Instead of “Why me?” – Try This Question . . .

“As we conclude the 14th month of 2020 . . . ” Unknown

“And the hits just keep coming . . . ” Tom Cruise – A Few Good Men

I have a whole new sensitivity when I listen to the news and hear about undrinkable water, bad storms, homes and businesses destroyed, flooding, foreign governments intentionally turning the power off on their people, and so on and so forth.

I recently told a friend, “All I really want is to coast for a little while and stop having to deal with stuff.” The friend completely agreed, he has dealt with crisis after crisis the last few years. I’m sure you would like a break also. If you haven’t been effected by COVID-19, the Texas storm, an unexpected health situation, the passing of a family member, a large financial loss – then you’ve got to know someone who has.

So what do we do? I’ve been reading an amazing book by Mark Batterson called Win the Day. He shares how his wife dealt with an unexpected cancer diagnosis:

Lora was diagnosed with breast cancer. If you’ve had cancer or have a loved one who has, you know that a thousand questions fire across your synapses. What stage is it? How do we treat it? What is the prognosis? Fortunately, we caught it early and Lora is better than ever.

Can I brag on my wife? I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder of her. She participated in her own healing process by making some courageous changes. She became intentional about everything she put into her body and mind. Along with changing our diet, we did our best to eliminate toxins in our environment. Yes, that includes people. Lora started practicing meditation more regularly. We even started frequenting comedy clubs. Why? Laughter “doeth good like medicine.” (Proverbs 17:22)

When you get cancer, denying the diagnosis does no good. If you don’t own it, it will own you. For Lora, the healing process began with a brave question (for God – Dave’s words) she stumbled across while reading a poem about illness:

What have you come to teach me?

When we find ourselves in difficult situations, we get so focused on getting out of them that we fail to get anything out of them. Then we wonder why we find ourselves in the same situation all over again. There is nothing wrong with asking God to change your circumstances, but His primary objective is changing you. The circumstances you’re asking him to change may be the very circumstances He is using to change you. . . . Maybe it has come to teach you a lesson that could not be learned any other way! (Pg. 42)

That’s nice and everything, but what about:

“I don’t want to learn any more lessons!”

“This lesson is too personal and painful!”

“Haven’t we been through this one already?”

“Why do I keep taking hits and others aren’t?”

Plus, we may not get an answer right away – or at all. And if we do, it might not be the answer we were hoping for. Very rarely are we able to scratch our heads and say, “Oh, I get it now, that makes perfect sense! And that makes all the misery worth it!”

However, in spite of our feelings, pains, and disappointments – we keep asking the question to God out of trust.

We’re human beings and we feel and hurt and wonder. God loves us too much to let us stay the same. Am I going to draw closer to Him, or try to figure out His mind and reasoning? I love this quote from Christine Caine, “God asks us to love Him with all of our hearts, not understand Him with all of our minds.” Plus, if we repent of our sins and believe His son died for us – we always have the hope Jesus returning to take us to a heavenly home where there is no pain, illnesses, death, lack of resources, corruption, and so on and so forth.

“And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever . . . ” (1 John 2:17)


Dave :




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2021 has got to be a better year – right???

Many including myself have commented that 2020 was probably the worst year of our lives. Many including myself have commented that things have got to be better in 2021. Many including myself have uttered the phrase, “I just want things to get back to normal.” 

I’m afraid to even suggest – what if 2021 is rougher than we think it is going to be? C’mon – you have to admit the thought possibly crossed your mind? It continues to go back to our lack of control, lack of uncertainty of when the hard times will end, and struggling to find glimpses of hope in our current circumstances. 
Here are 3 “scrolling” practices I’ve come across that we can do to help find what I call “pockets of joy.”

1) Scroll through photos on your phone – Since most of us don’t have photo albums, try scrolling through your phone. I was surprised that 2020 had a lot of great moments – birthdays, friendships, vacations, officiating my niece’s wedding, inspirational online messages, my awesome wife, kids and grandkid, the greatest dog in the world, meeting Murray from Impractical Jokers, and on and on. I feel even better when scroll through years past and see so many happy moments I had forgotten about. Try it!

2) Scroll (browse) through the stories of God’s faithfulness in the Bible – Hebrews says “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by The Word of God” (Romans 10:17). Like most of you, I don’t feel that great after watching the news or spending extensive time on social media.

However, when I read the Bible – I’m encouraged, inspired, hear God’s voice, anticipate the endless joy of heaven, and can be reminded of God’s faithfulness in the past when things looked hopeless. Moses and all of Israel were up against the Red Sea – no problem, God can split it and create a pathway. Mary was going to give birth to the Savior of the World before she got married? No problem, the Holy Spirit miraculously places the Son of God in her womb. Jesus is facing a food shortage for over 5000 people. No problem, Jesus looks to the Father for help, He provides – and “everyone ate and was satisfied” (Matthew 14:20).

Facing a global pandemic that started in 2020, the people were filled with anxiety, hopelessness, and despair. No problem, God _________________ (we’ll see what He is going to do)!

3) Scroll (write) using a journal – Research shows the power in physically writing things down, and even more power when they are verbally spoken. Our journals can be a cheap notebook. We don’t have to write something every day. They don’t have to be perfect. If you’re afraid of someone reading it – write in a secret code that only you and God understand and hide it in a good spot 🙂

Plus, we make the rules for what goes into the journals: thoughts, dreams, challenges, lists, goals, prayer requests, quotes, life events, meaningful scriptures, ideas, sketches, worries, and on and on! Part of the power comes from looking back months or years later and seeing the goals that were accomplished, the prayers that were answered, or how a dream unexpectedly came true!

Conclusion – “His faithful promises are your armor and protection” (Psalm 91:4).


Dave 🙂

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One More Person to Add to the Manger Scene. . .

It is refreshing to be driving at night and see the Christmas light displays. It doesn’t make 2020 go away – but it helps spark a tiny bit of hope. Seeing the manger scenes also help bring me back to what this season is supposed to be about.

The manger scenes usually feature the familiar cast of characters: Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the wise men, baby Jesus (of course!), animals, and sometimes an angel or a star hovering over the display. I wanted to propose adding one more statue or figurine to the group – a guy named Simeon.

It was over 30 years ago when I heard a sermon preached about Simeon for the first time. And last week, our guest pastor (Max Lucado) had Simeon as the main focus in his message. So who is Simeon and what’s the big deal about him?

We first hear about him in Luke Chapter 2:

At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying:

“Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”

Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him . . . (Luke 2: 25-33).

What we can learn from Simeon’s example:

  1. He was eagerly and hopefully waiting for the Messiah (living righteous and devout in the meantime).
  2. He clung to the promise that the Holy Spirit had given him.
  3. He was ready when the right time came to be led by God.

My thoughts are that if #1 and #2 listed above were not actively going on in Simeon’s life – he more than likely would have missed #3. As a righteous man he had to go against what the culture said was truth. Being devout meant he had dedication, discipline, and perseverance no matter what his circumstances were. Having The Holy Spirit upon him allowed him to be sensitive to God’s voice in spite of the doubts and noise around him.

So when the time came for “that day the Spirit led him to the temple” – he was ready to step into the promise that who knows how long he had been clinging to. Again, without #1 and #2 he could have:

Slept in that day.

Thought it was his imagination telling him to go at that particular time and ignored the prompting.

Been distracted for even a few minutes where he would have missed Jesus.

Start fixating on the past and wonder where God was during his struggles?

Given up hope on the promise, and rightly so. Who knows how long he had been waiting?

He could have listened to the voice of the enemy and gone anywhere but the temple.

Unfortunately, several of the above statements resonate with my life – how about you? But Simeon stayed true to who he was and more importantly, who God is. And he got to hold the Savior of the World in his hands!

Conclusion – May we all strive to be more like Simeon. Seeking the truth in a world overflowing with loud microphones and false messages. Disciplined in a world that pushes us towards comfort and convenience. Clinging to God’s promises from the Bible and those He has placed in our hearts by His Spirit – instead of believing and following the ungodly and self-condemning voices that “mysteriously” appear in our heads. Merry Christmas!!!


Dave 🙂

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In Sickness and in Health . . .

There are so many people sick right now, or we know of someone that is fighting an illness. So many are struggling. The stastics are overwhelming – I don’t even want to listen to the news. When will there be relief in sight?
One way God gets my attention is when I’m sick. I don’t feel like watching TV, seeing old movies, or reading. I just default to laying there feeling sorry for myself, thinking about all I need to be doing – and when can I get back to “normal”?
I’ve had two significant non-COVID health battles this year. I’m back to “normal”now. During the sessions of rotating from the couch to the bed – I noticed it was an internal time for reflection, repentance, and recommitment. My big takeaways have been, and maybe you also can relate:

1) My faith isn’t as strong as I thought it was. It is so easy to read my Bible, belt out worship tunes, pray, and bless those around me – when things are going well and I feel healthy. Some of the biggest issues brought to light were how much I was going to Google with my questions instead of God. Scrolling through Twitter instead of the Scriptures. Piddling around on my phone instead of prioritizing prayer. 

2) There are so many hurting people that need our help right now. It is overwhelming to look at it big picture. It’s very easy to throw up our arms and say “I give up – what difference can I make?” One solution might be to minimize it down to just helping a single person out. A text, an email, a call, a finanial contribution, a socially distant visit, a gift card – such a variety of little things we can do to take the focus off of ourselves and give someone else a tiny sliver of hope. Just start with someone you know is hurting right now. A few days ago I sent a text to a former employee that was about 3 sentences long – and I immediately received a joyful response! It felt like she had been waiting all this time for that message.

3) Prayer is the one of the most amazing, baffling, powerful, and un-figureoutable things we can do. Why do some get prayers get answered immediately the first time? And then other times it has been years with seemingly little or no changes? Why do we pray and things appear to get worse? I don’t know – but we must trust in the fact that God sure does know.

“As high as the heavens are above the earth – so high are my ways and thoughts above yours.” (Isaiah 55: 9)

One of the toughest questions to ask going through sickness, tough times, disappointments and crisises is: “Lord, what are you trying to show me through this?”

God continues to prioritze and personalize that internal growth:

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen in temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)


Dave 🙂

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Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Hello! You should have received an email newsletter with my blog this month. Word Press is my host website, and they have changed their format. I’m unable to edit or save on it at this time. I’ll figure it out. In the meantime, here is an inspirational quote from the great Jon Gordon to get you through your day:

“It’s never going to be easy. It’s not supposed to be. Life is good and then bam you get hit with adversity. Don’t give up. It’s how you respond that determines the future you create.”

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Is This the New Normal or Something Else?

I apologize for not writing in a while. Part recharging, part rest, part overwhelmed with life, and part not knowing what to write.

Like many of you – I’m wrestling with a host of unanswerable questions: When will this virus end? Will we ever go back to the “normal” we had about a year ago? Will me or a loved one catch the virus? What is going to happen to the economy and our personal finances? Am I the only one struggling with these things right now?

In one of my newsletters at work, I stumbled upon a great article by an educator named Daniel Patterson. Here is a portion of his insight:

Grief. It’s a polarizing word. Grief is messy. It’s uncomfortable. It’s unpredictable. And it beckons conflict and chaos when not adequately acknowledged and proactively addressed. Grief in its most familiar context is deep sorrow, especially caused by someone’s death. But grief sneaks into the corners of everyday life disguised as sorrow, anguish, sadness, misery, pain, agony and distress. If we were playing emotional bingo, it’s safe to say everyone would be a winner.

Our education system is in a grief cycle, but most aren’t calling it by its name. Instead, many prefer to throw around terms like “new normal” to express the disconnect between the routine and familiar tenents of education, and the tangled web of uncertainty tossing educators and students around in a sea of variables. “New normal” is not even close to a dignified term for what teachers and students are experiencing: substantial direct and indirect trauma stemming from a pandemic, remote learning, isolation, economic uncertainty, elevated poverty, death of loved ones, a civil rights movement, and political polarization.

Grief, as you might recall, has stages. Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. And, acceptance. These stages, of course, are not concrete. They ebb and flow. As we head into the new school year, it’s critical to acknowledge that your entire school ecosystem is in some stage of grief.

Wow, grief – I haven’t looked at it from that perspective. I am guilty of throwing around the term “new normal”, or proclaiming to others, “Just give it some time, things will go back to “normal.” A wise woman once said, “Normal is a setting on your washing machine.”

However, it seems that everywhere I look – families, businesses, schools, places of worship, entertainment, sports – there is some type of a layer of sadness that we just can’t get past.

Whether it was a social media post, advice, a podcast, quote, or article – here are some words of encouragement out there that have helped me:

  1. Don’t compare or minimize your pain with someone else. It is yours and it is real. We have to have a trusted friends we can vent to and be a listener for them also.
  2. Fight to keep moving forward, even tiny steps. It can be a fight to cook, do homework, laundry, pay bills, socialize, go to the store. An enticing temptation for all of us is to stay in bed or spend hours on the couch.
  3. If it is a struggle to show up for yourself -show up for others that are depending on you – children, spouse, the elderly, friends, co-workers, customers, the lonely, the poor. Someone needs YOU right now.
  4. Cling to your faith for hope, even though the circumstances are difficult, we keep asking “Why?”, and it feels like God is silent. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
  5. Don’t expect to just be able to “snap out of it.” Watch that negative self talk like, “I should be able to move past this – what is wrong with me?” A trusted friend once told me, “You don’t get over grief. You move through it.” Give yourself time.
  6. Exercise of any type. It helps you get your mind off what is going on, and you feel better afterwards.

This was a tough one to write. It helps to get it out of my system and “name” some of the things going on internally that I’ve experiened or have watched others go through. We’re in this together – and we are going to make it! 🙂


Dave 🙂

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The Hour of Power During a Pandemic

Many of the personal development gurus have repeatedly proclaimed the message of, “Do what you can now to come out of the Pandemic a better version of yourself.” “Now is the time to practice that skill, get in shape, plant that garden, save your money, read that book, write that book, start your side hustle” – and on and on it goes. If you’re like me, most days I feel that I’m falling short of the lofty goal of becoming a better version of myself:

I don’t belong to a gym (most are closed at this time anyway).

I fall asleep after reading one chapter in a book.

My creativity “tank” is feeling incredibly low.

I haven’t been able to go into my church building since March 2020.

My side hustle was a small speaking business at live events – and that completely shut down.

How about a different perspective? I’ve also heard a lot of the experts talking about the power of small habits and routines. The whole law of compounding interest – applied to any area of your life. Celebrating the small victories. Less is more. Rejecting perfectionism. Creating goals that are simple to achieve. Here is something I call The Hour of Power. Dedicating 20 minutes spiritually, 20 minutes mentally, and 20 minutes physically each day to yourself. Maybe you’re a night owl and that would be the best time for you. Personally, I love the mornings. You don’t even have to do the entire hour simultaneously – I split it up and read before I go to bed at night. Here’s what it looks like broken down:

  1. Physical – Speaker and author Rachel Hollis proclaims, “Get your body moving every morning for at least 20-30 minutes.” I think that is great advice. After you wake up, have your favorite cup of coffee or whatever – and then give it a try. It doesn’t have to be complicated or cost anything: walking, yoga, pilates, stretching, free exercise YouTube videos, washing a stack of dishes or laundry. The blood starts flowing, the brain gets going, and you feel better equiped to take on the challenges of the day. If I don’t have the time to exercise, I always walk my dog unless it is a torrential downpour. We both love it, and I leave my phone at home. 
  2. Mental – My encouragement for this 20 minutes is to completely turn off the news and any screen devices. Do something that stimulates your mind and brings you joy: reading, puzzles, writing, journaling, games, gardening, art, creating, dancing, photography, etc. This goes with the old saying of “doing something that you are so immersed in – that you lose all track of time.” As mentioned above, I enjoy reading right before I fall asleep. Probably not the best reading habit – but I’m not striving for perfection 🙂
  3. Spiritual – We are complex individuals made up of a mind, body, and spirit. During this time of a global pandemic is when we need faith in something greater than ourselves and the overwhelming current events. As a Christian, my goal every morning is to pray, journal, read the scriptures, and be still – doesn’t always happen, but that’s okay! Even more than exercise – this strengthens me for whatever challenges lie ahead. A tool that has helped me the last several months is an app called “The One Minute Pause.” It is free, and has a setting that goes off at 10 am and 2 pm everyday. It is a disruption during the day to stop, slow down, and pause for one minute reflecting on God. A basic prayer is even provided if you want to use that. For a small motivator, the app keeps track of how many days in a row you take part in this practice. As of this writing – I’m at 100 days with a pause!

Give The Hour of Power a try. In the comments below – let me know how it goes or if you have your own system of habits and routines. It is something we can control in an out of control world. Glancing at Jesus’s example for growth:

Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people. (Luke 2:52). Mentally, physically, and spirtually.


Dave 🙂


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The Amazing, Incredible, and Enviable Life of Ian Philips . . .

Ian Philips has achieved the American, if not the Worldwide Dream. He owns 3 homes including private property on Malibu Beach. He has been faithfully married for over 25 years (his wife is seen in the picture enjoying the glorious view from one of their smaller homes). Both parents can humbly say that they made the majority of right decisions in their journey of raising kids. All three of their children have either internships or high level positions in Fortune 500 companies. Even though Ian is the CEO of his company – he has been able to successfully balance the demands of work and home. He and his family are able to take time off to travel the world when restrictions aren’t in place. For a hobby – Ian tinkers with and occassionally races the four sports cars that he owns. He even has an onsite mechanic to take care of his family and recreational vehicles. To top it all off – a five star chef lives in their guest home and makes delicious and nutrious meals. He has dined at the finest restaurants here and abroad.

In an interview he proclaimed, “At the moment I have all I need – and more!” A true success story. Wow, it really is a wonderful life!!!

Gotcha!!! I totally made up the story of Ian and you believed it!!! I know, that wasn’t very nice, but hang with me. Honestly, weren’t you thinking: I would like to have just a little of what Ian has??? It seems like he has every material possession we would desire, and a life free from the everyday hassles you and I just can’t seem to get past???

Why would I make up this story? First of all, the only true part of the story is the quote. Those words were spoken by the Apostle Paul – while he was in prison!!! Philip Ian is a backword play on words for the book of Philip – pians in the Bible. Again, in prison Paul proclaims,

“At the moment I have all I need – and more!” (Philippians 4:18)

This was a prision cell in A.D. 61. No AC or heat, no electricity, the floors were dirt, no toliet or plumbing, rats as cellmates, no exercise area, no medical attention, no lawyers, no balanced meals, or no idea how long your sentence is.

Being transparent, his situation makes me take a look inside and I’m embarrassed what I truly get upset over – traffic, waiting for a train, cold take out food, unreturned phone calls for reference checks, too many emails in my inbox, the internet connection going out for an hour or two, lack of control over the future, and on and on it goes. One of the greatest lessons that keeps getting hammered into my brain is having joy in spite of circumstances, not having joy because all my circumstances are aligned in the direction I want them to go. The perspective that everything should go my way always leads me down the road of disappointment and wondering if I’m doing something wrong. Don’t you sometimes feel that way???

How does Paul do it? Read the 4 chapters of the book of Philippians slowly, here is a partial summary. He never loses sight of his life mission. He writes a book while in prison. Shares his faith and hope with anyone that will listen (even the prison guards). He keeps a laser like focus on others. Paul chooses prayer vs. worry. He knows the power of the mind and meditates on the good. Paul is able to keep an eternal perspective in spite of his current conditions.

Today he is in Heaven with the One he kept focusing on and serving. And guess what – Paul has a 1000X better life than Ian Philips could ever imagine!!!


Dave 🙂

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Having a Lieutenant Dan moment with God . . .

One of my favorite scenes from the classic movie Forrest Gump is when Forrest and his buddy Lieutenant Dan are caught in a wild storm during their shrimp catching expedition. Lt. Dan is already extremely frustrated at life because he wanted to die a war hero like family members did generations before him. Forrest rescues him at the last moment during an ambush in the jungle. Lt. Dan has to have surgery and both his legs are amputated, leaving him incredibly bitter and hopeless. So . . . as the storm is raging, Lt. Dan is as high as he can be on the mast – shouting at God, cussing, and challenging God to bring it on. Everything that had been bottled up for years internally – he is finally getting out.

The next morning after the storm is completely gone,  Lt. Dan has a look of peace on his face for the first time in who knows how long. He plunges himself into the water and takes a relaxing swim. Forrest watches and comments, “I guess Lt. Dan made his peace with God.”

A pastor recently said there’s a difference between questioning God and asking God questions. We can’t figure out the mind of the Almighty Creator of the Universe. However, I do believe He wants us to come to Him with our tough questions, our frustrations, our hopelessness, and our brutally difficult circumstances:

When will this virus end?

Why did I lose my loved one?

How can I find a job in this economy and pay my bills?

When will this feeling of hopelessness go away in the pit of my stomach?

Why does the future look so gloomy and uncertain?


It’s okay to complain, question, and express our feelings of anger towards God. It happened all the time in the Bible with iconic folks like Moses, Elijah, David, and Joseph to name a few. The key is what you do next.

The prophet Habakkuk is an amazing example. His story is found in four small chapters of the Old Testament. I would encourage you to read all of it to get the complete context. The subtitles provide an insightful summarization:

Habakkuk’s Complaint

The Lord’s Reply

Habakkuk’s Second Complaint

The Lord’s Second Reply

Habakkuk’s Prayer

What he did was:

1) He got it all out, now he was going to look above and beyond his circumstances and watch and wait for what God is going to do.

2) He prayed for help.

3) He worshiped God even though his circumstances didn’t change.

Check out the last 3 verse of the book with my own comments added in parenthesis:

-Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, (even though it seems my prayers go unanswered)

-and there are no grapes on the vines; (my job is gone and I can’t pay the bills)

-even though the olive crop fails, (I feel that I’m going through this struggle all alone)

-and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, (even though it seems this virus is never going away)

-Yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!

Conclusion: What will it take to move us from fear to faith? From helpless to hope? From worry to worship? From endless pondering to prayer?

Hang in there like Habakkuk did. And let’s keep looking for help beyond ourselves.


Dave 🙂

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Custard’s First Stand . . .

On Friday night, I finally felt hope after a long time without it.
Unfortunately during this crisis, I’ve struggled to find anything to write about. Part of it was that I perceived I had nothing new or enlightened to say. The other part was the creative section of my brain just hasn’t been “feeling it” the last month or two.

Anyway, back to Friday night. So myself, my daughter, and my Golden Retriever (who has been living her dream life since the virus hit) – got into the car and headed to our local Andy’s Frozen Custard to reward ourselves for whatever reason. When we arrived, I felt a tiny spark of light inside my heart. 

We had to wait for our turn behind five cars in the drive-through – people were out supporting the economy in a small but powerful way.

The four workers were hustling and bustling inside to fill orders – people were at work again.

A “Now Hiring” sign was prominently displayed – people are hiring.

The walk-up counter was open – people were in groups talking (while practicing social distancing of course).

And finally, when we drove away. I kid you not – the drive-through line was at least twelve to fifteen cars deep! I had a brief flashback to the final scene of Field of Dreams.

There was hope. Community, socializing, work, business transactions, and happiness were all prominently on display at that little custard stand. 

And this hope will not lead to disappointment . . . (Romans 5:5)

Thanks for reading – the creative gene is slowly making a comeback 🙂


Dave 🙂



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