Tag Archives: Road Trip

Called to the Quiet

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Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.
Exodus 24:18 (NRSVCE)

A few weeks ago I made an impromptu road trip. It was a particularly stressful time, and I told a few friends that the road trip was my way of doing what Jesus did on occasion when He went up a mountain alone to pray. I chose to sequester myself in the car.

As I read today’s chapter I found a number of elements that foreshadowed Jesus’ story. Jesus, like Moses, spent a period of forty days and nights in the wilderness. In today’s chapter, Moses is the mediator between God and the people. Moses offers the blood sacrifice, the blood covers the people, and Moses then ascends to God. Jesus was the blood sacrifice which atones for sin before He rose and ascended. When Jesus went up on a mountain with Peter, James, and John and was transfigured in glory, Moses appeared there at Jesus’ side. The events of today’s chapter are an example of how the ancient Hebrew stories are linked to Jesus. It’s all part of the Great Story.

What my mind and heart came back to in the text, however, was the time that Moses spent with God on the mountain. Forty is also a theme beyond the link to Jesus time in the wilderness:

  • The rain in Noah’s flood lasted forty days and nights.
  • Joshua and Caleb spent forty days spying out the Promised Land.
  • Goliath taunted Israel’s army for 40 days before David stepped up with his sling.
  • God told Ezekiel to lay on his side for 40 days as part of a prophetic word picture.
  • Jonah prophesied to Nineveh that they had 40 days to repent.
  • The seasons of Advent (celebrating the birth of Christ) and Lent (celebrating the death and resurrection of Christ) are both 40 days.

I am reminded in the quiet this morning that this world is moving faster, and faster, and faster as the memory and processing speed of our technology and devices continues to advance more rapidly. According to Google, their quantum computer (known as “Sycamore”) recently completed a computation in 200 seconds which would take the next fastest supercomputer 10,000 years to complete. The speed of life and technology continues to increase and with it my expectations for results.

The irony is that God’s Kingdom runs opposite the world. Things of the Spirit require time, contemplation, meditation, experience, struggle, worship, and prayer. The 15-16 hours I spent alone in the car, along with a night alone in a hotel, were spent doing exactly those things. It was exactly what my soul needed to find some clarity, to get centered, and to experience a measure of peace amidst my acutely stressful circumstances.

Over the nearly 40 years (there’s another “40” for you, lol) I have been a follower of Jesus, I’ve experienced that my time of quiet with God each morning has an effect on the peace with which I handle the stress of each day. If I go a stretch without getting in my time of quiet with God, even Wendy notices an increase in my stress level and pessimistic attitude toward life and relationships.

And so, I try to carve out a little alone time with God each morning, and occasionally along the journey, I’ve needed more than that. I can feel the call to climb the mountain, take a road trip, or spend a week unplugged at the lake. I have a feeling that the faster this world gets, the more necessary the times of quiet will be spiritually required.

Hope you find a few minutes of quiet today, as well, my friend.

Want to Read More?

Simply click on the image above or click here to be taken to a page with a simple photo index to all posts from this series on Exodus.

About This Post

These chapter-a-day posts began in 2006. It’s a very simple concept. I endeavor each weekday to read one chapter from the Bible. I then blog about my thoughts, insights, and feelings about the content of that chapter. Everyone is welcome to share this post, like this post, or add your own thoughts in a comment. Thank you to those who have become faithful, regular or occasional readers along the journey along with your encouragement.

In 2019 I began creating posts for each book, with an indexed list of all the chapters for that book. You can find the indexed list by clicking on this link.

Prior to that, I kept a cataloged index of all posts on one page. You can access that page by clicking on this link.

You can also access my audio and video messages, as well.

tomvanderwell@gmail.com @tomvanderwell

Music and the Blues

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord….
Exodus 15:1 (NRSVCE)

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I have a confession to make. I have always wished I had a gift in music. Sure, I did the requisite year or two of lessons as a kid, but nothing every really clicked for me. I sang in the church youth choir and continued to sing in church and school groups for years. I taught myself a bunch of chords on the guitar so I could sing a few Bob Dylan songs on my back porch on a summer evening, and serenade our daughters to sleep singing Forever Young. But, that’s not the gift of music.

I remember an episode of M*A*S*H I watched as a kid. One of the doctors, Major Winchester, was a patrician blue blood with a knowledge of all the fine things of life. He finds himself having to amputate the hand of a patient, only to recognize the young man as one of the world’s up-and-coming virtuoso pianists. The Major goes to great lengths to ensure that the man does not let the loss of his hand prevent him from playing. His response was that young man had a gift and he couldn’t let that go to waste. “I could always play the notes,” Winchester said, “but I could never make the music.”

Bingo! One of the best delineations between competence and giftedness I’ve ever heard.

So, I’ve never been a gifted musicians, and that’s okay. My gifts are in other areas. But it doesn’t stop me from appreciating music. I believe that God infused music with powerful properties. One of them is the way music ties us emotionally and spiritually to moments of our life journeys.

When I started to read the lyrics to the Hebrews’ victory song in today’s chapter I was immediately transported back to my high school youth group on a summer morning clapping and singing these same lyrics to an acoustic guitar.

As soon as I hear the Hollies’ classing Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress I am ten years old and in cabin 3 at Camp Idelwood on Rainy Lake, Minnesota. It’s a cold, rainy day and I’m stuck in the cabin with Mark Malone, Piper, Matt, and my sister Jody.

When I hear The Old Rugged Cross you might notice me smile softly and catch a tear welling-up in my eye. That was my grandma Golly’s song, and the music connects me forever to her.

You get it. I know you do. We all do. That’s the power of music.

Three Times a Lady: My first kiss.
Bridge of Troubled Waters: Road trip to Le Mars and 8-track tapes.
The Joshua Tree: Judson College
Psycho-Killer: Backstage. Pre-show. Kirk.

In today’s chapter, the Hebrews celebrate what God has done with a song. They lyrics are recorded and handed down generation-to-generation. What the tune originally sounded like is lost in the depths of time, but thousands of years later me and my friends at church were singing the same lyrics as we clapped and sang and worshipped God on a summer morning.

How cool is that?

I don’t know about you, but life has felt so heavy the past week or two. The weight of months of quarantine and social distancing, life out-of-whack, George Floyd, riots, violence. Ugh.

As I returned from my road trip on Wednesday I happened upon Bob Dylan and gospel great Mavis Staples singing Dylan’s song called Change My Way of Thinkin’. In one of the strangest things I’ve ever heard in modern music, they stop the music to act out a scripted vignette in which Dylan tells Mavis that he’s got the blues.

Dylan: I been up all night with insomnia reading Snoozeweek.

Staples: Snoozeweek? That ain’t no way to get rid of the blues. You’ve got to sing!

With that, they launch back into the raucous gospel-blues tune.

Here’s the song on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/track/0ssPo81sHtsS1VfFn4DtjH?si=ftZZt5b0SMKc7BYQjgSBUw

Thanks, Mavis. What a good reminder. And this morning in the quiet it reminds me that in connecting us emotionally and spiritually to people, places, and events, music also has healing properties.

Mavis Staples is right. Staying awake all night watching the news is no cure for the blues. We need music. We need to surround ourselves in the beat, the melody, the lyrics that will lift our spirit and help us extricate the weight of the moment by expressing it.

Gonna Change My Way of Thinkin’ did that for me.

Think about it. Try it. Let me know what song or songs help you. I’m curious to know.

Rock on, my friend.

Want to Read More?

Simply click on the image above or click here to be taken to a page with a simple photo index to all posts from this series on Exodus.

About This Post

These chapter-a-day posts began in 2006. It’s a very simple concept. I endeavor each weekday to read one chapter from the Bible. I then blog about my thoughts, insights, and feelings about the content of that chapter. Everyone is welcome to share this post, like this post, or add your own thoughts in a comment. Thank you to those who have become faithful, regular or occasional readers along the journey along with your encouragement.

In 2019 I began creating posts for each book, with an indexed list of all the chapters for that book. You can find the indexed list by clicking on this link.

Prior to that, I kept a cataloged index of all posts on one page. You can access that page by clicking on this link.

You can also access my audio and video messages, as well.

tomvanderwell@gmail.com @tomvanderwell

Road Trip

So God led the people by the roundabout way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea.
Exodus 13:18 (NRSVCE)

I find myself in the middle of an unexpected and impromptu road trip this morning. The past week has been ugly for me personally, and that is layered on top of the ugly that permeates our world on so many levels right now. I am broken. I am humbled. There are many moments in life’s journey when things don’t seem right with my world. At different waypoints of the journey I’ve experienced things not being right with my world of work, my world of relationships, my world of community, the world of my nation, the world of family, friends, faith, or finances. But usually when it happens it is an acute ugly with just one part of my world.

Right now, the ugly feels like it’s permeating every one of my worlds.

Even as I typed that last sentence, I know it’s not true. I’m a Enneagram Four, remember. If there was a profession in which pessimism and extreme emotional angst was a requisite, we’d dominate the field.

Nevertheless, the ugly has permeated several of my worlds in the last week. And so, I jumped at the chance for a road trip. Jesus went off to a mountainside by Himself to pray. I sequestered in the car driving down I-49. I meditated. I prayed. I talked a little. I tried to listen a lot.

In today’s chapter, God is leading His people out of slavery. Hundreds of thousands of men, women, children uprooting their lives and everything they’ve known and hitting the road to who knows where. Everything is changing. Nothing seems right with their worlds. There is fear of their oppressors coming after them. There is fear of what lies ahead. There is confusion about what is happening and what this all means.

And then, God leads them “by the roundabout way of the wilderness.” He didn’t lead them on straight-and-narrow way to the Promised Land, even though there was one. God led them on a difficult path fraught with obstacles and difficulties. It’s on the roundabout path through the wilderness that I am humbled and actually learn what faith means. It’s on the roundabout path through the wilderness that I find that I can’t do things on our own and that I need God and others. It’s on the roundabout path through the wilderness that I learn to forget what lies behind, press on, and persevere. It’s on the roundabout path through the wilderness that I learn the power of praising God in all circumstances and the chain reaction that follows: activated faith, powerful prayers, overcoming evil, and learning what it means to be part of the divine dance.

In the car yesterday I found myself myself meditating on this:

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 path straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

The straight path is found at the end of the roundabout way through the wilderness because the straight path can only be found via trust, loss of self-reliance, and faith.

Road trips are good for the soul (in more ways than one).

Want to Read More?

Simply click on the image above or click here to be taken to a page with a simple photo index to all posts from this series on Exodus.

About This Post

These chapter-a-day posts began in 2006. It’s a very simple concept. I endeavor each weekday to read one chapter from the Bible. I then blog about my thoughts, insights, and feelings about the content of that chapter. Everyone is welcome to share this post, like this post, or add your own thoughts in a comment. Thank you to those who have become faithful, regular or occasional readers along the journey along with your encouragement.

In 2019 I began creating posts for each book, with an indexed list of all the chapters for that book. You can find the indexed list by clicking on this link.

Prior to that, I kept a cataloged index of all posts on one page. You can access that page by clicking on this link.

You can also access my audio and video messages, as well.

tomvanderwell@gmail.com @tomvanderwell

The Latest 11-01-2015

The week started with three days on the road for me. I was in the Twin Cities for a couple of very long days of coaching and training presentations. On Wednesday I drove to Sioux Center for another presentation before arriving home late.

We had a full social calendar over the weekend. On Thursday we met friends Cyndi, Doug and Holly at George’s to partake of Pella’s legendary pizza. We then headed to Pella Christian High School for their performance of West Side Story. It was a great show and we were so impressed with the quality of the choreography and how maturely the leads handled the intimacy between Tony and Maria.

We also had a full house on Thursday. Taylor returned from travels to California and Colorado, along with a couple of days working in Des Moines. It was great to have her back home. Wendy’s mom was also in town to spend some time with grandma and attend a couple of events. She spent the night with us.

Friday we headed to Des Moines. We stopped to spend some time with my folks at their apartment. It was so good to have some time to just sit and chat. Dad was sore from a fall he took a few days before, but they continue to enjoy their home in the retirement community and we got the low down on all that was going on in their world.

From the folks place we headed to Kev and Beck’s for a little Friday night happy hour at their place. As always, we could have stayed and talked all night, but we had special festivities to attend. We headed to Cafe di Scala in the Sherman Hills neighborhood of Des Moines to surprise our friend Chad for his birthday dinner. The V.L.s, J.P.s, and V.W.s gathered to usher m’boy into his final year of his 30’s.

Chads Birthday at Cafe Di Scala
JPs VLs and VWs at Cafe Di Scala

Wendy Jen and Shay
Wendy, Jen, and Shay at Cafe Di Scala

Cafe di Scala is a contemporary Italian restaurant located on the main floor of a palatial craftsman style house in the old neighborhood. The atmosphere is warm and inviting. The food is amazing, and the selection of wines was not only unique but also created exquisite pairings with the food. Since customer service is my vocation, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the service was the best I can remember experiencing in Des Moines.

The Pella Pub Crawl Crew
The Pella Pub Crawl Crew

The evening had been full to overflowing, and yet we weren’t through! Our friends Kevin and Linda had been messaging us all night from their impromptu Pella Pub Crawl.  By the time we returned to Pella the Pub Crawl crew (including Vandy, Rob, Robin, and Chris) was at Kaldera. We joined them for a night-cap and it was the perfect end to an amazing evening of family, friends, food and fun.

I worked a good part of Saturday as I was behind from my travels earlier in the week, but Wendy and I enjoyed watching both Iowa and Iowa State football teams emerge victorious. It was our first trick or treat evening in our new neighborhood so I donned a little ghoulish make-up to greet the kiddos. It was so fun to see the number of parents who got all costumed up with the kids. There was a Knight and Lady, a cowgirl, and an awesome scarecrow escorting his sweet little Glenda the good.

Trick or Treat!
Trick or Treat!

After the trick or treating was over, Wendy and I drove down the road to visit our friends Matthew and Sarah for a glass of wine and some late night hors d’oeuvres. We ended up staying much later than planned, but with daylight savings ending we got an extra hour of sleep! 😉

Today was blessedly routine, starting with CBS Sunday Morning and our regular time of worship. We came home to watch our Vikings squeak through with a win and now hope to watch the Royals win the World Series before bed tonight.

Music for the Road Trip

English: 1976 Mercury Colony Park station wago...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Woe to me that I dwell in Meshek,
    that I live among the tents of Kedar!
Psalm 120:5 (NIV)

When I was a kid, our family of six made regular road trips to northwest Iowa to visit my grandparents, and each year we made our annual vacation trek in the ol’ Mercury station wagon (complete with faux wood paneling). I can remember music always being a big part of the journey. In those days, the in dash eight-track cassette player boomed the songs of Simon and Garfunkel and the Carpenters from those tapes that were about the size of a pop tart twin-pack. By my teen years, the  tapes had gotten smaller and the music on those family road trips had switched to southern rock. By my college years, the Compact Disc had become the rage and the regular five hour road trip to and from school found me listening to a young Irish band called U2. Now, when I go on a business trip, I have my entire music library on a phone that is a fraction of the size of those old eight track tapes. I still make sure I have a good mix of music on a playlist ready for any trip.

Music for the journey is as old as mankind. The liner notes in the introduction of today’s psalm identifies it as a “song of ascents.” In ancient Jewish tradition, the center of worship was in Jerusalem on the temple mount. When people made a pilgrimage there, the songs of ascent were their music mix to sing along the way. The songs were intended to prepare their hearts to ascend to the temple and worship.

The songwriter identifies himself as living far from Jerusalem among foreign people. He is out of sorts and singing the blues. It struck a chord with me this morning as I sit in a hotel room far from home and prepare for a three hour road trip. There is a melancholy that sets in when your heart longs for home far away.

But, I’ve got my music with me and that is always a good thing.

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Chapter-a-Day Psalm 6

from oter via Flickr

I am sick at heart.
    How long, O Lord, until you restore me?
Psalm 6:3 (NLT) 

Any one who has road tripped as a child or with a child knows the agony of impatience. My brain can easily recall the whiny, high pitched and agonized voice: “Daaaaaaaaddy!? How loooong ’til we get theeeeeere?”

This road trip called life is filled with long stretches of waiting:

How long until I’m old enough?
How long until I get married?
How long until I’m better?
How long until I’m pregnant?
How long until this is over?
How long until I’m over this?
How long until you show me the way?
How long do I have to endure this?
How long until I find a job?
How long until things are reconciled between us?
How long until this house sells?
How long will I feel this way?
How long until we’re out from under this crushing debt?
How long until the kids are out of this phase?
How long until the Cubs win the World Series? (Sorry. I couldn’t resist. It’s been a long season already.)

The songwriters of the Psalms commonly use the repeated phrase “How long, O Lord, How long?” in their lyrics. As we journey through each song, you’ll notice it cropping up again and again. Waiting, persevering, and enduring are common and critical to our human experience and to our spiritual maturity. I love that King David and the other lyricists were not afraid to wrestle with and express some of the most powerful emotions we face on our own journeys.

Today, I’m looking back at long stretches of my journey through which I had to press on and patiently (or impatiently) endure. I’m considering the abundant ways those agonizing waits helped me to grow and mature – how they prepared me for the rest of my journey.

2011 Christmas in Denver with the Halls

Apologies to those who’ve wondered where my chapter-a-day posts were since late last week. I took a few days off to celebrate Christmas with Wendy and her family in Denver. Wendy’s sister, Becky, was kind enough to host us all for the second straight year. We even got to meet Court, the new man in her life. His folks even joined us for brunch on Sunday morning.

Madison’s boyfriend, Kevin, drove up from Mt. Pleasant on Thursday and spent the night here in Pella so we could leave early on Friday. We stopped in Des Moines to pick-up Taylor. It was a long drive, but we enjoyed some great conversation and made it to Denver in the early evening.

Saturday morning was spent shopping with Kevin and the girls. Taylor helped me pick out a few birthday gifts for Wendy, utilizing those skills she’s been honing at her job at J. Crew. Madison and Kevin worked on some gifts for Kevin’s niece and nephew while Madison shopped for some work clothes.

Wendy’s sister, Becky, was a wonderful hostess and we enjoyed hanging out all afternoon and evening. We ate a lot and laughed a lot. Food and conversation were the order of the weekend. I enjoyed coffee and conversation with Wendy’s dad both Saturday and Sunday morning. Taylor got up to join the two of us “morning people” on Sunday morning which was wonderful.

The family gathered around my iPad on Sunday to Skype with Wendy’s brother, Josh who is serving as a dentist in the Army in Germany. It was fun to watch everyone gathered around to visit with Josh who was half a world away. As a Christmas gift to the family, Josh talked his girlfriend into stepping into the camera so everyone could see her.

Taylor brought a party game called Quelf along for the weekend. On Saturday night the five of us played in the hotel room. On Sunday, we made Wendy’s siblings play with us. It’s sort of a zany mash up of trivial pursuit, charades, and truth or dare. We had a lot of fun playing together.

I drove Madison back to Colorado Spings on Monday morning. It was fun to see where she goes to school, to see the house where she lives and to meet her landlord. After a business lunch in Englewood, I headed back to the hotel to pick up Wendy, Taylor and Kevin to begin the trek home. Wendy had been watching the radar and told me that we could expect to drive through snow, ice and rain all the way home as a huge storm front moved north into Nebraska and Iowa. We were extremely thankful as the front seemed to miraculously stay just south of the interstate. At one point the radar showed that it was snowing right where we were, but we didn’t experience one snow flake or rain drop the entire way home. We arrived home in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.

We had a ball and enjoyed the time with family.

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