Gratitude Day 891

Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

God can and will do some amazing things in your life if you are open to it, whether you are looking for it or not.

Recently, this happened in my life. I share this story, hoping it will encourage you to reflect upon where God has showed up in your life unexpectedly and how you are called to serve God’s kingdom.

By pure accident, I have become involved in helping put together a small writer’s retreat. We hold two retreats a year; one in the spring and one in the fall. (We’re working on organizing the fall retreat right now. If you have ever thought about writing, this is a great place to start!)

Honestly? I haven’t always felt very comfortable helping lead this writer’s retreat. I’m not sure that writing one book qualifies me for this. This unexpected call is the beginning of this story. I was asked to share at the inaugural event and became involved in the planning.  

At the April 2023 writer’s retreat, an older gentleman registered and participated in the retreat. Ray shared that he wanted to write a memoir about his 30 years of active duty service in the military. When he showed us a photo of him and Bob Hope, we realized he was the real deal. About 2,000 soldiers under Ray’s command heard Bob speak. He was their colonel at the time. This happened shortly before the soldiers were shipped out for Operation Desert Storm.

Before the writing retreat, Ray had started writing his memoir but never finished it. He was at the point where he wasn’t sure if he should finish it. By the end of the retreat, Ray had a road map for finishing the book. Everyone there was rooting for Ray. We all wanted to see him achieve this goal.

A few weeks after the retreat, Ray reached out to me. Would I be willing to edit his book? I shared with him that I wasn’t a professional editor. After some conversation, he felt that I “got” him and wanted me to take on the project. I felt more than a bit out of my comfort zone. Yet, like the other people at the retreat, I desperately wanted Ray to finish his book. He had a story that needed to be shared.

So, Ray and I began working together. Every week or two, Ray would send me the next chapter. A few days later, we would have a long conversation about this particular chapter. While his story is filled with lots of amazing and unbelievable stories, I encouraged Ray to make his memoir more than a military report. He probably got tired of me asking him to include how he felt. What he was thinking. How this affected him personally. How others could be encouraged by his story.

As the weeks passed, Ray experienced some health challenges. Yet, he kept writing. Over time, I felt Ray and I became friends. We shared some things from our personal lives. Before Hubby Rick and I went on vacation to Hawaii earlier this year, Ray gave his best suggestions on things to do while in Hawaii. This was based on him being stationed in Hawaii for a tour of duty.

I share this background because today Ray’s book is launched into the world! He made it to the finish line! A group of volunteers have read his book in advance. We are receiving heart-touching reviews on Ray’s book.

I am so proud of Ray. I am so amazed that we’ve gotten here. This 86-year-old man proves that one is never too old to tackle a new project. Through the writing process, Ray shared how having the goal to write his book brought purpose and direction back into his life. He took the call to write a book seriously and completed it.

Ray’s book is called When the Bugle Calls: A Soldier’s Memoir. Throughout the book, he shares various unexpected bugle calls he has experienced in life. His military service began when he signed up for the National Guard to avoid being drafted. Ray never intended to be a career soldier. Yet, his years of service concluded when Ray retired as a colonel when stationed at Fort McCoy, Wis., the exact place where he began his years of service.

As Ray and I have navigated through this process, multiple times I was not convinced I was the best person to help him. We’ve run into multiple hurdles along the way. I still feel like I’m barely one step ahead of where we need to be and not the most skilled person to handle this project. But here I am. Bumbling along. Trying the best that I can. Learning as I go and sometimes, making mistakes.

As Ray talks about bugle calls in his book, ultimately, I feel that I have had a little call to help be part of this process. Why? I’m still sorting this out. But I am convinced there has been a call for me to work with Ray. What this means for me next, I’m not sure. At some point, I pray there becomes more clarity about this. Yet, it became quite clear to me that I was to work with Ray and go on this journey with him.

I share this story for a variety of reasons. First, be inspired by Ray. Age is not the most important benchmark for a call. Age is a number. Yes, we can have different calls at various life stages. God can and will use us for a very long time when we make ourselves available. Personally, it has been inspiring to watch this man commit to the call in his life to write this book and complete it.

Calls into our lives can come in very different ways. Sometimes, we wounder if God really intended for us to fulfill a call. We think that we don’t have enough experience. Do we have the time? If God really wants you to be involved, God can and will be persistent. Our only option is whether we answer the call or not.

Our life calls will be very different. Sometimes, this may seem like God is asking the wrong person. Ultimately, we have the final say. We may feel like we are not the person who should get this call. We decide if the call is something we want to pursue or not.

Just because a call doesn’t look like something we want, it still may be a call in our life. Ray’s book shares this theme over and over again. One of the reasons why he wrote the book is because he feels too many veterans have not share their stories and pieces of American history are being lost. In writing his story, Ray hope his inspires other soldiers to share their stories in a way that makes sense for them. These stories matter and are important.

Finally, calls remind us that sometimes our timing is not God’s timing. I’ve been working on a second book for years. I had planned to publish my own book earlier. For a variety of reasons, I haven’t felt that I’ve had the opportunity to finish it. Do I need to buckle down and finish the book as Ray did? Absolutely. Yet maybe I needed to wait awhile before officially finishing the book.

May I ask you to reflect upon what is happening in your life? Has there been a call brewing in your life and you have been avoiding it? Did you feel that you weren’t qualified to do something? Have you felt you weren’t the person who should be doing this? Has the timing felt off? Did the call look different from what you expected?

Maybe, just maybe, God is speaking to you. Right now. In a way that you least expected. Only you can answer this. But what I do know is that God can and will do amazing things with your life. No matter your age, what else you have going on, what may or may not make sense. Our only decision is whether we will follow this call and lead it into our lives.

It may feel uncomfortable. You may not be excited about this call. It’s OK. Many others feel the same way. But after a bit of reflection, prayer and contemplation, maybe you will discover a new call in your life. May you be courageous and accept this call.

I am thankful God still takes me places that I do not expect.  

Blessings –

Dianne

Loving God – Thank you for looking out for me. Sometimes, the things in my life feel uncomfortable and unsure. Help us sort through these times and discover the calls that You place in our hearts and minds. Assure us that with every call, You will always be with us. May we find the opportunities in our lives to best serve You and Your kingdom. Amen.

Interested in reading Ray’s book? It’s available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0D1FKC7FB.  

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