Monthly Archives: July 2016

The Sound of Silence…

“…A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;…” – Ecclesiastes 3:7

The words hit me like the stark, blank-pastel green wall of the hospital room opposite my bed. It was 1963, and my bedroom was the ICU unit of the Deaconess Hospital. My playground was underneath the shelter of the clear plastic oxygen tent, reserved for children with pneumonia; mine the second in as many years as I was old. Later I would learn of my near death encounters with double pneumonia. There was no fear in my life back then. The concerns on the faces of the adults who came to see me only lit up when they saw my smile from behind the veiled curtain of fractured light. Even at that tender age, there was a lesson in leaving as my heart would break each time the goodbyes came. I didn’t understand why so often my visitor’s would leave, turning their heads, wiping something from their faces as they left my room, always as I watched their backsides leave through the door, my heart would sink.

The silence would return; silence that would feel like the weight of the world held it shut.

From the foot of my bed, the pump of the oxygen tank hissed, the only reminder of life beyond my own body. There was a lot of time for my toddler mind to wander, yet there was always a presence there with me; call him my guardian angel. He would sit with me and warm me when the room would turn bitter cold, he would dry the tears from my eyes as I often recalled those faces from my short span of life that would come to mind. Again and again, I would try to replay the sunshine and laughter from what little memories life had taught me to this point. He would console me without words, but just the loving grace of God that would flow about us, like the words from the Bible floating in and around us, kissing our lips and blessing our spirits. There would come an awareness of beauty, one that I still cherish to this day, one that would inspire.

The silence became my teacher.

Many a long, lonely isolated day was spend in my early youth on the farms in and around New Harmony. The pastures, cows, hogs, and chickens became my companions since there were no other children around. Extended periods of solitary exploration taught my mind to create a world that would entertain me. We would speak to the animals and in a sense, they would understand. From that came an instinctual connection from which farming would become my second nature. My youthful heart ached for other children. On days there was an announcement of someone coming to visit, I would sit by the window facing the gravel road for hours at a time, waiting,…watching,…looking for the dust cloud to boil as a car or truck might approach. My heart would race as a vehicle would appear, and I would then dart for the back porch, running as fast as my little legs would carry me to the edge of the front yard, lined by the might oaks. There as the old farm truck would rumble past, a hand would shoot up from within the dark cab, waving hello. There my slim, tiny figure would stand like a statue, numb to the emptiness that filled my life. Sadly, I would only watch as the dust cloud would envelop my minuscule frame, turning my body one color; ashen. Grandma would call me back inside, realizing I had once more left the house. She was my caretaker, my keeper. Having survived Tuberculosis, she understood my condition required time to heal. So, back inside, back into the safety of the house; at least until I could find a way to slip past her watchful eye and back out into the barnyard.

Silence would return, and my soul would ache.

In all of that time of waiting and listening, a vast sea of words continued to grow within. Like a silo of summer grain filled to the brim, I desperately wanted to speak, yet it was not my time.

Grandma Mary had an old manual typewriter sitting in her spare bedroom. Occasionally, I would hear her pecking typewriteraway on it. Her experience working as a secretary at IBM made her an expert so that the sound was intoxicating to my musical ear. One day, after my begging her to put paper in it so I could learn to type real words too, she finally obliged me. After a very short lesson on where to place my hands, I began. Happily, my fingers started to type the syncopated rhythm I had heard her perform. Certain of my masterpiece, I then pleaded with her to read what I had written. Being the loving lady she was, she happily attempted to translate what a three-year old’s random, incomprehensible attempt to type might say. If there had been such a thing as video in that day, it surely would have made it viral as we rolled on the floor at the words that came from her mouth; precious memories.

There on that farm, beyond the reaches of anything human, other than my maternal grandparents, my world was formed. The companion from my hospital bed would walk with me and together, we would explore the world. The fresh air and countless hours of playing outside allowed my weak lungs to strengthen. Bit by bit, my color returned until one day, my grandmother would remark at how much better I looked. The comment returns to me even now, as if she was amazed at the turn around from the sickly, near-death child, to the vibrant, healthy, young lad that I was slowly becoming. There must have been enough doubt in her mind that she was amazed by what she saw. God was surely with us.

It wasn’t much longer after that, when I felt alive and full of spirit, that my friend, the guardian angel, left. Now I don’t mean he fully left, but rather, the feeling of his presence weakened to the point, that I knew he had gone. He would be there, time and again, when there would be a breach in my soul or some other near tragedy would affect my life. No longer would we walk together on the sunny pastures, but it was okay. I knew I wasn’t alone.

The silence had taught me well.

Someday, it would be my time to speak. Yes, someday there would be a time and place.

A time to gain,     And a time to lose; A time to keep,     And a time to throw away; A time to tear,     And a time to sew; A time to keep silence,     And a time to speak; A time to love,     And a time to hate; A time of war,     And a time of peace”- Ecclesiastes 3:6-8

Thanks be to God.

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The Heart of a Child…

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”-Matthew 19:14

For some of us, it takes a lifetime to find our place, and then we have but only a short time with to share with those around us; or beloved, our children. We waste our youth chasing foolish dreams of riches and pleasures of this world only to eventually realize what mattered most have gone before us. As we seek to make the world a better place for everyone, it is our narrow view of the grand picture from where we operate. Only with time and age do we sometimes find that slender vision expands and encompasses a world far greater in scale than we could have ever imagined in our wildest youthful dreams.

However, there are a few who find that grander purpose long before their time. Jesus knew that some would seek lampuntomyfeethim, and when they did, he wanted any, and all obstacles removed from their path, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them…,” Some unknowingly seek His face without ever knowing Him, as God directs them. From their hospital beds in wards full of other children, they lie in wait for the most insignificant touch, the mere glimpse of a smile, anything to brighten their gloom; they seek Him without having to be told, as only the most precious can, “for of such, is the kingdom of heaven…”. An innocence so pure of heart, not even the whitest of white snows can compare. Their hearts commune with the Father, as the touch of angels wings, brush the tears from their tiny, rose colored cheeks. If they are lucky, the image of His presence will remain into adulthood, beyond all the worldly experiences that face them should they eventually live to walk from that supposed place of healing. Then, their path becomes one of God’s will, should they choose it.

Yet, as we face our own mortal ends, the question often arises, am I ready?

Jesus shared with his disciples what the soul of man would be like once he obtained that eternal home when he compared heaven’s inhabitants to the heart of the child when he said, “…For of such, is the kingdom of heaven.” No longer will the earthly bounds, pleasures, and hatreds confine the spirit. No longer will the pangs of hunger distract you from being one with the Father. No more pains and sorrows to burden your being, so that your spirit will soar with the angels on high. There is nothing less magnificent than the picture of a heavenly home of child-like hearted people, all free to be themselves without fears of attack, reprisals, darkness or gloom; it will be heaven for sure.

She rattled on from one topic to the next, a nervous rant. The child was from a severely broken family, so much so, that she was staying in a foster home for the weekend until things could settle down. She sat with me at the oven while we waited for the bread to bake for the tour that was making its way down the Trail. Her foster mother had brought her along for the afternoon, if nothing else, just to get her out of the house. God had a purpose for her visit, this much I knew. As she talked, there was no mention of faith anywhere in her life. From one family member to the next, the child described those that had a positive influence, and those that had not. As she became more comfortable, she began to share the darkest moments in her life; her father’s death four years ago at the age of 37. “He died on July 21,…I was only ten years old,” she said looking down, as she pulled her hair back away from her face with one hand. “His four-year death anniversary was just two days ago.”

“That must be hard,” I replied.

“He died in my arms,” she said, “something I’ll never forget.”

“You’re not supposed to,” I tried to say in a comforting tone. “God want’s you to remember and use it on your journey through life.”

“Oh, I will, …never forget,” she said quickly, as she tried to perk up not allowing herself to go down into that dark abyss.

“Do you know David Smith,” she asked.


“He’s my therapist.”

It was then I realized she had been down much farther than I imagined, and to what extent I had no idea. This shattered broken young woman was doing the best she knew how to pull her life together. “Comfort her with the Word,” came the voice.

“You know, there’s a scripture not far from 7, 21?”

Her attention returned from mourning, “Huh,?”

“John 7:37, On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

“Wow, how do you do that, memorize all those scriptures.”

“Not nearly enough,” I responded. “You know something, I lost my father too.”

She turned and looked.

“Do you know the scripture, John 3:16,” I asked before continuing?

“I just learned it the other day,” she quipped.

“Tell me.”

She stood now, looking down at me in a puzzled face.

Trying to encourage her I began, “For God so loved the…”

She continued to look with a blank stare, unable to retrieve the words. “the world, that He gave His only begotten Son so that whosoever believeth in Him may not perish, but have everlasting life.”

“Oh yeah, that one.” She responded when I had finished.

“My dad died almost two verses later.”

That made no sense, as she wrinkled up her nose.

“His name was John, and he died on 3, 18.” I then quoted John 3:18 for her. “You see, if you believe, you won’t be condemned, but if you choose not to, you are condemned already.”

About that time, the tour group was heading our way, and we were running out of time.

“Oh, I do know one….a scripture,” she said proudly as she sat back down. “It’s the one about the light and the lamp unto my feet. I think it’s like, Psalm 119 something.”

“Yes, I think you’re right,” I said, scanning the Bible app on my phone. Shortly after, I found Psalm 119; 105 and read it aloud to her, “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.”

“Very good,” I exclaimed proudly. “There is hope,” I thought silently.

“I don’t know all of those like you,” she replied.

“But you’ve got a great start,” I smiled as my heart panged for her.

She smiled back, as the spirit of a child emerged. The tour group was now turning the corner, and our sharing was over. As I looked back on the evenings events, my thoughts turned to all those that are seeking. There are so many who need our prayers. Many are hurting either physically or spiritually, but we must be even more vigilant to lift those children up who are fighting to find a pathway in this world; a world so broken and bleak, there is little hope for them unless they are shown the way, the truth, and the light.

“May the Word be the lamp unto their feet and a light for all their paths,” this much I pray.

Thanks be to God.




Filed under Inspirational, Religion

God Be With Us Till We Meet Again…

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes..”-Romans 1:16

They come for many reasons.

Today was another first.trail8272015

On another Sunday, I was called to be at the Trail. Last week, a congregation held their church service inside the Church in the Cave exhibit. Today it was a group from the Concord area coming to tour. Although it was a Sunday visit, it didn’t diminish my feelings for being at the Trail on what is most people’s day of worship. To me, it was another way of honoring God, and so, where two or more or gathered, there He would also be; and so it was.

When the group first booked their reservation, they were within our limits of just one tour guide, but over time, the party grew until it was clear by this morning, that I too would get to lead a tour once again; meaning, we would have two separate groups. Brother Barry, our original guide for the original smaller group, had just returned from the valleys, so I was anxious to hear him lead once more and to provide insight only one having been to that faraway place could divulge. So when we began the introduction, I asked that Barry lead that segment for both groups, which he was glad to do. His introduction was so overwhelming, so complete, my heart questioned if I was going to be able to be up to today’s task in the shadows of such a magnificent guide. Silently, as we moved from the topographical map to the movie room, I lifted up a prayer asking for wisdom and guidance for the right words. God would hear my plea and soon, I would be back in the moment.

As we left the movie room to embark on the Trail, Barry asked the visitors who were some of his good friends from the area along with some of John Bradshaw’s family, the host of “It is Written,” to follow me. My heart leaped with fear and humility. Barry had offered his beloved and esteemed guests to my care, and now the honor was placed on my lap. Again I prayed, “Lord, please be with us and help me to allow your Word to be most evident.” In the blink of an eye, there was a surge of energy pulsing through my mind as all of the history and scripture began to surface in my head. Again, He was listening.

We walked through time, …as time stood still.

Moment by moment, God allowed me to share the history of the people of the valleys, the Vaudois. From my sharing of the possible first encounter with the disciples, while standing in the Barbas College to the singing of hymns in the Church in the Cave, my dedicated group of visitors began to learn about the past and their host. Slowly, monument by monument, my heart poured out to them as the story came alive in my mind and the scriptures continued to intertwine the words from my mouth.

Concerned about the time, I was hesitant to share my testimony once we entered the Ciabas Church, but once more God spoke, and I listened. There my story of faith, realization, and discovery allowed for me to tell the tale of how my own understanding of the Waldensians came to be. There I had to ask the question, “If you were never told of Jesus, as I was never told about being Waldensian as a child through adulthood, how might your world be different today?” Then to carry it a step forward, “How can you go into the world and expect those around you who have never heard of Christ, to act any differently?” It was then I explained how many of my own family had fallen away from their ancestral faith. They had never known of it, so what was there any different in their lives to change them? What did they have to stand for? And yet, they had everything to lose. Would they have been different had they known all along? Would they have made the same decisions in life? Had we been told, at least we could have had a choice. Likewise, those who received the invitation to accept Christ, they also have a choice to make once they are asked. Once our conscious mind is awakened, God gives us the free will to select which path we will take.

It is up to us to choose.

The centuries passed and before we knew it, our tour groups were reunited at the Community Oven. My day began just after sunrise, rekindling the fire in the massive stone structure in preparation for the baking of the bread. As weary as my body was, there was no hint of it in that instance. My wife and son met us at the oven, and together we shared the bread with our guests. My heart leaped with pride as I watched Tron’s carrying on the family tradition, alongside our brother in Christ, Barry, under the shelter of the maple tree near the end of the Trail; a nearly perfect ending to the end of a picture perfect day.

As my dad use to remark on such days, “The sky is blue, the grass is green, and the birds are all singing; …beautiful, just beautiful.”

Yet, there was one more special treat that God had in store.

As the tour came to the conclusion, we all made our way back to the Visitor’s Center. Barry and my family had to leave, but most of our guests remained to eat their lunch. Meanwhile, I stayed off to the side cleaning up and providing support as needed. When they finished, the group came toward the front of the Center to say goodbye.

They all gathered before me, united as together as a family would do before bidding farewell. It was then one of them made the announcement that they all wanted to say goodbye to me. They then began to sing the hymn, “God Be With You Till We Meet Again.” My heart leaped once again. In an instance, I was a small boy once more, back in New Harmony hearing my grandma and my Aunts singing in church, their sweet voices united in one accord. Before I knew it, tears began streaming down my cheeks as they concluded in sweet, blissful acapella harmony. It was another precious gift from God; another first.

The words were gone; I was speechless.

One after another, I shook their hand’s goodbye, trying to apologize through my tear filled eyes.

We concluded with a picture on the front steps, me and my new found family; brothers and sisters in Christ.

Yes, we said goodbye, until we meet again. What a sweet heavenly day that will be.

As one lady reminded me as she left, there are so many without the very thing we are blessed to have because of what Christ has done for us; Hope.

Yes, today I was blessed once more.

There is hope.

Thanks be to God.


Filed under Inspirational, Religion

What is your life?…

whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”-James 4:14






Dark vestiges of time lie dormant below the mist that forms above them. Silently the satin wisps pass from one peak to the next, vanishing before our eyes as we watch in awe the scenery before us which no cinematography could hope to capture. I silently pray that God will allow my mind’s eye to see this beautiful picture before me as long as I live, never ceasing to remember. It is too precious to lose. Alive and breathing, the earth savors the coming darkness. The day has been complete, now it is time for mankind to sleep, retiring to his safe abode as the beasts of the night come to life, devouring their prey and completing the circle of life.

We are but a moment in this story; a fraction of a segment in time, we are but more than a vapor that appears then silently fades into oblivion before it can be recognized. As fleeting as the clouds that pass overhead, so does the fog caresses the mountain peaks below, each separated by nothing, yet so far apart, they cannot touch. As the evening turns to darkness, layer upon layer the earth’s breath rises until showers of flying dew drops kiss our faces as they shoot up the face of the mountain, rising to meet their sisters above, becoming one in a dance of majesty and spiritual joy. Our fragile flesh desperately tries to understand all that passes before it until our minds become numb with the exhilaration of the moment at hand. We lick our lips and cherish the taste of wetness of clouds that have come to ask us to dance.

The ethereal visions before us are fleeting at best. The ground upon which we trod may appear as solid as the granite, but it too will someday pass away and become nothing. We are only the dust from which we have come and will return. Our ashes will scatter upon the winds, becoming one with the fluid shapes that swirl around us as we sat watching those fallen clouds once more rise to meet their heavenly brethren. Likewise, someday, we too will meet our Father in heaven, when we rise upon His coming, as the dead in Christ will rise first. In our sin, we all have fallen, but when we become one with Jesus, we are then able to ride those unseen currents that will take us one day to walk with our Lord. As he gave His life for our transgressions, He ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father where he awaits.

As our spirits become wisps of air, our bodies will be made whole, and our reunion with those gone on before will become complete.

The clouds may pass away, as will we too someday, but when we know Christ, our reunion will be no less glorious, and that will be the everlasting, everlasting that no human securities can fathom; our Heavenly home above.

None of us know what will happen tomorrow, our life is more fleeting than a vapor, yet we can trust that if we know Him, we shall someday walk at His side in Glory.

Thanks be to God.

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Among the Branches…

“He sends the springs into the valleys; They flow among the hills. 11 They give drink to every beast of the field; The wild donkeys quench their thirst. 12 By them, the birds of the heavens have their home; They sing among the branches. 13 He waters the hills from His upper chambers; The earth is satisfied with the fruit of Your works.” – Psalm 104:10-13

The morning light was still creeping through the foliage that lined the riverbank as we stepped foot into the chilly waters of the Johns River. It was our first family outing in a long, long time. Each of us found an extra spring in our step as we hurriedly unloaded the kayaks. The morning clouds had disappeared as blue skies welcomed us overhead. Off in the distant, before I could even finish changing from my hiking boots to my river shoes, the echoes of the Whippoorwill called. Instantly, my mind was transported back to the days of my childhood. Those evenings near the banks of the Wabash River, we would often hear that night bird’s cry as the shadows ebbed closer to the Sycamore just off Grandma Tron’s front porch. Yet, here he was calling in the morning hour, “Odd,” I thought to myself. The Wabash and the evening Whippoorwill were a lifetime away, yet the smell of the watercourse nearby reminded me of the present adventure, so I finished skayakinglipping on my shoes and quickly walked to the water’s edge.

Looking back, the night bird singing in the morning would only be fitting to what we would find as the day progressed, as the comfort He afforded us on our journey would appear almost surreal. We had only planned to just float the river and eat a picnic lunch. All that transpired beyond that was nothing we had never envisioned. As they always say, “If you want to make God laugh, make a plan.”

We are still very much learning the ropes of kayaking, and today’s journey would be another first; a two-hour trek. Unlike that river of memory, the Wabash, the Johns River flows from its beginnings in the Pisgah National Forest high up in the Blue Ridge Mountains. There in the wilderness, each bend, each turn of the waterway revealed another picturesque scene that made you want to stop moving and soak it all in; yet the flow of the life-giving fluid continued. The cascading sounds of white water blended with the gurgle of the paddle as we dipped them serenely into the clear mountain water. All around us birds too numerous to count, called out their chirps, whistles and songs as the symphony of nature treated us to a special performance. Each new turn, each new vista exposed granite walls towering above as our craft silently slipped past, like the time beneath our course.

Rapids after rapids, we found excitement in our journey. Gone were the endless days of moving, countless hours of driving between homes. Gone were the frustrations of living in the tiny house with one bathroom. Gone were the thoughts of countless hours of preparation, before dawn fires in the oven, late night clean up following festivals, and all the tensions that arose between. It was as if God was satisfied with the fruit of our labors and was sharing this day with us. Yes, we were more than thankful.

If that was not enough, He had more plans in store.

We had not finished eating our picnic lunch when, in true Godly fashion, several of our former JAM Band members would unknowingly, and independently find their way to where we were spending the afternoon following our morning float. It was more than humbling to see friends that had become like an extended family find their way into the wilderness, each showing up in staggered arrivals. Once again, as it is with all true friends, we picked up where we had left off in what seemed like years since we had last seen one another. There was so much to tell, share and discuss. Six of the ten band members were present, simply out of the blue, all in one place. To believe it was possible even if we tried would have been nearly unthinkable; yet, here they were. The children have all grown and are all now young men and women. In my eyes, they were all children once again, laughing and enjoying just being together once more. It was a thing of beauty.

Like the river, you try to absorb as much as you can, but there is never enough time.

Before we knew it, our short time together required another goodbye; those painful farewells you try to avoid.

The flow of life continues unabated.

We so desperately want to sometimes stop the current and hold onto the moment, like the breath of life we take to dive below the waters, we must consider those precious moments and store them away somewhere in our memory to recall later, and pray they are never forgotten.

We had made our way to the streams that flowed amongst the hills. There they provided nourishment for all the wild beasts of the field. But the nourishment was more than physical. In all that we do, our souls sometimes need to be replenished with the happiness that keeps our spirits afloat. Sometimes, we must find the time to drift along with the current, if even for a few minutes and let the world pass us by as we listen to Him. He may not speak, he may not move, yet sometimes the message is to just sit back, relax and enjoy His presence and the presence of those we love.

Today we found peace and happiness once more as we basked in the presence of the Lord along with our loved ones.

It was surely a beautiful day.

The flow of life continues, and we cherish each bend in the river.

Thanks be to God.


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