What’s Pulling at you?

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When I was growing up, there was a game we used to have so much fun playing called tug of war, where two teams pulled on the same rope but in opposite directions. To make it challenging, we tried to even up each side with similar capabilities. That is when the tug of war started. Both sides pulled with all their might, trying to pull the other team forward, across the middle.

On occasion, there would be a bystander who watched. I remember whenever it was someone stronger who came along and saw the struggle to win. Everyone desperately wanted that person on their team and the pleading began. We knew if they suddenly joined our side, it would be over in seconds, and we would be victorious. Sure enough, the additional pull from the team who got them was the game changer that finished the battle. Those on the opposing side tasted defeat.

The struggle between such opposing forces reminds me of the cartoons I watched as a child. Sometimes they showed an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. Both sides had arguments that were equally appealing to the character stuck in the middle between them. Whichever side pulls hardest wins; that is the nature of this game. It does not matter if one side is strong if the other side is stronger. When the forces are similar in strength, the battle lasts until one side grows weary and decides to let go of the rope. Sometimes the battle is short lived, while in others it can last longer than we ever thought possible.

In many cases, the outcome may have a lot to do with how long we entertain the thoughts from these opposing forces. Generally speaking, we know right from wrong. However, it is in the questioning of things that we create a gray area that blurs our focus. We start reasoning in our minds, sifting through our thoughts of right and wrong. Although sometimes unaware, we drift into the gray area, leaving black and white areas far behind.

It is here that we dream up a multitude of excuses, pushing the human mind to the furthest extents of its imagination until we reach conclusions we never dreamed of. Our minds work to convince our consciences that we are justified in our action or behavior, particularly when someone wronged us first.

Like it or not, we will always face struggles. When both sides of the tug of war are at a standstill, the side that wins will always be the one that gets the extra pull. If you are struggling today, on which side will you allow that extra force to join?

 Copyright ©2022 AuthorJeffKayser.com. All Rights Reserved.

My First Book Release!

What do you do when faced with one of life’s greatest trials?

For seventy-two-year-old Larry Jones, it is a puzzling question he must wrestle with. After the passing of his beloved wife Sharon, a strong Christian woman, his life is found in a tailspin. Without a savior to keep him anchored, he is lost. At a critical point he crosses paths with a young man named Sam. In time, he witnesses God’s unfailing love at work in his life and in the lives of those closest to him.

Others, like Larry, find themselves up against immovable forces. Their challenges are real and so is the pain. Although each person is on their own journey, their lives intertwine in a unique way. Strength is found in uncertain places. Friendships form. Against odds, hope is restored and hearts mend. Explore how far God’s love reaches into the lives of his children in Jeff Kayser’s Whisper Valley.

Click here now to get your copy!

100 Posts! Thanks for Reading!

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This post is a dedication to my readers. It is my one hundredth posting! I wanted to thank you for taking time out of your busy day to read my blog. I also wanted to celebrate because this is a milestone for me. To me, there is something special about 100. Perhaps, it is because of the times I thought about quitting along the way. If you look back to the dates of my blog posts, you will notice they are scattered everywhere, dating back to nearly two years ago. It wasn’t until recently that I started posting regularly.

Before I ever had the idea of starting a blog, I had a sincere desire to mentor. My teenage brother and sister, half my age, were entering a time in their life when things were going to drastically change as they journeyed into adulthood. I earnestly wanted to help them avoid some of the mistakes I made. Due to my seventy to eighty hour a week schedules, I missed a great deal of them growing up since I only visited on the weekend. I failed to develop a better relationship with them and teach them from early on. By the time I realized they were nearly grown up, I tried to give them a crash course in adulthood around the time they were 16 years old. All my efforts fell short because it was too late. Life for each of them took its course; not the way I hoped it would. I may never know whether what I tried to teach had an impact or not.

As a student of life, I enjoy personal growth. For years, I studied many topics and sought a better life. I remember once taking an English Literature class and enjoyed the fictional side to storytelling. One summer I attended a local writer’s conference where I got a chance to dive into the world of fiction writing. I started writing various kinds of fictional stories about five years ago. The issue was, I never finished a single book. I couldn’t tell you how many I started though! It wasn’t until last year that I finally focused on one story, and the book is now in the final stage of publishing.

However, along the way, I still had a desire to share what I was learning about life. Whether it was true or not, it felt like my siblings did not care for my advice. The thought crossed my mind, that maybe somewhere there was a person who might appreciate words of encouragement, instruction, or whatever was offered. Blogging was mainstream by then and I decided to try it. In the beginning, I struggled with what to share. During this same time period, I got actively involved in my church and sought to make a difference in people’s lives. Since I had an insatiable desire for learning and a passion for writing, I wondered whether something was there or not. I wrote a couple posts and received three or four comments that totally convinced me something was there. It made me even think that maybe there was something in this long term for me, perhaps to author some books. This started the conflict about what to post and what to save for a book. Eventually, I realized the only reason for the conflict was because of self-interest.

I had to go back to the beginning and remember why it was I was writing in the first place. It was not for riches, although I won’t turn them down if they ever come one day! God did something so special and so amazing for me, somehow, I knew I had to share with others some form of goodness. Writing serves as an outlet, a means for allowing me to share what is on my heart. After getting involved in more people’s lives, I saw their struggles and of course, I’ve had my own. In the two years since, I never again received comments like those few in the beginning. Had I not gotten those early on, I probably would have quit.

There is an ugly side to being an author that I never knew until I became one. It is sometimes a struggle to create content and even more of a struggle to give it my best every time. Before I read hundreds of books but thought nothing of it. What I never realized until I started writing was how much authors struggle to deliver to readers the very best they have to give. It involves research, writing, rewriting, writing and throwing away what you have written numerous times. Even a single post can take as much as two to three hours. It may not seem like it but expending this much effort can be tiring. To make matters worse, from outward appearances my efforts seem futile. It wasn’t until recently it occurred to me that I was not actually in it for the money. Next month will be two years of writing and I haven’t received a dime. Including fictional writing, I’ve written hundreds of hours with no pay whatsoever.

This has been financially, by far, the worst paying thing I could have ever done with my time! But I know its true that lives change every day and often do so in the smallest of turns in the right direction. I decided long ago, if I can be a part of that for other people, then I’m in! I believe even the slightest possibility exists that someone out there may stumble upon one of my writings and it be exactly what they needed to read, at the exact moment they needed to read it. I even find it humorous that sometimes that person is me. Through the ups and downs of life, we are all in this thing together. Let’s make the best of it!

Thanks again, blessings!

Jeff

Weary in Well Doing, part 3

There had been a couple months where I had been inactive in the nursing home ministry of my church. While I was not actively thinking about the rejection of my last experience, it still hurt so I didn’t try to find anyone else to visit. However, the director of the ministry reached out to me by email one day and informed me of a couple who was struggling. The husband had gone to a nursing and rehab center. Things looked grim. She told me they were not members of our church but had gone there more than a decade ago. Mainly, they were just looking for someone who could visit the husband while he stayed in care there. I agreed to make a visit.

When I walked in the door, I met the man and his wife. They were a nice couple and I soon learned of the heartache and struggle they were both having to go through. The man was diagnosed with lung cancer three years earlier. A year later, he had a stroke that affected his body. Now, lying there in his hospital bed, he wrestled with pain in his body on a daily basis. It often got so bad, he could barely stay out of bed long enough to do anything. The couple worked for the same company for years but now found themselves apart. With his health the way it was, she simply could not care for him any more on her own and he had to rely on a full time staff to do so now. Meanwhile, she found herself still as busy as ever, going to work and managing the household alone. Her weekday mornings started at 4:30 a.m. and ended roughly around 7 p.m. before she found herself winding down for the night to repeat the process again the next day. With such a schedule, she was only able to visit her husband during the weekends, since he was about a half hour drive in the opposite direction from their home and work.

Therefore my new friend was eager for a visit from anyone. I still had concerns from the last person asking me not to return for a future visit. For some reason, I couldn’t keep my big mouth shut and out came my insecurity of that last rejection. I asked them to please communicate with me if I visited too much or if there was any trouble at all, as I did not want history to repeat itself. They both assured me there would be no such issue and invited me to come as it suited my schedule. Thus began my new friendship with the couple. After his wife left, him and I got a chance to get to know one another more. We spoke about work and anything else to make conversation. Before I left, I read to him three sets of scriptures I picked out earlier. Then I prayed and left.

On my return visits, he became less talkative but still responded when prompted. On one trip I brought him some snacks. On another, I tried to play games with him but they didn’t seem to grab his interest. I will say though, he cheated a little at the game of checkers! The other games we didn’t even try. Instead, we sat and watched television together. I started to wonder whether my visits had an impact or not. Since he didn’t say much, I had no feedback. I questioned whether I should even go or not, but decided to continue visiting anyway.

One thing I found out was that he had no remote control for the television. On a return visit, he still did not have one. To the average person, it would not have been a big deal. But for my friend who was bedridden for several weeks now watching the same channel, I realized he had grown tired of watching the same things. That’s the thing about things we take for granted; they come so easily that we ignore them. When we don’t have them, it adds significantly to our frustration. It is so easy to lose hope when things seem they will never change. When each day repeats itself, it becomes all you know.

I wanted to help my friend but knew I could not make him physically better. But one thing was for sure, I could get a universal remote working. So I picked one up and brought it with me on my next visit. I wanted to smack myself in the forehead when I opened the package and found out batteries were not included. However, a nurse came to the rescue and brought some, which meant we didn’t have to wait until Monday when maintenance came to get it working. I plugged them in, switched the channel and handed him the remote.

To see my friend smile the way he did, I’d have paid three times the amount for the remote. He switched through one channel after another and turned back to me with the biggest smile I ever saw on his face. It was as though Christmas came early. I remember thinking, who would’ve thought something so small could make such a big difference. It is truly amazing to witness the impact a small action can have. Sometimes we wait around for when we can really do something big that will have an enormous impact on the well being of others. Might I suggest, while you wait, find a small need of someone around you and work on that in the meantime.

Weary in Well Doing, part 2

Earlier this year, I decided to get actively involved in several ministries at my church. One of the ministries was to serve under a pastor who worked with the seniors of the church. He was responsible for many areas, one of which included a nursing home ministry. A new director started around the same time I started. Under her leadership, I was to visit church members who now resided in nursing/assisted living homes, as they were unable to attend regular church service. It was something I watched my father do when I was younger. I hadn’t really thought of it before but figured I would give it a try. After all, I have always enjoyed being around folks older than myself.

She gave me the contact information for a gentleman whose wife had just passed away three weeks prior. I had no idea what I would say or do when I got there. Rather than think too much about it, I drove to the place. I prayed about what would happen next. Looking back, I realize how nervous and worried I was. However, I pushed past my anxiety and walked along the hallway, stopping periodically to ask for directions from one section to the next until I finally found his room. I knocked on the door and saw the man I was to visit sitting in his wheel chair. I told him the church I belonged to and asked him if it was okay for me to visit. He seemed cheerful that he had a visitor and welcomed me to sit.

For the next two hours, we talked about everything from work, the city, family, and anything else that popped into our minds. There were occasional pauses but overall, the conversation flowed smoothly. At the end of visit, I prayed for him and left. Over the next month, I made quite a few visits to my new friend. However, after each visit, I felt less welcome than the time before. Our conversations got shorter each time. I also noticed his health was getting worse to the point where he seemed sick most of the time. On one visit I had, after the thirty-minute drive to see him, he was not pleased at all to see me. I asked if it was a good time and he responded it wasn’t. I foolishly stuck around for a couple minutes anyway. After driving that far, I thought I earned at least a few minutes. I could feel the tension build, so I left.

It wasn’t long after my visit that I got an email from the pastor asking me not to visit my friend any more. Looking back now, I realize somewhere along the way, I forgot it was really about him and not me. My heart sunk to my stomach. I couldn’t believe it. The pastor told me not to take it personal, which was sound advice if only I were able to take it. Shortly after this happened, he organized a small get together with the other volunteers to give us a chance to meet and talk with one another. We shared stories and the struggles we encountered. When I shared mine, others encouraged me and also informed me not to take things personally. They reminded me that many of these people are suffering and the whole point we are visiting them is to remind them they are loved and not forgotten. I knew what they said was true, but it hurt to be rejected. I even brought my dad along with me on one visit, thinking it would do them both good to talk with one another. He used to serve in this type of ministry after all. But I had to explain to my dad what happened and that me nor him would be able to visit the man any more. For some reason, I wrestled hard with the news.

I did not visit anyone else over the next couple months, nor did I go asking to see if anyone was looking for a visit. It turns out I grew weary in well doing and lost the desire to continue serving in this ministry. After such a terrible start, it did not seem I was any good at it. I thought maybe it just wasn’t for me. Obviously, I reasoned, God must have had something else in mind. However, about two months after that event came a new email from the director of the program. The events that followed changed my outlook completely.

Developed in the Struggle

Have you ever wanted a masterfully crafted body? The commercials make these physically fit people look incredible. Just look at them exercising; they look and feel great! Maybe you believed in it so much that you too joined a gym, literally thrilled with yourself about the results headed your way. Once I was. The local gym screamed at me to get committed. Well, screamed is probably not the right word. They mailed me an advertisement introducing me to a new, low rate. Plus, they offered me a risk-free trial. Basically, for a guy like me, it was a chance to flop without paying for it. Sure, they totally believed in me… But just in case I nosedived into failure in the first month, the gym added some fine print and hit me with a yearlong contract. That’s commitment alright. I was appalled. I thought, what is all this rhetoric! Look bro, I just want to lift weights and get buff, understand?

They conveniently deducted payments from my checking account for the following twelve months. The clause stated if I should happen to quit at any point in the contract, they still would take my money, even after the contract was fulfilled. They informed me the only way my membership would terminate was if I delivered them a personal letter stating that I was leaving after the initial contract period expired. Do people even teach how to write letters anymore? Come on! As part of my membership, they added in some free training sessions. In these sessions, a trainer was assigned to me. It seemed their intent was on seeing how close to the point of death they could take me, without me dying. I thought, this sort of thing should be illegal. Luckily, there is a filter on my mouth that keeps me from saying what I am actually thinking. Without a mirror to see myself exercise, I wondered if I casted a glassy stare that saw deep into their twisted soul. I wondered… do they enjoy watching me suffer? What kind of sick person is this?

Eventually I got through those torture sessions orchestrated by evil; pardon me, by the athletic trainer. They provoked me and pushed me onward to do more. I remember during a set of ten repetitions, on the last one they shouted, “give me two more!” Are you kidding me? Greedy sucker, I already gave you ten; now you want more! Unbelievable! After the training sessions ended, the success of my workout depended entirely on me from that point on. Without a push from the trainer, I had to push myself. But the trainer set the path from the beginning. On a serious note, it takes a special person to be a trainer who always pushes someone to become better. In all honesty, they deserve our utmost respect, admiration, and gratitude.

Along the way, I received a new form of inspiration, called results. When you see results, it becomes fuel to push you forward, through all the hard labor. When you achieve some of your goals, like inches or pounds lost and muscle definition, you realize something important. Lots of forces pushed against you. But when you fight to push back more than they do on you, you are developed in the struggle. Through continuous effort and training, you grow stronger.

Pain racked my body in those early days, but I got used to the punishment. Struggles develop you. Don’t just think of a physical struggle though. It can also be a mental or emotional struggle that conditions you, challenging you to do and become more. Had you not struggled through; you would simply be back at where you started. It is certainly the easier way, but it is usually less satisfying than pushing through the harder path. When challenged in some way, don’t think about it in terms of the price you pay to get there. Think about who you will become in the process to overcome the challenges. A great satisfaction lies just beyond your struggle. Something deep within us all yearns to be victorious in life. Choose to fight back and you too, will be developed in the struggle.

Where You Finish

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It’s not where you start but where you finish that counts. Many people show up at the starting line. But at the end of a long race, few are at the finish line.  Through all the agony and suffering, these are those who refuse to quit. At the start of any race, crowds of people surround the runners and cheer them on. But over time, many will have left the sidelines to go entertain themselves elsewhere. People see the struggle, but sit on the sidelines unsure what to do. Therefore they think there is nothing they can do. After all, it’s your struggle, right? Not theirs. Unfortunately , far too often this is the mindset.

Know that lots of people may leave your sidelines. You might have to endure a difficult part of the race without their support. This is when you will have to cheer yourself on. Don’t be hard on them. They may not honestly not know how to help. Forgive them anyway. Learn how to be your biggest supporter.

When you’re the one on the sidelines, even if you do not know what to say, cheer anyway. Sometimes knowing that someone cares is enough to keep one another going. There are moments in our lives when we feel alone and that not a single person on this Earth that cares. If you see someone in a moment like that prove them wrong. Tell them how much you care. Even better show them. Let your actions speak louder than your words.

Don’t focus on where you started. That part of the race is already over. Use all your energy on where your are going. There will be many times you want to quit. Hold on. In spite of the obstacles and challenges along the way, overcome. Don’t like where you started? Forget about it. Where are you going to finish? Press on my friend.