Saturday, March 21, 2015

40 Days

Today marked 40 days since I broke my arm.

The last post I wrote was the night before my surgery, and came out of a place of strength.

This post is coming out of a place of weakness.

The surgery did go well. The doctors and therapists are all pleased with my progress. But there are days when it hurts worse, and today was one of those days. 

I've written two prior drafts and scrapped them both because they came out less than honorable. So you're getting this one. It's the best I can do.

I knew in this process of healing and reestablishing what life would look like that there would be hard days. But you don't know how hard those days will hit until they come.

I'll spare you many of the details, but I will say this: The last several weeks have been beating my heart and my mind like two egg yolks about to be used in a soufflé.

My doctors and therapists, however pleased they may be with my progress, keep reminding me about my chances of getting back to full motion and capabilities. I took a test this week at therapy, and am at about 67% of where I was before the accident.

I keep fighting tooth and nail at work to pick up any kind of progress or momentum, to no avail. And that's despite being released back to full time work and a big weekend sale.

I keep having to haggle with the company covering the workman's compensation claim for numerous reasons, and am getting nowhere with them.

So between all of these things, it all blew up in my face at work today in a really rather odd turn of events.

It took every ounce of strength to get dressed this morning and go into work for the final day of this big sale we were doing to try and make anything come of it. Then at the morning pep rally for the sales people, they talked about finding the reason why you were there, and all I could think about were my wife and kids. And about how every single day my kids ask me if I have sold a car, because they know that's how I earn money at this job. And about how my answers have been either "No" "Not today" or "Technically, yes" every day I've been back. And about how I really had no idea why I was doing it at all anymore, because it all seemed so fruitless. They made everybody chant things like "Today is my day" and "I've got this" and all I could think about was how uncertain I was of those things. I couldn't even muster up the strength to say the words aloud with everyone else, but rather to stand with them in silence wondering if this shell shock would pass and if I'd be able to move on with the possibility of a successful day, or if I'd just be stuck there all day.

Then after all the hubbub one of my coworkers came up to me and asked me how I was. And I immediately started choking back tears. Which of course, shocked him quite a bit. After some tears and very intense conversations with my managers, one of them let me have the rest of the day to spend with my family in order to try and get better.
I spent the better part of the day between quiet reflection and breaking down.

Will I and my family be okay? Yes. I do trust and believe that all things do (still) work for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose. And that's me. And my family.

Do I know how we'll be okay? Right now, no. But I made the choice today to not worry about tomorrow and all of it's questions. I chose to enjoy my family and the time I had with them. And it made a difference.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

In the Blink of an Eye

Let's just lay this on the table first: I broke my elbow.

The X-ray you see here is of my bones taken on Monday.

Technically speaking, it's a type two radial head fracture of my left arm.

If you're shocked: don't worry because you're not alone. I'm surprised myself. I walked away from a rollover car crash with rug-burn on my knees. I trip and fall while running in a parking lot at work and break my arm. These two scenarios when compared make no sense to me.

I'm sitting on my couch on the eve of Friday the 13th, which will be the day I go into surgery to repair my elbow. And yes, I'm typing with only one hand. So you know I really have something to say.

The fall happened so fast on Monday that I had no idea what was going on or what had happened until I was already on the ground. I'll spare you all of the boring details. And when I say "boring" I mean it. I've had numerous people encourage me to come up with a better story. The point is, it was just as quick as the flap of a hummingbird's wings. It felt like I  was already on the ground trying to figure out what happened before I even heard the commotion of everything happening. But in what was just the snap of your fingers, my life would never be the same again.

What I'd like to share with you is how all of this had made me feel over the last four days.

My life changed in a flash, and it will never be the same. My orthopedic surgeon was advising me that he will most likely have to install a plate into my arm so that it can heal properly, and that only if there are complications down the road it will be removed. He went on to tell me how this plate will make me a better weatherman than the local tv personalities. He also went on to say that the sensation of that plate moving across bone is one of the most wild feelings in the world according to his patients, and that because my break is on a joint I should expect that feeling. The scar will always be there. The statistic is that only between 5-10% regain full mobility from this type of surgery. My step mom had a similar surgery as this when I was a kid, and had permanent damage to her elbow and her nerves in her arm. These are the kinds of things (along with my medication) that have often left me nauseous over the last several days.

I've watched my kids run in our little parking lot since Monday and it's hard to not get scared that the same dumb thing that happened to me won't happen to one of them. And then I think about the dreams we have for each of them. They all asked me last week when the next time we could go rock climbing would be. We had all made plans to start dancing classes (yes, all five of us) before the end of the year. I can't even wrap my arms around a single one of these four wonderful people that I love with all my heart. Everything is on hold right now, and we're all waiting too see how this is going to go tomorrow.

Is this surgery the end of the world? Absolutely not.

Am I scared? Absolutely.

I could make you a list a mile long of "what if" questions that have crossed my mind that are nothing but torturous worst case scenarios. But this isn't that blog post.

This blog post is a promise that I am not resigning to "what if" questions, worst case scenarios, or my minimal chances of being okay based on statistics.

If I wasn't afraid then I would not have the opportunity to have courage.

This blog post is to let you know that I overcome, and that is exactly what I am planning for this blink of an eye that forever changed my life.

I am a son of God, and I am a champion that was created by design. The Lord is on my side, and I am not giving up the fight that is within me. As I believe His love for me is greater than I could ever dare to imagine or ask, this is just a great opportunity for that love to be made real for me in a new way. I don't know all of the answers as to why or how at this point, but I do have the confidence that this is all going to work together for the best possible future for me and my family. When others may find themselves cowering under the circumstances we are facing, I am in my finest hour.

It hasn't always been that way. But then again, I didn't always understand the significance of the Garden of Gethsemane on the night when Jesus was arrested. Jesus didn't want to walk the road before Him, because He understood all that it would entail. I don't want to walk this road, and I have no clue what tomorrow holds. But there are some things I do know. I know my Jesus is the one who calms the storms of my heart. I know my Daddy has put my Shellie by my side to be the one holding my hand and laughing with me along this road of life. I know I have my three mini people that bring me such great joy regardless of what all else is going on in my day. I know beyond them, I am still surrounded by a great multitude of amazing people that love me and my family, and that we are not alone on this road.

I overcome.

That's just what I do, because I am just like my Daddy.

My first real month of selling cars I was ranked #1 in my store.

I raised $3,400 in one week to go on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic.

My first time going out fly fishing I came away with the biggest fish that weekend.

I dislocated my knee three times in one weekend, and bounced back with no permanent damage.

All of this and so much more in only due to the grace which God has given me.

This flutter in the history of my life will be here and gone again in a flash. And then I'll be reflecting on it come December and laughing with Shellie about how insane and how great this time was, and how our lives will never be the same because of it.

Our lives will forever be better because of this blink of an eye.

"You don't have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things... You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated to reach challenging goals. The intense effort, the giving of everything you've got, is a very pleasant bonus." ~ Sir Edmund Hillary

Monday, December 22, 2014

My Year in Detox

I was an addict.

My addiction was ministry.

There. I said it.

If you have a problem understanding plain English, let me put it religiously: Ministry was my idol.

I did not grow up in a church or as a believer. Yes, those two can be separate things. I committed my life to following Jesus when I was in high school. After that, I did the only thing that seemed logical based on what I could see other believers doing around me: plugging into the machine that is organized ministry. It was safe, because then I would probably get into less trouble. Granted, it didn't keep me out of all trouble. I served as a volunteer in the youth ministry I was a part of in high school. I went on overseas mission trips to four countries in just as many continents. I interned at a ministry after high school for two years. I have served on the audio/visual team for a fellowship in every state I have lived. I participated in and directed drama ministries. I structured and built a youth ministry from the ground up. I organized and executed local mission trips in the city I lived. The list goes on from there. I'm not saying I did these all in my own strength or by myself. I just know there are some of you out there who don't know my ministerial resume, and the statements I just made in regards to my addiction have no context. So now you know.

The first time I realized I was on a path to destruction was one night over three years ago. I was listening to a podcast talking about the difference between worshiping the Creator and worshiping a creation. The point of interest came when the subject of how it is possible to pour our life out for a ministry and have that thing be more important to our heart than our flesh and blood family, or worse yet God Himself. Several amazing men were considered among the best preachers but worst family men, including A. W. Tozer, John Wesley, and plenty more. It's hard now to see these men as anything other than some of the most glorified idolators in Church history. After all, idolatry is just putting anything in a place of our hearts where it gets more attention than God Himself. It struck a very sensitive chord in my heart.

It's one thing to say "God first, family second, ministry third." It's entirely different to actually put your actions where your words are when it comes to that. You can have a way of thinking in regards to something, but lack the reality of that very same thing. In case you need it said religiously: you can have a theology that doesn't line up with your reality.

It's kind of like the Black Knight from Monty Python.

It started off all noble, as though he had been tasked with a great mission. "None shall pass!" Then it progressed from there to him losing an arm. What was his response? "Tis but a scratch!" and then "I've had worse." So they fight more, and he loses another arm. What was his response then? To proclaim that he does still have arms left, despite the spurting proof contrary to that. It finally reaches to the point where he loses another appendage, and he barely has a leg to stand on (see what I did there), but he yells "I'm invincible!" He is met with a very aptly put "You're a looney."

I listened to that podcast and I thought to myself "Self, this whole ministry is an idol thing is really bad. Don't let that happen to you." But I kept barreling deeper into the arms of my addiction. I just kept ignoring a few key indicators in my own life. Like how my wife's spiritual, emotional, and physical health was declining a bit. Or how my kids would get upset when I would say I was headed to church and they'd say something like "You're going to youth group again? When am I going to get to spend time with you, daddy?" Or how one of my daughters would say something like "I don't want angry daddy anymore." Or how I felt more at ease with people I would only spend two hours a week with instead of the woman who shared my bed. It was only a matter of time before somebody looked me in the face as I was hopping about like a madman in my own distorted reality and said "You're a looney" to me. That man was Tim Thornton.

Tim shared his heart with me regarding how Doug Roberts told him one day long ago, "It sounds like ministry is your idol, Tim." And I thought "Wow, I hope I never get to that place" despite already missing a couple arms amidst my lunacy. My relationship with Tim grew over the span of a year or so before he finally dropped that bomb on me that ministry was my idol. He dissected my own words to show me how that was true, and Holy Spirit had tilled the soil of my heart long enough for me to receive that truth without yelling back "Right, I'll do you for that!" or any such nonsense. So I hopped off the crazy train and got on the path to healing / addiction recovery / idol smashing. He used inspiring and encouraging words like "You are a great man, and you have a beautiful family. You and your family need to be a priority. You should stop running you and your family's health over in the name of ministry. The Lord is sovereign enough that He can still do what He wants to do, even if you aren't the one doing it. If you want to know what ministry should be, it should come from a place where you and your whole family are in such a great place of love and health, and everything in your life is going so swimmingly well that there is just an abundant overflow of love to be shared. That place of overflow is where ministry should happen." So at least he used a foam covered brick to whack me upside the head a bit, which helped with my decision making process.

To fully stop the insanity, we had to start telling people and start stepping back from commitments to ministry as we understood it. The amount of grace and love we were met with by those around us was amazing and unprecedented for our family. Props go to Destiny Church, and especially to Chris and Hannah Davis for their love, grace, and support during that great crisis for my heart.

It was after a full year from then that I cautiously started approaching the notion of moving into ministry again. But I could see a little more clearly at that point that I was anxious to step into any kind of ministry, regardless of whether it was what the Lord had for me to do or not. The more I sought His heart out for me, the more I realized I needed more time to lay some foundations in my heart and to fully uproot the possibility for the return of this addiction. It was as if I had just taken a year off the addiction and was about to walk right back into the throws of passionate pouring out of myself for the thing without ever taking time to learn why the thing was so important to me in my heart. The more I thought about it, the more I had this sense that God had bigger things for me and that it was a strategy of the enemy of my soul to get me tied off to some good thing for me to do that would not have been the best thing for me to do.

I needed to find out who God really was. I needed to find out how He really felt about me, regardless of what I could do for Him. I needed to find out who I was. I needed to find out why the things I did mattered so much more to me than the One in whose name I was doing those things. I didn't know it, but God had the Kingdom IQ in store for me to help with that.

It's been a year since my family and I moved out to Colorado Springs in order to be closer to Tim and his family. It's been a year since I have considered the possibility of ministry. It's been the best year of my married life. It's been the year where I put my actions where my words were in regards to putting God first and then my family. And aside from those two things, there hasn't been much of anything else. I still got excited about the Godzilla movie. I still performed on stage. I still welcomed people into my home. So I was still me. But I was a better me than I had been for years and years.

I've been reminded of why my wife started out as my best friend this year. I've remembered why each one of my three kids are a tremendous blessing to me. I've read more books over this last year than I have in the nine years prior to it. I have shepherded the hearts of my wife and children this year more faithfully than I ever have. My wife is laughing and loving more now than she has since before we were married. My children for the first time in their lives know without a doubt that there are only two things in this world more important to me than them: our God and their mother. I truly know for the first time in my life that my worth is found as a son of God and who He has made me to be, in comparison to what I can do, or how I can serve, or anything else.

It was kind of a big year.

This all came through lots of tears, hard conversations, deep uprooting of some nasty stuff in my heart, prayer, worship, and getting made fun of for thinking it would be better to roll around with the pigs in their slop than to be at home with my Daddy.

I'm not saying the journey is over. There's still ground to lay hold of in my heart for the Kingdom. But a son is always a son, and a son realizes it's more about who you are than what you do. Joshua knew the battle was won long before he fought his first battle or built his home in the Promised Land. So all I'm saying is that I know the battle is won, and that my Daddy has a home for me. And my home is not built on the work of my hands, but rather on the strength of His great love for me.

My name is Thomas Ryan Matthew Kushnerick, and I have been clean from idolatrous ministry for over one year.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Starting out with a bang.

We as a family made it safe to our new home in Louisville, KY.

Here is just a piece of our family adventure getting here. Machelle will probably blog about this in greater detail in the time to come.

As we were approaching the last 15 minutes of our over 1400 mile family adventure, we drove into a genuine rain storm. Then we started seeing lightning. Now to some of you out there, this would be a bad thing. But my wife and I love rain and storms. We certainly enjoyed it, despite the rain obscuring our windshields.

When we actually drove into Kentucky we could tell the lightning was very close, as there was no real break from when we saw the lightning to when we heard it.

Then it dawned on me: it's like the Lord is throwing us a party for having made it safely! He is such a good Daddy, after all...

As a matter of fact, the party He was throwing was so great that he blew out the power for over 9,000 homes, including that of our own new apartment.

We had some great people there ready to help us unload our moving truck and all, but under the circumstances we had concluded to hold off until tomorrow for safety and sanity's sake. So we as a family are holed up in a hotel for the night, safe, sound, and showered.

I am wholeheartedly thankful to those who showed up to spend that little bit of time with us today, and look forward to all of the continuing time we now get to spend together.

All in all, I have to admit that this is all just the goodness of the Lord. Even if my children snore.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Honeycomb Tombs

I have recently had the unique and wonderful privilege to listen to the new album Honeycomb Tombs by Karla Adolphe. Seeing as how I know this album will be one to stay in my music catalog for the foreseeable future, I wanted to share a little about it with you.

It was made with the desire to be for people who at some point in their life have faced grief of some kind. Be that grief the death of a loved one, the undesired change of a season in life, the longing for hope where there seems to be none, or of any other kind, everyone faces grief in their life. The music that Karla and her team have poured themselves into touches the very depths of who you are, and does so lovingly, gently, and gracefully.

The music itself is absolutely unforgettable. Each song is like a story told through beauty and pain, and that is the very cry you often see in the book of Psalms. From the soulful cries to the soft melodies, the album truly enables you to feel every movement of this emotional symphony.

From the deep desire left seemingly unmet in "Who Can Hold Me" through the longing for hope in "Ice Road" it is difficult to remain disengaged while listening. If misery could be crafted into a lullaby, "Invisible Lines" would be it. The whole song plays out achingly, like a lyrical dance of mourning. It is just waiting for somebody to choreograph a contemporary dance piece to it.

The art, passion, and care which has been poured out into making this album by all that were involved is sewn all throughout the audio tapestry. It is easy to see why the album's name is taken from the heart of the song "Flying Low," as it talks about breaking free from honeycomb tombs, because this album will be a collection of anthems for freedom, hope, and life through burdens and despairs, and beyond them all. Truly, this album is a taste of what beauty for ashes is all about.

One of the best parts about this album is that it is for free, so go on over here on May 15th and get yourself a free copy of this album. Then after you have done that, tell everyone else you know about it and send them over to Karla's website to get their own copy. If you want to know more about the album itself, or how to get the word out more, email her at

As always, you can feel free to share here what your thoughts are as well about this truly beautiful album, put together by this truly beautiful lover of Jesus.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

An American Missionary

It was 13 years ago now that I first surrendered my life to Jesus.

It was only one year later that I surrendered my life to missions, and seeing the world loved and changed in the name of Jesus and by His power at work in me and through me.

It was now only 9 years since the Lord Himself shattered my dreams and revealed to me that I was meant to stay long term here in the United States of America according to His plan. The good news for that is I know that as a piece of that plan, I was still called and equipped to go overseas and meet the needs there, but more on a short term basis than a long one.

The summer of 2003 was the last mission trip that I went on, to Botswana Africa. Now in the summer of 2012 I will be taking a group overseas to Thailand on a month long mission trip, including my wife Machelle; our three kids Kylee, Chloe, and Josiah; three of the youth in the ministry we have been leading for over four years Andrew, Andrea, and Julia; and many more wonderful people that we have yet to meet.

If you'd like to help us get there, you can donate to the trip online here and be sure to use our group ID 2659982 once you get there.

Once we get back stateside, my family and I will be moving on into the next season the Lord has for us...

We are moving to Louisville, Kentucky to join the pastoral team of Destiny Church in the Highlands out there.

If you want more information on us specifically as a part of Destiny, you can go to our site and check it out. We also have a breakdown on the site for what we need in order to get there.

We know the Lord has had us here in Grand Junction, Colorado for a good reason. We have come to know many wonderful people, and are greatly looking forward to continuing those relationships.

We are also greatly looking forward to these next steps the Lord has for us as a family, too.

I know that this is all beautifully orchestrated by the Lord, so as to fulfill His full and wonderful plan for our lives.

Looking back, I see now that from the very beginning I was called to be an American missionary. The people here in the states need reaching out to, and a desire to also reach out themselves. So this is just me embracing my call. I am fully surrendered to missions. First comes Thailand. Then comes Destiny Church in Louisville, KY. Then... There are no limits.

Monday, April 16, 2012

We're going to Thailand!

This family update has been a long time coming.

On July 5th, all five of us in our family plus three of the youth in our ministry are leaving for a month long mission trip to Thailand. We will start and end our journey briefly in Texas, where we will be meeting the rest of our team that is going, and receiving the necessary training to be the most effective we possibly can while in country.

We are all very excited about being able to travel the globe as a family, especially knowing it will all be for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Even the kids can show you where Thailand is on our little bouncy globe. We know the Lord is calling us there for many different reasons. Certainly one of the greatest reasons is because of the dire need that is found there.

For info on the trip go here: If you select "Quick Facts" you will see details about Thai culture and how to pray.

We have been doing fundraisers since the summer of 2011 for getting us over there, but we still have a long way to go financially. As we write this (April 16th) we have 80 days left before we leave, and we need your help to make it there. Be it through prayer and/or financial support, we want to offer you the chance to partner with us and with the Lord for what He is going to do this summer.

If you are interested in helping through prayer support, send us a private message and we will put you on our prayer team newsletter.

If you are interested in helping through financial support, you can go to Global Expeditions' website and donate directly to us there. The direct link is and our Group ID to donate to is 2659982, so feel free to do so as soon as possible! We need roughly $4400 per person, so any and all gifts are fully welcomed and appreciated!

If you have any questions, feel free to let us know. We will definitely be keeping you updated as we prepare to go change the world, and while we are over there too!