Finding our Gifts in Pigeon Forge, TN

When I went to school last May, I was in a very economically depressed section of Eastern Kentucky.   This area of Kentucky sits in the midst of Appalachia and is perhaps the poorest section of our country.  

While I was there nothing was comfortable, so mid way through I decided that I needed a warm shower, a comfortable bed to sleep in, and something more than Walmart for dinner.   I decided to spend one weekend and become a tourist.   I left Kentucky and headed 3 hours south to what I was told was the Redneck Disney World:   Pigeon Forge, Tennessee or Home of Dollywood.   It certainly lived up to its expectations.

Late on Friday, I found my way to a Hilton, and fell asleep in that warm bed.  The next morning I awoke and decided I was going to explore the hundreds of tourist shops that catered to all those who made their trek to this happiest place on earth.  

Walking down the street, it was people watching at its finest…and between visiting the dozens of Nascar or WWF themed shops, I decided to claim a park bench, a slurpee, and just watch.    It was there that I watch a man named Jesse and the incredibly odd talent he possessed.

Here is a video of that rather unique talent (as a matter of fact, it COULD be the same man?!):

At the end of his performance, I was surprised at what happened…

He told all the people that watched:

“That he was actually a believer in Jesus, and not only does he come down there each and every Saturday to raise money for the youth of his church, by playing the nose flute…  He will be more than happy to spend some time talking to folks who may be interested in learning more the youth group or about this Jesus character.”

Obviously I had to give something, so I left a ten dollar bill in the man’s hat, and smiled all the way down the street.

Here’s the best part of that encounter:

On my way back, I saw him sitting on a short wall next to a man I was just standing next to as he played, and as I passed him, I heard;  “That’s the Jesus I believe…”

He was talking about Jesus.  I kept walking, and I kept smiling.    If God could use the silliest of Gifts (such as playing the flute with one’s nose), then surely, without a doubt I had Gifts that I can use too.

We all do.  Sometimes they might be hard to see, but if we are willing to think about them, talk with others, and to ask for help along the way, we will see them eventually.   That is part of God’s promise.  I pray that each of us find the soul who’s called to help us see our own unique ones.

In Remembrance of Whitney

There is always something heartbreaking when we hear of the loss of someone like Whitney, and that is made exponentially worse, when rumors indicate that addiction may have played a role.    Whitney was certainly a troubled soul, but she had a voice of angel before drugs took it toll.   I pray that in her passing that we can remember that our gifts and the call to use them, are sometimes no match for the many toils and snares we pass along the way.
Rest in Peace Whitney, and may in your passing we be reminded to stand for those who struggle, who battle, or who have lost their strength.  May we learn something through your heartbreaking passing.
“To All Parents”
A Poem by Edgar Guest
“I’ll lend you for a while a child of mine,” He said.
“For you to love the while she lives and mourn for whens he’s dead.
It may be six or seven years, or twenty-two or three,
But will you, till I call her back, take care of her for me?
She’ll bring her charms to gladden you, and should her stay be brief,
You’ll have her lovely memories as solace for your grief.”

“I cannot promise she will stay; since all from earth return,
But there are lessons taught down there I want this child to learn.

I’ve looked the wide world over in My search for teachers true
And from the throngs that crowd life’s lanes I have chosen you.

Now will you give her all your love, not think the labor vain,
Nor hate Me when I come to call to take her back again?”

“I fancied that I heard them say, “Dear Lord, Thy will be done!
For all the joy Thy child shall bring, the risk of grief we run.

We’ll shelter her with tenderness, we’ll love her while we may,
And for the happiness we’ve known, forever grateful stay;
But should the angels call for her much sooner than we’ve planned,
We’ll brave the bitter grief that comes and try to understand!”

(The above poem is entitled “To All Parents” by Edgar Guest.   The ‘she’s’ and the ‘hers’ were adjusted from the masculine, and although its intended audience was for a greiving parent, it seems appropriate.)

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