Help Us Help Others

Help Us Help Others
Chaplaincy Clark County

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?


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.


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?


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.


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.


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."


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.


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.


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?


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.


Roger Chaplain

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.