I once was lost . . . but now am found


Luke Iles walking Flip.
             Luke Iles walking Flip.


Losing a dog, leaving a cap

It may not seem like a big thing.

But to me it was.

Dee and I had spent three years without a dog.

It’s the only time in our marriage we didn’t own at least one dog.

Or to put it better: the only time a dog didn’t own us.

Africa is mainly home to street dogs.  They have a tough life and will literally bite the hand that feeds them.

I missed lots of things while there and one of them was petting a dog.

It’s one of the healthiest things one can do.

A few weeks ago, in Alexandria, we got a shelter dog.

She’d been at the pound three months. I don’t know how/why her death sentence was commuted.

Her name was Sadie.

I renamed her Flip due to her excited gyrations of joy.

She’s a mutt. A mongrel.

But she’s our mongrel.


Last Friday, a gate was left open.

A storm moved through.

Flip doesn’t like loud noises.

During this storm, she escaped.

Or left.

Our dog was lost or I could say: we lost our dog.

I spent the weekend walking the neighborhood searching for Flip.

The shelter was closed.

Our grandchildren prayed for Flip’s safe return.

So did I.

On Monday, we found her at the shelter.

I can only piece together her journey.

Out the gate.

Into the storm.

Hit by a car.

Picked up by a kind stranger.

Taken to the Afterhours Animal Shelter.

Returned to the Pound where she’d previously spent three months.

Reunited with her grateful owners.

Curt and Dee.

Flip was lost.

I grieved.

When we found her, I rejoiced.

The words of the ex-slave captain, John Newton, echoed in my soul:

I once was lost but now I’m found. 

Was blind but now I see. 



My beloved lucky Astros cap.

The same week we lost Flip, I was reunited with another lost item.

My Astros cap.

I’d left it on a chair.

In Africa.

In Uganda.

In the city of Jinja, where the Nile River flows northward out of Lake Victoria.

I left this cap, my favorite, in the home of Terry Nestor, pastor of Acacia Community Church.

Terry called me.  “You left your hat.”

“I’ll get it on my next trip to Jinja.”

But I got sick.

Our term was shortened.

We returned to America.

I wrote off my hat.

Then last week I received a package.

Postmarked from Troutville, Virginia.

It contained my Astros cap.

Brought back from Jinja by an American volunteer.

Generously mailed to my Dry Creek address.

And forwarded to Alexandria.

I sent my anonymous mailman a note and copy of Deep Roots.

I am grateful.

These two events: losing a dog then finding her.

Leaving a cap and then being reunited with it.

It reminded me of Jesus’ three parables of lostness.

A lost coin.

Lost. Rejoicing.

A lost sheep.

Lost. Rejoicing.

A lost son.

Lost. Great Rejoicing.

I’ve been parsing the statement of Jesus,  “For the Son of Man came to seek and save that which is lost.”

Dee and I start a new job this week.  Serving as chaplains for a large lumber company and nursing home chain.  Our job: seeking out those who are lost, hurting, and hopeless.

Building relationships so the Great Hunter, Jesus, can bring them into His fold.

Pray for us on this new journey.




As the Crow Flies 

We’re moving steadily ahead on our upcoming novel, As the Crow Flies. If you’d like to help proof the early chapters, contact me below.


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