I dozed, Not God! #24

This has been another long day. Some level of manageable pain is with Sally Jo continually – and then there are times when she moves the wrong way and the level of her pain is a 10 out of 10. At such moments I hear what sounds like a cross between a cry/shriek/gasp for breath. And I know that my mistake causes her present agony – agony that will not go away, even with drugs. Significant pain will continue for several weeks.

I know I caused this, Not God. Yes, the days leading up to my involuntary doze have been busy, but this is nothing new. I messed up big time. Thankfully, when I momentarily dozed off, we went to our right – and not left into the constant flow of traffic that comes down Rt. 30 from the Adirondacks every summer Saturday afternoon. I have known for as long as I can remember that after lunch what I really want to do is take a nap. I just get sleepy.

Many years ago, after a long DL presentation morning, I dozed off and headed across the center line. It could only have been God that protected me and others. This time God let the accident happen. There is no way I can blame God.

But my stupidity did not cause God to leave me, to leave us! I dozed, Not God! The car went down into a culvert ditch and then up over the culvert and into the air for at least 10’. While in the air I became wide awake. Almost as soon as the car stopped a man opened my car door. It was DL camper dad and work weekend regular, Ralph Souza. I have long considered Ralph a friend. I was not hurt. Sally Jo’s door was quickly opened by a stranger.

“I am a Physician’s Assistant.” She had been riding with Ralph to take her son to see Deerfoot. Sally Jo was in excruciating pain. After checking her over carefully, the PA held Sally Jo’s face in her hands and asked “Would you like me to pray for you?” A cervical collar was put on Sally Jo and she was very carefully put onto the ambulance stretcher. I believe God provided Ralph and his passenger. God’s timing was perfect. I dozed, Not God!

From the Gloversville hospital I called Deerfoot and asked to have Sally Jo’s close friend, Ann Mackey, to come to the Hospital. Soon my cell phone rang…”Chief, this is John Fox… I am coming with Ann.” John had been on the DL staff and was now an orthopedic surgeon. He and his wife were at camp for the week as back-up for the nurse.

At the hospital in Gloversville we learned there is no orthopedic specialist. But we had John! He carefully checked Sally Jo for nerve damage and studied the x-rays. John then pointed out to me the squashed vertebra, the primary source of the pain. He thought there was a good chance surgery would not be required. He then provided the relevant information to Albany Med. Their E.R. would be ready and Sally Jo was carefully moved into the waiting ambulance. I believe God provided Ann and John. God’s timing was perfect. I dozed, Not God!

The plan had been for me to speak in Speculator on Sunday morning, and then Sally Jo and I would drive to meet son Dirk and his family who were camping on secluded property they had just purchased. They would be waiting! Dirk did not know we were at Albany Med, and there was no cell phone reception. One couple had been to the property – I called mutual friend Shirley to get Derek’s number. He was out of town. I was literally the only person who knew where Dirk and family were, and I had only been there twice. The hospital staff assured me they would care for Sally Jo. A friend drove me the hour to find Dirk. We got to the place where I thought the property was and for 15 tense minutes could not find it! No way I could have explained to someone else where they were.

While away, Sally Jo became sick and needed help. No one responded to her buzzer! Into her room walked Shirley and Roger. Sally Jo immediately had help! I believe God provided Roger and Shirley. God’s timing was perfect. I dozed, Not God!

(my computer Saturday, 7/18 as we left for Speculator – hope to replace and get your messages soon)

Prius totalled – Sally Jo with squashed vertebre


On Saturday afternoon Sally Jo and I were driving up to Whitaker in Prius. I was to speak at Ken and Stephanie’s church on Sunday morning. Driving north on Rt. 30 I dozed off…and we went off Rt. 30 to the right at 55 mph, hit a culvert, went up over culvert and apparently flew about 10’ before landing.

First head in my window was Ralph Souza – camper dad and work weekender I know well – I was unhurt. Into Sally Jo’s door came a PA – riding with Ralph with son to see DL. By ambulance to ER in Gloversville-

I called Anne Mackey to come be with Sally Jo. Fifteen minutes later another phone call – John Fox, orthopedic surgeon and DL staff member when I first came to DL was coming too. Upon their arrival we learned Gloversville did not have orthopedic specialist or dept. John went over x-rays – found problem… told PA who communicated with Albany Med so when we arrived they were up to speed.

They put Sally Jo in neck brace and body brace. No immediate surgery – if stabilized in next 2 wks – no surgery. If stabilized, no surgery. Very, very painful experience. Trauma for me to see – I only left bedside from early Sunday AM until we came home today, Thursday.

Ride home was horrendous. About Delmar Sally Jo had to potty stop. Suppository had finally kicked in! At home incredible pain – no way to get comfortable. We have rented hospital bed – have very firm, good, recliner – no position/way to get comfortable even with heavy pain pill – half codine – and muscle relaxant. Could not eat supper.

Imagine how you would be feeling if this was your wife… and your fault! About 9:00 PM things started to improve and she has slept since.

Please pray for her healing, her pain… and my emotional healing and pain. I have a new understanding of suffering. It is Thursday night and I set up bed next to hers. She needs my help/care as much during the night as during day. Our oldest daughter, message therapist, flies in on Sunday night to stay as long as needed. Excellent help!!!

I had finished Monday Morning IPWG before I went to Whitaker – cannot get my brain around sending to you yet – will soon.

Please do not call! I will send updates.

Chief Chuck

Valued Grass! Valued People!! #23

The church lawn was expansive and beautiful. John’s yard man not only mowed the grass, he dug out the weeds!

The annual Apple Festival at the church was going to be wonderful! Favorite desserts were brought to the church – some to be eaten, some to be sold. Handmade items were for sale – beautiful baby sweaters and blankets, and the knit hot pads we use to this day. There was bobbing for apples, pony rides around the beautiful lawn – truly a festival!

The day before the festival it rained – poured! The next morning the sky was blue and the sun was warm. The people came!

As the pony was led round and round the lawn, the soggy lawn soon showed the effects. Picture a very large muddy circle – surrounding a lush green lawn. Not good! But how could we stop the rides when there was a line of excited children?

I knew I had to tell John what happened, hopefully before he saw the mess. So the next time he was in town I went to his carefully restored home. This was a visit I did not want to make.

As I told John about the Apple Festival and what had happened to the lawn, I realized he was smiling. And he said something like “Chuck, a lawn should be more than something to look at.” The grass was not his treasure! I have never forgotten what he taught me that day.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” –Matthew 6:19,21 There seem to be two primary ways we can store up treasure in heaven: The first is to worship the Lord, to bring glory to Him. The second is to invest in the lives of people.

The church building and setting did bring glory to God, just as did the temple in Jerusalem. John gave generously to support the physical church, knowing that the church facility would be used by the people of the church and of the community. If John would have been tough on me, as he could easily have been, I doubt that I would have healed as quickly as the lawn did. My memory of the occasion would be very different.

John was a tremendous encouragement to me and to the church.

I believe John lived In Partnership With God. One evidence is how he cared for God’s church – the people more than the building.

A Growing Confidence #22

After I completed my Masters in Religious Education, the seminary asked me if I would like to work towards my doctorate. The church was slowly coming together, our expenses were low due to our large garden and gifts of potatoes, carrots, and tough dairy cow beef, and there was always more to learn. Well into that second year we realized that our money was just about gone. I do not remember that we worried about our situation, and we are pretty sure we did not tell anyone of our need.

On April 7, 1968 John knocked on our parsonage door. This was the man who had generously given towards the construction of the new church, and the husband of the seldom attending church member I had to tell would no longer be a member of the “Official Board” – IPWG #19.

John handed me a check for the church. He then handed me a second check, saying “Chuck, this check is a gift for you – it is not taxable”. I thanked him. He then turned and walked away. I took the check for $1,000 to Sally Jo. She smiled and said “There is the money we need to pay our Social Security tax, and to pay back my father for the car we are driving, but we still do not have money for food.” I laughed and said “The day is not over yet”. That afternoon I went up to the church and found an envelope with a cashier’s check for $100 and this note: “In grateful appreciation of your work in the church and in the community.” I ran all the way home! God had provided for our needs at the zero hour – and again strengthened our confidence in the ability of God to care for us in His special ways.

We were not totally surprised by God’s provision. When we left Dothan, Alabama two years earlier we believed we should serve a church while I attended school. The ministry would help cover our living expenses. Not knowing where the church would be located, we shipped our earthly possessions to Hartford where the school was located. We then headed for Honey Rock Camp where I would be teaching Christian Education for Wheaton College for the summer.

Soon after arriving at Honey Rock, I was asked to consider becoming the pastor of a healthy 200 member church located an hour from the Seminary. Sally Jo and I agreed that I could not accept this pastorate and go to school full time. As the weeks went by, no further job opportunities came – and we were admittedly becoming a bit apprehensive. During our last week at Honey Rock I received a letter from the Methodist District Superintendent. He had gotten my name from the seminary and in essence said “I have a Methodist Church that no Methodist Minister will take – and you are a Presbyterian minister and there are few opportunities for you near Hartford. Perhaps we can make a deal.” This looked like God’s provision. A week later we drove to Sally Jo’s sister’s house in New Jersey, dropped off our daughter, Carla, and went to meet the Methodist District Superintendent and to see the church and parsonage. The offer: $4,000 a year plus house and utilities. IPWG # 15 picks up at this point – our arrival in Bakerville, living in the motel, in the church office, and the slow beginning of our ministry there. Four years later about 100 people were in church each Sunday, a nursery school was begun, a new parsonage was built, and the church was free of debt. Bakerville was God’s provision for us – and we were God’s provision for them.

Our story is not unlike Chief Ron and Anne Mackey’s. They had been through two difficult pastoral situations when I asked them to consider coming to work at DL for the summer. Ron would head up tripping. As the weeks went by it became apparent that Ron and Anne had no clue what their next step should be. Camp ended and the Mackey family continued to live in the Lane Cabin. Soon after the school year began, Ron was asked to become the Associate Pastor of the Loudonville Community Church – a truly great church on the north side of Albany. After five or six years of fruitful ministry, Chief Ron told the senior minister that he would be leaving to become the Director of Deerfoot Lodge. The senior minister’s response: “I always knew we would lose you to Deerfoot”.

I do not consider our experiences to be unique. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has not changed! As we seek to do what is right before the Lord every time, He can redirect our path and He has many ways to provide for our needs.

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