Devotional / Blog
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October 8, 2014, 11:00 PM

My Wife Has Never Been to Graceland...



My wife has never been to Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley. We have been to Memphis many times. She has asked. I refused.

“Let’s go to Sun Studio’s instead where he and many other famous artists of that era recorded,” I respnded. “Graceland is just a tourist trap.”

Actually, that is true, in my opinion. But that was not the whole story.

While I was in the Memphis Veteran’s Hospital doing my spinal cord injury rehab, they would take us on day trips to give us a break from the extended hospitalization. One of these trips was to Graceland. Without going into too much detail, when you are paralyzed from the neck down and go out, certain bodily functions must be accounted for. This can be accomplished with tubing and a collection bag. And it can be very liberating; until, say, some rubber tubing gets a kink in it.

And, as I arrived at the entrance to the mansion in my electric wheelchair, I looked down only to notice a huge bubble in the leg of my sweat pants. (It’s ok…you can start the uncomfortable laughter anytime from this point…it’s funny now) I was kind of a loner anyways, so there were no trip assistants close by. My arms worked some but my fingers didn’t, and rubber tubing is only so strong. That day, on Elvis’ front porch, I became part of what I can only hope is, a very exclusive group. But it was a very humbling experience and the reason my wife has never been to Graceland.

I tell you this story for a couple of reasons.  First, It is a very personal, but a "laugh or cry" story that I have never shared, but it describes a moment we all have had. You know, that moment where we feel like we want to crawl under a rock.

Second, It is one of the things about my old self (Praise God!) I remember to keep myself humbled and I will share more about that a little later.

As many of you know, I am getting ready to have knee replacement surgery. In preparation for that, they discovered a new problem with my heart that may or may not need fixed beforehand. In addition, one of the things that make a knee replacement very risky is infection; I have had a 4 year bout with infection that has become dormant, but is still present in my body.

But, this is not my first trial with medical issues. These times, in my life, have always been times of tremendous growth and change when I allowed God to have control.

Take a moment, if you haven’t heard it already and read my story on the “About James franklin Kelly” page and examine it yourself.

 So I am using this blog, for the next few months, as a devotional to reflect, study, pray and grow. I am inviting you to join me. If you have an area where you are struggling, if you feel like you aren’t growing, if you too have a trial whether big or small, join me and we can journey together.

One of the first things I’ve learned to do during a period of trial is reflection. For true reflection, it must be lacking pride. Too many times, our pride projects an image of ourselves that is biased. And in doing so, we minimize our need for God. Our self-esteem, or the way we feel about ourselves, gets in the way of our self-image, or, the way we see ourselves. In doing so, we falsely prop ourselves up with self-esteem boosters; telling ourselves how good we are and how we can overcome and survive and we do anything to make ourselves feel better; until the dam breaks and we slip into a depressive funk. Then, we reach out to other people or things, all in the hopes of feeling better or fixing our self esteem and we totally ignore our self image. Then, when we do, we minimalize God again and the whole cycle starts over.

No matter who I become, no matter how successful I am in this life, without God and left on my own, I am just that guy at Graceland. How I feel about it doesn't change that. Anything I do to change the way I feel about myself without changing the way i see myself will only fix the problem temporarily. I can never forget that. Instead, I need a godly self-image. That starts with humility.

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.                           James 4: 6-7

This does not mean substituting depression for humility either; you know the one…the one where we just think about how horrible we are to the point that we forget who we are in Christ.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.                           Ephesians 2:10

I lean more towards pride so I depend more on scripture like James when I am reflecting. Some of you may have self image issues and may lean more towards Scripture like Ephesians. Or, you may use a combination of both. It is just important that you are honest. Take it back to the beginning. At this point, feeling good or bad is irrelevant. It

Who are you? Where are you in life? Are you growing in God, the world, or both? Is God even in your life?

Your actions and habbits reflect what you value. What Godly habbits do your actions reflect? Be honest with yourself. When things are at their absolute best, how much time do you spend with God? Do you get your religious fix so you feel better and then go on your way, minimalizing God until the next moment you feel like you need help?

You are creating a basis for growth and just like building a house, if the foundation is not level, the house will not be built properly and as you build upon it, it just becomes worse. I have found this is a good thing to reflect on almost annually, in good times or bad. God depends on me to do it. My family is depending on me to do it. People around me depend on me to do it. People I will meet 6 years from now depend on me to do it now.

That’s a good place to end our introduction. If you are dealing with something, it is fixable. If you are hopelessly stuck, you can get moving.  Even if you have been fooling yourself and you do not have the relationship with God that you profess, it is salvagable.  If times are good, it's time to build.

Join me, over the next few days, and reflect. Ask God to probe your soul; to show you those areas that need work. Ask God to change your perspective or self image; to see yourself as God sees you.

Let’s do it together! I promise to share the truth over the next few months; the days I feel victorious, the days I feel like a failure and all of the experiences in between. I will share the devotionals that God has given me over the years to allow me to become a vessel useable by Him. I can't guarantee how it will turn out. But I can guarantee the love and care of our God.

All I ask in return is, if you want to make the journey also, get started today.

Psalm 139:23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!


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