Updates from the back of the pen
Hi, my name is David Szwedo. Growing up, my family was chaotic. Yelling and fighting were the daily norm. We were acquainted with church and went occasionally but we never talked about Jesus and I didn’t understand what was meant by, “Jesus died on the cross for my sins”. I felt drawn to Him, but I didn’t quite get it.
I was a terrible student in high school. I barely graduated and got in quite a bit of trouble. In fact, by the time I turned 18, I had already been busted twice for felony theft and was headed to the county jail for 7 months. After I got out, I worked odd jobs to pay the bills, met a girl and got married, divorced 2 years later, and started hitting up the bars to fill the void.
I worked my way through college and went on to get my master’s degree in social work, but I was still making terrible choices. At the suggestion of a friend, I started growing and selling marijuana to supplement my meager earnings. I was an absolute fraud, and I knew if I kept it up, I’d be back in jail.
In 2011, after a few more moves and job changes, I made my way to Austin. I finally decided I needed a change and I went to a couple of churches where the messages were really hitting home with me and taking root. God lit a fire inside of me and I started reading the Bible for hours each day. I remember when it became clear why Jesus had to die on the cross and how I wasn’t so different from the generations of people who constantly failed to follow God – even though He had saved them over and over again. Grace was suddenly so clear to me and the guilt and shame that I had been carrying for years melted away. Peace came over me and I finally ‘got it’!
Fast forward to a few months before the pandemic when I met Pastor Piet at Shoreline Church. We got to know each other a bit and he helped me take a step of faith into leading a small group study. I’m no Bible scholar and feared there’d be questions that would come up that I couldn’t answer, but I felt the Holy Spirit guiding me. God has been doing some amazing things here. This group has grown in their faith together. We learned how to share our stories. It’s grown to include four additional group leaders, and a group that volunteers together at a food pantry each month.
Two weeks ago, three of us got back from a mission trip to Guatemala where we got to share a bit of our stories and parts of the gospel to groups of a few hundred people, while giving out food, clothes, and backpacks full of school supplies to people in those communities. I also was blessed to start a franchise business recently as a result of an introduction to some Christian business owners by one of our group members. I’m blown away and I’m so grateful for His goodness to me. I don’t deserve it but I’m a child of His, He loves me, and I’ll take it!
Word of the Week
Noun: an intense feeling of deep affection
I was in a hurry trying to finish up the shopping. My hands were full. I had other things to do. There were people to see and places to go. But I was interrupted by a prompting as I was walking by the flowers. “Get a bunch for Carol!” I hesitated. I had reasonable excuses. They are not in the budget. They are wet and messy. They are going to be hard to get home. They will probably wilt. Not worth it. I kept walking. Then I stopped. I love this woman. She will probably really appreciate them. I turned around and got them. When I handed them to her, I said it plainly. Just want you to know how much I love you. She felt loved. Isn’t it funny, how we can let little things keep us from following a prompting of love and kindness. And yet, it’s these simple acts of love that make all the difference in a person’s life. What simple loving thing are you being prompted to do this week?
A Podcast That Moved Me
An Interview With Andrew Huberman
Review: The Huberman Lab podcast is regularly ranked as the #1 health-related podcast in the world! Dr. Huberman discusses science and science-based tools for everyday life.
I have mentioned The Huberman Lab podcast before in this newsletter. I find his information both accessible and helpful. He speaks to the broad spectrum of health and fitness, including discussions on sleep, meditation, diet, nutrition, supplementation, and in his most recent episode he even speaks to how we might avoid the common cold. His breadth of research coupled with his plain-spoken manner is a welcome contribution to a subject that is often rift with hype and double speak. Recently I ran across an interview where he discusses his faith and again I found it both compelling and inspiring. If you have 10 minutes, you can listen to it HERE.
A personal request
Pocket Prayer: “O Lord, you are the great physician and we look to you to do the work that only you can do!”
This is my friend David Peters. He is a filmmaker, former pastor, spiritual seeker, and my friend. He is also a fellow cancer warrior and one of the most disciplined people I know. One of the challenges for those of us who have taken a more holistic approach to the cancer battle is that the protocols are no joke. They are tedious and they take hours every day. David is exploring some additional programs and processes, and as is often the case, the modern medical community isn’t always supportive. Please join me in prayer for my dear brother that the right doors continue to open for him and that this track will prove effective in beating this horrible disease.
Pocket Prayers Devotional
“Even a black sheep knows that the soul needs to be fed…”
For the past couple weeks, I have been sharing about the Pocket Prayer Devotional that is now in production. If all goes according to schedule, they will be shipped this coming week. You can preorder your own copy HERE, or you can take advantage of a special 4 pack, if you want a few extra copies to share HERE. With the bundle you get a coveted black sheep beanie – what a deal! A cap for your head and a prayer for your pockets. What could be better than that?