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May 26, 2020

I keep hearing about the dark or troubling times we are in. The other night I sat down and watched the news (actually just wanted to see the weather report). The first 17 minutes was so negative and depressing! Absolutely nothing positive or uplifting. However, one comment really struck me: “We have never seen dark times like this!” I am thinking she meant that we have never seen a pandemic before, but dark times have been around forever. The battle between darkness and light has been around from the beginning. In recent years, it has been brought to the forefront through the Star Wars series, the Narnia movies and The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. All focused on the battle between darkness and light. Yes, we are in dark times but what is more concerning is to ask ourselves if we are being pulled into the dark times or toward the dark side. “Yoda reduces Luke Skywalker’s potential as a Jedi to one issue – his ability to resist the dark side – because once a Jedi starts down the dark path, it can forever dominate his destiny. ... Read More »

May 25, 2020

The day Disney let me down! I never have been a big fan of swings but rather am a person that likes to keep his feet on the ground. Neither do I like cable cars, ski lifts, etc. But eventually you have to face your fears. “Dad, can we go on that ride!” “Uh, yes, your Mom will take you!” “Come on Dad, are you afraid?” Oh, oh, the gauntlet had been thrown down! “Ok, I will ride the Peter Pan ride with you! I looked at the contraption and thought it looked pretty sound and we got on. (The Disney employees would not let me inspect the ride before I got on 😉.) The girls were excited and that is what was important. The ride started and I was waiting for the lights to go on and then realized the ride was in the dark. Breathe! Breathe! I hope it holds me. I hope I don’t tumble out. “Dad, wasn’t that cool!” “Yes…” “Dad, did you open your eyes?” “Now we’re going to It’s A Small World.” Oh, I can handle this ride. However, halfway through the ride, it ... Read More »

May 24, 2020

One of my favorite programs over the years (please do not hold this against me) was… Hee Haw. I still sing one of the popular songs from a skit on the show: “Gloom, despair, and agony on me; Deep, dark depression, excessive misery; If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all; Gloom, despair, and agony on me.” Ahh, you were singing along also, weren’t you? 😉 With all I have been through, there have been numerous people that have stated to me that I have had a lot of bad luck and good luck. My reply is that I have had neither but, instead, have been blessed. Bilbo was desperately trying to figure a way to free the dwarves and to escape from the wood-elves. Then, as he explored the lowest caverns, he discovered that the river flowed beneath the palace and issued out the other side. There was a chance to escape – if he could get hold of the cell keys and if they could sneak out the water gate undetected. Two very big ‘ifs.’ That’s when things fell into place. (The Hobbit) “Tolkien ... Read More »

May 23, 2020

I thought I would write a little lighter devotion today 😊. I have many memories about growing up, but one really sticks out. My brother and I worked hard and had a lot of fun on our maple syrup farm. We spent lots of time outdoors and doing things together and had fun, but we would also argue, get mad at each other, fight occasionally, do dumb things and, occasionally, smart things. In other words, we were brothers. I remember getting in trouble in elementary school because a teacher said something about my brother, and I defended him and was sent to the principal’s office. I could pick on my brother but no one else could! I was always such a role model for my brother and he always kept getting me in trouble 😉! Anyway… It was spring and our paths through the woods had ruts from the tractor that we used to haul sap from the maple trees. We were working to smooth the paths. Dad was on one tractor and I was on another tractor, and my brother was removing big rocks, branches, etc. We had been ... Read More »

May 22, 2020

Yesterday got me reminiscing. I had put this off for a long time, but I had built up the courage to do it… so yesterday we purchased two funeral plots in a little slice of heaven called Eidsvold, Wisconsin. It is where the Starks family first settled when they came to Wisconsin and we have family interned there. It is a beautiful, rural cemetery. The caretaker met me and as I was talking to the gentleman about cemetery plots, my phone rang. “Do you need to get that?” I looked at it, ignored it and continued talking. He must have noticed the strange look on my face, because he said it was ok if I wanted to take the phone call. I said, “No, it was the funeral home back home, I will call them later.” He had this look like “is there something you should be telling me.” (Note: It was about a funeral but not mine.) I explained that I was a pastor and we both agreed that it was eerie that the call came in just at that time. Just for the record, I am not ready ... Read More »

May 21, 2020

Please post on FB and Web. Thank you. I am going to be crucified, help! After the devotion yesterday, I was reminded that I had worn a crown… and it hurt! Zion UMC and Norlina UMC decided to do Easter Passion Play. I was excited about helping with it and then my exuberance dropped as I was asked to play the part of Jesus. The practices went well and were a lot of fun, but I had my doubts and a lot of questions about how they were going to crucify me. We practiced: they tied my hands to the cross, and I stood on a little board, hoping not to slip and fall. They then placed a crown of thorns on my head. The hard part was the Roman centurions having to lift me up and put the cross in place. It was a delicate, balancing act. Now I am a large person and the Roman centurions were also large and very, very strong. They really looked like battle-scarred Roman soldiers. The day of the Passion Play came, and all went well until the crucifixion. They tied my hands, ... Read More »

May 20, 2020

I have always loved theater. When I taught High School, I even had the opportunity to direct a play, it went well, and it was a great experience. I also built sets for the High School plays, Henderson Rec Players and other theater groups and thoroughly enjoyed it. But there was one particular year that everything changed. I was told that my favorite play, Fiddler on the Roof, would be done by Granville Little Theater. I was so excited and looked forward to helping build the set. But before that time came, I got a visit from Mr. Adams, a regular and talented performer in local theater. He said, “Bud, it’s time you come from backstage and get on stage.” “Not going to happen, Mr. Adams! I don’t sing, I don’t dance, and I can’t act! It will never happen!” Never say never 😉! He talked me into it, and I went to the audition. To make a long story short, I got a part as Mordcha the Innkeeper (Mr. Adams was Tevye). It was a lot of hard work, long hours, a lot of mistakes and re-dos but it ... Read More »

May 19, 2020

Several years ago, I was bowhunting with my uncle, brother, cousin, and his son. We camped for a few days and hunted up by Winter, Wisconsin, and the Chequamegon National Forest. I had set up a ground blind the night before and got up early (dark outside) to walk back to the ground blind. I was walking along when my flashlight caught eyes. I froze and looked at the deer. It was not a deer; eyes were too high. Oh no, a bear! No, not a bear… a wolf! It growled and I started shaking. Now my first thought was to run…. that is right, I can outrun a wolf 😉! Show no fear, I got this! Show no fear, I prayed, God’s got this. My knife was in my backpack, my bow was at my side (did not want to make a quick movement with my bow) and a little, bright LED flashlight in my hand. (At this point, I was wishing it were a light saber and then there would be no issue.) My next thought was to stand on one foot like the Karate Kid, knowing that ... Read More »

May 18, 2020

I have many great memories of my grandparent’s farms. There was always something to do, whether it be work or play. One of the things that intrigued me on my grandparents Starks farm was a blacksmith shop. It had a lot of cool things and who knows how many horseshoes and tools were forged and fixed in the shop. I also recall that in the shop there was a large wooden block and on top of that was an anvil. As a child, I vaguely remember only my Grandpa and a couple of neighbors being able to move that anvil. My goal was that one day I would be strong enough to lift that anvil! “On God’s anvil. Perhaps you’ve been there. Melted down. Formless. Undone. Placed on the anvil for… reshaping? (A few rough edges too many.) Testing? (But why so hard?) I know. I’ve been on it. It’s rough. It’s a spiritual slump, a famine. The fire goes out. Although the fire may flame for a moment, it soon disappears. We drift downward. Downward into the foggy valley of question, the misty lowland of discouragement. Motivation wanes. Desire ... Read More »

May 17, 2020

The judge said: “Mr. Budzinski, I am sentencing you to 8 years in prison. However, if you do what you are told, behave, and seek to improve, I do not believe you will be there that long.” I understood the first part about the sentencing and what to do but had no idea what he meant by the second part. I thought 8 years would be 8 years, 8 tough years for someone who loved the outdoors as much as I did. What am I gong to do to pass the time? 8 long years. I did not know what to expect. It would be a long time in a confined space. After a month or so, I was so bored. Then I was assigned a prison job and that helped. Then a counselor suggested I apply to UW-Green Bay and take classes (the professors came to the prison). I was accepted and I worked in the morning, went to class in the afternoon and studied at night and the time went by faster. It was still tough, still long but I knew I was working toward improving. God took ... Read More »

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