The Journey Of Ascent

My Path, His Call, Our Adventure

Praise God Despite the Circumstance: Lessons Learned from Mom — March 19, 2018

Praise God Despite the Circumstance: Lessons Learned from Mom


This is a lesson that mom demonstrated in an incredibly powerful way when I was 19 years old.  Mom had been diagnosed with colon cancer in the summer of 1998.  We were devastated to the point that I almost didn’t return to Lee University for my junior year.  Mom, on the other hand, wouldn’t hear about it.  She wanted me to complete my degree and she was worried that any break in my studies would only serve to increase the chance that I wouldn’t go back to school and finish. Reluctantly, I returned.

I got through the fall semester (barely). Music History and first year NT Greek are not courses I advise taking when dealing with any kind of family crisis.  Christmas break was low-key, but very enjoyable with family around for the duration.  I could tell that the cancer and treatment was taking a toll on mom, but she was determined to beat it, so I returned to Lee for the spring semester.

During my time at Lee, I was a member of the Lee University Campus Choir.  Spring semester was the time of year when we would participate in several Winterfests across the country.  Winterfest is a large youth conference that is sponsored by the Church of God.  This particular year, I think we participated in Texas, Maryland, Cincinnati, Knoxville, and Orlando.

The Maryland event was held in Ocean City which was a three hour drive for mom and dad.  They planned to attend.

Mom got very sick right before the trip and about an hour before they were supposed to leave, they decided to not come.  Then about 30 minutes later, they changed their minds and decided to go, but just stay in the hotel and spend time with me when services weren’t going on.

The first night of the conference, that’s exactly what happened, but on Saturday night, Mom decided to try to go to the service.  She figured she could slip out if need be during the service.

Well, some teenagers from my youth group in Westminster found mom and grabbed her by the arm and brought her down to the front of the stage near my percussion rig during the worship time.  The choir had experienced a very powerful time of prayer before the service where a prophetic word had been given that God was going to do something unbelievable that night.  We had no idea what that was going to be.

The entire choir knew about my mom’s cancer.  We had been praying since I returned to school in August for God to miraculously heal her.  That night, God impressed upon the members of our horn section to go to the edge of the stage near where my mom was and play over her.

As they began to do that, the next thing I knew, mom was on the floor with a group of people around her.  I panicked. I hopped off the stage to get to my mom and when I got there she was holding her side as if she was in pain. I bent down to try to talk to her and I was a little bit surprised to hear that she was speaking in tongues.  (If you aren’t Pentecostal and you’re skeptical at this point, I get it.  I can only report what I saw with my own eyes and everything that is about to follow can be verified by multiple eyewitnesses as well as medical reports).

Eventually, mom sat up and the only words that she could get out were, ‘It’s gone!’  The next thing I knew, my frail mother who needed help walking into the convention center was running around the perimeter of the auditorium waving her hat on her finger (she wore the hat because she was very self-conscious about her bald head from chemo). At that moment in time, she had no medical documentation to back up her claim, but she was convinced that God had healed her and she was worshipping God with all she had.

To make a long story short, within two weeks, the medical documentation was there.  Where 7 tumors had been inside of mom’s colon, there was now no trace of even a single tumor and no evidence that any had ever been there.  God had completely healed my mom and I believe her willingness to worship before she had her healing was a catalyst in God showing His miraculous power.

Be Grateful: Lessons Learned From My Mom — March 17, 2018

Be Grateful: Lessons Learned From My Mom

I want to use several blog posts here as a way to honor my mom.  For those who don’t follow me on social media, she passed away on March 15.  My aunt and I were by her side and it was incredibly peaceful.  I didn’t want to lose her, but I wanted her passing to be peaceful and pain free.

One of the lessons that I learned very early in life from my mom was that we should be grateful for things that we had and things that were given to us by others.


This was not a lesson that I learned in an enjoyable manner at all.  It was a Christmas Eve at my grandmother’s and I was about 6 or 7 years old.  These Christmas Eve’s were an experience unlike any other.  At it’s largest number, these family celebrations would reach around 23 people crammed into a modest size farmhouse for dinner and one of the biggest gift exchanges that I’ve ever seen.  Gifts were stacked 2 feet high across the width of the room and the pile was typically 3-4 feet deep.

It was normal for a large percentage of these gifts to be for all of us grandkids.  At the time I was the youngest grandchild so the lion’s share seemed to come my way.  It was every kid’s dream.

This particular year, I had opened several packages and they were almost all packages of clothes.  Not a young boy’s dream.  Well, after the third or fourth straight gift containing clothes (and dress clothes at that), I blurted out the words, ‘I’m sick of clothes.’

I was quickly escorted out of the room and made painfully aware that such an outburst was rude, ungrateful, and unacceptable. I remember returning to the fray and my grandmother mercifully giving me a package containing a Transformer for me to play with.

The real lesson was learned on Christmas morning.  I would always sneak out of my room early in the morning to get a glimpse of the presents under the tree before waking mom and dad up.  Well, this year when I snuck out, what I saw shocked me.  There was a single small package underneath the tree.  That was it.  There was a note inside my stocking from ‘Santa’ explaining that my selfish outburst the previous night had caused my gift supply for that year to be reduced to a single package and that he hoped I would learn to appreciate the things that I had.

I was devastated at first, but by mid day, I found myself happily playing with that single gift as if nothing else had happened.  The lesson was learned.

*As a side note, I should add that 3 or 4 days later, my parents surprised me with the rest of my Christmas presents.  That didn’t diminish however the lesson that I learned about being grateful.

One Month Report — March 7, 2018

One Month Report


One month ago yesterday marked the beginning of my experiment with low carb diet and carb cycling.  If you remember from my previous posts, the first two weeks were strictly low carb and then we went into a carb cycle of 3 days low carb and one day ‘normal’ carb.

The carb cycling has been interesting.  I found myself unwilling to really have a lot of carbs on the days where some carbs would have been acceptable.  Admittedly on our first normal carb day, I did indulge in a baked potato and it was fantastic!


On my other normal carb days, I really have stayed on the low side simply because I haven’t really found any of my old carb vices (pasta, rice, chips, etc) to even be that appealing.  Not sure if that is because of the progress or if it truly represents a change in my body.  I’m actually starting to think it may be a change.  This afternoon (a normal carb day) I was in the mall and I decided to have a container of Auntie Anne’s pretzel nuggets.  I ate about 3/4 of the container and within 15 minutes I just felt bleh.  Guess I won’t be doing that again for a while.

Now for the part that you’re probably most interested in: the results of month one.

February 5, 2018 – 272 pounds

March 5, 2018 – 254.4

That’s a difference of 17.6 pounds in one month.  I’m incredibly happy with that and look forward to the continued improvements.  54 pounds to go!  Thanks for sharing this journey with me.

Low Carb Update — February 20, 2018

Low Carb Update

This post was supposed to go out yesterday, but upon arriving home from work, my MacBook disappeared into the abyss that is known as my two daughters’ hands.  Consequently this is a day late, but I wanted to give you guys an update.

Sunday was the official end of the 2 week low carb portion of my diet.  We have officially entered the carb cycle phase of this and have decided to go 3 days low carb and 1 day normal (not high) carb.  On those days our goal is to keep the carbs that we do ingest as close to the healthy side of the carb spectrum that we can.  There won’t be any running out for candy bars, potato chips, or anything like that.  I’m excited to see how this phase goes.

I’m sure you’re wondering how the 2 weeks of low carb went for me.  I have to admit that it wasn’t easy (what lifestyle change is?), but it also wasn’t the torture I expected.  I discovered that breakfast and lunch are pretty easy for me to keep it in check, but dinner is where I find myself really wanting that baked potato, rice, pasta, or bread.  I am happy to say that I made it and the results were pretty astounding to me.

For the sake of comparison, I am actually going to post my weight from December 23, 2017 (my heaviest since gaining the weight back), followed by my weight on February 5 (the first day of low carb), and finally my weight from February 19.  It should be noted that between 12/23-2/4 I was being judicious about my food intake, but wasn’t following any type of plan.

December 23, 2017 – 280 lbs.

February 5, 2018 (start of low carb) – 272 lbs.  Lost 8 pounds in a roughly six week period.

February 19, 2018 (start of carb cycling) – 260.6 lbs. Lost 11.4 pounds in 2 weeks and a total of 19.4 pounds since 12/23.

I can’t argue with results.  This seems to be working for me and for my wife right now.  I will not post her results without permission, but she is doing incredibly well with this as well.

I’ll update again after a few carb cycles.  It should be noted that on February 12, I re-introduced running into my routine.

Changing It Up — February 10, 2018

Changing It Up

It’s no secret that one of my biggest physical frustrations over the past 12 months (aside from the personal stuff that just won’t seem to stop) is the fact that even when I was running 30-35 miles per week (I miss those days), I was steadily packing on the weight.  I actually gained 75% of the weight I had lost 2 years ago back.  It has been so frustrating.

Having said that, I knew that something had to change drastically.  I am still running when I can, but that has not been nearly as much as I would like it to be at this point.  The diet must change.  I hate divulging my weight, but it helps me with accountability.  On January 1, 2018, I weighed in at a whopping 274.2 pounds.  At my heaviest a couple of years ago, I was 298.2. At my lowest, I reached 199.8. I began being ‘cautious’ with my eating habits at the start of the year and saw minimal success.  I was able to get to where I fluctuated between 269-272.  That wasn’t getting it done.


My wife started talking to me about joining her in a carb cycle diet.  She has done it before and had a pretty good amount of success with it.  My dilemma is twofold.  I LOVE my potatoes, rice, and pasta.  The thought of drastically reducing those things scared me. Also, there are not many vegetables that I like.  Seriously.  Here’s my veggie list: broccoli, green beans, peas, lima beans, and corn.

I reluctantly have agreed to give it a shot.  The biggest challenge is that before you start carb cycling, it is recommended to do a 2 week stretch of very low carb eating.  The idea is for your macros to be 70% fats, 25% protein, and 5% carb.  You want to begin to train your body to burn fat because when you are taking in too much sugar (carbs), your body burns that first and the fat doesn’t always get burned.

I’m six days in as of today and wow is this hard.  That said, I’ve seen some early results.  As of this morning, I am down to 264.2 so at the very least this has jump started my stalled weight loss.  I won’t lie and say that I’m excited about this change of food intake, but I am hopeful that it will get me back on track with regards to getting healthy (after all, the Richmond Marathon on 11/10 isn’t getting any farther away and there is no way that I could contemplate running 26.2 in my current condition).

Has anyone else out there had something that worked well for them?  Have you tried this particular approach?  If so, what kind of results did you have?  Leave your comments below.  I look forward to hearing your stories as well.

Not Ashamed — January 25, 2018

Not Ashamed

I posted the following brief devotional to our church’s Facebook page and thought I would share it with my blog followers as well.

I often find God reminding me of some of His basic principles and truths in unusual ways. This morning it came in the form of a line from the Broadway musical “Hamilton.” At one point in the show, Alexander Hamilton makes this statement to Aaron Burr: ‘If you stand for nothing, Burr, what will you fall for.’

We live in a society where it seems that many Christians would live silent lives to avoid offending those who don’t believe as we do. While I am certainly not advocating going out there looking to pick a fight with unbelievers, I do believe that it’s important that people know where we stand. Sure this will sometimes cause us to be in an uncomfortable situation, but I really don’t believe that is too much of God to ask of us. After all, Jesus found Himself in much worse than an uncomfortable situation in His mission to rescue humanity from sin.

not ashamed

I worry that if we, the body of Christ, continue to remain silent and are never in a situation where we are challenged to defend our faith, we will find ourselves forgetting what we believe and in turn open ourselves up to fall for the lies of the enemy. It’s kind of like all that math you had to learn in high school. If you don’t use it, you will forget it.

We must be bold in our faith. After all, didn’t Jesus tell the disciples that if we deny Him before men that He would deny us before the Father? I certainly don’t want Jesus to deny me when I stand before God.

Let’s make a stand. Let’s remember the words of Romans 1:16 and live the life of someone who is unashamed of Jesus Christ. The world wants to see real Christians; not just those who claim Christianity but don’t show any of the subsequent fruit.

Here’s an old Newsboys song that this verse in Romans always reminds me of. It’s from the early 90’s so the video is definitely dated.

Not Today — January 19, 2018

Not Today

Before reading, check out this song from Travis Cottrell.  You Fight For Us


We are going to be introducing this song very soon at Kempsville Church, but that’s not why it’s on my heart today.

As I sit here in my mom’s Critical Care room in the hospital, I can’t help but think back to last Sunday at church.  I shared with our church how I believed that 2018 was going to be a year to refresh and recover.  I believe that for my life personally as well as for our church in Virginia Beach.

Just four days after publicly declaring that to our church, my mom was found unresponsive in her home and rushed to the ER where she would be admitted to CCU. I immediately got in my car and made the 5 hour drive to see what was going on and to be with her.  The entirety of the drive was spent running every possible scenario through my head about what I would find when I got here.  Without going into details, the reality was somewhere in the middle of worst case/best case scenario. Mom is showing improvement today, but there’s still a long way to go for her.

Maybe you’re asking me how can I still believe that refresh and recover are for me when not 3 weeks into 2018 I find myself in a hospital room with my mother lying there on a ventilator.  The answer is simple.  I don’t expect everyone to understand my attitude regarding this and that’s ok too.  I know who fights my battle.  It’s my job to be here for my mom, but I can’t fight this battle.  She can’t fight this battle.  It’s in His hands and there’s no safer place for it to be.

I don’t know what the coming days are going to hold, but I do know that the resolve that I have for 2018 to be a better year for me and my household has not diminished in the least.  God’s got this, and my victory will not be stolen away from me.

not today

I will leave you with one more song.  This time from Hillsong United. Not Today