Be Careful What You Stand On

I thought about calling this post “Slippery Footing.” I think the title I chose fits better.

I’ve had trouble standing lately. Not literally, just figuratively.

About the time I think I know what to expect in my life the unexpected occurs.

When the unexpected happens so many times a fella realizes it’s actually normal for him. At least I do now.

Y’all know about my unexpected unemployment in early October. If you didn’t, you do now. We’re far enough along into November that I can safely say I lived to tell about that event.

Now I have companies calling me while I’m driving for someone else. It never rains but it pours.

The Apainter Paul has work coming in, too. So I’m helping him so he can help me, too.

I hope that’s not too many too’s for y’all. If it is then that’s too bad.

One of the first driving assignments, after my mini-unemployment, I accepted was for a company I hadn’t driven for before. It began as a five day gig. Then it became a one day deal. Then a two day thing before it ended up at three days. I felt like I was stuck in an auction on that one.

“Do I hear five days? No, then can I get one day…how about two. I have two can I get three days? Sold at three days.”

The next week Paul found a lady who had neglected the shrubbery around her houses for too many years. He told me I could work there as long as I wanted to or until it was caught up. I just finished clipping the shrubs around the front house when she came out to pay me for the day. She didn’t want to leave the two dogs alone while she was gone to work. She feared they’d tear the inside of the house up in their panic.

That was rug number two that got yanked out from under me. Three if you count the unemployment spell, which I won’t so don’t.

There was that couple excited about buying the Webster family farm in October. They were scheduled to sign papers November 1. It’s still the Webster family farm the last I heard. That influx of cash sure would have been a welcomed sight to my budget, but it isn’t so it ain’t.

Yet another rug gone.

Paul had a couple of jobs come in almost at once so he asked me to commit to him for the remainder of last week. I already committed to a company for Monday and Tuesday. Then company A called and asked if I could drive to Houston for them on Tuesday. I felt like a ping pong ball in a fierce competition.

I made great progress on the house Paul left me with by the end of Friday. I called The Apainter and asked if I could borrow his taller step ladder and extension pole to finish up on Saturday. He was impressed and said. “Sure thing.”

So I drove by his place, got his stuff and drove home stopping for gas and some groceries now that the previous week’s check was posted into my account. As I was on the final leg of my drive home Paul called…gulp.

“I got to thinking about how work is looking for next week. I’ll be done with the house I’m working on Monday. If you finish your house tomorrow I won’t have anything to do the rest of the week. Can you stop by after church tomorrow and return my ladder so I have it to finish that house you were working on?”

I’ve heard people say they regret things they’ve said occasionally that they wish they hadn’t let slip out of their mouths.

After a few seconds Paul had one question…”Wade, are you still there?”

“Yeah. I’m here. Sure, I can swing by after church tomorrow.”

He didn’t want to know the names I had for him that I left silent in my brain. Since he’s done so many huge favors for me I was grateful prudence won that round.

After I punched the “end call” button on my phone I sent up a prayer complaint.

“You know, God, that first rug being pulled out from under me was bad enough. This has gotten old in hurry. When is this going to stop? Where can I stand that’s safe from these falls?”

He knew I knew the answer to that question before I let it slip out of my noggin.

That rock is Jesus. Ain’t nobody nor nuthin’ going to let me slip off that foundation.

I got a call Saturday afternoon for a possible assignment driving to Shreveport that evening. I took it to shore up my budget constraints.

These unexpected things to me aren’t any big surprise to God. He’s got this all worked out for His glory.

All I have to do is keep standing then putting one foot in front of the other.

I’m in His will even when I fall.

I just have to get back up…and so do you my friend.

Keep smiling.   Wade

Stress is Spelled M-Y L-I-F-E

Thursday I drove from Ft Worth to Amarillo. I’ve done it several times and lived to tell about it. So, what made it so different this time? It was 86 degrees when I left Thursday afternoon. On Friday morning it was 38 degrees.

Being a native Michigander I knew enough to check the forecast before I left. Still having permafrost in my bones from four decades in the frigid winter wonderland I knew well enough to dress in layers when it’s cold.

I didn’t bring a dress, but I did bring extra layers of clothes to add during the night. That north wind still blew right through this Texan’s scrawny body.

My illustrious illustrator contacted me during my trip north by northwest. Normally that’s a good thing, but this time a series of miscommunications and misunderstandings only added to my stress level after one of the most challenging months of my life…and that’s saying a lot.

The good news is that it sounds like we’re nearing the home stretch on the storybook app that’s been three years in the making so far. The bad news is this came close to derailing it.

We both agreed it sure felt like there were unseen forces at work during this episode to end all episodes.

Prayers are appreciated as I decide how to program this app so it’s the best it can be.

On another front of my life I’m glad I didn’t spend that inheritance money from the sale of the family farm just yet. The folks who were so eager to buy it a few weeks ago have gone AWOL.

They’re scheduled to sign the papers and pay for it on November 1. They had a death in the family. The realtor hasn’t been able to get in touch with them at all. No deposit was collected.

Pray for God’s will here. The realtor has someone else interested if this falls through. Maybe they’ll pay more for it. We’ll see.

I’m counting on living off some of this money while I focus on making the app. It’s all coming together in God’s timing. I’ve just become used to His time clock running a lot slower than the one in my life.

Yeah, it’s frustrating, but I trust God with all my heart, soul and life. He’s always come through for me. Even during this most financially difficult month in my life.

I had an interesting experience Sunday morning at church. Our church puts food baskets together for poor families in our community each November. I handed out reminder cards to folks as they entered the sanctuary.

Having experienced near bare shelves in my own pantry recently I have a special kinship to these needy folks.

I prayed for an extra dose of generosity from our generous congregation this time around.

Most of the people thanked me as they took the card from my hand. They’ll likely respond positively.

Some couples grabbed the church bulletin from the first greeter then got tunnel vision as they almost sprinted past me.

Being a fairly small person to begin with I’ve felt invisible in the past, but this wasn’t what I expected from God’s children on Sunday morning in God’s house of worship.

I admit, I don’t know how much, or what kind of stress they’re facing in their lives right now. They might want to trade Octobers with me in a heartbeat.

I prayed for God to open their eyes to the world around them and for an extra dose of grace as they heard the message from Pastor Chuck.

I can’t change what happened in October. There are some things I definitely wish I could have a do over.

I don’t know when I’ll have all of the ingredients I need to finish Have You Heard of the Herd.

I do know it will all work together in God’s timing for His glory. He promised me that in His word.

If your life feels like a freight train about to crash find a promise in the Bible you can claim for your situation.

Don’t tell me there isn’t one there.

There are 365 “Fear not” statements scattered throughout the sacred text.

That’s one for each day of the year.

Just hold on to any one of those little nuggets.

God is bigger than any problem you face, my friend.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

2 Phone Calls

Last Tuesday I had an appointment at the VA hospital in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Those of you who know me well are wondering where this is going since I never served in any branch of the military.

Those of you who don’t know me well now know that I never served in any branch of the military so I must be up to no good here.

This is my blog so just fasten your seatbelt and hold on tight.

Where was I…oh, yeah, heading up to Muskogee.

I had a load of beds for our veterans to use.

I was told I had to be there by 1:30 pm. So I got to work at 7am. Fueled the truck and hit the road. At 8am my cell phone started chirping like a cricket…not too surprising since this starving writer decided that’s the ringtone that fit me the best.

The fella on the other end said he was calling from Muskogee’s VA hospital. He wanted to know how far out I was. I informed him I’d be there about noon if everything went well.

“But, I thought you’d be here at eight.”

I’m thinking, “must be an Okee.”

We ended that conversation with him saying, “Drive safe and get here as quickly as you can.”

That was my plan all along.

I enjoyed the country scenery that morning and was relieved my phone’s GPS agreed with the VA hospital signs in Muskogee.

As I pulled off the last main road I started getting a bit concerned since I was in a residential area.

“Must be an old military post.” I said to myself.

I had to drive on the opposite side of the road more than once to avoid trailer damage from the tree limbs that were hanging too low for a big rig.

“These Okees in Muskogee sure do love their oaks…and maples and all these other trees.” I drew short of cursing anybody out.

This VA hospital looks like it had been there quite a while. I could almost make out the remnants of a mote behind it near the loading docks.

There was room for about two trucks to unload at a time. I was third in line when I arrived.

A good old boy with a full-sized trailer and over-the-road rig was just fixin to pull out as I surveyed the situation.

All I had to do was avoid driving over the bank into the mote-turned-scenic-valley below me and I’d be fine.

The two box trucks backed up to the dock after my good buddy left. I worked my way to where they were waiting so I’d be lined up to the dock before anyone else came along.

It’s good thing I got there before noon since it was almost one when I hit the dock…but not before almost hitting the mote fence.

The thirteen beds I had turned out to be electric motor powered gurneys. That was good since the trailer was uphill to unload it.

All I had to do at this point was unhook the straps and fold the pads that protected the beds on their gurney journey to the VA.

At about the eighth bed the cricket in my pocket got my attention again.

I hit the green “accept call” button and said “Hello.”

The nice lady on the other end asked me if I could be at our church at 6:30.

I did the math in my head as quickly as I could. “I doubt it since I’m in Muskogee now.”

“Where’s Muskogee?”

I thought everybody knew where Muskogee was…maybe only Okees do. “It’s in Oklahoma.”

Even Texans know where the country of Oklahoma is.

We settled on 7:30 for me to be at Stonebriar. That worked.

I knew the person I was talking to was nice because she’s on the committee that decides who the church will help out when they’re in a financial tight spot. That was me alright.

Things were definitely looking up.

I pulled away from the dock with an empty trailer at 1:15pm and headed back south.

For a reason I can’t recall I flipped the switch to shut the cricket chirp off.

I checked my phone at some point in Oklahoma. My brother Mike left a voice message for me from the country of Michigan.

I decided to call him back when I took a break at the Texas welcome center.

The message said someone made an offer on the family farm. The live call said they’re ready to empty their savings and dip into a 401k to get it. They want to move in on November 1.

Even with splitting things six ways things are definitely looking up.

I used to live my life braced for something bad to happen because I saw too many folks fall apart when that news comes. The way my life’s been the past decade I’ve lived my life expecting things to take an upturn at any time.

I think things are finally taking that upturn.

Now I need wisdom to handle the changes that are about to take place.

Your prayers are definitely appreciated.

Keep smiling.   Wade

October 2017 News from a Starving Writer

The good news is I made it through September with my bank account in good standing. The bad news is I don’t know how far into October that standing will stand.

I’m in the throws of Starving Artist Syndrome…or stopped truck driver conundrum…or both. Yeah, both of um.

Either way my bills are looking like they’re eating my lunch at breakfast.

Calling in prayer support. Calling in prayer support.

I do have an escape plan possibly…if I can just get the hatch to open.

Okay. Let me take a deep breath. Now I’m dizzy, too. That didn’t help much.

God’s had me on a pretty strict manna diet for quite a while now. Why is He cutting my calories?

Let me see if I can explain what’s going on without depressing y’all.

The company I drive for primarily hasn’t been paying the company that pays my paycheck. I don’t know why we can’t all just get along, especially when there’s a starving artist stuck in the middle.

The Apainter Paul is going to India for the next two weeks so his work load is diminishing significantly, too, also.

Yikes…I don’t know if y’all aren’t depressed yet but me is.

Okay, another breath…another dizzy spell.

Okay…there’s this business helping local businesses I’ve been attempting to get off the ground. Now that I’m not driving my life away maybe I can get that to fly.

There’s two different nonprofits I offered to give mobile apps to this summer, still waiting to hear back from them.

There’s a woman starting up a business helping seniors who still live at home. She won’t accept the video I made for her to help her out so I can get a good review.

Yikes! I’m so bad at this business thing I can’t even give stuff away. How in the world do I think I can actually sell folks something?

Pounding head against the wall now…another dizzy spell with stars.

Let’s change the subject before I have to pay for a new wall in my apartment.

The writing is showing a bit of a flicker of reviving possibly hopefully.

I couldn’t afford to go to the great big ACFW Conference that was held in my backyard this year. They didn’t have many editors or new agents to meet with anyway so I didn’t lose much sleep over that.

Instead God came through for me at home on my own laptop computer dealy.

One publisher opened up a children’s division and opened up for manuscript submissions. Eek scampered off to that one.

During the conference another small publisher opened up for submissions, too. Eek went there, too, also, along with the other two books Tate dropped.

There’s a bit of a history with that small publisher sorta kinda from the BRMCWC (another writers’ conference).

The two years I drove 1,000 mile to attend there (back when I had a good paying job) there was this guy named Cyle who kept placing in the unpublished competition for almost everything.

Cyle placed second when Eek placed third for the middle grade novel in 2014.

They say to keep your friends close and your enemies closer, so I looked up this Cyle guy on Facebook and friended him.

The agent who started writing prayers on an online group I was in that led to the 100 Prayers of a Writer book said this Cyle was asking her to represent him at the time. She told him he needs to concentrate his writing on one genre. He’s too talented for that. Why do agents do that to us starving artists?

So, what does this Cyle do? He becomes an agent himself…maybe a double agent. I don’t know since he may still be my enemy.

Guess who is a partner in the small publishing company that opened up for submissions? If you answered Cyle you win something from a starving artist. Maybe you can take me to lunch and buy me groceries afterward. I don’t know but it sounds good to me.

They’re looking for children’s books and general fiction. Those I had books ready for.

I sent them my Christmas devotional book, too, also, in hopes that Cyle might know of a publisher looking for such genius writing and represent me to them, too, also, maybe.

Calling in prayer support. Calling in prayer support.

The Hebrews left Egypt through the Red Sea without getting swamped. Shadrack, Meshack and Abednigo walked into the furnace without getting so much as a hair singed.

Is it asking too much for a starving artist to come out of this fiasco I call my life honoring God in all I do?

That’s always been my goal.

It always will be.

All I know is I feel like I’m facing a giant with a sheer cliff mountain behind him standing in my way of getting to where I need to be.

Giants and mountains ain’t nothin to God. I do know that.

I’ll get there in God’s timing.

I’ll see you on the other side, my friend, too, also.

Keep smiling.   Wade

Lessons from the Toddler Whisperer

Another summer with the toddlers has closed for the Toddler Whisperer. Since I never had children of my own I get my grandfather fix during the summer months. More firsts were encountered. More lessons learned by this old man.

God directly answered one of my emails at the very beginning of the summer. When I entered room C119 I quickly discovered there were ONLY 6 cardboard blocks in the entire room. A toddler whisperer can’t possibly effectively toddle whisper with only six blocks…especially when some of those were bent.

So I sent an email to the lady in charge of the kiddo department at my church. She quickly sent in a requisition for more cardboard blocks. When I showed up to whisper the following Sunday I was met with astonishment before I ever got to C119. Somebody donated some blocks during the week…before the requisitioned ones could get there.

It just goes to show that prayer takes on many forms. When we don’t know what to ask the Spirit groans for us. When God’s kiddos need blocks they’re going to get there quicker than a toddler can knock them down. Trust me…that’s pretty fast.

I shared a few posts back about becoming a toddler magnet one Sunday when one of the boys ran straight to me rather than welcome the hug from one of the women volunteering then. Well, the following Sunday I was transferred to a different room with younger toddlers. The exact same thing happened to me there.

I know for a fact I had never seen the second boy. Apparently grandfather fixes work both ways. Some people need to have a grandfather figure in their life too.

They say we’re all built with a God-shaped hole in us that only God can fill. People try every sort of substitute only to be disappointed. Well, little kids need someone with skin on to fill in for God until they understand how to regain that all-important personal relationship with the Creator of the universe.

It’s quite on honor to fill in for God at such a crucial part of a person’s development. I don’t take that lightly.

A third first surprised me to no end. Toward the end of the time together we go to a different room with other rooms of kiddos for story and singing time. It’s called JAM time. JAM stands for Jesus And Me. After then we come back to our room and play until the parents come to claim their toddler. No, we haven’t had one kiddo left unclaimed…yet.

Well, one Sunday I began stacking blocks…as usual. Laughter soon began as the blocks fell repeatedly. My arms were getting tired from trying to stay ahead of the falling.

Usually when the parents arrive the whole world stops and the little toddle legs carry that small person to the door as quickly as humanly possible…not this Sunday. This boy heard his dad’s voice and he started crying. I told you a toddler whisperer can’t possibly effectively whisper without cardboard blocks.

It made me wonder how many people are going to do that exact same thing when the rapture occurs. How many folks will be so caught up in their life on this planet that they don’t want to leave it?

Now me…I’ve experienced so much heart ache and loss I can’t wait to go Home to be with the Lord.

But, who among us will yearn for another month to complete that degree they worked so hard for? How much of a loss will somebody feel when they were so close to making their first million dollars? A woman held her purity til her marriage night only to be taken to heaven the day before her wedding. Will she regret her life here then?

Will there be crying while we’re being lifted off this planet because of unfulfilled dreams here?

I hope not, but I don’t know. I never thought I’d see a boy cry when his dad came to pick him up neither.

How about you? What will your attitude be when you hear that trumpet blast?

Are you so earthly minded that you’re no heavenly good?

Or, are you so working for the kingdom that you can’t wait for it to begin?

There’s nothing wrong with trying to make money, or completing a degree or staying sexually pure. There’s everything right about those endeavors if you have God’s will for you in the front of your mind and heart.

Building a strong family is also important. But, if you’re doing it for your legacy on earth you’re missing the bigger and more important picture of everything.

If you look back and see your family wondering what happened to you as you ascend to heaven during the rapture you will be crying and regretting you missed it all.

It’s not too late to do the right thing.

Pray for wisdom and clarity about your daily life.

Ask God to become preeminent in all you think and do.

Focus on meeting His agenda in building His kingdom by leading your family and friends to Christ before it’s too late.

You won’t care how long your bucket list is when you see Jesus face to face.

I know I won’t anyway.

Keep smiling.   Wade

I Think My Identical Twin is Charlie Brown

I’ve heard it said that everybody has an identical twin somewhere in the world. The longer I live the more I’m convinced my twin’s name is Charlie Brown.

Apparently Charles Schultz watched my life story when he came up with the idea for this fictional character. If he didn’t he sure could have.

You remember Charlie’s friend Lucy? She’s the one who would hold her finger on a football and egg poor Charlie to kick the ball. Then Lucy would yank the ball away at the last second. Charlie was putting so much effort into kicking the ball as far as he could he always ended up on his back.

That’s been my business efforts thus far. I had one guy who was all gung ho about having me create a logo for his young business. He told me what he was looking for. Nothing too complicated for my simple mind to grasp. He offered to pay half up front. I told him to give me a couple of hours to see what I could come up with.

Two hours later I made what he was looking for. I felt good about finally getting this thing off the ground. I shot him an email with the logo attached…nothing. I called him…no answer. I messaged him through the link we met up with…still no response. I sent up a prayer. “Okay, God. Did you kill this guy off in those two hours I was working for him?”

A couple of months later I called again…he answered. He remembered me then said they decided to go a different direction. He didn’t even know the direction I was taking them in. So there I am lying on my back.

Charlie liked to fly kites for fun. The only problem was every time he sent a kite up it inevitably got caught up in a tree. I literally had this happen to me in college during spring break…but that’s another story.

That’s been my writing history. I have a few different books in various genres. I’ve spent several years going to conferences in many parts of the country looking for an agent or publisher who might be interested in what I wrote…cricket chirps is all I get.

So I decided to self publish with a company that gave me a great price to get it done…only to have them go out of business before they printed my copies I paid for. Pesky trees anyway.

Charles Schultz decided to give our friend a bit of a love interest eventually. Do you remember who it was? That red-headed girl was the only thing she was known as if my memory serves me right…which it sometimes does.

I have some advice for poor Charlie. Leave those red heads alone! Wife number one was one…she left after too many failed expectations and such. So I asked God to bring someone else along who He wants me with. You guessed it…another red-headed woman.

Just like our friend Charlie it takes alot of nerve for me to ask a lady out…especially when I’ve been rejected by the love of my life recently. Nothing like having someone rip a scab off a wound before it has time to completely heal.

The difference between Charlie Brown and me is that he’s a cartoon character. He never gets a chance to grow up and change. Me…I have no choice but to grow up and change.

The business is showing hopeful signs of taking flight. It might be as far as the Kitty Hawk’s first flight, but it will be positive progress. From there the sky’s the limit.

I have another self publishing company calling me about reprinting my 100 Prayers of a Writer book. They say they’re interested in showing it off at the world’s book fair or something like that. We’ll talk further about it Monday morning.

I was sent a lead for my middle-grade book, Eek’s Gifts. It’s a Christian publisher expanding into youth and children’s books. Oh yeah, I’m excited about this prospect.

As far as my love life is concerned…well, let’s just say I’m taking it easy for now. I kept berating myself for not talking to the red-head every Monday for too long. It sure looked like God was giving me indications He wants us together. I kept telling myself “if God wants us together it will happen. Just give it time.”

Well if God wants us together then He needs to let red know about His plan, too. Until then I’m waiting for God to send the next woman to rip that scab off. Ouch!

Seriously, I’m just doing the best I can to delight myself in the Lord. It’s up to Him to give me the desires He wants me to have.

I’m simply doing the best I can, one day at a time, to follow His leading.

That’s all He expects of any of us.

Let’s keep putting one foot in front of the other my friends…to the glory of God.

Keep smiling.   Wade

I got a promotion at church this week

Some days God steps in and surprises the gigglies out of me. This Sunday was one of those days.

First, let me back up and fill you in on the week I had that led up to this promotion.

Last Saturday I drove late which meant I slept less than 6 hours before I went to church. A cup of coffee was enough to keep me alert for the sermon. Not that a Chuck Swindoll sermon needs much outside stimulation.

I turned down an early Monday morning driving option for two reasons. 1) I needed a 34 hour reset by federal law…so noon was my earliest start time available. 2) I had an important meeting at church that had absolutely nothing to do with foresaid promotion.

The meeting was to determine who would be awarded the Howard Hendricks Memorial Scholarship this year. Yeah, it is an honor to be included in anything Howard Hendricksish.

We had to pick which male graduating senior and a female counterpart would receive fifteen hundred bucks for college. The guys were relatively easy since there was only two who filled out an application. Six ladies took a bit longer to sort through.

They blacked out the names on the papers so we couldn’t guess who these folks were. They gave each of them a color for us to keep them straight.

The boys were red and blue. Did anybody think this through? Especially coming off the most contentious national election aver. Boy blue never stood a chance. My buddy Steve’s letter of recommendation helped a lot, too.

The ladies required a lot more attention…as they usually do. We whittled it down to two. I felt I contributed when the last words out of my mouth were, “Yellow has my vote.”

We put the required paperwork in the proper envelopes and packed up to go home.

Tuesday I finally got to work with the Apainter Paul again. He had an interior project the folks wanted done asap so they could put the house on the market ASAP.

Since I still owed Paul almost two full days of work to repay advances he gave me to pay May’s rent it worked out well all around.

Wednesday found me driving to San Antonio before sunrise for a 13 hour day.

Thursday I was back to painting for the Apainter again. We got enough done that he could finish it on Friday…cuz.

Before midnight Thursday I was off to LaLA. I’m guessing that since New Orleans uses the acronym NOLA then Lafayette, Louisiana goes by LaLA.

Even if I’m wrong I was praying I didn’t doze off to lala land while the wheels on the eighteen wheeler were going round and round down the interstate. My eyes were heavily suggesting that possibility was possible just before the only rest area along my route in Louisiana.

Since federal law required me to take a half hour break I lost consciousness with the wheels stopped. Which is a good thing.

A couple of hours later I was killing bugs in a motel room I used for more sleep. Even my boots were stored off the floor whilst there.

I drove home the last half of Friday to get the required time off to drive to Houston on Saturday.

Yes, for any mathematicians reading this that’s six days of work in five days. That’s the type of “it never rains but it pours” life I live these days.

I crawled into bed with a potential of six hours of sleep before corporate worship time. I think I slept about four of them. That’s what I get for trying to sleep at different hours of the day and night.

Pastor Chuck delivered another winner of a sermon during first service. Then I was off to C-119 to fulfill my role as the toddler whisperer…or so I thought.

I recognized some faces of kids and adults in the room when I stepped in. Mild chaos was in it’s regular place.

Then Everett was brought into the room. One of the women held him to try to settle his nerves. He squirmed out of her arms and ran around the table straight at me. Since both of his arms were held high I knew that meant one thing. I was his only best source of comfort in that room.

I picked him up as his momentum flung his body toward me. His head landed on my shoulder before his next sob.

We spent some time in a rocking chair while everyone else ate cookies at the table. Our cookies tasted just fine in that chair, thank you very much.

Everett felt at home after a few more minutes together so I consumed the chocolate cupcake that was brought in for me. I like me some perks, too.

Another boy had a meltdown after that so I picked him up only to have another fella want my attention.

With a boy in each arm Everett decided he needed more of me then, too. The only choice I had was to reach around each boy and lift my little buddy up with my hands.

That’s the moment I was promoted from the toddler whisperer to the toddler magnet.

When one of the ladies in the room saw me she offered to take one of my friends. I said, “No, I got this.”

We sauntered over to a rocking chair until. One by one, the tykes decided to go off and play.

I recognized what was happening there. I was being Jesus to those boys when they needed me most.

Have you ever felt like your prayer request is a nuisance to God?

You think He’s got His hands full with another shooting or war or disaster or whatever. He doesn’t have time for little old me.

Stop thinking that way. His arms are more then big enough to reach around every little thing happening in this puny world we live on to stop and give you the attention you want from Him.

Don’t ever hesitate to tell God what’s on your heart…no matter how small it might appear to you.

God adopted you into His family to spend all the time you need with Him.

Even when everything seems out of control, God will stop and give you His full attention as He says, “I got this.”

Fill your love tank with God every chance you get.

He’s got a lot more energy than this old truck driving toddler magnet will ever have.

Keep smiling.   Wade

I’m back from 3 days at Tres Dias

Tres Dias…Spanish for three days. That’s how long I spent near Lake Lavon for a men’s retreat.

This event had a lot going against it for me.

About the worst thing you can do to an introvert is plunk him down amidst 150 guys he doesn’t know. Let’s see how long before he comes out of his shell this time. Gulp!

Another thing this country bumpkin didn’t appreciate is being next to a lake with no time to enjoy the nature of the setting. We hardly had enough time to use the restrooms let alone time of solitude.

And whose idea was it to use a liturgical theme for this event? This free spirit appreciates more spontaneous prayers and such. Why did we have to recite from page 14 of that little book again…and again?

Don’t even get me started about that silly chicken song they made us sing before we could eat a meal.

Does that drummer really have to break my eardrums on every other beat?

Why are so many men discourteous about others when it comes time to go to bed? Can’t those loud conversations wait until daylight…please?

The tradition of this retreat began a long time ago in Spain. That silly chicken song came about while a broken down bus was awaiting a repair returning from one of these retreats. There were originally 99 verses to it. We only had to sing three of them. I guess they were broken down a very long time.

When I remembered the church I’m a member of supports at least three sets of missionaries to Spain I realized this world has sure changed.

The main thing this retreat had going for it is it’s a Christian retreat. As long as they’re honoring God and trying to get us to focus on Him I can put up with some discomfort.

Symbolism was huge here. I appreciated that, too. We don’t use enough of that in this country in my opinion.

One of the first things they did was offer us a white handkerchief to use as a surrender flag if we declared our surrender to God for control of our life. I had mine conspicuously hanging out of my pocket for the entire event.

At one point they gave us a small piece of thin paper and told us to write down the name of someone we needed to forgive or something we needed to forgive someone for. I wrote my ex-wife’s name down.

That evening they gave us time to write down on other slips any sins we wanted to confess and/or something that we desired to give up.

When we finished they had us fold the papers and nail them to a cross, literally. By the time we were done that cross was covered in nails and bits of paper…until they set it on fire.

In a matter of a couple of seconds the things we wrote down were burnt up. We were told we can now let those things go from our lives.

Saturday evening was extremely special. They treated us to a fabulous meal. Then, as someone prayed they snuck a few dozen women in around us. They began singing when we opened our eyes.

My sponsor, Marcia, was one of the first women I saw…before my eyes got too wet to see anybody. I was immediately missing Barb all over again. Not because Barb could sing, but because this was something I wish I could have shared with her.

The other time I cried was when they brought us into the chapel after a talk on prayer. They had some of the cha’s (Christ’s Hands in Action) praying for the speaker there. They explained that they do this with each of the speakers. Then they showed us the papers on the wall that listed the names of folks from all over who signed up to pray for us during this retreat.

They hadn’t given my 100 Prayers of a Writer book out yet. So I couldn’t let anyone know why that spoke to me so profoundly.

Other than my book being given out to everyone there I didn’t know what to expect at this retreat.

The first surprise was when I discovered I was a candidate. Candidate for what I didn’t know. I thought the election was over.

I learned that this was the first step to being able to lead this retreat in the future. Marcia’s son was the rector for this particular retreat. It takes serving at several retreats over many years to get there. I would have been extremely elderly by the time I got there.

I may go back next week on Saturday evening to sing to the women who will be there to repay the favor that was bestowed on me. Other than that I’ll wait on God’s leading about whether to go back to help with other such retreats.

I mentioned cha’s earlier. That’s the first round of entry into this “club.” Many of them actually carried our trays to the tables for our meals. Some of them spent most of their time there praying for us. A few were assigned to kitchen duty.

While I appreciate the ideology behind this it just isn’t quite my cup of tea, I guess.

At my first meal I sat across from a guy who has been divorced slightly longer than me. He lives in Frisco. I got his number so we can connect in the future. I guess God had a reason for me to come out of my shell quickly.

Marcia hoped I could get to know her grandson while we were there. We were both assigned to the same discussion table for the event.

Another guy at the table gave me his number and invited me to call him whenever I need to talk. I told him there’s a good chance I’ll take him up on his offer.

While I missed four days of potential work and a Sunday of worshiping at my home church I’d say the time was well spent for me.

I’ll be keeping my spiritual eyes open to anyone who I feel will be a good fit for this type of retreat.

At least six guys committed their lives to Christ and a couple dozen others re-committed their’s so it’s working to build the kingdom.

De Colores, mi amigos.

Keep smiling.   Wade

Is Monday the 13th Really Unlucky?

Happy unlucky Monday the thirteenth Y’all. I have no clue how Friday the 13th stole all the thunder from Monday the 13th, but that’s what we have to live with in this fallen world I suppose.

What makes this Monday the 13th unlucky to the uber degree is the fact that it’s the second month in a row we’ve had to endure one. If you don’t believe me just flip your calendar back a page a see for yourself.

You see…February had a Monday the 13th, too. Now you hurt my feelings by actually checking. Shame on you.

It’s a good thing I’m not actually superstitious or nothing because last month would have done me in to the uber degree.

I was working with the Apainter Paul on an interior job. The tall ceilings made it necessary to use ladders to paint the tops of the walls. No, I didn’t walk under any of said ladders at all if I could at all help it…not that I actually believe it’s unlucky or nothing.

The real problem came from the three cats the lady had for fur children. Yeah, she never got married so the cats are her kids…not that she considers herself a crazy cat lady or nothing. That’s what I overheard her tell someone on the phone.

Anywho…all three of these felines are black. She can tell them all apart. Good fur her.

Now I can’t think of an unluckier event than to have three black cats cross under a feller’s ladder on a Monday the 13th…but I lived to tell about it, y’all.

There are some folks who hope they’re lucky enough to get into heaven after they die. They think if they go to church enough times and give the appropriate amount of money to the right charitable organizations they’ll make it.

Not by the hair of their black cat’s chin.

They count on their good deeds being enough to earn their way through those pearly gates.

Not by attaching all the ladders together will that get them to reach heaven’s foundation.

They pray they’re better than just enough people to make the cut to be selected on God’s team.

Not by any number of anything will that work neither.

There’s nothing anybody can do to get to heaven. There is something one man did to get you into heaven, though.

Jesus Christ was a unique individual…actually He still is. It’s a stretch for our puny minds to comprehend, but Jesus was God and man in one package. His perfect life made him the ultimate one to become the ultimate sacrifice to die in our place in God’s eyes.

There’s nothing superstitious about this. By admitting your inability to reach heaven on your own efforts because of your sinning you have taken the important first step to getting there.

The second step is accepting Jesus’s death as done in your place.

The third step will be when you walk across that threshold of those pearly gates.

Your eternity with God won’t start when you get to heaven. No, He wants to develop that relationship you’ve always longed for right here and now.

Yeah, I’m not hawking a religion here. Christianity was always meant to be a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe.

Jesus always called God His Father. Once you become Jesus’s adopted brother or sister you can, too.

No amount of black critters, ladders nor numbers will ever take that away from you, neither.

This will all make perfect sense when we all get to heaven.

You can thank me when you see me there someday.

Keep smiling.   Wade

Who Really Believed that Overgrown Underground Rodent Anyway?

As I recall Phil said there was going to be six more weeks of winter on February 2nd. You know…that groundhog in Pennsylvania.

So why are we in the 70’s and 80’s here in Texas already? I’ve even seen where it’s in the 70’s back in Michigan…and it’s only the middle of the month.

I drove to Houston and San Antonio this week and can decisively report that the Redbuds (with their purple flowers) and the daffodils are blooming.

The redwing blackbirds are warming up their vocal chords for their mating songs.

We’re either entering an early spring or those folks who tell us what that fat rat says were totally off this time or we’re in for an extremely rude awaking some morning and some dead purple flowers on red trees.

As you can tell I’m totally confused, but that’s quite normal for me these days…or is it daze?

To add to my malady of mix-uppedness the president’s wife just read the Lord’s prayer in public. Can she do that?

Okay, I’m pretty sure she can since she actually did, but why does that seem un-normal?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled she did it. I just wish that simple act of reverence to God wasn’t out of the ordinary.

Either The Donald has been completely transformed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ that he’s a new man from who he used to be, which is so like Jesus to do that to a fella, or he’s bamboozling everybody for a rude awakening some morning.

I’m believing the first case is correct.

The liberal leaning media folks don’t know what to make of such a transformed individual or his wife. But that’s okay. Let them squirm for a while while God sets things back to His track of biblical responsibility.

As I recall Jesus’s disciples were more than a bit confused more than once in their time with Him.

Their most confusing time came after Jesus died on the cross.

All of their predetermined dreams of a kingdom ruled by the Messiah were shattered. The bitter taste of death lingered that whole Sabbath…until Sunday morning broke with the most unprecedented news anybody will ever hear.

The tomb was empty.

Jesus was not there.

Did they dare remember Him telling them He would come back to life?

They sat in their shock and wonderment and confusion…until the room brightened and the smell of burial spices filled their noses.

The war for the souls of mankind took a decisive turn that day. The Savior had accomplished His task.

His death was the sacrifice God demanded of us all.

The war goes on. That’s why the Lord’s Prayer is still causing an uproar when the first lady reads it in public.

The Messiah will reign on the throne. But more people must be touched by the news of Jesus’s sacrifice.

Rodents don’t determine the future. God does.

The media can’t control how often we tell someone about Jesus. We can.

This war is far from over, my fellow soldiers.

Let’s not let up on our efforts just because the leader of this country is a Christian.

Large scale victories don’t need to be won. Win souls one at a time.

Keep marching on our knees to the battle.

Don’t worry. I’ve read the end of the Book.

Our side wins.

Keep smiling.   Wade