CHANGING HORSES

Well, after many (some 46) stories, I am wondering what’s next? If one is a writer, a change in focus is like a leopard trying to change his spots… but, one is still a leopard!

After years of blogging “Christian content”…..This year it seemed time to make a change; to direct attention to a subject of contemporary concern. How do we reach young people to help them develop responsibility, and foster Christian values? Thus; travelstomanhood. blog; Short stories for young boys.

What I find, as the result, is that there is a strong endorsement for this effort from among parents and cultures. And, since much of the response is from them… women in particular; I’m wondering if I might set aside the original focus on children and their journey, and just speak with parents who are the primary instruments for that implementation.

The following, (at least for a time) while I try to change my spots, will be between  you and me. It is no secret that while men must be ” models for manhood”; moms work tirelessly on the ingredients.

And again, I’ll try to keep it short.

MY FATHER IS A GREAT ARTIST….HAVE YOU SEEN HIS WORK?

These are the words printed on my favorite T shirt, a gift from my daughter Christa.

No, she was not talking about me, but the maker of all things great and small; Our father in heaven.. And, that anything we might consider “bright and beautiful” are but mere copies or extensions of that which existed from day one when He said “Let there be light” in us.

After centuries of mutation and new birth at His hand, he is still at work through us.

Artists are credited to have the “artists eye”. often perceiving more than what  was offered by a photograph or painting. For most, it was not an acquired skill, but evidence of “the seed” planted even before birth.

The question is, as parents; “Where do we come into the process?”

The answer is;  first in the recognition of the existence of that gift , and of helping  in the watering of it. Education, whatever it may be, is secondary. The focus should not  be it’s marketability,  or a desire for self -expression , or ofttimes  an extension of our own parental desires (being a man…I know how difficult this may be.)

This is not to dismiss the importance of being a provider, but it suggests that there is more than one side to establishing purpose in every life.

There are things that can be ones’ ” Life’s work”, and things that build purpose……that makes our “LIFE work ” . Ideally they would be one the same .

Our recognition of those  options and their agreement with God’s  plan, unique to each individual, will be a measure of an ultimate reward in parenthood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

. Moms work tirelessly on the ingredients.

And again, I will try to keep it short.

 

FEAR NOT

To fear God does not mean to be afraid of Him. It means to revere Him and allow Him into our hearts. God has brought justice and truth to every forum, that we might enjoy the life He intended for us.

It is in those departures from His will that we would test Him. As any father would correct a child that he be saved from pain and frustrations, so would He; but never would He withdraw from us. Some of what is brought to the pulpit is of the “fire and brimstone” nature. The antithesis is the “feel good” alternative, that suggests “religion” alone will assure us of the attainment of our goal of happiness and security. In a large part neither is the designed path.

The “narrow path” as described in His Word asserts that it is a matter of the choices we must make and reminds us of the certain guilt that can be experienced as we disregard His council. The departure can instill fear, for we know that we have been foolish.

The Word asserts that it is serving God’s purposes for our one-of-a -kind lives, that will bring us fulfillment. Not just our own, but His joy as well.

The mystery behind the events can add substance or frustration to our lives. It is His challenge to our willingness to do the research and discovery. More than that, listen to His voice within us that speaks full into our confusion.

If we base our conduct and response to His revelations upon fear and retribution, we will never find the strength that comes from measuring our will to creatively follow His lead; To seek His life-lifting council during every storm.

My poem follows:

When the blustery winds of life have died down

and gently passed away…bestowing bright futures promise

that grows stronger every day

I look to God the founder

and hasten yet to say

As trails and tempests frame us

and girds us stronger still

Our Fathers love commends us

as we surrender to his will

Each day will have it’s sunsets

to introduce the dark

Each morn we put behind us

we live to claim His heart

 

LEARNING from the UNLIKELY WOLF

What do you do with no plan for the summer? Young boys seldom face that quandary. Some moms and dads might say; ” Just do what we did; Run a muck! “The boys might say in another day; fair enough, but …..What is a muck?…..and then do it!

We have progressed too far in the technology field to settle for no plan… no destination. “Hanging out” like the old timers, just has no appeal whatsoever. First of all; the first parental question at the dinner table might well be “Eli what did you do today?” While there may be no grand expectation for breaking some kind of world record for something.. Today, however, it probably should be memorable.  Or, at least worthy of putting it in ones’ diary. So the answer might come; “I just  finished my entire weeks math lessons”  Yeah right!

Short of that, an answer did come; ” Bud and me climbed Mt. Shasta!” His dad quickly came back; “First of all there is no Bud and me. It’s Bud and I. And second; How do you figure that you might get permission… Even if you asked?’

Eli assured him that he left a serious note on the hall table…….A glance in that direction would provide that assurance…… Yes, there is a piece of paper folded there.

Eli, to redirect the conversation, began ;

“Buds’ mom and dad had dropped by and asked if I would like to go to Mt. Shasta with them. They were going to visit the Center there, and would be back early. No one was around, so I said sure, and left a note.”

“We got there and listened to the talk, and Buds’ folks received a call saying that his grandma had fallen and had been taken to the hospital. They had to go. We talked them into letting us stay there and going on a tour……that we could be picked up at 4:00. They said they would.”

He continued; “The tour had already started so we just hung out until Bud reminded me  that he had brought his new GPS and insisted that we could go on ourselves.

“What could be safer?” He reminded.

They started out on their own, the trail clearly marked with signage. About 2 miles up there was a posting:”Trail Closed for Debris Removal” There was another poorly maintained path leading to the left.

Bud, eager to put his GPS  to work. said: “No problem we’ll just use this and we will be fine.” On they went, until the trail was blocked by a sizable slide of very large boulders. It was in trying to climb over them that the GPS fell into the pile and disappeared.

Eli continued with his story: “When we tried to make our way back, we must have lost our direction, and we could not recognize anything familiar. So we sat down and tried to figure things out. While we did that, we heard a soft growl coming from a cluster of bushes nearby.”

“I got up to take a look, and saw a large Grey Wolf that had come up on us and was just staring at us. Then he started pacing back and forth. Then, he moved about ten steps downhill, and looked back at us.” Bud had it figured out…..”He was just trying to tell us something.”

“We moved a few steps and stopped.  He did the same thing.” I wondered; “Could he possibly be trying to get us to follow him?” And, so we did… all the way back to the original trail and the marker. In the end, he just stood there like a statue.

Amber interrupted him; ” Your’re saying that wild animal brought you back to safety?”…….No Way! Bud joined in: “That’s right, he absolutely did.”

Eli’s folks had settled with the promise that Eli would never fail to ask permission before going out on his own.

It was a week, however, that he was plagued with the memory of the Grey Wolf. How is it that he could do what he did?

This took him clear to Sunday when after the service he  came to Pastor Randy and told him the story.

He smiled and  answered his question; “You are not the first one to ask me this. First of all it has never been; how God can use an unlikely person, animal, or thing to carry out his will? He will do anything to lead us to understand that part . You will remember in Sunday school the stories of Noah, Abraham, Moses and David where Doves, and Whales, and Lions were all part of His plan for rescue.

God knows that these kinds of events could change our life, and make us stop and think.

It is truly wonderful that you received that gift so early in life… that you may tell others to look for theirs; the same will surely also come in the most unlikely way.”

No need to wonder how Eli might choose to begin… It was the same day that the most beautiful image of a Grey Wolf appeared as “his picture” on all of his social media pages.

Each had the caption;” This was my gift… Have you had yours?”

1249 hits later….. he had totally become another of God’s “Unlikely Messengers”.

They all got the message!

And, the Grey Wolf hath given birth to it !

 

 

 

 

IS COL. SANDERS REAL?

Eli awakened this Saturday morning much later than usual. His mom, concerned about this, called at his door; “You up son? I’m waiting on you for breakfast.

He returned; “I’ll be there in a minute… Shaking his head that he should be caught up in that night’s dream for so long. At the table Amber asked; “Sleep O.K. ? I was about to give up on you.”

In between gulps of orange juice, he told of a marathon dream of fishing on the Columbia. And, this had the makings of a very long story that had totally captured his attention.

He began; ” You know that book that Uncle Brett gave me on fishing? You remember he was going to take me first day of the season…. Well, we went in my dream. You know he has that old motorboat that he keeps at his houseboat, that he takes out into the Columbia for work and fishing ?  …..I dreamed that the season had started and we were going Salmon fishing.”

You dropped me off, and he was just finishing loading the boat, and checking out the engine. He had bait and poles and stuff ready to go. So we took off right away and headed to a place called Sauvies Island. He begins his trips just off the ocean side, then works down river.”

“I had just baited my hook….With a Chicken leg? What?….Who does that?”

Well anyway, it was about 2 minutes when there was a major pull on my pole… that slammed me into the rail, nearly jerking my arm off.

Off we went, headed for the Ocean. I looked at Brett, who was just eating a sandwich. He smiled and just told me; “Hang on, It’s probably just a big Sturgeon…… but you’re just going to have to let him go. Eli quickly came back: “Let him go? I didn’t want him in the first place!” as he tried to reel him in..

Two hours later, after seeing all the scenery along the whole river, he collapsed and handed the pole to Brett, who had bagged (get this) six drive-by salmon with his bare hands, during the the trip. Brett replied…..”Hold on Eli. I don’t know what is happening, but I am catching fish!” Eli, with one giant tug, drew the monster beside the boat.

“What in the world?” he cried… Look at this guy, he is as big as the boat!”

“And, get this……He rose to the surface and said “Any more chicken, young man?”

His mother broke down laughing…….”Eli, how do you come up with these things, even in a dream.?”

Eli began giggling and added; “I know…….. Sturgeon don’t eat chicken legs.”

Well, they all set this aside, including Brett who declared;”Well, catching all that Salmon would be my dream!”

And, we could just leave it there as a weird dream.. But on their next visit to the hatchery where they had a major fish display; they came up on a pond full of old sturgeon…..AND believe it or not, there was a huge  White Sturgeon who floated to the bank and looked up at Eli.

You ready?.. …It questioned : “Hi Eli,    GOT CHICKEN?”

Which leaves us to the conclusion that Eli had no idea where his dream ended.

And……obviously, the monster had seen a Col. Sanders commercial, and of course you can’t leave out the fries…..but, again, who said he would even dream of eating them?

How can God think so Small?

While much of our focus in daily life is spent on the things of “Grand Import” like: Space Exploration, International Trade Agreements, and Political gyrations, and “the”  new book or movie…… what do you suppose God is thinking about?

Once and a while we can get a picture of His daily concerns, if we close our eyes and listen to the smallness going all around us that receives His  attention. Matthew declares; “He knows even when a swallow falls to the ground.”

I know this to be true;

I’m sitting in a chair beside the creek at the Lodge and there came a tiny; Peep-peep-peep, coming from somewhere.

Again, more desperate than before;  Peeeep- peeep-peep! Was it coming from my side of the creek …..or the other?

As I rose, the voice softened and seemed up somewhere in the trees. Immediately as I focused on a nest high up…a huge crow swooped down a struck him so as to knock him from the nest and to the ground at my feet. The crow found a spot above and began cawing me to “bug off !”

The tiny duckling dazed, but apparently not damaged, staggered to the bank where his mother was quacking away in the shadows of the creek. It was an apparent reminder; that translated something like; “See what happens if you don’t say close to me.”

The little one found his way under her wing,

In these days we like to tell our stories of grand miracles and heroic struggles. This was neither. We may call this a happy accident or a miracle. It was neither. It was evidence of God’s domain…….over the large AND the small of life.

Ultimately, it may have been a lesson for me, who is too often a fan of “The Big Picture”.

Pay attention …… God is at work…..and not everything is calculated to bowl us over with His power and majesty… It is all part of a larger plan……now I am telling the story. You will witness your own. We might both consider;

Would He do the same thing for that ugly Crow if he fell from his mile high perch into a bed of broken glass?

Certainly……. Most probably He, in His wisdom, would stop the bleeding, and give him a firm pat on the bottom; And, as any Father would, advise him to pick on someone his own size.

Sorry Lord, but as you speak of forgiveness; we also know about “doing unto others”.

Did I get that right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REMEDY for a RAINY DAY

This was the first winter in Springville for Bud and his family. They had never struggled through a “rainy season”. At least not to the degree that they found this January….after weeks of minor floods and power outages.

The problem was: how do you make seasons work for you?  Everyone knows how to use sunshine and snow…..He knew, having lived near the mountains where there was skiing and boarding, and living for a short time in the south, where there was plenty of sun and swimming.

He looked to the shelf above his bed at all of the books that he had been given to read when he was at loss for something to do. He thought; “That’s for days when I can’t get out and around.”

It was only this morning when his dad came home from a business trip, that the problem was addressed. After a large breakfast of pancakes, and a discussion of the whole predicament, that the solution may have arrived.

His dad said; “I know, let’s go and see what Uncle Brett is up to with this weather.” It was understood that he had unique situations during times of high water. His houseboat was located on the river, and often strange things happened as the result.

They both saddled up and drove to the parking lot above the Marina. Bud looked at the bridge to the dock, and exclaimed; ” Dad, look at this; The stair ramp used to angle down to the landing.. but now it is almost flat. The water is way up!…. What about Brett’s place?”

As they approached where it was docked… You could see that the lines that secured it had ridden half way up the pole. They could see the same condition along the many slips, where a couple of floating homes had actually come partially loose and were nesting out of whack in their spaces.

Bud knocked, and called at the door; “Anybody home?” No answer. And, his fishing boat was gone.

They were prepared to leave when Bud looked out into the channel; there was a cluster of motor boats, Brett’s included: tied off to a large boat/home that was being washed downstream in the strong current.

You could hear the motors winding up in an effort to move it back to shore, but they were just barely hampering it’s movement.

Bud’s dad  had taken off toward the end of the pier where the office was. “Someone’s got to do something or it’s  lost!” Bud said, as he signaled a drive-by boat to the dock. He had found a very long rope-line nearby and he handed it to the driver,

“Please take this this and see that it is tied off to that houseboat that is struggling out there, and tell everyone to try to aim it in this direction.”

Bud wound the rope around a stationary pier and tied it off. Soon there was a group of neighbors and sightseers that had assembled wondering what he was up to. He instructed them; ” Everyone pull on this and see if we can drag the houseboat to the dock. The sounds; “One, Two, Three……. Pull! began to turn the big house into the nearest dock. The sound of applause came from the people all around.

Within minutes the disaster became a celebration; people, including his Dad, shaking his hand and Brett patting him on the back.

Later, back home, lying on his back in his bed, he put down his notebook, and glanced up at his bookshelf with a sigh, and questioned; “Now why cant’t someone write a story like this?”

He smiled and followed with …….”Well someone just did, as he signed off the bottom.”

“Written by Bud Kirby”.

The next day at English class, his teacher, Mrs. Fletcher, rewarded him with his first A- plus for his “perfect story”.

Now, that will bring sunshine into any rainy day!

And, by the way, everything could have happened just like that. Who knows? Stories are like that, Rain is like that, the River is like that, and now Bud is like that.

A “seasoned” writer !

 

 

 

 

 

 

Send ME in coach (a message to elders)

Ah, another year to handle; a time for resolutions to quit something or begin another. Most of us who are over eighty, are amazed that we are still here. We have watched our contemporaries face so many of life’s challenges… many have departed this world.

The dilemma is; What do we do now, if we have been so blessed by God in the past? May we ultimately ask the question; What now Father? His reply might well be; “Funny you should ask. Have you finished with what I planned for you from day one?”

Perhaps we find at this point in time that we are tired and feel entitled to a good rest. Or possibly it is like we have quit riding because our horse died or fell sick? Could he have been named “Purpose”?

What God gives us, with which we serve Him, never dies; nor is it to be deferred or diminished. WE are the horse… older, wiser, and still able to pull the wagon of God’s desire. And it still is about the JOURNEY, not about any finish line.

That voice that once pressed us onward is still to be heard. Only in answer to our prayers will come His summons….often in subtle form; as a strange phone call or reunion, a revelation in the middle of the night… Or even as simple as driving to the grocery store.

God will do marvelous works to enrich our lives at any stage. But first it may be only to the plea that offers: “Send me in coach, I can still score!”. His business is confirming the truth of that statement…..once offered.

HIS SPIRIT WITHIN US continues to show us just how it is…… that we can.

And, you and I  certainly don’t have to be under any age!