Merry Christmas

Here’s a picture of Shellbee, our year-round, zero upkeep lead turtle perched securely upon a rock in our pond. Looking at her this morning, my mind began to wander, a frequent mental state so many of you so graciously tolerate.


Shellbee’s is equipped with the original, quintessential mobile home – it grows in precise proportion to her requirements, never requires maintenance, and incurs no property taxes. How unlike my housing – 1,700+ square feet requiring continual maintenance and increasing annual property taxes – far beyond my basic requirements. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been richly blessed beyond measure, and am in no way complaining. While I may possess a slightly feral streak, living within a shell 24/7 is not my preference.

A sobering thought struck me . . . this Christmas there are over 1,400 neighbors whose homes were damaged and consumed in last month’s wildfires. They are homeless. Why them, and not me? A mystery of divine providence I will never understand, but can only trust in my unfailing God’s promise to someday“…bring beauty for ashes…”

The overwhelming outpouring acts of love and support from people has been such an encouraging testimony of compassion and love . . . but a bittersweet sense of love/loss lingers. Then I remember another person who was homeless at Christmas . . . homeless by choice . . . Who chose to trade His home above, equipped beyond our wildest imaginations, for a straw littered manger. Why?

I found the answer to that Why? many years ago as a teenager in the silence of my bedroom . . . mine was a God who literally ‘Loved me to Death’ so I could escape it’s fatal sting. Someday I’ll live forever with Him in eternal housing . . . housing that will make the Biltmore pale in comparison.

This Christmas Ellen and I grieve with our neighbors who find themselves homeless. Our prayer is that in the aftermath of this horrific tragedy many will find eternal hope and comfort in knowing, that because of a manger some 2,000 years, ago there are no homeless in heaven . . . PTL!

From Our Home to Yours . . . MERRY CHRISTMAS !!!

Beauty for Ashes

Yesterday the Lord gave me a humbling experience. It was my privilege to join some men from church to help a man sort through the ruble of his home claimed by the devastating Gatlinburg, TN fire.

A blackened, crumbling cinderblock foundation was all that remained standing. The sense of loss was nauseatingly palpable. The intense heat of the flames is evidenced in the picture below . . . torched rims of tires transformed into rivulets of flowing metal . . . utensils fused into molten glass. Yet, amidst the utter destruction the man whose home this once was kept a calm demeanor, even interjecting an occasional touch of humor as we tried to identify some items extracted from the charred, twisted wreckage . . . an encouraging testimony of a faith not grounded possessions.

My prayer is that our “…beauty for ashes…” Lord will reveal this truth through tragedy in his life.