Category Archives: Life Lessons

Things I Don’t Know

As a husband, father, pastor, author, and perpetual student, I am constantly reminded of how much I really don’t know.

What if I made a list of all the things I don’t know? Well, that would be impossible, especially when there are so many things that I don’t know I don’t know.

However…..

Here are some things I wish I knew more about or could better understand. If it were possible to master these subjects, my self-esteem might go through the roof! Some may even call me a “know-it-all” in a non-derogatory way!

Do you know the answers to the following questions?

  • How can only three knobs (valves) and two lips play an infinite number of musical notes?
  • How do people get clean in dirty bath water?
  • What are hot flashes, and why women hate them in the winter?
  • Why are things like Pi (things that have no answer) so dadgum important?
  • If animals in cartoons and movies can talk to each other in English, not to mention read, why don’t they just write a note to humans when someone is in danger?
  • Why do women wear “natural” makeup to look natural, when natural was what they were before they put on the makeup?
  • Greek grammar – enough said.
  • Who killed Kennedy?
  • Why can’t I just decide to increase my debt limit, instead of balancing my budget?
  • Why do dogs and cats hate each other?
  • Why I could never pick up a snake by the tail, but Steve Irwin could?
  • How did the first person decide drinking something fermented, breathing something on fire, eating something coagulated, or using the anal glands of a beaver for flavoring (castorium) was an appetizing idea?

Life is full of persistent, nagging questions. Some questions may never be answered. I may never truly be a know-it-all. However, when it all comes down to what’s most important, I am reminded of the words of a man who was blind from birth: “I was blind…but now I see.”

I may not know everything, but I know that I will be OK when I die. I know that this world is not all there is. I know that heaven awaits me when I die. How? It’s all written in the Word of God.

 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. – 1 John 5:13

Did you know that?

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Memory Lane In a School Bus

I would encourage you to pick up a copy of my book Life Lessons from the School Bus. There you can find some of the stories posted earlier today, plus a lot more (really, there’s a lot more content).

However, being this is my last day as a school bus driver (going to pastor full-time in Georgia), I now want to share some of my favorite photos from my bus-driving years, including some from today. I only wish I’d thought to take more when I first started doing this back in 2001.

I know this will be as boring as a vacation slide show, but maybe you’ll find some of the pics amusing.

Listen to the song, first 😁The School Bus Man Can

The man. The Legend.

I first started driving for Durham in Chattanooga in August of ’07. However, I started driving a school bus in August of 2001 in Christian County, KY. I don’t have any pictures from those days.

One of my favorite pictures taken by my daughter, Katie. This should have been the cover of my book.

Driving at night in the rain can be dangerous, especially with all the reflections. Notice the reflection of the gas station all the way across the parking lot to my right – reflected in the window, NOT the mirror to my left!

I officially drove a total of 3 routes during my 10 years with Durham School Services. First, I drove 370 for two days. Then I drove 369 for a couple of years. Finally, I drove 374 until the time I had shoulder surgery and left. However, 374 went through 4 different bus models during that time. This one had a Mercedes engine.

Hey, it was St. Patrick’s Day! Give me a break!

The bus. The Legend.

There were times that I had plenty of time on field trips to study for a sermon. But that’s what it’s like when one is bi-vocational – you study when you can.

One day when my bus sprang a coolant leak. This was the view from the passenger’s seat of a BIG tow truck. At least it had air conditioning 🙂

Literally, this was the closest thing I ever came to an accident that was my fault. No damage, just stuck. I got complacent turning into my own driveway and wasn’t paying attention. The student doors were so close to the ground that they wouldn’t open.

The only way to get in and out of the bus was through the side emergency exit with a step stool! LOL

If you haven’t bought one, you should 🙂

Book signing at Barnes & Noble.

My book at Barnes & Noble – in the comedy section!

“Bobble Head” Phil rode with me for years. He usually sat facing the kids (which some didn’t like).

Phil stuck with me through thick and thin, even waving down traffic when I was broken down.

Former drivers Chris (370), Joseph (369), and me at McDonalds. We always stopped either their or Hardee’s for coffee and biscuits in between our morning routes.

The last day of school (I forget what year) we went to Cracker Barrel. Here is Chris (370), a driver from New Orleans, Jean (369), and myself…I should have tucked in my shirt.

Driving a bus in the snow in Tennessee is more rare than a total solar eclipse or hen’s teeth. But it actually happened to me at least twice in 10 years.

 

This is where I would pull the bus into the driveway of the parsonage of Riverside Baptist in order to wash it. That was my old Cadillac, “The Ride.”

On the first day we got nugget I took him for a ride on my bus – with kids on the bus (this was when I was driving 369).

Our little dog, Nugget, would love to run out and meet me in the mornings after parking my bus.

Stress relief 🙂

A view of the pond on Shanty Lake Road from inside my bus on the last day of school (the bus was stopped).

The very same view as above, but as the sun is coming up in January. God is a beautiful artist, isn’t He?

My final lineup at Lookout Valley Middle/High.

Looking down towards Lookout Valley and the Tennessee River from the Cummings Highway bridge – yes, a bridge.

I was giving myself a thumbs up, but the driver I was training nearly took me off the side of a mountain that very same day!

Hot day on the lot as a driver trainer. All day on the asphalt in between my own routes.

My last day (in December 2017) before shoulder surgery, and my last day officially working for Durham.

I took this picture when I was coloring with children of family members of the children killed in the Woodmore accident. Everyone in the room at Erlanger Hospital was waiting to hear if a particular boy survived – he didn’t. He was one of the 6 who died. I was there as a police chaplain that night, and the best thing I could find to do was distract the other children with coloring.

This was the first day I started driving a bus again – after nearly a year! I went to work with Chattanooga Bus Company and my former manager at Durham, Dominic D’Amico. I couldn’t decide if I was happy or not 😉

This was my bus I drove when I finally got back to work this last school year (after my heart attack) and had a route. I called this bus “Spinal Tap” because of the number “11,” but hardly anyone got the joke.

This was taken the first year I was a “park out” driver. I prayed over every seat and asked God to use me in some way to make a difference in the live of the children I transported. He did. At least 7 came to Christ over the years!

My last-ever pre-trip log sheet (nothing digital this time).

The last bus cockpit I’ll officially sit behind.

 

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Life Lessons from the School Bus (#10) “Tennis Balls”

Crazy Obstacles

Back when I first trained to drive a school bus, all drivers were required to complete an obstacle course. I don’t know what they do these days, but one obstacle that I had to overcome it worth remembering – the tennis ball row.

The obstacle course was tough enough, but one test that we had to go through seemed totally off the wall. It was the last test, the last trial, the last obstacle of the day. All one had to do was drive a school bus across a parking lot, but without touching any tennis balls. What’s the catch?

The right side of the bus, front tire and rear tires, was to go between two rows of tennis balls, the spacing of which only left 2 inches of clearance. In other words, you only had at most 2 inches on either side of the widest part of the back tires. Touch a tennis ball and you have to start over. Go over the tennis balls – you fail.

Really, I could see how this exercise taught precision driving skills, but what was the point. When on earth was I supposed to encounter a bunch of yellow balls on the highway? Little did I know, a day would come when I would see first-hand the purpose for this lesson.

The Real Test

A few months into my driving career, I was asked to fill in on a route in the county. The route I was put on took me way out into farm country…tobacco country. After picking up a few kids, my directions led me down a gravel road, way out amidst acres of Kentucky no-man’s land. It wasn’t too long until I came upon a creek. The only way to get across the creek was to drive my 15 ton bus over a homemade, log and plank bridge.

You have GOT to be kidding me!” was the first words out of my mouth.

“No, this is the way we always go,” said the boy noticing the terror in my face.

Trembling in my driver’s seat, my muscles hardly willing to obey my brain’s idiotic commands, I slowly began my crossing. Middle of the way through, as the bus was slightly rocking back and forth, I could see that my tires were barely on the wooden planks that lay across the logs. Then it hit me – “That’s why they had us drive through those tennis balls!

The next thought that came into my mind was, “If they had told me what they were training me for, I would have found another job.”

Life Lesson

The reason for the lesson may not be obvious until the need for application.

“Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” -James 1:3-4

Sometimes we are called by God to go through tests and trials which we don’t understand. What we need to realize is that God knows what is ahead of us, what bridges we may have to cross.

Let Him do what He must to train you for the road ahead. You may be the one responsible for carrying someone over to the other side.

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Life Lesson from the School Bus (#9) “Making a Way”

Trying to Merge

Have you ever tried to merge into traffic, only to find that everyone else is in a bigger hurry than you? Try convincing a bunch of motorists on their way home that your school bus needs to jump into the flow.

Every time people see my kid transporter attempting to enter traffic from a side street, they say to themselves, “Oh no! I can’t get stuck behind a bus!

So, without any compassion for me and my nerves, they pretend that they don’t see me. Better yet, they hold up a hand, wave slightly, and give me a look that says, “Sorry, but my schedule is too hectic to let you in front of me.” Jerks.

Making a Way

That’s when a school bus driver has to be proactive…he has to make a way into traffic. By being assertive with 35,ooo pounds of diesel-powered intimidation, one can MAKE motorist slow down and be polite. Making a way into traffic is possible because of a simple fact of life – getting put on the local news for hitting a school bus full of children is NOT in one’s best interest.

Life Lesson

God can make a way, when there seems to be no way.

Isaiah 43:16, 20 – [16] Thus saith the LORD, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters; … [20] The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, [and] rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen.

When God chooses to do something, nothing in heaven or on earth can stop Him. God can make a way. No decree of man or law of nature is an obstacle to the LORD of creation. If God has told you to go somewhere, do some work, or reach some person, even if the way seems impossible, He is God…He will MAKE a way.

Are you going through a valley? Are you on a stormy sea and can’t see past the waves? Do you think that there is no hope, no way out of it this time? Trust in Jesus – He can make a way, where there seems to be no way. He can give rivers of hope in the midst of your wilderness.

Hope you enjoy this short video of a beautiful song by Don Moen.

 

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Life Lessons from the School Bus (#8) “Stop”

Stop Signs

If there is one thing that makes me angry enough to spit nails, pound a steering wheel, clinch my teeth, and silently whisper vulgarities under my breath, it is this:

People who run school bus stop signs!

Honestly, I would like to know what goes through the minds of these idiots. What causes them to act so carelessly? Are they just careless, or are they blind? Should they even be behind the wheel of a vehicle?

I can’t tell you how many times it has happened to me while driving. One time, believe it or not, a motorist (older white male) came around from behind me on the side of the service door! Let me make that clear, the driver came from behind and passed me on the side the kids get out! He came within a few feet of hitting three middle-schoolers!

What do you do in a situation like that? Well, what wanted to do was chase him with the bus and pin him to a guardrail with 30,000 pounds of yellow furry!

What did I actually do? I called him an unflattering name that referred back to him possibly not coming from a woman who was married at the time of his unfortunate birth. That was all I could do. He got away before I could get his plate number.

If you are one of those slimy pieces of human debris that think it’s OK to run a school bus stop sign, especially if you have an important date, or just can’t stand the thought of being held up another minute – God is watching. Yep, that’s what I said, scumbag. Every time you think you are so special that you can skirt the law, run the stop sign, and go your merry way, God is watching you. When I can’t get your license plate number, God has got YOUR number, bub.

And whosoever shall offend one of [these] little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. – Mark 9:42 KJV

Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. … Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish. – Matthew 18:10, 14 KJV

You should stop and think a moment. Every time you flagrantly drive through a bus stop, you put children ask risk. You make your priorities more important than the lives of little children. Do you think that for one moment Heaven is on your side of the argument? Do you think that risking running over one of “these little ones” is any different than “despising” them? Do you believe in God? Keep running those stop signs and you will learn the lesson of the day…

Life Lesson

You will eventually reap what you sow (what goes around, comes around).

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. – Galatians 6:7 KJV

Sometimes children are told to “sow their wild oats while they’re young.” I can’t think of a more stupid piece of advice to give anyone! That is like saying, “Do everything wrong while you can, but don’t worry, it will never come back to bite you in the rear end.” God says, “Don’t be decieved by these idiots, because you will reap a harvest from the seeds you plant.”

The same can be said about those who run bus stop signs. Just keep it up, but one day you are going to get what is coming to you, especially if you hit one of those children.

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Life Lessons from the School Bus (#7) “Try the Spirits”

“Stripped”

Bob “Apple” Smith, a bus driver for the county, has a lot to explain. A quick look at his bus will let you know why. It is stripped. Stripped of EVERYTHING!

According to Bob, shortly after dropping off the last of his children, he made a quick “personal” stop. It was during his “personal” stop, which took longer than he anticipated (probably due to the excessive amount of jalapeños Bob insisted to be put on his eggs for breakfast), that vandals supposedly stripped his 88-passenger ThomasBuilt bus.

“Once I was finally able to finish my business,” Bob said, “I went back outside and said, ‘I’ll be d—-d!‘” He went on to say, “Those little hoodlums worked quicker than piranhas on a pig!”

The Link

No wonder, Bob had parked his bus in one the most notorious places in town. For months the police have been answering calls from stranded motorist who could do nothing more than cry after doing their “personal” business. Fortunately, an unbelievable link may have been found.

After investigators did some research, Bob was not the only one who had eaten eggs at a particular diner on Downtown Street. It seems that more than one patron of “Slick Sam’s” had eaten eggs before having to stop just blocks away to make an emergency “deposit.” Coincidentally, those same patrons had their automobiles stripped.

The only problem for Mr. Smith is the additional time it would have taken to strip the large bus. Some are questioning whether or not there may be seeds of deceit at his “Apple” core. It was not long ago another driver, Margaret “Snoopy” Jones, overheard Bob say, “I am tired of this job, but I’m not going to quit without getting a medal.” Ms. Jones insists he was speaking code, meaning “metal” when he said “medal.” This is still under investigation, but questionable, however.  It seems that  Ms. Jones has a record of saying, “Bob was always the ‘bad Apple’ in the bus driver barrel.”

Life Lesson

For heaven’s sake, don’t believe everything you read.

A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps. – Proverbs 14:15 NIV

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. – 1 John 4:1 KJV

Sometimes things like this can be seen as funny (I hope), but many are sadly deceived in issues that have eternal significance.  The Bereans did not even take the Apostle Paul’s words at face value. They “tried” his words by comparing them to Scripture (Acts 17:10-11).

You see, no buses got stripped by vandals, and you could easily prove this by doing a little research. As matter of fact, the bus in the picture was stripped, but only for spare parts (it had an engine fire that made it too expensive to fix).

But so many people will take anyone’s word, believe any hearsay, and hold to any old rumor or fable rather than take the “noble” route of the Bereans and “search the Scripture.”

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Life Lessons from the School Bus (#6)

“Say it with Boldness”

There comes a time when even a little kid may decide he’s had enough. Essentially, that is what happened not long ago on my bus, and even a few thousand years ago on the plains of Judah.

The Story

You see, for some reason, a few older elementary children kept aggravating a little kindergarten student named, let’s just say, Bill. Every time Bill would get on the bus, the first words he heard were, “Hey, you got your Beyblades?” Every day, every morning, it was the same question: “You got your Beyblades?” [If you don’t know what “Beyblades” are, just click the word.]

After a while, it started getting on my nerves. It wasn’t so much the constant asking, but the constant trashing of the English language.  It was never “do you have,” or “have you got?” No, it was always “you got?” Poor little Bill never made a sound. He would just walk quietly to his seat.

Finally, about the time I was about to say, “Will you illiterate examples of prenatal abuse put a sock in it,” little Bill made his unexpected stand.

The Stand

Early one morning, shortly after a beautiful sunrise, I drove up to Bill’s house, turned on my warning lights, engaged my brakes, and opened my service doors, causing red to flash. Barely more than 3 feet tall, Bill had to grab hold of the rail as he struggled to make the climb up the staircase, each step a third his size. With each step you could hear the young scholars, those brilliant word-smiths, those elementary-school Einsteins, query from the seats inside,  “You got those Bayblades? You got those Beyblades?” Then, when his ascension was complete, he stopped and stood defiantly in the front of the bus, feet shoulder-width apart, fists clinched and placed on his waist. Without any warning, he demanded…

“SHUT THE F*** UP!”

“Whoa!! HO there, little buddy! Dude, what did you just say?!” I said, “Sonyou need to sit down…you can’t say stuff like that…I will talk with you in a few minutes.”

I had never heard, nor seen a little child with so much bravado. Like biblical David facing a bus load of mentally-challenged Goliaths, Bill decided he had heard enough. With the confidence that his words would be heard; with the confidence that just the right combination of words would demand respect, he stood on his soap box and demanded attention, never showing a hint of fear or intimidation. Without question he made his point. The other kids were shocked and silenced. Sadly, however, somebody taught him to talk that way.

Life Lesson

When you take a stand for what you believe, don’t act cowardly or intimidated. Be strong in your convictions and speak with boldness. Being meek and mild has nothing to do with being milk toast. Cowards do not deserve respect, nor an audience.

Even though little Bill chose to use inappropriate language, his indignation, expressed with boldness, earned him my respect. I couldn’t help but admire him. After becoming weary of taunting words (on and off the bus), he felt it was time to make a stand, which made me think of the story of David, the shepherd boy, who told a 9-foot tall Philistine warrior to “shut up.”

“[Who] is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” – 1 Samuel 17:26b NKJV

Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. “This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. “Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s, and He will give you into our hands.” – 1 Samuel 17:45-47 NKJV

Because we live in a post-modern, relativistic society, bold speech is more likely to be labeled “hate speech,” than admired. The reason is that many consider truth to be ever-changing and subjective, not universal. So, when a person dares to speak with boldness what is believed to be an absolute truth, the “Goliaths” may continue to laugh, threaten, and continue in their taunting. Regardless, when Truth is on your side, there is no reason to be ashamed, or afraid.

May we all learn a lesson from little Bill’s outburst. When the time comes to make a stand, do it like you mean it. No matter your size or your age, your education or your status, when you stand for what is right, don’t be afraid to say, “Listen to me!” And when we do feel afraid, there’s nothing wrong with asking for boldness. Pray as the Apostle Paul did, “[That] utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” – Ephesians 6:19-20 KJV

 

 

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