A Look Back at 2016

Well, Christmas was a hot one in north Texas. We set a record high of 80 degrees. You can have your white Christmases. I’ve endured enough of them in my lifetime, thank you very much. Don’t feel too sorry for us. We did endure a couple of nights in the teens last weekend. I don’t know how cold they would have been if we had snow on the ground.

I finally strolled my neighborhood on Christmas Eve to look at the lights on display. There were a few good ones…too few. It didn’t help my mood when I realized I’m still at the same place I was a year ago. Bah Humbug ;-(

Now that Christmas is behind us we can look forward to the coming year. As tired as I feel from this December’s frantic driving schedule it doesn’t feel like much was accomplished in the past twelve months.

But then I looked at my calendar and realized some significant events did happen despite my sleeping through them.

No major deaths or losses occurred like the previous year, so that’s good news.

100 Prayers of a Writer became real in March. I wish I had a better handle on marketing it than I do, but I did sell some copies to family members, church friends and one at a book signing to a family I never met before in my life.

That book signing was a significant milestone as well. Every writer looks forward to the day they can do such a thing.  I have another one coming up in January at a coffee shop. I think that will go better.

I spent a good amount of energy getting three Christmas books published by October. Eek’s Gifts became available October 11th; The Extra Ordinary Christmas and Something’s Gotta Change were real on October 25th. Thanks to a marketing director dropping the ball near the end zone I still don’t have any copies of either book.

I painted more in 2016 than I did my entire life leading up to that year. That made the difference between me being able to pay my bills on time or living out of the back of Clifford, the big red van. I owe a yu-uge thank you to the apainter Paul for helping me out there.

Speaking of Clifford, he cost me quite a bit to keep on the road this year. I wish I could afford to replace him but that doesn’t look like a possibility anytime soon. He broke through the 200,000 mile milestone so I’m not complaining, just tired.

There are some things occurring behind the scenes that should make 2017 a much more successful year than 2016 was. I’ll keep the curtain closed on those for now. Prayer is greatly appreciated for such success to happen.

You know that verse that talks about pride going before a fall? Did you know that’s only half of that verse? The last half of that verse says a time of humbling comes before success.

From what I’ve endured these last few years I won’t be surprised if I’m considered some kind of overnight sensation soon.

If I didn’t know God is in control of everything happening I would have been too depressed to write a post this depressing. I’m sorry if you were looking for more humor from me today. This is all I could think of to write about when I sat down at my keyboard.

Babe Ruth held the record for strikeouts when he retired, too.

Keep smiling.   Wade

 

WE’RE DOOMED

Joshua waited for his spies to return from Ai. “So, what do you think? Can we take it?”

One of the men nodded. “Ai isn’t anywhere near as big as Jericho. We’ll only need two or three thousand men to wipe them out.”

Joshua nodded once. “Good. That’s what I was thinking, too. Choose three thousand of our best and get it done.”

********

A couple of hours later the men came running back to camp.

Joshua stood and waited for them to catch their breath. “What happened?’

The man in charge looked at Joshua. “I don’t know. We thought they were going to stay in their walls. When they came rushing out at us we panicked, I guess. As near as we can tell thirty six men died back there.”

Joshua tore his robe open. “No…we’re doomed.”

He walked into the tabernacle and fell before the ark. No words came so he just let the tears flow.

As the sun neared the horizon he poured out a prayer. “Why, Lord? Why did we cross the Jordan at all? We could have settled over there. There was plenty of land for us. Now the people here will band together and destroy us completely. What will You do for Your great name then, Lord?”

God’s voice was clear and loud. “What are you doing on your face, Joshua? The reason you failed is because I’m not fighting for you now. Someone took some stuff from Jericho. Everyone knew that was off limits. Assemble the tribes. I’ll let you know which tribe they’re in. Bring that tribe by household, then family, and then man by man. The man who took the accursed things must be burned with the items along with everything he has. Then I will restore My power to your efforts.”

Joshua did as commanded to discover Achan had a robe, gold and silver from Jericho hidden in his tent. Achan’s entire family was burned and covered in stones to erase any possibility of a recurring event.

Ai was then soundly defeated. Further conquests began with council with God to ensure victory.

****************

I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it here. I’m sure glad I live on this side of the cross of Jesus. God’s grace is much better to live with than His justice.

Joshua didn’t have that luxury. He lived with a simple formula to live by: obey God and receive His blessings, disobey God and receive His wrath.

Achan thought one person taking some of Jericho’s spoils wouldn’t effect anybody. After they conquer the land he’d be able to enjoy this stuff and probably help his family move ahead quickly because of the wealth they’d start out with.

He forgot one extremely important thing about God. You can’t hide anything from Him. God sees every hidden item and knows every secret you have.

Now I have to ask: are you trying to hide anything from God?

Notice I said “trying” to hide. People can be fooled. They only see things with their eyes.

God is omnipresent. He’s everywhere. You can’t hide anything…and I mean anything, from Him.

Those emotions you’re holding back, God knows all about them. He’s waiting for you to tell Him about them. Find a secluded place if you need to and let it out in prayer. I don’t mean a simple, quiet prayer you say before a meal.

I’m talking about a scream at God as if He was standing right in front of you type of prayer. He’s your loving heavenly Father. He can take it. He’ll still love you with His unconditional love only a true father can give.

This may mean sending everybody away so you have the house to yourself or going for a long drive alone. Whatever it takes…do it so you can move away from it now.

You may have to dig deep into a closet and throw some items away that are keeping you stuck to a past event, relationship or habit.

The best way to move forward is to remove everything that entangles you and keeps you from moving ahead.

You can’t take any items with you when you die. Don’t let them kill you now.

Achan took only a few items. Those things cost 36 fighting men and his entire household their lives.

I don’t expect you to be perfect, neither does God. I’m just using this moment to get you do look deep inside to discover what’s holding you back.

You do want to live your life more like Jesus. Don’t you?

He didn’t have any closets. He didn’t even have a house or apartment to hide anything in because He never had anything to hide.

Time talking to God was such a priority to Him He missed out on sleep to gain as many minutes with His heavenly Father as He could.

He wrote the Bible so spending time reading it wasn’t necessary for Him. We need to spend as much quality time in the Bible as we can fit in.

Prayer is our chance to talk with God. Reading the Bible is God’s main means of communicating with us.

I don’t mean a quick scan by reading the entire book in a year. I’ve done that in the past and found it lacking in really hearing God speak to me. It was good at developing the discipline of setting aside daily time to concentrate on something related to my relationship with God, but that was the most I got out of it.

Read a section until something catches your attention. Then re-read it while asking questions that come to your mind. Savor it like you enjoy a good meal.

A spiritual meal is exactly what you’re getting.

God is feeding your soul while drawing you closer to Him.

One of the lessons Joshua learned about Ai was in contacting God before the battle.

If he had than he would have discovered the transgression sooner.

Victory only came after the sin was dealt with.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

Do I See What You See?

I’ve been doing a lot of traveling lately. I’m been all over Texas…from Houston to San Antonio to El Paso to Amarillo to Wichita Falls and all over the Dallas area this month. Outside of Texas I’ve been to Oklahoma City, OK, Memphis, TN, and Shreveport, LA multiple times.

When a truck driver does that type of delivering there are two options for sleeping away from home. You either konk out in the back of the truck if it has a bed or you luck out and the company pays for a motel room.

I’ve been fortunate enough to fall in the second camp of camping in a well-equipped, climate-controlled setting.

The last motel room I was in had an interesting phenomenon in it. Each wall had the same picture on it whether I wanted to look at it or not.

It’s not that I was unfamiliar to this picture. I see it often, whether I want to or not.

I think one of the reasons the picture was tiring was because it looked tired, at least the subject matter did.

The glossy surface of the portrait made me a bit suspicious as to the motive of the motel personnel who decided on this motif.

I guess they didn’t want anyone leaving their establishment with the excuse that they didn’t know they had something stuck between their teeth.

Yeah, I was getting paranoid from all of the mirrors on every wall I looked at.

I understand the one in the bathroom over the sink. I fully expect one there. But do I need to look at my reflection while I’m working on something at the desk? And I absolutely don’t appreciate seeing myself sitting on the toilet when I close that door. Let’s get real here.

It got me to thinking about how often folks don’t really want to look at who they really are.

I’m not talking about their outward appearance. Anybody can change that easily enough.

I’m thinking about soul searching deep inside. How often do people do that investigation?

When did you last perform such introspection?

While driving these long distances I’ve had a lot of time to think about many things. Prayers frequently follow my thoughts whether it’s about me or someone else on my mind.

James 1:19-27 is a section of scripture that holds a lot of insight in it. Central to James’s theme is this thought of looking intently into a mirror and deciding what to do about what you see, if anything.

I pity people who don’t change after they’re shown something in the Bible about how we’re supposed to live.

I’ve never been a big fan of new year’s resolutions. I prefer to make changes as soon as I’m made aware of them.

The problem with most folks is they’re too caught up with living to actually live.

Their lives are too busy to step back to analyse anything for long.

Make the most of your reflection time. If you haven’t had any lately then set some time aside soon.

The new year is right around the corner. Now would be a great time to decide what you want to change so your life pleases God the Father.

All those mirrors in my room apparently did little to improve my appearance that day. The last thing the guy behind the check out desk did was point out where they had some coffee I could drink before I hit the road.

When you’re suffering through a cold good sleep can be so elusive. Don’t let God’s design for your life elude you as you decide what changes you need to make.

Keep smiling.   Wade

Normal for me is spelled Frustrating Chaos

For anybody who missed me, or this blog post anywho, this past Monday I have an extremely good reason for being AWOL. My computer/internet router/modem gave up the ghost at an extremely awkward moment.

Let’s back up to last Thursday evening. I received an email from The Upper Room devotional folks about one of the submissions I sent to them about a month ago. They said it needed a better takeaway for them to publish it and pay me $30 for it.

Thursday evening I finally had some free time from driving all over Texas that week for work. I had an idea for yet another devotional I thought they might like so I wrote that one out and submitted it via their online form.

Then I went back and wrote three sentences to close out that other devo they were interested in. About half way through that process the electricity went out in my apartment building. At least I think it went out in the whole building.

My apartment was dark but the other buildings I can see from my windows were still lit up. The battery on my computer kept me in business so I kept completing the form while I anticipated the juice would flow yet again to my home base.

The good news is my lights came back on about a half hour after they went out. The bad news is my router never regained consciousness. That meant I was without internet access to send that devo to the nice folks in the upper room. No not the room over my apartment. I could have walked it up there.

No problem, I thinks, I’m scheduled to drive to El Paso tomorrow. I’ll simply take my computer and send it from my motel room.

I made sure I asked if there was a password to access the internet before I left the front desk.

“Nope. Just click on our logo.” The kindly fellow stated assuredly. He obviously had no clue who he was speaking to. Bank computers shut off when I walk near them to get change made.

Sure enough, I tried everything I could think of to get that useless internet thingy to work on my computer to no avail. So I called the front desk and explained my dilemma.

Next thing I know I’m talking to some geek in their technical support department. 46 minutes later I discover I have too many IP numbers within my computer to be of much help to a nice enough geek.

He promises me that if I wait 5-10 minutes I’ll be able to hook up to the internet. Finally something went right for me. I was back in the 21st century and sent my devo submission back to TUR (The Upper Room).

By then I was more than ready to become unconscious myself. So I did just that after a shower that worked just fine for me.

I think somebody must really need the message from that devo about being used by God no matter what your background is. A few days later they sent me an email that said they like it and will let me know when they’ll use it. Perhaps if they read my blog they’ll know what I went through with it and post it post-haste.

In the meantime I found a phone number for the internet company I pay my bills to. I found myself back in El Paso Monday afternoon explaining my dilemma to them.

Their first question to me was, “Is the switch turned on?”

I only thought about throwing my phone across the motel room. I assured them I turned it off and on several times from different outlets with the same dark results.

They eventually agreed to ship me a new router to replace my dead one I used for over eight years.

Fast forward to this week Thursday (yesterday). I’m actually eating supper in my apartment for a very rare instance. I hear some rustling near my front door that included what could have been one knock, then silence.

I heard someone walk up the stairs to that upper room so I peeked out my peep hole. A shadowy figure raced by toward the front of the building followed by the unmistakable sound of a diesel engine starting up and racing away.

I opened my door to find a box there that hadn’t been there before. I was barely home a few minutes so I knew it wasn’t there very long. I can deduce some things fairly quickly after I’ve eaten half of my supper.

My brand spanking new router made it home while I was actually there. Which was good since I don’t know how long it would have stayed there all by itself.

After I finished my meal I decided to see if I could set it up all by my lonesome without calling some geek somewhere.

Two passwords and about a half dozen failed attempts later I tracked down a phone number that came with the packaging.

I don’t know what possessed me but I decided to try one last time to connect to the internet by the only means I thought possible. It must have been the Holy Spirit within me because the computer actually worked like it is designed to function. Glory Hallelujah!!!

Now to take advantage of an extremely rare Friday off to catch up on some computer related items before I drive again on Saturday.

Now I’m wondering what the chances are that my Christmas books will actually get printed and shipped to me before Christmas. That’s probably too many miracles to expect for one Christmas season.

At least I know God is still in control. Whether I’m home to see it or not.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

Dumb They Called Me

It’s time for my annual spoof of a classic Christmas song. This year The Little Drummer Boy gets a make over.

Don’t expect much humor this go-round. A spiritual contrast is more the order of business this year.

Feel free to share this with anyone you think will benefit from the message conveyed here.

I wish you and yours a very merry Christmas.

I’ll see you later.   Wade