Grief, Healing, Words of Endurance


Christ has set us free to live a free life.
So take your stand!
Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.

An older Christian woman, “Mrs. Righteous,” boldly proclaimed to anyone who would listen that she had not sinned (ever) since the day she was saved by Jesus Christ. She was a real peach! I had no dealings with her personally, but I did meet her sons, R. Righteous and D. Righteous. Legalistic and perfect themselves, they had not fallen far from the “Peach Tree.”

As a new babe in Christ, lost and profoundly damaged by sin and its severe consequences, I lived my life at the university trying to redeem myself: no drinking, no drugs, perfect class attendance, straight As. I was also attending a Bible study, where I met the Righteous Brothers. My safe place of unconditional love and forgiveness was quietly poisoned with judgment and condemnation.

Stupidly, I became a smoker in college. Not much; maybe a pack a week. Just something cool to do, right, like everyone else. Holy moly! This was intolerable to R. Righteous. Unthinkable. He was eager to tell me that I couldn’t have a Christian testimony if I smoked. I may not have been saved at all! I had to quit smoking, according to the gospel of R. Righteous.

Oh, precious Holy Spirit, newly flickering in me. In my confusion over the harsh criticism, I could hear the Holy Spirit whispering, “Never mind him; don’t believe that. We will get to the smoking later. You have many more serious issues than that! You are a mess, you are forgiven, and you are loved. There is nothing more to do. Let Me heal you.” I did not know then, but learned later, how the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words, according to the will of God (Romans 8:26-27). And mends.

I also came to understand that believers should have no self-conceit and should not provoke one another. We are to restore one another in a spirit of gentleness (Galatians 5:26, 6:1). I have encountered other Righteous Brothers through the years, but I recognize and dismiss them now. If pressed, I say with a confident smile, “Yes, I sin differently than you.” That ends the conversation, for sure.

As for Mr. R. Righteous, he never smoked. Yet after thirty-plus years of marriage to a precious, long-suffering saint, he was revealed to be a serial adulterer and a deeply in debt online gambler, among other things. I took no pleasure in his fall. He just sins differently than me. Saddened by the damaged lives he left in his wake, I thank God I was not one of his victims. The patchwork of redemption and renewal Jesus stitched on my heart was held tight.

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults –
unless of course you want the same treatment.
That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging.
It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face
And be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own.



Grace, Healing, On the Journey Together, Words of Endurance

For we who worship by the Spirit of God
Are the ones who are truly circumcised.
We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us.
We put no confidence in human effort.

The other morning Dave and I were discussing our most recent experiences and feelings. I shared with Dave my positive experiences and feelings but also my insecure and negative thoughts. At the end of our conversation, Dave said to me, “Jan you need to have more confidence in yourself.”

I was touched by what he said – at first I took it as an encouraging word as I know he meant it to be. But immediately my thoughts went to how could I be confident in me (my sinful flesh) when I had made so many wrong sinful choices in the past? But then I realized that within me there is not only my sinful flesh but there is also the Holy Spirit. And while I cannot be confident in my flesh I know I can be confident of the Holy Spirit that lives within me.

Over the past two years Dave and I have been on a journey to confidently trust God with who we truly are. This journey has been more difficult for me than Dave because my confidence and trust has wavered between myself and God. I have found as I looked back over my Spiritual journey that I would continually surrender control of my life to God but during life’s most difficult trials I would take control of my life back – finding my own ways to escape the pain.

Over the past year, I have chosen to surrender control to the Holy Spirit and trust Him to lead me and be my strength because I have come to the realization that I could no longer trust myself. And since that critical choice He has led me on a path to healing that I never dreamed possible.

My word from God for 2017 is “Confidence”. Not confidence in my flesh but knowingly confident in the One who dwells within me – confidence within Whom I place my Trust and Hope.

But blessed are those who trust in the LORD
and have made the LORD their hope and confidence.
They are like tress planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they never stop producing fruit.



Anger, Healing, On the Journey Together, Pain, Words of Endurance

“There will be a time of Reckoning.
Words are powerful;
Take them seriously.
Words can be your salvation.
Words can also be your damnation.”
MATTHEW 12:36-37

Jan and I are on this journey together in this new season. However my challenges – at least at this point – are quite different from hers.

I never realized the impact of my words. But over the last five years I have begun to recognize more than ever just how powerful my words have been and how I have used them to control others to meet my high expectations. When I look back on my life as a husband and a father, I regretfully now know that my words have had an affect on the people that matter most to me.

Upon further reflection I have seen how I have used my words and my anger to manipulate to get my way. I have seen how my words have been critical and judgmental which has caused much discouragement and pain to the recipients. I’ve seen how my words have destroyed and torn down the ones I love the most when all my heart meant to do was challenge them to do better. But what God desires for me to do is the exact opposite with my words.

So why did I struggle so much with my words towards my loved ones? To be honest I don’t really know how to answer that. I am sure some of you as you read these confessions are probably trying to help me out right now. And I don’t blame you because before I had these revelations I would have been doing the same thing – I would have tried to fix me too!

I do know that my perfectionism and the need to control has been a significant part of my story. As an athlete I had high expectations of myself and I needed to be in control. When I lost control I feared failure. That is how I felt about my family. In the end I guess you could say I’ve been extremely selfish in my life wanting life to go my way. It has been hard to realize that our family life isn’t all about Dave.

These are really hard things for me to share with you because I’m not sure what you will think of me after you read this. But I have discovered there is great freedom in being known for who you truly are – there is freedom in not hiding.

Watch the way you talk.
Let nothing foul or dirty
come out of your mouth.
Say only what helps,
each word a gift.

On The Journey With You,
Dave Dravecky


Anger, Healing, On the Journey Together, Words of Endurance

Go ahead and be angry.
You do well to be angry –
But don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge.
Don’t stay angry.
Don’t go to bed angry.
Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.

Oh how I wish I had paid heed to this Scripture. It would have saved me from so much heartache, despair and deep-rooted depression. Instead of dealing with my anger on a daily basis I have stuffed and denied my anger – burying it deep inside my heart. Instead of expressing my anger I silenced my voice for fear of being rejected. And then I built a wall around my heart to protect it.

Anger is a secondary emotion to fear, hurt or frustration. The roots of my anger have been fear and hurt – fear of man and having my heart hurt – hurt by the words and actions of others. Anger is an emotion that is very hard for me to experience. I never am able to communicate the words to respond or express my anger – the only way that I express my anger is through tears.

When I was given the freedom to be me I first had to look deep into my heart to see the wounds that I had experienced and I realized how hurt and angry I have been through the years. But if I wanted to heal I knew I needed to do it … I trusted the Holy Spirit was leading me.

Investigate my life, O God,
find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
get a clear picture of what I’m about;
See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong –
then guide me on the road to eternal life.

On The Journey With You,
Jan Dravecky


Depression, Grief, Healing, On the Journey Together, Prayer, Words of Endurance

Listen, God! Please pay attention!
Can you make sense of these ramblings,
my groans and cries?
King-God, I need your help.

I have struggled off and on with depression all of my adult life. For years now I have pleaded with God to remove this “thorn in my flesh.” But after years of counseling and many attempts to get off my antidepressant I had resigned myself to the fact that this was the way I was wired and it was a burden that I would forever bear till I meet Jesus on the other side.

I thought I could maintain status quo and get by but my issues have worsened over the years. I have always known that I was a flaming people-pleasing codependent but I did not realize how that had eroded me spiritually, physically and emotionally. It has reared its ugly head in my relationship with God and family – leaving me empty inside – not knowing who I truly was – causing me to turn to addiction to numb my pain – not God.

What I am so elated over is that God has not left me here in my state of despair. While I am still in the midst of my healing and discovery I now know that He who began a good work in me will see it to the day of completion. (Philippians 1:6) For the first time in a long time my hope has been restored.

He has heard my prayer and blessed me with a wonderful, understanding and patient husband, an insightful and wise counselor and wonderful supportive friends. Another layer of the onion is being peeled and hopefully the root of codependency is being pulled out – I am still in the process – the process is painful but it is worth it. I now pray …

Investigate my life, O God,
find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
get a clear picture of what I’m about;
See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong –
then guide me on the road to eternal life.
Psalm 139:23-24 (THE MESSAGE)

On The Journey With You,
Jan Dravecky


Depression, Grace, Healing, Prayer, Words of Endurance

The Body of Christ is a big part of the delivery system
of healing and growth that God has in store for His people.

When he was a teenager, Henry Cloud dreamed of becoming a professional golfer and he was well on his way to fulfilling that dream. A successful amateur, he was recruited to play NCAA golf in college. But the dream began to fade when he developed severe tendon trouble in his left arm. Doctors couldn’t figure out the cause or how to treat it. Henry’s game suffered and after two years of hampered play, he quit. The dream was over.

One afternoon, alone in his room, Henry tried to figure out what to do next. The enormity of his loss became unbearable. He explains,

“I looked at various interests and majors only to arrive at a deep emptiness and sense of darkness regarding the future. I was at the end of myself. Thoughts about all aspects of life that were not working went through my head like a whirlwind. What will I do? How will I find my way in my career and in my relationships? How can I change into a person who is not so depressed and unable to figure all this out?”

Although the door to professional golf was shut God had other plans for Henry. Slowly Henry’s perspective on what his life would be began to change. He committed his life and his uncertain future to God. He joined a Bible study that helped anchor him spiritually. Yet he still struggled with depression. One day he confided to a Christian friend,

“I asked God to help me but I don’t feel any better. I thought that if you prayed God would make you feel better.”

Because he still felt depressed Henry concluded that God wasn’t doing much in his life but that shattered perspective would change too. Henry’s friend introduced him to Bill and his wife, Julie. Bill was a wonderful Bible teacher who helped Henry discover his love of the Bible and theology. Through conversations with Bill and Julie, Henry discovered that the emptiness he was feeling “was not emptiness at all but sadness and hurt about the loss of my dream to play professional golf.”

As Henry worked through the counseling material Julie gave him and began applying what he was learning, the burden began to lift from his shoulders. Before long, he knew God was calling him to go into Christian counseling.

“Sometime later,” Henry continues, “I realized my depression and feeling of emptiness were gone! I actually felt good about life and about me.” But
Henry was also disappointed and disillusioned. “God had changed my life. My life had taken a 180-degree turn. But God had not healed me when I sought healing. He had not supernaturally ‘zapped’ me.”

As he talked to people about his disappointment, Henry heard the same thing over and over, “God uses people, too.” Henry “hated” hearing that phrase. I wanted God to touch my depression instantaneously and help me. Instead, he used people.”

Henry’s difficulty was that he had always considered God’s supernatural intervention to be true spiritual healing – Plan ‘A.’ He thought that when God used people to heal it was the ‘inferior’, although effective, Plan ‘B.’

“I accepted that I was one of those people who got Plan ‘B.’ So there I was, grateful and somewhat disappointed at my grade ‘B’ healing. It was good but it felt more like sitting in the bleachers than in the box seats.”

Then Henry read a Scripture passage that changed his perspective on how God had been working in his life:

From him the whole body,
joined and held together
by every supporting ligament,
grows and builds itself up in love,
as each part does its work.

Henry couldn’t believe it so he read it again. Plan ‘B’ wasn’t second rate after all! People helping people were in fact God’s Plan ‘A’!

While Henry was waiting for God to share his grace through supernatural ‘zapping’, God was giving it to him through His people.

“I was waiting for Him to speak to me directly; He was speaking to me through his people. I was waiting for him to give me direction in life; he was the strength behind the direction people were giving me. I was waiting for him to heal my depression; He sent special people to comfort me.”

Henry’s perspective on life and how God would work in his life had been completely transformed. He no longer felt as if he had gotten Plan ‘B’ – as if he had received a lesser healing.

“I had received God himself and the healing he had always planned to give through his people.”

We are so thankful that God used Henry Cloud and John Townsend to bring healing to the both of us through their writings and counseling sessions. God restored our shattered perspectives through these two men of God who through their own God gifting brought us to a healing place and there we saw the power of God.

God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere;
but they all originate in God’s Spirit.
God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere;
but they all originate in God’s Spirit.
God’s various expressions of power
are in action everywhere;
but God himself is behind it all.
Each person is given something to do that shows who God is:
Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits.

On the Journey with You,
Dave and Jan Dravecky


Healing, Peace, Perspectives, Prayer, Words of Endurance


Changing your perspective
is like looking at your situation through a different lens,
like putting on a different pair of glasses.

I had been enduring an extremely difficult trial in life. For months there seemed to be no improvement or resolution. It seemed as if my prayers for a way of escape were being ignored. Finally, I decided to create my own mini-escape. I lived fairly close to the Pacific Ocean so hoping for at least a few hours of refreshment I headed toward a favorite spot – high above the crashing waves.

After parking my car, I walked toward a large, glass-enclosed observatory perched on the edge of a bluff overlooking the ocean. As I stepped inside my eyes were immediately drawn to the north window. There in the distance, I saw an approaching storm. The scene was spectacular but the clouds, fog, and restless ocean made my heart sink. A powerful rainstorm was on its way. So much for my outdoors plans.

I quickly moved to the east window. Although it was quiet in the observatory I looked out onto a noisy scene of wind-swept chaos in the parking lot. Kids, cars, and carriages scurried in all directions. Dads hastily unloaded the family gear – backpacks, cameras, binoculars and picnic baskets – as moms frantically tried to bundle up their children to protect them from the chilling wind. I couldn’t hear their frustrated words but their faces told the whole story. I didn’t watch this scene too long – it made me tired.

With relief I stepped over to the south window. Seemingly oblivious to the brisk wind and incoming mist, a young couple wrapped in a blanket sat on a small patch of weathered lawn. Their obvious affection for one another must have driven away the discomfort of the biting wind. They weren’t just taking in the view – they were experiencing it. From my sheltered viewpoint, I found myself experiencing it with them.

Other observers moved in my direction so I felt compelled to leave that heart-warming scene and take in the view from the west window. Standing alone, overlooking the immense expanse of the Pacific Ocean that stretched to the horizon, I felt unbelievably tiny. The reflection of the sun lay like a glimmering golden path on the water. I’d never seen the ocean quite like this and it brought tears to my eyes.

I closed my eyes to thank God for the awesome beauty of that place. At that moment He spoke to my heart showing me something I had never realized before. As I visually immersed myself in each view I had experienced a multitude of emotions – some positive – some not. I had experienced frustration, elation, sadness and awe yet I had not set foot outside the observatory. The only change was on which view I had chosen to focus.

How humbling it was to realize that in dealing with my personal trial I had been focusing on only one view. I had looked at the situation from only one viewpoint – finding a way out. I had not yet considered any other possibilities. That day I realized that God was far more interested in changing my perspective than in changing my circumstances.

No wonder my trial had been overwhelming. I needed a different view – a new perspective. And God in His mercy showed me that it was only a few steps away…

One ship drives east and another drives west
With the self same winds that blow.
‘Tis the set of the sails,
And not the gales,
That tells us the way to go.

Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate
As we voyage along through life,
‘Tis the set of a soul
That decides its goal,
And not the calm, or the strife.

On the Journey with You,
Dave & Jan Dravecky


Healing, Hope, Perspectives, Words of Endurance

A cheerful disposition is good for your health;
gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.

Yeah! It is about time! Scientists are now confirming what the ancient wisdom of the Bible has said all along – a good attitude is good for your health!

A sound mind makes for a robust body,
but runaway emotions corrode the bones.

Positive emotions can extend our life span and improve our physical and mental well-being. A study of Harvard graduates revealed that the way in which young men explained negative events – whether pessimistically or optimistically – indicated several physical health outcomes decades later. Specifically, optimism in early life predicted good health later in life.

Alastair Cunningham, PH.D, senior scientist at the Ontario Cancer Institute asked experts to predict the life span of patients with incurable cancer. Cunningham and his team then gathered data on each patient’s attitudes and behaviors as they expressed their feelings about cancer and the support they received from fellow victims during weekly group therapy sessions. The patients who worked the hardest at transforming themselves psychologically lived at least three times longer than predicted.

Dr. Susan S. Knox who studies the interaction of psychology and physiology at the NIH (National Institute of Health) National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute says, “Emotional factors have a major impact on physical health.” She describes negative emotions as “worrying incessantly, feeling friendless and flying off the handle,” and says that such emotions “often lead to weaker immune systems, higher rates of heart disease and other major health problems.”

In a broad-based study of adults, age 65 and older, positive emotion was shown to be a strong predictor of how long people lived. Happy people were half as likely to become disabled when compared to people who were generally sad. In addition, those who live happy lives have a greater tolerance for physical pain than those who are sad.

It has also been reported that people who rate in the upper reaches of happiness on psychological tests develop about 50 percent more antibodies than average in response to flu vaccines. In addition, happiness or related mental states like hopefulness, optimism and contentment appear to reduce the risk or limit the severity of cardiovascular disease, pulmonary, diabetes, hypertension, colds and upper respiratory infections.

I don’t know about you but this is proof enough for me that I want to live the rest of my life not worrying incessantly and pessimistically but hopeful, optimistic and most of all content with whatever my circumstances. And you may wonder how a worrywart like me is going to achieve this sound mind? Well, I am going to follow the advice that the Apostle Paul shared with the Philippians …

Don’t fret or worry.
Instead of worrying, pray.
Let petitions and praises
shape your worries into prayers,
letting God know your concerns.
Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness,
everything coming together for good,
will come and settle you down.
It’s wonderful what happens
when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
Summing it all up, friends,
I’d say you’ll do best
by filling your minds and meditating
on things true, noble, reputable,
authentic, compelling, gracious—
the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly;
things to praise, not things to curse.
Put into practice what you learned from me,
what you heard and saw and realized.
Do that, and God, who makes everything work together,
will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

On the Journey with You,
Dave Dravecky


Healing, Hope, Perspectives, Words of Endurance

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world,
but let God transform you into a new person
by changing the way you think.

Renewing our attitude can be a lot tougher than many would think especially if you find yourself in the valley of pain and suffering. Stay there in the valley long enough and you may find yourself in a rut that seems impossible to climb out of.

I don’t want in any way to minimize or trivialize the deep difficult ruts in which people who are suffering find themselves. There is no doubt that adversity and stress rob us of some (and at times many) of the good experiences and enjoyment of life. But the fact is our attitude makes a huge difference in how we face life – especially when we are suffering.

If we are suffering a bad attitude can take us even lower than we are and who in their right mind wants that? On the other hand, it is wonderful to experience the amazing quality that a good attitude brings in the midst of difficult circumstances. The approach we take is up to us. Will we accept the adversity and face what we have to face or will we not accept it – fight against what we cannot change and make our rut even deeper and doubly more difficult to endure?

I have done both. At first, I was so consumed by my pain and suffering that all I could think about was my survival – not my attitude. I fought my adversity – I resented it. But then my burden was lightened when I learned that I may not have a choice about my circumstances but I did have a choice about my attitude towards my circumstances. And then I read …

“A cross which comes from God ought to
be welcomed without any concern for self.
And when you accept your cross this way,
even though it is painful, you will find that
you can bear it in peace. But when you
receive your cross unwillingly, you will
find it to be doubly severe. The resistance
within is harder to bear than the cross
itself! But if you recognize the hand of God,
and make no opposition to His Will,
you will have peace in the midst of affliction.
Happy indeed are they who can bear their
sufferings with this simple peace and perfect submission to the will of God!
Nothing so shortens and soothes suffering
as this spirit of non-resistance.”

There is no magic formula for renewing our attitude – at times it can seem impossible. But this I know – my first step was to accept my circumstances. I could do that because I trusted God with all my heart. I knew He was in the midst of my painful trial and He was trustworthy.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice
in everything you do,
everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.

On the Journey with You,
Dave Dravecky


Healing, Hope, Laughter, Words of Endurance

A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.

One of my favorite books of the Bible is Proverbs. Proverbs, the Bible’s book of ancient wisdom, is known for its practical advice for daily living but also for its sound advice for healthy living. I love it when modern scientific research catches up – thousands of years later – and proves God’s advice and wisdom to be true. Take a look at the following health benefits that have been linked to laughter and having a “cheerful heart”.

  1. Reduces immune suppressors such as epinephrine and cortisol.

  2. Benefit: Reduces certain chemicals produced by your body that can have an adverse affect on your immune system.

  3. General increase in immune system activity – specifically “T” cells, “B” cells, immunoglobulins and natural killer cell activity.

  4. Benefit: Increases chemicals in your body that help fight infection and disease.

  5. Increases heart rate.

  6. Benefit: You get a workout without going to the gym!

  7. Temporarily increases blood pressure followed by a prolonged mild decrease in blood pressure.

  8. Benefit: Your vascular system gets a healthy workout! Some researchers call laughing “informal jogging.”

  9. Increases breathing, which raises oxygen consumption.

  10. Benefit: Your respiratory system gets a healthy workout too! After a hearty laugh you frequently have to take in a big breath of air.

  11. Increases muscle relaxation.

  12. Benefit: Your muscles relax, prompting comments such as “I laughed so hard I wet my pants!”

  13. Increases levels of beta-endorphins – natural painkillers in the blood stream.

  14. Benefit: This is why we feel so much better after a good laugh.

  15. Reduces stress due to the above physiological changes.

  16. Benefit: High stress people who laugh easily have shown to be less depressed and anxious than folks who have a gloomier perspective.

So please – no matter what you are presently enduring – enjoy a spoonful of laughter because …

A chuckle a day may not keep the doctor away,
but it sure does make those times in life’s waiting room
a little more bearable.

On the Journey with You,
Dave and Jan Dravecky