Life’s Brief Gossamer Wings


Up here on the mountain – down in the ‘holler’ – over the ‘crick’ we experienced a large Mayfly hatch last evening. They clung to our windows and literally covered portions of our deck . . . but that’s Good News😁 . . . mayflies require clean water to breed, and large hatches indicate a healthy aquatic environment.

After spending up to two years underwater mayfly nymphs shed their exoskeletons; take flight on delicate gossamer wings as adults; and . . .  Bad News😟 . . . die within 3 days after mating to give rise to a new generation. Reminds me of a sign I recently saw in Hobby Lobby . . .

Don’t Grow. It’s a Trap!😊

When we left for church this morning our windows were clear of clinging mayflies, but the deck was littered with their wings . . . without bodies??? This afternoon I spied a bird perched on a branch with a wingless mayfly body in its beak . . . ‘Body Snatcher Mystery’ solved!

Carl Sagan, brilliant astronomer, author of the most sold science book Cosmos, and agnostic once said,

Compared to a star, we are all like mayflies, fleeting ephemeral creatures who live out the course of their life in a single day.”

In the scope of eternity, we’re all on ‘mayfly time’. Compared to Carl Sagan, my intellectual prowess is Pre-K, but my faith is specific, not agnostic, in asking . . .

Teach me to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

. . . the wisdom of the One that created the incomprehensibly immense cosmos and named its every star in it; designed the gossamer wings of every mayfly; and formed me . . . loved me . . . and saved me from the brevity of life and the permanence of death . . . Forever!

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

Jeremy’s Egg


Tomorrow is Easter. As done on previous Easter eves, here once again is one my favorite true stories. May it encourage you as together we rejoice remembering . . .

Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.”—Clarence W. Hall

Over the years I’ve listened to many excellent presentations by respected bible scholars on Christ’s empty tomb. However, none has ever touched my heart as much as Jeremy, a 12-year-old chronically ill, physically and mentally handicap’s child.

This modestly simple, yet profoundly insightful ‘Empty Egg’ grasp of Easter’s eternal significance humbles me. His unfettered, trusting faith challenges mine to ever increase . . . Thank you Jeremy.

From our home to yours, may each of you experience a blessed Easter tomorrow surrounded by loved ones as together we celebrate the empty tomb of Author of Love  . . .

He Is Risen!

Jeremy’s Egg

Ida Mae Kemple

Jeremy was born with a twisted body, a slow mind and a chronic terminal illness that had been slowly killing him all his young life.  Still, his parents had tried to give him as normal a life as possible and sent him to St. Theresa’s Elementary School.

At the age of 12, Jeremy was only in second grade, seemingly unable to learn.  His teacher, Doris Miller, often became exasperated with him.  He would squirm in his seat, drool, and make grunting noises.

At other times, he spoke clearly and distinctly, as if a spot of light had penetrated the darkness of his brain.  Most of the time, however, Jeremy irritated his teacher.  One day, she called his parents and asked them to come to St. Theresa’s for a consultation.

As the Forresters sat quietly in the empty classroom, Doris said to them,

Jeremy really belongs in a special school.  It isn’t fair to him to be with younger children who don’t have learning problems.  Why, there is a five-year gap between his age and that of the other students!

Mrs. Forrester cried softly into a tissue while her husband spoke. 

Miss Miller,” he said, “there’s no school of that kind nearby.  It would be a terrible shock for Jeremy if we had to take him out of this school.  We know he really likes it here.

Doris sat for a long time after they left, staring at the snow outside the window.  Its coldness seemed to seep into her soul.  She wanted to sympathize with the Forresters.  After all, their only child had a terminal illness.  But it wasn’t fair to keep him in her class.  She had 18 other youngsters to teach, and Jeremy would be a distraction.  Furthermore, he would never learn to read and write.  Why waste any more time trying?

As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her. 

Oh God,” she said aloud, “here I am complaining, when my problems are nothing compared with that poor family!  Please help me be more patient with Jeremy.

From that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy’s noises and his blank stares.  Then one day he limped to her desk, dragging his bad leg behind him.

I love you Miss Miller,” he exclaimed, loud enough for the whole class to hear. The other students snickered, and Doris’s face turned red. 

She stammered, “Wh – why, that’s very nice, Jeremy.  Now please take your seat.

Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter.  Doris told them the story of Jesus, and to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg. 

Now,” she said to them, “I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life.  Do you understand?

Yes, Miss Miller!” the children responded enthusiastically –  all except Jeremy.  He just listened intently; his eyes never left her face.  He did not even make his usual noises.

Had he understood what she had said about Jesus’s death and resurrection?  Did he understand the assignment?  Perhaps she should call his parents and explain the project to them.

That evening, Doris’s kitchen sink stopped up.  She called the landlord and waited an hour for him to come by and unclog it.  After that, she still had to shop for groceries, iron a blouse and prepare a vocabulary test for the next day.  She completely forgot about phoning Jeremy’s parents.

The next morning 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as they placed their eggs in the large wicker basket on Miss Miller’s desk.  After they had completed their math lesson, it was time to open the eggs.

In the first egg, Doris found a flower. 

 “Oh, yes, a flower is certainly a sign of new life,” she said.  “When plants peek through the ground, we know that Spring is here.” 

A small girl in the first row waved her arm.  “That’s my egg, Miss Miller,” she called out.

The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real.  Doris held it up. 

 “We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly.  Yes, that is new life, too.” 

Little Judy smiled proudly and said, “Miss Miller, that one is mine!

Next, Doris found a rock with moss on it.  She explained that moss, too, showed life. 

Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom.  “My daddy helped me!” he beamed.

Then Doris opened the fourth egg.  She gasped.  The egg was empty!  Surely it must be Jeremy’s, she thought, and, of course, he did not understand the instructions.  If only she had not forgotten to phone his parents.  Because she did not want to embarrass him, she quietly set the egg aside and reached for another.

Suddenly Jeremy spoke up.  “Miss Miller, aren’t you going to talk about my egg?

Flustered, Doris replied, “But Jeremy –  your egg is empty!”  He looked into her eyes and said softly, “Yes, but Jesus’s tomb was empty too!

Time stopped.  When she could speak again, Doris asked him, “Do you know why the tomb was empty?

Oh, yes!” Jeremy exclaimed.  “Jesus was killed and put in there.  Then his Father raised him up!

The recess bell rang.  While the children excitedly ran out to the school yard, Doris cried.  The cold inside her melted completely away. Three months later Jeremy died.  Those who paid their respects at the mortuary were surprised to see 19 eggs on top of his casket, all of them empty.

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

Three Questions


In our sadly divided nation, I strive not to risk sparking gut-level political controversy. However, this picture has haunted my dreams since the horrific, unimaginable tragedy at Nashville Covenant School in Nashville, TN three days ago:

Here’s another picture from that tragic day.  I respectfully ask you consider both pictures, and ask yourself three questions:

  1. Which can/cannot be legislated?
  2. Which is an instrument of love?
  3. Which is irreplaceable?

For the record:

  • I’m a politically registered Independent
  • I served in the United States Marine Corps during Vietnam
  • I support the protect and defend objective of our nation’s 2nd Amendment
  • I respect you, whatever your stance on assault weapon legislation may be

Realistically, the senseless loss of life caused by mass shootings will never be eliminated in our society. However, my prayer remains that each of us will considerately agree to disagree, and together achieve a resolution that in some measure will mitigate, even if just one more incident, the enduring fear, anguish and trauma displayed in this little child’s face.

Thank you

A Ragamuffin’s Regretful ‘If Only”s


‘Woulda’…’coulda’ …’shoulda’ … Life’s ‘if only’s that can block out the bright sunshine with dark stratocumulus clouds of regret. Intriguing that “if” resides smack dab in the middle of LIFE.

Regret is “If Only’s” synonym. The dictionary defines regret as, “To feel sorry, disappointed, distressed, or remorseful about. To remember with a feeling of loss or sorrow; mourn.

Ever been there? . . . total bummer! . . . not where any of us wants to spend a lot of time. The good news . . . we don’t have to!

All regrets are all past tense. They may be useful to learn from, but not to focus and dwell on. One thing I’ve learned in struggling with regrets over the past eight decades is . . .

Regrets are a place of reference, not a place of residence

Without fail, choosing to focus on my blessings always scatters regret’s ‘if only’ ominous clouds, and life’s sunshine soon comes back out to bask in.

Sure wish I’d learned this a long time ago. My German grandmother was spot on whenever she observed me about to hatch yet another regret (regretfully a frequent occurrence 😊), and would sternly, but lovingly reprimand . . . “Freddy, you’re too soon old and too late smart!” . . . I’m still working on the latter 😊

In her book The Top Five Regrets of The Dying palliative nurse Bonnie Ware poignantly lists the five most common regrets of ole duffers (some actually older than me😊) facing the imminent reality we all like to bury in the background, but will ultimately unearth and come face-to-face with one day . . . I’m actually gonna’ die!!!

Here’s the five terminal regrets Bonnie discovered folks at eternity’s threshold wrestle with:

  • I Wish I’d Lived a Life True to Myself, Not the Life Others Expected of Me
  • I Wish I Hadn’t Worked so Hard
  • I Wish I’d Had the Courage to Express My Feelings
  • I Wish I Had Stayed in Touch With My Friends
  • I Wish I Had Allowed Myself to Be Happier

In this New Year may we all turn these wishes into actions while we’re still blessed with the time to do so.

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it .”

Psalm 118:24

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

The Gift of Others


Christmas blessings from our home to yours. In whatever circumstances and wherever this may reach you, may it find you and yours resting assured in knowing His Best is Yet to Come!

This momentary adventure called Life is more often experienced in its valleys than on the mountaintops. Suffice it to say my 2022’s sojourn was one mingled with both the depths of failure and the heights of victory. The former of was regretfully of my own doings, the latter was gratefully attributable to:

  • God’s unmerited mercy, grace, and forgiveness
  • Others unmerited acceptance, encouragement, and prayers

Bottom line, this Christmas season thankfully finds Ellen and I still here happily fogging a mirror together, albeit with perhaps a tad less vigor and a few more wrinkles than in days of yore😊

You are one of the many special individuals who astonishingly follow my blog 😊. . . special not because you follow my blog for sure 😊, but special because one or more of your blog posts and/or comments have encouraged and blessed me, and made a difference. Thank you!

A retired pastor friend in Alaska recently sparked a thought of a way this Christmas to reciprocate the Gift of Others you, and countless others, have so graciously blessed me with throughout life. He suggested, “Ask them if there’s something on their heart you can pray for them about.”

Not just another quick, shallow, from the lips “I’ll pray for you” prayer, but a thoughtful, deep prayer from the heart to the One whose heart hears and answers each and every prayer in His time and way, both in Life’s valleys and on its mountaintops.

One of the glorious luxuries of retirement is time, and I’m blessed to be able luxuriate in it. So, if there’s something on your heart you feel you can trust me to pray for from my heart, in absolute total Thee – Me – He confidentiality, I’d be privileged and blessed to do so.

I’m forever grateful for the crucial piece you represent in my Life’s bewildering mosaic God chose to place there . . . it fits! Thank you for making a difference.

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

Merry Christmas!!!

Fred, Ellen and Bullwinkle

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!

Creation’s Whispers


Of all the places I’ve been blessed to meander throughout this untamed, rugged, awesome Last Frontier corner of creation, Hatcher Pass remains among my most special.

You can’t see the forest for the trees.” . . . in today’s chaotic word, life’s ‘forest’ beauty is woefully shrouded by it’s tumultuous ‘trees’ of power, greed, bigotry, hatred, and lust.

Paradoxically, whenever my wanders find me above treeline, the calamity of life’s forests below fade, and I catch a glimpse of heaven’s serenity that awaits. Gratefully gazing in mystical wonder, such were where my thoughts drifted yesterday.

As high clouds accentuated the silence of creation’s calming whispers, here’s the ethereal Hatcher Pass scene I wish your eyes could have beheld it with me.

I M Blessed . . . May U B 2!

Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is Yours.

1 Chronicles 29:11

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

Hatcher Pass, Alaska

Beginning and Endings


Each fall I’ve been privileged to witness one of nature’s incredible wonders . . . anadromous sockeye salmon (reds) returning to relinquish their own life to create new life.

After spending 1-2 years in their freshwater birthplace, they journey to the frigid waters of the Bering Sea. It’s believed they navigate by magnetic cues, position of the sun, and day length at while at sea, before returning 2-3 years later to their exact birthplace by imprinting on the unique chemical signatures of the waters . . . creation’s original GPS!

Dodging sea lions, seals, sharks, lampreys at sea, they must contend with bears, eagles and man upon their return. It’s estimated that of the 2,000 to 5,000  each female sockeye lays, only 1 in a thousand survive . .  a statistic I briefly ponder each time I catch one . . . but it quickly passes . . . they taste so good! 😊

Sockeye’s prized, savory red fillets are attributable to the high cartenoid pigment of their rich marine diet. By the time they spawn their flesh has turned a tasteless white as the cartenoids are transferred to their skin and eggs upon reaching their spawning grounds.

Watching sockeye salmon complete their aquatic life cycle allegorically always reminds of my own terrestrial life journey . . . each a beginning-to-end journey of survival wrought with trials and transitions.

Like the sockeye my skin has often turned red in embarrassment, and has lost its once youthful glow. Unlike the sockeye, many of my trials have often been self-imposed.

Standing stream-side I’m forever grateful knowing I’m still ’swimming’. Somehow, having navigated through my own and sin’s ‘predators’ for 8 decades . . . I’m 1 in a 1,000 . . . but not by my own making. It’s by God’s unfathomably amazing love, mercy and grace alone that I’m still headed ‘upstream.’

Like the sockeye, my life’s journey will someday end . . . but not in a stream-bed. My end will be the beginning of an eternity above with the One whose sacrificial death defeated mine, and all who have accepted Him as Savior . . . hope we share it together.

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

Returning Home

Creating New Life
Journey’s End

Fun Is Ageless


To enjoy life to the fullest you ‘moose’ have fun. A couple of old duffers did just that at the 2022 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, Alaska.

9 or 90, goofing around is healthy . . . don’t forget to take your medicine 😊

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dies up the bones.”

Proverbs 17:22

Contemplating Life


This Great Smoky Mountains ephemeral, after-the-storm panorama marked the close of another day. The scene evoked a juxtaposed, sobering/joyful contemplation of life’s unknown brevity, and breathtaking beauty. As dusk fell, the confident wisdom of a beloved preacher comforted my thoughts:

What is your life? You are but a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

James 4:14

This is the day the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Psalm 118:24

I’ve read the last chapter of Revelation, and we win .”

Billy Graham

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