The Eagle and the Deer

24 11 2019

Last weekend a situation or rather, situations, came up where I had to drive to three Rock _nlocations here in the Midwest. It wasn’t anything that would have an effect on me personally, or anyone in my family. But there was this constant urging in me that I had to make the trip and it had to be right then. After talking and praying with my Lady Thursday evening, I threw a few belongings in the car Friday morning and headed out. As I drove, I tried to remember how many times I had done this in the past; hearing of a need that I felt I could help with and without hesitation heading down the road. Now, I’m not a pastor per say; but I’ve always felt a desire to be there for someone and tell them of the love and hope there is in Christ. Now I must admit many times in my younger days, I gave no thought or prayer before jumping in with both feet. And truthfully, there were times my presence accomplished nothing. It was on a whim that I knew I had to go, without giving any thought to what God may have wanted for me. As I’ve grown older, that quick mindedness has left me. I still hear of matters that I wonder if I should involve myself? Often the answer is no. I take more time to seek God’s guidance and do not rush into a proverbial house on fire like I once did.

Still, there are moments when something will invade my mind and heart to the point, I’m thinking about it constantly.  I tell myself there’s nothing I can do except pray, so I won’t get involved. But if it stays so prevalent in the forefront of my mind, I can’t help but thinking, “God are you calling me out? I’m not the man for the job!” I felt this is one time it’s wasn’t me, but my Lord saying, “Go.” It was strong on my mind as I drove down the highway, “What am I supposed to do or say? I don’t know! God, I sure wish you’d just tell me if I’m really supposed to be doing this.” Now, I know God doesn’t directly speak to us like He did in the Old Testament, which is a good thing; probably freak this old man out! But I do believe He has His ways of communicating if we’re willing to be attentive. This occurred twice while on my trip. The first was when I noticed a shadow on the ground to my left traveling at the same speed as me as if it was an escort. Looking up in the air I noticed a large eagle that stayed with me for a mile or so. Very strange. There was no body of water near there where generally bald eagles hang out. “What are you doing out here big bird?” After a while he soared off in another direction. I thought “Well thank you Lord for sending one of your beautiful creatures to say hello; it broke up the monotony of the road.” While the sighting of the eagle was still fresh on my mind another interesting situation occurred. I looked down the road and a large buck deer crossed in front of me. He was easily an 8 or 10 pointer. That’s not so unusual since there was a large grouping of trees where he was heading. Then he did something that had me shaking my head. As soon as he crossed, he turned right back around and ran in front of me again. I had to brake to keep from hitting this ole boy. As I was now at a slower pace, he ran directly across from me for a couple of hundred yards before turning back. Whoa! “Okay God, thanks for the nature show. But are you trying to tell me something?”

Over the next two days, with lots of prayer, I completed the task I felt I was called to do. (Sorry, I don’t feel I can discuss the details at this time.) Nothing spectacular or earth shaking occurred, but I truly believe I was where God wanted me to be. As the days have passed, I continue to think back to the weekend. And I still have to wonder why me, I know there are many others more equipped than I am. Then, I remember the two majestic encounters I had, and these verses came to me.

Isaiah 40:30 “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Habakkuk 3:19 “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.”

Now you can disagree with me and that’s alright. But this man feels God sent the eagle and the dear to remind me of something. He doesn’t call the best into service, He calls the willing, the ones who will listen, obey, go. And when He calls, and you answer, God is faithful to give just what you need for the task.

Perhaps in this moment all He wanted was for me to plant a seed in His name, nothing specular. That isn’t much to some. But if it’s what the Lord calls for and you’re willing; trust me, He’s got bigger plans than you may ever see. He just might have given you a chance to be part of something awesome.

Well, this isn’t my usual writing; but just as I felt the urging of my God to go, I felt it also to tell this story. I hope you can come away with something to help you on your “Travels of the Rock Road.”

Hey, thanks for reading.

See ya next time.








The Saga of a Drunken Drummer and a Church Pianist

3 11 2019

It was a summer of 1971, and a gal I knew was getting married. It was going to be a Rock _nbeautiful ceremony with a reception to follow. The only problem was she had little money left for entertainment; in other words, a band for the reception. Being that she was such a dear friend, we made the deal if she would buy a keg a beer for the band that we could keep in the back of the stage, we would come and play.

The night was great, good crowd enjoying the music we performed, and plenty of liquid refreshment in-between every song. I was enjoying myself, but truth be known, it was just another gig. That night, I was going to enjoy myself, mix with the crowd and come down from the stage every chance I could. I saw a friend sitting at a table with another girl, so I made my way over. The girl was very pretty, but something was definitely different. While everyone was knocking back alcohol as fast as they could drink it, she was having a orange soda. “Are you okay?” “Yes” she answered. “Why do you ask?” “Because everyone is having a good time drinking, and you have an orange soda. What’s up with that?” “Oh, I don’t drink.” That was the first time I ever met a girl in that setting that wasn’t partying with everyone else. Weird! “Well, do you dance?” I’m not sure I gave her a chance to answer as I grabbed her by the hand and led her out to the floor. I handed my drumsticks to a guy and said, “Here, go up and get on the drums, and tell the guys to play a slow song.” He gave me a big smile and he was on his way. So, we danced, slow and close. About halfway through the number something seemed to be happening, so I held her closer, and she did the same. When the song ended, we exchanged smiles, a small kiss and returned to my spot on the stage. When the time was over, we said our goodbyes and I didn’t think any more about it. She told a friend about me and they told her, “Don’t waste your time, he has a girlfriend.” But she told her friend that God seemed to whisper in her ear, while we were dancing, that this was the one. God didn’t whisper, speak, or yell anything in my ear, I just knew I was with a hot babe. Of course, I was so full of myself back then and only cared for my wants; God would have had a hard time getting through to me. That is until several months later.

Many of my friends were getting turned on to Jesus and telling me constantly I had to get saved. I believed in God; but didn’t think I needed to get as radical as they were. I agreed to go with a couple of them to a little church they were attending. It was fun especially seeing how many young people were there, but I didn’t see anything else that special. That is, until I took a look at the gal playing piano and realized, “Hey, that’s the chick I danced with!” The relationship didn’t take from that moment, but it began a spark. The more I wanted to know about Jesus the more she helped me understand. It was fascinating to me how someone so young could have such a grip on what the Bible said. I found out that she had been adopted, and from the moment she entered in the home of her new parents they taught her about the Lord, that at the age of 4 she accepted Christ as a Savior and kept growing from that point on.

I had broken up with the girl I had been dating, but I thought maybe this is what we both needed. Well, she wasn’t interested in hanging out with a bunch of “Jesus Freaks.” Most likely the truth was she didn’t trust me, and I couldn’t blame her. Like I said I was so full of myself that I couldn’t be trusted. But something was changing in me and, I believe, for the first time in my life I was letting the Holy Spirit guide my life. Because I knew I had a lot to get straight in my life, I wasn’t interested in having a new girlfriend; guess I couldn’t trust myself. But with every challenge, every obstacle I had to overcome this gal was there to help me. So, we dated. And we broke up. And we got back together again. And we broke up again. And each time we broke up it was if a part of me was missing. I didn’t feel complete. And as we talked, I learned she felt the same way.

Proverbs 31:10-12 “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.”

I had not seen many good marriages growing up. My father deserted my mom and living with my great aunt and uncle, I found him to be a hateful man to his wife. So, I was afraid of what kind of husband I would make. But this gal told me that she believed God had brought us together. It was then up to us what we did next.

Well two years later, November 3, 1973, this gal became my wife, my Lady. And if I told you that last 46 years has been constant heavenly bliss, lightning might come down and blow up my laptop! It’s been easy, it’s been hard. It’s been happiness, it’s been sadness. It’s been laughter, and it’s been tears. There’s a quote that goes, “There are no perfect husbands and no perfect wives, but if you’ll keep believing in each other, there will be plenty of perfect moments in your marriage.” Therein lies the secret in making a marriage work, keep believing in each other and keep working on the relationship.

We started out as two completely different people, the type of differences that many would say don’t have a chance at a lasting relationship. But God had other plans. He didn’t see our differences as a reason to keep us apart. He saw them as the very reason to bring our lives together–to grow as one. I’m convinced that had we not committed to each other and to honoring our marriage before God, I doubt you would be reading tonight’s story.

God brought two “Travelers of the Rock Road” together. A drunken drummer and a church pianist. And He said, “Boy do I have plans for you two!” And did he ever. 46 years and still counting.

“My Lady, it has been so wonderful to grow up, and grow old with you. Love you, Matilda!!

Yes, that’s the nickname I gave her. Cool huh?!!

See ya next time.





Is There More Than We See?

20 10 2019

During my sophomore year in high school, a new boy came in. His family had just moved Rock _nto the area from eastern Kentucky and I learned right away he was very shy. When he was called on in class, he would sit with his head down and not respond to the teachers no matter how much they insisted. I had a couple of classes with him and I could see it pained him to even be there. Being my roots were from West Virginia, we had some similar upbringing so I thought I might be able to talk to him, to reach out and become a friend. I tried walking with him after class and striking up a conversation, but it was the same as with the teachers. He would stare down at the floor and not say anything all the way down the hall. After a couple of attempts when the bell rang to dismiss, he’d shoot out of the room as fast as he could which I took to mean he didn’t want me bothering him. I took the hint and left him alone, but still I couldn’t help but to feel sorry for him. Because of his isolationist ways, he was often made fun of which I was sure was making him feel worse about being there in the first place.  But there was nothing I could do so I left him alone and hoped he’d someday open and let people get to know him.

My junior year, I left the senior high and went to a trade school for that year. By then my attitude was a bit like this young man straight out of the Appalachian Mountains; since I was hanging with an older crowd, I didn’t feel a connection to my classmates and I didn’t want to be there. Returning to the high school my senior year, they allowed me to be an independent student where I only went to classes three hours a day and then would leave to go to a job. And who should be in one of my classes but the Kentucky misanthrope. Something had changed in a year’s time. If he was called on to read in class he would respond to the teacher’s command in a quiet voice and still with head down. Someone finally cracked the shell around this guy, I thought. Perhaps I can talk to him now. But like before, as soon as the bell rang, he took off before anyone could speak to him. Oh well, a little progress is better than none. Maybe by the end of the school year he’d open up even more. That wasn’t to be. Two weeks later he didn’t show up at school and it was learned he had run away and no one knew where he was. There were a few jokes told about him, but within a week he wasn’t even a thought as to whether he was alright or not.

Sometime later I was working the evening shift at a factory where I met this woman who was very nice and we took breaks together on occasion. Her accent told me she wasn’t a Buckeye and I learned she was from Kentucky and had moved there to support her family. I then learned the quiet, withdrawn young man was her son. She related how she had been in an abusive marriage and her husband, the father of the children could be cruel to them, especially the boy. This went on until the father walked out on the family and the mother made the move north. “He couldn’t understand why his daddy had to act that way and why all of them had to move away from the only home they had ever known,” she explained. “It was like he was getting punished twice for something that wasn’t his fault.” I think I was on the verge of tears. Here he was unhappy with life, the way it was handed to him and now he had run off and no one knew where he was. “Oh, I know where he is,” she added. “He got a bus ticket and went back to Kentucky and is staying with my brother.” “I miss him dearly, but when I spoke to him on the phone, he sounded like the little boy I used to know, happy and at peace finally.” “Isn’t that what every parent wants for their children anyway?”

“A mother is the truest friend we have. When trials heavy and sudden fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still she will cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.” Washington Irving

This dear soul reminded me a lot of my own mother. Raising me without the aid of a father, doing her best to protect me when I was abused by my great uncle, teaching and consoling me to the best of her ability and then letting me go when she knew it was best thing she could do for me. Oh, the sacrifices these dear ladies make all in the name of love. Like my mother, this lady was deeply in love with her Savior and they both spent much time in prayer for the children they cherished more than life itself.

“There are few things more powerful than the faithful prayers of a righteous mother.” Boyd K. Packer

I never saw this Kentucky “Traveler of the Rock Road” or his mother again after I left that job, but I have a feeling things got better for them. I could see that when she spoke of how he was doing; her face would light up and her eyes would dance with happiness. You don’t get reactions like that if the situation is contrary. I also have a sense that it wasn’t long before this mother pulled up stakes and took the rest of her family back so they could all be together.

When this memory came back to me and I began writing this story; I didn’t really know where it was going to take me to r what I wanted to pass on to you good folks. I suppose it could be that we never know the complete story of what someone is going though and what trials they have had to suffer alone. So, before we make a snap judgement; we need to consider there might be more there than what meets the eye. Even Jesus taught us in Luke 6:37, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”  I realize that’s an area I had to work on a lot. I pray that we all do. But in my mental vison I can still see that mother, worried and caring for her son, but joyous beyond measure that her child was finally happy. You know, that’s the kind of love God has for us. But that’s another story. Let me close my hodge-podge of thoughts tonight with this quote that falls into the category of “right on the money!”

“The work of a mother is hard, too often unheralded work. Please know that it is worth it then, now, and forever.” Jeffrey R. Holland

See ya next time.

Three Monkeys and a Smile

6 10 2019

I’ve mentioned in past writings how grade school was not very pleasurable to me. With all the moving Ma and I did in my youthful days, education took a backseat that when I Fremont Ornamental Iron Co.did begin elementary school I was far behind where the rest of my classmates were in understanding, especially reading. So, when I would get called on to answer a question and fumbled through usually the wrong response, I’d be bombarded with ridicule and the type of laughter that reinforced in an insecure child just how dumb they were.  Looking back, I suppose I could be bitter from those trying years, but I came to realize that was part of the culture especially back then. Talking to some of my former classmates when we reached adulthood, a couple admitted they joined in on the laughter partly because everyone else did and partly glad that it was me and not them. It is a blessing that most of us grow out of those immature ways with age; a few I count today as close friends. But even though life was a hard road, I can look back and see moments and people that made things better, even if they didn’t know it.

Back in the early 60s there was a small business that sat just west of the school property. It was a dingy old building, not much more than an old garage. Several men would be working away with welders and the like to transform metal shaped like yardsticks into ornamental wrought iron fences. On warm days they would open the overhead doors and you could see everything they were doing. I’d stop often just to watch the magic they performed taking common material and making it into something beautiful. They were never bothered with me or some of the other children hanging around to watch and would invite us in to get a closer look–definitely before the days of OSHA.  They even learned of our names and would greet me with, “Hey Johnny, did you stay out of trouble in school today?”  For a time, it became the highlight of my day for the school bell to ring dismissing us for the day and running over to this dirty but fascinating little manufacturing business. On the wall hung all kinds of signs with fascinating pictures. Because I did not learn how to read until an older age, I didn’t know what the signs said but I loved to look at them, especially a yellow one with three monkeys on it. One day the shop boss said to me, “You sure do like that picture, don’t you? How ‘bout you take it home with you?” I was ecstatic as he took it down from the wall and handed to me. I walked home grinning from ear to ear with the sign under my arm not giving any thought to how dirty my clothes were becoming from all the grime that had built up on it over the years. I got home, cleaned it up with the garden hose, took it up to my room and put it on the dresser so I could look at it. I think the first few nights having it in the house, I just stared at it until I fell asleep.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” Leo Buscaglia.

Buscaglia was a college professor turned writer and motivational speaker. During his days at USC he was greatly touched by the death of a student from suicide. This made him ponder these questions: What didn’t we see? What didn’t we know? What would have made a difference in this young man’s life that would have stopped him from self-destruction.  He surmised that it’s not so much something major done to combat the negativity one feels in their life, as it is small, meaningful gestures to let an individual know you care, they have worth, they are loved.

The Christian also has been given rules of life on how to treat others.

Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

Proverbs 15:4 “Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”

Proverbs 16:24 “Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”

Proverbs 18:4 “A person’s words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook.”

These workers of iron didn’t know anything about me. They didn’t know the struggles I had in school and life in general. They didn’t know all my insecurities and how I wanted to run away. They knew me only as the little boy who came by their shop every day expecting kind words and smiles; and they never failed to give those precious gifts to me. I am convinced that those small acts of kindness, as well as many who did the same for me helped to mold the man I am today. I do not blow my own horn, for I don’t see myself as anyone special. But I try to make it a habit to extend kindness to everyone I meet. On a few occasions I’ve been told, “You know, I really needed to hear that today; thank you.” What if we all made the effort to brighten another’s life with gentle words and a loving spirit? What kind of world do you think we’d live in? Just a thought, gang.

Well, the next school year the shop was gone, torn down and moved to a better location and as often occurs I never saw those “Travelers of the Rock Road” again. But their kindness, laughter and smiles have stayed with me through the years, especially when I remember the gift of a dirty old sign with three monkeys on it. Unfortunately, my Great Aunt Pearl discovered it up in my room. As I told you I couldn’t read back then, but she could. Still not sure what she read, but old Pearly Mae grabbed it up and I never saw it again. But hey, that’s another story for another time.

See ya next time.

Ride of a Lifetime

15 09 2019

As many know Cathy and I have been big bicycle enthusiasts for years. Because ofRock _n medical problems we’ve not done as much this year, but hopefully we’ll be back at it next season. With more trails being added all the time we’ve been able to bike some ten states. And probably the most memorable was biking the Great Allegheny Passage that starts in Pittsburgh PA and travels southeast to Cumberland MD. Some 150 miles of the most beautiful scenic travel you’ll ever do perched on two wheels. The mountains, valleys, and waterways are breathtaking. Passing through small communities that for over 50 years’ time have not changed was a bit like stepping back into history. For four days we nearly forgot what regular life and routine was like as we made our way across Pennsylvania and Maryland like two modern day pioneers always anxious to see what was waiting for us over the next rise. It all sounds exciting and a bit magical, and it was. But the last day of our journey wasn’t the easiest to say the least.

Toward the evening of the 3rd day of our journey it started to rain. Luckily, we were near the place where we would spend the night. The next morning the rain continued and the weather report didn’t give us any hope of it letting up. So, since we were on a time schedule; we packed the bikes and headed out into the wet gloomy weather. We donned our raingear, but it didn’t hold up very well considering we peddled away in a steady downpour for some ten hours. Also, since this was a packed dirt trail many mudholes materialized and I think we hit 90% of them. Within a few hours we were soaked, covered with mud, and freezing cold. Where was fun of this great adventure that we had experienced in the beginning? The beauty of the mountains and trees was gone because we couldn’t look up much from the pelting we were taking from the raindrops. I thought we sure could do without this last leg of the ride. But then, things started to happen. We would pass fellow bikers going the opposite direction in the same state of affairs as we were–wet and covered with mud. But they would see us and big grins would come to their faces as we passed and spoke briefly. I realized they were seeing how ridiculous we looked and not seeing themselves. We then looked at each other and began to laugh like a couple of kids playing on a schoolyard and the rains come. We started having the time of our lives as we muddied along. And as our attitude changed so did everything around us. We crossed a long bridge that went over a deep valley. We could see the clouds hanging low against the mountains giving an aura effect to the valley. We reached an area that had a small shelter and discovered we were at the Continental Divide. There were pictures on the walls of some of earlier travelers that had came that way. Then we reached the Mason Dixon Line and of course we had to take memorable pictures, mud covered and all. We reached another shelter where we had a late lunch of cold pizza leftover from the night before. And it tasted delicious!

Reaching our final destination of Cumberland with night setting in and the juvenile feeling of delight we felt started to fade. We had conquered the Great Alleghany, but we hadn’t made any arrangements for a place to stay.  The trail office was closed so we couldn’t get a list of places. Thankfully a couple was coming out of another office and we told them our dilemma. With one quick call they got us into a very nice hotel that had a bay for washing down the bikes and where we were able to take the bikes up to the room with us. A hot shower, dry clothes, and a wonderful dinner in the hotel restaurant. What a way to end our journey!

Chuck Swindoll; “Laughter is the most beautiful and beneficial therapy God ever granted humanity.”

Instead of concentrating on the mess we found ourselves in that last day, we found a way to make the best of it. We didn’t chuck the whole adventure because of the troubles we ran into; we enhanced them in a good way with laughter and joy. It makes me wonder how often a situation wouldn’t seem so bad if we approached it with a good attitude. I’m not preaching, but it’s a thought. It’s like Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Amen?

Well, after completing the biggest ride we had ever done, I can say this segment of “Traveling the Rock Road” wasn’t exactly how I had hoped and planned. But I am so thankful that I made the journey with my Lady, without a doubt the greatest earthly gift the Good Lord put in this man’s life. And as for the trek itself, from alpha to omega, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world! I hope I don’t have to do anymore rides like that. These old bones don’t dry out as well as they use to.

See ya next time.

The Love of a Friend

1 09 2019

I was talking to a pastor friend of mine sometime back and he related to me a situationRock _n that was breaking his heart. As a boy back in his hometown he had a friend that, as the saying goes, was closer than a brother. From elementary to high school he and his pal, Josh were constantly together. They would stay at each other’s home, played sports together, and as it was called back in the day, partied a lot together. Their friendship was so strong nothing could drive a wedge between these two. That is until their junior year. My friend, at the urging of some others, attended a youth Bible study and within a couple of weeks gave his live to Christ as his Savior. Immediately he wanted to tell Josh all about it so that he might become a believer also. Afterall, Josh was his closest friend and just knew he would understand and give over to Jesus also. But Josh’s reaction was to the contrary. He couldn’t believe his friend was silly enough to get caught up in all that nonsense, so he rejected the invitation. It wasn’t long before Josh rejected his childhood friend also.

Graduation took the two boys in different directions. Josh was awarded a scholarship to play baseball for a college near their home, and the other chose a Christian school several states away. At the end of his undergraduate, my friend enrolled into a theological seminary. Finishing that, he excepted a position to do mission work in Africa. There he stayed for ten years until returning to the states to pastor a church in Indiana. He and Josh no longer communicated, but he did his best to see how his old pal was doing. He knew Josh had left school to play baseball in the minors and for a time South America, before taking a job in the private sector near the college he had attended. A few years passed and word came that Josh was in trouble. He had been married and divorced twice, could not hold a job and had turned to heavy drinking. That was all he needed to hear.

The pastor immediately drove to Josh’s location and hunted until he found him, not looking like the handsome, physically fit young man he once was. Josh was elated to see this man and listened to all he had to say. And after many years of hard living that got him nowhere, he gave his live Jesus.  Now this would be a happy story, if it ended here. But it doesn’t. Josh didn’t have a home so he returned to Southern Indiana with the pastor who put him up in his own home until he could get a job and a place of his own to stay. One evening Josh came up missing. When the pastor found Josh, he was drunk at the local bar. Taking him home and getting him sobered up, Josh cried because of his fallback and promised he would never do it again. But the scenario kept playing out the same; he would sneak off and get heavily drunk, his pal would go get him and Josh would cry for forgiveness. This went on for six months until my pastor friend could go no further. Purchasing a bus ticket and giving him an ample amount of money out of his own pocket, he sent Josh home where his family was waiting for him. This broke the man’s heart. He had tried so hard to help the one he once saw as closer than a brother, but in the end, Josh just wouldn’t accept it. Some would say that he gave up on Josh, but the truth of the matter is completely contrary to that. He summed up the whole situation with words from Billy Graham, “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict. God’s job to judge. And my job to love.” Even though he had to send Josh away that didn’t stop the love he had for this man. As I write this, I know that he continues to follow up on Josh’s progress, seek help for him where he now lives. But most of all, he prays for him every day.

G.K. Chesterton; “To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.”

1 Peter 4:8; “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

I don’t know if the path of these “Travelers of the Rock Road” will ever cross again. It’s hard to say. And I sure can’t say Josh will straighten up his life and see the truth; actually, I’ve met a lot of Josh types. But this I do know, as long as a breath of life is in his friend, he won’t give up in hopes that some day the rock road he and his childhood buddy traveled, will be replaced with the Road to Glory.

Now that, friends, is the love of a Brother and convicts this old man.

See ya next time.


A Bump in the Rock Road

18 08 2019

This is the moment in life my Lady and I have been looking toward for some time now.Rock _n The start if the Golden Years. Kids raised, bills paid and a few bucks saved up to do some of the things we’ve dreamed of. Granted, you don’t have the energy that once came with youth, but still strong enough to enjoy the next few years. Some have you, “You two earned it, enjoy!” And truthfully, I kinda feel that way also. Been a long road with many bumps and setbacks before we got to this point. But now that we’re here let the good times rolls! Well, at least that’s the way we saw it.

Without going into detail this last year saw quite a dramatic change in our plans. Where we were planning trips and the like we now have a great deal of responsibility to contend with. I went into retirement, only to back off to semiretirement now. Cathy had planned to retire in March, but now will go until the end of the year. Stress and aggravation are once again part of the Miller home and right now, there is no end in sight.

It would be safe for folks to assume we’re frustrated, sad, angry or even a combination of all three. And you would be right to a certain point. This was something we never saw coming nor planned for. But it’s here and it’s happening.  So now what?!!

Good people, the one thing I’ve never wanted you to think of me is that I’m a spiritual giant in my beliefs in God. I’ve written in the past of being weak and at times disillusioned. But what I am is a man of faith who is married to a wife that holds strong to her Lord. And as we prayed and considered everything going on, this verse from Proverbs keeps ringing in my ears. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” We may have been surprised at our situation, but God wasn’t. As a matter of fact, I believe He has been preparing us for this moment for years.

Rick Warren says, “What gives me the most hope every day is God’s grace; knowing that His grace is going to give me the strength for whatever I face, knowing that nothing is a surprise to God.” And Francis Chan puts it this way, “True faith means holding nothing back. It means putting every hope in God’s fidelity to His Promises.”

So, at a moment like this, or as some say, “where the rubber meets the road,” do I choose to believe God is still in charge, or do I chuck it all in my grief? My Lady and I have made the decision that we will walk by faith and let God use us anyway we’re called upon. Have you ever read the story of Joni Eareckson Tada? If not, you should. Here is a giant of a gal who has put all her trust in the Lord. One quote I like from Joni goes like this, “The best we can hope for in this life is a knothole peek at the shining realities ahead. Yet a glimpse is enough. It’s enough to convince our hearts that whatever sufferings and sorrows currently assail us aren’t worthy of comparison to that which waits over the horizon.” Wow!! If a faith like that is good enough for this precious “Traveler of the Rock Road,” then I believe the Gray One doesn’t have it all that bad.

So, Cathy and I move ahead and keep believing God’s got this! As the phrase I coined and wear on a medallion around my neck every day says, “Thank God for today. Trust Him for tomorrow. One foot in front of the other.” Besides, it’s not all bad. In every situation you can find, joy, laughter, even peace. Just may have to look a little harder.

Jeremiah 17:7–8 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

Hey, it’s a tough life here on the 3rd rock from the sun. Some have it worse than others. How ‘bout we all become beautiful fruit bears? Works for me and my Lady.

Little side note. I have a few extras of that medallion I wear around my neck. If you’d like one just send me your car, every dollar you can put your hands on, write me into you will and hand over your first-born child!! Nah, I’m just messing with you. Send me an address and I’ll send it to you. Remember, I only have a few.

Have yourself an Awesome and Blessed Day–Hey, life for that matter!

See ya next time.

Lessons on Having a Grateful Heart

4 08 2019

I was recently reminded of an old friend (and I use the term “friend”Rock _n loosely) that I worked with years back. Gabe was a man that had a story for everyone you told him. If you did something, he did more and better. If you were sick, he had it worse but healed up faster. I think you get the idea. Not a lot of guys would sit with old Gabe at break time; but being the type of person I am, I would let him regale his latest exploits as I sipped on my coffee. The day came a certain gal he met seemed to take an interest in him and the two were together every chance they had. It made my coffee break much quieter.

Her, being originally from Los Angeles, convinced Gabe they would have a much better life if the two of them moved to L.A. It wasn’t long before my friend sold everything he had amassed over his adult life to pay for their journey west. He asked my opinion and I told him, “You just met this gal and really don’t know that much about her. Why don’t you wait say a year or so to get to know each other better before you give up a good job. L.A. is not going anywhere; if you still feel strongly about going out there, you’ll at least be more prepared. Well, that was a waste of words and breath. A week later they were piled into an overpacked car and heading to California.

About a month passed and I get a collect call; it was Gabe. “What’s up Gabe?” “I don’t believe it.” We rented a nice apartment that took most of my money and the only job I could find paid me less than what I was making and it’s more expensive to live here.” Then she throws me out and the only place I could afford to stay at was this flophouse. And it’s scary! I made a big mistake. It there anyway you can send me money to take a bus back home?” Oh Brother! Cathy and I were just barely making ends meet. We had just had our first child so living on one income, my job, was enough to meet our needs but that was about it. I told him to call me back in an hour so my Lady and I could talk about it. We did talk and pray about it. Bus tickets were still affordable, but when you’re stretched economically any added expenses are tough. We discussed how different people helped us when we were in trouble and we felt it wouldn’t be right not to do the same for someone else. So, I wired him the money.

Several weeks past before Gabe came to see. He had a new job and was living with a friend until he could get on his feet. He got around to saying, “Now I’m going to pay you back just as soon as I can.” That was something else Cath and I talked about. We could have told Gabe this is a loan, but the ones that helped us never did, so we felt strongly to act in the same way. “Gabe, don’t worry about it. If you’re ever in a spot to pay us back fine, but if not that’s okay.” Without hesitation his next words, “Okay, thanks.” I had to smile a bit at his comment, but I wasn’t surprised or upset. At least not until later on.

Time passed and I was laid off from my job and now we were expecting our next child. We couldn’t afford to do anything, so other than odd jobs I’d pick up to bring in a few bucks, we stayed home. One evening Gabe stopped by to visit. He was now working two jobs and doing quite well for himself. He also said he was sorry to hear about our situation. He then stopped talking, pulled out his wallet and began counting the money he had. Cathy and I looked at each as if to say, “Are we about to see a miracle here’? Is he getting ready to pay us back for our kindness?”  After he had fingered though his wad of bills, he stuffed them back in his wallet. “Have to go to the grocery store when I leave here, just wanted to see if I had enough money on me.” As soon as he left out anger exploded! Same old Gabe. He just wanted to show off the stash of money he had, with no intentions of paying us back.

After the anger cooled down; we reminded each other that we hadn’t made a loan to Gabe. We gave freely and whether or not he ever paid us back was entirely on him. He chose not to so there was nothing more to say.

Colossians 3:23 tells us, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working FOR THE LORD, and not for men.”

Old Gabe was happy for the gift we gave him, but it was obvious he wasn’t grateful for the sacrifice we made. But the two of us had taken a commitment that whatever we do would be treated as if we were doing it directly for our Lord. When you consider the sacrifice Christ made for all of us on the cross so that we would be with Him in heaven someday; well, a few bucks gone doesn’t even begin to match up. Besides, you can’t out give God. I’m not into this prosperity theology I hear today, but I do know anything done with a grateful heart, God will see and know. Times got rough, but I can say we never saw a hungry day, nor went without a roof over our heads or a bed to sleep in. Sometimes we stood in amazement when money came in just in time to take care of a bill. Awesome!

“It’s one thing to be grateful. It’s another to give thanks. Gratitude is what you feel. Thanksgiving is what you do.” –Tim Keller

So, whatever happened to this “Traveler of the Rock Road” the Lord put in my path? Last time I heard anything; he had met another gal that convinced him to move to Arkansas. I suppose I was glad to hear he was gone again. God used Gabe to teach me to do everything with a grateful heart, or don’t do it at all. Still, being human it was kinda nice to know I wouldn’t be running into him and be a captive audience for some of his stories of conquest and victory.

I wish the old boy well. But to this day I look hard at a caller ID to make sure it’s not him before answering it!

Thanks for reading.

See ya next time.


Hey, Here is the Servant’s Heart

28 07 2019

Dennie and I have a lot in common, but then a lot of differenRock _nces. We both worked at the same place, in the same department and enjoyed each other’s company.  We both were college educated but relied more on common sense than education. We enjoyed a good joke and got frustrated at the same with aggravations. We both had long and good marriages and our favorite people to be with was our wives. But then there were also differences.

Dennie grew up loving the outdoors; he would spend every moment he could there. I loved it also but not to his extent. He once, along with his brother and dad canoed from Minnesota to Canada to fish and live off the land for two weeks. He had patience for intricate projects. He could spend hours building remote controlled planes that he was very good at flying. Me, a project I could spend a few hours on and if the model plane didn’t come together it probably would become kindling for the wood burner out back. We both worked in a lab specifically in metallurgical science. When I took up this career it was very frustrating trying to understand everything. But Dennie was a whiz at the technique and understanding. Matter of fact he held a degree in metallurgical engineering. He could have risen to a higher level in our occupation, but he enjoyed being on the grassroots of the job, mostly because at the end of the day he could go home and forget about it till the next.  His ability and understanding helped me greatly in understanding the process. Without his mentoring, I doubt I would have lasted a year.

So Dennie was a friend and a teacher to me and we enjoyed working together. The one area we had differences was our belief system in God and what it was to live the Christian life. His beliefs were structured and revolved around carrying out certain sacraments to someday achieve heaven.  Where my belief is wrapped around grace and mercy that came through Jesus. Even though he couldn’t buy a theology that was so simple, he was always willing to listen. And if I presented my position, he needed to see it in the Bible. Gracious and courteous was my pal Dennie, but he just couldn’t wrap his head around salvation that was a gift and not of works. That all changed one day.

Frustrated where he and his Lady attended, he shopped around for another church and wound up at one that shared what I had talked to him about. In a class for new people he peppered the pastor with many questions that were each answered from the Word. He studied fervently everything he could get his hands on. In the end he concluded joyfully, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  Now I could say Dennie was my friend, mentor, and Brother in Christ.

Now I suppose I could say we had something else in common. But that wouldn’t be totally correct. Yes, we shared a love of Jesus and both believed in salvation through grace, but Dennie took on the role in a much deeper conviction and love than I did. Dennie became the epitome of one with a servant’s heart. Jesus came into the world as a servant and not a conquering king in order to teach us to live the same way. Take a look at Philippians 2:1-11. He practiced the characteristics of Philippians 2:3-5 “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” In the home, with family and friends, and especially in the church can one practice and achieve the servant’s heart.  But in the workplace where the pressure is always on; well, it can be a bit harder. I admit, there were times I had shortcomings and could lose my composure. But if Dennie had any frustrations he never showed them. Even with bosses and fellow employees who could be rude he never retaliated in any way. I doubt you would find anyone who worked with this man that could say a bad word about him. Because there wasn’t any! There were times when I blew up, he settled me down. Not by what he had to say, but by being a peaceful spirit with a soft smile. I feel I learned volumes in that Christ-like attitude over reading about it.  On more than one occasion I thought to myself, “I have seen grace and mercy in the form of a servant; a lab technician.

I once heard a quote that said; “The true character of ministry is a servant’s heart.” It makes me wonder how many seeds were planted for Christ in his actions and ways. I dare say probably many more than some with a Bible and a sermon. Not critical, just a thought.

Dennie and I retired within six months of each other; he wasn’t ready, but health issues mandated he had to. We saw each other sporadically but would talk on the phone. The last time was a week ago Friday. Same old Dennie, upbeat and planning out the next day. Sunday morning to the surprise and grief of all who loved him, Dennie suddenly went home to Jesus. First time I cried in a long time. But as one put it, those tears are for me losing my friend, not for Dennie. He was now happier than words could describe.

Okay, I’ve gotten a little lengthy in my writing tonight, and it wasn’t really what I had planned on. But I wanted you all to meet my friend. He was a very special man and I thank God for putting him in my life.

One last thought. I have no theological basis for this, but I see Dennie in the arms of Jesus and hearing the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” And in my imagination, I can also see Jesus drape an arm over Dennie’s shoulder, calling everybody over and with a big smile saying, “Hey, here is what I’ve been talking about, having the Servant’s Heart!”

I love you Dennie

See ya next time.

The Dirtiest Man I Ever Knew

23 06 2019

Without a doubt anyone who ever has worked in the foundry industry will attest to how Rock _ndirty you get working in the that environment; some are much worse than others. I can tell my own horror stories, but thankfully I spent the majority of my career in the lab. But many years back I remember an individual who left work every day filthier than anyone there. You would have thought he just came out of a coalmine he was so black.  Cory worked on a molding machine crew. This is where molten metal would be poured into molds made of sand and bit a clay to hold them together from the extreme heat from the liquid iron. The molds would move down a conveyor line where they would cool, dump off onto a shaker system that would break away the formed casting from the mold. The vibration would then push them to an area where men would take the casting off and the black sand would dump back onto a conveyor belt that would return it to the molding machine for reuse. This conveyor was in a basement that ran the length of the machine and it leaked sand terribly on the floor. This is where Cory came in. It was his job to go down into the basement and with a shovel scoop up the excess sand from the floor and toss it back on the belt. This area was filthy as well as the air you had to breath. Also, because the sand is hot from having the iron in it, makes the basement almost unbearable as well as highly humid. So good old Cory wearing a paper face respirator would spend the majority of his day stuck in this hell hole. Sadly, a few of his co-workers would make fun of him getting so dirty, but Cory took it all in stride. He told me it wasn’t that bad after he got used to it. “They make fun of me no matter what. This way I work all by myself and I don’t have to listen to them.”

A number of years passed and Cory hurt his back so he was no longer able to do the basement job; as time passed he had to quit work entirely. So, a new man would have to take over his job. The guys who used to make fun of him weren’t laughing anymore when they had to do the work. No one did as good a job as Cory and none could stay down in the basement as long as he did. Over the course of time the basement got worse, so bad it would clog up the conveyor belt and production would have to halted until a crew could dig it out. One guy put it this way, “Cory wasn’t management or engineer material. He wouldn’t have been good as a mechanic or electrician and he never did a thing in producing a casting. But once he was gone, they found out he was one of the most important assets the company had.”

“If you’re alive, there’s a purpose for your life,” Rick Warren,

There was a time I knew God was going to use me in a great way to spread His love. When that didn’t happen, I became disillusioned and even walked away for a while. What was the use? After all, since none of my plans came to fruition, I decided God didn’t need my help. I mean I’m working in a foundry for Pete sake! It was years before I realized I was exactly where God wanted me to be. I wasn’t performing before large crowds and bringing the Word of God to thousands. But I was in a place to see individuals on a more personal level. Listen to their hurts, tell them what Christ had done for me, and quite often pray with them. This is called planting seeds. I might have a small chance to tell of my Lord to someone, but another may reach them with their need for a Savior. Like Cory, Christians need to realize everything you do for God is important no matter how small it may seem to others. Who knows, you just might be the one to keep the process moving.

They shut down that old molding line and put a new one in its place, better engineered so it wouldn’t leak sand as bad. As for Cory, well I lost contact with this “Traveler of the Rock Road” after he quit. But often I think of the man who would have more dirt on his body than in a flower garden. And once in a while I mentally say, “Thanks Cory, for being such an example to me. I only hope I’m half the worker you were. Both physically, and spiritually.

Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

See ya next time.