Learning To Dance

It’s said that “you can never go home again” but what I thinks meant by that is that you can’t go back in time. And while that’s certainly true, at the same time it can seem impossible to move out of your past and into the present, let alone into your future! Despite all of that, earlier this year I did make a move! I moved my family from south-central to a new place in south-west Missouri,back to my hometown!

Not only my hometown,but to the very neighborhood I grew up in…

Even though I consider myself to be a sentimental person who as such is well acquainted with the “slings and arrows”which so often accompany it I’ll admit to being caught off guard by my subsequent reactions. It took a while for me to sort out why on a certain level I seemed angry about how so many things I remembered had changed! Like I was caught in the throes of some childlike egocentric fit over not having been “consulted”.

I didn’t say that the feelings were “right” only that I was having them!

Another thing I wasn’t really prepared for was the onslaught of questions that living in such close proximity to my past would move to the front burner of my mind or the rough terrain I’d have to traverse to find the difficult answers they demanded! Questions like…

“What the heck happened to my education?”


Just exactly where and how did my life “Jump the shark” so to speak…

 I want to make it really clear that this isn’t just some sort of pity party I decided to throw for myself nor am I attempting to fix blame on God or anyone else. Some of the events of my life have been rather unfortunate and apart from my aforementioned personal search for answers my intent or purpose in writing about them here is to encourage others who’ve had or will have similar experiences.Understanding our own issues of the past can be the key to moving beyond them into a better future! I can hardly express how important it is for me to be able to look back on my life and instead of feeling despair regarding certain aspects of it, to feel hopeful. Hopeful not only because I survived it but because I somehow found the courage to go on and the faith to believe there was something better waiting for me somewhere. lastly,to express my thankfulness to my Father in heaven who did then,and does now hold me in the palm of His loving hand!

I’d like to start with this video clip which was probably taken in the summer of 1971 when I was 10yrs old. As I watched it I remember being taken aback at how happy I appear to be! This video was taken by my father during one of the most difficult periods of my life,within a few months after my parents’ divorce.

The surrealistic background music provides a fitting contrast to the seemingly carefree display caught on the clip. It truly is a reality vacuum! Not only had my family recently changed in a not so good way, I’d also been the victim of significant sexual abuse on several occasions by people close to me. I’d recently become involved with a local church and had accepted Christ as my Savior, been baptized,and then when I stopped coming…forgotten.

I watched helplessly as my father who I worshiped became increasingly distant and more invested in his new life and family and less in me. I found out what it was to be hungry and to not have sufficient clothing that fit properly. And so at my lowest point,to then have my mother on whom I had become quite emotionally dependent begin spending a great deal of time away from me further compounded my feelings of insignificance. I was still just a bit too young to roam the streets after dark like my older brother…so I spent a lot of time at home alone.

When I watch this video…

I wonder what in the world I had to dance about!

And then it hit me…

I was playing the best cards I had in front of the one person I loved the most in the whole world! And despite everything wrong that had happened in my life up to that point in that moment,I chose to dance!

To block out everything else and focus on the only thing I felt had the potential to save me…

His love!

In my mind I was just doing what I’d always done…performing!

But what I was really doing was sort of the ultimate act of defiance.

I was in effect saying to the circumstances of my life,

You have not defeated me, you’ve thrown just about everything you could at me.

And guess what? I’m still dancing!

Isaiah 54:17

 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.

It still inspires me…But what happened after that? You’d think that someone with that sort of “sand” would probably go far in life. I think what happened to me, and what happens to a lot of other people too is that we eventually become convinced that there’s nothing in this life worth dancing (or smiling) for!

When the subject of my education comes up what happened is no surprise considering I’d been a dedicated addict for almost six years at the age of 17. What I struggle to understand is why my school counselors and administrative staff chose to ignore what was happening. I attended a vocational course in the mornings which I was bused to and from daily and then spent the afternoons in various classes. As that last semester of my junior year came to a close I believe I was simply overwhelmed by the assignments which were due. Not knowing quite how to handle that I chose to simply skip the last eight days of afternoon classes…and so I flunked the eleventh grade!

I understand that I wasn’t the only “problem child” they were dealing with but I wonder could they of made a phone call to my parents? Aren’t there policies in place concerning this type of infraction? One last thing,anyone that reads this who attended my high school or any high school in the seventies for that matter knows what it was like as far as drug use on campus is concerned,and so, after they failed as an institution to provide a safe and secure environment for students to learn in and I become a victim of that I’m appalled that they could then decide that the thing to do is throw me out!

This took place during a time when my mother was going through another divorce from her second husband and we ended up moving from an upper class home in an exclusive neighborhood into a small two bedroom apartment. I did enroll the next year at a different school and lasted maybe a month before my principal at vocational school suggested that what would be best for me would be to quit school and get a GED. I did get a GED, and that was basically the end of my formal education although in truth I believe I learned precious little from formal schooling past the age of about 12.

One of the most common, if not the most common things you’ll hear Christian ministers say is “God has a plan for your life” and of course I believe that! I also believe that our enemy has a plan for us too…I’m convinced that on the day I made that walk down the isle and knelt down at an altar to accept Christ as my Lord and Savor there was a celebration in heaven! I also believe there was an emergency board meeting in hell! That meeting’s purpose was to put the kibosh on the plans my heavenly Father had for me and subvert the role I was designed to play in ushering in His kingdom.My sense is that there must of been no small amount of surprise and disappointment expressed by the attendee’s that their earlier efforts on my behalf had had so little present effect on me.

Knowing that my souls redemption was a done deal at this point, their only remaining option was to try and stop me from doing what I had the God given potential to do and be in Gods Kingdom by whatever means available to them! I mentioned at the beginning the feelings I’d been having and what I thought they were related to. However at this point I’d have to say that they’re actually directed at the forces of darkness which have for many years stolen so much from me in this life. Who’ve worked diligently behind the scenes orchestrating circumstances and events in my life to do towards me what’s prescribed in the mission statement below…

John 10:10

 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Obviously there’s a disconnect between those two premises…

Genesis 50:20

 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

These are all life verses to me…

They give me hope,encouragement and peace in the midst of my storms!

Romans 8:28

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

King David danced before the Lord. Out of joy that the Ark of The Covenant had at last been returned to Jerusalem. David had to go through quite a painful learning process as he endeavored to lay down his will and surrender completely to God. In my life I’ve been challenged by similar lessons,it seems as though I too was following the example of the Philistines! Learning to trust that God truly does know what He’s doing allows me to be able to sit, (or dance) so that He can stand for me! The answers to our problems are still the same for us today as they were for David then! All of us have a God sized hole which can only be filled by drawing closer to Him! By staying focused on The Father, through our Lord who is Love,which is the answer,instead of on our world and it’s problems! If we can do that, we can also experience the continual joy of being in the Lords presence!

To me,that’s what “learning to dance” means…

Just Another Christmas Story

What’s your favorite Christmas story? Perhaps it’s one of the many works by Charles Dickens such as A Christmas Carol or The Cricket on The Hearth. My personal favorite was always

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry.

With it’s emphasis on man’s redemption, the yuletide season serves as a fitting backdrop for so many great stories and novella’s. Not only do these works wonderfully entertain us with their irony and drama, but in a classic fashion they remind us of what is yet good in this world by projecting it against what is evil. Speaking to the faint glimmer of hope held within each of us the desired effect is to draw us in. To, through the timeless magic of the story, embolden us to confront our own internal struggles and to realize some similar victory of virtue within ourselves. These stories are about giving and receiving and the triumph of good over evil in mens hearts. They hold out to us the possibility of a different perspective than the cynical one held by so many in this world today.

The following is my Christmas story, on the surface it’s about how I overcame my own personal obstacles and made it home for Christmas one year but on a deeper level it’s also about faith and trust in something much bigger than myself.

Making specific plans when your a truck driver can not only be an exercise in futility, but one of frustration as well. This is due to the fact that as such you’re continually at the mercy of a far greater range of un-foreseen happen-stance that can, just like they did in John Steinbecks novel Of Mice and Men, wreck havoc on “even the best laid plans” that one might make. Knowing these things full well, I didn’t make a lot of specific plans that year, I simply knew that one way or another I was going to get home by Christmas!  The company I drove for at the time routinely shut down on the 21st of December and so on the 20th I was set to deliver my last load of tools to a sale truck in Indiana which would then free me to come back west and stop over at “the house” during the holiday. But after delivering my load and placing a call to my dispatcher (who plays the part of Scrooge in this drama) I was informed that after my drop, I was needed to make a pick up in Kentucky that would have to then be taken back to the warehouse in Kansas without delay.


As I drove along I reasoned that the natural solution to this dilemma would be to simply call my wife and have her pick me up in K.C. (a 6 hour drive) but after inquiring after such, I was informed that she had to work (3rd shift) every night until Christmas, making it quite impossible for her to come and get me.


Another complication was that I had a bunch of gifts in the truck with me that I’d bought.  My only option available seemed to be to call her and have her meet me at a point closest to home on my way back west and drop the gifts off with her thereby freeing me up to then make my way home by whatever means unencumbered. After achieving that objective rather easily, I continued in my duty and returned to the warehouse in Kansas arriving around mid-evening. Resolved to my lack of any other remedy for my predicament I slept for a few hours and before light the next morning I was on my way back the way I had just came toward my home.

How you ask? by what mode or method? on foot my friend…

I took off walking with only a rolled up rain poncho and a black magic marker to make my destination signs with. I had to walk about 10 miles on 207th st. which is a gravel road before I came to hyw 69 at Stanley Ks. I scrambled up an embankment to the 4 lane road and within minutes was offered a ride with an older gentleman who took me to Harrissonville Mo. Next, I was given a ride from the 7/71 jct. on the back of a 1 ton flatbed all the way to Spfd, Mo. It was a very cold ride but despite my discomfort, I was most content, quite thankful even…imagine that!

Soon I arrived in Spfd at the I-44/13  junction, my new friends were headed into town and so I hopped off there. I was rather numb in my legs from the cold and so my walking was with a stiff limp. I hobbled over to the nearby McDonald’s for the days first “nourishment” of any kind and upon returning to my journey couldn’t help but notice how many people were crowding the ramps of the highway that day, panhandlers holding signs each pleading their case for charity. I remember I felt some embarrassment at that because I was afraid I would be mistaken for such because of my cardboard sign that read,”hyw 60 east” but I had come much too far to let such a baseless reluctance dissuade me.

It was nearly midday now and I had made it close to half way home! In the waning hours of that late December afternoon what I remember the most was walking what seemed like great distances on the snow covered frozen shoulder of the highway, hands and feet stinging from the lack of circulation in them, feeling the blasts of frigid air pushing me back and then swirling around me as the endless convoy’s of the freight trucks blasted by. Under these circumstances,one must also steel themselves to the thousand’s of curious stares fixed upon them by passing motorists, each with questioning eye’s which at times seemed to ask,

“What are you doing out here?’

But the Lord was with me…and after several warm comfortable rides I traveled the remaining 150 miles. By 4:30 that afternoon I was on the phone to my stunned wife asking her to drive the short distance into town and pick me up! As I think back I’m still amazed by many aspects of what occurred that day. I’m amazed at the kindness of strangers who perhaps disregarded their better judgement in giving me a lift that day. I’m amazed at my own tenacity that I would even attempt such a thing. Being put in the position I was, what was most essential to me was my faith and trust in God, that he was with me and that he would make my way if only I would just continue to put one foot in front of the other quite literally walking in faith! My feeling was that for every step I took after Him, He took two towards me! It was as if he longed to express his love for me and show me that no detail is too small to escape his notice and that nothing can separate me from his love and care…Several years have passed since then, but just like so many other times in my life before and since when I needed Him, my heavenly Father was always there!

No matter what season it is, can a man have any more comfort than that?

tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy…