Tag Archives: stories

First Day, Old Lesson

Today is the first day of school in Chattanooga, so back to the school bus I go. Therefore, in honor of all those who get behind the wheel of the big yellow machines, the following is a short adaptation from my little book, Life Lessons from the School Bus.


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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Filed under Life Lessons, Parenting, wisdom

Visiting Charleston, S.C. (Part 1)

Vacation (or Holiday, for you Brits)

Last week my family went on vacation. With the exception of Katie, the daughter who stayed home and watched the house and dogs (and used too much laundry soap), we all loaded up and drove to Charleston, South Carolina, to stay with our oldest daughter, Alicia, and her husband, Josh.

But it wasn’t just family. Roy and Esther Cavender (close friends from Hopkinsville, KY) also endured the long, 8-hour drive in our mini-van to Charleston. In case you’re counting, that’s four adults and one teenager in a single vehicle for the equivalent of a regular work day.

Have you ever gone on vacation with another family to another family’s house in a distant location? Let me clue you in to a fact of life – you’d better be REALLLLLY good friends.

Happily Married

One thing about going on vacation with people that are not in your immediate family is that you come to appreciate why you are married to whom. In other words, we all have differences which we can appreciate (Isn’t that “reyeght” Roy & Esther and Alicia & Josh?).

For example, my wife and I know how to get along (most of the time). We know what the other one likes and dislikes (most of the time); we know how certain situations make us feel (OK, I’m stretching it); and we know what is most likely to tick the other one off (Sure do!). That’s not the case with friends and family that don’t live under the same roof all the time. Vacationing can be a learning curve…with disputing GPS’s.

Staying in someone’s house, as opposed to a hotel, can save money and offer more time to spend together, but it sure has the potential for stress. Don’t get me wrong – we’d do it again! It’s just now that it’s all over, I like the way my wife and I do things. I’m pretty sure everyone else feels the same way.

We Had a Good Time

But even though there were some awkward and tense moments in and on the way to Charleston, we did have a fun and enriching time. We got to spend quality time with friends and family, meet new people, eat new foods, see new places, and experience the time away we so desperately needed. I even made a fish fly.

So, in the next few posts I will share my thoughts on some things I saw and did while in Charleston, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • photo 1 (6)The Confederate Museum
  • Shooting machine guns with my son-in-law
  • Going to the beach
  • Alligators in the back yard
  • Shopping
  • Visiting the Emanuel A.M.E. Church

Have I piqued your curiosity? Let me know if there’s something specific about which you’d like to hear.

I’ve got a lot of stories, it’s just a matter of narrowing them down to the magic 500 words or less, you know.

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Filed under Life Lessons, places, Relationships and Family, Vacation

Comparing Testimonies?

Lunchtime Chatter

It was only after I had downed my turkey chili, and Haley (my daughter) had almost finished her brownie, that the conversation started with a fellow Panera Bread patron. She was a godly-looking lady sitting all alone in a quiet booth across from us, Bible to one side of her table, eating some soup.  I asked, “So, how many people do you think come in here for Bible studies?”

“A lot,” she answered with a smile. For the next few minutes we talked church stuff, especially who her pastor was.

Now, I am not going to name any names, but her pastor is a local dynamo of a leader. This guy is a great speaker, is in great shape, has a powerful voice, has seen fantastic growth in an already large congregation, and has his book for sale at Lifeway (well la-ti-dah). What’s more, once a year, due to overwhelming demand, he shares his testimony to overflowing crowds which are stunned to hear of God’s working in this man’s life (he was a former drug lord, or something).

Really? That’s cool,” I said. “That’s awesome.” Then, with a matter-of-fact tone that probably sounded something like, “Yeah? You think I’m impressed?” I told her, “My testimony is pretty boring…I was just the most self-righteous son-of-a-gun you’d ever meet, that’s all.”

Ahhh, really?” she replied.

“Yeah, nothing that special…pretty ordinary.” Then, after she showed me her pastor’s book, the one that her whole dadburn multi-thousand-member church uses for discipleship studies, I made sure she heard that I had also written a couple of books – one of which was 350,000 words long – and both are for sale at Barnes and Noble (insert adolescent-like tongue flapping sound).

It made her raise her eyebrows, so I was happy. Childish, I know.

Who’s Is Better?

Here’s the thing…why is it that we are so prone to jealousy? Here’s another thing…why is it that one testimony of God’s grace will draw a crowd, but others are thought of as run-of-the-mill and boring?

Here’s another ‘nuther thing…I can’t be you, and you can’t be me, and God knows what He’s doing….and every testimony of God’s saving grace cost Jesus the same amount of blood; it took the same cross to save this preacher’s kid as it did that big drug dealer who now pastors thousands.

No “testimony” is better than another. Sure, to our ears it may sound more dramatic to hear how God delivered a person from a life of gross sin and debauchery, but the real miracle is not about us – it’s about Him. The simple truth is that it takes just as much of a miracle to save a person who doesn’t think he’s ever done anything wrong as it does to save a man who knows he deserves hell.

Were you saved from sin? So was I. “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Galatians 6:14).

Testimony of Grace

Some of us have some great stories to tell, but all of us have a unique story to tell. Even though some pieces of the puzzle may seem bigger, no puzzle is complete without the smallest piece in place.

Don’t compare yourself to others who draw crowds with their stories; you are not them – you are YOU. You are you for a reason only God knows, and even though you may not be the one getting all the attention, you still play a critical part in God’s plan.

God created you for the sole purpose of bringing praise and glory to the name of Jesus Christ through your own, uniquely miraculous testimony. No one else can live your story; no one else can have your testimony.

The only one we need to compare ourselves to is Jesus. When we do that, it’s a miracle any of us are where we are today; we’re all a testimony of God’s grace.

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Filed under Christian Living, Depression, Do not judge, Life Lessons, ministry

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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