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“Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.”
C.S. Lewis

The story of Jesus Christ, his birth, life, death, and resurrection has often been referred to as the greatest story ever told. As beneficiaries of the gift of life Jesus made available to us through his sacrifice, we have become a part of this wonderful story.

We’re all born to live our own particular story. Think of your story as being like one of those Russian nesting babushka dolls. The biggest doll could represent God and his creation of the whole thing. We’re all somewhere down the line, the smaller dolls, if you like. If you’re a guy and you’re bothered by the idea of being a doll, be a… G.I. Joe. Whatever floats your boat. You get the idea. It doesn’t take any special effort to narrate your story. We all do that automatically from the moment we have an awareness of our own existence. As we grow older, the story going on in our head grows in size and complexity but our tendency even as adults is to make it mostly about ourselves. We call people who have little concern for the stories of others narcissists. I was watching a documentary the other day which mentioned an act of bravery by a soldier involved in our troops’ landing on Tarawa during World War 2. The soldier saw a grenade land in the middle of his group and immediately jumped on it to save his fellow soldiers from being killed by the blast. Miraculously, he survived and recovered from his wounds. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, but never told his family. When asked about his act of bravery, he said there was no time to think about what he did, he just did it. When he came home, he put the medal into a drawer and never talked about it until he was interviewed for the broadcast. This man carried with him an innate sense of the greater story.

One of the most difficult things to truly do is put yourself in another person’s shoes, especially if their feet are smaller than yours. Seriously though, even if we recognize the value of empathy, and our experience is significantly similar to another’s, we can still only go part way toward knowing how they feel. There are just so many variables in the human experience.

Right now, we seem to be in the middle of a most calamitous time in our history. Not long ago it would have been hard to imagine anything pushing covid 19 off the front page. Then in quick succession the killings of two black Americans highlighted some of the great inequities in our society’s handling of racial differences. It’s clear we have a long way to go to make our democracy truly available to all its citizens; much farther than many of us realized. While we may not truly be able to place ourselves in the shoes of another, we must try, and with the knowledge gained from trying, we must act.

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Matthew 25:40 ESV

Setting aside that I don’t know you,
do I care?
If my world works for me,
do I see you standing there?
Am I my brother’s keeper
or even a reliable witness?
Where’s my responsibility
in inequity’s redress?
How much energy have I wasted
toward what didn’t count for your kingdom?
When you return,
let me not be found wanting,
considering what I was given.

© Joel Tipple 6/7/2020


Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Genesis 2:24

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:2-3

I’m not a mistake, God wasn’t mistaken
when He made me,
this particular creation,
and when He made the woman,
who in grace took my hand,
the next permutation
of His divine plan
for this couple came to be.

To God be the glory.
Together, came to be,
the next chapter in the story,
together, came to be.

No, marriage isn’t for all,
and God is sovereign and faithful
to reveal to each their own unique plan.
If we seek Him in faith,
believing He will answer,
He’ll reveal His best purpose in time.

But what of this home
and this family,
beginning with these two?
Without God love is such an unruly word.
Show us what it means. We don’t have a clue.
God, we need You!

Football games and carpet stains,
budget and relation strains.
Misunderstanding and forgiving.
You scratched the car but it’s just a thing.
Children are here and then they’re grown,
visiting with their own.
It was the future, now it’s past.
How on earth did it go so fast?

And if we’re not careful,
we’ll miss the now.

God, in His grace, through His Son,
has brought us to and taught us
a saving relationship.
His Word keeps our home
and provides a forever one too.
Those He lets us learn from are precious,
So guided by gratitude,
we seek God’s view,
and prayerfully choose,
and prayerfully choose.

© Joel Tipple 2/23/2019
Author of “Written in the Light.”

Releasing Life

There’s a seed in a forest,
and it’s waiting for a fire,
to release the life within
and tell a story.

A renewal story.

There’s a man in a city.
There’s a child in the hills.
There’s a woman in the suburbs,
all challenged by the ills
of the world.

Each one has a story.

Now fire can take
and it can destroy
cities, towns, and people.
It can take it all
when destruction’s not expected.
But there’s a fire that God can send into your life
that somehow mends it.

So if you’re the seed that’s left under the ashes
after the fire has swept through,
let God nourish the life that’s now awakened.
The world will watch what Jesus does for you…
after the fire.

© Joel Tipple 10/14/2018

Home For Christmas

I’m not sure when I first came across the old newspaper. It was in a chest of drawers in a hall closet where our family kept mementos: old photographs, report cards, etc. Most families have a place like that. Somewhere to store memories. For photographs anyway, I suppose that place now is the hard drive on your computer. Back then, for us, it was still a chest of drawers. Today, either someone else in the family has ended up with the newspaper or it’s gone missing, but I was able to find the newspaper article with an internet search. Computers aren’t very romantic, but they are very good at saving information like that. For this I’m grateful.

The newspaper is The Humboldt Standard, December 20, 1955, four years before I was born. Dominating local news at the time was the largest flood the Eel River valley had ever experienced. Thousands were made homeless and there were many many acts of heroism as the area was largely cut off from the rest of the world except by air. Christmas would be spoiled again by an even larger flood nine years later. A pole near Miranda shows the 1964 flood crest at an amazing 46 feet above the highway surface. In ‘55 it got to just shy of 43. The story I refer to begins on page one and continues on page five. One of several large pictures on that page shows the tops of two cars as they are about to disappear under water. Two white arrows point to the roofs as they are difficult to see in the night shot. A good part of the left side of the page is taken up by a picture of two men standing next to a rowboat. The taller man on the left with a concerned look on his face is identified as Chester Goble. The man on the right, his head turned toward Chester, is holding a flashlight in one hand and one of the boat oars in the other. He and Chester have just saved the lives of eight people, two adults and four children from the first car, and two 18-year-olds from the second. A 70 year old man, who was also in the first car, didn’t make it out that night. His body was recovered from the car the next day. The man standing next to Chester is my dad. In 1955 he was 28.

I don’t remember asking my dad about the photograph. When I was growing up he could be intimidating, hard to talk to. I wish I had tried, because I might have more details. But it’s clear that the little my mom volunteered when I asked about the newspaper at the time was true. She said, “He and that other man saved those people. They were heroes.”

When the Eel River floods, it spreads out through the valley. That night in ‘55, a low spot on Waddington road on the outskirts of Ferndale began to cover with water. A normal wet year might mean driving through a few inches of water, but as the rain continued to intensify this swath of road through dairy pasture became what it really always was, a branch of the Eel River. Since my dad’s business was automotive repair and towing, I suspect what brought him to the scene was a call to rescue a car, but as the water quickly rose and surrounded two cars along with their occupants, the situation changed dramatically.

Fast forward to about ten years ago.. One evening when Lori and I were having dinner with my parents the subject of the rescue came up. Dad related that the day to him was a series of miracles. At the scene, it became clear to get to the cars a boat would be needed fast, so Dad took off in search of one. He eventually found a suitable row boat in someone’s yard, but no one was home and he didn’t have a way of getting it back to the scene. So he took off again in search of something to transport the boat. In another yard he found an old flatbed truck that looked like it hadn’t moved in ages. Again, no one home. Growing more desperate, he opened the driver’s side door of the truck, and to his wonder there was a key in the ignition. But would it start? He got in, turned the key, hit the floor starter, the engine turned over… and caught! He was in business. My dad, now a truck thief, soon to be a boat thief, continued back and managed to load the boat onto the truck. Back at the road/river, somehow, the two managed to get almost everyone out of the two vehicles before they were completely submerged.

Dad’s story ended at this point and no one pressed him for details. Later, talking to Lori, he expressed how he had never gotten over not being able to get the last person out. He said he tried to go back, but Chester stopped him and said, “Jack you can’t. You’ve got a family, and it’s too late. You can’t save him.” Apparently for the rest of his life he carried the burden of the one life out of nine they were unable to save. While I’m sure he could appreciate what he and Chester were able to accomplish, he never really stopped grieving over that one life lost. Many rescuers would take to the skies and water before the ‘55 flood was over, then, once again in ‘64. As illustrated in the parable of the lost lamb in Luke 15, I believe God has implanted in our hearts the desire to always bring back the one who is lost.

Lost lamb at Christmas,
What kind of lost are you?
Have your feet taken you far from home,
or has your hardened heart left too?

The door to home is never closed
the fireplace always warm
for those who would repent and turn,
and come in from the storm.

Rejoice for the rescued.
For those no longer astray.
We have all at one time
been unable to find our way.

May God give us a burden at Christmas
to reach out to the lost,
to the young and old with ravaged minds,
and bodies torn and tossed.

Jesus was born into our world
to shepherd us back to the fold.
God, don’t let us rest until we’ve reached
every wayward and wandering soul.

©Joel Tipple

Post Time!

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It’s just a half hour to twelve
and on the need to post my post I dwell
What subject should I tackle?
How about that ramshackle
run down house.
You know the one…
that you drive by several times a week
thinking that someday you should peek
in the pane-less window
of what might have been the living room.
A wisp of a curtain still blows in the wind.
Roses still bloom in front,
where someone tenderly cared for them,
not knowing they would be strong enough to
who ever lived there.

© Joel Tipple

To Read


As a child
it amazed me
that people
could write things
almost as incredible
as the stuff in my mind.


Do you mean
you can write those things down,
and people will read them,
adding their own sounds?


It’s hard to find words
to describe
how much words
mean to me.
It’s like living in a city
that grows
new streets every day.


I hope growing up
doesn’t mean
I stop loving
the words in the books…
the stories in the books…
the adventures in those books…
that I read today.


© Joel Tipple

Thank You

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Just before or after last Christmas I decided to be more consistent with my writing by resurrecting a WordPress blog that had been dormant for quite some time. I had recently received a lot of encouragement and it gave me the incentive to write more poetry. While putting together the new blog I noticed a challenge put out by WordPress to post every day for 2013. I decided to give it a try and let everyone who read my blog know by putting the badge on my cover page. Today will be my 137th post. Accounting for a few days that I’ve posted more than once, that means I’ve posted over 130 days in a row. I’m looking forward to doing the whole 365.

There have been a lot of great things to come out of writing and publishing every day. For one, it has forced me to investigate different kinds of writing. I’ve explored poetry, song writing, devotionals, and humor. Along the way, I’ve gotten to know fellow bloggers who also believe strongly in writing, especially writing that moves them. I’ve had days when I thought I had written something relevant, only to get little in the way of results. But then I’ve had other days when I wasn’t all that thrilled with what I had put out, only to get lots of positive comments. It continues to be a fantastic learning experience and I just want to sincerely thank everyone who has read, commented, and shown me how fun and rewarding blogging can be. God continues to bless it. It’s my prayer that He is honored by what I write.


The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up to heaven after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. Acts 1:1-3 “…but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and even to the remotest part of the earth.” And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. Verses 8-9

Jesus, in Your glory,
ascended to God’s right hand,
You have paved the way for us,
Your followers.
Most of us don’t suffer as the majority
of Your disciples did
torture and death
for proclaiming your story.

If the disciples had simply
faded away, and not proclaimed
all that they had witnessed,
they would have avoided such

But they didn’t fade away.
They delivered the gospel message
to so many, that over 2,000 years
later we are still talking about it
and experiencing the miracle of changed
lives the message of Christ bestows.

Remember how precious this knowledge is!
To this day, people are imprisoned for
spreading the good news. It is incumbent
upon us, after experiencing the transforming
power of Jesus Christ, to share that
message in any way we are able.

No Airbag, Bees and a Dog Pack (Dogs)

Note: No dogs were injured in this episode (annoyed perhaps but certainly not injured).

Around 2000-1, I experienced a rebirth of my love for the bicycle. I had started looking for a way to lose weight and noticed that my friend and next door neighbor was going out for a ride every morning. He would ride by our living room window, something I considered very inconsiderate, since I was usually sitting on the couch eating a fat and sugar laden breakfast while he was going out in the cold and doing something healthy. That, and a few choice words from my brother concerning the shape of my physique goaded me into finding some sort of exercise plan that I could stick with. I hated gyms and my knees couldn’t handle asphalt anymore. Add to that the fact that cycling is an outdoor activity for the most part and it turned out to be just what the doctor ordered. In the years since my last bicycle (a ten-speed) mountain biking had become quite popular. The geometry of the Trek hardtail I tried at my local bike shop appealed to me so I started riding it every day. Within a short period of time I had lost that weight and become a cycling fanatic. All my extra spending money went into bikes and the assorted bike stuff one can purchase once consumed with the hobby. Within the next two years I added a couple road bikes for my stable and started participating in local rides, including several centuries (100 miles in a day).
Long distance tours like centuries mean that you need to be on the bike almost every day. Good training plans have you going out for longer and longer distances to get you ready. There are lots of little inconveniences you encounter on those long rides, one of those being dogs. We live in a fairly rural area with lots of little ranches and dairies. Occasionally one of the ranch dogs will get its exercise by chasing you while you are getting yours. For those dogs that prefer lean cycling legs and those cyclists that don’t take the time to do a lot of sprints, it can be a mutually beneficial experience. After a few close calls, more enjoyable for the dogs than me, I decided to start carrying one of those little pepper sprayers that you see clipped to mail carrier bags, just in case. On a late fall afternoon I parked my pickup on the outskirts of a redwood park south of where I live and began the ride that I planned would take me about 10 miles out and back. The asphalt was a mix of smooth and rough with the first five miles being fairly level, before climbing sharply. That day’s weather was crisp and cool and I would have to hurry to get back to where I was parked by sunset. One of the things I love about riding where I live is the abundance of wildlife you get to see, even from paved roads. That day I remember seeing some rabbits and, for the first time, a wild turkey. I didn’t know they could be so skinny! Now, one thing about dogs and their territory is that they will often object to your riding by, but even if they are outside a fence, they will usually only give you a hard time until you are past a certain point. That’s fair, after all they are just doing what we’ve trained them to to for eons, guard their property. I had been up this road on a few tours with large groups of riders, where there is some comfort in the strength of numbers. Today it was just me and the occasional vehicle interrupting the sound of my tires on the road. I had been climbing in a low gear for awhile and passed a gravel road that veered off to my right when the unmistakable sound of the scuffle of paws and low growling made me jerk my head around. Dogs and young men have something in common. By themselves they are usually harmless, but their level of stupidity and aggression can increase exponentially with numbers. Most of the time the biggest and stupidest is out front. I could see this was one of those times. The problem was that I was getting jumped at a place in the road where I was moving too slowly. A glance at the incline up ahead told me that wasn’t going to change soon enough to help. I stood on the pedals to give myself a little momentum and then grabbed the pepper spray which was clipped to my handlebars. I had never used it before so I hoped it would work. If it didn’t, I would have to jump off and try to put my bike between myself and the dogs. As I turned, all I could see was brown and black fur and teeth. I pressed down on the top of the can and was surprised at how far the stream shot out. It hit a few feet to the right of the lead dog and I swept it to the left to connect with his muzzle. He stopped and shook his head violently while the two dogs a few feet back and to each side of him quickly lost interest. A surge of adrenaline kept me moving up the hill for a while until I finally decided it was time to go back the way I had come. By the time I rode back past where the dogs had started chasing me, they were long gone. I could see where the pepper spray had traced a line across the road. I relaxed after a bit, knowing I had the advantage of speed as the road swept downward. I was relieved when I got back to my pickup and the welcome drive back to home and a warm shower.

My Dad and Merv

When I was a kid, I watched a lot of television. After school, especially on days when the weather was not especially inviting, I would sit down and tune in to one of the three channels available. Since the public television station didn’t come in as well, that meant we really had two choices. One of the talk/variety shows airing at that time of day was the Merv Griffin Show. Merv’s was one of the first of this style of shows, and he became quite successful with it and the game shows he produced, like Wheel of Fortune. I believe his style of interviewing was one of the reasons he did so well. He had this way of leaning toward the person he was talking to and looking at them as if they were the most fascinating person in the world. It was almost, but not quite, as if he was a scientist peering through a microscope, discovering a previously unknown species. He was probably able to get more out of the celebrities he conversed with than he otherwise might have. Later, during my journalism training, I think this helped me when I interviewed people for various stories.

Also, when I was growing up, our family owned a service station in our small town. My grandfather owed the business, my grandmother worked in the office, and my dad managed it. As a boy, I spent a lot of time cleaning up and seeing how my dad worked with his customers. Like Merv, he was also a good listener. Often, the customers who came in weren’t very knowledgeable about their automobiles. Like many of us, they simply knew when they weren’t working or when they were doing something out of the ordinary, like making an unusual noise. At this point Dad would become a detective. He got as much information as possible and gradually narrowed down the list of possible causes and remedies for the various issues until he had a direction to go toward solving their problem. He seemed to enjoy this part of his work. People trusted him to take care of their issues. There were many aspects of his job that I know were frustrating, but I think this part made made his job more rewarding. I think watching him work made serving people later on in life more enjoyable for me as well. It also helped me listen for important details.

When I speak with you,
I hope I
during our conversation.
I hope
if only for a
to make what you say and think the
It may be the only time today that anyone does that
and there is always a chance
when we will part,
we will each be the richer.