Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Merry Christmas and A Prosperous and Gourdeous Year Too All
May all God's best be received and enjoyed by those who read this post. Spending Christmas day alone is a first time for me in my sixty-seven years of life. My daughter just went to work at CVS and she was happy too, because she is getting double time. Later today I will have supper with my twin Great Grand Daughters and their Mom. Lord Willing I will get there on time. My wife is in Mexico visiting her aunt's, uncle's and cousins. My other daughters are spending the day at their homes with their family's. This has been one of the strangest holidays I can remember. I have been in perpetual motion since the 21st and got home late last night. Thought I would be taking off again the 26th but my Great Nephew's Other Great Uncle will be bringing him back on Saturday.
This has been a very, very blessed year for me. Many things have happened and I do not know where to start on it all. Financial blessings are always easy to see and remember. Especially when you suddenly become debt free and have your income suddenly rise to meet all your needs and more. Of course I paid some dues to get that benefit. Little did I know that when I was in Vietnam and we were waving at the Air Force helicopters spraying our compound for weeds, we were being poisoned by our government. That is where my blessing came from though. It was my settlement for being exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam. Anyone who is a Vietnam veteran and has a heart condition and is not getting some kind of compensation should definitely apply for the benefits and let the government see if you qualify. It was a total shock to me that I was and had another veteran not told me to apply I might never have received the benefits.
My favorite dog Scruffy died this year. He was about eight years old and went the same way his mom did. Hit by a car. My daughter found him and his sister along U.S. 41. Their mother had been hit by a car. The irony was my daughter was bringing me a couple pet carriers to sell and my second hand shop. The pen I had built for my German Shepherd years before was a ready made home. Our neighbors adopted his sister. Scruff was an awesome dog and was always dragging up pieces of deer carcasses the hunters had failed to find. He had one habit that I could never cure him of. He hated cats and he killed them. We can now have cats and plan to have many as we have a severe mouse problem living in the country. While I miss him dearly I wanted to travel in the coming year and at least this way I don't have to worry about him. He would never accept a collar or chain, which would have been necessary for travel. When I tried to secure him he would always get it off or loose in record time.
Dogs have always been special to me. My first one was Mike, a Cocker Spaniel, he was with me from before I could walk and stayed with me till I was sixteen. Mike was an awesome dog and he hated cars and would chase them. He would actually try to bite the tires. He spent several months recovering from his attacks, but as soon as he could walk again he was back at it. Mike also hated cats, but he made an exception for my cat George. George just showed up one day and stayed a few years. Then he disappeared. He left many of his lineage behind though. He was a bob tailed Manx and one bad to the bone cat. Mike did not like him when they met, but George put three bloody racing stripes across the end of Mike's nose and Mike decided they would tolerate each other and actually became friends. Other dogs in the neighborhood would walk across the street to avoid George. He did not run from dogs. He would actually attack them. One time a German Shepherd attacked Mike and had him on his back. The next thing I knew George was on the Shepherd's back. The last I saw of that fight Mike and George were chasing the German Shepherd down the alley.
My present dog and the only one I have left is Forrest Gump. He was my youngest daughter's dog and she left him to me in her Will. She passed away in August 2010 after a seven year battle with a brain tumor. It seems all my most memorable pets were given to me. It must be some unwritten rule. My Mom had many dogs, but in reality she never had one that was really hers. They were all left with her by my brother. He would get them and then move and not take the dog with him for whatever reason. Mom always had dogs though.
My brother moved in to live with me for awhile and brought two dogs and a cat. I warned him the cat would not survive and less than a week later Scruff made that prophecy come true. He was here for several months and both his dogs died while he was here. He adopted another dog shortly before leaving and Sheba has been with him a couple years.
Why a post mostly about dogs? I guess because dogs always bring good memories to mind for me. Whether it is Mike chasing cars, following me through the woods or keeping my feet warm at night. Most of the memories are good ones. Good memories is what Christmas is about and as I type this and listen to Forrest laying beside me on my bed snoring, I can't help but think of my daughter Glenda and that starts off a whole lot of memories. So I guess dogs are my window to the past. I wish all those who read my blog A Merry Christmas and A Prosperous and Gourdeous New Year. For those who do not
know I am into Gourds as a hobby.
Sunday, December 15, 2013
Putting your hand to the Plow
Some things are hard to understand, especially Jesus dealings with people who said they wanted to follow him. He was more merciful to them than God was to Lot’s wife. Lot and his family had been warned not to look back. Yet his wife did look back. She was turned into a pillar of salt. In her case it is easy to see that her heart and desire may have been with the life she left behind. Turning your back and walking away from all that you have ever known is a very hard thing to do.
The real question is, where is your heart? Is it with God? Or is it with the life you presently have? Jesus made it clear, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” At sixty-seven years old I have come to realize that you may not look back, but you will see the consequences of your actions. The first thing you need to do as a new Christian is pray for crop failure of all the wild oats you sowed.
One phrase I have come to understand is that, you reap, what you sow. All the bad things you did will sooner or later be harvested. Sometimes by you or in some cases those you love and care for. You may watch another person raise your child and you have no say so in how your child is raised. Your child may adopt your bad habits or turn against you because of your habits. It may not seem fair, but if it is what you sowed, it is what you will reap. If you were too busy to properly raise your children while making a living, you may raise your grandchildren or great grand-children.
Once you have put your hand to the plow and look back your rows may not be straight. That gives room for weeds or bad seed to grow. If you keep looking ahead you will sooner or later see if you messed up. You plow in circles and eventually you come back to where you started. Hopefully when you do your furrows will be straight as an arrow and you will have no regrets.
Some people believe in the theory of "once saved, always saved" and that you can’t lose your salvation. That is not what Peter taught. He should definitely know the cost of making mistakes. The story of the rooster crowing says we all make mistakes. Where our hearts are at will determine the consequences. He makes it clear if we return to the lifestyle we formerly lived we will be worse off than before we were saved. Second Peter 2:20-22 paints a pretty clear picture that there is a price for falling away. Besides if there is no way you can get kicked out of heaven, what is Satan doing here.
Recently I had a couple of those Peter experiences. I was at a place when a friend asked if I had a flashlight he could use. I told him, “Yes, but the batteries are dead.” They were but a couple minutes later I remembered I had the batteries in my car for it. He had already found one by that time though. Later a man was trying to move a tractor but the battery was dead. There seemed to be something in the air that night. He said he would move it in the morning. I had jumper cables and could have very easily given him a jump, but I had already put all my stuff in the car to leave. I never volunteered my services. A couple more similar instances happened during the same time frame.
So why did it bother me so much. Because I know the Bible and what it says and while I had been offering financial help to the organization these people worked for I had failed to do several simple little things. There are a couple places where Jesus warns those who say they love him, but do nothing. Matthew 7 and 23 both contain stories. It would be easy to sweep these instances under the carpet and no one would see them, or know about them. Yet I would know and Christ knows. I go out of my way to help others and do for others all the time, but sometimes when I could easily do something. I do nothing and that is what Jesus really has a problem with.
If you join the Army and go off to serve your country and things happen at home, you will know about them. Regardless you continue to serve, because it is your duty. It is what you were called to or volunteered for. You are called to give one hundred percent of your service to your country. Even to the point of laying down your life. We may hope to not pay that price, but if it is demanded in the line of duty most who serve will willingly pay it.
The following statements are from Luke 9. “57Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” 58And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” 59Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” 61And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” 62But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Jesus is simply making clear that when we follow him our past is past. As long as we do not turn back to it. It is about what is before us that matters. We are to walk as he walked, giving our all for the kingdom.
Those little things that we fail to do for others may keep them from reaching their goal or doing their duty for the Lord. If we cause that to happen, we have not given our all to Him and His Kingdom. We may cause another to fail who was doing a duty that God had called him to do. It may be as simple as going outside at night to turn on the water so people can shower, cook and provide meals for those in need. You may need a light to do it though. If the mower on the tractor does not mow, maybe a person will not have a place to park. Then they will have to stay somewhere else and maybe not hear the message that would have changed their lives. All those little things we do not have time to do, or are unwilling to do, can add up.
The people where I was at may have been praising me for my help, but I saw the reality. It is the same reality the Lord sees in our daily lives. He knows the truth of what we do and what we could do. It is the not doing what we could do and had the power to do, that will convict us in the end. The next time you see the guy with the sign, “Will work for food.” Offer to buy him a meal and see what his needs really are. If he declines and just wants the money, you are only out the the price of a meal. You may also find a person with a real need that you can really help. You may even get the response I have gotten on more than one occasion. “Oh! You Christians just want to do things so you can feel good about yourselves.” And your offer of help may be declined. At least you offered. Giving $5 and “Have a nice day.” May not be enough in some instances.
When I was still trucking I used to offer to buy a meal for the person sitting on his bags outside the truck stop. Sometimes I bought them a meal and found out their needs and gave them a meal and a few bucks. Sometimes a shower and let them sleep for a few hours in my truck if they were really beat from traveling. Let the Lord lead and guide you, but always be willing to do “All” that you can. That is “All” that he asks. You will never be able to solve all the problems, but you will be more likely to hear the phrase, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the kingdom."
Good News for Christian Truckers
About time there was some Good News for the American Trucker and Christian Truckers in particular. The Road Angel Trucker Centre at exit 68 on I-70 in Illinois is under a new director. The goal of the new leadership is to bring the Centre back to, or to even better, condition than it was years ago. Due to the loss of staff and support the center has reached a point where it is in less than perfect condition. While it may need lots of TLC the basic structures are solid. The shower house is temporarily out of service and meals have not been served on a regular basis in sometime.
Dock Hinman, the new director, and his wife Mary have stepped into the job and accepted the task of putting things back in order. I welcome them and pray my fellow truckers give them plenty of support and a hearty welcome also. To accomplish all that needs to be done will require lots of support. They need spiritual support, physical (labor) support as well as donations of time and finances. At this point the staff is a bit overwhelmed at the task before them. They are setting a plan in order to break the tasks down into manageable goals.
Truckers who have stopped at the Centre in the past are invited to stop in and see how things are going and to offer any kind of support they can. Even prayer support can help at this point as the leadership tries to reconnect with supporters from the past.
Plans are under way for a New Year’s Eve Bonfire and cook out. The goal is to start the New Year out, “On Fire for the Lord”. Truckers who come through the Centre can carry a message of faith and hope to return America to its roots in the Christian faith. There are plenty of limbs down all over the property due to recent wind storms. Truckers are invited to come in and help gather a pile of wood for the bonfire. They can then share the message that the Centre is back and ready for fellowship. With New Year’s Eve falling on a Tuesday this year many drivers may be on the road. If you are on the road or live near the Centre we invite you to join in.
I spent a couple days at the Centre last week and a couple days this week. Hopefully I will be spending a couple days per week at the Centre for some time to come. At my age I am not much physical help, but I try to do what I can to support it. I had a heart attack ten years ago and had not been involved in trucking during that time, but I just received and enormous blessing and am now able to afford to get involved in the activities.
Before I had to quit trucking the center had a fairly large staff and provided meals and showers anytime of the day. They also provided fellowship and a place for truckers to get together build friendships based on a mutual belief in God.
Dock certainly did not take the job for its financial benefits. He did it because he believes in the need for the Centre and its mission of sharing the Gospel with drivers and the local community. He said it is unlike any job he has pursued in the past and has required him to step out in faith. He said as he has done so, he has seen needs answered. He also said it has reinforced his faith and belief. He is sure he will accomplish what he feels he has been called to do.
Dock was a trucker himself for many years. His association with ACT goes back many years. He often stopped at the Petro in Milton, PA and played his guitar at services in the chapel. His home was in Fargo, ND. He spent about nine years in the service and many years overseas, several years of it in Germany. Our paths crossed many times over the years but we never really met that we can establish where we may have met.
The Centre is also looking for three trailers to put out as billboards for the Centre. The goal is to put one at the Centre facing the highway and the other two a few miles east and west. Drivers will be reminded when they are in the area that they are near the Centre. I would like to see billboards all over the country that not only spread the message of Jesus, but let people know the where the Centre is.
You are invited to read this and share it with your fellow truckers. It is not a long time till New Year’s Eve, but we have time to get the message out. If you stop at the Centre say hi to Dock and ask him to let Turtle know the message is getting out. Thanks for reading.
Saturday, December 7, 2013
My Scrooged Birthday
Two months ago today I was notified that I had received my Agent Orange Compensation. I got two years back pay and would receive a check for the rest of my days. The last two months have been a roller coaster ride. Over the course of my life I had heard that old saying you get lucky before you die. Well having technically been dead almost ten years ago that phrase has really struck a cord with me. The 22nd of January next year will be the 10th anniversary of my heart attack. Today is my 67th birthday, but technically I will not be 67 till 11:58 PM as that is when I was born. In fact it was the last time I was early for about anything in my life. They already had my birth certificate made out for the 8th. They crossed it out and changed it to the 7th. This has always made me curious. My father liked to say he was born on the day the war ended and I was born on the day it started. That never bothered me till I got older and started studying the Bible. Then I started seeing it in many things. Even in the order of the books of the Bible. After the Gospels the books were written by Paul, but they are the first books of the New Testament. They are followed by the smaller and more personal books of the disciples who were the first to walk with Christ.
This would not have been so ironic to me if just in the last two years I also had found out I am not at all who I thought I was, or am. I went to the family cemetery. While at the cemetery I discovered several things. One is that I am not of Irish decent, but of German decent. Up until around 1900 all the family headstones spelled the family name Ryon. Only the ones after 1900 spell it the way I have always been taught that it was spelled, which is Ryan. While my family did come to Indiana in 1845 they were members of the Church of the Brethren, which came from Germany to the new world. The fact still stands that my Great, Great, Great Grandfather was born in the United States and probably fought in the Revolutionary War. His wife was born in Pennsylvania. I believe he received a land grant in Ohio for his service in the Revolutionary War from President Thomas Jefferson in 1803. All this is trivia and means very little, but it means the history I thought I knew of my family was somewhat different that I was raised to believe.
The road to discovery was opened when I filed for my Social Security benefits and got my birth certificate from my home county. It seems they believe my middle name is spelled Frederick, but my father whom I was named after spelled his middle name Frederic, which is the French spelling. My grandparents on my mother's side were of French descent with the last name Ferree. When I bought matter to the clerks attention he said they were right and I was wrong. Even though all the records I have throughout my life have been spelled with the Frederic, without the k. To change it would be at my expense according to the clerk. Regardless of what it says on the birth certificate with my little tootsie prints on it and all my family albums that refer to me as Frederic.
Today has been a very strange birthday. I received more birthday congratulations than I ever have in my life. I spent several hours with my Twin Great Grand Daughters and their mother. She made me some home cooked oatmeal and raisin cookies, my favorites. The day started off with an ice and snow storm. Tonight on the way home I had one of those de-javu moments. At the grocery story I ran into the mechanic who worked on my truck at the last company I worked for. He also did work on my trucks after I became an owner/operator. I had not seen him since my heart attack ten years ago.
Shortly after we parted company I was driving home and because of the bad weather and roads I went via a four lane I would not normally take. The last time I did that was on my birthday fifteen years ago and I was supposed to be in Laredo on Monday and to do so I left in an ice storm. My whole family asked me not to, but I did, because if I didn't I could not be in Laredo on Monday. Long story short I laid my truck in a ditch and didn't get to Laredo.
I was eastbound on US 50 and making the turn onto US 41 south. I was told if I got to Decker, which was just ten miles south I would be out of the ice. That didn't happen as because of the ice my trailer decided it wanted to pass me. I managed to come to a stop with my trailer tandems on the shoulder. I thought I was okay but suddenly the embankment gave way and my tail end slid down into the ditch. Just as I had the thought I was going to eat a lot of crow my truck shook. Then it shook again. The load was shifting in the trailer. The shaking got worse and the back end started to go over. I was not moving and I was having a wreck in slow motion. The next thing that happened was my tractor was bulldogged over upside down on the embankment by my trailer. The flying tool boxes and three bags of tire chains I had on the passenger side floor board came flying at me. I was wedged under all that stuff and I could smell diesel. I suddenly realized I was upside down and the noise was my drive line running under not load. I reached up and turned off the lights and engine. After I got oriented I climbed out the passenger door which was now the top and climbed across the tank and down the belly of the truck using the frame rails and drive shaft for steps. When I got to the ground I tried to move to the high side of the curve. I finally managed to do so after crawling on my hands and knees. It was almost an hour before a vehicle showed up. When the sheriff did show up I was almost frozen. Emergency crews showed up and could do virtually nothing as they could not move. One of the firefighters tried to get down to my cab and ended up sliding into the ditch that I had crawled up out of. After several attempts he listened to me and crawled on his hands and knees to the high side just as I had. The state crew finally showed up with a salt truck and had to move around the curve backwards salting his path as he went. That was about fifteen years ago this very evening.
Some people asked me if I regretted making the decision I did as I could have been killed. I have pondered it many times over the years and I still feel I did what I had to do to do my job. Sometimes we make decisions and things go wrong As long as we are doing what we feel we were called to do then we should not have any regrets. As I said this has been a de-javu evening and I have had a lot of things happen in the last couple months and some people have questioned my judgment. All I can say to them is that I have always done what I thought was right at the time during the course of my life and I have no regrets. Some of those decisions were not the best in hindsight, but I will accept what comes from them. They were my decisions right or wrong.
Earlier this week I was at the Association of Christian Truckers Centre in Brownstown, IL at exit 68 off of I-70 and several of us were having a discussion of what we wanted for Christmas if we could get anything we wanted. There were several neat answers, but mine got me some looks. I told them I would like to see my youngest daughter Glenda. She passed away in August 2010 just a few days before her 33rd birthday. I know to see her would come with a price, but I am and would be willing to pay it to see her.
I was looking for a sign that she was with us on Thanksgiving this year. The first year after she passed away I bought her small forsythia tree to our house and as the weather cooled we put it in the kitchen. All the leaves fell off and new ones started growing. On Thanksgiving Day it bloomed with one flower. Each year has had its little token, This year for some reason the squirrels in our yard attacked the tree and ate off all the bark. I was deeply upset about it, but was sure some other sign would come.
Well everybody was late for dinner. My daughter who used to be late all the time, but had overcome the habit, had a relapse. My oldest daughter showed up earlier than her sister. As my oldest she was always the last to arrive on most occasions I considered that my sign. I thought it was funny but some people didn't. Later that evening my oldest daughter went home and for some reason had to go to the store and get something. She is definitely not the type to do a Black Friday sale. When she got in the check out line she found herself behind Glenda's twin sons. We had not seen them in the three years since their mother went home to be with the Lord. Their father would not let us see them. My daughter called me and told me she had the real sign and I agree with her.
Well I am now officially sixty-seven and so I can bring this to a close. There is no reason to believe I will pass away soon, but I wanted to share this story while I could. It may inspire someone else. Just as the butterflies that landed on my wife and I shortly after Glenda passed gave us peace. The blessing I have just received may be the lucky thing or it just may be the blessing it seems to be. It may give me the opportunity to go back out on the road and share in fellowship with Christian Truckers, just as I did for the years I was working.
The point of this whole story is that there are many things we do based on what we believe. The truth however may be a totally different from what we believe. We have to live our lives based on the facts and the truths we do know. As long as we can stand before God and be comfortable that we have walked our lives in accordance with His Word, we owe no one an apology. The only one who can judge whether we have made the right decisions, knows all the facts. He is a just God and I have come up short many times in my life, but I trust in His Mercy and His Grace. Nothing I have done, or ever will. will get me to where I want to go. I will get there only by the sacrifice on his behalf for me. That is the truth that will take us home.