Monday, March 31, 2014


Content is the word I woke too on this beautiful morning. It is very difficult for us to be content isn't it? I know it is for me. Maybe it is a complex situation we face, or maybe the desires of our heart are not being met in the time frame we think it should be.

Julie and I are approaching our one year anniversary. I was single for a long time, as she was and one of the fun things was merging two households into one. Even now I find myself longing not for any mansion but a slightly bigger house. That may never happen, or it might be a long time if it indeed does occur. How do I approach the issue today? Do I spend time longing for something down the road or do I accept and be thankful for where I am today? One thing is for certain and that is if I focus on the intangible things of tomorrow I will not enjoy and be fruitful today. 

There is always the possibility that it is not a bigger home we need but rather maybe we need to give away or discard items we have held on to for way too long. There was a period in my life that due to my poor choices my son and I moved four times in less than one year. I surely could not afford movers. Being forced to load and haul things multiple times sure did reduce the clutter in my life. There were many things that you realized were not worth the effort to hang on too.

I have a big date approaching and I have worked diligently on my end to ensure the project is complete on time. Still, I am wary that it will occur because other people are involved. Last night I came to the reality that I have wasted too much time worrying. It is time for me to be content. Maybe the date I had written in stone is not the best one. Maybe God has a better date. Maybe he just wants me to be a man of my word and release it fully to him. Am I the only one that says, "I release this problem, project, etc to you Father" and then start worrying about it moments later, therefore reclaiming it?

My goal in my walk with our Savior is to live Philippians 4: 11, 12.  

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.

I researched definitions for the word content. I will share just one. It when the word is used as an adjective.

In a state of peaceful happiness I will take that over anything material this world has to offer.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Dream Never Changed

As I write this blog this morning there is one month to go until the release of The River Hideaway. There are tasks yet to be done. Choosing a book cover, one more read through for editing purposes.   I wonder how many times I have read, rewrote, and edited this book. Maybe twenty times, maybe twenty five over the years?

I guess I should be nervous. I have promotion tasks to carry out and I will have to address certain groups. Aw, public speaking, very excited about that. :( I sure hope the audience can understand extreme southern dialogue.

The truth is I am for the most part peaceful about it all. Don't get me wrong I have certainly had my moments of anxiety and sleepless nights during this process but it reaches a point where you have to believe and follow what you know to be true. I have to own the words that I speak. They can't be words derived only from my mouth but from my heart.

Many times I have lifted this book up to the King of Kings and said, "This book is yours."  I have to believe that just as I believe after all the years of pursuing this dream that this door was opened not by Oak Tree Press but from my Father. It didn't happen until I let go of the wheel of this life. He knew I meant it when I said, "I want this dream but if you are not walking through the door with me, close it."

The success of The River Hideaway will not be defined by how many books are sold. It would be great if it did well enough to open the doors for the four other manuscripts that reside on my computer, as well as others that right now are only an idea. I would love to write full time and never punch a clock again. But if it sells one thousand copies and that is all that ever happens with my writing I will earnestly say, "Thank you, God."

One of the people I shared the early news with was my nephew, little brother, and friend, Paul Atkinson. I knew he would understand how much it meant. He is a gifted musician, songwriter and he knows what art means to him and to others that have something in our hearts that we have to get out in some way shape or form. He also put it in a perspective that I had not yet thought of. He said the book was a piece of me that would be here long after I departed from this world.

This journey has never been about fame or fortune. My dream has not changed from the first day I went down this path in 1997 with an ill fated first draft of a story that will never be published in its original format but helped me learn how to put words on paper. It also served as tremendous therapy but that is another story for another day.

My dream has always been to be walking on the beach I love so dearly and see someone reading and enjoying a story crafted from my heart. It is that simple for me.  

Monday, March 3, 2014


Mark Batterson writes often of the inverted gospel. I am the poster child of that life, though I suspect I am not alone. I walked through life making my choices, seeking what I thought I needed to be happy, and if I could find those things on my own, then maybe I would ask God to come in and bless my life. Maybe then I would follow his path, however, I always had this nagging suspicion even when things were grand that it would never last as long as I led the way.

I will not pretend that I did not have my share of fun. I did. But somewhere along the way the down times grew deeper, and the ride was no longer worth the fall. Life became emptier with each excursion. Now a wise man when reaching this conclusion would have turned but I stubbornly held on because as bad as things got at times I still trusted my way more than God.

I sat in church yesterday with my wife Julie beside me. I reflected on her beauty, grace, the depth of heart that she possesses. I pursued love in my own vision and all of those times put together does not hold a candle to what I feel when she looks at me with clear eyes straight from her heart.

As stated many times before I was angry at God for most of my life. A minister would share how we are not worthy or don't feel worthy and I wanted to shout bull. I deserve the best of everything God. But I tell you when it comes to Julie I tell God he gave me way more than I ever deserved. Way more than I ever dreamed. She often tells me I taught her things and hopefully this is so but my wife taught me what real love is. There are not many lessons greater than that.

One thing we did as we were discovering each other that I know I did not always do and I bet many of you did not as well. Be honest with each other. Put all your cards on the table early. Let go of the fear that if I tell them who I really am they may not like me.I used the term deal breaker with Julie. Is this a deal breaker, or that deal breaker?

One thing I knew about Julie was I would never be first in her life. And for once I was glad of this in a relationship. I can't measure up to being someone's whole world. I will fail them and they will fail me.

Julie might have been attracted to me a few years ago but she would have stayed away from me and rightfully so. I needed to be a man seeking the kingdom first.

Julie was like a lot of us when we are alone. She would ask God where is the man for me? Once he responded to her that he was getting that man ready. But we don't want to wait do we? So we rush ahead, the inverted gospel at work. I want this relationship God and I want you to bless it... after I  get it.

Maybe along this same time frame I remember praying one day. "God I do not want to be alone forever but if it is not someone that you approve of and will bless our path then I would rather remain alone because it will fail like every relationship has failed before." That was big for me because having that special relationship with someone who would treasure love the way I do was my hearts greatest desire.

I think at that moment God might have peered over the balcony of Heaven and spoke to those around him. "Aw, I have his attention. Let's go to work."

Yesterday after church we shared a laugh with Julie's parents, Don and Jan. A few years back Julie's mom one day in frustration was praying and asked God where is the man for my Julie? Lord, I don't care if he is in his 50's as long as he loves you and will love our daughter. Tell me God was not preparing all of us for what was coming.

This past Friday when we went to the movie, 'Son of God,' with Julie's parents. Jan introduced me to a couple she knew. "This is our son in law. Julie's husband, and we could not be happier." I don't know how you could not see God in the things that have transpired with Julie and I. I not only have a wonderful wife who treasures nearly every moment with me but I have a wonderful loving relationship with her parents. It is often me who says to Julie, "Call your parents and see if they want to meet us for..."  I do this because I enjoy their company.I listen to the soft words of wisdom that often come from Julie's dad.

We all have our stuff don't we? One amazing thing that occurred with Julie and I as we were dating is not only were we falling in love and sharing the laughter of such an event. We helped heal each other of past hurts. We cried together as we learned we could trust each other. I mentioned my past failed relationships. Some that ended badly. One day as I was saying something else derived from past pain, Julie looked at me and said, "You keep sharing stuff as if this going to be the one thing that drives me out the door. I am not leaving." she stated, leaving no room for debate. I needed that.

You know what one thing God so graced me that I could give to his child that he so dearly loves? I am humbled and yet very proud that I was able to do this. I showed her how beautiful she is. She did not know. Often in those early days if I was to say something like that she would drop her head. I would lift her chin gently and say, "Julie I need you to hear me."

Very soon it will be one year since we were married. It has been the best time of my life. Thank you God. I have no words to truly express my gratitude.