Thanksgiving Gratitude


Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

Two lives diverged along life’s journey and, in the time we walked together, you made a difference in mine . . . Thank You

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor: if either of them falls down, one can help the other up.”

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Wherever and with whomever this may find you together with this Thanksgiving, may you experience His richest blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving !!!

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

How Big is Little?


Today our world’s population reached 8 billion . . . Happy Birthday World!

It’s estimated 8 billion grains of sand would fill 8,000 cups and weigh 2 ½ tons. Recently, while I was counting sheep snuggled against my pillow, a group of obviously wide-awake researchers at the University of Hawaii estimated there are seven quintillion, five hundred quadrillion (7.5 x 1018 ) grains of sand on earth . . . that’s Big!

but . . .

When you consider that all the grains of sand in the world are dwarfed by the number of stars in the universe . . . that’s astronomically Big!

but . . .

In his book Spectrums, science writer David Blatner states this mind-boggling number of ‘twinkle-twinkles’ in the universe is quickly matched by the number of molecules in just 10 drops of water . . . that’s unfathomably Small! . . . or . . . Big???

Blattner aptly states “…we can’t handle the biggitude…” This minuscule mortal can’t handle either the ‘biggitude’ or ‘smallitude’ of Creation,

but . . . I know who can . . .

The Architect of each grain of sand . . . ‘twinkle-twinkle’ . . . and molecule of water.

Soooooo . . . I contentedly fall asleep each night snuggled against my pillow counting sheep knowing, among the 8 billion people I share this planet with, this littlest one is His biggest favorite . . .

PS – so are you, and each one of the other, 7,999,000,000,000 souls He knows by name.

When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; what is man, that Thou are mindful of him, and the Son of man, that Thou hast visited him?

Psalm 8:3-4

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

Life’s Flight


Wan-a-be Pilot
Denali

Flying has always fascinated me. As a child (some claim I still am 😊), the adventures of Sky King, a WWII aviator turned Arizona rancher, kept me glued to our family’s state-of-the-art, oval, 13” black and white TV.

My time in the USMC as an aircraft electrician heightened my flying passion, and early in my teaching career I began taking flying lessons to become a pilot. Eddie, a young, nerves-of-steel flight instructor became my newly revived, in-the-flesh, Sky King. I’ll never forget his calming words of reassurance after my initial, erratic, 3-bounce landing,

Every landing is a controlled crash. Let’s go around and try that again Fred.”

One blue-bird day, anxiously waiting for my pre-solo flight lesson with Eddie, his dad and flight training school owner approached me with tears in his eyes,

You need to go home Fred.”

On a helicopter training flight with a major network journalist the tail rotor malfunctioned. Eddie and his student tragically perished.

Returning home, I shared the sad news with my wife. Her prudent words sealed my pilot aspirations,

Fred, we have four young children. No more flight training.”

Other than another ‘Eddie’ flying me to my favorite mountain’s base camp (pics) a few years ago, my only solo flight has been a sky dive . . . personally exhilarating, but not exactly inspirational to others.

David Gibbs is a lawyer, founder and president of the Christian Law Association, and a pastor. This 8 minute You Tube video is to his truly inspirational, white-knuckle, Alaskan life ‘flight story’. May it inspire you as it has me to always listen to the Voice of your Flight Instructor on your ‘flight’ through life.

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

Harmony


Way back when I was a ‘wee’ one and dinosaurs roamed the earth😊, America was generally a ‘We’ society. Not perfect for sure, but an ambiance of respectful cooperation, collaborative resolution, and unified patriotism prevailed.

Sadly, today’s American finds itself embroiled in a polarized “I’m right! – You’re wrong!”, violently combative, angrily divided ‘Me’ society. I grieve for this divisive ‘legacy’ we’re passing on to our children to navigate.

Such were my gloomy thoughts this morning before going outside for some ‘forest bathing’ therapy in Nature’s peaceful solitude.

Today’s session was on Harmony, taught by four leaves serenely floating on the pond’s surface . . . they silently sang a refrain from a childhood Sunday School song from long ago . . .

“…red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in His sight…”

I continue to pray America will return to peaceful harmony Nature portrays; the “…one nation, under God, indivisible…” our founding fathers envisioned for us to be; and God has promised . . . If . . .

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

2 Chronicles 7:14

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

Life’s World Series – ‘Winners and Losers’ – ‘Unfair Grace’


I’m not an avid sports fanatic. Perhaps it’s because, being from Philadelphia, PA, there’s not a preponderance of First Place professional sport team trophies in the City of Brotherly Love’s trophy case to brag about.

But . . .  ranked to finish last at the beginning of the baseball season . . . the Philadelphia Phillies somehow miraculously won the National League Pennant, and now are battling it out with the Houston Astros in the World Series! . . . maybe pigs do fly 😊

There are no First Place trophies on my shelf . . . or Second, Third, or Fourth . . . although somewhere there may lie a long-discarded childhood conciliatory ‘Participant’ ribbon 😊

It’d be easy to accept that qualifies me for a ‘Loser’ ribbon in a culture where ‘Winners’ are worshiped and Second Place is regarded as just the first to lose . . . except for a ‘counter-cultural’ statement Matthew was inspired to jot down some 2,000 years ago in Chapter 20, verse 16,

So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

What!!!

 How ‘unfair’ of the wealthy landowner to pay the guys whom showed up last and worked for only an hour to be paid the same as those who toiled all day.

And what about the thief on the cross? Talk about unfair! . . . a criminal scoundrel up until his last moments, he finally comes clean, fesses up, and hears the soul saving words that pardon and heal him forever,

I tell you the truth, this day you shall be with Me in paradise.”

Truth be known, I’m no stranger to having shown up late and still receive full-time benefits. Regrettably, the label ‘criminal scoundrel’ is no stranger either.

But . . . because of my Abba’s utterly undeserved, unfathomable forgiveness, love and ‘Unfair Grace’, I’m no longer a stranger, criminal scoundrel, or ‘Loser’.

Because of His ‘Unfair Grace’, Heaven’s trophy case only contains ‘Winners’ and First Place trophies each inscribed with the date and name of each man, woman and child who one day came clean, fessed up, accepted and heard Jesus assure their soul,

I tell you the truth, this day you shall be with Me in paradise.”

For the first time in a long time, I’m mildly optimistic the Philadelphia Phillies may actually win the World Series. I’m completely certain, in spite of all my many foibles and failures, I’ll forever remain His beloved child, and ‘Unfair Grace’ has won life’s World Series for me.

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

Go Phillies!

Forest Bathing


For the past several years the Great Smoky Mountains has been America’s most visited National Park. Travelers come from all over the world to enjoy Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg’s endless venue of entertainment attractions, and to explore one of Mother Nature’s premier wonders . . . next to Alaska of course 😊

Living here makes October my most labor-intensive month. Local residents, bedecked in vibrant colors, descend on our digs up here on the mountain > down in the ‘holler’ > over the ‘crick’ . . .

LEAVES! . . . lotsa’ and lotsa’ LEAVES! . . . zillions of billions of LEAVES!

My best Fall friend is only 3 feet tall. Each morning we meet up to remove the leaves that have smothered our 1/10th mile, 40-degree slope driveway since the day before. To neglect this chore would jeopardize us being able to drive up out of the ‘holler’ to the gravel road leading to civilization . . . I love my leaf blower! 😊

After reclaiming our driveway today, I took a  woods wander along the ‘crick’ for some shinrin-yoku . . . ‘forest bathing’. The Japanese coined this term to describe the practice of getting into the woods for body and mind renewal. I’m not Japanese, but it works for this ole ‘Kraut’!

Studies have shown just three days and two nights in a wooded place increase the immune system functions that boost feelings of well-being for up to seven days. This includes increased awe, greater relaxation, restored attention, and boosted vitality. Among the health benefits are enhanced immunity, reduced cardiovascular disease, fewer migraines, and lowered anxiety. The same three days in a built environment has no such effect.

Sooooooo . . . while leaf-blowing is not one of my favorite activities, I always look forward to my ‘forest baths’ from whence they came . . . and I don’t even have to get wet 😊. Here’s a shinrin-yoku ‘modern art’ pic from today.

Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sin for joy.”

Psalm 22:9

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

Great Smoky Mountain Splendor


Earth’s crammed with Heaven, and every common bush afire with God, but only he who see takes off his shoes.”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Today, in the Fall splendor of Great Smoky Mountains, I gazed amazed in barefoot wonder.

“This is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas—
His hand the wonders wrought.”

Malbie D. Babcock

I M Blessed . . . May U B 2

Creation Miracle Moment


Yesterday I stood mesmerized in the forest, immersed in a golden rain. Like a child jubilantly blowing bubbles, a puff of Divine breath launched a thousand gold flakes into the air on their memorial journey to earth . . . a Creation miracle moment.

Embraced in total peace, my soul rejoiced in freedom knowing . . . I am completely known, and I am completely loved . . . just as I am, not as I should be. Thank you Abba.

“I am not what I ought to be.  I am not what I want to be.  I am not what I hope to be. But still, I am not what I used to be.  And by the grace of God, I am what I am.”

John Newton

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

Golden Rain

The Blind Boy


Ever experience a situation you later regret not taking the time to offer helping someone? . . .

  • a motorist with the hood up on the side of the road
  • an elderly lady pulling two loaded shopping carts through the supermarket parking lot
  • a mother trying to comfort her crying young child who just tripped and fell on the sidewalk

You just read three I’ve been guilty of this past year when, unlike the Good Samaritan, I was too ‘busy’, and chose to “…pass by on the other side of the road…”?  . . . proof positive I’m an ever continuing Christian work-in-progress. My regrets linger, but I’m forever grateful my Abba always has time for me in spite of my ‘blindness’.

Soooooo . . . what prompted these lamentable musings . . . reading the story below today. Whether it’s true or not, its message is. It poignantly reminded me while I sometimes may be ‘blind’ to others in need . . . Love is never blind.

The Blind Boy

Five computer saleswomen from Milwaukee went to a regional sales convention in Chicago. They assured their husbands they would return in ample time for dinner. The meeting ran overtime, and the women ran to the train station tickets in hand.

As they barged through the terminal, one woman inadvertently kicked over as table supporting a basket of apples. A 10-year-old boy was selling apples to pay for his books and clothes for school. Without breaking stride, the women clambered aboard the train with a sigh of relief . . . all but one.

She paused, got in touch with her feelings, and experienced a twinge of compunction for the boy whose apple-stand had been overturned. She told her companions she would catch the next train. Later she told them, “I’m really glad I did, because the 10-year-old boy was blind.”

As the woman gathered up the apples scattered about the floor, she noticed several were bruised. She reached in her pocket and said to the child, “Please accept twenty dollars for the apples I damaged. I hope I didn’t spoil your day. God bless you.”

As she started walking away, the bewildered blind boy called after her, asking, . . .

Are you Jesus?”

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” – Matthew 25:40

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

Nature vs. Civilization


Mt. Rainier

On each flight into and out of SEATAC I’m inspired by a mountain. Towering 14,410 ft., Mt. Rainier pierces through the clouds in silent sentinel watch in over the cacophony of Seattle’s nearly 3 ½ million souls 59 miles to the southeast . . . a bittersweet contrast.

On this flight it was as though Mt. Rainier was gasping for air above the smoky haze of Oregon’s wildfires far to the south. It heightened apprehension that our planet’s escalating nature/civilization skirmish is one I fear nature is losing. Yet, in the melancholy beauty of the sunset, two Scripture verses and one classic secular quote quietly reassured me:

In His hands are the depth of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him.” – Psalm 95:4

 “…to appoint unto them that mourn, and give them beauty for ashes…” – Isaiah 61:3

It ain’t over till it’s over”- Yogi Berra 😊

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