Help Us Help Others

Help Us Help Others
Chaplaincy Clark County

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas everyone

Good morning,
I pray the day is finding you well.

We had a wonderful communion service last night.

We transformed the YMCA Gym into a sacred space. The theme was to be relaxed and casual. We music, thank you Kaleb and Jessi. We had the elements set up and prayer stations which we manned. People would come in, listen to the music, when they were ready they would come sit with us at a station. We would administer the elements and then pray with and over them. The service was supposed to last until 6pm. It lasted until 7:30pm.

People just kept coming.

Chirstmas is a funny season.

It heightens our senses.

When life is going well, Christmas is a very joyous season.

When life has turmoil, Christmas can be rather tough.

I am amazed at the number of people that are having a tough time.

I am also amazed how the simple act of prayer can lift peoples hearts.

I am humbled to be part of Christs redemptive work, giving me the opportunity to show people His love and His desire for their lives.

As beautiful as last nights service was, I cannot get over the feeling of, "What if we had not had a service at our YMCA?" I know that some of these people would have gone to a church. I also know that many of these people would not have gone to a church, for whatever reason.

This is the time when we focus on the birth of Christ. A time when, "The word became flesh and made His dwelling among us." (John 1:14)

It is a time to remember that God loves us so much that He sent His only begotten Son so that we may have eternal life.

That is a great big Love. A love that we cannot even wrap our minds around.

During this season whether life, at the moment, is going great or you are having a tough time; remember these things.

God loves you.

Christ is with you.

Christ is the reason for the season.

Merry Christmas everyone & amy the blessing of God dwell in you richly.

Roger

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I cleaned my office, almost!

Good morning,
I pray the day is finding you well.

I have been on the run since Thanksgiving.

My office has literally become a place to dump stuff as I go from one thing to another.

We, the YMCA, have partnered with the Salvation Army and placed a Christmas "Giving Tree" in our lobby. The Staff and members really outdid themselves this year and the lobby began to overflow with gifts. This meant that gifts started to pile up in my office. The other morning I came into the "Y" to find my door open and a little red wagon sticking out the doorway. I had to move the little red wagon just to get through the door.

Norm, Zac (One of our staff's kid) and I loaded three carloads, and when I say car loads I mean carloads, not little cars but station-wagons and suv's full of gifts. Over 200 kids will get Christmas this year because of the generosity of our staff and members.

I could see the floor of my office again.

After a mid evening meeting I came back to the "Y" with the intention of getting my office back.

The "Y" was a buzz with activity as usual, but the usual suspects that usually take time away from "admin stuff" were not there. It would be a good time for me to clean.

I had been cleaning for about ten minutes when the Welcome Center brought me a family.

Christina, one of the Welcome Center staff offered to watch the kids as I spoke with the mom.

Heather (not her real name), is at her wits end. She is a single mother of three boys, ages 9, 8, and 6 years-old. She has had a rough life. She has been homeless in the past. She has been working very hard to get her life together. She recently graduated from college. She lost her job and will be evicted soon.

It is Christmas.

This is a terrible time of year for things like this to happen, as if there is a good time of year for this kind of thing to happen.

I listened to her talk.

I watched tears come to her eyes as she lamented her situation.

I watched her tremble as she thought about the future.

I prayed with her, and over her and her family.

I then started emailing my resources.

I contacted Sharon.

I contacted Darcy.

I gave Heather contact information.

Heather and I talked some more as Christina played with Heather's kids.

I prayed with Heather again and said that I would be in touch.

Needless to say I did not get my office cleaned that night. As usual it would have to wait for a quieter time.

The funny thing about Christ is that He usually throws a monkey-wrench into the plans that I make. It seems that He has other plans. I guess that is why He is the boss.

I continue to pray for Heather and her family as I work to find a job for her.

I have faith that she will come out of this intact. I will continue to work with her to help her heal and become whole.

I am told that Christmas is a time for miracles, but I have found that miracles don't just happen at Christmas, they happen all year long.

We just need to eyes to see them.

My prayer is that we not only have eyes to see miracles all year-round but have the eyes to see the possibility of a miracle, and the courage to act on this possibility.

Blessings,



Update on Grampa Jim

Good morning,
I pray the day is finding you well.

Many of you have been asking about Jim. I apologize for not posting earlier, it has been a whirlwind couple of days.

Grampa Jim is fine.

The storm abated. They were able to transfer him to Minneapolis. He had his surgery and is recovering nicely. Thank you all for your prayers. It is a Christmas miracle.

Have a Merry Christmas.

Blessings,

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Good morning,
I pray the day is finding you well.

Today I am asking for prayer.

My father-in-law, Jim, went in for a routine angiogram and during the angiogram it was discovered that he had 95% blockage to his heart. They are trying to rush him to Rochester or Minneapolis. There is a blizzard going on that is causing quite a delay.

Laurie and I are nervous.

Please pray for:

1. A safe trip.
2. That God guides the hands of the surgeon.
3. That Jim has a quick recovery.
4. The presence of Christ to all the family members as they are living an anxious time.

Please pray for those things that I have failed to mention.

Thank you and God Bless you.

Roger

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tis the Season

Good morning,
I pray the day is finding you well.

‘Tis the season.

I often wonder about this term. Why in the world would we have a season for giving? Why not give all year long?

But alas, ‘tis the season.

As usual in our YMCA, it starts with a conversation. Someone, somewhere, comes into relationship with one of our family and because our family cares about people, a conversation ensues.

Many times, it is face to face.

Sometimes it is an email.

Hi Eddie,

I received a call from L___ L_____ (a member) asking if we could provide a temporary membership for a family she’s helping through sharehouse. It’s a single mom and 3 kids (14,8,5); the father was killed in a car accident last year. They had been living in her car until recently, they are now in temporary housing. Could we perhaps find a way to provide a month’s membership for Lynn to include in their Christmas?

Thanks!

Sarah Greene
Membership Services Supervisor

Clark County Family YMCA
11324 NE 51st Circle
Vancouver, WA 98682

So, the conversation starts.

From: White, Eddie
Sent: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 7:24 AM
To: Greene, Sarah
Subject: RE: Sharehouse request for temporary membership

I don’t have an issue with this we just need to make sure we capture the story.

Thanks,

Eddie White
Executive Director

Clark County Family YMCA
11324 NE 51st Circle
Vancouver, WA 98682

As you can probably guess, I am the “Story capturer.”

Of course Eddie did not have an issue with helping a family in need, he is Eddie of course. A man who loves Christ, and through his love has grown to be a person who loves others.

But why do we do these things? Things that do not help our bottom line or that seemingly have no benefit to us?

We are the “Y”, that’s why.

One of the things that one quickly realizes when one studies the history of the YMCA is that we (the YMCA) are not in competition with anybody.

One of the things that one quickly realizes when one studies the history of the YMCA is that we (the YMCA) do not compete, we fill niche voids.

There is only one reason that we started having pools in our “Y’s”. It was because kids were drowning in rivers, ponds, and lakes. There was a void that needed filling. Kids needed to learn how to swim so they would not die in rivers, ponds, and lakes.

There is only one reason that we started having gyms in our “Y’s”. Positive activities during people’s “free” time was needed.

There is only one reason that we started housing people. As social institutes started having problems in this area, the YMCA was there to fill the void.

There is only one reason the “Y” has childcare. It is because there was a void, and we are doing our best to fill it.

Most people have no idea what it is that we really do.

I do know who does know though.

One of our staff’s husband works for a big box gym. He was at a meeting in which a suit came in from corporate. This is what the suit said, “We are about profits, people. We are about ROI. We are about the bottom line. If you care about people, go to work for the YMCA.”

I could not have said it better myself.

We care about people.

We care about you.

We do not compete.

We fill niche voids.

This family had a series of horrific things happen to them, something that we seem to be inundated with lately, horrific things happening to people.

They had a void that needed filling.

I thank God that we were able to fill this void.

‘Tis the season.

For us in the YMCA our season lasts for more than a month or two.

We measure our season in years.

When I think of Christ, I think that He measures seasons in years too; actually He measures seasons in eternal measurements.

Can we extend our season too?

Blessings,

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Land of Misfit Toys

Good morning,
I pray the day is finding you well.
This morning was just another morning at our YMCA.

The giving tree tags arrived, this sent Norm and I on the annual, “Where did we put our Christmas tree?” hunt. We eventually found it, cleared an area in the Welcome Center space, and started putting the pretend Christmas tree together. It was the usual affair; setting it up, getting everything just right, finding out that the top half of the tree is not lit, finding the problem, fixing the problem, patting each other on the back for our obvious mechanical electrical skills, realizing that we still have to put the skirt around the tree, crawling around on the floor getting the skirt “just right”, realizing that the tree is not in the right spot, moving the tree, crawling around on the floor again getting the skirt “just right” again, placing the “giving tags” on the tree, and watched the tags start to disappear.
Carlos’ Thanksgiving meal created a buzz with the staff.

We started talking about how fun it would be to open the YMCA to others on Thanksgiving and feeding those that have no place to go for Thanksgiving. Did I mention we have a wonderful Family here at the “Y”.

I am reminded of the Christmas story when Buddy the Elf is looking for his family. He comes to a place where all these toys live. They are not perfect toys and for whatever reason have been discarded. It is the land of misfit toys. The thing about these toys is that they know that they are not perfect and through their imperfections they exude love and respect to those they encounter. Eddie, our E.D. dais one day, “We are just a bunch of misfit toys.” We know we are not perfect, we are working on our stuff as we help others.

I am reminded of something the Apostle Paul once said to another bunch of misfit toys:

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:1-2)

And this is what he meant:

12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:12-17)

I for one am glad that I am a misfit toy living and working with a bunch of mist toys.

Blessings,

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Thanksgiving meal

Good morning,
I pray the day is finding you well.

It is Sunday morning, Laurie and I returned from our parent's house late last night.

We have had a whirl wind last few days. Every Thanksgiving we go down to southern Oregon to visit my mother and father, spending time talking, walking the beaches, and reconnecting; it is always a good time. The round trip is a smidge over 600 miles. I had taken Wednesday off to get ready for the trip. I only had a couple of things to do at the YMCA wednesday.

I got up, went to a meeting and then went into the "Y".

I have been working with a family whose 12 year-old daughter has cancer; she is terminal, they have already amputated her right leg and she is in hospice care at home. When she got sick, her mother could not take it and left; leaving her husband with a 12 year-old, a 9 year-old, and a 1 year-old. He is devastated on many fronts.

I had just finished talking with the father and making sure that this family would be ok while I was gone for a few days when the Welcome Center staff came into my office with a dilemma. Carlos, a developmentally delayed man whose mother had just died a couple of months ago had nowhere to go for Thanksgiving. Carlos has been doing a good job of being a grown-up since his mother's death. We helped him get into subsidized housing, something he could afford, and he has been managing his finances well. He comes into the YMCA everyday and spends time with us.

The Welcome Center staff does an amazing job of connecting with our members and Carlos is no exception. They asked him what he was doing for Thanksgiving and he replied, "Nothing, I have nowhere to go for Thanksgiving." Then in true Carlos fashion, he turned and went upstairs to walk on the treadmill. The staff comes to me, recounts the interaction and asks, "What do we do?" It would have been easy to say, "We are all busy, and while this is not going to be a good day for Carlos, what can we do?"

But we didn't. We did some quick thinking, and decided to have Thanksgiving at the YMCA with Carlos. The "Y" would be open from 7am-1pm on Thanksgiving. First, I had to see if Carlos thought this would be a good idea.

I went upstairs and asked Carlos, "Would you like to come to the "Y" tomorrow and have Thanksgiving here?" He said, "Yes." I asked him, "Do you like Turkey?" He said, "Yes." I asked him, "Do you like rolls?" He said, "Yes." I asked him, "Do you like mashed potatoes and gravy?" He said, "I like mashed potatoes, but not gravy."

I ordered a turkey dinner from a local store, had it ready to pick up at 10am on Thanksgiving, Eddie said he could pick it up, and the staff would share a meal with Carlos on Thanksgiving.

I left the YMCA around noon.

As I sit here this morning, getting ready for church, thinking about what I am thankful for; I am thankful for a bunch of people that look at life with Jesus glasses on. I am thankful for a group of people that think of others and have compassion. I am thankful for the YMCA.

When I have my quiet time with Christ in the mornings, He will nudge me with things. This morning He is nudging me to tell the YMCA team at the Clark County Family YMCA that He is pleased. He is also nudging me to let them know that the work is important and there are others that will need us, others that we do not even know yet. How do we make Christ happy? One acted of Love at a time.

Of all the things I am thankful for I am most thankful for the Love Christ has shown me.

Blessings,

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Listening

Good morning,
I pray the day is finding you well.

I am sitting at a small table in a cabin house in North Carolina; more specifically, I am at the Blue Ridge Assembly at Black Mountain North Carolina. Blue Ridge Assembly is a YMCA retreat center built in 1906, and is quite a beautiful place. I am here with a number of other YMCA people learning how others have put on CLC's, CLC stands for Christian Leadership Conference.

I have been listening to people.

I have been listening to people talk about the difficulties they have been having getting people to come to CLC's. As I listened, it appears to be that people's lives have become to busy. They have so many things on their plate that they have to make a choice, but that is nothing new to us, life is busy, and we do have to decide where we want to spend our time; it comes down to priorities.

I have been listening to people.

I have been listening to people talk about Post-Christian culture / Pre-Christian Culture; those that have either decided that Christianity is irrelevant, for whatever reason; be it that they find the message not compelling, or have been hurt by the words spoken by Christians; or they have not heard of Christ at all.

I have been listening to people.

I like to listen to people, there is so much I can learn from listening.

I am reminded of something my father said. He said, "If your mouth is open you aren't learning anything." I often wonder what I missed learning about merely because I had something to say.

The Bible verse that the YMCA uses is John 17:21.
that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. (John 17:21 NKJV)

The first thing that I notice when I look at this verse is that it starts in the middle of a sentence; this causes me to wonder what the other part of the sentence says. It is like I have not heard all of what Christ was saying, as if I was not doing a good job listening. This wonderment causes me to look at what was said before, this is what it says.

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; (John 17:20 NKJV)

Jesus had just finished praying for His Disciples (I do not pray for these alone), and began praying for the rest of the world (but also for those who will believe in Me through their word).

"Through their word" haunts me.

If people have heard words from those that claim His name and because of these words have turned away, that is a very sad thing. I wonder what words people are using?

I have been listening to people.

I wonder what it would look like if we actually listened to people before we used words.

I wonder if more people would come to CLC's if we listened to people before we said something.

I wonder.

Blessings,

Monday, October 15, 2012

There was a Collision Saturday night

Good morning,
I pray the day is finding you well.

We held a Collision event Saturday night.

You might be asking yourself, "What is a Collision event?"

A Collision event is where teens collide with the Risen Christ.

We held the event at our YMCA.

It is quite an event actually. We set up a game room in the community room, this is a room that has all different types of video games; it is also a place where the kids eat pizza. We have a girls only room set up in our fun club room. It is a place where the girls can go and have conversations. The room comes complete with a chocolate fountain, the girls love having this space. We played basketball, volleyball, dodge ball; we even had a paint wall out back. We had a worship concert; not just nay worship concert but one with a well-known Christian band.

149 kids showed up for Collision.

This was our third Collision event.

45 kids showed up at our first Collision.

92 kids showed up at our second Collision.

149 kids showed up at this Collision.

The climax of the night we ask the kids to make a decision.

At our first Collision we had 15 kids make a decision for Christ.

At our second Collision we had 34 kids make a decision for Christ.

42 kids made a decision for Christ Saturday night.

In the last year, we had 286 kids come to Collision.

In the last year, we had 91 kids comes into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

91 kids whose lives are forever changed.

After the event, Brandon; the pastor of Rhapsody Church, and my partner in ministry at the YMCA said, "Roger, 10 years ago would you have ever thought 91 kids would have been saved in a YMCA gymnasium?" I answered 10 years ago, the pastors used to call us the YMA, there was no “C” in it. Today is a different story. We are known as the YMCA.

I am reminded of a song; it goes like this.

Come away with me, come away
It's never too late,
it's never too late,
it's not too late for you.

I have a plan for you,
I have a plan.
It's going to be wild,
it's going to be great,
it's going to be full of me

As I look back at our Saturday night at the YMCA, Two verses comes to mind.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. (Revelation 22:17

All we did Saturday night was set the table and invite teens to join us, Christ did the rest.

I just wanted to share this with you.
Blessings,

Friday, October 12, 2012

Oh, the possibilities

Good morning,
I pray the day is finding you well.

The days are turning cooler and the leaves are turning brighter, fall is definitely in the air. Fall is here, and fall always reminds me of football.

Back home in Kansas I always looked forward to fall. Yes, it meant that football season was upon us; but truth be told, what I really enjoyed was school. School meant that I would get to see all my friends again. As fun as summer always was, school was were we would all get together, catch up on life, and look forward to the things ahead.

I still think about school and all the things that went on there.

Our YMCA is getting ready for an expansion, one that will include a new lap pool, indoor track, more program space...what I am most excited about is the multipurpose room. The multi-purpose room is a space that will be multi-purposed...duh. The portion of the multi-purpose that I am most excited about is the fact that we will have a stage, complete with a sound system and plenty of storage. It will give us the opportunity to hold Sunday services while the YMCA is open for operation since we will no longer need to haul everything in and out of the gym. We will have a projector and big screen so that we can have family movie nights. We will have the ability to hold regional trainings and for the schools to use for a variety of functions.

Along with everything else that we are doing the multi-purpose room will create a space were the entire community can come, utilize the space, and at the same time get a chance to see the "Y" staff being in right relationship with other members that call the YMCA their home.

It is a funny thing; I get the same feeling when I walk into the YMCA as I did when I walked into school growing up. I get excited to see many friendly faces, and I get excited for the the things that I do not even know will happen that day.

As the weekend draws near I still get excited about football. I just don't suite up anymore. I have traded pads and cleats for chips and salsa; which reminds me I better start working out before I gain anymore weight; If I gain anymore weight I will have to move to a planet with less gravity.

Not your normal daily bread, but I just had to tell you about our YMCA.

Blessings,

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Windshield of life

Good morning,
I pray the day is finding you well.

I haven't talked with you for a while and I apologize.

We finally closed on our house, a process that seemed to go on for much too long. We had hoped that the closing process would have gone much more quickly, but looking back, I for one, am glad that the process took the time it did. During this process we became friends with the sellers and a relationship was built. The sellers are a group of four girls. They had inherited the house after their father had passed away; they had hoped for a quick sale, this process was hard for them as well.

Laurie and I, when we decided to relocate to Vancouver, had come to the decision after much prayer and reflection that we wanted a home that would also serve as a place where people could come and find "space to breath." We must have looked at over 70 homes before we found such a place. After months of looking we found an old home that had not been lived in for a time; it had great bones but needed work. We put an offer in on the house and it was accepted.

This is were the real journey begins.

At first, the realtors were doing all the communicating, but as time went on the sellers and the buyers (Laurie and I) started communicating; first over email and then over the phone.

A friendship started to emerge.

We started to reassure each other that, while the process is taking longer than any of us want it to take, we knew this was the right thing for everyone and that God was in the middle of it. There where times when Laurie and I would ask the question, "Are we sitting in the middle of God's will or have we stepped outside of His will for want of the house?" Each time we would receive the answer, "No, you are doing what I have asked, be patient." When I would talk with Caryn (one of the sisters who was in charge of selling the house) she would echo the same.

After we closed on the house, the girls asked if they could come out and spend some time with us, and see the house that they once called home. Laurie and I were excited to see them and put faces to the voices on the phone. We set a date and waited for the Rader girls.

It was a Sunday afternoon when Caryn, Cathy, Camille, and Christine came to the house. We started by walking through the entire house and the girls reminiscing about growing up in what is now Laurie and my home. After the tour, we sat and started to talk.

The girls told us how two years before Laurie and I ever thought about moving they had come together and prayed for just the right people to buy their home. They did not want "just anybody" to buy their home, but they prayed that God would bring someone that would steward the house and use it for a greater purpose. When Laurie and I told them that we have already had people out to sit by the river, and take time to breath. That this has already been a place where people can find a thin place to Christ and God; they knew that they had been faithful to what God had called them to be.

They recounted the good times, they recounted the sad times. Laurie and I sat and listened while they talked about their lives and the struggles they had faced.

We broke bread together, we laughed together, we shared words of encouragement.

They asked if we had a place for their grandmother's piano, they wanted it to come home. We showed them where we would place it and asked if they approved; they said that the place we had chosen would be perfect.

We talked about having a bench in the back yard, by the river, with a plaque that would read something like, "Gordon loved it here."

We talked about how this is not just Laurie and my home, but that the Rader home will always be here, we are merely stewards.

When they went to leave, a short five and one half hours later, we hugged each other. Caryn and I made plans for me to meet her son Matthew who after a long struggle is nearing the end of his time here on earth. Caryn asked if I would preside over his celebration of life when he passes, I said I would be honored.

I can never see God's plan as I look through the windshield of life. It is only when I glance in the rearview mirror that I get to see what He is up to. Unfortunately, if I look to long in the rearview mirror I run the risk of crashing the car of life. I am forced to look through the windshield and thus live in the mystery.

I for one, thank God for bringing the Rader girls into our lives.

God is good.

Blessings,

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cleaning a pool is a lot like cleaning one's life

Good morning,
I pray the day is finding you well.

Labor Day Weekend, a weekend spent with family.

Labor Day Weekend is a weekend that, just like many american's Laurie and I spend with family. Laurie's family in Minnesota is some 2000 miles away; My parents are some 250 miles away; our kids spent the weekend at Camp Collins, one set of kids could not get the weekend off so they were out of the "getting together" mix.

Lucky for us we have another set of family right here in Vancouver, we have our YMCA family.

Labor Day Weekend is also a time when we at our YMCA close the facility for a much needed touchup; we drain the pool, paint, move the weight equipment and clean, we go through the locker rooms with a deep clean...I think you get the picture that we use this time to create the best space for the people that call our YMCA home.

The "Y" family is a good family, we worry about one another, we cry together, we laugh together, we work together.

My job was scraping.

More aptly I was given the task of scraping the calcium buildup off the tiles in the pool.

I quickly found that this was not an easy task; calcium is hard, it gets harder than a rock. Well that is not exactly right, it is as hard as rock. It is a mineral after all minerals a rocks, so I guess I should say that calcium is as hard as a rock.

So there I am scraping calcium off the tiles in the pool, and I start thinking.

I start to think about all those milk commercials, "Calcium builds strong bones." I laugh as I lay on my stomach reaching over the side of the pool scraping. Strong bones, and nearly impossible to scrape off a tile.

Eddie, our Executive Director is scraping tiles too. We start to talk about how there has to be a better way.

I am not a chemist so I really do not know if calcium is soluble or if it is insoluble simply suspended in liquid; it does not really matter. I do know that it does come into the pool in minute form and then continues to bond to the tile and itself until it becomes this hard rocky thing on the tiles in the pool.

If we could figure out some preventative maintenance and get to the buildup before it becomes a buildup, getting rid of the calcium would be much quicker and easier.

I am laying there scraping.

I start to think about "sin."

I start to think how "sin" and calcium buildup are related; no I am not calling calcium sinful, nor am I calling calcium buildup sinful. I am laying there scraping calcium, thinking about the similarity between "sin" and calcium buildup.

Sin starts small. Sin starts with a thought. A decision is made and sin becomes an action. If left uncorrected this “sin” can then become imbedded in a person's life. The longer a person allows a sinful action to be part of their life, the harder it becomes to remove this "sin." If left long enough this "sin" can become as hard to remove as calcium is to scrape off tile.

We usually only get to see someone else's sin after there has been quite a buildup. By the time "sin" becomes visible to others, it has been there a while and is pretty hard to remove.

What is "sin?"

Sin is an old archers term for simply missing the bullseye, missing the mark, as they say.

Sin is simple an action that is not in the middle of God’s will, missing the mark, so to speak.

We like to talk about all the different kinds of "sin" in people's lives; I guess that keeps us from looking at our own.

I do not know how you know if you are sinning or not, this is how I know.

When a thought comes into my head, and I have many thoughts. I simply ask Jesus, "Would you approve?" If He says yes, I know I am in the middle of His will. If He says, "No." Then I know that I am not in the middle of His will.

If He says, "No." and I do it anyway, I had better be ready to scrape some "sin buildup" off.

I know two things after spending Labor Day Weekend with my "Y" family. I love them even more, and I really do not like scraping off buildup.

I wonder what the world would look like if everyone would just ask Christ if He would approve or not before we all did something.

Heaven on Earth comes to mind.

Blessings,

Friday, August 24, 2012

Will you help us help others?

Good morning,

I pray the day is finding you well.

Carlos came into the “Y” a couple of days ago; I was at an offsite meeting.

As usual, the front desk staff greeted him in their typical friendly manner, smiles on their faces, asking about his day.

Carlos responds, “My mom died this morning.”

Carlos is a regular at our YCMA; he lived with his mother and is developmentally delayed.

Carlos maybe developmentally delayed but he is all there.

When I got back to the “Y”, the staff told me about Carlos’ mom, they were pretty upset.

Yesterday Carlos came into the “Y” and I was in my office.

I grabbed Carlos and we went into my office.

Carlos is now all alone in the world. Last year his grandmother died. A few days ago his mother died. He has no family he is all alone. His pain wafts all around him. His pain permeates from his soul. He is trying very hard to be a grownup and take care of grownup things, like the rent, electric bills, and funeral arrangements for his mother.

I held Carlos as he cried.

I grieved with him.

I told Carlos that he is not alone in this world. He has his YMCA family.

I walked Carlos around the facility and had him sit with the Health and Wellness team. I asked Carlos if it would be all right to share, he said, “Yes.” I told the team Carlos’ story. The team shared in his grief and told Carlos that he is part of the YMCA family now and that family looks out for family. They set up times to meet with Carlos.

We then went to the membership team and I asked Carlos if it was ok to share, he said, “Yes.”

I shared Carlos’ story.

The membership team shared in his grief and told Carlos that he was part of the YMCA family and that he was not alone.

I called my friend Brandon.

Brandon is the pastor of the church that meets at our YMCA. Brandon came over and Carlos told Brandon what happened. Brandon shared in his grief and told Carlos that he is not alone, that he has his YMCA family to help him.

Carlos rides the bus he does not drive.

Usually Carlos comes to the “Y” in the morning and stays for a couple of hours; then goes home. Yesterday Carlos did not leave until almost 4pm. He stopped by my office before he left. Today is laundry day for Carlos so I probably will not see him today. I called my friend Kris at ARC, Monday we have an appointment with the Social Security office. Tuesday he meets with the Health and Wellness family. Carlos does not attend church but we are going to start meeting twice a week to read the bible together, something he used to do with his mother.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Jew.
And then they came for me—
And there was no one left to speak for me.

Martin Niemoller penned this now famous quote after being imprisoned for eight years in concentration camps as the personal prisoner of Adolf Hitler.

Carlos obviously has moved all of us at the YMCA. We will speak for him. He is part of our family, just as everyone who calls the YMCA home is part of our family.

If you still think of the YMCA as simply a “swim and gym” think again.
People ask me why we do what we do.

My response is, “We are the Y, that’s why.”

I am reminded of these words that Jesus spoke:
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Matthew 25:31-45

Will you help us help others?

Blessings,

Monday, August 20, 2012

Please don't tolerate this blog

Good morning,
I pray the day is finding you well.

I am a word guy.

There are words that I like, words that I do not like, and words that I flat make up to describe something when I cannot think of a word that already exists.

The other day Laurie and I were at a friend’s house, she was throwing a summer party. She has some acreage, and on the acreage is a pond that has fish in it. She also has a zip line that starts on a platform up the hill from the pond. The zip line goes over the pond and ends on the far bank; it is really fun. One of the people at the party asked another person if she would go on the zip line. The other person said, “No, I have vertigo and am afraid that I would fall off.” I looked at her and said, “If you get vertigo on the zip line, and fall off, I guess you would be vertigone.”

Everybody had a good laugh.

I was talking with a member the other day and the word tolerance came up. The member said, “We need to show more tolerance to others.”

I have a hard time with the word “tolerance.”

Tolerance, as good as it sounds on the surface, comes from the root “Tolerate.”

To tolerate something suggests that one is annoyed or upset by someone or something; yet is not upset enough to actually do anything about it.

To tolerate is to “put up with.”

To tolerate is to “ignore another’s action.”

To tolerate suggests that at the current level of annoyance I do not need to respond; however, if the annoyance grows or becomes “more annoying” I will be forced to act.

When I think about tolerance I get annoyed, I wonder how long I will tolerate, tolerance?

I was thinking about tolerance the other day.

I thought, “What would the Gospel look like if I changed the word “Grace” to “tolerance?”

So I did.

I went through the New Testament, found the scriptures that had “Grace” in them and changed “Grace” to “tolerance.”

This is so not the Good News!

A few of the passages:

And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the tolerance of God was upon him. Luke 2:40

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of tolerance and truth. John 1:14

From the fullness of his tolerance we have all received one blessing after another. John1:16


For the law was given through Moses; tolerance and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17

I was on a roll and thought, What would the song “Amazing Grace” look like if I changed “Grace” to “tolerance?”

Amazing tolerance, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.

T'was tolerance that taught...
my heart to fear.
And tolerance, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear...
the hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares...
we have already come.
T'was tolerance that brought us safe thus far...
and tolerance will lead us home.

The Lord has promised good to me...
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be...
as long as life endures.

When we've been here ten thousand years...
bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise...
then when we've first begun.

Amazing tolerance, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see

Sure seems to lose its magic, doesn’t it.

I sat in church Sunday crying, I began crying when “Amazing Grace” started to be sung.

I was especially struck by it because of my thoughts of, “What if God had only extended tolerance instead of Grace?”

I am so glad the He loves us enough to extend Grace and not merely tolerate us.
Here is the Good News:

Those same passages:

And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him. Luke 2:40

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John1:14

From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. John 1:16

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John1:17

Amazing Grace as it truly is:

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.

T'was Grace that taught...
my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear...
the hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares...
we have already come.
T'was Grace that brought us safe thus far...
and Grace will lead us home.

The Lord has promised good to me...
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be...
as long as life endures.

When we've been here ten thousand years...
bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise...
then when we've first begun.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see

I began to think, if God has extended Grace to me and Christ calls us to be Christ-like then I must extend Grace as well.

Blessings,

Monday, August 13, 2012

Don't forget to tell mom you are going fishing

Good morning,
I pray the day is finding you well.

It is early Monday morning, and I am sitting in my living room listening to the ripple of the river, the squirrels haven't started their morning ritual yet of chasing each other through the branches of the trees that line the river. The birds are still asleep. The world hasn't woken up yet.

Last night Laurie and I stayed up late to watch a meteor shower. We laid in the hammock, staring at the sky. We watched as satellites raced across the heavens; we failed to see the huge show however, and only saw a few bright lights racing across the sky.

When I was a kid, back on the farm, I used to watch the sky all the time. Back then there wasn't much ambient light to get in the way and the stars were huge. There were not satellites when I was a kid; well, there were satellites but not very many of them. I cannot remember seeing any.

The night sky has always been a place of wonderment for me. I can stare at the stars for a very long time. When I look at the night sky, I cannot help but feel the grandeur of God. I cannot help but wonder what He must have been thinking when He breathed life into the universe.

One day, Bob, one of my friends wanted to go fishing at one of the ponds that were only a few miles from town. I thought it would be fun, we made plans to go fishing and spend the night at the pond. As we were making the final preparations my dad shows up and asks us what we are doing. We told him. He thought it would be fun, so we asked him if he wanted to go along. He said, "Yes."

So we left.

We fished all night. Well, fishing is a very loose term; I think you actually have to do two things that constitute fishing: one, put a hook on your line, and two use bait.

Dad really wasn't much of a fisherman. He thought that actually catching a fish ruined the whole experience of fishing.

I guess it would be more accurate to say we almost fished all night since we never actually put lines in the water. We had conversations, we watched the night sky; mostly we sat silently together. One of dad's favorite sayings was, "You don't learn anything when your mouth is open."

The next morning we went home.

When we got to the house we discovered that we had forgotten one small detail in our preparations for the fishing trip; we forgot to tell mom where we were going. I tried to pull the old, "I was with dad." excuse. Dad tried to pull the old, "I thought Roger told you?" excuse. Neither worked.

We were in trouble an we knew it.

We apologized profusely.

The chore list went way up that day.

Sitting in church yesterday there was a teaching on "The Good Shepherd." Afterward someone talked about how they were a lost sheep and someone from the church had reached out to him and he was so grateful that he had been found.

Mom, wasn't so mad at us as she was scared. She was afraid something had happened and we were gone. She had looked for us all night.

At the end of the day, it is good to know that someone is looking for you even when you are not looking for Him.

I saw a cartoon on facebook that went like this.

Christ is talking to someone and says, "You see the footprints in the sand."

The person says, "Yes."

Christ says, "You see where there is only one set of footprints, that is where I carried you; the skid marks are where I dragged you for a while."

As I look back on our "fishing adventure" I am glad that mom was upset that we were gone; that only means that we were missed.

I know that the Good Shepherd is continually looking for His lost sheep, He will not rest until He finds all of them and brings them safely home.

I want to help Him find his sheep.

Will you help Him too?

Blessings,

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Are we leaving Fishbombs or Roses?

Good morning,
I pray that the day is finding you well.

Memory is a funny thing.

I will go a long time without thinking of something or someone and then when I do it is as if my memory is doing a data dump on my consciousness.

I haven’t thought about Fishmonger for years, but ever since the other night she has been “on my brain.”

Fish lived to be almost twenty years old and so she was around from the time I was six until after I had left the house for good, which anyone that has children in college would understand this statement, I boomeranged for a while. Just when my parents thought I was grown and out of the house I would come running through the front door usually with an armload of laundry. Sometimes I would tie a ribbon around it and try to pass it off as a gift for my mom.

It never worked.

All this to say that Fish grew up and grew old.

As Fish aged her hobbies changed. Where once she could not get enough of “mousing.” She didn’t seem that excited about the whole thing later in life. In fact on one of my boomerang trips I sat with Fish on the floor in the basement of my parent’s house watching “Nightline with Ted Koppel.” As we sat there watching Ted espouse his journalistic wisdom a mouse ran by, well not exactly ran, more like jogged (if mice can jog) right in front of both of us.

Fish didn’t move.

I thought she must be asleep. I looked down at her, she looked up at me as if to say, “What, I’m retired.” It was left to me to get up, catch the mouse, put the mouse back outside, which I am sure the mouse spent little time coming back in from where it was deposited.

So Fish found new hobbies.

Her new favorite hobby was to come and visit people as they came into the house and sit in the living room. She would say hello and then leave the room only to sneak back into the room behind the couch and leave what affectionately became known as a “Fishbomb.” These were rancid, slow moving smell fronts that always seemed to stall out in the middle of the room. Usually the only relief that one could find was to go outside until it dissipated, mom would retaliate with sufficient and often copious amounts of Lysol.

I grewup with three sisters. With sisters comes the inevitable boyfriend. Boyfriends have the annoying habit of hanging out at their girlfriend’s house.
As you might guess these boyfriends always had a “first time” at their girlfriends house.

The first time was always the same.

Fish would come into the living room and say hello.

Fish would then leave the room.

Fish would then sneak back into the room behind the couch.

Fish would leave a “bomb.”

Fish would then leave the room.

People would look at each other each knowing that “they did not do it.”

People would leave the house and mom would come in to battle the “Bomb.”

You are probably wondering where all this is going?

As I thought about Fish and the “Fishbomb.”

I thought about how we sometimes leave a wake of smell, pain behind us, when we are focused on ourselves and not on others.

I thought about how when we focus on others and their needs above our own we leave roses and smiles.

The question is how do we want to leave others as we leave the room, smelling roses or Fishbombs?

Something to think about.

Blessings,

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Dancing for God

Good Morning,
I pray that the day is finding you well.

The wind was blowing the other day.

I noticed a leaf being blown in the wind.

First it blew one way, then another.

I watched as it went back and forth tumbling along. Tumbling over its stem then over the tips of the leaf.

I sat there for quite a while watching this leaf.

At first I was amused by the back and forth action, thinking about how the wind changed direction causing the leaf to change its direction.

I thought about how the leaf really didn’t have any say, or influence, on where it wanted to go. The wind was in control.

I began to think about how most of us live and work at the whim of others. If someone decides to go another direction, or the economy takes another dip, our job might go away, and we will have just about as much say in it as the leaf does with the wind.

Then God said, “Relax and watch the leaf.”

I sat silently watching the leaf.

After a while my heart began to change.

I began to see the leaf differently.

I began to see it dance.

It no longer was this out of control leaf being pushed here and there. The leaf was dancing.

A still small voice said, “This leaf makes me smile. It is dancing for me.”

I sat there and watched the leaf for quite a while.

In the end, I was no longer thinking in a negative fashion. My thoughts went to thinking about all the blessings, and small miracles that happen everyday. I just need to have eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to accept.

My prayer is that we all choose to see the beauty in God’s creation, to see a leaf dance; to ask the question, are we dancing for God or merely allowing ourselves to be blown out of control?

It is a matter of perspective.

Blessings,

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Inception, more than a movie

Good Morning,
I pray the day is finding you well.

People get some funny ideas in their heads.

I am often amused by a person's train of thought, more specifically the origin of that thought.

A few years ago a movie came out called "Inception" starring Leonardo Decaprio. It is a movie where Leonardo enters a person's dream and infuses a thought, when the person wakes up the person thinks it is their thought and then acts upon it. I found the movie interesting.

When I was growing up I had a person that was particularly good at "inception." It was my sister Katie. She was very good at infusing a thought into me, me acting on it, getting into trouble, Katie then giggling that I actually did it.

Looking back I like to think that I was just gullible; looking back Katie thought I was just a dimwit.

This particular "inception" took place on a beautiful spring day. It was my senior year in high-school I was enjoying the fact that I was a senior, and starting to look forward to going off to college; all that was left to do was stay out of trouble and graduate.

The Signing team was enjoying its second undefeated season; I am still upset that I was cut fromt the team. I was still enjoying trudging around the track, typically coming in last in the 100 yard dash. It really was not so much of a dash for me, the coach used to get upset when I would get in the starting blocks holding my sack lunch for halfway through the race. It took me a while to finish.

Katie and I were walking to school. We had walked most of the way there; we were walking past the park, we were almost to the bandshell which is the centerpiece of the park.

My best friend Tim drives up and asks if we want a ride to school, of course we said, "Yes." The thought of walking the remaining block and a half was just silly.

We jump in Tim's car.

Of course, getting a ride to school meant that we had to ride down main street in the opposite direction of school, getting to the end we turn left and drive up past the Dairy King, down the frontage road past the Vickers gas station, turning left once again and ending up at the school.

As we drove, we started to talk about the band competition in Oberlin that day. How school would be a waste because almost all the kids would be going to Oberlin along with most the teachers that were accompanying them; Katie was going to the competition too. Katie says, "They won't be teaching you guys anything today. Most of the classes have subs anyway."

Tim and I agreed.

Katie then says, "You guys should just skip school."

Inception.

We had never skipped school before.

Tim and I look at each other.

I say, "Skipping school is a wonderful idea. Tim, we have never skipped school before"; I have been practicing being the master of the obvious for along time.

Tim says, "You think we should?" I said, "sure, what can they so to us?"

This all happened before the car past the Dairy King.

Just then we see Bob and Brad in Bob's car, we signal them that we want to talk.

Signaling another car in Sainty amounted to pointing your arm out the window and signaling the car to go around the block, a move that every highschooler in Sainty masters "dragging main street." Dragging mainstreet amounted to driving up and down main street for hours, waving at the same ten cars over and over again until you have to go to Vickers because you are out of gas.

They go around, we tell them our idea, they agree. Now all we have to do is find Danny and we are ready to skip school.

We find Danny, do the signaling thing, tell him our idea, he agrees; walla we are in business.

We had never skipped school before; in case you had forgotten. We did not know what to do? We ended up sitting on my front porch brainstorming. My dad comes out and says, "What's going on?" I say, "We are skipping school." Dad just looks at me. Once again I was perfecting my skill at being the master of the obvious.

Just then the phone rings. My dad gets up and answers the phone. We hear my dad say, "I see, thank you for telling me, goodbye."

Dad walks out onto the porch and says, "You guys have to get off the porch. That was Mr. Alvers, the principle"

You can see where I get my masterfulness from.

"He informed me that you have skipped school and sheriff Ray Lee is on the lookout for you boys."

We sprang into action. We had to get out of town, and right now. Nobody wants to go to the poky.

We decided to go to Bonnie Dam. I was saddened to hear that Bonnie Dam is no longer there. Many a good time was had there. Times like waterskiing with maneating carp, and perfecting the forward roll through the firepit on the beach. As I said, good times.

We all pile into the car and go to Bonnie Dam. At the dam we met this old couple fishing on one of the docks. The wind was blowing, as it usually does in Kansas because there isn't anything like trees or tall buildings or hills to get in the wind's way. A fact I did not totally appreciate until I joined the Navy years later. Without wind sailboats would not go very far. Without wind Columbus would have jumped onto his ship, say the famous words, "I am going to discover a new way to India," and just sit there bobbing in the harbor. Magellan would never have sailed around the world. Classic sea battles would have been reduced to boats bobbing in their own harbors signaling insults at each other. Without wind, the old man would not spit his chewing tobacco and have it blow into his wife's cheek. Jim Corcie comes to mind, "You don't tug on Superman's cape, you don't spit into the wind, you don't pull the mask off the ole lone ranger, and don't mess around with Jim."

We got bored at Bonnie Dam and we were starting to get hungry too.

We decided it would be a lot more fun to go back to school, eat lunch, and recruit more kids to skip with us.

Another brilliant move I might add.

We go back to school, eat lunch, recruit more kids, and leave again.

There is always an end to every day, and with the end of every day there is the inevitable next morning.

I walk into the school and Mr Alvers is there to greet me; he is not a happy camper.

I am informed that I have two weeks detention; one week for skipping school and the other week for coming back and recruiting other kids to go with us.

Here we are; Tim, Bob, Brad, Danny and I sitting in detention. This is another new experience for us. We had never had detention before, we did not know what to do with ourselves; Actually Tim, Brad, Danny and I did not know what to do with ourselves, Bob used it to study. Maybe that is why he is a heart surgeon now.

We started in Mr Jenkins classroom, but this did not work out. When we came out the whole school was in the hall and they were cheering us. Looking back, the breakfast club had nothing on us at that point.

We got moved to the library the next day.

Ms, Gertz, the librarian was a tough lady, she rode motorcycles. In fact she had a broken leg from a motorcycle accident. We did nto mess with Ms. Gertz.

I tried to get Katie to make a banner for when we came out into the hall.

Inception.

It didn't take.

We finally got through our detention, the signing team completed its undefeated season, I amost lettered in track, well almost is subjective, and we did actually graduate.

I learned my lesson about infusing thought though.

Have you ever wondered if there is more to life than just living?

What if all the things told of Jesus are true?

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!


When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.


Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!


And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.


Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!


When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"


Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

Think about it.

Blessings,

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Never put your date in the trunk at a drive-in

Good morning,
I pray the day is finding you well.

Being a chaplain comprises many things, one of which is spiritual direction.

While working with people in this capacity I have the opportunity to get them to look through the hidden doors and closed windows in ther lives and spritual journey.

Growing up in my small town we had a drive-in on the edge of town.

Everything seemed to be on the edge of town; when we moved from the farm to town my sophomore year in high school we moved into a house that was on the north edge of town. The grain elevator was at the west end of town, three blocks away. The high school was at the east edge of town 6 blocks away. The motel was at the south edge of town 10 blocks away.

Our town was a small town.

Mrs. Edmundson owned the drive-in.

I have mentioned before that one of my favorite pastimes was on Saturday morning to get up and watch the "Bugs Bunny Road Runner hour" on T.V. Not only was it one of my favorite programs, it was one of the few programs that Kloe Goodland offered. I would get up, go to the kitchen, make a gallon of chocolate milk; my mother said that when I went off to college she could not get the milk delivery shut off fast enough, yes this was back in the days when we actually had milkmen that delivered our milk in little white trucks, she said she was bathing in milk until she got it rectified.

I would bring the chocolate milk back downstairs, where the T.V. was located, and sit watching my cartoons, drinking my milk.

Notice that at no time did my hands ever leave my arms; nor did I bother to put on any clothes, this was all done in my underpants.

My sisters used to love to collect things; they would bring home all sorts of things, stray dogs, cats, boys...Katie always had a crowd with her.

There I was enjoying my cartoons and chocolate milk, and Katie would traipse into the room with all her friends. Great; now I have to go put clothes on. My day just took a turn for the worse.

One of Katie's best friends was Peggy. Being a small community meant that we all knew each other well. Unfortunately, Peggy was just one of many that had seen me in my underpants. One day I called Peggy up and asked her to go to the movies with me, it was summertime and this meant going to the drive-in.

I was nervous when I called, her mother answered the phone; why do mom's always have to answer the phone when a boy wants to talk to a girl? it is very disconcerting and intimidating to say, "Hello Mrs. Peters, is Peggy there?" Peggy comes to the phone and all I can manage is, "Hi Peggy, this is Roger want to go to the movie with me?"

And then there is the dreaded pause.

After an eternity Peggy says, "Yes."

We take care of the details, time, date, movie.

The day arrives and I pick up Peggy for the movie and we drive to the drive-in; which is much better than walking to the drive-in, that just would have been silly, or worse yet, having your mother drive you to the drive-in, that is just flat embarrassing, I know, it happened.

One of the favorite pastimes going to the drive-in was to see how many friends you could get in for free.

This meant have a driver; it always worked better when we had a driver, and a bunch of kids getting into the trunk. Mrs. Edmundson handled the the ticket booth at the drive-in, she was really smart.

The driver would pull up to the ticket booth and say. "One please." Mrs. Edmundson would ask, "Where are all your friends?" The driver would say, "They are coming soon." Mrs. Edmundson's eyebrow would raise; when this happened you always knew you had been had, and say, "Lets take a look in the trunk." The driver would get out and open the trunk, 20 or 30 kids would pile out; well, not really 20 or 30 more like 2 or 3, but it was always a theatrical experience when this happened.

I pull up to the drive-in booth and Mrs. Edmundson says, "Roger, where is Peggy? you do have a date with her tonight, don't you?"

Another attribute of a small town is that everybody, and I mean everybody knows everything about everybody.

I look at Mrs. Edmundson sheepishly; her eyebrow was already raised, and not saying a word I get out and open the trunk.

Out pops Peggy.

Mrs. Edmundson says, "Really Roger, you put your date in the trunk!"

I told you that Mrs. Edmundson smart.

What I found out that night was two things; one, Peggy, as pretty and funny as she is, was like taking my sister to the movies. We were too good of friends to ever mess that up dating. and two; Never put your date in the trunk, it is just really bad form.

When I counsel people, I remember Mrs. Edmundson.

I do my best to get them to look into their trunk. I know that God is continually nudging me and prodding me to look into my trunk. To open those closed doors and open those once hidden windows as Christ walks with me.

Have you opened any new doors lately?

Blessings,

Friday, August 3, 2012

Sometimes you find yourself in the wrong lane

Good morning,
I pray the day is finding you well.

I am sitting here reminiscing the ride.

Day 6 of the ride found Chuck and I thinking about where to go next.

We had accomplished riding to Bryce Canyon, the Grand Canyon, and Sedona, all really cool places, well not cool actually hot places, but they sure were neat.

We were sitting in our lounge chairs, yes we have lounge chairs that we take with us; our lounge chairs even have cup holders.

We are sitting there sipping our new favorite drink that we discovered on the ride, “Peace ice tea and lemonade.” There is nothing better than “Peace ice tea and lemonade” after a long hot ride, very refreshing. I wonder if I will get any royalties for promoting their drink, I won’t.

We are sitting there and Chuck says, “I have always wanted to see Mount Rushmore.”

I said, “Mount Rushmore, that is in South Dakota!” He says, “Thank you for pointing out the obvious.”

I took pride in that remark, I always considered myself the master of the obvious.

I said, “We will have a couple days of long rides in front of us.” Chuck just looks at me. Once again, I was proving my masterfulness.

The next morning we got up and took off, which is much better than taking off before we got up; although, I have met a few people on the road that I am sure have gotten it backwards.

We had decided to ride to Santa Fe NM, that was our destination.

Our ride took us through Albequerky, I know that Albequerky is actually spelled Albuquerque, but Albequerky is more fun to say.

Albequerky is where I-40 and I-25 meet. We wanted to take I-25 north to Santa Fe. We were riding along, Chuck in the front and me behind him. Someone had pointed out that we looked like Mutt and Jeff on our ride. You see, I ride a Sportster, the smallest of the Harley line; Chuck rides an Ultra Classic, the largest of the Harley line. With Chuck in the front and me in the rear I could not help but think of this cartoon I watched when I was a kid; with Mutt following behind Jeff saying constantly, “Where we going now Jeff, where we going now?”

As we entered Albequerky, I went into total tourist mode.

My head was on a swivel. I would look at traffic, check my buffer zone; a buffer zone is the distance between my bike and all the vehicles around me, playing the buffer zone game is something that most riders play continually.

I would look at the sights of the city and return my attention to the traffic again.

As we closed in on I-25, which required us to go left, actually merge right and then go left I failed to notice that Chuck had moved into another lane. In fact, I didn’t notice it until all of a sudden I was exiting the freeway and he was busy riding off into the distance.

I was in the wrong lane.

When I was a kid on the farm, I could not wait for Saturday morning.

Saturday morning at 7am KLOE TV had the “Bugs Bunny Road Runner hour.” I would watch this show religiously, partly because it was so funny, and partly because the alternative was to watch the “Hog and Feed Report,” nothing against the “Hog and Feed Report” I just did not find it particularly invigorating.

One of my very favorite “Bugs Bunny cartoons is where Bugs decides he needs a vacation.

When Bugs goes on vacation he does not take a bus, or a train, or a plane. When Bugs takes a vacation he digs a hole and pops up at his vacation spot.

On this particular episode Bugs wants to go to St. Louis, but when he pops his head out he is in China, and he says the immortal line, “I should have taken a left a Albuquerque!”

There is nothing like the sinking feeling of heading down an off ramp watching your friend ride off into the distance.

As I rode down this off ramp, Bugs Bunny came to mind.

I should have taken a left, I hope I don’t end up in China.

I went into total country kid navigation mode. Country kids don’t look at road signs, they look for landmarks. I started riding the side streets always keeping I-25 north in front of me. After about twenty minutes I came to an on ramp for I-25 north, I took it.

As I entered the interstate system again and just as I was coming up to speed, Tinker; yes I named my bike after my horse, it is fitting really, Tinker was white, my bike is white. Tinker was actually a pony; my bike can be classified as a pony. Tinker had a grey; actually, it was more silver, head. My bike is chrome forward of the gas tank.

Tinker starts to act funny.

She starts to cough and spit, a sure sign that I am running on empty.

I quickly change my gas switch from normal to reserve, thank God for a reserve switch, and continue on.

I now have about ten miles to find a gas station.

I am looking not only for a gas station; I am also looking for Chuck. I start to sing an old Bonjovi song, “I’m a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride.” I ride past numerous gas stations.

Another reason I named my bike after my horse is that Tinker never left me stranded on the road; she always got me home. My bike has been a great bike, it has never left me stranded either.

After a nervous few minutes, I spot a Phillips 66 station, not our normal gas stop.

I feel a nudge to go there.

As I am pulling into the gas station, my cell phone begins to vibrate in my pocket; no, I did not download an app that tells me when I am near a gas station, although that would be cool. Maybe, I will develop a gas station app; no, after the headache I got from the traveler’s mug enterprise of 1972 I think I will leave it to Anthony; he is the app guru at the “Y”.

My phone is buzzing in my pocket, I look into the gas station, and there is Chuck calling me.

Chuck and I have ridden together a long time.

I stopped at this gas station because I thought, “This is where Chuck would stop.”

Chuck stopped at this gas station because he thought, “This is where Roger would stop.”

Once again, we were together.

Sometimes, during my walk with Christ, I have not paid attention and have found myself in the wrong lane.

When I was young, it would take me much longer than it does now to meet up with Him again. But, Christ has been walking with me for quite some time now. I can still find myself in the wrong lane every so often, probably more often than I would like to admit, but we meet up much sooner now.

Walking with Christ was never meant to be easy, but it sure is comforting to know that while I may take my eyes off Him, He never takes His eyes off me. I think Jesus got a kick out me not paying attention and taking the wrong off ramp.

He taught me a great lesson that day.

Blessings,

Roger Chaplain
http://ymcacw.org/clark-christian-principles

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

It is a matter of focus

Good morning,
I pray the day is finding you well.

I am always amused by conversations.

I like to track their direction, it is a fun pastime. If left to themselves a conversation will typically end nowhere near where it started.

Often times I will ask myself, “How did we get here.” It is not much different from taking a trip without a map or a purpose. You could drive along and at the end of the day ask yourself the very same thing. Sometimes, it gets a little worse with, “Where the heck are we?”

There are times when I like to let conversations go, just to see where they end up.

Other times I am laser focused.

There are many people that walk into my office and want to have a conversation.

Back on the farm, we had a dog named Fishmonger.

Fishmonger was a purebred Scotty Terrier.

I am really confused why people name their purebred dogs some goofy name. I guess that is why I like mutts. Nobody ever questions why you named your mutt Ralph, or Larry, or Abe. But a purebred, now that is a different story; it seems that if you don’t name it some frufu, or goofy name people think you’re weird. Fishmonger was too long of a name for everyday use so we just called her Fish, which looking back was even stranger. When we told people that we had a dog named Fish eyebrows usually lifted.

Personally, I think Fish would have been happier with a name like Cathy, or Emma Jean. I think that Fish was a little embarrassed having the name Fish. When we would call her, she pretended as if she did not hear us. I bet if her name was Cathy or Emma Jean she would have come lickity split.

Fish was not just a good mouser, she was a great mouser; her favorite pastime was hunting mice.

My sister Katie had a cat named Bootslie. I am not sure why his name was Bootslie, I never saw him wear boots. For that matter, I never saw him wear shoes either. There was that one time I was sure he was walking around in Birkenstocks but that is another story.

One day all us kids were sitting on the living room floor, arguing. Actually, we were playing a board game but Mary the eldest, the boss of her smaller siblings kept changing the rules, and the rest of us took offense, thus the arguing. This always happened when we played board games, for the life of me I do not know why we played them; I guess we liked to argue as much a play the game.

We were all sitting on the floor and here comes Bootslie; he had something in his mouth.

I watched as he ran up into Katie’s lap and promptly dropped a live mouse in it; pandemonium ensued.

My three sisters jumped up on the furniture, another social tradition that I do not know the roots of, and started to scream. I was rolling on the floor laughing; boys are not affected by mice the same way girls are, I don’t know why.

Fish, who was lying next to us the whole time jumped into action, she scoops up the mouse, runs to the door, mom opens the door, Fish goes outside and dispatches the mouse.

Bootslie never saw Fish grab the mouse and spent the rest of the night looking under every piece of furniture for her mouse. I am convinced that Fish was a lot smarter than Bootslie, but don’t tell my sister.

One of my chores in the morning was feeding the horses.

Every morning I would take a bale of hay, break the leaves of the bale apart and give each horse a leaf; a leaf is a section of the bale, just in case you were getting a mental image of a tree or something.

Fish loved to help me feed the horses.

Fish would wait by the bale, poised for the chase. I would let her get ready and then lift the bale quickly off the ground. There were usually three or four mice under the bale. When I lifted the bale, the mice would scatter in different directions. Fish would start to chase one, change her mind, and then go after another. I do not think she ever caught a mouse when she helped me feed the horses.

Fish lacked focus.

Many times when I am counseling people, they want to throw me off, especially when we are starting to get to a place of pain or shadows in their life.

They try to change direction in hopes of having me follow them.

I am reminded of a conversation Jesus had with a woman. She was a Samaritan woman. As He talked with her she kept changing the subject, Jesus kept bringing her back to center. By the end of the conversation she knew who she was talking to, not because He told her, but because He did not let the conversation go off into left field.

Read John 4:1-42.

Christ has taught me a lot of things.

One of them is focus.

When we talk with people let us have the focus to communicate Christ to them in a way that they will hear.

Blessings,

Roger
http://ymcacw.org/clark-christian-principles

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I don't want to be a bathroom door

Good morning,
I pray the day is finding you well.

I was sitting out by the river this morning reminiscing about the ride.

One of the things that came to mind was the question, “What do you think about all day on a bike?”

I do not carry a radio or anything that will distract me; I like to ride along just thinking about things, I never seem to get bored with my thoughts. During our ride, we rode through Navaho Nation and my thoughts went to them. How they feel that they are living in occupied territory. The feeling of their hopeless situation is ever present.

I thought about them a lot.

I also thought about bathrooms, more aptly bathroom doors.

For the life of me, I cannot figure out why they open to the inside of the bathroom.

One only goes to the bathroom during a time of need.

I only go to the bathroom during a time of need; I do not go to the bathroom to just be there. When I enter the bathroom, I push the door open and walk in. I do what I came to do, wash my hands, dry my hands and turn to leave. This is when I notice that there is a pull handle on the door. The handle is either brass or stainless steel, depending on the bathroom.

Now I have a dilemma, there is no way of getting out of the bathroom without touching the handle, which will just get my hands really germy again. If there is a paper towel, I can grab one and use that to open the door, but sometimes there is nothing but a hot air machine, which leaves very few options and requires some imagination on how to open the door. There have been times where I had to wait for someone to walk through the door so that I could grab it with my foot, kick the door open, and walk out.

I have come to the conclusion that architects must have poor hygiene.

I have many people that walk into my office at the YMCA.

These people do not come to my office to just be there, they come in because they have a need. Often times they sit in the “chair” and recount a hurtful experience. Many times, they went to see someone about their problems and before they left they felt germier than when the first went to see them.

I have a library in my office.

Staff and members come in and grab a book.

I have a rule; there are no books in my library that I have not read.

This way people can read a book and then we can discuss it together. One of the staff is reading Philip Yancey’s “What’s so amazing about grace.” There is a story in the book where a woman who had had a pretty rough life and made some pretty bad choices and was contemplating suicide. A counselor asked her, “Have you tried going to church?” Her response was, “Why would I go there? I feel bad enough already.”

I think about that statement often.

When I talk with people, there are times I have to correct them, I do my very best to do this with love.

I really do not want to be a bathroom door in someone’s life.

I want them to feel the cleansing power of Christ.

Not the germy feeling of judgment and self righteousness.

Blessings,

Monday, July 30, 2012

It is good to be home

Good morning,
I pray the day is finding you well.

I am home from the trip; actually, I got home Saturday afternoon.

When I got to the house I looked at my odometer and found that I had traveled right at 4,600 miles, truth be told I rode 4,595 miles, I actually thought about riding 2.5 miles past the house and back again just to make it 4,600 but my butt was sore and I was ready to get off the bike.

We saw many amazing things and covered a lot of miles, we had a great time.

Of course, there are things to be done post trip along with some honey-do’s that always seem to accumulate while I am gone.

I unpacked my bike.

I set up my tent, cleaned the tent, swept the tent out, repacked the tent, and put it away ready for next year.

I gave my bike a much needed washing. It still had Arizona clay on it.

Actually, I took it to power wash and power washed it. I like taking my bike to a place that recycles the water, instead of washing it in my front yard, this way the soapy water is caught and reused instead of soaking into the ground along with all the other things that just shouldn’t soak into the ground.

I think about things like this.

After I was done with the post trip duties, I started on the honey-dos.

I changed the oil in three cars and washed two of them. Actually, I found a place that was doing oil changes for $15.00 dollars and took the cars there to have the oil changed; they even threw in a carwash. Once again, I validated this by; I cannot change my oil for $15.00; I do not have to collect the used oil and try not to spill it on the ground; I used a car wash that recycles their water.

I am an avid reader.

If I am sitting somewhere I will occupy my time by reading; there is nothing worse than sitting somewhere with nothing to read.

In dire instances I will read anything that is on the walls, t-shirts…you name it even hairspray bottles, it is amazing what is in hairspray.

Laurie and I are sitting there in the oil changing place, and Laurie brought a couple of Good Housekeeping magazines. Someone had given her these magazines, the one I was reading was from May 2012. I am skimming through the magazine; women’s magazines baffle me, there is no rhyme or reason to them.

I run across and article called, “She inspires me; Unforgettable stories about mothers and daughters who found beauty and strength in each other.” I start reading about these two daughters who were the winner and runner-up on The Biggest loser, 2011. Sometime during the show, the girls came home for a visit. This is what Betsy, the girls mom said, “Hannah sat my husband and me down for a candid discussion about what could happen to us if we didn’t lose weight.” She went on to say, “My size was weighing me down, too. I was achy and lethargic, and I wanted that same feeling of freedom. I joined the YMCA.”

Here I am, sitting in an oil changing place reading a women’s magazine and out pops the YMCA and how this YMCA positively impacted a life.

After she returned home after the show Hannah said, “My mom didn’t have anyone to push her, yet she lost weight.” What we know but Hannah did not is that the YMCA is like family. We encourage, empower, and sometimes push people to keep going. We will motive, give inspiration, and walk right alongside people as they work toward their goals.

We care.

I finished the article feeling good about the YMCA.

I started flipping pages again.

After too many advertisements and mail in coupons I ran across another article, “My faith pulled me through.” It is an inspirational story about a family and tragedy; there is a quote in the article, “I think God runs the show, completely. Life proves it every day He runs the show.”

I could not agree more.

After all, He is God and I am not.

Blessings,

Friday, July 27, 2012

Making room

Good morning, I pray the day is finding you well. I am in Richland Washington this morning. We got here last night. We pulled in to find that there was no place at the inn to lay our heads. Actually the KOA was completely full. Chuck and I left Missoula yesterday, but before we left we stopped by IHOP for breakfast. I am not really sure why they call it IHOP; I sure don't feel like hopping when I am done. As we ate breakfast we started noticing things. We notice that the walls that made up the booths were very high. We noticed that we had the feeling of isolation in this restaurant filled with people. We felt alone. We started talking about what it would look, taste, and feel like to bring a truly family atmosphere to a breakfast place. An atmosphere where people sat together, conversed, and shared there lives with one another. A place where strangers could become friends. We started thinking what would make such a place. First we would tear down the booth walls, in fact we would take away the booths altogether. We would create a kitchen environment; kind of like a Bennihana's, where the chef would prepare a meal with all the people sitting around talking while he cooked, kind of like home. Then we decided that it should be an all you can eat breakfast so people would take their time, further enhancing the community feel. Of course there would be plenty of pancakes and coffee, all you can eat. We thought this was a great idea. We started thinking up names for our new restaurant. We thought we would call it International, it sounds impressive. Then we thought Pancakes should be in the title. The next part took some thought; we wanted to portray a homey kitchen experience, but bigger, so we settled on Ultimate Kitchen. We also wanted breakfast to be more than breakfast, we wanted an experience. That's it....we would call it the International Pancake Ultimate Kitchen Experience. IPUKE We were still full when we rolled into Richland last night to find that the KOA was full. We were tired, we were hot, we really did not want to ride to another campground. We just kind of stood there. We were reminded of ancient biblical times where travelers would enter town and sit in the town square and wait. They would wait for someone to come along and offer them a place to stay. They would wait for someone to show them hospitality. Chuck and I were not invoking biblical tradition, we were just trying to figure out our next move, when out comes the innkeeper. Actually he is the manager of the KOA camp. He looks at us and says, "We are all filled up, but you guys look tired. I do have one place if you don't mind camping there. (This is when I thought he was going to pull a manger out of his hat.) and walks us over to a small piece of grass tucked in between a fence and the indoor pool. He says, "It isn't much, how much room will you need?" We said that it would be perfect and we pitched our tents. Hospitality, sometimes when you try too hard to create a space you get an IPUKE experience. Hospitality is really looking at a persons need and doing your best to create a space, no matter how small, no matter how insignificant, no matter if it puts you out just a little bit, to make their life experience better. Sometimes we come down hard on the innkeeper for giving Mary a stable to stay in. But he gave her a stable, a roof over her head, a place to lay her baby. In doing so, the innkeeper without his even knowing it gave hospitality to Christ. How often do we miss our chance to to be hospitable and in doing so miss a chance to be hospitable to Christ. And Christ said: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; (Matthew 25:35 NKJV) The Pharisees answered Him: When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? (Matthew 25:38 NKJV) Listen to Christ's words: Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ (Matthew 25:40 NKJV) I learned a lot from a KOA manager yesterday. Hospitality is not hard. Blessings,

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Dinner with my niece

Good morning, I pray the day is finding you well. I am in Missoula Montana. Chuck and I arrived yesterday. We left Big Timber, had lunch at Mikes burgers in Livingston, and arrived in Missoula around 3pm. Before I left Big Timber I gave my niece Hannah a call, she lives in Missoula. I had not seen her in a few years and when she said that we should go to dinner when she gets off work I was pretty excited and waited patiently for 7:30pm to role around for her to come pick us up at the KOA. We went to dinner at Mackenzie River Pizza, a good pizza place; if you are ever in Missoula you should look them up; tell them that Roger sent you and they will give you a pizza for twice the cost. Not really, they will just look at you like your nuts and probably say, "Who?" We had a great time, we ordered her favorite pizza and some cheesy bread. I love to make Hannah laugh, she giggles. Hannah goes to Montana State in Missoula and is majoring in sociology and gerontology. She has a real heart for the elderly and those in the sunset of their lives. One of the things that I truly love about Hannah is her heart. She has a very big heart. She found this passion quite by accident. She took a job while in high school at a nursing home and found that there is a real need. She found that there are many that have no-one and need a friend and a helper. Hannah saw this. She decided that she would do what she could to make the lives of those she touched better. Hannah is not in it for the money; no, she is in it because she cares. Hannah is the upbeat, positive type of person who gives you hope. Life has given her some bumps and bruises, but she doesn't let that get her down. The last time I talked with her she had a boyfriend, so I asked about him. They had broken up in the meantime and her heart was broken, but she kept the dog and showed me pictures of this goofy, handsome dog that looks very happy; who wouldn't be happy with Hannah around. While we laughed and talked and laughed some more; I started to think about how Christ attracted people. How they flocked to Him. Yes, He had amazing teachings. Yes, He was God incarnate. He also was full of love. Not the kind of love that feeds on others, but the kind of love that expects nothing in return. Hannah has the love of Christ in her; it exudes from her every pore. If you cannot tell by now, I love my niece very much. Hannah, I am very, very, very proud of you. As I go through my day I will try to be more like Hannah; since, and this is just me, I believe that she models how Christ treats others, Loving others without consuming them. Hannah makes Christ smile. I want to make Christ smile too. Blessings,

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

That's why

Good morning, I pray the day is finding you well. We are still in Flagstaff. We are going to see the Grand Canyon today, I have never seen the Grand Canyon and I am pretty excited about see it. Last night, in camp, a couple stopped by and during our conversation they warned us about the thunderstorms that can happen here. They told us about the rain and the lightning. We had already ridden through a couple of these storms. One storm in particular, as we rode through Nephi Utah, was so bad we had to take shelter at a local gas station. The lightning blew out the transformers and half the town lost electricity. Looking back, sitting in a gas station during an electrical storm was probably not the smartest idea. My wife Laurie grew up in Minnesota, I grew up in Kansas. Both places have amazing thunderstorms. We can talk about them all day. How the thunderheads would come and the sky would grow dark and the lightning would dance across the sky. Back on the farm we we only had one TV station, KLOE Goodland. It was not much of a station as stations go, in fact if you remember the Mary Tyler Moore show from the 70's the newscast was much like that show. I think we even had the original Ted Knight. Needless to say there was not much on TV, it is a good thing we had thunderstorms to watch. Our house had a nice front porch; It had a porch swing and everything. Unfortunately my sister Katie and her friend Mary Ann, Mary Ann lived on the farm down the road. Swung in the porch swing so hard that the eye-bolts pulled right out of the ceiling and so the porch swing just sat on the cement slab, which sat on top the ground, which made up our porch. One day, dad and I were sitting on the front porch watching a thunderstorm roll in; it was more fun than watching KLOE. Dad was sitting in his wooden chair and I was sitting in the porch swing that was sitting on the porch. As the Thunderstorm got closer, and the lightning show was really revving up, dad looks at me and says, "I wouldn't sit in that if I were you." I looked up at him and said, "Why?" The words barely left my mouth when lightning struck the ground in our front yard. The next thing I know I am laying on my back on the front yard, gasping for air, thinking what just happened to me. I am kind of twitching and a little scared so I just lay there. I must have shot ten feet from the porch swing. I look toward the porch, and I see my dad coming to me. In my mind I start to prepare my answer of, "I'm ok thanks for asking." when dad gets to me and asks, "Are you ok? I was really scared when you flew through the air." Dad walks up to me, looks down into my eyes and says, "That's why....now get back up on the porch and sit in one of the wooden chairs before you get hit again." I didn't ask why; I just got up and sat in a wooden chair. Many years later Laurie took me to the emergency room, we thought I might be having a heart attack. They hooked me up to all these electrodes and stuff. The results came back that no, I was not having a heart attack but I did have a reverse "J". They told me that a reverse "J" is an event were your heart stopped at some point. My mother thinks it is from one of those particularly hard hits that I took playing ball. I know differently, I know that it came form the day I asked, "Why." God is a lot like my dad. He will give you a nudge to do something or not do something. Sometimes He will shock you right out of your boots if you don't follow His lead. Sometimes He will look at you and say, "That's why" Looking back, I have learned to not ask why when God gives me nudges to do something, or not do something. I have learned that I make a lot of mistakes but if I do my best to sit in the middle of His will, as best as I can discern it, He won't have to use lightning to get the message through my thick head. My dad loves me, I know that. God loves me, I know that too. I have a reverse "J" as a reminder that I am not smarter than God, or even my dad. My takeaway from that experience, is that when I hear the Spirits soft, still voice, urging me to do a certain thing, I have learned it is best to not ask....why. Blessings,