Conversations with God on the go

August 22, 2014

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The “Fort” is coming along nicely…

Camaro (Chris') and mine 04-22-14A few months back I wrote about how I never got around to building the fort for my son as he was growing up. I always had this grand idea of having a fort built for him or a tree house. Something special just for him. But the years raced by and my son is now 26 years old. After his car started falling apart he sold it while it still ran for a low price. Faced with only the money from the car he began a search for something different to drive. He settled on a black 1986 Camaro that had been sitting for about ten years. The memories of the fort that was never built came rushing back to me when he said “Dad, why don’t you find an old Camaro as well and we can work on them together and maybe even get them in car shows”.

I wasn’t going to let my chance at building that “fort” get away from me this time. I began the search and found a 1984 Camaro for sale for $500. Those cars have now become our “fort”. We have gone to the junk yards together on a search for parts. We’ve washed them together, waxed them together and taken them to car shows together. Neither one of the cars is of car show quality but the local car club encouraged us to join and we did and neither of us regrets making that decision. We dream together about how they could look if we had the funds to do what we wanted with them.

Tonight the local Sonic had what is known as a cruise-in. This is when the collectors of old cars bring them out to a designated location and we all sit around and talk about cars or whatever and have something to eat. We look at each others cars and admire the paint and the chrome and the skinned knuckles it took to get them where they are. Chris and I do not have the fancy paint or the Chrome or the flawless interiors. At least not yet. But we have managed to take two old vehicles and in a matter of a few months we got them from not running to running and being able to cruise on down the road with them.

If you missed that chance to build the fort with your kids when they were young do not be dismayed. If you have lost that special connection with your son or daughter and you are wondering how to get it back, look into something that interests them and make it a new adventure for yourself. I’ve discovered that it is never too late to build the “fort”

April 10, 2014

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It’s never too late for the “fort”

When my son was a little boy I dreamed of all the things I would do with him. Things that my dad had never done with me all that much. I’d take him fishing and hunting and to sports events. The problem was that no one had ever taken me fishing and I never learned to fish. Yes, there are men like me who missed that opportunity to learn to fish and enjoy it. I never went hunting either. To this day I have never gone on a hunt. I’m okay with that. I’m not athletic and was never involved in any sports teams. But I wasn’t going to let that stop me.

I did take my son fishing a couple of times. Only a couple of times. He got very bored when there wasn’t a nibble. We never tried hunting. He never had an interest in sports. I guess he was like me in that regard…not very athletic. He played soccer a few seasons. I was at every practice and game. He spent more time looking up at the cloud formations than he did paying attention to the game. It was obvious that he had zero interest in sports. I was okay with that.

Then I read a book titled “Build the Fort Today”. It was about not putting off those fun things that little boys love such as having a fort to play in. I promised myself I would build the fort. I am not sure I can pinpoint the exact reason why but the fort never did get built. We have a lot of great memories of things we did together and I don’t think he harbors any ill feelings because he didn’t have a fort. But it has nagged at me through the years that I never built the fort.

My son is now 25 and still lives at home. A friend stopped by with his modified truck and talked about putting it in a local car show. My son voiced an interest in going to the show so I found all the details on it and we went together. Our friend won an award with his truck. A week or so later I heard of another car show and told my son about it. Chris and I went to the show together and had a good time looking at dream cars. Neither one of us have any mechanical skill but both of us share a dream of wanting to have a show car. Chris had sold his Ford and we had been scanning the ads for something cheap that he could pick up as he searched for another job. He asked what the chance was of finding an old car that could be fixed up and put in a car show. We had a very low budget so I knew we’d be looking at a fixer upper. I found an old El Camino in the right price bracket but it needed major engine work. We would both scan the ads for old cars that worked but needed a lot of TLC. Then we found an 86 Camaro. It had been sitting for years not being used and the owner now decided to sell it. It was in Chris’ price range and he bought it. We have worked on it together replacing worn out parts and getting it ready for the road and eventually it will be in car shows.

The car has become our “fort”. It came to me earlier today that we might have never built the fort together but we’re building some fun memories working on this old Camaro together. Chris has now suggested that I also find an old Camaro and we do some father-son entries into the local car shows. Wow…this is like putting an addition on the “fort”. I’m not going to let this opportunity escape me. We put up a car port the other day which his Camaro now sits under. I still wish I had built the fort when he was little but I now realize that all these years later I have found a good substitute for he fort. We have discovered an interest that we both enjoy. Like I said, neither one of us know anything about mechanics…but we are learning…at the same pace…but digging in and reading, studying and working on the car as much as we can. And, who knows…maybe I’ll find that old classic that needs fixing as well and you’ll see us both at the shows.

 

February 13, 2014

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The unexpected message can make a big difference

14-year old William Hart of Illinois stepped outside his comfort zone. His mom, Sharon, was in the hospital receiving her chemotherapy treatment. William decided to do something special for his mom to make her feel better. He had been in that room with her before and he knew that when you looked out the window you were gazing at the top of the parking garage.

God provided the snow. William provided the labor…a labor of love. He went up to the parking garage and began the job of stomping down the snow until he had formed the letters “Hi Mom” in the snow. The “o” in Mom was a smiley face. William told the Chicago Tribune, “I wanted to send her the message because I thought it would brighten her spirits and help her get through this. I would love for her to be happy. This has been rough. I’ve been praying a lot and trying to not think about what’s going on so I can do good in school.” When Sharon looked out the window a big smile came to her face.

After he left the message he began to think about all the other patients in the hospital who are also being treated for cancer. He and his father went back to the garage and added a few more words in the snow “God bless you”.  It brought more smiles from everyone on that side of the hospital. Doctors and nurses saw it and took pictures and posted them on the internet and Williams simple but heartfelt message went viral. Sharon said this was unusual for William to do something like this but she said he does have a big heart. “I’m glad so many people got to see the message and that it touched so many. It shows how big God is.”

William is not the only one who has used the snow to warm some hearts. At St. Cloud Hospital in Minneapolis patients can look out the window toward the Mississippi River and see the words “love” and “Believe” stomped out in the snow. A man and a woman have been seen leaving the messages but no one knows who they are. Each time there is fresh snow there is a new message.

It’s so simple. A couple of words stomped in the snow that have a huge impact on those who look down only to have their spirits lifted up. Words of hope. Words of encouragement. What words have you shared today?

December 20, 2013

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God’s surprises with the goodness in the world

lbIt was about 11:15 pm and I was doing my final check of the night on doors and making sure lights were off when I noticed headlights at the foot of the driveway outside the gate. It’s about 30 or 40 yards to where the car was sitting and in the dark I couldn’t make out who it was. Thoughts went through my head on it being a very late unannounced visitor. Perhaps it was a friend of of one of my daughters even though we had told them not to make late night visits when both girls had to get up early the next day for work. As I drew closer I could see the outline of a man in the headlights of the car holding something in his hands. For some reason in the dark I could also see a big smile on his face.

“Pizza delivery” he said with that big smile on his face. I recognized him as the man who had run out of gas in front of my home at about midnight a couple of nights before this. On that night I was also checking doors and lights before turning in for the night when I heard voices out in the road. I walked out there to see what it was and called out “does anyone out there need help?” A man had answered that he and his friend had run out of gas with their truck and they had tried calling another friend to come and help them “but he’s not answering his cellphone”.

I told them I would check my gas can back near my mower to see if I had anything in it and I’d be right back. I also grabbed the car and drove the little amount of gas I had in the can out to where they were. I figured if the one gallon I had left in the can wasn’t enough, I’d drive them to a gas station to get more. “Here, take everything in the can and see if it will get you started.” They were both very appreciative of my meager gift.

This man who I had helped now stood before me smiling. “I have two fresh made hot pizza’s and some bread sticks and here is a bag of candy. It’s a thank you for helping us out the other night.”  It turns out that the man delivers pizza for one of the local pizza restaurants. He had just gotten off work. He apologized for it being so late. I had no problem with the hour and was greatly thankful for the generous gift.

God has a way of surprising us when we least expect it. There are good people in the world. I’m sure they each have interesting stories to share as well. Look for a way to be a blessing to someone today. Make them smile. It will make you feel good.

December 19, 2013

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Religious liberty and free speech…oh, really?

lbPhil Robertson has been done wrong and we all need to be concerned about it. For those of you who don’t know, Phil is the Patriarch of the Robertson clan who many have come to know through the hit TV show “Duck Dynasty”. Phil is very open about his Christian faith and the show always concludes with a prayer in the name of Jesus. A few months back the big wheels at A&E network that airs the show tried to get the Robertson’s to drop praying “in the name of Jesus”. The Robertson’s would not hear of it. Applause.

Now, in the latest assault on Christianity as well as religious liberty and freedom of speech, Phil has been suspended indefinitely from the show because he voiced his personal Christian views on homosexuality being a sin in an interview with GQ magazine. Since when can you lose your job because you voiced your personal beliefs in a society that us supposedly protected by a constitution that guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of religion?

Whether you agree or disagree with Phil, he has the right to say anything he wants. If people don’t like the bible preached and prayers said on the program, they can change the channel or not watch. No one is forced to watch or like the Robertson’s. But, it is totally wrong for the A&E network to suspend Phil from his job just because his opinions and beliefs do not mirror theirs.

The backlash against A&E has been very strong and is growing. I love it. I doubt they knew that their action would draw this much attention and people seeking what God’s Word has to say about homosexuality. I doubt they knew that their action would run red flags up the pole when it comes to infringements on our personal liberties. We as Christians should not tolerate this assault on Christianity, religious liberty and freedom of speech. It’s not about Phil. It’s about our freedoms being stripped away from us. Let your voice be heard!

December 12, 2013

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A life we can’t imagine

Life in some Mexican communities can be harsher than anything you could imagine in the United States. 35-year old Carlos Gutierrez knows it all too well. Two years ago Carlos owned a food and beverage company in Chihuahua City. But gangs in the city force businessmen to pay them or face the consequences. When Carlos could no longer pay the thousands of dollars in extortion money, the criminals tortured him and cut off the lower part of his legs. He had no plans to leave his country but he could no longer survive the violence he faced daily. 

Carlos somehow survived the attack and was able to flee to El Paso. He lived there with his mutilation and sought asylum. He became part of a growing number of Mexicans who have run from the violence to seek asylum in the United States. Most are denied. But God can stir the hearts of others to help a person in need.

It was right around Thanksgiving in 2011 when Eddie Zepeda was at an outlet mall with his wife and children. He spotted the legless Carlos in a wheelchair and his heart was moved. Eddie is certified to fit and design artificial limbs. There is no such thing as coincidence…this chance meeting had the fingerprints of God written all over it. Eddie helped Carlos get a set of artificial legs and then he helped design a lighter pair of legs that Carlos will use on a 701-mile bike trip from El Paso to Austin to draw attention to the plight of crime victims who have been forced to flee their country.  

Carlos calls Eddie his angel and the two have become close friends. Carlos said “It doesn’t matter how you fall…its how you get back up again.” And it was the hand of a total stranger reaching out to a person in need that allowed Carlos to stand again.  Carlos hopes his story of survival inspires others to not live with blinders on but to make a difference in the lives of others.