Directions Are Overrated

Directions are not all they’re cracked up to be. Send me into the country. Tell me to take a left past the first cottonwood tree after the low water crossing, follow the fence to the third gap, turn right and stay straight until I see a crooked fence post, turn left at the old tire and go along side the pond until I see a shed on the hill, then turn right at the sheep pen—and I can find it every time. But send me into a city building with rooms on both sides of the corridor and I need an escort to get out again. On city streets, I have been known to turn into a gas station, fill the tank, then pull out and drive the wrong way for miles before I snap to the mistake.


Directions like east, west, north, and south are the worst. We learned in school that north is in front of us, south is behind us, east is to the right, and west is to the left. Try using that information to navigate. You are always headed north unless you walk backwards or crab walk to one side or the other.

The Highlands of Scotland may not be the worst place in the world to find destinations—but it’s close. The roads aren’t marked. Alan says directional signs were purposefully removed to confuse German paratroopers in the war. Folks, the war is over.


Additionally, signs are small; street signs are erected so high up on buildings that they are above eye level; they are faded almost beyond legibility, and road signs are in both Gaelic and English making them too crowded to read. And roundabouts. The map may tell you to take the B999351 at the next roundabout. Four roads spin off in four different directions and not one of them is marked.

When I first arrived here five years ago, Alan and I headed to a memorial service. We never got there, in spite of following lines of cars on a one-lane road in two different directions and stopping to ask two different people out walking their dogs how to get there. It’s a good thing Alan wasn’t preaching—five years later, we still haven’t found the place.

Oh…and the death blow, “You can’t miss it.” Perhaps no one else can miss it. But I can. Trust me.


Yesterday we embarked on a trip the map said would take 29 minutes. Two hours later, we arrived at our destination. Today, we headed out on a 30-minute trip and made it home again within three hours. The road was not marked, so we took it to the end in both directions. Nor were there any numbers on buildings. Nor did the building we were searching for have a sign. So while Alan and I are both directionally-challenged…sometimes it’s not our fault that we get lost.

We have learned to enjoy the scenery while lost. We may be the first folks, for example, to know that the leaves are already turning.


I’m so thankful the directions God gives in the Bible are easily understood. Even a directionally-challenged person can understand, “Do not covet, Do not steal, Do not commit adultery…love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul.

Can’t miss it.

Never Lost


I feel a blog coming on. About being lost. Not that we’re ever lost—just temporarily misplaced. Misplacement happens often.

Alan and I just returned from a mini-vacation packed with adventure. The adventure wasn’t in the vacationing, it was in adverse events and circumstances.

For example, we were scheduled to leave on Friday, but when we got the car serviced, the garage found a split tire rim. It was mid-afternoon on Monday before we were able to pack supplies into the vehicle and begin our adventure.

We were only 20 miles from home when we got lost the first time. Alan had wisely printed off map directions for reaching our destination on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. We dutifully took a left turn off the main road—as the map directed—to the first roundabout. Then we went around the roundabout again, and again, and again. None of the four roads leading off the roundabout were marked with any sort of directional signs and one of them looked like a cow trail through the countryside. We gave up on the map directions, went back to the main road, and miraculously found the next turnoff without the map.

Getting to Skye from where we live involves taking miles of one-lane roads with occasional passing lanes. Thus driving the number of required miles to our destination would have taken a little over an hour in the U.S., but took four hours. By the time we got there, it was late.

Our first stop was for food. Unfortunately, the restaurant we had enjoyed so much on our first visit was closed. Almost everything was closed. As a U.S. citizen accustomed to 24-hour restaurant service, I was irritated.

Back on the road, we followed the directions given to us by the retreat we had booked. Skye is 60 miles long with many stretches of 40 MPH speed limits and steep, winding stretches. It turns to one lane when you pass the last major village, and drivers must dodge sheep. It was getting late when we took an impossible looking 90-degree turn and vertical hill leading to the retreat—or so we hoped. However, the road we were on split and went off in two different directions, neither of which were marked. Both roads went over cattle guards, so after driving down both of them a short distance, we finally picked one and went with it. Need I mention that it was the wrong one? We figured that out when we realized that we were driving around in circles and passing the same landmarks again and again. That meant going all the way back up the road to the fork and taking the other road. It was getting late and dark and after four hours of driving, we all needed a break. All includes our 50-pound rough collie dog.

So…down the new road looking for the fourth house on the right after we got to some place that starts with a “K” that I can’t begin to either spell or pronounce. Again, we failed to find our destination. It was nearly dark by then and the road we were on was becoming so rough and the scenery so wild that we suspected we were lost yet again. We were.

two thatched

When we turned around to go back—not sure where we were going back to since we hadn’t found anything resembling our destination yet—Alan spied a sign on the door of an old building with an aluminum add-on. The retreat!

Within a few minutes of finally reaching our destination, we thought about returning home minus the “vacation.” The bedroom, an upstairs loft, had such low, slopping ceilings that Alan and I had to walk around the bed bent double, and even then we kept banging our heads, backs, and shoulders against the ceiling. Then there was the problem with the dog. The dog is no problem. She’s a dream! The problem was the slippery, narrow, steep, open staircase. Angel Joy is recovering from a nerve disorder that had made her lame. To go up steps, she must lean against a wall and crawl up. When she tried that on the slick stairs, she slid back down three steps and tumbled off the landing at the bottom. She refused to try again. So we had to put the dog on her bed and use it as a stretcher to carry her up and down the stairs. Oh…and did I mention that she weighs 50 pounds and that the stairs were steep and slick?

We toughed it out and actually had a great time except for the head-hitting and dog-carrying details. We left a day early, driving four hours through snow.

Some call Skye a place that God created just to show off. We would agree. Every scenic combination in the whole of Scotland is repeated on the island. From the only true mountain in the UK to castles—both ruined and restored—the island has it all. Even a glass bottom boat that takes visitors out to view seals, otters, and other wildlife.

Yup. We enjoyed our vacation, even the adverse bits and pieces. Life is that way. Good days and bad. The good are fun and the bad are character building—or so we’ve been told. And after this? Heaven. So we’ve got it made even if we don’t ever get back to Skye to see all the parts we missed while we were temporarily misplaced!

We never get lost.

castle moil close

God’s Marvelous Sense of Humor

Folks often ask how someone from little ‘ol Bandera, Texas, “Cowboy Capital of the World,” and Scottish Pastor Alan T McKean found each other across an ocean and 3,000 miles apart – and got married. Especially since I can get lost in a shoebox.
The Lord has a marvelous sense of humor. Nothing demonstrates it more than putting two directionally challenged individuals together. We went for a walk in a wilderness park once and wound up on an eight-mile trek because we couldn’t find our way back to the parking lot. We finally got directions from fellow hikers so we could reclaim our vehicle before dark.
After our car was crushed by a taxi in Glasgow recently, we took a bus into Inverness to look for a new vehicle. We had a list of dealerships and addresses in one hand and a map in the other. We confidentially set out on foot to find a new car. Out of a list of seven different places, we never found even one. We got home to find a car in our driveway and keys through the letterbox. While we were on an impossible mission to find a dealership, wonderful Christian friends had decided to give us one of their cars. I can picture God chuckling as He watched us study the map and set off first in one direction, then in another, only to wind up back at the bus station again.
For nearly two years, we’ve made a mile-plus, twenty-minute hike up a steep hill to get to our dog’s veterinarian, because we can’t figure out how to get there in a car. Between the parking lot and the vet’s office, there are several roundabouts and a lot of one-way streets. Signs are small and lettered in both Gaelic and English, which makes them so cluttered that I can’t read them fast enough to react. When you hit a roundabout in the wrong lane and are fenced in by vehicles in every lane around you, you must simply keep driving around and around until you can move over and get off. I have on occasion wound up going back in the same direction from which I had just come! Many streets aren’t marked. When they are, the small signs with faded letters are perched up on buildings, eye level with giraffes.
On our most recent journey to the vet, Angel Joy had to be tranquilized for a procedure. The vet recommended picking her up in the car, because she would be too groggy to walk. We tried. We even bought a new map. We spent hours walking down every road that connected into the one we took to the vet’s office so we could find the right roundabout to take with the car. Finally…still on foot, we spotted a pedestrian trail up a steep hill that looked like it headed in the right direction. Out of sheer desperation, we took it. Five minutes later, we were staring at the vet’s office in amazement! We walked our mostly-recovered Angel Joy down the hill to the car.
God has a great sense of humor. When things get whacky in your life, enjoy a good laugh with the Creator of the universe – Who also invented humor!
And if you need direction in your life, turn to God. Unlike us, He never gets lost!


Directionally Challenged

Luss Alan

I’m so thankful that God can find us more easily than we can find ourselves.

Since big Taxi wiped out little car, we took a bus into Inverness to look for a new car. We had a map. Alan read the map. He stopped along the sidewalk every few yards to consult the map and make sure we were going in the right direction. Once he stopped in the street and I had to pull him to safety.

We briskly and confidently walked four miles, never realizing we were lost until approaching the same roundabout for the third time from the third different direction. Looking at the map again – this time in the rain since we had lost the sun as well as ourselves – we realized that while we had already walked four miles, we needed to go at least four more miles in the opposite direction to get to the car dealership. We gave up.

I laughed all the way back to the bus station. It was so funny that Alan had diligently followed the map, only to be lost. Besides; becoming physically lost is a minor and temporary frustration when the soul has found God.

God gave us the Bible as an infallible map through life. When we follow it, we circumvent lifestyle choices that can steal our health, peace of mind, and rob us of our joy. With the Bible as our guide, we can never lose our most important and valuable possession – our soul.

But here on earth…don’t walk or ride with us unless you have a good sense of direction and aren’t in a hurry. You might just wind up in the very Brigadoonish Luss. We did!