Sleepless ‘Miracle’ Teacher

Memory often begins to fade with age. However, mine seems to have remarkably shifted into reverse.

The recent road trip my wife and I took has delightfully rejuvenated memories in ways that has me contemplating returning to college to pursue a PhD in astrophysics . . . justifying some who claim I’m ‘spaced out’😊

I seldom remember my dreams. However, last night a feature presentation from 5o years ago filled my cranium.  I awoke, not wanting to, with a smile.

Here’s the script of my joyful dream for your imagination to color outside the lines.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Alan, a farmer; Dave, a military contractor; Rick, a corporate executive; Paul, our pastor; and myself, a public-school teacher, gathered around the parsonage’s dining room table in the small bucolic village.

The hour was late. Over the past year our fledgling Christian School Board had prayed and met together to organize and bring to fruition a new K-4 Christian school in the small rural town nestled in the Pennsylvania mountains.  One by one, barriers to the new school’s formation had been overcome. With school scheduled to begin in just a few weeks parents had enrolled nearly 40 children (two mine); tuitions paid; classrooms set up; and Elementary curricula purchased. One major ‘obstacle’ still loomed . . . our school had yet to find a 3rd/4th grade teacher.

The meeting had been long, and an aura of unspoken anxiety hung over the room.  We’d exhausted every possible option we could humanly think of to recruit a teacher for our upper two grades. Midnight was approaching as we began to wrap up and prayed around the table once more. Our pastor’s encouraging, fateful words still echo in my mind, “Gentlemen, we all believe the Lord wants to start a Christian school here, and He will provide a teacher.  Keep praying.”

Just then the phone rang in the kitchen and Betty, the pastor’s wife entered the room . . . “Paul, it’s for you.”

Pastor left to take the call. Waiting for him to return while the four of us began re-hashing possibilities to fill the crucial teaching position before adjourning. Several minutes later pastor Paul returned, wearing a strangely subtle smile.

Gentlemen, that was a young lady named Jean. She apologized for calling at such a late hour, but said she was unable to sleep and felt led to call.  She told me she had recently graduated college and heard our church was starting a Christian school.  Jean went onto say that at this late date we had undoubtedly filled our staffing needs, but asked if she could still submit an application in the event a future teaching position might arise.  I then asked her what her degree was in.  Elementary education, and I particularly enjoy teaching the upper Elementary grades”, she replied. “I took the liberty of scheduling her for an interview next week.”

Smiles abounded as we rejoiced, thanking the Lord for answering our prayers.

However, as we began discussing the details concerning our new ‘sleepless miracle teacher’ prospect, a new ‘obstacle’ arose. This young lady lived some 50 miles away. She had shared with our pastor that while she still had some family responsibilities with her mother, if needed, she could and would be willing to trust God to handle the nearly 100-mile round-trip daily commute. Four of the five of us began to allow logic to erode faith, subtly drifting from ‘God can’ to ‘We can’t’ thinking mode . . . “How could Jean possibly afford the gasoline expenses on the meager salary we could afford pay her? And what about the winter driving hazards she undoubtedly would have to navigate?”

With a firm but gentle reprimand pastor Paul interrupted, bringing us back to ‘God can’ mode from ‘We can’t’ thinking . . .

 “Gentlemen, have you forgotten what just happened here less than a half hour ago?   God has this.  Let’s continue to pray, come back next week, and see what He does.”

Having been humbly and duly admonished, we adjourned. However, we were still trying to ‘help God out’, and Rick and I privately agreed that we could each chip in something to help defray gasoline costs . . . “O ye of little faith.”

The following week Jean was interviewed and hired as our new school’s 3rd/4thh grade teacher/student transporter.  With ‘guarded faith’ we tenuously anticipated how our omniscient, omnipotent God, who “…owns the cattle on a thousand hills…”, would somehow be able to ‘miraculously’ cover our new educator’s fuel costs, and grant her traveling mercies . . . “O ye of little faith” . . . like God really needed us to solve these latest ‘obstacles’.

Once again, we met around the parsonage’s dining room table, eagerly awaiting any new news our pastor might have to share.

Paul welcomed us sporting a subtle smile strangely similar to the time he’d received the late-night phone from our ‘sleepless miracle teacher’.

 “Gentlemen, thank you for praying. For the past several years our Catholic friends, who pay taxes like us and choose to send their children to parochial school, have been lobbying our state to be reimbursed for transporting their children to school.  Just recently the state finally approved legislation to do so.  We have three students enrolled who live along our new teacher’s route to our school who will require transportation.  I’ve spoken with Jean, and she’s more than willing to transport these students with her to and from our school each day.”

Once again, smiles filled the room as we rejoiced together, praising the Lord for reminding us that, whatever the situation, God can’ overcome all of our ‘We can’t’ ‘obstacles’.

That first school year Jean faithfully served her dual role as teacher, and student-transporter without mishap. ‘Miraculously’, her student-transport reimbursement from the state more than met her gasoline expenses.  Seems like God was able to accomplish it all without us having to ‘help Him out’,  and in spite of our cautiously ‘guarded faith’ and anxious, ‘hopeful prayers’ . . . “With God, all things are possible.”

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

It was there . . .

The view in life’s rear-view mirror is much clearer than through my front windshield . . . all fogged-up, cracked-up, and mucked-up from wrong-turn crashes. To blame it on my spontaneous, ADHD, pedal-to-the metal, chaotic journey along life’s highway would be a convenient cop-out, but . . . I knew better! As Grandma often chided . . .

Freddy, you’re too soon old and too late smart.”😊

One stop during our recent road trip was an idyllic little Baptist church on the banks of the Delaware River in rural northeastern Damascus, Pennsylvania.

·         It was there we attended church

·         It was there built our first home

·         It was there we raised a young family

·         It was there, one glorious Sunday many years ago, my two younger brothers came to visit, and went to church with me.

Of all the many pastors whose preaching I’ve been privileged sit under over the decades, Pastor Paul has remained my most special. He spent more time on his knees praying for his flock than some spend on their feet. That Sunday his message spoke directly to brothers’ hearts, and …

·         It was there they each found Jesus

Today I e-mailed my brothers these pictures taken of that idyllic little Baptist church, asking “Remember when?”. The inexpressible joy experienced some 50 years ago as I walked with them to the front of that idyllic little Baptist church flooded back in reading their ‘rear-view-mirror’ responses, blessing my soul.

Mark – “Amen! I remember that day. It was Jeff going first that prompted me to go up with him and my life has been changed ever since! All this and Heaven too. Hallelujah, what a Savior, my Rock, peace and comfort ever since. Thank you Jesus!!!

Jeff – “I too remember that day in that little church, the day I was saved. I think about it often and know that was the beginning of the many blessings that God has given me in my life, loving wife, wonderful children, beautiful grandchildren, and loving family. It was so simple, open your heart and soul and ask, so happy I went forward that day.

Thanks Bros . . . Thanks Pastor Paul . . . Thanks Abba . . . Thank You Jesus

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

The White of Spring

Technically, white is the absence of color. Symbolically, white represents an ethereal purity, innocence, simplicity, clarity, cleanliness, goodness, hope, perfection, rebirth.

White inspires emotional peace, restoration, and healing. Bride’s dress in it, and its brilliance adorns Christ’s robes.

The white of snow’s fading grip blanketing Appalachian heights graced my wife on our recent 2,263 miles – 8 state -10 day road trip north . . . evoking nostalgic journeys down memory lane.

Returning south, we witnessed Spring’s white rebirth. True to the adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words”, I’ll cease my ramblings (you’re welcome 😊) and send off couple pics of Spring’s vibrant resurrection of life revealed to this ole ragamuffin today.

Spring Blossoms

Wishbone in Flight

I M Blessed . . . May U B 2

Road Trip

Road trips are fodder for unforeseen adventure and blessings. Thus far, our current one has traversed nearly 2,000 miles through eight states. It has been laden with a variety of unexpected adventures and blessings that have God’s fingerprints all over them. Here’s snippets of some that have been ours to experience along the journey.

Memorial Service

With eight decades behind me, memorial services are no longer a stranger. They’re becoming increasingly somber, considering mine could be next 😊.

Our road trip began with attending a memorial. A wonderful centurion, Betty epitomized loving life to its fullest while loving and encouraging everyone to who crossed her path.  I was my privilege to be one of her e-mail correspondents. Betty would always evoke a smile by signing off each email with a string of XOXOXOXOs . . . she was my oldest girlfriend 😊

Shortly after her 100th birthday Betty passed into Eternity to be with her Abba . . . but not before planning her own celebration of life memorial. The auditorium was packed with people whose lives her contagious spirit had touched with the love of her Savior. The eulogies, music , songs, and personal stories shared by her children, grandchildren and pastors portrayed a legacy unmatched by any memorial service I’ve ever attended . . . truly a live well lived by my oldest girlfriend 😊 – Thank you Betty

Highway ‘Sam’aritan

Back on the road, the steady drone of the highway was suddenly interrupted by the ominous vibrating sound that churns every motorist’s stomach . . . we had a flat tire!

Pulling off the side of the Interstate, Ellen dialed up AAA. Sharing our predicament, we were told help to remedy our ‘deflated’ dilemma would arrive with 30-45 minutes, and we’d soon be zooming back down the highway. Two frustrating phone calls and nearly 2 hours later, AAA (Annoying-Aggravating-Absent) had yet to appear. Unloading the luggage uncovered the donut- tire  . . . will this thing really work???

Just then, a black sedan pulled off the side of the highway, backed up, and a young man stepped out.. Despite my ‘macho’ “I got this” declaration,  he insisted on changing the tire, adamantly  refusing the $20 bill offered for his much-appreciated assistance. Sam was originally from Philadelphia; recently married; and had just started an emergency transport business with his brother. We exchanged contact information before parting ways, ours at considerably reduced ‘donut tire’ speed.

The next day I noticed a voicemail notification on my phone. It was from Sam inquiring if we had safety made it to our destination . . . Wow! . . . comforting assurance that in  these divisive Me First!!! times, Golden Rule  individuals like our highway ‘Sam’aritan are still out there –  Thanks Sam

Aging Reality

Discovering the school I once taught at has been closed and setting vacant for decades made me realize I’m getting old. Unexpectedly meeting a former student and previous mayor of the small rural town the school was located in made me feel ancient! Thumbing through my high school yearbook is like reading the obituaries. Reality confirmed . . . this ragamuffin’s a bonafied ole duffer 😊

The upside, recalling memories with my former pupil was a genuine delight, grateful for past times shared, and sparking hope that dying young at a ripe ole age remains a possibility 😊 –  Thanks Susan

Accepting Saints

One my life’s most priceless blessings has been the trust and counsel of a rare few, openly honest accountability partners. God has graced my life along life’s journey with such special men who listened to my most grievous sins and failures, and transparently shared theirs. When needed, they lovingly spoke hard truth without judging, condemning or condoning, and continued to love and pray for me regardless.

It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.” – Proverbs 27:5

Some 40 years ago one of these men counseled me as I wrestled with a vengeful, get-even spirit. Ultimately rejecting his wise advice to forgive and reconcile with the one who had betrayed me, I chose an unforgiving “…eye for an eye…” retaliatory betrayal that, if everyone engaged in, would render the whole world blind.

Gratefully, Ed refused to abandon me,  continuing to pray and console me as I struggled and suffered the tragic effects of my wrong decisions . . . whose grievous consequences I own, and sadly remain to this day.

Ed has since gone Home. However, it was my privilege to visit his still spry 90-year-old widow Melva and her son and daughter-in-law. Openly sharing regrets that my past unforgiving and spiteful actions had caused them and others, they never once alluded to them. They quietly listened, preciously responding with unconditional love and acceptance of me just as I am today . . . not as I should have been back then. – Thank you Melva, Jim, Diana, and posthumously . . . my faithful friend Ed

Promised Land

This picture was snapped standing in the shadows of dense mountain laurel on the shore of Promised Land Lake. It reminded me that amidst those times of life’s dark  shadows, there’s always a patch of light that shines through, and the proverbial “…light at the end of the tunnel…” to press on towards.

My childhood summers were spent in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains at Promised Land State Park. Roaming its forests fearlessly stalking ferocious bears . . . building ‘secret’ tree forts among the pines. . . . and catching monster large mouth bass from its lake was boyhood Nirvana. It’s also where I learned to “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) as nature gently drew me into God’s arms, listening to the still small voices and soft whispers of His creation.

Revisiting favorite places and reminiscing with my wife, names, events, stories and fond memories flooded my mind with remarkable clarity, mystically transporting me back through a portal  . . . for a fleeting moment I was a young boy once again  (some say I still occasionally act like it 😊) – Thank you Abba

Our road trip will be ending soon, but its memories will linger, and keep getting  Gooder n’ Gooder 😊

Life has been an exciting adventure, whose undeserved blessings have far outnumbered my self-inflicted calamities. This ole octogenarian is forever grateful and at peace . . . headed for the Promised Land above someday with a guaranteed reservation. Hope to meet you there at Heaven’s Gate.

I M Blessed . . . May U B 2

S.N.O.W. Therapy

A picture is worth a thousand words.” This one from This Day Pictures app popped up my computer today. It triggered a hundred thousand words worth of memories of a solo snowshoe trek ten years ago high up in Alaska’s Talkeetna Range.

Snowshoes hushed shush over a white landscape is a clam like none other . . . my Silent Nuance Of Wonder (SNOW) Abba therapy.

Lord willing, I’m planning a repeat performance next February 28th when we’re permanently settled back home in the Last Frontier . . . provided I’m still fogging a mirror and my decade older bod will still be able to make it . . . if not, it will be a ‘cool’ way to exit the planet 😊

Hatcher Pass, Alaska

We need silence to be alone with God, to speak to Him, to listen to Him, to ponder His words deep in our hearts. We need to be alone with God in silence to be renewed and transformed. Silence gives us a new outlook on life. In it we are filled with the energy of God Himself that makes us do all things with joy.” – Mother Teresa

He went up on the mountain by Himself to prayHe was alone there.”

(Matthew 14:23)

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

Wishbone Family Album

I was in my element today . . . wandering the woods with other turkeys.

Wishbone definitely makes a fashion statement, but it doesn’t appear to ‘fowl up’ her relationships with the other girls in her family, or her flamboyant boyfriends 😊

All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small, All things wise and wonderful: The Lord God made them all.” – Cecil F. Alexander

Wishbone and Family

Wishbone, Drumstick and Stuffing

Turkey Trot


Wishbone’s Boyfriends

Silent Listening

Officially, the first day of Spring is a month away. Evidently, this daffodil didn’t get the memo😊. Heralding life, it validated the ‘silent loveliness’ of our garden stone’s inscription:

How Lovely is the Silence of Growing Things

I’ve been truly blessed for most of my life to reside in the relative calming silence of ‘Rularia’, compared to the chaotic cacophony of ‘Urbania’ environs. Childhood summers were spent roaming the Pocono Mountains’ forests in Promised Land, PA, so aptly named. There, ‘silently serenaded’ by nature, I learned to rest in my Abba’s arms, quietly listening to His serene, still small voices and gentle whispers sung by Creation. In adulthood (still working on that 😊), my career adventures most always found me residing on the outskirts of civilization where, just outside my door, the unending melodies Creation’s chorus could silently comfort my soul.

‘Listening’ this morning to the daffodil’s vibrant first bloom shout . . . Spring’s Here!!! . . . reminded me of how effortless it is to be caught up in the ‘noisy busyness’ of today’s world which drowns out His still small voice and soothing gentle whispers. Throw in some smidgens pride, ego, power, covetousness, and a few other “pleasures of sin for a season”, and our ‘deafness’ hastens.

Not everyone has my luxury of living in the relative solitude the outskirts of civilization affords    . . . Go Alaska!!! 😊. However, whether we reside in ‘Urbania’ or ‘Rularia’, we’re all equally blessed with 24/7/365 in which to carve out some crucial one-on-One ‘silent listening’ time . . . time alone to converse and ‘listen’ to the One Who always listens to our every request, plea, and heartfelt cry.

In that venue, Michael Yaconelli in his book Dangerous Wonder shares the story of a spiritually struggling teenage girl who took time to ‘listen’ to her Creator’s still small voice and soothing gentle whispers.

During a one-day church retreat participants were asked to write what they thought Jesus would write to them in a letter. A 17-year-old girl volunteered to read hers first. She began by apologizing that she’d “messed up”.  Instead of writing what Jesus would say to her in a letter, she’d written a deeply personal, ‘open-heart’ dialogue between her and Jesus. Here’s the still small voice, gently whispered one-on-One ‘silent conversation she humbly, and boldly shared:

I feel awkward because it’s been so long since I’ve been near you.”

I’ve missed you too; I think about you every day.”

But I’ve messed up; I’ve done a lot of things I regret.”

It’s okay child. I forgive you.”

I don’t understand. I turn away, I ignore You.”

I’m still here right beside you.”

I try to live without you even though I know deep inside that You’re still a part of me.”

You don’t have to make yourself loveable; I love you how you are.”

Even after everything I’ve done, and everything that’s happened, would it offend You if I called You bizarre?

I am bizarre; more so than you’ll ever know.”

This may sound strange, but could I please ask You to hold me, for a little while?

My child, I’ve been waiting for you with outstretched arms.”

May each of us, like this teenage girl, find time each to escape this world’s ‘noise’ . . . snuggle in His arms . . . and ‘listen’ in ‘assuring silence’ to His still small voice and comforting gentle whispers.

PS – When we do so, I wonder if God is smiling and says . . . How Lovely is the Silence of Growing Saints . . . even this ole ragweed 😊

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

Amateur Neighborhood Theater

Some impromptu entertainment performed by some feral forest friends this ‘ole turkey’ enjoyed this morning . . . and there’s no admission charge . . . Be Blessed, and . . .

For every animal of the forest is mine” ….”I know every bird in the mountains” – Psalm 50:10-11

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!


Masking Secrets

Numerous, unexpected responses to the Brokenness post, followed some special one-on-one conversations blessed me. Thank you. It suggested ‘masking secrets’ is a prevalent, deeply personal issue many of us grapple with.

At the risk of being annoying redundant, I ask your forbearance in posting this partial Brokenness addendum. Hopefully, perhaps it might encourage someone, somewhere that they’re not alone in this battle.

Brokenness shared how a passage in Fil Anderson’s book Breaking the Rules wistfully reminded me of the futility of struggling to mask guilty secrets.

Fil wrote how a talented artist friend was asked by his church to exhibit a self-portrait of a special event. The artist’s completed painting portrayed his authentic conviction that there’s no room for pretending in a Christian’s life to change their appearance among other Christians to ‘fit in’ and be accepted. His portrayal, A Broken Mask, drew the startling rejection of the pastor, who deemed “…it was too honest…”. Dejected, the artist sent Fil the following dispirited e-mail:

We are told that Jesus loves us as we are, sin and all, ugly bits and worthless bits. We are quoted cliches like “Come as you are.” We are offered relief from the burden of hiding in our guilt and shame. We are offered ultimate acceptance.”

The problem begins when we step through the doors of many churches. Suddenly we’re confronted with an endless stream of things that are wrong in our lives, things to repent of, things that need changing. Meanwhile, the Bible instructs us,

“Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so you can live together whole and healed.”James 5:16

Yet nobody does it because that would mean taking off our mask of holiness. Therefore, we live our lives jumping through imaginary hoops to be accepted by the very people who invited us to “Come as you are.”

Fil’s artist friend concluded his email with this bold pledge:

I refuse to wear a mask any longer! I will not pretend, not even for Christians. Wearing a mask will destroy you, even if it’s a socially acceptable Christian mask.”

As one who has been there, I pray reiterating this artist’s story may reveal to someone who may be ‘masking secrets’ that, in doing so, they are placing themself under the defeating bondage of seeking the approval of others.  May they find the liberating freedom God, Who knows our every ‘secret’, graciously offers to everyone who genuinely’ fesses up’ with“…a broken and contrite heart…” – Psalm 34:18

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!


This morning this klutso inadvertently bumped into a painted bracket fungus with a pastoral scene hanging on the wall. It fell to the floor, breaking into three pieces . . . Arrrrrgh!

Bought four decades ago, the painting of an actual Central Square, NY barn built in 1830 evokes fond memories of an earlier era in my life . . . Gorilla Glue to the rescue . . . bracket fungus patched 😊. Unfortunately, there’s no Gorilla Glue to patch life’s brokenness.

Pouring a fresh cup of streaming java to help sooth my fungus frustration, I settled into the Lazy Boy. Evidently, Abba wanted me to continue focusing on brokenness this morning.

Reading Fil Anderson’s book Breaking the Rules, a passage nostalgically reminded me how few struggles are more defeating than the brokenness of pretending to hide an isolating, guilty ‘secret’.

Fil shares about a talented artist friend’s discouraging rejection by a pastor of his unashamedly honest self-portrait A Broken Mask. The artist’s portrait revealed his conviction that there’s no room for pretending in a Christian’s life in an effort to change their appearance among other Christians to fit in and appear ‘holy’. Disheartened, the artist emailed Fil these poignant words:

We are told that Jesus loves us as we are, sin and all, ugly bits and worthless bits. We are quoted cliches like “Come as you are.” We are offered relief from the burden of hiding in our guilt and shame. We are offered ultimate acceptance.”

The problem begins when we step through the doors of many churches. Suddenly we’re confronted with an endless stream of things that are wrong in our lives, things to repent of, things that need changing. Meanwhile, the Bible instructs us,

“Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so you can live together whole and healed.” – James 5:16

Yet nobody does it, because that would mean taking off our mask of holiness. Therefore, we live our lives jumping through imaginary hoops in order to be accepted by the very people who invited us to “Come as you are.”

Fil’s artist friend concluded his email with this bold pledge:

I refuse to wear a mask any longer! I will not pretend, not even for Christians. Wearing a mask will destroy you, even if it’s a socially acceptable Christian mask.”

Many years ago, broken and mired in the midst of yet another self-imposed failure, I repentantly cried out to God to forgive and rescue me. Ever faithful to His, “I will never leave you or forsake you” promise (Hebrews 13:5), His Spirit embraced me, giving me these words of assurance to write in the leaf of my Bible:

Well may the devil roar of sins that I have done. I know them all and thousands more. Jehovah knoweth none.”

Truth be known, we’re all broken with failures. My comfort rests in the assurance that the One who knows my every ‘secret’ failure . . . past, present and future . . . unwavering still chooses to love me “Just As I Am”. I continue to pray for His strength and courage to ‘unmask’ before others and heal together, sharing ‘secret’ struggles our enemy so delights in discouraging us with.

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!