My Brother Bill

This weekend I got to see my younger brother Bill for the first time in about fifteen years!  During the time Jean and I lived overseas, Bill and his family lived on the east coast of the US in Pennsylvania.  Bill just moved back to the west side of the continent and is planning to settle in or near Richland where he lived a long time ago.

So a few nights ago, after we got back to the Tri-Cities from Clarkston, WA, Bill and his wife Linda came for dinner.  I had seen Linda much more recently than I’d seen Bill as we had met in Tacoma in 1998 at our daughter Stephanie’s home.  I had also seen Linda at her dad’s funeral in Port Angeles in 1995.

The thing that really amazed me is how much Bill and I are beginning to look alike!  Our ten years’ difference in age shows up less now than at any time we’ve ever been together.  Not so much hair and what there is remaining is white.

It was so good to have a few hours together to catch up on family stuff – hearing about Bill’s kids and where they are now.  Talking about my kids and what they’re doing.

We talked about mutual friends from long ago and updated each other on what, when, and where.  Bill is much more up-to-date on most of that, so I learned a lot.  There’s still so much to talk about that happened in my life during the years we lived in the UK and in Oregon since returning to the US.  And Bill has gone from being a mechanic for cars and trucks to maintaining and servicing ATM’s and other sophisticated electronic money machines.  And of course there’s all the things that have happened in other areas and relationships.

We’re not going to let it be a long time before we get together again!  We’ve already go plans underway for Bill and Linda to visit us in Bend and no doubt we’ll connect there in the Tri-Cities again before long.

I still am amazed at how much we look alike!  It’s great to be face to face again, brother Bill!

Bill Storey’s Memorial Service

My head is buzzing with all the new impressions, new information, and experiences from the weekend in Clarkston, WA for Bill Storey’s Memorial Service. And with all the old stories and family memories. And some tears and laughter.

Bill Storey was my wife Jean’s uncle – her Dad’s oldest brother. He was 94 when he passed away recently, outliving his wife Della by about six years. Because Jean and I lived outside the US for so many years, we only occasionally connected with the extended family, a couple of times at family reunions and mostly at funerals. So it was good to be able to be there with all the family this time.

Bill’s four sons, Dale, Ron, Roy, and Bruce were there this weekend with their families. Then there were families of families. Then there was Jean and me. Bill Storey was Jean’s uncle – Jean’s dad’s oldest brother. We went over to Clarkston with Jean’s sister Barbara and her husband Dan. It was good to have the weekend with Dan and Barbara and we came back to Richland and spent Sunday night with them after the weekend’s activities.

The Memorial Service was really good. The four sons shared stories of their Dad. His character, integrity, work ethic, and his faith were the most common topics in the stories we heard from them and others. Not a bad way to finish and not a bad legacy to leave behind. Well done, Bill Storey!

There were also several (noisy) meals together in nearby restaurants with 30 or more (mostly noisy) people catching up on family news and telling stories. I think I have a better picture of the Storey family and who’s who and what’s what than at any time in my almost fifty years of association with them and of being part of the extended “in-law” network.

It was really good saying goodbye to Uncle Bill (bittersweet) and saying hello to so many of the Storey extended family (sweet). Maybe next time we can connect at a family reunion instead of a funeral.

After You Are Gone

The Lord said to Moses, “You are about to die and join your ancestors. After you are gone, these people will begin to worship foreign gods, the gods of the land where they are going. They will abandon me and break my covenant that I have made with them.” (Deuteronomy 31:16 NLT)

Moses had given the last forty years of his life to leading the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, teaching them to follow God, and preparing them to enter their God-given promised land.  He had just spent an entire month reviewing all that God had done and taught them.  He had put Joshua, their new leader, in place.  Now he learned that after he was gone, the people would abandon God and break his covenant.

Since Moses didn’t get to build cities or temples or palaces or establish the national boundaries of a great nation, all he had to leave behind as a legacy was his influence on the people who were standing before him and a collection of books and stories!  And then to hear God say that the people were going to break the covenant with God and worship idols!  It must have felt like, “What’s the point!?”  (Who could have known that Moses had lived and written the first five books of what would be the most-read book in all of human history!)

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been reading, thinking, and writing a lot about leaving a legacy.  I know this – a real legacy isn’t property or buildings or possessions.  A real legacy doesn’t come from a position or from popularity.  A real legacy is the influence you and I have had in people’s lives.  It’s character demonstrated and imitated.  It’s lessons learned and lived and stories told and repeated.

We’re already building the legacy we will leave behind, one decision, one action, one relationship at a time.  Is what you are building the legacy you really want to leave?

So for me today, the point is this:  If I will simply be who I am, live what I believe, and do what I can do, God will take care of all the ups and downs after I’m gone.


Father, Please help me to do the very best I can with “Here and Now” and completely leave “After I’m Gone” to you.  May I faithfully live my one-day-at-a-time life, love you and the people in my world, and leave the rest up to you.  Amen.


Don’t Be Afraid – I’ll Take Care Of You

Lessons I’ve Learned From Buddy the Dog – Part 2 – Trust

But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. (Psalm 56:3 NLT)

Last summer we had dramatic thunderstorms two nights in a row here in Central Oregon.  They were full-on storms of intense lightning, rolling thunder, strong gusty winds, and torrential rains.  It’s good that we were at home during both of those storms, because Buddy the Dog doesn’t do well with the thunder and lightning and the roar of the rain on the roof and the deck.

When there’s a violent, noisy storm Buddy the Dog trembles and pants nervously.  He paces the floor, white-eyed and afraid.  He is torn between wanting to be near me and wanting to find a dark corner to hide in.

When I put my hand on him I can feel that he is actually trembling!  I feel bad for him, because I know that we are safe from this storm and that it will soon pass.  The house is solid and even if the storm takes some shingles off the roof, we’ll be fine.  There may be some cleanup to do in the yard after it’s over, and I may have to wait to put the rubbish bins out for pickup in the morning until the wind dies down.  The power may go out, but the infrastructure in Central Oregon is sound and it will be back soon.

But Buddy the Dog is afraid in the storm.  I speak reassuring words to him, but it doesn’t seem to help him very much.  It frustrates me that I can’t make him know he’s safe and I’ll protect him.  I’m not mad at him, just a little sad that I can’t give him the same peace and confidence I have.

I wonder if Father God ever feels that way about me.  When the storms of life blow strong and loud, when major change comes fast and I can’t control the situation, I get afraid too.  I know God has promised to take care of me, to provide for Jean and me, to protect us, but I still get anxious.  Sometimes I lose sleep, sometimes I complain, sometimes I’m a prayer worrier instead of a prayer warrior!  Sometimes I feel like I want to find a place to hide – just like Buddy the Dog.

I know God will take care of me.  He promised he will.  He has always been faithful.  But, like Buddy the Dog, sometimes I get scared in the storm!

Father, I’m sorry if it frustrates you when I get anxious and worried.  I know that, like me with Buddy the Dog, you’re not mad at me, you just want me to trust you.  I do trust you.  I will learn to trust you more.  You are a faithful God and your unfailing love is everlasting.  Amen.

Watching Buddy Run

Lessons I’ve Learned From Buddy The Dog – Part 1 Joy

…For the joy of the Lord is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)

One sunny winter afternoon I walked along an old track in the Juniper forest east of my Central Oregon home and watched my dog Buddy run. Buddy runs with such abandon, dodging sagebrush, leaping over weather-bleached juniper logs, chasing imaginary rabbits and deer. I’ve learned that when Buddy runs, he’s not running to get somewhere or to catch something, he’s running for the sheer joy of running!

Sometimes watching Buddy run, I just laugh out loud. I can see the joy in him, joy that comes from doing what God created him to do. I believe I can feel the joy of the Lord when I watch Buddy run.

When Buddy runs, he’s doing exactly what God created him to do. Because God is so good, I believe he made us to have the same joy in doing what he created us to do that my dog Buddy has in running through the forest and the fields.

Why does it so often seem so hard for us to simply do what God created us to do? Why is it so hard to know what God created us to do and experience the simple, profound joy in doing it?

Eric Liddell, the Scottish distance runner featured in the 1981 movie “Chariots of Fire,” is quoted, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”

Just as I often take Buddy to the forest or the desert to create opportunities for him to run, I think God loves to create opportunities for people like you and me to “run!” And I believe that when we are simply doing what God created us to do, he rejoices – he feels the pleasure of it with us!

What if we parents and teachers and pastors and other influencers looked carefully and caringly at those in our care and helped each of them find just what God created them to do? What if we made it our joy to create opportunities for each person we love and influence to do the things that they were created for – the things that give them joy? What if we did that? I’m just sayin’…

You will go out with joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. (Isaiah 55:12 NIV)


I’ve thought about this quite a bit.  Forgiveness is so counter-intuitive.  And hard.  I can feel it in myself when I watch a movie in which bad guys beat the crap out of good guys or strong bad guys abuse weak and helpless good people (or dogs!) and something very fundamental to my nature wants to see and rejoices to see the bad guys get what they deserve.  And in my story, I’m pretty much always a good guy! So you know what that means when someone does me wrong!

But I see that there is more and there is other.  I’ve seen it and am walking forward toward the spot where I got the last glimpse of it.  I get these occasional glimpses of it in scripture, in people, in Buddy the Dog, and in me.  I’m going there.  I’ll get there or die on the way.  In the big picture, I think either of those counts about the same.

 In a sense, some sense, I think unforgiveness ties me to a time, place, person, emotion, situation, in the past and keeps me from ever moving on.  From ever moving on at all!  Even though I think I’ve moved on.  Still tied to that X in my past.  Forgiving cuts the tie.  If it’s been a long time, then there’s a lot of catching up to do to be where I could/need/want to be.  But the freedom to move forward is immediate and accelerated! I think.  But then what do I know!?!

I know the present moment is the right time for whatever is the next right thing.

Another note from my journey,

Jim Stephens – Pilgrim


May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  (2 Corinthians 13:14 NLT)

This is Paul’s Benediction to the Corinthians at the end of his very challenging and difficult letter.  Bene Dictus – Blessing Spoken.

During the years we lived in the United Kingdom we ministered in churches of many denominations and cultures.  It was always a significant thing to me when we were in one of the more traditional churches and the leader of the service (often me) would pronounce a Benediction.  I loved to speak these very words from Paul’s letter over the congregation as the people were dismissed, “May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

Saying “The Grace” had become a tradition for many of them, a ritual that merely signaled the close of a Sunday morning church service.  To me it was fresh and real, the speaking of a blessing over the people by the one in authority.

This concept of Bene Dictus, the speaking of a blessing, is important.  We have authority in the Name of Jesus.  When we speak to others and about others, we speak for Jesus.  Think about that for a minute.  Pretty sobering.  Pretty exciting!

I’m free to choose the words I speak.  It’s disturbingly easy to get drawn into a conversation that is not Bene Dictus, a conversation that involves spoken words that do anything but bless.  But I can choose the words I use.  I can make the decision to be one whose words are Bene Dictus – Blessing Spoken.  Then I can discipline myself to awareness and improvement.  I can repent and confess and move on when I mess up and speak words that don’t bless.  I can speak a Benediction!


Father, thanks for blessing me.  Thanks for blessing my friends and family.  Thanks for your Word which speaks words of blessing and hope and encouragement to me and about me.  Help me to speak the words of Bene Dictus to others and about others.  In Jesus’ Name.  I speak The Grace over all who read this:  May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  Amen.