The Sun Can’t Shine Every Day

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The forecast for our area calls for two to three inches of rain over today and tomorrow. This has been the forecast for a week, now, and the rain has already started to fall. Even with the advanced warning, I still saw this post on my Facebook feed this morning:

“It’s so gloomy. I want sunshine.”

I wonder how much we focus on wanting more sunshine instead of making the world a brighter place with our own light. We require that our happiness comes from the environment around us, and when that environment turns gloomy, we lose our joy. Of course, the problem with that as a way of life? It WILL get gloomy.

One thing I do know is that the sun cannot shine every day. Even in the beauty of the garden, the rain is seen as just as necessary as sunshine. In fact, without rain and the cloudy skies that come with it, we would all be living in a desert. Nature finds the clouds and the rain as refreshing. Maybe the gloom in our lives sometimes comes with refreshing rain as well.

This past summer, our family made a trip to Walt Disney World before a weekend speaking engagement in Orlando. The beginning of our trip was marred by a tropical storm that refused to move beyond central Florida. It rained. A ton. So much rain and gloom that we found ourselves longing for the sunshine. Once the rain cleared, however, we learned the true meaning of the word “sauna.” It was so hot and so miserable that we found ourselves longing for the rain again. Our happiness was being derived from the weather, which was way out of our control. That kind of external reliance is a way of life for so many, and it does not work.

Life will send problems. It is only a foundation of happiness and positive living that allows us to retain our joy when the dark times come. Maybe it sounds too trite to say that simply choosing to be happy will make you happy, but have you tried it? Maybe dismissing the idea as too simple is simply an excuse for those not willing to give it a try.

Give it a shot. Choose to be happy…to live happy, and see where that choice gets you the next time the gloomy problems of life show up! I cannot promise it will be easy, but I can promise that if you truly commit to happiness, nothing will ever steal your joy.

Wounds That Define Who We Are

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For the past week, I have dreaded going on Facebook.  Not because it is a black hole that sucks away my time (though it is), and not because I didn’t want to hear anything about the Olympics (since I’m DVR’ing it and watching later).  Rather, my dread came from the general anger and outrage over the statements made by the owner of Chick-fil-a.

I’m not going to further beat that dead horse by bringing up more arguments regarding the statements made, but rather focus on something else that I believe is a much deeper problem.  So many of the comments on Facebook this week were not about discussing the statements that Mr. Cathy made, nor were they even about the issue(s) brought up by what he said.  The vast majority of threads on the subject seemed to quickly devolve into shouting matches filled with hateful speech and pointless rhetoric from both sides.

And…it’s gotten us nowhere.

Never mind the fact that Facebook has to be the worst place for convincing someone else that your opinion is the only correct opinion (maybe Twitter would even be better because it would force people to be succinct in stating their cases).  The social media platform, instead, simply served to worsen the already deep wounds that are so prevalent in our society.  I believe those wounds have to heal before we can have any conversations in our country that aren’t reduced to neanderthalic, mud-slinging events.  So, why are these wounds unable to heal?

Because we let our wounds define who we are.

I hope it doesn’t come as too much of a surprise that I have been discriminated against in every way possible.  I have seen and heard it all.  Don’t think for a second that hateful comments towards me haven’t left wounds.  That would make me a robot.  The difference in my life is that I have CHOSEN to not let those wounds define who I am.

If the scars of past statements and actions of others could alter my personality and beliefs, I would have become bitter and angry long ago.  I believe that our society holds on to these scars either because being pitied can be addicting, or because they have not found anything to fill those holes in their lives.  Either way, it is no way to truly live.  You can become enslaved to these wounds to the point where you can’t live a positive life, and instead you simply become a fight waiting to happen.  It is a broken existence.

Instead, the deep cuts that I have endured in life have made me stronger, and allowed me to serve others because I know what it feels like to be hurt.  I am in a somewhat unique situation, and can help when other people are knocked down in life simply due to what I’ve experienced.  How is that possible?

Jesus.

The ability to take an imperfect body like mine, and make it a life that is perfect in the eyes of God is solely credited to Jesus.  My wounds can’t define who I am because HE defines who I am.  And, while the scars may still be visible, the deep cuts have long ago healed through His love for me.  That healing allows me to be free.  It allows me not only to live, but to live happily.

I have no doubt that each and every person who chooses to read this has been hurt by someone else.  I believe you when you say those pains run deep, and that it is hard to let go.  What I refuse to believe is that you can’t let go.  What happens to you is often out of your control, but your reaction to those events is 100% within your power.  Your default reaction to pain can be re-learned to the point where you let your hurt go the moment after you have been wronged.

I don’t believe for a second that the vile nature that came out all over Facebook this week is simply because of the issue at hand.  More likely, the spiteful things typed out on the social media giant’s site this week were born out of hurt.  Hurt that has been building up for years, and explodes at every turn.

I challenge you to take that hurt…that pain…and give to God.  He is big enough to manage your hurt while you take the time to heal.  And, once you are on the path to healing, find others along the way who also need healing and care for them.  Caring for each other is the only path towards a discrimination-free society…because it is hard to hate while you are loving.

Life Today with James and Betty Robison Episode

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I have the pleasure of inviting you to view our Life Today episode that is airing today!  Watch it online via the Life Today link below, and be blessed:

Life Today with James Robison – Special Guests: Chet and Jim McDoniel

Do You Want Customers With Disabilities?

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What follows is a tale of two businesses.  Both experiences occurred on the same day.  Both were given a fair shot at my business.  One succeeded greatly, and the other failed miserably.

Customers With Disabilities: Epic Failure

The cleaning of my teeth was finally finished when the dentist entered the room.  This was my first visit to this dentist, and while I’m not going to shame them by mentioning his name or the name of his practice, I will say that he has glowing reviews on several public opinion sites.  The dentist came in and within ten seconds of meeting him, he said the following:

When I saw you come in, I told the hygienist that you likely had poor dental hygiene, and if that was the case, you’d need to see me every two to three months instead of the regular six months.  It turns out you have great dental hygiene, but if that changes because you can’t brush your teeth or no one will help you, you’ll need to come back more often.

There are so many things wrong with his statement that I didn’t even respond until I returned home and called his office.  First, his snap judgement of me was dead wrong.  He assumed that I was unable to brush my teeth before he even talked to me.  This assumption led to several insulting remarks.  Second, the fact that he would tell me about his incorrect first impression is unbelievable.  Making a snap judgement is bad enough, but now you are going to insult me by telling me you assumed I wasn’t capable of caring for myself?  If you guessed wrong, keep it to yourself!  Finally, he wouldn’t let go of his initial assessment.  He guessed wrong, told me he guessed wrong, and then proceeded to try and validate his assessment by assuming that my disability would further limit me in the future.  While that is a possibility, there is no current evidence of that occurring.  He so badly needed his hypothesis to be right, so he further assumed problems that may or may not happen.  The dentist failed in so many ways, that I cancelled a future appointment with him, and will never go back.

(Epilogue: I found a FANTASTIC dentist after searching for a bit, and am very happy to refer anyone to Just for Grins in Keller, TX.  They are awesome!)

Customers With Disabilities: Wonderful Success

Customers With Disabilities DoorwayOn that very same day, I went to a branch of my bank to which I rarely go.  I was by myself, which meant no drive thru banking for me.  I gathered up my deposit info and rolled out of my van and up to the door of the bank.  Usually, when I approach a business that does not have a door opening button, I get to sit and wait until someone sees me and opens the door.  It can be a little humiliating, and that humiliation grows the longer I have to wait.  So, imagine my surprise when the door swung open just as I approached.  A man whom I’d never met before opened both sets of doors and greeted me kindly.  He introduced himself as Al, the bank manager!  He took my deposits to the back and processed them himself, so that I did not have to wait in line nor did I have to reach up to the tall counter where the tellers are located.  Upon leaving, he gave me his business card and said to call him any time I was coming up, and he would come open the doors.  I’ve already tested his promise on another occasion, and he was true to his word.  He’s the bank manager, yet he has time to open the door for me.  Greatness.

Which One Wanted My Business?

The answer is obvious.  The bank manager desires for me to continue banking with his branch and he shows me that desire by treating me so well.  The dentist was arrogant and rude, and he desperately needs MY Disability Awareness training seminar.  By the way he treated me, he showed me that he did not want me there.  I don’t remain in places where I’m not wanted.

So, the question goes to you.  Do you want my business?  Do you want customers with disabilities?  Then show them you want them.  Begin brainstorming ways to make your customers with special needs feel wanted.  Make your location more accessible, but more importantly, have an accessible attitude.  There is an entire untapped market of people with special needs, and this market will reward your efforts by remaining loyal to your accessible business.

Do you want customers with disabilities?  Then build an accessible business both physically and mentally.  Simple as that.

You Are Stronger

    Posted in General, Thoughts and Beliefs    |    5 Comments

Worship had already begun.  The lights were lowered, and we were all joined in praise.  From my vantage point, I could see a family walking down the aisle trying to find seats.  Normally, I wouldn’t have given them a second look, but there was a child in the family who caught my eye.  She was in a powered wheelchair, and looked frail.  I don’t know her age, nor her story, but I was glad to see her at church.  Her family found a row with a cutout spot for her wheelchair, and immediately joined in worship.

I watched the young girl for a few moments and my suspicions were confirmed.  She was weak, and looked to be in some pain.  I made a snap judgement, and began to feel sorry for her. Then, in the midst of my pity for her, the worship band began the first few chords of the next song.  Suddenly, the faces of her family members lit up, and they began to get excited.  The excitement was directed towards the young girl in the wheelchair.  She, too, seemed to brighten up.  I wanted to know why, so I continued to watch.  When the band came to the chorus of the song, she lifted her tired arms and sang as loudly as she could:

You are stronger you are stronger
Sin is broken you have saved me
It is written Christ is risen
Jesus you are Lord of all

Her praise was being expressed from the very depths of her soul.  We sang the next verse and chorus while she continued with her arms lifted high.  It was in the bridge of the song that she started to succumb to her body’s limitations, and her arms began to fall.  We began singing the bridge:

So let your name be lifted higher
Be lifted higher, be lifted higher

Hands Lifted in WorshipOver and over again, we sang those words.  As the young girl’s arms finally fell, her sister, who appeared to be just a few years older than she, grabbed her arms and lifted them FOR HER.  They continued in that pose until the song came to an end.

Stronger.  So often, we fall into the worldly habit of thinking we are in control.  We are strong enough to face this world due to how great we are.  We are led into false assumptions of our own endurance, and our overconfidence gets us into the worst situations.  We have declared our independence from God, and because of that we are destined to fail.

You know who was the strongest person attending worship that night?  It was the young girl with more special needs than I will ever have to encounter.  She knows that she has no strength on her own.  Her earthly body has failed her.  But, her resignation to that fact allows her a freedom that few ever get to experience.

When you have to rely on others for daily needs, as I do, you come to realize that there is a freedom in that reliance.  I know I cannot take care of all of my own needs, and in that, I am forced to rely upon someone else.  That reliance can easily then be translated to the spiritual need to rely upon God.  Any pride in my own physical prowess was thrown out the window a long time ago.  Good riddance.  That pride only slowed me down in my race towards God.  My surrender and reliance is my freedom.  I know I am not strong on my own, but I am infinitely strong in Him.

What melted my heart and produced tears in my eyes that night at church was that I was being taught a lesson of which I needed to be reminded.

A lesson of dependence.
A lesson of humility.
A lesson on how to be strong – taught by the physically weakest, but spiritually strongest person in the room.

Mr. McDoniel, We Need You in Makeup

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Last night was truly a highlight of my journey in God’s grace and guidance.  God has opened more doors and paths for this ministry than I ever asked or imagined.  This most recent opportunity was an absolute blast as I got to be a guest on Life Today with James and Betty Robison.  James’ story is featured on The Gift of Life film on which my story appears, also.

Pro Life Speaker, Chet McDoniel, in the makeup room at Life TodayThe night started off with a welcome and ushering into the green room which had snacks, comfy couches, and a TV.  I could feel my head swell when the announcement was made, “Mr. McDoniel, we need you in makeup.”  Now, that’s not my favorite thing to have done to me, but I was enjoying the attention and the VIP treatment.

Soon, we were invited to join in a private dinner with the Robison’s. It was at this meal that I learned what an amazing man James Robison truly is.  As he spoke to us of his goals and convictions, I couldn’t help but be humbled.  Here I was thinking how important I was…after all, I was going to be on a world-wide syndicated television show.  James’ mission and faith was so inspiring that I quickly realized…I’m not the big shot…God is the big shot.

We filmed the show and it was an absolute blast.  James and Betty are wonderful hosts, and they allowed us to share part of our story in hopes that more people would be reached for Christ.  The 18 minute interview flew by, and soon, we were saying our farewell to the audience. I can’t wait to see the show when it airs sometime in May.  Randy Robison (James’ son) interviewed me later in the evening for the Life Today website and social media outlets.

Inspirational Speaker, Chet McDoniel, was a guest on Life Today with James and Betty RobisonAs we drove away from the studio, I was reminded of God’s infinite wisdom and grace.  I’ll be the first to tell you that I never wanted to be an inspirational speaker, and never saw myself a champion of the right to life for the unborn as a pro life speaker.  I felt the calling, but ignored God for years.  Once I relented and agreed to let God lead, my life has never been the same.  I am committed to always remember that this journey is not about me

It’s about God.  (Though, I am thankful to not have to wear makeup every day…how do you ladies do it?)

Our Books Now Available in Kindle Editions

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We are thrilled to share with you that we have decided to move beyond the stone age and offer our two books, “All He Needs for Heaven” and “I’m Not Broken: You Don’t Need Arms to Be Happy” in digital format for your Kindle (as well as your iPhone or iPad with a Kindle reader) through Amazon.com! To celebrate our ‘coming of age’ with these new digital releases, between now and March 13th you can purchase each book for your Kindle for techy low price of $5.99 per book! While we hope you enjoy reading our books in this new format, more importantly, we hope our ministry challenges and encourages you to live a happy, productive life!

Click here to purchase I’m Not Broken in Kindle Format.

Click here to purchase All He Needs for Heaven in Kindle Format.

(Both links will take you to Amazon.com.)

Thank You God For God

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Pro Life Speaker Chet McDoniel and daughter, HannahMost every night, I get the opportunity to read a Bible story to my (almost) four year old daughter, Hannah.  She and I treasure the time together, and I love watching her learn about God’s love.

After the Bible story, we talk about what we want to tell God that night, and Hannah always picks a few things from the day to give thanks for.  Most of the time, she gives thanks for her family and friends.  Sometimes it’s for a toy…you get the picture.  A couple of nights ago, she said this prayer:

Dear God,
Thank you for God.
In Jesus name,
Amen.

At first, I thought that she doesn’t understand what she’s saying.  She doesn’t realize that we give thanks for God’s gifts or His wonderful creation.  But, that prayer has rattled around in my brain until I finally came to a much better conclusion.

Hannah prayed a prayer that I’ve never prayed.

I have never once thought to thank God for being God.   Thank Him for being who He is.  God does not have to be a merciful god.  There is no requirement on Him to be a god of love, grace, and mercy.  He could have easily chosen a different way to exist.  We exist because he is a god of love.  He could zap us out of existence with a blink of an eye.  But, he doesn’t.

So often, I get tied up in the culture we live in, and I begin to focus my thankfulness on the things I have.  Not necessarily material things, although I am grateful for what He has provided.  Even focusing solely on the wonderful family and life He has given me is potentially dangerous as my focus is on me…not Him.  Maybe I’ve forgotten that my things and my life that I am so thankful for are not for me…they are for Him.

My prayers are going to sound different.  I want to remember that God is love not because he has to be…but because He chose to be love.  He chose to be merciful.  He chose to send Jesus.  I am thankful to God for who and what He chose to be.

Thank you, God…for God.

Interview on AFA Radio – Gift of Life

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I was interviewed this morning on AFA Radio about my story and the new film, “The Gift of Life” which is a wonderful documentary about the many positive stories that exist because someone chose life.  I am featured in the documentary, which is hosted by Gov. Mike Huckabee, and you can purchase it here on my site by clicking here (scroll down, and click the DVD icon to see more information about the film).

AFA Radio has a video of the interview from this morning, so take a moment and watch the clip on their site:

Chet McDoniel Speaks About “The Gift of Life”

A Wonderful Evening at The Gift of Life Premiere

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This past Wednesday, I was in Des Moines, IA, for the premiere of “The Gift of Life” documentary. This film is the best pro-life storytelling that exists in our world, today.  So many times, the term “pro-life” is received as threatening or spiteful.  The thought of life being the most important topic of this presidential campaign is dangerous to some and dismissed by others.  However, as was stated on Wednesday, if we don’t get this issue right, then all the other issues won’t matter.  I have long held the opinion that you must share and show love in order to best represent the life that Jesus calls us to live.

The Gift of Life does a wonderful job of showing the positive side of our cause while educating as it warms the heart.  Many stories of change, faithfulness, and hope are told through the wonderful cast and artful direction of the film.  The film does an excellent job sharing the emotion and wonder that is life.   Born or unborn, children deserve all we have and all we can do to provide a happy, fully-lived life.  This film is a testament to our story, and an excellent way to introduce people who may be undecided on the issue to the truths that are the pro-life movement.

Pro Life Speaker, Chet McDoniel, and Gov. Mike HuckabeeI was afforded a chance to meet one of my heroes.  I don’t have much desire to meet Hollywood stars, music legends, or any other figure that America deems popular.  My heroes are people who are true to their word and who fight for what is right.  So, that’s why meeting Mike Huckabee was such a true honor.  Governor Huckabee has fought tirelessly for the sanctity of life, and was the driving force behind the creation of this film.  What was even more amazing was how truly honored he was to meet me.  Even though it was a hurried moment when we met, the sincerity in his eyes and his words were felt through my entire being.  Governor Huckabee has the ability to make you feel as if you were the only person in the room, and that is born out of a genuine spirit that is hard to find in today’s world.  He said he was moved by my story, and was so excited to get the chance to meet me.  He then brought me out on stage at the film’s conclusion to introduce me to the crowd.  The other cast members soon joined us, and I am so proud to have been a part of this production.  My meeting with Mike Huckabee was a moment I will never forget.

Pro Life Speaker, Chet McDoniel, and Fmr. Speaker, Newt Gingrich

Four Republican candidates for president were there and I was able to talk briefly with Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.  They, too, were genuine as we exchanged greetings.  I must say, however, that while Rick Perry and Michelle Bachman were both in attendance, neither stayed to watch the film.  I felt that decision on their part was very disrespectful, and I really appreciate Speaker Gingrich and Senator Santorum for not only staying to watch the documentary, but also for staying an hour afterwards to talk with folks about the emotions that were experienced while watching the film.

All in all, it was a fantastic evening, and I cannot say enough about the Citizens United film, “The Gift of Life.”  If you consider yourself pro-life, you must see this film and you will be uplifted by it.  If you have a different viewpoint, I encourage you to open your mind and heart to listen to these stories.  Either way, I promise you will be encouraged by the hope and love shown in this film.