Though I Walk Through The Valley of the Shadow of Death

Recently I wound up in the hospital. It started on a Wednesday where around dinner time I suddenly got this massive headache. I would soon find out it was accompanied by a low grade fever. I didn’t think a lot of it and took some aspirin. Thursday I woke up with the headache still there only now the fever was approaching 103 degrees. We reached out to my primary doctor who felt that it might be COVID. So off we went for me to get tested. The results were negative.

In addition to this drama, my big toe on my right foot felt like it was not getting enough attention so it began to have drainage out of a suddenly open wound. This didn’t seem like that big of a deal since there was no swelling or discoloration or smell. It seemed like it was more an annoyance than anything else.

Friday things began to change. My fever was toppling over 103 while my toe was beginning to swell up. Having reached out to my foot doctor, he stated that I needed to go immediately to the hospital. I then called my primary care doctor. Why? Because I wanted a second opinion. Why? Because I was scared that I would lose my big toe. And that would be bad. I have lost three toes to diabetes but they have been interior toes. The two outer toes (the big and the pinky) are extremely important for balance and walking. If I lost my big toe there would be major issues and I did not want them. My primary care doctor was probably thinking “How much of an idiot is this guy” as he told me to follow the advice of the foot doctor.

Arriving at the hospital, the Emergency Room doctor took one look at my toe that was now double in size and declared that I was being admitted. Some time later, I was moved to a room. My wife initially accompanied me to the room and helped me get settled. Then she left for the night. I would love to tell you that I slept but I was going between uncontrollable chills and shivering to sweating profusely.

Saturday we discovered that I was in “no-drip isolation”. This meant that I could not have visitors and when staff entered the room they had to wear extra protection. This protection took the form of an additional gown over their scrubs plus a paper gown over that. Two masks that were covered by a full face shield. Two layers of gloves or more. And there were many times that after entering the room they would have to stand at the doorway and ask for additional medicine or items so they didn’t have to step outside the room. Stepping outside meant taking off all of that extra protection and throwing it away to be burned. This was because they did not know if I had COVID. And because of that, I got to have two amazing cleanings done of my nostrils (and brain) for the two different tests for COVID that they performed.

Sunday I realized that I knew what a leper felt like back in Bible times. Here I was feeling horrible and people didn’t want to be near me. Which would be hard for me normally but was excruciating with having this fever and headache. I truly felt like I was walking through the valley of the shadow of death. I told the lord one simple word in prayer, “Help!” Help he provided. The isolation got lifted. The foot doctor had spoken to me the night before about removing a screw in my foot (yes, I had a screw loose but they removed it, LOL) which he believed was the source of the infection and thus the fever. I was excited.

The really cool thing was that God showed me I was never alone. And I am not just speaking about God being with me. Sunday evening before the Monday morning surgery, I was worshipping in the room at a level that I thought was not able to be heard. I was wrong. The nurse came in and asked if I was singing. I told her that I was worshipping so that I could be close to God going into the surgery. She then shared how she was also a Christian. Then within the next day, I learned that almost every nurse, charge nurse and technician who had taken care of me was a believer. In fact, with the exception of one shift after the surgery, I was never without a believer caring for me and praying for me. And I needed it.

Psalm 23:4 in the Passion translation declares “Lord, even when your path takes me through the valley of deepest darkness, fear will never conquer me, for you already have!You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way.Your authority is my strength and my peace.The comfort of your love takes away my fear.I’ll never be lonely, for you are near.” This is exactly what God did with all those caring believers who were surrounding me when my friends and family could not. In my dark time, when I was walking through the valley of deepest darkness and the shadow of death, God stationed believers all around me. Praise God!

I don’t know what people are going through but I do know that if you are a believer and God is your shepherd then God is with you. Some times he is there with you through friends and family. Some times he is there with you in his overwhelming presence. And some times he is there through a series of other believers that he has stationed around you for such a moment as this. Be encouraged that God will never leave your side.

Beloved Birthday

You are my every breath and the mate of my soul
You are what makes me better and what makes me whole
You are beauty captured and written on my heart
You are always uplifting and bashfully smart
You are a rare jewel and a beacon of hope
You are a pillar of strength a lifesaving rope
You are one of a kind and honored on this day
You are beloved and have a happy birthday  

Written for my wife on her birthday March 7, 2019

Welcome Home

Absent of my body and present before God
I could not shake the feeling that I was a fraud
Knowing my life paled next to his measuring rod
I was nothing but shattered and broken and flawed

Immediately my life flashed before my eyes
And all that I could see was my family’s cries
Seeing all the inflicted hurt and pain and lies
Tearing apart my heart as pieces of me dies

One by one and pain by pain the images flash
Realizing things I thought I built turned to ash
Everything I had amassed was a pile of trash
Seeing my life as just one gigantic train crash

Uncontrollably I dropped to my knees and wept
Living a life as far as one can from perfect
Leaving a lot of people’s lives totally wrecked
How could he who sits enthrone ever me accept

Silencing my scared mind with a raise of his hand
Leaving his throne the Lord ran right to where I stand
Wrapping his arms around me he gave a command
Calling for a feast to be prepared that was grand

His arms around me felt welcoming warm and sweet
Feeling a weight drop off I stood light on my feet
Gentle love engulfing me as our eyes did meet
Welcome home my son he did to little me greet

Tears emerged from both my eyes and ran down my face
Releasing the Lord stepped back from our snug embrace
Smiling he said that what I was feeling was grace
Granted the instant in my heart I gave him place

Raising his hand he motioned down a golden street
Frozen I stood mesmerized by shiny concrete
Nigh had I seen something so perfectly complete
Speaking I stated it was so pretty and sweet

Chuckling a loud hearty laugh the lord turned to me
Clutching my hand he said that all that I could see
Was created with one purpose for it to be
That God and I could live in peaceful harmony

– Written from my father-in-law’s perspective after he passed away on July 12, 2018.

The Man at the Lake

Divinely inspired vision sprawled out before me
Mountains rising tall and stout encompassing thee
The deepest blue lake as still as a crystal sea
Besieged by large green armies made of grass and tree

Luminous white drizzle topped darkened mountain peaks
Blue ice crystals danced and glazed up and down my cheeks
Brightly falling snow magically warmed my physique
Magnificence so great it was beyond critique

Blazing warm yellow light drew me to the near shore
Where stood a man adorned not like one rich or poor
Seasoned royal plum gilded robe is what he wore
Working quite focused and swift he labored his chore

He was a stranger and yet so much one I knew
Like this place that was so familiar and yet new
Peering over his shoulder his gaze shot right through
Captured my soul dividing what was right and true

Drawn to this man as he beckoned for us to meet
Heart racing with suddenly paralyzed two feet
Glancing at his face a warm glow pierced my defeat
As his lightning sharp smile was welcoming and sweet

Stumbling and shambling I joined the man by the fire
Returning his gaze upon the dancing red pyre
Joy draining from his contenence replaced with dire
Puzzling silence gripped my soul standing in the mire

A single black piece of coal laid upon the flame
Bewildering confusion as what was his aim
Burn wood to light coal was a mysterious game
Pryingly I just had to know what was his claim

Brazenly I pressed and thought this puzzle I solved
The embers burning symbolized an act of God
On coals representing a soul newly resolved
Redeeming love through Jesus Christ whom they now laud

The man’s half crooked smile revealed I was not right
That the coals and the fire were not causing his plight
Pain so deep it had him laboring through the night
Battling to vanquish the vile evil of this blight

Rippling pain embraced him as he began to cry
Inquiring I pressed for the reason as to why
Silently directing me to the lake to spy
I watched the embers of a coal grow cold and die

The answer brought more confusion than clarity
Dowsing flames seemed what one expected from the sea
Yearning deep inside pulled my heart and saddened me
Clearly there was more going on than I could see

Quickly grabbing my hand he lifted us to flight
Sailing higher and higher deep in the blue night
Calming peace replaced fear as we rose to great height
Till all was as clear as a single painted sight

Pointing to the lake the man my attention drew
Watching every piece of coal at once from this view
Giving me great sadness as I finally knew
Darkening of coals happened to more than a few

The lake once blue had been lit a red orange blaze
Was rapidly turning black like the new moon phase
Those once set on fire losing the breath in their praise
A self centered wickedness now filling their days

Looking back at the man with my now tear stained eyes
Understanding his swift labor and why he cries
Speaking he challenged that I had now become wise
Would I help ignite coals or become one who dies

– Written from a vision that God had given me about how many are growing cold and that he was challenging us to change that

Servant of the King

A dark silhouette appeared crossing the skyline
Sporting strange glowing fur inlaid with a gold shine
Strikingly scorched face that was cold and dark and fine
Stampeding on all fours like a mammoth bovine

An ancient enemy coming to steal one’s soul
And if it be possible swallow someone whole
He had been vanquished before and dropped in a hole
Brazenly returning focused on his new goal

A lookout manning his post discovered this sight
Catching him by surprising it gave him a fright
To sound the alarm was the duty of this Knight
But cowering he hid afraid of the beast’s bite

The city watch guarding from their post at the gate
As the creature didn’t waver but cut a path straight
Barreling toward them like a train full of freight
They deserted their post sealing the people’s fate

Entering the beast sauntered toward the town square
Abandoned the villagers didn’t have a prayer
Milling about blinded to this waking nightmare
Happily the creature growled giving them a scare

Reveling the monster gave a snarl and a snort
Continuing his trek toward the royal court
Finding the king surrounded by a guarded fort
Surprisingly the beast’s mission none could abort

His highness grabbed his sword and readied for a fight
At once a man appeared from somewhere out of sight
Clothed in armor brandishing a shield like a knight
Drawing his blade before the beast ready to smite

Roaring the fiend struck fear in the heart of many
Undaunted the man advanced all the more ready
Lunging at the beast while keeping his shield steady
Striking like a man whose skill was legendary

For the first time since appearing the beast was scared
Advancing the man’s intentions soundly declared
Retreating the creature stumbled as his eyes flared
Relentlessly the man pressed not a moment spared

Strike by strike blow by blow the man pressed an advance
Falling back the beast seemed almost lost in a trance
Having given not mind to a defensive stance
As so sure was he that the king didn’t have a chance

Assuredly the king had fore thought of a plan
One that repelled an attack when most would have ran
One that had included this little known fierce man
Who was driving this beast back to where he began

Passing through the gate the man and beast still entwined
The man constantly striking pressing the hardline
The creature refusing to concede or resign
The last blow sent the beast back over the skyline

The people completely shocked at all they had eyed
How one man could so valiantly alter the tide
Who was this man who saved us the villagers pried
I am just a servant of the king he replied

– Written while learning about an armor bearer and how they are to serve the king

Healing Prayer

My dear I hear tell by both the wind and the air
That thy health has been attacked and you aren’t so fair
News striking my heart and echoing this to share
All of heaven has joined me in a healing prayer

Praying that thy flesh would bend to the will of God
That leaves one dancing in the night not laid out flawed
Leaping and twirling to a rhythm all will applaud
As the almighty name of God you lift and laud 

Know that this healing is but a mere breath away
And this pain’s time has been measured and will not stay
The enemy of your soul has become the prey
And he has neigh the strength to stand the light of day

Hold on threw what seems like night for cometh the morn
With joy bursting forth just as the Lord has fore sworn
And great will be the words that your tongue will adorn
For a fresh testimony in you being born

Be strong and courageous great is His love for thee
Knowing many have stopped and take a bended knee
With one purpose and one accord we all agree
To be witness to your great and quick victory

– Personalized and send to my good friend Jaime
– While praying for you I was compelled and inspired to pen this little encouragement for you. Know I along with a great cloud of witness hear and in heaven are praying for your healing!!

Knocking On Heaven’s Door

I find myself knocking on heaven’s door
Begging to see my brother just once more

One more time to tell him that I love him
One more time to wrap my arms around him
One more time to hear his voice dance on air
One more time at him to just sit and share

On my knees I’m knocking on heaven’s door
Please hear me for I’m stricken to my core

I don’t ask much just to see his smiling face
I don’t ask much just for one warm embrace
I don’t ask much just to see one more smile
I don’t ask much just to sit with him awhile

I’m crying here knocking on heaven’s door
Knowing on this side I’ll not see him anymore

– By Patrick Aquilone
– Dedicated to Robert Aquilone who passed away suddenly on January 17, 2017
– Artwork by Livia Jovanovic (

Twenty-Five Years and Counting

One look in your eyes was all it took and I knew.
Two is how many times I did tell you I do.
Three is the number of wee lives we sprung anew.
Four is how many siblings we are akin to.
Five was the days from birthday to marrying you.

Six was the year that my mother was departing.
Seven is the year we almost saw an ending.
Eight was how many hours you spent pushing.
Nine churches we have been members at worshipping.
Ten is the year that your grandma we were losing.

Eleven is the year that I spent being unemployed.
Twelfth year falling out a window our son almost died.
Thirteen is the number of places we have lived.
Fourteen is how many vehicles we have owned.
Fifteen was the year a homeless family we saved.

Sixteenth year I almost slipped into forever.
Seventeen jobs I worked since we got together.
Eighteenth year work split us apart to our displeasure.
Nineteenth year we lead as my grandfather wither.
Twenty years living the apartment adventure.

Twenty-One is the age of our oldest baby.
Twenty-Second year our eldest to college did flee.
Twenty-Third year saw my dad from suffering be free.
Twenty-Four years since to Jesus we bowed the knee.
Twenty-Five years and counting of marital glee.

– Written for my amazing wife Vicky!


There is told a tale of a fetching belle,
Who lived on a mountain under a spell
Cast on her heart before she could recall,
Scattering it to pieces way too small.
She ever felt lonely and set apart,
For who loves one with a hole for a heart?
But this spell was not without a loophole.
One kiss of true love, and she could be whole.
It began one day as she was at school.
The first piece appeared right out of the blue,
In the glinting eye of a handsome lad,
Stirring feelings she didn’t know she had.
As quick as that happened, the next piece fell
When at his voice she heard sweet sounding bells.
Piece number three came one night at a meal
When the tab for food from him she did steal.
So piece after piece fit back into place,
As the love between them picked up the pace.
Only one thing left there was that remained,
One kiss of true love to make whole again.
Then one morn he roused her from her slumber
And brought her a present like no other.
For locked in his own heart was the last part
Needed to complete the fetching belle’s heart.
With a kiss and a hug, all became well
Her heart became whole as love broke the spell.

– Written for my amazing wife

I Could Not Breathe

All at once time stopped and the air stood still
My heart raced my body shivered with chill.

The sound shattered the world into pieces
Blinding me I could not even find Jesus.

One single word has brought me so much dread
Instantly draining my face to fall dead.

Sapping all my strength and making me weak
Bleeding the world turning everything bleak.

I could not breathe everything closing in
I felt used, a fool, betrayed, and chagrin.

I wanted to leave I wanted to run
Save one voice echoing we’re not done.

– Written for Brian and Nichole