• j.k. weller

“life is like a box of chocolates”

In my life I’ve accepted the Forrest Gump philosophy that “life is like a box of chocolates,” rather than the other view that “life is a bowl of cherries.” For me that meant that that there were all kinds of ventures to be involved in if I wanted to pursue them. And so I allowed that to be a guide as I journeyed my way through life. Am I suggesting that’s the avenue for others to take? No, but it did work for me.

After high school and while waiting to become of age to do some of the things that interested me, having been in the era of mandatory military service, I elected to complete a previously arranged two-year stint in the US Navy—aboard a submarine—cramped in a bunk that didn’t leave room to roll over.

Once Uncle Sam allowed me to put away the Navy uniform, I took up the “family occupation” of driving truck. It was an honorable job, in that I did the job to the best of my ability and earned a decent wage in the process. The first couple years I drove log truck, followed by a few more years of driving “over-the-road,” meaning long hauls that covered the eleven Western states.

During that time I also met the woman who would become the love of my life. We married and Mary and I began our family. I still recall the day our first child, Marcia, the eldest of three daughters, was born. Bonnie and Jennifer would follow in two-year intervals.

In those early years of our marriage I recognized my need to gain more education, and so we moved our little family of four to the nearest college town where I began studying to become a teacher—except it was soon over as the realities of my need to provide for my family came to bear. So, back to driving truck.

Missing my family while on the long-haul trips caused me to once again seek employment close to home. Having been a volunteer firefighter for a couple years while starting our family, I looked into possibilities at local fire departments that were hiring. I chose one that looked like it would afford opportunities for advancement. The pay wasn’t great, but the organization was. I managed to advance with the growing department, ending the last ten years of an eighteen-year career as a battalion chief.

When not chasing fires and other emergencies, I spent time learning to fly. Flying soon became an avocation for me, as I diligently applied myself in order to gain the privilege of being a flight instructor. Later, that would become the nucleus for my first novel, Flying Solo.

In mid-life I sensed God was leading me into doing something different with the rest of my life. Exploring those options also involved asking my wife to be involved. God needed to help her see the wisdom in us making the change, but when he did, Mary was fully on-board with us moving forward.

The resulting investigation led us to Wycliffe Bible Translators, where they kindly informed me that I was too old to be flying in jungle situations. They were right. But, they also offered us an opening to serve in the cause of making God’s Word available to all people’s in our world. We enjoyed 19 years in Wycliffe; for five of those years we were assigned to Brazil.

While located in Brazil, we came home for a daughter’s wedding, and on that trip I learned about a degree completion program offered by a local Christian college, George Fox University. Again, God was leading in my life more than I could recognize at that time. After completing a life-changing bachelor’s degree, I went on to obtain a master’s degree.

The final nine years in Wycliffe, we traveled extensively in our world, providing encouragement to translation teams by delivering management training. God blessed tremendously in our lives during those years.

Approaching retirement time, we relocated to Oregon in order to be closer to family. Back in Oregon, I was invited to teach at George Fox University in the very program through which I had obtained my degree several years earlier.

Through all of this, God has been my guide, seemingly picking the chocolate from the box that was to define that period of living life with Him.

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