Friday, March 21, 2014

I'm not there anymore.....I'm over here!

I can't believe it has been nearly five years since I last made an update to this how fast time travels when your having a good time.

I lot of water has flowed beneath the bridge, and miles traveled under my wheels since my last post.

Retirement and the birth of new Grand Children are major life changing events that often result in re-location of where one lives and what one does .....for me it has been monumental.  Two major moves...from West Virginia to North Carolina and most recently....western Montana.

Hopefully, in the coming months it is my intent to share a few of the things that I've learned about "life" and it's twists and turns.  To my prior readers....thanks for dropping by.

God Love You all.....

Thursday, December 3, 2009

“Without realizing it I had been transported off the planet to a place.... untouchable ......”

I don't know why I did it ….perhaps it was the mention of another subject that triggered the idea in my mind...but I found myself sitting in front of a computer, watching Google Earth come to life.

Technology has a way of sneaking up on us....just look at what we see and hear today that we could never have experienced a few short years ago, but what I was about to experience took me by surprise...a surprise that I wasn't ready for....and before mind and my spirit were far, far away....I had lost all conscious thought.....transfixed in a time long gone.

Driven by an idea from “God only knows” Google Earth came to life on my computer I found myself typing the name in the search box: “Seven Mile Lake, Three Lakes Wisconsin”.

It wasn't long before that “blue swirling ball” we affectionately call earth started a downward spiral to a pinpoint on the planet …....Seven Mile Lake.........Wisconsin...we had arrived.

I've used this program to take me all over the world.....places that I have actually visited and places that hopefully, will soon show my footprints. Like my own neighborhood, small as it may be nestled between the mountain ridges of the Guyandotte River valley here in Southern West Virginia. Or, the more exotic places in the world like the day I walked the path beside the Zambezi River as it plunged over a 300 foot cliff into the river gorge called Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. The roar of the falls creating a mist that rises nearly in a mile into the air. What a blessing to just say ….......”I've been there”!

I've retraced my flight paths up and over the eastern seaboard over the tip of Iceland...down the western coast of Europe over my “father's land of Ireland” touching down in England. Then off once again over France, Spain, …...........the Mediterranean Sea with its deep hues of blue and green only to be soon contrasted by the dark browns,tans and yellows of the Sahara desert.........a magic carpet ride indeed.

But, this time it was different and it caught me by surprise...hurling me into my past as a young boy. Time spent with Grandma .....Aunts........Uncles........and cousins. There it I looked down on the expanse of the lake via a satellite photo taken in early March......remnants of ice still floating on the lake's surface.

Before I realized it I was with my Grandmother sitting in a boat...with a cane pole in was my first ever fishing trip …......I can see it all so Grandmothers face...the checkered lumberjack jacket she was wearing....the bonnet on her head...the sun dancing off the water like diamonds...the tug on the pole held tightly in the small hands of a sever year old boy. I had hooked a Perch!

Spending summers with Grandma in the 1950's in the pine woods of northern Wisconsin as I look back at it now was a “priceless treasure”. Living in a log cabin that had been built by my Grandfather, a man I never knew as a child as he had died before I really understood who he was. Years later it was explained to me that the strange man with the big circled eye glasses and the missing thumb was none other than my Grandfather.

I didn't realize it but we were rich even though we had no electricity, gas or indoor plumbing; the "privy" was down the path. There was a fresh water pump that needed to be primed sitting outside the cabin....the old cast iron wood stove.....the water bucket with the “dipper” at the ready to refresh a young lad who would come charging into the cabin desperately needing a drink.

That old cabin sat on hillside looking down toward the only had two rooms....the front half was the kitchen and dining room while the back half was the large bedroom separated by a wire that ran the width of the room....holding a cloth curtain that afforded my grandmother her privacy.

It was Grandma who taught me how to load the cast iron stove with split logs and kinlin.....and to carefully light a match to the news paper and wood scraps. The table in the kitchen sat next to the big window that faced the lake and mornings would be spent watching the sunlight bounce off the lake....casting reflections upon the ceiling of the room.

The fragrance of the wood burning in the stove while Grandma put the finishing touches on “Buttermilk Pancakes” ...working with the batter she had prepared the night before. I remember the old spoon she used to stir the had been used so much that one side of it was worn down to the curved shape of the mixing bowl.

Grandma used an old cast iron platter to cook the pancakes. I remember being mesmerized as I watched her test the heated platter by dropping, droplets of water on it as they danced, sizzled and popped. Only Grandma knew the secret of exactly when the platter was just right....the “molten moment “ that her old worn out ladle would be used to pour the batter on the hot platter.

Eating those “golden circles of delight” with my Uncle Walter's homemade maple syrup poured out in generous amounts was indescribable as we discussed the day that awaited us.

Hanging on the wall, was an old calendar with a picture of a young boy laying in a field, piece of straw sticking out of his mouth....big bright cumulus clouds over said it all. That was my world........only I was surrounded by “tall, stately pine trees whose tops seemed to touch the sky”.

Even though it was just Grandma and me our days were full. Just up the path was my Aunt and Uncle's cabin where my cousin Jerry stayed. Jerry and I were almost the same age.....a mere two months apart. His birthday was on New Years Eve...and it was so exciting to be with him during those long ago.

Jerry had two older brothers and two sisters. Sometimes we were all up there....”at the lakes”....spending our summers like only young children know how to do.

Our days flew by so quickly....there was the required trip to the mail box every week day...a mile and three quarter walk down a forested road as it meandered through the woods...over the swamp, a couple of hills and finally to the main road....there we sat and waited with great anticipation for the mailman to arrive.

Those daily trips were often fueled by the anticipation that our parents would be sending a letter with money in it or maybe even a package with a new toy...... “a care package from mom and dad”.

We never wore any was "barefoot bliss"...everyday.... cotton wash paints with was wonderful! Special occassions, like trips into Three Lakes, required a shirt....handcrafted with a "custom fit" by a loving Grandmother and Aunt out of flour sacks. Nothing but the best!

Parts of the old road crossed a swampy area that had been filled in with dirt and gravel. To protect our feet from the sharp rocks, we thought, we would wet our feet and the walk in mud puddles...building up a “short lived muddy pad” on the bottoms of our feet.

The trips were always different....crossing the swamp we looked for turtles sunning in the warm morning the sun. Jerry always wanted to throw rocks at the ones we saw. Often one of us would run ahead and peek over the hill to see if there was a bear near the mailbox. All kinds of other animals...squirrels...chip monks....the sounds of chattering red winged black birds....Blue Jays calling out our presence....the sound of wood peckers hammering away at the bark of a birch or pine tree.

Then there were early morning trips down to where the boats were tired off. Slowly and carefully we would push them to one side hoping to find a bullfrog hiding beneath the boats. We caught literally hundreds of those frogs over the years.

On special days there were trips when Grandma, with all the others, would put us kids in a boat and row us across the lake to a naturally sandy beach for a swim while she and her sister picked berries....raspberries...oh they were so good....especially when they made them into jellies and jams....or cooked them and served them with fresh homemade bread...dipped into the berry juice... "oh was so good"!

The cabins were a good distance from any kind of store in those days....even gas for Uncle Walter's truck had to be purchased at a resort across the lake. This required a trip that would find us kids packed in the back of his canvas covered pickup for an extended ride thru the woods. Sometimes he was a 'grumpy old rascal” and I can still see my Aunt giving him “ a piece of her mind.....about his driving”.

Oh how the memories flooded my mind...before realizing it I had been transported off the planet to a place that I had never been was untouchable! It was like I was watching it all unfold from Heaven. There it all was....I could see the spot that Grandma took me to catch that “first fish”....the cabin that still stands on the side of the hill....there's the road to the mail box....crossing over the swamp....the distant resort where gasoline was purchased out of a hand pump with dancing balls that tumbled as the fuel was first pumped into a large glass container.....and then emptied into the truck.

Little did I realize that "this flight",courtesy of Google Earth, would take me back so far into my past. It was a wonderful journey deep within my memory...filled with the sounds and faces of one of the best times of my life.....a time that will never be repeated again.

Grandma would pass away within 5 years of those wonderful Aunt and Uncle would follow a short time later. The shocker would be that my cousin Jerry would likewise pass due to a medical test "going all wrong".

My Mom and Dad are are Jerry's. They are almost "all gone"...yet the blessings each of these remarkable people gave to me remains....I have these precious memories that bring nothing but smiles to my face and warmth to my heart. And thanks to Google Earth I can return to my "heavenly outpost...anytime to look down on my childhood any time I want to".

What a Blessing.........I'm so Blessed.....Thank You Lord.......Thank you for putting all those wonderful people in my life....I have,over the course of time,come to realize....You Lord,...... my Heavenly Father, are the source of all blessings.

Thanks Dad!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How "not to visit" the Smokies!

Click on photo for a larger view

Those of you who know me, know of my love to travel by'll note there is video on this sight to that fact. There is probably a strong possiblity that if I had the time and the money I would be gone all the time..................but, it doesn't work that way so you just have to wait for a "molten moment" to occur to make it happenned.

Last weekend was one of those moments....I had a 48 hour "kitchen pass"...meaning, yes, you may go"! My next move was to find a location....check out camping facilities and watch the weather.

Although I live in the Appalachian Mountains I wanted to see and camp in the Smokies. I had traveled by them but never took the time to explore them....this would be my opportunity.

The weather forecast was really iffy....rain and cold weather was forecast. So, I played it day by day.....camping facilities were gonna be a challenge...the national park was full but there appeared to be many private campgrounds in the area.

Now what I didn't realize is that coming from the direction I would be coming from....i.e. north..I would have to approach the park via Pidgeon Forge and Gatlinburg TN. problem! Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh was I ever off the mark!

The ride from home was was cloudy and cool yet the rain that had fallen thru the night was to be over by my time of departure. So, the bike was packed and I was off at 9:30 AM.....Buelah and Me....headed for the Smokies......yeeeeeeeeeeeha!

We traveled 5 miles and water droplets appeared on the windscreen of the bike and the faceplate of my was raining! Surely, there must be some mistake the rain is supposed to be over..... Oh, adventure can't be one if a little rain doesn't fall on it .......right?

Ten more miles down the road and the rain is good!

The miles quickly pass by and Buelah is really feeling her oats and before long we break out into beautiful sunshine as we stop for lunch in Wise, Virginia.

With my belly full and the bright sunshine beckoning we continued down the road. Fall colors were in abundance....but shortly after returning to the highway...the clouds moved back in and would remain with me for the balance of the day.

Yet, we are making progress and I soon see the exit that would take me off Interstate 40 and down to the Smokie Mtn Park. And then..........ah then.....the traffic seems to slow.......slower........even slower.............S T O P P E D ! Did I say S T O P !!!!!

What is going on here.......why are all these people here.....there must be some kind of "event" going on.....the traffic is stopped. I am mere miles from my destination and I am stopped and surrounded by cars! This is not a happy camping venture.....this is traffic gridlock at its worst! I'm being held captive by all these people who want to see Dolly Parton!

Finally, and a hour and half later, after my gloved hand has squeezed the motorcycle clutch lever for the millionth time I find a turn off that will take me the final 17 miles to my campground.

Nearly an hour down that road I find the campgrounds.... but wait a minute.....they look like "RV Parking Lots"! If were to put up my tent it would have to be between gas generators! That is not going to work! And, now it is getting place to camp.....can't find the entrance to the is time for plan "X"! Yes, it was that bad....plan XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX...........Econolodge! Oh, nooooooooooooooooooooo!

So, out comes the plastic....the room is ok but it sure wasn't my idea of sitting around a campfire....smellin' the fragrance of the camp smoke...and singin' "kumbyah.......bummmmmmmmmmmmmer!!!! There must be a mistake!!!!

Well, there is tomorrow......

Sunday AM....I'm up early...gonna get an early start and get into the park....but when I open the door of the room it is pitch dark! Wait a minute....what time is it.....6:45 AM. Heading down to the free breakfast bar...I noticed a thick fog has settled in.......oh man!

Two hours is still so foggy you can cut it with a knife!

Finally, after 9 AM although it is still foggy it is safe to leave the motel. And, to my wonderment...I drive 2 miles down the road ....out of the fog and into a bright sunshinny day....there isn't a cloud in the sky! YES!

Within a few more minutes I find a side entrance into SMNP and out comes the camera and I soon find myself in the element that I have strived so hard to is good!

Now in the back of my mind I knew I needed about 7 hours to get home if I wanted to get there before darkness set in.....Buelah doesn't like running dark, curvy WV roads at night.....she is afraid of DEER! So, the day needs to planned with that in mind.

I see a sign that reads Cades Cove....sounds interesting....and we check it out. The colors and the bright sunshine coming thru the forest are off the chart and we are really enjoying stopping along the way to take pictures. Traffic is non existant....this is sooooooooo good. And then.....I see it....a one-way, eleven mile scenic road thru this magnificent valley...."just what I needed". I could do the loop and then find an alternate way that would miss Gatlinburg and that whole area. We're off!

Ah, did I say we're off.......yes, I did say that....ok....we're off for about a quarter mile....when we hit backed up traffic and stopped cars on this exit.........., narrow single lane.........eleven mile road!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don't tell me again..........T R A F F I C ...........S T O P P E D............. T R A F F I C! Hold it! ...I'm in the MIDDLE of the "wilderness"! There should be no "stopped traffic".....Something is wrong with this picture!!!!!!!!

Two hours later....with an overheated motorcycle and a mentality to run every car with a Florida lic. plate off the road.....I finally see the gate....I have finished the eleven mile "parking lot filled with SUV's that have come from Florida with occupants that want to photograph every falling leaf....every twig....every deer standing in a field a quarter of a mile away! And, every rumor of a bear sighting off in the woods!

Oh...Oh! Time out..why is this happenning?

Now the rules say...........that is... the posted road signs read....."DO NOT STOP IN ROADWAYS.....USE PULL OUTS" to chase down rumors of a bear sighting in the woods (I added these last few words myself)!

"U N B E L I E V A B L E !!"

Pondering this occurs to me that these folks from Florida, by the way I love in a "world of green"........nearly twelve months a year....they don't have fall....they don't get to see the "beauty of God's paintbrush"...and they are mesemorzied by the beauty that is surrounding them! But, Lord...why did this have to happen during "MY VISIT"! FATHER.......WHAT'S GOING ON HERE !!!!!! "Son, you need to quit pushing so hard against what you are doing....sure it is ok to have spontenaity in life.....but with that comes testing.....and I'm using "my Florida children" demonstate that to you" you get the picture!"

With that lesson is now time to head for the house...yet, while doing exactly that I see something I have never seen before in a National Park. The road into the park is filled with "stopped incoming traffic".....its just sitting there...people trying to get into the park to see more name it.

SMNP's attendance is off the chart...the roads can't handle the traffic. The single lane highway that comes down from Gatlinburg into the park funnels all the traffic into the park that has no place to put it! This is really sad...and for it to be changed will require several million if not bilions of dollars to work it out.

While sitting stopped in downtown Gatlinburg surrounded by cars on every gloved hand hits the GPS....and punches the button that sez' "take me home"! Finally, 360 miles later and just after sunset Buelah pulls into my driveway. We were home safe!

My closing thoughts were "Lord thank you for this adventure....Thank you for your protection...Thank you for letting me see your Glory painted in nature"! And, thank you for showing me what I needed to do with my patience! i.e. work on it!

The upside of this little adventure are some great pics...there is one shown above...others can be found here.....

Enjoy and God Love You! Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Things to ponder while "burning a steak"!

The other evening I had the pleasure to fire up the grill and lay a “new York strip” on it. Now the fire was going to do all the work and all I had to do was to sit down and wait for the cooking process to take place. So…………what is there to do while all that was going on………………?

There is a flight of steps close by where the grill sits that go up to the apartment over our house, so with time on my hands I sat down on them to wait. It wasn’t long before my attention was drawn to the sidewalk before me and all the drama that was taking place right beneath my feet.
There it was…. an Ant………now we’re talkin’ small here….a “tiny ant”…… had captured a housefly….but the fly still had some life in it. A struggle was taking place….between the ant and the fly.

Carrying a body over ones head that is three times larger than your own can be a chore any day. Add the fact that it is very much alive and struggling to free itself….and you have a real battle on your hands…or should I say….”over your head”.

The ant, holding on to its prey with all of its might, was stumbling all over the sidewalk. The fly would flap its wings taking the fly back several inches. The ant would hold on tighter and continue back in the direction it wanted to go. Surely, it was calling for reinforcements but so far….nothing was coming to its assistance.

The struggle went on for quite a few moments. Every now and then the ant draggin’ its prey would run into a dry blade of grass that was in its path. The ant would literally fling its load over the grass and while hanging on for “dear life” would find that the momentum catapulted it right along with the fly.

Hold on………’s time to turn the steak!

After several setbacks and obstacles had been crossed, reinforcements finally came from all the different cracks in the side walk and up out of the grass. The scene ended with a bevy of ants….carrying the now dead fly hoisted on their shoulders and marching toward their home somewhere into the jungle that I call “my back yard”. I could hear the faint sound of “hi ho…………………, hi ho…………………….it’s off to home we go…..” and before long they were all out of sight. Those little critters were going to have “fly steaks that night”……ye haaaaaaaa!

Now why in the world did God create ants; to drag off dead flies? Well......maybe… but I don’t believe that to be the real reason. Rather, the Book of Proverbs in the Old Testament tells us “ants” are teachers! Imagine that!

Proverbs 6: 6-8 tells us
6 Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! 7 Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, 8 they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.

Right before my eyes I was seeing a demonstration that taught me a lot.

· Never give up my dreams….anything worth having is worth working for.

· Difficult things can be achieved in life when we work together. It may take a little time to assemble all the resources together for the task but it is doable.

· Do it today….we may not have tomorrow as an option. God had built into the “character” of the ant that it needed to do its work while the summer sun shone. Not only would this little fella have working conditions that would be extreme in winter but it is very doubtful that he would find any flies. Ever seen a fly in winter?

· If God has programmed the ant, such a small and insignificant critter, think how much more He has “programmed” you and me. God tells me in the Book of Genesis that I have been “crafted in His image”. I’ve been blessed with the best but it is up to me to “work the plan” that has been set before me. I really don’t have any excuses because God also tells me in Psalm 139 that I have been “fearfully and wonderfully made” and that all my days have been recorded in His “book of life” before one of them had ever occurred. I’m fully equipped…I don’t have any excuses.

Isn’t it interesting to know……….regardless of the circumstances of your birth that you’re not an ……………..”accident”.

Your life, just like the “ants” has a purpose.

Do you know what yours is….if you don’t know…why not ask God. He’ll tell you!

Oh Lord…………….I’ve nearly burned my steak!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Should one inquire.........

Yes, I am still among the living although this blog might indicate otherwise. I have been blessed with the chance to travel and see some of my children. I have a lot of things I would like to share but until they get put into print....join me as I sit on a rock and just admire the natural beauty that God has given us by means of Rocky Mountain National Park!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

" Tell me...when a tree falls in the forest does anyone hear it....does anyone care?"

I don't know where I was or what I was doing at the time I heard my "title line" but, it has stuck to my DNA. Consequently, I pondered it often.

I love kids.....I really mean that....I love them! I don't care about their background, what they have done, what color they are, where they live, .........nothing.....I don't care. But, I can honestly say....."I Love Them"!

Consequently, they break my heart because so many of them are "disconnected from reality".

" I am a self-proclaimed expert on young people"! I'm not ashamed to say that. No one can change my mind! My statement is "non-negotiable". You may have your opinion about my opinion but that won't change or alter mine in anyway.

" What makes you "so qualified"'s a fair question.

I have raised five children....four boys and a daughter. They are all grown and in most cases have established families......nearly all of them have children of their own. From my grown children I have nine grandchildren. In some cases the grandchildren have their own children...thus you can add two great-grandchildren to the mix. Counting only my children, grandchildren,great-grandchildren....there are fourteen.....and I love them all..........equally ...yet in different ways.

My "bride" of 36 years is an educator. She has all kinds of degrees and is not only qualified to teach but has taught classes in Special Education, and Foreign Languages. She can even teach "English".... a 2nd language to me.................that's a joke! Although qualified to teach children of all grades she has spent most of her teaching experience with middle and high school aged children. So, what has that done for me? I'm a people watcher by nature. She has always involved me in school activities and that has given me a lot kids to watch and study.

A regular monthly activity of mine takes me into various prison and juvenile jails every month. I've done this for nearly a decade. I have encountered kids...make that children...of all ages. They have been charged with crimes that run the gamut from "skipping school, to arson, rape, drugs, robbery, stealing cars and murder"!

I've ministered in prisons all over the world. I have embraced some really bad people in my travels.... even a "hit man" with a record 45 murders! In all these cases, the only time I have ever "ministered" to an inmate in "chains and shackles" it was a child. .....a ten-year old child! It has happened more than once...........

When you take a young person out of their home environment and place them into jail a strange metamorphosis takes place. They don't look like criminals....but rather just a bunch of kids one would find in any junior high or high school class.

So why are they there"

I've heard it all..." I was framed, I was set up, I'm not guilty, I'm taking the wrap for somebody else. My parents, my aunts and brothers and my sisters.....are in jails, prisons...what have you"! Some even take pride in the fact that they have been incarcerated four and five times....."it's a Red Badge Of Courage to them".

"It makes me want to scream.....stop the madness"! "But, would anybody hear me....does anyone care"?

Case in point.

Some time back I was coming out of the home of an extended member of our family. A loved one had died earlier that day. Just across the street was a small group of Junior and High School boys. They were talking with an acquaintance who was sitting on a very fast "All Terrain Vehicle". It was a racing model. Not even getting to my car that was parked nearby this young man started this machine up, revved it loudly and then proceed up the street.........a public road...a crowded public road a high rate of speed and gaining more..............on only ...."the back two wheels"! It was a foolish and deadly stunt that continued for nearly a quarter mile.

That action went thru me like a "bullet", but what made it worse, was the laughter and support this "young fool" received from his mates!

I walked over to these kids...with the question....."who is that idiot"? Is he a "friend of yours"? What he did was foolish and extremely dangerous not only to him but those along and in his path. "Don't you realize, guys, that his "stupidity is a reflection on who you are"? If you are in support of his actions!

I happened to mention that "God's word, The Bible" states quite clearly that "we are known by the friends we keep and that our actions will reflect their actions". (To you my "reader" you will find this in Proverbs..Old Testament. Think of Wisdom, Solomon, it's in there)

Their reply was "ahhhhhhhhh we don't know nothing about no Bible". So, with the time available I let them tell more of how they felt. Our conversation ended with me explaining to them what I was all about and that it would be very wise on their part to make it a point to get to know the "God of the Bible, the God who created them,the One who has a plan for their lives". Or, sadly, I would see them again......"in a jail or prison somewhere"!

"It took less than three weeks....."

I arrived early at one of the jails I minister in and used the time to talk with the kids that had been brought to me....there were more coming. After exchanging small talk with these boys and getting them to relax in my presence one of them asked me where I "preached"? I told him in some detail but also added where I lived. My reply caught one of them by surprise and he jumped in his seat..........and then he said, " I live in the same town you do"! A brief pause in our conversation was soon followed by him breaking the silence........."preacher do you recognize me"?

Looking closely at the boy I didn't see any resemblance to any prior encounter. When you put all those kids in prison garb they don't stand out much, unless they are handcuffed and shackled.

My reply to the lad was " no, should I"? His quite, embarrassed reply was ..."do you remember when that boy took off on his "four-wheeler doing a wheelie'?

Instant recognition!

I said, "Yes, now I do........... very well..........and here we are"! "Was I speaking as a prophet to you that day or what"? ......What could he say other than yes....his words.

It makes me "want to scream....will anyone hear me....would anyone care"

There's more........

Monday, April 27, 2009

"Hard writing....easy reading..."

I've got to take my "hat off" to those who make their living by it a book, newspaper, or whatever source of media they use. I have found that "writing" is not as easy as it looks.

I remember a statement one of my English teachers made many years ago. She said...."hard writing, easy reading, easy writing....hard reading". That statement has stuck with me for many years now and I can't, for the life of me, figure out why? I guess it is just one of those things that locks on to your DNA and you have to live with it.

I've said all this as I have been pondering what the next subject would be of this "infant blog". A lot of subjects have come to mind. There has been the relationship that I have with my dog, Jack. He's a buddy for sure. And then, there are relationships that I have with my close Butch. In some ways their connected.....

Jack has been my "main pet" now for the past 8 plus years. At the time I acquired him I had been longing for dog that could really be a buddy. You know, the kind that goes with you where ever you go. In the beginning that is exactly how it was. He was my constant companion whether I was going to work or the grocery store.

I had a cardboard box set up in my office that was referred to as "Jack's box". I had placed some old clothing and padding into it so that he would be comfortable. Everyone who worked with me accepted the fact that he "was gonna be around" it or not. Fortunately, for me and Jack, everyone was very kind and did in fact accept the little fella.....a mix of "Jack Russell Terrier" and another breed yet to be determined.

Several months went by with Jack as my work mate until the day he got "fired"!

There was another work associate who shared the office with me and made the mistake of laying her purse on the floor. During a brief absence by me from the office, Jack took it upon himself to "lay claim" to this object on "his territory". "He peed on it!" Oh Lord why did he have to do that? Course' the answer is simple....he's a dog...and dogs do that.

Now the little fella is confined to "house arrest" at home; a home he shares with several "back up pets"...all cats. And,they love to "push him around". It is really something to watch.

On the other end of the spectrum of "friendship" is my buddy "Butch".

Butch is one of those people who come into your life when you weren't looking for anything. It starts off as a simple acquaintance, and slowly but surely builds into a close friendship. Our backgrounds are very different, yet we have many things in common. Our love for the Lord, our desire to sing, both of our spouses are teachers....the list goes on and on.

At the time I met Butch he brought another old acquaintance into our relationship, his name was Larry.

It all started with music....all three of us loved to sing Gospel music. With that common denominator, it was easy for me to include them in the realm of my ministry and they likewise included me in theirs. The years that followed were filled with some great times. Our friendship grew over this time and it was always a time of good fellowship and a "no holds bared" exchange of ideas. We talked about everything...politics included. Larry would get so mad during some of these exchanges that he would demand the car be stopped (in the middle of nowhere) so he could get out. Of course, this request was denied and then someone would say something and we would be laughing to the point of tears. It was "guy thing"!

Sadly, Larry became ill a few years into our relationship and died. He has been gone now for almost three years yet, it still feels like it was just yesterday. I don't need to say how much we both still miss Larry. I have caught myself looking back at someone that is passing in the background because from that angle he looked just like our old friend.

Since Larry's passing, Butch and I have become really "brothers-in-spirit". I can't speak for him but as far as I'm concerned he has become a Blessing. He is a "sounding board" for me in so many areas of my I can trust when I open my heart and share the things that I hold close to my heart. At times he may give me an opinion that I don't like to hear but in the long run he is a willing listener. It is hard to find people like that today as everyone seems to have their own agenda. Butch is a Blessing!

So how are the two alike....Jack and Butch? They accept me for who and what I am and they are both trustworthy in their own way.

Isn't it interesting how God Blesses us by using creatures that come from opposite the animal kingdom.....and the other from "one formed in His own likeness"?

I believe it is the measure of Blessed man when he has a "Good Wife, A Trusted Friend and a Loyal and Faithful Dog" I've got all three!