Friday, August 03, 2012

Wisdom on Wheels: Relationships

Dear Friends,
I feel I must apologize for taking so long to write this.  I have been very excited and yet hesitant to share this entry.  Oh well, here goes nothing.  My parents have raised me to be marriage minded.  As I have grown up we have returned to the topic many times.  Unlike most guys, I’ve often thought about my wedding and also taken metal notes for future use as the Lord Wills.

My Dad always told me to get my education and establish my life direction before pursuing romance and marriage.  I always wanted to marry young like my parents, so waiting was hard.  In my early twenties I once asked my Mom when I would know it was a good time to start seriously thinking about marriage.  Her response?  “When all your friends start getting married.” This is not by any means a sole factor, but interestingly enough, it seems that these days my friends younger siblings are getting married in droves.

Before I go any further, let me be clear.  I’m not saying it is a bad thing to wait on God or that it is a bad thing to be single.  I firmly believe that we should seek God in ALL we do, this area being not only included, but perhaps most important. “House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the Lord.” (Proverbs 19:10)  I simply believe that I (along with the majority of men) was created to need a helpmeet

I have many friends who are girls and to put it quite simply, without their presence my life would be boring and colorless.  I am so thankful for many young ladies in my life.  It seems to me however that whenever I express interest in a young lady an interest that goes beyond friendship, she turns and runs the other way as fast as she can.  Now perhaps I am overstating things ever so slightly, but quite frankly, it hurts.
I know that marrying will be a challenge for me and my bride, but nothing in my life has come easy.  I often feel like a good motto for my life would be “Working twice as hard to prove that I am just as good,” I feel much the same way in my quest for a life partner.  I just want a chance to prove myself in this area as with so many others.

I am not perfect.  I have flaws.  But I am also a godly man seeking righteousness.  I have been taught by my father what it means to be a Family Shepherd.  I have by word and example been taught to value children and the truth “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” (Ephesians 5:25-26)  I look forward to having a godly young lady to love and cherish for life! :)  I believe she will be an amazing asset to Speaking4Him.

This issue transcends romantic relationships though.  I’ve also faced challenges in regular day to day interactions with friends and co-workers as well.  It is never easy and it is hard and down right frustrating at times.  So why is this?, and (perhaps more importantly) what can we do about it?

I believe the main reason for this is fear of the unknown.  I believe that some may think it is easier to distance themselves from me than to be honest with me about their discomforts relating to my disability.  Sadly I have experienced at least one definite case of this in a work setting and it was heartbreaking.  Honesty is a much better option.  Plus I am as open about my challenges as anyone you’ll ever meet. 
So if you have a question or something about my disability makes you uncomfortable, be honest with me.  Honest questions will always result in honest answers.  What’s more, we’ll both be better for it and we might be lifelong friends!

I am very thankful for those who have been faithful friends and family and seen beyond my wheelchair to the man that God is molding in His time.  God is so good!  He knows what He is doing and I can trust Him.  In closing, just know that my accomplishments in life have not come about because I ignored the “Brick Walls” my challenges created.  That would have just led to a bloody nose. Rather my accomplishments have come because for every “Brick Wall” I have faced I have found sufficient “Rope” to climb over each one and overcome to the Glory of God.                    
Andrew Gommesen

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wisdom on Wheels: Employment

As a man, one of my greatest desires is to be a provider.  I know this is a God-given desire because He says in His Word “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (I Timothy 5:8)  So many in society today are failing in this area, and I long to be example of a godly man in this area.
My work career started at 18 with J.C. Penney.  It was a tough three months, but it prepared me for the next step on my employment journey.  I was very blessed to begin working at Right to Life of Michigan in August 1998.  For the next 10.5 years I had the privilege of working with some of the most dedicated, caring, individuals I have ever met.  The only reason I left RTL was because try as I might, I couldn’t move up in the company.
I applied for 4 different better positions with RTL that would have moved me out of the telemarketing department.  While I don’t believe that RTL was guilty of overt discrimination I do believe that there was a subconscious mindset that caused them to doubt my abilities.
I moved on to Guiding Light Mission.  Unfortunately I ran into a similar issue with GLM.  I was doing a job that in most cases would be full time but when the full-time opportunity was never offered, I felt God’s leading to move on.
Where does this leave me?  I’m not sure.  Speaking4Him is keeping me pretty busy and God is faithful, but I still long for a steady income stream.  I am willing to preach full-time or work full-time and preach part-time or any combination of the above.  Please pray for me.                
I do know that I would be an asset to any company that would choose to hire me.  God has gifted me in many ways.  I don’t know what God’s plans hold for me, but I the words of Paul are true “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” (Philippians 1:6)  
Praise the Lord!  Even as I type this, another love gift came in the mail.  God’s Almighty hand is always at work and I am safe within its grasp! 
Andrew Gommesen

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wisdom on Wheels: School

I am very blessed to have been homeschooled throughout my educational journey, but I didn't start out that way. The first couple of years of my formal education took place in public school in a special Ed program. Well it is not my intention to totally trash them or to purposely make them look bad; it is certainly not an understatement to say that they drastically undermined my potential.
They said things to my parents such as "we can't teach him to read," or "he needs speech therapy." (Those who know me and have watched me grow up know how crazy that is!) When my school wanted to bring me back for a second year of first grade, my parents made the bold move to begin homeschooling me.

Again, I do not want to be mean-spirited about this, but considering that the thing that most sticks out in my mind about that school year is the three times we changed classrooms, it is evident that there was a problem and I will always be grateful to my parents for having the courage and conviction to pull me out of that environment. Although the school was never easy, I never failed another grade again and now hold a bachelors degree in communications.

I think that it is important for people to realize that just because someone is physically disabled does not mean they are mentally incompetent. I was capable of a lot more than what my early teachers believed. I just needed individual attention and parents (especially a father) who would not allow me to quit. I received my college degree in 2006 largely because my father pushed me to excel. While I was not happy about it at the time, I will always be grateful that he didn't let me quit.

When I got done with high school, the last thing I wanted to do was think about more school. I firmly believe that if I could have worked manual labor I would've chosen not to go to college. My father's wisdom prevailed upon me though. He told me that with all my other challenges lack of an education should not be one of them.

College was indeed a major challenge for me. After all, it takes talent to squeeze four years of college into seven!! :) I took 2 to 3 classes a semester and learned that slow and steady does indeed win the race. (Incidentally that amounted to what I was able to afford financially, so I was able to pay cash for my degree) I dealt with some difficult situations including a teacher who said that I should cut back on the number of classes I was taking because I was struggling in a class, but I persevered.

Because of a recommitment that I had made to God following high school my GPA went from 3.0 to 3.9. God gets all the glory because to this day I am not academic. God helped me complete every class and I can truly say that completing my degree in the manner in which I did was a living example of the fact that I serve a God who can do "is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,” Ephesians 3:20

I want to encourage you that if God can do this in my life he can certainly work mightily in yours. Seek him and he will direct you. Every person's journey is different, but God's promises are the same "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” Philippians 1:6

Andrew Gommesen

Monday, February 27, 2012

Wisdom on Wheels: Intro

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
John 10:10
Greetings Readers,
For quite awhile, my wise father has told me that more of my writing should focus on my disability.  I have shied away from this, not because I have a problem discussing this (those who know me will tell you that the opposite is true) but because I don’t want my disability to define me.  As was said of Elijah, in the book of James, I am simply a man with like passions as many of you, my faithful readers.

Most of the burdens God has placed on my heart have little or nothing to do with being a disabled individual.   A recent event in the news has led me to realize that God is calling me to do a series of blog posts on dealing with my disability.  Over the next few weeks I will I address my struggles in the following areas: education, employment, relationships, and personal care.

You are probably wondering by now what might be prompting this series.  Blogger Christina Symanski was injured in a swimming accident on June 5, 2005.  Six years and many blog posts later, she died in December 2011 after starving herself to death.  To me, one of the saddest parts of the story is that her boyfriend (whom she wanted to “liberate”) was committed to her and today says he can’t see himself with someone else.

I hope over the next few weeks to look at the biblical perspective on facing the challenges of life.  Hopefully, you will be encouraged to embrace life and pass on that encouragement to others.  I am also hoping this will help jumpstart my autobiography project.

Andrew Gommesen   

PS: Here is the story to which I am referring.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Hills Are Alive...

Master Arts Theater is one of my favorite places in the world!  I love theater and the fact that I can enjoy the arts in an environment dedicated to honoring Jesus Christ is a blessing.  I love to act, but since there are a limited amount of roles for a good looking guy on four wheels, I started to explore opportunities “behind the curtain.”
This led me to the wonderful opportunity to Assistant Direct “The Sound of Music.”  Little did I know on that third Saturday of September when I reported for auditions this would be a life-changing experience for me!!!  I loved every part of the process.  I was so thankful to assist in every step along the way.
One of my favorite parts of this journey was the casting process.  It was a real challenge because we needed people who could sing, dance, and act.  Because of the popularity of this show, we had 96 people try out.  Most of them were little girls with big dreams.  It took two or three weeks to finalize the cast.  I was very gratified that three of my top choices made the cut!
I had the great privilege of calling those who made it with the good news!!  It was so much fun to be the messenger of such excitement, especially to the kids and their parents!  The two months that followed were filled with about four days of rehearsal a week, each night focusing on a different part of the cast (for example Wednesday was spent in the Abby with the Nuns and quickly became my favorite day of the week! :) ) and then we all came together for “Crazy Saturday.”
This is where the magic really began to happen!!! 36 cast members, plus about half a dozen crew members, (many of whom had never worked together before) came together to bring one of the best loved musicals of all time to the Master Arts stage.  Over the next two months and six weekends we took audiences to Austria and back 21 times and along the way bonded in a way few if any of us anticipated! 
Some of the highlights included post practice chats with my new friends, talking and laughing (and getting in trouble for it) in the green room during performances, watching the “dressing nuns” assist the children through 11 (yes you read that right!) wardrobe changes, debating where to eat Friday nights, and spending Saturday afternoons at the theater eating potluck dinners with the cast between shows….:) 
One of our more veteran actors commented “I hope everyone realizes how special this cast is because it doesn’t happen all the time.”  I could not agree more!  The friendships I forged during this production mean so much to me.  Many of those involved now have a permanent place in my heart!  I hope we are friends for life! 
As one of our audience members put it “I just wish I could push the rewind button.”  I am so blessed that God would allow me to be able to enjoy this amazing experience!  It was like a smile from God to me!!!!