Tag Archives: road trip 21

DAY 8 – Road Trip ’21

DAY 8 – Men’s Summit

What is real achievement? What do you do that really means something – eternally?

This trip, I came to Dallas for a few reasons …

I desired a break – some time away. I love what I do, and being there brings me joy. But God made us creatures designed with a rest bitten inside of us that needs to be pushed every once in a while. And while I am exhausting myself with driving, hiking, et al – I am also resting from the normal routine I have.  Each of us need some time away. You need some time away. Stay at the top of the game people.

I wanted to see my son. Twice a year is about what we have now. I can handle that – technology makes us close through FaceTime, texting, sharing pics, and other means all throughout each and every day. But there is the sweet time of being with him and my DIL. I know my wife needs more than twice a year with him. But me, two times is all I can afford. Really. Do any of you compensate one’s absence with excessive spending? Let’s call it love. Guilt may be closer to the truth, but let’s stick with love.

I wished to hike – to knock off some bucket list items and see the beautiful creation of God, the explore this blessed nation we call America, and acknowledge the resources our tax dollars are support in the National Park System. Hot Springs NP, Carlsbad Caverns NP and Guadalupe Mountains NP. Three new hikes in three states. Take time this week to see the wonder of nature around you. Go to a park. Ride through the mountains. Watch a sunrise/sunset from the shores of a beach/ocean/lake/river. Or, just look out your window some and see the flowers, the birds, the beauty.

I NEED Revival. I am also taking two days to attend a Men’s Summit – an excellent men’s conference with blood pumping music, brain stimulating entertainment and powerful Word-Centered, life transformational, story-challenging preaching. Men from all over geographically – Men of all ages – Men of every race, color, make up – Men numbering in the thousands. Men all seeking a time of REVIVAL. It is a marvel in a world that is divisive, polarizing and discouraging – here are thousands of men saying, “You can’t tear us apart, we are United through Jesus Christ – deal with it!” And when it comes to summits I climbed this week, this summit is the one that will impact eternity. (Full report on this Summit will be the next posting. For now, know I am enjoying the rodeo at church, the street tacos and food trucks, the fearless mask removing-worship embracing time.)

Jonathan Evans – Son of Tony Evans and Chaplain for the Dallas Cowboys.

Relationships are important – especially family. Relaxing is vital – our perishable bodies need it. Regarding nature is rewarding – seeing how the heavens declare His glory draws us closer to the Creator.

But REVIVAL – that is eternity impacting, life transforming, relationship healing, miracle providing, people changing, light casting – darkness dispelling, wisdom granting, bonds breaking, walls destroying, mountain moving time. 

I desire a break. I want to see my son. I wish to hike.

BUT I NEED REVIVAL – and so do you.
New breath into the old bones. New hope for broken lives. New confidence in a chaotic world.

BUT I NEED REVIVAL – and so do you.

What are doing about that?


DAY SEVEN – Ends with Danger – Road Trip ’21

This was pretty much my down day. No place to drive to, besides breakfast and local errands that is. We all need down days. Days to recoup, relax, restore, refresh. When was the last day you did this? 

But things don’t always go according to plan, do they? 

My Plan – ABC

A – Alone Time in the Word. The day started off as planned. Breakfast. So back to Seven Miles Cafe. Yes, again. Simple – pleasant – quaint – quiet. I took advantage of the morning with no where to be and studied. 

B – Book Time. I am a bibliophile, and that’s a good thing. So I spent time starting into a book that had sat on my shelf way too long.

NEW BOOK ALERT – I have three I’ve ordered waiting for me when I get back. But I picked this one up off my shelf to read on this trip. It’s not new, having its periodical publication in the 1920s. It came to book form in 1967, 10 years after the author went home to be with the Lord. I didn’t buy it. It’s one of my father’s books I still have and one I haven’t read fully. I plan on remedying that.

Arthur Pink’s Gleanings From Paul. This insightful study looks at the Pauline prayers. Pink digs into them; and in doing so, digs into me with challenges my brain has to wrap itself around.

From the moment of his conversion Paul was a man of prayer. His many prayers scattered throughout his letters are among the richest sources in all of Scripture for getting a practical insight into the subject matter of God-honouring prayer. Pink’s detailed study captures the essence of the apostle’s concern for the congregations on whose behalf he consistenly prayed. However, Gleanings from Paul is much more than a mere study of Paul’s prayers. Pink’s insights help the reader to gain a more rounded understanding of the apostle himself, the God he served, and the churches with which he worked.

– from book cover

Personal notes

  • Not the easiest to read. Phraseology of 100 year old English. Scholarly and sometimes intense writing. Yet through it all, I am reminded of why I love books of depth and discussion. This is not a pick it up and read in a day book – not if you really want to get it.
  • This book has more hand written notes and underlining than any other book I have from my father. I also am getting to see into this thought process.  This is as delightful as the Pink’s words themselves – maybe more so.
  • This book is on prayer. A serious book on prayer. Who doesn’t need more of that.

C – Calvin-Time. Yep. This is the reason I’m here. He took off mid-afternoon and we had lunch at Hard Eights. We then went to Scheels Sporting Goods and walked around Grandscapes. Grandscapes is a brand new (4.1.21 was grand opening) development in The Colony of 400+ acres, 3million square feet of retail … mixing living, entertainment, food offerings, and lots and lots of distinctive retail. With nearby MEGA-MEGA stores of Nebraska Furniture, Scheels, and Andretti’s – this venue should do well. 

We spent some more time on errands and headed back to his home. 

The ABC plan was working well.

Then … D.

Wait, I didn’t order D. No D was mentioned earlier. Who inserted the letter D into my plans?

D – DANGER. So after a great organic burger from my DIL – I passed on the veggies – I headed to bed to catch up on the ‘refresh and relax’ part of my down day. 15 minutes later – phones all over the community lit up. We could hear the Tornado Siren clarioning across the neighborhood. A tornado warning had been issued in northern Tarrant county. Wait. We are in northern Tarrant county.

They got their pillows, they got their mobile devices, they got their dogs – and they went to the first floor closet to ride out the storm. And it blew through. Wind & hail (1-2 inches) belted the house. Community alarms kept sounding off. But it all ended within about 45 minutes.

Sleep was not really and option during the storm. And it would take a bit to come down off that.

The best laid plans of mice and men.

At the end of this day – I really did get some down time. I did study, read, rest and spend time with my son. But like life, not everything goes according to plans. Through it all – I trust God and enjoy his presence. Like my son spending time with me – I want to always spend time with my heavenly Father.

That’s my plan everyday. Is it yours?

DAY SIX – Road Trip ‘21

DAY SIX – the end of myself …

It was deceptive – getting me hooked and then pulling all sense of hope out from under me.

It was dangerous – 30 inch cliff trails, loose rock, and not a small fall to my doom.

It was death – pushing me beyond what I thought I was able to do. Taking me to the end of myself. A slow, painful trek that killed my muscles, my ego, and my sanity.

Now, this last hike on my trip was not the hardest I’ve done, but it ranked up there. But this Road Trip has taken a physical toll. Lots of road time (and more to come) and three National Parks in six days so far. Not sleeping all too well. And well, I’m not 30 anymore, by a long shot.

The Guadalupe Mountain Peak hike …

– 8.4 miles in and out (I did over nine with the off trail overlooks, extra exploring, etc.

– 3000+ feet elevation change … all up hill, constantly up hill, forever and ever uphill.

– High wind alert conditions

– I averaged 1 mile an hour up hill. 4 hours up hill!

Now here’s the rub – you start off and head up the trek. As a newbie, I didn’t realize the mountain you are climbing isn’t the right mountain. You go just under a mile – seeing your car/base camp getting smaller and smaller. You think you are doing okay, then near the top, you circle around to the other side of mountain and realize it was a false cliff – there was a bigger, higher, meaner one behind it. Ive got this.

Half way up – panting, sweating, (crying) you begin to ponder if its worth it. You can see the top … it’s so far off … so you slowly continue. Two thirds in – hard but surviving. Almost 3/4ths of the way. Pace slowing down. Then BAM – you circle around to the other side of that mountain and realize the summit is not on that ridge line either. Another circle around. The Guadalupe has got to be running out of summits.

Thoughts of claiming victory now – no one will ever know. But I slowly plod on. Maybe it’s the constant new views, new beauties of nature, or just plain stubbornness … I don’t know. But I plod on.

Now, the couple that started about 20 minutes before me (the only people I’ve seen in three hours) pass me coming down. That may be good, or they may have given up. I stay positive and keep on.

Switchbacks, steps, suffering. Then another couple is on their return journey. They encourage me, tell me it’s close. Two more switchbacks and then you’re there.

20 minutes more – the summit. The agony, the pushing myself, the prayers – I had arrived.

A few minutes to rest, take obligatory photos, grab a rock for my rock collection, eat lunch (I always eat some Beanie Weenies on new summits!) I begin the descent – descents are my jam!

I encourage those I pass on their way up. Share my insight on remaining distance. Tell them I’m proud and excited for them. But there was one hiker I did something that even makes me quander what was I thinking. She was going slow – steady, but very slow. Her boyfriend (?) was a quarter mile up just waiting on her, impatient. He would hike ahead and wait. Kind of brutal really. (They need couple’s therapy in my opinion.) She was discouraged, and thinking of turning around.

I turned around from my descent and walked with her for a bit. (Yes, I walked back up hill – again.) Encouraging her, tell her I believed in her. And then without thinking, prompted by something from within – I gave her my trekking poles. Poles were essential for this hike. Saved my legs, gave stability, and stopped from slipping multiple times – maybe just maybe I could encourage her with this gesture. I explained L for left and R for right (lol) – told her they were a gift and not worry about returning them. Maybe they would get her to the top – maybe my acts of service would encourage her just enough.

Those poles were special to me – a gift from some dear friends. I didn’t think about that – well, not at first – all I thought was I needed to do this. I will get more trekking poles. I but I just did it – a prompting I can’t explain.

Not true – I can explain.

This whole hike was an allegory of one’s Christian journey, or at least my spiritual journey. It’s tough. Almost always uphill. It will take you to the end of oneself and help you find a strength you didn’t realize was there – a strength from above. When you think you’re getting close to the end, you circle the top of the hill before you – you realize God has more, better, higher, and yes, harder, for you. You find that those who went before you (those descending as I continue to ascend) can either just pass by or they can encourage you. It’s the latter that keeps you going. It’s also a reminder that we need to encourage others.

And upon reaching the top – fulfillment and a sense of gratitude.

Last word about the lone hiker who hopefully used the trekking poles to the summit – thank you.

James 1.27 says Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. To visit means to oversee, to care for, to help.

In a way – you were the orphan on the trail. You needed care, encouragement, help. You helped me truly realize there are times I need that and there are times I need to show that. You helped me – thank you.


Readers – Whom are you ‘visiting’? Who is God bring into your life that you need to act to help? Who is the widow or orphan that God is telling you – “HELP THEM”? This is not about you and feeling good in what you do. It is about being the person God wants you to be to help others.

DAY FIVE … Road Trip ‘22

Today, it all focuses on the letter “W.” What a Wonderful Way to Write the Whimsical Whisperings Wrangling in my head.

West – It is the fifth day. And while a whole bunch of it was spent driving west, so much more happened too. So many wonderful things. I woke up early, in the wee hours well before sunrise. Took I-20 west from Fort Worth and turned off hours later to head to Carlsbad NM. Almost 8 hours behind the wheel.

Lesson … sometimes much has to be done to get to where you’re going. Few things worth attaining come quickly.

What-A-Burger. I stopped along the way to get a breakfast taquito. This was on my bucket list. Oh how I wish there was a What-A-Burger up my way.

Lesson … simple things are often very precious. So enjoy them.

Wide open spaces … West Texas. It is beautiful. Unique in its scenery. Flat as far as I could see. Cacti, cattle, clouds that go on forever and little towns miles and miles apart. Thank the Lord for Audible books.

Lesson … America, in her diverse landscape, is a beautiful country. From sea to summit. From city to small crossroads. From the Atlantic to the Pacific. America is blessed.

Windy … Wind Turbines. There were times I felt the 4 Runner pushed to the right or to the left. Wind rolling over the flat landscape and nothing to slow it down. If looks like tomorrow’s hike will be quite windy. Caution would need to be taken. West Texas was taking advantage of the wind with hundreds and hundreds of wind turbines. No shortage of that green energy here.

Wells … Oil Wells. Wind power wasn’t the only energy being produced out here. Thousands of oil wells – some pumping, some sitting idle. There was no shortage of here.

Double Lesson … free enterprise will look for opportunities whenever they may be.

Wife. I miss Lisa. Lesson … I miss Lisa.

And finally … my destination … Carlsbad Caverns.

In a word … WOW. No review did it justice. No simple picture can grasp its magnitude. The majestic stalagmite spires. The enthralling stalactites. Gigantic open spaces hundreds of feet below the surface. Artistic. Unique. An emanation of awe. And when you ponder the original explorers, it leaves you overwhelmed.

This product with in the Guadalupe Mountains was an island rising in the flat land of West Texas and southern New Mexico. Even the drive at the start of the National park was fabulous.

I encourage every one to make this trip one day. I leave you with pictures … which don’t do it justice.

Day Four – Road Trip ’21

An interesting day.

Another early rising – so I ventured out to 7 Mile Cafe here in Keller. A delightful breakfast spot. Being there almost at opening, very few had ventured out as of yet. There is something about having a diner almost to oneself that helps with staying focused and being centered on God from the very earliest hours of the day.

While there, Lisa called and the visiting band had some technical questions. They also wanted a FaceBook sound test. It’s pretty cool to know I could help almost 1400 miles away. We walked through the test and it was fulfilling to stay involved.

The morning was spent getting ready for Monday’s road trip and also getting ready for church. For worship, we planned on going to Gateway. God has used them to impact so many. They reported over 300,000 watched or visited on Easter weekend. WOW. 300,000 plus people hearing the Easter message. May that seed produce great return!

After church, we went to Nebraska. No, not the state – the furniture store. They shopped and I talked to my wife on the phone. I enjoy her voice so much.

Later, may son and I went hunting. Not what most of you are thinking. We went looking for a root slayer shovel – sounds cooler than it really is. But we came up empty. Because of our failure as hunters, we had to dig up some dead bush stumps in the front yard – a requirement of the HOA. I am grateful that my HOA back in Virginia handles all of that. Of course my HOA is Dennis T and I appreciate he does all of that. 

The fun part of the digging – 3 small snakes. Wohoo.

Now to close out my day, two scary stories. First my daughter-in-law made dinner. She said spaghetti. But let me share it isn’t really spaghetti. Organic Brown Rice Noodles. Organic roasted garlic sauce. Organic beef. Where’s the preservatives? The red dye #5? Where is the taste. She is trying to kill me.

Second, Lisa texted good night. I picked up my phone and responded. I told her “Good night my love, sleep well.” Then a few more lines were sent before my chairman of the deacons responded and said I probably meant to text Lisa. A few more back and forth, a few more chuckles, and he closed it with “Good Night My pastor, sleep well.”  I really should be a bit more careful on those text backs.

Day four – one to remember and one to remind me to stay be alert.

Day Three – Road Trip ‘21

Day Three – Food, Family, Shopping

So, First Full Day in DFW. It’s kind of weird. I spent so many years saying Dallas, but I am actually in Fort Worth/Keller. Oh I’ve crossed the D city limits, but only passing through. Is it being mean to Tarrant County to push the name Dallas? It’s like saying mom loves me most (which she does) but not thinking about my poor neglected siblings. I’ll have to be more thoughtful. Me being so thoughtful is why mom continues to love me more.

The day started out looking for a breakfast spot open at 5:30am. Plenty of What-A-Burgers and donut shoppes. A few Starbucks, but I wanted a diner or something. And there she was, Joe’s Pie Coffee & Cafe. PIE!!!! It’s like Google Maps listens to my conversations, even reads my thoughts, and pumps out on the Google search what I want. That is kind of scary (and probably more true than not!)

So sneaking out of the house, praying they didn’t set the alarm, I headed to Watauga and a delicious slice of apple pie. I didn’t want too much, for once the fam was up, they wanted First Watch. I took PegLeg in with me. And the grandmotherly waitress was hesitant to have her picture made with the PegLeg. Oh well, some people just don’t get me.

Pie + Coffee + Quiet time = a great morning.

Fort Worth, Keller and Roanoke Texas aren’t so much different than my little country life in Appomattox. There are cows everywhere. Lots of trees – but they don’t get as big in Big D. Trees just don’t make it too long. You have traffic – but more of that here – lots more. LOTS MORE. People live in communities – maybe a bit closer together here. And WalMarts. Okay, I haven’t seen Dollar General in 48 hours, maybe Virginia has the market cornered on that – almost every corner on that.

Here’s a difference. Texas high school sports were advertising for the high school rodeo competition. I don’t remember that in the ACPS. I wonder if little Faith T would do a bronc busting for 8 seconds!

Breakfast was a delight. Watching my two love birds share their meal, encouraging new and fresh tastes, and banter a bit was enthralling. Unfortunately, I see a little of me in Calvin and for that I apologize to my D-in-L. There might be some frustrations that my habits passed on to him will bring to her.

After First Watch – my DIL went her way, a full day with her sister and ministering to a single mom getting her triplet daughters ready for Prom – make up day. WOW, can you imagine. Single mom. Single mom of triplets. Single mom of triplet teenagers. She deserves hazard pay, a bravery award, and some Zanex.

Calvin and I went south to meet with Lisa’s fam. That was delayed, so we went shopping. Calvin delights when we go shopping. Should I be buying the 30 year old entitled snot everything he wants? I’m cursed with a shortcoming when it comes to my favorite kid. Another difference of Dallas-Fort Worth and Appomattox … shopping options. No trip to just Walmart, or the big city of Lynchburg. Nope – Malls, Outlets, Specialty Stores.

Interestingly, after most of our shopping destinations have been accomplished, I asked if there was something his wife has been wanting. He laughed and said in all of this, he hadn’t even thought of her. Not good. Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned that. But it’s just too fun to get him squirming.

Finally, we got with Lisa’s father and Lisa’s qwerky sister. The time was enjoyable. Her father is getting better now that his church is emerging from Covid restrictions. There is something about worshipping together that online just can’t meet. We loaded the car with memorabilia, some of her mother’s stuff, lots of photos (to take back and scan into a digital format) and etc.

In the evening, they took me out for my birthday (just three weeks away). If it was my birthday celebration, why did I buy him stuff?

On my bucket list for the trip – Marty B’s. A great BBQ, Western spot. One aspect of this busy Saturday night was with hundreds at the mostly outdoor venue, nary but a few masks were seen. It was as if Covid didn’t exist and life had returned to somewhat of a normal routine. This meal, this time with them, this was the reason I am here to visit.

Back home, Hulu, and dogs. A normal evening in their homestead.

Time with family is precious. It doesn’t matter if city, country, on the road, snuggled in a house – family time can’t be replaced. We need each other.

Tomorrow – worship at Gateway and time with my eternal family. We need each other.

Road Trip ‘21 – Day One

Lessons I Learned in the past 24 hours – Be Flexible … Be Alert … Humor … Hiking … Hollowness

These insights are longer than normal. I normally would break these down to multiple days, but so much has happened in the past 36 hours, I just want to get it down. Read one section, return later. Grab a coffee, read them all. Or wait for the Spark Notes that will be published posthumously.

BE FLEXIBLE – They’re calling for rain. Rain. No, not gonna happen. I planned this week. I have a schedule to keep. And Friday I was going to hike Hot Springs National Park, That meant departing the great Commonwealth of Virginia and driving to get their late Thursday night. But with rain, cold rain at that, I had to adjust, refocus, change, improvise, adapt, and overcome. So, I left late Wednesday evening and headed west. I prefer daytime driving, but the key to this lesson – be flexible.

Flexibility isn’t always easy for me. Literally and metaphorically. I have a weird medical condition that is fusing my spine, so I’m not the most flexible guy. And I swear this condition is impacting the way I live at times – I sometimes am way too stiff-necked and arrogant and myopic. I don’t like it when my favorite restaurant changes the menu, or they switch actors for a character mid season (come on, we all know the best Dumbledore was Richard Harris, and Sean Connery the best Bond), or I don’t like it when ____________ (insert a hundred other things.)

Wisdom. We need wisdom to know how to react. Sometimes we need to be the Willow tree – bending, limber, blowing with the wind. Sometimes we need to be the Oak – firm, vigilant, standing firm in our values.

Society today is crazy. It is changing so quickly. And sometimes that demands for us to be flexible and adapting for the best. Yet other times it demands for us to push back, stand firm and not be gullible or yielding. Where do we stand firm? Where do we bend?

My foundation is not the stand I take, for that often changes – my foundation is the Word of God. Where it is clear, we stand firm. Where it is grey/not clear, we pray for wisdom. If the winds of our time blows me over, I can rest at peace knowing I stood firm in the never changing Word of God.

Willow or Oak? Oak or Willow? As long as it’s planted in the foundation of the Word, I will be okay.

BE ALERT – So, I adjusted and left early. Night driving demands a higher level of alertness. I saw cars driving the interstate with no lights on. I had to pay attention to the gas – less places open to stop. And this trip, I have a very heavy piece of Oak in the back of my 4Runner. Did you know Oak smells? I feel like I am hiking in the woods while driving. Weird. Well, those heavy slabs of wood mean caution on turns, don’t slam the brakes, etc. Shifting weight is not cool.

My father once was traveling from VA to NC with stacks of books in the back of his Ford Fairlane; and at the first red-light, he braked a bit too hard. The books shifted forward and moved the back of his seat forward. The rest of his 6 hour trip was leaning forward, crouching over the steering wheel.

Be alert. But this means alertness for positive and negative.

Shortly after sunrise, I was coming upon a FedEx truck that was driving … well, like a drunkard. He weaved, causing a bit of whiplash on his attached load, he drove in the emergency lane, crossed the line and I was just waiting for a disaster. I gave ample room for this vehicle. He probably drove through the night and was tired. Be alert.

But I also want to stay alert to see the beauty, the unusual, the memory moments. Like the crop duster who was working the fields next to the highway. This time he lined up on the highway in front of me right before he swiftly banked and did the crops. It was a cool move and I started imaging a WW2 torpedo bomber in the Pacific. Or stay alert to see nature and wonder and God’s artistry. I’ve travelled I-40 many times, so one has to stay alert for things missed and wonder around them.

This means we need to stop just walking through life missing the beauty, missing the splendor. Smell the roses. Take it all in before you rip out the phone to take a selfie. Be alert.

Have a Sense of Humor. Maybe it’s just me. But I enjoy looking at life a little … Whimsical? Childlike? Hippieish? See a water puddle – I jump and splash. I see people react unusual – I imagine they are alien pod-people that are adapting to humanities norms. I see the crop duster – I think of WW2.

So last night, I passed 4 cars in a row and they all had their driver side headlight out. Immediately I thought they were mystical Cyclops and I was on a cursed highway of Cyclops and Ogres and monsters. My driving became a quest; my destination was a safe harbor before me. Monsters all around. What would I do? Especially, avoid the one-eyed, blue-eyed guardians of the interstate. They are out there, lurking.

Have a sense of humor people.

HIKING. It was Earth Day and I got outside. Hot Springs is a nice park. About 6000 acres. A bit commercial being so close to the town of Hot Springs. So the ambient noise was more than I am used to when enjoying Devils Marble Yard or trails along the Skyline Drive. But it was beautiful. However, I had to stop comparing, stop seeing the less than expected and start seeing the beauty.

– The leaves were coming in. Newness of life was returning. It gave a freshness to an old wood forest. Many times I need freshness in my weary bones.

– There were some small colorful flowers along the trail. Purple, red, and a few pink. These little splashes of color were a delight and probably overlooked by many. God’s beauty is often seen in the small details too!

– I startled (or more correctly, he startled me) a six-point buck just mere feet from the trail. A rustling of the brushes alerted me just in time to see him raise his head and dash away. I LOVE NATURE – the surprises, the unexpected, the startling.

– Once I got into the woods, the trail veered a bit. This downward and then back up a little later seemed a bit unnecessary. But I noticed, this veering put a sound wall/hill between the hiker and the town. This was amazing. It made the birds more noticeable, made the isolation greater, and the experience much more enjoyable. What I thought as an unnecessary was truly beneficial. I may not always know what things happen; but if I give it a chance, I might just discover it. Be less critical.

– I saw the foundations of some old stopping points/rest areas. The park is celebrating 100 years in 2021. I then imaged the tens of thousands that might have stopped and enjoyed this respite on the trail, taking in the view, and being refreshed for more on the journey. What legacy am I leaving? My ministry? My family?

There are always lessons along the trail of life. Look for them!

And one last lesson …

HOLLOWNESS. There she was. A majestic older hardwood tree that had blown over. The roots remained intact but the trunk had twisted and been mauled a mere feet above the ground. The tree did not fall completely. She rested at about a 45 degree angle where a sister hardwood had caught her, as if gently caring for her wounded friend. Had I been bit younger, I might have climbed the angled trunk just to say I could do it. Well, I can always say I can do it, but saying isn’t as fun as doing. But I resisted. Maybe it was the caution that the sister tree wouldn’t want to hold my weight too, or that I saw few people on the trail; and if I fell, I might lie there a while. Or maybe I was too tired from the 15 hour road trip right into the 6 mile hike. Doesn’t matter, I just looked.

That’s when I noticed it. The tree, beautifully barked, majestically aged, few flaws … would be an asset to any view outside a home or office window … was not what she seemed. The outside had few blemishes. But the inside – hollow, bare, empty. I am not sure the reason, that wasn’t important to my query. Her downfall wasn’t due to her exemplary example of what a tree was to look like. Her downfall was due to her emptiness inside. The hollowness finally yielded to the weight of what looked like faking perfection.

I look out at people, even those that attend and listen to my homiletical expertise every week (jk, I always need God’s help to overcome my shortfalls) … back to point … I look out and sometimes I see people that look like they have it all together. They look like what a person should look like. But inside, deep within, they are hollow and hurting. They are desperately in need. And those that look at them are clueless. Sometimes the people themselves are clueless.

They wait too late to get help and they tumble over and fall. Oh, we try to hold them up, we compassionately will bear their weight and try to show love and aid in restoration. In the end, the hollowness inside is just too much. Real healing isn’t fixing up the outside, making us look all pretty and well adjusted. Real healing is from within, starting at our hearts, hearts that need total replacement.

That’s what God does.

Real change starts from the inside out. If you are hurting, reeling from a hollowness within – He can heal, He can renew, He can help. Let Him.

And praise God – He’s started that on me – and He’s not done with me yet.


So ends my lessons from Day One. Quite a day.

Road Trip ‘21 … Getting Ready

I’m less then 24 hours away … what will this entail?

  • About 4000 miles with out the fun excursions
  • Many hours behind the wheel
  • Men’s Encounter Conference at GateWay
  • Hot Springs NP (Arkansas)
  • Carlsbad Caverns NP (New Mexico)
  • Guadalupe Mountains NP (west Texas)
  • And most importantly … time with my son and daughter-in-law

Now, today is the ‘get it all together’ day. Wash clothes, pack bags, get everything in order, load truck, and all the rest. I know I’ll forget something. I always do.

This one will be a solo. My wife can’t get away … her position is so demanding and she is so dedicated … she needs a break … but just can’t get away … maybe if her boss reads this he’ll push her out the door for a week or more. (Hint: if you know her boss, send a link to this post over to him – LOL) But when I head out in the morning, I will be headed out alone. My wife is a bit worried about my truck making the trip. Hey, it’s got over 300K miles, so I think another 5K is there. I am planning for another 100K, just not this week.

Life demands a lot of preparation. We plan, make our list, check off the tasks, and get ready for so many things. And a stitch in time saves nine. That’s what I hear. I really don’t understand sewing. It’s a lost art. Back to the issue. Life demands a lot of preparation.

But you can’t plan for everything. There are always the surprises, the unexpected, the unimaginable. Like Apollo 13, we sometimes have to make an O2 scrubber with tube socks.

In this, we can be afraid of what we don’t see. We can tremble at the unknown. We can live in fear.

Or …

We can trust a God who has you in his hands, who loves you and cares for you, who will take care of you. That doesn’t mean the unexpected won’t knock us around, but it does mean we can get back up. He is there.

So … I’m less then 24 hours away … what will this entail?

In the end, I really don’t know everything it entails. But I know I’m not really alone. And I know he goes before me, he is behind me, and he’s never going to let me go.

I’m less then 24 hours away … what will this entail? I trust him in everything.