Friday, July 31, 2009


A friend of mine and his wife are riding his Honda Goldwing across America from Jacksonville to San Diego and back. They will be gone for less than a month and will be riding the whole way on their touring motorcycle. They have actually ridden across America and back a couple of times.  

How far is is to San Diego from Jacksonville? I don't know, but it is a long......., long......., way! 

I am enjoying my motorcycle and getting more comfortable on it every day. I took a safety course and have practiced hours riding in a church parking lot before moving to brief rides in my neighborhood. Then I moved to some streets away from my neighborhood that offered safe cruising, and now I am riding just about anywhere. I still have lots to learn and I plan on making this an ongoing learning process for years to come.

But how do you ride from Jacksonville to San Diego and back in just three weeks? It is hot and then cold in higher elevations and then hot again for them. I am sure the scenery is beautiful with all the colors of the West. They are touring the major canyons of America. That must be spectacular. Goldwings are big and comfortable, but I just can't imagine riding 500 plus miles almost every day.

I've included a couple of pictures of my Sis Norma's recent trip out West to the Grand Canyon. She and Ron flew out and then took train rides to the canyon. She isn't a motorcyclist yet, but maybe one day I will get her on my Goldwing.

My cycling friends have been sending me updates and pictures each day. Their group all have smiles on their faces and having a very big time. It must be something to say your have ridden across America and back on a Goldwing.

Good luck Jim and Judy and gang. Safe riding to all of you. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Sailing the Western Caribbean on our recent vacation was loads of fun. We took a cruise ship out of Miami and saw Grand Cayman, Roatan, Belize, and Cozumel. Each stop offered different shore excursions so we did a number of different things.

My favorite excursion was riding a moped around Cozumel, Mexico. The cruise director discouraged renting a moped from the locals, but I found out that the cruise ship offered a motorcycle ride for $300. They said it wasn't safe to ride a $50 moped, but encouraged riding a $300 Harley rented from them. That didn't seem real fair to me so we rented the moped and had a blast. 

When I got home after riding that little moped, my Honda Goldwing seemed like a monster. The moped was a Honda too, but it was a baby Honda.  Ha! But it was fun nevertheless.

Another venture was a trip up a river in Belize to some Mayan ruins. It rained on us and we got soaked since the boat didn't have a top. They handed out rain coats that were so flimsy that they pulled apart in your hands. Getting soaked just cooled us down. 

Most of all we just relaxed and had a great time on the cruise ship enjoying evening shows and great meals. When we returned home, Wanda looked around for a steward to take care of our bedroom and a matride' to provide meals. 

Well, I guess that means the vacation is over and it's back to work for both of us. I did make up the bed to help Wanda and helped put all the clothes and suitcases up. We can't wait until the next cruise. Maybe we'll head to Alaska or the Mediterrainean. We' ll see.

Enjoy the pictures. The Western Caribbean is beautiful.

Monday, July 27, 2009


We're back home! 


Wanda and I just experienced one of the greatest times of our lives vacationing in the Western Caribbean on the Valor, a Carnival Cruise Ship.

We ate, snorkeled, ate, visited Mayan Temple ruins, ate, played ping pong, ate, rode a moped, ate, took a river cruise, ate, shopped, ate, enjoyed evening entertainment, ate, listened to a speech on good eating habits, ate, shopped, ate, made new friends, ate, and ate, and ate!

We didn't gamble, drink, smoke, chew, get a hang over, or do anything foolish. Well, we did eat a lot.

We shared our faith. Prayed with some who had needs, and let our lights shine.

We're rested, ready to work, and excited to reach forward to our destiny and future. 

I didn't get to post  comments last week due to being out of the country, but comments from last week have been posted and will continued to  be posted daily on this blog.

I will include more vacation pictures on Wednesday and share about our cruise. 

Friday, July 24, 2009


Have you ever lost your car in a mall parking lot? 

What about in an airport parking lot? 

What about a major Florida theme park?

Wanda and I recently walked around in the Sea World parking lot for about 30-40 minutes trying to find our car. I had begun to believe it was stolen. We looked and looked and looked. As we arrived to enjoy our visit,  I can tell you that we looked at the poles that mark the parking lot and called out loud E-23. I said E for Eugene, my middle name and 23. But I was wrong on the row 23 and it was much farther out on isle 21 where it actually was parked. 

We walked and walked and walked. It was hot and we were tired and it wasn't fun. It wasn't funny, but the funny thing was we weren't the only ones looking for cars. I heard several other people say out loud the same thing I was thinking about our car. 

"It must be stolen," they all kept saying. There were a number of folks who had lost their cars too. 

How do grown up people lose cars? You would think our brains would work better than that, but they don't.

Well, I have solved the problem. I downloaded a program on my Iphone that will lead me back to my vehicle no matter where I park it. I guess I am going totally brain dead. I need an Iphone to get back to my car?

Can't find my way back to my car without an Iphone. Don't laugh. I bet you have lost a car too. We are all brain dead.

I need this vacation.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


My brain is in neutral. No thinking, just resting.

I know. Some are thinking, "What's new about that?"

Now that is just not nice.

I love my work and calling as a pastor, but it is so mental and carries lots of stress. Wanda's oldest grandson stayed with us a few weeks back and after a few days in our home said that he didn't know that pastors did all the stuff he saw us doing.  Right now my  brain just needs to go into neutral and let God fill in with His goodness. That is my goal for these last days. Just let God fill me up with His goodness and get me ready to pour out again.


We are cruising in the Western Caribbean. I have been all over the Eastern Caribbean, but this will be my first visit to some of the Western parts. We're sleeping on the stern staring at the ship's wake.

Just crusin'. That's all. Just crusin'.


Monday, July 20, 2009


Tomorrow has many possibilities. It is future. It is dream yet to be. It is also a date that has memory of amazing blessings. 

Tomorrow will be one year exactly since my first wife Kristy passed. What more can be said? What more can I write? 

I can tell you that the memory of Kristy lives on in so many ways and in so many hearts. I can tell you that her love still reaches out and blesses so many people. How do you honor one so loved? 

What would Kristy desire her children and me as well as others to do to remember her?

For me the answer is simple yet hard. She would want us to go forward and live to give glory to God. She would want us to celebrate the joys, blessings, and amazing fruitfulness of her life. She pushed me and prepared me for my future without her, and by His grace and strength, I am going forward with my life.

Go back and read her writings on her blog,,  before she was diagnosed with the GBM brain tumor. She lived, loved, laughed, and let God work His will in her life. What she had lived and preached she lived and practiced in her death.

I am comforted as I face tomorrow, July 21, the one year anniversary of her passing, that she is well in heaven and pushing heaven's work force to get with it and get it done. She never waited, procrastinated, or withheld any good thing. Heaven will be competed ahead of schedule because Kristy is there.

I am grateful to God, my girls, my precious extended family, and to Wanda for the comfort and love they have shown me. Wanda is amazing. She is a gift of God to me. We have much to do for Christ before our journeys are completed. Kristy's selfless love and spiritual revelation prepared me and my girls for the incredible lady God has given me to walk the remainder of my life toward heaven. 

Please pray for my girls and grands tomorrow. They miss their mother so badly. I know we will make it, but we still need your prayers. 

God is so good. He gives us tomorrow.

Tomorrow, we will go forward.  

Friday, July 17, 2009


Wanda and I are away for a few days R&R. We enjoyed staying at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando for a few nights thanks to a special discount. It is a luxurious resort, but it was just about empty the whole time of our stay. It will hold several thousand guests as it is a convention center also, but everyone was gone!

That is the big fish that I caught in the lake in the middle of the huge atrium just outside our hotel room. Took me hours and hours to reel him into the boat. Aw shucks, just kidding, but I did catch a hammerhead shark that big years ago in the Gulf of Mexico. It does make for an easy photo op, doesn't it?

The first night we had grands and Julie, but the next couple of nights it was quiet, quiet, quiet, and more quiet. Grands were gone and nobody was in the place. It was like a ghost town as it is a huge place with no one there but us and a few other people. Mostly it was empty.

Grands are fun, and we hated to see them go but it was nice to see them get into their parents vehicles and hit the trail. Sounds kinda contradictory?

We went swimming at 12 PM two nights and slept late. Wow! What fun.

Next week it is a get-a-way on my first cruise. We're headed South. Way South of the border. 

Jesus got-a-way and sailed on a boat a few times to do it. We're going to do it just like Jesus!

Like the boat below? It was just below our room at the Palms, and the is the one I used to catch the big fish above. Oops, another big one. Sorry. It was a wonderful time at the Palms. 

God is good.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Losing a family pet is not easy especially when you really love the pet and it is unexpected. Jennifer and her kiddies lost their little Gia due to getting hit by a car earlier this week. 

Gia was a cross between a miniature greyhound and a chihuahua. She was a well tempered house dog that had been Jennifer's pet and now her kiddies for a number of years. 

Pets are not my favorite things, but Gia was a good dog and lots of fun. She would playfully pull at me to scratch her and I always enjoyed her when visiting with Jennifer and the kiddies. 

Her is a picture of her and the kiddies I took at Christmas. Gia was always right in the middle of things enjoying family stuff.
Jennifer and her family have had a tough time dealing with her loss. When you lose something special, it hurts.

Does Jesus care about doggies? He must. He cared about sparrows and lilies. He surely cares about doggies.

Goodbye Gia. You were a very good doggy. 

Dear Lord, please comfort Jennifer and her little kiddies in their loss. Thank you for making a bad hurt better. Amen.

Monday, July 13, 2009


We made another trip the Jacksonville Zoo this past Friday and were headed out the gate. Wanda was lagging talking to some strangers as I hurried took the kiddies to the car. I wondered what the reason was for her talking as we had an appointment we were running real close to meeting.

She findly caught up, and said that a lady stopped her and asked her if she was Wanda. "Are you Wanda?"

"Yes," she replied.

"I thought I recognized you in the zoo from some of the blog pictures. I read your husbands blog every day. I don't know how I found it. My husband has cancer and I can't tell you what this blog has meant to me," the lady shared.

I sat next to Wanda amazed at this chance encounter and how that God has taken our brokeness and touched lives far beyond our knowledge.

Kristy shared in her last words spoken in church that God would get glory from all that has happened. God has been faithful to do just that and even more.

God is so good.

Dear Lord, please show this precious family Wanda met at the zoo your love and kindness. Please meet their needs today. Amen.

Friday, July 10, 2009


Our blended family is enjoying our first summer. Each of the grands have been here for a few days but Jennifer's littles, Claudia and Lorenzo. They were here for our wedding, but we won't get to see them this summer. 

Cole and Paige are here and we're off to the Zoo, beach, and other children friendly places. They sure make their new papa feel great. When we get to see them, they always run to me.  Wanda has been very gracious about all this since they are her son's kiddies, but I have gotten a real kick out of it. My grands just adore Wanda. We blending tighter as time passes. 

Here is a picture we made a few months back. You can tell that they really are into their new papa. We just ridin' the ole trail again. 

Just a bunch a cowboys and cowgirls!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


I am so very proud and thankful for Wanda. She is a wonderful blessing in my life and the lives of my children and grandchildren. She worked at Bartow First Assembly very faithfully for 27 years. When she left to marry me, they honored her and dedicated the new fountain at the church to her with a beautiful plaque pictured below.

I just received these pictures and wanted to share them with you. Thank you Pastor Tommy and Bartow First Assembly for honoring a true hero who served behind the scenes and in strategic ways to build the Kingdom.

Isn't the fountain beautiful? Next time I'm there I will empty my pockets into the fountain. 

Monday, July 6, 2009


I was sitting in my car in the Publix parking lot waiting on Wanda. We had made a brief stop and she ran in the store for a couple of items. Normally I would have gone in with her, but this was just to get drinks to take to a July 4th party.

That is when I saw them.

Walking side by side they were both holding onto a shopping cart and moving  very slowly. It was almost but not quite a Tim Conway shuffle. It was an older couple hanging on to their cart stepping ever so slowly toward their car with groceries. She was struggling to make it and he wasn't much stronger. They obviously were in the twilight years of life and both were weakened, but they were hanging in there.

Step by step, I watched them and it overcame me for a moment. It was a picture of life. It was a picture of love. It was a picture of marriage. 

Neither could have made it by themselves, but together they were buying groceries and taking them home. They needed each other and together they pushed the cart.

Love lifted their steps. Mutual support was there goal. Their shopping cart had become their walker, and easily so very gently they made their way back home.

I couldn't help but wipe a tear. I saw love at the grocery store on July 4th. 

It was in the gentle, kind action of two old people in love.

Friday, July 3, 2009


Tuesday afternoon Wanda and I made several visits to see people in a care center and in the hospital. Reaching out to others always makes you feel better. I get blessed more than I think I am a blessing when seeing those who are in need or hurting. I always leave grateful for God's goodness in my life

But Tuesday, I got an extra blessing!

Each room we went to the ones we visited told Wanda how kind, good, and wonderful a man I am. They wanted her to know that she got a good "catch".  She would always kindly respond that she well knew who she gotten and that made me feel even better.

Everyone needs a little pick-me-up every now and then. Tuesday afternoon was my time. 

Of course, I know I found a great "catch" in Wanda. When I visited her church the day they honored her for 27 years of faithful service and work at Bartow First Assembly, I was touched over and over by how much her church family loved and respected her yet after being there all those years. It made me feel I was truly going to be a blessed man by marrying her. 

I am blessed.

God has brought me through a great storm these last almost two years. I still hurt and grieve at Kristy's loss. My girls hurt and it has been hard, but God has been good. He is faithful.

One day we will understand better, but today I can give thanks.

Those visits made me feel great!

Hey, what can I say? I am a nice guy! At least that is what they all said.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


How do you spell colonoscopy?

I guess I just did, but there is far more to one than just spelling it. I found out for my very first time Monday. Thankfully, there were no problems that necessitated it, but my doctor at my annual checkup said that it was my time. 

It was my time. Ugh! What a bummer!

Just before the doctor began the procedure, I told him that I had a joke for him. 

He was game and paused a few moments for me to tell a joke, actually a true story.

I began:

Years ago I was visiting a parishioner in the hospital sadly known as the town grump. As I stood there with him about to pray, his doctor came him and told him he had bad news. I knew the doctor well and he turned his head away from the member and winked at me.

"You've got a very rare and serious condition, Odel,"  Doc Sands said. "I don't see this very often he continued, but it is very serious."

Odel looked shocked and concerned. "Shoot straight with me Doc. What is it?"

"Optic-recitus," Doc Sands said.

"That sounds bad, Doc. I've never heard of that one. What is it," Odel quizzed?

"It is rare and it isn't good, Odel," the town doc continued. 

I was unsure just where the doctor was going with this, but I knew it was going to be good.

"Yes," Doc told Odel, "You've got optic-recitus, and a very bad case of it."

Odel asked, "What is it? Doesn't sound good to me."

"Well, it is when the optic nerve gets crossed with nerves in the rectum and it gives you a very crappy outlook on life," Doc grinned as he walked out the door.

I was about to burst wide open but couldn't. Yet, I knew the doc was right.

Monday, Dr. Gopal laughed at my joke as I grinned into sleep. And that is the end of this story! 

Pun intended.