Monthly Archives: August 2014

The Gift: A Request from Beyond…

God’s Light

I recently had the pleasure of finding an email sitting in my inbox from one of my mother’s dear friends, Juanita Scott. My mom had shared with her some of my note cards from a painting I had done titled, “God’s Light” and she was trying to find someplace where she could obtain more of them; thus, the impetus for her writing. Juanita lives hundreds of miles away from me, so we couldn’t just meet at the local coffee shop or go to one of the local art galleries where my work is displayed.

The note cards originated from a painting I had done years before titled, “God’s Light”. The scene depicts two children dressed in farm clothes heading out to a small pond to go fishing while off in the distance a storm is brewing. It was inspired by my children, whom to this day even in their teens, still love to go fishing any chance they get the opportunity. The action in the painting leaves one to ponder, as the old saying, “Is the glass half empty or half full,” since you could debate if the storm in the distance had passed or is yet to come; the irony left to the viewer.

However, Juanita’s email itself had an unexpected effect on me.

The act of mom’s dear friend reaching out to me felt in some small way as if my mother had reached down to me from her heavenly abode, if nothing else, to let me know she was still watching over us all.

Juanita had shared with me that my mother had been so proud of me, although this was something I rarely heard from my mother herself; our relationship was one of few words. My mother often acted out her love in many ways, more than mere words. In this case, she took the opportunity to share with her closest friends pieces of my artwork, a part of her that she was proud to share. I felt touched by the request and Ms. Scott was correct, I had not thought to put the notecards online for sale, since I usually only sold them at events as a side item; thus, they were nowhere to be found other than here at my house and a couple local art stores, many hundreds of miles from Juanita.

I replied back to Ms. Scott letting her know I got her email and that I would try to figure something out. I then put the thought on the back burner. The next couple of days would be quite busy with our musical performances at Silk Hope Old Fashioned Day and at the Cumnock Community Ice Cream Social; in other words, I already had a lot to think about. Time passed as it often does with our fellowshipping with the Lang Sisters and many other friends over the course of Saturday and then to add to the celebration of the weekend, we were to have a concert at church Sunday morning; the weekend just kept getting better and better.

Eunice Gillis, the mother of Pastor David King, put on a solo concert of singing and piano playing which was more wonderful than we could have ever imagined. During the performance, between the music played and the words spoken, something brought back the thought of Ms. Scott’s email once again. I’m sure Ms. Gillis reminded me of my mother and how she had always wanted to play the piano too and did eventually later in her life.  Sunday morning, beautiful melodies echoed through the old church out of the magnificent concert grand piano as Eunice shared with us the story of her life in between sets. She too had been raised in Indiana on a small farm and was from a very musical family; could it get any better? As we absorbed the splendid sounds, I thought about my children who were sitting next to me, rapt in attention to the concert and how this might someday cause them to reflect back in life when they too sat in their front row seats to hear this beautiful elderly lady put on a show that was fitting for a concert hall of hundreds, yet it was just only our small congregation in attendance. I couldn’t help thing that somewhere up above us a heavenly host of angels watched. There among that legion was my mother, smiling and singing along.

After Eunice had finished I went up to thank her and give her a hug. As I stood hugging this wonderful lady,  I felt a need to extend that embrace, the kind that you feel obligated to perform for fear of never having the chance again. My mom flashed in my mind and the scene from when she stood next to me, warming ourselves next to the heater before I left to return to North Carolina, came to me. I somehow knew that it would be the last time we were together on this side of those Heavenly gates. We spoke very little as usual but before I left, I hugged her tight and for a long time, much longer than usual; as with Eunice Sunday morning. Tears filled my eyes as I felt those emotions from the past unite with the present, something greater than us all, something Godly was at work there in that little church. I tried to whisper to Eunice that I couldn’t speak but even that was futile, so I just shook my head and hugged her once more and smiled through tear filled eyes.

Afraid my children would see my emotions; I backed away and tried to hide the blessing that was overflowing my soul; the music, the Holy Spirit and the hand of God. As we made our way out of the church I thought of mother again and how she would have loved this. I looked up to the heavens, as my eye followed the old church steeple up to an amazingly azure blue sky. I paused as I looked up; contemplating taking a picture. I started to reach for my phone and then noticed a tiny white cloud drifting by, barely visible, yet moving past as if she had somewhere else to go. I felt a warmth pass over me and knew in my heart, although she never said it much in my presence, mom was proud of what I had done and was now watching over my little family. I realized she had been there with us the day before as we sang and performed ourselves, once again passing around the invitation to the other angels to join her as she observed from her heavenly abode, telling them how proud she was and that she had been with us once more today, as I suspected, reveling in all the glory alongside us.

Later that evening I went home and made it possible for Ms. Scott to purchase those notecards online, so she could more easily obtain those heartfelt gifts that my mom had once shared with her, either out of kindness or as a token of her love. It was during that time that I felt the need to write about all that had transpired, since I wanted to share more than just the obvious with Juanita since she had unknowingly given me much more in return; thus this blog.

From a simple request came so many memories, yet so much can be gained from so little if we only try.

I pray I never stop trying to do God’s will, at least if nothing else, for my mother’s sake.

God Bless.

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A Message in the Clouds…

Clouds tell us a lot.

This morning as my son and I went out for our morning run, we had just passed a particularly challenging uphill section of our route and as I gasped for breath, I looked up to the sky and notice a nondescript cumulus hovering overhead. It made me think back to how many more times I had done the same, looked heavenward while running. The act of looking skyward in some instances was from a need for silent prayer to get me through the day or at least to the end of the run, but in this case it was simply to enjoy the beautiful day that God had made.

Then the thought came to me, “How many times had I had passed this point of exhaustion in my younger days, only to have no idea that someday I would be performing the same feat, but with a son at my side?”

I listened to our rhythm of footsteps, his matching mine even though his stride could easily be half as great as my own. He now stands six foot tall and his loping pace seems too easy for his slender frame. He barely breathes as I struggle to gasp in anything that would ease my burning lungs. Yet, as we continue onward, we move as one; father and son under a pale blue sky, the sunrise at our backs. In my earlier days, I would push the pace when running with someone so that we might achieve a greater return from our workout, yet this morning I neither desired to push the pace nor shorten our time together; this was more than just exercise.

As we trotted along, we talked of many things. My mind ran parallel, looking down at the two images flowing along the green backdrop of countryside. My own father never dreamed of running with me, or at least if he had, he never said so. One summer when I was in high school I began increasing my long runs. On one of the first attempts, I asked my dad to check on me while I tried running an 18 miler. He agreed and became my support vehicle of sorts. He would drive by in the old Chevy Suburban while drinking a beer. He even offered me a drink, realizing I was probably in need of fluids, and then he was off, driving away in a cloud of dust down the gravel road as I plodded onward. Those were solitary runs, something I became to understand were part of the territory. Having someone accompany you was a treat, as was today. We had by now turned and were on the return leg of our run with the sunrise now facing us, as ominous clouds blocked its rays; precursor to potential rain I told my son. He nodded; the pace was finally catching up with him.

The last mile of our run is up the hill to our home; one of the most challenging climbs I’ve known in all the years of my running. As we approached it, I kept talking, sharing not realizing the strain the incline was taking upon my body. Not until we nearly reached the summit did I have to stop speaking and search for oxygen to feed my starving limbs. The scene of cross-country runners passing the finish line and bending double to catch their breath came to mind, hands on hips, heaving chests. One young man from Oregon had joined our high school team, a boy who could have doubled for the late Steve Prefontaine. He walked up to me and told me putting my hands on my hips was cheating, that it was making it easier for my body to recover, not allowing my chest cavity to build strength which was part of the training. I dropped my arms at the time, trying to achieve the effort my teammate mentioned. Today, I hugged my hips and sucked in air, thinking of whatever happened to the young man and where he might be today, if alive at all. The greenness of the shade we had reached at the peak of the hill made me think of Oregon and what running in that place might have been like in Pre’s time; magical for sure.prefontaine

The whinny of Sugar, Mary’s pony broke my dreamlike state as we walked through the front gate and into the inner yard. Sugar stood waiting for her breakfast, which we soon took care of as we walked our cool-down to the barn. Kittens danced and spun in the early morning light; happy to see us approach knowing breakfast was soon to be served for them as well.

Then my son asked, “Dad, did you notice there wasn’t one car?”

I thought and he was right, we hadn’t seen one car on our entire time out.

“No, you’re right,” I said in response.

“Is it always like this in the morning?”

“Well, if you get up early enough on Sunday morning it can be,” I replied, “but if you go far enough, there will eventually be at least a couple cars.”

He nodded.

I would save the stories of countless miles I had once run on the logging roads in the Weyerhaeuser forests of South Carolina and not seen one human during an entire summer.

Today was about us, not about the past.

Later, after our cool-down, I sat on the porch sipping my morning coffee and noticed the sky a perfect blue. All the clouds had vanished and the pasture grasses before me echoed a richness of plush moisture. My son walked up to the porch after having checked the chickens and I noticed he looked as if hadn’t even broken a sweat. I told him to come on up and take off his shoes and socks so his feet could breath. He obliged and we sat side by side, once more sharing and watching the world before us come alive with the days dawning, our bare feet cooling in the breeze.

Off in the distance, clouds began to loom once again as a hummingbird flitted by.

angelcloudThat afternoon on our way home from church, I looked up in the sky and saw a cloud with the perfect face of an angel looking down. The image was so perfect, it looked almost appeared man-made. The angel had wide outstretched wings and seemed to be floating across the sky, a vision of comfort and peace from above. I felt a certain confirmation inside, knowing that we were being watched from above and that somehow, someway, no matter what life had in store, God would see us through; so said the image in the cloud.

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Agape Journey…

The rain came down in sheets as dark clouds loomed to the horizon.10592838_10204470877797851_7162012123435692523_n

We sat inside thinking of the months of practice, looking out as the water flowed down Main Street as the torrent fell from the sky. It was Friday morning, the day of our Festival of Faith which was to be performed later that day at 5pm in Jacumin Plaza. The forecast had been for rain, heavy rain and now it seemed that for once the weatherman had it right. I looked at my family and knew that regardless of the outcome, we were going to perform, knowing there would be no tomorrow, no second chances, or so we believed.

I bowed my head and said a silent prayer asking for God to halt the rain long enough so that there would be a break before the time of our show, perhaps letting folks know it was safe to venture out, and then long enough for us to conclude our performance. I had learned from Pastor Thomas to be specific in prayer requests and as I have been told, I am far too sparse on prayer requests for my personal needs. So not withstanding my own conviction, I asked and I asked boldly; so much so that I told the children I had asked God to make a break in the weather, to which they only nodded.

The heavy rain kept falling.

We carried on during the day preparing regardless of what the skies above did; the rain continued to fall with clouds so dark it sometimes seemed as if it were late evening rather than early afternoon.

Then miraculously, about an hour before the time of our show, the rain slowed, ebbed and finally stopped. As we began setting up the sound equipment for the stage, the street dried and clouds began to part with intermittent shafts of sunlight flowing through.

My heart smiled as I realized, God had not only answered my prayers, but also for the fact my children saw once again the power of prayer in action.

The evening’s show went off without a problem as the youth of our bands, the Boy Scouts from troop 192, and Senator Jacumin performed flawlessly, providing an emotionally charged performance that moved those in attendance beyond words. The response was so great from those who arrived late, that we were asked to perform the show again on the next day, Saturday; another day that the weather forecast had predicted 100% chance of rain. Those who were part of the performance looked at me thinking it impossible, but I smiled for within I knew if it was His will, it would be done. I agreed that if it were possible we would do a second show on Saturday.

10609549_10204474460927427_2830980695479622225_nIn the meantime, we had never seen the play “From This Day Forward” and since the rain had abated, we all hurried from our show off to grab a quick bite for supper and then still in costume, attended the long awaited play. We were not disappointed. The first Act had such an impact that I found it difficult to hold in my emotions, even after I had written about such atrocities. So well done was the performance of the “Massacre” scene that the full force of the sight and sound combined brought all to tears as the sounds of cries in the darkness still echo in my head. It was truly a moving moment. That Saturday evening, even though dark clouds loomed overhead, we were protected as the entire play went off without the first raindrop.

On the way back to the hotel from the play, the weather finally broke and the heavens opened up; my soul felt relieved and thankful all at once.

We awoke Saturday morning to an overcast sky, but the rain had stopped just before dawn.

Later in the day, sometime after the second show, when there had been no rain since early that morning, I sat and thanked the Lord once again for answering prayers beyond what were deserved or expected and realized His will had been done once again.

In all, the weekend was more than just our performance; total immersion in the spirit is the only way I can begin to describe it. For our small troop of performers and families, we found the will of God working in our immediate lives so greatly that we will forever be changed. From the beauty of the sweet voices being lifted up in praise to the words of gratitude spoken by our audience members, from blessings of seeing what we portrayed acted out by others, to strangers stopping us on the street asking us why were dressed in costume which gave us the opportunity to witness to them our story and conviction; it was more than just listening to a story, it was living the tale, the journey became one with the lives we lived. As we stood in the darkness of the Cathedral Cave on the Trail of Faith and I described its significance to those young voices who asked in that darkness what it was about, I realized there was a need, a reason to share the story beyond merely telling it; reliving it to some degree was necessary.

This Sunday morning, Pastor Dr. Fredrick at the Waldensian Presbyterian Church gave his sermon on the Agape Center that began in 1947 by a small group of Waldensians. Agape is Greek word describing “Christ-like love” and is considered the highest form of love; it is self-giving. After this weekend, I felt I had begun to understand what others came to realize through their total immersion in the spirit when they came together to create the center by hand. From this small group of Waldensians led by Tullio Vinay their servitude created something that brought together Christians from all walks of life, rather than divide them. To this day, the Agape center is used by Christians from all over the world as a spiritual retreat, a place where one can take a sabbatical, a place to step back and understand all that God has done in our lives, whether we realized it or not.

Although it was only slight, I believe we experienced Agape love this weekend and for that I am beyond grateful.10514648_10204470795395791_1250824463609537247_n

How much more could one ask, how much greater could time spent with friends and family be spent; this I cannot imagine or answer other than this was more than a fulfillment of any dream I had dared to imagine.

Blessings are given to those who seldom realize them until it is too late. I pray that the Lord allows me to never forget the blessings I received this past weekend, for the Festival of Faith was all and more than I could have ever imagined, Agape love if you will and for this I feel truly blessed.

Thank you God!

“[ The Greatest Gift ] Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. ….” – 1 Corinthians 13

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The Light before the Dawn…


My mind was racing well before the dawn.

Unable to sleep, I arose and began the day well in advance of the culmination of months planning and practicing for the Festival of Faith. The vision to bring the story of hope, salvation and redemption to the world will not be without uncertainty as the threat of inclement weather looms large. Yet, it would not be without adversity that we struggle to keep the story alive.

Somewhere in another country far away, once again Christians struggle to survive; surrounded by Muslim extremists, their fate dependent upon faith and prayer. Today I read in the paper that our country has sent relief in the form of food and water, air dropped to the mountain top where they hold out. Their adversaries wait for them to come down to seek food and water, only to take their lives at every opportunity. I’m sure their prayers were answered when those resources fell from the sky; manna from heaven as in the day of the Israelites and their time in the desert.

Today, we move the program to a new location, with a new format but return with the same story, one told for generations of the people that kept the faith alive, the truth, the Word; the Waldensians. Our numbers are small, we face many obstacles to bring our message, yet we do not face the tests of our brethren in that far away land; the face of death. Here, we merely struggle with the ignorance and greed of others that turn away from what made their country and cities great, the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Tonight, I will lead children of the Lord on a journey that began a year ago, in a church recreated to the image of one back in the Cottien Alps, a place where death has visited one too many times; the Ciabas on the Trail of Faith. Although last year our audience was small, the response was too great to let the program die there within the walls of the wonderful church. Like the world in which we live, we too often find comfort within the walls of our house of worship; we must go beyond, out to the masses that need to hear our voices. As fishers of men, we must go where we can find the fish.

So, in less than 12 hours, we will have finished the story, the performance will have been completed.

Will we bring hope, joy and inspiration to others; only the Lord knows, only He knows.

“Wake up Sleeper, rise from the dead and let the light of the Lord shine on you.” – Eph. 5:14

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Anglers Dream…

2014-08-01 01.51.23 This was written after we took an early morning fishing expedition out onto Jordan Lake a couple weeks ago. I can still hear the cries of the Bald Eagles as the fog enveloped our craft.


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