Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Gatlinburg Fires.....Pt 1

The title of this post is plural on purpose.  There wasn't just one fire.  There were many fires on the night of Nov. 28th that ravaged the small mountain town of Gatlinburg, TN.  Many fires that took 13 human lives (at last count... still some are missing) and injured many more.  Fires that burned down homes and businesses, killed wildlife, stripped people of their homes and everything they owned.  Over 1000 buildings were destroyed in those fires.  Our cabin, "Heaven's Gift" was one of those buildings.

Of course, to us, "Heaven's Gift" wasn't JUST a building.  It was our beautiful mountain place of respite that we felt lead to purchase with inheritance money from my Father just this last January. My Father loved the mountains.  His last trip before he passed was actually to Gatlinburg.  He was getting pretty frail by then, but he was determined to go up to Newfound Gap on Mt. Leconte once more and see the majestic Smokey's.
Dad - on Mt. Leconte in the Great Smokey Mountains - Nov. 2013

He passed away in March of 2015.  We had never really even considered buying a place up in the Smokey's but about 6 months after he passed, this cabin was literally put in front of us out of the blue and before we knew it, we owned it.  The whole transaction went so smoothly that I was just SURE that Daddy lead us to that special place.  So we named it "Heaven's Gift" because it truly felt like Dad's last gift to us.  That is why I have struggled so hard with losing it.  We didn't even own it a year... and it has now vanished.  Seriously.  Here is a shot of the cabin before.....
"Heaven's Gift" - Gatlinburg, TN  - Feb. 2015


  ... and here it is after the fire had it's way:


"Heaven's Gift" - after the Gatlinburg Fires... Nov. 29th 2015
You can see that nothing is left but the basement walls..... a heartbreaking loss.  But that loss is nothing compared to the true gift that we were given. The gift of LIFE.  

You see, our oldest son, Derek and his brand new wife, Emily (and their shih-tzu pups, Quincy and Harris) were there at the cabin on their honeymoon.  Derek called me on the morning of the 28th and had a concerned tone to his voice.  "Mama", he said, "I'm kind of worried here.  The sky is a weird shade of bright orange and the smoke is getting heavier.  Should we pack up and get out of here?".  "I'm sure everything is fine," I said, "but certainly if you feel in any danger, don't take any chances. Get out of there if you feel uncomfortable."  We talked more and they decided they would just go down the mountain into town and get some breakfast.  They would ask some of the locals if they should be concerned.  He called me after breakfast to tell me that no one seemed concerned down in the town.  He said a waitress told them there was a fire on another mountain about 10 miles away, but that it didn't pose a threat to them.  So we were all relieved and they went back up to the cabin to enjoy their last day on the mountain before coming back to Nashville and starting their lives as husband and wife.  

Around 6pm that evening, Derek called and said they were going to go down the mountain for dinner and asked me for a couple of restaurant recommendations.  All seemed fine at that point, although he mentioned again that the smoke was starting to get pretty thick and it was burning their eyes.  I reminded him to keep their tv's on the local news - just in case there were any warnings to leave.  He called back about 20 mins later and said, "Well, we aren't going to dinner.. and I hate to tell you this but a huge tree just fell on your property and smashed my car.  The windshield is shattered all across and the hood is smashed in."  "NO WAY!", I exclaimed.  "Oh my gosh Derek... what is going on???"  "Mama, the winds have picked up in the last few minutes and it is wicked up here!"

Now I'm getting concerned because their car is messed up and they have no way to get off the mountain should they need to.  "Maybe you should call an Uber or something and go down to a hotel for the night."  Derek laughed nervously and said, "Mama, you don't understand.  There ain't no way an Uber driver is going to come up here right now!"  Then, he tried to reassure me and said they were fine, and had a frozen pizza they would make for dinner and they were going to just hunker down, maybe go to sleep early and just wait out the storm.  "Are you sure Derek?", I said.  "Well," he laughed nervously, "we don't really have a choice."  "Ok," I said, "but please keep an eye on the news."

About an hour later, Derek called again.  This time I knew immediately by the tone of his voice that things had gone from bad to much, much worse.  "Mom!  I just saw a transformer blow down below your cabin.  We've lost power.  We are leaving NOW!", "But Derek, you can't drive your car with the windshield smashed!  It's not safe!".  "MOM. YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND.  I SAW THE SPARKS FROM THE TRANSFORMER LAND ON THE GROUND AND THEY ARE STILL BURNING.  WE DON'T HAVE A CHOICE.  WE HAVE TO DRIVE THE CAR AND TRY TO MAKE IT DOWN THE HILL."  

OMG.  That's when it hit me.  The kids might be in serious danger.  Of course, at this point, they still had no idea that the bottom of their hill was already engulfed in flames from a fire that had started from flying embers in the 87 mile per hr winds that had now entered the area.  But as I sat on my couch praying to our Lord that He would protect our kids as they made their way down the mountain, it wasn't long before my phone alerted me to a new text, with this video in it:

video



Dear sweet Jesus.... just get them out of there alive.   I was bawling on my couch... a Mother hundreds of miles away, helpless to do anything to help my son and his new bride.  All I could do was pray.  So I prayed and prayed and prayed.... until i got this one word text.

"safe"

Now I'm crying even harder, overwhelmed with gratefulness that they have gotten off the mountain. But I know they still have to get out of the town and they are driving a smashed up car which can't be good, so I keep praying.  I'm watching news coverage by now and the realization that our favorite little town is literally burning all over is killing me.  

I get another call from Derek, "Mama... we are safe in a shelter now."  He then goes on to tell me about how as they drove down the mountain, the fires started engulfing them on either side.  The initial route they tried to go down was completely blocked by fire and they had to turn around and go another way out.  Then they had a man flag them down to help him and his disabled wife evacuate their home.... so Derek and Emily put them in the car with them and they all drove to the Rocky Top Sports Complex, which was being set up as a shelter for those displaced.   The police were now telling anyone that had enough gas in their car that there was one route out of the area that would take them up to I-40 on the east side of Knoxville.  "Mom, we are going to drive that way out.  We will be fine.. I promise."  "Ok baby.. but PLEASE touch base periodically so I know you are ok."   "Yes ma'am.  I promise I will."   And he kept his promise, touching base with me periodically along the way.

 I stayed up watching news coverage until around 2:30am when I knew they were home....  but I still couldn't sleep... now I was glued to the news from the local Knoxville channel, watching for any sign that maybe, just maybe, our cabin was going to escape unharmed.  Around 4am, I saw that the Gatlinburg Falls area was engulfed.  That was our mountain.  I said a prayer and went to bed to try and sleep, knowing there was absolutely nothing I could do.  

Three hours later, I woke up to realize my husband wasn't in the bed.  I got up and looked around the house.  No sign of him.  Walked out to the garage... his car was gone.  I call him, "Where are you honey?", "I'm on my way to Gatlinburg."  "Mike!  They aren't going to let you anywhere near our cabin!", "Maybe not honey, but I have to go.  I have to try and get there and see if we still have our place.  I have to try."  I knew that tone in his voice and there was no talking him out of going.  So I started praying again now... praying for my husband's safety this time.  I knew the fires were still blazing in parts of the area and now my husband was heading right into them.  I truly felt like I was living a nightmare. 

Now I had to sit on my couch and wait for more news. Wait to hear if he was safe.  Wait to hear if our "Heaven's Gift" was gone.  


...... to be continued.....check tomorrow's post for "The Gatlinburg Fires, Pt. 2"

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Home By Dark.....


Driving home today from two beautiful days in Roswell, GA with my Home By Dark framily (Yes, they are my FRAMILY!!), and two beautiful shows where I met some amazing new friends and re-connected with old friends. I was reminded so vibrantly once again that a song truly can change your life.

Sometimes people can hear a message through a song, or feel a feeling through a piece of music that is above and beyond what they can experience through just words, either in conversation or written. Music is a healer. It is a great communication tool. It unites us. The last two evenings were HUGE blessings to me. A roomful of people who were able to set aside any outside fears, worries, and differences and unite with love. We all entered as strangers, but left as friends.

I met and prayed with a lady going through stage 4-cancer. I celebrated with another lady who is a cancer survivor. I heard a story from a man who ALSO found a "box in his attic" that contained family information he wasn't aware of (listen to my song "Ticket To Tulsa" for reference on that one!). Together we all celebrated birthdays, anniversaries and gave to a charity who does amazing work for those in need. And we all left feeling so grateful.

Grateful for our time together. Grateful for new perspective. Grateful for a two hour reprieve from the craziness of life. No, nothing is perfect in this world, but it never will be. We have to hold on to each other, and dish out as much love, grace and mercy for one another as we can.

There are many things in this world that I can't control. But remembering to wake up each day and show love to those around me, using the gifts that God gave me, is something that I CAN control. It's a way to connect. It's a way to heal. It's a way to bless and be blessed....

... and I leave Roswell, GA feeling OH SO BLESSED!

Thank you to all the amazing people who came out to the "Home By Dark" shows. I leave your town with a FULL heart! And THANK YOU to James and Karen Casto, Mike Shetler, Matt Blanchard, Jim Hettinger and my SISTERS, Carole Ford and Vanessa Conner. Sharing the stage with you is always an honor! ... and my husband, Mike Waldron... what can I say honey? You continue to be my favorite everything and I don't know what I'd do without you. Thank you for sharing your great talent with us and for making sure I had my capo on the right fret. :-)

If you live in the Atlanta, GA area, go to www.homebydark.com, find a show near you... and GO!!! Trust me.... you will be so glad you did!

Love
M


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

President-Elect Donald Trump....

The American people have spoken.... and I think they have spoken loud and clear.

No, I did not vote for Donald Trump.  I cast my vote for Hillary Clinton, mainly because I have been happy with the progress our country has enjoyed under the Presidency of Barack Obama and I felt she would do the best at continuing his legacy.

But people were fueled by the "anti-government" movement that he ran on.  And I get it.  They wanted a change.  And I get it.  They were tired of "crooked government", and they lumped "crooked Hillary" into that, hating her enough to vote Donald Trump into the highest office in our country.  A man who has never held public office or served in our military is now our POTUS-elect.

I am shocked.  But God is not.

As a Christian, I believe our God is ultimately in control.  And I rest in that.

What I will do now is start praying for Donald Trump, just like I did each day for Barack Obama. I will pray that God will move his heart to be a great leader for our country.  I pray he will make changes that will help heal our country and unite us rather than divide us.  I pray that the people who feel marginalized will be heard and he will be, as he said in his acceptance speech, truly a president for ALL Americans.

Let me be clear.  I do not want Donald Trump to fail.  I love my country way too much for that.  Just because I didn't vote for him doesn't mean that I want to be right so badly that I want to see him fail - just so I could say, "See?  I told you he wasn't fit to be our POTUS!".   I want to be wrong about him. I truly do.

I did my research.  I prayed.  I voted my conscience.  Done.

Now I shall go back to the business of loving my family, my friends, and everyone I can around me.  I'll do the work that the Lord has put in front of me today with a happy heart and a hopeful outlook.  I will rest in my faith and know that God's will WILL be done, no matter WHO is POTUS.

Ya'll just love on each other today.  That's what WE can all do to make this country better.  Don't leave it in the hands of our government.  Don't put all your faith in Donald Trump to make things better for our country.  WE can make things better for our country by showing love and support to each other, day in and day out.  THAT'S how to make America great again.

Dear Lord, may you heal our country and guide our President-Elect to lead us well. To love us well.  To guide us well.  May you also calm the worried and the hurting today, reminding them that You are greater than any man, and you remain the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow.  YOU are the one thing we can all rely on.

God Bless America.

God is good... all the time.

Love ya'll,
M









Sunday, November 6, 2016

November News and upcoming shows....


Hi friends!                     Nov. 1st, 2016 
Well, we are smack dab in the middle of my favorite time of year.  I LOVE FALL!  I love the leaves, the cooler temps, football, chili, sweaters & boots... it is my HAPPY PLACE!!!!!   While my touring with Christopher Cross is over for 2016, we have a lot of dates already on the books for 2017 so come see us!  Go to www.christophercross.com for all info about CC and his schedule. 

A break with CC enables me to book a few shows of my own this month and I am SO looking forward to performing with some other amazing singer/songwriters and sharing my own music again.  
First up: Nov. 10th and Nov. 11th in Roswell, GA with the "Home By Dark" gang!  These are always my favorite shows of the year with an all-star band backing us up!  Come join us at the Roswell Historic Cottage  for these special shows.  For tickets and more info: www.homebydark.com  


 THEN, on Nov. 18th, I'll be in Phoenixville, PA at the Steel City Coffee House with Craig Bickhardt and J.D. Malone. I've been a huge fan of Craig's for YEARS, and I've heard AMAZING things about J.D., so I know this will be a special evening!  Come see us if you are in the Philadelphia area!  For tickets and more info: http://www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com/


 ANNNNDDDD.... on Sat. Nov. 18th, I'll be at the Smyrna Opera House in Smyrna, DE.  Again with Craig B, and this time with two otherwonderful singer/songwriters, Sol Knopf and Jesse Terry.  I got to sing some bgv's on Sol's latest CD, "Rehoboth Beach" and I know you guys will LOVE Sol's music like I do!  Also, Jesse is KILLER, touring all over the WORLD lately sharing his awesome stories and songs, so get yourselves down to the Smyra Opera House and see us!  You'll have a great time... i promise!  :-)  


 After THOSE shows... I'm going to settle down for some "downtime" with my family and friends to celebrate the holidays.  I hope you all make some special holiday plans as well.  Taking time to love on your family and friends is important, and that's what Thanksgiving and Christmas are FOR in my opinion!   

I hope to see some of you at the shows this month, but for those I don't see... THANK YOU for supporting me and my music in 2016!  I am working on the new CD NOW.. and hope to have it done in early 2017.  This is turning into a VERY special project for me and I can't WAIT to get it done and out to you guys!   It is something very different from any of my other records, but I think you will all be pleasantly surprised!   (Can you tell I'm excited????).   

Happy Holidays to you all.... 
Be good to yourselves and those around you....
Love and Blessings,
M


Saturday, September 17, 2016

The path of Peace.....

As a person who fights the urge DAILY to engage in excessive planning, this devotional today was a good reminder. I used to obsessively plan my days. I would write down multiple  lists of things to do in the ORDER they should be done. But it wasn’t just tasks that I would obsess over.  I would plan what I was going to say to someone who had hurt me the next time I saw them. (If they say THIS then I’ll say THAT, then if they do THAT I’ll do this etc… that exchange in my head could go on for hours by the way).  I would also plan how I was going to act at a social event where I knew I’d be uncomfortable (If THIS happens, then I’ll just do THAT… etc.)  Endless possibilities could take control of my brain as I would waste time and energy planning situations in my mind that might never even come into my reality.  I had everything so planned out that I didn’t leave any room for HIM to enter the situation… and that left me in a place of NO PEACE constantly.

I can honestly say that after YEARS of working on that, I have gotten much, much better about turning over those worries to God and letting Him just lead me at the moment. I’m not 100% there, as my old habits can creep up on me easily still.  BUT, after trusting Him in a few situations and seeing how His ways work things out much better than MY ways, I have learned to loosen my grip on pre-planning events and let Him lead the way, day by day..... moment by moment.   When I started letting go and seeing His power in those situations, not only did it take so much pressure off of ME, but it reinforced my faith. There is nothing so powerful as seeing the Lord come into a situation where YOU can't find the right solution, and seeing His plan unfold so beautifully.   Lord, I pray today that we all can turn from the path of planning to the path of PEACE by entrusting you to guide us through whatever situations we might face today. May all my actions, and especially my REACTIONS, be honoring to you.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.  #JesusCalling  #MorningDevotional2016



Friday, September 16, 2016

Soul keeping....

As I read Psalm 139:13 this morning, two words jumped out at me for the first time.  “For you created my INMOST BEING”.  I realized right then that INMOST BEING means the soul. God created our soul. 

After reading John Ortberg’s “Soul Keeping” last year (one of my FAV books!), I have become much more aware of the needs of my soul and try to tend to it properly. That book showed me that I don’t have a soul. I have a BODY.  I AM a soul.  It is the essence of who I am. It is my “inmost being” and the part of me that was truly created by God to be in union with Him.

“When you try to live independently of Me, you experience emptiness and dissatisfaction.” We aren’t fully ourselves when living away from the source of our creation. I went through a time in my life where I tried that. I had been abandoned by some Christian friends during a time when I needed them the most and I twisted that around in my mind to think that GOD had abandoned me. So I said, “Ok, then screw this baloney!  I’ll do this on my own and BE JUST FINE.”   But I wasn’t just fine. I was messed up. And I stayed messed up for quite awhile until I realized that God was the only way out of the mess I had made. And just like the father in Luke 15 welcomed his prodigal son back into his loving care with a PARTY, my heavenly Father did the same for me. Now I know that living life without my Creator means living life with an empty and lost soul. 

 Lord, thank you for leading my soul into the only union that makes it truly feel complete. In Jesus’ name. #JesusCalling #MorningJournal2016