About Billy Graham – A Different Perspective


We got our first black-and-white television sometime around the time I was four years old. Television was quite the novelty for our family, and it didn’t get turned on unless there was something in particular we wanted to watch. I remember Saturday morning westerns on television in particular, and a few selected weeknight programs that aired after my homework was finished and before my 8:30 pm bedtime. My father liked to watch the evening news on television, but he was always very conscious of my presence in the room, and would turn off the television set if the news included something he didn’t think I should be exposed to as a young child. I was a very sensitive little girl, tenderhearted to the core, and my parents were always careful to protect me from things that were frightening or threatening to me.

Also in our home was my grandmother, who lived with us until her death after I was grown and married. Granny was a Bible toting, Hell and Brimstone devout Southern Baptist, who believed that because we were Methodists, we were in dire need of salvation. She was an odd duck, to put it mildly, who picked and chose her favorites among her grandchildren, and who could be very cruel to those who weren’t on her “favorites” list. She never quite approved of me, but for some reason I didn’t get the brunt of her very strange personality as my sister and some of my cousins did. As sensitive as I was as a child, it’s a wonder that she didn’t mar me for life.

With all this said, there was something that happened when I was about nine years old that had to do with a combination of Granny, her strict religious beliefs, and our black-and-white television, which at the time seemed relatively tame, as far as I was concerned. I guess it was the perfect storm aimed at little Jennie Lou.

It was a Billy Graham crusade. I think it must have been the first one aired on network television. Granny was exuberant in anticipation of watching the crusade on our tv. She listened to his radio program religiously, and sent him money whenever she had a little extra to spare from her babysitting jobs. She convinced Daddy that we all needed to watch the broadcast. I am sure that she believed that we would be saved and would see the error of our Methodist ways. I didn’t know what to expect.

I was a little girl that night—only nine years old. I had been brought up to this point in my young life learning about Jesus and his teaching, believing that God is Love and that Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. My faith was that of a child, simple and true. Looking back at that night, I don’t remember any specific details about watching the crusade service, but I recall the music—hymns I knew from the Methodist church—which were beautiful. What I do remember is Billy Graham at the pulpit preaching, and how his voice and way of talking fascinated me. I was mesmerized, at first. Then terrified. He got louder and louder, began waving his arms into the air, holding up his Bible with one hand, and pounding on it with the other. I’m sure his sermon was typical of an evangelistic camp meeting of the time, but to me it was the opposite of inspiring. It scared me to death. I began to fidget, and Granny sternly instructed me to sit still and listen to what Billy Graham had to say.

I started silently crying, tears rolling down my face, afraid to move from my spot on the sofa next to Granny. She was loving it, and it appeared that my parents were also paying close attention to Billy Graham’s sermon. My feelings of fear grew and grew, until I jumped up from the sofa and ran to my room, slamming the door behind me. I sprang onto my bed, pulled the covers up around me and sobbed like there was no tomorrow.

My mother followed me to my room, and quietly sat down at the edge of my bed. I folded up into her warm and loving arms and buried my face into her soft and cushiony bosom. She finally got enough out of me to learn that Billy Graham had truly frightened me, although to this day I don’t recall exactly what he said that sent me over the edge. I only know that I was afraid that I was going to die and go to Hell, and that I might not wake up in the morning. I also remember not understanding what it meant to be saved, and he had said that if I weren’t saved, I would spend eternity separated from God and Jesus in eternal fire and agony. I loved Jesus. I had a print of him holding a lamb hanging over my bed, which comforted me and made me feel close to him. Why was Billy Graham saying that I wasn’t good enough?

I don’t remember what my mother said to me that night. I only remember her arms wrapped around my small body and her soft voice reassuring me that I was loved and that nothing bad was going to happen to me. She sat with me until I fell asleep, a habit that continued for quite some time after that night, because I was afraid that if I fell asleep, I would die and never see my family again.

The Billy Graham Crusade was banned from our home television viewing after that night, much to my grandmother’s objections. Later, when I became a teenager, she would watch the crusades on television when they aired, but I always stayed in my bedroom, refusing to watch.

I was confirmed into the church when I was eleven years old, and when I was sixteen, I dedicated my life to Christ. Even then, I was still somewhat afraid of Billy Graham. As an adult, I worked up the courage to watch one of his crusades on television and puzzled over what had frightened me so intensely that night when I was nine. It is something I’ve never quite understood or come to grips with.

As I write about this childhood memory, I do so within a week of Billy Graham’s death. Reading about his passing and his life and watching commentaries about him have brought this all back into my mind. I am in awe of the man, his great faith, his calling to preach the Gospel to the world, and his lifelong dedication to God and to saving souls for Christ. He did more in his life to bring people to God than I could ever imagine doing in mine.

It makes me wonder, however, what it was that frightened me so many years ago when I was watching him and listening to him preach on our little black-and-white television set. I wish I knew. It would make it so much easier for me to reconcile what I know about Billy Graham’s life and ministry with what I experienced as a child in the living room of my home. Why didn’t his message bring me to my knees at the altar in confession and salvation as it did for so many people over the course of his lifetime? What was it that terrified me? I was a child of God then, growing in my faith, and walking the path of redemption and salvation in my own little life. What was it that frightened me so terribly?

In my collection of days, the day this nine-year-old watched the Billy Graham crusade on television was a significant one in my life, and one that left an imprint that has stayed with me all these years. As a Christian, it also leaves me without a clear understanding or answer about this memory, pondering why I feel the need to record it now in my writing.

As his followers mourn his passing, as people line up to pay their final respects to him, and as accolades are proclaimed about his life and ministry, I find myself with more questions than answers. I know that there is much rejoicing in Heaven over Billy Graham’s arrival into God’s kingdom, but I can’t forget the little girl in Georgia who was afraid to go to sleep at night.

What is the message in all of this for me? I don’t know. I wish I did.


Getting Sick as a Newly Classified Elderly Person


For the first time in my life, this week I realized that I am officially classified as “Elderly.”

I got sick. Pretty sick. Pretty Darn Sick. The first time in many years that I’ve felt so horrible, I had to go to an Urgent Care facility. I wasn’t at home and near my primary care physician, or I would have made an appointment to see her. I had no choice. I knew I was getting worse and had to have help.

My friend, Ken, whose house I was visiting when I became ill, drove me to Urgent Care. I was so very thankful that he was with me. I don’t know if I could have driven there myself, much less located it, since I was in unfamiliar territory.

It started out with a tickle in my throat. Nothing major. Ricola drops took care of the tickle, and I felt fine. For two days. I had no fever, and I didn’t feel bad at all.

Then, on Sunday night, as we were leaving a dinner party, my nose began to clog up, and by the time we got back to Ken’s home, I could barely catch my breath unless I breathed completely through my mouth. More Ricola, and I went straight to bed.

Monday morning when I awakened, I could hear my breath whistling in my chest. I knew I was in trouble. I was coughing my head off, and knew I would be unable to drive home to get to my own doctor. I found an Urgent Care center online that was near Ken’s house and set up an appointment over the internet.

Two hours later, I was ushered into an examining room where I was treated like royalty by a triage nurse and another nurse. They brought me a glass of cold water to sip on while I waited for the doctor, as well as a box of tissues. As badly as I felt, I was keenly aware of their kindness and concern, and was deeply appreciative. They addressed me as “Miss Jennie,” which made me feel even more comfortable and secure in their care.

I didn’t have to wait long until Autumn, a lovely PA, entered my room and began examining me. It didn’t take her more than two stethoscope listening spots and hearing my cough, that she pronounced that I had acute bronchitis. I had pretty much figured that out on my own. Since I had no fever, and no body aches, I was almost certain that what I had wasn’t the flu. But it was reassuring to hear her voice confirm my suspicions. She told me that she was prescribing a Nebulizer treatment for me. My blank expression told her plainly that I had no idea what she was talking about. She explained that it was a breathing treatment that would help open up my bronchial passages.

This was when I realized I’m not a spring chick anymore. Autumn went on to inform me that she was prescribing an antibiotic as a preventive measure. Why? I asked. Very gently, she explained to me that in The Elderly, bronchitis often leads to pneumonia, and in The Elderly, this can be very dangerous. I was still consciously focusing my attention and attempting to come up with some kind of visual image of what on earth a breathing treatment was when I was hit with the fact that I am now Elderly. If I hadn’t felt so lousy, I might have bristled at the thought of this, but I knew I needed help, and I trusted this very bright and intelligent young woman to take care of me. Now I pictured myself as a crotchety old woman sporting some kind of mask over my face having oxygen pumped into my chest. I was clearly confused.

A few minutes later, the nurse returned with the Nebulizer, and showed me how it worked. It wasn’t a huge machine—it was actually pretty small. Not what I had imagined. The treatment wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be, and actually felt rather nice as I breathed in the steamy medication. But the newly planted thought, I am Elderly, became a mantra as I breathed in and out. The treatment made me feel quite shaky, however, which she explained was a temporary side effect that would subside in about 30 minutes.

With the breathing treatment completed, I rested for a few minutes until Autumn returned with my prescriptions and a printout of everything that was done to me that day along with a full explanation of acute bronchitis. I was totally impressed. She also told me that I would be contagious for two days, and after that I could return to work when I felt up to it. I was concerned about my contagion, to which she answered that it was the same virus as a cold. I needed to cover my mouth when I coughed or sneezed, wash my hands regularly, and avoid close contact or sharing utensils with other people. Just being near someone else probably wouldn’t spread the germ. This made me feel much better considering the dinner party I had been to the night I became ill. I knew I would feel horrible if I passed this nasty bug on to someone else!

So, this was my experience in Urgent Care, my first as an Elderly Patient. I will be seventy years old next month. I guess I genuinely qualify for the title. I just never dreamed that I would be made aware of the fact in such a dramatic fashion. I can’t say that I am pleased with knowing I am now a card-carrying member of this population, but as they say, “it’s better than the alternative.” I can tell you this, though. This experience, coughing my way through the past few days, feeling like I’ve been rode hard and put up wet, and wishing like everything to be feeling good again has made me appreciate my good health, and it has opened my eyes to all the things I want to accomplish as a Young Elderly Person.

As soon as I quit coughing and get my strength back, I have some big, big plans of things I want to do and places I want to go. And, I am going to do everything in my power to stay healthy!

I don’t like being sick. It doesn’t come natural to me.

Tunnel Vision: My Redemption is Complete


Last night I published my new book, “Tunnel Vision: A Journal I Never Thought I’d Write. In pressing my finger on the Submit key of Createspace, I felt a sense of peace, of completion. It has been almost six years since the events recorded in my book started the ball rolling down a long frightening road, which I repeatedly called My Tunnel, having no better visual to describe where I found myself.

My dear friend, Lynne, stayed by my side during this dark time, and afterward. She is one of the many angels sent to me to rescue me, prop me up, and keep me on solid footing during this period of my life. When I sent her a text this morning to tell her that the book has been released to the universe, her response was:

“Your redemption is complete.”

She is absolutely right. Even though I have successfully put all of this behind me, the scars and tender spots are still there, although fading and becoming fainter with each day. In the past six years, I have picked up the pieces of my life, glued those back together that were worth salvaging, and tossed the rest into the pile labeled “my past.” God has surely blessed me and delivered me. There is not a minute of the day that I am not in a spirit of gratitude to God for bringing me to this day, to this place.

I am whole again, even though I still have some broken edges and a few rough places that catch me from time to time. But God is using these to steer me in the direction God wants me to go. This blog is one of them. For those few loyal readers – and I know there really are only a few of you out there – you have read my stories and my books and know what I am talking about. For anyone new stumbling upon my words today, I invite you to browse through my blog to read more. And if you are really brave, visit Amazon to take a look at my two books that are already published.

My goal is not to become a best-selling author or to make a ton of money on what I write (although a little here and there would surely be received gratefully!). What I want most of all in my life is to touch the heart of one person and change his or her life through something that I write. If that happens, I will have attained my highest goal in my life.

And so it is with this blog entry that I introduce you to my new book and invite you to purchase a copy of it. If you like it, a nice review would be appreciated. If you really like it, please share it with your friends and family and help spread the word that it is out there. For my loyal followers, I thank you from the depths of my soul for sticking with me and enjoying my musings on this blog.



2017 – A Look Back at My Year


I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions. The New Year will have enough in it for me without my making a to-do list!

However, now that the last few days of 2017 are coming into focus, I pause to take a look back at this year and ponder what the new year may have in store for me.

I did something a little different yesterday from anything I’ve ever done as I consider the ending of one page in my life and the beginning of a new one. I pulled out my journals from this past year and began reading, remembering the year and my written thoughts from each day, beginning with New Year’s Day. Some of my journal entries weren’t terribly impressive or interesting at first glance, but then something happened while turning the pages from one day to the next. I began noticing the emergence of a handful of themes, as I read my own words and musings from day to day. I began to jot down main topics of my writing, discovering that there were a few things that seemed to stay on my mind, or in its recesses, throughout the year. Interesting!

And now, I will share these with you, my dear readers and friends.

Spiritually, it was a year of growth for me. Early in the year, I wrote that I felt off-balance and not sure where I was heading. I had a premonition of challenges and struggles in my future, which weighed heavily on me during the winter months. Then, one day after listing the things I was grateful for, I ended the entry with, “I love God!!”  With spring, came the unexpected death of a dear friend, and I also watched helplessly as some of my favorite little farm animals died, one right after another, without cause or reason, it seemed to me. I wrote about “the ebb and flow of life.” It was a time of sadness and loss, and I found myself turning to God and prayer for comfort and understanding. Gratitude remained an ongoing theme, along with God’s grace. With these losses tearing at my heart the way they did, I began seeking to make a difference through my own life and in my writing. I wrote about fear versus faith, knowing that my faith could overcome any fear I had. It was an epiphany, hearing God’s voice in my heart and recording His message in my journal, “I will take care of you. You have nothing to fear.”

Professionally, and as a by-product – financially – 2017 was a year of  insecurity. Early in the year I learned that my job wasn’t secure, and I began wondering if retirement was approaching more quickly than I was prepared for. Money, or the lack of it, took a prominent place in my journal where I fretted about being poor and worried about the future and my financial status. I rode that choppy wave until the end of July, when my position was finally terminated. During this time of waiting for the ax to fall, I coined a new mantra for myself, sharing with my prayer posse girlfriends that my immediate goal was to just “relax and let life happen.” It was much easier said than done, especially when panic would overcome me, and I’d forget momentarily about God’s promise to take care of me. I applied for a newly created position at the same place that let me go, wondering if I wanted to go back there to work if they offered the job to me, or if I might perhaps be ready to retire, regardless of my income.

So, what did I do? In August, I went on a road trip with my cousin! We headed north to Maine, then meandered our way back, exploring back roads and picturesque towns, staying in obscure places, meeting fascinating people, reuniting with old friends, laughing, crying, talking, and soaking in this beautiful part of our country. It was in a gift shop in Amish country that I found a plaque that read, “A ship at harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are for,” which I bought. In my journal entries during this trip, spirituality and faith took a front seat, as well as this new mantra about ships. I decided my ship is not ready to stay in the harbor. My ship is still at sea! While on the road trip, I received an invitation to interview for the new position opening, and soon after returning home, I was back where I had left two months earlier. God was at work in my life. I had a new job, which was exactly like the one I was terminated from, but with a higher pay grade and better benefits. Again, my journal pages were dotted with thoughts and prayers of gratitude.

Another theme of my year was that of yearning for a circle of close friends, and in particular for someone who might join me on my life path, someone who would understand the heart and soul of a writer.This was the year that “Jennie’s Girls” became an official group, and I wrote about my love for these delightful young women who took me in as their adopted mom / big sister, and who have placed my heart tenderly into their hands. They have taught me how to live in the present and not obsess over the vague and unknown future. Again, the word “gratitude” found its way onto my journal pages. I also noted that I was beginning to feel more like a part of the “prayer posse” of women I meet with on a weekly basis. I had felt very much on the fringes of this group when the year began, but as it progressed, my writing clearly expressed that this was becoming my circle of friends. As for finding someone who might join me on my life path, I am hopeful. We’ll just have to wait and see what I write about in 2018 regarding this!

So it is that I bid farewell to 2017 and all that it brought my way. It was a year where I often felt like I was not treading on a solid surface, but on a wobbly one at times, and one where I was tested with loss and sadness, often coming at me from many directions and in various forms. But through the year I came to realize that indeed my house is built on a firm foundation, and that God is keeping His promise to me. I was also reminded that faith is stronger than fear, good friends are in my circle, and that my ship is still at sea. I am looking forward to 2018 with joyful anticipation of whatever is out there waiting for me.

Goodbye 2017, and thank you!

Raggedy Ann and Christmas


This little girl, Raggedy Ann, has a very special story to tell you this Christmas. Here she is, happily sitting on the bed in my guest room, with the quilt that my Mama hand-quilted beneath her, and the pillow that Mama also hand-quilted supporting her as she waits to share a very special story with you.

Raggedy Ann wasn’t always faded and mended, as you can tell if you look very closely at her little legs and the sutures that were lovingly placed to mend the fabric of her legs many years ago. You can’t see underneath her faded flowery dress and dull white pinafore to the faded red heart that says, “I Love You.” You also can’t see the back of her head where her orange yarn hair has fallen out with the years, leaving a bald spot at her crown. Her black button eyes once sat close to her face, while today one of them is extended and hanging on by a thread. But if you look at her smile, you will see that Ann is happy and content, and she is safe with her little girl, Jennie Lou.

Ann was a Christmas gift to Jennie Lou for her first Christmas when she was less than a year old. Jennie Lou doesn’t remember the day that Ann appeared under the Christmas tree, but her mama told her about how she ran (yes, she had been walking since she was seven months old!) to the tree, grabbed Ann up into her little arms, and hugged her tightly. That Christmas, Ann was actually taller than Jennie Lou was, and her mama joyfully related the memory of Jennie Lou holding this wonderful doll in her lap, a doll who completely enveloped the little toddler in her rag doll arms.

That first Christmas was the beginning of a lifelong friendship between Ann and Jennie Lou. Ann slept with the little girl every night, and even had a pillow of her own to rest her head. She said her prayers with Jennie Lou, as the little girl would fold Ann’s hands together as she did her own little hands to pray each night. Jennie Lou showed Ann the  portrait of Jesus holding a baby lamb that hung above her bed, and when she was old enough, she told Ann all about Jesus, the good shepherd. Every morning the little child would pull up the dress and pinafore from Ann’s body to look at her red heart, knowing that the words, “I Love You” were still there, long before she was able to read the words for herself. She knew what the heart meant, and she loved her Raggedy Ann with all her heart.

Jennie Lou grew and grew, and in a few years she was taller than Ann. Her love for her beloved doll grew and grew as well, as they shared adventures, went for rides in Jennie Lou’s doll carriage, rocked in the big wicker rocking chair on the back porch together, made blanket forts underneath the dining room table, and went outside together to look for good Thinking Places. Ann absorbed the child’s tears when she was sad or angry, received many hugs and kisses along with lots of loving, and listened to stories of adventures that Ann wasn’t allowed to accompany her on. Ann never stopped smiling. Her love for her little girl was constant and true. Her “I Love You” heart always reminded her that there was a special bond between her and Jennie Lou. She knew that she was loved as much as she loved.

One day when Jennie Lou was a teenager, she noticed that Ann was fading and becoming very fragile. She couldn’t bear to part with Ann, but she was afraid that Ann’s fabric arms and legs were at risk of more injury and becoming torn. She lovingly wrapped Ann in a large towel and placed her in a cedar chest in her bedroom. Every now and then she would open the chest and take Ann out for a visit, and then tenderly put Ann back into the cedar chest where she knew she would be safe.

The years passed. Jennie Lou became a mother and had two sons of her own. While she didn’t dare give Ann to her little boys to play with, she gave them each a Raggedy Andy doll of their own, making sure that each doll had the same red heart as Ann had. She wanted her little sons to know that Andy loved them as Ann loved her. Somewhere along the way, the little boys outgrew their Andy dolls, and they were donated to charity for another child to have. Star Wars action figures, Transformers, and GI Joes took center stage as the little boys grew, and the Andys were soon forgotten.

But Jennie Lou never forgot about her Ann. Ann traveled with Jennie Lou through her life with move after move, from one home to another, where she was always safely tucked away in the cedar chest, never far from Jennie Lou’s bedroom, no matter where she lived.

There came a time in Jennie Lou’s life when she feared for Ann. Jennie Lou was going through a trying and painful period of her life in which she feared for those possessions that she treasured the most. One day, in desperation, she took Ann out of the cedar chest, wrapped her in a blanket, and whisked her out of her house without anyone noticing, taking her to visit a friend. This particular friend, named Dena, had a bedroom in her home that was her Raggedy Ann room. Jennie Lou had visited it and had told Dena all about Ann and how special she was. Dena offered to keep Ann for her until Jennie Lou’s life returned to normal, and Jennie Lou took her up on her offer. Jennie Lou and Dena made a spot for Ann among all the other Anns in the room, making sure she was comfortable and happy. With tears flowing down her cheeks, Jennie Lou kissed Ann goodbye and promised her that nothing bad would ever happen to her.

A few years passed. Jennie Lou’s life led her down a lovely and bright new path, the sun came back out in her life, and she moved into a new house of her very own. She was very happy in her home, starting a new and fresh life, when surprise of surprises! Dena came to visit her one day, carrying Ann in her arms. Dena told her that it was time for Ann to come back home.

Together, they placed Ann on the guest room bed, surrounded by photos of Jennie Lou’s family, posters and pictures of happy times and places adorning the walls. Ann sweetly smiled as she rested her head against the comfy pillow, and her red heart underneath her faded dress and pinafore just about burst with happiness and love.

Ann was now sixty-eight years old, the same age as Jennie Lou.

Ann was home.

And so was Jennie Lou.

Raggedy Ann and Jennie Lou wish all of you a blessed Christmas, filled with love and happiness as we once again welcome the Christ Child into our lives! May our hearts always beat with Christ’s love, just as Ann’s has all these many years.

Merry Christmas, 2017


Christmas 2017

With a blank page in front of me this afternoon, I pause before writing anything, thinking back over this year. I’m not sure what to write. It has been a year that resembles a roller coaster ride of activity and emotions for me. I don’t want to bore you all with a running list of all that has happened in my life, but rather write something that may tug at a heartstring or two, cause you to pause and think for a moment, or perhaps stop to ponder what Christmas is all about.

I wasn’t sure I had a Christmas letter in me this year. I’ve been so immersed in the writing of my two recent books and my blog, I wondered if I had a decent creative thought left in my brain to pass along to you this Christmas. I stare at the page on my computer screen, contemplating what message to convey, if there is one, this Christmas season.

And now, suddenly, I look up, and here it is! My Christmas story is staring me in the face as I sit in my favorite easy chair across the room from my Christmas tree! It is my Angel Tree, adorned with angel ornaments and keepsakes from my life’s history. There are probably close to 100 angels watching me as I attempt to write. Maybe this is my Christmas message this year – angels watching over us. Angels played a major role in the nativity story, announcing the birth of Jesus. “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!” the hymn writer penned. They had quite an announcement to make to the shepherds on the hillside that winter night. Angels have also been part of my own story all my life, as I have always held the belief that I have at least one, if not more, guardian angels.

I’m not sure how my Angel Tree came to be. I never intentionally collected angel ornaments. It seems that they somehow collected me, every one of them with its unique story to tell. Even some of the ornaments that have traveled with me over the years from my childhood have angels on them. There are a few on the tree that don’t fit the angel profile, but in a way they are angels, too, because of how they came to be. Selected ones from Wade’s and Brian’s childhood are here, as well as ornaments that have something to do with cookies, given to me to honor my Christmas Cookie Baking Day that I have every year. And there are a few butterflies and snowflakes among the collection – which to me are almost the same as angels. They are all special, and they each have a story to tell and a message to share.

I am reminded of a song I sang as a child, “All night, all day. Angels watching over me, my Lord. All night, all day. Angels watching over me.” I believed it then, and I believe it now. I am certain that angels are always around us, and that they most certainly watch over us, whether we pay any attention to them or not.

As Christmas approaches, let’s all make an effort to be aware of the angels surrounding us. You know, they come in all shapes and sizes, and often surprise us with their presence. Angels are messengers of God, and guardians of our hearts and souls. And, like my Christmas story this year, they are often right there in front of us, waiting for us to acknowledge them and give them wings to fly.

Merry Christmas from Sunshine and me!

Not All Who Wander…


This morning I had the exquisite treat of attending the Atlanta Hospitality Thirteenth Annual Prayer Breakfast with my friend, Beth. I have been her guest for these breakfasts for several years, and I always look forward to them. I have not been able to attend all of them, but Beth always includes me in her guest list, and if at all possible, I go. If my counting is correct, I think this one was my sixth. Each one has offered me something of value to take home with me to ponder, as well as something inspirational to strengthen me in my faith journey.

This morning’s program was no exception. In fact, it surpassed all of my expectations. I went in thinking, “How can this one be better than last year? Or the year before?” To be fair, I am not grading them. Each one has been the best. Each one has touched my heart. Each one has tugged at my soul. Each one has given me a special oomph I’ve needed at that particular time and place in my life.

I especially identified with Ken Mansfield’s presentation, or shall I be so bold as to say, testimony. Maybe it was The Beatles connection that caught my attention, as he shared with us about his business relationship with my all-time favorite rock and roll group when he was with Apple Records back in the day. That, at least, perked up my ears to listen more attentively. What struck me most, however, were his words as he described his faith journey. While I never experienced the prestige and the wealth that he had in the height of his career, there was something about his path that felt somehow like mine. I connected with him on a spiritual level and knew that God was talking to me through him.

Then, it was over. Beth and I drove back to her house where I picked my own car up to continue back home. Mulling over some of what I had heard this morning, my eyes were teary, and I had to keep brushing them with my hands in order to see where I was driving. My heart was full to overflowing with thoughts of God and God’s love, and I was thankful for this morning and the opportunity to reconnect and be re-filled.

When I stopped for a traffic light along my way, still thinking about what Ken had said in his talk, my attention focused on the vehicle in front of me. It was Jeep-like – I really can’t tell you what make or model it was. The only thing that I saw was the spare tire cover on its tailgate, which read, “Not All Who Wander Are Lost.”  

Pow! It was a message meant for me. I have been a wanderer all of my life. I am a Christian, and have professed the Christian faith for as long as I can remember, but my life has been that of a wanderer, both physically and spiritually. I have questioned God, my faith, why things have happened to me the way they have in my life, and a myriad of other things that I just haven’t been able to understand. I have wandered in the desert of doubt, and have nearly drowned in the sea of fear

Yes, I, like Ken Mansfield, am a wanderer. Our life paths have taken us to the mountain top and to the dark valleys below. We both have been in the place where all we had in our possession were a few boxes of personal belongings, holding them and wondering what the next day would bring. But the sign, “Not All Who Wander are Lost” brought comfort to my heart, and I’m sure it would to him if he had seen it, too.

I think God kind of likes us wanderers. We are the ones who aren’t satisfied and content to sit in the same place our entire lives, neither geographically nor spiritually. We are the questioners, the seekers, the ones who ask a million questions and who are always eager to learn.

I may be a wanderer, but through the grace of God, He keeps His light on my path. God has a firm grip on my hand, to lead me and guide me, to pull me out of mud puddles as well as deep waters, and to jerk me up by the nape of my neck when I get myself into a really bad place. Ken’s talk this morning reminded me once again that God loves me wherever I may wander, and that I am a child of God. There is nowhere I can go that God isn’t there with me.

I may be a wanderer, but I am not lost.