Green Rivers

cropped-arizona-skyline.jpg10 years ago I had asked my oldest daughter to write about a very special adventure. I was reminded of this story when Manette posted about  “Dad Help”. When I looked up this old story I see that Manette, Mandy (Blue Collar Theologian) and David (David’s Daily Dose) had already read it. Wow. It’s worth sharing again and very much worth going to Manette’s story and illustration as well (Click here). I share this again to make an important encouragement at the end of this story. This is how and why Christianity works in this world today. Just look at all the dynamics and add your good thoughts and insights.

Green Rivers

                                                                By Tracy DeMarse

Do you ever look back and notice crazy threads that somehow seem to keep showing up in your life? Like knowing a different couple named “Mike and Julie” in all five cities you’ve lived in so far?  Or no matter how many job changes you have you always seem to have a boss named “Mitch”?  For me it usually involves “Green River.”

The first Green River was a small town in Utah.  Wikipedia tells me its population is around 973. It is miles away from any other large town and surrounded by cattle and desert. It is also where the alien planet scenes from Galaxy Quest were filmed. My husband and I had been married for about a year and were headed to LA for his summer internship when our truck broke down there.  Actually, it didn’t just break down; the engine overheated and then melted back together in a big useless metal lump.  The local mechanic said he could get to it in a week or so. We checked into a hotel, called our parents to tell them our situation and then just sat back to try to figure out a game plan. Twenty minutes later the local church pastor was at our door inviting us to dinner with his family.

Talk about word getting around fast in a small town. Actually, my Dad had gotten out his invaluable little black book and started making a few calls.  Who would have guessed that a girl from Northern Minnesota could find a connection in Green River, UT? But, truth being stranger than fiction somehow the dots had connected.  It turned out my great-aunt had a cousin who knew a guy… Yeah, seven degrees of Gary Fultz had provided the pastor of the only Christian church in town. He turned out to be a very gracious host with a lovely wife and three kids that all helped to make what did end up being a week-long stay an actually memorable and even pleasant experience.

At the time my young self just sort of floated through the week and said that was fun and went on with life. Learn something? Was I supposed to? Recalling now all that they did for us I am so amazed at the kindness of strangers.  They helped us get a used engine from a town on the Colorado border to save quite a bit off the mechanic’s bid and put us up in a house the church owned in exchange for mowing and cleaning.  I got to lead praise and worship music with their small congregation; another new experience. We didn’t have to cover many of our meals because we were invited over for dinner by multiple members of the church. We even spent Mother’s Day with the entire extended family of a local cattle rancher.  Everyone got their own very large and very fresh stake right off the grill.  Yum!

It wasn’t all fun and games, it did come with quite a price tag to fix up our truck and we arrived a week late for the internship. But, those are the things that now seem inconsequential.  When I think of that week, I have fond memories.  Family games, bike rides with the pastor’s kids, long walks with my husband, and being welcomed and showered with hospitality when we could offer virtually nothing in return.

I can’t help but wonder had the tables been turned if I would have gone to such lengths for the young stranded couple in my town?  I was shown a wonderful example of individuals willing to be the hands and feet of Christ.  I got to experience being on the receiving end of that in a time of need.  How would that week have felt without their willingness to serve?

The end of the same summer found us breaking down yet again in Green River.  This one was a town in Wyoming. It was the middle of the night and nothing was open until morning.  We spent the night on the side of a highway in a cold, cramped truck that shook every time traffic blew by us.  By morning we were stiff, sore and exhausted.  However, we were pretty close to the nearest town and the mechanic was helpful and friendly.  It was just the water pump and he could fit us in right away.  He called over to a local hotel that let us crash there and sleep while for just a few dollars. A second Green River experience had been another small example of people making the load a little lighter. Coincidence? Is there such a thing?

Fast forward a decade or so and our young family of four is moving to a small Kentucky town located on, yes, the Green River.  Once more finding ourselves miles from home and trying to navigate new surroundings.  Once more being taken under the wings of some wonderful Christian women and loved, nurtured and upheld as I got my bearings.  I thank God once again for the willingness of those women to be his hands and feet and show me around town and lead me along while I adjusted to a new place and new roles. James tells us that “Faith without works is dead.” Does that mean that works are tied to salvation?  No.  Read the rest of the book, salvation itself is in no way tied to anything we could ever do, but the ever practical James is telling us like it is, that actions speak louder than words and true faith will show itself.  As I reflect I am challenged. This thread is not new.  Jesus himself demonstrated time and again what it should look like. This is my Green River,  the servant thread being woven into my life.  I need to be open and willing to be those hands and feet and to show my faith in those practical ways; to serve.  I’m still here by the Green River, so God must have a few things planned for me.  Maybe I can be His hands and feet in someone else’s “Green River”.  Do you have a crazy thread?  What is being woven into your life?

Tracy

Now Gary’s notes:

Here’s the “Dad” side of the story. Tracy called and told me their predicament. I hope you can follow this trail...I called an uncle who pulled trailers to deliver all over the united states to ask him if he had any contacts in Green River Utah. He said no but his wife had an uncle who was a missionary, then pastored a couple years with the church there. I was able to get ahold of my aunts uncles number and called. They didn’t know anyone as the pastor was new but had the church parsonage number. I called and the pastors wife was in so I told her our daughters plight and their names and that they were at the hotel going for a swim in the pool to figure things out. She said “We will take it from here” She called her husband and asked him to pick up a young couple in room 8 at the hotel and invite them to supper. So the famous knock and the door with a pastor asking a young couple over for supper began an adventure for our kids as well as the church. And, Yes, all those numbers went into my little black book of connections I get teased about by family. They never did figure out the trail of the true tale I just told, and that’s ok.

I have recently been able to say to several people going through very hard times “Be encouraged, God is working behind the scenes” I can say that with 100% conviction because God was using myself and some others to correct a problem. We were a part of Gods solution. An old couple (both crippled but still home) down the road will soon hear these words as their roof is so bad it’s caving in. No money, no firewood for winter and the list goes on. Their adult kids do not care but a small group of us are planning how to take care of the problem. They do not know it yet. God has tapped us on the shoulder and we have said “Yes”.

Jesus said a lot of things like that. He knows what’s happening behind the scenes to the end of the age and also to the end of our lives. We should believe him. If someone says to you “be encouraged, God is working behind the scenes, you should believe them. I hope you get to say that to somebody very soon, because you have inside information. Because God has tapped you on the shoulder and you have already said “Yes”

Thank you for reading. For at least 3 of you…rereading.

Gary

Limited Time Offer

Don’t let the sun go down on this one.

When Matt posted about Hard Times in his Jesusluvsall blog, he needed prayer. He also needs a vehicle.

Me being me, I decided to check up on Matt and do a little digging. I did (sorry Matt). guess what? I found a guy whose heart is made of Gold. Yep, found gold. I suspected I had read between the lines well following his posts for awhile. That told me he has character. I also want to make sure I wasn’t involved in bailing someone out from what God is trying to teach him through hard times. Sometimes we do that as kind hearted people, which means it will happen again and again. Not the case here…I’m telling you, Gold.

Meanwhile Matt posted “The School Of Jesus” which explains why I found Gold.

  1. I’m supporting Matt in getting a vehicle for two main reasons. One is kind of selfish. If I help him buy a vehicle, every time he drives it to work, gives someone a ride or buys someone a coffee at the coffee shop, I am in on it (the selfish reason). I’m also in on it when he greets his international students in their native tongue (all 30 languages for Matt). It’s like buying stock in a company only the rewards are probably better. One could say they go on forever and Matts doing all the work.
  2. I honestly felt like God was tapping me on the shoulder saying “get in on this one Gary., it’s a limited time offer.” So, I called a friend who helps others more than I do and asked him if I was a bit nuts on this. He said, “you are Gary, and, of course you are nuts, do it and I’ll chip in as well.

So I’m posting (as some of you are) a link to matt’s go fund me link in case some of you want to get in on this limited time offer. No pressure. It’s like I told Matt “I don’t have much money, but our father is rich,” My dad used to say “people believe and sing the old hymn that He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, but they don’t believe he owns the meat in their freezer.” Let’s help Matt continue his ministry. Share a little from what we have in the freezer

I’m in.

Click Here for Matt’s Go Fund Me link

Gary

Matt, I hope we bypass your goal…by far.

Ultimate Art Thought

I’m enjoying God’s artwork today. He makes his stuff come alive. The human race must be jealous, especially those who say “no one created that”.

Click to any picture to enlarge and use slides show.

Gary

OK, saw the owl last night, does that count??

Something To Munch On

Beware the barrenness of a busy life” dad always warned. Dads gone and here I am, busy.

These were my thoughts as I watched the humming birds chase each other around and around the feeder while getting nothing. sometimes I resemble those hummers. Sometimes I learn not to be like those birds. Good thing, I would always be exhausted.

The barren life of busyness, it spreads like a virus into all areas of life. I think the only pill that completely works for that is called “quitit“. Second runner up is called ‘takeabreak“, but it’s not as effective. Lately I have had some success with “justsayno“.

As much as I would love the ultimate rush to fly like a hummingbird, I’m taking time to grow my relationships. Out of 7 of us siblings, we will have 4 major building projects going on this year. We will help one another when we can. My wife and I still talk on deep levels as well as laugh together. We adjust our strides with each other often. Our handicapped daughter is loved on a lot as well as the rest of the family when possible.

Above all, my stride with God is important as well as sitting down to hear, talk and reflect. I have been dwelling on this promise. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.” Isaiah 26:3-4

I hope you enjoy a couple of pictures. A result of the “takeabreak” pill (Click to enlarge slides)

Just some food for thought, something to munch on. Have a great rest of the week.

Gary

Near As I Can Figure

My first time visitor from across the lake wanted to see the little saw mill operation. He was a bored brother-in-law visiting the neighbor and got my number somehow and found our place after assuring me he wasn’t a telemarketer on the 3rd call. “So, what made you decide to build a little cabin?” “Well (I scratch my head through the sweaty cap and stroke a short beard) I had 3 windows and some lumber left over from a project and felt it was a good fit”. He paused to slap at a gaggle of mosquitoes on his arm “why in the woods?” I squelched a small chuckle in half and said “Where would you put the in-laws? (Now you guys know this is in good fun right?). He pressed on. “How soon will you have it done?” I shrugged my shoulders and grinned, “when the fish quit biting and probably after I help some brothers on two other building projects here and there.” His sigh was audible. It made me feel like a country hick. Felt good!!

I dropped the act a bit and shared the real reason for a little rustic off-grid cabin in the woods by our house. Guests are a gift and often need a gift. A writers cabin. A nature photographers cabin. A fishing buddy cabin. Grandkids and scary story cabin. A personal retreat cabin. I could go on, but I will share some of the things I pause for in my life. Things which make me realize how much nature often upstages my level of wonder, awe and worship of our creator. We all need a big rock on the lawn with an inscription “If You Don’t I Will” (He says in Luke 19:40, “And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.”)

In This Case…Flowers, seeds and garnish

Gary

Several bear have helped themselves to the yard and back deck. some day I will take a clear picture while I’m not chasing them away.

Again

I have a heart condition. It’s a secret to most. Those who have deeply known me over a long period of time just accept the processes of life. Eyes dim, thought delays lengthen, shorter strides gimp as the former wings of my heart and soul grow slowly defluttered. I want a good heart again.

I want to walk through the woods with unspeakable joy again.

I want to see the un-see-able as I gaze through the treetops into the heavens, past the galaxies again.

I want to rescue desire and wonder to mountains above, to wrist away warring-fear-demons smog. Again.

I want my acidic tears of grief to be purified by joy into refreshing life drops where they fall again.

I want my hearts strong rhythm refreshing and cleansing every cell, so what’s dying may live again.

Oh Lord, I need your heart to beat in me again. You can have mine. Again.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

Again

Oh friend, have you ever searched your heart and found it shriveling? After the rocks of life have so cracked the looking glasses of reality, how do we see clearly? Eternity is seen with the heart, but only clearly with the creators heart in us is life and eternity in focus at the same time.

Gary

Surviving The Crash

Several of you have wanted to know more details of my cousins daughter surviving a plane crash in Alaska last month. You may have seen something on the news or googled “plane crash on a lake in Alaska”. Notice the open water in the background if you clicked on the link.

Ashley and Glenn talk some about this in their local rural church. It’s very much worth hearing their thoughts then and today. There is a long journey ahead to get back to the top of a mountain.

This is a “before” picture. I hope it can happen again Ashley!

As a backdrop, keep some little tidbits of information in the back of your mind.

This from a text today: “The hardest part about telling the story is that it takes so long to set up the story that many of the miracles were not even mentioned.  Lake Illiamna is the 7th largest freshwater lake in the world. 1) Had the pilot started the turn 10 seconds sooner (which equals 1/2 mile), the plane would have crashed in open water.  10 seconds later and they would have crashed in the rocks.  It was perfect timing to crash onto 30 inches of ice in a bay.  2) The plan crashed in the middle of a turn, hitting wing first.  This caused the plan to cartwheel, which caused the engine and battery to be ripped off, so that there was nothing to ignite the leaking AV fuel.  3) God allowed for one of the texts to make it out, which gave coordinates and situation.  Just that small detail shaved off an hour or more of search and rescue response. 4) There is the triple A battery, that was in someone’s pocket, which was nearly sliced in two,  protecting an upper thigh from a potentially deep cut”

The list goes on and on of seemingly small details of life and death significance.

This interview, in their local church, is a part of the palm Sunday service. Pick up the conversation with Ashley at 39:45 and Glenn’s challenge as a father at 57:30. going into this. Understand this is someone with a very recent miraculous survival story. (Scroll to Ashley talking at 39:45 and Glenn at 57:30)

Scroll to Ashley talking at 39:45 and Glenn at 57:30

When asked if there was anything else I should put in this post, Glenn asked for this prayer of encouragement from Colossians 1 :9-11.  For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,  being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience”

Ask questions in comments, and, yes an account is being set up to help pay emergency evacuation and medical bills beyond what insurance will cover. I will post that later on my regular garyfultz blog

Thanks

Gary

Writers Drift

They do. They drift. Okay, so do I, maybe, I guess…Lot’s of life applications here.

I thought of this while shoveling out our driveway and then three more driveways on our road. The winds created a ground blizzard and made huge packed drifts where cars and trucks once passed through. All our drives are 100 yards long (give or take some distance). At this point I need to show you a picture of my shovel in case you think a retired guy is superhuman. Disclaimer: I wrote that for me as I know it never crossed your mind.

My snow shovel.
Yep, snow piles are everywhere this year.

Think about how easy it is to drift in life. Life’s storms and winds come up and change our direction. things pile up and our energies are used just to cope and get by.

I write this to encourage those of us who write to consider how grounded we are to the message we have set out to get across. It’s easy to drift with the winds and react to the times. If we write just to be read, it is like me shoveling snow (with the skid steer bucket of course) because I like shoveling and piling snow. Anywhere, everywhere. It’s fun! I’m afraid I have accomplished many things in life needlessly.

Truthfully, I have heard many public speakers who just like to hear themselves talk. I have read many a blog with a sigh thinking “and your point, encouragement, entertainment value or motivation is…?”

My last point is a spiritual consideration directed at those who follow Jesus.

I use a skid steer to shovel snow as it’s not humanly possible to move that much snow after a storm with hard packed snow drifts. We have no business tackling jobs without making sure we are onboard with God’s will and God’s power (not from asking God to be onboard with us). This is the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. This is from a conviction that this is what God wants us to be about. This is from our walk and living relationship with a risen Christ in us.

When we drift from operating on God’s leading and his power, we fall into the big drift of powerless mediocrity.

So, watch out for those prevailing winds of time, the storms and blizzards of life and the drift that so easily happens. “We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” Hebrews 2:1

“Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman wakes but in vain.” psalm 127:1

  1. Take a walk 2) have a talk 3)get right 4)Stay tight!

Gary

A Day Away

She volunteered to be with our daughter for an afternoon and overnight. My wife and I were finally getting a mini-vacation from caring for our daughter in one side of a small duplex on the edge of a very small town. Respite was desperately needed as I was working long hours in a new place, my wife was with our daughter 24/7 and we really didn’t know anybody yet.

Just in case something went wrong, bigger than the normal things that go wrong, we found a nice room with a hot tub, ordered a pizza, snacked on people treats, held each other, soaked, talked and found deep sleep.

My phone started ringing at 3:30AM. I couldn’t grasp what it was for a few rings, being in the deepest sleep in a long time. I realized upon answering that something was wrong bigger than the normal wrongs by the sound of her voice. I pieced together that she had stepped outside with the little dog in her PJ’s (shorts and tank top) and bare feet and the door had locked behind her. She knocked on our daughters window to let her know the predicament, but that confused our daughter. It would have been okay in the summer but it was January in northern Wisconsin, the snow had been shoveled but it was all snow and ice and a below zero (Fahrenheit) night.

She assessed the situation quickly. Conclusion: “Not Good.”

A car slowly drove by the driveway on the icy street and turned the corner. She scooped up the little dog on the run, using her previous track skills she sprinted after the car but didn’t catch it before it sped away on the main highway (yes, still in bare feet, tank top and sleep shorts). She was now lost and freezing. Looking around, she spotted a nursing home entrance. Could she be saved? There were lights and people inside. She could be saved! After beating on the locked doors for awhile someone let her in. Saved!

While thawing toes, feet, and really all of her, the story came out. She can be an entertaining story teller and this time she had a lot of material and adrenaline to work with.

She did not have her phone, so, it took awhile to track down our phone number registered in the office of the duplex we were renting which oddly was attached to the nursing home office (or she might have had to sleep there). We were only a half hour away so I drove to the nursing home, picked her up and let her into our home to care for our daughter until we got back.

Thankfully she had several things on loan (head to toes) from the nursing staff. We also traded the “I’m so sorry” lines as she really really felt bad. She only really felt bad when I told her I had forgot to tell her where the spare key was hidden outside. When she knocked on our daughters window she was close. When she tried the back door (wading through two feet of snow), all she needed to do was look up and the key was taped to the top of the frame. Now she was down to feeling bad. I should have told her where the key was in the first place…sigh. Now it’s my fault.

I drove back to our hotel, my wife was up and packed and we went home with yet another story and more than a dozen life applications.

If you have read this far, you probably have some good ideas on life and spiritual life applications on your own. Read the story to a small group of people and they will find a dozen key principles to remember and live by. Read it to Adam and Eve and they will tell you how one wrong bite changed the trajectory of life and relationships with God and on planet earth for all time.

How many doors have clicked shut behind you with no way to return? Have you told your family, friends and neighbors where the key is to Knowing God’s plan for restoring our relationship with him? Have you ever experienced “being saved?” and can tell the story of life’s icy road and not catching what you thought would help?

There was a light, she saw it, went there and knocked.

Let me show you two pictures of the same thing. One is a view while in the storm while the other is the view with clear weather, after the storm with the sun coming up. Only one picture is crystal clear.

It’s impossible to see things like truth, right and wrong, others motives, and certainly not life’s best pathway in the storms of life. How can we possibly be prepared to storms that take us by surprise? The truth is we find ourselves in our bare feet and sleepwear in the cold of relationships, jobs, illness and loss.

This story happened nine years ago but my pictures were taken this last weekend. I was reminded of this as I read these verses today from psalms.

This is the key!

Psalm 91:1 (amplified) “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty” [whose power no enemy can withstand].

Psalm 27:5 “For in the day of trouble He will hide me in His shelter; He will conceal me under the cover of His tent; He will set me high upon a rock.”
Psalm 32:7″You are my hiding place. You protect me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah”

Your comments are welcome on all the ways the above story can be used when story telling, speaking, writing and general conversations about life. And…SHE will remain anonymous.

Gary

This story is a follow up to the storm with pictures in my post “Great expectations” on my other blog at Garyfultz.com

When You Frame It Like That…Glad You Asked. Yes, The T-Shirt Is Important To The Story

This post was written as a response to Mama Lava’s post “When You Frame It Like That” You may want to add your own post to the collection of posts on her site.

A fish of a life-time, A nice boat, two guys talking about life and a sunset coming on to stamp it’s approval on the evening. I even brought my camera. The rest of the story goes more along with the words on his t-shirt

“I Find Your Lack Of Strength Disturbing” Fitting words coming from a couple tours in Afghanistan. Not so fitting in the rest of society when mixed with a face to face confrontational style when around people. the actual setting was 2 guys having a heart to heart talk in the middle of the lake so he couldn’t swim to shore if he didn’t like it (he didn’t). Mentor to mentee talk. Work, church and family relationships at stake, and the stakes had become quite high. He chose me to mentor him and I had agreed. I told him it would be in a boat away from distractions. He bought a fishing license, learned how to cast and then caught the biggest fish of his life with my fishing tackle and in my boat.

When it was all done we headed home. Only one fish was caught, sun was setting and my talking was done. I asked him for his thoughts. All he said was “God sure has a sense of humor” You agreed to mentor me, took me fishing, positioned the boat too far from shore to swim, told me some really hard things I needed to hear and I caught the biggest fish I will ever catch. “Thanks for the picture…you make me look good”

I often think of this picture. As a photographer I realize I often frame parts of my life to look good, look important, distract from the real issues and a host of other reasons. I even find myself framing my actions and sometimes my talks with God as well as others. That reminds me. I need to change some wording on my resume’.

May our trophies in life be worth it in eternity. I would like to think my friends trophy fish will always remind him of the important things out of frame that day. Maybe someday??

Gary