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Reflection of Faith…

f7fbe5b871a811e3859712a851556c4a_8It is the time of reflection.

This past year like all those gone before seems to have been a blur, yet when I think about each event, each moment, there are pieces so many that they become like the sands upon a beach, too many to tell individually; they have all become my collective memory. Tonight as the sun fell into the horizon, we strung temporary lights in my daughter’s tree house so that we could clean out the seasons of debris, storms and corpses of beloved pets that found the refuge of the lofty manner their last resting place on earth. The artifacts we unearthed along the way provided me memories far beyond the past year and into the childhood days of my now preteen daughter. Given time, the tree house would have become like those pets, decayed, forgotten and melded into the wood to become one with the world around them; their beings long ago passed. As her childhood passes, so do the same fondness for playing in the old wooden structure built aloft in the trees just outside our bedroom window. Like each of us, with time we change and so do our passions for things of this world. However, as we age, we find that the things that matter most go beyond those earthly abodes we so often adore and hopefully we find what is most important in life.

While cleaning, we found leaves and old toys in all manner of dried and faded states scattered about the nearly forgotten play house. It had become an oasis for the pets of the farm, a safety zone where they could find shelter from the storms and the scent of their master whom they cherished to the bitter end. The outsides of the structure were painted by happy children, eager to decorate their new home away-from-home. Dinosaurs, trees and a single bright sun adorned the bare wood of the single room cabin in the bows of the stand of trees. The house was built so that the trees could still move and allow the structure to float on their braces underneath, thus giving it the ability to withstand even the most violent storms. Hence, to this day, there have been little signs of wear from being a home in the trees. Vines have begun to grow through the boards making the house even more one with its surroundings. It is not an air tight structure but was built to give the feel of such a dwelling. As we stood outside and admired the lights within it reminded me of the time I had just finished the cabin in the woods near our current home and would stand outside of it too at night, looking inward at the lamp light burning its soft warm glow through the windows and door into the black abyss. The same warmth and comfort from that light made you feel like this was home, and so it was once again. The creation of something from nothing, only to have the connection of creating life from death echoes back to ancient times.

The feeling it invokes brings to mind the following scripture:

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” – John 5:23-25

My journey this past year began early in the throes of late December 2012 when I wrote in my journal about the path that was only about to begin; the one I had yet to travel and its pathway I had no idea where it would lead. I had put my manure spreader on the market and was selling it the next day in order to help pay for the publishing of the first book. I was literally turning farm equipment into a manuscript. I wrote sarcastically in my journal that night that my book may merely be a bunch of manure but like the spreader I was selling, I had to also spread the Word, so that the journey could begin. To be fair, I had to at least try; I had to begin an evangelistic mission of sorts, one I had never planned when I first put pen to paper and began writing the first book. But like all things Heaven sent, we seldom know where they will lead us until we find ourselves already there. That night I also began writing in my sequel, one year from today and once more, I went back and reread those words, the start of another journey, another turn in the roads of time for the characters in my first book, “Bruecke to Heaven”. Like me, they had no idea where they were going but put all of their faith in God, for they too had passed from death to life in order to believe in the Word. No longer are we confined by the law of sin, but rather we are given the choice to believe and to accept Christ into our lives, and for that I am eternally grateful.

The past year I have met and spoken to countless wonderful people, each with their own story, each leaving their impression upon me in one way or another. I have been places, seen things and performed acts I would have never imagined. Some of the most significant things were hearing of my children winning second place in the first ever Jr. Bocci tournament in Valdese as part of their annual Waldensian Celebration. Had it not been for the journey of the book, we might never have been there for them to enter. There was the time the woman was moved to tears during my radio interview on the Truth Radio Network after hearing my song and reading the cover of my book; her story involved recovering from cancer surgery and how the words from the cover had spoken to her. Then there were the countless times when speaking to someone for the first time, I could feel the Holy spirit move through me and into them, a sensation indescribable but its reaction on the one to whom I was speaking priceless. Another moment was seeing my book on the shelves of Barnes and Noble; something years earlier I would have never imagined and still find it humbling to see. I could only imagine what grandpa and grandma would say or even what Aunt June would feel knowing she had been responsible for getting the ball rolling. She never lived to read the book but passed the day of my first official public book signing; something I will never forget. Like life from death, I carry on the memories and the journey continues.

As we prepare the tree house for a new life, one with lights and a new purpose, we take with us the memories of those pets found absorbed into its floor, our family and all the trails that faith takes us and with it we must continue on into the darkness. We now have the light, the Word and we shall forever be changed.

May your new year involve something blessed, a tale of faith, a journey of life and a moment in time you will never forget.

God Bless, Have a Happy New Year and Lux Lucet in Tenebris for All!

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Roller Coaster Ride at a Motorcycle Shop…

“In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.” –Prov. 3:6

I was more than blessed yesterday when I had the wonderful opportunity to be a guest on a weekly2013-04-27 11.41.49 broadcast show on the Truth Radio Network. I was one of several visitors who came on the “Robby’s Hobbies” show, hosted by Robby Dilmore and gave their testimony in Christ along with telling the listening audience how their life’s hobbies or spiritual gifts have helped them in their walk of faith.

It was obvious once the show began that Robby had not shared with any of us visitors as to whom the other guests might be. For me at least, it made for a very spontaneous and ultimately rewarding experience. Before I was invited to be on the show, Robby and I talked by phone about my reason for being on the show which was to tell his listeners about my book, “Bruecke to Heaven”, and the story of faith behind it. When he called, I had just got up from a couple hours sleep, trying to recover from working the night shift; I never get enough. As I sat on the front porch swing talking with Robby, I sat looking out across lush green pastures in the distance, while the bountiful pink blossoms of the cherry tree swayed gently in the foreground, sprinkling tiny blooms in the air like snow flurries of spring. It was in this mode that we both shared with one another or faith, our passion for what we do and I felt a calm come over me, like Robby was someone I had always known; it was as if I was talking to family.

We had originally talked about me coming to the studio for the interview but due to a schedule change, the date which I chose to be interviewed happen to be the same date in which the station was going to be putting on a live broadcast at the Honda of Winston Salem motorcycle shop. Robby asked if I was ok with that, and I thought, “Hey, I’m always up for a challenge and it would certainly be an adventure,” so I gladly accepted. The challenging part was the fact that I had told Robby I could perform a song that I wrote about the book on air if he liked, which he said would be fantastic. In lieu of being live, on air, broadcasting from a motorcycle shop, I knew that trying to perform a song on location might be a disaster, so a great friend and fellow J.A.M. supporter/teacher, Mark Dillon, graciously agreed to meet with me beforehand and record the song I was to do on the air. I wanted to have one in the can, so to speak, which we could play instead.

So, Saturday morning came, and after dropping my family off in Greensboro to begin celebrating my daughter’s 12th birthday, I found my way to the motorcycle shop in Winston-Salem. Upon arriving, it was easy to see I was at the right place. There was a tractor trailer parked in the lot next to the Honda dealership at a furniture consignment store. It was the “Harvest America” road show, which was there until noon, and then it would be off to Raleigh for the remainder of the day. They were promoting their upcoming nationwide simulcast event on September 28 and 29th. Greg Laurie, the evangelist leading the event, is considered to quite possibly be the next Billy Graham. The huge trailer, along with hundreds of balloons, tents and signage made for an excitement in the air just from the visual perspective. I walked into the Honda dealership finding Robby already fully engaged in his show that preceded ours, but he acknowledged me while continuing to air his show.

I walked around, looking at all the motorcycles, speaking to people there, both working and visiting, and before I knew it, it was time to start. Another good friend of mine, Dean Lang, had encouraged me by text message earlier to relax and just be myself, so as I reviewed his text, I sucked in a deep breath and put on the headphones for the interview to begin. Before I sat down, I handed Robby the CD Mark and I had made and he somewhat dejectedly said that he had hoped I would do it live. I asked, “Here on a live broadcast?” To which he replied, “Sure, it will be just fine.” His calmness soon erased my fears, so I unpacked my guitar and tuned up so it was ready to go when he asked.

As the interview began, I sat across the table from Robby and another guest, Ross. Chik-fil-A was hosting another Chik-fil-A Leadercast event and Ross was there promoting the local church who was also hosting the event via simulcast. Before we started, we did a sound check on our mics, so Robby asked Ross to go first and to just say John 3:16. So Ross did, he said, “John 3:16,” and stopped. Robby looked at him and waited for more, which Ross soon realized he wanted him to keep going so the engineer could get the sound volume correct and was somewhat comically put on the spot. Robby then asked me to do the same, which I then quoted John 3:16 and then continued into John 3:17 as well. Robby and the engineer had more than enough of my sound check to work with and Ross was somewhat dismayed, when he said, “Well, I didn’t realize I was going to be sitting across from an over-achiever.” We all laughed and the gig was on: the roller coaster was at the top of the first hill and about to drop off the first precipice.

2013-04-27 11.41.12I don’t recall the exact order of events from there, like a roller coaster, once the ride began it became a blur; only the high and lowlights stuck. I did find it challenging that we were sharing time between multiple guests, so I would speak for a bit then stop and allow other guests to talk. Then when it was my time again, I had to pick up where I left off, which was often the challenging part. The talk went back and forth between myself and Ross, with Robby interjecting during breaks the Harvest America event, all pretty up beat until the lady came on whom was a cancer survivor to tell her story. She had just had a complete bilateral mastectomy and was there to tell her story of recovery and faith. Just prior to her speaking, Robby asked me to perform my song; we were now at the bottom of one of those roller coaster hills and the peak seemed so far up I couldn’t see the top from where I sat.

I prayed a silent prayer asking God to please sing through me in spite of me, closed my eyes and began.

It seemed like an eternity, but was over in the blink of an eye. The last strains of the melody were still echoing in my ears when the crowd who had gathered around erupted into applause. I opened my eyes to see for myself who all was now there, and saw the sudden audience and then looked over at the cancer survivor. She had tears in her eyes and was holding a copy of my book in her hands. Robby went to her next and she began to speak in a shaky voice how I had just touched her heart. As I sit here now trying to write this with tears in my eyes, I can’t begin to tell you the feeling of knowing that God has spoken through you, but there it was, right there, in a motorcycle shop in Winston-Salem on an overcast morning, with people from all walks of faith gathered around, either in person or listening across the country, witnessing the power of the Lord.

As we sat there listening to her touch our hearts, she said that the quote from my the book that is written on the cover touched her event more and then she read it to us, “Yes my son, the angels speak to us often, and with our hearts in the right place, we can hear them.”

From there, her testimony and the rest of the show was an emotional blur, as I was blown away from all that had just transpired. I met many wonderful people in such a short timeframe, seen the effects of a Godly moving event and had a song God gave me, sung on the airwaves across the nation, and it the clock had barely struck noon.

I left the dealership, like one leaves a barn-burner roller coaster ride, shaken but super charged at the same time. I knew when this book journey began that the only thing I could count on was not knowing where the journey would lead and today, was yet another wonderful surprise and life enriching experience.

I pray that as God leads me, I find the paths he shows, this is all I can hope and pray. Amen!

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