Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Some help please

This year is soon to pass into history, known by different events, that all of us write in our own book. I have been in a real, and probably also imagined, state of flux. I can roll with the punches with the best of them, but the rolling is getting harder on a fat and somewhat more stubborn man. Well, enough of the p--s and moan time.

Fact- all of us, and I mean every breathing person who responds to life situations, has had times of stability and flux. The stability may have been horrendous strain and stress, yet stable none the less. We seem to be moving from one time of transition to another with some of us grasping for stability. Well, this is way to much verbiage to get to a simple point- things change with time and time stops for no one but God.

This next year, or, however many days are given, I plan on changing this blog a bit. Always beware when a person uses the phrase, "a bit". That means anything, everything and nothing. I want to reach more potential readers and followers, followers is a blog term, not mine. So a couple of questions to those of you who subject your minds to my words. Will you help me with this by answering a few questions?

I would like to compile some information on readers, not to be given out, sold, auctioned, held for ransom, redeemed for Monopoly Money, stuff like that. If some of my writing has been a blessing, challenge, disturbing, thought provoking in some way would you send me a small comment, don't waste space like I do. Please consider the following.

Bubba from Bubba land- I like some of your stuff, it challenges me in my thinking about God.
Or you could get all gushy and mushy and nobody might believe you.

The comments will be saved for my reference and contact with potential supporters, and I might read them when I am feeling sad and blue. Please send them to my email at the close of this. Also, please tell me how you first found the blog, such as FB, Google Search, accident.
I will leave this posting up until the end of the year so as to implore, plead, beg, beseech, scratch for, yes, even grovel for every last comment.

Mistakes can be blamed on a lack sleep and electronic malfunctions and atmospheric conditions.
e-mail address tedd@aservantsheartministry.org Thanks and be blessed.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Gabriel Brings a Message

Gabriel is before the presence of Jehovah, this time it is different, the Creator of the universe has been within the womb of a chosen virgin and His absence is obvious. Gabriel understands his message to the world. He is to announce to the world the birth of God's Christ, Jesus. An announcement that will herald the coming change the world has been waiting for. It has been four hundred years on earth since the last prophet spoke as he was moved by the breath of God.

Gabriel is directed to have the message announced on a Judean hillside in the presence of humble and hard working men who tend sheep. The message is not to be given to the leaders of the social and religious life. It is not to be given to the foreign leaders that rule almost the known world with the spear and gladius.

Within a second Gabriel and his assigned heralders leave the presence of Jehovah. The light that filled the hillside was of a brilliance and color that man had never witnessed. The men that were guarding the sheepfold were blinded by the flash that was like yellow gold. Thrown to the ground by the sheer shock of Gabriel's presence it takes a moment for the men to regain themselves.

As if the appearance wasn't powerful enough now the men were listening to a voice that would shake the foundation of any building. The words from Gabriel, " Behold, I bring you great news, that will bring joy to all peoples. This night, in the city of David, a Savior has been born." The messengers vanish in a flash of light.

A group of men, used to hard work and harsh elements, head to Bethlehem at the command of brilliant lights and thundering words, sent from God.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Comfort at Christmas

I am sitting in my comfortable chair with my feet up. It is a very well built chair that I wanted for a long time, I guess it will probably last as long as I do. The Christmas lights in the house take me back to so many Christmas seasons. The soft glow of the white lights being reflected in the red bulbs is really very beautiful. Donna and Ana have transformed our turn of the century house into a festive home worthy of remarks and praise.

As I am so comfortable in my home filled with music and adorned for the holidays I wonder, wonder about Jesus and his mother. Did you ever wonder if Jesus was as fragile and at risk as other babies in the womb? Did God the Father provide Mary an unseen gathering of angels to protect her pregnancy? The gospels don't tell us much about her time of carrying Jesus within her body.

I do know that from the instant of conception Mary carried the Christ of God within her womb. Her child was not to become the Anointed One, Christ. He was, and contained within himself the perfect union of God and man. Jesus was fully man and fully divine. A mystery that I accept but will never fully understand. For the entire time of her pregnancy Mary was host to Divine Sovereignty, Creative Genius, the Logos of the Father come to earth. He was never not all that he is.

Can you imagine with me the miracle that was taking place within Mary. As the baby Jesus developed his mind contained the knowledge of all creation. He remembered exactly how he spoke all that is and will be into being. The life giving blood that Mary shared with her growing Son was the life giving source that would cover the executioners post on Golgotha. O' Mary did you really understand all that was happening?

I will sit with my questions and the lights and music will bring truth back. I thank God I can question. I thank God for the lights, my home, yes, my chair, and for a young woman who carried within her MY SAVIOR.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Light Flashes from an Infinite Place

As Gabriel and the host sing, the flash of light causes the stars and even the brightest suns to seem as extinguished lamps. In that instant, the Lord God of Creation vanishes from the celestial halls. The hosts of God will wonder and ponder the mystery and majesty of Creator leaving ceaseless domain to become self-contained in the womb of a virgin. Their King who set aside His throne to invade a land of self-righteous and cold hearted puppets.

In a specific moment in time, yet, unable to be recorded by any device made by man, The Lord God enters the womb of the virgin Mary. The Spirit's power begins the miracle of creative multiplication. Conception is complete and the fragile process begins, unknown, yes, at first even to Mary. Human cells brought to existence by the blend with the divine. New life begins in Mary's womb, such as has never entered this world, nor any other world. The Divine God, the only true Universal Sovereign, has entered the world of man, flawed, fallen, failing, in need of a Savior.

It will be days before Mary is able to sense the life of God within her. How fragile Omnipotence has become. A power so great as to cast planets into place, has become the savior, living, growing, vulnerable, inside the body of a young woman. Omnipresence has become confined within a womb. Omniscience must wait to be made known, must wait to announce the plan made before the foundation of the world.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Gabriel- God's Messenger

The angel of the Lord, Gabriel, stands in the presence of Father and Son. As God's Messenger, Gabriel is to be the voice of Jehovah. There needs to be no conversation, Gabriel understands his message, just as he did before when he appeared to a man, Daniel. His messages to Daniel were the awesome words concerning the end of days. Now he knew he was to represent the Most High and bring a message to a young virgin.

In a moment, not able to measured by man, the Flaming Messenger of God is gone. His journey to Mary will be in an instant as distance is no hindrance. The message to Mary will be most amazing and change the order of the cosmos. The virgin has been chosen by God to bring the Anointed one of God, His Christ, into the world. The message is given to Mary and in less than the blink of an eye, Gabriel is again in the presence of the Father and Son.

As Gabriel is in the presence of Triune Sovereignty the multitude of created Seraphs and Cherubim gather together. The message given to them is of a mystery that has been hidden for ages. The Lord will become flesh and offer up his life as a sacrifice for the sin of mankind. The gathering of flaming servants seems moved at the message given to them.

As the host are gathered they sing their message of acknowledged Holiness. Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts! Over and over the words proclaim and instead of diminishing in strength and power the resonance and spirit grow without crescendo. As the pronouncement continues to grow in intensity the Lord raises His arms. In a flash of light that blinded the Army of God, and created such a brilliance that all stars and galaxies were diminished, the Lord God himself vanished.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Breath of God Decends Upon a Single Soul

The servants of God, messengers as of a flaming fire, watch as Father and Son move together.The servants, suspended in celestial glory, their wings are moved by the rush of the Father's breath. As in times past, His breath descends upon the earth and then upon the soul of a solitary man.

Overpowered by the Supreme Presence, he begins writing. The words seem to flow in effortless streams. Hours of writing seem as moments as the priest of Jehovah stops and ponders the incredible words he has put down. He scans the words and marvels at the ways of his God. This writing of his is not new, he has sensed the power before.

His eyes come upon words that are impossible to believe. He knows it was his quill that put them down, yet, at the time he had no idea of their truth. In is mind he questions: How can a virgin conceive and give birth? Call him Emmanuel, God comes to us, how can this be? The man of God hangs his head and confesses his sin of disbelief.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Unseen of Christmas

Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. What pleasure he took in planning this! He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son. Eph.1:4-5

Absolute stillness, Silence, for nothing is, nothing that can disturb, no forms, no matter, no microscopic particles, no atoms, nothing can disturb because nothing is, except the Triune Creative God.
Before Light Years began their recording of creation God already was. He brought forth, through the voice of His Son, the Christ, everything that is, and can be. Yes, even before the birth of the galaxies holding their planets and stars, the Father and His Eternal Son, knew the fate of all who were not yet, but still to come. And, in that knowing decided on a plan that would offer Eternal Transformation to their creation.

Now, eons after their plan was made the time is drawing near. The soul of mankind is empty, a vacuum that sucks in anything that would feign to give purpose and meaning. Man has searched for hundreds of years for answers to the questions that arise in his heart. He is lost and blind, unable to perceive and grasp the truth of God set before him.

HUSH, the only word to describe what is taking place in the realms of Glory. The voices given to created servants, to announce and sing of, the Holiness of God, fall silent. From one end of the Heavenlies to the other, the only sound is the movement of wings. Like the fanning of hot embers, the rhythm of angelic wings seem to brighten the stars, in perfect matching time, a twinkling of sorts.
More to come.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Truth troubles a soul

Head bowed, as if some great weight is crushing
Shoulders stooped, seemed collapsed,
eyes downcast, un-moving, blank, lifeless, no sparkle just stare.
Words of love, seem empty, deceptive, lying, no proof,
words used to cover, to change minds and courses.
Words of concern, of family, of children, words that are less than empty,
words that reveal the black void in a soul, or worse,
words that reveal the absence of a soul.
Silence, truth known, truth hidden, more silence,
Prayer unanswered on earth, truth known in heaven,
Confusion among men, perfect clarity in heaven.
Answers are unknown, tears flow, prayers ascend,
The Light Will Shine and The Truth Will Prevail.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Yellow Ribbons

Lord, Do you grow weary over the condition of the hearts of mankind? Yellow ribbons line the street of this little town that I now find myself in. Like hundreds of small Midwest towns the people are friendly and most have been neighbors for decades. The small hardware store serves customers who are loyal, even though the "Big Boys" are less than 20 miles or so away. The small bowling alley is one of the very few places for fun or team sport. The coffee shop is usually closed by two.

But now this town is different. This past week the town has been filled with media from all over the land. Hundreds of people, moms and dads, teenagers, grandma's and grandpa's, all have come to lend a hand, say a prayer, or walk a cold and potentially haunting field or ditch. Lord, I know that you have witnessed the abuse and death of countless millions of innocent children, brothers and sisters alike. And, If there is anything I am sure of more than anything in this world Lord, you know where Tanner, Alexander and Andrew are at this instant in time.

The volunteers will end their organized search today. They might resume on Monday, we will have to wait and see. But Lord, If I was a volunteer and able to walk and look and search, turn over debris, look under bridges, inside culverts, anything, I would not like to be told to stay home for the weekend. The boys will not be home for the weekend, they won't be able to go and look at the Christmas lights. Lord! This is wrong in so many ways. Please bring all of this madness to a close, this little town is so weighed down.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Warmth of the Sanctuary

The snow is blowing as I zip up my fleece jacket. Even though it only takes me a few seconds to go from the house to the church I make sure the fleece is zipped up to my chin. I fumble with the keys for a moment, trying to find the right one because I hardly ever unlock the side door. Once inside I turn on the lights for the rotunda. Everything around looks so festive and cheery, the Christmas tree is the center piece of the rotunda as the manger and candles are of the sanctuary. It is nice and warm and off comes the fleece jacket.

I sit in the area just back of the sanctuary and stare at the blue candles still on the altar table. A blue candle for each year of Tanners, Alexanders and Andrews life. The little blue candles number twenty in total. That means twenty one total years is the span of life for three wonderful and fun loving little boys. It has been close to a week since they were last seen playing in the back yard.

The entire town seems weighed down by a haunting and heavy sense of dread. The words from the authorities that, "this situation is not going to end the way anyone would want," seem to sap the hope and spirit from every person I talk with. Fathers and Grandpa's deal with feelings of anger and helplessness and I am right next to them. If I close my eyes and see my three, Allie age 9, Ayden age 7 and Avery age 3, I can only think of them for a split second before tears or anger show up.

So, I sit in the church and try to be helpful, answering the phone and allowing folks to come in for a few moments of silence and tranquility. I know what feeling helpless is like, it has been my portion for the past few years more than I would like to admit. In a couple of hours I will zip up my fleece jacket up to my chin and walk to the house, the warmth will embrace me and the fleece will come off. Not to many miles from me a father reveals his cold heart and Tanner, Alexander, and Andrew are probably.......

Monday, November 29, 2010

Candle Light for Three Brothers

The clear single notes of the piano had me whispering the words to, " Silent Night." The candles on the altar table represented Jesus and our missing boys. A blue candle for each of the birthdays the boys celebrated. Five candles for Tanner, seven candles for Alexander and nine candles for their big brother, Andrew. In the darkened sanctuary the soft glow of the candles was a gentle yet gradually overpowering image of the love held in the hearts of every parent gathered to pray.

I read a Psalm that spoke of stillness and waiting on God. Words of hope that we know and acknowledge that He is the giver of peace and comfort. So many questions fill my mind and trouble my spirit. It has been almost four days, how could the boys survive the elements if they are out in the cold? Why would any parent leave their children with a person who is almost unknown? And unthinkable is the question of suicide; leave your boys with a stranger because you don't want them to witness you hang yourself. I had to get the questions and haunting thoughts out of my mind.

As I led the gathering in prayer it was a time of acknowledging the plan of God. His plan, to bring us together as family, the wonder of love and children. In times of pain and loss how we come together as community. We unite together to bring encouragement, love, support and that as community the bond goes deeper than words. And we were united in one purpose; to pray, find a sense of comfort, and demonstrate to the family support.

One by one every person came to the altar table and held their candle into the life-candle of one of our boys. The process took almost twenty minutes and I watched as members of the media and law enforcement held a candle of hope. At the conclusion of the service silence kept us in our seats and looking at the altar. It was as if leaving the service was leaving Tanner, Alexander and Andrew.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Aboard the Mayflower- Determined Faith

By the spring and summer of the first year about half of the Pilgrims had died. Many parents had buried their children and death had claimed a life from almost every family. The food supplies had barely lasted through the winter. As I think about the Pilgrims, what was it that enabled those people to endure such harsh conditions? There are a lot of things to think about when I consider the entire time of preparation and the voyage.

Consider the sister ship, the Speedwell. Twice she was delayed due to taking on water. This put the schedule weeks behind. Next, the cargo and some of the passengers from the Speedwell were put aboard the Mayflower, back in England. Some of the passengers did not continue on. What would inspire some to continue on when others quit? What factor did faith play in the individual decisions.

If the Mayflower had sailed on her original schedule she would have reached the colonial coast long before the Atlantic storms and bitter cold. Reaching the coast a storm forced the Mayflower to abandon the Hudson River landing and return to the safety of Cape Cod. The crew and leaders of the Pilgrims spent almost a month exploring the area for a place to begin building.

After a devastating winter, spring brought hope and their first real contact with the native peoples. What are the chances that the first real contact would be with an English speaking native? There are so many things that happened it would be hard to believe that all the circumstances were coincidental.

The personal and group theology of the Pilgrims was in fact a very pragmatic and strict Calvinist view. They were convinced that God in His sovereign design had all things planned and ordained. This faith gave them great resolve and a determination that would enable them to endure great hardship and heartache.

The time of Thanksgiving had more to do with spiritual certainties than with temporal blessings such as food and shelter. Moms and dads knew they would be reunited with children, children knew they would be reunited with a mom or dad. That inner knowledge was the real reason for the season.

Happenstance or the Divine Hand of God. I know who and what I believe.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Aboard the Mayflower- A Safe Harbor

After sixty six days at sea the battered ship and the weary and cold travelers were looking at their new world. Due to the weather the Mayflower was off her course and instead of dropping anchor near the mouth of the Hudson River, she was north near the entrance to the bay of Cape Cod. The crew and passengers decided to sail south to the mouth of the Hudson.

Sailing south the ship encountered such a violent storm that both crew and passengers feared shipwreck and almost certain death in the cold Atlantic. In desperation the Mayflower came about and headed back north the the relative safety of the harbor of Cape Cod. Still damaged the ship made to the bay and dropped anchor. The bay, almost an enclosed refuge, would become home to the Mayflower and the staging point of the Pilgrims exploration of the area.

For the next weeks the crew and a small number of the Pilgrims made numerous landings along the shore. The search for water was rewarded with the, "sweetest pools of water ever imagined." Juniper wood was gathered and taken aboard the Mayflower. The aroma from the burning conifer was a sweet relief from the stench of five months under sail. The crew also was able to re-supply the wood for cooking and cleaning.

After a time of exploring a site was chosen for the beginning of the settlement. It was defensible against any attack and within an easy distance of good water. On December 23, the majority of the Pilgrims left the ship and began building their new lives. As Sunday was the 24th the Pilgrims didn't work but spent their first Sunday in worship and praise. Work began in earnest the following day. As Separatist, Pilgrims they did not celebrate Christmas day as they thought it to be a "pagan tradition."

During the construction of the meeting house and various homes many of the Pilgrims continued to sleep aboard the Mayflower. The frigid wind off of the Atlantic forced the settlers to build as fast as possible. This meant that the days were long and the blowing winds and snow would begin to take a very deadly toll.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Aboard the Mayflower-Providence or Happenstance

The ship's manifest listed one hundred and three passengers, one hundred and two by family name. The one hundred and third passenger was listed as, Dorothy, maidservant. In July of 1620 the Mayflower was being fitted and loaded with provisions for its journey to the New World. She was to wait in South Hampton for the ship Speedwell. The Speedwell had sailed to the Netherlands to pick up the passengers, who had been living in Leiden. Once the Speedwell met the Mayflower they would begin the long and dangerous voyage across the Atlantic. It was still nice sailing weather and the monstrous Atlantic should still be sleeping.

By the time the Speedwell did reach her rendezvous with the Mayflower they were already a week behind schedule. The Speedwell was taking on water and in need of repairs that lasted a week. On August the 5th both ships left the safety of the harbor and headed across the Atlantic. Both crews were hoping that even leaving in early August they would not face the horror of North Atlantic storms.

As both ships headed West the Speedwell began taking on water again. The Mayflower and the Speedwell were now three hundred miles out in the ocean. Both ships headed back for England and the port at Plymouth. Upon arriving in Plymouth it was determined that the repairs on the Speedwell would take to long and her cargo was added to the Mayflower. As disappointment and anger grew, many of the passengers on board the Speedwell abandoned their plans for a new life.

With the remaining passengers joining those on the Mayflower, she set sail on September 6th. By this the weather and the seas were not to be trusted, but the decision was made to sail on. For the first half of the voyage the wind and weather blessed the Mayflower and her crew and passengers. That was to end as the Lady passed the half way mark on the Captain's chart.

As the weather changed one Godless crewman told the Pilgrims that he couldn't wait for some of them to die, so he could throw them overboard and steal their provisions. For the next thirty days the Mayflower was at the mercy of the Monster of the deep. On more than one occasion the ship had to bring down her sail and ride out the storms. During an especially fearsome attack by the watery monster a mast cracked and the crew feared the ship to be lost. The ship's carpenter secured the mast till proper repairs could be done.

Some days before the sighting of land the "Godless crewman" became suddenly ill and died. The ship's log recorded his death as "The Hand of God." During the voyage a child was born and three days short of landfall a young lad died.

On November 9th in the Year of Our Lord, Sixteen Hundred and Twenty, land was sighted. The sixty six day journey across the Atlantic was done.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Living in the North and the Northern Light

The move to our cabin was a time of extremes. The first winter was one of amazing beauty, giant pines hanging heavy with snow, ice piled high on the shore of Lake Huron, sights that were new and exciting. Contrast the beauty with the harsh conditions of 20-30 below temperatures, frozen water lines, snow blown higher than windows. It was both an exciting time for me and a challenge. And, this is no lie, me and my brother and sister, we had to walk more than a mile to and from the bus stop.

Living in the north was therapeutic for me. I had time and space to sort things out in my mind. My relationship with my parents, especially my dad, improved a great deal. I was beginning to understand that bad things happen to everybody. Just as my mom didn't deserve to deal with epilepsy and Tag with leukemia, millions of innocent children starve and families all over the world suffer the pains that simply come from living.

The summer following our move we built an addition on the cabin. Well, it was more like building an entire house over a part of the cabin. Friends of my mom and dad came north and helped us build the house. My older brother and I worked with my dad hauling logs out of the woods and taking them to an old saw mill. The Old Swede, a name given in respect, milled all of our lumber at a cost of about a tenth of retail. My dad told his friends that he was thankful that his boys were as big and strong as elephants.

During this time we had a few traumatic and scary times. My mom had two seizures that could have been fatal. Once, she fell into a fire we had outside and on another occasion she fell in the house and knocked out some of her teeth. The fall into fire left her dealing with a type of palsy that lasted for a few months. I wasn't blaming God any longer as I had come to accept her condition as a bad thing that happened to a good person.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Beginning of Understanding

The relationship with my dad seemed broken. I told him and my mom that I needed to get away for a while and that I planned on hitching a ride to our cabin near Alpena. So, I filled a military duffle bag with a minimum amount of clothes and a maximum amout of canned food. I was lucky to get a ride to just about 10 miles from the cabin. The last miles I walked down a dirt road at three in the morning and not a street light for miles. Tag's old green duffle bag seemed to weigh a thousand pounds.

I spent the next weeks thinking about my family. The life handed out to my parents was unfair. My mother didn't deserve epilepsy and her children shouldn't have had to live under the tremendous pressure that came with worry. There were so many questions going on in my mind, and I could not find any answers. I blamed my dad for almost everything, except Tags death, I blamed that on God.

Time away did me a lot of good. The fresh Pine air was great to wake up to. Our family had so many wonderful memories of camping in these woods. Campfires, roaming racoons, swimming in Lake Huron, all those experiences were hidden treasures that we all had in common. I would never forget the last time Tag was able to go north with us.

After almost three months away I had settled some issues and was ready to get back to the family. Back at home I was able to talk with my dad and deal with my feelings. My mom and dad had discussions with us kids about selling the house and moving north. The house was the first one that I remember my parents owning. Now, because of circumstances, my mom would give up her house.

With the decision made; five of us moved north. Moved north to a cabin with one bedroom, a kitchen, small bathroom, and a screened in porch that would become a living room. It must have seemed crazy to a lot of people in Riverview. I was leaving the schools I knew and the friends that I been with for years. I put that behind me because I was absolutely thrilled with moving north, to the middle of no-where, and starting over.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Abandoned by God - 6

By the time I was a young adult my concept of God was pretty well cemented in place. My perception was that God did not really concern himself with all peoples. He had a favored group of people and bad things didn't happen to them. The illness of my mother and the fear that we lived with everyday was like standing on ground that you knew would be swallowed up in an earthquake. The illness and death of Tag was part of series of catastrophic events that severed my relationship with my father.

Now, as I understanding the religious influences early in my childhood, the basis and foundation of faith did not influence or give guidance in the day to day living. My parents lived in a state of faith incongruity. What they said they believed in and their living did not match up. I don't believe that they made a conscious decision to abandon their faith. I believe that the importance of an active and growing faith-life simply did not out weigh the power of apathy or disillusionment that they faced. It must have been more convenient to see hypocrisy in others than to acknowledge the need for active faith.

Once the pursuit of a faith-life was stalled or stopped it was soon forgotten. This time in my life constructed the framework that believing in a body of truth did not mean that the body of truth had any influence in the way you lived each day. A period of more than six years would be devoid of any Christian impress upon my life.

So. I entered a difficult time of life-transition with a view of God that was formed by parental influence and catastrophic events. My perception will continue until the real truth begins to bring light to my mind and chip away at the wall of false understanding that surrounded me.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Abandoned by God-5

By the time I was 16 I was running the gas station that we purchased and doing the maintenance work on my dad's truck. The gas station, Galloway and Son's Leonard Service, was in the middle of a gas war. I sold gas for 19.9 cents per gallon for almost a week. Things seemed to be going well, the truck was running and hauling a lot of sand and gravel. Work on the freeway by Ypsilanti was busy and would be good for a few months work. In the midst of that I was always waiting for the phone to ring about my mom or something else to happen.

Well, the something else happened. During the middle of the day my dad drove into the parking lot of the station, looking like he was slumped over the steering wheel and almost taking out the gas pumps. We thought he was having a heart attack. After a lot of tests and waiting the doctor told us that he had suffered a major stress attack. He needed to take some time off from driving.

After some time off my dad was back at the wheel. I got on the work program at the high school so I could work at the gas station pretty much full time. I used to kid my dad about my pay. I figured I made about 13 cents per hour plus all of the pop I could drink, as I had the only key to the pop machine. So, all in all, I didn't do to bad. I could drink a lot of pop.

About one month later the truck broke down. We towed it to the station and realized the motor was shot. As cash was always tight we didn't have the money to rebuild it. We decided to sell the station and the inventory and invest the money into a new tractor with two aluminum trailers. We found the equipment and began the business work to discover that the inventory was sold to us illegally, as it was on consignment. The seller never disclosed this and we were out. The inventory was worth about five thousand dollars and an attorney wanted close to half of that as a retainer to bring suit against the seller.

My relationship with my dad fell apart. I blamed him for not having enough business sense. I blamed him for not having the guts to sue the jerk that screwed us out of our business. I was really mad for the loss of Tag's insurance money. Within weeks I left the house and headed north, convinced my dad was a jerk and didn't know a damn thing.

REMEMBER PLEASE. My perception of right and wrong, just and unjust, good and evil, is at best stressed and at worse warped and very distorted.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Abandoned by God 4

I knew that the body in the casket had to be my brother. He didn't look like my brother, but it had to be him. The people in the funeral home wouldn't have led us into the wrong room. My mother, in tears, certainly had to recognize her own son. But, it didn't look like my brother. During his last days in the Veterans Hospital in Allen Park my brother's liver failed and jaundice quickly transformed the brother I knew into a body that was my brother in name only.

That event, interwoven with the past stress and tragedies brought me to a crisis of who I wanted to be, and what I seriously would believe in. In the following months my parents tried to recover a sense of balance and meet the needs of the family. My parents decided to buy a house with some of the insurance money from Tag's death. Beside the home, my dad bought the truck that he had been using, driving for Mario Trucking.

Thoughts of God and His purposes and plans were now distant memories and in fact, pushed to the back closet in my mind. Now, for most teenage boys, thinking of life's purposes is not high on their priority list. I certainly was no different, yet I knew in my conscious mind I didn't care what God thought about me or what I wanted to do. I had been drinking since I was twelve years old and continued whenever I had the money or the opportunity.

For a period of time my dad worked hard with the trucking business and things went well for a while. I am sure that my mom and dad tried their hardest to bring normalcy and good days to their children and to their own hearts. We went on our usual vacation to Northern Michigan. Camping out, we spent time swimming in Lake Huron and fishing in the Thunder Bay River. When the summer came to a close life seemed normal.

The Veterans Day that followed my brothers death was very hard. The Veterans Day Ceremony was held at Tag's graveside. The military grave marker was the center-piece of the ceremony. I am sure that none of us, the family, were ready or anticipating what was to happen. On command the rifles fired, again in perfect unison, the melancholy and subdued notes of Taps brought tears to mom and dad.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Abandoned by God-3

The illness my mother dealt with had a big impact on my concept of God. During my formative years there were many seizure episodes with my mother. Along with her illness there were times when the relationship between my mom and dad was turbulent. The image of my dad leaving for a week or two was pretty vivid.

Growing up we were not insulated nor isolated from Christian faith. In fact, I remember going to a one-room clap board Methodist Church as a child. We, the family, attended that little church on a fairly regular basis. After church we would drive to see Grandma Galloway in her little second story apartment in Flatrock. Grandma was a petite lady with snow white hair and a very strong faith. She prayed five of her sons through combat zones in World War Two.

To me, there was a disconnect with what my parents said they believed and how they lived and treated each other. This became even more evident on one occasion when my mom and dad had a fight and my dad put his fist through the wall; breaking his fingers and knuckles, requiring having his hand wired together. For weeks he had to deal with two wires extending out from his knuckles, covered with cork.

With quite a few areas of stress and the constant wondering and worrying about my mother I was becoming a confused and burdened young man. Now, I do not want to paint an entirely dark picture. There were great times of fun and escape. All summer was given over to fishing under the toll bridge and playing ball in the field at Memorial Elementary School. Yet, even in the fun times I was always ready to run home.

In the desire to be forthcoming and still respect privacy I have detailed only a portion of the trauma and experiences that formed my early concept of God.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Abandoned by God?

I believe that there were very powerful experiences that contributed to my concept of God. Probably the single most powerful influence was the illness that my mother suffered from. From a very early age my mother suffered from epilepsy. From my earliest memories it was always a stressor that impacted our family. One incident in particular is always with me, to this very day. My mother was driving our old station wagon with three or four of us kids in it. We were traveling north on West Jefferson and before we got to the King Road sign she began having a grand-mall seizure. My brother Tim was in the front seat and I remember him reaching over and turning the ignition key off. The station wagon rolled to a stop on the shoulder of the road.

With us kids out of the car my mother seizured for a few minutes. When she regained full consciousness she rested on the side of the road. In a few minutes my father arrived with my uncle Bob. This event and the potential tragedy that was escaped by the actions of my brother made an impact in my mind far beyond calculation. Over a period of time the emotional weight of constant worry and the anticipation of the worse took it's toll.

Trying to understand the difficulty that my mother lived with was hard for me. I only knew that most days she was a strong mother who had overcome a lot of challenges in her life. But, at a time and place that we never knew, a seizure would strike. With all of the friends that I had, none of them had to deal with a parent that suffered like my mother.

I believe that living with the knowledge of my mother's illness was one of the major contributing factors in my concept of God, of fairness, of love, of security and peace. Her illness was not the only influence, but again, it was very powerful. I make no pretense to understand if my early concept could have been different. It really doesn't matter, my perception was my reality.

Please continue with me and I would hope you will begin to gain an understanding into the mind and heart of a young boy who will eventually embrace God in all of His Love and Understanding.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Abandoned by God?

Across the span of time and within every land there are people who have given up on believing in God. I believe that the decision to abandon faith is not made in haste, nor in a vacuum. I think that people have an idea of how God is supposed to be, how God is supposed to treat mankind in general and their own life in particular. Many of our thoughts and views of God come very early in childhood. I am not speaking about some type of formal religious teaching exclusively; such as Sunday School or Catechism. Everyday events in a child's life can enforce the teaching or mitigate it.

Life experiences are very powerful forces in our concept of God. Children that are encouraged and embraced as the gift they are to be the norm and not the exception. When that happens they can be guided through the turmoils of living that come to every person. They are nurtured and guided into a world that is at times filled with beauty and at the same time filled with unspeakable evil.

Due to circumstances in my formative and very impressionable times I began to believe that God had favorites upon the earth. If you or your family were lucky enough to be on the good list, you could expect good things. If you were not fortunate to be on the, good list, life was filled with unrest and turmoil. The turmoil in my life will be written about in later pieces. So, I began to imagine God as a being that had favorites and carried a big club.

As the turmoil and unrest continued to grow it also continued to feed my warped concept of God. There were certain reoccurring traumas that seemed to reinforce my concept even greater than the less stressful turmoils and sources of unrest. This, my concept of God, I carried on into adolescence and teen years.

The death of my brother and my perceived fragmentation of my parents following his death was the season of my deepest conviction of abandonment by God.

I will continue this for a while and try to fill in the blanks and make clear the time of my encounter with God Himself.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Taps for a Fallen Soldier and Brother

Even distance and the sound of the wind didn't diminish the crack of the rifle fire as the military honor guard fired their weapons. With ever volley my mother flinched and my father kept gathering his soldier strength to honor his fallen son. In exact crisp unison the salute was given, the flag folded in perfect form, handed to the soldiers mother and then; the sound of taps was carried across those gathered in that cemetery on Sibley Road. The melancholy notes and cadence of the piece was more than most could bear up under.

Eighteen years later I conducted the funeral for my father and laid him to rest next to Tag and my mom. Later I was to receive his flag and have it to this day. I recall visiting my grandmother in her little apartment in Flatrock. Hidden inside the tiny frame of Gramma Galloway was a giant character. My dad and four of his brothers served in combat zones during World War Two. Gramma Galloway was a woman who prayed and she prayed everyday for her sons. Every son came back home and were proud patriots.

Her sons who fought for freedom have been laid to rest, a flag was folded in perfect form and taps brought men to stand erect and swallow the lump in their throat. This story can be told by a million different people. A million different names would reflect the same story, pride in their country, a willingness to sacrifice, people praying, flags folded and taps played.

I love my freedom and I know how valuable it is. When we lived in Zambia the country was run by a single party socialist government. A government that was supposed to take care of all and all would be equal. Well, it wasn't so. The people in government were rich and the common people lived in squalor and died of horrendous disease. Have you ever witnessed an outbreak of cholera? Our oldest daughter, Marily, was in hiding for three days during an attempted coup.

I enjoy two freedoms; the first is that of being an American and the second, more important than the first, I am a Christian who has been set free by the Love of God as given to all of us through the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. I will not give up either freedom. As an American my freedom depends on the voice of Americans. If we are silent than a government assumes to have the people content, apathetic, or ignorant. Silence is the surest way for a people to lose their freedom. Your vote is your voice, be heard, be vigilant, look for honesty, keep your freedom.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Cold Room and A Cold Message

The words from the radio, "On a cold and gray Chicago morn another little baby child is born in the ghetto, and his momma cries" as I listen to Elvis sing I can hear the phone ring downstairs. The voice of Elvis continues and then I hear my mother gasp and begin to cry herself. My bedroom is unheated and cold so it takes a moment to get our from under the covers and head for the stairs. I open the door and the kitchen and dining room are to my left. My mom is crying and my dad is hanging his head. My Uncle Bob and Aunt Lucille are at the table with them.

My dad tells me that the V.A. hospital in Allen Park has just called and a cold voice using cold words tells the Galloway family that Thomas Galloway has expired just minutes ago. The coming hours are a blur and yet a flurry of activity. A call to a funeral home, people in the house, friends calling, sports fans calling and crying. A newspaper calls and words are expected to give detail to a young life, a big Marine, put into a grave, not by an enemy bullet but by an enemy in his blood.

It was early May when Tag first called to give us the devastating sentence that would lead to his death. He had been promoted and his marine buddies had punched him in the arm to congratulate him. Days later he was black and blue from his shoulder down to his hand. The Naval hospital in Pasadena diagnosed him with leukemia and he was headed home as soon as possible. Once in Allen Park at the hospital the full extent of his illness would come down on us like a wrecking ball turning brick to crumbs. Within a couple of weeks massive blood transfusions were required and people from all over the downriver area gave their precious gift.

Tag fought hard and had some brief times of strength and we hoped for recovery. But, when he went back into the hospital as the Oak and Maple leaves came down he commented to my dad that he would not be getting out this time. He never made it home again. They say that the line of cars for his military funeral was a mile long. It didn't matter to any of us at the time. We only knew that our mom and dad were burying our brother.

My parents were never the same and neither were we. The years have come and gone. In 1987 I conducted the funeral for my dad and he was laid to rest next to Tag and my mom. All of us question the unexplainable and we are left with no answer. At times we even doubt the wisdom or even existence of God. Thousand of troubled souls abandon faith and embrace nothingness and emptiness. I have traveled the road of doubt and have questioned the very truth of God.

I am glad that I doubted and questioned. I am glad that I honestly searched for purpose and meaning for mankind. In my search, which has taken me some years, I am convinced more today than ever before that: He was, He is, He always will be. In spite of my belief or unbelief He is.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Monster from the Detroit River

As soon as school got out for the summer it was time for two of my favorite past times- sleeping out and fishing in the Detroit River. At night my brothers and I would catch night-crawlers. Our neighbors who watered their grass were fair game for our late night, flashlight guided, worm hunts. The slimy fish food was tossed into a can and when our slippery and succulent (for the fish) casche reached three or four dozen then it was only a matter of waiting for daybreak.

With the rising of the sun it was off to the river. We would ride our bikes to the Grosse Isle toll bridge. Once across the bridge the bikes were ditched on the side of the road and over the fence we went, fishing poles and worms at the ready. Many will remember that during the mid to late sixties the Detroit River was a bit of a hazardous, combustible, and slightly green movement of what was called water. Needless to say the catch of perch, bullheads, carp and the occasional bass were never eaten due to their combustion properties (smelled like gas).

Well it just so happens that one of our fishing excursions was on an unusually hot day. So after our time of drowning worms and rescuing flammable fish my little brother and I decided to take a swim. We crossed the bridge and went down to the Riverview docks. Off came the jeans, t-shirts, and tennis shoes. Standing on the end of the dock in our white Fruit-of-the Looms, into the river we dove. After a few minutes of cooling off in the refinery tributary it was time to get out.

Little did I realize, and of course my little brother, who is obviously dumber, he never had a clue, what would happen to us as we enjoyed the coolant. As we climbed onto the dock our white Fruities were a sickly mix of grape green and pea soup. As our luck would have it, as we stood on the dock, a Riverview Police patrol car drove into the parking lot of the dock. We must have looked like Green River Monsters, and I was sure we were beyond recognition. The patrol car did a slow circle in the lot and left.

Well it must have been fate or the Detroit River Specter, but the officer recognized the Galloway kids and promptly told my father of our excursion into the river and the green aftermath. He, dad, was waiting for us when we got home. After a ton of verbiage on the risks of swimming in the river he let us go. We did a lot more fishing that summer but we decided to deal with the heat and stay out of the river.

How many times have you and I thought we were going to get away with something? I could take hours re-telling stupid episodes in which I was sure I would never be found out. Most of the time I was found out, usually in record time. Remember what the Bible has to say about trying to hide your sickly green Fruities, "be sure your sin will find you out."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Slam of the gavel

On Saturday a friend of ours will be conducting an auction at our farm in the Hubbard Lake area. People from far and wide will come to look over, poke through, examine, and probe, through all kinds of stuff. An old antique cream separator, antique apple picking bags, old bouncy horses, a powered wheelchair, 100 gallon tree sprayer and lots of other stuff will go before the gavel of the auctioneer.

I agreed that there would not be any "reserves", that means that what it sells for is it. What I think is worth ten dollars may only be worth a buck. The highest bidder gets the prize, or junk, just a matter of opinion. Now, for the most part it is not such a big deal. Unless, unless something that we value, what determines value, is sold for a pittance. Once it is put into the hands of the auctioneer that is it. Now, a very positive point is this, I have complete, 100% trust, in the auctioneer. She has conducted hundreds of auctions all over the state. And, she is a good friend.

So, this Saturday a lot of stuff will leave the property, never to return. For the most part I will not miss any of it. Donna and I are beginning a new phase in our life and I am enjoying every minute of it. She is pastoring a wonderful congregation and I get to write and work on a mammoth carving and other wood projects. There will however be a bit of sadness as a few of the real treasures leave Genesis Farm.

I am so glad that the value of humanity in general, and me in particular is beyond measure and price. Even mankind in his ugliest hours has the same value as in his most noble and glorious hours. You were not bought back with corruptible things as with silver or gold from your sinful and former ways. But you were bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. The highest price ever determined was the price that had to be paid. The lifeblood of the incarnate Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator of all that was, is, and to be, was the price.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dance of the Innocents

I closed my eyes as the gifted fingers of our pianist brought to life "Amy's Lullaby." With the world around me shut off I envisioned the lullaby. Jesus is standing on a hillside covered in a blanket of daisies. To his right the hillside slopes away and the flowers converge into a blanket of white, as bright as the purest snowfall. The daisies seem to be dancing as a gentle wind moves up the hillside. Up to his knees in the dancing and waving of the petals he is smiling. He is not grinning or cracking a little smile, like one who is trying to be restrained or respectful. He is smiling with his mouth open wide, for all the world to see.

As the breeze moves and the petals dance I am captivated by the sound of giggles and laughter. It is the laughter of children, the music of the soul, giggles and squeaks, and the beautiful blending of the glee of boys and girls. Up the hillside they come, some running, some skipping, some falling and tumbling in the field of dancing flowers. Jesus is standing there with his arms outstretched, with such a smile that he is expecting all of the children to jump into his arms.

As the children run and dance and skip their way up the hill they take no notice of the language, color or clothing of their partner in the dance. There is no language in laughter, for it is universal, there is no disdain of clothes for all are wearing the same white, white as bright as the snow, the same white that Jesus is standing in. Theirs are the colors of every nation and every tribe that has ever graced the earth.

As they dance and laugh I can sense that these precious children are the Innocents. Fragile and helpless sons and daughters of the land. Innocent ones taken from the earth, from the arms of their mothers and the sheltering strength of their fathers. Taken by the evil design of men. Taken by the greed and envy and lust of those whose hearts are consumed with the thirst of power and rule.

Many of the dancing Innocents move towards Jesus and I can tell by the purity of their smile that they are laughing and dancing by the grace of God, as their lungs never filled and their feet never felt the earth. I know as a certainty that these that are dancing the Dance of the Innocents are so happy to see Jesus. They feel his embrace, their spirit innocent and free does not sense the wrong that has been done and wish for the day that all mankind will join them in the Dance of the Innocents.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Going to Bed Hungry

It must have been one daunting task to feed seven kids everyday of the week. In our house there were five boys (small horses), and two girls. Mom used to pack our school lunch everyday which meant almost a loaf of bread just for those. And, I never met a boy that only ate one sandwich of any concoction. Mom also made our treats, cookies and cupcakes, by the gross.

Well, as boys will be boys, one of the precious cupcakes came up missing just before supper time. Supper time, means mass grazing for the boys, we didn't have much money but we sure did eat good. Anyway, mom got really upset and knew it was one of her male offspring. How did she know? Nobody confessed to the cupcake caper so dad sent all of the boys upstairs to bed with no supper. No supper, a fate worse than death for five stomachs that required a constant flow of substance for survival, yet alone to thrive and become pillars in our community.

Off to bed, we climbed up the stairs, I was mumbling something to be sure. The three older boys started to argue and accuse each other of the cupcake caper. As the accusations and denials flew across the bedrooms an awful truth began to descend upon us, we are gonna get hungry, in fact we might even stay up all night fighting the severe hunger pains that would descend upon us any minute. With the pains of being famished descending so did the tears.

An older brother, who shall remain nameless, unless he doesn't buy me a steak dinner, headed down the stairs making his speech of confession and blubbering words of contrition. It only took a minute for the rest of the herd to descend the trail and gather at the feed trough. I might never know if that brother was the real culprit of the cupcake caper. In fact, he may have just been the one that was most hungry. After all he did turn out to be six foot six inches. That my friends is a big horse.

Jesus took a lot of time when it came to dealing with food and our earthly needs. On the hillside He fed thousands with a minuscule amount. He grilled fish outside for the disciples. In the upper room He opened a door of grace with bread and wine. And, during a great Jewish feast He declared that He was the Bread of Life. I am so blessed and glad to know that I don't have to go to bed hungry anymore.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Precious in His Sight

Remember, "Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and Yellow, Black and White, they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world." The truth of that simple Sunday School chorus has brought untold thousands of people closer to God and to the Jesus Christ, lover of all life. I was reminded today of the very special people in the world that are life lovers.

During my teen years I lived a couple of houses down from Mike, we all called him Mikey. Mike was a special needs child, born with Downs Syndrome. One of his greatest times was when he could wrestle with somebody. More than once I was on the receiving end of Mike's great strength. Man, did he love to wrestle. And, on an occasion he would get a little to excited and aggressive. When he knew, or was stopped, from his exuberant body control over his opponent he was always quick to apologize by giving a hug and saying, "I love you." Mike was a joy to know and have as a friend, yes, a friend.

Mike was a "Love Giver", it was his gift to the world and the world was better off. Who on earth, seriously, has the knowledge, wisdom, insight and right, to make the determination of who is a contributor to our world and who is not capable of contributing. It very well may be that at sometime, say, the next century, that the capacity to contribute to the world may become a determining factor in matters of health care or even giving birth. The technology is already upon us in the diagnosis of pre-born health issues.

If, and I say if, our society, our world at large begins to label those who can contribute and those that will take from society, God help us. Indeed, we will need His help. I for one, don't ever want to think of a world where a "Love Giver" like my friend Mike can't wrestle and say, "I love you."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Watch Watching

How many of us are guilty of watch watching? Do you suppose that everybody that wears a watch is guilty of watch watching? Is it kind of like, "A watched pot never boils?" Well, what do I mean, watch watching? I used to see it almost every Sunday morning worship service. First comes the wiggles, the weight adjustment (those pews are so hard), and then Old Joe starts looking at his watch. The closer it gets to noon the more he looks at his watch. I wanted to, but never did, bet somebody that one day Old Joe would either smack himself in the face as he whipped his watch arm up to his glasses, or he would get whiplash as he turned his head to make sure the clock on the back wall was in sync with his watch.

We try so hard to squeeze God into our concept of time and space. When we pray we want an answer right away. If the answer doesn't come quickly we may even try to manipulate the issues to force His Hand. We ought to understand by all of the illustrations in the Bible that God (Jesus), doesn't wear a Rolex. His time is not our time and His timing is perfect. Let me illustrate that point. For ten years Donna and I waited for our letter sending us to Zambia to arrive. We did all of the right things. We prayed a lot and kept informing the administration of our burden and calling.

The letter did come, after ten years of waiting. We left the USA and headed to Zambia the third week of September. After a week of orientation it was already October. On October 7th in a very remote area known as Chavuna-Chinjawa, some fifty miles from our home, a malnourished Tonga mother was dying as she gave birth to a tiny four pound little girl. A superstitious uncle carried the fragile, near death infant, for two days and placed her into Donna's hands. And, he turned and walked away.

Some people may say all of this was coincidence, chance, happenstance. Do you really believe that? I don't for a minute. God in His timing, according to His perfect knowledge and understanding had all of this scheduled right down to the second.

God please help me to stop watch watching.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Knocked Down By a Parasite

The nausea and fever were the first clues that something was wrong with me. I tried to fight it off for the better part of a day and it began to dawn on me that I wasn't going to get any better. I figured that I had better walk up the road to the hospital and have then stick me in the arm and check for bugs. The five minute walk from the house took me twenty and I was soaked with perspiration. The ultra-polite lab student took some blood and I waited a few minutes for our Dutch friend to give me the news.

It didn't take long for the news to come back to me, and everybody else. The big Magua (white guy), has malaria. Well, they put me in one of the small private rooms and tried to make me comfortable. My dear friend, Elvis Shimamvwa, came and told me that if I was good he might bring me a coke. He also told me about the coming malaria attractions that I might look forward to. Like a headache that could make your head explode and digestive issues that are better left undescribed.

I settled in my room and Donna was in to see me. We talked about the only mosquito that we had seen in the last two weeks. There was one lone pointed-strawnosed bugger in Zimbabwe that I couldn't kill. He must have got to me because it takes 5 to 10 days for the parasites to start their work. Later that evening I had some other visitors in my hospital room in the bush. The roaches must have heard that there was a big white guy in one of the rooms. And, they all wanted to come and see me and do relay races down the walls and across my bed.

The headaches and other bodily dysfunctions continued for about three days and then I began to feel a bit better. The anti-malaria drugs began to help and I knew I was on the mend. I realized that I was fortunate because hundreds of people around us died every year of malaria. After a couple of more days I found myself home for a few days rest. The doctor told me that I would feel pretty powerless for a couple of weeks, but should get back to normal.

It is amazing what a small unseen object can do to a person. that Zimbabwean mosquito stuck her straw-nose in to get some blood for her babies and she deposited a parasite that can only be seen through a microscope. Once inside the parasites began their work of reproduction and the destruction of red blood cells. The tremendous headache is caused by the dead blood cells moving through the circulatory system and ending in the brain.

How many dangerous little things do we allow in our lives? I don't know about you, but I can make an excuse or rationalize away a lot of little things. I read once that, "Sin in the heart is more dangerous than gunpowder in the cellar." God help me to allow the search light of your spirit to reveal the little things that want to knock me down.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Stars in a Father's Eyes

As I watched Ana turn the corner in the 400m relay I couldn't believe what I was a witness to. Here, before a couple of hundred people, a young lady who was not supposed to live and when she did survive could hardly walk, was gaining on her opponent. She was well behind when the baton was handed off to her, about 30m, due to a difficult hand off at the second leg. Ana was the last runner, the runner who would have to catch up, if they were behind. Well, behind they were, as I watched her turn the corner she was gaining fast on the other runner. Each leg is 100m so the other runner had a clear advantage.

Within 50m of the string Ana pulled up even. The crowd of people were in an absolute uproar. Every person was up on their feet watching this incredible display of determination. I was at the the finish line and looking over the fence, staring straight ahead at Ana. I was yelling at the top of my lungs, "Dig Ana dig, Dig Ana dig." Well, did she ever dig. At the finish she won by a stride and a bit. When I came back down to earth, wiping a lot of tears from my eyes, my eyes met Donna's and we smiled.

Our smile was only a small indication of the joy and thankfulness we had in our hearts and spirits. Our Zambian Speedster was a testament to the Love and Mercy of God. He was the One who gave her strength and determination. He was next to her those many nights when she was so close to the door of death. He was the One that broke the power of the seizures that racked her little body that rainy night in the bush of Zambia. He was the One that gave her the will and the determination to prove every death prediction wrong.

That afternoon, as the crowds cheered and the team-mates hugged and laughed, I was a father with stars in my eyes. I knew that in the darkest night the stars were always there. Even during the storms the stars are still there, and so is the One who hung the stars in space. The stars in my eyes remind me of the Lord, who by His spoken Word cast the universe into place.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Charlie was a disgusting man

Everybody knew that old Charlie was a homeless vagabond. He trudged up and down the streets, at times in the middle, in his gray wool coat and blue stocking cap pulled down on his head. His gray hair was as short as the stubble on his face. It didn't matter what time of the year it was old Charlie dressed the same. All of Charlie's earthly belongs were kept in his red wagon, a Radio Flyer, that was given to him by some kind hearted person.

We hadn't been in our ministry very long when we first met Charlie. We heard about and saw Charlie long before our first meeting. He came around the church on a pretty regular basis. There was always some food in the kitchen or fast food burgers in the freezer. Charlie knew he could eat at least once a day at our church. Well, when we met Charlie for the first time it was late August and still pretty warm. Charlie looked, and smelled, pretty bad, he was living up to his reputation.

Donna, being the kind heart that she was, looked at Charlie with compassion and love. Looking at him she was able to see past the coat, the smell, the dirt and the reputation. She saw a man loved by God, but only by a few people. After finding Charlie something to eat she asked him if he would like a shave and a haircut. He told her that he would really appreciate it if a pretty lady like her was to cut his hair. She led Charlie to the basement bathroom and I found a kit that contained a comb, shave cream and razor.

Donna trimmed Charlies hair and then his eyebrows, which looked more like bramble bushes than eyebrows. When she finished his eyebrows she asked if he would like her to trim his mustache. He told her that it would be nice because he hadn't been able to for a while. Well, what Charlie didn't tell Donna was that he chewed Red Man (tobacco) and it had been years since his mustache had been trimmed. You can just imagine what it was like when Donna ran the comb through Charlie's mustache and about two inches of it came out of his mouth. I had to find her two other combs to complete the task of the mustache trim.

There are unlovable people all around us. Contemporary lepers cross our paths and some of us turn our self-righteous faces away from them. The people that I shun might not be the same people that you would shun and so on and so forth. The fact of the matter is quite simple and plain: That is wrong and we are to love the Charlies of the world as much as we love our self. Jesus did not really give us a lot of options about who we should care about and who should be thrown aside.

God help me to see all people the way I should.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Son Dies of Measles

Mr. Ngoma's three year old son had died of measles and the men came to me and asked if I would say some words at the childs grave. The family lived just outside the mission station and it only took a couple of minutes to make the walk. On the way, Harry, a friend and brother, told me the child had come down with the measles and died in the morning. As I walked down the dirt road with Harry I thought about disease that killed people in Zambia that we didn't think much of anymore. Ana's half brother was almost totally blind due to measles, and now a three year old has died.

I arrived at the village and was greeted by Mr. Ngoma and the other adults in the village. I expressed to him and to his wife my sorrow. About 100 feet from the huts was a small grave that had been dug, about three feet deep and about the same in length. In the bottom of the grave a slab of limestone had been placed. It seemed to fit almost perfect, with the sides and edges all chiseled to the shape of a rectangle. As I waited by the grave three of Mr. Ngoma's brothers arrived, each was carrying at least one piece of limestone. I was amazed as I watched the men place the slabs of stone in the grave making a perfect fit of each piece.

After the last piece was placed in the grave, with the cover set to the side, the son of Mr. Ngoma was brought out of the hut. He was wrapped in his blanket and was very tenderly placed in his hand hewn coffin. The perfectly hewn lid was placed on and one of the elder men began to place dirt on the coffin. After a few minutes the dirt began to mound up and another elder came forward with a tree limb about eight feet in length. The limb had been stripped of all small branches and twigs. The elder man began swinging the limb over his head and slamming it down on the mound of rust colored earth. After a minute or so of this compacting of the ground more was added.

The process of covering the grave continued for around ten minutes. When the men were done with the grave the earth had been tightly packed. Before I was to say a few words the traditional means of farewell took place. The child's plastic cup was placed at the head of the grave. It was to be his marker. At this point a tribute by his mother was given that left me deeply moved for some time. She came to the side of the grave and knelt down next to her son. She removed her wrap exposing her breast. And then she expressed breast milk onto the grave of her son. Her farewell to her flesh and blood was the most tender and moving tribute I had ever witnessed.

I spoke for a couple of minutes about the love Jesus had for all peoples and especially for children. After a reading from the bible I prayed and Harry interpreted into Tonga my prayer. I walked away from that simple grave side service deeply moved and comforted in my own soul in the knowledge of Christ and His great resurrection plan.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hidden Danger Can Hurt

During our first year in Zambia we lived in the bush about two hours from the capital city of Lusaka. I was responsible for the infrastructure of a large mission station that consisted of 300 bed hospital, 600 student secondary boarding school and other programs. My job was to make sure that there was a dependable supply of water and electricity. During periods when the electrical supply was interrupted we generated our own with two large generator systems. The systems were aging and hard to maintain. After the rainy season one of the streetlights shorted out, effectively turning off the entire street lighting system. They were wired like some Christmas lights, one goes out they all go out.

I spent days trying to track down where the short was. With over 75 lights to check it could take a long time. Each light had to be inspected, which meant hauling a ladder to each pole and climbing to the light and checking the connections for malfunctions. Each pole was about 22 feet in height. I had one of my workers help me with the job. His name was Office, but everybody called him Black. He would help with the ladder and hold it so it wouldn't slip off of the pole. That was kind of a joke because he only weighed about 90 pounds and I was more than double that.

After a day of inspections we got to the last pole of the afternoon. It stood near a secondary road that was used for foot traffic more than vehicles. I really wanted to find the break in the system as well as get done for the day. With the ladder up and and me 20 feet off the ground I began to check the light. A rather disturbing and surprising noise told me in a millisecond I was in trouble. Ants had eaten through the base of the pole, just under the surface. My weight was more than the old pole could stand.

As I rode the ladder and the pole to the ground I saw my faithful friend Black, trying to hold up the ladder and the pole. It only took him a second to know he was not going to stop my wild ride to the waiting hard ground. The pole and ladder knocked down a fence and I hit the ground. Instinct told me that I did not want to stay on the ladder as it slammed into the pole and the ground, I needed to try and roll off the ladder before impact. I was able to do just that, as the ladder got close to the ground I went over the right side and landed a few feet from the pole and ladder. It seemed OK until I felt a rather sickening pain in my right ankle. I have had a few broken bones so I knew that my ankle was broken.

Black and I got back to the shop and a moment later I heard all of my men laughing, some to the point of tears. It seems that Black told them how he tried to hold up the ladder and the pole as I rode it down to the ground. His gestures about trying to hold up the pole were priceless. I nursed the broken ankle for a few days and I eventually found the break in the wires. Upon close inspection of the broken pole it was easy to see why it broke. Over the years the ants had chewed tunnels through the pole. The danger was hidden just under the surface, covered by a few inches of earth.

Our world is full of hidden dangers, they wait just under the surface. Things may appear safe, normal, everyday, but underneath can lurk a danger that can cause real and lasting pain. My right ankle is still ugly, no treatment for a broken ankle in the bush. How many of us are scarred due to hidden dangers.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Have you ever been truly breathless? I guess I have been only once or twice in my life. The first times was at the birth of our middle daughter, Hilary. I was able to be next to Donna during the c-section that brought Hilary into the world. It was the most awesome experience up to that point in my life. The doctor delivered Hilary through the surgical opening and he handed her to me. Yes, to me, I was the first person to really hold her, amazing and breathless. Two descriptive words that still don't do justice.

The second time was such an incredible experience that even today when I talk about it I sense people's disbelief. I stood and walked on some of the very ground that Dr. Livingstone stood on more then one hundred years ago. His journey across the African continent has never been equaled. The work that he accomplished in the name of Christ changed the south of the continent forever. Really, a man that will stand as one of the greatest missionaries to Africa of all time.

There is a town in the Southern Province of Zambia that bears his name. The town is located on the banks of the Zambezi River. The Zambezi River is the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe in the south. Victoria Falls, one of the greatest natural wonders of the world is at the small town of Livingstone. Around Vic Falls there are NO safety fences or guard rails. A brave soul can walk right out to the very edge and look out across the largest water falls in the world. Just after the rainy season it would be impossible to have a conversation with a person if you were within hundreds of yards of the massive walls of water that crashed into the gorges below. Breathless and unable to speak I stood amazed.

A time is coming when standing in the footsteps of Dr. Livingstone and holding my newborn, as breathless as I was, will pale in comparison to the time I stand before my Holy and Awesome God. I will be breathless, for their will be no need to fill my lungs any longer.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Even the birds like WalMart

I don't have much desire to go shopping, I guess I have no desire to go grocery shopping and even less desire to go to WalMart. It is not that I have anything against the store, quite the opposite, competition is good.But, I know that if I did much shopping in WalMart I would end up in jail, or at least in court. You see, I have no patience for crazy people armed with a steel cage on four wheels.

The first time some crazie hit me with a cart as they tried to get in front of me to beat me to the express check out I would hit them with my stick. It is no ordinary stick, (fancy term for cane) my big brother made it for me and it is one fine piece of wood. The handle has a natural curve and it is a bit on the heavy side. Now, I wouldn't mean to hit that crazy it would be just a natural reaction to keep my self from being injured. Boil all of this paragraph down to this: I don't go in to WALMART. I sit in the car or truck, prefering my truck.

OK, I hope you are still reading this because I do want to get to a rather funny yet very important point. It was during one of my many handicapped parking place vigils that I watched a rather fascinating event take place. In the parking lot there seemed to be a lot of sparrows, you know, the birds Jesus talked about. As I watched I saw one little guy run, skip, whatever they do, under a car.

And then I watched him jump between the front grill and the radiator. And to my surprise and he had just entered the Little Birdie Buffet. For 4 or 5 minutes the little two winged glutton gobbled down on bees, horse flies, moths, dragonflies and, don't tell Donna, a butterfly. I tell you the flying porker ate so much it was a wonder he could even get off the ground.

I have been dealing with anxiety lately, a lot of it. It is unusual for me as my kids will attest to be anxious. I have been able to identify a couple of reasons. I have allowed a few cares to slip in. I am thinking of retirement and the path seems rough. Donna and I have our land and it is gorgeous. It fronts a small river in Northeastern Michigan. God helped in that matter.

The next is an issue that many of us deal with; health concerns. Due to my spinal cord injury I am pretty limited in what I can do. That, bothers the #$#@ out of me. Donna is going through some pretty heavy health issues that make mine pale in comparison. So, I am not sure what our golden years will be like..

The words of Jesus come to me, "Not a sparrow falls to the ground without your heavenly Father knowing." If God can take care of His birds with a WalMart store He will take care of us. I guess I need to go and sit in the WalMart parking lot for a few hours and put a couple of things to rest.

Thanks to the Sparrows.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Misery and Mercy

In the process of working on a book I came across one of the most captivating statements made by Saint Augustine. He was commenting on the encounter Jesus had with the Scribes and Pharisees in which they tried to trap him with Old Testament teaching. A woman caught in the act of adultery was brought before Jesus, where was the man, and they quoted the passage that condemned her to be stoned. As Jesus laid open their deceptive hearts and guilty lives they left him and the woman alone.

In a way that only Jesus could and can do, all condemnation was renounced and he gave her freedom and a challenge. His mercy set her spirit free and his justice warned her of the consequences of actions. The two left alone, the guilty and the guiltless, the sinner and the sinless, the lawbreaker and the advocate. Alone before God, as we all will be at some point in time. Back to Augustine. He writes, "the two were left alone: Misery and Mercy."

Doesn't that thought just thrill your heart? Picture with me the most vivid example of human misery. A soul ensnared and chained by actions and depravity, lost in despair and ruined by repetitive failings. Mercy enters the room and it flames with light. A head hung low with eyes focused on dirt is lifted heavenward. The scars and bruises of life are covered in the healing oil of Mercy. Mercy, the very act of God in which the pain and guilt of sin is removed and the deepest understanding of new life and forgiveness is revealed.

Facing my Creator I will stand, "The two were left alone: misery and Mercy."

Friday, September 10, 2010

Thoughts on Moving and the Collection of Stuff

I wonder when mankind began collecting stuff. I don't think our very early ancestors had to many worries when it came to moving around the land. Favorite spear for hunting and hide for keeping warm were probably pretty much their only concern. Later they had to figure how to keep and carry their fire, no need for a moving company yet. When Moses led the Jewish people out of Egypt their bags were packed and they were ready to go, the taxi was waiting it's blowing, sorry wrong thoughts. They had their sandals on and their stomachs were full and the staff was in their hand. No extra stuff on their move, nothing to slow them down or distract them. So, when did we start with this collecting of stuff?

It only took the movers four hours to unload their truck, it will take us four weeks to unpack the boxes. I look around and so many things we have because they bring back a special or important memory. End tables that have been around for fifty or sixty years, they look old and worn, yet we will keep them and pass them on because they have significance for us. The same is true of countless pieces of glassware, pottery, pictures and the special item that brings a smile or a tear. Going through some items that belonged to Donna's mom have been especially touching. A bag of quilt squares that are close to one hundred years old, passed down to the fourth generation.

I spent some time questioning the need to hold on to things. The question bothered me for some time in light of the fact that January 22, 1997 our house burnt to the ground and with it 23 years of precious belongings, baby pictures, school work from the children, baskets made by hand by a lady in a leper colony who had only a part of a thumb. All turned to mud and ash. A few things survived because I had left them in one of the barns.

I would like to say that I am a man who lives a very simple and uncluttered life, that might be my desire but it is not my reality. There are many items that hold a great amount of significance for me. I guess as long as I keep them in proper perspective it is fine. I don't worship or turn anything into an Icon, a few things could come close. I have a three volume set of sermons preached by John Wesley that is priceless. They were printed at the turn of the 19th century and never read cover to cover because many of the pages remain uncut. Those books I hold very dear, yet I know their place.

I guess I will always have stuff and will always think I have too much stuff and will always think I should have less stuff.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

God's Gift of Hope

Her story does not end but this story must. Ana has become a person of determination and purpose. In Jr. High she set a school track record in the 70m and 100m sprints. Her High school track accomplishments include go to the state finals with her relay team 3 years in a row. Two of her greatest accomplishment have been, Member of the National Honor Society, Detroit Free Press Honorable Mention All State Basketball Player, Point Guard.

As her father I have the greatest blessing in watching her prepare to impact the world. Her studies are preparing her to make a difference in the lives and living conditions of the worlds neediest peoples. Through long nights of praying and yes, crying, God has given us His gift. Today we live in a society where life seems so cheap, so disposable, so inconvenient at times. God help us to see life the way He does.

If you would like to know more about her story contact me through my email address, I can try and make an audio version of my pending book available. There is so much more to the story. Family tragedy and the near death of Hilary will lead us, me, through some very dark times. God has a plan for all of us and His plan is being worked out in my life.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Friday, August 27, 2010

God's Gift of Hope

We hadn't been in the city very long when we planned another trip to Chavuna-Chinjawa. This time our trip would be a little more serious. We were taking with us a representative of the Child Welfare Department. We had met with him and needed his advice about approaching the family about our love and desire to adopt Ana. He told us that in many rural areas adoption was unheard of. He agreed to go with us and help explain it to the family.

We picked him up in the city of Mazabuka and headed to the village. He knew at this point that Ana's father had only given us permission to care for her until her first birthday, which was only a few weeks away. We arrived at the village with the usual excitement from the children. We unloaded the food items and greeted everyone in the traditional way. When Mr. Colomo introduced himself and who he represented a look of puzzlement was evident. We sat down around the fire pit and small talk, and talk about Ana and how she was doing lasted for a few minutes.

Sensing the spirit of the family members gathered with us I brought up the subject of loving Ana. Both Donna and I expressed to them how much of a part of us she was. The elderly women of the village were remarking that it was easy to see that we loved her and she was " a bit OK". That meant that her progress was easy to see. As this conversation was going on Mr. Colomo would interpret, not only the words but the nuances of the conversation. Having prayed about this trip for some time the moment was at hand to talk about adoption.

Donna was talking to the women about how Ana was responding to the good food and medical attention. The women, almost in unison, told us that if Ana was in the village she would face troubles and problems. At this point Mr. Colomo brought up the point that Ana was doing well because of the way she was loved and that he was sure the family wanted her to continue to be OK. They all agreed and then he talked about the word adoption and that we wanted to bring Ana into our family as one of our children.

There was a fair amount of misunderstanding among the family members. We explained that Ana would be one of our children and she would have all of the blessings of good food, clean water and medical care. That made a little more sense to the women and I could see a little more understanding on their part. As we thought we were making progress our discussions took a sudden turn. Dominic, Ana's father, reminded us that he agreed to have us care for her until she was one and her birth date was coming. He said that because we loved her and she was better we could care for her until she was two and then he would come and get her.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

God's Gift of Hope

Hilary's first visit to the Chavuna-Chinjawa area had a tremendous impact. On our way back to the station she cried because the conditions were so bad and Ana's half brother and sister were so sick. We told her that each time we were able to go out to the village we would take food supplies out to them. That made her feel better for the remainder of the trip. Donna and I both knew the devastation that we would all deal with if little Ana had to go back to the village. Our prayers would need to be extra vigilant and we would need others to be praying for us. Donna told her mom and other people began praying for us.

In a week or so after that visit we made our move into the capital. Life was going to be very different for now on. Living in the city offered some luxuries that the bush did not, markets and some fresh vegetables. But, living in the city was also very dangerous. At night our living compound was closed down and twelve foot high steel gates were kept locked. It was pretty common to hear gunfire and sirens. When I traveled at night I never stopped at traffic lights or stop signs. Any body driving a newer vehicle was a target for heavily armed carjackers.

Ana continued to improve with the formula and now Donna was preparing her baby food. Fresh fruit, guava, mango and passion fruit were available and Donna used her blender to make the baby food. As she developed we noticed that her legs were bent to the extent that they appeared to be deformed. The doctors told us that due to the malnutrition she would probably have rickets, a condition that deforms bone growth. Even with that observation we were so happy that she was doing well. With her one year birthday approaching our love for her grew and our apprehension of the village grew as well.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

God's Gift of Hope

That rainy night when Ana came so close to death was to become a turning point in her struggle. We know that God in His mercy and love brought about a real miracle. This is not to say that everything was fine from that night on, on the contrary. We would face many more challenges with her as she developed. As Ana neared ten months old the family was being transferred into the capital city of Lusaka. i was given the responsibility of property development for the countries of Zambia and Malawi. We were looking forward to the move because all of us would be together as a family. You see, up to this point Marily had to live in the capital for school and was only able to come out to us every other weekend and when the weather permitted.

Before our move we decided to make another trip to Chavuna-Chinjawa. This time we were taking Hilary with us, she was so excited she could hardly contain it. It was all she talked about for a couple of days.This time we would not have to walk as a friend was going to go with us and he knew the bush like the back of his hand. So, we loaded up the truck and headed for another visit to the area of Ana's birth. The trip this time only took about three hours and was easy compared to the first time.

As the truck approached the village area the little children could hear us coming and were running around, laughing and pointing at the truck. Again, they were shouting "Magua, Magua".
We parked the truck and the entire family soon gathered around. Our friend Elvis came with us and he would interpret for us. As soon as the greetings were over and things seemed to settle we talked about Ana and how well she was doing. The older women of the village were talking among themselves about Ana and how much we must love her.

As we sat and talked the little children were coming up behind Hilary and trying to touch her hair. You see, Hilary had beautiful long blond hair and the children had never seen hair like that. When Donna figured out what they were doing she had the children sit next to Hilary and they ran their fingers trough her hair for a long time. They would touch her hair and giggle and touch it again. This trip we brought out some oranges for the children and Hilary showed them how to smile with an orange wedge in their mouth. It was a touching sight to watch Hilary and the children laugh and giggle at each other over somethig as simple as an orange.

We brought the oranges due to what we learned on our first visit. The children were doing very poor. One of Ana's half sisters had lost her hair due to malnutrition and her half brother was almost totally blind due to measels. We had decided that every trip we made we would bring out fruit if it was available and 90kg. bag of ground meal. There would be no corn in the village due to another drought.