Try Being Informed Instead of Just Opinionated
Over the years, I have learned to pray, “Lord, walk beside me with one hand on my shoulder and the other over my mouth!” On days when my emotions threaten to get out of control, my close friends often overhear my shouting out. “Oh, Lord—please shut my mouth before I say what’s really on my mind!” For those who love Jon the most, this was the case for them today. Can you relate?
The Bible says, “We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check” (James 3:2). I have yet to meet that perfect person who never says something he/she shouldn’t. That’s why we need Holy Spirit control in our lives. Many sermons are preached on the fruit of the Holy Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23, in fact, just last week at church, Pastor Rick touched on a couple of these: “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” I believe they are nine descriptions of one work God’s Spirit will do in our lives if we let Him be in charge.
Controlling what you say seems to be one of the last characteristics to be evident because it’s so difficult to master. In fact, James 3:8 says, “No man can tame the tongue.” Only God can help you take on your tongue. Proverbs 25:38 says, “Like a city who walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.” When you ask God’s Spirit to be in charge of all your life, He will help you control what you say.
Today, the Lord watched over Jon, controlling his tongue. The end result is that justice has been served. After several months of Jon having to beg Jill to see his two boys, she agreed and the Judge ruled that the boys would visit with their dad once a week. And though it’s not what he truly wanted, he wanted more, it’s what he had to settle for because she just would not let up. Unless a parent is evil and puts the child at risk or risk of harm, they should never be kept from their children. Jon is far from evil, but we can’t say the same about other people in this world. Let’s hope and pray that Jon and his boys will be able to rebuild their relationships in peace and harmony.
We don’t know what the future holds for Jon. This horrific tragedy has changed so many lives, yet we have accepted it as God’s divine design for him. Jon’s mom has been the only one to devote countless hours to Jon’s care. Jon cannot walk (yet!) or feed himself and requires 24-hours-a-day care. What a blessing to have such a giving and loving mother, I know first hand because I’ve seen it through Karen’s actions, and because I have a mom who gives herself selflessly too. People should be praising Karen, not calling her names or putting her down. It’s just WRONG! Jon is extremely grateful to Karen and thanks her ever single day. He realizes the toll it has taken on many, especially Karen.
Our culture strongly values perfection—a beautiful woman, an athletic man, perfect children. Yet clearly the Bible points to a purpose for each of us being here – whether whole or broken. As an encouragement, Psalm 138:8 says, “the Lord will fulfill his purpose for me.” Let Him use you—whatever your limitations—to bless someone today.
I believe what Jesus said, “you reap what you sow” and as John 8:32 says, “and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” One day the truth will come out and people will understand who the true victims have been here.
This will be the last entry blog. We are grateful for all the support, love and prayers. Please continue to lift Jon, Jack, Joe, Josh and Karen up in my prayer.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
Let Jon be an example to us all. Rather than being a burden, Jon has enhanced our lives and inspired us to push on in our Christian ministries.
If Jesus could hang on the cross and pray, “Father, forgive them” after all the people did to Him, can we refuse to forgive?
Heal the Soul, Forgive.
I’d like to begin by stating that this blog entry is not being directed to any one in particular. You may read it and think that it is, but I can assure you that it is not. I believe that it will strike a nerve and resonate within some because it’s a topic we all, including myself, can learn from. If you take away anything from reading this, it can be that you should forgive that certain someone who has hurt you. Set yourself free from the pain and agony that you’ve been putting yourself—and probably your friends—through.
Forgiveness. What is it? What does it look like? What does it mean to you? I surveyed about 8 Christian friends, some single, some married, some divorced, one even widowed. I asked them to tell me in their own words what they felt forgiveness meant to them. This wasn’t a contest; I just really wanted to understand someone else’s perspective. Some of the answers were amazing, but this one really resonated with me and I’d like to share it with all of you.
Forgiveness is displayed in God’s gift of sending His son to earth. Jesus was sent as a humble, meek baby to grow up and then endure and feel the pain and temptations of a human being, culminating in the worst possible death of crucifixion.
God loves us so much that He sacrificed His only Son as an atonement to forgive all of our shortcomings and completely erase our sins. The guilt and shame of our past, present and even future sins has been washed away so we may enjoy and know God through His son Jesus.
Forgiveness is asking God to insert His love into our relationships and in return, He gives us new eyes and a new heart—a new perspective—in seeing how to handle them. We will no longer hold onto the hurt, pain, or vengeful feelings we once had. Forgiveness is agape love (choosing to love without expecting anything in return) and freedom.
The reason for questioning Christians is because as Christians we tend to stereotype our religious status. For example, “I’ve got a great plumber to refer to you, he’s honest, oh, AND he’s a Christian.” Why do we tend to put an emphasis on that word? We take pride in calling ourselves Christians, yet on most days we don’t act very Christ-like.
During the past 8 ½ months of being with Jon day in and day out I’ve seen how people have reacted to his situation. Some have said some pretty darn harsh words to his mom, to me, and yes, even to Jon. Often I’m left wondering, “Wow, did he really just say that? Where’s the compassion? Where’s his/her heart? And he/she calls themselves a Christian?” Or “How could she react this way?” “Why is she so angry?” “Why can’t he/she be more Christ-like and forgive?” You don’t expect to hear such hurtful words from friends, or from someone you were married to for so many years of your life. You and I hope on some level—yes, expect to see—compassion, forgiveness, and love. Perhaps I’m naïve in thinking this, but I struggle just about every day trying to understand how people can be so judgmental and why it’s so hard for people to simply forgive one another. I am the first to admit that speaking those three words can be quite difficult, but oh, what relief I feel when those three critical words are spoken: “I am sorry.”
Pastor Rick Warren says it best in his best selling book, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here for?
“Resentment always hurts you more than it does the person you resent. While your offender has probably forgotten the offense and gone on with life, you continue to stew in your pain, perpetuating the past. Listen: those who hurt you in the past cannot continue to hurt you now unless you hold on to the pain through resentment. Your past is past! Nothing will change it. You are only hurting yourself with your bitterness. For your own sake, learn from it, and then let it go.”
And in doing a quick Google search, I found a few quotes on FORGIVENESS that I also wanted to share:
“If we really want to love, we must learn how to forgive.”
“Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.”
“There is a nobility in compassion, a beauty in empathy, a grace in forgiveness.”
“Forgive others as quickly as you expect God to forgive you.”
“Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free, and realizing you were the prisoner.”
The reason for this topic is because special arrangements have been made for Jon to be face-to-face with his son, Jack. And trust me, forgiveness will play a key role. As I stated in a previous blog entry, Jon instantly forgave his son once we told him the truth.
Forgiveness, as most of us know, must be immediate, whether or not the other person asks for it. This reunion will be an intimate one between father and son. (Details of his visit will not be shared with the public.) I can imagine that there will be a moment in time where Jack will ask his father, “Dad, will you please forgive me?” and Jon, who will undoubtedly will reply, “I have already forgiven you, son.” This is a true lesson in forgiveness: something so tragic and traumatic that has affected so many lives, that lives have been changed forever. If Jon can forgive his son Jack, why can’t we seem to forgive those who have hurt us to such a lesser degree?
The families have encountered a series of traumatic events, which has put an enormous strain on certain relationships. I have to admit, sometimes it seems that these events are just too much for our fragile hearts to handle.
I ask that you please pray for Jon and Jack’s reunion and for a peaceful and hopeful future. I know that they can have one if everyone can just get through this and learn to forgive. And to anyone I’ve ever offended or hurt, I am sorry. My only intent from day one was to offer support, love and assistance where needed.
Thank you to everyone so much in advance; I cannot tell you how much the families truly appreciate your thoughts and prayers.
Take a moment to ponder on this…..
A true apology has three parts:
- I am sorry.
- It is my fault.
- What can I do to make it right?
Most of us miss the 3rd part. Think about it!
Matthew 6:12-15 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
LIFE doesn’t get easier, YOU just get stronger and Jon is!
It’s been a couple of weeks since we last updated the blog so here’s a recap of where things stand.
I want to begin by sharing something that Jon said to me last night on the phone. Out of the blue he said, “2013 was the best year of my life.” I was a little taken back by that statement and selfishly I said, “Really? It was the worst year of my life, so how do you figure it was the best year of yours?” he simply replied, “Because God saved me. He restored my body and saved me from death.” That is Jon Kudla. Jon will always turn lemons into refreshing and delicious lemonade. What a spirit. What a heart. I don’t know anyone on this earth that could have gone through what Jon has and is still going through and have this unbelievable positive outlook on his life.
Jon’s bedsore is healing nicely. All the stitches have been removed and he is now able to sit and tolerate being in a wheelchair. He’s on a schedule; one hour the first week, two hours the second week, etc., and so far, so good. No complaints. We are in the second week. It’s great to see him out of bed. He is showing so many great signs of improvement that it just warms your heart to see. He’s come such a long way from where he was. His hair is beautiful, his complexion is unbelievably clear and he doesn’t even remotely look like he’s 50 years of age. However, improvements and all, we continue to ask that the Lord to completely heal and restores his broken body. We know it’s still a long journey ahead, but we are patient and hopeful because we know it’s not on our timing, it’s on His.
His PT, Dan was able to take Jon out for a stroll to show him the beautiful grounds and over this past weekend he was sitting out in the lobby chatting up a storm and talking football with one of the other guys. I am continued to be amazed of how God continues to work on Jon’s healing, both heart and mind. Everyone around him is amazed too! He is so smart and so sharp. He can talk to you about any subject. Pop culture, religion, or current events, you name it and he’s on it. He competency level is off the charts! He continues to be funny, witty and keeps everyone in stitches when they come to visit him.
Though he gets to sit in the wheelchair, we are being very careful not to risk opening his wound. The full healing is still about 4 weeks out. Each time they put Jon into the wheelchair, we ensure they do it very carefully to protect Jon and the wound. Prayers that Jon is able to continue to withstand the getting in and out of the wheelchair as his body is still in a lot of pain, but not nearly the pain it was even four months ago. He body is getting stronger! He’s moving his right arm amazingly well and he’s moving his legs too. It’s so awesome to see Jon lift his head. He can actually lift it off the pillow and hold it for a few seconds and then lay it back down. He can turn his head to the left to right. It’s definitely our great God that is healing our Jon. Thank you, Jesus!!!
Most days his spirits are good and they are always good when he gets visitors. A few of the OC Sheriff men came by last week, and about two weeks ago, his son Joe came to visit. That visit made Jon extremely happy. He’s so grateful for anytime that the boys are allowed to visit. We heard that Josh was sick, so that’s why he wasn’t able to make it. We hope you’re feeling better, Josh. He desires more visits and we hope that by next month the judge will rule in Jon’s favor and award him more time with his sons. It’s just wrong on so many levels that they have been kept away from him for so long.
We hear Jack is doing well and we have weekly communication with him. Praise God he’s doing well in school, that he has accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and that he’s staying out of trouble. This cannot be easy for him so we continue to ask for your support, love and prayers as it comes to Jack. Naturally, continued prayers for all the boys. Prayers that someday they find peace in all this tragedy and learn how to forgive. We hope they also continue to grow closer to the Lord and to grow their loving relationship with their father.
There’s a lot of stress that Jon is dealing with, as is Karen and not to sound repetitive, but please keep them in your prayers. Prayers for strength, wisdom and guidance to make the right decisions that soon will need to be made.
We continue to feel the outpour of love and Jon and Karen are forever grateful.
Please feel free to stop by and see Jon (except for Monday’s). Monday’s is the most intensive day for his therapy as he pretty much gets a full day of it and he’s pretty tired by the end of it.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men.
The LORD will protect him and preserve his life; he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes. The LORD will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him from his bed of illness.
Goodbye 2013….Hello 2014!
It’s hard to believe that 2013 is coming to its end. It’s even harder to believe that Jon is headed toward his 8-month anniversary since this horrific tragedy began back in May; and though none of us will ever be able to put behind the events that occurred in 2013, we are cautiously welcoming 2014!!
There are no words to express how grateful Jon and his family are to those who have consistently come to visit, spend time with him and simply prayed with him. Jon needs to feel loved, desires to have relationships with his friends and his sons and longs for the company. It’s funny how life plays out. In the beginning, Jon had many visitors, mostly from the OC Sheriff Dept., but as the months have rolled by, fewer and fewer visitor’s come and fewer are the phone calls. We realize we all have lives to lead, but, please don’t forget Jon and Jack and please continue to lift them up in prayer.
Pray for continued peace within the family, peace within Jon’s heart and overall healing to Jon’s body. There are still days where the pain is just too much for Jon and it’s gut wrenching to watch. Dan, his PT is really going to start pushing him towards the end of January, which is when we expect his bedsore (wound) to be completely healed. Jon has agreed to do his part even though he knows how much it’s going to hurt and boy is it going to hurt!!!
Jon is optimistic about what the upcoming year will bring. He hopes to get out of bed and he prays that he’ll be able to visit his son Jack. Side note…Jon received a lovely Christmas card from Jack. Jack’s words, “I’ve saved the last card for the BEST, my dad.” Jon was elated and desperately wants to see and speak to Jack (and his other boys) who we hope and pray will want to see their father too. He hopes to be able to spend quality time with Joe-Joe and Joshy, even if it means visits at the rehab center. He has so much to share with them and wants to know what might be weighing on their young hearts. On Sunday’s he always says, “I just want to be at home watching football with my boys.” Soon. Very soon!
You know, one of the great things about walking with God in life is that there is always the opportunity to start anew. As Christians we know that God always offers us a new day and a new dawn, no matter what has gone before. At the start of the New Year, why not take a moment to thank him for the blessings we did have in 2013. Starting with the fact that Jon is alive!!! He shouldn’t be, but he is. He’s a living, breathing miracle. Also, it’s a great time to ask for forgiveness for where you have failed, and commit this new year to Him; to serve Him and love Him as He loves us.
We will leave you with a New Year’s prayer:
Lord, You make all things new. You bring hope alive in our hearts and cause our Spirits to be born again.
Thank you for this new year. For all the potential it holds. Come and kindle in us A mighty flame so that in our time, many will see the wonders of God and live forever to praise your glorious name.
In Jesus name, Amen!
Happy New Year, everyone. Wishing you health, love, peace and joy!
Merry Christmas from Jon!!!
On behalf of Jon and his mom, we’d like to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas.
Jon is doing well and his bedsore is healing nicely. Praise God! The doctor is trying to manage his pain so that he can rest more comfortably and he now is in his own private room so we are hopeful that he will get some much needed sleep.
He’s been catching up on a lot of Holiday movies and is looking forward to seeing his family tonight for CHRISTmas Eve. And though it’s not the way Jon had expected to celebrate the biggest day of the year, he’s nevertheless grateful that his family is coming to him. He really wanted to be at home, surrounded by his family, his boys, but maybe next year. For now, we will make his CHRISTmas as enjoyable as we can. The family will be together fo CHRISTmas Eve and then a few of them for CHRISTmas Day. It’s really hard for him to find the joy in his heart because he misses his boys so very much. He wants to hug them, kiss them and tell them how much he loves them. We receive letters weekly from Jack, and he’s having a hard time too being away from his brothers and dad during this CHRISTmas season. We don’t know much of the other boys, Joe and Josh and we are really hoping that they can make a surprise visit to see their father. It would make Jon’s holiday for sure!!! We pray that they are doing well, and that they are healthy and coping.
Remember, to love others, we need to first receive and experience God’s love ourselves. Knowing how much God loves us allows us to love others more fully. First John 4:7–8 says, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (emphasis added). God is love! Love is not just an emotion that God created, but it is the full embodiment of God Himself! As you meditate on God’s love for you, begin to reflect on His love for your spouse. If you look at your spouse through God’s eyes, you will see him or her differently.
Again, may you and yours have a blessed Christmas Day!
The Sheep and the Goats
Our hearts are resting peacefully tonight as we once again give all the Glory to God! I’m happy to report that Jon did really well with his Flap surgery that took place this morning. When we left him tonight, he was resting comfortably and wasn’t in too much pain. His spirits were good and he was calm. They expect him to remain in the hospital for the next 7 days or so then it’s back to the rehab center he goes.
His recovery period is six weeks. If all goes well, and Mr. Kudla follows “doctor’s orders” then he’ll be able to sit up in his bed comfortably, sit in a wheelchair and hopefully begin more extensive physical therapy (he’s not too thrilled about that part). He’s excited about sitting in a wheelchair because he can then finally go visit his son Jack and be able to get outside and feel the sunshine on his face.
His Aunt Pam from Huntington Beach came to visit him, as did his brother Jeff and wife, Kelli (thank you!!!) With Christmas soon approaching, Jon is hopeful and continues to pray that his other two sons, Joe and Josh will come to visit him. They’ve come by twice in the past few months, but sadly, haven’t come back and he misses them terribly. His heart aches knowing that they may not come by for Christmas, Jon’s favorite holiday. He said the other day, that just the thought of not being with his boys saddens him more than he could explain. His mind races with thoughts of all the different types of presents he could go out and buy them and so we have “Santa’s elves” doing his shopping this year.
We all continue to pray that in the spirt of peace, forgiveness and grace that certain hearts are softened.
Thank you all for your continued support, visits and prayers. Jon is, and will be forever grateful to those who have shown their consistent compassion and brotherly love during his tragic situation.
Earlier this week, Jon and I were reading through the Bible asking one another, “which is your favorite Bible verse?” Jon replied with this verse and I couldn’t agree with him more. He’d like me to share it with you.
Matthew 25:31-46 (NIV)
The Sheep and the Goats
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Laughter is good for the soul.
Jon had a wonderful Thanksgiving. His day started with Karen reading a letter to him that had arrived the day before from Jack. It was the first letter he had received from him, and it was beautiful and loving. Smiles from ear to ear.
Jon prayed and was hopeful that his other two boys would surprise him and show up, and even though their mom didn’t make arrangements for a visit, or at best, have the kids call, he still was very happy with the visit he had from his sister Lori, and her kids. Trevor, Jesse, Emily and even Casey showed up. There was so much laughter in the room, that it was a sight for sore eyes. He was so happy, joyful, and grateful. We had not heard Jon laugh in almost seven months. It was heartwarming to see. There were jokes played on one another, jokes being told, and you could hear the laughter from all the way down the hall.
Jon also enjoyed a really nice Thanksgiving meal, complete with all the trimmings and desserts. A lovely feast was held for the patients and their families. He was more than appreciative.
After everyone left, he and Karen enjoyed a couple of holiday movies together. It was very special. Karen said it’s a Thanksgiving she will never forget.
Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Thessalonians 5:18
I’m Grateful and Thankful for….According to Jon Kudla
I asked Jon earlier this morning if he would like me to post the top 10 things he is most grateful and thankful for this year. He thought it was a great idea and immediately started to dictate the following.
Please keep in mind these are in no particular order.
I am thankful for:
1. The staff that are here and continue to take really good care of me and to all the doctors who have contributed to my recovery.
2. For my mom who has been a great and consistent caretaker. I love you, mom. Thank you for taking care of me.
3. The guys and Jackie that are taking care of my GPS Enterprise business while I’m recovering.
4. For my boys. I’m thankful for the times Joe and Josh come to visit me and that Jack is in a safe place and that he’s getting better and getting cared for.
5. Thankful for Ines who visits me and who has stuck by my side even through this big mess. You’ve been able to love me and forgive me even when I’m cranky and not too kind. Thank you for your grace. I love you.
6. I’m thankful for my brother, sister and their respective families family who come to visit me. My brother brings me things like fish oil and gummy vitamins. Thank you to Aunt Pam, though even when you’re not feeling good, you’ve come to visit and sing for me.
7. For the Men’s Bible study group, The Herd. Though I’m not an official member of the group, they’ve accepted me as one of their own and have given me a place where I can turn for my Bible study.
8. Thankful that I’m on the mends and that there’s a day coming soon that I’ll be able to resume my life outside of this rehab facility.
9. I’m thankful for my life and that God has given me a second chance. I’m thankful that He’s given me another opportunity to use my life to better serve Him.
10. I can eat solid good again.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
Happy Thanksgiving from Jon and Karen Kudla
Onward and Upward!
It’s Thursday afternoon on this summer like day. While Jon receives his daily dose of OT I thought I would update the blog.
Jon continues to show good signs of improvement. He’s doing his part to move as much as he can and we constantly reinforce how great he’s doing and how proud we are of him. Words of affirmation go along way with Jon. There’s a song called, “I Like To Move It” (from the movie Madagascar) and it goes something like, “I like to move it move it, I like to move it move it” well, that’s what Jon says as he moves his body from side it side. It’s actually pretty funny to hear him sing the lyrics. And speaking of funny, I’m listening to him talk to his OT. Lots of “owie’s” going on right now. He’s been dying to get up and just stretch. All the little things that we take for granted he’s really anxious to do.
The boys, Joe and Josh continue to visit Jon on Sunday’s. It’s his favorite day of the week because he knows he gets to see his boys.
A couple of Jon’s friends visit him throughout the weekday and The Herd, the Men’s Bible Group from Saddleback come every other Saturday. That’s another day that Jon looks forward to. We are so grateful to all the men who visit and a special shout out to Charles Woodard. We love you!! You’ve been such a good friend to Jon and a blessing in his life. We are so happy that you are able to bond with him on so many levels. He really looks forward to your visits.
His appetite comes in spurts. Some days he eats all of his meals, other days just a portion of the meal, but we make sure we give him plenty of Boost to ensure he gets enough protein. His favorite is chocolate. He gets regular haircuts and his scar has pretty much faded away.
He received a great letter the other day from a client up North, Oliver. Jon was really happy when I read Oliver’s letter and immediately had me write him back. Thanks, Oliver!!!
Heartfelt thanks to all who continue to pray and lift Jon in prayer. We continue to believe that overtime, Jon will make a full recovery but it will be a long and slow process.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”