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Now and Forever!

"For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God." (Col. 3:3)

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November 29, 2011

Finishing Well

by on November 29, 2011. Filed under Christian life / church, Personal, joni

 

Today’s devotional explains something that, over the years, I’ve learned about my own Christian journey. It explains part of the reason why I (usually) don’t get discouraged during those “dry” times in my life. I used to get very discouraged during those times early in my Christian journey. But I’ve learned that even in those times, especially during those times, I learn new things about God, myself, and the people and world around me.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:  for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

Yes.  Even in the driest of times, even in the most stressful, tense, painful, horrific of times, even when I’m being poured out like a drink offering, yes, even in the valley of the shadow of death, God is with me; I will fear no evil.  Have faith in God, my friends. And praise Him forever!

Please read the attached devotional.   Joni so often says things so well.

Love In Christ,
Ed

June 15, 2010

Poor, Poor Pitiful Me?

by on June 15, 2010. Filed under Christian life / church, Personal

 

People shouldn’t think that I’m always strong. I know how to rise to the occasion. By the grace of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, I get up and do what needs to be done. Just going into the kitchen and sitting on a chair with a small blanket over my knees and my feet up on another chair-that’s hard work for me. (It’s worth doing because I can be with my family during meal time.) But that’s not being strong. Here’s why:

We are taught and reinforced to put on a good face. “Smile!” That’s what we hear before the camera flash no matter what kind of mood we’re really in. Hardly without exception we smile.

There is a difference between “being” and “doing”. We’re trained and we force ourselves to “do strong” things. Some of us wake up at 4:30 in the morning, commute several hours to work, work 10 hours, another two-hour commute to get home, and barely have time for dinner before bedtime just to start the whole process over again. Even if it’s not to that extreme most of us know how to “do” strong things.

To give a personal example, no matter how high my pain level is, I was taught to be “polite.” So if I’m miserable with pain, feeling grumpy, maybe I had an argument with a family member, and you come up to me and ask, “how are you doing?”, I might answer by saying, “fine!” I don’t think that lying like that is really polite.

But the real deal that I want to talk about is to “be strong.” That involves something more than the learned external performance which is, in comparison, easy to do. To be strong is a matter of one’s character and one’s relationship to God. It is developed over one’s lifetime. It is very personal as opposed to what we do externally.

Most of the time, I think, by the grace of God, I am pretty strong. God granted me strong faith, given me much grace, and taught me to depend on him. As a result I am able to be thankful, worship God, and encourage others in their faith. All this is an awesome privilege.

There are those times when I’m feeling particularly weak. I can say with Paul, “to be in heaven is better by far.” I won’t go as far as Job who said, “may the day of my birth perish.” But really it’s the same thing. It’s admitting that I don’t want to be around in this world any longer. And that’s completely selfish, lacking in strength. It’s a pity party.

I don’t get envious of people when they get to do good things. But I am desirous of the good things that they get to do. Maybe that’s a kind of envy.

When I hear about somebody who went on a hike in the mountains I long for that joy. When I hear somebody playing guitar as I used to I can become very melancholy missing that joy. When I realize I failed to be a good dad because of my physical constraints and pain I grieve not only for my children but for myself. I have a pity party.

Pity parties occur when I am weak. It does, eventually, caused me to turn to God for my strength. My life is redeemed from the pit. (Maybe pity parties are what you do when you are in a pit. haha) He crowns me with love and compassion. (Psalm 103:4) “I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.” (Psalm 13:5-6)

I’m not strong. But God is awesome. “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trust in him, and I am helped.” (Psalm 28:7)

My comfort is that when I’m feeling weak I can call upon God who is always strong. Thankfully my pity parties do not last very long. The Lord is my strength. Please pray for me. We all need to pray for one another!

Alive in Christ,
Ed

May 3, 2010

2 Seconds Without Pain

by on May 3, 2010. Filed under Personal, health / disability / pain

 

I am in constant pain–but I need to qualify that a little. I sleep to escape pain and to “reset” when I am having a high level of pain. So usually there is only pain or sleep with one minor but notable exception.

It seems odd to me every time this happens. Sometimes once or twice a week I will experience about 2 wonderful seconds without pain. It reminds me what it is like to not have pain. It is otherwise difficult to remember what it feels like to be without pain.

On occasion I will wake up, usually after having a vivid dream, and feel no pain. Zero. For the last 10 years it is the only time I feel zero pain anymore. But it only lasts a couple of seconds. I barely have time to enjoy it before the pain returns.

When the pain returns the sensation that I have is as if pain itself is poured into my veins as it spreads down my legs and arms into my feet and hands. It is a very odd feeling being followed by the usual, constant pain that I feel.

I’m glad that it happens. Even if just for 2 seconds I delight in the pleasant feeling of having no pain. It is also a reminder to me and thus a hope for a solution. If I can be conscious yet without pain perhaps there is medical solution that hasn’t been discovered yet. It is also a reminder and thus a hope for that day when there will be no sorrow and no more pain.

“And I will rise when He calls my name; No more sorrow, no more pain…” (from the song “I Will Rise” by Chris Tomlin, one of my favorites)

Something that I’ve come to realize as a byproduct of these events is the “wall” or limitation of the pain I feel.

It is difficult to describe some things when there is no clear point of reference. So be patient with me and my words.

Can you imagine a system of hoses that are connected together with a funnel at the top? There is also a way for the air to escape so that one can pour water into the funnel and it will fill the hoses. When water is poured into the funnel it flows freely and quickly into the hoses. But when it reaches the end, when all the hoses are filled, the water no longer freely flows into the hoses.  It is restricted by the capacity of the hoses.

After my 2 seconds without pain when pain is poured back into my limbs it flows freely and quickly to all parts, in fact, to my entire body, not just my hands and feet. But as the pain finally reaches my hands and feet the flow stops, everything is filled. If it kept pouring in I fear the pain would be unbearable.

I suspect, as I am only able to do, that the medications that I take, Lyrica (like Neurotin) and Trileptal, which each are presumed to block different neural pathways, are the limiting “gatekeepers” which prevent the pain from entering any more than it does.

My explanation is poor, I think. What I feel is known to me but somehow I can’t explain it clearly. Please forgive me. My hope is that if someone else experiences something like this that they will know they aren’t the only one who feels it. They have a companion.

I take great comfort and refuge that Jesus knows exactly what I am feeling and He has compassion for me. He has given me faith and strength to endure. He is my Redeemer and Savior. I will praise Him forever.

October 7, 2009

Friends that I miss

by on October 7, 2009. Filed under Personal

 

I miss my dad most of all. I wish that I could spend time with him. When I was young I was filled with “things to do.” Now I understand the value of simply “being with someone.”

I also miss my once best friend Leo Jett and my other once best friend Bob Prior.

A result of missing these friends is that I will no longer take for granted time spent with people. I will not rush. For example when I visit my mother-in-law I purpose to take my time with her. I’d spend the day with her except that it would wear both of us out. So I spend an hour or two at least each time I visit. No hurry, no worries.

Ed

September 17, 2009

50 years old and finally something worthwhile to say

by on September 17, 2009. Filed under Christian life / church, Personal

 

Being over 50 years old there are few things I could say that are worthwhile I think. There are a few things in particular I feel I really need to say.

I’ve been married 26 years now. Over all I give our marriage 4/5 stars but I think that  is optimistic, overlooking some serious faults that we had, that I had early on. Our marriage is great now in my opinion. Five out of five stars. Maybe I’m still being optimistic.

Early in our marriage I was so very blind in so very many areas of life. One might look at me and think that I had a great work ethic. I knew how to work hard and give everything I had to the job and not be lazy. The problem was that I had my priorities mixed up. I put my work above relationships. I put technology above relationships. I could make quite a list of all the things that I put above relationships.

One of the areas that I was completely blind to-and I thought about this a lot whether or not I truly was completely blind-was how harsh I was with my wife and my children. My loved ones, specifically my parents and my sister,  tried to bring that to my attention. In other aspects of child training I know I did well enough. Any criticism will continue to fall without a response from me. But even if aspects of my child training were correct I went about it in an overly emotional and often times harsh manner. I really didn’t know what I was doing, how I was coming across, how I was affecting and hurting people, the people that I loved the most.

How could I be so completely blind! Seeing it so clearly now as I do helps me to realize more so that there are things that I’m blind to, things where I need to listen to my loved ones who are trying to correct me and bring things to my attention.

This also helps me to see other people and recognize their blindness. By experience I also recognize a certain amount of futility in trying to make them see what they can’t see. I will admit that I was so stubborn and arrogant such that I was less likely to listen to anyone. I now witness in the lives of others humility, a teachable spirit, and genuine desire for maturity and growth. It varies from person to person how willing they are to listen and learn something new about an area in which they are blind.

I have much hope for myself and for others. The others I know won’t have to wait until they’re 50 to learn how to be gentle, patient, and loving even in the midst of whatever sort of chaos sin brings about.

There is always so much more that I’d like to say but my disability greatly limits what I can communicate.

Mercy triumps over judgement.

Alive In Christ, Now and Forever,

Ed Rodatus

July 23, 2009

Just Say “No!” to Distraction

by on July 23, 2009. Filed under Christian life / church, Personal

 

“…but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

(James 1:14-15)

Temptation isn’t sin. Jesus was tempted. We, too, are tested in this way. Satan tempts us every day. In doing so our faith is tested and we find out if it is pure; by going through the trial our faith can become stronger.

As it clearly says in James it is by our evil desire that we are enticed. That gives birth to sin and death.

The words that I like to use to help me remember this warning are these:

Distraction, Attraction, and Destruction. They are simple enough for me to remember.

Being alive I can (easily) be distracted/tempted. One can hardly go through the checkout at a grocery store without some magazine that distracts us from our opportunities to glorify God by our life. I can assure you that I am often distracted. But I am to refocus and to take every thought captive to obedience and the submission to the Lord Jesus Christ.  I do not consider that distraction to be sin – unless I allow it to become sin.

When distraction becomes attraction then I have sinned. It is a very short step, so easy to allow, unless I say “NO!” to the initial distraction. It is one of the areas where a knee-jerk reaction is merited, where it is necessary. If I don’t immediately say “No” to the temptation then that becomes sin. And sin brings death – destruction.

Distraction – Attraction – Destruction

That’s the progression as I see it.

Think about the Garden of Eden. There was the command, “don’t eat from this tree.” But Satan tempted. Man (woman) was distracted from their devotion to God. Rather than not allow the distraction they became attracted to the forbidden fruit. And they sinned bringing about the destruction of man.

Distraction – Attraction – Destruction

I repeat it over and over to help me be careful at the point of distraction. I am all too aware of the progression. I’ve personally experienced it. So I will promptly turn away from a distraction. That has kept me from sin on many, many occasions.

There are the blatant, obvious kinds of distractions that entice us by our evil desires and then there are the subtle, stealthy kind of distractions. Cheerleaders are of the first blatant kind of distraction and perhaps football is like the second subtle kind of distraction. I’m not saying that watching football is sinful. But it is sinful if we allow it to take us away (distract us) from our responsibilities. And I would define our responsibilities as they pertain to God, our family, our employer, etc.

If someone watches football when they are supposed to be at work then I expect that person will be fired — Distraction – Attraction – Destruction.

If someone watches football when they are supposed to be spending time with their family then I expect that person will have conflict in their family — Distraction – Attraction – Destruction.

If someone watches football when they are supposed to be worshiping God then I expect — Distraction – Attraction – Destruction.

Go ahead and watch football when it isn’t distracting you from your responsibilities.

If I liked football the way some people do then I would certainly watch it. But the moment it distracts me from what is right to do then I would turn my head and my heart away. When it comes to the cheerleaders, they are always a distraction from what is right. So whether it is football or a cheerleader, don’t let it remain a distraction.  Do what is right. Turn away from a distraction. Just say “No!”  It is a simple technique that works for me most of the time.

January 22, 2009

Fleeting Body, Enduring Grace

by on January 22, 2009. Filed under Personal, Thoughts, health / disability / pain

 

fleet·ing, adj.
passing swiftly; vanishing quickly; transient; transitory:

I’m 55. I used to think that was really, really old, like back when I was a teenager. Now I look back and think, wow. Here I am-old. The people that I thought were old, like my mom, are now really, really, really old.

It’s all relative, isn’t it. I guess when you are 5 or 6 you might think that a teenager is old. I don’t know; I’m too old to remember.

I have a lot of favorite verses in God’s Word.  They are an enduring encouragement to me.

In Isaiah 40:8 and 1 Peter 1:24-25, we see this:

“The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God stands forever.”

I think that is what I’d like this written on my tombstone. I will live forever based on the promises in God’s Word. But my body will wither and fall. I want anyone seeing my tombstone to know what is important and what is not.

I’m tired. My constant pain is very much like a thorn in the flesh to me.  I have to live life in spite of it. (I couldn’t begin to express how difficult it is to do so.) I really want to go home to Heaven. It is certainly better by far.

Even though I have constant pain I also have God’s enduring grace. It empowers me to take the next step even while in pain. Without God’s grace, there would be no power and no hope. Praise God for His moment by moment provision!

Maranatha! Lord Jesus, come!

March 12, 2008

I’m a grandpa! Adeline Grace Rodatus

by on March 12, 2008. Filed under Personal

 

Adeline Grace Rodatus – I’m a grandpa!

6 lbs., 15.75 oz., 21 inches.

w135666288.jpg

August 19, 2007

Life and Death

by on August 19, 2007. Filed under Christian life / church, Personal, health / disability / pain

 

There’s no way that I can address or expose much on such a lofty topic, but something came to my heart today that I must share with you.

It seems that it’s when we are confronted with death that we gain some perspective on life. I’ve been so confronted in several ways over the years. The death of a loved one and a personal “near death experience” causes one to reflect and hopefully gain a better understanding of life.

I just have a few short things to share here about life and death. I think that they could be useful to someone. I hope that they are.

As a born-again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ I know that I will live eternally with my Savior in Heaven. Until then I live out and hopefully enjoy and appreciate my life here in this world for the short time that I’m here. After all, I am called by God for a purpose-His purpose-while I live out this life. Pain isn’t really relevant (no matter how distracting) compared with the glory that will be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)

In fact, most of the things that we pay attention to in this world are not as important as we make them out to be. It is simply life that is important now and I find it elusive to define it other than it is a gift from God: Life, and the lives that we share with one another: relationships. It is almost comic how we make such things as money so important even while we neglect the best part of life: The beautiful lives of those so close to us, our spouses and children. It would be funny if it wasn’t so terrible. Money, after all, won’t go with us to heaven. (Luke 12:16-40), however what we did with/for/to one another-relationships-our lives will “go with us” into eternity.

Even while we are still here, and, from our current perspective (as people who are still here) it is so very important to lay hold of life as God designed it to be, one of love for one another.

Let me pose a thought to consider: We grieve over the loss felt when a dear one dies and that is okay. But we must not neglect to accept the words of Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians:

“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Grieve, but not like the rest of men, who have no hope. This is one of the Truths about God’s will, plan, and Kingdom that we must take hold of. It isn’t the death of a loved one that we should overly concern ourselves with but the life of that loved one. To explain this I need to mention a dear friend the I miss, (but only for a short while!)

I miss many people that I will soon see again. My dad, my aunt Teti, a dear friend Leo Jett, and a brother who lived near me, Bob Pryor. Bob was so unique, at least I think so. He was a farmer who had done it all. He even worked on a steam boat, as I heard it, as a river boat captian. His life was colorful, fascinating, ..almost unbelievable. He passed on to Heaven, it seems, recently. I don’t really remember when.

There is a choice before me every time I think of Bob: Dwell on what I am missing or revel in the life that we shared, no matter how short of a time it was. And even more important, I must remember that I’ll see him again very soon when I, too, make that journey to Heaven. I don’t know what it will be like when I get there, but I know that it will be a time of rejoicing! Praise God!

We mustn’t dwell on our loss; we must remember and even revel in the life that we shared with one another and, (again), hold on to the hope that we have based on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

This is my viewpoint on life and death: Death is only for a short time; it is life that is eternal. And I hope that I can “encourage each other with these words.” God has conquered sin and death. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:51-55)  Praise God and rejoice in the life and relationships that we have with one another no matter how short our time is with them. For believers, we will praise God and rejoice together again for eternity.

It is life, not death, that is important. Let’s make the most of it with one another! Love one another!

Love In Christ,
Ed

August 10, 2007

Change

by on August 10, 2007. Filed under Personal

 

It is so important to accept change. Partly because it is inevitable – change will occur no matter what we do to try and stop it. We also need to recognize that so long as we hold on to things the way they are we are not allowing God to work His miracles. A baby, as beautiful as they are, will not stay a babe but grows up, gets married, and passes the way of all mortals. Death is part of the cycle of life as God has allowed it on this world. Ironically those who frantically attempt to hold on to things cease to enjoy them. Embrace change and we become part of the life that God intended for us.

Cleaning the summer room is all about change. I can’t work on my beloved projects anymore. We can’t take it with us not even to our downsized town home and certainly not to Heaven.

I could say more about change but I want you to know that I don’t grieve over the functional loss of my hands, feet, or bladder. I have repeatedly said that if I never worked on a computer again the rest of my life I would still find something to enjoy, something to distract me from pain, something to make me feel useful, something to worship my Heavenly Father.

So it is very easy for me to say that the end of an era has recently occurred and I have no regrets. I will not seek to hold on to something that God has ordained I should cease from enjoying. I’m talking about the camera that I purchased over 7 years ago. Can you believe it? That I’ve had this camera that long?* It is damaged and cameras are usually not something that can be fixed by the consumer. I have received, I feel, far more enjoyment from this camera than most people are able to have, far more, I know, than I ever expected. I loved taking photos of events at church and in the home. But God is calling me to new and different things.

I’m not really all that great with people as compared to, say, technology. God has given me mercy and has taught me many things. But I can see more and more that for me to focus a camera instead of focusing on the people near me would be a mistake. I feel like a terrible evangelist, but I’m called to evangelize. I feel like a terrible mentor but I’m called to mentor. I’m pretty sure that I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me. (Of course, I’m very sure of this!) I will still have technology. Helping the church every once in a while is still a joyful activity for me and I don’t think that will change anytime soon. But forgetting the camera that I’ve enjoyed for so long is a clear change that is needed in my life.

Last summer, when I dropped the telephoto lens and watched it descend in slow motion onto the concrete sidewalk, I wasn’t shaken at all by it. It was sort of a sign of the change that had already began even though I didn’t notice it yet. Seven years ago that lens cost almost as much as the camera. Now both are broken. (No, I didn’t drop the camera. It just seemed to have worn itself out.) I’m worn out in some ways. To continue to expend my energy taking photos, even though it has been such a joy, would be a serious mistake. Would we hold on to this world at the moment that God is calling us to be in Heaven? Most people seem to do so even when Heaven is their real home.

The era of my taking photos is over and I don’t regret it. Instead, I am looking forward to what God has called me to next. He is my loving Heavenly Father and I trust Him to lead me. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters; He restores my soul. The Lord is God.

Thank you, God, for such love, mercy, grace, and more that you have given me and my family especially these last 7 years of my disability. Who could ever imagine that there is such joy in the midst of such trials.

“Yea, Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,  I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Amen!”

* I purchased the camera when I found out that I had cancer. It was, for me, a way to document life. It wasn’t about cancer but what life can be in spite of cancer. I didn’t focus on my cancer. I focused a camera on the life around me. 7 years of fighting cancer and 7 years of enjoying my camera. I don’t want a new one. I only want Jesus.

All journal entries are copyright by Ed Rodatus - all rights reserved.
(Except the entries in the "joni" category. All the "joni" posts are from the Joni and Friends daily email devotional.)

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