Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My Testimony... To Date

Hello Friends & Loved Ones…

I have truly treasured the support and friendship from everyone in the past year of my life. It’s been overwhelming, and to be blunt, surprising to me. There are sources of inspiration and support that have come completely out of left field. People have shown up to assist, pray and be there for me that I never even thought I’d be able to see or speak with again. And there are those that I’d assumed I’d have their undying support throughout my life, that were nowhere to be found and that I had to practically beg to make time to catch up.

These are not indictments – just facts.

As many of you are intimately familiar with, for the past several years I’ve suffered a lot of overall health and wellness issues. Many of my closer friends know the, at times arduous, journey I’ve been on with regard to my health and my digestive disorders. Those that are closest to me know the miraculous recovery I’ve been given, and how that action has been instrumental in reconciling my faith, my spiritual and emotional journeys as well.

I believe in giving credit where credit is due, and to God, for all of the magnificent and, honestly, wondrous works in my life, I give thanks. The place I was last April, one short year ago, and where I was six months ago… sitting in a doctor’s office, with a death sentence on my head. I’ve made magnificent strides. The cancer (yes, the Barrett’s esophagus had become cancerous), my hiatal hernia, the ulcers, and the perforated esophagus from advanced GERD have all been cleared by my physicians.

Let me be clearer: All. Of. It.

The testimony I am able to give is one of not only one of me working with my physicians, and the real, true struggle of trying to eliminate toxins and poisons from our current societal lifestyle. But it is a testimony of true miracles. At least two, if you count things that neither I, nor my doctor could have done or did. I think the daily struggles and the strength, willpower, and ability to get up and face the day were miracles, too. That’s not for me to split hairs on. Regardless of your belief structure, regardless of your faith and what it allows you process in your own mind - mine has made me whole. What should have occurred, didn’t. What shouldn’t have occurred, did. And even my wonderful doctor is now asking me about this God that I keep talking about. Why am I so adamant that I don’t generalize the name of God, or give credit to just any old spirit up there, and I keep calling him Jesus? Why am I so quick to give credit when medical science cannot answer my questions? (I never meant to be someone else’s catalyst, or testimony, but I suppose my plans are not always the ones that matter.) I can’t answer the theology of it all. And even my depth of knowledge and scripture isn’t adequate in the face of what is being described by two of my doctors now as a miracle. Here is what I know: The pictures of my esophagus and stomach today are that of a model, healthy adult male vs the ones that resembled ground turkey that needed to be removed and I’d have feeding tubes and require specialized pills and diets forever. I have always heard of things like this happening. And I’ve joked with several of you that it always happened to someone else. If you were a Bourn, or if you were a Craft, or that one girl at Jr. Camp’s Roomate’s Sister’s Friend got healed. We all tell and retell those stories. It’s so different when God touches you personally. I had made peace with dying. I really had. I thought I’d not have the surgery, I’d not treat the cancer, and I’d made peace that I’d squandered my calling, my anointing, and my gifts, and that I’d likely go to hell. I guess those plans of mine were also not exactly what God wanted. What a difference 6 months, the Lord, and prayer can make!!

Some of you have been precious to me during this time. You listened and stood by during my struggle in quitting smoking, quitting unhealthy and disastrous eating and drinking, and even with my sedentary to active lifestyle. The struggle was real, y’all! Those of you, know who you are, and you are very dear to me! The encouragement you have given during the surgeries, the extreme eating and monitoring plan – you’ll never know how much it meant. You were even kind, when I wasn’t. My god, who knew that detoxing and the wild restrictions of food, drink, and vice would make me so irritable and cranky! I still can’t walk by someone smoking a menthol cigarette without tearing up and wanting to beg for just one puff! And even though I can have some wine or some clear liquors… I can smell Jager or think of a Jager Bomb and I still miss it! Those late night phone calls where I questioned God’s reasoning and why I was “having to deal with all of this spiritual crap” mean the world to me now. The fact that God would even wake me up and deal with me still freaks me out. And it still makes me want to smoke. Isn’t it crazy how even when clean and sober and having detoxified the body… our minds still want what would hurt us! To those that listened to me whine and complain, to those that listened to me go through all of this and question my sanity and spirituality… to those that stood beside me during the death of my sweet Mamaw Sue during all of this… you will never know what it means to me, and I don’t think I can adequately repay you.

The end of it is not over. I had kind of hoped it would be. I thought, “Oh, Great… I’ll get involved with a local church, work, and tithe and just kind of build a great little life.” Oh, if only God would just do what I say, and listen to the plans and designs I submit!!! But that, too, isn’t meant to be. It has been an amazing 6 months since October, my diagnosis, and my release from what would have been certain death to this new lease on life. God gives old men like me dreams and visions still…

I no longer despise the life given me. I no longer despise the hard times that brought me to where I am today. I no longer laugh in the face of my callings. I no longer rail and rage against the inevitable submission I must make to God for all He’s done for me. Yes, my life is important to me… my life’s work is important to me… But how I pay my bills is becoming less important to me, because I want to make a life not just a living. I want to leave a legacy besides that of only the drudgery of what I’d allowed my life to become. Success has a price...

I wasn’t happy…
My body wasn’t happy…
My spirit wasn’t happy…

And they all began to shut down. It took a crossroads. It took a death sentence. It took a miracle.  

What happened after that is something at which I can only marvel. I prayed. I, simply, quietly, and directly, prayed. Now, I am a great designer, planner, and coordinator – but, I could not have planned and coordinated the next steps my life is going to take. The meticulous dovetailing of professional, personal, and ministerial projects and partners came together in a way that I could never have imagined, much less asked for, and worked toward… I have been blessed with talent. I have been given a mind and memory that scare some people. I have been given the ability to communicate verbally and with writing. And God has seen fit to allow my work, my career, my skillset, my expertise, my family, my talents, my passion, and my gifts to all met at one crossroad. I get emotional when I truly think of the next steps and projects. I want to make even more proactive and positive steps in my own life and thus, I’ve decided to restructure my life.

All of this has been leading to this announcement and this proclamation: I’ve quit my current job, and will be altering my career path, effectively. As in, effective immediately, effective permanently.

I’ve been privileged to start my own company, Kennedy Solutions, and I’ll be fortunate enough to be working with government and working with public healthcare. It’s an expertise I’ve acquired along the way. I’ll still be working with Federal and State programs – but I am committed to working with integrity, honesty, and expertise. I’ve already been blessed to secure contracting and to finalize all of the paperwork (prior to any announcements, thus the wait and the teasers.) And once a few things started rolling, even more contractors and people wanted to partner and connect to begin doing good work, that we are proud of, in a way that benefits both us, our government, and people. We are doing creative consulting… we are something different!!

Kennedy Solutions has also been invited to participate in national initiatives due to our experience in Healthcare, Nutrition and Wellness. I have to admit, we have a unique and personal perspective when it comes to wellness and taking care of the body through holistic nutrition.

And here is where God is just hilarious, and where my personal dreams (dreams I’d given up on) have come true: We will be doing non-profit work with both ministry and pastoral programs. I’m fortunate enough to where I’ll be in partnership with my parents and family on projects. This is exciting because my “dad” has talked to me about some of my theological and writing ideas. The fact that I’ve been offered a partnership and a book deal on a theological series is very humbling (Zacchaius, #IBGAS, and my testimony). My mom and I have decided to partner on a music project, and I’ve been blessed to be invited to participate in ministry with a local church in the Tampa Bay area.

Oh! And, certainly not least, we have been working with Google on fun tech projects and have just secured the next phase of working through wearable technology! We are excited to announce that we are partnering with Google on wearable tech and government and healthcare!! It’s crazy how one moment of fun and a seemingly harmless meeting a year ago has turned into a new part of our career and project goals. We will also be working with Microsoft right here in Tampa on win8 and government solutions… I’m even getting the opportunity to further my education and fulfill a personal lifelong dream of obtaining a terminal degree! (Working on my doctorate!)

I don’t know what everyone else is going through. I don’t know if some will consider this post conceit, or bragging. I can’t really be bothered with how it will be received. I’ve been bursting inside to share the Good News of what has been going on, and just couldn’t until contracts and business was completed. But, I do know this… the more I have relinquished my own plans, and the more I have given to God, the more I’ve received… and in ways I’d have never been able to design or contemplate. Let that galvanize your faith today. Maybe you are sick – well, I’ve been there – bolster your own faith and watch what God can do, when you actively participate. Maybe you have a dream – exercise your faith, and give it to God, even when losing that control is scary, and watch the hand of God move in your own life.

One of the great men I’ve known, T.L. Craft, said “if you make God’s business your business, God will make your business His business.” And that’s just true. I’ve never understood just how true until recently.

You cannot outgive God.
You cannot outserve God.
You cannot outpace God.
You cannot outlove God.

I am blessed beyond measure.

#JustBeingMichael ツ