Trials and Blessings

canoe two men, morning

A few weeks ago I took my grandson canoeing and fishing on a secluded lake. It was fun.  However, we did not catch a fish. We didn’t even get a nibble. I reminded him of the old saying, “A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.”

Later we came across another fisherman. When asked if he had any luck, he answered that he had only caught one small bluegill. He added, “You know, a bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.”

It seems that every fisherman knows that phrase.

Life is a combination of trials and blessings. We don’t always catch the fish, get the promotion, or get everything we want at Christmas, etc. Yet, God brings us many blessing if we take the time to notice. We have life. We have hope–even hope of eternity. Children laughing, sunshine, birds singing, the capacity for love are all blessings we sometimes take for granted.

Catching fish is fine, but it does not compare with spending time with my grandson. That’s priceless. That’s a blessing.

Have you noticed a blessing today you didn’t think of before?

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above…” James 1:17 (ESV)


Dangerous Animals


A few times I have encountered animals in the wild that are potentially dangerous. It’s exciting. It makes the wilderness more intriguing to know that there are still scary creatures as our pioneer ancestors faced…as long as we are really safe.

I just missed stepping on a copperhead snake one time in a local state part. Another time, my little daughter and I were watching loons on a wilderness lake when she said, “I hope we see a bear, Dad.” I hoped we wouldn’t. However, we did see one cross the road when we were safely encased in our car, making us both happy.

I once took two of my nephews camping at Isle Royal National Park, a beautiful island in Lake Superior.  While hiking, we saw a magnificent bull moose in a pond along the trail. We watched, mesmerized, as this thousand + pound creature dredged up aquatic plants from the water. Raising his massive rack of antlers, dripping water by the bucket full, he glanced our way.

Suddenly, he decided to go somewhere else and marched up the bank in our direction. (Where does a 1,000 pound bull moose walk? Anywhere he wants too.)

I stepped behind a tree, as I thought I had instructed the boys to do. Moose have poor eyesight and will usually walk on by if you are fairly well hidden and don’t move. When I looked around tree, to my horror, the boys were standing out in the open gazing in amazement as the huge beast walked right by them!

Fortunately, during the summer before the rutting season, moose are pretty easygoing. The animal paid them no attention as he walked on.

The point is that one needs to be alert and take precautions when in wild country. Animals usually don’t plan on attacking people. (Except cougars and grizzly bears) They just react to what they perceive as threats as they too live among dangerous animals that would attack them or their young. Unlike some humans that specifically plan robbery, murder, and terrorism. Throw in a few politicians.

There is a threat, however, that is so quiet, sly, and insidious that it attacks us before we realize it. It is all around us. It has destroyed men, women, kids and whole families. It is temptation.

Jesus warned us about it often in the Bible, not to spoil our fun or freedom but to save our lives. At first temptation to do wrong may look attractive and the danger is alluring, when we assume we can control it. One experiment with illegal drugs, a brief, or one time affair, a quick look at pornography may not seem too dangerous. Add prejudice, judging others, hatred, gossip… the list goes on and on. It’s like the light touch of a fly’s wing against the spider’s web.

The way of dealing with dangerous animals in the wild also applies to dealing with temptation in our daily lives. Don’t get close, move away, and when necessary…Run!

“Do not let your heart turn to her (temptation’s) ways or stray into her paths. Many are the victims she has brought down, her slain are a mighty throng. (Proverbs 7:25-26)





Blessings Cloaked in Frustrations

autumn lake

It was a beautiful day for an adventure as I drove my wife and daughter to a lake for a picnic. No need to hurry, this was a day for relaxing. Therefore, I chose a road through the country instead of the busy interstate around Indianapolis.

There was just one problem. Being a warm September, it was primetime for road repairs and construction around the state. Before long, we ran into a detour. Soon after we got off that one, there was another that took us toward the capital city.

We saw a lot of country we never expected to see. Finally, we drove onto I-65 to finish the last leg of our trip. Sure enough, as you might have guessed, there was more road work that brought us and our fellow travelers to a slow, frustrating crawl.

So, we were clever on our return home. We took a totally different route through the country.

Two more detours!!!

One sent us almost all the way back to Indianapolis. It seemed that the powers that be decided to repair all the roads in Indiana at the same time.

So, what is the message in this story? Just this. The time we spent at the lake was worth the frustration. We had a pleasant lunch beside the water. Later, my wife sat in the car with the windows open to the breeze, working in one of her word search books, a relaxing activity she especially enjoys. My daughter and I went canoeing. For us two this was special, bringing back fond memories of earlier days.

The moment the we pushed the canoe into the lake and felt it glide across the water, we were in a different world. No cars, no TV’s, only birds for background music. Each unhurried stroke of the paddle sent us moving smoothly along. There was a kind of peace in the movement. Tensions eased.

Along the shore and up into the surrounding hills, the trees started donning their colorful autumn attire. A cerulean blue sky held cottony wisps of clouds. I felt myself breath deeper. I could tell that my daughter shared those same relaxed feelings.

Sometimes we get so focused on the frustrations, we overlook the blessings. Let’s keep an eye out for the blessings.

“The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul …” (Psalms 23:1-2).



Resting Places

Sometimes we all need to find a special place to get away. Life is busy and often stressful. I have a few places that provide times of rest for body, mind and soul. A couple of them I shared with a friend last week.

Les is a pastor who is a fulltime chaplain for Hospice. He has a gift for comforting those who are dying or grieving. It’s demanding work, though, that includes being on call twenty-four hours a day.

He had two days off, and I shared some special places with him. We first drove to Starve Hollow State Recreation Area. It has a small, pretty lake nestled down among the hills of Southern Indiana. We walked among towering trees, with the light filtering down, cathedral-like, through the leaves. We ate lunch by the lake and watched the sunlight sparkle on the water.

Later, we drove up a hill in another little-known park (mountain, this flatlander would call it) where we could look out over miles upon miles of pristine farmland.

We stayed the night in a comfortable cabin at Turkey Run State Park. After a hearty breakfast in the park’s inn, we drove on to Shades State Park where we hiked the trail to a nature preserve. After crossing a natural rock bridge between two ravines, we rested beside a crystal clear stream, trickling over a bed of smooth stones below a limestone cliff.

We talked little, listening instead, to the music of the stream, birds and soft breezes. It was a joy to see the man smile with a look of peaceful relaxation. For a moment, the troubles and responsibilities of the world were far away from this secluded place of natural sights and sounds.

Maybe we should not feel guilty or too busy to occasionally go away to a place of peaceful rest. Jesus didn’t. After being surrounded by thousands of desperate people daily, he would sometimes get away in a boat on the Sea of Galilee, or up to a quiet, secluded place in the mountains for a time of rest and prayer. He even recommended it to his apostles, and thereby to us.

“He said to them, ‘come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a little while.'” Mark 6:31 (AMP)



A Resting Place

One day my granddaughter came to me and said, “I think you need a time away. I found some money, and I want you to get away somewhere by yourself.” She was right. It had been a stressful summer, and a break sounded good. Actually, the money she found was change I had been throwing into a pot to save for one of those times that it might be needed.

My wife agreed. So, when counted, the money came to enough to rent one night in a rustic two-room cabin on Starve Hollow Lake. It is a small secluded lake nestled at the foot of scenic hills about seventy miles south of us.

I found it to  be a special place. Without phones, TV’s or road noise, I was entertained by bird songs, the peaceful sight of water rippled by the breeze and the feeling of being hidden from the intrusion of humanity in general. I could watch the action of ducks, geese and an eagle crossing the sky.

Later, after finishing my dinner (supper, folks around Chainy-Lakes say) of roasted hotdogs and beans, I watched the golden flames of the campfire. The dancing light stirred dreams and memories of good times past and plans to come.

I snuggled in to my sleeping bag under an open window to the sounds crickets chirping and frogs singing their own guttural songs. Once I awoke in the night, but the moon beckoned me out to view its shimmering dance on the lake’s surface. A camp farther down the shore provided colorful Japanese lanterns as footlights to enhance the performance.

There is no sensation like rising in the chilled morning air to be warmed by a campfire and a cup of coffee as bacon and eggs sizzle over the flames. Some fishing, canoeing or just a hike through natural surroundings add to the peace of such get away time.

I need it once in a while. I think everyone does. It may be a hobby, a stroll, or sitting in a quiet library. It’s okay to take a break now and then. Jesus even recommended it to his disciples in the midst of their important work.

And he said to them, “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31).


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