Another fork in the road


I’ve always tried to look at life as a road to adventure; you never know where the next branch in the road will take you. However right now, I’m beginning to wonder when the road to adventure became a maze I seem to be traveling through. At times I feel like the guy that said, “I thought I saw a light in the tunnel (of life), but it turned out to be a train heading towards me.” In other words, life often doesn’t take us where we expected to go or in the way we expected to get where we are right now.

At times we are tempted to just give up on the journey. After all we have paid our dues; put in our time; done our duty and all of those other catch phrases we might choose to use. I was reading a fiction novel awhile back and read a line that has stuck with me. The author said, “A man doesn’t just do what he wants, he does what he must.”

That’s a lesson which has been lost on much of our world today. What makes success? Often it is doing what you must, not what you want! What makes a hero? Again it is doing what you must, not what you want. What makes you successful in your relationship to God? Sometimes it is doing what you must, (What you know you should do); even when it is not what you want to do.

The problem is for most of us have is to learn to love what you know you should be doing. I never implied it would be easy because it’s not! It’s a daily struggle to take as the poet said, “the road less traveled,” the road that the world avoids because it’s hard and sometimes bumpy.

I often don’t care for The Message, which is a paraphrase, not a translation of the bible, but I thought it captured the essence of the struggle the Apostle Paul was going though in Romans 7:17-25. He wrote there about the same struggle we face today: “But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.”

The answer to the problem is Jesus Christ. It seems appropriate that in the next chapter (Romans 8:28) Paul writes these words, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”

May God grant you the road, not less traveled, but perhaps less bumpy! But the bottom line is that “A person doesn’t just do what they want, they do what they must.”

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Thankful for the Right Thingss

This is the time of the year when our society shifts its focus to giving, but a major part of our focus is upon being thankful also. We just celebrated our Thanksgiving Holiday, but I don’t believe that being thankful ends with just that one day.

We are just about to celebrate Christmas as a nation. Millions of dollars will be spent on gifts for others. (I was surprised this week to hear a report that the average pet owner spends $62 on gifts for their pets. Don’t tell our dog; she is happy with a dog biscuit!) Giving is a good, even a great thing, but the people I talk with seem to spend more time being thankful for what (and who) they have than with what they expect to get.

Now I understand that sometimes, (especially for the younger folks in our lives), it is harder to separate what is really important. One of our fondest remembrances is of our oldest son Kirk when he was about 4 years old. At night we always knelt down beside his bed and prayed before he went to bed. One night he was saying his prayers and he said these memorable words, “God, thank you for Grandma, because she gives me everything I want”.

Now that is a cute and memorable happening from the life of a child, but how does that translated into our lives today? Could it be that we, each of us, need to focus more upon the giver than the gift? Is it possible that we sometimes forget to be thankful for the right thing? James reminds us in James 1:17, “Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, (the father of lights), who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” (NLT)

To paraphrase our young son perhaps we should say, “Father, I’m thankful for you, because you give me everything I want.” And, if that is not true, could it be perhaps, that we want the wrong things. James also cautions his readers in James 4:3, “And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong, you want only what will give you pleasure.”

If you want happiness and contentment this holiday season instead of stress and resentment, let me encourage you to focus on the right thing, not the gift, but the giver. As my friend Bailey reminds us continually we can be content everyday. In fact check out her blogsite, it will give your day a lift. (https://contentintheeveryday.com).

Russ Lawson

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You just never know…. Even at Christmas…

I have seen in movies and read in books the concept of death being the final great adventure. It is the ultimate trip into the unknown. Perhaps it is, but it something you never know when it will arrive. I haven’t faced that in my unexpected adventure just yet, but I have dealt with the results for many, many people.

In truth, dying is one of those things you just can’t preplan. Honestly, we try to plan every aspect of our lives, don’t we? When is the last time you asked someone to do something that they didn’t have to check with their calendar, daily planner or cell phone? We plan our days almost down to the minute we plan our weeks so that they are filled from the time we get up to the time we finally go to bed each night. We know what is going to happen and in what order it is to happen in our lives. Most of the folks I know plan their vacations a year in advance, just to make sure they get those days off and can get the accommodations they desire.

Here we are not planning for Christmas. We have bought or are planning on buying the perfect gift for all of those special people or pets in our lives. We have our Christmas parties planned and know who’s house we will be at and in what order we will visit them as well as how much time we allot to be in that particular home. OK, maybe you personally don’t do those things, but I actually do know some folks who do.

The problem with all of those plans is that death has never been informed of them. This past week (two weeks before Christmas), the mother of a dear friend died. They hadn’t planned on flying to a distant city to sit in a funeral home with a bunch of other people, but it happened. They quickly rearranged their schedules and did what was important, saying good bye to that special person in their lives.

Jesus tells a very well know story in Luke 12:16-21, read the words once again: “And he said to them, in a story, The land of a certain man of great wealth was very fertile: And he said to himself, What is to be done? for I have no place in which to put all my fruit. And he said, This I will do: I will take down my store-houses and make greater ones, and there I will put all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have a great amount of goods in store, enough for a number of years; be at rest, take food and wine and be happy. But God said to him, You foolish one, tonight I will take your soul from you, and who then will be the owner of all the things which you have got together? So that is what comes to the man who gets wealth for himself, and has not wealth in the eyes of God.” (BBE)

My friend shared that at the end of the funeral service for her mother the preacher shared a very deep and meaningful thought. He said, “For some of you here this is good bye, for others of you here it is just saying, I’ll see you later”. When death comes to you or one of your loved ones, what will it be for you?

“A Prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it”. Proverbs 22:3

My Unexpected Adventure Blog: http://myunexpectedadventure.com

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Another Branch In The Road

I woke up this morning with a new book outlined in my mind. Now maybe your mind doesn’t work that way, but mine does. I got up and jotted down an outline and have started the writing already. In fact I have started working on a new website with similar information and hope to have that up in a few days. What book? What idea? Well, I am in the process on creating a page that deals with “Health, Hope and Herbs”! It is my goal to have the book written by the end of the month.

I hope to share my journey and help you better understand how to find Health and hope through the use Herbs. Of course this is not a short journey, nor is it one that ever ends, it is part of My Unexpected Adventure, but hopefully we will be able to make this journey with hope as we travel the road of life together.

In this website and book I hope to share My story, information on herbs and supplements and resources for you to learn more on your own.

So, I want to ask something of you. Will you help me stay on track, keeping my nose to the grindstone as they say, encourage me, ask questions and perhaps even offer to proof the finished product.

We are all in this adventure called life together, let’s do the best we can to help each other end well.

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And the Adventure Continues….

All of our lives are part of our adventure; it is a continuing experience, sometimes good, sometimes not so good. But where does this adventure or maybe the spirit of adventure begin in our lives? OK, admittedly you might say, when we arrived kicking and screaming from our mother’s womb, but I don’t think that is something we have the ability to remember, so where else?

For me, I can remember back quite a ways into my youth and the spirit of adventure was always surrounding me. Did we take great trips or go to fascinating places? No! If fact we only went on one vacation in my entire youth and that was with an aunt and uncle to a lake.

The world (and family), which I grew up in challenged us to see great possibilities. I grew up making my own adventures, setting my own challenges. We lived a few miles from a state park and a few buddies and I would hop on our bicycles and head for the park and spend the day. We would be army rangers hunting for the enemy, we would be explorers trekking through the jungle, and we would march and climb and hike and run and go anywhere our minds could take us. Life was always an adventure.

As I grew older the nature of the adventures changed. I fondly remember spending summers on my Aunt and Uncles’ dairy farm milking cows, bailing hay and plowing fields. I remember when I was about 14 my uncle telling me to take his huge flat bed farm truck out in the field and learn how to drive it. Also him putting me on tractors and having me drive wagons full of bailed hay to the barn. One of the highlights was the Friday night adult softball games in town, snow cones and ice cream. Then up at 4 a.m. to milk the cows all over again. No, I don’t imagine that at the time everything I did (like mucking out the barn), seemed that great, but now I realize they were all part of what grew the spirit of adventure in me.

The trick is you see, not to let life put a stop to your adventure. All of life is an adventure if we choose to see it that way. Our adventure has continued, across the United States, through Cameroon and Kenya Africa and back to our origins in the central United States. Where will the adventure end; well, I’m not sure, but I’m not ready for it to end yet.

What’s stopping you from continuing on your adventure? Maybe it’s time to stop and think about that and once again find that Spirit of Adventure in you life…. If you would like to see more of the adventure take a look at our book Living the Dream, our life and adventures in Africa.

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It’s almost Christmas and we did it again….

I don’t know if you ever thought of the Holiday Season as an adventure or not, but often it is. On Monday we did something we had never done before. Our 10 year old grand daughter’s choir group was ask to sing at a tree lighting ceremony here in our community. So we went out in the cold weather with her and a couple of hundred other grandparents and parents to experience this event. It was cool to see the excitement of all of the kids and their families as they let their talent shine before others. There is always a new leg of the adventure of life waiting for you if  you will just take time to see it.

We faced yet another challenge (part of dealing with the adventure of life this week also. I don’t know about you, but money is tight with us this season. So, we decided that it might not be wise for us to send out Christmas cards. Lots of our friends have already made this decision, so we thought maybe we could do it too. Well it didn’t work out so well for us.

You see the problem is that we really enjoy sending cards as well as receiving them. So, we began by making a list of a few of our closest friends we would send cards to and it just grew from there. Now our list is up to around 70 names, but we did save some money. My wife loves to make greeting cards and she is especially talented and creative in that area. Her creations are not just cards, but each one is an individual work of art, one friend told us that they were framing one of her cards! (As you can see I am somewhat proud of her skill and creativity). I joined in and in a few days we had most of the cards completed, signed and addressed. It still was a somewhat overwhelming task as she not only makes the cards, but also makes the envelopes for the cards. We were able to deliver a large part of them by hand to our local congregation, but still mailed quite a few.

A few of her cards…

Why would we do that, why go to all that work, make all that effort? When I was talking with my mother yesterday she said something that gave the perfect answer. She said, “Christmas is not about giving gifts, it is about letting people know you care, it is about relationships.” For us, with each card we sign we remember those to which we are sending the card. The cards were not expensive, but they were, each and every one, created with love and with the purpose of letting folks know that we are thinking of them and that they are special to us.

Now I know that Christmas as much of the world sees it, is not found in the bible, but the birth of our Savior is. That is what Christmas cards and giving gifts reflects isn’t it? It is about sharing something of yourself with those you love. Not because you have to or because it is expected of you, but because you want to share just a small part of yourself with others.

Jesus said it this way in John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Sometimes that is accomplished with just a note … or even a Christmas card. So, how are you doing in sharing the love of Christ?

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Things Are Always Changing – Maybe for you too…

I admit it that I am slow to change. It often takes me awhile to get started, but after I do, I normally jump in with both feet so to speak.

It’s the same way with bringing my web-blog up to speed. I have been toying with the idea of making some changes for awhile, and finally have made that move. Keep an eye on this page, mark it and look for more changes and I hope to do a better job each day.

I have had a web presence for the past 15 years and have looked for a better way spread my message. I chose a new name as you can see. I now use http:/myunexpectedadventure.com. Why? Because it seems that my whole life has been one adventure and I just never know what is going to happen next. I hope you will continue to travel with me on this adventure and even take a look at some of the books I have written about my experiences.

So, look for the next leg of life’s adventure when you least expect it.

Your Fellow Traveler,

Russ Lawson

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Welcome to my site!

It is my hope that you will join me in my adventure in life! You never know what will turn up next, so put one foot in from of the other and march on into the world.

 

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THANKSGIVING ALWAYS


Having just completed our book on our lives in Africa I was reminded of all of the ways God has blessed our lives. He mostly uses our fellow Christians, but so many times he has also blessed us through those outside of our Christian family.
Reviewing some old letters for our book I ran across some thoughts I had written 20 years ago while preparing to leave Kenya, they went something like this: “We have discussed just what we will miss when leaving Kenya. It’s not a long list until we come to the people. We have gained many good friends and brothers and sisters in Christ. Part of our hearts will remain with them always; we have come to love the country through the people we have met.”
In the same way I wrote, “We have discussed what we will enjoy most about being back in the States. The list again is short, but mostly it is about being with our family and our Christian brothers and sisters. As I reflect, it occurs to me that the things we appreciate both in Kenya and the United States are the people. Physical things always come in second in our lives… which is the way it should be.”
The Apostle Paul wrote these words 2,000 years ago and they still help guide our lives. Philippians 4:11-13, I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation; I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
In our hearts we know it is true don’t we? We know it will never really be having things which will make us happy or causes us to give thanks to God. It is always relationships that matter the most, it is relationships that fill our hearts and will go through eternity with us.
So really it’s the same this season as with all the rest of the year isn’t it? Whether we are in need or have plenty, whether we are satisfied or lose it all makes no lasting difference. We can rejoice and give thanks to God, because our happiness, our contentment comes from relationships, both with other people and with our God. And right now, I’m thankful for each of you who let me be part of your lives throughout the whole of every year.
https://www.amazon.com/Living-Dream-Life-Adventures-Africa-ebook/dp/B076VTWLYC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1511350470&sr=8-1&keywords=book+russ+lawson
 
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The Leaf


I’m sitting at our dining table looking out the back patio door. On the patio I see a leaf, dried and brown, but that is not unusual, especially at this time of year. It’s the time we celebrate Thanksgiving and remember all of God’s blessings. In reality, our yard is filled with leaves, it’s part of nature, part of how the world works. I understand that some folks don’t really appreciate this change, but I like to think of it in a positive light and enjoy God’s beauty.
The thought the leaf brought to my mind is that only a short time ago it was on a tree, bright green and shining. That of course led me to thinking about the course of our life also. Things change so very quickly don’t they? I mean, where has the time gone? I have been re-reading Melody and My book, “Living the dream, our life and adventures in Africa.” I just read a paragraph that spoke of my celebrating my 47th birthday in Kenya. That’s been 23 years and it is covered in just a few pages in a book. What happened? How did I get from there to where I am at now?
Yes, I could detail all of the steps it took to get where we are now, but isn’t that the question we all ask at some point? We are in school, maybe teenagers, maybe just married and suddenly we have grandchildren and many of the friends of our youth have already passed from this life.
There is an old hymn that has some very pertinent words for us about this process. The hymn is titled, “Swiftly we’re turning” and the words go like this:
“Swiftly we’re turning life’s daily pages, Swiftly the hours are changing to years. How are we using God’s golden moments? Shall we reap glory? Shall we reap tears?”
What happens to us is just that life happens as it is supposed to, as is according to God’s plan. You are probably familiar with the passage in Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 where we are reminded that:
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.
What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all.
Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.
Yes, an old, dried, brown leaf can have a lot of meaning if you just stop and think about it… especially when you think about it in relationship to the length of and purpose of your life. How are you doing?  How about choosing to think about the eternity God has planted in our heart. There is only one way to get that and that is through change. Rather than trying to stop it we need to embrace it… after all, the pages are turning swiftly, aren’t they.
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