El Paso Lessons From an 18-wheeler Driver

Texas has some extremely diverse landscapes.

If you love the ocean life we can deliver it with, or without, a barrier island.

If you prefer hills and trees the east side is for you.

Vast farm land is in our western counties.

Rugged hills are in our mid-section.

I live in Plano. It was so named by the founders of the city because they thought the word plano was the Spanish term for plane. I don’t know what it would have been named if they’d done their homework.

Two weekends ago I enjoyed time in God’s green nature near Tyler. The stately pines along Lake Palestine always re-ground this old country bumpkin.

Last Thursday I was finishing a painting job in Plano when I received a phone call from a dispatcher I bailed out by covering for a driver who couldn’t drive his route earlier in the week.

I was given a choice of where he needed a driver on Friday. I could go to Shreveport in the afternoon or El Paso in the very early morning.

I’ve been itching to experience the awesome mountains God placed in our western panhandle. I chose west.

Normally I either get my breath taken away on the trip out or the return home because of the ten hour layover the federal government mandates me to take.

Notice I said “normally.” Those of y’all who’ve been following this blog for very long know that normal and Wade Webster don’t coexist very long on the same plane.

The three and a half hour nap I took that evening was barely sufficient to keep me awake through the flat stretch of my journey.

Once the sun was up and I saw those mountains I was wide awake.

I shut my truck off while they unloaded my trailer. Too many hours and a new alternator later I was on my way to set that empty trailer at the post office then off to my motel room.

El Paso is situated on a very interesting geographical setting. The post office is next to airport. That’s on the north side of the city because it’s also the highest part of the area. Apparently there’s also enough of a plano for the planes.

The sun was setting behind both the Mexican and American mountains as I drove up to the post office. By the time the government paperwork was complete it was dark.

Coming down McCrae hill at night holds an extremely interesting phenomenon. El Paso is where the Rio Grande begins to separate a first-world nation from a third-world one.

The yellow and white street lights in Juarez cover several square kilometers. It reminds me of a sequined dress a shapely senorita would wear to capture the attention of everyone in the same room with her. Almost as breath-taking as God’s mountains.

I wish there were fewer business signs in America screaming for my attention. They block too much of my view. I’m pretty sure there aren’t any such signos south of the border, just street lights.

When I left with my load Saturday morning I had to lower my visor to block the sun from my eyes. The view to my right was shrouded in a thick layer of dust. Last night’s senorita had become an old hag know. The dirt road dust aged the girl too quickly.

I wondered if they knew how poor their air quality was. Then I wondered how bad the scene looked that I was driving in.

Several years ago I lived in Tucson, Arizona. I worked as a day laborer. That meant I often was on building sites picking up debris. When I worked in the city I didn’t notice any changes in the air.

Then one day I worked on the mountain range on the north side of town. I could see the entire city from there. It was impressive in the morning.

As the day progressed the view regressed and I became depressed. The smog that engulfed Tucson stole the southern view completely.

The world we live in is like that. The dirty filth we live in is all around us. It’s such a part of our life we simply ignore it. We go about our day letting it cover us. We breathe it in without filtration. It ages us too quickly while we do nothing about it.

Jesus shocked his followers one day with the remedy for this predicament. One day after a meal He quietly stood and wrapped a towel around His waist. Then He proceeded to wash each foot in the room.

When Peter made a fuss and demanded a complete bath Jesus told him only his feet needed a regular cleansing. The daily dirt accumulation was what needed constant attention.

The Creator of man wrote a guidebook for us to live by. Daily time taking in God’s truth will do remarkable things for your health, both your spiritual and physical health.

Don’t just read the Bible to say you read it. No. Look for what God is telling you to do. It’s often the opposite of what everyone else is telling you to do.

Filter your actions through what God wants you to do first. If it contradicts what the world asks of you then let the Bible rule in your decisions.

Don’t be surprised when you stand out as a shining example to others. As God’s children we’re called to be different.

The jewels we’ll receive in our heavenly crowns will far out-shine anything this filthy world has to offer us.

Prepare your head for your heavenly destiny. Fill your crown by living for God now.

Keep smiling.   Wade

The 2016 Stonebriar Men’s Retreat is in the Books as Another Winner

I just returned home from this years’ men’s retreat put on by my church. Okay, it’s not strictly my church or it wouldn’t be much of a retreat. Can one person really enjoy teaching himself new things from the Bible?

Stonebriar Community Church is the organization I chose to be included in their membership. Therefore, it’s my church and a whole bunch of like-minded individuals.

Now that we have that cleared up do you mind if I continue to tell you about my experience in east Texas?

I guess it’s too obvious I just spent the past few days around guys who had no women folk telling us what we had to do.

That’s just one of the reasons some of us look forward to this annual event. The clean air and slower pace is another perk.

The food was excellent, as usual. I guess the folks at Pine Cove know if you feed us well we’ll come back.

I made sure I thanked some of the people who volunteered their weekend to work in the kitchen for us.  They said our group is the best one in showing our gratitude in that way. Now you know why I’m so proud to be included among these fine gentlemen.

I informed the set up team this may be Clifford’s, the big red van, last retreat before we left Frisco. I have a suspicion I’ll have to keep patching him up rather than replace him anytime soon. He may be back, too.

Going out a day early does come with a few advantages. For one thing we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Yeah, that means we laugh a lot.

On Thursday afternoon we went into Tyler for snack supplies. After that was loaded it had been decided we’d eat at a Tex-Mex restaurant. Somebody brought up the GPS directions on their phone and discovered it would take us ten minutes to get there from where we were.

So Les pulled over and had them use their phone to see if there was something closer to us. Five minutes later the wheels on the van were going round and round again to the original eating choice. Yeah, sometimes it feels like I’m back with the toddlers on Sunday morning in the summer not grown adult men.

Anyway, the curmudgeon in me reared his snarly head and I said. “You realize we could have been half way there by now if we hadn’t stopped to find something closer.”

They laughed so I quickly pointed out that I didn’t have as much in reserve as they did. In other words I was hungry.

When the conversation later turned to how many extra calories we always eat on this weekend I told them that’s why I don’t eat anything the rest of the year, so I can fit these God-honoring calories in without guilt.

For the record I was the only one of us who fit into a medium tee shirt. And it even bagged on me a bit.

My testosterone levels must have jumped up a bit because when I got home I did my typical exercises before I go for a run. I usually pump out 40 full push ups. This time I did 50. Maybe I needed those extra calories more than I wanted to admit to.

I went for my annual walk in nature Saturday afternoon after a nap that was much briefer than I thought it would be. I realized I felt much different than I have in past years. I’m often tired from either being wound up from life events or wound down by life events.

For some reason I felt content and at peace even though life events have me too frequently working all day then driving through the night before I repeat without either lathering or rinsing. Sorry, it’s a guy thing that carried over from the weekend.

Staying true to who I am I found a plastic shopping bag in the woods and filled it with trash on my walk back to camp. Just doing my part to leave the world a better place than I found it in.

The theme for the weekend was God’s Blueprint for Men. We looked at several verses that show how we’re made in the image of God.

The verse that hit closest to home was in Jeremiah 3. That’s where God says He wrote the northern kingdom, Israel, a certificate of divorce.

I know Jesus is our high priest who intercedes for us because He experienced what we all do. It was at that moment I realized even God experienced a divorce.

The reason that hit me so hard is I’m only thirteen months removed from the Collin County court system finalizing my wife’s divorce from me, and I’m just over two months away from surviving what’s supposed to be our 30th wedding anniversary.

On Saturday evening I detoured from the small group discussion we normally have after a session. I walked on the dock to lie down on one of the new benches they built on it to let the experience sink in. We were also shown that we’re to shine like stars so I wanted to soak up the clear night sky for that impact.

As I was lying back I witnessed a star fall from the sky. I prayed it wasn’t mine. I grieved my loss again and allowed the tears to roll onto my temples.

I don’t know how non-Christians cope in this world because my heavenly Abba and I have a relationship that is the only thing that keeps me going most days.

I keep volunteering to do some behind the scenes activities for the men’s retreat so other men can grow in their relationship with God through Jesus Christ, too. For many of them this will be an experience that will do it best.

God always meets me at these retreats. I can’t wait to see how it will occur next time.

Keep smiling.   Wade

There is at least one advantage to living a non-routine life

God calls some folks to live ordinary lives.

He ordains them to be accountants because they like working with numbers and helping people keep their taxes straight.

He makes some to enjoy playing with Dremmel tools in victims’ mouths so they’re dentists their entire working lives.

Farmers love working the soil and watching plants and animals grow.

Teachers make a career passing on information they know the next generation will put to use someday.

And then there’s Wade Webster, that truck driving painter who writes books, poems, songs and such while he volunteers at church during his spare time.

Whew, he makes me tired just reading that sentence. Wait a second…that’s me we’re talking about.

The past two Thursdays I’ve gone to work with the Apainter Paul. He landed a big job about two miles from my apartment.

The first three days were spent staining the fence. The last section was what Paul called Normandy Beach because it was going to entail casualties of some kind.

Some well-established rose bushes thrived by that section while poison ivy grew through the fence boards. Shortly after I began on that part I told the Apainter I had thorns on the left of me, ivy to the right and there I was stuck in the middle with paint.

Now you got that song stuck in your head. At least you didn’t have to listen to Paul sing it the rest of the afternoon.

Any way…by the time I left the painting job I had a driving assignment handed to me that entailed being behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler by midnight to go to Memphis, Tennessee.

Paul warned me to steer clear of the poison ivy while I invaded Normandy. I told him I hoped I did get into the ivy.

He says, “But that will be miserable.”

I says, “Yeah, but the itching will help me stay awake tonight/tomorrow morning.”

The good news is I got poison ivy alright. The bad news is it didn’t start itching until I go to my motel room just before noon on Friday.

Even with three phone interruptions and some very loud guys in a room next to mine I think I got about five hours of sleep by six o’clock.

After I put earplugs in I fell back to sleep and didn’t open my eyes until after four thirty Saturday morning.

For those of y’all whose math teacher would not be proud of you right now, that’s about 15 hours of sleep…with poison ivy itches. It shattered my record of 13 hours I set just a few months ago across the street from that motel room.

This week I squeezed in about eight hours of broken sleep during the 13 hours I was in the motel bed. Ain’t nothin’ predictable in my life.

I am sooo looking forward to next weekend’s annual men’s retreat I help with. Even if I get stuck with more than one guy who snores in my cabin I’ve proven I can sleep with earplugs in.

Yes, there are times I want to trade places with some bored sap with an extremely predictable lifestyle. At least he’s familiar with the bed he sleeps in.

But, then I think, That guy probably has his life so mapped out he worries about everything. Will he have enough to retire on? Will his roses bloom next summer? Will his annual doctor’s appointment come with a surprise?

I know I’ve quoted this verse a few times here before but it applies again. Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough troubles of its own.

There are some mornings I wake up and have nothing planned to do. God has me so trained to trust him now I know my rent will be paid at the end of the month. Many months it barely gets paid, but it gets done. It’s like a supply of manna. Just enough for my need at just the right time.

My non-routine life does come with an extremely hefty dose of prayers. Most of my driving assignments start with: “Okay God, I can’t do this on my own strength. I need you to help me out with this one. Of course, I guess I need Your strength to take my next breath, too. Alright, I’m Yours to use as You see fit.”

Yeah, me and God have an unusual relationship. It’s been established and honed most of my entire life.

I still attempt to make plans, but I’ve learned to write my plans in pencil. I used to have a big eraser near by to fit in God’s plans when they come along. Now that big eraser is worn to a tiny nub.

Jesus’s life wasn’t predictable. Why should I expect mine to be? Especially since I gave God reign and rule of my entire being.

So don’t worry about that poison ivy, but expect the itching to linger more than a week. God has a purpose for that, too.

I just came across another verse in my email that fits here:

1 Peter 5:6-7 “Humble yourselves, then, under God’s mighty hand, so that he will lift you up in his own good time.  Leave all your worries with him, because he cares for you.”

Now I’m wondering when this lifting up will take place. Hopefully before I fall asleep behind the wheel for more than a second and after this wretched itching stops.

Keep smiling.   Wade

Eek is Released to the World October 11th

You read that headline correctly. Eek the mouse (no relation to Mickey) is finally coming out for all y’all to read about and fall in love with. October 11, 2016 is the date he’s been waiting for more than his whole life (which, for a storybook mouse, is a long time).

Discover how God uses a mouse who doesn’t want to be a mouse to be a messenger of the news of why Christmas is so important for every person on the planet. What we do with that news is up to each one of us.

Here’s the trailer for Eek’s Gifts.

Available at your favorite online retailer October 11, 2016. Personal signed copies available here soon.

Keep smiling.   Wade