Dear Hayden, We Finally Made It To Klamath Falls

RMlogo Adam and Hayden Palm and Rick Thomas

I missed seeing you, though we did go to your grave. I blubbered; it’s what I do. I cried when I walked into your parent’s home. It was even weirder for Lucia and me to sleep in your bed. I felt like royalty when I was in your childhood home.

Adam took us to your grave. It’s still surreal. I know you’re not there but it was as close as I could get and I wanted to pay my respects, as they say.


The week in Klamath Falls was fantastic. Dan and Ann picked us up in Medford. It was an excellent two-hour introduction to the rest of our week. That was Monday. That night I went to Gordon’s home and had dinner with most of the elders and their wives. That helped a lot as it set my mind on what I needed to do for the week.

I don’t like pre-scripting a week of meetings before I arrive. I want to get to know the people, and then begin the process of asking God for the best words to say to serve them well. Of course, I had been prepping before arrival, but I did not want to assume I knew God’s mind before I got here. Meeting Dan, Ann, and the elders helped me in the process of getting to know the folks.


On Tuesday I went to my first ladies Bible study!! That was a ton of fun. I always wondered what you women did in those things. It was supposed to be from 1 to 3, but it went until 4:30. Janet said that she was on the edge of her seat. I think that meant she enjoyed it. It was all Q & A, which permitted us to cover a lot of things, the things they cared about and wanted some input.

Before the Bible study, I met with Steve for an hour or so to cover some things on his heart. My hope was to meet with as many folks as possible, whether individually, couples, or groups. I did all of those things.


All week long.

Tuesday night I met Adam. I must say that I might have a “man-crush” on him. I see why you said, “yes” to him. He’s a good one. We hit it off. In fact, after the conference on Saturday, he and I went to Starbucks for about 90 minutes, if not longer. I like him, but I need not tell you about that. You know.

I also met the rest of your family that night. Of course, I had already met Rob and Alisha (great hosts), and Chandler (Sis) came by that morning, so I got my hug in then. Then Alec that night. And, of course, Elise. She’s a sweetie.


Wednesday was amazing. Triad and Hosanna Christian Schools came together. I spoke to about 200 kids, parents, and teachers. That was so awesome. So much unity. Taylor asked why I came from South Carolina to talk to them. It caught me by surprise. I cried. I did tell her that I was a teenager, and I wished someone would have helped me through those years.

After that meeting, I met with the Student Council for Triad Christian School. That was another 45-minutes of serious (and funny) interaction. Those young men and women are fantastic too. These morning sessions went into the afternoon. And to top it off, several teens came to me asking personal questions. Just wow!!

Alisha took us to meet Barney and Rhea at their place. We ate at that lodge. This time was perfect as we needed to spend some time with them, and it was a double-bonus because we met Barney too. He’s understated and brilliant, all wrapped in one. Rhea is beautifully missional, and more.

That night, Lucia and I went to Sweetwater Church where I spoke at their Wednesday church meeting. I met Char. And I talked a long time with Anthony, another highlight of my week. The good Lord is doing some good things in his life, and I think you would want to know that. 2017 was a hard year for them, but he’s doing well as he’s making his plans while trusting in the Lord to order his steps.


Thursday, I was up at 6 AM for a Bible study with your daddy and Glen. It was good to meet Glen. That was nice. He sent me a note as we were leaving, thanking us for coming. He encouraged me.

Then there was a sound check at the BBC building at 11 AM. We got things squared away for the big conference on Friday and Saturday. I left there and met with Chris and Shawna for lunch. It was a good time getting to know them.

The Huertas showed up during the afternoon. It was a big surprise, which Brandi wanted to do to bless your mom. And it was a big surprise. We have it on video.

Thursday night I went to IBC to speak to the college and career folks. We had dinner and then I talked for 90 minutes or so. They were loud and interactive. They laughed a lot, which was great. You never know what you’re going to get with any group; they were terrific. I made a lot of good memories that night. Malea was there, rolling on the floor laughing. I like her. She was at the school meeting on Wednesday as well.


On Friday, we went with the Huertas to within one mile of Crater Lake. Big sigh right here. The one-mile path was snowed covered, which is an understatement. I was disappointed that we couldn’t see the lake, but God knows these things, and that is okay.

We did make it back in time to take a power nap before the conference that night.

You’ll be glad to know that 147 folks showed up from a half-dozen churches. It was way cool for Klamath Falls. They came from Colorado (Huertas), Portland, other towns in Oregon, and California. Amazing.

I thought it went well.


On Saturday we were back at it early, which took the entire day. I had lunch with Jim Turner, the author/speaker from Oregon. We connected. After the conference, I went out with your hubby, which was good for me.

I made it back home just in time for a three-hour meeting with Bob and Tanya at their home. It was a joy to serve them. I got home at 10 PM that night.


Sunday morning I went back to BBC and spoke to Gary’s Sunday school class. That time was unique and amazing. I wished it was longer. I’ll just leave it at that, but it was perfect.

From there, we high-tailed it over to IBC for their church meeting where Bob preached, and they baptized Claire as well as Paul’s son. It was a beautiful meeting from beginning to end.

We had to get a couple of souvenirs, so we were late to your parent’s home, but we were able to make it for an hour or so before we headed out with Steve and Wendy back to Medford for a night in a hotel before wheels up at 6 AM.


The wheels just touched down in Greenville, SC as I finish this post. Perfect timing.

I just wanted you to know what we did this past week.

It was all because of you! God is still using you, but you know that, right? Enjoy your “stored-up” treasures from last week; there will be more coming your way.

See you soon!!

Living With A Complex Man

RMlogo A crazy idea for sanctification_ the local church

I wrote the following to a friend on our ministry forum.

Yeah, Lucia is like [your husband]; she’s simple, but not in a Proverbs way. She is not wound around the axle like me. I’m way too complicated, though I’ve come to terms with it at this point, and I don’t fight being so screwed up.

There is a simplicity on the other side of complexity that does not remove the complexity, but you can live with yourself. Thus, I’m genuinely at peace with myself, though my complexity rears its ugly head from time to time.

Lucia, on the other hand, will never die; she will just fade away, wander off into the sunset, and kinda disappear. Those people live more simple lives. It’s like the end of Forest Gump with the feather wafting back and forth through the atmosphere until it finally moves toward the camera and fades to black.

She’ll just disappear one day, and that will be that.

Dear God, I love that woman. Keep her safe.

I long to be like Lucia, like that, but that is not who I am, and because of the horrible shaping influences in my life, I will always be a complex soul. I’ve realized, as Monk says, “It’s a blessing and a curse.”

The blessing part is that I can think deeply and intricately about soul problems. The curse part is that I can think deeply and intricately about soul problems.

Lucia lives simply. She will never be a formalize counselor. She will never teach anywhere in public. But she is the most amazing, competent person that I’ve ever met. I long to be like her, which is a thought I often have after I free fall into the black hole of my complexity.

After I take my thoughts captive, I’m back to resting in the simplicity that is on the other side of my complexity.

I hope that was not too complex. 😉

Here is how Lucia would say it: “People are different.”

Can you see how we’re different?

Of course, after Lucia sums it up by saying “people are different,” she has finished six more tasks.

I’m still thinking about this one thing.

Dear God, who shall deliver me from this body of death?

Klondike Bill, Meet Lucia

Klondike Bill

One of the best dates Lucia ever had with me was the night I took her to wrestling, and she got to meet Klondike Bill. It was a night to remember, and one of the most compelling reasons she wanted to marry me.

(Okay, probably not so compelling but weirdly, it was romantical.)

It all began by the many trips I made with Lucia to my hometown in North Carolina. We had to drive through Charlotte, and each time we came upon the old Charlotte Coliseum, I always let Lucia know that the old auditorium is where my grandpa would take me to watch wrestling, and after the matches we would sit in his truck, eat Vanilla Wafers and drink Coke-Colas.

Not realizing I said this each time I passed the Coliseum, as we were passing it again, Lucia interrupted me, saying, “Hey, that’s where you used to watch wrestling with your grandpa and eat Vanilla Wafers and drink Coke-Colas afterward.” I asked her how she knew that.

We laughed.

Index Forward

During our dating season, I happened to see an advertisement on the television about a wrestling show coming to Anderson, SC, about 30 minutes away.

I bought two tickets.

Not paying attention to the date and day, I was a bit nervous after realizing it was on a Wednesday night. Her family were a “three times a week to church” family.

Ricky had some “plain’in” to do with Lucy’s parents when I picked her up on that Wednesday. (I did not tell them where she was going. She did not know either; it was a surprise.)

After navigating around the problem with her dad, I swept Lucia away for a night to remember. She was nervous slightly, not knowing me that well at that time, and I was taking her down the interstate, toward Georgia.

While sitting at a light in Anderson, Lucia saw a sign that said, “Anderson Civic Center,” and asked if I was taking her to a wrestling show. She just happened to see the same TV ad a few weeks eariler.



I said, “Yes.”


We went into the auditorium to find our seats. Before the wrestling, the announcer and cameraman came out to do some filming. He asked all of us to yell “boo” as loud as we could. The cameraman panned the audience.

Then the announcer asked us to yell “yay” as loud as we could. It was sad to know they were mixing our whooping and hollering into the footage that the folks in TV Land saw.

Why would they rig that? It took away from the realism.

But the wrestling was fantastic. At one point, I leaned over to Lucia to get her opinion. She said it was well choreographed. I was chagrined, and quickly appealed to her to keep that on the down-low because we might get into a fight if we let others know about the fakery.

And then it occurred to me that the folks around us probably would not know what the word choreographed means.

Problem averted.

We maintained kayfabe.

Lucia was alarmed at the little kids behind her, with painted faces, yelling, “Kill him. Take his head off.”

They looked to be about eight-years-old.

The Main Event

After the show, we hung around to savor the moment. I was doing the savoring. I decided to take Lucia down to the ring where two guys were tearing it down. As I was standing there, I noticed one of the old ring-hands was none other than Klondike Bill. I used to watch him wrestle in Charlotte.

I hollered at him, asking if I could take his picture. He said, “NO” in an abrupt, “you’re bothering me” kind of way. I appealed again, letting him know that this was my girlfriend’s first wrestling show.

He doubled-down, letting me know there would be no photo-ops tonight.

One final appeal.

I said, “Hey, Klondike, I used to watch you wrestle at the Park Center in Charlotte, NC.”

At that, he turned to the other ring-hand and said, “See. I told you I used to wrestle. This guy used to watch me wrestle.”

And with that, he jumped from the ring, yanked his hat from his head, gave Lucia a big Klondike bear (side) hug and I got my picture.

A glorious night.

There’s only one other thing that would make it better and seal completely the chance of me marrying this girl.

You guessed it.

After we got back to my car, I had some Vanilla Wafers and Coke-Colas hidden in the backseat. I pulled them out. We partook and talked about the night.


As we were leaving, one of us suggested that we go behind the auditorium where the crowd was standing, waiting on the wrestlers to come from their dressing room, and let those folks know it ain’t real.

Wisdom prevailed.

We went home instead.

The Morning After

The next day, Lucia went to work, and all her workmates could not wait to hear about this mysterious date night that her boyfriend planned for her.

With joy, Lucia explained it all.

They didn’t get it, as they stammered and struggled to enter into Lucia’s joy.

How sad is that?

It was magical. It was romantical. It was a date-night for the ages.

I think those ladies were jealous.

Ricky and Lucy Went to Church Today

Now, what’s the big deal about attending your church meeting? Glad you asked. First of all, you have to get out of bed. That’s a good start. We’ve spent the last month in bed, which is not a bad thing (unless you have an injury).

Mobility Is Coming Back

Lucia can use her left arm to do most things, though she can’t “put off, put on” the lid to her Tervis, for example. There are a few other things she can’t do, but her arm usage is much better now.

My mobility is good as well. My issue is standing and sitting too long. My restrictions are the three “P’s.” I can’t Pick up anything, Push anything, or Pull anything. Thankfully, I can do my job.

Last Friday night I tried the zero-gravity chair. It worked okay, so now I can work away from my bed.

On Friday, I also made my first “Panera run” in three weeks. I didn’t do any of the work but was a “tag-a-long” rider. We got there forty-five minutes early, which gave us time to play a few card games.

(For the past five or so years, we have been going to Panera Bread each Friday night to pick up their leftovers. They typically have five to eight bins of bread that we bring home, sort, and giveaway to folks who are unemployed or underemployed. We giveaway just over $30K (retail) of food each year.)

The Church Meeting

The children have been attending our church meeting by themselves for the past three weeks. Today, we went as a family.

The chairs weren’t comfortable, but they have a few “old people seats” in the back that are cushiony. I sat in one of those during the teaching time. I sat in the regular chairs during the singing time.

I didn’t attempt to stand up. It was too painful and too much of a risk. Lucia’s endurance was not that great either. She sat during half the singing time.

We need to get our “church reps” in. If you miss a few, you get out of church shape. We’re out of shape, for sure. But it’s good to get back into the swing of things.

Long-Term Plan

We’ve decided we are not going to do much of anything for the next six months. With winter coming, it won’t be hard. We’ll do the “minimalistic thing,” by not adding much to our schedule that could jeopardize our health.

We’re both encouraged, but realistic.

Airport Fellowship

Atlanta was fogged in. We left the hotel in St. Louis around 5:30PM on Wednesday and drove onto our driveway around 3:30AM on Thursday morning. The extended stay in various airports (St. Louis, Atlanta & Charlotte) created a wonderful opportunity to meet some folks, chat and generally enjoy one another.

We were fogged in on Thursday. 

We’re good now.

Hilton Head Island Cornhole Champion!!

Some will not believe this, but every word is true. I am now the official Hilton Head Island Cornhole Champion. I won the cornhole tournament today, working through the brackets to the grand prize. I think most of you know what cornhole is. If not, you can check out the Rhett and Link Cornhole Video on YouTube. Just click on Rhett and Link and it’ll take you there.

The Egret Center did not have the official cornhole set. They had what is called the “Corn Toss Game.” It’s the same thing, but they used a plastic type board instead of the cornhole plywood board. This was so they could patent it and start their own brand. It’s the same game, just a different kind of board. It was actually more difficult in that the board was plastic. The bags slid more, which meant a tactical and mechanical adjustment on my part. You had to aim at the lower end of the board because the bags would slide further up the board and potentially off the board if you landed the bag up near the hole. Also if you went for a “swisher” you had to nail it or the bag would inevitably slide off the board and you know what that means. No points for you!!

Well, enough of that.

The weather was scorching and I’m not sure why they set the boards out in the sunshine. It made winning all the more special. 

Who played? Well Lucia suggested I let you know. 

No one really showed up. Only Lucia, Tristen, Haydn, Ansa and my 85-year old father-in-law. Tristen, Haydn and Ansa didn’t want to play. I whooped Lucia pretty good. And then went on to beat my father-in-law in a nip and tuck match to the very end. I prevailed and won a HHI coozie. I actually won twice, but gave one of the prizes to my father-in-law.

I’m still a bit perplexed as to why no one showed up but us.

For those of you who would like your own set and you live locally, I may be able to hook you up with the whole shoot’in match for $35. That’s two cornhole boards and eight bean bags, which are really corn bags. No promises, but I will try. 

Brother IZ

A number of years ago Lucia and I had the privilege to spend a week in Hawaii. It was beyond belief. It was drop-dead gorgeous! While we were there we visited with a friend who turned us on to some Hawaiian music, particularly Brother IZ. His real name is Israel Kamakawiwo`ole. He is one of the most popular Hawaiian singers ever. He is revered over there. He died a few years back.

If you’ve ever seen the movie “Finding Forrester” and watched the end credits roll up-the closing scene on the basketball court-then you heard Brother IZ sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” It’s one of the most popular versions of that song.

Here’s a Youtube clip of Brother IZ.