Tag Archives: tough times


It isn’t the longevity of his life that has arrested my attention today, but rather the impact that his life has made on the lives of others.  After all, Justin was only 32 years and one day old when his life came to an abrupt halt in the sands of Anbar Province, Iraq.

Yesterday—September 30, 2011—would have been my oldest son’s 37th birthday.  Today is the fifth anniversary of his death.  It’s always a tough time, but out of the sadness always comes numerous thoughts and blessings.  This has been true today as I have been traveling through New England with my best friend of 40-plus years, Dave Brown. 

Perhaps the prevailing thoughts are related to the impact that Justin’s life made on others.  For example, he always had a way of bringing excitement to our family.  Earlier today I saw a picture, taken at my daughter Charity’s house, as Justin and I were tossing his second son (Jayden) back and forth from 6-8 feet distance.  What pleasant memories!

In fact, Brandon and Charity’s great room in Ann Arbor (MI) was the scene of a lot of laughter and excitement—like on my youngest daughter Joy’s fifteenth birthday, as a contest raged between Justin and Joy over blowing out the candles—all meaningless stuff to others, except to “the siblings,” whose lives have been marvelously impacted by a brother who loved them. 

Although there were times—more than I remember—when he drove his father to the brink of insanity, his life continues to impact me, and I would like to think, making me a better man for it.  From his first “big wheel” to his last vehicle—a Jeep—Justin could destroy anything!  In that Jeep, he and I spent the better part of three days and nights together, driving from Twenty-nine Palms (CA) to Clarkston (MI) just before he deployed to Iraq.   I’ll value that time for the rest of my life!

The last time that Justin and I were together was at the hospital in Commerce Township (MI), just minutes before his daughter Caitlin was born.  Although his wife Patty was in the labor and delivery suite, they graciously allowed me to stay with them until I had to catch my flight to Great Britain.  Neither my wife Debbie nor I will ever forget Justin walking us to the door, saying his goodbyes, then racing back for the birth just 40 minutes later! 

Why bother to pass along such personal stories?  Because you also have a life—and your life should also be touching the lives of those around you in a positive and inspiring way! 

As I write this, I am sitting in the family room of my best friend’s house.  Dave’s daughter Angie was just here, and represents another person—beyond family—whose life was touched by Justin’s.  When the two of them were small children, our families were next-door neighbors, but the influence of those days continues.

BTW, do you pray?  If so, perhaps this would be a great time to consider your own influence in the lives of other people, and ask God to help you make it count.  Never discount the positive influence that you can have in the lives of others.  After all, even a word appropriately spoken at the right time is as valuable as “apples of gold!”


Dale’s book, Leave A Well in the Valley, can be purchased in soft cover at www.dalepeterson.org or a Kindle version at www.amazon.com.  In the book, Dale shares from deep personal experiences how one can not only survive the tough times in life, but also turn those tragedies into triumphs. 


Faithful Friends

This morning I took the rare Sunday off in order to be at my home church—North Auburn Hills Baptist Church, in Auburn Hills, Michigan.  Our church was celebrating the 70th birthday of Pastor John Marine—and what a wonderful celebration is was!  It continues tonight, but I speak at Marimont Community Church in Pontiac this evening and will miss the actual party.

The Booth Brothers were surprise guests who rock the house every time they come to NAHBC, and today’s appearance was no exception.  My cousin Paul Wade tipped me off in advance, so I watched Pastor Marine’s face as a picture of the Booth Brothers hit the screens and what appeared to be a recorded greeting began “playing.”  He truly was surprised by his dear friends. 

However, that isn’t the point I want to highlight.  My mind is racing with gratitude for my dear friend John Marine and what his life and ministry has represented to me.  In a nutshell, I am thankful for faithful friends—and John Marine has been that for nearly forty years now.  I’m thankful for friends like that!

John has been a faithful friend to me.  A popular country song these days uses a line “You find out who your friends are.”  That’s especially true when the tough times in life come our way or when we’re beginning a new venture in life and need the support of friends.  John is that kind of friend, not only to me, but I’m sure to many others as well.  I’m thankful for friends like that!

But John Marine has just been faithful—period.  He’s been the pastor of North Auburn Hills Baptist Church (formerly North Perry Baptist Church until their relocation over a decade ago) for more than forty-one years.  His vision and zeal continues unabated by the years—he’s still fervent.  I’m thankful for friends like that! 

BTW, do you pray?  If so, would you pray that both you and I would be that kind of friend to those around us?  My youngest son Joshua and I heard Charles Stanley speaking several years ago at a pastors’ conference, and I hope that I never forget his simple outline.  It describes in four words the kind of man that I want to be—faithful, fearless, fervent, and fruitful.  I’m thankful for friends like that—and I want to be one!

So, Happy Birthday, John Marine—my faithful friend!

Tough Times

All day long today, I’ve had Andy Williams’ song stuck in my heart—“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”  I think most of us love this time of year.

But the holiday times of year can often be a tough time for a lot of people, and for a lot of reasons.  Just the other day, as most of my children and grandchildren gathered here at the Clarkston condo with Debbie and me for Thanksgiving dinner, I really missed my oldest son Justin, who was killed in Iraq.  But without the spirit of a grateful heart, I can imagine why so many people who miss their loved ones can slip into depression.

 I also think of friends, scattered around the world, who face health issues—a pastor friend in North Dakota (Scott Jordan), a missionary friend in Manila (Bob Woosley), and so many others.  Just a few days ago, I spent two hours with my long-time friend Roscoe Brewer near his home in Atlanta, who doctors are strongly encouraging to have chemo therapy for his cancer that has returned in various places throughout his body.  (The very thought of this makes me thankful for my own heart disease!) 

For others, some tragedy may strike—an automobile accident, a life-altering medical diagnosis, a layoff—making pain increasingly intense during the holidays.  I’ll never forget my friends Ron and Marilyn Sears’ Christmas experience years ago with the suicide of her brother who lived with them.  Our extended  family experienced horrific pain just before Christmas 1980 when my mother was killed by a drunk driver.

Perhaps more than any time in my life, God has given me a new awareness of the heartaches that His people bear, and I have determined that I will not waste my own pain, but will endeavor to be an encourager to those who are “passing through the Valley of Baca.”

Yesterday, I was privileged to return to First Baptist Church of Washington (MI) where my vocational ministry began in the dawning of the 1970s.  I met so many of the members who had purchased a copy of my book Leave a Well in the Valley when Pastor Ken Burdett hosted a book-signing.  Without exception, they told their stories of trials and burdens and storms and valleys—and each expressed a deep appreciation for the encouragement of Leave a Well in the Valley.  Most of them also shared how they had passed their copy along to others who also read the book and found hope as well.

Why not expand your own ministry this Christmas season and share this kind of hope with your friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors who are hurting or struggling.  Your purchase of a copy of Leave a Well in the Valley, given to them as a gift especially at this time of the year, will enhance your own ministry and together as partners, we both leave a legacy of encouragement and hope for others within the circle of our influence.

You can purchase Leave a Well in the Valley as a meaningful Christmas gift for those whom you love by going to www.dalepeterson.org (handled by PayPal). 

Your friendship, financial and prayer support for my ministry this year has been an encouragement to Debbie and me.  I trust that as you use Leave a Well in the Valley as a personal ministry tool, we can not only encourage your ministry, but together bless others!

BTW, do you pray?  If so, would you pray that God will use each copy of the book to truly bless, encourage, inspire, and strengthen those who read it?  Would you also pray that thousands of Christians will include this book as a “tool” that they regularly use as they minister to others?  Finally, would you pray for me as I write the small-group study guide next month that will soon be made available to churches to use with their small group ministries? 



Purchase your copy of Leave a Well in the Valley at www.dalepeterson.org 

Leave a Well in the Valley

Check out a sample of my new book, Leave a Well in the Valley, at the following link: http://books.google.com/books?id=xW0PVRg9AeEC&pg=PP1&dq=leave+a+well+in+the+valley&ei=wqPhS7ruJ4mUNY6j8eIJ&cd=1#v=onepage&q&f=false