Barry “Butch” Wilmore aboard the International Space Station (Photo by NASA)
Barry “Butch” Wilmore is captain of the International Space Station, where he’s spending several months conducting experiments, doing repairs, and increasing the capabilities of the station.
One of the other interesting things Wilmore did was to finish a personal study of the Stepping Up men’s material, which he found to be both empowering and challenging in his personal life.
Wilmore recently talked with FamilyLife Today hosts Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine about his time in the space station, focusing mostly on spiritual matters, like his mentoring ministry, his role as a father and daily experiencing the awesome creation of his Heavenly Father.
This is an excerpt of the transcript from the February 6 broadcast. Click the link, “Life Aboard the Space Station,” If you want to hear the entire broadcast.
Dennis Rainey: Captain Wilmore, you have done a number of deployments in your service for the Navy. You have any coaching for dads who travel a lot? Maybe, they don’t go to outer space, but they’re gone three or four days a week or a good number of days throughout the month—any coaching for them about caring for their wives and their children in the midst of that?
Barry Wilmore: I think the thing that I would say from my standpoint—and what I’ve tried to do myself—is always think about biblical principles—you know, raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and teach them God’s Word.
That’s what I do with my daughters, and that’s what my wife and I do together.
I think a big part of that is preparing, especially when the children are younger—I’ve got a seven-year-old and a ten-year-old. We did a great deal of preparation for this separation time—discussing it and talking about it. My number one message to my daughters, and I even say it when I call them now, is: “Help Mommy.” We also—my wife homeschools—so, the follow-up slogan to that is: “Help your teacher. The principal may be out of town for a while, but he’s coming back!” [Laughter]
Dennis: So, that’s a setup. Do you want to say anything to those girls of yours?—any words from Daddy to a daughter? I know you get to talk to them too, but here is a chance to both brag on them and exhort them with a few hundred thousand, if not a million, listeners across the country.
Barry: Yes, both of my daughters are taking piano lessons—my youngest just started. I want you to know, girls—Darren and Logan—Daddy loves—loves—to hear you play the piano. I thank you when you practice, and I thank you when you play over the phone so I can even hear you from here—so, thank you for that. I want you to know that Daddy is very proud of both of you. And I also want you to know that the slogan is the same in this message too: “Help Mommy / help your teacher.” [Laughter]
Dennis: Well said by a dad. Way to go! Is there a question you’d like to be asked that’s a favorite question for you to answer?
Barry: I think, you know, it’s less about me / more about my Lord is where I would try to orient any question: “What drives you?”—maybe. What really, truly drives me is my desire to live according to what the Lord has laid out in His Word that we should do—
—and to glorify Him—and that’s the main driver. So, that would be the question: “What drives you?” and that’s the answer.
Astronauts Terry Virts and Butch Willmore from the US, and Samantha Christoforetti of Italy. (Photo by NASA)
Bob Lepine: You have time in your schedule to include spiritual disciplines and to keep your spiritual self in shape, right?
Barry: Absolutely; yes, sir.
Bob: So, what are you doing in space—I know you have an opportunity to read your Bible, and you mentioned reviewing messages from church. Anything else that you are doing to just stay connected to Christ?
Barry: The Lord gave me something a few years ago that I have been continuing. It wasn’t something I set out to do—it just kind of happened—and that is that I started sending out a devotion to just a couple of people daily / every single day. Over the years, the Lord grew that distribution list. I don’t know how many people are on it now—I haven’t counted—it’s probably 70 or so different emails that I send out.
So, I do that every day—preparing the devotion to send out to those 70 individuals.
Also, I have it posted on my friends and family website. So that, right there, is something that the Lord has given me to keep me in His Word, and keep me studying, and keep me growing—and for that, I am grateful.
Dennis: I just want our listeners to think about where Butch is right now because he’s looking at how this verse is really spelled out—Psalm 8.
The Aurora over the US and Canada. (Photo by NASA/Butch Willmore)
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth. You have set Your glory above the heavens! When I look at the heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place; what is man, that You are mindful of him and the son of man that You care for him?
Yet, you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor! You have given him dominion over the works of Your hands and have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and the beasts of the fields, and the birds of the heaven, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the sea. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!”
Barry: I can tell you from this vantage point, “majestic,” indeed—praise Him.
Bob: Butch, let me ask you one more question. How often does the sun come up during the day, and how often does it go down during the day for you?
Barry: Oh, there is another blessing! The sunrises and sunsets here are just amazing. The Space Station—the whole station for about six to ten seconds turns completely orange as it goes through—as the light passes through the atmosphere. It kind of acts as a prism and separates the colors. I get 16 of those a day—fantastic!
Bob: So, is it almost bedtime for you now?
Barry: It actually—it is. I’m going to grab me a quick little bite to eat; and then, I’m going to hit the rack. [Laughter]
Dennis: Well, Butch, thanks for joining us on FamilyLife Today. Just want you to know it’s no excuse that you can’t listen to the broadcast up there. You should have figured that out in advance, but we’ll forgive you for that; okay?
You finished reading the post “Stepping Up in space” in the Stepping Up men’s blog from FamilyLife.
What do you picture as you read the words of Psalm 8 about God’s creation and the special place He has given you?
Listen to Barry Wilmore on FamilyLife Today from the February 6 broadcast and the December 22 broadcast.
Who could you get to join you to go through Stepping Up as a small group? Pray about it, then go for launch.