GPS or Map–Navigating the Trail to Confusion Flats

Palo Duro TXI knew trip was going to be an adventure when the man on the other end of the line said, “You’ll cross the Canadian River, then turn after you cross Chicken Creek.”

Chicken Creek. Love it.

Our quest was a 220 mile journey from Medicine Lodge, KS to Pampa, TX, to help with a Kicking Bear Youth Camp. It’s this ministry that we have kind of fallen into, and being empty nesters, have the freedom to take part in. And we get to act like ten year-olds again with no mom or dad there to make us behave. For more info go to kickingbear.org or like Kicking Bear Base Camp on Facebook to check out the fun shenanigans.

So west we headed. In our area, my husband is an old hand when it comes to knowing every dirt road, creek crossing, and cow path in south central Kansas and north central Oklahoma. West Texas is new uncharted land for him and has been 32 years since my foot had fallen there.

He fired up his trusty GPS, the ‘Babe-In-A-Box.’

“How about we call her an actual name, like Agnes Jones?” I suggested. “Don’t you like that better?”

He peered over the top of his sunglasses and kept driving.

I chirped on, “Did we bring a map? I actually like a map better. No offense Agnes.”

One of my children informed me that maps are ‘stone age’, but I’m visual and like to lay map out across my lap. I want to see what is in proximity to where. Like how far Pampa is from Amarillo, and if I truly remember where Palo Duro Canyon is for after the trip. I need the big picture. Not necessarily the whole detailed plan, but only enough for me to be confident in where I’m headed.

Also, I am a compass rose gal. I’m friends with north, south, east, and west. Right and left does not come natural. At a moments notice I panic, have to clench which hand feels stronger, confirm that my wedding ring is located on my left hand and stick out my pointers and thumbs on both hands to see which forms the letter ‘L.’ by then a semi has eaten my lunch, and I need a defibrillator to jumpstart my ticket.

No, Agnes does not speak my lingo, and I have to scramble for readers to see her little blurry screen.

Agnes said not a word, but some odd reason, she directed us to drive around a block in Alva, OK and galavant through a roadside park in Buffalo, which we knew better.

As we boogied on down the road into the land where they pretty much grow only sand and rocks, my phone alerted me that since I am now traveling outside of the United States, sending messages could result in significant charges added to my bill. Interesting.

“Well, Cliff, I know they say that Texas is a whole other country, but I didn’t realize we needed visas to travel over the Kansas state line.

“It’s sure getting flat the farther we go and drier. These folks need rain in the worst way. When we get set up out tent, be sure and keep the flap zipped shut. I may have chased off a bear with a spatula last summer, but if a snake crawls in our tent, I be GONE!” No worries about us ever moving to the desert.

After a stretch of lonesome highway a sign appeared, pointing to The Mountain View Cemetery. This puzzles us, as well as the still silent Agnes. There is no sign of any kind of mountain, hill, or gopher mound for at least 100 miles.

I point to a sign in the ditch, “Now I can understand the thought behind South Flat Church of Christ .

Agnes pipes us and encourages us to head south.

“Wait! She left me,” Cliff exclaimed more bamboozled than a jilted husband who has come home to an empty house and a Dear John note, “I’ve just lost the signal.”

“Are you sure we don’t have a map?” Finally, at a post office stop in Booker, TX, Cliff retrieved an atlas from behind the back seat. (For the record, if you keep an eye out for a post office by looking for an American flag, well, it works real well–except on Flag Day. Yep, flags were flapping everywhere, just like they should be!)

Now we were set. Cliff had Agnes, I had Atlas. and the road stretched south out of Perryington.

But of course, not the highway number Agnes had directed.

“She can’t find me,’ Cliff sighed.

“Well, in a few miles it turns into Highway 70, and we are good to Chicken Creek.”

Sure enough we cross the Canadian River, which was about as wide as its line on the map, and ta-da, Chicken Creek and the Kicking Bear sign! We made it!

After a fabulous time at camp, we spent the next evening in Amarillo and proceeded to find our way to Palo Duro Canyon. At one stop Agnes, still pouting from being outed by something from the Santa Fe Trail Era, sent us to an intersection in semi-heavy traffic and said, “Turn right now.” Right was papered with a zillion ‘Do Not Enter! Wrong Way!” signs. The International sign for “NO” had been invented right at this very spot, I am sure. It was obvious Agnes needed updated. Cliff got us up and over and around an overpass and finally we journeyed south.

Now, I was on familiar land, but after being deceived by Agnes, guess who had a hard time believing me? “Is this the right road?’ ‘How much farther do we go east?’ and ‘As flat as this is, are you sure there is a canyon around here?’

As we dropped into the crevice, second only to the Grand Canyon, we took in the rich beauty of the area that we were blinded to, because we had been so doggoned worried about being lost. It was a totally different majesty.

While I’m not anti-GPS, this reminded me of how many times I listen to voices that sound legit, instead of going to the map of truth for myself. The danger of listening to the voices without the biblical filter, who wants to be led in circles again, and how do you know who to trust?

God gave us that Bible so we could have the whole picture laid out, to make following Him possible. The last place He wants for us to be lost in a land of despair. Not seeing it detailed to the inth degree builds our faith, with the Holy Spirit as our decoder of sorts.

Lord, please guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Turn my heart towards your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. Psalm 119:36-37

Photo credit-www.tpwd.state.tx.us

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If This Ghost Story Had Gone Awry, I Would Not Be Here To Tell the Tale.

Dovie Webster-My favorite phantom

Once upon at time, back in the hills of Missouri (pronounced ‘Missour-a’ by my family) a scoundrel had broken my Great Grandma Dovie’s heart.  She was a young gal, still at living at home, tucked in the hills and hollows of Ozark County.  Not only had he ditched her, the target of his affections happened to live down the road from Dovie’s house on this dead-end trail.  Salt was trampled into her wounded heart as she listened to those hoofbeats, thunder by on his way to spend the evening hours with his new beloved.   At least it was a warning, so she could turn her head, but she couldn’t help by watch him disappear down the road.

After an extended time of the repeated sightings, Dovie let her imaginations and anger get the best of her.  She would not–could not–let this go.  An old white sheet would be enough of a costume to accomplish her revenge.  Wrapping herself up in it like a ghost, she positioned herself in some bushes out by the road to wait until the slime made his return trip.  Surely being frightened beyond belief would be enough to discourage him from visiting her neighborhood competition.

For hours, there she sat with the bushes poking her, bored to tears, and maybe even a little cold from a strong breeze.  Finally, revenge didn’t seem near as glamorous as her mind had led her to believe, so she decided to call it a night.  Out of frustration she looped the sheet over a tree branch to flap in the breeze and went home to bed.

Hours slipped by when she suddenly was awakened by gunshots!  What in the world?  Rarely did anyone venture to this area, let alone hunt at night.  Hoofbeats echoed and then vanished into the dark.  Sleep was a long time in coming for her mother and her as they wondered if they were in danger.

The next morning Dovie ventured out to retrieve the sheet, now ruined by two bullet holes.  I’m sure as she put her fingers through the blackened tears, she was speechless.  Yes, her plan had worked wonders, but not in the way she had expected.  It was wrapped in the humble lesson that God had graciously spared her life.  Suddenly ‘revenge’ was forgotten.

Today more years than I know have passed.  Had God’s grace not been not on her, the consequences would have been tragic. This woman of faith would not have had the influence on this old world that she did.  In fact, she left a great legacy of faith and passed it on to:

1. 1 daughter

2. 2 grandchildren

3. 5 great-grandchildren

4.  16 great-grandchildren

Yes, 26 of us are awful glad she gave up and just went home!  Not a one of us would be here.

The morals to this story are: 1) that every life is precious and impacts others more than we know,  2) revenge messes with you more than the other person, to the point of being deadly sometimes, and 3) don’t waste your bullets on a what looks like a ghost!  I also suspect this is one of many stories Granny will share with us one day that prompted her to make sure ALL of us received an Old Time Gospel Hour KJV Bible, a Bible dictionary and a giant Strong’s Concordance.   Yes, she wanted to make sure we had our full armor against any spiritual boogie men that come our way.

See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply and the Lord your God will bless you.  Duet. 30:15-16

Paging Dr. Kel

Notice the little black “Cole’ scribble.

I am about to do a complicated surgery on a very dear friend.  I have all my instruments in order on my big island counter and there is no reason not to dive in and fix this poor old one’s issues.   I hesitate because this one has a life all of its own and I cringe to think I could ruin it.  I feel the pressure as we have been through a lot together.  Sweat beads on my brow and I lament that I do not have a nurse to blot it off.  Alas, I must do this alone.

About 2 years ago, I noticed that my friend was about to lose pages in Genesis.  At that time I could see the inevitable coming, so I bought a replacement.  As hard as I tried, I found myself going back to my love, my trusty Bible from when Cole was just a little guy.

The one I was using at the time was a real basic one with no study helps, concordances or anything extra.   I had cross-stitched and sewn a cute little cover for it and it had gone with me not only through crossing the Red Sea, but through showers of Kool-aid from little girls Vacation Bible School adventures.  Some pages were stained pink and had a few cute stickers, decorating them-gifts to me when I wasn’t looking.   How sad it was when it started to fall apart.   While precious to me, it was good timing because I was ready to study deeper.   In fact researching what I wanted took many days with the CBD catalog and ended in actual headaches.

With birthday money and hours of debating, I bought one and brought it home.  I was so excited.  Those wonderfully crisp, clean pages promised of great discovery.

That same day I walk into to find my 2-year-old son, the Destroyer, sitting on the dining room table, pen in hand.  He had my bible open and was creating great scribble art to his heart’s content.  Not appreciating his attempts of a book-signing, I remember bursting into tears with the words “Can we never have anything nice?”  When I calmed down, I marked the site with ‘by Cole”.  Little did I know that now, that silly scribble is one the big reasons I can’t give this Bible up.   How precious it is!   Ironically, those same blank pages in the front and the back now have my scribbles of things that are almost as good as scripture.  I have taped in lyrics from a few Casting Crowns songs, quotes from Gracia Burnham, some sermon notes of Charles Stanley, a prayer that was one of Mother Teresa’s favorites, charts of who our present day countries are vs their names in bible times, ways to pray for my husband, and much more.

Since I believe firmly in making one’s Bible her own, I have notes, stars, underlining, highlighting, etc.  festooned on many pages.  I may not be able to tell you the exact handle of a scripture, but I can tell you it’s on the left hand side of the page, 1st column, 2nd paragraph, and has the note “polka-dotted” next to it.  Yes, I do remember what that clue means, even if no one else does.  On 9-11 as calls came into the radio station that our country was under attack, I remember stopping to pray on the air.  Directly afterwards, God gave me Psalm 64.  If it doesn’t hit what was going on smack dab on the head, I don’t know what would.  So it is dated.  Along with many other passages with many other dates I don’t want to forget how God was there for me.

I’m not even going to start in about all of life we have gone through together.  That would end up a blog longer than Gone With the Wind.  I will spare you that, Scarlett.  Lets just say, there are pages smudged with lots of tears.   In some spots, if you open it just right, I swear you will hear jubilant praise and want to break out some dance moves.

The other night I noticed if I didn’t retire this Bible, I would lose pages of Genesis and now Revelation.  Since God is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, one doesn’t mess with the first and last books of the Bible.  I knew a decision had to be made.   From left field came the thought of Joyce Clarke.  Joyce has a reputation in these parts of being able to bind any book like a pro.  It’s been one of her ministries.  When I grow up, I would love to be like Joyce.  It hit me, ‘why not start by trying your hand on your Bible?’  Freak me out!  I am unqualified.  Sure I can read up on it on the Internet, but really?  My first attempt?  This book is not just any old book.  It’s the Word of God, which is ‘living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword.”  Inexperienced me is really going to cut up the Sword with a measly Exacto knife?  Then I am going to glue it back together with rubber cement?  I can’t even keep saran wrap from sticking together.

Just now God made me chuckle and made his point at the same time.  Guess what scripture I ran across?  “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”  2 Tim 2:15.

So the operating table is set.  I have studied everything I can get my hands on.  I have the tools.   The patient lies in front of me.  I will pray my way through as the Great Physician guides my hand.