Category Archives: ROADS SCHOLAR

Stories and experiences as we travel … around town, the nation, and the globe.

Road Reflections: Part Three

As we were traveling through the Southland, I had the notion that I would just make a list, as we went, of things which I was seeing, and in many cases which I heard, which I don’t see or hear much of, north of the Line. Did I just mention a “Line?” Well … there must still be, because it was clearly marked with signage, and I’ve crossed it at least twice in the last few weeks.

Please note that this is not a “better than” or “worse than” type of recording. It had been years it seemed (even though we were in the Deep South just last Summer) since I had just taken it easy on a trip, taking the time to notice-and enjoy-my surroundings. The United States and its people are beautiful. I have written “Northern Songs” and “Southern Songs” with the same degree of love and devotion. I have written State songs and regional songs, each reflecting the individual characteristics of a particular region. Each state and region has such a remarkable part to play in the vast beauty of our Country. I love the entire United States, its people, and its countryside. I’ve had the opportunity to laud its people and places on many public occasions, including the publication of the new Anthem for American, “The Eagle Still Flies.” I don’t take sides … because I love both sides …

Yes, I’ve gotten it from “both sides” regarding the fact that I lived on one “side” or other. I’ve been made fun of, or ridiculed, from both sides. Mostly good-natured ribbing, but … sometimes I have my doubts …
Well … here goes … I have had well-meaning (I hope) people look me right in the eye … almost in a defensive stance of some kind … and, in speaking of the Civil War … they would, point-blank, ask me, “Which side you on?” Don’t laugh-I’ve had it happen more than once.
Here’s my answer … the only answer which I can give, because it’s the truth:
“Neither … I wasn’t in it.”
My only additional response is usually one of two thoughts, both from the heart:
“There were great men on both sides.”
Or, I will quote Robert E. Lee, who said, “We are all equal at the foot of the cross.”

… Something tells me I’m not going to get to that list …

One of the first things I noticed when I first moved to New England, from the Deep South, is that you just didn’t hear much about the Civil War. I say this honestly, and sincerely. Keep in mind that I was born and raised in the Deep South, where it was just part of your every day surroundings. You are literally surrounded by Civil War history, and its battlefields. In fact, the first real home I remember, and we lived there for several years, was very close to Chickamauga Battlefield, and we were surrounded, every day, by the War’s history. My love for history began with learning about the Civil War. It had to, as I lived where it happened. Growing up, we were just as likely to find a mini-ball as a prized arrowhead.

There is nothing civil about war.

When you are in New England, the war that you are surrounded by, mostly, is the Revolutionary War, and therefore, much of what you see and learn about is about that war. Again, you are surrounded by that history, much like you would be surrounded by the history of whatever area you lived in.

Yes, I’m proud of my Southern heritage, for many reasons, including because of my family, and the way we were raised. It is “just different” being in the South, just like it is different being in the North, or the West, or the West Coast, or the Pacific Northwest, or … well, you get the idea.

And, yes, I got yelled at … in Virginia … in the Shenandoah Valley, at a concert, when the lead singer answered my cry for a particular song … He yelled, “No! No Free Bird!!!” But, the band did break into another Lynyrd Skynyrd classic …

Please allow me to say this: Every place that I have ever lived, every place that I have ever visited, regardless of how close or far, everywhere I’ve been, it was a “different world” there.
Think about this: Everywhere I’ve ever worked, regardless of what state or city or region, that place was its own, different world. I’ve worked at fast food places and large retail chains. Plus, it seems that everyone that I’ve ever talked with about their job, they all say pretty much the same thing:
“It’s its own world.”

Something else: Every place, every town, every city, every “where ever” that I’ve ever lived in, I have heard the same, exact thing: “If you’re not born and raised here …”
I hate to break the news, but, individually, we really don’t have any control over where we are born. And, if I’m not mistaken, individually, we also don’t have any control over who our parents are …
Yet, I still see it all the time, and so have most of you. There was a lady who ran for a public office for a city which we had moved to. Now, I love this lady, and she was really the first person we met when we visited that particular town, when we were just “looking around.” We all hit it off immediately, and I report this only for the example, as I still highly respect her: In the ads she ran to get people to vote for her, this was her platform, and the only statement she made to inform the voting populace of her qualifications for high office, and I quote it as closely to exact as I can. Here was her advertised qualifications:
“Born and raised in ________.”

That was it. In her mind, she felt she had to say what would get her the most votes. That’s what a political ad is for, right? I don’t know if it says more about her, or the mind of the voters. Anyway, I use that as an example.
I was even watching the movie “Jaws” recently. And, the sheriff’s wife was having a discussion on the beach, with one of the business ladies from town. Remember that Amityville was an island. The discussion was directed to Ellen Brody to explain that, if you weren’t born and raised on the Island … “Ellen … you’re just not an Islander.”

I am even tempted, to mumble this on occasion, when accosted “up here” by the fact that I wasn’t born or raised here. I fire back something about the Pilgrims … that it was amazing … they weren’t born here either … yet they chose to come here … to this country … for freedom …to live how … and, where … they wished … without persecution …

For some reason, I have always felt that it was more of an honor bestowed upon a town, if a person and family decided to move there. That it would place more emphasis on the fact that they were there by choice … rather than being “bound there” for the rest of their lives ….

Guess I’m not going to get to that list … for now …

Blessings,
R.V.R.

 

Advertisements

Road Reflections: “What a Country!”-Part 2

Simply put, one of the great things about being on vacation is that you get to do things you don’t usually get the opportunity to do. I mean things like sleeping late, taking naps, watching cable television, just not having to adhere to a strict schedule. I believe that success has as much to do with what you don’t do, as with what you do.
Being on vacation also means that you get the opportunity to spend money; to “buy things” you wouldn’t ordinarily be tempted to buy.
Perhaps the greatest “draw” of vacation, being able to just rest aside, is the opportunity to make dreams come true. Things you’ve always dreamt of doing, or seeing, or experiencing. And, yes … sometimes this translates into buying something you never thought you’d ever have …

Well … here goes … I wonder if there is anyone who, as a child, wanted something for Christmas … something, often, the only thing they ever, ever wanted for Christmas … every year, this one thing was all they wanted … and, they were so sure that “this year was going to be the year” … and … they never got it … never … ever … you were so sure that “this was going to be it” … and, it never came …

For me, it was just one thing: “Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots.” Always wanted … always hoped for … never got. Everyone who knew me, knew this was “it.” Carol knows this as much as I … So many years later … I still recall how I wanted … how I hoped for … “Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots.” From Mattel. They were, after all, “The Original Fighting Robots!”

Growing up, I was a big boxing (and wrestling) fan. Loved sports … especially those two, because these were the two sports we were able to watch when I was growing up. It was also a very “hands-on” toy … but, seemed to be more skill than toy … It was one-on-one, just you and the opponent, and the best man would win … Your size didn’t seem to matter, only your skill … each seemed just as capable to “Knock His Block Off!”

We were visiting what was touted as “The Largest Antique Mall on the East Coast.” For whatever reason, these many, many years later, I had this wild idea that I would look for “Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots,” as, after all, they were antiques … and, after all … we were on vacation …
This store seemed endless. Undoubtedly, the largest store of its kind I had ever been in. All of a sudden, as I rounded a corner, I came face to face with “Them.” Was it fate? Is this a dream? No, there, in front of my very eyes, were “Red Rocker” and “Blue Bomber.” Out of the box … in the ring … directly in front of me … stood the “Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots!” Please note that I had seen them … faced them … beaten them both … in my dreams … but, this was the first time in my life that I had ever seen, in person, “The Original Fighting Robots!”

Nervously, I scanned the surroundings to see if anyone was looking … we were alone … just the Robots, the Ring, and I … my hands anxiously reached for the controls … and there, in the far confines of this Antique Mall … my hands touched, for the first time … the “control sticks” of my dream-come-true … I was overcome with emotion … and, guilt … I don’t like to spend anything on myself, and this is a “toy” … my hands moved down to the string, on which the price-tag was attached … This was within “my limit,” I reasoned … and, after all, we are on vacation … Believe it or not, even for a “dream purchase” such as this, I had set a limit on what I was willing to spend … in the almost impossible likelihood that I would somehow stumble upon such a prize …

What I didn’t know at the time was this: In the exact same store … in a separate location … Carol was also contemplating a purchase … something that she had always wanted … something that she has only dreamed about … but has, for her entire life, eluded her … Her very own … complete … matching … dish set …

Please keep in mind that we have dishes. A lot of dishes. And, such a variety of both plates, bowls, and cups. As someone who is perfectly content with paper plates, the fact that all of our dishes do not all match has never really bothered me. Ever. In fact, I never noticed that they didn’t match. We have plates. We have cups. We have saucers. We have bowls. The fact that they have different designs, some are glass and some are ceramic (I think), etc., has not once ruined a meal for me. Ever.

However … it was the way which she said that she had never had one … but always dreamed of having one … that I heard … I know she had a limit of how much to spend to realize this dream, but, looking into her eyes as she held part of the set … my limit came off … Especially, as I stood there, hunched over the shopping cart, protecting my own “dream” investment of Ring, Rocker, and Bomber.

As we traveled, the first time we had to move from our lodging, I carefully placed my Dream Purchase behind the drivers’ seat in the truck …on top, without any covering … I have only just now realized that the box which I placed the “Robots” on was the box which contained the dish set … Afterwards, I put a pillow underneath the ring … to protect the dish set, of course …

Toshiba Digital Camera

We traveled hundreds and hundreds of miles, including book promotions. They never moved!
Think about this: What better protection for your prized dish set than “Red Rocker” and “Blue Bomber.”
Funny … I didn’t get a single picture of the dish set!
Toshiba Digital CameraI looked on line to make sure I had the correct spelling of “Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots.”
I found this picture, on eBay, which I wanted to share with our friends. How about this!
Roc em sock em laid backBlessings from the road!

Road Reflections: “What a Country!”-Part 1

I’d have to say that I love to travel, especially when it’s not work related. I love seeing new things, new surroundings, new people (or peoples), and, as a student of history, all of the history which travel exposes one to.

I’m writing this while still on the road (7 different states tomorrow), and I have had some time to take my own advice, and “take time.” I have conducted a little “book business,” and the online store is always potentially “24/7,” but this idea of taking a vacation, just “getting away” is such a great idea. I often think of Jesus, who would, on occasion, get away from the crowds, especially to the mountains, which has always been my favorite place to go. He would spend much of His time, isolated from distraction, in prayer. And, He would often take His disciples with Him, to teach them in private, away from the crowds and distractions. I must confess that, while I have read and studied the Bible quite a bit during our travels, I haven’t prayed nearly as much as I should. I know … some of you may be thinking the same thought which comes to me now … there is no recorded incident of Jesus ever taking a vacation. I agree with this … I also agree that “retirement” is not a Scriptural concept, either … but, that may be a subject for another time …

Anyway … whenever I have the chance to travel, especially to distant places, I always am reminded of how incredibly blessed we are to live in this country, the United States of America. I often write about this … that so many of us here, just have no idea how different the conditions are in other countries. Not just religious freedom, either. Just the conveniences we enjoy, and take for granted, every day. That too, is a topic for another time, though I will continually go back to it.

The economic freedom and opportunity we have is unsurpassed. I’m not much for complaining about gas prices here in the US, as I know that many people across the world have been paying over 5.00 a gallon for it … for years. By the way, we paid 3.19 a gallon in parts of Virginia. We paid 3.67 to fill up in New Hampshire before we left.

Postage stamps? I never complain about the price of a postage stamp, either. I must admit that I did have to look up how much a postage stamp was, while writing this. Not necessarily ignorance, but I always buy a book of stamps at one time, and just haven’t done the math. I also always buy the “forever” stamps. I don’t even know if they put the price of postage on the stamps anymore (perhaps out of embarrassment).
The reason that I don’t complain about the price is that it may take 49¢ to get a letter across the United States, or even 2.07 to ship a pair of Christian sunglasses across the country … but in both cases … it would be hard for me to take it there myself for less … So, I never complain about the cost. I just feel blessed that we can mail just about anything, to anyone, and have a pretty good assurance that it will arrive. And, the ability to track the package or letter is just an added bonus that I feel like is just another economic blessing that we take for granted.

I like to be grateful for everything, “in all things give thanks.”

In the paragraph above, I wrote the price of a postage stamp as “49¢.” In so doing, I had to type the “cent” symbol. After looking, and looking, and looking for the symbol on my keyboard, I asked Carol where the “cent” symbol was. She looked at where she thought it was, then stated she had no idea where it was.
Next step: Here’s what I typed into the Google search: “When did they take the “cent” symbol off of a keyboard?” Well they did, and it appears it was for “coding” reasons, years ago.
Guess what my next search was? “How do you make a “cent” symbol on your keyboard?”
It turns out that it can be done, using the “Alt” key and your keyboard number pad, using a code … Sounds like another story for another time … By the way, for our dear friends in England, I saw where the same question was asked regarding “pence.”

The “cent on the keyboard” issue reminds me of how excited I was a couple of years ago, when we finally got basic cable on our TV at home. It just happened to be included in the telephone/high speed internet package we had gotten. We now had access to PBS … plus, since we were getting the local channels, we could even watch Monday Night Football, as one of the New Hampshire stations was an ABC affiliate. I shared this excitement with my brother, as he, too, is a football fan. To this, he exclaimed, “Where have you been? ABC hasn’t carried Monday Night Football in years! Hey … did you hear that they landed a man on the moon?” I get that last part a lot.

It also reminds me of the time when we went to look at cars, during a local dealer promotion. One of those where they send you a key, which promises to start (I still say “crank”) a brand new car. Because everyone who attended received a prize, we stopped by. Of course, you can’t leave without being “grilled” by a salesman (get it-grilled?). I told him that the one vehicle I really wanted was a jeep … not a fancy, cost-more-than-a-house jeep … I told him I just wanted an old army jeep with a top … that would make me happy. He told me, “Man … “get with the 21st century!”

I just noticed that I never just “sit down and eat,” except in a restaurant. Whether at work, at home, or traveling/vacation, I never just sit down and eat a meal. I will either be at my computer, or I’ll watch a movie or program on television. Deep down, I think it’s some kind of guilt I’m carrying about not working. Maybe I do need a vacation …

Well … here I go again … I started to write about some of the things we had done and seen during our travels … but, this all just came out. Maybe I should re-title this something like “Road Rants” instead.

Blessings,
R.V.R.

“Take Time”

While traveling through the South this week, I saw this on a framed plaque, at a Thrift store, and it really hit home. It seems that each time we have the opportunity to “get away,” I feel pretty much the same way: “If ever, ever, I needed a vacation … to get away … it’s now.”
With so much going on with the business, the book, and at School … plus, those major “do-it-yourself” projects we save to do during those few Summer weeks up here … I can honestly say that, if ever, ever, I needed a vacation, to get away, it’s now.

Vacation started the way the rest of the year seems to go:
Knowing we’d have a full day of driving, I’d need to get plenty of sleep, as we’d have to leave out early.
The day before our trip, in addition to getting ready for the trip, there was business to take care of, and get to a decent stopping point on a couple of projects around the house. Sorry … no time left to mow the yard … So … I was able, finally, to get my 3 hours of sleep, drag myself out of bed at daylight, and we were able to leave at the scheduled time of 6:00 A.M.

How’d we do? Well … on our first day of travel, we drove through 10 different states …

So, when I saw the words on the plaque in that Thrift store, it reminded me of what vacation was supposed to be all about. But, then, I realized that it’s not about “vacation” at all. It’s about every day of our lives … especially days when we are not on vacation … how God gives us moments, and the opportunity for moments, every day … part of the blessings, and opportunities, He gives to us each day.
I know that, often, such time doesn’t seem to exist. And, often, it doesn’t … that is why we have to “make” time. So, I pray that I, and we, will “make time” to “take time” each day to realize just what we have, and what He has given to each of us.

The plaque didn’t have an author listed, and the Scripture verse at the end is, as the rest, exactly as written:

Take Time
Take time to think-
It is the source of power
Take time to read-
It is the foundation of wisdom
Take time to play-
It is the secret of staying young
Take time to be quiet-
It is the opportunity to seek God
Take time to be aware-
It is the opportunity to help others
Take time to love and be loved-
It is God’s greatest gift
Take time to laugh-
It is the music of the soul
Take time to be friendly-
It is the road to Happiness
Take time to dream-
It is what the future is made of
Take time to pray-
It is the greatest power on earth

“There is a time for everything …”
Ecclesiastes 3:1
 

I Know Jesus Saves … But, Does He Plow? (Part 2)

Miracles all around us. They are happening all the time, and for different reasons. Sometimes for us … sometimes for them … most always for “both” … always the same Source. We’ve all been a part of, and seen, miracles in our lives. Psalms 46:1 says that, yes, “God is our refuge and strength,” but He is also “a very present help in trouble.”

The next verse explains a lot: “Therefore (because of this) we will not fear” (46:2a). Because of this … God’s having helped us in the past … God having proved that He is there with us in every situation … because of His faithfulness to His Word … Because of Who He is and What He is … because of what He’s done for me in the past … because of this … I will not fear now. Because of this … it must mean … it has to mean … it just has to mean … that He is here, with me now … Because of this … I will call on Him … because I know He is there … because He has always been there … He must be … He has to be … here now … He always has been, so He must be here now … after all, He is “a very present help.”

Let’s go back a couple of weeks up here in Northern New Hampshire. To what I hope (as things begin to melt here today) was our last major snow storm of the season. I apologize if I don’t remember the exact day, but they have all looked a lot alike for many months now. I know this was a week or so before Spring, because I remember writing “Tis the Day Before Spring” a week or so after the storm.

I can’t understand how, when I hear the “old timers” talk, how they used to get something like four feet of snow a day … when, a couple of years ago, it was the “snowiest year” on record … and, the most we ever got was 2 feet … I do, however, “get it” when they say this is the coldest on-going Winter they can remember … This winter has been so long, that, as noted above, I’ve lost my memory as to just when “all this” started. I do know that, every year that we’ve been here, we’ve had robins in our yard before Spring … this year, it’ll be April in a couple of days, and no robins yet. So, somewhere in the middle of March, we got a big snowstorm. How big? How bad? Well, the forecast called for somewhere between 12-24 inches. The Winter just hadn’t stopped, and I couldn’t remember the “January thaw” we usually get. I still don’t remember if we got the “thaw” or not … the snow and cold has just all blended together this year, so I don’t think we got one. Maybe for a few hours … maybe … but I must have been at work … So this new storm, on the horizon, was looming …

I am reminded of a heavyweight boxing match, when the challenger has taken so many tough, hard punches, that it won’t take much to “knock him out.” I guess this was the way we were (hey-that sounds like a song!) when this storm came. We had fought so many tough rounds already … it may take less than a “championship” punch to knock us out, here in the final rounds of the fight.

I think it was on a Wednesday when the new snow began to fall. Just the beginning of what was forecast to be a “significant snow event,” with the snow continuing through the evening, overnight, and tomorrow. How bad? It was just before 1:30 that afternoon when the announcement came over the loudspeaker: “School has been cancelled for tomorrow.” Really? This had never happened before … As giddy as I was over the announcement, it also confirmed that this must be a serious storm. Even “old-timers” at the school (sorry for the designation, I mean well) said that they could not remember, ever, a time when School was cancelled THE DAY BEFORE!!! We’ve written often of how much snow we’ve gotten this year, but, we had not had a “snow day” yet this year. Last year, we had one snow day. And, one snow day the year before. Etc.

Anyway, the snow began to fall in earnest. By nightfall, several inches were on the ground … and, on the roads. For those of you who know, it’s not an issue, regardless of how much snow falls, as long as the roads are plowed. Well … this time … because of the length of the “snow event,” and especially since school had been cancelled already, there wasn’t as much an urgency to get the roads plowed. Plus, in such an event, the main roads keep all the resources tied up. Let’s just say I live on a “side road.” Still in the city limits, but off of the last red light, out of town. So, we are among the last to get plowed. I’m not complaining by any means; that’s just the way it is. So, we are on a side road, only a couple of houses, and our road is one long, continuous hill. Our driveway is also one continuous hill. What makes this so difficult in snow is because, when you turn into our road (from the “main road” below), it is at a 90-degree angle, which means that you lose any momentum you may have gained, as you start up “our hill.” Then, when you turn into our driveway, it is another 90-degree angle, so you lose any momentum you may have gained. In a nutshell, if our street hasn’t been plowed, and the snow is heavy, you just don’t stand a chance to make it … until the city has come, and plowed the street. You just can’t gain enough speed in deep snow to make it up the hill, and then, into our driveway.

There have been times, in years past, when we have parked one of our vehicles in the hospital parking lot, about a ½ mile away, because only one of our vehicles could make it up our street.  Let’s say that someone comes home at 5:00 PM, but our street hasn’t been plowed. You just can’t wait until 9:00 PM or later (city is on 4 Hour cycles) to drive home. So, that’s what we’ve had to do. This was before we had gotten 4-wheel drive vehicles.

On this night, in mid-March, I had taken Carol to work, in order to leave the truck in our garage during the storm. The snow kept falling. And, falling. And, accumulating on both the driveway and the roads. It was late, very late, and it was time to pick Carol up from work. They had not plowed our street, nor had they plowed the main road below. Since we are on a hill, it is never an issue of “getting out;” we just roll down the driveway, and then roll down the street to the main road.

On this night, they had only plowed the main highway, at that last red light. I always say, after years of driving in the snow, that you can go anywhere at 15 miles-per-hour. Tonight, I went 10. I was concerned that, even with a heavily weighted truck-bed (I have 5, five-gallon buckets of sand up against the cab, 3 heavy pallets in the middle, and 8 concrete blocks on the rear), I wouldn’t be able to make it back up the hill to our driveway. As I traversed the streets leading up to where I would pick up Carol, it was plain that the city plows hadn’t been out. I was barely able to just get into the parking lot. In fact, even in 4-wheel drive and with all that weight, I would have to repeatedly back up in order to get out into the street, after she got into the truck. And, she was in a “more major” street, certainly, than we lived on. I had to wait. And, wait. She couldn’t leave until her replacement arrived. He was always on time, but this night, he was late. Unusual. This wasn’t like him at all, even though I gave no thought to what he must have had to drive through, to get to work. He finally arrived.

As Carol climbed into the truck, she was praying … praying that Jesus would help us get home … Oh, Boy … then, we had to keep trying, just to get out into the street … a driveway, and street, which were on level ground … she kept praying for us to get home safely … My eyes were on the road, but my ears were on her … praying … knowing that we had one big hill to climb … and, it was evident from her prayers, that we weren’t going to make it without help … She was right, even though she had not seen the hill I’d slid down earlier … but, I knew the same thing … we weren’t going to make it without help … We crossed the intersection at the red-light, and then cautiously worked our way through the snow. Those who have to drive in these conditions know what I mean by “worked.” Carol kept praying; I kept working. We make it through the main road, leading to our street. We had the sharp, 90-degree turn into our street, where we lost any momentum we may have had.

Then, it happened:
It was only later that I realized the significance of what lay ahead of us … I was too busy praying, and gripping the wheel … We were at the bottom of the hill; the truck’s headlights allowing us to see far ahead, up the hill in front of us. There … in the middle of the street … leading to our driveway … was a path … exactly in the center of the road … all the way up the hill … a perfectly plowed path … and, when I say perfectly plowed, it was perfect … dead-center in the middle of the road … it was plowed … not a big, wide swath, which would have been made by a city plow … but, it was narrower, much narrower … just enough for a truck … like ours … to perfectly get through … “Someone” had plowed our street … just our street … the main road (from the red-light) leading to our street was not plowed … if someone had plowed our street and turned around at the bottom of the hill, there was no evidence that this had been done … it was, as if, “Someone,” had just “dropped down,” plowed our street up to our driveway, and disappeared … I thought of the “delay” in Carol getting off work … How the fact that she was late, gave “Someone” time to “work behind the scenes,” which we addressed in Part 1 of this story …

This, now, explains the title of this story.
“Jesus at the Plow?” Aren’t we His hands and feet on this earth?

Recently, I received a beautiful, unforgettable birthday card from my niece, and her family. She wrote “Proverbs 3:5-6” as part of her personalization of the card. Yes, I love these verses: In fact, we have these same verses, with artwork from our dear friend Candy, hanging on the wall of our office. Proverbs 3:6 says, “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”The word “direct,” used here in “direct thy paths,” can also be interpreted as “make smooth or straight.”

Even now, I still see that path, plowed perfectly for us … so smooth, and so straight.

By the way … something else my niece wrote, in the card which arrived just before this storm: “Sorry the card is late.” No … I’d say the card arrived just on time … for, “such a time as this.”

Blessings,R.V.R.

Modern-Day Psalms at Books A Million

I Know Jesus Saves … But, Does He Plow? (Part 1)

Like all of us, I have witnessed many miracles, and been involved in many of them. If you just look around, really, we are all, every day, surrounded by miracles. My Pastor used to say that, if you don’t think you have anything to be thankful for … just take a breath …

I have been helped so many times, in a miraculous way, my entire life. God’s mercy has protected me, helped me, and, as GA Bulldog announcer Larry Munson would say, “saved my whatchamacallit.” I looked that word up, and it’s in dictionaries.

As we wrote before, if it is important to you, it’s important to God. If it matters to you, it matters to Him. And, nothing is more important to Him than your relationship with Him. Period. I am constantly talking with God, and, yes, most of the time, I do more talking than listening. But, I know His voice … and He knows mine. Psalm 30:10 says, “Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper.” He is always there when I call. Even when I don’t call, He is still very much there. And, when He answers my call, I should never forget it … and, should tell others of His faithfulness, at every opportunity. In trouble or not, it is a great thing to be able to call out to Him, and have Him hear. And, it is so important for us to not forget His faithfulness … what He’s done for us in the past … to give us hope for every situation we face in the future. Lamentations 3:21 says, “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.”

Sometimes we have to wait … He is working behind the scenes, doing things, making things happen for us … and, we’re not even aware-until later-that He was working the whole time.
Back to Lamentations: “The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD” (3:25-26). Fact is, God is always working “behind the scenes” for us … and, waiting, patiently, to do more. Waiting for our call. Once, years ago in Connecticut, I was backing out of the driveway, something I had done hundreds of times. It was after a big snowstorm, but the driveway was downhill, and I could make it down, in reverse, with my eyes closed. On this morning, I was backing out, straight out of the driveway, and it felt like something grabbed my van, and moved it … slid it through the snow … into the ditch on the right-hand side of the driveway … It felt like it was shoved off the driveway. (Never mind what I said!!!) So, I had to call work (1 ½ hours away), and let them know I’d be late. I had to call a wrecker to get me back up into the driveway. God revealed something to me that I had never considered:
I wonder what it was … what danger would have been ahead … had I left for work on time, and not slid off the driveway? What was out there, waiting for me … within that 3 hour span …? It was then, at that moment, I realized something I’ve never forgotten. How many things … how much trouble … how much pain and suffering … how many circumstances does God keep us out of … away from … that we don’t even know about? What was revealed to me that morning was this:
More times than I could ever imagine. We would be amazed at the things we can’t see … we’d be stunned to learn of all the times that what we considered to be “inconvenient” to us, was just a ploy to “buy time” to allow other things to happen … to protect us, and, even save our lives. We’ve all heard stories of people who over-slept, had unexplained car trouble, missed a bus or train … and, because of that … they were spared or saved from disaster. So, that’s what I’m talking about.

I think back to so many times when “someone just showed up” to help me. I know that you can think of all those times too, that something like that has happened to you. What amazes me, is that when I look back over the years … even when I wasn’t living for God … God still protected me … kept me safe … knowing that, one day … “for such a time as this …”
I can feel those words touching you, as well. God is so good, so loving, and so merciful … we never deserve it … but think about all of those times when, “humanly speaking,” we really didn’t deserve it. He protected us … kept us from certain disaster … knowing that, “one day …”

I am reminded of Psalm 63:7: “Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.”

I can’t stress enough how important this message about God keeping His hand on us, even though we aren’t serving Him, is. Protecting us, keeping us from harm, having His hand on us … even though we had no idea at the time. I think of Paul, when he was Saul … in spite of that he was doing … think about it … God protected him, kept him from those who would have done him much harm … knowing, that one day …

Just a short story to close: I remember a time, yes, in “the bad old days,” I was with a couple of friends. We weren’t criminals or breaking many laws, but we weren’t driving around handing out Gospel tracts, either. Let’s just say we were making a speedy exit from a residence we had spent the last few hours visiting. I was driving, and, somehow, I managed to run off the road into a ditch. It was imperative for us to leave the area quickly, but, there we were, in a ditch. From out of nowhere, a truck passed us, stopped just ahead of our vehicle, and then backed up to just in front of our car. We thought we were done for. I know we all thought, “This is it!” A big, big guy got out of the truck in overalls. He looked like he could just lift the car up by himself. He walked up, and this is all he said: “Let’s get you outta there.” He reached in back of the truck, grabbed a chain, and hooked up to the car. He then got in the truck, I got in the car, and he pulled me out. He then stopped, unhooked the chain, and drove off. He didn’t say a word. It was like he was “just sent,” just sent “for such a time as this.” We looked at each other, then up the road … and he was gone. Just disappeared into the landscape.

 I’ve heard and read many of these types of stories, and many of you have them too. This is one of mine. I haven’t thought about that in years. God has to remind me all the time, when I am being judgmental (etc.) over someone’s activities or lifestyle … that I should have compassion … for me to think about Paul … and to think about me … how I was …

I am so glad He hasn’t changed … He always was there, and always Is there.

Blessings,
R.V.R.

“Light Reflections”

Ever since we did the “A Little Light” series, I have added to my daily prayers the request for God to allow me to be a “light” to those around me. Every day. For me to be a light in a dark world, into which I, like all of us, walk every day. We wrote about how, if we will be that light, other people will notice-whether they like it or not. We have that Light inside of us, but do we “let it shine?”
Ouch!
We also wrote about, “God, Why did You put me here? In such a dark place?” Exactly! That’s the reason!

The darker the place, the more light is needed. And, the darker the place, the greater difference, even a small light makes. So, the answer to “God … What am I doing here?” is answered, as Jesus always did, in the form of a question: “What am I doing here?” As in … “What am I doing here?” Enough? Doing what He placed me here to do?” Being the light He put me here to be?
Ouch!

So, this past Friday night … somewhere around 6:00-7:00PM, we had a power outage. Way up here, in the North County, this is a rarity. Our power, our lights, just don’t go out very often. But, here, on the first night of School Vacation, the power went out.
Total Darkness.

We lit candles. And, it was beautiful. It always takes me back to when I was growing up, and we lost power, especially during an ice storm. We used wood for heat, and we had plenty of candles and lanterns, so when the power went out, we were, sometimes, the only house on our road which had heat. It was so warm. It was always a reminder of the “old days,” when there was no electricity. Since we were too young to remember how it was “back then,” our only glimpses of that life were from watching the “Waltons” and “Little House on the Prairie.”

So, here we were, just Carol and I, and the lights were out … no telephone … no internet … We don’t watch much TV, if ever, but, it still seemed like a “loss” of some kind not to have it available … no radio either … even though we listen less to radio than we watch television …
It was so awesome, just sitting there, both in our rocking chairs, just talking (remember that?)
There is still no one else I’d rather talk to, or rock with, than Carol. She rocks! And, the candlelight in her eyes … matched only by the glow of just being with her …

It was 9:00PM when we figured that, even if the lights went back on, it was too late to cook supper. So, we made the decision to go to McDonalds (in the next town over). Keep in mind that we don’t go to restaurants often, and, for us, McDonalds is a real treat. I always joke if we should call ahead to let them know that we were coming, and that, “This evening, we’ll be ordering from the Dollar Menu.” Call me whatever … but, and after working at McDonalds for two different periods in my life … I still love going there, and I had just as soon go there as any fancy restaurant anywhere … We are thankful for everything, so we are not hard to please.

Anyway, as we were leaving, blowing out one candle at a time, it was amazing … amazing … how much light just one candle made. God reinforced it again for me … just one candle … one light … makes such a difference … And, the darker the surroundings … the more of a difference just a small light made …

I thought about something I write about every day … how I thank God for the (what we call) “simple things” of life … like electricity … and heat … the things we take for granted every day … I thought to myself, “Did I thank God for Electricity this morning???”

We got our order at McDonalds, and then went to our “usual table,” which, even months between visits, we go directly to. At our booth, me on one side and Carol on the other, we joined hands, across the table, and prayed. Said “Grace.” Regardless of where we are, we don’t eat until we pray. Even if one of us is away from the table, neither one of us starts to eat until we pray. That’s just what we do. Don’t you? Anyway, it seemed like just seconds after we prayed, that a young man who worked there, in full uniform, appeared between our table and the soda machine. He got our attention as he walked over, both arms outstretched, and exclaiming how wonderful it was to see what he had just seen … two people praying “in public,” and how rare a sight that was. And, most of all … what it meant to him, personally, to see this.

I tried to answer him, as best I could, with “We do it because we are thankful,” and that’s why we do it. We are thankful. Man! Even at McDonalds, on a cold, windy, and dark night … you just never know who is watching. Just know that people are watching you … every minute of every day. Even if you aren’t at work! But … he was …

It reminds me of a time when Carol and I were at the airport in Philadelphia, PA. We literally spent the day at the airport, as weather had halted air traffic all across the eastern seaboard. We’ve spent a lot of time in airports, and rarely eat a meal there (no Dollar Menu in Airports!). We had ordered from one of the “fast food” restaurants, and had taken our seats at a table near a window, as I still love to watch the planes come in and out. Once seated, Carol on one side of the table and me on the other, we joined hands across the table and said a prayer over the food. From out of nowhere, a lady came over and introduced herself to us. I’ll never forget what she said:
“I knew, when I first saw you, that you were Christians. When I saw you pray, that just confirmed it.”
We have met some great people at airports.

You just never know who is watching. Just know that people are watching you … every minute of every day. Even if you aren’t at work! But … she was …

Lord Jesus, help me to be that light to others … at home, and away … to reflect Your Light … always …
Even on dark days … where it’s needed most …
And, help me to remember, most of all, that it is not only them who are watching …
But, You …

Blessings,
Richard.Vincent.Rose.

Modern-Day Psalms at Books A Million