A Needed Storm

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It’s 4am and I was awakened from some much-needed sleep, by the approach of a mid-summer storm. I could feel the distant rumble of thunder, and the flashes of lightening in the dark sky drew me out of bed like a magnet. I flung open the windows of my house just in time to catch the sound of a million drops of rain hitting in the distance. A moment later I felt the wet, sweet, cool breeze these storms bring with them. It wondrously drifted through our house, and I filled my lungs with it’s delicate aroma. There is nothing quite like it to break the smothering grip of a sweltering July night.

I mention this because here in the Northeast we had a miserably cold, damp Spring. I came to identify it as a new season, “Sprinter”. That was followed by a direct flip in the weather, and overnight it became sunny, hot and dry. The change came so suddenly that people had little time to make the transition. In mid-May summer just arrived, and that was it. Today is the 17th of July and we have had blisteringly high temperatures in the 90’s for what seems to be weeks on end. Lawns are turning brown, my garden needs to be constantly watered, rivers are at all time lows, wells are running dry and air conditioners are nowhere to be found in local stores.

So, the coming of a rain-filled thunderstorm in the heat of a summer night is a welcomed release. The damp, cool air flowing over the sunbaked land, the sound of rain hitting the roof, splashing on the road and soaking into the dusty soil, means something. It means that a change is in the wind, and with that change comes the promise of days that are a little more balanced, a little easier on both the body and the electric bill. The point is, it takes a well-timed storm, with all it’s potential danger, to bring about the change that is needed at this moment.

Life as we know it is exactly the same way. We can get locked into a routine and begin to forget there is more to living than what we have been living with. We may have become comfortable with what is, and finally surrendered to something that is smothering us like a summer heat wave. And then it happens. A storm blows our way one dark night, and we are awakened from our slumber. We are brought back to reality, even fascinated by the approaching danger. It causes us to fling open the windows of our soul that have been closed for so long, and in the storm of uncertainty, we begin to come alive.

In the moment of an approaching life-storm, let the lightening and rain come. Enjoy the show in the dark of night, because in that storm you will feel a sweet, fresh breeze that clears the air. Every clap of thunder, and tear drop that falls, is setting you free to be yourself once again. These things are good because they are stripping away the fevered-heat of a life that has held you captive. Let the storm rage all around, and do not fear what it brings. With it comes some much-needed change, and when it’s time, it will pass and you will be free.

This is a needed storm so wake up oh sleeper and enjoy what has come your way. Let the rain fall, and the thunder roar in the night season. These have come to bring the fresh breath of moist, cool air that you have been waiting for. This is not the storm of your destruction. No… If you can embrace it, it is just a rugged moment of life-change for personal deliverance. So…why not sit back, fling wide the windows of your heart and enjoy the ride? When it’s over you will be a different person, one who finds new freedom in a landscape washed clean from the heated dusty days of the past. From this place you can find the balanced life you’ve always wanted, and most importantly, become the person you were always supposed to be.

The Wounded Walk

isWhen I was 19 years old I ran my parents marina at Meacham Lake Public Campsite in the Northern Adirondacks. That summer I was chopping wood with a single bit, 2 1/2 pound Collins axe, and being tired, I managed to miss my target. The axe head slammed squarely into the tibia of my right leg, splitting the bone lengthwise and producing a sliver of bone that jutted off to the right, under the skin. I went to Saranac Lake General hospital where they put me back together and spent the next 6 weeks recovering from that mishap. The wound forced me to adjust how I walked until the pain went away. The residual side effect is that my leg bone aches every time the weather changes, and that changes how I walk.

Fast forward 20 years. Now I have 3 wonderful sons, I am a permanently certified k-12 teacher in NY State, and an ordained minister who is living in a very difficult and rapidly disintegrating marriage. One hot July day I decided to clear my head and go fishing on one of my favorite trout streams. In my haste to get out of town, I put on leather sandles and soon discovered what a huge mistake that was. A mile or so up-stream I slipped, and the knuckle of my right big toe gets a compression fracture as the weight of my body wedges it between two slippery boulders in the stream bed. Over time it heals, leaving a calcium knot that hurts with every step I take. Once again, the wound forces me to adjust the way I walk  in order to avoid the pain produced with each step.

Fast forward another 20 years, and I am living in Johnstown, NY. I am married to my beautiful wife Esther, our 5 children are all married and happy, we have 10 grandchildren and we are pastoring the same church. I am retired from teaching, but I am still subbing in a local school system and loving every minute of it. This brings us to my current situation. May 16th I had a motorcycle accident, and yes once again there was trauma to my right leg. Several breaks to the same axe-chopped Tibia, and additional injury to the same compression-fractured toe knuckle. Once again I am in recovery, and dealing with pain. Once again I have to adjust my walk because of the wound I suffered. In fact, I am not just having to adjust my walk, this time I am having to learn how to walk all over again.

The point in all of this is that any wound we receive, especially those that are emotional, always impact us more deeply than we realize. The pain we internalize always forces us to adjust our life-walk in ways that may not be evident at first. We might just feel a dull ache when the emotional weather shifts, and we simply learn to embrace it as a normal part of life, but it is not normal. Other times, the trauma may be so painful, and so overwhelming, that we actually have to learn how to function in life all over again. The thing is, there is no shame or disgrace in being wounded. NO… that comes when we let the wound control us, and permanently allow it to change our walk because it is what we have settled for and chosen in life.

When my motorcycle accident happened, I could have stayed in that roadside ditch, bloodied and broken, and pushed away all who stopped to help. I could have just let traffic pass me by until I bled out and died. What I did do in all that pain and wreckage, was grab hold of everyone present and told them to call an ambulance, call my wife and call my son who lives near by. I got hold of my church members and asked them to pray, and they set up a support team to help me and my wife, when I could not help myself. They cooked meals, cleaned the house, mowed the lawn, weeded the garden, took me to doctors appointments and checked in on me in my broken condition. Only because of them will I have a 100% recovery.

You, my friend, are exactly the same. If wounding has changed your life-walk, it’s time to grab hold of the support system that is around you, and stop living like you are a victim. You are NOT a victim, you are simply wounded and need help to be restored to the full vigor God intended you to have. You must face the fact that there are some things you cannot fix on your own. You must reach out to God, and to those who are traveling the same road, and ask for help. Last of all, you must be patient, seek out and follow the advice of those who really know how to help you recover from your kind of injury.

Because of the physical therapy I am now going through, I know I will walk my trout streams in full strength again. My wife and I will fully do life together again. It is painful right now, but twice a week I still go for therapy. Why? Because the physical therapist knows exactly what I must do in order to get back on my feet, and live my life again. She is helping me do what I cannot do for myself. Without her help, a full recovery would be impossible. Like it or not, it is the same for you. Now is the time to get the help you need. Go find healing for your wounds, and learn to walk your life once again. Once you do, you will eventually get to the point where you can actually run the race that is set before you, and become the winner you were designed to be. Now go find the help you need, because it is time to get up out of that ditch!

The Simplified Life

At the bottom of Herrietstown Hill, about 5 miles outside of Saranac Lake, NY is a northern Adirondack landmark. It holds as much meaning to area residents as the view of Whiteface or Slide Mountain. This is a family owned dairy called Donnelly’s. I worked there for over a year starting in the summer of 1980. I drove a refrigerated milk truck, making 4:30am home and commercial deliveries to Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. In those days, eggs, bottled milk, bottled heavy cream, cheese, yogurt, butter and other dairy products were brought right to the door step. It was the last hold-over of the horse-drawn milk delivery of years gone by, and I was very happy to serve our local communities in this way.

The centerpiece of the entire Donnelly “empire” was not it’s dairy, or it’s delivery trucks. No, that distinction came from it’s ice cream stand that stood in front of the farm. This sold, and still sells, the unmatched glory of “Donnelly’s Soft Ice Cream”. People drive from miles around, and never mind standing in line, to taste the creamy delight that pours out of those ancient machines. There are other places to buy ice cream, but none is quite as rich as Donnelly’s, and everyone knows it. The picture above is the sign in their window. It reads; “We pick the flavor, you pick the size”. It offers a “flavor of the day”, picked by the Donnelly’s, that is twisted with vanilla and gives an invatation for the buyer to pick how much of it they want.

To those who live in a consumer driven, cater to the masses, Starbucks-mentality kind of world, this is totally foreign. However, this business is a true reflection of simple, life unchanged in the Adirondacks. Those of us who are blessed to have generational roots in this place, know the rugged simplicity, and unchanged purity of life in these mountains. We also know and appreciate, the value of a good product that has stood the test of time. When I was a kid, the old timers always said, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. In other words, if it works, then just leave it alone. Donnelly’s “flavor of the day” is a clear example of that ideology. It basically all boils down to this; “Here is today’s flavor. Buy any size you want or step out of the line… NEXT!”.

This brings home a basic reality; life has the potential to be quite simple at it’s core. We all tend to make it unnecessarily complex, and full of pointless emotional drama. Our selfish demands, the desire for unending entitlements, and the need to satisfy the uncontrolled want for more of what we really don’t need, fuels the fire of complexity. We serve ourelves first, instead of looking for ways to help others. We do help, as long as it benefits us, and when it becomes an inconvience, we tend to find another cause to “support”. Many now march in the cities demanding change. They fill the streets with hollow voices that have no power, and make no real, lasting difference. Why? Because, these marchers have never paid a price for anything. Everyone knows a soft life has been handed to them, and genuine hard work, or the struggle to better themselves, is not part of their personal history. They are pampered frauds, demanding more of the things they haven’t earned, and don’t deserve.

These are the affluent unhappy, the entitled unappreciative. They live at a higher standard than most of the world and somehow still feel neglected, unheard and emotionally fragile. They demand change but offer no honest solution to their self-imagined problems. They are offended and angry when things don’t go their way. They resort to name calling and emotionally charged rhetoric when confronted by real facts. Worst of all, they use any position of influence or notatriety to degrade, insult, challenge and defame anyone who disagree with them. Listen to any Hollywood award ceremony and you will get an ear full. These have made living so complex with issues, emotions, fake news and vulgar comments, that there is no longer an ability to recognize the simple truths of an honest, honorable life.

This is where Donnelly’s ice cream comes in like a soft, sweet spring rain. It cuts through the excess baggage, eliminates the unnecessary, endless choices, and offers an honest, simple taste of reality in an unrealistic, liberal, snowflake world. They dont caters to every whim. They are not obligated to make you feel happy. It’s your job to be happy with today’s offering, and you get to pick just how much happiness you want. You can have the flavor of the day twisted with vanilla. That’s it! Don’t like today’s flavor, today’s situation? No problem. Keep smiling and come back tomorrow and things will be different!

This is life in its purest form, and you get to live it just the way it is, rather than control and manipulate it to meet your every want and need. Welcome to real, unrefind life in the raw. It’s a pure, personal, self adjusting kind of life that brings everything into focus. It hands you what’s out there, and you have to grow up, deal with it and learn to appreciate it for what it is. No sugar coating or chocolate sprinkles. No special blends of crumbled cookies and candies of your own choosing. Nope.. It’s the real deal, and you can either eat the flavor of the day and enjoy it, or go away grumpy, without it.

This is life simplified to it’s basic form. You either enjoy it just the way it’s handed to you, or you can come back another day and try another flavor. And what if you don’t like vanilla twist? Such is life, and this is not the place for you. You don’t get special treatment, you don’t have it your way, and no one is going to accommodate your wish for something else. My father put it to me this way one day when I was complaining. He said “Bill, life is not fair so it’s time to grow up, stand up and make the best of what comes your way.” Perhaps that is the point in living a simplified life. You might want 50 flavors but life brings you to Donnelly’s. The thing is, how you respond in that moment is more important than the flavor being handed out that day. Get back to the basics. Who knows, you might capture the life you always wanted.

A Life Worth Living

Image may contain: motorcycle, tree and outdoorOn May 16th, my grandson and I were coming home from the Wheelerville School. I was the substitute teacher in his classroom that day, and the bonus for him was that he got to ride on the back of my Honda Shadow VT1100C. We left school and came down off of Clip Hill, heading for  home in Johnstown, NY. The rumble of my motorcycle on that beautiful spring day was accented by the warm, moist air rushing by us, and the brilliant sunshine that was pouring down from a deep blue sky. It was one of the most perfect Spring days I have experienced in my 48 years of riding motorcycles.

We were traveling at normal highway speed in a line of traffic, and at a safe distance from the vehicle ahead of us. As we approached the Sir William Johnson Fire House, which was just outside of town, something happened. At that moment, I glanced down at my odometer to check the mileage, and make a quick mental calculation on when to stop and refill my gas tank. My eyes were off the road for about three seconds, but when I looked back up, terror gripped my heart. The driver in front of me had decided to suddenly break and make quick left-hand turn at the very moment I had looked down. It was a perfect storm of chance events, and the results were not going to be good.

When I looked up at the road ahead I realized there was not enough space to stop my bike, or manuever around the stopped vehicle. I downshifted, hit both breaks and leaned the bike over trying to protect my grandson, while getting as much stopping power as I could before we hit the vehicle. We impacted it’s rear right bumper at about 25mph and my bike went down on the road while my grandson and I were catapulted into the air. He ended up with a few abrasions on his knees, and a scraped up faceplate on his helmet, but I did not fare as well. My right side bounced off the road, I slid along the tar and finally flopped into a muddy ditch 35 feet away. I had a few crack ribs, four breaks in my lower right leg, an open fracture, cracked bones in my right foot, strained tendons and ligaments in my right leg, and numerous cuts and abrasions all over my body.

Ambulances came to take us to a local hospital where my grandson was checked over and released with a few scrapes. I was rushed to Albany Medical Center where I underwent emergency surgery on my leg. After setting the broken bones, and two and a half hours on the operating table, I was brought back to my hospital room in pain, but happy to be alive. My leg now has 4 titanium screws, 25 stitches and a long titanium rod running inside the full length of my right Tibia. I have weeks ahead of me with my leg elevate, and more weeks of physical therapy for me to return to full strength. And the bike? Well it has relatively minor damage that can be repaired, but I have no collision insurance so it’s all on me.

The obvious question I have been asked by numerous people who visited me since the accident is: “So are you ready to give up the motorcycle?” My answer has been pretty much the same each time,”Why? Did you stop driving when you wrecked your car? Did you give up fishing when you hooked yourself? Did you give up walking when you fell down?” Now let me clarify that I will drive with more care. I will stay back even further from other vehicles. I will stay even more alert to what is ahead. Yes! But, will I stop riding my motorcycle and no longer enjoy that sweet pleasure of life? The answer will always be an emphatic, No! Not until the Lord says it’s time to give it up. When I hear that from Him, it’s over!

A life worth living is the one you can enjoy without fear controlling your decisions. It is filled with risk, and blessed with reward. It is punctuated by mistakes and elevated by victories. It may be colored by pain at times, but it is also made real with unbounded joy. Most of all, it comes alive in moments of glory, or seasons of sorrow that happen as we live it to the fullest. Some may opt to live a safe, protected, bubble-wrapped life, but I submit to you that such a life is not worth living. It is simply existing in the safety net where risk is eliminated and so is passion. When victories are minimal, and the adventure of living has been sanitized away so that routine runs the show, and there are no unwanted surprises, this is no life at all. It is simply existing in a protected safety zone of comfort until you die.

How do you categorize your life? Is it neatly packaged, and clearly ordered so that you feel secure and safe, and the adventure is all but eliminated? Is it an air-conditioned, climate controlled, bug free, green zone of organized boredom? Life is short, and you must make the most of the time you have. Perhaps it is time to strap on a helmet, feel the wind in your face and see what it’s like to live a little on the edge. Break out for your deadly routines and try something different, even a bit dangerous. You can begin to live the adventure you always wanted. It only takes one decision, one step in a new direction.

You don’t have to climb Mount Everest, jump out of an air plane, trek to the South Pole or walk the Great Wall of China. Others can do such extreme things. No, you only have to break out of the mold, the comfort you have surrounded yourself with, and try something different, simple and new. It could be eating at a very different kind of restaurant, reading a new book or learning to dance. Perhaps it is vacationing in a new spot you saw on a map, or learing to drive a motorcycle or paddle a kayak. The possibilities are endless. Once you get a breakthrough, nothing will ever be the same. The question you must ask yourself is this; “Is my life the unmarked trail of adventure I want it to be, or is it the predictable, sign covered road I will safely walk, till I die?”

What is a life worth living? That, my friends, is the million dollar question we each must answer for ourselves. Mine will be very different from yours, but such a life will leave you breathless with anticipation for what might come next. It will stir your imagination, require fresh courage and fill you with the joy of discovering something you never experienced before. It will have moments of danger and risk, but it will bring the satisfaction of doing something others look at and wish they had done. A life worth living really is there for the taking. It’s just one decision away, and you can have it today. The question is, do you want it, and will you take the first step to get it? If not, take a moment to discover what’s holding you back and then move beyond it. Your life, the one you always wanted is out there waiting for you.. now go get it!

The Determined Heart

20180520_153428_hdr45367612-e1526851428125.jpgThis picture was taken on the wedding day of an extraordinary couple; Peter & Jenny Taylor. They joined their lives together one rainy August day in Cascade Pass, in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains. Both of them are avid hikers and they had determined in their heart’s that this would be the only location their marriage could ever take place. Here you can see John lending a hand to his bride, so together they could fulfill their desire. In the middle of a foggy, rainy day, Jenny climbed the glacial boulder in her wedding gown. Her husband, in his wedding suit, reaches down from atop the “erratic”, on the shore of Cascade Lake, to assist her to achieve their goal. The couple then turned to the camera, stood arm in arm, and rejoiced. Their heart’s desire had been fulfilled.

Extraordinary lives don’t happen by chance. They are built day-by-day, around personal conviction, deliberate choice and a determined heart. They are forged in the furnace of unwavering dedication, and anchored to principles that hold fast and run true in any of life’s storms. In fact, those who achieve their dreams, find the trials that come only serve to reaffirm the path they have taken. These are not perfect people, and they may even be people we don’t agree with much of the time. That being said, they are people to be admired because they do the things others wish they had done. They achieve when multitudes have failed, and they flourish when the crowd of nay-sayers, and half interested onlookers have all but faded away.

Even the most uninvolved, boring, lack-luster life can find a divine spark of passion that gives it fresh meaning. The one who has lost vision and settled for the routine of “safe” living can break free from the bondage of a controlled, and controlling life. All it takes is a determined heart and a dream for something more, something out of the ordinary, something never done before. It could be learning to drive a motorcycle or buying and paddling a kayak. Perhaps it’s traveling to a new vacation spot or as simple as taking dancing lessons or starting to write that book you always dreamed about. The sky is the limit, your imagination and dreams are the guide, and the determination in your heart is the switch that sets it all in motion.

You don’t have to climb Mt. Everest, swim the English Chanel or qualify for the next Winter Olympics for this to be a valid life-changer. It just has to be your dream, tied to the determination in your heart. With the first step you take toward that new goal, things will begin to be different. A spark will be ignited that will not easily be extinguished. Just like Jenny Taylor, God will have those with you who can lend a helping hand when you need it. However, you will be the one growing, learning, changing and walking it out one day at a time, through the storms of life that come.

Want an extraordinary life that matters to you and to others? It comes by way of a personal dream that gets fulfilled through a determined heart. The Bible says; “as a man thinks in his heart so is he”. Truer words were never spoken. What you determine within has a divine ability to connect to the dream you always had, but never acted upon. Move in the right direction, and life will forever be changed. That choice, my friends, is up to you. Stay safe and secure, and you will surely blend into the woodwork of life, unharmed and unchallangegd in every way. Or, you can dream with determination like Peter and Jenny, take a risk and end up doing what others envy. You may pay a price, be hurt, need help and even fail at times, but the rewards of a fulfilled dream are worth it all. Once you discover this uncharted, amazing territory you will never want to go back.

Avoiding Your Mohegan Bluff

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In 1590, a war party of 40 Mohegan Indians left the mainland of North America, from what is now called Rhode Island. They traveled out into the ocean in a number of large war canoes, headed to an island 13 miles off the coast. They thought this island to be part of their home territory. They had heard others were living on it and decided to take back what they considered to be rightfully theirs. After making the dangerous ocean journey in the small crafts, the warring band of Indians landed on the rocky shoreline of what is now called, Block Island.

After scouting through the lush, hilly island, they located the inhabitants, called the Manissean’s, and decided to attack them. What the Mohegan’s did not know was that these Indians had lived on the island for many, many generations. This was their home, and even thought it was only 10 square miles in area, it was their land and provided everything they needed to live peacefully. There were deer and rabbits, plenty of fish to be caught at sea, trees to build shelter and provide fire wood, plenty of berries and vegetables growing in the rich soil and fresh springs in abundance. They were isolated from the outside world, and happy to live at peace in this secluded island kingdom.

What the Mohegan’s also did not know was that the Manissean’s were substantial in number, and well able to defend their territory. In fact, their spotters had been watching the war party coming when it was still miles out to sea, and the whole tribe was ready for the invading force when it hit the shore. Waiting to see what the invaders were up to, the Manissean’s made a plan to quietly encircled them, using the numerous small valleys and ridges for cover, and if need be, drive them off the island and back into the sea. Once it was clear this foreign tribe, with it’s foreign language, was going to aggressively take their land, the Manissean’s put their plan into action, and into the history books as well.

The band of Mohegan’s were indeed surprised, and forced into a backwards retreat as their only escape. They were badly out numbered, and driven up the inclined slope at one end of the Island. Their final destination was a high ridge topped in thick brush, now called “Mohegan Bluff”. This slope abruptly ends in a 200 foot cliff that drops straight down onto the rocky, ocean-swept shoreline. A fierce battle ensued, and the invaders were all killed by being driven over the edge of the cliff and falling to their deaths. The Manissean’s celebrated this great victory for days and were rewarded with the acquisition of the Mohegan canoes, axes, spears, arrows, bows and animal skins. Little did they know that in a few years, settlers from England would land on the island. With that arrival, the Manissean’s would vanish almost over night, many meeting the same fate as their Mohegan enemies.

This true story from our pre-colonial history serves to remind us that nothing lasts forever. Every area we consider to be ours by right, and every enemy we fight off to defend it, only gives us a temporary victory at best. At any moment, something can come along to challenge or change all we thought we had established. We are simply a job loss, an illness, a bad decision or a selfish choice away from the upheaval of all we have worked for and wanted. Even if we have reinforced everything with a backup plan, or a safety net, in life, “stuff” just happens. When it does, the sobering question you must ask yourself in that moment of truth is; “is it worth it?” If the answer is yes, then you need to stop complaining and embrace that change, because in the end, you were the one who put it in motion. The point is, every change comes with a price. Even on Block Island, there has been a great price paid by those who live here, and a few examples may help you to understand what I mean.

Until a few years ago the island’s electric grid was supplied by five massive, World War II diesel powered generators. When two of them caught fire, most of the island was left without power, and a plan was devised to build a modern power plant to supply the growing energy needs of the island’s growing “summer people”. You see, the permanent residents number 800, but the summer population is about 27,000, which is compose of city people who are quite wealthy. Everyone rejoiced over the new power plant, until they realized the pristine ocean view was marred by five massive windmills just off shore. Now the “summer people” are angry and want a tax break. They say their view is ruined and their property values have gone down.

With the onslaught of wealthy “summer people”, the cost of a 400 sq ft, one bedroom condo, if you can find one, is $380,000. The cost of a small, two bedroom, 1000 sq ft camp is $750,000, and the price for a very modest home starts at $1.5 million and goes way up from there. To buy a typical lunch, like a bowl of soup, a cup of tea and a simple sandwich for two runs $55 plus a tip. Shopping for food? Well butter is $8 a pound, yogurt is $3 a small cup, fresh Salmon is $25 a pound, milk is $6.50 a gallon, and a dozen eggs is $6.50. The round trip ferry trip ride to the mainland and back for two people and a vehicle, is in the neighborhood of $140. If you buy food in bulk on the main land, you can’t just pack it in your car and return. Oh no! At the ferry you must unload the food into a shipping container and pay for your vehicle, each passenger and for the shipping container of food as well. Basically, all this is another “Mohegan Bluff” of a different kind.

Be it large or small, there is a price to be paid for everything we insist we must have, and every change that comes with it. This is why Scripture says it is so important for us to “count the cost” before we forge ahead. Clear thought, calmed emotions, honest evaluation, wise counsel and prayer are essentials before you jump headlong into something, no matter how good it looks. This is the prescription for a healthy, well-balanced life, that will not be filled with regrets and “what-if’s”, at it’s end. Let’s face it, looks can be very deceiving, and there are always unknown things that show up after we have all the facts.

The final reality check for a good life is that we must slow down and survey things, before they have been put in place. The spiritual, emotional and natural topography around us must be understood, or we could end up at our own “Mohegan Bluff’s” one day. In this season of life, where rapid change has become the norm, do yourself a favor and take the time to really pray and look things over, before you make that “have to” decision. Who knows, it may not be so pressing after all. You could save yourself, and those you love, a great deal of emotional distress, and personal expense, by avoiding an unnecessary fall over a cliff you should never have been standing on in the first place. Think it through you may find yourself standing at the precipice of your own “Mohegan Bluff”.

Asleep At The Wheel

is (1)When I was a young man of 18, I had a Canadian girlfriend named Mary, who had beautiful skin, cute little freckles and long red hair. Our romance began when we met one summer at Meacham Lake Public Campsite. She was camping there with her family, and I lived on that campsite all summer while running our family’s seasonal boat business. It was love at first sight, and we were inseparable from the moment we met. After their vacation was over and she went home, we wrote letters every day, and I drove to Montreal at least once a month to see her. I gladly spent my weekends on the couch at her family home, so we could be together.

Needless to say, the weekends went by too quickly no matter what we did. Often we were awake until the early morning hours talking, going out to eat and just enjoying every moment with each other. When it was time for me to leave on Sunday evening, the lingering “good-by’s” got harder all the time. In an emotionally wrung-out, physically exhausted state, I would climb into my car and start the 4 hour drive home. Often I would drive for many miles and not remember anything about the road I had just been on. Worse yet, I was so tired that my eye lids would droop down and close for a few seconds at a time, as I drove along.

On one such drive home, I was fully absorbed in the memory of our weekend activities and contemplating asking this young woman to marry me, when something happened. There is a long straight stretch of road between McCallum and Paul Smith, NY. At the end of this is a sweeping curve around the end of Mountain Pond. It was right at the beginning of this long, slow curve that I slipped off into a half-memory, half-sleep state. My eye lids slipped shut, and a warm relaxed feeling swept over me. I was there with Mary once again, as we walked along the streets Old Montreal, holding hands.

From some place in the distance, a deep thumping noise pulled me back to reality. As I broke through the sleepy fog and confusion, it felt like something was hitting my car. Very loud thumps in rapid sequence filled the air which startled me awake. When my eyes snapped open, I realized I had been asleep at the wheel, and drifted around the corner to cross head on, into the oncoming lane. My two left tires were in the gutter, and my left front bumper was clipping the cement guard rail posts on the wrong side of the road. At that moment, the car was ready to pass the final guardrail, fly over the steep bank, and plunge 150 feet down into the ice-cold water of Mountain Pond.

Instinctively I turned the wheel, crossed back over into my own lane and found a place to pull off the road until I regained my composure. As I inspected the bumper of my car, I was amazed at how little damage had occurred, and was filled with gratitude to be alive and completely unharmed. The knowledge of just how close I came to an untimely death was a sobering thought indeed. Just two seconds more and I would have been passed the guard rails, over the bank, into that deep, cold water and lost from sight. Who knows when or if my body would have ever been found.

Let me explain why I am giving you this life lesson. Any time we get distracted and keep pushing beyond the healthy limits of life, we needlessly put ourselves and others at risk. Some consequences may be mildly inconvenient, while others can cause irreparable damage that may have an impact on generations to come. The point is, we are all just one stupid decision away from something that might disrupt everything that was supposed to be. Get distracted and fall asleep at the wheel of your life for a moment, and the great blessing that was just around the next corner, will never happen!

Let me suggest to you that now is the time for all of us to stay alert, and do what has to be done, the way it has to be done. It is not the time for distraction, compromise or being lulled to sleep on the important things of life. Things like loving God, honesty, integrity, honor, being good to your word, honest work, staying out of needless debt, emotional stability, compassion for others and having self-control are the foundation stones of a healthy life. With these in place you will do great things. However, without them, you will have nothing but trouble.

How long have you been asleep at the wheel? If there is noise and confusion that fills your life on a regular basis, it is time to wake up my friend, before it is too late. Open your eyes to all that is flashing by you. The fact that you are reading this means there is still time to grab the wheel of your life, and get back into the lane where you belong. There may be some damage to deal with but that is minor compared to what will happen if you fail to make the needed changes.

I believe for some who are reading this, this is your last wake-up call. You have wasted your life, and everyone’s time.You have made endless excuses, but the bottom line is, you have stubbornly refused to change. Listen to me, the guard rails are about to end, and now is the time to grab the wheel of your life, and take control. If you keep sleeping behind the wheel, we will all see your tail lights fading into the dark, murky waters of a broken life. Is this what you really want? Only you know the answer to that question!!!