that I am thankful. This thankfulness leads me back to what my One Word will be for 2020. and that word is……..

Generosity! It is my turn to give back. I look back and am astounded by how many people stepped up to care for the Guthrie crew. I have written about this in previous posts. The list of these acts of kindness have continued and are much appreciated. This year I want to be intentional in my generosity. True generosity is an offering; given freely and out of pure love. By its very definition, I want to be a someone who “shows a readiness to give more of something (like money or time) than is expected” like so many have done for me. My One Word is Generosity but I want my focus each day to be a commitment to RISE UP! It reminds and exhorts me to be Resolved Intentional Striving for Extraordinary things with Unbelievable/Unique Purpose/Passion

There is so much hurt and struggle in our world. So much of it makes no sense at all so we become discouraged and cave in to the thought process that there is nothing we can do. My hope is you will join me in Rising Up with a desire to make a difference in your part of the world. If 2019 taught me nothing else, it taught me one’s generosity can make a positive impact as time and time again, it sure impacted mine. Happy New Year everyone!

There are gifts and then there are Gifts

A while ago, I paraphrased Isaiah 43:1,2 as they were balm to my soul as I recovered from Guillain Barre. “But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Michael.  he who formed you and created you to be His. Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the adversity that challenges you,  I will be with you; and when you pass through weakness and discouragement, You will not be overcome. As you struggle with infirmities, you will not be devastated. I will protect you and lift you up.” 

This verse came to mind again this week as we celebrated Christmas. I have indeed passed through a time of real adversity and know without a doubt that God was with me in the midst of the challenge which time and time kept me from discouragement. What does this have to do with Christmas? It is certainly not just the stockings hung from the mantle with care.

Many know that the Advent season focuses on expectation and think that it serves as an anticipation of Christ’s birth in the season leading up to Christmas. I think this is why Advent this year brought new meaning for me. You see, I had my own season of waiting in anticipation that I would one day move again. Jesus came saying He would become like light in the darkness. I felt His presence as well while I went through the dark time of waiting on being able to move again much less walking out of rehab two months ahead of schedule on April 25th, 2019.

So this Advent season, I waited with expectation because I was filled with joy and gratitude that like Jesus being born on Christmas, my Lord showed up in my life as He did for all of us more than 2000 years ago. Therefore, it was not about the gifts that were opened but the love that each gift represented for me. You see, I am grateful for the gift of slowly but surely getting better. The good news is my PT says she will get me back to 100%. The bad news is I will still be 67 and not 40 🙂 Therefore, the gift I am trying to give to my wife, kids, and grandkids is me being the best me I can be spiritually and physically. That way, I hope to be a person of encouragement to those around me for as long as the Lord allows. Being a light for those who are facing adversities in their own lives. My verse for 2020 will be 2 Corinthians 1:3,4 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. ” I hope in some way I this blog post has done that for some of you so like Jesus, we can all carry the light into this world.

Learning to receive makes you a better giver

If this is your first time here I hope you will take the time to read previous blog posts or visit to learn about this blog came to be.

There are two streams of thought that I hope I can merge into one river of encouragement for those who have chosen to follow or happen upon this blog. First, I am learning that my guillain barre syndrome health challenge has become a blessing in my life. This experience has strengthened my faith. Joseph in the Old Testament was faced with one trial after another but time after time acknowledged, “The Lord was with me” I did while in the hospital and rehab and continue to experience His presence in my life. Genesis 50:20 paraphrased 🙂 “GBS intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the opportunity to encourage others” John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” The troubles I have gone through have given me a platform to inspire and lead others through whatever it is they are going through. Donald Miller talks about “transitioning from being the hero/inspiration in your story to becoming the guide for others to be heroes in their own stories.” If you were going on a hike or a fishing/hunting trip in some remote area, wouldn’t you want a guide who has been in that location many times before? My back story is being knocked down but not knocked out by my auto immune system going haywire. This meaningful journey through adversity and how I have been able to handle it, has enabled me to help others find their way through as well. Without my faith in God and having so many people offering their help, this would not have been possible which leads me to the second stream of thought. 🙂

I have always been motivated by the thought, “it is better to give than to receive” I hated the fact that I was selfish and still find it distasteful when it raises up in me even now. Christmas always brought this ugly trait out into the forefront. I would sit and watch others open their wonderful gifts but instead of being happy for my brothers, sisters, or my friends, I would always compare what I got and did it measure up to what others got. Focusing on others with a “How can I serve them” mentality diminishes my selfishness along with staying attuned to how blessed I am. I have so much for which to be thankful. Watching people time and time step up to help us in whatever way we needed has allowed me to see how many people really care about us. While not being able to move I was totally dependant on others and as I continue to work hard in hope of a full recovery, people continue to offer their assistance. My point is I now have a new understanding for “It is better to give than receive”. I now know what it feels like to have people visit you when you are sick or in the hospital. Dottie and I have both been recipients of so many acts of kindness that have buoyed us up over these last 9 months so we would not slip into discouragement. They have acted as examples of how to love others well. They have been the guides that God brought to us on our road to recovery at just the right times. We are indeed thankful for all things and it is the reason I call myself blessed. Everyone needs to be reminded that “The Lord is with them” My hope is you will be encouraged to go out and be that reminded for someone you know could use a helping hand.

What’s next?

Phillippians 3:13,14 “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, press on toward the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus.” As I lay in my bed day after day not being able to move, this verse took on new meaning for me. I can not explain why but as I have shared before, I did not focus on “why Guillain Barre had happened to me” but instead “what do I need to do to get better?” I also felt very strongly that I wanted to be obedient to God’s heavenly calling by showing my trust in Him to those that cared for me, came along side and supported us, or just came to visit. Dan Allender talks about making a chose when calamity occurs. “Will you allow it to break you or lift you up?” I chose to look at the positive by seeing how God could use it for good in my life as well as being an example for those who were watching how we would handle this ordeal. I read somewhere about the opportunity to turn “a mess into a message” I wanted that to be what people saw in me. In a Jon Gordon podcast, I heard that after the UVA basketball team lost to UMBC in the 1st round of the NCAA basketball tourney, head coach Tony Bennett’s wife encouraged him in the strangest way. She said, “God has given you the privilege to suffer and experience adversity so that you can show that your faith is real and what defines you whether things are good or bad”. I wanted to be a reflection of the passage in James, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” My goal became turning the mess called Guillain Barre Syndrome into a message. Therefore…..

Dottie and I made the conscious decision to stay in the moment choosing the attitude of let’s not get ahead of ourselves but instead focus on What’s Next? We did not google GBS because we didn’t want to have worst case scenarios in our mind. The Doctor asked us how much we wanted to know and we said, “just what we need to know now.” That way we could deal the current circumstance and then ask what needs to be done now to move us forward in recovery. Noone really told us but we just felt it best not to dwell on how long it would be before I could move or when I might be able to go home. This decision served us well whether we found ourselves discouraged or when we could see signs of improvement. It kept us in the moment. Grateful for the slightest movement, passing the regular respiratory tests, better sleep, uplifting visits from friends, etc. It also kept us focused on the tough days knowing that if we kept doing what the medical staff said was next, things were going to get better. This attitude is the reason for this blog’s title. We became Thankful in all Things because we believed God was with us, loved us, and that He was in control of what was next for us. We committed my health and recovery to God and clinged to the promises of Hebrews 13:5 and Romans 8:28, ” He will never leave us and will make good out of every situation.”

Things happen for a reason and Good Things can come from it. “All because of a cookie”

Romans 8:28 New International Version (NIV). 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 

Karen Scott writes, ” Sometimes, just a few minutes of time and attention is all the gift another person needs. Sometimes, you get the opportunity to communicate with another person that you value them, that they matter are important, that you hope that their lives matter in light of eternity. Never doubt that a gift of your time and attention is valuable. You can hold it in your hand or choose to give it away”

I am a staunch believer in “the ripple effect” of life. As the title of this post suggests, I also believe things happen for a reason and “there is a silver lining in every cloud”. My journey through adversity via my battle with Guillain Barre Syndrome did nothing to dampen that belief. Why? My family and I experienced 1st hand people choosing to give away their time and attention so that they could encourage and support us. My life has also been made different by GBS. As I have written before, I hope I will always remember the positive things that have occured because of this now almost 8 month recovery process. Out of the dark clouds of what was a significant health challenge came new friends, deeper existing relationships, a renewed commitment for taking care of myself, and stories about other people’s lives being made better because of how we inspired or cared for them in some way.

Here is one little tiny story of how the Lord used my illness and the offer of a cookie- Taken from an email from a friend. “One day, there was this Christian man at a local Health and Rehab facility, being cared for by a friend who was a CNA.  This man with GBS offered her a delicious cookie, she asked who made it, you mentioned the name of a friend . . . and shooting stars went off.   :-)))  This patient didn’t know about a long relationship between the CNA and the cookie maker. However, one VBS evening at Abundant Life in July, when I was looking for more children to round-up, there was the CNA and we had a big hug and quick reunion-style chat about meeting the Christian man, the cookie, and reconnecting with the person who chose to take the time to make cookies for the patient.  She also happened to mention proudly that her daughter loves to read the Bible and loves to read it aloud to her!  Wow, so encouraging . . .  so the twins did do a few nights of VBS and loved it.”  The email went on to say it didn’t stop there. My friend asked the CNA, “have you ever thought about sending the twins to a Christian school?” . . . She was interested, but cautious about what it would cost……

Fast forward a few more weeks and only a couple of brief texts . . . and suddenly, God brought it all together and there were enough scholarships left at a local private school for both of the CNA’s daughter to enroll! 

The moral to this true story is, if you get the chance, don’t hold back the cookie, your time, or whatever else you can offer. Instead give it away and be time and time again amazed at how your gesture will be turned into good many times over.

An update on my road to recovery #180project :)

For those of you who have found this blog, you know it started with the encouragement of many who said I needed to write about what I have learned from having and now recovering from Guillain Barre Syndrome. I thought I would post this AM what I wrote the other day for those who have followed my journey via My hope is that I won’t post there any time in the near future but will share my “lessons learned” here instead. Here is what I wrote.

I am happy to write that this will hopefully be the last update here for quite a while.  No, I am not fully recovered but over the last six weeks, I have made significant progress.  The most recent pictures in the gallery tell the story.  1) my handicap parking permit expired yesterday and we see no need to renew it.  2) I recently accomplished a significant goal of running more than walking a 5K with my good friend Kaitlyn who participated with me after having a heart transplant in November of 2018.  (You can read more about this on my most recent blog post ) 3) I played 50 holes of golf this past Tuesday to help raise money for FCA/AIA and 4)  after 2 and 3, I was able to travel to Harrisonburg Wednesday to teach Realtors how to reach the full potential and the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people.  Many of you know my recovery has been renamed the 180 project.  I am happy to report that my weight is in the 180’s and I continue toward doing a complete 180 from not being able to move at all to being in the better physical shape than when I was struck with Guillain Barre Syndrome.  Dottie and I ask that you continue to pray for a complete (I am now at about 80%) recovery and hope you will follow my “lessons learned” by reading the blog I mentioned above.  We and our entire family are grateful, blessed, and so very thankful for your love and support.

Love conquers all

The power of others love and support

It is interesting now to try and bring back the memories of being in the step down ICU unable to move anything but my head and a couple fingers and toes. Those days and nights were so miserable. Totally dependent on others and not being able to sleep. I never want to experience it again but I want to hold on to the more desperate I felt, the closer I felt to God and allowed myself to be uplifted by others. I have already written about my Doctor friend promising I would get better. My daughter Becca (with her medical background) was next to put things in the proper perspective. She shared with Dottie and our two other children, “this is not good but it could be so much worse. We are in for a long rough stretch but it isn’t a stroke, heart attack or him being diagnosed with some type of long term or terminal illness” It made me think back to when my Dad was at Walter Reed hospital in His last days. Becca (23 then) is the one that made such a great point then as well. “Dad, Papa has had a long well lived life while these young men and women are coming back from war fighting now for their lives. “ From the very beginning, God made His presence known through the amazing and constant care of family, friends, and people I didn’t even know. A few months ago, I sat on my porch and made a list of those who went the extra mile for me and Dottie. I was stunned by how long the list was knowing many folks have to suffer through these types of things alone or with very little support. This was written on the original post and to this day remains so true. “We are grateful for Michael’s prayer warriors and fans around the world and know that you will lift him up and channel your love and positive energy toward Michael, Dottie and all the Guthries.” This is just as true today as it was back at the beginning of this unexpected season of my life. I look forward to sharing specific examples in a future post of how folks leaned in to help move us forward. It has been truly remarkable.

Because of their Faith, you are healed

The joy of feeling Hopeful not Helpless

Before I head back to the beginning of what has been the biggest challenge of my life, I want to share with you thoughts from a talk a gave yesterday at the Darden School Christian Fellowship. It gave me a chance to express how important the encouragement of others has been in my recovery.

There are times in our life where we may feel helpless but I can tell you that even in those times there is no reason to feel hopeless.

The Bible says hope is believing in things unseen. Six months ago I was in a hospital bed only able to move a couple fingers and toes. I was told by people who knew a lot more than me that I would get better. Almost 3 weeks went by and nothing changed but I hung on to those words “ you will get better” Here is my personal version of 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 matter how weak and miserable I was I did not lose heart, though my outer man was in turmoil, I found my inner man being renewed day by day. 17For momentary, light affliction produced in me an eternal weight of glory far beyond anything I could comprehend. I am thankful I could learn in my adversity not to look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen (God is with me, I will get better) for the things which are seen are temporal, but the faith and character that were made evident will continue by God’s grace, to make me a better person. 7 months later the promise of me getting better is becoming a reality.

But this today my desire is to encourage you toward as the Bible says, “love and good works.”

You see my hope in getting better was firmly rooted in my faith in God. But the encouragement of others has allowed me to persevere and come back from what is called Guillain Barre Syndrome. If you know me at all, you know I’m a huge UVA sports fan.

UVA basketball coach Tony Bennett says all the time, if you want to go fast, go alone if you want to go far go together. He also quotes from a Ted Talk “If you learn to use it right adversity will buy you a ticket to a place you couldn’t have gone any other way.”I have personally experienced how True this proverb is and the Ted Talk quote.

The Bible has a lot to say about being the one, being kind, and the importance of encouraging one another. I want to quickly focus on one passage which is mentioned in 3 of the 4 gospels. Luke 5:18-25 New International Version (NIV)

18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19 When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.

20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

21 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

22 Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 23 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 25 Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God.

Verse 20 is striking. It wasn’t because of the paralyzed man’s faith, it was because of the faith of his friends. I did not immediately stand up. It took a great deal of time but after 56 days in the hospital and rehab, On April 25th I did go home praising God. Not just for my health but for how He showed me what the support of others can do in a person’s life.

What an incredible thing these men did for their friend in need. This is what happened to me. When I needed it most, folks continuously carried me to the One of true Hope.

I will close with a quote from Mother Teresa.

Mother Teresa-

“I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love. God can do things you cannot, you can do things God cannot; together we can do great things.” May it be so for all of us.