A New Year, A New Look

Announcing the revised edition of my first book, “Bruecke to Heaven,” now published on Amazon as “Bridge to Heaven.” The opportunity for some down time over the Christmas break afforded me the chance to make some changes, not only to the first book, but also revising the second book, “The Light in the Darkness.” To my amazement, or lack of paying attention, the first book never had a soft cover version on Amazon – that has been fixed.

1st book in the Children of the Light series.

Also, the second book needed a reformatting (i.e. reducing the font) and fixing some grammatical errors. All of which were revised and also republished over the break.

Needless to say, once all of that was finished, there was a feeling like of renewed inspiration.

Thus, the first few chapters of the third book in the series has begun. It has yet to be named, but when time allows, and editing of those said pages are completed, I’ll try to share excerpts for your review and comments.

If you would like to suggest a title for the third book, please do. I’m always open to suggestions, and of course inspiration from on high.

The link to the 1st book revised on Amazon is: Bridge to Heaven

The link to the 2nd book, the sequel, on Amazon is: The Light in the Darkness

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Thank you Doyle Lawson

I awoke this morning from a dream, in a seeming fit of torment, partly from tears of joy and partly from the fact that I had failed to mention something very near and dear to my heart to a person to which I had been speaking.

In my dream, I attended what appeared to be some sort of event. From the appearance of who I was waiting on to speak with in person after the show indicated that it must have been a Bluegrass Festival. The man whom I patiently waited to talk with was Doyle Lawson. Doyle had just announced his retirement from touring the multitude of festivals he and his band, Quick Silver, attended each year. Doyle was a showman. His presence at a festival and his band’s performance on stage were the earmarks of quality and perfection. Someone had posted on social media a photograph thanking Doyle for his contributions to Bluegrass and wishing him well in his retirement. The image showed Doyle walking away from his gold-brown touring bus, rhinestone-studded jacket, and signature cowboy had perched proudly on top of his manicured white hair, at his side, his mandolin case; the image was the icon of his legacy.

As the crowds died away and as the stage workers began taking down the sound system, Doyle lingered speaking to friends and fans, to which he had many. On the side, waiting so that we could be alone, I uncomplainingly waited. The coffee in my white styrofoam cup had long ago lost its warmth. The sips were now more of habit than need which helped pass the time. It wasn’t clear to me what I wanted to say, only that there was a deep, heart-felt gratitude that must be shared – nothing else.

Finally, when my turn came, Doyle came over, and we began talking. There didn’t seem to be words conveyed in the dream, but rather a feeling of sharing of thanks and gratitude. It must have been moving because Doyle began to cry, as had I. A lady came over, who must have been his wife, and joined in our passionate sharing. Eventually, he put his arm around me and thanked me for this fond farewell. He stood by my car as I got in to leave, telling me to be careful and to have a safe journey. We said our goodbyes, and he walked away.

As I got in my car to leave, contemplating the route to take to go home, the stage crew continued their work. Finally, Doyle packed up the last of his own gear and headed off toward the bus with his wife. It was the end of an era, the last of a dying breed. As I drove away, there was a deep sense of finality to it all. But, before my vehicle had traveled very far down the road, the memory of something special, something that had changed the way I thought about Doyle, returned. It was something that I should have shared with Doyle but somehow forgot.

My memory was about something that happened 11 years ago in May when my family and I were attending the Doyle Lawson and Quick Silver Bluegrass Festival at Denton, NC. The week had been a multitude of fun, fellowship, and play. My son Jonathan and I had stayed for the Sunday model church service, where brother Dale Tilley would deliver the sermon. As was the custom, my son and I arrived early so that we could sit up front behind Doyle’s band, who always sat on the left side in the two front rows. There, we patiently waited for the church to fill and finally for Doyle and the boys to make their entrance. Sitting behind them and hearing brother Dale deliver another fiery, enlivened sermon and hearing the most beautiful congregational singing, one couldn’t help to be thankful. But it was toward the end when my son leaned over to me and said that he wanted to stay after and “Be Saved” that my heart melted.

When the time was right, I motioned to brother Dale that my son wanted to speak with him. So, as all the people, including Doyle and the band, filed out, we patiently waited. There in that little model church in Denton, NC., my son gave his life to Christ. It was just he, Dale, and myself. Tears fell from my eyes as I heard Dale walk Jonathan through the texts in Romans 10:9 and to hear my son confess his sins and accept Christ into his life. Brother Dale prayed us out and we rose from our kneeling position off the floor. We walked feeling a renewed sense of life toward the back door, the only exit out of the church. It had been nearly 15-20 minutes. Brother Dale had taken his time to make sure my son was confident and that what he was about to do was something not to take lightly. So, the feeling that we would emerge from the walls of that white clapboard building alone, just us three, was all that I anticipated. However, when we opened the doors to exit, there, lining the steps going down from the front door, stood Doyle and all of his band. Doyle certainly had other destinations to get to and a schedule to maintain, but he stood there at the top, waiting to congratulate my son on his decision. The tears flowed even more.

Yes, that was the day that my previously made image of Doyle Lawson, one of thinking that he was purely a showman and that his faith was simple to make the audience more engaged, was washed away. There outside that little church in a dusty field, a man that spent his life sharing his music with strangers, a man that made it his life to support his family through the difficult challenges of traveling the festival circuit, became a man to me who walked the walk.

That was the feeling that I awoke with, thinking that had I only shared that with Doyle, “Surely it would have made him feel even more blessed about his retirement, that he had done something wonderful for yet another person in his journey of life,” I thought to myself as I realized the sun had yet to rise. So much for all the fanfare, the awards, notoriety. To know that a man made his living around a gift from God, and that along the way, touched people’s lives by quietly sharing his faith, not as a boisterous performance, but as Christ would have done, without pomp and circumstance, but with humility and grace made all the difference in the world.

Yes, this will forever be the real Doyle Lawson to me.

Thanks for all you gave and all that you have done, Doyle. May your retirement be rich with countless blessings from the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

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The Silver Bridge in My Life

For a change, this morning, my dear friend and Music Pastor at Faith Community Church, Kyle Canerday, and I decided to meet at his house in Valdese instead of meeting up somewhere on the mountain for our Friday walk and fellowship. Having had had the week off, it was an excellent opportunity to hike a new route and share in my friend’s usually solo trek. It was a cool but pleasant day for December 31st. There was still a bit of morning mist in the air even at 8:30 as we made our way down the hill and around the curve away from his home.

As we continued up the road, we passed the mailbox of the late Emile Jacumin. I had been fortunate to visit Emile and his family before his passing, thanks partly to his daughter, Lillian, whom I had met at Icard Elementary School when visiting for the Trail of Faith. At her father’s home, she shared with me the research she had been doing into the Waldensian connections to Judaism through Spain. Over the course of our visit, she also shared a piece of history with me that gave me an “Ahah” moment. Looking into the living room, she said that there were no curtains on the windows when they bought the house from the previous owners, original Waldensian immigrants. Lillian noted that ancient Waldensians believe that when Jesus returns, he will come back initially as a bolt of lightning bursting across the sky from the east to the west. She was referring to Matthew 24:27, which reads, “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”

A few months later, when the opportunity to visit with my Aunt Norma, one of the last elders in my family that had known my paternal great grandfather, I asked her if she noticed anything odd about their home. She replied that she always thought it was strange that they never had curtains over their windows, at least not in the downstairs area, which was all that she could remember. It was then, as before, that the little light came on in my head, and the credibility of a previous statement began to cement itself into my collective beliefs. Again, the connection to scripture was so literal so ingrained, that it was part of who those ancient people were – even in their everyday lives.

C.S. Lewis wrote, “The credibility will depend on the extent to which the doctrine if accepted, can illuminate and integrate that whole mass. It is much less important that the doctrine itself should be fully comprehensible. We believe that the sun is in the sky at midday in summer not because we can clearly see the sun (in fact, we cannot) but because we can see everything else.”[1]

As we continued walking, I began sharing this foundational acceptance with Kyle and how we often take its work in us for granted. To give him an example, I shared this next story with him, which in and of itself could stand alone. But, its telling will share how a minuscule fact buried in time can persist if its points are based on truth, something to which one can be grounded.

It was 1967, my first year at public school. Having been a sickly child, in part due to double pneumonia at one and two years of age, I was lucky to be alive in part due to a miracle drug known as penicillin. That being the case, they, my mother and the authorities, decided it best to hold me back a year, so that little Timmy would be six years old instead of five when beginning Kindergarten at Fairlawn Elementary School in Evansville, Indiana. My first few days were a little rocky because of my excitement just to be with other little children my age. Living on the farm, one was isolated, without anyone with which to play or converse. However, I was finally free to make friends and talk. In fact, one friend, in particular, the only one that I can remember to this day, was a boy named Mark. Mark and I hit it off the moment we first met. I don’t know what it was that gave us such a strong bond, but it must have been significant. The semester was going well, and we were already in December when it was time to say goodbye for the Holidays. When we were asked where we would be spending our Christmas, my little ears heard Mark say something about him and his family going out west. Instantly, pictures of cowboys and Indians, something we all played as children, popped into my head. “Oh, how much fun Mark was going to have,” my tender heart mused.

Everyone was there when we returned from the Christmas break a few weeks later, except for Mark. Nobody knew anything about his whereabouts, so his empty seat stood out like a beacon – “Where was my friend?” A couple of days went by, and our teacher came into the room one morning in a very different attitude than her usual upbeat, perky self. She seemed burdened by something like a weight was on her shoulders that she couldn’t lift. After the regular morning routines were performed, our teacher had us gather around her on the floor. She began telling us that sometimes not everyone makes it back from the holidays. “People move away, or their parents get jobs in other places, or,” her voice cracked, and her head went down to her chest as she dabbed a tissue against her eyes. Another adult was there with us as she had begun speaking. We didn’t know the person, but they seemed to be there to help our teacher. Finally, she lifted up her head, and with tear-brimmed eyes, continued, “Yes, sometimes even children don’t make it back to school.” She smiled at us so sweetly as tears ran down her pretty cheeks. “Mark won’t be coming back to school.” She paused and swallowed. This was very hard for her, but we wanted to cheer her on, even though we didn’t know why. “You see, there was a bridge collapse, and Mark and his family….” She again bowed her head and dabbed at the river that was now flowing from her face. The other adult moved in close to her and put their arm around her as she continued to regain control. The other adult continued in her place by saying, “Mark and his family died when the bridge they were on collapsed into the river below.”

The children sat in silence. The sound of sniffles could be heard. There was a giant pain in my throat, one that I couldn’t swallow away, but for some reason, I couldn’t cry. We watched as the adults in front of us regained their composure and began smiling once again, for our sake, not their own. “Okay, children, we can be thankful that there is a Heaven and that Mark and his family are there today. Let’s all go to our coloring stations get out our crayons. We’ve got some coloring to get done.” And from there, it was back to business as usual. Yet, the moment would haunt me for years to come.

In 2002 there was a movie that came out starring Richard Gere. It was called the “The Mothman Prophecies.”[2] It told the story of multiple sightings of an unusual creature known as the Mothman because of its winglike shape. The being was seen by several eyewitnesses, and each told of the prophetic sayings to which he would allude. Eventually, at the end of the movie, the Silver Bridge in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, collapsed. It was suddenly that the memory of Mark returned. Was this the bridge? But didn’t Mark say he was going out west, or was that what I heard? Did he really mean he was going to West Virginia? All of these questions and more began to resonate in my mind.

Silver Bridge, Point Pleasant, West Virginia, December, 1967.

Not to be undone, I began researching possible bridges that collapsed in 1967. There was only one of significance where there was massive loss of life; it was, unbelievably, the Silver Bridge in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, where 46 people died that day. Looking over the list of casualties, there was no Mark. Unfortunately, I didn’t remember Mark’s last name, nor if he had used his middle name. The names of those who died also had the states they were from listed, but nobody was there from Indiana; all were either from Ohio or West Virginia. Had Mark’s family never changed their residence?

So, although the tale of my long, lost Kindergarten friend was not solved, the answer to the question was enlightened another step closer to its solution. The credibility of my understanding had grown, and the foundation of belief at advanced. So likewise, in our journey of Sanctification, we gain a kernel of knowledge and at first might be hesitant to accept it, for doing so may alter our previous basis of belief. However, upon learning of other concepts which may enrich that previous suspicious kernel of thought, we find a foundation shift in our own theology – a course correction, if you will. With these miniscule understandings of the greater whole, we must accept and carry on. For we will never know all that God is, nor will be, but must receive it as Lewis said, as the noonday sun sits in the sky overhead.

Did I find Mark – sadly, no? But was my understanding further solidified in truth – yes, to some degree.

Will I ever solve the mystery of what happened to my little friend so long ago – we may never know on this side of Heaven. But Lord willing, when we find ourselves some beautiful day in the presence of the Lord, we then will find the answers to all those things on earth that we were never able to fully comprehend.

What a glorious day it will be!

Thanks be to God.


[1] Miracles: A Preliminary Study. Copyright 1947 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1947 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Revised 1960, restored 1996 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. A Year With C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works. Copyright © 2003 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mothman_Prophecies_(film)

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The Fruits of the Spirit

Ye shall know them by their fruits.  Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?  Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.  Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.”

– Mt. 7:16-19

As Thanksgiving approaches, we should reflect on the many things we should be thankful for in our lives.  This story is meant to do just that.  Hopefully, it will allow you to step back and think of life through another lens.

Our story begins at the weekly Bible study known as the Men’s Connection.

As brother Richard recently spoke at our morning Bible study, he spoke of what it was to sacrifice, to serve without expectation of receiving.  His dear, beloved Ann had passed earlier in the year, and he was leading us in a study of death and how we should face it.  But more than the discussion of terminal illness, his message invoked the feeling of how we should not be more than we ought to think of ourselves – to be humble, with all gentleness in our servitude.  On this last day of his series, he brought to light the importance of Spiritual Gifts and the Fruit of the Spirit.  Again and again, those in attendance were moved by his message.

As Richard spoke, my mind began to drift to other moments reinforced by his words.

It was the middle of the summer, July 18th, to be exact.  My journal recorded the event because of the profound nature of the encounter.  It was an unseasonably warm day for Boone, which made me yearn for a cup of ice cream.  Sometime in the middle of the afternoon, I took a break and made my way up to King Street to one of my favorite snack shops.  Walking out of the establishment into the bright, sunshine a thought occurred to me, “How are you going to reach others when you came alone?” Usually, I try to find a student or faculty to walk and talk with, but there wasn’t anyone around that could go on this day, so I was alone.  Feeling a bit guilty in my singular pleasure, another thought arose, “Why not head over to the shady spots on the hill?”

So, with these thoughts in play, my feet began walking toward the old, refurbished gathering place in the middle of Boone, The Jones House.  It is a natural oasis in the middle of all the hustle of downtown.  There sitting on a hill, girded by massive Oaks and Ashe trees, overlooking the comings-and-goings of the small town below, sits an old home with a wide front porch littered with rocking chairs that invite you in with welcoming arms.  Usually, it is the headquarters for the Junior Appalachian Musician program, along with other Old-Time music and various music events in the community.  But on that particular day, it was merely the quick stop for visitors looking for a public restroom or just a quiet place to sit and rest.

View from the porch of the historic Jones House on King St., in Boone, NC.

As I found my way up the steep steps from King St., it was there that the realization of my hopes to sit alone on the porch to savor my sweet treat was not going to happen.  For there, in one of the rocking chairs was another person, seemingly well planted, for his belongings were comfortably resting next to him, and his phone was plugged into the outlet by the window charging.  Beside him was an empty rocking chair that beckoned.  The words came back to me as I approached the porch, “How are you going to reach others when you came alone?” Walking up the front steps of the porch, I asked the young man if the other chair was taken, to which he replied, “No.”

Thankful to find the shade of the large porch, I eased back into the weathered wood, that like a glove, embraced my weary soul.  Looking out at the town below, through the whispering breeze that blew the leaves on the trees, we two strangers sat.  For what seemed an eternity, we said nothing but continued to watch the world go by.  Eventually, the calm overtook me, and I had to speak, so I asked, “Beautiful day isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is,” he replied, nodding as he spoke.  His dreadlocks were a bungled flurry of contradiction.  He was not of traditional college age.  His eyes were hidden behind dark sunglasses, so to fully grasp his demeanor was even more difficult.  Trying to think of how to approach one such as himself, I surmised his situation.  He appeared homeless and was using the porch as a temporary abode, but one shouldn’t judge others too quickly.

“I’m sorry, but I didn’t introduce myself.  My name’s Tim.”

“I’m Adrian.’

“Are you from around here,” I probed, not trying to be too personal.

“Yes and no.” He then bent over from his sitting position, reached into his backpack, and pulled out a cheese stick.  As he unwrapped it and began to chew on its sustenance, it became evident to me that my inability to share with him had manifested itself into his own realization of hunger.

Curious to understand what “Yes and no meant,” my questioning continued, like the seasoning on the meal before you begin to eat.  “Have you served in the military?”

“Yes, in the Navy.”

“I was in the Air Force,” I responded, and he shook his head in confirmation.  From there, it was as if a door had been opened.  Adrian shared with me, in broken terminologies, of what the world around him had become.  His life was dark and lonely.  When I asked what he did in the service, he said he couldn’t tell me.  Acknowledging that I understood, he continued on.  He said that the “Eaters” are revealed to him in his dreams.  When I asked for clarification, he pointed to the food we were just finishing.  It was still unclear what he meant, for his mind seemed to drift in and out of consciousness.  It seemed as if the soul in this man was battling demons that no one could see but him.

Thinking of a way to bring faith into the conversation, I asked a pretty bold question, “Do you read the Bible?”

“Do you,” he replied, almost in self-defense.  Granted, I deserved his response, but it made me take a step back about my own attitude.  How self-righteous of me to imply that he should read a book of my faith when in fact, he may belong to another religion entirely.

“Everyday,” was my answer, but now I was feeling almost guilty for putting him on the spot.  Thankfully, he continued.

“I couldn’t go to church for ten years while I was in the Navy,” he answered.  “Now they won’t even let me into their temples because I smell so bad.”

This was the confirmation that I had suspected of Adrian being homeless.  It was then that I realized he hadn’t asked for anything, no food, no money.  He simply needed rest and time to be himself.  It was as if he had allowed me to join him in his home for that brief moment in time.

“You don’t have to go to a church to worship the Lord.”

At this, he looked at me over his sunglasses with a curious glance, then I continued.

“Jesus spoke of the temple of his body, and that after the great temple was destroyed, the new temple is now our own bodies, in which God can dwell if we let him.”

Before I left him, I asked if he had any prayer requests.  He lifted with an outstretched arm, palm down, to the yard before us, as if he were calming the seas.  I didn’t understand the gesture entirely, except to mean that he wanted to pray for everything and everyone beyond where we existed.  Nevertheless, it touched me in a way that I hadn’t expected.

There, on a sunny afternoon, in what seemed like a wasted break from work, my world met someone of the world of those that fall through the cracks of our society.  Their lives are a cloud of confusion and darkness.  Most cannot find adequate help or refuse it for fear of being institutionalized.  Instead, they live off the support of charities and the kindness of strangers.  Me with my cup of self-righteousness, eating in front of a man that probably only got one meal every other day if he is lucky, was like those Pharisees who touted their own religiosity.  In retrospect, it was very humbling.

From what brother Richard taught us, when we are blessed with gifts of the Spirit, we should learn to use them to help those in the world around us.  If we do, we find that the fruits of the Spirit begin to manifest themselves.  Without using those gifts, those fruits, those trees become barren.  It is up to us to recognize those gifts and not let them lie dormant and waste away.

So, it was on that July day, there on the front porch, two strangers met.  A world in chaos met another seeking to help those out of chaos – each wanting to find a way to the other.

Before I left, I asked Adrian if I could pray for him.  He nodded yes.  When we finished praying, God indeed was listening, for something quite unexpected, at least on my part, happened.

Adrian said, “Thank you,”

As we said our goodbyes, the feeling that God had just done something in spite of myself seemed to echo my departing footsteps.

C.S. Lewis said, “A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world—and might even be more difficult to save.”[1]

As we go through our days, let us not miss an opportunity to reach out to someone in need.  It isn’t always the material or the sustenance of organic goods that are needed, but simply the comfort and compassion of a loving heart are all that is required.

As the time of Thanksgiving approaches, once more, let us reflect on our many blessings.  At the same time, seek those who are less fortunate in this world, those who need comfort, or those who just need someone to talk to.  Share those gifts and give someone the fruits of your spirit.

It will make all the difference in the world.

Thanks be to God.


[1] Mere Christianity. Copyright © 1952, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1980, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. A Year With C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works. Copyright © 2003 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

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A Man and his Bibs

The worn stretched to the point of threadbare T-shirt that he wore underneath his faded, denim bib overalls depicted the man. Victor Phillip Tron was a quiet man but labored as a farmer until the day he died. He never complained about his work, other than that last day, when he told Mildred, his endearing wife of 52 years, that he just didn’t feel well. She would later recall how grandpa seemed to drag about that day and that she told Victor couldn’t eat his supper until after he had fed the dogs. Begrudgingly, he obliged and returned to eat his last supper. He would die that night in his sleep.

Victor Phillip Tron, wearing his next favorite shirt, the winter flannel. Taken in the living room of the farm house, on the edge of New Harmony, Indiana. (note, the work boots, taken when he was preparing to head to the milk barn one chilly winter afternoon.)

To know my grandpa Tron, you would have to understand the schedule he kept. As a dairy farmer, working on K.D. Owens expansive farm, managing the milking barn, Victor kept a 4:00pm, and 4:00am milking pattern. This meant, when we saw him first thing in the morning when we children arose at the first light of dawn, Victor had already put in half a day’s work. Often, we sat while grandma prepared the morning meal at the breakfast table, us still in our night clothes, grandpa in his weary old T-shirt and overalls. The smell of bleach from cleaning up after the milking emanated from grandpa. He would always meticulously lather with Comet at the bathroom sink, from his hands up to his elbows. It was the same cleaning agent he would use at the barn where he processed the milk twice a day. The cleanser had soaked into his skin so that his calm demeanor was always acquainted in my mind with Comet. To this day, I cannot open a can of the cleaner without my mind immediately drifting back to that dairy barn and grandpa so many years ago.

The daily schedule, 365 days a year, twice a day, eventually would wear on him. By the time I had come around, grandpa was nearing his late sixties. He had a slight stroke at one point near the end so that his speech was hindered. A voice barely above a whisper, he would sit on the front porch after his afternoon nap in the living room and tell jokes. They still didn’t always seem funny when we could understand him, but it didn’t phase him one bit. He would carry on some tale, and when he got to the punch line, unbeknownst to the rest of us grandkids, he would rear back and slap his leg laughing hysterically while we grinned, trying to enjoy whatever grandpa was reveling in at the time. If nothing else, his jovial aspect of sharing was enough to make you grin ear to ear. But these moments were few and far between, for mostly grandpa Tron sat and listened, smiling or nodding. For this reason, those few times that we saw him joking were the precious jewels in our collective memory.

Doyle Hines (maternal grandfather) and grandson, Timothy W. Tron, 1963, New Harmony, Indiana – Doyle wearing the T-shirt and Overalls mentioned in this story.

When I was a small child, Victor would wear his overalls to church on Saturday morning. Grandpa and Grandma were Seventh Day Adventists and strictly adhered to the Sabbath, starting at sundown on Friday evening to dusk on Saturday. Later in my life, not many years before he passed, someone bought him a light brown suit which he traded in, at the bequest of my grandmother, to be sure, for his comfortable bibs. That was the same suit he would be buried in on December 2nd, 1977. That was the same year we lost my cousin Michael Kaiser to an accident. Michael was electrocuted to death when he, my other cousin David Paul, and his father, my Uncle David, were putting up a new T.V. antenna at my Uncle David’s house. Unfortunately, the antennae hit the power line before the transformer. Being the tallest of any family member, Michael took the lethal portion of the shock. His heart continued to beat all the way to the hospital in Evansville, pumping blood out the ends of his fingers and toes, which had burst because of the impact of the bolt of electricity. There was nothing they could do to stop it.

Grandpa was there to see Michael laid to rest, next to the spot where he and grandma had planned to be the first in Maple Hill Cemetery on the edge of New Harmony – “it wasn’t supposed to be this way,” he would whisper.

Michael was only 21.

Michael and my mother (Rita Hines Tron Wiscaver) in the kitchen of the old farm house on the edge of New Harmony, Indiana.

Michael’s death impacted all of us. Grandpa didn’t talk much after the passing of Michael. We all felt a sense of guilt, none more than Uncle David. But nobody blamed David, or his son, David Paul. But self-imposed blame can be like a cancer. Their lives would be touched with struggles that one has to wonder if they weren’t still carrying that burden all those many years since.

But, there were always fond memories of Grandpa. Like when he taught us how to milk the cows by hand. He would easily squeeze out a gentle handful of rich, creamy froth into the stainless-steel bucket. Occasionally, the odd barn cat sitting behind the cow would catch an unexpected mouthful and, satisfied, walk away, wiping their chin with tongue and paw. Grandpa would chuckle at the sight, and we kids would nearly roll with laughter.

Victor taught us that the cream that settled at the top of the glass jar of milk in the fridge was best when shaken before pouring into our drinking glasses. The Ovaltine was resting at the bottom, waiting to join the frothing liquid to make a treat nearly indescribable in earthly terms.

He would walk with us out into the lane and teach us to call his cattle – his girls, he would say. Grandma swore that he named after all of his old girlfriends. “Suuuuuuuuk-cow,” he would holler with a high tenor shout. His voice would echo off of Sled Hill and back, answered shortly by distant lowing. His girls never missed a beat to come to the milk barn. We would wait for them to wander down the long, tree-lined lane, and one by one, we would follow the parade, in tow behind grandpa. Each cow knew her stall and would go up to the concrete trough to wait for Victor to harness them into place. He would then pour a scoop full of the sweetest smelling feed imaginable in front of their muzzles, which they would instantly begin nuzzling their noses into the rich grain.

Tim at Denton Farm Park, May 2021 – seriously trying to be serious.

Victor was a man of few words, but he loved to whistle. We all knew when he had found the mother-lode of berry patches, though. Back in the day, we would all pile into the back of the pickup truck and head for the fields to pick blackberries. When Victor’s whistling stopped, we knew he had found more blackberries than he could gather. The trick was to find where he was hiding.

But the most cherished memory would be catching him and grandma sitting at the kitchen table before breakfast. There they would read the Bible together, sharing in God’s word, starting their day together in the Lord. It wasn’t something they advertised. It was who they were – people of God.

Not many days go by that I don’t think of those days more and more. Recently one of the students on campus asked me if I could be 20-something again, would I? Of course, my answer was no, thinking that they were attempting to portray me as someone at college, doing all the college things. But truthfully, if I could go back in time, it would be way before then, to those distant days of my youth when all my grandpas and grandmas were still alive. There, I would ask so many more questions. There, I would sit and record as much as was humanly possible for my age. There, I would cherish once more those words of wisdom and wit. There once more, I would ask them to lead me in the ways of the Lord evermore.

But to know all of this is to know that someday soon, I will be able to do just that, but for all of eternity.

And once more, that soul in the worn T-shirt and those bibs will be like an old friend greeting me home.

Thanks be to God.

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A Morning of Rejuvenation

The long-awaited time of recompense has begun.

In life, there are seasons.

One must traverse through these one at a time.

Old Blue at the Collettsville General Store

Some may feel like they have entered into the valley of the shadow of death. Others may feel as if they have reached the summit of life’s journey. Through each day, we are seeking a means to an end. For some, their grasp reaches no further than what is just before them. Many people today are self-absorbed in the many distractions of this world so much so, that they think no more about the consequences of their actions than that of a passing of a swift cloud overhead. It is because of the choices of the first humans, Adam and Eve,  that we live in a fallen world – thus, the reason for death and destruction. What we choose today can alter the course of our life for not just this lifetime, but for eternity.

Think about that for a moment!

My own journey has just passed through some very turbulent waters. While they are nothing compared to many people I know, they were at least some of the more challenging in recent years. To that end, my extended passions, art, music, and writing had to take a back seat. It was as if part of me had to be cut off for the whole of me to be fully engaged in receiving, and absorbing the information necessary to make it to the next stage of the journey. In some ways, it was as if the fruits of the spirit were slowly dying on the vine, withering away due to neglect. It was not something that I wanted, but it was the only way to make it through the valley in which I had traversed. Did I think about my choice as to why this was happening? Oh yes, frequently and often. Did it give me solace in knowing that my trials were making the path more difficult? Yes, for when we often are serving God, there are certainly times of trials and struggles, to which the Apostle Paul attested, again and again.

So, it was this morning, as I walked to church that once more, my consciousness was as clear as the air was cold. The trail I was on ran beside the John’s River. The frigid waters were a gray, forbidding froth as the mountain shed the previous night’s rain. The forest is now like a living graveyard, bones of the tree trunks barren and gray offering little comfort in their winter gloom. In the bountiful days of summer, their foliage provides a canopy of shelter from the sun. Yet, as my footsteps carried me forward, the sunlight was my welcome companion. My mind was free to recite scriptures, something else that had been derelict in my daily life, much to my chagrin. But today, as I walked, the words of the Lord flowed from my lips, like the waters cascading over the rocks in the torrent below.

It felt as if my blood was flowing once more.

Even before my journey had made it to my mid-way stopping point, the Collettsville General Store, there was the deep-throated howl of the hunting dog. “Odd,” I thought to myself, “Did I just hear a hound dog wailing this early in the morning?” Sure enough, as my footsteps rounded the bend in the road and the parking lot of the store came into view, there standing near the picnic table was the familiar Blue Tick Hound. We’d met before, and he seemed comfortable with my presence. So much so before, that when we sat together on the porch of the store, he sat next to me, as if we were old friends.

Today was no different, as he seemed to recognize me as much as I did him. I shuffled on over to the weathered picnic table and unloaded my pack and walking staff. Old Blue came over and greeted me, and I him. As I sat down, he continued to check out each car that pulled into the lot, either seeking his owner or a morsel of food. Either way, he kept coming back to me and eventually leaned over my shoulder as if to say, “Hey, how about some attention fella.” Reluctantly, for fear of coming away smelling like an old hound dog, I began patting the back of his head. to which he seemed to smile. He rather enjoyed it all the more, so much so, that it invoked his instinctual voice of glee to erupt into a punctual, “Baaaaroooooooof,” in my ear. It was the unmistakable howl of the bear-dog that I had heard earlier, and it had definitely been from my newfound friend, Old Blue.

It is in these simple moments of respite that one feels life’s vessel beginning to refill. As we sat there, me pouring a cup of coffee to go along with my devotional, and old Blue keeping watch, the morning sun continued to warm us, both inside and out. There are times when man’s best friend, even if he’s not your own, can be one of the best companions; and so it was today.

The traffic to Wilson’s Creek had almost entirely diminished so that the area of repose beside the general store was somewhat peaceful this Sunday morning. Old Blue and I chatted some more before he decided to go check out the visitors at the Ruritan’s Building across the road. I took the opportunity to continue likewise on my journey. But before I left, I thanked God for affording me the time to sit and be rejuvenated from one of his creatures.

Sometimes, it is the simpler things in life that make all the difference.

Thanks be to God.

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You are More Than a Vessel

by Timothy W. Tron, Dec. 2020

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.”[1]

Across the valley, the distant mountain tops lay shrouded in a soft dusting of white that appears to be cast in gold as the waking dawn cast its rays upon them. Behind them, the darkness trails the night’s passing; with it, the fitful dreams of a mind that searches but cannot find peace. Like those distant peaks, we know they are not really made of gold, and likewise, those dreams of Apocalyptic demise are just as surreal. Yet, around us each day, there seems to be an ever-growing season of discontentment. As voices rise against the mounting darkness, they are silenced before they can become heard. Those who listen can hear those echoes from thronged masses who for so long have relied upon others to stand up for them – in some ways, it seems that soon, there will be none left to stand.

Grandfather Mountain at Sunrise, Timothy W. Tron, Dec. 2020

Each of us was put here on earth for a purpose. While many see their lives as a simple matter of birth, life, and death, there is a greater calling when one awakens to God’s plan for them. As Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, he assured them that God had provided them something special, something greater than themselves – the light that shines within. As the Apostle Paul put it, “The light of knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” When we realize that we are nothing more than a vessel in which our soul inhabits, like a house that one calls home, we soon understand the scriptures that speak of mortality and decay. While these words are not meant to demean or cause despair, but rather, they are intended to make us aware of the impetus to use that with which we have been endowed to serve Him to the fullest. As this earthly body ages and begins to deteriorate, if we are faithful to God’s plan, we are likewise slowly becoming more Christlike. This metamorphosis is what is known as Sanctification.

No matter the century, no matter the evil that stalks our daily lives, we can take comfort in knowing that God is with us. You ask, “How is this possible?” The answer is in the verse, “that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” While we have, as Paul put it, “earthen vessels,” it is not our exterior that gives us strength, but rather, that which is within. Let us not be confused for one second and allow ourselves to imagine that we can contain God within our own being.

That is entirely absurd.

However, it is Him working through us, in spite of ourselves, that makes this statement possible. We are like a fiber optic cable, the glass thread, and God is the light that travels down that hair-thin bead of glass. We could no more contain God’s infinite power than our own solar system’s sun, which easily dwarfs anything of power we can begin to imagine – yet, God is infinitely greater even than our own star, the sun. So it is that as we find God working through us, we begin to know that regardless of what goes on in the world around us, we can take comfort in knowing that regardless of what happens in the next few weeks or months, we are only passing through.

Our preparations, our focus should not be on this world, but the next. As we turn our hope toward the life to come, we can then lay aside the trivial torments of this life. Meanwhile, we can become the light to those around us, and in so doing, lead them to Jesus Christ – the Savior of the World. For there is no greater purpose for every believer than to use all that you have been given to find a way to reach those around you lost in that sea of darkness. Like the tide that goes out before the dawn’s early light, they recede from help before we can reach them, feeling as if their demise will come with the end of this society’s failure. They have tied themselves to all that the world has expected of them, and in so doing, have no other hope than what the media and the world allow them to hear. Their thoughts are infected daily with scenes and stories meant to pull them through one sensational event to the next – each perpetrated only to keep them in bondage to what they are told. A vicious cycle of fear, excitement, and sin creates a sea of unending doom to the viewer. Few even realize how they have been led astray – yes, they have been played.

Through God’s grace, those who have found salvation must be mindful of this universal ongoing deceit when approaching friends and family that have no clue as to what they have been led to believe. Not only are they like the drowning victim, quick to pull under the one who seeks to rescue them, but they are also quick to discredit or dismiss your favor as merely a religious fervor. When we step into those dark waters to begin our life-saving, we must remember it will not be easy. Paul told us that we would experience untold obstacles, but with each one, we should be mindful of how we overcome them, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;” And as the Apostle Paul put it, all the while being mindful of our own mortal being. Being conscious that while our earthly vessels are attempting to thwart the heinous throngs of the dark forces of this world, God’s limitless power will provide for us in our time of need.

Time is of the essence. For many, they feel the end is near. We cannot say when Christ will return, but when we are called to the Judgement seat on that final day, it will be too late for many.

We must seek them out.

Find them in those dark places.

Find them in the deep water.

Call them, write to them, but don’t hesitate – the time is short.

We have been called for a time such as this.

Thanks be to God.


[1] 2 Corinthians 4:6-11 KJV

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This Little Light of Mine

by Timothy W. Tron, Dec. 2020

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16

Tonight, as I pray for all those people in my life, both within reach, and those distant, it is as if there is a never-ending list. Yet, as countless as the stars are in the sky, the Lord knows each of them by name. For each soul that finds its way onto my finite list, there are so many more that our Savior knows, and his grace emanates forth like one star shining onto the next until his list to us appears infinite.  And in this manner, we are found like the newborn foal in the dewy morning grass, helpless, ambling into an unknown future. Our ship’s sails may be full, but the rudder, the part with which we steer, seems inadequate for the vessel for which we have been endowed. The greater the berth, the more we are expected to manage – yet, even in the best of times, we can be overwhelmed with the blessings upon which we have been bestowed. The cargo for which we carry is that of being someone to whom others can turn, the light which shineth forth as does the natural world, also attracts that of the spiritual. Those with darkened hearts, those with diminished souls cling to us like a life support. We become the flame to the moth, so to speak. We know deep inside this shell of humanity that we are not worthy, and if we are even more abound in our faith, we know that it is He that worketh through us whom they seek.

Night Sky – by Timothy W. Tron, 2020

On a dark night, over 2,000 years ago, the stars above played an integral part of our Messiah’s birth. As part of our Men’s Connection Bible study, this morning we watched the very well written and presented movie, “The Star of Bethlehem.”[1] As we marveled at the details with which the show’s presenter depicted his case, in the back of my mind, there was a little voice wondering about all the other brilliance and imagery to which he did not mention. While science and mathematics can depict with uncanny accuracy the actual account of how the star of Bethlehem came to be, there is another side of the story where man’s intuition can never reach – that of the un-natural, the spiritual, and the Godly. For as Jesus told the Pharisees, “How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only.[2] There in that night sky, not only was the star of Bethlehem showing the way, but there was another phenomenon taking place. As the shepherds stood with their flocks, there was, as they put it, a multitude of angels that illuminated the sky beyond their ability to describe in human terms. “And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.”[3] As those men in the field would later testify to Luke, not alone, but several eyewitnesses would attest, a luminescence far beyond that of what said star was already providing shone about them. It was so brilliant that it literally wrought their hearts with fear and trembling. We can see this again throughout scripture when man finds himself in the presence of an Almighty being, be it an Angel of the Lord or God himself.  But Luke goes on to reveal how much more these shepherds were afforded that precious night. As if heaven had taken pause and the entirety of heaven ascended to earth to witness the birth of God in the flesh, the multitude of angels filled the sky. “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven,[4] As those lowly shepherds stook quaking in amidst their flocks, in awe of the presence of something no one before, nor anyone since had ever witnessed, they were given the message of “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”

If you lived the rest of your life after such an event, that moment, that place in time and those words would surely never leave you. Had those ancient Jews been more mindful of the scriptures and voices of the prophets, they too would have been standing alongside those men in the fields. But alas, as God would intend it to be, their hearts would be hardened, and the image of the Almighty in the form of a helpless child, not the conquering King they had imagined would be the order for all time.

While we often find comfort in science and numerical evidence when it can back up those words that are encased within the covers of the book with the inscription, “Bible,” we must be reminded that this is only a minutia of detail to which we are afforded. The natural order and what man can fully understand are, but an infinitesimal part of all that God can do and provide. When we seek out those stories of old and find the infinite being allowing himself to become finite, the flesh, we for a moment can comprehend what he speaks. But as those Jews of old discovered, there was much more to that earthly mission than what humankind had anticipated.

There amongst those beautiful deep space nebulae from which the Hubble Space Telescope can provide to our vast array of scientific academia, we can find tiny lights that appear to be stars. They are, in fact, billions of other galaxies with billions more stars within them. There seems to be no end to what God’s creation can and will reveal. When we take the time to study the word to which we were given, the Comforter as Jesus told his disciples, we can find traces, vague footprints of angelic beings for which there is no understanding, no mathematical equation that can explain within the scope of human interpretation. It is then, when we realize the limits of our own being that someday our soul may inhabit a place we cannot begin to imagine, that we start to fathom the endless capacity of God. It is then that we understand how faith really works.

He must increase that we may decrease. And when we finally come to understand this, we will then begin to open our eyes to a new realization – we are nothing without Him.

Give thanks for all that you have, my friend, and pray for those whom you know and for those who don’t. From our little lights, we emanate out to others until we eventually become a greater light that makes all the difference in this world. So that someday, we too shall be one with the light of the world.

For we were once darkness, but now we are light, live as children of the light.”[5]

Thanks be to God.


[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OaVLA27V0s, ITN Movies, 2007, From Producer Stephen   McEveety (The Passion of the Christ)

[2] John 5:44 KJV

[3] Luke 2:9 KJV

[4] Luke 2:13-15 KJV

[5] Eph. 5:8 KJV

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Don’t Live to Regret It

by Timothy W. Tron, Dec. 2020

An old cliché came to me this morning through the words of a song, “You’ll live to regret it…”

Many will look back on 2020 and realize it was more than the year of unprecedented events, but sadly for many, will become a year of regret. Then there is the introspective thought, “How many things have we passed through in this life to only live long enough to regret them?”

Meriam-Webster defines regret as the following: re·​gret | \ ri-ˈgret  \ 1a: to mourn the loss or death of, b: to miss very much,  sorrow aroused by circumstances beyond one’s control or power to repair, an expression of distressing emotion (such as sorrow).[1]

The corner of studio’s past, when God was not the center of my life. – Chatham County Farm circa. 1999

The longer I ponder on this line, the more corollary aspects of it come into play. For it can mean more than not having appreciated someone or something; can it not? Life is a never-ending journey of choices, and with them, we often face missing an opportunity, albeit good or bad. Like a fork in the road, there is always more than one path that we may take. As the saying goes, the one less traveled is often the one that will enrich our soul all the more. I once had a phrase back in my youth when my ambitions were to pursue the lusts of the flesh, that I was the “Unluckiest, lucky man alive.” In other words, God was watching over me even when I wasn’t seeking him. As much as I tried to run from him, I soon found out there was no place to hide. My life was as the psalmist wrote, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”[2]

The studio that God built – no regrets.
Thanks be to God.

Time and time again, when my path should have led to utter destruction, there was another miraculous occurrence that delivered me safely out of the jaws of the lion. In those many narrow escapes of a poor choice, it was as if I could feel the prayers of my family’s spiritual leaders blanketing me when I was woefully unworthy.  They would pray that those early teachings they had sown would someday blossom. Thankfully, those seeds of faith my elders had planted in me took root, and once they began to germinate, God’s plan for me began to come to fruition. But it would take many years and many knocks upon my proverbial door before my hard head would allow him in.

As Christians, is not our pathway more judicious than those who wander like ships tossed upon the sea? “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”[3] While we might ponder those many missed opportunities, we should not live in regret. For there was and always is a purpose in the next step we take. While it may seem as if a choice were a mistake when the longer journey reveals the road traveled, when we look back over the dawn of time, we can almost, if not always, see how that passage through which we endured was one in which there could not have been a more perfect plan provided. These are the moments, when we allow them, that magnify the essence of God. “And he shall bring forth they righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.[4]

Take, for instance, just a couple of nights ago, a decision to remain in Boone and run a couple of errands before heading down the mountain cost me in time but could have cost me much more.

Why do I say this? Allow me to explain.

My own “plan,” if you will, was to leave work a little early and run while the snow was still falling. Besides the novelty of running in the snow, there was the hope that I would be able to capture images for future use in devotional postings to social media. The trails that crisscross the Moses Cone Memorial park offer a never-ending vista of God’s creation. With each changing season, so do those familiar spots where the camera’s eye catches one’s attention.

Moses Cone Manor Trail, Dec. 2020

The run was challenging in that the bitterly cold wind bit into my exposed flesh. But as is most often the case, as I continued quoting scriptures, the pain of the outer body diminished until the point it was only a mild nuisance. Thankfully, there were several good scenes from which to choose. The falling snow’s pace was merely a flurry at best by the end of the run, so it didn’t seem unwise to go ahead and stop by a local store to pick up another Christmas gift. While I was in the spirit of getting things done, I also decided to go ahead and run to Lowe’s for a couple of things on my list. While in the store, hunger began to gnaw at my insides. One who has trained long enough or worked in a physical capacity for an extended time knows the difference between a little hunger pang and one of greater magnitude, for that latter one was one that hit me while picking up those supplies. Seeing that there was a greater need than a want, I decided to go ahead and grab an early supper as well. The hot soup and sandwich hit the spot as I sat in the parking lot of Chik-Fil-A and dined alone. Outside the car, the flurries continued as the last vestiges of light faded from the sky. Street lights seemed hazy in the falling snow, but there was nothing at this point that created any sense of dread. The thermometer on the car’s display read 23 degrees.

Driving out of Boone and eventually into Blowing Rock, there was still nothing to indicate that this was nothing more than a beautiful end to a snowy day on the mountain. Christmas lights were already hung in several stores and homes. Their ambiance warming the soul within as my car drove past. Then, as the curve past the last light in Blowing Rock began to fall behind me, there ahead were the seemingly endless line of red tail-lights. An unending line of cars wrapped around the curve ahead and far below the mountain.

There would be no usual drive home that night.

Later, I would find out that a tractor-trailer had jack-knifed one of the icy curves. With it, several cars were also wrecked and maligned across the roadway. So, for the remainder of the evening, for over an hour or so, there I sat.

Looking back, my first thoughts were of regret for having stopped and run those errands. As the evening wore on, sitting there in my little car, thoughts of thanks began to percolate into my head. Earlier that morning, I had stopped for gas; the car was on full. The heater was working well, even though outside it was a frigid 23 degrees; I was warm and dry. My body had forced me to eat supper early, so I was fed. The longer I sat, the more I realized how lucky it was that my drive home was paused in the manner it was, for my fate could have been much different; either crashed or worse, injured – to the point of death.

The night following, Pastor Greer led us through the study of Romans 10 and, in so doing, mentioned the Roman Road to salvation. The term is often used to describe the scriptures in the book of Romans, which are often used to lead someone to Christ. Along this virtual road, one can find eternal salvation if they so choose to make the drive. As some choices in life afford one the ability to know the result ahead of time, and so it is when one takes this route – the Roman road. Eternal life, one in which you would inevitably be able to live long enough to see if there were any regrets, would ironically allow you also to know that there couldn’t have genuinely been any regrets, for the path you took was the one in which God would have planned.

 However, if we live being regretful, is this not as bad or worse than not forgiving?

Worse yet, think of what the utmost regret might be? If you think of life in terms of eternity, then you are on the right track. In this vein of thought, one would have to say that the utmost remorse would undoubtedly be dying without choosing the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. This choice would culminate after one’s physical life on earth has ended only to only wake up in hell, realizing that, and eternally regretting not having believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

There is no going back.

For in the gospel of Luke, the account of the rich man that died and was suddenly thrust into the midst of hell paints a vivid picture of someone who realized too late that he had made the wrong choices. “There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented…Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”[5]

While it may not be evident to some, the Lazarus in this story is not the same one that Jesus raised from the dead. Yet, the name “Lazarus” is appropriately used in this passage, for in the Hebrew tongue, it translates to, “God has helped.” As the beggar Lazarus suffered his earthly life, God knew his heart. Those Pharisees to whom Jesus spoke had hearts hardened like the rich man. They knew the writings of Moses, they knew the law, and they knew the prophets’ teachings, yet they could not be persuaded. And the last sentence, as in typical Godly-poetic-justice, Jesus says, “though one rose from the dead.” Here he analogizes the Lazarus I this story with the one to whom he raised from the dead. Though the beggar Lazarus had died, he was alive in eternity, as though he had risen from the dead.

Lazarus had no regrets, for his reward was everlasting life, unlike the rich man who now felt the full weight of his errors. Wanting to prevent his own family from the same fate, he begged for Abraham to send Lazarus, for him to return from the dead and go to his house to warn his brothers not to fall to the same fate. Like him, Abraham responded that they already knew the answers, but they too were hardened to the truth.

Friend, be not so consumed with your own knowledge that you miss the truth of this story. As Jesus told the Pharisees, “Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye find eternal life. For they are they which speak of me.” In other words, the answer is in Christ. Seek him, and you will find eternal life.

Let the only regrets in your life be those of the past; whereby, you didn’t spend enough time with loved ones, or you didn’t appreciate those who prayed over you, or that you didn’t stop and pause long enough along the journey to appreciate all that God has done for you. Yes, let those regrets be of the past. Going forward, willingly receive Christ in your life and leave all your future regrets behind.

You only have one earthly life to live. Make it count.

Thanks be to God.


[1] Meriam-Webster Dictionary, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/regret

[2] Psalm 139:7-10 KJV

[3] Psalm 37:5 KJV

[4] Psalm 37:6-7 KJV

[5][5] Luke 16:19-31 KJV

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A Gathering to Remember

by Timothy W. Tron, Nov. 2020

As the coming holidays approach, Thanksgiving and Christmas, there seems to be a sense of melancholy that has begun to permeate through the din of the incessant roar of this tumult our society has become. In my mind, there is a desire to reach back in my memories and dwell upon a time when life was simpler when the so-called advances in technology had yet to be developed. Because of the threat of lockdowns restricting these beloved reunions, those distant memories have become even more cherished. One such date that comes to mind coincides with a memory that our family holds dear to their heart.

It was the late 1960’s. Back then, we survived without non-stop news coverage, without updates from our social media accounts, and without the fear of dying from a virus, let alone anything else that existed at the time. It’s not to say there wasn’t death nor dying, for there had yet to be the advances we have today in the fields of heart disease and cancer. Both of these maladies took many lives before their time, and still do today, but not nearly as severely as in those days. No, we feared not because we had a faith that was the bedrock of our existence.

That faith was taught to us through our elders, passed down from one generation to the next – a thread of belief that was built upon an unending truth – Christ is indeed the Savior of the world. So, it is in this vein that once more my heart reaches for a well-worn story that is based on an actual event whose legacy has lasted for many years in our family. It is like the cup of an instant drink, void of the liquid to make it real – once the hot water is added, the story being recalled becomes the sustenance that warms our being. Like that beverage, the Spirit enters into our soul, and we are warmed from within to that which is without. Herein lies the beauty.

Looking back through the shadowy fog of time, those distant memories are like the passing clouds overhead. They are here but for a moment, and then cross over the mountaintops before we realize they are gone. As we near the season of holidays and family gatherings, it seems that those ancient days of yesteryear are ever more treasured. Like the value of a tattered cloth that once was held in the dying grasp of a loved one, its price to most would be nothing, but to those who knew its connection to the soul of the other – it becomes a priceless object.

That year when the snow fell around Christmas would become one such moment in time for me.

The classic event which unfolded is still known to this day, by all that attended, as the Sled Hill Christmas. Of all my childhood holiday experiences, it will forever be the most memorable in my mind. To read the entirety of the original story, you can find it online at https://timothywtron.dreamhosters.com/sled-hill-life-more-abundantly/ But this article looks at that event from a different perspective; one of how the warmth of a loving family and faith carried us through what may have been considered just another dark winter.

Like a revival, a truly epic event can only unfold when it is least expected. So it was that overcast December day so many decades ago. Several of us grandkids were staying at Grandpa and Grandma Tron’s house, there on the outskirts of New Harmony, Indiana. The town itself was in the season of slumber. Farming was still the driving industry, and the fields were now silent in their winter sleep. The hay had all been stored in the barns and the silos were filled to capacity with grains and silage to last until the next growing season began.  A feeling of hibernation overtook one’s soul, making those opportunities to warm by the woodstove or to huddle close around a cup of hot chocolate all the more permanent upon the creature within. Gathering with others was the only natural thing to do in a time such as this – it was who we were, it was what we were. In those precious slices of time, we fellowshipped without knowing that’s what it was called. Visiting with others when the work in the fields slowed was just as natural as splitting your firewood by hand – we all did it.

Tron House, New Harmony, Indiana.

When those first few snowflakes began falling the night before what would become the day to remember, we went to bed not expecting anything more than just a typical Midwest December dusting. When we awoke the next morning to the sounds of someone rattling around downstairs in the kitchen, it was as if Christmas had come early. Jumping from underneath the multiple layers of quilts, which weighed nearly as much as another cousin, we raced down the icy narrow stairs from the unheated upstairs bedrooms down to the kitchen where the pot-belly woodstove in Grandma’s kitchen was already red hot. We shivered and shook the remnants of chill from our bones, as our bare feet fought to find the warmth emanating from the scant linoleum floor by the stove. Excitedly, we peeked through the threadbare kitchen curtains that hung over the sink. The window faced grandma’s kitchen garden. Outside, the world was no longer the muddled gray of winter, but instead, was a brilliant whiteness, even in the pre-dawn, early morning hours.

About the time we had settled down around the table, after getting out of our bedclothes, Grandpa came in from the morning milking. We could hear the creaky old porch door slam behind him as he walked down the long back porch, from the barn end, up to the door of the kitchen, where he paused and took off his boots. The confines of that narrow passage clothed in clear plastic, a feeble attempt to thwart the cold winds of winter. The repurposed material was clouded with age, giving off a soft sheer grayness within the tomb of the veranda’s confines. The oft sound of rippling plastic slapping the screen made thoughts of warm summer nights, fresh tomatoes, and fireflies come to mind. Needless to say, those were but a distant rumor as the snow continued to fall.

With all eyes upon his entry, the vacuum of anticipation cut the air, like the cold wind that followed him inside. Snowflakes fell off his outer coat confirming what we already knew. Before he had time to take note of his unexpected audience, the questions began to roll off our lips.

“How deep is it grandpa?”

“Does it look like more’s coming?

“Where are the sleds?”

“Were the cows cold?”

He turned and smiled, looking toward grandma. Victor Tron never was a man of many words, So, when he replied with, “It looks like it’s gonna be good,” rest assured, that was all we needed to know. Grandma already had his breakfast ready, along with ours, and we sat down for an unusually early start of our day. We all instantly grew silent when grandpa bowed his head and reached his hand over to grandma. She grabbed his outstretched weathered hand with hers and we all joined hands and bowed our heads as grandpa said the blessing for the breakfast meal. In my mind, I can still hear that strained voice, barely above a whisper, thank God for what grandpa said was an abundance of blessings. Before us was a meager meal by worldly standards, but to us, it was Heaven sent. For we knew, even as children that every bit of it was from those two pair of withered hands that grasped one another in a love that never ended, even upon their death.

Victor Tron Sr.

 Grandpa’s first milking was at 3:00 AM and he usually finished up around 5:00 AM. His second milking was at 3:00 PM, every day of his life. He never took a vacation that I could remember. Usually exhausted from rising early, he would routinely drift off to sleep no matter where he sat, so finding time to talk with him was rare. He milked the cows until that night he died peacefully in his sleep, never to milk again. What we didn’t know as children, was how precious those few moments were with him when we were able to visit, especially that snowy morning on a cold December day so many years ago.

As soon as we were able to clear the table and bundle up, we were headed out the door. Eventually, someone asked if we could check out sled hill. An okay was given and like a herd of young calves heading for new pasture, we bolted out the back gate. Past the woodpile where grandpa’s ax and splitting log were shrouded in snow we raced. Heading for the opening to the lane, we quickly found ourselves wading through the knee-deep snow toward the iconic destination; Sled Hill. Past the milking barn, the bullpen, and Ms. Wolf’s house we trudged. Each one of these structures held a plethora of memories and stories that one could sit for hours and share. Like a life of living, their collections, like the holdings of stockpiled hay for the winter, waiting for one to return and use for the giving.

The bushes along the Labyrinth were blanketed in a sweet frosting of white. Our panted breaths billowed before us and were quickly whisked away in the falling snow.  In our rush to find out how well the sledding was going to be, we didn’t realize how hard the snow was continuing to fall. Nor did we realize how deep the snow had already gotten since sunrise. In the overcast grayness of the day, it all seemed like a dream, even when it was live.

Labyrinth, New Harmony, Indiana

As the story, “Sled Hill: Life More Abundantly,” conveys, the rest of the day was a multitude of adventures and excitement. With each passing moment, the tempo of the day’s delight reached a fevered pitch. The enthusiasm of the children soon bubbled over into those of the adults, igniting in them the feelings of youth. Gone were the aches and pains of age. The adrenaline of living purged those boundaries of limitations that had kept them hostage. Soon, parents, Aunts, and Uncles were joining in the merriment of sliding down the hill so aptly named.

As the sky began to darken as night approached, the thrill of the day and the feeling of being one with something greater than ourselves overwhelmed us. Fearing that it would end in darkness, the men created torches on the fly from used old tin cans (which we also used as drinking vessels), nailing them to poles and placing them along the sled run, all the way to the top of the hill. What started out as child’s play quickly turned into a major production. In essence, a cow pasture had turned into our own ski-slope far removed from any mountaintop.

When the last vestiges of daylight gave way to darkness, there along the sled run was a perfect row of home-made flaming lights shedding an ambient glow of warmth. Off to the side, a pile of wood was set afire and a massive bonfire became the gathering spot between runs down the hill. There we regained strength to carry on from food and drink the family had brought in at a moment’s notice. There, the entire family that was able to make it collected. The sentinel image that remains with me to this day was seeing both grandpa and grandma’s faces glowing in the reflection of the firelight. To know that grandpa had a milking coming at 03:00 AM, and yet, he was here foregoing precious sleep, standing alongside us kids around the bonfire said something more that than words could fathom. Even then, the whispers of the children could be heard, “Look, even grandpa and grandma are here.” The statement was a confirmation of the significance of that moment in time, one that made a profound statement on all that were present.

That night, once our bodies had been worn to a frazzle. There was barely enough strength to make it back to the house. As we pulled off our wet, nearly frozen clothing and briefly warmed by the fire, a numbness of exhaustion began to overtake us. The enormous featherbed never looked so welcoming. Shortly thereafter, after our bedtime prayers were said, there was little more than the sweet, “Goodnight children,” from grandma as she tucked us under the pile of quilts before we fell asleep.

For once in a lifetime, there was no sweeter sleep.

As the snow continued to fall outside that night, there was a warmth within that was more than physical – a love that transcends all understanding. There was something created that day that would last forever in the hearts of those who had been privileged to experience it. It became an inexplicable thread of life that would weave its way into our souls which would become part of who we were. The similarity of a feeling such as this can only compare to that of Christ’s disciples.

Like those followers of Jesus who had walked and talked with Christ after his resurrection, they too had a story to share. One that was so inexplicable, so earth-shattering that they would live the rest of their lives pursuing the mission to share it with all that would hear, even unto the point of death. It was who they were.

As we go forward in this holiday season, let us come together as a family, and may the hope of Christ, and Christmas be with you, until the end of time. May it someday become who you are as well.

Thanks be to God.

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A Song of Old – The Return to the Denton Bluegrass Festival 2020

by Timothy W. Tron

While the past few days have been a blur, there were many poignant moments upon which to reflect. Gazing out across the fervent green pastures before the light of dawn, the cattle were making their way across the begotten landscape. It felt almost as if I was back on the farm in Chatham, there with my cattle grazing before me. As I sipped my campfire percolated coffee, there was a peace of mind that passeth all understanding. Perhaps it’s only in the blood of someone raised in the country, or perhaps, it’s just knowing pleasures of a simpler life. While this was not my land, nor my farm, it was still a homecoming in many ways. This was my first real trip back not only to a place, not only to an event but more so to a collection of souls that had been part of my life before I crossed over that great river. When that journey began, there was a song that spoke to me when the challenges seemed to be uphill, no matter where I turned. The tune was called, “Wide River to Cross,” performed by the Bluegrass group Balsam Range who hails from Canton, NC. The song goes like this,

photo by Marty Tew

“There’s a sorrow in the wind
Blowing down the road I’ve been
I can hear it cry while shadows steal the sun
But I cannot look back now
I’ve come too far to turn around
And there’s still a race ahead that I must run

I’m only halfway home
I’ve gotta journey on
To where I’ll find the things I have lost
I’ve come a long, long road
Still I’ve got miles to go
I’ve got a wide, wide river to cross”

Once there was a life that was not well lived. The vessel was hollow, but none could tell from the outside. It wasn’t until that day when the decision was made, to cross that great divide – to serve God in all that I do – that life began to change. While we, my family and I, eventually made it across that great divide, the journey never ends until the day we are laid into that final resting place. In essence, we are only halfway home. While that road we have traveled may seem long, we’ve still many miles to go. Yet, once you make that leap of faith, you are reminded that you’ve come too far to turn back. Each day becomes another opportunity to serve Him in all that you do. There is not a day that the scripture from Colossians does not come to mind, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.[1]

When we take that leap of faith, there is no turning back. Yet, those who have been left behind seldom know the reason, but only that someone has left the presence of their life, be it good or bad. Meanwhile, life goes on. The clock ticks, the wrinkles grow like furrows in the cornrow as the setting sun casts its shadows. One by one, the soldier’s fall – Randy Shumaker, Dave Murph, and so many more. Yet, these two were special, especially on this return trip to the Denton Bluegrass Festival. God had placed them in my life for a reason. We had met through our shared experiences of camping at Denton. Randy’s fellow band members and their families, along with other campers on that hill by the cow pasture, became my extended family. He was one of the founding members of the Second Chance Bluegrass Band, was always there, first thing in the morning regardless of how bad his cancer had progressed, and would say to me, “Great is the day the Lord hath made.” The first time he said it to me, I could only smile. At the time, I had only heard the scripture quoted, but didn’t know it well enough to respond to the pause he had purposefully extended on my behalf. Later, I would come to welcome his pre-dawn greetings with a, “Let us be glad and rejoice in it,” reply.

David Murph, the founder and former member of The Gospel Plowboys, was with me through the crossing of that river. He became like my lighthouse to the incoming ship. He assured me that God was using me in a mighty way. In their final days, both men impressed upon those whom they left behind a sense of urgency and a clear understanding of what it looks like to serve the Lord to the end. Both men passed too early for our earthly understanding, but are now with Jesus in that far brighter land. Each of my dear friends are healed and waiting for the day we can walk along God’s golden shores together, laughing and singing as in days of old. God had allowed them a time and place for which the seeds had been planted for many more. From a distance, we hear of their passing, but from that distant home, we can only know that they are waiting for us for that ultimate day of rejoicing.

My time in Denton this past weekend was not without quiet moments. Though the bed be weary, there was a bequeathing of the solstice in the sounds of raindrops falling upon the tarp above my tent. Warm and dry, the night passed into slumber as strains of stringed music wafted across the hollar. As campers hunkered down under canopies from the formidable precipitation, it failed to dampen their spirits. From one hilltop to the next, like waves of promise buoyed upon the breezes of jubilant voices soothed the weary soul. Like sunshine breaking through the storm, there was a rekindling of a consciousness of life. Like the traveler returning from a long, extended journey, my welcome home had been more abundantly received than ever imagined. It was heart-warming, and impactful at the same time, as one after another of my long-lost friends greeted me like a brother. Like, true friends, we picked up where we left off as if there had never been a separation in time. Some had only heard of my return and stopped by to see if it were so. Like a ghostly figure, we too are only a vapor in the midst of time. So with respect to the admiration of one another, there were some things left unsaid – those that had parted this world for the next, for one, were those often silent moments where words had no place. Randy’s daughter, Jessica, stopped by during one of our jam sessions and sought to say hello. There was so much that I wanted to ask and say to her, but at the moment it didn’t seem right. Instead, as she spoke briefly about her life, my thoughts returned to when I could hear her singing along with her daddy, Randy, at those late-night jam sessions. Later, I regretted not stopping and pulling her aside and just taking the time to sit and dwell in the moment. While she said at one point, “I have never missed a festival for the past 14 years, and I’m not going to start now.” In that defiant voice, there was the sound of her father’s tone ringing true. When she said that, my mind could hear Randy say the same thing, and emotion welled up in my throat. Quietly, I choked back what would have sounded contrite in comparison. Too soon, she would move on, but the memory she had invoked would tarry like the sweet aroma of a freshly baked apple pie sitting on the window sill cooling.

Here and there little children would be riding their bicycles past the campsites and the memories of my own children, and those of my friends would return. Their happy, garish voices would echo back in time. Their joy came not like ours but just living in the freedom of the moment, riding on their own up to the country store to buy another soda and slice of hoop-cheese, or wandering down to the pond to go fishing. The safety of the festival’s confines provided them an opportunity to step back into another time, akin to our own. To grow up in a sleepy little town, like New Harmony, where our only limitations were how many bottles you could collect in order to buy a bag of candy from the five-and-dime. Our energy seemed boundless. We never stopped. We were either running in play across fertile green pastures or riding a bicycle around our little village from sun up to sundown. When the evening baths were complete, there was no sleeplessness. As soon as your head hit the pillow, you were waking up to a new day.

As the gray light of dawn found its way into the corners of my tent, the raindrops could not silence the lowing of the cattle. Some had stopped their music only a short while before. Many would not rise until long after the sun’s arc had reached midday. It was this time of day, the predawn, that made the recollections of previous festivals drift back into one’s mind. Like Randy’s early morning greetings, there were other familiar sounds, but less obvious. Intently, if one listened, the coffee grumbling at the heat from the fire could be heard, shortly before the burp of percolation began. The crackling fire, like the last vestiges of the whippoorwill, united with the sounds of water still dripping from the trees. Here and there another acorn would fall from the many oak trees that shaded our camping site. There were no more sounds of singing or instruments being played – this was the morning after. Like that return across the river, once you have been to the other side, there is an appreciation for all things now.

While you will never be the same, there is a certain contentment in seeing or hearing how some things will never change; albeit, some may be less industrious than others. While our instruments of choice are the same used by our ancestors’ centuries before, our campsites are lined with tents and RV’s which would have made the cover of Popular Science at one time. Yet, there are still the fires to warm the chilly hands and feet when the darkness of night falls.

It is there, in that moment of time, where the past meets the present; when we are afforded the opportunity to return to a place we once knew, to show others that it can be done – to wade across that wide river and find that far distant shore. There is an inspiration of choice, to which each person is offered. It is when we make that journey, we are changed, and when we are allowed to return, as Moses came down from the Mount, the radiance of his being was too great for those to see – likewise, we are changed. Our light can become that for all to see.

As Delmar, in the movie “Oh Brother Where Art Thou,” waded back from his Baptism to tell the others, “Step into the water boys, there’s plenty of salvation to be had for all.” Let your sins be washed away, and someday, you too can reach that far distant shore. There weren’t just two men who lived their lives serving until the bitter end, but three. Jesus led the way and was an example to all – by the blood of Christ, we are all washed clean of our sins. Randy and Dave would have wanted you to know that this was their calling. Someday, it maybe yours too.

As the campfire fades, the time slips away and soon, it is time to say goodbye once more. But this time, unlike before, it is, “until we meet again.” Whether here on this earth, or on God’s golden shore, we shall meet again, and what a day of rejoicing it will be.

Thanks be to God.


[1] Colossians 3:23-24 KJV

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An Evening from the Porch

The evening sky was muted. A serenity had bequeathed the mountainside below the Cone Manor, a living museum that sits above Blowing Rock, NC., just off the Blueridge Parkway. After having just finished my run, it was the cool-down time. Dusk had fallen, and the last vestiges of the golden rays of sunlight had departed from the distant peaks. Now, the gray sullenness that precedes the nightfall enveloped the stately grounds. Gone were all of the holiday weekend visitors. In their vacuum, a welcome stillness permeated the air.

From where I stood on the front porch steps overlooking the vast forest, falling away unto the breath of the shimmering waters of the lake, a calm overtook me. It was as if the place were all my own.

In my mind, my thoughts wandered back to when the house had been occupied by its original inhabitants. Thinking unto myself as if I were one of them, “How might the evening unfold?” Supper now complete, one was free to walk out upon the front porch and purview one’s holdings. Inside, the muffled sounds of the kitchen staff clearing away the table could be heard. Outside, the calls of the night begin to waft upon the gentle breeze – whippoorwills and nightingales begin their evening symphonies.

It is then, in the moment, that you realize the difference between then and now.

There is no T.V. blaring the eternal, never ceasing sensationalized news story. There is no rampant shrill of amplified cacophony coming from various entertainment devices. There are no people with heads bent in apparent submissive prayer – their blue-lit faces reflecting the stolid control as their eyes glaze over from countless hours of overuse.

No, there is nothing here now but a sense of serenity.

Before all this, there was much more.

An evening stroll after dinner allowed for reflection of the day’s work. There, floating upon the mountain air, were the soft, gentle sounds of a piano. The melody of “Ada Plays – from Cold Mountain[1] toils in my head – a simpler time, a gentler time. Later, as the light fails from the sky, one shall retire inside. There, sheltered from the chilly night air, a good book from the personal library might carry one until the bedtime hours approach. Perhaps a letter to a distant acquaintance is necessary, so you sit at your desk, under the flickering light of lamp or candle, and begin scribing pen to paper. You pause between dips of your pen’s head into the inkwell and reflect upon the words freshly poured out onto the page. The sullenness of time grips your heart like the dark reaches of the night, which fast approaches.

Outside your window, a hoot owl calls, and you are reminded of a carriage ride up to the top of Flat Top where you and this friend, to whom you now write, watched God paint another beautiful sunset. Your concentration is broken when the sweet, delectable smells of something baking in the kitchen reaches you. Suddenly, your stomach answers as a momentary frill of joy leaps as if to answer. Later, as you sip warm milk as your palette is being sated by the fresh, hot apple pie, you peruse through scriptures. The late evening snack just before bed refreshes your spirit as the words of the Holy Spirit begin to speak to you. The two combine in your soul, and for a moment, there is nothing in this world that could make you feel any closer to heaven. A warmth envelopes your being as if the hand of God has wrapped around you. The Psalmist words come to mind, “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” The hoot owl calls once more as if to confirm those seemingly random thoughts. For a moment, you ponder the future and what it might hold for you and your family. As you lay your fork down beside the remaining crumbs on the fine china dessert plate, your eyes grow weary, and you momentarily nod off.

In the fog of a future time, you can see a world in turmoil. It is as if there is no peace in that far distant place. It is as if mankind has given in to all the lusts of the flesh. Your heart quickens, and God speaks to you, “But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord God.”

You awaken from the dream with a start. So troubled are you by the vision that you seek to find comfort before trying to resign to sleep for fear of where your thoughts may continue. Opening the book of Ezekiel, you find the rest of the scripture, “And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.”[2] Your heart is calmed, and you close the well-worn pages of the Bible, retiring to your bed-chamber.

Just before falling asleep, you think to yourself, “How could anyone turn away from the Lord so much so that they would become detestable in their own abominations to the point that God would pour out his wrath upon them?” The white linen drapes gently move from the cold night’s air wafting through your open window. You pull the feather comforter up to your chin and exhale a contemplative, but comforting sigh. The warmth of the bedsheets warding off the crisp coolness of the coming fall reminds you of God’s love. “How much greater is He than we shall ever know,” are the last thoughts you whisper to yourself. Eyes heavy with sleep send you off, and you become one with a peaceful eternity.

While we may not live in a time where we can walk away from the bitter influences of mankind’s own self-demising attributes, be they through media, electronics, or the immediate world in which he lives, we can always seek shelter from the storm where we have always been able to go – to God. Seek out the simpler ways in life, and find time to turn off all that noise.

And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him,…”[3]

The Cone Manor became the backdrop for a peaceful evening that I had not anticipated, yet was a welcome respite from recent times. Too often, we fail to stop and pause in this busy life. It is when we stop and wait for the Lord that we are most often blessed beyond measure.

Yesterday evening, I felt a calling, a still small voice, if you will, to go back up to that porch from whence this tale began and take a picture to go along with the story. The storms had passed, and there was the chance that I might be afforded an unforgettable scene from which to draw. Upon my arrival, lo, there on the porch, I found a young man scribing in a journal next to an open bible. He was seated in a foldable camp chair he had brought along. The Park Service had removed all the rocking chairs from the porch because of COVID. Curious, I asked as to what he was reading. He responded, ‘the Bible.”

“What book and chapter, I asked further?”

“The gospel of Luke,” he replied hesitantly.

“A great book indeed,” and from there, a conversation began. I soon learned that the young man was searching for answers. His faith journey had hit a point where he knew not which way to turn. It was then, I realized why the voice had said to come. Retrieving a camp chair of my own from the car and a snack, we spent the remainder of the evening until dark, sitting there on that antiquated porch. It was as if the previous tale had come to life. The color slowly faded from the sky as clouds waltzed past us, following the contour of the valleys below. There, two men, previously total strangers, became brothers through a shared faith. Questions were asked, and questions were answered. Like the Apostles to their own Disciples, the passing of one’s knowledge of God’s word onto the next generation transpired in a place fitting for its reception.

It was a blessing far more generous than one might envision on an evening such as this.

No matter the noise around you, seek Him, and he will find you.

Walk away into a place where that still small voice can find you once again.

Thanks be to God.


[1] “Ada Plays”, Gabriel Yared, from the movie Cold Mountain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Q94_xysbTQ

[2] Ezekiel 11:20-21 KJV

[3] 1 King 19:11-13 KJV

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The Cup of Faith

Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.”- Phil 3:17

It was an early Sunday morning. The air had the feeling as if it could snow at any minute. In an uncustomary manner, my morning devotional was actually upon the steps just outside the front door of our church, Rock Springs Baptist. There, I opened my Bible, journal, and thermos, pouring a hot cup of coffee to accompany my communion with the Lord. Before beginning, the steam from the coffee caught my attention. Swirling from the depths of my cup, the vapor rose, swirling as it ascended, like a spirit rising to meet our maker. On my walk, the bone-chilling air had eventually found its way into my very core. Taking a sip of the hot, bitter brew, I could feel the warmth invade my body, slowly recapturing that which had been nearly frozen.

It was then the similarity hit me; the steam; the Spirit, warmth of my body; us accepting Christ into our hearts.

A car passed and broke my focus for a moment. Taking another sip, I closed my eyes and prayed. The sound of the vehicle dissipated, and soon, the voice of the John’s river began to speak, which lay just beyond our church’s parking lot. The soothing sound and the warmth of my coffee began to erase all the toils, and struggles of the week as the hand of the Lord wrapped his arms around my being. As I exhaled, my breath made another pathway of steam into the air. It was then the thought of how much better coffee tasted when you were partaking of it out in the open, especially on a cold, winter morning. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more everything seemed to taste better when eaten or drank in the outdoors, where all that was man-made was removed, and you were one with the elements; purity begets purity.

Then my mind turned toward the devotionals on my Sunday morning hikes to church and how they always seemed more powerful, more meaningful than those of which I partook every morning before heading up the mountain while sitting in my home. It was as if the materials of man’s creation removed, allowing for a purer experience, a cleaner connection to the Almighty if you will.

There, I had done it; allowed myself to find something of God in merely drinking a hot cup of java on the front steps of the church.

Then my mind took a quantum leap, back, many years to my youth.

The ground was covered in snow. It was the dead of winter in Indiana, a place where Boy Scout Troops wouldn’t cancel a camping trip for the weather, regardless of the conditions. Fortunately, the camporee was at a camp where our tents were the heavy canvas permanent type built on wooden floors; surplus from a not so distant war. It was Friday night when we arrived. The routine was that we were to build a fire and then cook our supper while we made camp. From experience, we knew that in this weather, the fire was the key to everything; warmth, food, survival. Yet, everywhere we looked the snow had covered everything; not one stick of firewood was left untouched. Everything was either frozen or soaked with water. Knowing that we might face a challenge for which we may not fair too well, we began to build our wood in preparation for a valiant attempt, nonetheless. By good fortune, one of our patrol members found an old mouse nest in a hole in one of our tents’ floor. Thankfully, we shoved the dry tender in amongst all the other shoots of Sassafras, Cherry, and Pine, knowing that once the moisture burnt off, we would have the start of a roaring fire. One of the patrol leaders went to the cook box to find matches. When he returned, he held open the small cardboard box, with the little drawer, pulled out. The look on his face said it all. With a look of shock and dismay, we all quickly realized, there was just one match left. We gathered round, each of our young faces had a look of fear and anguish. One of the new scouts almost began to cry, “Oh no, we’re going to starve,” he stammered as tears welled up in his eyes.

“No, we’re not,” I bit back, the steam from my mouth shot into the air like a blowtorch. “You have to have faith. We’ve been through tough times before, and if anyone can make a fire with one match, it’s this patrol.” Ricky, the Scout Master’s son, who was also my good friend, stuck up for me at that moment, and reiterated what I had just conveyed.


“You gotta trust us man, if anyone can get a fire going, we can make it happen. We’re going to show them all, with one match, we’ll keep this fire going all weekend.”


There, he had done it; Ricky had unknowingly made the vow that we would all gladly have given our last breath to uphold. It was an unspoken word of truth and honor, nearly as revered as the Scout Law.

Delicately, like marooned sailors on a deserted island, we made all the preparations and double-checked each other’s work to make sure that the one match would work. Then, with a shaky hand, someone struck the match. The smell of sulfur and warmth filled the space before us. Immediately, we all gathered around, holding our hands as a shield to prevent any breeze from extinguishing our flame before it could take. Slowly, the flame touched the old mouse bed, and steaming smoke began to spread through our pile of tender.

“Nobody breath,” Ricky commanded.

We all stood, feet in shivering in the snowbank that we had created digging out the fire pit so that it would be clear of any moisture, and watched as the smoke seemed to almost disappear. The skeptical scout almost began to whimper once more. “Have faith,” I breathed again.

Then, as if prayers had been answered in unison, a flame nearly 12 inches tall leaped from the center of our woodpile. Smiles spread across our faces as we older scouts looked and nodded at one another. The younger scouts then realized they were with someone who would take care of them.

That weekend happened to get so cold, below zero, that they made us stay in the chow hall one night, for fear we might freeze to death in our cots. Meanwhile, we had stoked and prepared our fire, so that no matter how long we were gone, it would continue to keep a hot coal bed. We needn’t fear that the fire would spread since the ground was covered in almost a foot of snow. So, unlike other times when we would have to put out a fire when leaving our campsite, that particular weekend we were allowed to keep it going. Memory also recalls that the other patrols had not been so lucky when trying to strike their fires. More than one patrol visited us that weekend to warm themselves because of their own inabilities to keep a fire going. We learned a lot about ourselves in the process, not only that we had possessed a knowledge which provided for our own, but that we were able to pass on this to others while sharing with our neighbors.

I don’t remember anything else about that weekend, other than our parents came to stay with us the night we stayed in the chow hall. But the one thing I do recall, even to this day, was that by the time to pack up Sunday evening to head home, we had a fire that had never gone out. Meanwhile, other patrols had problems just getting theirs started, let alone able to keep them going.

We had struggled through adversity, but already in our young lives, having experienced hardship campouts before the one just mentioned had allowed us to have faith. It is the same in our walk with Christ. Those who are new to the faith struggle with knowing that the Father is with them always. By providing them examples of our own steadfast faith, we can give them the courage to face the struggles in their own walk.

The Apostle Paul had faced many trials and difficulties in his life once he turned to serving God instead of persecuting Christians. He was an encourager to others in the faith, and with confidence, not arrogance, as brother David said this morning, he told his disciples to ““Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ[1] He had faith enough to know that if they were to become believers, that they would have to have faith in what he said and to know that through believing him, they too would come to know Christ.

Once they had faith, they would find the love of Christ working in them, warming them, imbuing them with the Holy Spirit, lighting the flame within and starting the fire. Like that hot cup of coffee and a cold winter day, God envelopes you with His Spirit and warms your very soul.

Each day, as I begin to climb the mountain, either figuratively or physically, I ask the Lord to help me find my way. Each day, he answers me in the most unexpected ways.

Nearby, the river speaks to me, and a song begins to play in my head:

“Once I stood at the foot of a great high mountain
That I wanted so much to climb
And on top of this mountain was a beautiful fountain
That flows with the water of life

I fell down on my knees at the foot of this mountain
I cried, “O Lord what must I do?
I want to climb this mountain, I want to drink from this fountain
That flows so clear in my view.”

Then I heard a sweet voice from the top of this mountain
Saying, “Child put your hand in mine.”
I started climbing slowly, “Watch your steps at the edges
And take one step at a time.”

I started climbing upward taking one step at a time
The higher I got the harder I climbed

I’m still climbing upward and my journey’s almost ended
I’m nearing the top and you ought to see the view
Oh the water flows freely, there’s enough to make you free
So friend, if you’re thirsty climb this mountain with me.”[2]

In the gospel of John, Jesus said on the last day of the feast, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.”[3]

While these may or may not be my last days, the harder I climb, the more beautiful things I see and reveal, seeing with eyes anew. From walking in faith, although I will never achieve the level of the Apostle Paul, I can, with deep conviction share with others that with faith, all things are possible. In sharing that belief, may it light a spark within their own soul, one that will make within them a desire to seek Him.

With one spark, a fire can be built, and with it, the light of life can begin

That particular campout of which I shared earlier was one where our parents were invited to come spend a night camping with us. It was one of only two times that a parent of mine came to a campout. My mom, of all people, came to stay Saturday night. She, along with the other parents, stayed in the chow hall with the rest of our troop. Looking back, I wish I had done more to interact with her, but it was a treat just to hear her voice talking to the other adults and to know that someone who loved me was present. Now that she is gone, those few glimpses of the past are ever more precious.

She, along with the other parents, more than likely had no idea of our fire struggles, but rather, took it in stride that we had learned how to survive and were doing well enough. I don’t remember anything else about that weekend, but the one thing I do recall, even to this day, was that by the time to pack up Sunday evening to head home, we had a fire that had never gone out.

From all of this, we can surmise that we are a constant work in faith. We may never achieve the level of faith of an Apostle Paul, but we can share our testimony with others, and with that, provide them the knowledge that they are not alone. Through our faith, shall we lift up others, and in the end, give them hope of the Father.

Like steam from the coffee cup, the Holy Spirit will warm us through and through, and our walk of faith will continue to grow as we climb that final mountain and drink from the eternal fountain.

Thanks be to God.


[1] 1 Corinthians 11:1 KJV

[2] Ralph Stanley, Great High Mountain, lyrics © Bug Music, Z77ss, Z77ss Music

[3] John 7:37 KJV

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A Precious Gift

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe    that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” – Hebrews 11:6

The early supply chains in our country were once little more than ancient Native American paths turned into wagon roads. These became the trade routes where the frontiersman and trappers would traverse, hauling their precious cargo to divergent hubs or government forts. Those hunters and traders not only carried on commerce but provided the necessities to which the American family needed to survive. Today, like then, we rely on individuals that take hardship and danger into their daily lives as they continue the tradition of hauling goods and providing services across our country. This story shares a forgotten legacy of a past we cannot afford to forget. In the rush to deliver and provide, let us not forget the purpose behind what we do in this Holiday season. Christmas was not intended to be a time of hustle and bustle, but rather one to seek something greater than ourselves, the one true God – Jesus Christ.

Pause now for a moment and sip on a cup of your favorite hot beverage as you read the tale below. May your heart be blessed by the journey within.

The ominous clouds hung low over the mountains. To most, it was a warning, but to Arden, it was just another obstacle through which he must push. The dust from the Civil War had yet to settle. It was 1871, and there was still great poverty throughout the South.  The roads which were little more than wagon ruts, were filled with weary travelers seeking a better place. At night, the bandits preyed upon the weak. It was a bleak time.

Arden was finally heading home after another grueling trip to livestock trading posts in North Carolina. There, he had taken some of his family’s Quarter horse colts to sell. The Carolina markets paid much more than those on the edge of the frontier, so it was worth the dangerous journey. Besides, Arden Edwards wasn’t just a horse trader; he was the last of a dying breed – a frontiersman.

The farther west he traveled after turning off the Trading Path route toward the mountains, the darker the sky became. Finally, it was as if the heavens couldn’t withhold their bounty any longer. The snow began fluttering down in large goose-down-sized flakes. It was beautiful and foreboding at the same time. A chill ran across the seasoned trapper’s spine. There were many miles to travel before he could rest. Nothing felt right about this. Storm clouds only meant that his arduous journey would become even more difficult. The rugged mountains slowly being blanketed by a cover of whiteness depicted an eerie peace. Arden’s horse Jeb blew breaths of clouds of labor before him as they climbed the Eastern Divide. All around them, the sound was washed from the air as a calm flowed over Arden’s soul. Something made him pause, looking out over the vastness of the earth, slowly turning white. It was as if he was seeing a place to which he had never known, a distant place beyond the clouds. “Will I ever know something greater than this,” he thought to himself as he gritted his teeth against the biting cold. Flashes of the war coursed through his mind, and he winced at the scenes. Angrily, he nudged his spurs against Jeb’s side, and they pressed onward.

Arden was originally from Orange County, not far from what we know today as Chapel-Hill. But now, his home was in a tiny village in the southern Illinois territory, out on the edge of the prairie. It would someday be known as the village of Maunie. After the war, he headed west like so many survivors. He had met a young woman and settled down near her family on the banks of the Wabash River. There, Arden fell in love with a pretty young maiden; her name was Nellie Jane. They married, and he found himself working horses with her family. Before long, her family chose Arden to take the yearlings east for the market. It was only natural, seeing as he had connections back east and was familiar with the open road. So, with trepidation, he headed off in hopes of returning as quickly as possible. But most importantly, his young bride was with child, so there was an even greater urgency to make it back before Christmas.

As horse and rider pushed through the deepening snow, he thought of his mission. His pouch was full of valuable payment for the stock he had sold. These funds would support his and his wife’s family for many months. Yet, Arden knew that carrying such a rich purse meant he was an even greater target. Bandits and thieves were an ever-present danger, but he was no greenhorn to the perils of traveling the Trading Path trail. At one time in his life, he had carried bundles of hides to Raleigh to trade in some of the more affluent markets in his fur trading days.

That was before the war, before Nellie. It was as if an eternity had passed.

Arden’s horse, Jeb, was a hearty breed from good Quarter Horse stock, one that could make such a journey. His gun, a Colt army model .45 caliber, a relic from the war, was snuggled against his side just inside his thick fur coat. It had served him well through many battles, and he knew how to use it if needed. He realized that if he could just make it through the mountains the most challenging part of the journey would behind him.

However, before Arden had cleared the deep passes of the Blueridge, the gentle flakes had become a howling blizzard. Undeterred, he pressed onward. The warrior fought against the cold and hunger, fearing that he might risk freezing or being robbed if he stopped for the night. So, with unprecedented determination, he fought against all of his instincts to stop. Fording across the French Broad, his feet froze to the stirrups, but still, he pushed onward. By the time he reached the Kentucky territory, his body had lost all feeling. The temperatures continued to plummet. Soon the blinding whiteness consumed man and horse.

Once more, the peace, an unearthly calm, passed over his being, one like never before.

There, only five miles from his new home, they found him and his horse, Jeb. They had fallen into a deep ravine. Arden was trapped beneath the weight of steed. His feet were still locked into the stirrups, still frozen in place. Jeb had died – frozen stiff. But buried beneath his horse, somehow barely breathing, Arden was still alive. They later surmised that the body heat of the dying horse sustained him long enough for them to find him. They took Arden home and nursed him back from the edge of death.

When he finally awoke from his ordeal, he was at last able to see his beloved Nellie once more – his journey complete. Arden was there when his son was born a week later. But, as happy as the story may sound, there was still a price to pay.

As was often the case in those days, because of the exposure, Arden came down with pneumonia. The rattle in his lungs that lingered after his son’s birth became a haunting reminder of his near-death experience. Soon, the cough became a fever that sucked the energy from his very being. Slowly, the hardened frontiersman found himself bedridden. Nellie and her family tried all they could to save him, but there was a distance in Arden’s eyes. He no longer had the fire within but instead seemed to be looking at a distant place beyond the walls of their meager cabin. Nellie sat on the edge of the bed, cradling their newborn son in one arm while reading scripture to Arden as he listened with eyes closed.

In her prayers, Nellie begged God to open her beloved’s eyes, to save his soul before it was too late. Time was not on their side.

The family all whispered the inevitable out of reach of Nellie’s hearing. Deep inside, everyone knew it wouldn’t be long.

But there, confined to his bed, Arden began to realize something that before had only been a distant notion. God had been with him all along. Through those dangerous trading trails, through all of the bloody battles, and even through the freezing blizzard He had been there. Arden had never stopped long enough to really seek Him. But now, as Nellie would read the Bible, he found himself yearning to know Christ more than ever before. From one struggle to the next, all through his life he had pushed his body, not thinking of the soul within. He had never slowed down long enough to think about eternity – not until now as he stood on the edge of life and faced it. Here, now in this time that God had allowed, he was given one more chance to realize what he had never sought but had been there all along for his taking.

Then one evening, before the sunset on the distant horizon, Arden knew he had finally found Jesus. Like the last rays of daylight, his life almost gone; he had found Him before the darkness came. The scene from his recent journey returned to his mind. There standing on the precipice in the mountains, he looked out upon vastness of creation. There before him were no more storms, nor more scenes of horrific battles, but a sea of gentle calmness. Arden’s mind could finally see the world with eyes made new, and he silently whispered to himself,  “There was much more to this life.” In Christ’s arms, he could now rest, knowing that his family would be in God’s hands, not his.

Arden continued to fight the sickness in his lungs, but his life had become like water, slipping through his fingers. With each passing day, he faded away a little further.  Nellie could see him struggling with each breath, and her heart panged to watch him suffer, but there was nothing left to do – nothing but to pray for comfort. Then one night, as the full moon crossed over the river, like a spirit coming to beckon him home, he passed away, lying in the arms of his beloved Nellie Jane.

Arden’s journey was finally complete.

They buried Arden Thomas Edwards on Christmas Eve, in the year of our Lord, 1871.

As the last hymn was sung at the graveside, the snow began to fall once more. There in the anguish of death, Nellie felt a warmth, like a comforting arm wrapping around her. The snowflakes fell onto her eyelashes as her tears melted them into the heartache within. Before her, the casket was soon covered with a blanket of white, as if God had come to tuck Arden into bed for his final rest. Yet, she knew he was long departed of this world, and for a moment, realized that she was not alone. Arden was with the Lord, and the Lord was with her.

As the entourage of mourning departed, the snowflakes continued to fall, and silently, as tender as a feather upon the cheek, all the sound was once more washed from the world – and there was peace on earth.

Whatever obstacles you face this Christmas, don’t let them hinder you from seeking the most important thing in this life – God. For without him, we strive for all the wrong things. As Arden found, he had lived his life only trying to make ends meet. It wasn’t until he was forced to face eternity that he realized there had always been so much more, if only he had just taken time to notice.

In all things, no matter what gifts you did or did not receive this Christmas, realize that the gift of life in eternity with God is the most precious gift of all.

Thanks be to God.

This tale was based on a true story, one taken from my maternal family ancestry. While the dates and names were slightly altered, the account of Arden dying after returning from North Carolina to trade horses was true.

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Great High Mountain

As my footsteps made their way up the side of the mountain, one could feel the coolness of the night slowly overtaking the day. It had been another unusually pleasant spring-like day in December. The last rays of the setting sun were up ahead. The heartbeat in my chest, the labored breathing, all signs that it had been a while since last making such an ascension. The trail upward was already in the shadows of the setting sun. But up ahead, like a beacon, the light of life called. As I climbed, the old song, “Great High Mountain,” began to play in my head,

Once I stood at the foot of a great high mountain
That I wanted so much to climb
And on top of this mountain was a beautiful fountain
That flows with the water of life

I fell down on my knees at the foot of this mountain
I cried, “O Lord, what must I do?
I want to climb this mountain, I want to drink from this fountain
That flows so clear in my view”

Then I heard a sweet voice from the top of this mountain
Saying, “Child put your hand in mine”
I started climbing slowly, “Watch your steps at the edges
And take one step at a time”

I started climbing upward taking one step at a time
The higher I got the harder I climbed

I’m still climbing upward and my journey’s almost ended
I’m nearing the top and you ought to see the view
Oh the water flows freely, there’s enough to make you free
So friend if you’re thirsty climb this mountain with me.[1]

Take it one step at a time.

Watch the edges, for there will be danger at every turn. Every decision in life has lasting consequences.

The higher we get to the end of that mountain, the harder it seems to climb. But the water we should be seeking comes from only one source. Jesus said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”[2]

Then I heard a sweet voice from the top of this mountain saying, ‘Child put your hand in mine.’” The closer my journey came to the summit, the more the words to the song became real. Giving your life over to Christ is like a child putting their hand into that of their parent, the one that would be there to protect and care for them for the rest of their life. Yet, this was the voice of God, beckoning his child home.

As we pass through this world, we must remind ourselves that we are only here for a moment. The Hebrew writer would say that we are like the “hevel,” a vapor in time. The shadows of the forest pass by, or is it I passing them? To some, hiking up a mountain would seem more strenuous than necessary. “Why not find a flat walkway,” they might ask? But nothing worth having is without a struggle to achieve – so it is in life.

As the Apostle Paul wrote of the importance to face trials to achieve the summit of that high mountain, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.[3]

Footsteps push onward, Breath more labored than before. Chasing sunbeams as they slowly depart before me. Then, finally, at the peak, there is the sweet reward. Sunshine fills the trail before me as the last parting rays of the December sky slide below the horizon. “I’m nearing the top and you ought to see the view.”

Pausing for the moment. There is time to think.

The past few days had been a blur. From the preparations for Christmas, the Church events, the school presentations, the logistical nightmares, and the planning of meals, it all encompassed more than one would accept if given the openness of mind. Yet, we do them and then wonder why the end of the year becomes such a time of stress. It is now, here standing on this mountain top, that one can fully appreciate what was the real meaning behind it all. Stopping, allowing my lungs to catch their breath, the mind is cleared of all the turmoil.

The day’s headlines are swept away as the passing clouds.

There is a certain calmness up here as the distant rapids from the river below echo up the canyon. The pain from the loss of loved ones is washed away, soothed beneath God’s loving hands, making it known that we shall join them in His presence some day. There is so much more to this life than we, mankind, have tried to foment. It is in these moments of solitude with our maker that we can come to appreciate what we have and where we are in the journey, giving thanks to God.

We can reach the end, that final destination, and cherish the view, or we can be of the lot that only has regrets. “Oh the water flows freely, there’s enough to make you free.” When we drink freely from that fountain of life, we know that that final mountain top is only the beginning of the next life – life eternal.

So, friend, if you’re thirsty climb this mountain with me.”

Yes, the view is so sweet to see. Come climb this mountain with me.

Thanks be to God.


[1] Written by Ralph Stanley, Great High Mountain, – version from Jack White – Cold Mountain Soundtrack

[2] John 7:37-38 KJV

[3] Philippians 3:8 KJV

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An Unsettling Dream…

The convoy of yellow DOT trucks pulled into the neighbor’s drive across the street. Mr. Burns had fought a long hard fight, but they, the government, had finally won. They, like vultures, were now circling to collect what little remained of the poor man’s belongings. He had never been much for this world. His meager existence was foretold by the home, which had the furnishing of bare necessity. His house had been one of welcome and comfort rather than one of putting on airs for the delight of fashion. In other words, Mr. Burns had little left to this world. He lived day-to-day but refused to give in to the demands of the State. He lived for God, not unto man.

So, after his passing, it was no surprise to see the Agency vehicles piling into the rough gravel drive. Their trucks were hybrid robotic machines. There wasn’t any human interaction, which made it seem all the more wrong. These mechanical beasts were there to process everything that belonged to the now deceased man, including his own being. There was no funeral allowed, for he had become an enemy of the State.

The trucks were box-like in construction, but each contained a massive, flat, stainless-steel metal plate built onto the bed. Beneath this daunting shining platform were a series of hoses, pipes, and storage containers. As they lined up, one by one on the deceased man’s property, an arm would reach from beneath each vehicle and grab items, placing them onto the mirror-like platform. There those real-life items, from chairs, desks to the deceased Mr. Burns, would lie for a moment. Then, suddenly, a surge of blue energy would dance around each item. The air crackled with electricity, and then with a flash, everything would vibrate with increased velocity until it seemed to shake out of existence.

Then, poof, the platform would be empty, and the arm would already be reaching for the next parcel of belongings to process.

Far, far away in another part of the country, deep within the bowels of the distant processing headquarters, the analysis of every stick of wood, every sheet of paper, and every fiber of DNA was recorded. The State’s claims against the deceased, old farmhand were crimes against the State – failing to comply with the Federal Mandates.

As I stood in my side yard watching the scene unfold, there was the feeling of another being. Feeling uncomfortable, I moved to the back of my house, where I found my back door standing open. Someone or something had indeed snuck around behind me without me knowing. Slowly and with great care, I eased onto the back steps and peered into the kitchen, which was just inside.

My eyes were still adjusting from the bright sunlight as I peered into the darkness. Thankfully, it was empty.

Without hesitation, I moved inside, listening ever more closely for returning footsteps. On my kitchen table, there was a weapon that looked like something from a Science Fiction movie. Curious, I picked it up and quickly found the ammunition release mechanism. Out into my hand popped a clip containing tiny metal vials that appeared to be bullets. They were shaped like bullets, but instead of gunpowder, their middle section contained fluid, which could be seen through the transparent material in which it was encased. One end of each cartridge had four tiny prongs. It was then I realized what this was – the force injection weapon of the State Medical Enforcement Squad.

Quickly, before the owner of the weapon returned, I angrily began smashing the needles back into themselves. Rage, upon rage, poured through my hands as each bullet was pounded into useless submission. “The next person that is shot by this weapon will at least have a chance of survival,” my thoughts rambled as the adrenaline rush caused my hands to begin shaking as I loaded the now harmless bullets back into the chamber. I had just clicked the clip back into place and laid the weapon back on the table when the sound of approaching footsteps pierced my heart. Before I could flee, the shadow of the agent darkened the backdoor of my house.

It was too late to flee.

The agent looked at me, then at the weapon. “You realize you could get into a lot of trouble if you make the wrong choice,” the thing said? Their speaking apparatus had not yet been perfected, for there was still a hint of mechanical hesitancy to the droid’s speech. They appeared fully human in form and movement, but we all knew their purpose.

“Yes, I know.” I moved my shaking hands behind my back because the adrenaline rush had returned. I fought the urge to make a run for it, but I knew without a doubt that if I was lucky enough to somehow outrun this robotic being, my farm would soon be surrounded by all manner of drones and other robotic police. Obvious resistance was indeed futile.

I smiled and obligingly, but slowly, picked up the agent’s weapon and handed it to it.

“You’ve made a wise choice,” it responded and quickly turned the weapon to point at me.

It was then I awoke.

It was Sunday morning, September 12, 2021.

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Grandma’s Root Cellar

[The demon Screwtape writes:] The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them. He would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present—either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.

Our business is to get them away from the eternal, and from the Present. With this in view, we sometimes tempt a human (say a widow or a scholar) to live in the Past. But this is of limited value, for they have some real knowledge of the past and it has a determinate nature and, to that extent, resembles eternity. It is far better to make them live in the Future.

Biological necessity makes all their passions point in that direction already, so that thought about the Future inflames hope and fear. Also, it is unknown to them, so that in making them think about it we make them think of unrealities. In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time—for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays.”[1]

Natural food storage | Root cellar, Farm life, Cellar

After reading this excerpt from C.S. Lewis recently, it made me think of how my family all had the habit of putting up food for the future. Now you might ask, “How does reading Lewis’s commentary on living in the moment and focusing on eternity make you think of preserving food?” Herein lies the story of how preparing for future meals and prepping to survive come what may, you can better appreciate these comments.

My grandparents all canned and put up food, so that’s where we, their offspring, learned those survival skills. Not only were they all from Agrarian backgrounds, but they were also of the generation that had survived the Depression. My paternal grandparents were especially devoted to this lifestyle, seeing as my dad had six siblings. More than anything, it was a labor of necessity. But there was one elder in particular that made it more than just about food.

Grandma Tron was always preparing for the future by what seemed like a never-ending job of canning, tending the garden, and toiling on the farm. Yet, each morning, there alone in her later years after grandpa had passed, sitting at the end of the table closest to the stove, she could be found; Bible open, studying God’s word by the dim, soft glow of light from the overhead bulb in her kitchen. Before the light of dawn had lit the hills beyond the farm’s pastures, she was already preparing for the coming day – alone with God. It wasn’t an act of canning; it was preparing for the next meal to eat. It was much more.

Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you:” – John 6:27

Outside her kitchen window was the “Kitchen Garden.” There were the foods necessary to season and allow for more flavorful meals, in addition to those plants that had a shorter shelf life and required closer attention. The other main and much larger garden was across the pasture behind Ms. Wolf’s house. That was where the bulk crops – corn, potatoes, tomatoes, and all the other canned goods that required an army of workers to process-were located. Here, we found that deep rich topsoil, black, rich dirt that could grow anything if only you dropped the seed into its berth.

Like those two gardens, Grandma used that never-ending seasonal flow of life to guide and teach her children, and then eventually us multitude of grandkids. Like her Kitchen Garden, her tattered, worn Bible was always close by. Although it was present, we rarely saw her open it, for there was no need. Those words within that weathered binding were no longer captive within its cover, for they were planted deep within her heart. In those daily routines, where some would find mundane, tedious actions that repeated into infinity, there was the conversations, the sharing of life over the snapping of beans, or the peeling of potatoes. In those moments, as your hands became numb from holding the paring knife as you tried to keep up with grandma’s aged agile movements, the scriptures would emerge through words of encouragement and loving-kindness. It seemed like you could never peel as thin nor as fast, no matter how hard your focus. And as she worked, she spoke to us, entreating a sense of wholesomeness that was never found on a T.V. show or in a book, other than the one she kept nearby. Although you might struggle with the physical act of trying to imitate her agile yet succinctly purposeful labor, you didn’t realize that like that rich, deep topsoil of the garden, we too were being implanted with something far greater. As she would tell us the words of Jesus, “And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.”

As we lived in the present so long ago, we prepared for a future we did not know. Yet, through those agricultural experiences, we learned that planning and preparing for the future lessened the sense of worry of what was to come. Knowing that down in the root cellar, where we stored the canned goods, the potatoes, dried herb, and spices, there was a sense of accomplishment mixed with a feeling of security. So, while we worked with grandma, learning those agrarian skills, we also learned how to prepare for another future – a life eternal.  Likewise, in our hearts, we knew that if we allowed Him in, God was with us, giving us a sense of security like no other.

In that comfort of knowing for what we had collectively prepared, there seemed to be a never-ending supply. Each time we would go to visit grandpa and grandma Tron, we never left empty-handed. There was always that last trip down into the earthen root cellar beneath the back porch. There grandma would load us up with armloads of that delicious bounty from the warmer months. As we piled into the car to leave, crowded in amongst the jars of canned peaches, green beans, and corn, we felt as if part of our grandparents were with us. Waving goodbye, as we passed beneath those ancient oaks and sycamores that lined their short, curved driveway, one never thought that it would never end.

As time passed, so did those countless gardens. Like the autumn of life, the fields grew brown and withered. The seasons of harvest had ended, and the Lord eventually called our grandparents home. Grandma finally joined grandpa; their bodies were laid to rest up there in Maple Hill Cemetery, just over the holler from Sled Hill. Yet, while their physical remains have an ending point, their lives had only just begun. Somewhere in that land that is fairer than day, they will await us that received their counsel. Someday, with open arms, they will greet us in that Heavenly home. Like those tearful goodbyes off the tattered back porch of the humble farmhouse on the edge of New Harmony, there will someday be a joyful reunion that will surpass in feeling all of those emotions but in a joyous regard on the steps of that house of many mansions on high.

As the sun crests the ridge of the mountain this morning, that vision of that humble kitchen table with its worn Bible once more comes to mind. Across the decades, those lessons resonate even more today. In the moment of the past, where we prepared for a future in eternity, the seeds of faith had been planted, and with those tiny grains of hope, eternal life was given. Sitting around that battered kitchen table, we found peace in the present as we heard about how to find a life in time without end.

Like going down into grandma’s root cellar, we can reach into our hearts and retrieve those words which the Lord hath given. Live each day as if you are preparing for eternity, and let tomorrow worry about tomorrow. We have but one life to live here on earth. Make the most of what you have been given, and may your root cellar be filled to overflowing so that you may share with any and all who come in need.

In all these things, we can say with Blessed Assurance, “Thanks be to God.”


[1] The Screwtape Letters. Copyright © 1942, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright restored © 1996 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

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