Friday, November 22, 2013

God of Second Chances

Nothing more needs to be said.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Feeling Nostalgic

IMG_0009, originally uploaded by rcelliott.

This weather, combined with some other stuff has got me feeling blah. Since nothing cheers me up like bikes, I thought I would share an old shot of days gone by.

Friday, January 18, 2013

So, I was in an accident

The other day I found out what a head on collision feels like. It is not something I recommend. We are still working out the mess, but just for an update I have tons of bruises, scrapes, stitches on my left knee, I'm on crutches until the swelling in my knees goes down, and I am thankful to be alive.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Annual Look Back/Forward 2012-13

At the end of each year I look back at the year and try to learn lessons from it. As I move into the coming year I try not to make resolutions, but try to get a sense of what theme the Lord is moving me toward. This year is a little different.

First, I am going to take a look back. At work I have kept up another great year. I won a sales award. I have kept moving in the right direction for growth. I have worked smarter. I should feel good...

...Except, this past year has brought me a lot of challenges that I have had to work through. Physically this year has been among the hardest ever. I had a small lump removed from the back of my head. No big deal. I was working out like crazy until I popped something in my hip. I rested a couple of weeks, no big deal. I went down to hang out with friends and pastors from around the country and my hip went completely out. Bigger deal. My back has been hurting more as the years go by. I am starting to feel the effects of arthritis in my body from all the years of karate and biking. I went from 2100 miles of xc riding in 2011 to 200 miles in 2012. Not good at all for the health. Not good for the head either.

The challenges above brought so many mental challenges to me. The lump in my head was a minor cancer scare to me. The hip slowed me down. The back slowed me down. The reports from the doctor were that I needed surgery on the hip. We weren't sure how much, though, because he wanted to do another MRI. Did I mention that I all of the sudden became claustrophobic? I also found out that my hip wasn't the only problem. Apparently I showed some signs of a rare kidney disease. In the words of Sweet Brown, "Ain't nobody got time for that!!!" To make it more fun, the doctor also ordered a number of additional x-rays on my lower spine. It was a drop kick to hear, "Are you aware that you have broken your spine in three places up to three times?" I literally aged 100 years in a day. I was afraid to move. I was already always in pain, but this was different. I wasn't able to handle this. I got old. I wasn't invincible. I wasn't immortal. I was now an old man who had to walk up and down stairs one at a time in order to be safe.

To say this was a challenge to my head was an understatement. It didn't get easier from here, though. We had to deal with some challenges to our family that we had never seen in the cards. I had to relive some of my most painful childhood memories. I had to find out I am not in control in every area. I am not in control in any area. I had to live out the thing I say to others when they go through struggles, "There is grace on the next page." Though I knew this to be true, I needed to live it in a new way.

To add to this was what I call "The George Bailey Syndrome" going on in my head. I wrestle often with what I am doing in life verses what I want to do. George Bailey from "It's a Wonderful Life" wanted to see the world and leave his mark. His life took another turn, though, and he ended up living in a small town fighting the battle of Bedford Falls while running a building and loan business. I wrestle, like George, with this type of feeling. I want to plant churches. I want to bridge gaps between ethnicities and people  of different socio-economical status. I want to help the church grow and truly be the church. It's a small goal, I know, but it is what I want to do. Instead I find myself selling welding supplies. In the church, many would argue that I have done a lot. I am a pastor, I have planned outreaches, missions trips, youth ministries, church ministries, and a ton more. But, I am divided between work and church, and I haven't planted a single church though I have been praying about it for nearly 10 years. Sometimes I am on the grumpy side of this mental battle. Sometimes I am able to deal with it.

All of these things together really were the perfect storm. Physical pain, emotional pain, mental stress, the stress of keeping up at work, and running nonstop as I am prone to do brought me to a depression. I couldn't seem to find peace much this year. I forgot one major thing.Deuteronomy 31:6 says not to be in fear or dread, it says to be strong and courageous, it says the Lord God goes with you and that He will never leave nor forsake you (paraphrased by me).

As you can see it was a pretty challenging year. I have a sense from the Lord that I have to do several things. In the beginning of this post I said I try not to make resolutions. I feel that I need to make a little change on this statement. I feel that I need to trust the Lord more. I feel that I need to hold on to verses like Deuteronomy 31:6 more. I feel like I need to know Him more this year. In a sense, I have always been a doer, which has had me relying on my own strength, but I need to make the resolution to read, pray, and seek the Lord more. There, I said it. I am making a New Years Resolution!

I get the sense this year that it will be a year where I will need to make some drastic changes. I may not be able to do some of the things I love to do so I will need to learn to live without. I need to discipline myself in certain areas in order to heal, grow, get healthy, and be who I am called to be. I have to learn to know that who I want to be and who I am called to be, though they might be one and the same, will take time to become. I have to learn to be patient. I have to learn to trust Him. I get the sense that He wants me to know how to be at peace with Him and how to truly be a man of peace.

These are a few of the things I am seeing for the year behind and the year to come. I am praying that the Lord's will be done.