“Cheerful is today’s WORD. Mack and Jake did quite well with an inch of snow at 5 AM. I have been planning to sweep the back patio to make short trips while it snows all day. I am challenged to be cheerful. But wait, I have so much to be grateful for. 2 tails wagging every time I walk in, or get out of bed every morning, or when a treat appears by magic. The things that need to be done, make a day, a day. Without the gifts I have, what would make dinner more than peanut butter and jelly. Where would the treats be, or the fall jackets or the winter jackets. I have spent my life watching snow fall and have a white back yard vs brown today. To keep moving every day is the benefit of activity.
I will watch the snow melt and the grass become green, and the seasons bring all the things that the seasons bring. All the things I see, or fix, or clean, remind me that GOD is busy making a new billboard everyday to enjoy. That creates cheerful, and tail wags, and a good walk, and a gift of life. Have a cheerful day and see the billboard that GOD created for you and the dogs. OUR CARES AND PRAYERS GO WITH YOU EVERY DAY.
As I was sitting down the other evening, and thinking about just what “Life Is” some 70 years into “Life Is”. Some things came to my attention. I found myself thinking about just what have I accomplished so far in my life?
I thought about my debt to asset ratio after all these years. I have seen many of the retirement preparations shows on the TV and how I have made it to this point. I am in the Social Security part of my life. I still work and probably will for the rest of of my life. The question rambled throughout my head just what have I accomplished?
I explain it to people that I am independently poor.
That word ACCOMPLISHED seemed to jump out at me like I had just entered into a boxing ring. Just what have I accomplished in my life? I have a long list of what I have wanted to accomplish. What I wanted in elementary school, or high school, or college. How about that first job, or the last one.
In the world of religion and GOD and JESUS and BUDDHA, and many more different religious groups and beliefs is UNORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY.
WHAT HAVE I ACCOMPLISHED?
How many of us ask ourselves what have we accomplished so far in this Life? People I have talked to in my life have asked me, religiously, in different ways, what have I accomplished in my life? So I asked GOD for a clarification.
“Just what, GOD, have I ACCOMPLISHED in 70+ years so far?”
As though it was written by an ancient prophet from somewhere, GOD wrote it like this:
“Life is not about all the things you may have wanted to do. Life is about all of the things that you have done. The people that you have met. The opportunities that you have had a chance to help of or be a part of something important or just fun.
Life is not about what I may feel that I have missed in life. Life is about the journey that I and you have been on as individuals.That is what started on the day I was born and won’t end until I have the opportunity to start over again, and again, and again. That has been called eternal life. It is a thief sharing a cross with JESUS that recognized that JESUS should not have been punished for being good, and Jesus’s response was “Today you will be with me in Paradise”. For a thief, It was recognizing that it was not for accomplishing the great things that he may have wanted, It was now about what he had ACCOMPLISHED in the journey. “Today I will be with Him in Paradise”.
The journey starts every day. It is all you have done and enjoyed and what has become your journey. It is about where you may have crossed the path with someone you will forever remember. The smile someone else brought to you face. The bottle of water that came over to you when you were working to help someone next door. It was watching a baseball game of the kids playing next door and the smiles on their faces. It was opening that first box of girl scout cookies.
It is not about me, it is whatever you have done and what it has become. It has become your life, your friends, your challenges. Your decisions. It is your story and your history for you. You have accomplished more than you recognize. You have worked on LIFE since day one. You can sit in your easy chair and smile at the things that have come your way and made you smile, or changed a disaster and met a friend you will only meet once and forever remember.
Unorthodox Christianity is rooted in an opportunity to take a tremendous journey through Life in what has been and is your world. Just what have you accomplished? You are on your way there, everyday.
A wonderful day off. A bit cloudy, not quite as windy, not snowing, I wonder if I am still in Iowa.
Do you ever have a munchie day? Today is it. I have to get to the grocery sometime today so it may just be my reminder machine. I have heard so many at the gym complaining of the cold, I often wonder if we will appreciate simply being. For today my goal is to enjoy simply being. Have a wonderful day and enjoy the day that has been done for you. OUR CARES AND PRAYERS ARE WITH YOU.
Unorthodox Christianity can cover a lot of ground. When I first started Unorthodox Christianity I followed a typical Church driven idea to tell people what you need to know to follow the scriptures and analyze them and maybe even debate now and then. The more I moved forward with it the more questions I asked myself. What I have written below is a more common writing of today vs then.
The more people I talked with, the more people fell into the category of disenfranchised. The more I heard about their first visit, or return visit, to a church environment was followed by comments similar to “I did not feel welcome”. “I did not feel that I belonged there”. “It felt that I wasn’t ‘their’ type”.
Analyzing scripture left something out for them to grasp and get familiar with. I wondered just what was missing.
The most common desire among most seemed to be a relationship. Not necessarily with the people in that church setting, but the building of a relationship with GOD, and JESUS. A relationship that they could grasp. One day a week for a couple of hours simply was not creating the environment of a relationship that some people would truly find trust in a short term setting.
Most every day I wake up with a relationship. It may be with family, or my dogs and wagging tails that welcome me every day. Not just 2 hours a week. Just about everyday I cross paths with the neighbors. I say hello to, wave at, smile with, talk about the weather. A constant feeding of relationship that builds familiarity. It also builds conversation and a measure of trust.
I feel welcome. I feel like I belong. I feel comfortable. And when life happens, I find the neighbors who help shovel some snow, or help with a problem, or asks me to sit down and they ask how things are going.
When I was very young I did Sunday School and such. I went because my family took me. We finished church and went off to lunch. I forgot all about GOD or JESUS and I remember how good the lunch was. I had the stories about GOD and JESUS in the BIBLE that came with the SUNDAY SCHOOL. I started thinking about GOD. I started to read the books at home. I stared at the night sky and thought about the huge creations before me. I was curious who GOD was. I decided to just ask GOD about why all people weren’t good. And the relationship started. I was never afraid of GOD. A friend asked me what I thought about JESUS. I mentioned that my dad, a sales manger, once said that the secret to sales success is getting right to the man (or female) in charge. I felt that I could just as easily talk to the man at the top. It started small and finally we had built a relationship. We covered a lot of ground over all these years. If you wish to build a relationship with GOD, go for it. I could keep going on and on about the years we have already built. But it started with my questions and it developed before me. How did it work? It wasn’t magic. You will discover that GOD has ways to communicate with you that you may never understand how, but you will understand by taking it to GOD. You will discover it. GOD will find many ways to talk with you. Many times you will be surprised by it. As far as I am concerned that is the purpose of the relationship with GOD. It is not a weekly event. it happens EACH DAY.
The message below is something I do every day to the people who are most important to me. Sometimes it becomes part of the blog. This idea of relationship can not be built with rules, it is built with trust that comes from familiarity. GOD will establish the relationship with you. You my get mad at GOD. You may thank GOD for something that gets pointed out to you.
This blog today is called EACH DAY. Enjoy it.
GOOD MORNING ALL
Just trying to relax and enjoy a day off. One would think that the older you get and the less “Work” you have to do, the easier life becomes. So far the easier part has yet to appear very often. When I was a young man the idea of a vacation was the goal of life. Today life is the goal of life. Fortunately each day is an achievement. Thank you all for your help, prayers, and encouragement. You have made it all worthwhile. OUR CARES AND PRAYERS ARE WITH YOU.
Have a wonderful day.
ME, Mack and Jake
We hear a lot about when we get to Heaven and how our relationship with GOD is going to be something special. You are in Heaven each day right now. Heaven is not a new beginning. Birth was the new beginning. The relationship with GOD started years before your birthday. GOD appreciates you and encourages you. Not years from now but EACH DAY. As my Aunt Vera(my daughters namesake) said over and over again for years and years, “Isn’t that Wonderful”.
I always seem to have a Saturday in waiting. Rest is a priority but the list doesn’t stop there. Laundry, vacuum, dishes, food, think.
Tough to think about a full plate. How fortunate to be in a position to move along one project and then another. Maybe miss one to pass along to tomorrow. Tomorrow seems to be convenient, but I have seen that it never seems to appear. What can you do on tomorrow anyway? I have yet to see the calendar that starts with tomorrow. Anyway, off to do things today. Tomorrow will have to wait. Stay safe and warm. OUR CARES AND PRAYERS ARE WITH YOU.
I have heard a great many sermons in my life that are to tell me what heaven and the hereafter are like. I have heard so many that I now know one thing for certain; no one has a clue.
I do know that if I do not choose Jesus as my Lord and savior I am doomed to eternal damnation and life in Sheol (whatever that is). I do know that I cannot be saved if I am not Baptist, (or Mormon, or Methodist, or Presbyterian, Evangelical or Episcopalian and certainly I don’t have a prayer of heaven if I am not Catholic). This causes a substantial dilemma since I cannot be all of the above at the time of my death. Of course, I will also spend a life in eternal damnation if I am not Jewish, or Sunni or Sikh, or Moslem or Hindu or Buddhist or any of dozens of other religions that inhabit the Earth.
I guess that means that I may resign myself to the “bad” place.
ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN
Jesus, as a teacher or Rabbi or preacher or philosopher or son of GOD, holds forth in his hand the ultimate carrot, “Why wait?”
I do not believe that Jesus came and sacrificed himself on a cross to merely extend promises of a fancy divine hereafter. Most religions seem to offer up Nirvana in some shape or form.
What Jesus did was to come and offer us insights as to how we can positively impact the here and now. Jesus taught us how to impact the heaven that lies within our grasp right now, daily, not the after.
Whether Heaven has mansions or refers to new bodies in different times as the Hindu believe (reincarnation) is irrelevant to me. Whether we sing in a divine chorus 24/7 (or whatever time-frame is the physics of heaven) is not as relevant to my living as the promise that I can experience heaven now, as Dennis, as me. It is equally important that you can live it as you.
Is it no wonder that Jesus’ teaching was so radical that most, not even those closest to him, could comprehend His meaning? The Heaven that Jesus prayed for is within our grasp daily. ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN, what a radical and impossible dream. LOVE ONE ANOTHER, another impossible dream.
Daily? A fantasy for sure. Jesus has been the object of great debate since the beginning. Those who do not wish to change much look forward to the end of their lives firm in the knowledge (or belief) that the hereafter has the mansion they couldn’t charge here. They look toward a magic place where grace takes them and places upon them a robe of authority or position and extends divine preference based on the sign in front of the building they visited on Sunday morning or Saturday afternoon for an hour or two out their week.
And yet no one can tell me what they will do all day, every day, for eternity. More than that, they wish me to believe that they can perform this function for eternity when they get fidgity now after 60 minutes out of each week in GOD’S own house, which they built with their own money. How do they expect to be satisfied with that heavenly life when a half hour of prayer daily is a challenge. How will they adore GOD every day, all day when they can not accept the Muslim on their knees 5 times daily when they are reluctant to extend thanks at the dinner table with GOD’S blessing of food to eat before them daily.
I do not believe Jesus was about hereafter. All kinds of religion handle the hereafter. What was unique about Jesus was his preaching about the hereNOW.
Jesus did not say to the blind man, “Your sight will be restored in the hereafter”.
Jesus did not say to the lame man, “You will walk on the heavenly shore”.
Jesus did not say, “Kill your neighbor and you will be great in heaven”.
Jesus did not stand before the tomb of Lazarus and yell “Lazarus, have a great time.”
Jesus did ask of his spiritual father, “On Earth as it is in heaven”.
Jesus was about the hereNOW.
The great teachers teach us how to live the here and now. They teach us how to make the best of who we are, appreciate what we’ve been given, share the blessings of our wealth be it physical or spiritual, and enjoy the journey of our living. Jesus says to me, appreciate, share, and enjoy for the Father has tomorrow handled. Whether I play a harp for eternity, or return to this place again and again and again is GOD’S venue, what Dennis Wheeler does with His appointed days is mine. I can live an example of a Jesus or Jimmy Hoffa. I can appreciate all I’ve been given or be driven to power and it’s ultimate corruption. I can share what I’ve been given or horde it until that day when it lies in a yard sale weeks after my passing, or worse yet, is tossed into a dumpster and becomes buried with countless other lives under tons of dirt fill.
The reality of life is the hereNOW, the speculation is the hereAfter.
If GOD was less concerned for us He would not have utilized Jesus to promote a better hereNow. GOD would have left us to the Jewish law, or paganism, or mythology. We would be eternal passers by, the bad Samaritan, the righteous priest or the self focused CEO or CFO.
What if I’m in Heaven now? Do I help its dream, or hinder it? Am I promoter of it, or a thief? Am I an encourager of living or a prospector of dying? What do I feel that Jesus would have me do? If I call myself a Christian, to be true to my Jesus and myself, I should be living the best hereNOW I am capable of. I should appreciate it, share it, and enjoy it as the gift that it is.
I have been writing for many years now. The notes that have become Unorthodox Christianity. They go quite a ways back. Why did I even begin with the writing. It seems I need to remind myself to write more articles. Why?
It largely began with the conversation with a Sunday school teacher I have referenced before. In second grade Sunday School, in the midst of teaching about GOD creating the world and GOOD and EVIL, the teacher asked an open door, “Do you have any questions?”
“Yes”. I responded. “If GOD created everything, why didn’t GOD just make GOOD PEOPLE?”
That was the end of my religious question and answer period. I was embarking on a life where I asked questions and I looked for answers.
First question became IS GOD JUST A REALLY BIG GUY IN THE SKY? Then I touched on JESUS. Should I simply ask the questions to the BIG GUY AT THE TOP? Why Work around the middle man. My dad had worked with professional sales representatives. I guess I got it from him.
I looked up at the sky one evening when I was about 13-14 years old. I began asking GOD questions, with help from the middle man. I could not imagine a BIG GUY IN THE SKY. Too Big. Too many planets. Too many people, too many questions. Too fixed.
So here is God, a spirit that envelopes all created order, galaxies and universes we may never see. There are spiritual dimensions that we can’t even imagine and entities that even Hollywood can’t conjure up. Is GOD a celestial humanoid that only speaks one language and favors one race. A spirit (Whatever that is) that came before all physical creation, affects every single human on Earth to some extent. I have no problem believing in God (whatever a GOD is), but a God with limits on just what [HE] can or can not do?
Then you have the question of the power of Christianity, which is removed from the culture of the legend of Jesus a Messiah for what became a completely different culture that didn’t exist before Jesus? A Messiah that has yet to be accepted by the culture that refuses to accept Jesus as its own Messiah. The CHRIST of Christian is very much a separate entity from the culture Jesus came from and built around converts and Gentiles. In fact the Christian culture of early Christianity created power around an individual who preached LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
It is a wonder that a child in Bethlehem was chosen to carry the spirit and message of God to these people? When these people didn’t listen to Jesus, Jesus sent his insight for LOVE ONE ANOTHER through others who did believe in the life and story of Jesus into other cultures that didn’t speak Jesus’ language or have Jesus’ customs. Groups of other believers that translated Jesus story into their own and patterned their own beliefs along with Jesus. Could there be unconditional love in the midst of all religions without respect of culture, origin, skin tone? We have created racial preferences on EARTH which was created by a single entity to be made in “Our image”.
In the midst of it all GOD has already created that entity to be among us.
It comes in the framework of our pets, our animals, our disenfranchised friends that have a language of their own yet understand our emotions more than we understand our own. They understand our behavior and love us in spite of ourselves. They forgive us more quickly than we can respond. And there have been many millions and billions of followers that have moved forward into Jesus’ message of LOVE ONE ANOTHER, plain and simple.
GOD IS CAPABLE and HAS CREATED GOOD PEOPLE. The truth is that even the GOOD PEOPLE have been around since the beginning.
When we strip away the pious posturing and self beneficial exclusionary doctrines of certain elements of mankind thathave made religious structures that make no sense in the in light of a loving GOD that created everyone to made in “HIS IMAGE”. A disciple of JESUS put it this way, GOD IS LOVE. GOD is a force of energy that too many people have refused to participate in. Look around you. Let us not forget an evil side of Succes AT Anothers Expense within the creation of the energy of LOVE that GOD has to compete with for individual attention.
And eventually UNORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY became a bit more than a question and answer period of a Second Grade United Methodist Sunday School student who asked a simple question. Why?
Because just CHRISTIANITY didn’t fit what I discovered. It didn’t fit the answers I heard of on TV. It didn’t match with JESUS.
LOVE ONE ANOTHER seemed much simpler than what I heard on Sunday mornings in church discussions. AND TOO MANY THREATS. If you do this, your off to hell. You will never go to heaven. Initially there was only HEAVEN in the first place. In the followers from different cultures who embraced the Jesus of LOVE ONE ANOTHER there was a different outlook. A LIFE IS OUTLOOK.
I discovered other things. They were shocking things. LIFE IS TEMPORARY.
Not only that, YOU CAN NOT CHANGE THAT. The opportunity you have been given ON EARTH comes with no time frame. GOOD, BAD, INDIFFERENT, a car accident, a war, a flood, a pandemic, a tornado, a world war. For many A diagnosis at birth, or in the middle of it. This life, with all of its challenges, is here and it is TEMPORARY in this format. We may follow the adherents from other cultures who believe in reincarnation, or do it over until you get it right. There are others who believe that you need to get it right and that is it. I, personally, have never imaged a day I do not get up to enjoy the journey over and over again.
UNORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY IS LIFE IS MEANT FOR LIVING, TAKE YOUR FAITH OFF OF THE SHELF.
LIVE IN THE DARK or LIVE IN THE LIGHT. YOU CHOOSE.
The variety of what you can choose is beyond my scope.
But I have always remembered one thing. “WHY DIDN’T GOD MAKE ALL PEOPLE GOOD ?”
BECAUSE THAT IS OUR JOB.
By the way we act, FORGIVE ME MY TRESPASSES (easy enough) AS I FORGIVE THOSE WHO HAVE TRESPASSED AGAINST ME (real tough).
LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU
(Way Complicated in it’s depth).
To me, the purpose of living is to participate in the adventure of life.
How you do that is what you choose. You do the best you can while you are here. I have always wanted UNORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY to give you a place where you can MAKE JESUS AND GOD WORK FOR YOU. If you so wish, have a conversation with an entity most of us call GOD. Or a carpenters son named JESUS. Wisdom is not exclusive to just these two. You will meet the wisest people at the most opportune times in your life. It will not happen by coincidence. It will happen for you by asking and recognizing it. It may be your lifelong adventure or at your last breath. You will be forgiven for what you know not what you do. And you may enjoy every moment of the journey. GOD has made all people good, it is just a matter of time.
GOD BLESS and I pray you can make your best life work for you.
It is your gift from GOD and a carpenters SON named JESUS.
We have become a nation of the corporations, by the corporations, for the corporations. Can we return to a nation OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE?
America is at the threshold of its most serious election in its history. The choice is much clearer than ever before in its history and I think the American people are finally seeing it as being as important and serious an election can become.
For the first time in its history, the majority of Americans fall below the dream than those who live within it. For the first time in American history we have laid off more dreams than we have created. For the first time in American history we have moved more of the American dream overseas than we have created avenues to the American dream here. All this under the watchful scrutiny of the American Corporation into whose hands our Politicians, and Leaders have entrusted our dreams and who have traded our dreams away to make themselves higher profits in many nations around the world but our own. The American dream was once a reality, but is now in foreclosure.
The American dream is now falling through the fingers of those who put it there in the first place through their hard work and their relatives sacrifice to achieve what they had once achieved and have had taken that great economy away from them. For Profits for a very few, and more power for but one.
It will be interesting to see just what direction we “dreamers” take come election day. Those of us who have invested our energy and a lifetime of hard worker to prepare for our retirement to have our leaders use our money free of charge for their own political welfare. It seems that the two party system has become a CHOICE BETWEEN TWO EVILS. One which could care less and another that can’t explain to us where that money is. One whines about the media and a media that would have you believe that only these two parties comprise choice. Money talks in AMERICA, not the notion of AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL.
We have become a people who now vote for “The Party” and pay no attention to the people we are voting for. We have become a people whose future has been traded to CHINA as well as too many other foreign nations to jot down here, for higher profits at headquarters, bigger dividends, and fewer workers. Those very people that built the greatest country on Earth have been sold out by the CORPORATIONS and the elected politicians that keep telling us how great we are as a country by increasing our debt by $24 TRILLION Dollars, while their personal BILLIONS increase by the moment. They don’t have to pay health care to the people that have made them all wealthy. So they don’t have to thank them with retirement benefits, but they “lay them off” so that their profits get buried overseas so they don’t even have to pay taxes to the country that made them wealthy in the first place. Will America forever let their corporations steal their future for the sake of their GOD – money? Isn’t a free and healthy America worth anything to them? I’m not seeing it much on the street. The very wealthy are taking care of their own but not too interested in the ones they set aside to make more room for wealthier politicians and themselves.
Will AMERICA ever be for ALL THE PEOPLE or just for “OUR PEOPLE”? The struggle has always been our ability to make AMERICA GREAT THE FIRST TIME. All races in AMERICA have been to war to defend AMERICA. All RACES are included in the ranks of the country’s police, fire, first responders, garbage collectors, postal deliverers, normal working people who seem to be less important to the Corporations or the Politicians. THE PEOPLE should have more to say and be listened to than just six months during an election year. If we keep voting for the same people over and over, it is no miracle that Congress has been focused only on themselves over and over again.
ONLY THE PEOPLE will make AMERICA GREAT for the FIRST TIME. ONLY THE PEOPLE can create the original idea of UNITED WE STAND. ONLY THE PEOPLE can learn to vote for PEOPLE not the party.
330 MILLION PEOPLE cannot come up with 2 people Who care more about THE PEOPLE than their PARTY.
It seems that we find ourselves once again having to choose the least of 2 EVILS than the best of all choices. It will take WE THE PEOPLE to say on election day “THE PARTIES OVER”, or AMERICA may have a hard time to ever be great for ALL THE PEOPLE just once.
There was a day, many years ago, when my daughter first entered my sphere. She was 5 months old and came via delivery on an airplane from Korea. There were many who gathered with us at the gateway entrance at the airport. The traveling companion stewardess brought her out and gave her to me. They also gave us a bag full of essentials to take with for a 5 month old girl. She had diapers, an extra set of clothes, a small hairbrush and wipes. As she was passed around among the crowd, I went off to a corner and began looking at just what the bag contained. I looked through it again. I couldn’t find it. I looked again.
THE MANUAL WAS MISSING
When I bought my first car I looked in the glove compartment and there I found a manual on how to figure out how the mechanicals worked. How to turn the lights on, the windshield wipers, the interior lights and how to work the radio. As well as dimensions and what kind of fuel to use. And so much more. Certainly a child must come with a Manual. How to be a dad, how to raise a little girl, how to teach. I was a bit overwhelmed.
I didn’t come with a Manual either, at least not at the beginning.
How many of us find ourselves lost, not prepared for the things of life as things happen? Today more than ever. What is a pandemic? Why can’t I just go get a vaccine and call it a day. Why is there politic, why don’t churches all believe the same thing. In Sunday school as a fourth grader I asked my teacher, “Why didn’t GOD just make good people?” I learned that that question was not discussed. Yet I wanted to know why. I have always wanted to know why. Why are things the way they are with an all knowing, all loving GOD?
When I was done with Sunday School I was given a concordance Bible. A Bible where what Jesus said was written in red. I sat down and read the Red Print. Then I read the Old and New Testament. I had found the Manual.
Certainly it was not that easy. When I was reading Proverbs, or Wisdom, or the Psalms, a parable from Jesus, or an apostle’s comment I recognized similar events or challenges that I had seen in the neighborhood, or a story on TV, or behavior that I recognized in my peer group. I read a simple set of rules that were put down by GOD.
These are a good start. If you find life being challenging do not refuse the Bible because it is “religious”. Look at it as an owners manual. A touch of history where when certain people did this or that their actions caused reactions. There is a story in the books that are about your challenge, both causes and corrections. Too many have their Manual sitting on a shelf covered in dust when it can be the start of a knowledgeable life that can make more sense or make pre-planning a norm and not reaction.
Have a wonderful experience when you sit down with the Manual and the one who wrote it. dw
Welcome to a blessed Monday. Work, Income, Chores, friends. The sun always reminds us that today is a new day. The past is done. Today is not yesterday and HOPE is always the home of GOD. The concerns of the world today is in the heart of most. The SUN is our opportunity to anchor ourselves to OUR circle of living and our blessing of life. Enjoy today, whether a simple recline of thanks in a favorite chair, the kind hello from our work mates, a note from our friends. Too much news separates us from ourselves. I thank GOD for all the gifts that have brought me this far.