COVID19 at 30K Feet

I have been working for Piedmont Airlines in Charlotte, NC for almost three years now. Starting on the Ramp throwing bags and working in Utilities cleaning planes, I moved inside over a year ago boarding passengers as a Gate Agent.

I have always taken pride in my work, but not until the outbreak of the Coronavirus have I had as deep an appreciation for my coworkers as I do today.

There is a lot of talk about health workers being on the front lines of this battle and a lot of attention given to grocery store and supply chain employees that are putting themselves in harm’s way while doing their jobs. I agree that all of these people are heroes. They are running into the fire similar to the way that Firefighters and Law Enforcement did during 9-11 in 2001.

I write this today to highlight the completely overlooked heroes working in the Aviation industry. We need to especially recognize all of the people working in airports all over the world.

With the Airlines being classified as an “Essential Business” it appears that flights are not going to stop.

Air Traffic Is Down

The CDC updated their Global COVID-19 Pandemic Notice this past week to include a Level 3 Warning to avoid non-essential travel. This is a good thing.

I work at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport (CLT) which is the 12th busiest airports in the United States based on passengers boarding on a daily basis. CLT has averaged more than 20K passengers a day since 2012. The past week has averaged less than 2,000 passengers.

Our airport looks and feels like a ghost town. This is also being experienced in airports all over the Country and around the world.

I have seen flights go out with less than 10 people on board smaller aircraft that accommodate from 50 to 75 passengers. Mainline flights have much larger planes and their booking aren’t any better. Some have flown with one passenger and others with only the crew. One Pilot shared with me this week that he worked a flight to Boston, MA that was empty. That flight then went on to Hartford, CT empty.

Most of the passengers on these flights seem to be crew members being moved into position to work return flights or to work flights going to other stations. Some of these flights are then canceled leaving crews stranded. One crew last week was sent to Nashville, TN and the shuttle service was not running so they had to pay for an Uber service to get to their hotel. Their returned flight was canceled the next morning. They had to scramble to find a flight home later in the day.

On Regional flights, the crews are made up of two pilots (a Captain and a First Officer) and one or two Flight Attendants.

The pilots are working on the flight deck with a door that isolates them from the passengers. They are not completely safe since they are seated well within the recommended six feet from each other for proper social distancing.

The Flight Attendants are quite a different story. They are working directly with the passengers providing them assistance throughout the flight.

One Bag’s Journey

There is a very large population of workers at every airport in the world. It requires everyone from cleaners to caterers to bag runners to ramp personnel to Gate Agents before the first passenger gets on board. All of these personnel can come into contact with the Coronavirus. Some of these workers are more likely to be infected than others.

For example; if an infected passenger comes to any airport with a bag to be checked, that bag’s handle and cover can be infected. That bag can come in contact with the Porter at curbside service or a Ticket Agent at the counter when the passenger checks in.

That bag once checked in goes to the bag room where bag runners sort the bags and another runner runs it to the proper flight. This one bag may come in contact with three or more bag runners.

Once at the plane the bag is loaded into the cargo bin by Ramp Agents. One of these Agents puts the bag on a belt loader while the other Agent is in the bin stacking the bag with other bags.

So in that short journey this one contaminated bag has potentially infected five people (1 Porter or Ticket Agent, 2 Bag Runners, and 2 Ramp Agents)

That bag is now stacked with a number of other bags, flown to its destination and then handled by another half a dozen workers to get the bag to its next flight or to baggage claim. That one bag has now potentially infected nearly a dozen people. This does not take into account the virus transferring from one bag to another bag.

Passenger’s Journey

Quite a few passengers bring carry-on bags that are screened by TSA agents in Security Check Points. Sometimes they have to open bags for inspection which exposes them through contact with zippers and clothes and other personal items. These TSA Agents are heroes too.

That same passenger can contaminate a number of personnel by exchanging money with Porters and restaurant workers before getting to their gate. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. (Q&A on coronavirus COVID19)

That same passenger then has their Boarding Pass either on their phone or a paper version. As a Gate Agent we ask passengers to scan their boarding pass themselves, but with most people flying once a year (or for the first time) they are hesitant and cannot comprehend how to do it.

With the time limitations we have to board passengers it requires we keep them moving. We may have to scan the pass for them meaning we come in contact with their phone or paper tickets. You’d be amazed how many times I have seen people in line holding their boarding pass in their mouth while trying to get their personal belongings together. Talking about cell phones and personal hygiene is another story for another day.

Why are people flying?

So even with warnings and the death toll continuing to rise, why are people flying? There are legitimate reasons why people are flying and legitimate reasons why the airlines are considered essential.

For one, I have met a number of people this past week traveling to take care of family members.

One man was heading to Myrtle Beach, SC from Greensboro, NC to help his 95 year old father. His father earlier in the day found out that one of his home nurses quit because fear of the virus overcame her.

Another gentleman was going to take care of his 98 year old parents whose nurse was just diagnosed positive for COVID19.

In both of these cases these men could probably have driven, but with airfares way down it made more sense for them to not spend five or six hours in a car when they could be by their parents’ side within an hour or two.

On the flip side of this there have been a number of passengers going from their homes in one State to another State. How responsible this is depends on who you talk to. One gentleman shared with me, “At $77 each way I can go see my grand kids more often.”

Federal Stimulus

In defense of the airlines, a part of the $50 billion stimulus deal requires airlines to continue flying to cities they had scheduled before March 1st, according to USA Today. This is why we are seeing empty flights every single day.

As a way to recover some of the loss on these empty flights some Airlines are offering very low rates.  Spirit Airlines is offering $45 each way on almost all of their flights starting May 1st through June 10th.

Right now you can book a flight from Charlotte, NC to Denver, CO for $47 round trip on United and American Airlines. Or you can book a round trip fare to Miami, FL for $55. Yet the question begs to be asked, “At what point should the airlines be held responsible for exposure to passengers and employees?”

Are Airline employees being protected?

Yes, if you look at jobs being protected. There are Voluntary Leave packages and Early Retirements being offered. The Voluntary Leave packages are only extending a fraction of the current hours being worked, but the Federal Stimulus is helping the airlines assure jobs are not going away.

No, if you look at protective gear. A large part of that is due to lack of supplies. Masks are virtually impossible to locate. American Airlines is telling their front line employees that we are welcomed to wear masks and gloves, but we need to purchase them ourselves. They are providing hand sanitizer and wipes at the gates, but Flight Attendants are being provided iodine swabs in place of alcohol wipes.

As a sidebar, it amazes me that we have to lock up the limited supply of hand sanitizer we have because passengers are stealing them. I saw one coworker filling her small bottle from the wall dispenser in a break room. It is sad that people are just looking out for themselves. A large part of that is fear and people will do what they feel they have to do to survive.

On another note, Crew members are now finding themselves in hotels overnight without food. Restaurants are not open. Grub Hub and Uber Eats are not delivering by the time they get settled into their rooms. And drive-through establishments do not allow them to walk up to the drive up window. Most crews prepare their own food, but when traveling four to five days every week those meals don’t always last for more than a couple of days.

If You Have To Fly

If you do not have an essential reason to fly, please do not put yourself or anyone else in danger of contracting this deadly virus. The reality is that there are airport employees now being tested positive for COVID19.

According to CNN, Flight Attendant Paul Frishkorn in Philadelphia died earlier this week after testing positive and Flight Attendant James Rhoades is fighting for his life in North Carolina. I know of three coworkers in Charlotte that have tested positive. Thank God they are recovering.

If you have to fly to take care of family members or for any other legitimate reason, please be careful to not put yourself in a vulnerable position. This includes not huddling in groups while boarding and give everyone adequate space. Wash your hands and face regularly.

Please consider extending an encouraging word to airport employees for putting their health and their families’ lives in danger. These front line workers are heroes.

When boarding please be prepared to scan your own boarding pass which means you will want to have all of your belongings put away in your one carry on and one personal item.

Once on board think about sharing one of your alcohol wipes and maybe an extra mask with each Flight Attendant and thank them for their courage to be on the front lines insuring you get to where you are going.

SAFE travels everyone and please remember, the more you can wash your hands, the better you can protect yourself and others.

“Stay At Home”

This is a crazy time with the majority of States and County governments implementing “Stay At Home” orders. This makes sense to me since the goal is to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus COVID19 strand that has killed more than 101 thousand people to-date with another 50 thousand in critical condition worldwide. (https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/)

It is clear that this virus doesn’t play and we are just rolling the dice if we think we won’t get it. We all need to practice the CDC guidelines to help save lives.

 

Driving in Ireland

There are more benefits than draw backs to driving in Ireland.

Driving on the opposite side of the street from what we are used to is nerve wrecking.

What we consider a one way street, Irish people will happily use as a two way road, and they drive fast.

The town streets are narrow and many of the roads in the outlying countryside are so tight you have to pull into the bushes or back out to an intersection or open field.

The countryside is beautiful. There are rolling green hills everywhere you look filled with sheep and cattle.

And the coastline is breathtaking.

There is greater freedom to see the country with a rental and much cheaper than hiring a private driver or paying for tours.

Gasoline is expensive compared to our gas prices at home. It is priced by the liter so be prepared to spend closer to $70 per tank verses $50.

If you can get a vehicle that runs on diesel you will save some money.

Fuel costs in Ireland

https://www.theaa.ie/aa/motoring-advice/petrol-prices.aspx

In the five days we drove 1,650 kilometers (or 1,025 miles). We spent €100 on diesel fuel ($110).

After five days of driving I felt better about it and I was able to see more of the surroundings rather than focusing so hard to stay in my lane.

Tips

Here are some things to consider when renting a car.

> Know that automatics are scarce.

Upgrades will be offered because most of the cars in Ireland are manual. Keep in mind that your upgrade will most likely be a larger vehicle which can make the tight roads even tighter.

> If you are offered an upgrade on your rental consider not taking it. Especially if the vehicle is a full size SUV.

Some of the countryside has very tight roads and a lot of rolling hills which is a little scary when you cannot see who is coming over the hilltop.

> Consider using your Google Maps app instead of paying for the rentals’ GPS or Garmen.

Their maps are not always updated. Even when they say they are.

You may want to update your app on your phone to include the latest maps before you leave the States.

> Don’t worry about driving slow. The Irish are used to foreigners’ timid driving.

> Consider picking up your rental outside of the larger cities like Dublin.

Driving in the major cities is a greater challenge due to the obvious… more traffic.

There are roundabouts everywhere in Ireland. Especially in the cities where you may have five or six exits off a roundabout.

Have fun and enjoy the adventure.

Additional reading

https://shershegoes.com/renting-a-car-in-ireland/

In Search of Michael E. – Part 4

I was really struggling letting go of the opportunity to see the real property since we came so far.

I decided to call Josie and she was so gracious and accommodating.

We meet Josie back at the Church on our way out of town.

The Sexton Farm

She led us to the Sexton farm about seven kilometers away which covers 32 acres in Aghamore Upper, County Longford Ireland

Josie was born in the old house and moved into the new house in 1975. It was only she and her parents in the new house then. She has never lived anywhere else and has always been single.

Josie seldom goes down to the old house these days. She said to me, “Ya gonna need ya boots in all the muck Michael Edward.”

The property has always had cattle, calves and sheep on it and some of the acreage is now rented by a cattle farmer.

Who knows? There is a good chance that James and his father Patt were Cattle Farmers or Ranchers (or Cowboys as we call them in the States).

A Hard Life

Most of Patt’s life and all of James’ life were living on the farm as farmers or laborers. They worked for the landowner in exchange for a roof over their heads and food to feed their families.

Here is a sample of what a farmer or a Laborer’s house may have looked like in the 17 and early 18 hundreds.

Bothan Scóir, was a typical one-roomed house of a landless laborer who worked for a local landlord. Many of these houses, with their thatched roofs, disappeared along with their tenants during the Great Irish Famine.

Maybe that’s why Michael E made his way to America in 1891 at just 18 years old. He just didn’t see himself living the farmer’s life.

(Stayed tuned. There’s more to come.)

In Search of Michael E – Part 3

Today we headed into Longford Township to meet with local Historian Martin Morris.

Using the free ancestry website www.IrishGenealogy.ie Martin was very helpful pulling up civil records. He was also able to identify the Parish and Cemetery where my great-great grandfather James was buried.

Finding the cemetery

Using a hand drawn map of the cemetery we were able to locate James Sexton (1831-1913) as plot #296.

On the sides of James’ headstone was his oldest son Bernard (1864-1950) and his grandson James (1924-1996).

Meeting Josie

This is a classic divine appointment.

After visiting St. Colmcille Catholic Church and Cemetery in Aghnacliffe, County Longford we headed up the hill toward Dunbeggan in search of locals that might give us some insights and possibly identify distant relatives still living in the area.

At the top of the hill were two pubs and a fast food place.

I asked the two women behind the counter and a customer in the restaurant if they could point us in the right direction to Aghamore Upper.

The customer, a petite woman named Patricia Boyle, immediately chimed in and asked why Aghamore Upper?

We told her of our journey and and as God would have it she knew Josephine Sexton who lives in Aghamore Upper. “In fact,” she said with her thick Gaelic brogue, “she goes to church right down the way here. Let me go to the church and point her out for ya.

So she grabbed her food and before we knew it she was in her car and off she went. We caught up to her in front of St. Colmcille Catholic Church (were we just came from) and she scurried into the church where there with eight or ten older folks praying the Rosary.

As she search for Josephine she realized she wasn’t there yet. She suggested we wait since the Mass was starting at “half past 7.

20 minutes later, A sweet older woman with glasses came walking up the drive to the church. Patricia described her perfectly.

Within five minutes she tells me, “Call me Josie!” Quickly followed by. “Tell me. Who are ya now?

As it turns out, Josephine Sexton’s great-grandfather is James (born in 1831).

This makes us Second Cousins one removed. I think?

Josie shared with us that she was the only Sexton still living on the Aghamore Upper property and the original house could not be reached.

Since she was going to Mass we let her go thinking this was the end of our time together and bid our farewells.

We went up the hill toward Aghamore Upper to where we guessed the property might be. We knew we were close.

(Continue on to In Search of Michael E – Part 4

In Search of Michael E – Part 2

We have had a productive couple of days in Dublin and enjoying the Republic of Ireland’s bustling capital.

Today we head Northeast of Dublin to Longford where we will continue our search for Michael E.

My wife, Lisa, and I are heading to Aghamore Upper in County Longford hoping we find the property and cemetery for James & Bridget Lee (Michael E’s parents).

Finding exact locations, addresses or coordinates have been a challenge. We are getting closer.

It seems a part of our journey is realizing that the Irish are great story tellers and the stories are not always factual. It depends on what story the story teller heard or how much Guinness they’ve consumed when telling the story.

Record keeping is similar and sketchy due to merged family names and terrible penmanship. Again, it may be the Guinness.

From what we have gathered so far, it appears that Michael E’s grandfather may have been Patt who worked the farm in Aghamore Upper before his son James bought a portion of it. Any clarity on that will be welcomed. All we have to this point is Lot 14B on a Valuation map.

From County Longford we plan to head southwest through County Roscommon. Somewhere in this region is the home of Mary Gallagher who Michael Edward Sexton married in Lower Manhattan years later.

The biggest challenge thus far is identifying where to find accurate records; properties, cemeteries, church name and locations for marriages and baptisms, etc.

From Roscommon we head to Cobh (formerly Queenstown) to see what sailing records we can find. We are assuming that Mary Gallagher (who sailed in 1888) and Michael Edward (1891) went to Castle Gardens in NY from Queenstown rather than from Galway.

Queenstown is where the majority of journeys to America began for millions of Irish men and women.

(Continue on to In Search of Michael E – Part 3)

As we head out of Dublin later this morning, please send up any prayers since this will be my first time driving on the left side of the road. Pray for the others on the road (and sidewalks) as well

In Search of Michael E

While embarking on a journey to Ireland in search of my family’s heritage I am reminded how lucky and blessed we are to live in the United States of America.

We are rich beyond compare. Especially when we reflect on what our forefathers had to endure to insure our freedom. We are free because of their bravery.

In researching the plight of Ireland and the conditions they worked and lived in, it is amazing we can simply get on a plane to fly to the Old Country.

When our Irish grandparents and great grandparents came to the New World it was a minimum seven day voyage.

SS Alaska

On the sailing vessels pre-dating the great steamers it was a three month adventure across the Atlantic.

I am Michael Edward Sexton (born in 1956). Son of Robert William (1923-1994) of the Bronx and grandson of James Jerome (1898-1975) of the Bronx.

James Jerome was the first generation Irish-American in our lineage.

His father was Michael Edward (1873-1940) who came to America in 1891 on a journey from Ireland.

At just 17 years old he had to be eager for a new life in the new world where millions of Irishmen emigrated to. The journey from the northern hills of Ireland to the docks of Queenstown must have taken him weeks or possibly months to find the ships heading to America.

From what we have been able to gather through genealogical research Michael E was a laborer and son of a farmer in County Longford.

We also know that Michael E married an Irish girl he met in Lower Manhattan and had seven boys and two girls including their first, James Jerome.

Her name was Mary Gallagher (1870-1956) from County Roscommon and she sailed to the new world in 1888. She was just 17 or 18 years old.

Our next seven days in Ireland will hopefully shine new light on where they came from and how we got to where we are today.

(Continue on to In Search of Michael E – Part 2)

Easter Is Coming

We all know that Easter is coming and signs of Spring are blooming everywhere.

Coming out of the dark and cold of Winter is energizing with the sun shining brighter and the days getting longer.

Yes, we may celebrate Easter with a Reese’s chocolate and peanut butter Easter Bunny. These reminders are woven into our daily lives as soon as the first petals appear on the Cherry Blossoms.

For me though, this time of year is a great time to reflect on the Cross.

What we tend to forget is how we got here and who saved us.

Jesus Christ was anticipating our freedom and our salvation as Easter drew near. He was excited for all of His believers knowing that we were being given the gift of eternal life.

He also wanted to show His love to the entire world so He chose to extend forgiveness and to offer everyone salvation.

He chose a brutal death in a brutal time in history. Why not by “guillotine” or “lethal injection?” Those methods are much quicker and much humane then wearing a crown of thorns and experiencing excruciating beatings, scourging and suffocation.

Luke’s depiction of the crucifixion (http://bit.ly/2VngHXI) captures the agony of the Cross much like The Passion (http://bit.ly/2CZoHa2) does of the scourging Christ took at the hands of the Romans.

The fact that Christ chose to surrender himself to go through this hell is just another example of how much He loves us.

Considering what Jesus went through and how He suffered for us, please remember how He forgave us of our sins, was ridiculed in the process, and surrendered Himself to our Father in Heaven.

And on Easter Sunday morning celebrate His Resurrection because He rose from the dead and today He is alive seated at the right hand of the Father until the day He returns.

Hallelujah.

Glorious Day – Casting Crowns
http://bit.ly/2VvgNMM

Carry My Cross – Third Day
http://bit.ly/2CSu4YL

Forever – Kari Jobe
http://bit.ly/2D1pWpj

GOING DEEP

What is scourging?
http://bit.ly/2CZoHa2

Crucifixion
http://bit.ly/2VkGMGM

It’s A Miracle

Twenty seven years ago today my life was changed forever. At 35 years old, and just six weeks from my 36th birthday, I married Lisa Burrell. To have and to hold.

Neither of us had been married before so this was brand new territory for us both.

The difference was that Lisa had Jesus on her side. I didn’t… yet. She had an eternal mindset. I was just jumping in the pool not knowing how cold the water would be.

Lisa had an amazing journey with God that started just 18 months earlier with an abrupt move from the suburbs of Chicago to the shores of Long Beach, CA.

She knew she was delivered and she knew God had a plan for her new life. It was apparent to Lisa that I would be a part of that plan shortly after I walked into The Reef.

Lisa just started working there a few weeks before and God provided her a hot meal everyday. He was showing her the He was her provider.

I was looking for a set to film an episode of China Beach and had no clue that my life would be changed the moment I saw her.

Three months after our wedding day we decided to move away from Los Angeles and after listing several cities we felt we could live in we settled in Charlotte, NC.

Less than a year later we were on the brink of disaster. Lisa was working and I was floundering. She had a support network with the friends she made at work. I was drifting through odd jobs including selling produce, Christmas trees and bar tending.

Lisa was praying for me every day while I was drinking. I was falling deeper into my demise which manifested into depression and self pity.

We were going to a small church with a handful of charismatics and with Lisa’s prompting, the men invited me to a men’s retreat. I reluctantly agreed.

Looking back it now makes sense why Pastor Geoff wanted to play tennis so much. Lisa was calling him asking him to reach out to me.

Neither one of us knew at the time, but Lisa’s prayers and her diligence in witnessing to me, God was setting me up.

The night before the retreat I was bar tending in a local pub. Lisa was back in California for a conference.

It was February 19, 1993. It was 17 degrees that night and God decided it was time to get my attention.

Most nights I would have kept my coat with all of my personal belongings behind the bar. This night I hung them just inside the back door.

At closing time I could not find my coat since someone took it home with them. It was 2:30 AM and the locksmith told me they could come now for $200 or come in the morning for $40. Even in my inebriated mind that decision was an easy one.

I called my drinking buddy Joe to stay with him. My keys were gone so I couldn’t get into my house. Joe said “Come on” so I walked a couple of blocks to the produce store he lived in.

Joe had a cot and a sleeping bag he used. Nothing more. I settled on the concrete floor in the 17 degree temperatures with no coat, no keys, and no identity since my drivers license was gone too.

God spoke to me at that moment letting me know that He gave me everything. My car. My comfort. My identity. My wife and my life. And He could take it ALL away in an instant.

I went to the retreat later that day. Hung over and humbled.

I have no idea what Peter Lord said in the opening session but I found myself surrendering my life to Christ. From that moment my life has never been the same.

God freed me from myself that day. Freed from drinking and depression. And with Lisa’s help, He saved me.

Now 27 years later I realize that I not only got married but I was given a wife who literally saved my life.

Thank you Jesus and thank you Lisa.

Thanks For Showing Up

b_day_fhi08-792162528cc3e57bcf763a2e0403df32This past week my wife had a big birthday. She was so excited, she was sending me emails three weeks ago with suggested gifts. I was going to surprise her with a gathering of friends, but she found out early. Oh well, it was still fun and she was excited to see a large number of her friends. Thanks to all of you that showed up.

 

On Facebook and other social media sites I am reminded every day to send Happy Birthday wishes to all my friends and they’re all posting their thanks for remembering their big day.

I know I am always looking forward to my birthday. How about you? Even as the count of years gets higher I know this day is special because it is designated for the day I showed up. A part of me feels very special with every card and post I receive. I am reminded how lucky I am to have so many friends in my life.
istock-generic-baby1-466x310

Birthdays are a special day to celebrate yourself since it is the day you were born. They are also great days to celebrate the arrival of our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, and thanks to our moms for enduring the labor to get us here.

It is with that spirit of thankfulness and excitement that we want to remember the birth of Christ.  God sent His only Son to bring hope into our world.

We tend to forget within the midst of all the hustle and bustle of Christmas that it is really all about Jesus’ birthday. He brought light into this dark world we live in.

So when we hear Merry Christmas this year let’s also share a joyous Happy Birthday Jesus and thanks for bringing Hope into a lost world.

For me, I thank God he showed up.

when-hope-was-born_wide_t

How Do We Know That God Has Got Us?

Chris BradfordToday we all said goodbye to an awesome man, Chris Bradford.

He was a loving husband, caring and supportive son, and a pioneer among men advocating for victims of intimate partner violence.

I met Chris in July of 2008 when he showed up at a Domestic Violence Speakers Bureau training I was conducting.  He was hungry to learn and had an overflowing passion to support survivors and victims of emotional, verbal and physical abuse.

Chris was one of only a handful of men that showed up and participated whole heartedly in an effort to engage other men in turning the tide of violence against women and girls.

He had courage and determination to make a difference. And he did.  He leaves a legacy and he clearly touched many lives in his short time with us.

The primary challenge for me today is realizing that even being a champion for others, as Chris was, we also have our own struggles. We can advocate and participate in rallies and gain accreditation, but we are alone with our own internal battles to fight.

Chris, at 42, was apparently so consumed in his own fight that he decided he couldn’t win. He forgot for a moment how awesome he was. It is with a heavy heart to say… Chris took his own life. How? We don’t know. It isn’t important.

What is important is we all (especially men) need to learn how to ask for help.

I keep asking myself how I missed the signs that Chris was struggling. We talked at length about how to help men change their behavior, but we never asked each other how we were doing ourselves.

Chris knew how much I appreciated his help, his support and his courage, but I never told him I loved him. And I do love Chris. He is my brother in Christ and I look forward to seeing him again in heaven.

Yes. Chris was a Believer. But like all of us (believer or not) we can become isolated  which is exactly what the enemy wants. His goal is to steal, kill and destroy us.  For me, this is even more reason why we need each other.

Chris didn’t ask for help from anyone that we know of.  Maybe he struggled like every one of us thinking, “I’m a man. I don’t need help.” Maybe he felt he had his life under control and the enemy caught him at a weak moment.

The bottom line is this. We need to be willing to ask for help and we have to be willing to really dig in to get to know our brothers (and sisters).

Every man (and women) has a story.  We live together. We work together. We have church and Bible study together. But do we really know what each other is dealing with when we are left alone?

Whether we are believers in a risen Savior or not, many of us have experienced the enemy’s tactics; making us feel weak, insignificant and alone. This is why it is so important to realize that we are here to help each other.

In the beginning, God created man so He (our Creator) could be in relationship with us. He loves us completely.  He did not design us to be alone, but to love and support one another.

So today I say to each and every one of my family members, my friends, and especially my wife (who I do not tell enough), I love you.

We all need the reminder that we are loved.  Especially on a day like today.

I love how Chris’ wife Dana shared how God showed her His love in the following post a few days after he died.

Yesterday after seeing Chris for the last time, I returned home just before a big thunderstorm. Within 5 minutes of me entering our home, the rain began. My home was full of guests bringing me and my family love and support. I stepped outside on our deck and let God cry on me. I lifted my face and arms to heaven and let Him wash over me. It’s not often that it downpours (this) heavily with rain and thunder and the sun shining (all) at the same time. God and I wept together and I was the most drenched by His tears. (As I stepped back indoors) I was told my face looked different and that was because I was kissed by God and covered in His tears. I stepped back into the rain (for more).

God does love us so much and He does cry with us now as we say goodbye to Chris.

I choose to believe that our God is so awesome that He is now holding Chris. Reminding Chris how awesome he is in God’s eyes.

Going forward let us remember Chris for his pioneer spirit and his awesome heart for others. Chris always put our needs before his own.

Let us also keep Dana and Chris’ family in our daily prayers and consider helping Dana pay for today’s awesome service with a donation to the Fundraiser for Dana Bradford.

How do we know that God has got us? He shows us by revealing His love for each and every one of us… through… each and every one of us.

Chris said it perfectly when he said goodbye. “Be awesome to each other.”

Be awesome to each other