11 April 2003
Email: David Benrexi
Hello beloved family,
Whether rejoicing or beleaguered, God is with you. Reach out to Him,
call on Him, praise Him, thank Him, do tell Him that You love Him. In our
world of insanity and lies, those little words "I love you" sometimes lose
their meaning, but this is God's message to a troubled world, and His message
must be on our lips. Be bold and tell someone "I love you" today and everyday.
Last time around I shared with you a deal I made with God when I was
19 and had found out that my best pal had been shot in the head in the
jungles of Viet Nam. I called out to a God whose existence I had questioned
and even denied, and said, "I'll never deny Your existence again if You'll
let my friend live. My friend lived and I never denied God's existence
again, but I didn't acknowledge my sinful life or my need for a savior
either. That wouldn't happen for nearly twelve years.
In the spring of 1976 I met a woman named Jo who totally captivated
me. The first time I looked in her eyes I was completely intoxicated, and
I haven't recovered since. After a whirlwind six week courtship, we were
married on April 12, 1976. (We'll celebrate 27 years this Saturday. Still
haven't bought a present, but there's still time.)
About two months after we were married, my wife gave me some astonishing
news. She was pregnant. I told her it was the happiest day of my life.
(Even better than the day my mother bought me my first guitar at a yard
sale for $8.) I was thrilled, but later I began to worry, not only about
my ability to support a family, but about the baby itself. At the time
I met Jo I was taking a psychedelic drug called LSD on a daily basis, and
had been for almost a year. My life was so crazy back then. (It's still
crazy-- but God is with me now, showing me how to live each day.)
Well, I had heard so much about psychedelic drugs causing chromosome
damage, but that never stopped me from using them. Now that I was married
and the step-father (a term I don't like and never used) of Jo's six-year-old
daughter, Kelley, I stopped using LSD except for occasional one day journeys
into that world of insanity.
But I was haunted by thoughts of having a child with birth defects.
My worldview at the time was so different, so the thought of having a child
that might be damaged because of my behavior was very scary. It also seemed
unfair. Why should my child have to suffer because of me?
Once again, more than seven years after my last deal with God, I came
to Him with a proposition. It was somethink like: "God, I don't think our
child should be punished because of what I did. Please, God, let me have
a healthy child, and I promise I'll kiss it every day a hundred times for
the first year of its life!" For good measure, I threw in a promise not
to eat meat, as I thought being a vegetarian was more spiritual.
We didn't do any ultrasound back then to find out if we were having
a girl or a boy, but I told Jo I wanted another girl and then a boy later,
and we had our names picked out. If we had a girl, she would be Valentina
Anna. If we had a boy, he would be Bronco Glen. (Remember, I was a hippie.
Our youngest used to wear a pin that said, "Cut me some slack--My parents
We were living on welfare since my earnings from music averaged about
twelve dollars a month (but I knew my big break was coming...) When the
water broke and labor began I ran to the pay phone and called my friend
Les who had a job and drove a car, and he was there in a few minutes to
take us to the hospital. I got as stoned as I could while I waited and
when we arrived at the hospital I was told to put on a surgical gown while
they took Jo in a wheelchair to maternity. After I changed I was in a panic
because I couldn't find her, but eventually I found her and witnessed the
birth of Valentina. When she began to come out I was holding my breath.
For a few seconds that seemed like a year she was absolutely motionless.
I saw her wiggle one of her toes and said, "She has perfect feet!" Almost
instantaneously she began to cry and we began to rejoice at this precious
new member of our family.
A short time later I was with Jo and Valentina in the maternity ward
and I began to kiss my daughter and didn't stop until I had kissed her
a hundred times. They stayed over night. I went back home around 3 AM and
didn't sleep. Around 5 AM I began calling our family on the east coast
to share the good news. I went and got Kelley who had stayed with a neighbor
and we went back to the hospital to meet her sister. At the time Kelley
had a broken arm and chicken pox, so she didn't get to hold her sister
for a couple of weeks.
Every day, I took time to fulfill my promise to God, kissing Valentina
a hundred times. Sometimes, it was all at once, early in the day. Other
days, I'd give her twenty in the morning, twenty at noon, twenty in the
middle of the afternoon, twenty at sunset, twenty before bed. If she cried,
I would pick her up and sing to her and give her lots of kisses. I may
have been the most obsessive-compulsive father in America at that time.
When Valentina was five and a half months old, Jo brought her to me
early in the morning on Father's day and she said her first words: "Da-Da!"
For the next three months, she said Da-Da a lot. She began to walk at seven
and a half months, and it was more like a strut. Her body language said,
"I'm certainly the most beautiful little girl in the world..." When we
had company or ate at a restaurant at some point when nobody was talking,
the air would suddenly resound with the voice of Valentina saying "DA-DA!"
As people would respond she'd say it two or three more times, a little
louder each time.
Today, Valentina, is 26 years old. She lives in Manhattan, and she is
pursuing her dream of acting. This fall, she will be marrying a wonderful
young man named Justin who also has a gift for acting. Because she grew
up very secure in her father's love, Valentina has chosen her partner in
life well, and didn't get wounded along the way looking for the love she
didn't get at home. This is at least as much to her mother's credit as
mine. I made a deal that I didn't have to make, because I still thought
you had to do something for God to get Him to do something for you.
Over the next three years, my lack of understanding of Who God is and
the unconditional nature of His love resulted in a lot of pain for me and
my family. I gave Valentina a disproportionate share of my love, neglecting
Jo and Kelley repeatedly to pursue my own goal of being cool and impressing
people. But a very loving God Who had made a much greater sacrifice for
me than giving up eating meat was at work orchestrating the events that
would eventually lead me to the cross of Jesus where I finally saw the
It's easy enough to see how foolish I was. But do you ever feel like
God is disappointed in you? Like you're not giving Him the same pleasure
some of His other children are? Like you need to do more to change the
way He feels about you?
It's a lie.
There's nothing any of us can do to make God love us any more than He
already does, or to diminish His love for us. It's a gift. He has given
it to you. Just receive it and say, "Thank You Lord!" This is a good day
to focus on the fact that GOD LOVES YOU!!!!!!!!!!!
Love is Who You are/ And love is what You do/ An everlasting love/
Unfailing love/ Love is Who You are/ And love is what You do/ Love is Who
You can listen to this song at: Click
Here. It's song #4 on the CD "Draw Near To God"
You are the love of my life/ Your love is wonderful/ My heart is
full of love/ Because You live in me (Repeat chorus)
Your love has set me free/ Your love is beautiful/ I'll always love
You Lord/ Because You first loved me (Repeat chorus)
God gladly will kiss you from heaven a hundred times a day, or much
more. He wants to give you all the love you need all the time. Just receive
it, and when you have all you need, give it away. You will NEVER run out.