Category Archives: Uncategorized

WhiteFire Scavenger Hunt Stop #

Welcome to the WhiteFire Publishing Scavenger Hunt! If you’ve just discovered the hunt, be sure to go back to stop #1 and collect all the clues in order. Once you have them all, you’ll have uncovered a secret message. Turn that in at the final stop for a chance to win one of THREE amazing prize packages!

 

  • The Hunt begins at Roseanna White’s site
  • Take your time! You have all weekend to complete the Hunt—entries will be counted until Monday June 26—so have fun reading all the posts along the way and getting to know each author
  • Lots of extra prizes! Many of the authors are featuring unique giveaways as well, for even more chances to win!
  • Submit your entry for the grand prizes back at Roseanna White’s blog.

 

From: Nelson Hannah

This scavenger hunt is a great way to become acquainted with some fabulous writers and equally fabulous people. My experiece with the WhiteFire family has been wonderful. At one time, I was the only guy among a host of talented ladies, yet they have welcomed me, encouraged me, and prayed for me at every turn.

I am a Southern boy in passionate pursuit of God’s heart. Everything I write is from that perspective. My book No Plan B: Discovering God’s Blueprint for Your Life is road map to help every reader find God’s ultimate promise” and walk it out. God really does have a plan for your life and no wrong choice, bad decision, or tragic turn can change that. His gifts and calling are irrevokable.

Religion has sold all of us a bill of goods, but genuine relationship with God sets us free to be everything He has envisioned for you. Perhaps you’re pursuing what you think is Plan B due to some mistake you’ve made in the past. Perhaps you’ve given up on God’s calling in your life because you feel unworthy. Be encouraged, God only has one plan for you and it is a perfect blueprint for making you the masterpiece he created you to be. There is no Plan B!

Please add your name to my blog role and join me in pursuing God’s A Plan for our lives!

Here’s the Stop #11 Scoop:

You can order my book No Plan B at https://www.amazon.com/No-Plan-Discovering-Blueprint-foreword/dp/1939023343

 

Clue to Write Down: “Promise”

 

Link to Stop # 12, the Next Stop on the Loop: Rachelle Rea Cobb https://RachelleReaCobb.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Need the full list of stops?

Roseanna M. White

 

All finished? Submit Your Entries!

On Being Truly American

I am a Southern boy, born and bred in the land of sweet tea, grits, and high humidity. My drawl may be slow and drawn out, but I too speak the King’s English just like they do in Boston, but without the extra “r” in words that have no “r’s,” or in sunny California, but choosing “y’all” over “you guys” every time. My “i’s” are long, and sometimes, depending on what part of the country I’m visiting, I have to spell the word “ice” instead of asking for it so the waitress knows I’m talking about frozen water instead of a posterior body part. I refer to all soft drinks as Coke’s instead of pop, but I prefer a Diet Dew.

I am proud of where I come from. I have never once in my life been ashamed of my birthplace. As my wife’s grandfather used to say, “It’s the best place in the world.” I know there are folks who think I should be, but I’m not! On the other hand, from time to time, I have found myself ashamed of some of the things my neighbors have said or done down through history. But, let’s be honest, stupid people are spread thick like peanut butter across every nook and cranny of this whole wide world. Every generation, nation, culture, or people group has its own share of stupid people. As Forrest Gump says, “Stupid is as stupid does.” But stupid is an individual trait that is sometimes catching, like a bad case of diarrhea. Perhaps I shouldn’t use the word “stupid,” (or for that matter diarrhea).  My granddaughter tells me it’s a bad word according to her mother, who stares at me every time I say it with an icy glare that could freeze antifreeze, but it does communicate my point.

My ancestors were immigrants just like yours were if you live in this country. They came from somewhere else—looking for an opportunity to make a living, build a family, follow a dream and worship God freely. My people were soldiers, sharecroppers, peddlers, and coal miners who worked long days for little or no money. They were honorable men and women, doing what it took to survive and thrive in a land filled with opportunity. They were not perfect. They did not do everything right. But—they were just people—so where yours.

I am an American. I still get a lump in my throat when I see the flag or hear the swell of the notes as the national anthem is played. I don’t determine my value based on my ethnicity, color, or country of ancestral origin. And neither do I determine the value of anyone else that way. I don’t refer to myself as Scottish-American, African-American, Arab-American, Italian-American, Jewish-American, or any other of the million and one places you can leave and make your destination America. The “where” my ancestors came from does not determine who I am or who I will be. Take away my skin and my blood is red just like yours. Cut me and I bleed just like you do. Call me a name or shoot me the finger and I want to punch you just like you would if you were on the receiving end.

Regardless of where you come from, what you call yourself, or what you believe, we are all connected—by origin and by destiny. All of us are the descendants of one single couple. God didn’t create a community on a cul-de-sac with all the colors of the rainbow. He simply created one couple and conveniently left out the explanation of their color, ethnicity, and national origin. In other words, your guess is as good as mine. It is after all, a guess. So why waste any more time postulating and prognosticating about it. We are, after all kin—brothers of different mothers and sisters of different misters.

You may not like our president or the congress, but I’ve lived long enough to realize that is the case with most presidents and most congresses. You may not like my politics and I may not like yours. But we—not you alone or me alone—are Americans. Our destiny—not yours alone or mine alone—is bound up in to our unity of purpose and our mutual respect for one another. I may not agree with you and you may not agree with me, but we desperately need each other—if for no other reason than to maintain the unique diversity of this great country. This nation was founded by a coalition of folks who came from different places and different beliefs with little in common and countless things they disagreed on except they were tired of being told what to do by an absentee king whose only interest was their tax money. In fact, the only thing they had in common was an insatiable desire to be free.

Freedom necessitates diversity. It requires all the cultures of the North, the West, the East, and yes, a whiff of the South thrown in for spice and good measure. It demands a multiplicity of races, beliefs, and politics who disagree, but find a compromise that works for all of the people most of the time rather than a few of the people all of the time. Freedom that works for only a handful is not really freedom at all. It is slavery dressed up in a cheap Halloween costume.

I celebrate my Southern culture and upbringing. I revel in the beauty and the majesty of the state in which I was born. I take joy and pride from where my people originally hail from. I feel comfortable speaking the King’s English in my own regional dialect. And I could live off grits, gravy, fried chicken, collards, and buttermilk biscuits. But I can’t be an American without you. You see, I don’t make America—America. And neither do you! It is only together—in you and me with all our differences on display—that America exists and freedom can reign.

Storm Kits for Life

The word “storm” is an adequate metaphor for those moments of chaos we all encounter from time to time as we walk out life. Rough and tough times, unforeseen pitfalls, and uncontrollable situations are common to us all. Trouble is an equal opportunity employer that never discriminates regardless of race, creed, social standing, or sex. At this moment in your life, you have just exited a storm, are experiencing a storm, or should be expecting a storm. It is not if but when.

Natural storms follow weather patterns so we learn to expect them. And so does trouble and tribulation, but our belief system is oddly different. We somehow believe “it will never happen to me.” Therefore it always seems to catch us unaware and unprepared. And boom—the storm hits and life gets turned upside down and inside out. Huddled in piles of anxiety and fear, we put our head in our hands and cry, “Why me!”

Job put it this way: “Man who is born of woman, is short of days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1).Trouble is on its way. The only question is—will it stop at my house today? Perhaps there’s a better way to deal with the inevitability of that trouble tornado or thunderstorm of trials than cringing in dread and despair. Perhaps we should all put together a simple storm readiness survival kit.

First, we need to be weather aware. Good times don’t last forever. The stock market that goes up will come down. You will not be 100% healthy all of the time. And people will disappoint you, disagree with you, disappear on you, and even die on you. There is some kind of storm on your horizon. So—be alert!

When the trouble hits and the winds seem like they will rip you apart, dig your feet in and stand firm. Storms are temporary even if they come in multiple waves. They do not last forever. Hunker down—God loves you and he is bigger than any storm that rages around you. You don’t have to hang on to him, because he has you by your hand and he will not let go. Even though you feel like the wind is tearing you apart—relax. God will not forsake you.Tuscaloosa, Alabama Tornado 2011

Next, find the eye of the hurricane—by that I mean find a quiet place in the midst of the storm and have a genuine conversation with God. For heaven’s sake talk to him. Tell him how you feel. Be totally honest and voice the fear, the despair, the discouragement, or the feelings of destruction or doom you are experiencing. Ignoring those feelings will not lessen their destructive impact. Release them before they have an opportunity to raze your faith. Then use what little faith you have left to thank God for his protection and his provision. Being thankful in the midst of the storm is a sure sign you will be standing when the gale ceases and the sun breaks out once again.

0512-0705-3017-2448Finally, once the wind subsides and the sun pops out, assess the damage, clean up the debris, and get on with your life. Don’t allow trouble to deter you from your purpose or freeze frame you in a place of less than or self-pity. Move forward—don’t live looking back. Find others who have survived similar storms and share your stories together. Learn from their experience, as well as yours. Experience is actually a good teacher if we learn from it. If we don’t learn from past experience, rest assured—history will repeat itself at some point in the futuTrouble is a part of life, regardless of the depth of your faith, the demeanor of your influence, the development of your pocketbook, or the discernment of your wisdom. You can’t avoid it, no matter how well your storm shelter is constructed. But—you can survive it and even thrive from it, if you strive in your preparation for the next one. Just check the radar—at some point another storm will blow in. Prepare now, you will be ready!

Just a Suggestion in the Middel of the Desperation

 

I am not a prophet of gloom and doom but an optimistic realist, that is, I believe our nation is drowning in desperation. Our economy is in the toilet. Our ability to create employment opportunities is at a standstill. Our desire to work together politically in government for what’s best for our nation is nonexistent. And our moral climate has sunk below the surface of the water to an all-time low. We are in trouble as a nation and as a people.

I’ve heard the prognosticators claim that America has seen her better days—that what lies ahead will only get worse—sort of like watching one of those post-apocalyptic movies after the bombs explode and the smoke clears. I’ve read their reasons and seen their projections. I just don’t happen to believe it.

Now, I do agree with them on this one point—if nothing changes this is probably where we’re headed as a people, a culture, and a nation. The testimony of history demonstrates very clearly that when a nation tries with all its might to forget God—to ignore His laws—that nation implodes. It seems America is imploding. Oh, for sure, she has enemies outside her borders but her greatest enemy is herself—that’s you and me. Implosion, not explosions, will destroy America. Mark it down! You can take that to the bank with you. America, if or when she is destroyed, will not be struck down by a foreign enemy she will die by her own hand.

Perhaps you don’t want to hear this, but I told you in the beginning I’m a realist. I can’t ignore the facts. If we as a people expect change to occur and continue to do the same things, all the while hoping for different results—we are the biggest idiots history has ever witnessed. No things have to change, but not in the way most of those who hunger to lead this country have proposed.

I am also an optimist, but not because I see the glass half-full instead of half-empty. I am an optimist because I’m a man of faith—not faith in a government or even the people of this nation. No, my faith is in God—the God of the Bible—who is always faithful even when we as His people are not. Faith sees the invisible as visible—the not now as now. So in God’s economy it’s not too late until He sticks a fork in it and says it’s too late.

So what should we do? How should we respond in the dim light of this dire hour? Do we just give up? Sadly, that’s what many so-called Christians have already done. They’ve dug a foxhole, climbed in, and are now waiting for Jesus to rescue them like a saintly horde of selfish survivalists. “To hell with everyone else except me” is their gospel and this attitude is a major culprit of our present demise.

No, we can no longer hide in our holy bunkers and pray for things to get better—they won’t. It’s high time we crawl back out into the real world—you know, the one we whisper is headed to hell in a hand-basket—and start being the solution instead of moaning and groaning about the problems. Jesus really meant what He said about the necessity of our being the salt and the light.

Perhaps the present destiny of this nation will change if the people who claim to know God will get on their faces before Him and stop begging for their wants and start repenting for the sins of their nation. Yep—the sins of the nations are our sins not theirs. We’re responsible for allowing those who presently drive this doomed bus the opportunity to put their greedy little hands on the steering wheel. Our neglect and unconcern allowed them this opportunity and the only way their hands can now be removed is if God empties the bus and “Jesus takes the wheel” as Cary Underwood so eloquently put it. And the only way this will happen is if all those who claim to follow Christ actually start following Him. A good place to begin is on our knees.

Through the Eyes of a Child

Yesterday I dropped some Operation Christmas Child boxes off at Ms. Jo’s Little School Kindergarten in Gardendale. This group of preschoolers chose to make the Shoe Box Ministry a part of their Christmas giving project. I had planned to knock on the door and hand the boxes off, but Ms. Jo invited me in to meet the kids—a sort of show and tell of what her pastor does.

The boys and girls were quiet, respectful, and listened intently to what I had to say. As I finished speaking, one little boy raised his hand and asked, “What’s wrong with your arm?” I was dumbstruck not understanding what he meant. It seemed he had noticed very astutely that I had a small band aid on my left arm and was concerned about the injury it covered. photo

I replied, “Oh, it’s just a boo-boo,” hoping that would be enough of an explanation, but that was not.

“What happened?” he asked.

Now I had to think because I had forgotten all about the band aid and why I even had it on. Here I was standing in front of ten kids with silver-dollar sized eyes staring at me with concern, who had forgotten about the pastor and his job and were now transfixed on a tiny flesh-colored band aid on my forearm—alarmed at the present state of my health and welfare.

“Oh, I scratched it on a bush,” I replied.

“How?” was the next response from this anxious classroom of kids.

Ms. Jo stepped in and the conversation moved from band aids to tee-shirts, and I said my goodbyes and slipped out. But the Holy Spirit would not let the band aid question go.

Those little children were far more concerned about my tiny wound than impressed with who I was. They listened quietly to what I had to say, but looked far more intently at who I really was. To them, I was simply another person, perhaps a bit larger, but still a fellow human being. And to makes matters more interesting—the band aid signified that I was injured or hurting. It was a fluorescent, flashing billboard-sized clue to a little boy checking the real me out.

When did we stop looking—really looking—at those around us? When did we stop seeing the pain, the hurt or the wounds of those fellow pilgrims we share this planet with.

I know when it happened! It happened when we stopped looking at others through the wonder, through the innocence, or through the genuine concern of a child’s eyes. Compassion became suspicion. Concern became fear. And we stopped looking because we were afraid we might truly see the pain and thus become responsible for bringing health and healing to those who are hurting. If one can see the pain of another, turn their head and go about their life without any concern—that person is in reality no longer alive.

Unless we—that’s you and me—become like children again we will never see the pain of those around us, much less the kingdom of God. By the way, I didn’t make that one up—Jesus did!

The Hawk of Heaven and the Bush Hog

imagesBush hogging helps me clear my head (no—that’s not hunting wild hogs in the bush). It’s a farm implement one hooks to a tractor and mows the grass, weeds, or bushes that have gotten a bit out of hand. This week I climbed aboard my Ford 2600 tractor, set the height I wanted to cut, engaged the power take off, and off I went. For the next several hours it was just me, the tractor, and the field I was cutting. I had plenty of time to chill out and think even though the temperature was hovering close to one hundred degrees.

God often speaks to me during times like this from his creation. As I was grinding the imagesweeds into mulch, a rather large field mouse was forced out of his liar in the weeds and headed for a safer place. I didn’t think much about it until I made a round and headed back. Then out of nowhere I saw a reddish copper blur descending at breakneck speed toward the ground where the field mouse had fled. It was a rather large red-tailed hawk. In a blink of the eye, the hawk and his field mouse filet were headed for a private meal in a dining room in one of the pine trees that surround the field. It all happened in a matter of a few seconds.

imagesLater that afternoon, I flushed another large rodent out of his cozy condo in the underbrush and the very same thing happened—table for one and a free range mouse steak served rare off the grill in Chez Pine Tree. This hawk was racking up and waiting for me to set him up with the prime cuts.

As I pondered my contribution to the decimation of the of the field mouse population, I began to hear God’s unmistakable voice in my spirit. I had been witnessing far more than a lesson in nature’s food chain; I had been witnessing a picture with tremendous spiritual meaning. Let me show you what I mean.

Every person is like a garden or a field that must be tended or maintained very carefully. If we neglect that care—if we are inattentive to God—if we are careless and allow sin to take root—spiritual weeds start to grow. And if left untended for very long a fruitful garden or field can soon become overrun and turned into an overgrown jungle.

Weeds attract vermin like rats and field mice and allow them the cover to feed and breed without too much fear in the natural. Spiritual weeds also attract vermin of the demonic nature, and that undergrowth allows them to hide and carry out their work undetected. A little neglect, spiritually speaking, can quickly produce bondage in many different areas without a person even knowing it.

The only thing that gets rid of these spiritual weeds is confession and repentance—a high powered bush hog guided by you or me. Confession and repentance is our responsibility. Every so often, all us need to climb up on the tractor of prayer and unleash the bush hog on the weeds that have taken root in our own garden spot. (Stay out of your neighbor’s field—that’s his responsibility alone.)

“What about the hawk?” you might be thinking. “Where does he fit in all this?”

Oh, he’s there. Whenever we confess and repent, the enemy has no place to hide—no ground from which he can launch his attacks. He has to run, and when he does, the Hawk of heaven—the Holy Spirit—attacks with his talons bared and the enemy is no more. Gone in the blink of an eye.

What about your garden or field? Is it neatly manicured and mowed, or filled with underbrush and weeds? The Hawk of heaven is there—there high above your field…waiting. Why not crank the tractor and put the bush hog in gear?

The Tea Party: Take Two

Several years ago I shared my disastrous experience as a guest at an imaginary tea party hosted by my granddaughter who was then four years old. Audrey became exasperated because of her Papa’s loud slurping of the make-believe tea and his refusal to hold his cup with pinky finger extended. She promptly banished me from what she obviously considered the social event of the season in Helena, Alabama.

Time (three years to be exact) has a way of healing those egregious lapses of etiquette and social graces. A few days ago, while visiting her at her new digs just outside Little Rock, Arkansas; I was once again invited to a tea party. This time I decided to do whatever it took (within reason) to be a humble and courteous guest. I feared if I were asked to leave this fantasy function I would be black-balled forever from the elite society my granddaughter rubs moves in.

The guest list was rather short, but it included Big Al and me. Big Al is a stuffed elephant (the mascot for the University of Alabama—Audrey has particularly good taste in football teams). The only things we two had in common were we were both male, a little overweight, and obviously not in charge. Audrey, our “hostess with the most-ess,” seated us in imaginary chairs at an equally imaginary table, which in reality turned out to be the floor. This was not an issue for Big Al, who is only a foot high and weighs only a few ounces, but it was a bit uncomfortable for me since I weigh quite a bit more.

imagesOur hostess went over to her closet and took out the perfectly manicured box that holds the sacred miniature china tea set and lace table cloth, and proceeded to give both of us very detailed instructions of what each piece represented and how it would be used. Amazingly, the description sounded exactly like the one her Tats (Cathy) had given her the first time they hosted one of these events together.

I kept quiet fearing I might mess up and be asked to summarily leave. I just could not stand the public embarrassment of being thrown out of such a high society event being held in the suburbs of the capital of Arkansas. If that happened I would never be able to live it down, so I chose to let Big Al be the center of attention.

After the cups and saucers were carefully placed before us, Audrey began pouring the make-believe tea hot from her dainty little china tea pot. From time to time, she would refill the pot from one of the handles on her dresser which she claimed was the steamer. In a matter of moments this bedroom in Arkansas turned into a scene from Alice in Wonderland.

“How many sugar cubes would you like in your tea?” asked Audrey. The last time I was faced with this question I asked for far too many and was verbally given a public rebuke. Timidly I requested one—to which our host responded, “Why not take five!” My! My! Things have changed in three short years. So I said, “Five it is—fill her up!”

Things were going so well. We were laughing, sipping our tea (with pinkies extended—all except Big Al who has no pinkies), and snacking on make-believe chocolate chip cookies. When all of a sudden, Big Al put his trunk into the tea cup and began blowing bubbles. I will always believe this happened due to the sugar induced high he got from the five imaginary sugar cubes that were put in his drink. All of sudden Big Al became the life of the party blowing tea out his trunk like a water fountain.

Audrey was mortified (after she giggled so hard she fell backward, but she quickly regained her composure) and promptly began lecturing Al on the finer points of etiquette concerning tea cups, black currant tea, cookies and elephant trunks. Big Al took a beat down for his indiscretion, but his facial expression never changed—he kept his poker face. After all, he is what many would call a “party animal,” and he was certainly the life of this upper crust shindig.

Eventually the pretend party came to a close. We all hugged and made plans to do it again. Audrey packed up the tea set and carefully put it away. Big Al made his way back to “T-town,” with a designated driver due to the sugar- induced coma he was struggling with. And I—I savored the memory of a moment I will never forget and silently rejoiced in my somewhat temporary acceptance back into the high society circles that my glamorous little socialite granddaughter travels in.

Moments like these are too few and far between. They are fleeting and are usually missed by most of us because we are too busy—too involved with things that really don’t matter in the long run.

What’s more important—imagination or reality?

For me—it’s an instant spent looking at the world through the eyes of a child.

Is it make-believe?

Perhaps—but in those transitory moments at the tea party imagination became reality.

By the way, I learned a valuable lesson in case I receive another invitation to tea party—real or imaginary. Whatever you do, never, never put your trunk in the tea cup. It is considered rude and atrocious behavior by the citizens of Wonderland.