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I’m thankful for Firefighters, Law Enforcement and Paramedics that come to our aid when we are in need. They see us when we are at our worst, but give their very best. They train long and hard to make sure they are prepared to help, no matter what the situation. They put themselves in harms way to keep us safe. They go toward the problem, while we run away from it.
Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you. ~ Hebrews 13:17
I’m thankful for the many ways First Responders keep us from harm. I’m thankful for the ways they help when tragedy, of all kinds, hits. How has a First Responder helped you or a loved one this past year?
My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the wisdom, strength and courage you equip all first responders with. I pray we would show our appreciation and support for their service to the communities, Amen.
I can’t remember a time I didn’t have a pet. Growing up we always had at least one cat and on occasion a dog. My mom was a softy when it came to puppies, so she would often come home from the grocery store with one. We never had the puppy for long. It would either chew up everything in sight or my brother and I wouldn’t help take care of it, so it had to go.
I’m a cat person myself. I think dogs are high maintenance, and there’s only room for one thing that’s high maintenance in this house, and that’s me.
A few years after our last move, my family decided the only thing missing was a dog. We had three cats, which seemed like more than enough animals to me, but they insisted they needed the comfort of a dog. Of course I was promised everyone would help take care of the dog and I wouldn’t even notice it was around. I knew, in reality, I would be the main one doing all the work. I soon gave in and within a few months, we had Layla, a yellow lab from Canine Companions for Independence. She was meant to be a breeder dog in their program, but flunked out due to chronic ear infections. The day we brought her home, she was two and fully trained with over twenty commands. She’s now eleven, and continues to bring us comfort.
Recently, we welcomed a black lab into our family. Her name is Kepi. She’s also from Canine Companions for Independence. She didn’t flunk out of the program. She’s a facility dog and works with my husband, who’s a Law Enforcement Chaplain, as a Chaplain dog. She lives with us and goes out on chaplain calls with him. She brings a smile and comfort to those who are hurting.
This is a difficult time of year, when many of us mourn the loss of our loved ones. I’m thankful for the way our animals bring us comfort. I think they can sense when we aren’t well or when we’re feeling sad. How do your pets bring you comfort?
Emma and Kitty, two of our cats, are sisters. Emma’s a princess, tiny and petite, and Kitty is a scaredy-cat, fluffy and squishy. Earl, a stray black cat my daughter found out in the country hanging on to life, is the only male pet we have. He follows us around, like a dog, and is quite the talker. I’m thankful for the different personalities each of our pets have.
I’m excited to see how God will use my husband and Kepi to bring comfort to the community. How has God brought comfort to you and your family this year?
My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the comfort you bring us through the animals in our lives. I pray You would protect them from those who wish to bring harm to them. Help us to see that animals are part of your creation, Amen.
I’d like to introduce you to Victoria Newman. She’s married to Brent, who works for the California Highway Patrol and together they have 4 children. She enjoys coming along side other Law Enforcement families to help them through the difficulties this line of work can sometimes bring. Today, she is sharing her story of how she came to write A CHiP on my Shoulder. Enjoy!
Worth the Wait
I had a dream.
From the time I was nine I wanted to be an author. But as life moved on, my writing became self-expressive poems; prose of things I learned as I processed the hurts and triumphs of life. Then after I married my man (Brent), I worked on a book for newlyweds called The Bride’s Guide to Wife Life. It included recipes, cleaning tips and relational advice – everything from soup to sex. I just knew it would be a success!
Brent and I had four children together. We moved around because Brent kept promoting with the California Highway Patrol. There were times when being a cop wife meant giving more than I thought I should, and at times simply exhausting. I made excuses for missing family events, frequently felt like a single parent, and explained moods away. I kept my chin up, but it was hard. I didn’t know until later that the life I led was common for police families.
Fast forward to 2005 when I took Bride’s Guide to publishers. I then struggled through a year writing, rewriting, accepting harsh criticism, and learning to write for an audience. In the end, there was no published book for newlyweds. It did, however, open up opportunities to help others write their books. This was beneficial, but not what I hoped for.
During this process, a wise friend suggested I consider writing about being a police wife. I prayed about it. The idea seemed right, and soon thereafter the title came to me: A CHiP on my Shoulder. In 2008, my husband was given the privilege of commanding the Academy. We were spending a lot of effort mentoring police families, so I thought it was time to begin writing CHiP, and planned as such.
But God had another idea.
I had been in Bible studies my entire adult life. I especially loved Precepts – and eventually became trained as a leader. I had taken the previous year off, and felt it was time to come back as a group leader. But then I learned that our Precepts program was about to disappear because our director moved on and no one was qualified to take the position.
My pastor was confident the position was mine. My husband loved the idea. I, however, threw a tantrum, crying out to God.
It meant putting my dream on hold once again for at least a year, maybe longer.
I called myself Mr. Holland. I was tired of waiting. I was weary of helping other people write their books. I wanted to write my own.
Somehow I got my emotions under control and stepped into the role of director. It wasn’t easy. I stayed on for another year. It got messy. It was hurtful. And in many ways, I failed.
But I learned tons.
I learned how to lead in difficult situations. I learned how to communicate. I learned how to teach. I learned how to deal with very difficult people. I learned to lead in spite of gossip. And I learned obedience. From God’s point of view, I was finally ready.
Somehow, in that second year of leadership, I began writing my book.
I wrote out of brokenness.
I wrote out of dependence on God – not just saying I trusted Him, but really, authentically, prayerfully writing from my heart. It just wasn’t about me anymore.
At the end of that second crazy year of Precepts, we finished the book of John. The last passage we studied was after Jesus had been resurrected and was sitting on the shore cooking dinner while the disciples were out in the boat fishing, unsuccessfully. Jesus called out to them, “Put your nets on the right side of the boat, and you will have a catch.” They obeyed, and there were so many fish their nets couldn’t hold it all.
I personally recognized this passage as the long-awaited invitation to step down from my leadership role in Precepts, and run wholeheartedly toward my dream. I saw it as an affirmation for my obedience and trust in Him.
I cried again, but this time it was different. For the first time, my dream and God’s will matched. I had struggled through two years, learning, changing, hurting, not bearing fruit like I’d hoped, even though I was led to the role. It was time to throw my net on the other side of the boat.
And did I find a catch!
By the time I finished A CHiP on my Shoulder, I had a book contract and a small group of supporters. These supporters introduced me to key players who had influence within the police community, and suddenly I had several endorsements from well-known and respected people. People believed in CHiP, and carried the message forward.
The book started selling, and I held my breath. Would it be well-received? Would wives connect with it?
All I can say is I have been blown away over and over, and it continues. I’ve been all over the United States, Canada, and the Philippines. I get letters from police families every week. Some of them say my book has saved their marriage. I partner with training companies to hold seminars on marriage for police families, and that continues to grow. Then in the midst of this, I ghost-wrote a second book about military that eventually took me to the White House. We saw full-blown miracles in the writing of that book, and it has perpetuated healing in many soldiers.
I’ve begun a third book.
These last three years have been a whirlwind that has been completely orchestrated and led by the Lord. His timing, not mine. A good lesson learned.
I had the pleasure of meeting Victoria at a Chaplains meeting in Sacramento last year and currently follow her on the world wide web. I’m excited to see how God continues to lead and direct her and her family. To find out more about Victoria or to order her book, please go to http://www.how2loveyourcop.com
I would like to introduce you to Terry Morgan. He’s an ordained minister and currently the Chaplain/Executive Director of Gold Country Chaplaincy and Press4hope. My husband, Robert Duvall, met him at a Chaplaincy Recognition Dinner in Sacramento. Terry’s passion is teaching various ministries how to help their own parishioners through critical incidents, crisis, and traumatic events, while exercising good stress management techniques and preventing compassion fatigue or burn out in their ministers. I asked Terry to share about his passion and journey writing.
The Chaplain’s Role – the Birth of a Book; By Terry Morgan
My first book is called “The Chaplain’s Role how Clergy can Work with Law Enforcement.” It took about ten years to write. There have been two more since then, “Life Celebrations”, a handbook on conducting funerals, and “When Grief Kidnaps Your Soul”, a book on dealing with various kinds of grief.
When someone asks me why I write, I answer, “I write because I need to write”. My first book bounced around in my head for years before finally being released onto paper. It was like the idea for this book was trapped in my head and needed to get free. Putting the thoughts and words on paper offered a huge release. It was no longer pent up inside, and now it has a life of its own. This was similar to the experience with my other two books. The thrill of birthing them is still the same, but it has gotten a lot less painful.
The inspiration to write the Chaplain’s Role was partially from my life experiences and training as a law enforcement chaplain. The passion to serve law enforcement and the community was a big driver for me. Training is one of my passions. At the time of writing this book there was no books to be had on the subject. There was and is a real need for the material.
My greatest challenge in writing this book was committing to do the work. We all live very busy lives, and quite often, this book would be put on a back shelf to collect dust. A few months later it would be picked up again, only to be re-shelved a few days later. A good friend of mine and Christian counselor, Martha Smalley encouraged me to finish the book. I had to set aside a few hours every week, and commit to writing in my spare time. It really surprised me how fast it came together after that.
The cover was a bit of a challenge in itself. Another friend of mine is police officer who also happens to be a really good graphic artist. I explained to him I wrote a training book on how to do chaplaincy and he agreed to help with getting a cover that would pop. We vetted several cover ideas. When he showed me the “simple” photograph of his gun, badge, and the cross, I knew immediately that was the cover.
My advice to other aspiring writers is to write on a subject you know a lot about, you are very interested in, and you enjoy writing about. That is probably the key for anyone who wants to write a book but doesn’t know where to start. Start with something you love. Then commit to writing at least a few hours every week.
You can find out more about Chaplain Terry Morgan and all he has to offer the community and Law Enforcement at http://chaplainmorgan.wix.com/chaplainsrole. You can also find his books there as well as in bookstores.
By Robert Duvall
Faith and hope are two words that we hear frequently when we are faced with serious challenges. There have been many times in my own life when I have lost my faith and given up on hope. I have taken a hard look back at times when those two words meant nothing to me. Friends and family with nothing but good intentions tried to encourage me during or after a traumatic event with faith and hope and what they said fell on deaf ears. Everyone experiences hard times, health issues, abusive and failed relationships, loss of a family member or friend, financial troubles just to name a few.
For me it was mostly anger and pain that kept me from turning to God to help me through my darkest hours. That’s when my faith was at its lowest, if I had any at all. I also had no hope. It all seemed to me like such a waste of time. I was blinded by anger, hopelessness, anxiety, depression and fear. I know that during those times I treated my family as if they were to blame for what I was going through.
Over a period of 5 years I had suffered 2 heart attacks, near fatal pancreatitis, a stroke and complete kidney failure. To top it off, I was forced to medically retire from my law enforcement career which I had served over 25 years. But one night I had enough. At 3 am I went to my downstairs living room, got down on my knees and gave it all to God. I promised that I would be a better husband to my wife and a better father to my children. I promised that I would rely on Him to get me through this. I stopped the pity party and worked on being positive and faithful. I now had hope.
Things didn’t change overnight but they did improve and continue to get better. I will be plagued with medical issues all my life. I just recently found out that the kidney my wife donated to me to save my life is now in rejection. I will soon have to endure chemotherapy. But my faith is strong and I have renewed hope.
Nothing that is good comes easy. Lessons that are painful are the ones you remember. Prayer is so powerful and it does work. Don’t let anything take away your faith and hope. Give it over to God, completely.
My prayer for us today ~ Lord, thank you for the trails you have placed in our lives. I pray Lord that we look for you in the trials of our lives to see the blessings and help that you alone can give, Amen.
By Robert Duvall
Most of us have had second chances. In relationships, friendships, jobs and the list goes on. I have had so many second chances that I really can’t remember them all. But I do remember all the details of the most significant second chances of my life. First was when my wife forgave me for being unfaithful in our marriage. Second was the grace, mercy and the miracle of healing that God gave me.
For most of my life I have been blessed with good health. When you’re young you really don’t think about stuff like good health. You think more about material items you have acquired, status at work and so on. Working in Emergency Services for 20+ years was really hard on my body.
It all caught up to me in July of 2008. I was working 24 hours shifts, same as Firefighters, as a Deputy Coroner. On my shifts, it seemed that I never got any real sleep and was up most of the 24 hour shift. I was also supervising a county-wide DUI grant on my days off. My wife will tell you that I was working every day, and she was right.
I had a busy 24 hour shift and when I got home at 11 am and I didn’t feel well. I should have gone to bed then but I was restless and had some chest pain and sweating. I blew it off and told Rebecca that I was fine. I was up the entire night and when she woke up the next morning she told me I looked awful. She called the hospital and gave them my symptoms. She was told to take me to the hospital right away. I knew she was right. I went even though I argued with her the entire 30 minute drive. When we got into an exam room and the tests came back, I was told I had had a heart attack.
I was in the hospital less than a week and back to full duty in 30 days. About a month later I was at home reading my son a bedtime story when all of a sudden my heart start racing. I began to sweat uncontrollably and couldn’t catch my breath. I called 911 and when the Paramedics arrived and got me hooked up to the heart monitor, the medic said,”Oh SH**.” I was rushed to the hospital, lights and sirens. My heart was going over 260 beats a minute. I spent another couple of days in a hospital.
It was during these events that the doctors told me I had become diabetic, had extremely high blood pressure and there were signs of damage to my kidneys. Over the next 2 years I would suffer near fatal Pancreatitis, have a stroke and eventually go into complete kidney failure. I had to medically retire from a career I loved. By the end of 2011 I started dialysis and literally had to live one day at a time. I opened my heart to God and came to grips with the possibility that my life was coming to an end. God told me that he had more work for me to do on earth, not as a cop, something else.
In June of 2012 I had open heart surgery. We then found out that my wife was a perfect match for a kidney transplant and in October of 2012, we both went into surgery. She gave me a kidney, saving my life. It was through the grace of God that I had all these second chances. I now serve as a Law Enforcement Chaplain for several Law Enforcement agencies and I know that God saved me so that I could serve others. God is GREAT!!!!
My Prayer for us today ~ Lord I thank you for loving us unconditionally. I pray we see the good in each day that can only come from You, Amen.
If someone had described to me what my future would have been like 5 years ago, I would have thought they belonged in a padded room hugging themselves for a long long time. God has done so much for me, with me and through me over the past 5 years. I am brought to tears each and every time I think about where I was 5 years ago and how I got to where I am now.
Five years ago my marriage was headed down the path to divorce. The really sad part was neither of us knew it. I thought nothing was wrong with me, but everything was wrong with my husband. I saw myself as a good person, mom and wife. I knew I wasn’t great at any of those things, but thought it was better than how my husband was. I saw my husband as selfish and inconsiderate when it came to the family.
I was always comparing myself to my husband. I didn’t think I had to give my best to the family or marriage because, in my eyes, my husband wasn’t. I thought it was up to me to let him know where he fell short and how he could do better.
Then during a counseling session with Robert we were read Luke 6:41-42:
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
This verse hit me like a ton a bricks! I felt God was calling me out. He was telling me to stop concerning myself with all the mistakes my husband was making and work on how I could do better. I needed to take a long hard look at myself in the mirror instead of shoving it in my husband’s face all the time.
I had no idea how to change or where to start, so I went to God in prayer. I didn’t know what to ask for. I realized I was a total and complete mess. After hearing the song ‘Open the Eyes of my Heart’, it became my prayer. I told God I wanted to see Him in all His glory and asked Him to open my eyes so I could. This song was played at my Baptism in June 2009. It’s one of my all time favorite songs along with ‘Friend of God’. Those songs truly fill me with great joy, the kind that only comes from God.
Five years ago I was continually irritated with my husband. Today, I see my husband as a gift from God. I am blessed and thankful for the life God has given us together. Last week Robert graduated from the Law Enforcement Chaplaincy in Sacramento as a Law Enforcement Chaplain. Robert is now doing things in God’s way and I am proud to say he is the spiritual leader in our home.
My prayer for us today ~ Lord, I thank you for being our creator, provider and friend. I pray you continue to open the eyes of our hearts so we may see and experience You and all Your glory, Amen.