Tag Archives: Royalty

Bats in the Belfry

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (KJV Romans 8:28)

Over the years, I’ve stayed in a variety of places. These ranged from storage rooms in the back of broadcast complexes, to private homes, hotels, castles and palaces. Yes, I’ve stayed in a palace or two. The first palace I stayed the night in was with my wife and sons on our trip west toward castle Neuschwanstein. While it was considered a “hunting” lodge at one point it eventually was renovated to the status of palace. By the time we arrived it was a retreat center but still spectacular. We stayed in the queen’s room. Yep, the room we occupied was the room normally reserved when the queen came to visit. It was large, luxurious and just the intricate wood designs in the walls and on the ceilings impressed us as we brought in our plastic suitcases and two energetic boys.

Fortunately, it was updated with modern plumbing and heating. We enjoyed the thought of being temporary royalty as we strolled around the room and the grounds. We were traveling with friends who enjoyed the cushy comfort of their own royal chamber.

The second palace we enjoyed a few years later was also converted into a retreat center. In this case it was operated by a Christian group running retreats and summer camps for Christian youth and the occasional adult group. Considering the massive number of steps, we had to climb just to reach our room I can understand why it was more youth oriented than “older” adult oriented.

2008_06_BobPhotos_310Beth and I enjoyed the tallest tower on the south wing. Our room covered two floors within the round tower with a spectacular view of the surrounding valley. We were above most of the rest of the palace with a spire on top of our nice room. The bath and toilet were by the entrance. A few steps up from there was the kitchen and dining area. From there we climbed steep steps (aka a ladder) into the living area. To reach the beds we crawled through a triangular door (like the Krell construction on Altair in the sci-fi classic, “The Forbidden Planet”) where two single sleeping mats were laid head to head. The ceiling over the beds was the roof of the adjoining building giving just enough room to slide in for the night. In truth, I couldn’t sit up without hitting my head on the ceiling. Ah, the comforts of palace living.

Snuggled in for the night, a hot night at that, we eventually fell asleep. I’m not a big fan of sleeping on futon beds but that was what we had. I like a little more padding. Part way through the night we were awakened by a noise in the living area. Since a youth retreat was in progress we thought maybe someone had wandered in thinking the room was vacant. Beth and I crawled on our elbows like the two legged Krell and looked out the portal.

There, flitting back and forth in the living room, were a couple bats enjoying the darkness of night. Apparently, they were doing us a service by gulping down the little critters who were flying around the room looking to feast on us for dinner. The bats, although spooky to watch, were keeping us off the menu for the night. Thank you bats!

I’ve heard the phrase “bats in the belfry” many times in life. That night it took on a whole different meaning. Granted, this wasn’t a bell tower but it was close enough. When we arose we carefully peaked out the Krell doorway and assured ourselves they departed during the morning hours.

I wonder about what God allows to cross the path of my life. Sometimes I get annoyed or distracted as things can flitter this way and that disrupting what I think needs to be accomplished. I want to shoo the distractions out of the way and get on with things. Now I’m inclined to think these ‘distractions’ are at times little helpers to clear away other obstacles from my walk with Him. The have their unseen benefits, like eating insects we couldn’t see in the night, and protect us from hidden obstacles. Next time I’m in a castle with bats I think I’ll just watch them for a while and think of God’s protection.

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Baroness

On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. (Revelation 19:16 ESV)

I, Beth, went for a walk in the woods one day and found something unusual. Did you ever think you would go out your front door and meet a Baroness?  Well I certainly never thought I would really meet a Baroness in the woods. Maybe a bear and I’ve seen deer and jack rabbits and marder and wild boar…but a baroness? That was something I never thought would happen, but it did. I often walked in our woods around Giesshuebl. In truth, I walked every day that I could. I took this as a gift from God. I found peace and blessing in the woods. I found this a wonderful place to pray and talk with God.  I also found this was a good place to walk and talk with my neighbors.

I walked on Mondays with a fellow missionary. We walked about 5 km in wind, rain, fog, snow or sleet . . . well maybe not sleet. We talked and encouraged one another and shared about our weekend past and the week to come. We worked with the same mission and could share many details and understand what each other brought up as a topic. The rest of my walks during the week were more spontaneous. My neighbor, two flights down in the apartment building, was from Malta and married to an Austrian. They had three children close to our sons James’ and Evan’s age and the kids were actually friends.

Bob, Beth and Marina enjoy a walk up the mountain.

A walk through the Wiener Wald.

When we first moved to Giesshuebl she was my help and good neighbor. She spoke English and German and often provided help dealing with living in a foreign land.  During some tough times she experienced with her health and her daughter’s health I was able to be there for her and we became good friends.

Often, when the weather was nice, she would yell from her balcony, “We go for walk?”  We went hunting for flowers. We exercised and talked. We sat on top of the Salatberg and rested in the beauty of our surroundings. She knew everyone in the community from the little Catholic Church they attend. The church had a new priest no one was very fond of.

So she told me about our neighbors and asked questions about me, my life and my faith. Her son came to know our Savior but she still had many questions. She introduced me to the Bürgermeister, and the doctor, and the town nut. We also meet up with other friends and neighbors and walked and talked with them. I sometimes had friends from Vienna up and we also walked in my woods.

I saw many wonders. I saw the beauty of the Vienna Woods. I saw the wild flowers, the trees, the herbs, spices and nuts that grew just up the hill from our flat. I saw and heard the birds and some wildlife. During the fall with the leaves changing and in the spring with flowers blooming there was an explosion of color and wonder filled my eyes.  I loved the woods in the winter too when it became a sparkly fairy land.

One day it became a place of surprise as we walked and talked and suddenly she stopped and said hello to someone coming from the other direction. She introduced me and I saw an elderly lady very refined, aristocratic and friendly. We spoke in German briefly and then went on our opposite ways. I, of course, asked for more information and was told this was truly a baroness and the mother of one of our neighbors. She came from the area near Graz where she lived in her castle. I felt maybe I had wandered into a fairyland myself and the Baroness wasn’t real but part of a book I had read or a tale I had heard.

I am a child of the King of Kings and not overly impressed with royalty here on earth. But, I am impressed over and over with my God who surprises me with the life I have been called to lead as a missionary and the tough times and the blessings he sends my way. Who knows, maybe next I will be invited to tea with a princess!

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