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Nugget Nate and Jenny’s Jackalope

Hope y’all enjoy this little tale it was written to help me get to know Nugget Nate and Penny a bit better. I’m going to add it as an extra to the print version of this years Nano Novel. Anyway let me know what you think.

 

Younger Nugget Nate

Younger Nugget Nate

Jenny Gentry sat in the parlor watching as her grandchildren and great grandchildren were playing their various games. God had blessed her with a full and adventurous life since the day her family had come west. She would always thank HIM for that. Now, on this her one hundredth birthday, she knew her adventure in the shadow land was almost come to an end. Her next adventure would come in the Kingdom of Heaven. If it weren’t for all the blessing of her family she would have asked God to usher her into that adventure already. She watched as the younger children gathered around her grandson Koll. She could see by what he held in his hands he had been exploring the attic. “What is it?”

“I don’t know. I found it in one of Granny’s trunks. It’s cool though, right?”

“I think itsit’s weird; it looks like a bunny with antlers.”

“Yeah, who would glue antlers on a rabbit?”

Jenny let out a cackle at that one. “Koll, bring that here if y’all want ta know about it.”

As the children followed along behind their older cousin, Jenny’s daughter-in-law came around the kitchen corner to see what had Ma’ma Gentry all stirred up. When she saw what Koll was handing her mother-in-law, she laughed. “Oh, Mother Gentry, where in the world did you find that thing?”

Jenny looked at her daughter-in-law “Why, that there’s Jack, my legendary messenger Jackalope. I’ve had him ever since I was a lil’ girl in pigtails.”

“What do you mean he’s your legendary messenger, Granny?” One of the lil ones asked before popping her thumb back in her mouth.

The daughter-in-law spoke up, “Oh, Granny’s just funnin’ with you, Cindy. Jackalopes aren’t real.”

“Well, maybe they is and maybe they ain’t. All I know is the man who gave him to me believed in ‘em. That’s good enough fer me.”

The children gathered around Jenny’s feet a scooting close to hear the story they knew she was getting set to tell. Just then the door opened and in walked Jenny’s sons from their time hunting the family land. “What’s all this then?” Her oldest son asked.

“Your mother was about to fill the children’s heads with another one of her adventure stories.”

“Which one this time, mama? I figure we’ve heard all your stories at least five or six times.”

Jenny shook her head. “Not this one, Gary. I honestly hadn’t thought about this till Koll came in here carrying ole Jack.” She held up the Jackalope.

“Mother, where in the world did you get that contraption from.”

“I’ve had Jack a long time; a true western Legend gave him to me on our trip west.”

“Ma’ma said a Jackindope ain’t real, Papa. Is dat true?” The little one asked before popping her thumb back in her mouth.

“No, honey, Jackalopes are a legend; there is no proof they exist.”

Jenny just shook her head. “Whacha call this right here, boy? You take a close look and if you can find out how this one was faked together I’ll believe ya. Jack was real, not only that, he was magical.”

“Oh, Mother, come on. That’s a bit of a tall stretch even for you.”

“Well, you listen to my story and then you tell me iffen Jack is a tall tale or not.”

Jenny sat the Jackalope on her lap and began to rock back and forth as the memories came rushing to the forefront of her brain.jackalope2

“When I was three days past my sixth birthday, ma Pa closed up the doctor’s office early and left the house. Me, Kevin and Ma’ma didn’t know what to think. Pa never closed the office early; people might need his help. But that day he did. He returned several hours later with the biggest wagon I’d ever seen in my life. It was huge and had a big round canvas cover on top of it. Two of the funniest looking cows I ever done see were pullin it. Pa told me later they was called oxen and pullin was what they did best.

Well, after dinner that night Pa told us that there was just too many doctors in Boston and he wasn’t making enough money to take care of us. He said he had sold the house and office and we would pack everything we could and head out west. He’d heard they needed doctors out west. He told us it was a great adventure and I reckoned he was probably right, Kevin musta thought so too cause he was asking if we’d see Indians and outlaws and gunfighters and such. Ma’ma I don’t think liked the idea but she never complained, not once. By Saturday we had everything packed and said goodbye to our friends and family and started out on our great western adventure.

The first few weeks were really fun, we was travelin through what Pa called the civilized country. There were towns every day, sometimes two or three a day. At night we’d stop outside some town and cook our dinner over a campfire or once or twice we even stayed in a hotel and ate at a diner. We got to take baths in rivers and creeks and it was really fun. But soon the towns got farther and farther apart and even when we found one, most of the time they didn’t have a hotel or a diner.  Then came the day when we hadn’t seen a town for about a week. We were running out of supplies and Pa and Kevin had tried their hand at hunting but didn’t have much luck. Before long we ran out of food and it had been about two days since we had had anything to eat. Even our water was starting to run out, and I heard Ma’ma and Pa talking about maybe this trip had been a mistake. The next day we started out again and everyone was hungry and cranky. That’s the day we met a real life western legend. It was just about midday when we rounded a rise in the trail and came upon a strange site. There was a man all in animal skins with some kind of animal on his head, like a hat. He was standing alongside the trail and behind him was the most elegant lady I had seen since we left Boston. She looked just like a princess out of a book. She was tending a big ole cast iron kettle over a campfire. The man stepped into the trail and raised his hand, waving with a big ole grin on his face. “Howdy,” he shouted.

Pa pulled the oxen to a halt, “Hello, there.”

“Where you folks headin?”

“We’re heading out west looking for a town that might need a doctor.”

“Well, shouldn’t take ya long, there’s a town about four days from here that could use a good doctor. All they got right now is an ole woman makes mountain cures for em.”

Well, that’s great information. Thank you, mister. I’m sorry, I don’t think we introduced ourselves. I’m Thomas Gentry and this is my wife, Virginia.”

The strange looking man walked up to our wagon and shook my pa’s hand. “Right glad to meet ya, Doctor Gentry. Everyone just calls me Nugget Nate so I reckon y’all can too.”

Kevin stuck his head between Ma and Pa. “Nugget Nate? Are you Nugget Nate Ryder, the mountain man of the west?” He held up his favorite dime store novel. The man laughed, “Well, I don’t know about that mountain man of the west stuff, young feller, but my name is Nugget Nate Ryder.”

“Wow! Pa, that’s Nugget Nate Ryder. He’s Famous!”

“So I heard, Kevin. Now settle down, you’re embarrassing Mr. Ryder.”

“Y’all go on and leave the boy alone I was about the same way first time I ever laid eyes on Ole Davy Crockett. Ain’t the boy’s fault them stories grow in the tellin. Listen though, don’t want to intrude on ya, but y’all might want to pull in here at our camp and rest a spell; them animals look like they could use a rest and a waterin. There’s a creek runs on the other side them there Cottonwoods. Might want to top yer water barrels, too. Ain’t no more water ‘tween here and that town I was tellin’ ya about.”

Ma looked at Pa. “A creek! Thomas, perhaps we could catch some fish to feed the children for lunch.”

Nate nodded and stroked his blond bushy beard, “Y’all could catch a few trout, that’s fer certain sure, but you ain’t got to do that. Why, the good Lord provided me two large jacklopes jes this morning. Normally we’d stew one and smoke the other for use later but God done tole me we’d be having company for lunch an’ dinner. So we stewed them both up. Why don’t you pull them besties off the trail and come join our camp. I’ll introduce y’all to my wife Penny and get the lil ones bellies full.”

“Oh, we wouldn’t want to impose.” Pa started to protest.

“Well, way I sees it, the Good Lord done told us you was acomin’ and I done cut up both them critters and Penny done cooked ‘em up. So unless you is saying you don’t care to eat with us and don’t mind wastin’ what’s already been prepared fer ya come on an’ get some grub.”

Nate turned his back on the wagon, walked over to the camp fire and sat himself on a log. He picked up a small bundle from beside it and proceeded to work on the furry thing in his hand. Ma mentioned to Pa how he needed to lay aside his pride and think of the children. With that Pa directed the oxen to the side of the trail and helped Mama down off the wagon. Kevin and I followed right along. The smell of that stew was heavenly to us after two days of nothing to eat. Penny smiled and dished out plates full of the rich hearty meal and we all ate ’til we were fit to bust. Along the way, Nate asked Pa about how much hunting he had done and if he’d gotten any game as of late. Pa finally admitted that he didn’t do much hunting at all when we lived in Boston and had been finding the process a little challenging since we left there.

“Ain’t nuffin’ ta be shamed of, Doc, why I’m sure I’d be as lost trying to cure a body of sickness as you are at hunting. Tell ya what, why don’t Penny and I tag along with y’all tomorrow, that way I can show you and yer boy some of the basics of huntin’ and trappin’? Nothing as detailed as a mountain man would do but enough to keep yer family in free meet and give the wife furs to be making bed covers and winter gear from.”

“That isn’t necessary, Nate, but thank you.”

“Don’t want to be arguing with you, Doc, but you’ve got it wrong. Out here in the west it is necessary. Meat ain’t as ready bought as it is back east. Iffen you don’t learn to grow veggies and hunt yer meat you ain’t gonna survive long out here, even in a town. Least let me take you and the boy out in the morning and show you how to spot a herd of buffalo and read tracks of other wildlife. Believe me when I say it’ll be important to ya this winter specially.”

Before Pa could protest again, Mama spoke up and accepted Nate’s offer. Pa finally nodded his acceptance, too. Kevin, for his part, was bouncing up and down with excitement at the thought of getting to hunt with Nugget Nate. The rest of that day we spent right there alongside that creek. Nate’s wife, Penny, help me and Mama get a bath in the creek and we filled our water barrels up and rested and ate all of that great stew. The next morning Nate took Pa and Kevin out and Mrs. Penny showed Mama the basics of smoking meet and tanning hides so that she would be able to put up what Pa and Kevin would hunt up to help us get through, not just the rest of our trip, but winter too. That evening Pa, Kevin, and Nugget Nate came back hauling two small rabbits that Kevin claimed to have shot and a large animal tied to a pole that Pa told Mama was buffalo. Nate spent the time showing Pa how to cut the different pieces and Penny cooked up some and showed Mama how to preserve the rest. After dinner Nate took out the buffalo hide from his pack and began to work on it with that big ole knife that was hanging on his side. He scraped it and scraped it til the hide was clean of any lasting meat and blood. He was still scrapping when I fell asleep beside the fire listening to the steady drag of the knife over animal skin.

The next morning we packed up and said our goodbyes to the Ryders. It was almost like leaving family. Nate surprised everyone by having gifts for each of us. Pa he gave the big knife he had been wearing. “This here is the very Knife I won off Jim Bowie hisself. It’s served me well, you take it and use it ta help keep yer family fed an’ clothed.”

Mama he gave the buffalo fur he had scraped clean the night before. “This will help keep yer yungin’s warm this winter, Ma’am. I cleaned it like the Apache do so it should last ya a long time.”

Then he turned to Kevin and pulled a wooden pistol he’d carved that looked just like one of the ones Nate had tucked in his belt. “Reckon yer still a bit young for the real thing, but here’s a wooden one to get used to carryin til ya are old enough for the real one. Keep helping yer Ma and Pa, boy, and you’ll grow up ta be a fine man indeed.”

Finally he stopped in front of me. “Well, Jenny my girl, I’m agiving you the most important gift of yer whole family. I’m giving ya a piece of Indian medicine so strong that I want ya to be careful with it.” He reached into his trapper’s bag and pulled out the thing he had been working on the first night at dinner. This here very Jack-a-lope. “This here is Jack, he’s a Jacklope. the Indians say they are spirit messengers and if killed and stuffed by someone they will carry messages to them when they are needed. So iffen you ever need Ole Nugget Nate, Jenny, you just whisper to Jack here and he’ll come find me and I’ll come arunnin’”

With last hand shakes and hugs we said goodbye to our new friends, and following the directions Nate gave to Pa, we headed to what we hoped would be our new home.

Just like Nate said, the town was pleased as punch to have a doctor and soon enough Pa built us a little house on a stretch of land near a creek and we became real western settlers. We’d been there almost a year when the day came that I needed to send Jack to find Nate. It started like any other day. Ma’ma had fixed breakfast and we were all sitting around eating when the door to our little home was kicked open and in stomped two men with bandanas over the lower part of their face, dragging a third between them. “Doc, we need you to be patchin up our brother here. You do it right fast and well leave yer family alone. Iffen you let him die or ain’t fast enough, well, let’s jes say yer family won’t survive it.”

Pa got up and directed the men to take their brother to his and Mama’s bed. “There is no need for threats, gentlemen. I’ll do what i can for your brother and then you be on your way.”

Pa went and poured some water over his hands and got his doctor bag and began to work on removing the bullet and sewing up the outlaw. The whole time his two brothers stood looking out the window like they were waiting for someone.  Sure enough, about half an hour later another fella rode up to the house and the two of them went out to talk to him. They all came back in and the new fella went up to Pa and asked, “How is he?”

Pa looked at him. “I removed the ball and cleaned the wound as best I could and I sewed him up but it don’t look good. He lost a lot of blood. If he makes it through the night I’d be more confident of his recovery.”

“Well, we will just have to stay and see how he is in the morning then.”

“I don’t think you understand,” Pa said with a look of worry on his face. “Even if he lives till morning it will be weeks before he is able to travel.”

“We ain’t got weeks, Doc. That posse will catch up to us before then.”

“I don’t know what to tell you; if you move him then he’ll die for sure.”

The three men looked at each other. Pete if we stay here he could heal and we could use these people as hostages to keep the posse from stormin us. They won’t chance killing the only doctor for miles.”

I didn’t understand then what all that meant, but I knew that Mama and Pa looked at each other in that way they do when they are upset and don’t want me and Kevin to know they are worried, and that’s when I remembered Jack, and what Nugget Nate had told me. I reached over on the table beside the fireplace where Pa had sat Jack when we moved in, and I hugged him close to me.”

Jenny pulled the Jackalope close to her chest with his long ear close to her mouth, just like she had done that day, being carried away by the memories of her story.

“I leaned my mouth down over his ear and I whispered “I hope you are magic like Nate said cause we need Nugget Nate now.” Then I sat him back where he came from. One of the men saw it and laughed. “Well, I’ll be. Lookie here, boys, someone done stuck antlers on top of this here stuffed rabbit. Ain’t that a hoot.” He held him out for the others to see. The last man to arrive shuddered, “Get rid of that thing, Bill, it gives me the creeps.”

“Oh, Jed, it’s just a bit of funny work, that’s all.”

The one called Jed walked over and grabbed it from his friend and walked over to the door and threw it outside. “It ain’t a bit of funny work, Bill. The Apache say it’s a spirit walker called a Jackalope. They give me the creeps.”

“You and yer Indian mumbo jumbo. I swear you take all the fun out of life.”

“It ain’t mumbo jumbo and if you paid any attention to the Indians you’d know that. Now you and Rusty go get our horse out of sight. Maybe if the posse don’t see our mounts they’ll think we rode on by.”

The other two nodded and headed out to do what the one called Jed had told them to do. Ten minutes went by and neither man came back inside. It was obvious that Jed was getting more and more nervous by the second. He looked at Kevin and motioned toward the door. “Boy, you go out there and tell those two I said quit fooling around and get their butts back in here.”

Kevin looked at Pa who nodded his head. Kevin stood and walked out the door. After a few more minutes and no one returning to the house, the outlaw was fit to be tied. Finally, he stalked over to the door himself and flung it open to go yell at his friends. When he did he looked straight into the barrel of a Harpers Ferry Pistol held in the steady hand of Nugget Nate Ryder. “Howdy,Doc.” Nate said, “Seems like you got unwanted company here.”

Pa shook off the look of shock on his face. “Yes, Nate, we do.”

Nate nodded once and without taking his eyes off the outlaw in front of him, pulled the man’s weapons from his belt and tossed them behind him. He called over his shoulder as he did. “Penny dear, would you bring me one of them hobbles from my saddle bag? I got another one in here.”

Penny walked up and handed a piece of rawhide to Nugget Nate. “I sent Kevin to get the posse on my horse, Nathan, he should be back soon.”

Nate made quick work of the last outlaw and soon all three were seated on the ground in front of the house.

Pa took the opportunity to ask, “Nate how in the world did you know we needed you?”

“Well it’s like this, Doc, we was heading by this way anyway. Penny wants to go to New York and visit her parents for a bit. Anyway, I was jes about to put out the campfire this morning when I hears a rustling in the sagebrush. Thinkin I might get to shoot a varmint fer us to fix fer lunch later I picked up ole Bess and sighted in on that clump of sagebrush when out popped a Jacklope. Soon as I seen him I remembered givin yer little one ole Jack and I jes knew y’all was in trouble. Put out the fire and told Penny we needed to ride fer y’all like the wind was a chasin us. Got here jes as them two owlhoots was coming out so Penny and I got the drop on em and used a few steer hobbles to bind em jes like they was calves for branding.”

“Well, whatever brought you here, we’re grateful.”

“Well, jes thank the Good Lord.”

Jenny looked at her family who were all sitting and listening to her tale. “That’s how I came to own Jack here and meet the Legendary Nugget Nate Ryder.”

Her son smiled and then stood and indicated to all the children, “Alright, gang, let’s give Granny some time to rest. Dinner will be ready soon. Outside with you all til then.”

The kids were dispersed to play and Jenny’s kids all were working on putting the finishing touches on her birthday celebration.  She sat in her rocking chair dozing and holding good ole Jack on her lap. She dreamed about the times over the years that Nugget Nate and Penny had visited. Slowly she became aware of a growing pressure in her chest that made it hard to breath. She struggled to call out to her family but didn’t have the strength. She barely managed to pull Ole Jack close to her lips and whisper into his ear. Sure enough, in seconds there he stood before her, dressed in his buckskins and coonskin cap, knife, hatchet and six guns on his belt, Ole Bess cradled in his arms. Sitting at his feet was Jack the Jackalope, returned from carrying his message. “Well, hello there, Jenny my girl! Ole Jack tole me youse was in some trouble here.”

Jenny smiled up at Nate. “Hello, you old Mountaineer. Always know when yer needed don’t cha?”

The old mountain man smiled “Reckon I do at that. Listen, the Good Lord done sent me to escort ya home, girly, is ya ready?”

One single tear slipped down Jenny’s weathered cheek. “I am Nate, but I sure hate to leave the younguns on my birthday.”

“Well, girl, I reckon they’ll grieve a bit but they know where yer heading. So I’m sure they won’t be holding yer homecoming against ya. Ya did grand, my girl, not an unbeliever in the bunch.”

Nate held out his hand and helped Jenny stand. As she laid her hand on his elbow all the years melted away and the young woman she once was stood beside the Legendary Mountain Man of the West. “Thanks for coming to my rescue once again Nate.”

“Didn’t come to yer rescue this time, Jenny, came to invite you on the greatest adventure of yer life. Ready?”

Without a single word the huge smile on her face was all the answer the Legend needed. Together the two stepped from the shadowlands into the great adventure of the Kingdom of Heaven

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2014 in Book Reviews

 

You’re Mavollus Da’ling. Simply Mavollus!

our weddingAs a man in ministry I have seen the effects the media portrayal of the perfect woman has on girls and women today. First as a youth pastor then as a pastor/church planter/revivalist and now as a chaplain and associate pastor. I’ve seen beautiful young and not so young women who have no self-worth because of the models and actresses they see in magazines and on TV and in movies. They try to look like these women, not realizing these women don’t look like that either. Not only have I had to deal with eating disorders but also young girls who want to add to that body part, take away from this one. They think no young man will love them because they don’t look like this girl or that girl, whoever is the hot young actress or model. Even full grown mothers and even grandmothers who want fat sucked out of this place and pushed into that one, lips plumped, wrinkles removed. All the while, never realizing that while it may initially attract a fellow’s eyes it is the internal beauty that keeps a man worth having anyway.

What people don’t seem to realize is that God created you with the body type you have both for men and women. I see the same thing with guys. It’s why steroids and now Garcinia Cambogia‎ for losing mad amounts of weight. But what we fail to see is first God looks on the inside and sees only the beauty of your heart and spirit.

By the same token if a person is  in love with you, truly in love with you, then they don’t see what’s on the outside either. sheri and I 2005They are attracted to the real you. After all the outside changes no matter who you are, if you don’t believe me just look at the pictures of me and my wife. The first one is our wedding, the second is ten years ago, and the last one we just took using my iPad. We both have changed. There is physically more to love of both of us. Her hair has changed color and gravity and three children have changed her shape. I’ve lost most of my hair and am three times the man I used to be physically. On top of that I have a physical ailment that keeps me from doing the things I need to lose those extra pounds. Plus I have lines on my face and arms and spots are showing up in my skin. The hair fled from the top of my head, but has gone nuts over my eyes and is coming out of places no hair should ever come out. While I won’t speak for my wife I am proud to say that I think she is more beautiful now than the day I married her. Her beauty comes from her soul and spirit not from the skin (though honestly that ain’t so bad either.)

sheri and i2014Lady’s and gentlemen, I hope you take this to heart. The you that is inside is the most important part of you. If that’s beautiful then you will be attractive to the right kind of guy, ladies. If your inside is handsome, fella’s, then again you will attract ladies with the right type of beauty. I love when I meet someone who has learned that secret even if they haven’t met Mister or Miss Right yet.

One such lady is my friend and fellow writer, Traci Bonney. Traci told me she struggled for years with her body image before she learned to be comfortable in the body God gave her. While I am happily married and totally devoted to my wife, I will say next to my spouse, Traci is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. Even though we’ve never met in person we work together and interact to help each other with our craft all the time. I know she hasn’t met her Mister Right yet, but I also know he is out there somewhere wondering where she is.

Recently she asked me to look at a hoop dance she did to a song written by a former model about loving the you, you are. During that conversation she admitted to me that she hasn’t always been comfortable in the skin she’s in.  Now due to some health issues, some of those insecurities have raised their ugly heads again. Then she found this woman who started a movement and wrote a song all about loving yourself and challenged people to do their own dance or interpretive movement to it. She especially wanted women without perfect airbrushed, plasticized, supermodel, A list actress bodies. It is the nobodyshame movements site and you can find it at www.nobodyshame.com. Below is the link to my friend’s hoopdance youtube page. I love the fact that she doesn’t let past or present body looks keep her from doing something she is so very talented at. Traci, my friend, YOU ROCK!!! Check out this hoop-dance inspired by and done to the song “ThisIsYaLife.” click HERE to see it. Until next time guys and gals, learn to be okay and even celebrate the body God gave you.

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2014 in Book Reviews

 

I understand Robin Williams better today.

You know last week I didn’t understand how someone who was loved and had accomplished so much like Robin Williams had would end his own life. I understand emotional illnesses, they run in my family. What I couldn’t understand was how he could think ending his life was a solution. Yet today I find myself understanding it all too well. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, but today I understand thinking ‘Maybe it would better for them all if they just didn’t have to deal with me anymore.’ Or even ‘They would be better off if I had never existed at all.’

Maybe we all have those thoughts from time to time. When the world seems to hard to stay a part of, when we feel to broken to ever be of use to anyone. Yes today I can understand exactly where Mr. Williams could come to his decision to get off the world.  Some people called him a coward some called him selfish. All called him depressed. Maybe it just all got to be too much. Maybe he thought they would be better without him. Maybe he just couldn’t go one more day. Today is a day like that for me. I don’t know if I can handle one more thing. I understand why he did what he did. Maybe he was braver than me but I just can’t take that solution. I’ll cry and sink into my depression but I’ll keep praying and hoping that God hears and is working on the solution for me.

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2014 in Book Reviews

 

The Miracle of my M.G.

hospital6-18I lie here once again in the hospital awaiting treatment for a Myasthenia Gravis flare-up. I was thinking back this morning to that fateful day in May of 2009 when I got the diagnosis and was told what it meant. The doctor was trying to impress upon me how my whole life would have to change.
M.G. is a combination condition; it is an autoimmune disease and a neuromuscular disease. It effects the nerves and muscles of the body because the immune system is constantly attacking it. Which means my immune system doesn’t fight illnesses.

This doctor was telling me how I needed to limit myself from being around people and that I wouldn’t be able to work long hours or do lots of physical activities. He informed me of how stress could also bring on a flare-up so I needed to avoid stressful situations. Then he went on to tell me how the condition would gradually get worse and that in the end it would either effect my lungs or throat or heart and lead to my death.
My whole world ended with his explanation. I was a pastor, church planter, prayer walking revivalist. Now I had to limit my contact with people and physical activities. That meant I couldn’t fulfill the calling God had placed on my life. It was devastating news because at the time, I was chasing a prophetic promise God had given me.
In 2000, God had lead me to read Habakkuk 1:5: “Look to the nations and watch, and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your day that you wouldn’t believe, even if it were told to you.” After I read that verse, God spoke to me that He was going to allow me to see and be part of His fulfillment of it.
How in the world was that going to happen if I couldn’t be around people? Then on top of all that, my family asked me to move back home from the state I felt God had called me to. Their reasoning was good; my wife would need help and support as this condition worsened. So reluctantly, we moved home the following month, closing the last church we had just started planting.
I arrived in West Virginia depressed, and it just got worse as my condition flared often because I was learning my limitations – which seemed to be almost anything I did. By the first of the year in 2010, I had become a virtual hermit in my bedroom, afraid to do anything for fear of ending up back in the hospital. The depression worsened and I thought and told God often to just take me home to heaven. I didn’t want to be worthless here and what about that promise I was so sure was from Him? I’d chased that thing for ten years at that point.
That’s when everything changed. Oh, not all at once, but slowly. I started writing just to have something to do besides watching Netflix and YouTube. Just a couple of story ideas I had kicked around but never put on paper. I didn’t plan to do anything with them but fill time. I became a Facebook addict, spending hours a day there just talking to people. After all, it was the only safe way for me to be connected. Then in November, I had two breakthroughs at once.
The first one came from a FB friend, a pastor in the South American country of Guyana. He was pastoring a little church in a small town about an hour outside of the capital and he mentioned how it was the Hindu festival to the goddess of death. He told me how the spiritual atmosphere was so dark that he couldn’t even prepare a sermon to preach that Sunday. In an off-handed way, I said, “So, go prayer walk your community and declare and proclaim that your town is part of the Kingdom of Light and that the goddess has no power there.”
His response was to ask me what prayer walking was, and I spent an hour sharing something I had taught to others and did as part of my own ministry for years. He got excited as we talked and asked me to send him an email with the scriptures and prayers so he could teach his whole congregation this exciting weapon. I said I would and he got offline to go do some of it himself. I started writing his email; about 4000 words in, I realized this was too big for an email. So I opened up Microsoft Word and started a book on prayer walking.
That was Monday of Thanksgiving week; by Thanksgiving day my rough draft was finished. It was 32,000 words. I sent him the whole thing in that form. My next thought was if this pastor doesn’t know about this great weapon to change the spiritual atmosphere of a city, maybe no one else does either. I should try and get this published.
So I Googled publishers and got a list of a few that were accepting unsolicited manuscripts in Christian genres. I looked at them all and picked three to send a query letter to. The first one to ask for a couple chapters got the whole manuscript. I got a call two days later from the submissions editor to ask me questions because she wanted to use prayer walking in her own situation. She also begged to send me a contract.
I was blown away. In the end I didn’t go with a publisher because I ran into these people online who informed me that I could publish my book for less than the publisher wanted by doing it myself. I got the book looked at by a few beta readers and edited and published it in January of 2011. You may have read it or seen it on my FB or Amazon page Prayer Walking for Spiritual Breakthrough.
From there I started actively writing and publishing. Next was a little booklet on a teaching I had done that people had always asked for notes on, The Complete Armor of God. Then I thought, well I have these stories; let’s see what people think of them. I meet other Christian writers online and soon was part of a forum called Christian Indie Authors, which has grown and moved to FB mostly and is the CIA Network with several groups.
The second thing I did in 2010, mostly because of the writing thing, was decide not to give up on life. I exited my room and my house and started getting involved in church again. I limited myself, but I was going to trust God.
He had me work with several churches and pastors during that time. In 2012, He brought me back to the church where He had made me that promise. I became the assistant pastor for my father-in-law, who had recently been asked to pastor the church. I’ve been there since then. We work around my special needs. God has allowed me to author nine books since 2010, and I get emails and Facebook messages from people who are touched by them every week. The founder of the CIA Network has asked me to officially become the group’s chaplain. I touch hundreds, if not thousands, of people all around the world through the Internet and my books.
Why tell you all this? Because today, as I lie here in my hospital bed waiting for a treatment regimen to start, God reminded me of His promise. “I am doing something in your day that you wouldn’t believe even if it were told to you.”
I realize that what at first I saw as an end to my ministry and a curse on my life is instead a miracle. If you had told me in 2008, before my diagnosis, that I would have the kind of impact I’m having now – that people from several countries would call me pastor, mentor and a blessing from God, that they would say I taught them how to be closer to God – I wouldn’t have believed it.
I have received emails from people in South Africa, Peru, England, South America, Canada, all over the U.S., and soldiers in Afghanistan. There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t get a question and thanks or a prayer request from someone online; most weeks, I receive several. God took what I saw as the ending of a dream to start fulfilling His promise to me. I have more impact now than I ever thought possible for a simple West Virginia inner-city preacher.
I want to end this by saying this maybe all our personal crosses aren’t crosses, but blessings and miracles in disguise. I pray today that each of us would look for the blessings in our curses, the opportunities in our adversities and the testimonies in our tests. I think this song by Laura’s Story says it best: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQan9L3yXjc&hd=1
Till next time, God bless you and keep you and cause His face to shine upon you and give you peace and purpose. -PG

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2014 in Book Reviews

 

That bit of fluf: She isnt what they think

reader-writers

 

 

 

 

I don’t understand why they did it. I thought I was what they wanted. I am called man’s best friend. I’m loyal and faithful but that meant nothing to them. Today they came home so proud of themselves. They called me into the room and showed me what they had brought home.

“Isn’t she cute, Buster?” My lady held a little ball of fluff that smelled suspiciously like a CAT. The demonic thing looked at me with that sparkle in its eyes all dogs are taught to recognize. Oh, no, what had they done? They had brought evil in and called it cute. I had to let them know so I growled deep in my chest, the best warning I knew.

My man grabbed a magazine, rolled it, and whacked me on the nose as if I were a naughty pup again. “No, Buster, you need to be nice to Miss Kitty.”

Oh, no, she has already started to brainwash them.

They sat her on the floor and that devious demonic agent of the darkness began to put on her innocent act. She ran up, intertwined herself between my front paws, and made that sound the Two Legs find so pleasant, called a purr. If they only knew, it really was the sound of doom heading our way.

That night at dinner, I was given my dog chow while the demon was fed tidbits of lobster from my lady’s plate. I looked and saw it giving me that sly grin but it never spoke a word. With each bite of lobster, it purred louder and louder. What the humans couldn’t see with their limited vision were the runes that glowed down the creature’s spine. For the first time since I was a pup, I felt fear. How was I supposed to do my job and protect them when they didn’t want protection?

I tried once more to protect them and lunged at the agent of darkness. If my mouth had only reached it then I could have snapped its neck and the danger to my people would have passed. Instead, my master grabbed me and took me out to the gazebo. I was banished for the night.

I watched from my prison as the furry bit of fluff wove its spell all around my territory. My people were completely enthralled. Soon they would be another set of collectables on the creature’s trophy wall. I decided to let the creature know I knew what it was doing. I moved to stand right under the hypethral and began to howl and bay my warning to anyone who would listen.

Soon after my people had gone to sleep, I saw its shadow heading my way. I had never been as afraid as I was when that little bit of fluff came my way. “Well, they don’t seem to want your protection, flea bag. We will have them all collected before long and then you and your kind will have nothing left to do.”

“Feline demon, you will never win. If I fall then HE will send another. We, like you, may take the form of animals, but you know whose messengers we really are.”

I transformed just as the demon attacked. Our battle was long and fierce but in the end HIS power helped me win the day. The bit of fluff fell into the abyss defeated again. They would be sad but think it ran away. Another disaster averted and man’s oldest enemy defeated once more, all without them being any wiser.

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Posted by on February 21, 2014 in Short Stories

 

Redeeming Love

Nell Shaw watched Dr. Sterling Graham run down the street headed to the business district. Gunshots had brought them from the exam room where the nurse and doctor had been inventorying supplies. Sterling had grabbed his medical bag and run from the clinic yelling that his wife Lydia and youngest children were there shopping and for her to prepare the clinic in case there were injured.

Nell went back to the exam room and pulled bandages, needles, cat gut along with various other items which might be needed. She threaded a number of needles then placed them into a bowl of carbolic acid. Once everything was prepared all she could do was wait. No that wasn’t all. She could pray and she bowed her head and began to do so.

Footsteps pounded up the steps and the screen door slammed. Nell stepped from the exam room nearly stumbling back as two men carrying a man’s shoulders and another his legs pushed into the room followed by one with a gun. All had the lower half of their faces covered with dirty bandanas.

“Come on girly. You’re gonna fix Dale up and quick,” the man with the gun said as he grabbed her arm in a tight grip.

“What? Who?” Nell stuttered. She looked as the men placed the injured and bloody man on the exam table.

“Zeb, we don’t have time for this just bring her with us,” Dale said as he struggled to get off the table. “Bring the girl with us. She can fix me up at the hideout.”

“Good thinkin’ boss. Hey, take Dale out and get him on his horse. I’ll bring the girl,” Zeb instructed. As soon as the other men had cleared the room Zeb shook Nell and said, “You gather up the supplies you need quick like.” He shoved Nell further into the room.

“No, you have to wait for the doctor. He’ll…”

“We ain’t waiting for no one. The tin star knows one of us was shot. They’ll be comin’ here next. And we ain’t gonna get caught that easy. Get goin’.”

Nell saw the look of a caged animal in his eyes and began selecting what she might need to treat the wound. Putting everything in a satchel she looked quickly around the room and saw a bottle of morphine on the shelf of the medicine cabinet. She took it placing it carefully between layers of bandages. The entire time she’d been praying that no one would come to the clinic. She had a feeling that these men wouldn’t care if they shot someone else.

Zeb grabbed Nell by the arm and dragged her from the room and down the hall out the door. The rest of the men were mounted on horseback. Zeb threw Nell up onto his saddle then mounted behind her. “Let’s ride. They can’t be far behind us.”

With that the men of Diamond Dale’s gang kicked their horses into a gallop heading from Cottonwood as fast as they could.

****

Aggie Cuttler knelt beside Eustace Taylor, the Cottonwood Bank owner, assessing his injury. Blood was flowing from his upper chest, the coppery smell assailing her nose. “Someone get me something to staunch the blood and go get Doc Graham.”

Someone handed her a piece of fabric and as she pressed it to the wound realized it was a woman’s petticoat with the price tag still on it. She looked up and saw Mabel Johnson, wife of the All Purpose Store owner, and knew it hadn’t been sold. Mabel was just that good. She wouldn’t care that it was new merchandise, it was needed so she supplied it.

Aggie pressed hard against the bullet hole and was relieved it was too high to involve the heart or lungs. “Doc’ll be here soon, Eustace. Ya’ll be hurtin’ some for a time but ya gonna live. Not time for ya, ya old coot to go home yet. Reckon y’all just have to live with Beulah a bit longer.”

“Thanks Aggie, you old biddy.” Eustace’s voice was strained.

Sterling knelt beside Aggie then. “So Aggie isn’t going to let you die, huh?”

Aggie told him what she knew of the injury never taking her hand from the wound. “Yous here now so I’m a gonna go get Beulah and meet ya at the clinic. She’s gonna be mighty scared. What you know of Lydia and the chillin’s? They okay?”

Sterling’s hand took over pressing on the folded petticoat and Aggie picked up her shotgun. “The children are with Ella. I’m going to help Sterling.” Aggie let out a breath of relief as she heard Lydia’s voice. Lydia was a child of Aggie’s heart when she helped the young woman escape from her abusive brother. She had helped the girl during the years between her parents’ deaths until she’d left. Then Aggie had followed her to Cottonwood when Lydia and Sterling were expecting their first baby which had turned out to be twins.

“Praise be. Now I’ll go and get to Beulah before someone else tells her he’s dead.” Aggie hugged Lydia and began heading up the street. Just then screaming could be heard and Eustace’s wife came running throwing herself onto his body wailing.

“Oh my love, my love. Don’t leave me. I’ll be lost without you. Please Lord, don’t take him.”

“Beulah,” Sterling said sternly. “Get off him. He’s going to be okay but won’t be if you squash him to death.”

“Well, I don’t know why you would say that, Sterling. I can still fit into my wedding gown after all these years.” Beulah huffed a little but pulled herself from pressing all her weight on her husband.

“Thank you, my dear. Yes, I’m going to be all right they tell me. Now let Sterling finish so he can get me to the clinic to get this da… bullet out of my shoulder.”

“Sterling, we’ve got the door off Eustace’s office. We can carry him on that.”

Aggie looked and saw Pastor Peter Lendrey and his son Rye approaching. “Ya’ll have good heads on them shoulders.”

As Peter, Sterling and Rye arranged Eustace on the door Marshall Drew Richards stepped up. “You alright to talk to be some Eustace?”

“Yeah.” Eustace moaned when he settled his shoulder onto the door.

“Can you tell me what happened?”

“I’d sent the teller out for lunch and so was in the bank alone. I heard the door open and stepped out of my office. There were four, no five men with their faces covered and guns pointed straight at me. They told me to empty the cash drawer so I did. Then they told me to open the safe. I told them since I was old I couldn’t remember the combination and needed to get it out of my pocket.”

“How could they believe such a lie, you’re not old,” Beulah broke in.

“Our youngest is the mother of children, Beulah, we are old.”

“Humph speak for yourself, Eustace, I’m only thirty-five.”

Eustace chucked, “Maggie is thirty-six, Beulah. How can you be thirty-five?”

“It’s impolite to comment on a ladies age Eustace.”

“Getting back to the robbery,” Drew said.

“Yes, as I was saying, I told them I needed to get the combination out of my pocket. I always carry my Derringer.”

“You carry a gun, Eustace?” Beulah squealed

“Yes, dear, always.”

Aggie saw Eustace glance at Drew and placed a restraining hand on Beulah’s arm. “Let him finish, then we can take him to the clinic and get the bullet out.”

“Anyway,” Eustace started again, “I pulled the Derringer out and aimed it at the man I figured was the leader. Just as I pulled my trigger he must have too. I think I hit him in the chest too.”

All eyes turned toward Aggie at the sound of a cocking shotgun. “Nell,” she yelled and took off at a run leaving everyone behind.

*****

Aggie raced across the yard and vaulted the steps as if there was only one. She slammed the screen door open yelling for Nell. There was no answer. Then Aggie saw drops of blood on the floor. Dashing into the exam room, more blood was on the table, but Nell wasn’t there. Aggie’s heart began to hammer. Five men had taken her girl. Aggie gritted her teeth. She was going to get her away from them. When she’d rescued Nell from her polecat of a father, she had promised to keep her safe. Now she was going to rescue her from the evil men who’d taken her.

With determined steps, Aggie ran back out of the clinic heading for the livery stable. She might not be as good as her brother Nugget Nate. Once she had a horse she would track em and make the slimy slugs pay for their sins. She slammed into Marshall Drew as he was coming in the door. “They got her Drew. They’ve got my girl.”

“ I know Aggie just settle down. I’ll get a posse together and we’ll go get them.”

“You do what ya gotta, Drew Richards but I’ll have them skunks buried afer you get outta town.”

“Aggie you know that isn’t how it works. We have to do this legal.”

“You ken do it legal, this is family. I’s gonna do it mounta’n and iffen you get in my way yer gonna wish ya hadn’t.”

As Aggie and Drew reached the livery stable the sound of the train whistle was heard and automaticly both sets of eyes turned toward the depot. Both of them recognized the fancy private Pullman and cattle car at the end of the short train.

“Glory be, he done been called again,” Aggie yelled changing direction and heading toward the car.

“Nate, you get yer sorry behind down here and help me. I be needin ya.” Aggie ran and jumped onto the platform of the Pullman. She pulled the door open and her jaw dropped. “Nathan.”

“Hi, Aunt Aggie.” Instead of her brother, Aggie’s great nephew stood in front of here just as tall and handsome as Nate had been in his younger days.

“Where’s that no account brother of mine? We got a need fer his trackin skills.”

She pushed past Nathan yelling, “Nate, I need ya now get out here. They done took my Nell.”

Nathan grabbed his aunt by the arm. “Who took Nell, Aggie?”

It was then that Aggie noticed Nathan wore two guns in a strange rig tied low on the right side and had the badge of a US Marshall attached to his chest.

Tears began to form in her eyes “Some low down dirty bank robbers that’s who. Now get yer Gran’pa out here boy so we can go it her back.”

“Nate can’t help ya, Aggie.”

“Boy you don’t wanna cross me right now get him.”

She saw Nathan’s eyes begin to tear and she knew without him saying it what his next words would be.

“Nate ain’t with us, Aggie. He went home last year.”

All the wind went out of her and she felt tired and lost. “What? That can’t be I need him and the pullman is here. It had to be his callin.”

“Calling?”

“Yes, Nate had the gift. He’d get this feelin’ and know he had to be somewhere. Iffen he’s gone why are ya here?”

“I just felt I had to be here so we came to see you and Nell. I’ve got some things I need to talk with Peter about too.”

“You can talk to him later right now I need ya and ya came so get yer sorry butt on whatever horse you got in that there cattle car and let’s go get our Nell back.”

“I thought you said she was nothing to you,” came a female voice from behind Nathan.

Aggie pushed her way inside to see a striking figure of a woman with the reddest hair and greenest eyes she had ever seen standing with fire in them, hands on hips facing her great-nephew.

“Aggie let me introduce you to my wife, Grace.”

“How do you do Mrs. Cuttler? It is a pleasure to finally meet Nathan’s great aunt.”

“It’s just Aggie honey, after all yous family. I want to get ta know ya but right now I needs yer man ta help me get my girl back. We’ll talk later.”

“Yes, of course.” Aggie watched as the girl turned to her nephew. “Go do what your great-aunt told you to Nathan. We can talk about this later.”

“Of course Grace you’re right everything else will have to wait.”

With that Nathan grabbed his Stetson and headed for the other end of the pullman.

“Hurry up boy, yer lettin’ them get too much of a start on us. I want Nell home by dark ya hear chater me.”

“Yes ma’am. I’ll meet ya outside in a few minutes.”

“Well iffen you ain’t out there when I get a horse, I ain’t waitin on ya,” Aggie yelled after him.

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2013 in Book samples

 

The Complete Armor of God

God’s Champion

When we are talking about the armor of God, the Biblical text that comes to everyone’s mind is Ephesians 6:11-17 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

The first thing we need to realize is that the armor is God’s, not ours. I have heard sermons preached that make this sound like it’s a gift God has given to you but it’s not. It’s always has been HIS ARMOR. Why is that an important distinction, you may be wondering? The answer comes when we look at biblical history.

In Bible times it was customary for kings to choose a champion to fight for them in battle. The champion would wear the king’s armor and any battles that were won by the champion were attributed to the king, not to the warrior in the king’s armor.  This was the reason that Saul tried to clothe David in his armor in 1Samuel 17:38&39 So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail. 39 David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, ‘I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” So David took them off’.”

God would not allow David to wear Saul’s armor. God made him uncomfortable in Saul’s armor because David was God’s champion, not Saul’s. Why is this of importance to us? When we put on the armor of God we are operating as God’s Champion in the world. We put on His armor and fight, for God, against His enemies in the spiritual battle for the people of this world.

It is for this reason that Paul says, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual host of wickedness in heavenly places.” He is reminding people that once you have put on God’s armor, you only fight against the armor owner’s enemies. Furthermore, the armor’s owner gets the credit for every victory you accomplish.

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2013 in Book samples

 
 
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