Monthly Archives: March 2014

Music of the Soul…

Tron Family performing at Camel Back Bridge Park, Cumnock NC.

Tron Family performing at Camel Back Bridge Park, Cumnock NC.

This past week I’ve been reminded of the importance of music in my life.

When times seem to close in, painting life into a corner, it’s when I’m usually forgetting to revisit my old friend and love; music.

Music for me does several things; calms my nerves when I’m tense, connects my thoughts into a fluid stream of story and allows the spirit of the Lord to flow through me speaking the words my lips cannot find.

The most obvious use of music is relaxation. There are times when events in life can be spinning out of control, but the moment a favorite song or melody comes on, all the sharp edges of reality are quickly softened and soon forgotten. These silent trips down the road, recollections through family albums, or simply watching the clouds pass over the landscape out a nearby window, all take on a different level of perspective when the right song plays in the background. Suddenly the inanimate object takes on a life of its own, living and breathing into the moment of one’s existence.

Then there are the times when I write, sitting at the keyboard listening to epic movie soundtrack instrumentals. In these quiet reflective moments, the songs become the soundtrack to the story I’m putting into words for the first time, floating over the characters as they spell out the tale on the screen. Their crescendos and monumental waves of symphony heighten the dramatic imagination in which exists; living and breathing in the moment of the saga I am creating. I can begin to write and when the song turns to the dark minor keys, my story takes a turn of unexpected tragedy, mirroring the sounds in my ears. To this extent, writing to the music is like riding a bike down the mountain road with no hands; a thrilling rush, where and how you end up is only up to the twist and turns in the road of the tale being told. I can only trust my Lord has the hand on the wheel as my pen guides us through the winding pathways ahead.

Then there are the times when my mind wants to say so much, yet the stage finds me muted to the point of anger; mad at myself for not being the natural orator I am in my own mind. In many ways, music is the bridge between what I want to say and cannot, finding the connection to an audience that might otherwise go without. When I find myself in predicaments like this, a guitar and a song for the moment break through this barrier, allowing the flood of thoughts and words to come cascading out. There is no better feeling to know you have connected with someone either with speaking or singing something from a message that God has placed upon your heart. To know He can speak and play through us in spite of ourselves is probably the most common phrase I know and use when it comes to calming nerves, for if I know it’s from Him; then I also know it is for Him, not of myself; failure, in this case, is no longer a factor.

All this being said, I was reminded of the need for music in my life as we drove back from the fiddler’s convention this past weekend. I realized that the connection to another part of my soul is only attainable from this gift. It is from using the ability to “make music” that I can reach out to the side of me that sometimes lies silent, waiting and watching the world around; the creative side. Only when the music reaches across the divide within do the juices of creativity begin to burst forth once more. So it was this week, and even more today as we performed at church this morning, again reconfirming my belief that to use our gifts only awakens the more within, the others that lie waiting for those before to be lifted off so that they too may be discovered and shined upon.

May God bless anyone who seeks to enrich the lives of others from any blessing God has given you; never let these gifts lie asleep and do all you can to awaken them each and every day.

Have a beautiful week and Blessings to all.

“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;” – Eph. 5:19


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Bruecke to Heaven e-book on Kindle Select Promotion

FrontPageOnlyFrom March 25th to March 31st, Bruecke to Heaven will be on sale for only $.99 during the Kindle Select Promotion.

Pickup a copy for your Kindle device and join the journey where your faith will be tested and uplifted.

Bruecke to Heaven on Kindle Here

Bruecke to Heaven normally sales for $3.99 on Kindle

Have a blessed day,


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Is Editing a “Flow-Stopper” for you?

penandpaperIs editing a Flow-Stopper for you?

As all writers know, the worst thing you can do to break the “flow” is to start editing what you’ve just written. By the “flow” I’m talking about when you are in sync with your story, the words are flowing and it seems you could write forever. Eventually we do stop and then there is the temptation to reread and yes, even correct what we have just written. We do our best while creating to keep our sentence structure and grammatical errors to a minimum but yet, there are those times when flow overcomes structural thought and our best intentions become lengthy run-on sentences which sometimes lose even our own understanding when finally reviewing what we wrote during that late night moment of intuition; case in point. This unedited free flow I refer to as a “Raw Draft”. Editing is essential, regardless of how good we think we can write. No matter how many times you read your work and Raw Draft, there will always be something you miss; so it is almost a necessity to have another person read your work it even if they are editing or not.

So, the question beckons, “When do we edit?”

I’ve spoken about this to other authors in casual conversation and get a host of responses. In many instances it depends on how the author is published. Self-published authors probably have the widest range of response since they are usually footing the bill for the editing. It is the self-published folks whom I will be referring to the most in the following examples.

Some authors prefer to leave it all to the editorial staff stating, “That’s what I pay them for.” I have found these are the people with either deep pockets or those who can afford content and developmental editing (items I will talk to in a later blog article). These authors know that to break their flow will ruin their story and some even refer to themselves as storytellers rather than writers. I applaud these people and wish I too could “leave it all to the editors”, but alas, I was never blessed with a golden spoon nor have I been aggressive enough to acquire a Literary Agent or Publishing contract; something else I will speak to later. This of course is something those with publishing contracts only deal with when rewrites come back; otherwise, it is a moot point; again I’m speaking mainly to the self-published crowd.

Other writers find that once they have written a piece, they will put it away for a few days and then revisit it and edit it as they reread it. This is probably the most common self-editing practice I’ve noticed. Personally, I have to find myself “in a mood” that I know writing on my current novel is not going to work, so I go to a section that I’ve not yet edited and begin reading it for errors and content. Sometimes this puts me in the “mood” to write or triggers a thought that I might have overlooked and needs either clarification or additional coverage somewhere else in the story.

There are times that I purposely go back to something I’ve previously written and focus on reading it as if I were someone seeing the words for the first time. To me, this is probably the hardest thing to do as an author. I feel like I’ve read heard the story so many times, that it is practically impossible to see it with “fresh eyes”. To this latter extent, that’s why I’ve begun using “Beta-Readers”, yes, another article at a later date. Bottom line, Beta-readers are people who you trust with your unpublished story, who will read your rough draft (after your initial self-edit) for flow and understanding. They are not to be your grammatical editors, although they sometimes find a section of flow that is pure Raw Draft, and have to suggest changes according to the unedited piece simply to be able to understand what you’ve written.

Some writers are lucky enough to have friends who can help them edit, either grammatically, content or developmentally. Friends like this are invaluable and may work for free or at a much reduced editing fee. Cherish these people and treat them well, since they are far and few between.

 Overall, as self-published authors, we have to find a happy medium where we can write unabated until the time comes we have to share our story either with a friend or one of our Beta-Readers. Then we must face the daunting task of editing or having our work edited for us. Like a trip to the dentist, nobody likes it, but good or bad, it has to be done and so it is.

What are some tricks you use to get around editing your work becoming a Flow-Stopper?

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Like a Polar Bear at the Beach…

polarbearbeachEarly this morning I awoke to the thought that I had forgotten to fix a section of fence the cows had knocked down. I had found the broken board the day before and propped it back up temporarily until I could get back to it with hammer and nails. It was a crucial middle board in a three rail fence, so if it were not fixed soon, there would be cows running loose; a picture that could rouse a near death farmer to his feet. Knowing how my mind works, I knew it was senseless to try to get back to sleep since all I would do was toss and turn with the possibility of cows getting loose; so I got up in the predawn darkness to mend what needed mending. It was during this time, while I was feeding the cows after having fixed the broken fence, I realized something quite obvious, but yet profound, “Feeding black angus cattle in total darkness is akin to trying to find a polar bear in a blackangusblizzard; dangerous and unpredictable.”

It’s during times like this that analogies to life come to mind, and this morning was no different.

I realized that as Christians, we often find ourselves one with those around us, not standing out but finding comfort in being with those like ourselves, “The black angus cow in the darkness.” It’s not until the light of dawn that we can clearly see the dark bovine and distinguish it from the night, so it is with our walk in faith; we cannot be seen until we step out of the safe confines of our sanctuaries and expose ourselves to the light of the world. In other words, who’s going to know what we are preaching until we go out into the world and seek out those who need to hear the Word of God, sometimes for the first time. Staying in the comfortable settings of our beloved congregation is great for personal moral, but fails to reach those who are most lacking in what we are all called to do as Christians, go out and tell the story of Christ, sharing his love and plan of salvation to the ends of the earth. From the scripture of Matthew, this is the road less traveled, the narrow way. We must find a way to break free of our often self-imposed restriction and tempt fate, and allow ourselves to set loose our beliefs. However, the thought of evangelizing to others is as frightening to many as it is to those who find it difficult to attend church, having either been gone for a long time or never having gone in the first place; a daunting prospect where we feel out of our element. This is exactly what Jesus was preaching to his disciples that day when he told them, the road less traveled would not be easy, for if it were, it would be more traveled. I have found it personally challenging to go into the secular world in settings that we tend to shy away from sharing the Word; those places where scripture is usually the last thing to come to mind. There are those around us, people in our own community, who have that talent, that innate ability to boldly go to places they’ve never known. Men like Chance Walters who leads Chance Walters Ministries and Steve Gaines with Blits Worldwide, blitsboth great evangelist and missionaries who lead others in urban ghettos and remote villages in South America, respectively. They take with them the knowledge of faith and you can see from their travels that they become stronger from God’s Grace. There are men like Darrin Locklear, brave enough to step into ministry full time, giving the reigns of life completely to God and finding himself leading a church in a place he had never known until called. These are just a few examples of those around us that have taken the call and done more than attend their Sunday services, awakening to the dawning of a faith upon the pastures of countless souls needing their sustenance and message of salvation and eternal life.

Yet, we aren’t all made from the same cloth and to those who’ve never preached a word of the Bible, this could be akin to a polar bear going to the beach. We too must go to places that challenge our faith and make us realize what we should focus on in our daily walk of life with Christ. Our focus becomes sharpened when we realize what we are missing. I’ve personally found myself feeling inadequate in the face of people who spend their entire lives living on the outside of faith, practicing their sins without restraint day in and day out. These hardened hearts are the ones that are the toughest to reach; the ones that have their physical needs met, yet are spiritually lost. These are the people many fear when stepping out from the pew and going into the broad daylight of the world around us.

Yet, God gives each of us talents, gifts that we are to use to reach those whom make us feel uncomfortable. These are the bridges we must build to reach out to those hardened hearts, breaking through until there becomes a shimmer of light from which hope can begin to grow. It is up to us to recognize these blessings and to then boldly go where we dare not, becoming the polar bear on the beach, the black angus in the bright sun, each visible, each no longer hidden from sight but now out in the world for all to see.

This is our mission as Christians.

As Paul said, what causes us pain, only makes the blessings from God stronger, and so it is. We must take with us the knowledge that to make a difference, we have to be brave enough to go where the spirit leads and the good Lord will take us.

What is your calling? Have you dared to step out into the light or are you waiting for someone to lead you?

13 Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because[a] narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” – Matthew 7: 13-14

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Whirlwind of Life…

ElishaLast week, two consecutive days in a row I had dreams awake me only minutes after falling asleep. Both were similar but yet different; let me explain. The first day I dreamt that I was looking out from beneath the covers of the bed. The heavy blanket I had pulled over my head made it so there was barely a crack of light shining in my eyes which revealed objects lying next to the bed. There was a great roar and suddenly, I realized the objects were brooms and mops. I watched in suspended disbelief as the brooms and mops were, so quickly, so instantaneously pulled skyward that they broke in half as they flew away. I could feel myself being pulled by the same force while lying in the bed. It was at that moment that I awoke with a start, as if the breath had been sucked out of my lungs as I gasped for air when coming too.

I looked at my watch and I had only been asleep for ten minutes.

The next day, I had just lain down to sleep when I saw myself walking down a lane toward the pastures where my grandfather kept his dairy cattle. Overhead, the sky grew darker the farther I walked until it the day was nearly night. There came another great roar, like that of a mighty steam locomotive. As I looked ahead of me, I could see all manner of debris being sucked into the clouds above. The grasses swirled frantically as branches and rocks whirled about me. I once more felt myself being pulled heavenward and again, I awoke with a start, as if the breath of life had been sucked from my chest.

I looked at the clock and again, it had only been a few minutes since falling asleep.

Needless to say, after two days of this in a row, I was hesitant to go back to sleep on the third day for fear I might not awaken and finally be pulled into the heavens by the great whirlwind that seemed to be coming for me. I recalled the scripture of when Elijah was taken to heaven by God, so favored was he. I certainly don’t claim to be any sort of stature near or even slightly favoring Elijah, yet this scripture was firmly in my head as I carried on the rest of the week. My ponderings reminded me that anyone of us could be taken home at any time; our time is not our own for when the Lord calls us home, we must follow.

As the week wore on, the daily labors of working thirds took their toll on me, so demanding was the schedule and so heavy was the workload, that I soon nearly forgot about the dreams, until I saw the episode on a sports channel later on Saturday which was retelling the story of the 2008 SEC men’s 2008SECbasketball tournament in Atlanta. It was during that championship weekend that a tornado literally hit downtown Atlanta and the Georgia Dome where the tournament was being played. Miraculously, had a Georgia player not hit a three point shot at the buzzer of the regulation play, thus tying the game, the crowds would have departed just as the tornado hit downtown Atlanta. There was no telling the loss of life or injuries that might have taken place had the guard not hit the last second shot. Rather, due to the tie created by the buzzer-beater basket, there was a subsequent overtime, which kept the near capacity crowd in place and inside the safety of the dome. Afterward, as the documentary revealed, many people came to grips with the understanding of what could have been but was not; all due to a miracle.

To many, including myself, it was an act of God.

We go through our everyday lives, often losing sight of what’s most important, too caught up in keeping the proverbial “Wheels on the Road”, to understand the brief second, that once in a lifetime shot can change who and what we are and are to become, in as little as the blink of an eye. For this, we must give thanks to God for watching over us and when we do fall victim catastrophic events, we must find the will to carry on, for if we are survivors, there was a reason why.

Not everyone was meant to be taken to heaven in a whirlwind, but sometimes, we need to be reminded that it’s possible.

Are you ready for your final ride to Glory?

“Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” – 2 Kings 2:11

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