From the category archives:

Turning Points

Old Jalopy

The Rental

Last week we made a cross-country U-turn and returned to Lubbock for a wedding and some work and training.  We needed to rent a car, but weren’t too worried about it.  Hey, it was Wednesday, in June, in Lubbock Texas.  What could possibly be a problem with renting a car?

Texas Tech University, that’s what.  It’s the tail that wags everybody’s dog in Lubbock, and it seems they were having Freshman Orientation or something, and all the cars were booked.  Except at Hertz.  So we stand in the long line and wait.  Finally I tell the desk jockey I would like an SUV for four days.

“I can do that rental for $131.00,” she says.  I’m impressed.  “Go for it,” says I.

Turns out that was $131.00 a day.  Something about supply and demand.

Oh well.  Sometimes you’re just running on five cylinders.

(Speaking of supply and demand, the next day Alamo had a supply – $21.00 a day for a Camry – and I made a demand that Hertz take their gold-plated rental back.) [click to continue…]

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Leaving Texas

“What is the secret of your life?” asked Mrs. Browning of Charles Kingsley; “Tell me, that I may make mine beautiful too?” 

He replied, “I had a friend.”  -William C. Gannet

It was 18 years ago this month that I came to this place… this place of tumbleweeds and dust and amazing sunsets and more amazing people.

It was nothing short of surrender.  I had given up on me – the “me” of my own making or imagination, that is.

My friends in Atlanta asked, “Where are you moving?”

“To hell,” I replied.  “If the world was flat, Lubbock would be on the edge of it.”

But oh what I discovered when I showed up as a shell of the man I once was.  Most importantly, I discovered that God was here all the time, waiting so patiently for me to get here. [click to continue…]

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waterfall 10

It all started with that “Welcome to Mobile” sinus headache.

Ever go to bed with a mild ache that says, “You should probably address this before you get in bed?”

Yeah, about that.

I had this dull ache that turned into an evil roar at 3:30 in the morning.  Sinuses. Head. Neck.  Attitude.  Everything was in pain.

I didn’t want to wake people up, and didn’t have a lot of options, so I tried taking a shower.  That’s when my wife came in to see what was up.

Did I want some pain medicine, she asked?

Boy, did I.

Now I should mention that the “pain medicine” she referred to isn’t your basic over-the-counter pablum.  This was he-man stuff… soon I’d be pain-free and loving everybody.

I should also mention that it isn’t wise to take this on an empty stomach.  Bad things can happen. [click to continue…]

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He Had a Hammer

by Andy Wood on April 8, 2014

in LV Stories,Turning Points

Aaron

I never really knew that Hank Aaron was black.  But I knew he was from Mobile, my home town.  And, lest I forget, the Mobile Press Register would remind me daily as it tracked Aaron’s pursuit of Babe Ruth’s home run record, shattered 40 years ago today.

The Atlanta Braves moved onto my radar when I was eight years old.  That’s when the franchise moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta.  We started listening to Braves games on WUNI radio, where we heard guys like Milo Hamilton and Ernie Johnson – and later Pete Van Wieren and Skip Carey (my all-time favorite) – call games.  Occasionally we’d watch Pee Wee Reese and Dizzy Dean announce a TV game on the Pensacola station.

My granddaddy loved baseball.

My dad appreciated it.

I loved Henry Aaron.

He was and is a symbol to me.  [click to continue…]

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Wreck

This is about the time I tried to climb a tree.

In a car.

I did not succeed.

I walked away (literally).  Neither the car nor the tree were very appreciative.

Fayette, Alabama, early 90s. I was minding my own business when…

What?

Oh.  OK. Starting over…

Fayette, Alabama, early 90s.  I wasn’t paying attention.

(How was that?)

I was making the little run from my house to the office – something I did every day at least twice a day.  In between one neighborhood and another was a stretch of about half a mile that was sort of woodsy and country.

And there was this little ditch.

I’d never noticed it before.  But you can be sure I never ignored it again after this day.  The ditch was just wide enough for my right tires to slip right in.  And slip they did.

What I’m describing to you happened at about 30 miles per hour in a matter of seconds.  The car slipped off the road and the wheels slipped into a ditch as if I were in an oversized slot car game.

I should probably point out here that while my car, like most cars, had two foot pedals, I always figured the big one was mostly for decoration.  So like most oops-the-road situations, I didn’t hit the brakes – I just tried to wheel my way back out of the ditch.

That wasn’t happening.

What was happening was the sudden appearance of this massive oak tree. Y’all, it just jumped out of nowhere.  It saw me coming and the acorns went to work. Next thing I knew the ditch forced me to introduce myself to the tree.  I swear I had nothing to do with it.

That what I explained to the insurance company anyway.  They sorta looked at me like I left my brain back at the oak tree.

Anyway, rewinding… still moving along about 25 mph, I kept trying to wheel my way out of my slot-shaped ditch.  The thought didn’t occur to me – not once – to hit the brakes.  So yes, I wound up ramming my car into the tree and actually fender-climbing it a bit.

Nothing hurt but my pride.  Well, and the car, which I never drove again.                                            

This real-life experience has become a metaphor for me for what can often happen in life.  I’ve seen it happen to people’s careers.  Their influence.  Their personal lives at whatever level. Their relationships.  Somewhere, somehow, without wanting to, they hit the ditch.  And they’re stuck, and powerless, and a bit wrecked or hurt, and they’re halfway up a tree and without help, they ain’t going nowhere.

Yes, I’ve seen it happen to me.

Nobody sets out to wreck their lives or loves by hitting the ditch.  But in a state of mass humanization, it can happen – easily – to the best of us.  With a bit of a rewind and post-car-mortem, maybe there are a few things we can learn about that experience. [click to continue…]

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Speakers

Years ago I was shopping for a stereo and learned an interesting lesson in the store.  I cranked up the volume on a set of speakers and was impressed with what I heard.  But the sales assistant told me that even a mediocre set of speakers could do that.  The measure of a speaker’s quality, he said, was how low you could turn the volume and still hear quality sound. Then taking the volume all the way to zero, he slowly raised the level. Before the dial reached “1” I was hearing a full range of music from a quality set of speakers.

The same idea is true in the spiritual realm, as no less than Elijah from scripture can testify. [click to continue…]

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When Life Hands You Buzzards

by Andy Wood on January 3, 2014

in Turning Points

Deer Bluff (Looking up from below Deer Bluff. The picture doesn’t do it justice.)

 

Family reunion at the farm, and it was crowd-ed.  People were in every nook and cranny, and I don’t even know what a cranny is.  I just needed to get away and spend time with the Lord. I so wanted to be refreshed by His presence and hear His voice speak to me in the way only He can.

What better way to do that than to enjoy the Father’s presence in nature?  I was about 16 at the time, and for me that could only mean one thing – mount Grandaddy’s old Ford tractor and make the trek to the enchantment of Deer Bluff. [click to continue…]

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Desperate PrayerYou wouldn’t believe it.  Not unless you saw it with your own two eyes.

You wouldn’t recognize him. Not unless you were with that band of misfits that united under his leadership.

But here you are and there he is and My God, what has happened?  This is the guy whose exploits they sang about.  This is the Giant Killer.  In one afternoon you saw him rally his own people and send an army of Philistines running in fear.

And now he and you are living like pathetic dogs in a cave.  Dirty. Haggard. Weak. Exhausted.  And there before your eyes the man you knew would be king is at the end of his life.

Why?

Because he’s at the end of his courage.  [click to continue…]

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kennedy_funeral_0827

(Sort-of-random thoughts on the anniversary of infamy and conspiracy theories and high-powered cold medicine, which doesn’t really go with the previous two subjects but can sure make you see them in a whole new way…)

So many years gone… I was only five at the time.  Still I remember the solemn funeral, the haunting image of the caisson and that black, riderless horse, and Mrs. Kennedy standing behind the veil.  I don’t remember much else of the time, except for the fact that we had a black-and-white TV with three channels available, and when the president was on TV, we could forget watching Captain Kangaroo or Tom and Jerry because he would be on all three channels at the same time.

Wow… how did I ever survive a childhood without Sesame Street, the Cartoon Network, or Nick Jr.?  The “Disney Channel” of course!  Which came on for an hour every Sunday night at 6:00 on NBC.

Okay, so – in case you missed it – I wanted to let you know that there are people who still believe that no single shooter could have ended the days of Camelot.  [click to continue…]

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inflated gloveThe stress you feel is proportional to the amount of control you have over a situation.

That sounds very intuitive, but there’s a spiritual contradiction to that.  More on that in a minute.

Here’s an example of how that idea works out in the natural.  A month ago I go to the doctor and he says my lipid levels are high.  I roll my eyes and say, “same old same old.” I don’t get stressed about it because there is something I can do to correct it.  Anyway, I’ve been hearing that for 30 years.

When he sends me for another test and I find out my heart calcium score is high, almost in the danger zone, again, the first thing I do is look for something I can do about it, because I have a steadfast belief that I can do something about it.  So I’m motivated, but not stressed.

Same thing goes, even when I’m told I’m a Type II diabetic because of my lifestyle choices in the past.  Well, crud.  But I can do something about that by making different choices (and by the way I am making different choices and seeing wonderful results).

But when the doctor says I have a narrowing in the arteries at the top of my heart and he “wants to take a look at it” with an angiogram, and oh, by the way, if there is a significant enough blockage he may put a stint in it, suddenly he has crossed the line of my control.

Hello stress. [click to continue…]

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