Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Kudzu Campground

Our "kudzu" theme continued to choosing the RV park that we stayed in while visiting AL. While the grounds were clear of the vine, the presence of it reached all the way around the park threatening to take over. "Kudzu monsters" are a common sight in the southern states and made our travels there fun.

This is Patty, DannyLee's
cousin. We enjoyed a brief
visit hoping to have time again
in the future. We went through
pictures from the past as we
tried to share all that had come
to pass in a lifetime.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Family Ties

We left South Carolina and turned our sights on Alabama to spend some time with family members both old and new. Our time was short, but we'd waited since early spring for the chance to welcome the newest member - William, our first great-grandson! Our family has been expanded to six living generations with the addition of this special blessing. What joy a baby brings!

Here we have pictures of William with his mother, my granddaughter Pamela, and of William's grandfather, my son Christopher. William has an abundance of grandparents extending all the way to my grandmother who is his great-great-great grandmother. While the distances between all of us will probably never allow us to all get together to record this matter, it's still exciting to be able to see our family continuing to grow.

Chris wowed all of us with his extensive culinary skills and cooked two excellent dinners with dessert. Debbie wanted to have a chance at cooking for us too, but time ran out and the option of having gyros for DannyLee's first time was too hard to pass up. The gyros were good, but nothing compared to the hummus that came alongside them. We finished up a dish of that on the road to Mobile wishing all along that there was just a little more. YUM!!

William's grandmother, my daughter-in-law Debbie, has taught herself how to knit as her way of embracing being a grandparent and in a month has developed some impressive skills. I'll have to settle for taking pictures as such things as knitting are beyond me. Maybe being his great-grandmother excuses me from having to learn any special skills.......... Robert and John, my grandsons seemed to have taken to the role of being uncles quite well. Growing up with his father, John, and all the other men of this family taking an active role in his life, William just might be a very "rough and tumble" kind of guy. He's a very blessed child to have such a loving family to welcome him.

DannyLee was equally blessed in Alabama, not only by having the chance to meet my family, but we were able to spend an afternoon with a cousin that he hadn't seen for nearly 50 years. We spent Tuesday driving nearly to Mobile, AL to have dinner with Patty. She blessed us with a wonderful southern style supper and we were able to share our music and testimony with her. It's not too much of a stretch to say that she lives somewhat "off the beaten path". We ran out of "pavement" still quite a ways from her abode. We hope to be able to make the trip to Alabama again some time soon.

Monday, September 21, 2009

What Lies Ahead Will Soon Be Behind Us

Leaving North Carolina, we had two missions before us that would be as milestones in this long journey. Our destination was Myrtle Beach, SC where DannyLee had high hopes of making his mark on golfing history on one of the many golf courses that literally dominate the landscape of the Grand Strand.

While his ultimate dream is to one day play at Augusta in Georgia, Myrtle Beach came close to being a good second choice. We found a lovely RV park right on the coastline with a golf option at Prestwick C.C. I wasn't feeling all that well so he opted to hit the links alone on Wednesday. He had a good time, but golfing history will have to wait.

We topped off the day with a bit of rollicking fun in the surf. We put on our swimsuits and acted like a couple of kids as the waves tossed us to and fro with a surprising amount of force. The Atlantic Ocean is no place to let your guard down while playing in the surf. One wave can change things from fun to frightening in an instant. DannyLee's "security-self" was at the forefront as he watched over me in the thundering waves.

On Thursday morning, our neighbor came over with a need for a fourth on another golf course. Feeling the 18-holes of the previous day and attempting to be considerate of me, DannyLee almost turned down the chance to play another 18-holes at Indigo Creek for free, but I urged him to receive this special blessing that had come to him on his birthday weekend. This turned out to be a bit more challenging as there had been a lot of rain and golf carts were restricted to the cart paths. He was one tired guy that day - tired, but happy. I spent the day doing some necessary shopping in the Myrtle Beach tourist shops.

Our second mission here in Myrtle Beach was more simple, but no less important in our thinking. While in Oregon, on the Pacific coast, we'd searched long and hard for the perfect stone for this particular task. We'd found a small round stone and we'd placed it in the snack tray to carry it from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. We'd talked many times about this stone and what it meant to us to complete this little thing. It had no real outstanding meaning, but somehow it was symbolic of making the complete trip from one side of the U.S. to the other.

On our first evening in Myrtle Beach, we walked to the sea only a couple of hundred yards away to "do the deed". DannyLee launched that little Oregon beach stone as far out in the Atlanta as he was able and we waved good-bye as it splashed down somewhere out there closer to Israel. We found it funny that we'd missed Washington State and to balance things out, we ended up missing Florida too as our schedule seemed to compress on us. On Friday, we turned our backs to the Atlantic and started heading west to complete our circle.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Conference Confirmations/Questions

"If you love Me, keep My commandments......"

I made a lame attempt to make a count of how many times the Scriptures (from beginning to the very end of the Bible) make mention of how we, HIS people are to keep HIS commandments. This means that from Genesis to Revelation, it has always been HIS expectation and teaching that we (those that love and revere HIM as our Elohim), are to live and walk according to the ways that HE has clearly taught and defined for us in HIS Word. I failed to come up with a meaningful number as HE repeats this often and clearly from the speakings of YHVH to the teachings of Yeshua.

Having escaped from the false teachings of "the church" that HIS commandments are no longer valid or important for us has dramatically changed our lives as we strive daily to understand and walk out things that don't always make sense to us as we first read them. The beauty of Torah is that understanding and "revelation" of HIS commandments come to us as we first attempt to make them a part of our daily lives and learn to walk them out by HIS Spirit. In fact, it is a primary teaching of Torah that we are to "hear and obey", not "understand and implement". When we try to live by our own understanding, we find ourselves stumbling from one ditch to the other for the "way is narrow".

It has been our experience that many people believe that to keep HIS commandments is "legalism" or a form of "works". Thus they reject the real joy that comes from being able to grow in knowledge and understanding, but more importantly, in an intimate family relationship with our Heavenly Father. Most people have the understanding that it is necessary for children to obey their father and mother. I would think (or hope) that most people have the testimony of growing up in a household where the parents made the rules and the children were expected to obey. Those that don't have this testimony often have a testimony of a very different sort of family life, not generally, a good testimony. Why people think that their relationship within their Heavenly Family would be different and YHVH, their Heavenly Father would have a household without rules or expectations is a mystery of "the church"? "Grace" at our house came to those that fell short of expectation, but clearly ran out for those that weren't even trying.

Other people think that to keep HIS commandments is a harsh burden or even impossible. In the years that I've been studying Torah and learning step by step to keep HIS commandments, nothing could be further from the truth. One important point that was mentioned time and again during the conference is that we are NOT required to learn and do all 613 of HIS commandments. We learn them one at a time. It is a life's work to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:12). HE doesn't expect us to get it all right, nor can we as we're not in the Land. That's what grace is all about. Also, 613 commandments don't apply to everyone. Some commandments are for men, others for women and children and many of them are for the kings and priests. As Yeshua said, "HIS yoke is easy and HIS burden is light" (Mat. 11:30) Anyone that teaches otherwise is a fool and a liar as HIS Words on this are clear and easy to understand. We are to "delight in keeping HIS commandments" (Psalm 119).

During the conference, it was a joy to stand and worship with people that have embraced a Torah-based lifestyle. Some were only in the very beginnings of their "toddler years" and others had the testimony of witnessing the birth of the messianic movement from the very beginning. None of this mattered to anyone as we joined together and attempted to "worship HIM in SPIRIT and in TRUTH". We're all babies in some ways or another. We're struggling to embrace the teachings of Moses as foretold in the Book of Revelation for those that will stand before HIS throne one day will have "the testimony of Yeshua and the witness of keeping HIS Torah". (Rev. 12:11).

During the conference, it was an absolute pleasure for DannyLee and I to receive multiple confirmations on various issues that we've discussed and dissected on our long drives from one place to the next. We'd considered and settled for ourselves the sad issues that the enemy is using to divide and destroy HIS people such as the pronunciation and spelling of the sacred Names, the timing of Shabbat and the festivals, etc. These issues are really non-issues in light of the real issue of how we're going to survive together what's coming soon with the greater exodus and the time of tribulation. We're going to need to be able to come together. Fighting amongst ourselves on issues that have no clear answers leaves us vulnerable to destruction.

Repeatedly, during the conference, the many teachers/leaders in the group called on the people to lay aside such arguments and allow HIM to be the final Word on such things. We don't need to agree on minor issues in order to live together in HIS Love. We only need to agree that YHVH Elohim and Yeshua are in charge. Attempting to be an "expert" on any of these issues forces us to expend our time and energy into proving to everyone around us that we're "right" and that's just plain childish and silly. We need to "grow up" and seek HIS Will, HIS Word and HIS ways with all that is within us. Nothing else will satisfy................. (to be continued)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Yom Teruah or "Feast of Trumpets"

Yom Teruah or "Feast of Trumpets" marks the beginning of the Fall feasts according to the Biblical appointed festivals. Our forward focus has been on Sukkot or "Feast of Tabernacles" as that's the biggest event of the Fall feasts and requires the most planning and preparation. We're constantly mindful that we have to be in Oklahoma for this event the first week of October.

Yom Teruah had completely slipped from our thoughts and consideration. Fortunately, YHVH has our schedule and plans well in HIS hands and HE made provision for us to join a conference in North Carolina hosted by Shofar of Ephraim. The funny thing about this conference for us was that we had to turn neither to the left nor to the right. It popped up right in front of us.

This was an incredible blessing for us as we finally had a chance to meet Mike Clayton of Joined to Hashem. Mike has been one of my favorite Torah commentators for many years starting way back to my time in Thailand. Over the years, we've exchanged a few e-mails here and there, and we've both looked forward to being able to stand face to face one day. This issue had come up several times on our Tsiyon Bound tour as Mike kept turning up for conferences and such in places just outside our path or behind us. It was a delight to finally come together.

Our paths collided in North Carolina and we enjoyed three days of praise and worship with lots of shofar blowing and Torah exploration from other Torah lovers such as Brad Scott, Bill Cloud and Rico Cortes. I hope to be able to share some of the things that came out of the various teachings for us in the coming days. The best part was being able to join with people that share our love for Torah and our heartfelt need to draw ever closer to the Author and Creator of our faith. We were deeply touched by several people that we had a chance to share a bit of ourselves with during the busy conference schedule. We look forward to being able to hook up with them again some time in the future.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Big Mama's Karaoke Cafe" - Seymour, TN

DannyLee couldn't pass up one last chance to sing on the stage at "Big Mama's Karaoke Cafe". On our last night in Tennessee, we got in the truck with a new friend, Diane and headed south to Seymour. It was a long drive, but DannyLee never minds a drive when he's at the wheel. Wednesday nights are family nights and the crowd was pretty small. No matter! That just meant that DannyLee and Diane got to sing all of their favorite songs.

For a fun experience, the Karaoke Cafe is a highlight of any trip through the little town of Seymour with a great big stage. The food's not too bad either!

Our evening in Seymour concluded with an unplanned and unwelcome little venture onto the backroads due to a serious accident on the highway. We were forced to take a strange detour on roads meant for light residential traffic along with hundreds of other motorists on a dark and rainy night. The road was so narrow with deep ditches, overhanging trees and no markings of any kind that it would be a challenge at any time of the day for my cowboy and his big pickup truck. In order to get through some of the areas, we were forced to pull in both side mirrors and drive very slowly.

On a funny note, after we'd received driving directions from the man that turned us off the main highway for this little diversion, we heard him tell the guy behind us to "Follow him!" We had to laugh at those words as we didn't have any confidence either in his directions or our ability to follow them through the darkness. Fortunately, the heavy oncoming traffic was a sure clue that we were headed in the right direction and we eventually found our way back to the highway and headed home.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Kudzu - Menace or "Hidden Manna"?

Kudzu, also known as "the vine that ate the South" and a few other descriptive names, is one of my fascinations. As we've driven through Tennessee and other parts of the South, "kudzu sculpture" is a common sight along the highways. This picture barely captures the wonder of this massive hillside with full-growth trees buried in a mantle of kudzu vines.

There are many websites devoted to the history of how this Japanese native became a part of the landscape. Some websites feature incredible pictures and others have recipes for this voracious vine. Kudzu has made it's own place in history by being far more tenacious than any of the local plants. The cost of this plant's destructive tendencies is amazing. The battle to keep electric, phone, and cable lines free of this weighty invader is a full-time job for utility companies and the locals.

On the other hand, this vine is edible and useful for food both for people and animals. The young leaves can be used like grape leaves or cooked like spinach or collard greens. The nutritional value is considered to be higher than spinach. The roots are tubers and can be eaten like potatoes or dried and pounded into a flour that works as a thickener like cornstarch. It makes a very good fodder for grazing animals like sheep, goats, and cattle. I'm hoping that I will have a chance while we're here in the South to gather some and try a couple of dishes just for fun. Who knows! This plant may be more than a menace. It may actually be "hidden manna"!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Singing for "Fleas"

On Saturday and Sunday, the Sweetwater Flea Market is a popular place or at least it used to be according to many of the "regulars" we met. This weekend would turn out to be one of the worst ever due to the various other events that were taking place in the area such as the State Fair, a big football game and more. Attendance was so low that it was nearly possible at times to see from one end of the huge building to the other.

We chose this weekend to make our first attempt at being "Fleas" or in other words, to make some money doing our karaoke and selling our CD's. All I can say about this venture is that we learned a lot! We will be making future forays into the Flea Markets that abound along the highways and byways of this country. We hope that our next engagement will have a much bigger turnout.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Entertaining the Masses - a Few at a time!

This weekend promised to be a VERY busy time of setting up and tearing down equipment with long bouts of singing in between. Our scheduling of "events" isn't all that polished yet and we found ourselves facing three consecutive days of gigs. Our attitude at this point is to be excited about having any gigs at all as scheduling is tricky as we move around the country.

Our first gig was an evening at Raccoon Valley RV Park here in TN. We'd been watching rigs pull out of the park all week and as the spaces between us all grew larger, our hopes for a "crowd" quickly shrank. No matter! DannyLee's happy to sing for his fans whether there's just one - me! or a whole bunch. This little group had lots of requests and a couple of karaoke volunteers that were willing to step up to the mike so it was a fun evening for all.

We now have Saturday and Sunday's event at the Sweetwater Flea Market to look forward to - more on that in the next post!

Addendum: I realized after I posted this post, that I probably haven't ever explained anywhere in this blog just what it is that we're doing to "make a living" as we make this journey that we're on. While this journey itself was began as a kind of ministry trip to encourage believers, but most especially those that have received the revelation of being "the remnant" of Scripture, as our contacts have been cut off or fizzled out, this trip has morphed into being more about discovering HIM and our place in HIS end-time plans.

The "work" that we do is showcasing DannyLee's talent as a "Johnny Cash Tribute Artist" and our karaoke business. As we travel about, we try to set up "gigs" to do karaoke while DannyLee "fills in the quiet spots" with beautiful renditions of Johnny Cash and various other country and gospel favorites. His singing is always a crowd-pleaser as we find country music fans everywhere we go. "Johnny Cash" fans come in all ages and denominations and we're never surprised when some teenager comes up to us raving about Johnny's songs.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

"On Holy Ground"

This is our final CD project of this month and it was the most exciting one for me. My two favorite songs were finally going to be recorded and available to be shared with anyone interested in hearing YHVH's heart songs that HE had shared with us. The few people that have been blessed with an opportunity to hear these songs have been touched by HIS love, HIS mercy, and HIS grace.

These two songs are "Yeshua", a re-write from Dolly Parton's original song "Jolene" and "The Carpenter", a re-write from the song "The Highwayman" originally sung by Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, and of course, Johnny Cash. Both of these messianic gospel songs have shown forth HIS power as we've sung them during times of ministry. I often ask DannyLee to sing them for me when I feel myself struggling to stay uplifted in discouraging moments. They never fail to remind me of how much greater HE is then all that is in this world.

Another song, the title song of this CD "On Holy Ground" has waited even longer to be released due to licensing issues that DannyLee struggled to resolve with the owners of the original song. The original song, "Peaceful Easy Feeling" by the Eagles hasn't been released on very many karaoke labels so it was difficult to find a background that we could get a license to record. As always YHVH went before us and made a way for this song to be on this CD also.

This song held an even deeper place in our hearts as it is the "fleece" that YHVH answered to convince me that DannyLee and I were a part of HIS plan in bringing us together as one. It was a joy to be able to record it on this CD as a part of our testimony of HIS greatness. This enables HIS gift of music to us to be able to go forth far beyond the reach of our "Nest" and we can share it with those that have a "heart to listen" and "an ear to hear".

DannyLee worked long and hard to make sure that he would be able to sing every song to the very best of his ability. This was complicated by changing the backgrounds on "Yeshua" and "The Carpenter" just after we arrived here in TN, and forced him to have to relearn the songs anew. Although it was a challenge, we both agreed that the new backgrounds took both songs to a whole new level of intensity.

The cover artwork for the CD came from our trip to Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park where DannyLee stood in the cold at nearly 12,000 feet with little bits of snow flitting about us. Needless to say, we raced back to the truck after the pictures were done. One young lady attempted to capture the moment on her own camera as we were shooting, but missed her chance by a couple of seconds and ran away before we could offer her another.

This CD, as are all the others is available for $10 plus postage by sending an e-mail to TexasCashMaster@yahoo.com. DannyLee has a Paypal account and he could hook you up there.

As always our recording experience with Tennessee Productions, Inc. and Big Mama Recording Studios, part of Chartbuster's Karaoke, was excellent. Gretchen Foister worked hard to ensure that our scheduling, artwork and overall experience was up to their high standards. While Jamie Townsend, our Recording/Mastering Engineer worked equally as hard to make sure that each song was recorded, mixed and presented with the best possible sound. We were very grateful to have their professionalism and expertise to make this CD another success.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

"To Everything There is a Season"

Today we had to get up VERY early to drive VERY far - not one of my favorite things as DannyLee can tell you. I've just never been a "morning person". We woke up and entered into a fairyland of fog and mist that softened every curve of the mountain view.

As we drove, we were quiet as we contemplated the task that lay before us. Our plan was to record our most important CD project of the three we were here to do. This CD involved songs that had been in our hearts for several months, even before we began our "RV-life", and we were anxious for them to be the best we could make them.

The fog, however, had an even more ominous message to distract us from the day's events. While fog is common to these mountainous areas, this fog signified something more to come - the change in seasons. It was clearly, to my eyes, a "Fall fog" and it means that the heat of the summer will be gone soon and winter will be upon us.

While we've been aware of the increasing coolness of the nights and early mornings, neither of us are all that enthused about facing real cold weather. It brings up the topic of where we are to "winter" which is something that we've not yet received a clear instruction on from YHVH. Our first thoughts are of Texas as that comes closest for both of us as being our "home". There are clearly some decisions in this regard that won't be put off for long.

Full-time RV life is one learning experience after another and as we face this next "lesson", our prayer is that we will be led by HIM to the place where we can make a difference for others. We hope to be able to share our music and improve our Torah understanding as we do the repairs and improvements that will make our next road trip easier. We're blessed to know that HE has gone before us to prepare a place for us and we look forward to our next "season". Who knows where HIS leading will take us - only HE knows.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

"The Ties That Bind"

Our second CD recording of the month is a family-oriented collection of country gospel favorites. There are songs originally recorded by artists - Randy Travis, Don Williams, George Strait and others. DannyLee's silky baritone voice renders these tunes in a pleasing arrangement of gently uplifting songs.

The first two songs of the CD are dedicated to the memories of DannyLee's father and mother. "Go Rest High On The Mountain", originally sung by Vince Gill, is a combined narration and song for fathers. The song, "Angels", originally sung by Randy Travis, reveals the heart of mothers everywhere.

Many of the songs celebrate the special place that children have in our lives. A couple of songs, "Watching You" originally sung by Rodney Adkins, and "Love Without End, Amen" originally sung by George Strait, have long brought tears to DannyLee's eyes when he sings them. Every song on the CD has a special meaning in terms of family and the importance of family relationships. Hence, the title and the cover design for "The Ties That Bind".

More information on the songs and the stories behind the songs will eventually be available at DannyLee's blogsite - YourTexasCashMaster.blogspot.com. As before, all CD's are available by e-mail request until I figure out how to put a Paypal link on this blog.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Love Like A River

This month's focus has been on recording three new CD's by DannyLee Whittle. The first CD we recorded was a collection of love songs that have special meaning for both of us. As a tribute to the love between us, two songs on the CD are duets with DannyLee singing harmony to my inexperienced efforts.

Several of the songs are also a tribute to the special love relationship that Johnny Cash had with his wife, June Carter Cash. Cash fans can enjoy old favorites like "Ring of Fire", "I Walk the Line" and "Flesh and Blood", for example, done in DannyLee's own artistic tribute to Johnny Cash.

The partnership of "Johnny and June" has long been an inspiration and hope in DannyLee's life. More of this story is available at his blogsite - YourTexasCashMaster.blogspot.com. There are other background stories relating to the other songs selected for the CD that will eventually be shared at his blogsite. All of his CD's are currently available by e-mail request until I figure out how to add a Paypal option to our blogs.

The cover artwork for this CD is an artistic rendering of a picture we took of the beautiful Yaak River in Montana. The pristine beauty of Montana and the majesty of that river inspired us. Our love pales in comparison to the perfect love that comes from our FATHER in Heaven. It is our hope that this little CD will find it's way to those that hunger for love.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Our "Ark" in troubled times

As we draw nearer to the east coast, our hearts
are drawn to just keep driving until we find our
way to the Land of HIS Promise - Israel. The problem with this, however, lies with the water-worthiness of our little "Nest". It's clear from our encounters with water on the inside that we're far from waterproof.

We tested this matter out for a second time simply by running a couple of loads of laundry "thinking" that both gray water tanks were open. We found that our thinking was wrong as a kind neighbor knocked on the door to inform us that a flood of water was pouring out of the underneath.

As I went to see what was wrong, I found the rugs in the bathroom/bedroom area were afloat on the water from the washing machine that was backfilling The Nest through the shower stall. It took pretty much the whole day to recover from this unexpected bath. The next day was a day of recording that went well enough considering the challenges of the day before.

One thing for sure, we have a VERY CLEAN Nest! I'm sure this isn't the recommended way to clean an RV, but it does force one to clean thoroughly. We're so grateful for products like baking soda and Fabreeze. This can be a very small space if odors are allowed to flourish unchecked!