A flight of adventure

I was driving across Georgia the other day on a back road when I noticed on my right a youth heading in my direction from the right at a fast rate of speed. He wasn’t running, so I assumed he was on a skateboard. Protruding from the small blue toboggan on his head, I could see earphones covering his ear. Over the bushes in my line of sight, I could see his flannel green jacket gaining ground fast as I began to slow my rate of speed.

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A bucket of chicken and an airplane

It was Saturday morning and I had risen early in anticipation of a family outing.

I couldn’t have been more than seven and of course to me the adventure should start right then despite the fact it was an afternoon picnic that was planned.

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Sledge and the rustling run

As a youth my Granddad Bill made his way west and when he returned to the Gravelly Spur, he brought with him the stories of the Old West, gunfights, cattle rustlers, ranchers who ran large ranches like kingdoms.

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Grandpa’s Lessons

As I stumbled along the dirt road, occasionally I would reach my hand up and slip it into that of my Grandpa Jesse’s. As an independence streak struck, I would then pull it back managing my steps all on my own at least for a few feet then I would once again find myself repeating the process.
No matter which action I took, I could look up into his face and see a smile beaming back at me. What an amazing gift is the special bond that grows between a loving grandparent and a grandchild.
They can give so much love and many like mine at times had the desire to share a lifetime of experience. I thank God, mine gave me the insights at a young age, to listen and learn.
I think one of the greatest lessons shared with me was how to handle yourself when you realized you have wronged someone in some way. It could be a simple as a misunderstanding or a downright disagreement.
From their example, I saw that one should admit a mistake and apologize to move the relationship forward. If you are the injured party, take the first step, express your concerns and allow the other person an easy opportunity to make amends.
If they choose not to do so, then you have done all you can to mend the fences.
Unfortunately, folks are not always in the same place at the same time.
Although Christianity teaches to forgive, that was an area that I have seen loved ones and friends struggle with throughout my life.
I struggle with it myself, often times I fall back on hardened lessons shared through the generations based in centuries of tribal or clan conflicts and feuds.
I have watched loving, caring people who would give you the shirt of their back, get up on their back legs and growl when a situation involved and ancestral enemy or a ostracized family member or former friend.
While I received lessons through oral stories, I have worked to distance myself from continuing such disputes into my life. Some even go back beyond written records. They do often add color to stories I share but for me the feuds are long past.
I find as time passes in my life, I have to work harder not to add to the list with my own experiences with other people.
It would be easy to simply write someone off, as often was a practice, and have no more to do with him or her, once they have done you wrong, will not apologize or admit a mistake.
But unless continuing that relationship is destructive, I am striving to make an effort to not fall into some of the footsteps left by my mountain highland kin through the centuries. But that’s not to say there might not be a situation that calls for their approach but I don’t know if I am up to a good sword fight, pistols at ten paces, or gathering the clan for feudin’ at any time in the near future.
So, I think the approaches mentioned earlier, might be the best for all concerned. Of course, the other person does have to be concerned. If their not, they probably shouldn’t be that important to your life anyway.

New releases from Opry’s Jeanne Pruett and Del McCoury

Two of my long-time Grand Ole Opry friends have new projects that everyone is sure to enjoy.
Jeanne Pruett, an accomplished musician, author, and restauranteur, has completed her new book “Jeanne Pruett: Miss Satin Sheets I Remember.”
She shares her memories good, great and even bad as she focuses on decades of music and music makers.
“(I am) the author and publisher of four best-selling cookbooks in a series entitled Feedin’ Friends, she said. “(I also) had a successful restaurant of the same name in the Opryland theme park, Jeanne Pruett’s Feedin’ Friends. (I) was, for years, a regular on the Ralph Emery television show Nashville Now. (I am) a museum curator, a producer of country music shows, a mother of two, a happy wife, and the author of this book, ‘I Remember’.”
Jeanne Pruett’s riveting work from Page Publishing of New York includes many recognizable characters, who are not only superstars, but also personal friends. Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Nancy “Mrs. George” Jones, Bill Anderson, Don Williams, Ronnie Milsap, Rhonda Vincent, and dozens more are the author’s country music idols, and they’ve all played a great part in her life.
Pruett shared that since her retirement, that the great lyrics in good country songs mean even more to her than ever before.
She reminisces over the love and friendships of her music friends, the love of her worldwide fans, and the love of everyday people are the fabrics that hold her life together.
“Jeanne Pruett: Miss Satin Sheets I Remember” is available bookstores everywhere, or online at the Apple iTunes store, Amazon, Kobo, Google Play or Barnes and Noble.
Bluegrass mainstay and two-time Grammy winner Del McCoury is assuring folks in his upcoming CD that Del McCoury Still Sings Bluegrass.
From the nascent sound of bluegrass that charmed hardscrabble hillbilly honkytonks, rural schoolhouse stages, and the crowning glory of the Grand Ole Opry to the present-day culture-buzz of viral videos and digital streams, Del is the living link.
“What I like in a record is variety of moods, of tempos,” Del said. “I consider myself traditional at heart, but I don’t have any boundaries. I’m just a guy that likes to sing and play music. Whatever strikes me to do I’ll do it. Without wrecking things.”
His new album will debut May 25 with 14 songs brimming with hot licks, classic songcraft, even some boundary-stretching electric guitar, and once again, Del’s matchless vocal delivery.
The album features his fine band (Ronnie McCoury on Mandolin, Rob McCoury on Banjo, Jason Carter on fiddle, Alan Bartran on bass) with a guest electric guitar from his grandson, Heaven McCoury, on a kicking cover of Shawn Camp’s tune “Hot Wired.” Del noting that having Ronnie’s son, Heaven, on the record playing electric guitar reminds him of the Del McCoury Band playing with Phish and how well Trey Anastasio’s guitar blended with bluegrass.
For more information, please visit http://www.delmccouryband.com/.

Do we struggle each day with finding the future?

When you got up this morning, did you wonder what you were going to do today?

Most of us have a routine that we are locked in, work, school or family activities.

Each day is almost a reflection of the one before and these days sometimes seem like they stretch on year after year without much change.

It’s like we are living in Bill Murray’s film “Groundhog Day” with some slight deviations each day.
But the repetitive nature of life is somewhat a fallacy. Even though our course is familiar and similar to the previous day, in actuality every day is different.

God provides us endless opportunities on each day by allowing new and different people to cross our paths. Of course it is up to us as to how we receive these encounters and whether they will make a difference in the day that is positive or negative.

Each morning as I come to my computer, and sit down at my desk, I am hopeful that there will be a call or an e-mail that will change the direction of one of the aspects of my career.

That does not mean I just sit and wait on such things, you have to get after them and help create opportunities for yourself.

But that to me is what makes each day different even though I sit in the same chair, type on the same keyboard and try to reduce the same piles of things to do that are scattered around my office.

I realize since my career crosses several areas of interest that some folks find of interest – acting, music, and writing, some might see a deviation in my norm as more exciting than one in their own life.

I am here to tell you, that is not the case. Excitement in life comes from being engaged in an activity, vocation, or endeavor that you love – one that brings your passion from your heart and places the smile on your face.

The other day I celebrated during Christmas with some friends, as the evening progressed laughter permeated the group lifting our hearts in the activity we shared. I realized as I came back to my home, how long it had been since I laughed like that, since a continuous smile had radiated from my lips.

Despite my doing what I love, the enthusiasm, the fervor for each day had subsided into a level of quiet doldrums. Sometimes holidays of any nature seem to even make it more pronounced.

While it shouldn’t be a revelation, I decided to declare a resolution to use each day to remember the joy, the hope, the love in the gifts that God has shared with me and to reflect that in my walk, my work, my life as I share and experience life with all those that I encounter.

If I can do that in 2013, it will be the best year ever, no matter what other excitement or problems may come my way.

So, put a smile on your face, a song in your heart and a lilt in your step as you glide gracefully through the rest of the year.


A view from on high

I slid around the edge of the roof of the house removing the gunk that had collected in the gutters. Being a musician my hands were such a vital part of my life, I always came away with them skinned up from the adventure.

Cleaning out gutters didn’t phase me at that time and I often hopped right up there no matter how high it was moving around easing the path for the rain water.

It had become a nice supplementary business to the lawns I mowed as a kid. I started those when I was around 10 and pretty much continued through college.

Even as I had achieved some notoriety performing for the Grand Ole Opry and major concert events around the country, I still mowed, raked and cleaned gutters for those long established clients I had built up through the years.

I once heard Tennessee Ernie Ford say as his career was developing, one of the criteria he looked at before moving on from something to bigger pastures, was to make sure that there was more cows in that field than the one he was already in.

I don’t think that is what kept me doing for those folks. Many of them were like family, some older and I knew it would be hard for them to find someone to replace me after so many years of my helping them. But eventually I did have to phase out of all those extra jobs and move on in life.

I even recall feeling a bit of guilt in leaving a couple in particular to find someone else to meet those needs.

While I think back fondly on those times sitting up on the roofs working with my thoughts about what I would do with my life flooding through my mind as I looked out around the neighborhood, unlike my younger self, I am no longer anxious to jump up on the roof to think.

However, I still spend time each day, thinking about what God has in store for me in life.

Dreams never seem to fade; there is always something new that is just over the horizon.

A new record, a new book, a new job, a new friendship, a new way to serve and accomplish something for someone else.

These days I still like to look out over the neighborhood as I think. Instead of sticking my hands down in the muck and filling up a bucket with it, now I find a high point on a mountainside, sit there with God’s word and take in the beauty all around me as I read, think and pray.

Perhaps it is something in the genes that I discovered as a kid looking out from those roofs, that there is an almost innate desire within me to be high up – in the mountains looking out and drinking deeply from God’s creation. It seems to renew my soul and provide a perfect backdrop to dream and ask for God’s guidance and His inspiration to know how to illuminate the path that He has in store.

Have you found your rooftop? Do you know where you can be inspired to make a difference?

If you do not have a place, I hope this week you will take some time and find a place to restore your soul as you dream for your future and what you can make happen in your family and community that will make our world a better place.


Loving beyond worldly measure

Some of the most difficult times to watch are when someone we know is trying to be there for a loved one when he or she is coming to the end of his or her journey. As I think back through the years, I remember watching my mother and father as they reached out to support friends or relatives in such times.
If the loved one was elsewhere, they would close up the business, and off they’d go for an undetermined amount of time to just be present.
There to be called upon if needed for and extra pair of hands and legs to: run errands, do day-to-day tasks, cook, just simply sit,
talk, laugh, console, remember, and pray.
I saw my mother and father do this time and time again. I know they drew no financial benefit from what they were doing. Their only
requite was in knowing they were serving Christ with their actions.
Sometimes their presence reached beyond the caregivers to the patient and I know that brought a peace over each of them when they knew they comforted someone as they prepared to cross over.
As a small boy, I watched this routine many times as they said goodbye to former co-workers and neighbors, friends from throughout
their lives, and of course, relatives of every description who impacted their lives.
I vaguely remember one period in my childhood when I felt I was spending more time in hospitals and funeral homes than at school but
death comes at God’s appointment not on our timetables.
I am now at a similar point in time of my life as they were when they were saying goodbye to so many. So, I have become readily cognizant that like my folks, many of those I know are being called, some old, some young, but its seems more with every passing year.
As I reflect on what can I do to support their loved ones, I think back on the model that my parents gave me. I try to simply be present
whenever possible to offer support and help them walk down the path I have already walked. I know that hope, comfort and strength should be offered along the path and I only pray that I can be an instrument to provide some aspect of these to all concerned along the final journey.
Most of us know someone who is facing this point in life, what are you doing to support he or she, and his or her circle of caregivers?
I encourage you to find some way to make a difference; you may be able to leave a message of love that changes a life forever and
passes a legacy of love to your children as they see how you help others in a time in life we all must face.

A Breath Shared

I struggled to catch a breath as I leaned up on my pillow, trying to find the next clear bit of air and pull it into my lungs.
I often wondered if there would be another breath but there was an endless desire to keep trying.
As a child, like many others I suffered from a multitude of ailments that made my stay on this earth sometimes tenuous.
One of the results of the multitude was asthma that left me with weak lungs that often seize up making exerting myself a dance with living on the edge.
With the caring effort of my mother and dad, rubbing me down in mentholated rub, beating my back to loosen my lungs, keeping a house as clean from irritants as possible, I know my survival would have been unlikely.
There came a morning when I was about five that I did not awake. I relay the account as shared with me, since I was unable to experience it from a conscious prospective.
After calling my name several times to raise me from my slumber with no avail, my late mother came in to find me laying in my bed, the sight scared her, her boy there, still, staring up at the ceiling, lifeless. In her words, “Your eyes were set back in your head and you were not breathing.”
She grabbed me up wrapped in the quilt that I was sleeping in, threw me over her shoulder, picked up the kitchen phone calling the doctor’s office, saying, “I’m bringing him in.” She jumped into our blue 1964 Chevy Malibu and as she said, didn’t stop for a single light as she drove the five miles to his office.
She rushed through the waiting room and the receptionist jumped up, opened the door realizing I was in distress and the immediately took me into an exam room placing me on the table.
The doctor questioned why she didn’t take me to the emergency room. Her reply “He’s here now, do something.”
So he did, with only what he had on hand he started trying to revive me and sent the nurse to get a shot of some kind.
He administered the shot and then turned to mom and said, “All we can do now is pray.”
That’s what they did, pray over my lifeless body with no signs of hope.
After a few moments of prayer, I began to breath and the life that was gone was restored. What accomplished this? The doctor’s sharing his skill with limited means; or the prayers of them standing above my lifeless body calling out to God to not allow the senseless death of a toddler.
Whatever it was, their faith, medicine, it allowed me to breath again, and grow, struggle, and cling to life again and again, as I battled more childhood adversities carrying me to adulthood. He allowed me to learn, and work, and give, and pray for others. He has allowed me to serve.
For me that day was God’s miracle of life that He gave me initially and He chose to give it back to me because that five-year-old had something more to do for Him.
Once again when I was in my twenties, a water-borne illness had me near death with no medical means of improving my situation. It was mother’s unceasing prayers by my hospital bedside that drew me back to health.
There are two times when I know God intervened in the course of the frailness of the human body and allowed me to continue.
Each day, I know that I fail in using the opportunities He affords, and sometimes I find myself bogged down in my own hopes and desires. But then I remind myself, my presence here is His gift to me, that He has given more times than I can count or even know about.
I try to remember that is my work here to give back and so I pray I always remember and act accordingly. Prayer is a gift – use it, give it, share it.

Living in the right path

Knowing one’s best direction in life can be an ever-changing debate within your own head.
As someone who has spent their life in entertainment, I often look at my situation to weigh my perception of what I do with the reality of the logistics of life.
I find myself fretting over some aspect of where my road has taken me and wonder whether I veered from the appointed path set out for me.
Was I meant to do something different in life? Did I choose what God intended?
Those are questions that I am sure many people debate in his or her head especially as the children are screaming at each other in the back seat of the car; the bills on the table appear to be much higher that any hope of payment; or the honey do list becomes a small paperback.
I learned many years ago from actor Carroll O’Connor in a deep conversation about the human condition and differences in people that in life we often spend our time listening to the problems of others as he or she seeks empathy. He told me in that shared experience there is a sense of uplifting that the sharer can gain if received and responded to properly while the listener can overt a draining of spirit while sharing comfort.
“Everyone has the same problems,” he told me. “Different folks just have a different number of zeros attached to them.”
So in some way that list of things people endure mentioned above along with a long list of others is not unique to us. We all have moments of doubt when we wonder if we are on the right path. Shouldn’t be easier if we were? Not necessarily.
We can be within the path set forth by God before we were a twinkle in our father’s eye in His purpose for us to fulfill His mission, and life could be very difficult.
If we have accepted Christ into our life then we are in His light. We may choose to put on a blindfold at times as we make a choice outside our appropriate path but He is always with us shining His light waiting for us to reflect what He is sharing.
When I begin to sink into the questions of my choices, my circumstances, my feelings, I then remember that ultimately, I am striving in His will and if He wishes me to be in a different situation, He will open the doors, and reveal the path.
I just need to remain ready, prepared and always be working to improve the opportunities within my life, career, and my relationships with family and friends.
Carroll’s “Archie” character might have told me to “Stifle” as I began whining about my life and after a few lines proceeded with “You Meathead, You….”
Sometimes we need to say that to ourselves, “You Meathead, You!” Life is a blessing, even in the worst situation you can experience; there are others who have greater need in the world. So as “Archie” could have shared: “Be like that real American John Wayne, and pick yourselves up by your boot straps there, and just get on with it. Do what is right and God will’s look after you.”