When God drops something into your lap
Back in 2017 "The Mountaineer News" asked if I would provide a Christmas seasonal photograph. The only criteria was that I was to capture a photo or two of something reflective of the Christmas season within Haywood County.
I accepted the offer and started thinking of what I would photograph.
During the Christmas season, images of beautiful winter landscapes come to mind. Sometimes, it was nativity scenes or candlelit church stained-glass windows. With snow being in the forecast in a few days, I thought maybe a snowy scene would be the ticket. Before going to bed I said a prayer that God would direct my talent and deliver a photograph worthy of the Christmas season. That very night I had a dream of taking a photo of a orphan and widow under the cross located at Lake Junaluska. God has previously used dreams to communicate with me a few times before so I did not dismiss it.
I shared the dream with my wife and she nudged me to look up on Google to see if there was an orphanage in the area.
I have never visited an orphanage nor did I know if there was one was within Haywood county. This is how I learned about the Broyhill Home for kids.
This is not an orphanage but it is a children's home that does so much more.
I was at first reluctant to give them a call because the Mountaineer News Paper had given me criteria to follow and this was certainly out side the scope.
I called mid morning that day by the phone number on their Broyhill Home business listing through Google. I was able to contact the Director, Linda Morgan.
I explained the reason for the phone call and the dream that I had the previous night and how I would like to photograph the kids if the opportunity was available. Linda asked me, if I could be available in less than six hours later that day. I instantly thought, Isn't God's time perfect? To my surprise, I called on the very day that they were having their Christmas party of around 90 kids from the Broyhill home and affiliate homes in Franklin, NC., etc.
I said certainly yes, as long as I could bring my own two boys ages 6 and 9 along. We both agreed that it would be a great experience for my two boys to witness such an event at Christmas time. The Christmas event was amazing!
At the end of the night as we pulled into our garage my oldest son turned to me and said, "that will be something I will never, ever forget for a very long time." He said, "Those kids are just like me. They were happy that it was a Christmas party, and truly happy to receive food and gifts." He also said that he noticed how grateful the kids were to be at this Christmas party. I said, "Yes son, you are so right and you get it". I marveled how these children had even impacted me. All I did was request to take their photo, and the majority of these children I didn't have to ask for a smile because they were filled with so much joy. After the photo the majority had said
"Thank you" and at least six of there children came up to me after the party to say thank you again while I was packing my gear in the car. These kids ages 2 years old through high school, who aren't living with parents, seemed so joyful and grateful over the little that they were receiving. This time of year we all think of of lot of things.
But this year to me, the name Broyhill and the word Emmanuel, comes to mind. Emmanuel, which means God with us. God is certainly with these beautiful children regardless of their circumstances.
These children have a light which shines brighter than their adversity. The gratitude that shown that night caught the even the attention of my children.
I am forever grateful for the benefits that these precious children had taught my kids that night.
I might add that "The Mountaineer" did accept my photo and story which ran front page Christmas of 2017.
Little did I know until later how this story really moved the young lady that I was working with at the Mountaineer because she has two adopted boys herself.
My wife and I contribute a end of the year check up to 20% we collect from our profits produced from CarolinaPhotoArt.com. We offer 100% of our calendar proceeds as well. Outside of this, we like to throw a Christmas party or another event when we can. This past Feb. 2019 we through a Valentines party with Papa Johns which included a magician show. The kids really loved it! We like try to keep in touch with the kids a few times a year by throwing events outside of the typical Christmas giving season when we can. The little that we do has been even more a blessing to us.
There are times you pray and literally God drops something in your lap that you can not ignore. We all have the ability to make a difference to those around us no matter how big or small with what gifts or talents that we each are given. God does much with even a little! Pray, Listen, Move!
When God speaks - Pray, Listen & most importantly Act!
The story that I am about to tell has to be one of the most amazing stories that I have ever personally witnessed. This is one of those stories that I feel God would want me to encourage and share with all those who have an interest in hearing from our Creator God.
I have been very blessed to have God (which incorporates the Holy Spirit/my conscience) to show up in a very tangible way at different times during my life.
God shows up in many different ways and in many peoples lives. God is ever present but if anyone sincerely asks God to personally speak to them, he will.
Matthew 7:7 "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
I have shared this story with a few family and friends, and know that it could be a blessing to so many more. This story was made possible because I continually plead to hear from God and thankfully that door of communication was opened years ago. The longer you listen to the voice of God the easier it is to recognize God’s voice and hear from him in all ways each and every day. This encounter with God happened during September my birth month of the year 2013. I try to remember to ask God everyday to speak to me and let him know that I am listening and available to be used by him.
This particular year was exciting because we were building our new house and each day I would travel from my parents home to the construction site of where our custom dream home was being built. This day in September was warm and showing up early every morning during the building process, I would walk through out the house to see what construction had been finished the previous day. I stepped out onto the newly built deck and it was then that I saw a man laid out on the ground sleeping. I asked him if he was OK and what was his name? He replied, “James, and that his feet were hurting.” “He said, he was just taking a rest.”
I explained to him that he needed to move on because the construction workers running a bulldozer that day which would certainly be a hindrance to his nap.
As we were speaking, I looked to see the muddy, soft clothed boot slippers that he was wearing. As he walked off my property into our neighborhood I couldn’t help but to think what a strange morning it had been. I must insert here that when unusual things happen in life it is always good to take note and listen carefully to God to see if you are to help in any way for that situation.
I installed modem cabling later that day. Most days I would work or hang around each day until dark. I then would make the 50 minute drive back to my parents to eat with my mother before turning in for the next day.
Well this particular day just before dark, I unexpectedly decided to go down a country road that I had guessed would lead me back to Walmart just a few miles away.
I being new to the area, thought I would check out the location of a tree nursery down this road on my way home. Delighted that the road connected with the Walmart exit I started for the expressway to go home. Just as I passed Walmart, God spoke to me to turn in the parking lot and he asked me to look for James the man that had left my property early that morning. You can imagine being tired and thinking how crazy is this?
I instinctively turned into the parking lot as if I were reacting to a near collision. As I am driving through the rows of parking I asked God if he wanted me to go inside or continue driving in the parking lot looking for the man. Now as many of you are reading this you must be thinking this is certainly strange and borderline crazy.
I would have thought this as well years earlier but by this time I have had a number of these gut/head/heart encounters with God and now recognize God’s voice in a much clearer way. I felt that God wanted me to roam the parking lot until I found him. About 3 minutes into the search to my amazement THERE he was. James was crossing at the far end of parking area close to the ABC store. As I rolled my window down and called him by name to come over quickly, he did so. I could see he looked perplexed and concerned that I was there requesting his attention. When he came over I looked into my rear mirror and saw cars coming in behind me so I made a reach into my billfold to see if I have any cash on me. I felt that if I did have cash which I rarely carry it would be a God thing and I would have accomplished the mission at hand. Sure enough, I had five dollars so I slipped it to him and said Jesus requested me to come and find him to give this money to him and to let him know that Jesus loves him very much! He smiled and said thank you.
Pulling onto the expressway I felt happy that God had spoke to me and that I had found him. As I was about 15 minutes away God spoke to me again letting me know that I was to turn around because I had not completed the mission at hand. I asked God what would you have me do and God spoke to my mind/heart that I was to buy him a new pair of shoes.
I must include that Satan the devil’s voice, my selfishness, and me being tired and hungry was also other voices in my head that I had to sort out during this time.
Just about every reason floated across my mind why it should be impossible to return and find this guy a second time.
Well as new mile marker would pass by, the same feeling that you get when you sin or tempted to sin came over me. I finally turned my car around and headed back to that Walmart asking for God to show me what else he wanted me to do. Heading now back the right direction, I remember thinking this is not only the right decision but an over whelming feeling of the Holy Spirit I felt inside me confirming his presence was going to guide me.
As I pulled into the Walmart parking lot a second time I went back to where I saw him last. I looked everywhere and could not find him. I looked inside the ABC store and yes thinking that is very possible on where was there. I searched the nearby Hardees fast food restaurant inside and even in the bathrooms. I was becoming further tired and hungry and remember pleading with God to help me find him because I could not do it on my own.
The only place that I hadn’t looked was inside Walmart. As I felt like giving up I prayed and drove slowly in front of the Walmart and that is when I spotted James a second time just then coming out the entrance carrying out a Subway $5 foot long! I said, THANK YOU JESUS and parked the car. James by this time was siting on the sidewalk near the entrance. As he spotted me a second time I could see a look of concern come over him on why I was there. I told him not to get up but asked if I could hang out with him for a few minutes. He said yes and I then sat down on the sidewalk next to him and asked him why was he homeless? He shared with me a lot of history that contributed to why he was homeless. During our conversation I asked him if he believed in God? I noted that Western Carolina mountains are so majestic and that God’s finger prints are so apparent here in the outdoors. As I was telling him about Jesus a lady at that very time walked into the Walmart with tee shirt that had a cross on her shirt. I pointed this out with excitement telling James that Jesus is trying to make himself know to him in so many ways around him.
He listened to what I had to say. I explained that another reason that I was there was because God asked me to buy him some new shoes. I asked him if that would be OK and if he was needing anything else? He responded that I had already gave him $5 for food and that I didn’t have to give him anything else. I explained that I rarely give unless God tells me to do so. I told him that God is making this purchase and was there anything else that he needed? He said that he needed a blanket. I almost got choked up in front of him because I have never had been in need of a blanket and hearing a grown man requesting this very much moved me.
I asked him to follow me into the store and to pick out a comfortable pair of shoes. I explained that I would be back in a few minutes. Heading to the camping section I looked at getting a heavy blanket/sleeping bag which would roll up and he could tie to his outdoor bag for easy transport. When I returned, I noticed that he had picked out some white tennis shoes and had a blanket in hand. I showed him what I had found which was about $20 more expensive than the blanket that he had picked out.
I asked him which blanket did he prefer and he said that the $12 dollar blanket that he picked out would meet his need. I took the blanket and shoes to the check out counter and requested him to wait for me at the entrance. As I paid for the items God impressed on me to give him some additional money. So initially,
I thought I will give him another $10. I had to pull $20 due to it was the least amount that you can pull from my bank account at Walmart. As I was about to ask the cashier to change the $20 to $10’s God told me to give the entire $20 to him.
I walked up and gave him the shoes, blanket and $20 which I could see on his face the look of genuine gratitude. He thanked me and I said that God loves him very much and that I will keep him in my prayers. As I drove off that second time I was excited to tell my mother all that had happened. When getting to my parents I shared the story and my Mom. She said, that I should have bought him the book “The purpose driven life” by Rick Warren. This book explains that God has a plan for your life and it is full of bible verses which explain everything very simply. When she said this I could have kicked myself because that book really made a difference in my life and I wondered why didn’t I think of that first? She then said that she had an extra copy of that book and maybe tomorrow I could find James a third time to give it to him. I told her that I would certainly try around lunch time tomorrow.
That next day I worked on our house waiting to go around lunch time to find James. As I worked God said leave now even though it was 10:30am roughly. So I did what I felt God was asking. After driving the entire parking lot a third time I was about to leave. I then saw him cross the road outside the parking lot down the road a bit.
I couldn’t believe it! I drove up and the first thing I saw was that he had his brand new white shoes on. I got out of the car and he was surprised again to see me. I told him that my mother wanted to give him this book that I had read and that it helped me to understand who God really is. I sat down next to him and proceeded to write my email address down inside the book if he ever wanted to contact me in the future. As I was saying this I noticed James digging through his bag and he stated that he wanted to show me something. It was then he pulled out a bible and he that he had purchased the bible from the $20 that I gave to him the night before at Walmart.
It’s hard to tell you the emotions I felt when I saw him pull the bible out of his bag. All I can say, even until this day is “Thank you!, Thank You, Jesus!” for allowing me to play a small part of this story. It was then that I realized why I wasn’t to remember to get him the book or even a bible. It was an important step for James to pick up the bible himself which I was so thankful for. I wasn’t suppose to buy him a bible because God wanted to show me that the little things he has asks us to do is part of his bigger plan for us and others. God this time allowed me to see the bigger picture when most of the time we don’t always get to see how an action can benefit or mean so much to another person. It was an obvious blessing that God allowed me to be apart of that day which I will always remember. We all can be used by God.
We all can hear from God if we ask, but most importantly, we all must ACT when God shows up and gives us the opportunity to make a difference within someone else’s life. God has a lot of tools within his tool shed that he can use. God will accomplish the task at hand with or without our help. God uses rusty old tools just as well as the shiny ones. We all have talents, personalities, and gifts that can be used for the Kingdom of God. It just depends what we do with the opportunities that we ask God for.
To God be the glory what great things HE has done!
What's it like to hear from God?
So yesterday my youngest son Zachary, asked me to describe what it was like to feel the presence of God up on the mountain top.
I told him that it happens at different moments without me knowing when it’s going to happen. The two places it happens the most for me is on mountain tops or when I am in the shower. I told him my last experience this past week was hiking and seeing a beautiful view off a mountain top. I began thanking God for all that he had made. I then just glanced up at the sun and out of nowhere an instant rush of his presence comes over me. It’s like I am being squeezed from the inside out. My face gets flushed and instant tears rush to my eyes. When this happens euphoric joy, love and peace is felt for a few seconds to even minute or so. During this time all I can do is whisper thank you over and over. I can’t explain it all but I know 100% it is the presence of almighty God by his Holy Spirit. There are times I glance over in my car to the passengers seat and I have conversations with him. There was a time I would have called someone crazy but his presence is real. Have you ever talked to someone over the phone for a period of time but have never seen them in person? Well one day I will meet this familiar voice whose presence I come to know. In Psalms 100:4 it says we can “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise” Most of my encounters happen after verbal praise or gratitude. I told Zachary this is how we dial up God! At age eight I asked for God to speak and he has countless times throughout my life. He will speak to anyone who is willing to listen. ~ “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Revelation 3:20 ~ October 2021
Life is like Digging Holes
While planting 20 rhododendron yesterday allowed me to hear from God about my life. Digging each hole was easy to difficult with about 5 of them very difficult due to rocks. I wanted to give up several times due mainly to some of the holes took 15 minutes of difficulty because of the rocks.
Through the Holy Spirit, God spoke to my spirit that each hole was like a year of life with many easy to difficult ones and some of those extremely difficult. There are those years that you want to give up and don't know how you will have the strength to move to the next.
This process can strengthen your faith if you allow it and looking back over my past 20 years Gods plan and design has taken shape. I prayed for each rhododendron plant yesterday that it would grow abundantly. Whether it grows up healthy and strong is really outside of my control. The planting, pray and faith is all that we have control in this life. It still amazes me to look back and see the many answered prayers and blessings that God has given me. The beauty and blessing of each year certainly out shines those difficult ones. These beautiful flowering plants are beautiful today. These flowers we enjoy each year and we realize it was so worth the effort in staying faithful and digging that next hole. Thank you Jesus for your love and downloading this lesson to me.
God showed up while eating chicken! No joke!
As many of you know I have been deathly allergic to chicken and turkey almost my entire life. On two occasions, On two hospital occasions, I almost died from coming into contact with hidden chicken in hotdogs or turkey meat in spaghetti. I was deathly allergic to poultry as a child.
Well about a year and half ago (age 42), I was cooking some chicken for my two boys. It was at this time that I noticed something very different. The chicken that I was cooking actually smelt very good to me. Through out my life before I had been so highly allergic that even the smell of chicken or turkey would make me break out into a itchy rash. Eating either would make my face swell and throat close off in from getting air.
After smelling the chicken that I had prepared without a rash appearing, I then felt unusually compelled to try and start eating some of the chicken in small amounts.
I must add that I did have a bottle of benadryl in hand in case of an allergic outbreak. In awe and amazement like a light switch, my body all of sudden allowed me to enjoy chicken and turkey. I LOVE the taste of chicken and turkey. I will always remember that special day going to try Chick-fil-A for the first time.
My Mother in particular pleaded with me to please NOT eat chicken or turkey because she remembered vividly during those times I almost lost my life during my youth.
Trisha was also concerned as well but I reassured her that my body had changed for some reason and I knew with a peace I would be fine. I said to her that I don't understand it but I felt like God had allowed this to happen for some reason during this season of my life. I knew it was very significant and I couldn't help but think of other people that had been sick or lame who suddenly were healed. I could only acknowledge that for whatever reason God had delivered a healing for me.
I had asked God why did he bless me now in my life to be able to eat chicken and turkey? After a year and half God gave me the answer to that question.
As some of you know my Mom went through Chemo on her journey to rid her body of breast cancer. My Mom and our family have really appreciated your prayers during this time. A few weeks ago I felt led (thanks to my sister-in-law Jennifer) to make one of my favorite chicken and rice dishes for my Mom. My Mom actually loves how I have prepared this for her in the past using a pressure cooker device. I was hoping after her Chemo when she felt her worst that these prepared dishes would be helpful to her.
I spoke to my Mom yesterday and she thanked me again for these chicken and rice dinners. She explained that when you go through Chemo your body actually craves certain foods. Beef and certain foods like sugar makes her nauseous after her Chemo sessions but chicken and rice did not. She told me that the chicken and rice had really been a comfort for her especially after this past Chemo visit.
I was amazed in hearing this and explained to her that through her my question that I had been asking since a year and half ago had been answered!
My Mom who was the most vocal in pleading with me not to eat chicken was later blessed the most by me eating chicken. Without me eating chicken at this time within my life, I would have not experimented on making different chicken dishes. God comforts and loves us during our best and worst days. He prepares in advance and provides all our needs. I stand amazed and in awe of his many blessing to me and our family.
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Predestined Hike 24 Years Ago...
So 24 years ago, I had a best friend named Rick.
He was the father of this young man in the photo whose name is Jon. Jon lost both of his parents by age eleven. This has been very difficult on him and his two sisters.
I’ve known Jon since he was an infant and watched him grow up until his father’s passing where cancer had taken his life early.
Over the years I’ve prayed for Jon and his sisters. I’ve not seen Jon in person since his father’s passing.
About a year ago, Jon reached out to me and shared that his addictions to cover up his pain was taking a toll on him and he felt like God wouldn’t forgive him again.
I invited him to get together and this past week he took up my invitation.
This past spring I discovered the hike to Browning Knob. It starts at Water Rock Knob and passes by the plane crash and if you continue on its path it will take you to the cross at the top of Mt. Lyn Lowry.
Our hike together this past week was precious experience. We walked down memory lane during that hike. I was able to give Jon details about the good times spent with both of his previous parents and how much they loved him. The plane crash of the two who perished just off the path really makes you think of eternity after this life. I know Jon wants to see his parents again in heaven and a relationship with Jesus is the only hope for this. We prayed together on top of that mountain with the cross just in view. It was a special time for us both and a reminder to keep our eyes on path that leads away from destruction and onward to abundant life.
So during this time I asked Jon if he knew what his father's favorite cologne was? He said, he did not. I told him Eternity. Later that night when we said goodbye I had him smell the cologne. He said, "That smells like my father." I gave him a brand new bottle of this cologne and said wear this and remember your father loves you. Only God could arrange this. My wife works for the company that packages this particular cologne. Never under estimate the people that God places within your life.
Please pray for Jon. ~ God’s canvas always amazes me ~ Keep chasing that Light! #blueridgemoments #bluerigeparkway #waterrockknob #inspireothers
BE THE HANDS AND FEET OF GOD
This past week I jumped into the car to roar off to catch this sunset shot after eating some of the best fried chicken with family from Publix.
I noticed that my fuel empty light came on as I crested the mountain. Not having fuel on the Blue Ridge Parkway is a rarity for me. I was thankful after the photo shoot to have mostly a downhill decent until the Walmart exit.
After pumping gas it started raining. As I was exiting the gas station I looked over and saw a homeless man or traveler laying under a burned out light of the huddle house which was closed. He was lying in the entrance trying to sleep and keep out of the weather.
I got back on the highway to head home and said a prayer for that man.
I asked God if he wanted me to do anything for him or was this for someone else? It was then that I remembered that we had some left over chicken with all the fixings. Gods voice, the “Holy Spirit” whispered to me that tonight’s events was a set up.
It was a set up to allow my path to cross to help this man. I returned with the food and the burned out light under the Huddle House had come on. I asked this man if he needed any help and he said no under his exhausted voice. I told him that I was fueling my car about 20 minutes earlier and passed by and this light was not on.
The man turned around. I also told him that Jesus whispered to me to bring him this food. I asked him if he knew Jesus. He smiled beautifully and said, “doesn’t everyone?” I replied, “I only wished.”
I told him that Jesus takes care of his kids no matter where they are and that he loves them dearly. The man said he was traveling from Jacksonville, Florida, to Virginia by foot.
I prayed a prayer of safety for him and gave him the food. Driving back I thanked God for the many blessings he has given to me. I am thankful for the help and arrangements God makes for us.
Listen and act when you hear his calling. If you haven’t heard the voice of God ask him daily and listen carefully. God is real and his Spirit moves throughout his people. We are to be the hands and feet of God. So many opportunites if we only listen to that small, still voice.
Whistle of Fall
Do you see the colorful red tree that caught my eye off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Richland Balsam Overlook way down in the valley? (October 2021 - 200-600 lens) This singular tree caught my attention just as a little 3 year old boy crying uncontrollably in the check out line did this past week at Walmart. The single mother in front of me had also an infant who was as calm as a cucumber but by the look on the Mom’s face it said it all. Everyone was staring and she was terribly embarrassed. I wonder what this little boy thought as he cried and looked at all the masked people looking back at him. My heart broke for this young mother because we have all been there. I wanted to help her in some way so I began to whistle an old hymn. Immediately, the boy looked at me and quieted down. Then the people started staring at me. Was it because I wasn’t wearing a mask or was it just that something so simple had quieted this toddler down. It was actually neither, it was that he saw my smile and the sound of music had silenced his bad day for a moment. His mom looked back and with her eyes she said thank you. Isn’t it amazing that this red tree caught your attention. Where is our focus? There are so many opportunities of beauty around us if we focus. Next time try whistling in public. Many have forgotten it’s sound. ~ Happy Fall Y’all! Get out there because in a moment it’s gone! ~ God’s canvas always amazes me ~ Keep chasing that Light!
- #blueridgeparkway #pisgahnationalforest