Posts Tagged ‘connections


Making Connections

At the tender age of 12, my mom and dad sent me to summer camp.

Pretty standard stuff for a 12-year-old, right? Except at the time, we lived just outside of Columbus, Ohio and this camp was in the beautiful, faraway state of New Hampshire. 

The fact that there were four other kids at home besides me made transportation a real head-scratcher. Packing all seven of us up for a 13 ½ hour drive in the Family Truckster was probably not going to cut it… nor was air travel a viable option.

So my folks decided that the best way to get me up to beautiful Camp Merrowvista was to ship me off on a Greyhound bus…

… by myself,

… at the age of 12.

  • Have I mentioned that my bus trip from Columbus to Winnipesaukee, NH included a four-hour layover at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City?
  • … And that the layover was from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.?
  • … And that I was 12 years old at the time?

Of course, today, no parent in their right mind would toss their 12-year-old into that shark-infested swimming pool and expect them to swim. 

But my parents were different. They had a PLAN! And the plan was for my dad to write out notes in a pocket-sized spiral notebook that told me in EXTREME detail what was going to happen at every step of the way. In that notebook was listed every stop, how long the stop was going to be, whether I could (or should) try to get off the bus for a snack or bathroom break, when we would have to CHANGE busses (something that really scared me), right down to the names, ages, and kids’ names of each of the bus drivers.

[OK… I made that last part up.]

That little notebook was a lifesaver… probably literally, as I think back on it. And when it came to the part about the four-hour layover in New York City (again, from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.), it said, “First, find the Traveler’s Aid desk. Then tell them you are traveling by yourself and ask if you can just stay close at hand until your bus leaves.”

Piece of CAKE!

The feeling I had throughout the trip was that no matter what happened, I was connected to my dad. He was right there with me, riding in my right breast pocket. As long as I was carrying that notebook, I had nothing to fear… not even that wine-and-urine-soaked guy laying on the floor of the Port Authority bus terminal.

And if you think about it, isn’t that a big part of what faith is all about? Isn’t our faith about making those vital CONNECTIONS that help us navigate the difficult passages of life? 

One might even go so far as to say that we humans are WIRED for connection.

Connection with one another…

Connection with the world around us, and…

Connection with our Heavenly Parent.

We fall into living in fear, anger, and isolation when our connections are faulty. Conversely, we tend to thrive more when those connections and solid and intact.

Surely that is one of the biggest reasons this pandemic has been so hard on our souls, as well as our minds and bodies; it has damaged or threatened the critical connections of our lives.

Today I am going to pause and think about one human connection I need to repair and then go out and think about how I will work to repair it. 

How are your connections?

Abundant blessings;



Roots-of-an-uprooted-tree-after-a-stormThere is a controversy raging right now that is sending arcs of electricity dancing through the air between Kansas City and Washington, D.C.

If you do not live in either one of these cities, you are probably blissfully unaware of this epic feud.

The fun all began on June 13 this year when U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will relocate the Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to the Kansas City Region.

It is a move that will potentially involve nearly 550 USDA staff members.

Folks in Kansas City were tremendously excited to hear this news. After all, it means a boost for the local economy, added prestige, and many potential new converts to The Magic of The KC Experience.

The USDA folks potentially affected by the move are… well, let’s say somewhat less than excited. At the joint staff meeting where the move was announced, many USDAers in attendance stood up and turned their backs on Secretary Perdue as he spoke.

They said the move would disrupt their social connections. They said it would upset their children’s educational progress. They say they are not willing to watch a major league baseball team that consistently fails to play at or above the .500 mark.

(OK… I just made that last one up. But they WILL say that once they think about it.) 

Kansas City people feel miffed by the Washingtonians’ response.“What do you mean you don’t want to move here?” we ask. “We LOVE this city! And you will, too, once you taste our BBQ!”

Their (our) feelings are hurt. We see it as a negative judgment on our hometown by some snooty, high-falootin’ East Coasters. Heck, we say, they probably wonder if indoor plumbing even exists out here on the Great Plains.

Having experienced a forcible, cross-country relocation myself – in the summer between my junior and senior years of high school – I know nothing could be further from the truth.

So chill out, KC. It’s not about US at all.

What it IS about is the emotional and physical trauma that is an inescapable part of making this kind of move. People have to deal with the severing of every connection that defines them… whether social, religious, family, cultural, or community. They have to deal with the challenge of rebuilding all of those vital relationships, let alone figuring out which neighborhood to live in, where to shop, where to dine, and where to find a good bagel.

But as hard as the move is on the adult members of the family, it is probably even harder on the children.

It feels like an UPROOTING. And who would ever voluntarily subject themselves to THAT?

50 years ago this month I did exactly that. Mind you, not without great howls of protest and the conviction that life – as I knew it – was about to end. However, unlike the USDA staffers, I was utterly powerless to resist the pending upheaval.

But somewhere along the way, the funniest thing happened.

I don’t know what caused it, but at some point in the middle of my wailing and protesting, a switch inside me flipped. I came to the realization that I had the power to decide what kind of experience this was going to be.

I could decide that this was going to be a horrible, traumatic, worst-thing-ever experience.

Or I could decide this would be the opening of a new chapter of adventure and challenge in my life… a moment to be faced and seized and maybe even RELISHED.

And then after that realization dawned, the choice was easy. I opted for Door #2 and the rest – as they say – is history. And as a symbol of my new adventure, I decided I would take on a new identity. I decided that this would now be the time for my childhood name “Rusty” to go away, and my new, quasi-adult name “Russell” to emerge.

Of course, Sonny Perdue is not God. But just like Sonny Perdue, sometimes God calls us to be obedient to upheavals and uprootings from our comfortable circumstances.

Just ask Abram. Or Joseph. Or Moses. Or Mary. Or Joseph. Or Paul.

And I am sure most of the time there are a hundred good reasons we could offer as to why this uprooting is a really bad idea… about how much pain and discomfort this will cause us and our families… about how inferior a place Canaan is to Haran… and how we really would prefer to stay right where we are.

Or we can just decide to believe God is using this uprooting as a way to enlist us at the beginning of a new adventure of faith and obedience.


So… which will it be?

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