Last Thursday I embarked on an adventure of sorts. I packed my bags, told the “kids” to behave themselves, hugged my family, hopped in Mom's minivan, turned up the tunes, and watched Boise City fade away in the rearview mirror. I was on my way to the NW Regional Emergency Management Conference in Woodward.

I must admit I had a few feelings of trepidation as I began the journey from here to there. After all, I hadn't been on a solo trip in a long time. I was going to be meeting a group of people already knowledgeable in the field of emergency management. And I would be staying at a motel for three nights - something I hadn't done in more than a few years. But all the apprehension flowed out of my soul as the miles rolled by.

The conference was very informative, even as it was informal. I got to meet a lot of people who are passionate about their job - preparing for, planning for, responding to and recovering from any and all natural and manmade disasters. I put faces and personalities to names I had seen only in print. I listened much, talked little and learned a great deal. And I realized that my thirst for understanding the concepts and systems for disaster management hadn't been slaked by attending this conference. It had only been whetted!

My return trip home was filled with many thoughtful moments and observances. The birds of the air, especially the hawks, were everywhere, perched on the high limbs of naked trees and on the top of so many electrical poles. The closer I got to Cimarron County, the more of them I saw. And I watched as the thermometer decreased by ten degrees between Guymon and our county line. I was struck anew by the flatness of the landscape, captured in so many places beneath a layer of icy snow that seemed to go on forever. The horizontal, treeless rim of the earth touching and blending into the whiteness of winter clouds made me sigh and shiver at the same time. I realized that in some people's eyes the starkness of our land would seem unsettling and lonesome - such a great expanse of “nothingness” spreading out before their windshield. But my eyes saw only an all-encompassing beauty that spoke to my heart and told me I was almost home.

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Do you remember being a little kid and playing “Mr. Potato Head”? Well, I have decided that God is an ace at playing that game! He uses all the game “pieces” - eyes, ears, noses, mouths, eyebrows. And then He uniquely arranges and arrays those pieces on our “potato” heads! His sense of humor shines through, along with His artistic flair, for we are each wonderfully different, even as we are each wonderfully the same!