adjective \ˈbrāv\
Getting ready to go into the OR.

Getting ready to go into the OR.

1. possessing or exhibiting courage or courageous endurance.
2. making a fine appearance.
3. excellent; fine; admirable.

Caleb, my youngest son, had surgery yesterday.  It wasn’t his first time.  He had surgery last March on one foot, then yesterday on the other.  In March, he was so excited leading up to the day, thinking of all the attention he was going to receive walking on crutches, riding in his wheelchair, which by the way, that excitement didn’t last too long, once the surgery was over. Which brings me to the point of this post.

My son is brave.  Caleb knew what to expect this time.  He knew that they would draw some of his blood (which caused him to pass out last time), he knew that he would be groggy coming out from the anesthesia, and he knew that there would be pain during recovery. I’ve never had a surgery. Most everyone knows that I’ve had more than my fair share of stitches, but that doesn’t even compare.  I can’t stand the idea of needles poking me, so prior to the first surgery, when they drew his blood, I, as the dad, tried to be brave for my son and stood there when they did it.  I even went over to him and got him to look at me instead of what they were doing. Then I about lost it.  So this time, we requested that they do all of that AFTER they put him to sleep.  Much better.   Side note on needles — the notebook the doctor’s had on Caleb stated on the front “Needle Phobia” and “Severe Needle Phobia”. When I showed that to Caleb he said, “I’m not afraid of needles.  Just the pain the needles cause”. He is a funny guy.

I am so proud of my boy. He went into surgery as such a trooper.  And he came out even better!  Caleb Isaac Flaming – I am proud of you.  I am praising the Lord God Almighty for who you are, and what He is doing in your life! I love you, son!


Reckless Abandon

Reckless  \ˈre-kləs\  adj: marked by lack of proper caution : careless of consequences

Abandon  \ə-ˈban-dən\ n : to give (oneself) over unrestrainedly

Reckless Abandon  \ˈre-kləs ə-ˈban-dən\ : ???

Jesus called his disciples by basically saying two words: Follow. Me.

They didn’t ask “why”, “where”, or “how”.  They didn’t say, “But…what about…” They just did it.  They abandoned the life they knew. Jesus just walked right up to them, and offered to turn their routine, predictable lives into a great adventure and they immediately answered his call, left everything behind and went with him with reckless abandon. Perhaps putting those two words together could be defined as:  to give oneself over unrestainedly (to the cause of Jesus Christ), careless of any consequences of that action.  (See Matthew 4:18-22, Mark 1:18-20, Luke 5:27-32, and many more scriptures describing how Jesus’ followers did just that – they followed.)

As you might imagine, God has been speaking to me recently, even more definitively than ever before, about what it means to follow Him.  I say I’m a Christ-follower, but what does that mean in practical terms? Do I lead with my life as much as I lead with my lips? Have I totally surrendered everything in my life to be under His command? What about my rights, my desires and dreams?  Don’t they matter? Hmm…

Jeremy Camp has a song called “Reckless” (lyrics here) that has put some of my thoughts into words.  I wanna be reckless ’cause You are endless I wanna be shameless and shout Your greatness; I will not be afraid to surrender my way and follow who You are. I wanna be reckless.

There are still more than two billion people who haven’t ever heard that Jesus came to earth to rescue them. What have I done to lower that number?  What can I do? Most important question – What does Jesus want me to do? 1 Corinthians 6 tells us that we, as born-again believers in Christ, are bought with a price — the precious blood of Christ paid for our lives — because the price for our lives was death, according to Romans 6:23 (For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life).  So, if we were bought, we are not our own.  We belong to Someone else and therefore, should have no say in what we do with our lives.  The Owner has the say.  Are we asking Him what He wants to do with his “possession”? Do we seek His direction in all of our decisions, both big and small?

I cannot say that I have done this throughout my life.  There have probably been times, yes.  But as of now I am not thinking about what has already been.  From here on out – as long as I live, I want my life to be as Brother Andrew said, “It is better to obey God, than to obey man.” To live with Reckless Abandon!

What is next in this Great Adventure!?!


Recent Favorite Quotes:

“The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed” – Hudson Taylor
If you don’t have a definite call to stay here, you are called to go.  – Keith Green
“To stay here and disobey God – I can’t afford to take the consequence. I would rather go and obey God than to stay here and know that I disobeyed.” – Amanda Berry Smith
“Never pity missionaries; envy them. They are where the real action is — where life and death, sin and grace, Heaven and Hell converge.” – Robert C. Shannon

What’s a commandment?

In my Bible reading this morning, I was in John 15.  This is one of my favorite passages since childhood.  I can only think that it’s because it somehow had such an impact on me as I worked through my BMA (Bible Memory Association, now Scripture Memory Fellowship) book.  This was before we had AWANAor Word of Life Olympians or anything like that.  Anyway…

So, as I’m reading verse 5, then 6 I was thinking about the word abide.  Verse 5 says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” ESV

Merriam-Webster says this:


/əˈbīd/ Verb

  1. Accept or act in accordance with (a rule, decision, or recommendation): “I would abide by their decision”.

Then, in verse 8 he mentions that we’re to bear much fruit.  Now, I know from studying other scripture, particularly Matthew 7:15-20, we will be known by our “fruit”.  Interestingly, another analogy with plants and branches.  So, if we’re known by our fruit and our heavenly Father is glorified by us bearing much fruit, v. 8, how can I bear more fruit?  Am I even bearing fruit, and is it the right kind?  These thoughts were coming much faster than I can type, I assure you, because by the time I began reading v. 12, I realize that the fruit is l-o-v-e!  THIS is how we show the harvest – by abiding in HIM, grafting our lives into the vine just as a horticulturist grafts a new branch onto a tree.  It’s a crude drawing, but it’s simplicity can give you the idea.


As I read verses 11 and 12 I was also reminded of an old chorus we used to sing:

This is My commandment: that you love one another that your joy may be full.
This is My commandment: that you love one another that your joy may be full.
That your joy may be full, that your joy may be full.
This is My commandment: that you love one another that your joy may be full.

Commandment?  Really?  Do we think of loving others as a commandment?  I think not, or our world would be in a much different state.  Again, Merriam-Webster defines commandment as:


noun \kə-ˈman(d)-mənt\    Noun

1: the act or power of commanding
2: something that is commanded; especially : one of the biblical Ten Commandments

And the word Command?  As a transitive verb:

1: to direct authoritatively : order
2: to exercise a dominating influence over : have command of

I know that I do not daily take that commandment and run with it.  There are times when you or I have bad fruit, where we are UNloving to someone.  Let’s let God deal with us in that as well. There may be some pruning that needs to be done.  I know I’ve got a long way to go until my branches are heavy with the fruit of God’s love, for everyone.  But today I am going to be intentional about having an awareness of abiding in Christ and bearing MUCH fruit.  How about you?

Another NEW CAR!!

…well, new to us, anyway! As I mentioned in my previous post, we were going to be looking for a new car for the family to be able to fit in. We did get to keep our truck and got money for the accident. Well, we’ve been looking for a while around town and on craigslist, and just Wednesday or Thursday, Melissa found one on craigslist here in the Albuquerque area that we liked and seemed to be a good deal. So, we called and asked if we could see it on Saturday. This morning, we set up an appointment and went over to Rio Rancho to see it. After driving it, getting a “carfax” report, and getting things checked out – here is what the LORD has provided for our family! What an incredible blessing!! We give Him the praise and glory for this vehicle that we were once again able to pay CASH in full!! Thank you , Jesus!

It’s another Dodge Grand Caravan (a vehicle that we know well), but newer than the last one!  Yea!

A month ago, we were down to one mostly working vehicle and as of today, we somehow now have 4 vehicles and owe nothing on any of them.  Only because of what God has done!  The old van didn’t quite die a complete death, as we had thought, but it does still have it’s problems, and the truck is definitely running fine.  We will be perusing the junk yards for a truck bed to replace ours, since that’s where the accident damage was, including the taillight.  Please join us in rejoicing in the ONE who cares so much about all of our detailed lives!!

03 Caravan_1c

A New Post… and a NEW CAR!

Well, it’s been a couple of weeks since our van’s transmission decided it was time to quit…again.  This is the 2nd transmission that we’ve had quit in about 10 years, and at 248K miles we decided that we weren’t going to continue fixing it, since there were other things that have been going wrong.  This was the impetus for us to increase our prayers and search for another vehicle.

Several years ago we decided that we were going to do everything we could to not have car payments again.  While it may sound strange, and maybe even selfish, we decided we were going to trust God to provide for any vehicle needs we would have.  Trust is an interesting thing.  It’s not always something that you feel that you are doing correctly.  There was a weekend that we tried to take things into our own hands and went searching for a car (payments).  But at the end of the day, we knew that’s not what we were supposed to do.  Trusting many times means  P A T I E N C E!  Our timing is not the same as God’s.

Anyway, we mentioned in our Sunday School class at church that we were in need of a vehicle, and without our prompting, the teacher asked the class if anyone had a car that they could donate to this family.  That was an awesome confirmation for us that we weren’t crazy to think that God works that way through His people.  Immediately after the class a couple came up to Melissa (while I was talking with someone else) and told her that they had a car that we could HAVE!

Last night we took ownership of a ’99 Toyota Corolla! The incredibly awesome thing is that as we were getting the car, the owner told us the story of how they were hoping that they would be able to give this car away to a family in need of one.  Isn’t that awesome!?  I love it when we allow God’s ways to work.  What a blessing!!  This car will be a great work car for me to use back and forth to Albuquerque every day.

'99 Corolla 1


The other part of this story is that we’ve wanted to replace our truck too, as this small car won’t fit our family very well.  A few weeks ago, we were out with family when our truck was struck by another car while ours was parked.  The insurance company has decided to “total” our truck, and yet let us keep it as “salvaged”.  This will give us money for another car!  God is definitely at work, even in the things that seem like they are bad at first.

What are you seeing God do in your life?

African Dinner

Tonight I had the extreme privilege of having dinner in the home of Rev. Dickens (pronounced Deacons) and his family.  Because Melissa is sick, unfortunately she was unable to attend.  We (Bob, Carol and I) were warmly greeted, of course, and told “You are welcome”, which I think is just the coolest saying!  The first time I heard it I wanted to say, “Thank you?, I think”.  Anyway, we’ve been accustomed to being greeted whenever you arrive somewhere that you are welcome there!

Anyway, the food!  I will say first off, that I did try at least a bite of everything!  So, if I can recall and spell everything correctly now — there were avocados,  cooked cabbage, beef w/beef gravy, chicken w/chicken gravy, mal kuong (sp?), which is a mixture of greens in peanut sauce, African tortillas, beans, rice, sweet potato (not like home), and Irish potato, Honey & SimSim sauce, and …

and last but not least…

Thank you, Dickens and Rose and Family!!  You are precious!



Here I Go Again

Wow!  Here I am again entering the blogging world.  Does anyone still blog?  I guess so, since I still get email notices of some of my friends’ blogs.  OK, why not?  I’m wondering what it is I have to share with the world on my blog??  If we have Facebook accounts and pages, why do we blog anymore?  I guess maybe because not everyone has a facebook account, or checks it that regularly?  So, for now, I will believe that this blog is viable and is a space in the world that I can spout my thoughts, rants and musings freely.

Tomorrow, Melissa and I were scheduled to speak at a marriage conference here in Lira, Uganda.  Unfortunately, Melissa has been attacked by what seems to be malaria.  So since we are not going to be able to share in person, I believe I will share an excerpt of some of my thoughts on our topic, Marriage Maintenance.  This may be a long read, (lots of thots) so just be forewarned.  All Bible verses are from the New Living Translation.

Your marriage is worthy of taking time for maintenance!

Marriage starts out as a huge celebration.  Everyone is excited for the newlywed couple and there is definitely an aroma of love in the air!  Family and friends have joined in the celebrating and everyone is full of hope and dreams for the couple’s future together.   Life is good.

But high hopes and dreams are not enough to make a marriage work and last forever.  As divorce rates skyrocket worldwide, there must be something more that we need to keep our marriages strong and stop this divorce epidemic.

So, what is to blame for so many couples not going the distance?  Is there one thing that we can nail it down to as a cause?

Is it — Not enough quality time together?  Bitterness and resentment?  Unmet sexual needs? A general lack of communication?  Hmm…these are all very valid thoughts.  I do believe that quality time, forgiveness, openness in intimacy and good communication is all very important.  But, if we take a look at Scripture, we might see an idea of something that might lead us to the deeper issue at hand.

35 “One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” 37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:35-40

Is it not true that nearly every marital problem can be traced back to one or both persons not abiding by one or both of these two laws?  This is true in any relationship.  When one person begins to focus on their own needs or wants rather than that of the other, problems arise.  In marriage especially this is true.  Marriage between two Christians, is supposed to be centered around the Kingdom of God, not the Kingdom of “me”.

What does that mean?  It means that when there is stress or problems in a marriage it quite often can mean that someone feels like their own territory is under attack. It means that they are focused on protecting their own territory instead of God’s. It means that two sinners, saved by grace married one another, and that we are to be ministers of reconciliation

(Reconciliation:  understanding, resolution, compromise, bringing together)

as believers not only to the world, but also in our marriage to our spouse and to our families. We are to have kingdom-centered marriages and families.

5 “Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.”

1 Corinthians 13:5

Are you experiencing problems with communication with your spouse?  How often do you really listen to what they are saying instead of insisting that they listen to you?

17 “My dear brothers and sisters, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

James 1:17

Are you feeling bitterness and resentment growing toward your spouse? When was the last time you brought him or her before the Lord in prayer and truly thanked God for your relationship?

16“…Pray for each other so that you may be healed.   The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results”

James 5:16

24 “Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds.”

Hebrews 10:24

When you follow a regular maintenance schedule with anything, you find that things fall apart less easily.  So it is with relationships; you will realize that many of the issues you were having simply disappear, resulting in communications problems improving, anger and resentment are no longer a setback as forgiveness is more readily available, and you naturally want to spend more time together.

This will not take place overnight, however.  There are other pressures that you may face together, such as finances, children, employment etc.  But, when your relationship is solid, these things can be faced together, with God and there will be many victories.

12 “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

Ecclesiastes 4:12

Commit your relationship to God and make a conscious decision each day to put God and your spouse first.  Then your marriage will be able to weather the storms.  Be careful!  You might actually have plenty of fun together along the way!

Maintaining your marriage is so vitally important!   So how do we keep our marriage healthy?  It takes work!  Marriage is an ongoing, never ending project. We’ve got to follow a regular maintenance schedule to keep our marriages on track and here are some ideas on how to improve and maintain your marriage.


Set aside special couple time to spend alone together. This could include a time for worship or prayer together, or just cuddling up on the couch. The point is to make time to spend alone together each and every week.  Give each other positive feedback on their part in the relationship.  Praise one another’s efforts and discuss how your marriage is improving as well as what can be improved.  Be positive!!


Here are some things you should be doing each and every day to keep your marriage healthy.

1) Honor your vows and respect the boundaries that you’ve set together for your marriage. Daily. You should always be on guard and ready to resist temptation and protect your marriage.

2) Make your spouse your priority. You should be doing your part daily to work on the agenda problems you’ve chosen. Your spouse and your marriage should come first, before all of your other commitments.

3) Make time for one another. Whether it’s an hour before bed or just time in fifteen minute spurts throughout the day, you need to make time to give each other your undivided attention.

4) Communicate. You should be talking with one another each day. Talk about your day. Ask questions. Make sure that you’re not always just talking about work, money, and the kids. Talk to one another like you would talk to your best friend. Hopefully, you are best friends! If an issue or problem comes up, discuss it. Don’t go to bed angry with one another. And be sure you say “I love you” every day.

5) Do something nice for your spouse. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive. It could be doing a chore to lighten their load, a compliment, a love note, flowers or some other token of your affection. Be creative and change it up! It doesn’t matter what it is, just as long as you do something nice for their benefit.

6) Touch one another. Of course, you don’t have to make love every night, but you should both be satisfied with your sexual relationship. Talk about your needs and wants openly.  Yes, it can be embarrassing, but it’s important!  Also, be sure that sex isn’t the only physical expression of love between you. Make an effort to kiss every day. Give each other a hug or a pat on the back. Cuddle. Give your spouse a massage or a foot rub.

OK, so now you have some thoughts on what I think is necessary and more importantly, what God’s Word says about marriage.  Thanks for making it this far!  Feel free to comment with any thoughts, agree or disagree.