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If you want to change your life – really change – look up!

The other day I saw a video of a person walking into a light post and it knocked them to the ground. I hope they are all right. Why did they walk into the light post? Because they were focusing on their smartphone and oblivious to everything around them. When I was younger, the higher the tree stand I was in the better it was. As I have gotten older, I do not go as high in the tree. When you are up that high, the deer do not see you or scent you as much. Over the years, it has amazed me how much animals and people have walked pass me, having no idea that there was a person above them. I have seen so many great things happen when animals do not realize there is a person around. You get to see nature at its best. How many times do we get focused on our problems that we are oblivious to what is going on around us? So focused on our anxieties and worries that we forget that God promises to be with us and promised us the ... Read More »

“There ain’t no good chain gang …”

I was driving down the road the other day, listening to tunes and pondering life when these two songs came on, back-to-back.  The first song: “Breakin’ rocks in the hot sun, I fought the law and the law won. I fought the law and the law won…”  The second song:  A young cowboy named Billy Joe grew restless on the farm, a boy filled with wanderlust who really meant no harm.  He changed his clothes and shined his boots and combed his dark hair down, and his mother cried as he walked out “Don’t take your guns to town, son, leave your guns at home, Bill.  Don’t take your guns to town.”  I have to tell you; I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  It brought back memories but also made me reflect on life (been doing a lot of that lately). Talking about memories, if you ever were through the Central Wisconsin area (around Black River Falls) in the early 80’s, you would have witnessed my work (and others).  As part of being incarcerated at the Black River Falls Correctional Institution, one of the jobs was to prune dead ... Read More »

Today I am emerging from the fog …

I woke up in a fog the other day and had been in one ever since.  Have you ever been in a dense fog?  I have been in a few dense fogs, especially in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the mountains of Costa Rica and the Cloud Forests of Costa Rica.  But the worst fog I have ever experienced came on our farm.  I had come back from North Carolina to do some deer hunting on the home place.  This particular day I was hunting on our neighbor’s land (I had permission) and the rain started coming down.  There was snow on the ground, and it was starting to get dusk and I was probably ¾ of a mile from the house.  Visibility was starting to get poor so I thought I would head in early … but it wasn’t early enough.  The fog came in strong and thick, and I couldn’t see but a few feet ahead of me.  Nothing looked familiar and was not sure what direction I was going.  I finally found the creek that goes through the back of our property but wasn’t sure which way to ... Read More »

My Life Was Saved By A Smile ….

I was going through some old journals and came across this story that a friend had shared with me when I was about to be transferred from the hospital to County Jail (and eventually prison). It is also a belated Valentine’s devotional and a reminder of how, during this Lenten season, we can seek to change. But will we? “Many Americans are familiar with The Little Prince, a wonderful book by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. This is a whimsical and fabulous book and works as a children’s story as well as a thought-provoking adult fable. Far fewer are aware of Saint-Exupery’s other writings, novels and short stories. Saint-Exupery was a fighter pilot who fought against the Nazis and was killed in action. Before World War II, he fought in the Spanish Civil War against the fascists. He wrote a fascinating story based on that experience entitled “The Smile” (Le Sourire). He said that he was captured by the enemy and thrown into a jail cell. He was sure that from the contemptuous looks and rough treatment he received from his jailers he would be executed the next day. ‘I was sure ... Read More »

Then we saw them, Monkeys…

I love going on workteams and especially love the workteams I have been on to Costa Rica. I have made so many friends, both from Costa Rica and workteam members. I have had great experiences and our missions and travels to Costa Rica even led our oldest daughter to pursue a career in International Relations. On this particular workteam, we were helping to build a church and other buildings. Some of the group worked on building the foundation for the church while a few of us were assigned to clear an area to build a bano (bathroom) for the church and to build a wall for the complex. We were handed machetes and shovels and told to clear the area so that we could dig down to lay the foundation. We began clearing and the first day went well. We felt like we had accomplished a lot but there was much more to do. We came back the next morning, ready to clear some more brush, vines, etc. and do some digging. About mid-morning we took a break, sitting on the ground or against a tree, when one of the ... Read More »

We need rain to grow …

I have always liked the rain.  I like listening to it rain, I like thunderstorms, I like the smell after it rains.   I have jumped in puddles after a rain (yes, even as an adult).  I like watching a garden and crops grow.  I like rain.  We need rain to grow… “The world was better without umbrellas.  I don’t know when or where it became a necessity for us to shield ourselves from the rain, to block downward movement.  I hear dozens of mother and father figures reminding me that without my umbrella I could catch a cold.  I know, I know.  But the little boy in me still wants to run free and uncovered, with rain falling down onto my head and with water splashing up from the puddles that I absolutely must jump into. Rain is different than ponds and rivers and oceans.  Rain can fly.  And we can too. We can fly.  We can fly, but we cannot become the Rain.  We can only become one drop sent from the Great Cloud above down to the earth to make things grow.  To fill up ponds and ... Read More »

“Get busy living or get busy dying.”

We have a choice. Pastor Bud I could see the angelic, pale face looking down upon me. She looked sad and I could see fear in her eyes. I should have taken it as a warning… All of a sudden, I got hit from behind and it jolted me so hard I thought I was broken in half. Then someone hit me from the right side and I could see stars. Thoughts raced through my head… would I survive? My life passed before my eyes. The next shot I saw coming and I tried to avoid it but to no avail. My whole body shook. I no longer had control. I could not turn, I could not back up, I could not go forward. I could not steer my way out of this so, I raised my hands, pulled the red flag and surrendered. Lori and I had gone home to Thorp for the 4th of July and went to the Demolition Derby. We walked into the pits to see my brother who had prepared a couple of cars for the Derby. He saw me coming and came up and ... Read More »

A few observations, meanderings, thoughts, ponderings, etc. …

This article came about because I got smacked.  Not just a tap, but a body shaking smack. I am tired.  I am exhausted, maybe even a little overwhelmed.  Life is not supposed to be like this.  I recently officiated a graveside for a precious child who was with us for just a short time.  So hard and you ask why?  I am tired of people yelling at each other and being rude to each other.  Whatever happened to respect?  Patience?  Care?  Compassion? Kindness?  Why is there so much hatred?  People are so lonely, that is something we are seeing a lot of.  Folks are finding out that they are more social than they thought they were.  People need contact with people that are outside the home. We must be honest; we are a social people!  Hugs, handshakes, face to face conversations – that is who we are.  I know it is a frustrating time but remember there is always hope.  There is always hope. I remember this excerpt from Soul Fuel: “How difficult our situations may be – however much trouble we are facing in life – there can always ... Read More »

“I’m just a poor boy, nobody loves me…”

I enjoy visiting our older daughter and son-in-law in Washington, DC (however, this Country Boy would not want to live there).  There is always so much to see and do and so much history.  We have ridden the Metro (subway) a lot because it is a very affordable and efficient way to get around the area (trying to find a parking space in DC is nerve-wracking).  There are some very long escalators to ride to take you down to and up from the Metro and the tunnels are hollow sounding and, for the most part, quiet.  Thus, I created something to do while riding the escalators.  One day, on a whim, I started singing (not that loud I thought): “I’m just a poor boy, nobody loves me” (Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody).  It was louder than I thought, and people were staring at me and my wife and daughters moved up on the escalator because they were so embarrassed, which made it even better!  I did this several different times during visits and then one time I sang it: “I’m just a poor boy, nobody loves me…”  And it happened.  Someone on ... Read More »

“The Devil Went Down to Georgia …”

“The devil went down to Georgia (Wisconsin, North Carolina, wherever you are), he was looking for a soul to steal…”  A line from one of my favorite Charlie Daniels songs and one of my top songs ever.  In addition, a couple of my favorite Charlie Daniels quotes are:  “I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ… if I can’t take him with me, I don’t want to go” and “I don’t want to go anywhere where Jesus can’t go.” Some 14 years ago, I stood watching my university students file into the classroom for the opening session in my ‘Theology of Faith’ class.  That was the first day I saw Tommy.  He was combing his long flaxen hair, which hung six inches below his shoulders.  I know what’s in your head, not on it, that counts; but at that time, I was unprepared for Tommy and wrote him off as strange – very strange.  Tommy turned out to the atheist in residence in my course.  He constantly objected to or smirked at the possibility of an unconditionally loving God.  We lived in relative peace for one semester, although at ... Read More »

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