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!

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!!!

 

 

Wait For It

 

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Over the years I have watched many people, both young and old, have a desire for something that took root in their heart. It may have been a want or a genuine need, but whatever it was, trouble started when that desire began to overtake their life. What I mean is, they lost the ability to enjoy life as it is, because life as they wanted it to be, was not within their immediate grasp. Over time, it became the driving force that ruled and ruined their life. In fact, many have gone into debt or worse, just because they could not “wait for it”, and by so doing, complicated their life in many unforseen ways.

The morotcycle you see here was one of my great desires. It is a V Twin Honda Shadow 1100. I owned a much smaller bike, a Honda CX500, for years but always wanted something larger for my wife and I to enjoy on longer trips. The thing is, I refused to go onto debt to get it and made up my mind to just wait. We really did love that old CX500, and it served it’s purpose well. In fact, over the years I put over 20,000 miles on it. What I especially loved about that bike was the fact that it was purchased for only $300 and I was debt free.

That being said, the desire for a bigger motorcycledid not go away over the years. However, I never let that desire for it take my life over. I looked through Craig’s List over the months, I went on ebay motors, Facebook buy and sell, and numerous local on line sites to look for “my bike”. I found a few over time, but they were either way too expensive, had too many miles on them, or were just too far away. Through all of this, I never, ever wanted it so badly that I manipulated things to get it at any cost. No, I had a goal in mind of staying debt free, so I set money aside and I let the desire move me on, but not rule my life.

Then last week it happened! There on Craig’s List was “the bike” I had always been after. A liquid cooled, shaft drive Honda Shadow VT1100C. It had one owner, 12,256 original miles, not a scratch on it, showroom condition, leather saddle bags, spotless chrom and everything had been customized as well. Best of all, the owner lived 1 hour and 35 minutes from my house and was motivated to sell. After negoatiating the price to less than half it’s value, I drove to his home with a trailer, picked it up and pulled out of the yard with this amazing machine, and I was still debt free!

Why am I sharing this? I share it because this is not just a story, it is a life lesson on the importance of waiting. My father always told me when I was a boy that good things come to those who wait, and he was right. As I learned to contrlol my desires, my wants and  my wishes, and uncovered how to use them to motive me in the right direction, I have been blessed over and over again. Want a few examples? I got my wife Esther this way, and we got our house this way as well. We got our entire church facility and all the land it sits on this way. Esther got her car, a Cadilac CTS, and I got my Trail Blaze the same way. We waited on God and He brought everything to us in His perfect time and way.

I can tell you that the list of blessings just goes on and on. All this has come because we were willing to “wait for it”, and not let the desire to have it now drive us to obtain it under our own power. The Bible says that when we allow God to direct our path, He will give us the desire of our heart. That means He will put the correct desire in our heart, and then bring us to the place where we obtain it with ease. We will not be burdened with constant problems, confusion or mounting debt.

If your life has been over run by any of the above, there is a better way. We are designed by God to be His example to a broken world, of clear thought, the blessing of God and increase in every vital area. If you are not walking in the fullness of your Christian heritage, perhaps it’s time to consider a better way. I am no expert, but I do know that patient endurance, prayer and learning to just “wait for it”, always brings the blessing of God. Who knows…..today could be your day to begin a new chapter of frutiful living. All you have to do is ask, and God will answer in ways you can’t possibly imagine.

 

 

Sap Thaw Promise

forest-glen-innHere in the northeast, the end of January and beginning of February is a unique time of year. We all know that winter is far from over but “cabin fever” sets in, and people are ready for that first, sunny taste of Spring. Thoughts of fishing and camping start coming to mind, and an incoming snow storm is not embraced with very much grace. Fortunately there is a reprieve that usually comes our way during this unsettled time of year. The old timers who lived in the Adirondacks call it the “January”, “Sap” or “Sweet Water” thaw, and it was a promise of warmer weather yet to come.

This early thaw is caused by a shift in the Jet Stream which crosses through our region far overhead. This time of year one part of it tends to take a dip into the western US, and another part of it meanders northward into Canada. This massive “S” shaped movement blocks cold arctic air from flooding into our region and funnels warm southern air up from Texas, Florida and Georgia. Our days can warm into the 40’s and 50’s, and snow-melt runs into the ice-clogged rivers filling them with water once again. If it lasts long enough, Sugar Maples begin to wake up, and the sap begins to make an early run. Indians in our area were the first to collect this maple sap, which they called “sweet water”.  Thus, the name “sap thaw” or “sweet water thaw” came into being.

Those who own a sugarbush, where maple sap is collected and evaporated into maple syrup, understand the importance of the sap thaw. The first early run of the regular sap season is like money in the bank. This is because every drop collected during these times has a higher concentration of sugar to water. An early run can be in the order of 30 to 1, which means thirty gallons of sap will produce 1 gallon of syrup. Later runs will have a ratio of 40 to 1, and this produces a very different kind of syrup.

On a few rare occasions there has been an extended “sap thaw”, and people were able to collect enough sap to begin their sugaring season in late January or early February. A very early thaw can produce a ratio as high as  25 to 1. This means the final product will be a sweet, light amber syrup of the highest quality and this will bring a premium price at market. Because the early sap has less water content, it needs less heat to drive off the water and bring it to the right consistency for syrup. Later runs need more evaporation which means more heat must be added, and this produces a darker, stronger flavored syrup that is not as highly prized.

I give this lesson from the maple sugaring industry because I want to illustrate a point. The potential for a sweet syrup is always in the sap, but it takes a lot of heat and time to bring it out. Also, each gallon of maple syrup is made the exact same way. The sap may be boiled in different kinds of evaporators, and they may use different heat sources, but the process is always the same. There is no real shortcut if maple syrup is going to be done right. The point is, it just takes more time to get the syrup when there is a lot of water in the way.

We are just like that maple sap. We naturally come with a lot of excess stuff which has to be dealt with. The harder we hold on to it, the harder it is to get at the final sweet product God placed within us. When we yield easily, the light amber-colored syrup of goodness will flow out of us for all to enjoy. When we don’t quickly yield to the dealings of God, He has to apply more heat in order to get rid of that which is undesirable. This means the process of life will become more and more difficult over time. If we are not careful, these additional dealings will impact many areas of our life, which can change how we see God and life in general.

What I mean is, resistance to the dealings of God only serves to prolong the “heat” He must apply to bring change to our life.  That prolonged heat was never intended for us, but it will start to make subtle shifts in what we think, and how we view things. We can begin to doubt God’s goodness and question His love and plans for us. In the end, it can shake our faith, cause us to see ourselves as a victim and even make us stumble in our walk with the Lord. If this continues, what’s in us will begin to become dark and bitter, like the last old run of maple syrup. This all happens because we insist on stubbornly fighting every change God’s is trying to make, and we cling to the things that really need to go.

What about you? Have you been holding on to things God wants to eliminate from your life? Is there anger, unforgiveness, offense, emotional pain, negative people around you, disappointment or other things you are holding on to that are now holding on to you? Perhaps it’s time to yield to the dealings of God, stop the struggle and just let some things go. The fact is, you can’t change your past, but your past does have the power to change your future.

If you hold on to the good things, and release those things that want to hold you hostage, everything will change. You can move forward and finally get to the good stuff God intended for your life. The best part is, all this will happen with a lot less heat simply because you made a shift in the right direction. This could be your season to change. Change your attitude, change your point of view and begin to listen for the sound of running water. Even in the dead of winter, a sap thaw promise of better things to come can be found. That choice, my friends, is always up to you!

 

Nothing Is Ever Really Lost

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Alan Robinson and Walter MacFarlane have been close friends for 60 years. It all started when they played football together at a prep school in Hawaii. The men grew up, lived a few houses apart, raised families and remained good friends all their working years. As they approached retirement, they each decided to take a DNA test and uncover the details of their lost personal histories. Walter never knew his father, and Alan never knew his birth mother because he had been adopted as a baby. The men felt it was time to uncover who they really were, since both longed for family connections they had never known.

Honolulu news station KHON-TV reported that after a number of unsuccessful searches on social media and other sites, MacFarlane finally found a clear match using a DNA-matching website. He was excited to tell his friend that someone out there had an identical X chromosome with his. This meant that the unknown man and he had the very same birth mother and Walter actually had a brother he never knew about. After the DNA match was confirmed, the two mystery men exchanged names. To Walters amazement, his unknown brother was none other than his best friend Alan. Both men said it was an “overwhelming experience” when they revealed the wonderful news to friends and family.

“This is the best Christmas present I could ever imagine,” Mr Robinson said. “I had a younger brother, and never knew it. It’s funny that all these years I thought I never had any close relatives, but I always had my best friend Walter. The funny thing is, I adopted his kids as my own nieces and nephews. They just accepted me as part of the family. Now I find out they really are my nieces and nephews. What’s so amazing is that all these years our families grew up together, and I thought I had lost that time with family but nothing was ever really lost. It’s overwhelming to think about right now.” He went on to say, “There were many times when I thought, you know, I look like Robi in some ways, but I just blew it off as wishful thinking. Now I know why!”

Many times in life it seems as if something has been lost forever. We can think something that was so important is gone, and it can never be recovered. A friendship, a relationship or even personal property that had great meaning, can all go missing. At such times, the longing to have everything made right can begin to overtake our lives, and rob us of the joy of living for today. The question is, what will we do in situations like this? The answer to that question really depends on us.We can move on, hold on to hope and make the best of things, or we can hold on to the loss and let that pain rule our lives.

In some cases, things can actually be restored, and bridges long gone can be mended. Other times, you may have to forgive what happened, and just let things go into the hands of God. Every circumstance has a solution of it’s own, and we must be patient, make the best of things and keep a good attitude, no matter how things have turned out. A friend of mine is a good example of how holding on to hope and not the loss, allows God and circumstances to work out what seems impossible. We just have to do our part, keep looking, and be patient.

45 years ago he was living down south. He had traveled there in his truck with his trusty childhood .22 rifle, from his home in upstate New York. One day someone broke into his truck and took that prized childhood gun. Fortunately, he had removed the bolt from it and that was the only thing he had to remind him of that treasure. He held on to that bolt for decades and continue to confess that one day he would find the gun that fit that bolt. Sure enough, thirty odd years later he found the same year and model gun, and the owner basically gave it to him because it was missing the bolt. His bolt slipped right into the gun frame as a perfect match, and at that moment he realized anything is possible if you have hope and don’t give up.

If you have suffered a loss, missed an opportunity or had something just slip through your fingers, don’t despair. All is not lost. God is able to do amazing things if you will just relax, continue to do your part and patiently hold onto the hope that is within you. In the economy of God, nothing is ever really lost. It may be misplaced for a season, or be in hiding for a reason. It may have been taken from you by force, or you may have let go of it by mistake. The thing is, don’t count it as a loss. I am here to tell you that nothing is impossible with God. If He can raise people from the dead and part the Red Sea, He can surely restore anything that seems long gone and lost forever.

Look with the eyes of faith. Never, ever give up. Trust God in all things. Bathe everything in prayer. Dwell on all the wonderful things God has already done. Be patient and don’t let your heart be troubled. He is a master at doing what is impossible for everyone else. Have a heart of expectant gratitude and open joy. Live life to the fullest and take others with you, where ever that may be. By doing these things you will impact everyone who gets near you and be more than a life-changer, you will be a world-changer. My question is simple; “why tell the stories of what others have done when you can really live life and tell stories of your own?” Remember, nothing is ever lost, but it may be delayed for a season or a reason! You just have to wait for it…….

Thinking It Through

Old_Red_CarThe day we live in is often over run by emotional decision-making, impulsive decisions, lack of prayer, not getting wise counsel and not thinking things all the way through. I have seen this deadly, over-powering combination have a devastating impact on the lives of many people, and the finances of numerous families. In the moment of what seems to be a crisis, snap decisions get made that look like a necessary answer to the problem at hand. Unfortunately, without fully thinking through things, the immediate solution that gets embraced usually has a long-term problem attached to it that will complicate life, frustrate everyone and cause a multitude of problems that tie us up in ways we never anticipated. All this mess happens because emotions rule us and we will not slow down long enough to think things through.

Years ago I had a car that was running pretty good. It was not the most beautiful thing on the road, but it was dependable and got me where I needed to go. I bought it for cash so the repairs it needed were paid for in full as they came up. That car got me to work and it let me go where I wanted to go with my free time. Then something happened that change everything. One of my friends purchased a newer vehicle and he was “only paying $120 a month”. Every time I saw him in that car something in me got fired up. Eventually, my car was in need of another minor repair and with that, what had always been a good car, was now viewed as a piece of junk. Thus, on an emotional impulse, without any counsel and without thinking it all the way through, I used my good car as a down payment for a “nice car”. Best of all it was only going to cost me $100 a month. What a deal!!!

Oh what joy filled my soul. I was such a happy camper as I drove that car off the lot and down the highway. It really was a nicer car and I just knew I had made the right decision. Of course this vehicle needed minor repairs, just like my other car, but the cash I always had on hand for repairs now went to pay the car loan. So, I was forced to work extra hours to keep it running, and lost the free time I always had on weekends. The newer car needed to use higher octane gas and that cost me more to drive it. My car insurance went up, the inspection and registration cost more, and the repair bills on this newer vehicle were bigger as well. I realized very quickly that I did not own my car, but it owned me. It took my free time, my finances, my freedom, my weekends and the convenience I always had of going when I wanted to go with extra money in my pocket. I was a prisoner of one emotional decision because I had not waited, calmed down and thought it through. Worst of all, my old car was gone and I could not get it back.

How about you? Has a decision you made changed your life in ways you could not have imagined? Has an action, not thought all the way through, had a negative impact on your life, or the lives of those you love? Did you solve one issue, only to discover that everyone was left struggling with things that were never an issue in the past? Is there less freedom, more expense, the same income, less time, and more frequent inconvenience for you and those around you? If you answered yes to any of these questions, the bad news is that you have fallen into  the same emotional decision trap I did. The good news is you don’t have to live there forever. You will have to live with the negative, even painful consequences for now, but one good decision at a time will allow you to climb out of that emotional black hole.

It took me quite a while to save up enough money to get rid of that money sucking car. It took discipline, self-restraint, emotional control, wise counsel and determination to keep my eyes on the goal. That mistake cost me a lot, and it changed my life for the worse. However, I learned from the mess I put my self and my family through, and so can you. I did not look to others to bail me out, and neither should you. I did not get offended when people did not jump at the chance help me every time the mess I made over ran me. Don’t you go there either. Most of all, I did not become negative or critical about the life I had chosen for myself. I embraced the stupid thing I did and never did it again!

Did you catch that?  I owned it, prayed and rode out the storm. I grew up and stopped whining. I took full responsibility for my stupid, poorly thought out decision and the mess it caused me and others. I made things right with those I had selfishly impacted. I slowed down and began to think about what might happen in any given situation. I began to make better decisions in moments of crisis, and one step after another, things slowly got better. It was not an instant success story, but more of a slow, painful climb out of a slippery hole I had dug for myself.

Perhaps this is the year you will begin to think things through as well. If you have made emotionally based, impulsive decisions, no doubt your life is not what you want it to be, and that can really stink. Fortunately, you and those you love, don’t have to stay in that pit of despair forever. If you refuse to change, then your life is what you have made it. Stop complaining and just live with it. However, if you have decided not to be stuck in past mistakes, you can begin today to build a better life, one decision at a time.

Think things through. Don’t let emotions push the decision button in your life. Talk to those who have the kind of life you want, and get your counsel from them. Avoid the “experts” who are ready to show you the way but clearly have not found it for themselves. Slow down and let the dust settle before you make a move. Most of all take it to prayer, and if you are married, be sure your husband or wife is in full agreement. Never forget that your spouse is God’s safety net in every decision to be made! Do these things and next year at this time, life for you could be so much better. Now get out of that pit of emotional decisions, and begin to enjoy 2018 as your best year ever!

When It’s Time

In August 1977, my father turned 72, and I was at the ripe old age of 23. That November we made our traditional hunting trip to Upper Saint Regis Lake, and set up our base camp in my father’s work shop, for our week of hunting. We were hunting on the property around Henry Olmstead’s great log chalet. This was a beautiful, old “Adirondack camp” called Forest Lodge. Dad was the personal guide for Mr. Olmstead,  and his wife Patricia, when they were in camp during the warmer weather. Dad was also the caretaker for the 125 acres of property,  all of the year.

That Fall we hunted as we always did, and each of us was rewarded with a nice buck for the freezer. As always, my father also shot an additional doe the first day, and that was our “camp meat”. This was the fresh meat we feasted on during our entire time in hunting camp. Our yearly hunting week was a wonderful time of stories, roasted venison, early morning hunts and evenings by the wood stove with a hot cup of coffee. This was the stuff of memories that we all carried with us through the rest of our lives.

When this particular week was nearly over, I noticed a change in my father’s countenance. I had never seen anything like it before. It was a look on his face that said something had turned a corner within him, but he was not ready to talk about it. Then it happened on the last day of our hunt. As we headed back to camp, dad and I walked the pine scented trail between Bear Pond and camp in thought-filled silence. There was a light snow falling, and the snow flakes swirl around dad’s red and black, Woolwich cap. It was on this trail that the silence was finally broken by what needed to be said.

Dad looked back over his shoulder at me, and gave a sad smile. At that moment I knew something of importance was about to be spoken. His baritone voice then filled my ears with, “son, I’ve done plenty of killing in my time. My deer hunting days are over”. We paused on the trail as our eyes met, he nodded his head, and then we walked back to camp without saying another word. There was no discussion, no debate and no compromise in his voice. I knew it was a statement of fact, a resolved reality within his heart that would not be changed.

The shock of his words echoed in me, but there was nothing else to be spoken.  In my mind I was thinking, “No, no no…how can this be? My dad, the last of the old-time Adirondack guides, is done hunting? How can I hunt without my father? This is just not right!” However, I respected his decision, and had to honor him for the choice he had made. In the end, I accepted the fact that this was the time for such a thing to happen, and true to form, Dad never hunted again. How fitting that two years later, on the last weekend of hunting season, my father died and went to be with his Savior.

We all have moments in life when we know it’s time. A bridge is crossed, a resolve is made or a decision is finalized within us, and there is no turning back. Those are sobering, solitary moments when time momentarially stops, and life takes on a new direction. When it’s over, things will never be the same. Want an example of what I mean? My two youngest sons enlisted in the Air Force six months apart. When each came home to tell me,  I was thrilled and proud beyond words. I knew it was an answer to many years of prayer. However, when they drove down the driveway for the last time, heading for boot camp, I got choked up and then I wept! Why? I knew it was time for this to happen, and life would never be the same for them or our family.

Such things have to be embraced so we can all grow and move on in life. To falter, and hold on in moments like this, is deadly in so many ways. It’s like sand in the gears of a finely tuned automobile. You can do it, and some will, but the outcome is not going to good for anyone. Directional damage, confusion and unnecessary drama all mix together into a weighty emotional cement when we hold on to that which needs to be let go of. Whether it is a hobby, a relationship, a career choice or a piece of clothing, when it’s time, we must let go, or nothing will move to the next stage of life.

Remembering the past, and cherishing it’s good memories, is a blessing to everyone. This is the foundational base upon which a healthy life is built. It’s how clear, relational and historical continuity is established in everyone. However, when we move beyond happy memories, and hold on to people, practices and things long after the time of letting go, it becomes an anchor to the soul and a blockage to the flow of life as it should be. This becomes a source of bondage to everyone, and a destroyer of personal vision. It is the dream killer in every life.

As we get ready to plunge into a new year, take a moment to evaluate what you are doing, and where you are going. Is this the direction you wanted for your life? If your dreams have been smothered by the past, and you lack clear vision for the future, it is definitely time for you to let some things go. Set time aside this last week of 2017, and ask God to show you what people, places, past experiences and things need to be released. Until you cast off every weight that is holding you back, you will never catch the wind of that which can carry you into your future.

Now is the time to cut away every anchor that you have been holding on to. This is your chance to hoist those sails and catch the fresh wind of a new year as it is beginning to blow. This is the opportunity you have been waiting for, to have a new life and a new vision. It’s time… so go do it, and have a happy new year with the new you!