Tag Archives: faithfulness

Fish, part 4 (revised)

The fourth decade of my life could easily summarize in one word, successIMG_0361 My career at the plastics factory sprouted wings soared.  From my humble beginnings as a plastic materials handler, I graduated to operating injection-molding machines, and  changing the heavy steel molds that shaped melted plastic pellets into parts.  This was just the beginning. Within a few years I found myself supervising workers on a packaging line.

Within a couple of years, our company was awarded a contract to assemble disposable, one-time use cameras.  When the economics of reusing these cameras became favorable, our company was asked to start recycling them also.  Our involvement in this business grew to tens of millions of cameras each year. Our company’s success meant more supervisors were needed and managers to oversee the supervisors. Up the corporate ladder I rose.

Too busy to have anything to do with fish now, all my energy was being poured into my career, and finding ways to take it to new heights. Success fueled my competitive fire and I found new avenues of my life to express it.  Competitive sports such as softball, golf, volleyball, and bowling offered just that.  Academics also proved to fuel the fire. I pursued of a Master of Science in Leadership from my alma mater RWC.  The resulting crowning achievement was an appearance in Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities.  God was with me then but His voice was becoming increasingly harder to hear.  Success trumpeted loudly in my ears, blasting a beautiful melody.  I began to believe that what I had accomplished had less to do with God’s blessings on my life and more to do with my own abilities.

What free time I did have I spent trying to stay abreast of our sons’ ever-changing interests. As teenagers, they were more interested in how fast a boat could travel than experiencing the patience of fishing. Their interests included manning a space shuttle and traveling to other worlds on the starship, Enterprise.  So when we went for a cottage retreat on a lake, fishing was the lowest priority.  Instead, they experienced the thrill of being pulled in a tube behind a speeding boat and chasing after the model rockets launched into the sky’s great expanse. Computers and video gaming were becoming the rage and they fell in love with this sort of technology hook, line and sinker. 

My father never gave up on fishing, however, he continued to fish. His patience and steadfastness were richly rewarded whenever he reeled in a trophy-sized fish.

“Perhaps the most unusual object added to the room was a 40-pound stuffed and mounted Salmon caught by Dad while fishing on Lake Ontario years earlier. It was hung on the wall…and was the first thing he saw when he woke up every morning. It was a trophy that represented the patience, persistence and faithfulness that epitomized my father.” Bill Roushey from the book Junior’s Hope



I distinctly remember two things of spiritual significance happening during this decade of my life. First, a sick feeling that rose up within me when I realized that unbridled success apart from a close relationship with God rang hollow. In the midst of all my success I can remember at one point wondering, “Is this all life has to offer?” (Ecclesiastes 3:9-14).  As a result, I began a period of connecting deeper with God, exploring a call to ministry and listening quietly for periods of time while I prayed. These periods of listening to hear from God led to the second event.

Abraham Lincoln

The sick feeling that I carried around in my being was replaced by an unexplained hunger, a.k.a. the second event.  For some reason I felt I needed to reconnect with my father and deepen my relationship with him.  The feeling grew in intensity and became so strong it compelled me to act on it.  Weeks went by and the feeling never left me.

Dad’s upbringing was grounded in genuine faith in God but due to the rules placed on its members by his (our) denomination of faith it was expressed outwardly as a list of do’s and dont’s, or legalism.  In grade school I was looked at like a child from another planet when I handed my physical education teacher a note from my parents explaining that dancing was against our religious convictions.  I , too, loved God but I rejected that religious legalism as a college student, punctuating my rejection with a fun rebellion.  Somehow rejecting legalism had led to rejecting my father.   I never felt close to him after that.  When the hunger inside me didn’t subside, I prayed for God to show me some vehicle I could use to reconnect with my father.  That vehicle turned out to be researching our family genealogy (see my post Beginning’s).

I rarely fished with my father or father-in-law during this time.  I was too busy wandering in the wasteland of my presumption.  The great fish caught in this decade of my life were not mine. These fish belonged to the faithful who fished with patience and steadfastness, and they were richly rewarded.  In my mind these fish stood as a reminder of how God honored the faithfulness of those who drew near to Him and did not take their faith for granted. (Proverbs 3:1-7)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Dad’s 40-pound trophy salmon stands as a tribute to his efforts.  For the rest of my days, whenever I gaze upon at that fish I will associate it with my father, a faithful man of God. The end of this decade brought me closer to my father than I ever had  been.

But a huge dark cloud appeared on the tranquil horizon.  One that struck fear in my heart…

Get me out of here!

Get me out of here!
Never mind that this is the place you’ve chosen for me at this moment.
The life I had before wasn’t much but it was sure better than this.
Can’t you get me out of here?

Why have you put me here alone?
Never mind that you have repeatedly sent angelic people to comfort me.
I picked the friends I had before and we were doing pretty well together.
I feel trapped in this place.

Why has this happened to me?
Never mind that this calamity is part of your plan for my life.
I was living independently before, and now can no longer do the things I love.
I want to go back to the way things were.

Why has everything been taken from me?
Never mind that you’ve been providing for my needs long before this trouble began.
I was comfortable living with my things I spent a lifetime accumulating.
You know my things are precious to me.

Lord, why aren’t you listening?
Never mind that you’ve walked beside me even when I haven’t trusted you completely.
My strongholds are ruined and my situation is hopeless.
Please, Lord, hear my cry.

Forgive me, Lord, I really do love you.
Never mind that my mind and body are failing, and I lack the strength to fight.
Teach me to be thankful in all things, and in all circumstances.
Show me what you would have me do.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways submit to him, and he will direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)




For Mom (Willie’s girl)

A season of winter

JuniorshopeI am getting ready to rerelease my book, Junior’s Hope, in the next couple of weeks.  This was my first attempt at writing a book, originally published in 2006 (see picture on left of original cover).

The book is a father/son love story that focuses on faith, family and and overcoming adversity.  I updated the book with some minor edits and added another chapter, kind of a ten year anniversary thing.

My story “fish” that I have been blogging about recently runs parallel to the book’s story line (offers additional insight into material covered in the book).

There is one chapter in Junior’s Hope called “A Season of Winter” that I intended to be a poetic reprise in the middle of the story, much like a bridge does in a song.  I edited the chapter for this post so as not to spoil the story.  I hope you enjoy my attempt at writing prose.

… I have visited this place often. On most occasions I come here with no particular need or agenda—just to reflect or rest my weary mind. There is an unexplainable peace found here. Sometimes, without expecting it, I carry away a gem of wisdom that helps sustain me on my journey.

In this place a maple tree stands alone towering over the landscape. Only God knows how long it has been here. Its grayish brown trunk rises from the earth, carrying its physical presence high into the air. There are scars and imperfections evident on the surface of the tree’s bark where wounds, endured over time, have healed as it aged. An untold number of subdividing branches emanate from the trunk, rising ever higher, stretching outward as they ascend. The tips of the branches sway in rhythm prodded by a gentle breeze—like boney fingers scraping the sky. On this day there is not a single leaf present to offer me shade from the sun.

What a brilliant sunny day it is too! The fiery yellow ball hangs in the heavens with grandeur. The sun’s brightness is so intense that I have to squint to survey my surroundings. The few wisps of clouds present are unable to conceal its beauty nor soften the rich blue color of the sky cradling it. Yet, the sun offers me no warmth.

The breeze continues to blow as if driven by its own selfish will. I feel my hair flip and flutter as it blows. Small objects near me make rustling noises as they dance and tumble across the ground caught up in the wind’s folly. Today however, the breeze brings no relief. In fact, my cheeks grow cold and red as I sit exposed to it. This is winter—plain and simple—a long, cold, and emotionally draining season…

…As I tarry, chills race up my back, morphing into shivers that rumble through my torso and spread outward to my arms and legs. My fingers and toes tingle in the cold. Shoring up the collar of my coat around my exposed neck, I draw in a long deliberate breath, inviting the cold air into my body and allowing it to sting my lungs. The frigid air feels so fresh and pure as it is drawn in—so brutally honest. When I exhale, a cloudy mist trails from my lips, dissipating as it rises skyward.

My joints stiffen in the cold and beg me to start moving again so that my body can produce some heat. Around me there are no distractions save the scolding of a squirrel whose buried food supply is no doubt being threatened by my presence. Closing my eyes I push back my preoccupation with the cold…

…Winter—I wonder why God allows it to exist at all. Its ferocity, spread over such a long period strips away comforts, lays waste to strongholds and distractions that preoccupy our time

…In nature the familiar truths we rely on and take for granted are undone by winter. Trees like this one cannot offer shade without its leaves. The sun struggles to heat the cold air. Frozen streams separate us from the thirst-quenching water we long for. Breezes, refreshing on warm days, are measured by their wind-chill factor in winter. Even the roads, lawns and gardens we toil to create are ransacked by storms wrought from winter’s fury.

Winter disrupts our life and can easily bring despair but from its depths a universal certainty arises. Spring will come again. All of nature bears witness to this certainty of renewal. I know that if I cleared away the snow and dug deep enough into the frozen earth I would see that roots and bulbs have already begun generating new life. I know that streams, froBookCoverImagezen on the surface, are teaming with life underneath. I also know that if I looked closely at the trees I would see evidence of buds that will someday mature into leaves. Yes, the sun will rise tomorrow offering a few more minutes of daylight to warm the hearts of men. Even the breezes that bite and freeze today will usher in new warmth at the appointed time.  In
all these certainties hope is found.  They point to the unalterable faithfulness of our Lord, its Creator…

   (Proposed new cover of Junior’s Hope)