No One Died

On TourMost passengers were from Australia and New Zealand. Some were from the United Kingdom, two from South Africa, and two from Guatemala. Toss in a tour director from Alabama and a driver from Ecuador and we were bound to have fun on the 15-day tour I was leading.

The tour began and ended in New York City, traveling by motorcoach throughout the Eastern United States and Canada. Day 9 brought us to Toronto where we were scheduled to visit the Ontario Parliament building. As we rode from our hotel to Parliament, a passenger noticed a flag at half-staff.

“Why is that Ontario flag flying at half-staff?” he asked me.

“I’m not sure,” I answered. “I didn’t hear of any death or major event on the news this morning.”

The passengers and I began to notice other flags along the route at half-staff. Our curiosity was rising by the minute. Upon arrival at the Parliament building, we could clearly see on the left lawn a Canada flag lowered and on the right lawn an Ontario flag lowered. What has happened? I mused.

We parked, unloaded, and waited on the approaching security guard for further instructions.

“Welcome! Follow me this way,” he said, pointing toward the pink sandstone building adorned with gargoyles.

I walked next to him and the group followed. “Why are all the flags in the city at half-staff?” I asked.

He laughed. “Well, no one died. Our flagpole pulley for the Canada flag is malfunctioning. It won’t allow the flag to go up all the way. Because no flag can fly higher than the Canada flag, everyone in the city has had to lower their Ontario flags until we get it fixed.”

On tour the adventures are endless and the laughs are abundant.

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“God’s glory is on tour in the skies, God-craft on exhibit across the horizon” (Psalm 19:1 MSG).

Melvin

Central City, CO“You go help them and I’ll call 9-1-1!” I yelled.

Tim and I had been casually exploring the tiny mining town of Central City, Colorado, founded during the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush. We felt as if we were on the set of an old western movie. Saloons and casinos with names like “Easy Street” and “Bonanza” lined both sides of the narrow Main Street. We ate lunch at Millie’s Restaurant and poked around in Annie Oakley’s Emporium and General Store.

As we stepped out of the general store, the sound of a racing engine caused us to glance to the right. The sound was coming from a van and the van was flying down the hill toward the row of buildings across the street from us—no squealing tires—no brakes applied. Just before colliding with the end building, the van veered sharply to the right and crashed head-on into a rock wall.

Tim ran toward the accident and I grabbed my phone from the outside pocket of my purse. My hand was shaking so badly that I could hardly swipe the screen to unlock it. I hit “9-1-1” and had my finger on “Send” when a voice from behind me boomed, “Melvin is on the way!”

I spun around to find myself face-to-face with the sales clerk from Annie Oakley’s. “I already called and Melvin is on the way!” she repeated. It took me a second to realize what she was talking about. But then I heard it—the lone siren from one street away.

Are we in Mayberry? I wondered.

Melvin, Central City’s one on-duty police officer, arrived within seconds. He and Tim helped six dazed and bloody people climb out of the smoking van. One whiff of the air surrounding them made it quite clear that alcohol was involved. Melvin checked everybody over carefully and, miraculously, no one had major injuries. The driver attempted to inconspicuously mosey off, but Melvin was on her like Andy Griffith. That bunch definitely dodged the bullet of a tragic accident. Now, however, they were in big trouble with Melvin!

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“Be brave. Be strong. Don’t give up. Expect God to get here soon” (Psalm 31:24 MSG).

Free As a Hummingbird

Niagara Falls, Canada

I have always known that I was born to fly. As a little kid, I was the president of the clubhouse. My siblings and cousins still tease me about how I made them pay dues. In junior high I started writing articles for the school newspaper in fifth grade and ended up being the editor by eighth grade. In high school I was elected class treasurer as a freshman and by my junior year, I was class president. During college I loved my job as the activity director of a nursing home. I changed my major from computer science to gerontology (the study of aging) and became a nursing home administrator by age twenty-two. At twenty-eight, I was overseeing senior adult ministries for a church on a volunteer basis. I found it to be so fulfilling that I switched careers and became a full-time pastor. You see the pattern. I’ve never spent too much time searching for worms in the ground before something in the blue sky above catches my attention and draws me treetop-ward.

And that’s exactly what happened again last year. My husband Tim and I went on an amazing Hawaiian adventure in June. Our cruise ship Pride of America transported us from Honolulu to Maui to Hilo to Kona to Kauai. We drove the winding Road to Hana, searched for (and found) Moloaa Bay where the pilot of Gilligan’s Island was filmed, took a hula dancing class, ate coconut macadamia ice cream, and stuck our feet in the turquoise water of Waikiki Beach. We relaxed a little and played a lot.

After arriving home, I posted on Facebook: “I want to be a tour director when I grow up!” It made me smile to say it. Twenty-five years as a pastor had taken its toll on me. I was exhausted and beat down from dealing with conflicts and tragedies and problems for such a long time. Wouldn’t that be the best job ever, I thought. Continue reading