Sunday, March 20, 2011


Part of my Journey in Black and White ended up being a new book project.

Mountain Man: Memoir of a Free Spirit

My brother Harvey's memoir is fueled by a 40 year collection of his journals and letters. They tell the story of a free spirit who chose to live life on his own terms as a hermit... on a side of a mountain in TN. Unaccountably, as I worked on his story my own story became clearer. It is said that one's life is incomplete until one has been to the mountain, stood at its summit, and breathed the same air as the Creator. My late brother's 60 acre mountain property in East Tennessee did that for him...this Journey in Black and White is doing that for me.

I have posted some of the book on a Facebook page... Here are the first few chapters...I will post others... enjoy.

The Mountain

Just for a moment imagine you have come to visit Harvey on his mountain. You may have read about him, heard stories, or met him somewhere on his travels. To get there you have followed highway 70 up from historic Rogersville, Tennessee. It is early morning and for most of the 17 miles, you find yourself driving through a cloud. A misty fog hovered over the mountain during the night and settled gently into the valleys. Occasionally, when a window in the mist clears you glimpse the endless panoramic view of the Great Smokies spilling away into the horizon, it is hard to tell where the mountains end and the heavens begin. Eventually you emerge from the winding switch back curves of the highway and begin to pass roads, hollows, creeks, and communities with names such as Little Pumpkin Valley, Frog Level, Turkey Creek, Copper Ridge, and a church named 'Compromise'.

You turn at Gravely Valley Road and follow it until you find a certain mail box. The entry into Harvey’s land grew over long ago for lack of use, so you pull into his neighbor’s driveway. You were told it is okay to park your car inside the gate; you will walk the rest of the way. The neighbor's property is cleared farmland surrounded by forest; his house is barely visible behind a stand of pines farther up the drive. To the left, along the woods, a long ago logging company ripped a narrow road into the mountain. It looks straight uphill and you will have to climb it.

Depending on whom you ask, Harvey's cabin is two or three miles farther on. Stepping out of the car the mountain wraps your senses. You can hear the creek rushing over rocks as it follows its century old path around lower border of the mountain. The air is crisp. Nearby a blue jay calls out a welcome...or a warning.

You start walking. Twenty minutes later you stop to catch your breath and look back at your car a half-mile away; it is the last symbol of civilization you will see for a while. Walking on, still uphill, you remember to check your cell phone... no bars. You are officially separated from the outside world.

You are on the lookout for a big rock where you are to turn left and cross onto Harvey's land. Another 15 minutes, past a bend or two in the road an outcropping of layered sandstone appears, It looks as if it may hover over the entrance to a buried cave and it is big. To the left of the rock a barbed wire fence stretches on up the mountain and defines the north boundary line of the sixty acres. Hanging on the fence is a hand carved wooden sign, “Road Closed: No Motorized Vehicles Allowed.” You are about to step into 'Harvey World.'

Climbing the fence, you follow the path through damp woods of pine, oak, poplar; their branches create a laced canopy above your head. Jewel like dewdrop glisten on grasses and the tips of pine needles. The trail is very quiet except for the soft crackle of twigs under your feet and an occasional chattering of a squirrel. A you walk farther into the mountain the world shrinks to the path before you. Moss, rocks, ferns, twigs take on exquisite details you would have missed on other walks in wide-open spaces.

The pervading silence of the mountain brings with it a solitude humans rarely experience, Alone? Not really, forest eyes are wondering at the stranger who suddenly appeared in their kingdom. Standing still for a moment you see a whitetail-deer no farther than a stones throw away. She solemnly stares at you with unblinking eyes then melts off into the morning mist.

Moving on at a gentler pace you vaguely wonder what it would be like to live this close to God's creatures and yet not see another human being for weeks at a time? You have heard that before settling here Harvey traversed the length and breath of the country with only a backpack. What kind of person chooses to endure heat and cold, rain and snowstorms, loneliness and uncomfortable beds, or no bed, and danger...for what? A sunset? Another mountain, new people...freedom...solitude? There has to be a story behind the Hermit of the Mountain. Somehow you feel deep within that he may have answers that will help you live your own live in a more authentic way. That is why you made this journey.

The scent of burning wood causes you to pause and look around. Faintly, through the trees, you see a cabin nestled in a dip of the mountain. As you get closer you notice a hazy trail of smoke rising from the pipe in the roof and floating off toward the creek. The window glows with the warmth of a coal oil lamp...this has to be the place.

Right about here is where you start second-guessing your decision. Now what? Just how does one make an unannounced visit to a hermit? You have heard he is friendly, but he obviously lives alone for a reason. What if he doesn't like company? Wonder if he has a gun? Didn't someone tell you that everybody in Tennessee has a gun? Still not sure you finally just move past the questions and walk down the hill calling out! “Hello! Anybody home?”

He steps around the corner of the cabin, a short stocky man dressed in a faded flannel shirt and worn jeans. His kind, yet intensely blue eyes gaze at you from behind wired rimmed glasses above a Grizzly Adams beard. As you step into the clearing he says, “Welcome friend...” and extends his hand. He asks your name and where you are from, then he invites you into his home.

As you step inside the first thing you encounter is possibly the largest collection of books you have ever seen outside a public library. Books are everywhere. Floor to ceiling they line the walls, the shelves, the rafters. They are stacked on tables, chairs, windowsills and on the floor. A library of this magnitude is the last thing you expected to find on the side of a mountain in the middle of nowhere.

On closer inspection you will find they categorized by subject...poetry, novels, history, medicine, law, how-to, self help, biographies, science, art, religion, theology, mysteries, politics and literally every other subject from anthropology to zoology. Homer's Iliad rest beside Thoreau, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Emerson, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Thurber, Twain. James Patterson, and other modern day writers, find their place near an entire set of Encyclopedia Britannica, which, Harvey explains, were given to him by the Britannica Company when he did a story telling event for them in Washington, D.C.

Overwhelmed by the sheer numbers, your unspoken questions tumble over themselves... “How many are there? Has he read them all? How did he get them up here?” Later, when you get to know him better, you ask and he answers with a chuckle, “Not real sure about how many...lost count years ago...maybe about 10,000 here and more in the other cabin. Yes, I've read them all, some numerous times and I backpacked them in.”

It is evident your host is totally at ease with his surroundings. Offering no apology for the simplicity of his home, and with all the dignity of a well-to-do Victorian gentleman showing you into his parlor, he invites you to have a seat at the oilcloth-covered table. More than likely you will be sitting in a chair he made from a tree on the property. The books and warm hospitality have already knocked many of your preconceived ideas of a mountain man in the head, but more surprises await.

He is soft spoken, possesses a quick wit, ready laughter, and delightful sense of humor. His disarming way of laying out the most profound statement wrapped in a smile can be intriguing. For instance, when you inquire about his decision to live out-side-the-box, he replies, “It just came to me one day that a humans life must have purpose, at least to the person living it." While you are digesting that nugget he adds a few pieces of wood to the stove, throws a strange looking root into a pot of water and asked you if you have ever had sassafras tea?

Perhaps not on your first visit, but if you stick around long enough his natural tendency to teach will slip out, and as he pours the steaming tea into a chipped mug he will casually mention… “Sassafras trees grow wild on the mountain, the Cherokee Indians boiled the bark to use as a spring tonic, they believed it purified the blood and cured a lot of ailments…as far back as 1603 a tea company in England sent ships to the New World to bring back cargoes of sassafras bark. Sassafras was one of the first forest products exported from what would become the United States.”

As the morning progresses the range of subjects cover everything from the origin and nesting habits of the songbird singing a pure, heartfelt melody outside the window, to quantum physics verses Einstein's theory of relativity. Obviously behind his deceptive simplicity is a well-educated man. When you ask him what University he studied at, he grins and motions toward the bookshelves...“An illness in my childhood kept me from attending school for any extended period of time. I only went through 4th grade. The family doctor told me that if I was ever going to have any sort of education, I should not only read, but learn to ‘love to read’ “Read anything you can get your hands on…even if it is comic books, just read.” So, I read.”

A natural storyteller in the old Appalachian tradition you could listen for hours as he shares mountain stories and songs that he learned from his grandpa, as well as the accounts of his adventures during the decade he hopped freights, hitchhiked, and walked through thirty-eight states and two countries. He admits he has a few bad experiences, but mostly met some good people and made many friends.

Before your visit is over you will be fully convinced that the old ways are best...freight trains are a really an interesting way to in the woods by yourself is exactly what you want to do...and taking the hardships you encounter in life and using them for stepping stones makes perfect sense. You will be ready to do as Ralph Waldo Emerson suggested, and Harvey did, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

Harvey in His Own Words

I live alone in the mountain of East Tennessee. I have a little cabin on 60 acres of timberland. I live without electricity. I get my water from a spring. I use a kerosene lamp for light and a wood stove for heating and cooking. I sometimes go for weeks and never see another person. But I never get lonely. I keep busy. I do a lot of reading and enjoying God's handiwork. A man thinking or working is never alone. Loneliness is poverty...solitude is richness.

I do not own a vehicle of any kind. The post office is a two hour stroll away. Every once in a while I walk out to the road with a my backpack and hitch hike into town for supplies. By keeping things simple, I am under less of a burden and I can enjoy life more. I have learn the difference between pleasure and happiness...I can keep myself happy without a lot of what folks call 'earthly pleasure' and the Lord does take care of me. It is good to stop the pursuit of happiness and just be happy.

Someone once said, “There is a period of time between birth and death called life...too many never really live...they just mark time.” That seems to be a sad reality in many lives and yet society has laid out as pure truth, ‘the way’ man should live. I could not, or would not, fit into that box. If I had, I would have just been marking time.

While thinking about my past I realized it is the only mirror a person can use to view the future. He cannot use the present for by the time he sees it…it is the past. So we must look at the past objectively learning all we can from it. Learning from the good and the bad as well as that which appears indifferent. All of us remember the bad and hopefully learn from it. The good is easy to remember. But what about the seemingly unimportant things? The simple things? Perhaps wisdom is being able to learn from all. What I have learned has brought me to my mountain...this is my story.

Early Years
I was born in 1949 in a small farmhouse in Glens County Virginia. Mom said I came out feet first which seems fitting considering the thousands upon thousands of miles I have walked in my lifetime. I was the second of two children. My sister is three years older. Our parents Jesse Winters and Glenna Church Winters were of mountain stock, both from West Virginia. Jesse was a WW II veteran and had come home from the fighting in Europe suffering with what came to be know as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Undiagnosed and untreated his illness was the primary cause of them separating when I was a year old. My father faded from our lives and the three of us went to live with Grandpa Church. By that time he was a widower and my memories of what he taught me set me on a course to where I am now.

One of my earliest memories was of him putting a piece of wood in my hand and teaching me to whittle with a pocket knife. Some of the mountain toys I began to make 30 years later were the ones he taught me to create. And he told stories from his childhood and well as the stores his grandpa told him. Years later I found many of these tales in books printed in the early 1800's and originated in Europe centuries ago. As we got older Sis I tagged along after him as he foraged in the mountains and learned about wild flowers and plants, which one was good to eat and which ones made medicine.

When I was about three mom married James Sturgill of Eolia, Kentucky. Soon after getting married mom and our new dad left my sister and me with Grandpa and went off to find work. It was no hardship for me, Grandpa was the only dad I knew and while I, no doubt, missed my mom my six year old sister was somewhat of a mother hen. One day while were playing in the yard she saw a small snake winding through the weeds near our bare feet. She quickly picked me up out of harms way and still cradling me in her arms squatted down so we could watch the little snake together. That may have been the first of our adventures together.

Over the next five years mom and dad went from one job to another. Somewhere along the way Dad hooked up with a a photography studio based in Springfield, Illinois. He stayed with them off and on for 20 years. I say off and on because if he got dissatisfied with what he was doing he would quit and move to another part of the country and try something else for six months or so, then they would take him back. When money was good they showed up, usually on our birthdays and Christmas, with a car load of toys and gifts.

Sis and I had a unique freedom living with grandpa. He wasn't too much into watching our every step and we were able to run free in the West Virginia mountain surrounding our isolated home. Sis brought books from school which fueled our imagination. At eight and five we were exploring caves pretending we were Indians chasing the white man. We planted the seeds from our apples on the hill behind our house, just like the guy named Johnny Appleseed. We created a pirate ship by propping a huge wooded box up on pieces of wood so it would rock back and forth as if we were Captain Hook on the high seas. We used sticks I had whittled down as swards and became the Two Musketeers. Isolated and free we invented our own world.

In 1954, or '55, while we were living with Grandpa, Mom and Dad came in at Christmas with a car load of presents. I got a tool box and a B B gun. Sis got a set of dishes and a baby doll. We each received a Bible. The Bible was my first one and I still have it although a mouse chewed up a few pages. All the gifts were wonderful but it was the bicycles that I remember most.

We lived in a a place aptly named Slop Hollow. No doubt it was name thus because the road was nothing but deep ruts in dry weather and deeper mud when wet. Needless to say Slop Hollow was not much of a place to ride a bike. One afternoon we complained to Grandpa that we could not ride there, so he loaded us and the bikes up in his old black Plymouth and took us down to the hard road where he parked for an hour or more while we rode our bikes. We might have been able to stay longer but people kept stopping to ask Grandpa if he was having car trouble and if he was okay? I think he got tired of explaining why he was sitting in a car beside the road in the middle of nowhere.

The time came that Grandpa, a retired coal miner with black lung, was unable to take care of us so we went to live with our folks and he went to live with one of his sons. I would say my sister and I had a happy, although nomadic, childhood with our parents. They still like to move and it was nothing for them to pile all our earthly belongings into a car until the load was even with the back of the front seat, tell me and Sis to climb in on top of everything, and off we would go to 'somewhere else.' It didn't seem to matter much where, nor did it matter if we had money or not. Gas was about twenty cents a gallon back them and more than once we would pull into a gas station and Dad would barter for a few gallons of gas. Once he traded our alarm clock so we could get to the next town where he would find a job doing whatever, then look for a furnished apartment with the promise to pay our new landlord payday. He was very convincing and we were never homeless, although we may have spent a night or two sleeping in the car.

Most of the time it seemed like an adventure to me and Sis. The folks got the moving-on urge pretty often, consequently before I left home at 16 I had lived in nine states and only God knows how many towns. Sometimes we would move from one apartment in the building to another, or across town, or next door. Years and years years later I wrote Sis a letter, all in fun, reminding her of some of our escapades as children. I may have exaggerated the least little bit...

Hi Sis,

You are probably wondering why you are reading another letter so soon after the last, or should I say first? But you see I have a problem with my spelling, so to enable me to overcome this I shall endeavor to write one letter a day. Don't worry they will not all be to you. I suppose as an exercise into orthography I could just write words on sheet of paper, but writing letters seems to be more practical. If I did not write in the form of a letter I would not be writing, but if I continue to write letters perhaps I will just get in the habit of writing and move on to something bigger.

And now for the letter, what should I write about? Most people expect a letter to contain news or good wishes, not a story. I think a letter should employ inquisitiveness, as well as be informative and entertaining. By the way did you get my last letter addressed to Big Sister?

Speaking of sisters, did I ever tell you about the mean little girl I grew up with? The one who would hit me and I wouldn't say anything, but when I hit her back she would yell, “MOMMMY DADDY HARVEY HIT ME!!” Then I’d get scolded for hitting my sister.

Once she was bugging me and I threw a dirt clod at her hitting her on the leg…she yelled like she was dying, but upon inspection there was no mark. Later in the day she showed mom a huge black and blue bruise on her thigh. Needless to say, I got in trouble and it was years before she confessed to painting the bruise on with the help of her watercolor paint set. She was quite artistic…mixed colors well.

Then there was the time we were sitting in the car and she pushed the cigarette lighter in and told me, “It's not really hot it just looks that way...go ahead and stick your fingers to it.” I did and it was hot. And can you imagine my surprise when I got to be twelve and found out that a nickel was not more than a dime just because it was bigger! For years I had been trading my dimes for her nickels!

My sister actually was responsible for getting me hooked on a life long addiction, for you see when I was five she taught me to read from her school books. The next year when I began school my teacher refused to believe that I was actually reading at fourth grade level. I have been aaddicted to reading ever since. But then again she once dared me to stick my tongue to an iron pipe in the wintertime. Lost some fur off my tongue that day. A lovely child.

When I was about 5 and my sister 8 we went to live with Grandpa in the West Virginia Mountains. Before Grandpa got this house, he lived in an old school bus and it became our playhouse. Grandpa went hunting one day and shot a squirrel for our dinner. We were into being Indians at that time and my bright sister told me we could make leather out of the squirrel skin. We took it to the creek and washed it real good then draped it across a coat hanger and hung it in the bus. In a few days, it started smelling funny. So, we washed it again…and again…and again, but it kept getting ripe. This went on until Grandpa came by and asked what smelled and made us throw it away.

During our Indian days, we also built a ti pi down by the creek with one of Grandpa’s bed blankets. That lasted until he missed the blanket. For our play dishes, my sister figured out how to dig clay out of the creek bed and roll it into long ropes to form dishes. We baked them on a hot rock in the sun. She was rather clever.

I remember the day we filled a mason jar full of soup beans and went on a picnic up to the cave on the mountain. As we were started back she dropped the jar and it started rolling down the hill. I started running after it but fell on my bottom and found myself sliding down a steep mountain toward a big cliff. Sister was running behind me yelling, “Grab something!! Grab something!!”The Mason jar went over the cliff and shattered on the rocks below. I grabbed a small tree and hung on for dear life just as my feet slipped over the edge. My sister got hold of my arm and pulled me back up to safety. Then we laughed a while…it was kind of fun and I guess she sort of saved my life. She had her moments.

Another time she held me down and was going to make me say, “Uncle,” but I wouldn’t. There is just so much a boy can take! She finally let me up.Lastly, there was the time mom had spent all day making lemon meringue pies.There were about six of them. While we were washing dishes after supper my sister convinced me that pies were for eating so we ate all the meringue off all of them using our fingers as spoons. For some reason Mom got real mad. I wonder why?

Will close for now,
Love your little brother Harvey


PICTURES OF HARVEY AND THE MOUNTAIN on Facebook!/pages/Mountain-Man-Memoir-of-a-Free-Spirit/190341954309901?sk=photos

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


All  I ever wanted was someone who could validate who I am... Who understands what makes my heart leap...Who loves me unconditionally... What I saw in their eyes was none of this...the light I mistook  for approval and validation was the narcissistic glow of how I could make their life work better, and how they can  use me to further their agenda.

My life has been saturated with narcissist who I had surrounded with endless praise and devotion... receiving nothing but loneliness, grief...not to mention a lost life. One day (not long ago) I came to myself and knew it was time to start living life on my own terms. In truth, I  am  not complaining.  I have traveled this path to soul healing long enough to know that, as an adult' 'I' had created the mess I found myself in with my freewill and 'I' would have to cooperate with God to get me out of it using the same freewill.

Not an easy trip. As I set out to learn I soon discovered that there is no quick, painless fixes. But as usual even the decision to learn caused a great light to appear on my path as books, articles, FB Blogs, people and insights apparently 'just happened' my way. One day I picked up the August 2006 Real Simple Magazine and found an article by Merrill Markoe called Enough About Me and my education continued in the ways of narcissism.
With a narcissist you walk a fine need to 'SHINE" but "ONLY' in a way that cast a favorable light on them. Be very careful that you do not shine so bright that they end up not in the spot light. Do not under any circumstance shine so bright that the attention is directed toward you and not them.

"Narcissist put the self in selfishness. They tend to give gifts that only reflect who they want you to be and will benefit them. You end up feeling selfish because 'the gift' is useless and does not make you feel like you. Because O Brilliant One!! It is not 'YOU'... it is them.They get no pleasure in buying you something that reflects 'your' uniqueness. Many of these 'gifts' had cluttered my life for years."

"Narcissist consider you selfish and self-centered if you make a decision that is different from theirs. Over the years I have turned a huge amount of  my money and life over to them just to prove my love and keep the peace."

Because of the endless negative comments over the years "I felt like I  needed to stop endangering my relationships with  such unacceptable behaviour as having my own taste in clothes...make-up...hairstyle etc. "My parents laid the ground work in my soul that created a magnet in me that drew narcissist. It was all I had ever known and became a comfort zone from hell.
The writer went on to say, that "...narcissist are people who cover up feelings of shame and worthlessness inflicted during their screwed up childhood by doing whatever it takes to maintain the false sense that they are very special and therefore not bound by ordinary rules. This requires them to surround themselves with people who will constantly pump them up by agreeing with them about everything."

"Why do they act like that? Because they have never fully outgrown a phase of infantile behavioural development, and essentially live  in a world that is one person big. Therefore when you fall for the undeniable charm of a brilliant narcissist and enter into a relationship with them it is kind of like being annexed by an imperialist country. Your borders have now been erased. The sub-text of all future interaction will be, "Whats mine is mine and whats yours is mine." Welcome to a world where there is no you.

"His or her needs must become your needs. It is not enough for a narcissist to be the center of his own world, he must also be the center of yours."

As I read that article I had a serious 'wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee-moment'  and realized that, I too, had,..."spent most of my life as an admiring audience, acting as a vent for their anger, as a Fan Club President, or an incompetent maid for the narcissist around me.  If I was not mirroring them, or praising them  I was proving I was a separate person and thus a threat.n a narcissist fragile world view.  When I demonstrate that I have ideas they tend to totally reject them and take it as a personal affront."

The revelation that rocked my world and was a bitter pill to swallow was when the author said, "...I began to see these people not as just a wounded soul who I could give enough, love enough to empower them to change and have a normal relationship with, but they were actually strangely predictable robots whose limitations would always be greater than their capabilities."

Victor Frankl, while in a concentration camp, said, "When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves," and while that is a true truth to give up on them ever behaving with any any degree of empathy toward us is heart wrenching.  As a Christian, the death of expectations removed the fuel that had propelled me forward for years. Gone forever was the dream that by treating them with kid gloves, loving them unconditionally, and praying would transform them. I had to face the brutal fact that I was not their Savior. As I wrote in The Search for Peace: A Woman's Guide to Spiritual Wholeness  ..  Jesus was and I needed to let go.

To even try to interact and explain how I felt when they do such and such only set me up for an attack and the very feelings I wanted to share become ammunition against me.

According to Merrill Markoe the ONLY practical method for coping with a narcissist is ...
#1 Change your expectations.
#2 Maintain emotional distance.
 #3 Stop trying to please un-pleasable people.

"We actually have only two choices...either agree with whatever they say, or pick up and go else where. To stay is to understand that a healthy relationship is not a possibility. To fight is to confront an irrational wounded animal."

With all these insights tucked into my soul my life is in the process of doing a 180...The Journey In Black & White continues and clarity comes.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


A while back, on a trip to visit my oldest son Michael's family. I found myself besotted by his two youngest children. While the two older boys were out and about I got to spend some quality hours with one-year-old Meliah and her big brother three-year-old Merrick.

Most of the time I just sat in wide-eyed wonder at their quick minds and delightful antics. After endless confabulated conversations between them (which both understood) and I just tried to keep up with their energetic and unique imaginations, I decided it would be fun to show them a Muppet video made the year their daddy turned four-years-old. 

We found it on You Tube and my babies were enchanted. Over the next three days every available moment was spent in front of the computer screen singing along with the Muppet's. Demands of "Grandma, get Phenomenon! Get Phenomenon!" filled the air. 

Actually the Muppet's were saying Ma No Ma Non"..but it sounded lie Phenomenon to us. (:
After the 100 and 22nd time of hearing the catchy non-sensical tune their demand to see it again was met by audible  moans from their parents and laughter from their Grandma.

Merrick and Grandma Phenomenon
I loved it because sometime during marathon days of listening to the repetitive jingle the demands became, "Grandma Phenomenon get the movie!"...and my nick name was born. Months and months later I still get phone calls and hear these little voices. "Hi Grandma Phenomenon!" How are you?...Grandma Phenomenon I love you!"

So, you may ask, what is the point of this cute 'Grandma story'? Fair enough..the point is as a Christian I believe the Bible is a personal love letter to me from God Almighty. I believe within the stories, instruction, and wisdom of the Bible is a blueprint for my life. I believe it tells me exactly what He thinks of me...which is always affirmative. Graham Cooke says "God never gets disillusioned with us; He never had any illusions about us in the first place.....he doesn't see what is wrong, just what is missing......." I believe that.

My life's challenge is to spend the time, endless hours if need be, to get that truth firmly rooted in my soul...just like my grand babies did with the video. They unquestionably connect that 'Phenomenon' movie with me...I am and forever will be Grandma Phenomenon. It took time, but that is THEIR truth.

The LOVE, BEAUTY, PROVISION, and GRACE of God's Word needs to becomes MY soul's truth. Yes, there is a price to pay....but the payoff is 'PHENOMENAL'!!

In case you would like to see the video that helped me brainwash my grandchildren ... 
may I present ... Ma No Ma Non!! aka Phenomenon!  1976 (:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Questions and the Kingdom of God...Fiction, or Not?

It was the last day at one of those huge conferences where Christians gather periodically to refuel and learn from the giants of faith. Between sessions I slipped away into a small room and was relieved to find only one other person had found this oasis of relative quietness. A woman about my age sat on one end of a long bench reading her Bible.

As I settled nearby she looked up and smiled slightly as we do when we acknowledge strangers, then went back to her reading. Opening my journal I glanced over my notes. The subject of the conference was The Kingdom of God and the speakers had been wonderful…so many powerful insights about the coming Kingdom. Suddenly my bench mate sighed and I looked up to see tears running down her cheeks. Not wanting to intrude I kept quiet until she turned my way then I asked, “Are you okay?”

Wiping her eyes she said, “Yeah, I am…it’s just that I’m confused. We come every year to these conferences…thousands and thousands of Christians sitting here like so many baby birds our hearts open to what God has for us then we go home and the glow fades and nothing ever changes!”

“Sometimes I can’t help but wonder what would happen if Christians simply believed the Bible? What if every Christian on the face of the earth actually believed that Jesus meant it when He said the Holy Spirit of God lives in us and He would lead us and guide us in all our ways? Would we ever be in fear and confusion?”

“What if we were so aware of Him inside us that the very idea of asking Him, like the guy did when he dismissed the last session, ‘to go with us as we leave this place,’ would be ludicrous? I mean, where else would He be…if He is in us?”

My eyes must have widened in surprise at the intensity of her passion because she smiled and added, “I’m sorry…I sometimes get carried away.”

“No it’s okay’ I assured her “…please go on.”

She stared past me and continued, “So many years I have sit in the pews and heard thousands of sermons, but I wonder, “Did I believe any of them? What if I truly believed that when Jesus died for my sins that it actually undid the works of evil? What if I knew in a practical day to day reality that God is love and ‘Love’ cannot give cancer or kill babies or any of the multiple horrors we contribute to devine destiny of God’s will?”

“What if when someone said or did something bad to me that I was immediately able to balance their opinion against what Father God thinks about me. Like, “You are the head and not the tail. You are above only and not beneath. I fight your battles. No weapon formed against you can prosper.” If I believed the Bible how much effect would negative things have on me?”

She opened the book in her lap to John14:27 and read aloud, “Peace I leave with you. Do not let your heart be troubled, neither be afraid. Stop allowing yourself to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourself to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.” Her dark eyes flashed as she leaned slightly toward me, “If I honestly believe Jesus wouldn’t ask me to do something I couldn’t do what excuse do I have to spaze out about anything?”

“I have no excuse except that I not paid the price to renew my mind with the Word of God until I measure every single thing that happens to me against it.” She laughed as she stood and gathered her things, “You know, I have New Age friends who spend hours a day renewing their minds to their philosophy. They fill note books copying over and over the thoughts of their favorite guru. They actually believe the Universe will bring good thing into their lives and it works! When was the last time you saw a Christian spending that kind of time and dedication renewing their minds to the reality of what the Bible teaches? How many Christian notebooks have you seen filled with nothing but the Word? If we simply believed the Bible, wouldn’t we be living in the Kingdom of God on earth?”

As she walked away I began writing the promises of God in my journal.

P.S. The truth is...this blog is based on a real conversation I had with myself. (:

Monday, August 16, 2010

ONE HUNDRED DAYS... Black & White

As I move into the second 100 days of my Journey In Black & White I am reminded of a story I once read.

A powerful, accomplished woman hit a place in her life where everything changed. Her health, her marriage, her job...all were in jeopardy. During this traumatic time she had a dream of a woman building a mountain. The woman was working very hard, laboring alone, laying stone after stone in place...feeling good about her achievements.

 As the dreamer watched she realized that the hard working mountain builder was herself. She felt a sense of pride watching her single mindedly continue, letting no one and nothing stop her. She toiled day and night climbing as she went, until the mountain was perfect. Then she stood solidly on top and smiled. The view was marvelous. She had it all.

The dreamer was feeling pretty good about herself and her alter ego on the mountain top, until she saw a crack opening up at the foot of the mountain. Fear gripped her heart as the ever widening crack make its way up to where the woman stood on the peak unaware of the coming danger.

Suddenly the builder-of-the-mountain realized something was wrong and looked down. Unthinkable terror seized her as the world began to crumble beneath her feet. There was no hope. It was over. All the hard work. All the personal achievement. All the years of sacrifice. All of her social standing. Everything gone.

But just as the earth shifted into the very last minute...she discovered...she could fly.
Since beginning my Journey in Black & White I have blogged about 'Seeing With New Eyes,' The Road Ahead Lies Within,' and, 'The Question Of Prayer.' 'I Couldn't...But I Did' was a shocker for some of my friends. But during these first 100 days something in me has shifted. I know exactly the day it happen.

The day I posted Footprints...I heard, "This will change everything." In 'Footprints'  I wrote about sharing with my 10 year old grandson the many-many miracles God has performed in our family. Talking about the miracles and hearing my FB friends feedback on their own miracles has lit a fire in me to go deeper into God's Word and really focus on healing and wholeness for others. I want the same miracles I have experienced in myself and in my family to be manifested in millions of lives across the earth. Why not? He is a big God and He loves all of us equally.

FOR YEARS a few of my closest friends have called me Eagle Woman. Sometimes when I hear that I think, "Yeah...perhaps I do fly." Other times I just wished they were right. As long as I can remember I have had a desire to move beyond my (sometimes self-imposed) boundaries into a spiritual dimension closer to God.

With that in mind a lot of my old interest  has shifted...for the next 100 days I will be focusing on miracles. All kinds of miracles. I want to go to God with a pure heart with my friends and family's needs and remind Him that He did 'this' and 'this' and He never changes. He told the Children of Israel to recount His signs and wonders to help build faith. I want more. I want to test the boundaries of a life unfettered with issues and fear. I want to go beyond my own mountains of achievements, count them as nothing and see if God has more for me.I want to soar.

In fact this poem by Myra Dutton says it is my prayer.


My soul cried out, plaintive and echoing to an eagle gliding toward the sun.
And in reply, a prevailing wind rose over the towering peak and entered my heart,
leaving me shaken as a downy feather on the breast of creation.

Now all I know is that feathers have grown from my own breast, and vast wings span the horizon.
I am learning to fly on the mountain top where wind  and wisdom are one.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


On my year long JOURNEY, before I turn 65, I wanted to discover who I really am. One incredible thing that I am is a grandmother to fourteen beautiful children between the ages of seventeen and two. Lately I have awakened to the fact that although our family members, including me, have done some pretty stupid things in the past, there is still a heritage of faith that runs deep and strong through all of us. There are footprints laid out in time that they can follow.

Ten year old Matthew spent a few days with me last month. We had a wonderful time doing things he wanted do and in between times Grandma told him Family Stories. Stories about the times God had performed miracles for us. The first story was about his great grandfather Sampson Eli Church. Grandpa Church was a coal miner during the early part of the 1900's when his sister Aunt May developed cancer .When the doctors  operated they found that the cancer had  totally destroyed all her female organs and stomach. Her abdomen was an empty cavity so they stuffed her with cotton, sewed her up and sent her home to die.

They called Grandpa out of the mines to say goodbye to his sister. But Grandpa was a great believer in prayer and instead of saying goodbye he laid his coal blacken hand on her head and asked God to completely heal her. And He did. Instantly she was made totally whole. Her insides were replaced by the power of God to the degree that later on in life she conceived and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.
Right now your eyes may be as big as Matthew's was when I told him this story. All I can say is it is 100% truth and I will tell you what I told Matthew...never limit God...He can do anything.

I told Matthew the story about the time his Uncle Chris, my son, fell two stories through the open frame of a house he was building, onto concrete head first. He was 18 and working in Texas. I lived in Kentucky and got the call from his brother.."Chris looks really bad...he is bleeding from his nose and mouth....he's hurt bad." When something traumatic happens I get really quiet inside and try to hear what God has to say about after a moment of listening I KNEW my son would be fine. I was to speak healing...I was to believe God.  I said, "Take him to the hospital and do whatever they say BUT KNOW this... God is about to do a miracle and Chris will walk out of that emergency room TODAY fully and completely healed. Do you understand me?" My son took a deep breath and said, "Okay."

Every fiber of my being was vibrating with the certainty that God would  do whatever it took to heal my baby.There was not a doubt in me anywhere. An hour later I called the emergency room in Texas and asked to speak with anyone with Chris. When his brother got on the phone I asked. "Okay, how is he?"
"Well.....," he said, "...ask him yourself.?"
When I heard Chrisie's unmistakable Texas drawl saying,"Hi mommy,"  I started laughing and asked, "Chrissie..what happened?"
"Well I recon, I just fell on the hardest part of me."
That day my son walked out of the emergency room healed.

When I finished that story I looked into the wide brown eyes of my little grandson and saw a footprint on his soul. Forever he will have a touchstone of faith to stand on when life's impossibles hit him. That footprint proclaims, "God is big...and He loves us...and He hears our prayers....and miracles happen"

I also told Matthew about another kind of miracle. When his daddy was about two years old he fell on a glass bottle and laid open his little face open clear through the cheek to the inside of his mouth. We rushed him to the emergncy room where the ER doctor shook his head and said.."I can't fix this..if the nerves and museles are not connected right he will be paralized on that side of his face." At that very moment another doctor walked in and said , "Let me problem...this is what I will need..."

The new doctor 'JUST HAPPENED to be 'THE BEST' plastic surgon in the STATE and he 'JUST HAPPENED'  to stop off at this hospital on his way home and  'JUST HAPPENED' to walk into ER at that moment when one of God's Little Ones needed his specialized skills. Michael's cheek healed perfectly.
CH Spurgeon said, "A Christian is a perpetual miracle."  I believe


Ever since the Haiti disaster our family has done whatever we could to help...we prayed, gave, and reminded our friends to give. My son Michael organized a band concert in Las Vegas that raise thousands of dollars to feed children there. Last week my 17 year old granddaughter Donna, went with a missions team to minister in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Her Uncle Michael said, "Well Mom...the family now has a footprint in Haiti. Indeed we do...

A friend Jax Shows sent this definition for FOOTPRINTS..."The action of one step that sets the world toward a better place one or many."  That works.

Here are photos of our Footprints in Haiti...
The first photo is of me and two grandsons making Footprints through The Valley of Fire, Las Vegas, NV

Sunday, June 6, 2010

: The Question Of Prayer

 When I set this year aside to discover a new way of being I made up my mind to travel light without a lot of preconceived ideas. On THE JOURNEY I have become brave enough to land at the end of what little I know about a number of things.

With that in mind I was considering what I had been taught about prayer and what I actually believe. About that time a facebook friend posted this question,"If you ask someone for prayer and they say, "I will be sending positive thoughts your that prayer?" Some were quick to answer 'No, certainly not!" others were just as quick to say, "Yes, definitely!"
 I didn't comment, but I expect it depends on what is in the heart of the sender.

While thinking about that I realized that one of the ways I pray for others is to get real quiet within, then ask God to intervene in the situation and bless them. After that I think about the people involved in a positive way fully expecting Him to show them His love, mercy, and wisdom. So I guess I do both...I ask God to help and then send them the positive thoughts. To me that is an act of faith.

I also agree with Steve Wickham's Notes, posted a few days ago, that prayer is a conversation. He wrote, "I confess that I don't actually pray aloud that much, but I do converse with God on a fairly continual basis.... So prayer is not always about having our eyes closed and heavenward and speaking aloud. But it is about seeking God's will through a conversation with him." I would add that half of a conversation is listening.  I have been known to sit in a field of dandelions and pray. Or on a rock in the desert.

Gracie my friend, and co-author of -Family Secrets, sent me an email this week. She is reading a book called,"Becoming a Women of Prayer" by Cynthia Heald. The scripture the author used was Jeremiah 33:3 Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." The introduction, written by Martin Smith, posed these questions...

~What if God does not demand prayers as much as gives prayers?
~What if God wants prayer in order to satisfy us?
~What if prayer is a means of God nourishing,restoring, healing, and converting us?
~Suppose prayer is primarily allowing ourselves to be loved, addressed and claimed by God.
~What if praying means opening ourselves to the gift of God's own self and presence?
~What if our part in prayer is primarily letting God be giver?
~Suppose prayer is not a duty but the opportunity to experience healing and transforming love?"

Hmmmm ... Now that might be something to think about.

Another FB friend posted this..."Our task is faithfully to open ourselves to the wonders in every moment and the possibilities for transformation in every encounter." ~~Dr. Bruce Epperly

In The Search For Peace I wrote about tears being liquid prayers.

I was reminded of another form of prayer when I received an early mornig call from my son Michael. Their friends Jon and Mel McConico's baby boy had just been born at 25 weeks. He weighed 1lb. 6oz. Just after the birth the new mommy began singing from her hospital bed, "Great is Thy faithfulness...great is Thy faithfulness...morning by morning new mercies I see....All I have needed Thy hands hath provided...Great is The faithfulness Lord unto me." My son said it was a heart touching holy moment.
We asked our FB friends who knew this song to please sing it as a prayer and praise for the little man's well being. A few days later my son had the honor of dedicating Nehemiah David McConico to God. He is gaining weight and doing well.
This is a video of Nehemiah the day he was born...the day his mother sang her prayer for him.!/video/video.php?v=1375868488180&ref=share