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“Uncloudy Day”

Just a few thoughts today as lately I have been thinking a lot (which is always scary). I got in my pickup yesterday and ol’ Willie was singing “Uncloudy Day”, one of my favorite gospel songs. Lately we have had a lot of cloudy days and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. How are you handling it? Do you remember Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh? Watching and listening to Eeyore usually made me as depressed as he was. He always had a bleak outlook on life, and never felt any positive emotions like happiness and excitement. I remember one conversation after Eeyore had lost his tail and then got a new one. Winnie the Pooh asks: “So, are you finally happy, Eeyore?” Eeyore answers: “No, but I sure do like this new tail.” “Weary is a weighty word. It brings to mind heavy eyelids and aching joints, the worn out faces of those who have been borne too much. To be truly weary is a state of both body and soul. The women’s swollen face after she’s cried all that she can cry. The burned-out man collapsing on ... Read More »

What Does Freedom Mean to You?

What does freedom mean to you? Freedom can mean so many things and can mean something different for each person. It can be physically being in handcuffs or leg cuffs and finally getting them off, it can mean getting out of a toxic relationship, a bad work situation … the list can go on and on. Sometimes you forget about being in shackles or being imprisoned or walls seemingly closing in on you. The other day I heard Branded Man by Merle Haggard (who was also in prison and turned his life around). Part of the lyrics go like this: “When they let me out of prison, I held my head up high, determined I would rise above the shame. But no matter where I travel, the black mark follows me, I’m branded with a number on my name.” Wow, hearing that song brought back a lot of memories! A little while later I hear another favorite, L.A. Freeway. The song was written by Guy Clark and made popular by Jerry Jeff Walker. Part of the lyrics go like this: “If I can just get off of this L.A. freeway ... Read More »

Jesus comes down into the mud of life with us and loves us, even with all that stuff sticking to us.

I enjoy driving my ATV around the farm and beyond but sometimes do not make the best decisions, even though it seems like a fun idea at the time. It was a very wet spring and I decided to drive along some paths that were quite wet and muddy. However, I didn’t realize how muddy and I buried the ATV. I got off and sunk even deeper. I was soaked covered with mud and soon was miserable. There was no one around to help, a long way back to the farm house, what was I going to do? “From age eleven I lived full-time with my older sister Ami. In an effort to keep me out of trouble during the summer, she found a sleep-away summer camp that would get me out of town for ten weeks in June, July and August. By God’s grace and the generosity of owners, I was given a full scholarship to attend this camp, which was all sports, all the time. As amazing as it sounded, I was deeply nervous about attending. The camp was in a town called Naples, Maine. I have so ... Read More »

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 »

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