Sunday, June 29, 2003

Looking To The Sky For Answers: An Explanation

The three-part Looking To The Sky For Answers is a true story, it happened to me in 1992. I have considered developing it into a book from time to time (thus the copyright notations on each segment) but lately it's just been sitting around collecting the computerized hard drive equivalent of dust...and I thought that was a waste, especially when thousands of people read IR Haven each month (which is both amazing and an honor).

In my life, I've been through some rough spots and on more than one occasion, I know I could have lost my life. Looking is one of those times. It's worth noting that after I got back from this experience in June 1992, my friendship with Angel (now my wife) really began to bloom. By Fall 1992, she and I would be dating; by Christmas 1992, she would propose to me and I would happily accept; and in March 1995, we would be married. I believe that the Lord or one of His angels spoke to me that day and the Lord spared my life and allowed me to develop this interracial relationship that would so change my life for the better. He blessed me with a real-life Angel and we would be blessed with two wonderful biracial sons.

I wanted to share this story because maybe it can be of help to someone somewhere. If that still, small voice speaks to you, please listen to it. It could save your life, your future -- or even your soul.

At the very least, I hope Looking is interesting reading. Please feel free to make comments and give me feedback about this real-life story.

Make sure to start at Part One; it's a little strange reading it backwards from Part Three. If you don't want to scroll all the way down, you can just click on this link.

Thanks for your time.

Best Wishes,
Looking Into The Sky For Answers: Part Three
Copyright (c) 2003 Allen Steadham

My father left Austin at 5:00 a.m. Sunday and, according to him, depended on the 18-wheeler truck speeds as his radar detector because he made it to Fabens by 1:30 p.m. We were delighted to see him but we were soon faced with a new problem: Bill’s 9-piece drum set would not fit into a Honda Accord LX-i hatchback alongside my bass guitar, amplifier, keyboard, keyboard stand and clothes bags. So Bill had to choose between leaving his drums and coming home with us or staying and finding a way to get himself and his drums back to Austin. He chose to stay.

The journey home should have been long but simple. It was early summer in Texas. Armed against the Texas heat with an air-conditioned car, we should have been fine…except we were in Texas. Warnings and jokes about changing Texas weather are based in fact, not fiction.

As we crossed the Texas desert to head back to Central Texas, I noticed the really cool-looking clouds rising like nukes from the surface. There were a lot of them. I think I counted four or six easily, from multiple directions across the landscape, behind us and to each side.

“That one looks like the Enterprise-D,” I said about one cloud. Dad grunted in acknowledgment, probably trying really hard to stay focused on the road.

As the afternoon progressed, the sky wasn’t so cool-looking anymore. It was actually looking dark and rather stormy. The rain started light, followed by distant lightning and thunder. A minute later, sheets of monsoon-like rain were battering the car from multiple directions and the thunder was tremendous. This was too much for Dad’s nerves; he had to pull over. I volunteered to continue the driving.

No sooner had we started driving again when the hail started. We didn’t even know how bad our situation was. Undaunted and refreshed from the good night’s sleep, I increased our speed and drove on. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t know at the time that rain-wrapped tornadoes often mingle with such weather.

By the time we reached Fredericksburg, the rain began to let up. Now it was only a matter of time before we reached Austin. It was midnight before we made it home to crystal clear skies.

The inner voice had been right...and that had gotten me home safely.

We had more guardian angels than we knew.

Looking Into The Sky For Answers: Part Two
Copyright (c) 2003 Allen Steadham

It was dark by the time the van from the orphanage arrived. The people who came to our rescue had brought more sophisticated tools and were experienced mechanics that knew this car. They even brought a battery-powered generator and lights. I remember thinking that I didn’t care that none of them spoke English, I was impressed with the way they got down to business with that car! Soon, we would be able to continue on our way home, I thought.

But as time went on, something didn’t feel right. I became antsy and pretty agitated as we got closer and closer to our “freedom.”

You need to call home, an inner voice said to me. You need to put aside your pride and ask your folks for help.

I paced back and forth a while, not wanting to let go of hope. I really wanted to believe that Bill and I could get home on our own.

The voice and the nervousness persisted.

You need to do it. You may not get another chance. You’d better call home now!

Scared by the thoughts, I walked up to one of the gas station pay phones, chucked my pride with a sigh and called my parents collect. My mom answered the phone. I told her what had happened and that I needed help. Clearly startled by the news, she put my dad on the phone for me to repeat my story. While I heard disappointment in his voice, I also heard relief that I had turned to them for help and compassion for my predicament. Dad told me he would come pick us up the next day if we could just get back to the orphanage. I agreed.

I went over to Bill and explained what I had done. I asked him if we could head back to the orphanage and await our pending rescue. Looking back on the situation, I think he was as relieved as I was. Had we had more problems several hundred miles down the road, it’s unlikely the mechanics from Fabens would have come to help us. We committed to the rescue plan instead.

That turned out to be wise, as 30 miles into our return trip, the warning light came back on to let us know the engine was overheating again. Now going on 44 hours without sleep, we stopped the car and took a much-needed nap of about 30 minutes or an hour (I honestly don’t remember which). When we woke up, the overheat light stayed off for about 10 minutes before flaring to life again. Realizing the prospect of another stop-and-go journey, we decided to take our chances and just keep on going.

About 10 miles from the orphanage with the overheat light still glaring at us in neon red, the tailpipe fell down with a thud and began dragging rather noisily on the ground. Please keep in mind that it was welded together and had previously only been held up by chicken wire.

We kept on racing along, sparks flying and engine overheating, even driving across a field to try and knock the tailpipe off (sleep deprivation is the inventor of many odd thought processes). Finally, at 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning, we limped into the orphanage parking area, tailpipe still dragging. We found some empty beds and collapsed.

If only that were the end of the story… (To Be Concluded)
Looking Into The Sky For Answers: Part One
Copyright (c) 2003 Allen Steadham

I remember sitting on the trunk of the broken-down, dusty, gold-colored 1977 Oldsmobile LS. It was 1992 and I was in a small town called Sierra Vista, about 100 miles east of El Paso, Texas. Looking up at the beautiful blue sky scant with white clouds, sweating from the June heat, I wondered what I’d done to deserve being stranded at a gas station in the middle of nowhere, 600 miles from my home in Austin. This fine specimen of a car had broken down from multiple problems ranging from a stuck thermostat to a sick engine and my friend Bill, a mechanic in addition to being a great drummer, was doing his best to fix the unfixable. I heard him curse as one of the engine bolts broke on the vehicle we had nicknamed “The Deathmobile.”

Looking up to the sky in utter hopelessness, I thought to myself “Okay, God, I can see you’re trying to get my attention…”

I was a 22-year old electric bass guitarist recently divorced from a four-person rock and blues band called the “Killer Tomatahs.” Having gotten the opportunity of a “make or break” gig in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, we had decidedly broke – and this had broken the band, too. The actual break up happened in a border town called Fabens, Texas, at a little orphanage where Bill had grown up. The generosity of strangers had landed us a vehicle home but no guarantee that said-vehicle would actually survive the trip! One hour into our triumphant voyage home proved that to be the case.

Young and determined to defy the source of engine overheating, Bill and I decided to outwit and outlast the car’s problems…yeah, right! We would drive one mile, the engine would begin to overheat and we would have to turn off the car and wait an hour for it to be drivable again. That became very nerve-wracking after 9 hours, realizing we could have probably walked further in that amount of time. But with hundreds of miles to go and all our band equipment and clothes in the car, walking was not an option.

The generosity of another stranger helped get us to Sierra Vista. A retiree named “Gibby” used his RV to literally push the Oldsmobile 18 miles into that next town. Tired and frustrated as we were, a push was a welcome relief and we were immensely grateful for Gibby’s help. Pleased to be of service, the senior citizen drove his RV onward down Interstate 10. We called him our “guardian angel.”

It was mid-morning on a Saturday. Bill felt confident that he could go to a parts store a block away and pick up a gasket for the thermostat. He felt he could get us up and running in no time. Of course, he didn’t count on the whole town shutting down for a rodeo parade. Two hours later, Bill obtained the magic gasket and placed it where it was needed – until something else broke.

Suddenly, our guardian angel reappeared! Gibby had only left to go buy some tools for us to repair the car. For a brief while, hope soared...until that engine bolt broke. Nearing our level of frustration, Gibby had to move on. He had done all he could. We graciously thanked him for all his help and watched the RV drive off again. If even our angel couldn’t help us, we knew we were in trouble.

Bill called the Fabens orphanage to update them on our predicament and ask for help. More help was coming but it was 100 miles away. So we waited. (To Be Continued)

Sunday, June 22, 2003

A Few Updates

You've probably noticed the new updates to IR Haven by now. I recently added the Amber Alert banner because I think it's a tremendously valuable tool that helps save lives. If you have a website, please add the banner to your site by going to and follow the directions for adding the banner to your site.

In addition to the alerts, I have added new ways for you to interact with me through Instant Messenger (IM) software. I have added interfaces for ICQ and Yahoo! Messenger. At any given time, especially in the evenings, I will be on one of those IMs. And if I'm not online, send me a shout (leave me a message) anyway, I love hearing from you!

Today started early for me and my family, as First Light was the praise band at church today. We played a total of five songs today and the entire service was wonderful! Our church has two missionary groups on the field in Belize and Guatemala, Central America. Our pastor and a number of laymembers and officers have gone to support our sister churches in those countries and to witness Christ to the peoples of those countries. We are blessed to have quite a few Spanish-speaking missionaries.

I've been wanting to convey more of my feelings concerning my faith and what I believe but I've been waiting for the right time and the right words. For now, I will leave you with these:

Romans 13: 8 - 14 (King James Version)

8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.

12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.

13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.

14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Have a great day!

Best Wishes,