Blowing Rock, NC

Four years ago last month, I saw the town of Blowing Rock, North Carolina, for the first time.

North Carolina is my home state, and I’ve seen a lot of that state, including the Asheville area, where both my sister and I (and our dad) went to college. But my niece met her now husband in a different region of the mountains, Boone, and the pair chose nearby Blowing Rock for their wedding.

On that occasion, my family and I stayed at Ridgeway Inn, a short distance from a certain intersection near Knight’s On Main restaurant (which closed in 2014) and the Bob Timberlake Gallery. On the heels of this visit to a very charming town, where we spent happy moments walking and exploring and celebrating a marriage, I decided to use Blowing Rock as a rough pattern for the fictional Tennessee town of Crook Mountain in my novel.

I can’t tell you the exact date I started the novel, but it was in the works (obviously) in 2011 when we went to Blowing Rock. My niece and her husband celebrated their fourth wedding anniversary last month. Meanwhile, in Alabama, this writer was finishing the last chapter of said novel.

Two weeks ago, on June 19, this coincidence occurred to me. I texted my sister, Jane, asking, “Isn’t today Kristen and Dean’s anniversary?” Turns out I was off by one day, but I found it really interesting and sweet that the completion of my book fell that close to the anniversary date of my seeing the town of Blowing Rock..

I have drawn a map showing points of interest in “Crook Mountain” and have used the map multiple times to help me write the details of my plot. I’ll include the map when I submit book proposals. Hey – J.R.R. Tolkien included a map of Middle-earth. I’m in good company.

This anniversary coinciding with the completion of my manuscript is the fourth and “final” in a string of coincidences I’ve written about lately… that is, it was the last I’d planned to write about, until I went to church this past Sunday at Dawson Memorial and heard the guest preacher, Dr. Michael Hardin, new Provost of Samford University, refer in his sermon to a colleague who goes by the nickname “Dub.” Get this. Dub is the name of a crucial character in my novel. Just plain crazy that Dr. Hardin said that name – and he also quoted William Carey’s famous words, “Attempt great things for God; expect great things from God.”

In view of all this, can I not believe that God’s timing is at work in my having written this book and in being ready to market it just now? If the pipes, the name Lee, the June 11 prayer & scripture, my niece’s anniversary, and the name Dub aren’t enough “coincidences,” add this: I wasn’t even “supposed” to hear the June 28 sermon by Dr. Hardin (but, obviously, I was)! I was supposed to be serving in a children’s classroom at that hour. But, when I arrived there, the door was locked and the room was empty and dark, indicating that none of the children was present that morning.

Oh, my goodness!!!

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 King James Version

“Just the Summary, Please”

There will always be those who will read only the summary. That’s why Jesus said “Love God and love others” sums it all up.

Matthew 22:36-40, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  (NIV)

The pattern on Bing’s tie

Somebody chime in and tell me I’m not the only person who has ever noticed what I’m about to mention. If you are familiar with the black-and-white classic film, Holiday Inn (in which the song “White Christmas” was debuted), you recall it begins with a love/work “triangle” in which entertainers played by Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire are interested in the same woman. Bing, because he wants to marry her; Fred, because he wants to keep her as a dancing partner. In the opening scene, “Lila Dixon” is trying to explain to Bing that she has changed her mind about leaving show business to marry him, but she loses her nerve and grabs any other subject out of thin air. “I think that tie’s terrible,” she says. “Listen, honey,” Bing retorts, “when you flip ’em those twinkle-toes, who’s going to be looking at my tie?” In a close-up shot, Bing Crosby (as Jim Hardy) lifts his necktie away from his shirt – and what pattern do you think is all over the tie? Pipes. Like, smoking, pipe-tobacco pipes. That wouldn’t be an especially remarkable piece of movie trivia, except for one thing. I wrote a novel. I did a fair amount of the work over the past few weeks, often sitting with my iPad at our kitchen island, while playing “background noise” in the form of DVR movies off Hallmark Channel or TCM. One of those that I played frequently was Holiday Inn, recorded last December. Now, I admit two things. One, I needed the background noise to drown out the sound of another TV on the same level of our house with no doors in between that could have been closed. Two, I know the script of this movie almost by heart. (That’s why it made such great filler; I am so comfortable with the sounds, I didn’t really hear them.) In all the times I have “seen” this movie, however, I have listened to it while doing other things, more than I’ve actually watched the screen carefully. That’s why in more than 30 years of being a fan of this flick I never realized pipes were on that tie. You see, a man who smokes a pipe, and a shop that sells pipes and tobacco, figure prominently into the plot of my novel, which is a lightweight crime mystery set in the mountains of eastern Tennessee. Does it make sense now why my mouth fell open the other day when I saw this close-up and noticed the tie? There being pipes on Bing Cosby’s tie is one of about four  “coincidences” in the past week that I am choosing to see as “good omens” or positive signs about the future of the book I’ve just written. I’ll explain some of the others later. Meanwhile, I hope you’ll comment on this article and check back in again. Stay tuned for “coincidence” number two, which has to do with Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Welcome to Called-Out Life blog!

Called-Out Life E-devotional has been around for more than 5 years. Some readers have asked me about putting the articles on a blog. That day is here.

The purpose of Called-Out Life E-devotional is to encourage you in your Christian walk and to point out verses of scripture that will remind you of God’s love and of His will for believers.

Stay tuned for some “archive” articles and new ones, too!


“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9