Train them in the way they should go

Hope Shack

Here at Fen View we have recently had a couple of puppies join our little farm.  They are sweet and fun, but they have no idea of boundaries or what their role is on the farm.  Teaching them to do the right thing, like barking to go out when they need to go to the bathroom or staying off the furniture takes time, patience and consistency.


Not unlike ourselves, puppies and even some of our plants, need training.  Each day we have to use the same words and actions to teach the puppies what is acceptable and what is not. In much the same way some of our plants need to be staked, pruned or taught to climb a fence or trellis.  Each day we must check to see that the plants are still growing in the right direction so that they can be properly supported.

People, too, need to…

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Lost in a Swamp

Hope Shack

cedar swamp

I live in the middle of a national forest in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  A national forest that comprises approximately one million acres. Where I live, there are literally tens of thousands of acres that may not see a human being in years and years. It is a wild area consisting of hardwoods, conifers, cedar swamps, bogs and lakes. This is the terrain where I hunt. I give you this information, so you will better understand what I am about to say.

I have spent more than fifty years hunting and roaming the woods. During that time I have never used a compass. I simply never felt the need for one. Let me explain with an example.

Many years ago when I was yet a young man, I trailed a deer into a large cedar swamp. I had come across an unusually large set of deer tracks. By trailing it I hoped…

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Hiking Roosevelt National Park

Hope Shack

Early morning at Theodore Roosevelt National Park

I left Belfield, North Dakota early in the morning and drove north on highway eighty-five. I had an extra day and planned to spend it exploring the north unit of the Roosevelt National Park. I had been past it several times and in the surrounding area, but never actually in the Park.

Today I planned to change that. There is a fourteen mile scenic drive that goes through the park. I drove about half way to the Caprock Coulee trailhead. According to the information sign there was a prairie dog town about one and half miles down one trail. It was still cool, so I decided to walk there and back.

 A half hour later I was taking pictures of prairie dogs. The prairie dogs I had seen before were always very skittish. These were apparently more used to people and allowed me to take several close up pictures.


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Start with a Song

Hope Shack

Hope Shack (4)Every morning, when the weather is agreeable, I start my day on my front porch.  I grab a hot cup of coffee and my devotional journal then I sit in my favorite chair to greet the day.  This spring a house wren moved into a nesting box in the tree near my front porch.  Each morning as I begin my day, I now have a very cheerful neighbor who is also beginning her day.

One thing I learned form this tiny little wren was the way she greeted the day, with a song.  Every morning she hops up on her roof and sings and sings.  It made me think about when my children were young, I always woke them up with a happy song.  Then I thought why have I stopped singing every morning?IMG_0537

We’ve all heard the birds sing in the morning, but not all of them wake up singing.  The…

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Paul’s Story

Hope Shack


I don’t remember the dark years.  I was afraid of everything and everyone.

I have three young kids. Recently we got talking about their teachers and that led to me talking about my teachers growing up. As I told them about each teacher through my elementary years, I could recall names, personalities, and specific memories from those years. It was great fun. Until I got to my middle school years. Things were different. No names came to mind. No positive images or memories. Just a lot of black. Middle school, high school and a few years beyond that were my dark ages. It’s a place I don’t want to ever go back to; a place of loneliness, depression, anxiety and that feeling of total worthlessness. It was a place characterized by fear. I was afraid of everything and everyone.

My jump from elementary school to middle school was like falling…

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An Angel Story


A pastor friend of ours, teenage son Tim, was in a very bad automobile accident. He was in a coma and not expected to live. The doctors said if he did live he would have severe brain damage. But God in His wonderful mercy healed him completely and today he is a pastor himself.

Tim was however in the hospital for quite some time. His parents spent every minute that was possible with him at the hospital. Eventually the day came when Tim was able to leave the hospital. But before he left he wanted to say goodbye to Mr. Smith.

“Who is Mr. Smith” his parents asked?

Tim replied, “he is an old man that always came and set with me when nobody else was there”

They asked at the nurses station about Mr. Smith. You probably already guessed, there was no Mr. Smith that worked or volunteered at the hospital. Just another example of one of God’s ministering spirits in the form of an old man.

One Mad Water Moccasin

Hope Shack

Water MoccasinMy brothers and I, plus some of the nephews had come together to float and fish the Buffalo National River in Arkansas. This is a designed wilderness river. The area we were floating would take five or six days to canoe. During that time we would see no signs of civilization. It was early in the year, and we had the river to ourselves. Our family is scattered across the country, from the Allegheny Mountains to the Rockies. It promised to be a great time to spend some quality time together. We would be fishing to supplement our food supply. In fact, fish would made up the majority of our meals.

On the second day out my brother  and I were in a canoe together. We were busy fishing and had lost sight of the rest of the gang. The smallmouth bass were biting, the weather was perfect. We were…

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