The Real Haunted House


3/19/2017

Be sure to check out Tim’s books:

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The house was haunted. At least that’s what the Crandall High School students were saying. That was enough to believe it. And that was enough to send two fifth graders to investigate, but in broad daylight, of course.

The “Love House”, named such by the last family who lived in the two-storied white frame house, was only a mile out of town. But Larry and I didn’t want to be seen walking south out of town on Farm-to-Market Road 148. Most of the citizens of Crandall, TX knew Larry Dickerson and the preacher’s son would be up to no good.

We knew if we went down the gravel road known to locals as Number 5, we could quickly come to Buffalo Creek, the same creek that ran alongside the old Love’s place. It was a lot further, but amid the tall and thick cottonwoods, elms and oaks that ran along creek, it would be a lot more private.

The journey was further than we imagined and we were bushed when we arrived. But the excitement of exploring a haunted house supplied enough adrenaline to keep us going.

First, we investigated the house. Nothing spooky. Just an abandoned, dusty house that displayed signs of other curious visitors. Beer cans, cigarette butts and graffiti. Bored, we decided to look around the outside of the house. We found the water well in the back of the yard. Our imaginations told our eyes before they adjusted to the darkened expanse there was a body floating 20 feet below in the water. But our eyes adjusted and the excitement faded with the growing reality that the house wasn’t as spooky as reported. At least not in daylight.

Discouraged, I suggested we return to the house and at least break out some windows before we left. As we were walking beside the house we saw it. It was scarier than ghosts, more dreadful than monsters, more shocking than dead bodies floating in an old well.

We both froze, hoping that we had not been seen. But the Sheriff’s car continued up the long, gravel drive towards the house.

“Run, Larry, run!” I shouted as I turned and ran towards the barbed-wire fence along the back of the property. I didn’t know if I could outrun a deputy, by my goal was to outrun Larry. I could always outrun Larry.

The fence was coming up quickly. There was no decision for me. I dove onto the weeded ground and rolled my small frame under the bottom strand of wire.

You think you know things at times like this. I thought I knew Larry, with his awkward, tall, skinny frame was a step or two behind me. Without looking, I could imagine his running, knees and elbows flying in every unproductive direction. I knew he would see my stunt-move roll under the fence and copy it. And I hoped I knew that no Kaufman County deputy would chase beyond the fence.

After rolling clear of the fence, I looked up and saw Larry running ahead of me. I followed him into the creek bottom and we found a good nest to look back for the deputy and catch our winds. My guess is the officer never got out of the car. He had accomplished his objective by just driving up to the house.

“Larry, did you jump that fence?” I asked after sucking in enough air to speak.

“What fence?”

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Paint your own characters!


4/4/2017

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Have you ever been reading a novel and the author begins describing a character to your disapproval? I do sometimes. Let me tell you why.

Sometimes as I read a good book, reading about the roll and personality of a character, it reminds me of someone; maybe an actor or one of the many characters I have met in my life. Some writers are so detailed about each person, they box me in and I feel smothered with the details they create.

That’s the reason I try to leave a little wiggle room for the reader to fill in the blanks. I try to leave enough dots in the description that the reader’s mental image of a character is roughly the same as mine. But they fill in the details and therefore become co-writers with the storyteller as they read along.

My assumption was that everyone enjoyed that type of reading. What about you? Leave a comment about how you like your characters described.

Rookie Writer Blues


4/20/2017

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I have been guilty of rookie mistakes. Yes, old rookies make the same mistakes as young ones. What happened to the wisdom gained by years? Good question. I’m still looking for the answer.

Mistake #1: Publish the book to quickly. The temptation is to rush a new book to market because there is nothing like seeing the first book in a new series for sale. The biggest sign of rushing a book to market is having to do too many edits in a published book. If books have sold and in the customers’ hands, somebody is holding and reading a hand full of mistakes. Guilty as charged.

Anyone who purchased my book and wants the latest version, please let me know. I will take care of my readers.

Mistake #2: Unfamiliar with the publishing process. Amazon has revolutionized the publishing business. However, if you aren’t familiar with the process and details, it can be confusing, especially in the print version. You are given options for size, paper used, finish of the cover and a few more details that sound minor.

But they are not minor. For instance, in my first release, I picked 6″x9″, white paper and matte finish. The book had to be sold for $35. For my second book, I picked 5″x8″, canary, and matte finish. The book could be sold for $8.99. I try to go back and change the first one, but once you get an ISBN number, according to Amazon, the format of the book is in concrete. Paper in concrete? Who does that?

Amazon’s amazing customer service representative explained my options like this: “You can leave it the same, or you can do something so drastic, it’s unreasonable. You would have to unpublish your book and do it under another title.”

Unreasonable? It seems unreasonable to me for people to read my second book, or third, and desire to seek out my first one, expecting them to pay $35. So, I unpublished. I had to change name from “Water” to “Death Water” (a better title anyway), and I changed cover photo (I think a better one too). But it’s the reader a writer works for, not the publisher.

So the moral to this story is, young writers, don’t seek out an old writer for advise. Seek out an experienced one.

“Coat of Many Colors” Restores Hope.


Last night Laura and I finished watching the Dolly Parton movie, “Coat of Many Colors”, we recorded on Christmas day. I don’t really do movie reviews because I have seen too few movies. This is not a movie review, but just some thoughts I have had as a result of the movie.

I have never been a Dolly Parton fan, to be honest. I am not really a country western music fan, though I love a few of their songs. For me, Dolly’s best song was redone and perfected by Whitney Houston.

But I have to say I really enjoyed the movie. I particularly enjoyed the fact that Jesus Christ is a major part of the story. The movie boldly proclaims that God came to die for us, to save us. Life is never easy, but it is impossible without the forgiveness and presence of God purchased by the blood of Jesus.

However, my comments will focus more on another message I got from the movie. The flick was originally aired on the NBC network on December 10th. On that airing, it drew 15.6 million viewers, the largest movie audience on any of the TV networks in six years. So well received was the film, NBC listened to demands to rebroadcast it and aired it again on Christmas day.

The movie is not politically correct. It is not religiously tolerant. It is blatantly Christian and has aired twice on a secular television network. Remember, NBC is the network that Donald Wildmon, chairman of American Family Radio, accused of constant “Anti-Christian bigotry” for allowing and showing programs that bash Christianity, particularly Saturday Night Live’s blasphemous depictions of Jesus Christ.

Does this mean that the world is getting better? Does it mean that NBC has repented? No, I am sure they went after the money of advertising brought in by an instant hit.

It does mean that the darker the world, the more effective the light. It reminds me that this world, as much as people resent and hate the idea that Jesus is Lord, starves for the peace and hope He brings. It means that the message is still effective and needed as much now as it was in the first century.

There is much about modern Christianity that the people of the world do not welcome. Honestly, there is some elements of modern Christianity that cause a gnarl in my gut. But we must remember, the hope and peace Jesus brings is needed. His love is craved. His forgiveness is imperative. His light is craved.

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Tough Times and Good News

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One Christian writer addressed the question point blank; “Why do bad things happen to good people.” Other writers have written about it in different terms for centuries upon centuries.

There is a surprising passage that will encourage us in our trials. It fits between Adam and Noah, after Cain killed Abel and well before Job. But it surprisingly has some interesting angles.

Gen 4:25-26 says, “And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, ‘God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.’ To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD.

After Cain killed Abel, and that ugly mess (Genesis 4:1-16), another son which was born to Adam and Eve that they names “Seth”. Seth means “put, replacement, or substitute”.

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Their first son, the son of promise for redemption through Eve, was disqualified as a murder. The second son, the next in line, was murdered, so he could not be the son of promise. The third son born was, then, a replacement for Abel. Eve says, “God (Elohim) has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.”

I find it interesting that Seth wasn’t given a joyful name, but one that ever reminded him of the failures and loss of his brothers.

Verse 25 has something else interesting in it. “Elohim” is the title of God. It correlates closely with the English word, “God”.

But it is not our God’s name. His name is “Yahweh”.

If there is a clue to Eve’s state of mind as she aged, it is seen here. Previously, when Eve had her first son, she named him Cain.

Genesis 4:1 says, “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man (boy child) with the help of the LORD (Yahweh).”

She used the name of God, the intimate title, expressing an intimate relationship. With the birth of Cain, there was a sense of joy and dependence upon God. Eve knew she had sinned, but amidst of the disappointment was an overflowing joy.

Then she and Adam continued to see the consequence of their mistake through life. She saw one son murder another son. She saw tension between her and her husband (as stated by God in Genesis 3:16). She experienced aging, pain, weeds, and heartbreak that she would not have seen if she and her husband had not chosen sin.

Much later she has another son. She said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.”

This time, the moniker she uses for God is His title, “Elohim”, not his intimate name, “Yahweh”. Under the curse of sin as time goes by, Eve appeared to struggle and drift further away from God.

What does it take to drift away from God? Nothing. If you do nothing to maintain an intimate relationship with God, you will drift away from God.

Now, look at verse 26:

“To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD.”

Seth grows up, and the family sees another effect of the curse of sin. He and his wife have a son, and the name is very telling. “Enos”, or “Enosh”, mean “feeble, sickly, or weak”.

Enosh wasn’t sickly or weak because he was more sinful than his dad, Seth, or his grandparents, Adam and Eve. He wasn’t sickly because of the sins of his uncles, Cain and Abel.

This is the first time we can see the generational effects of sin on society. It shows us that because of the curse of sin, some people are randomly born with disabilities and/or weaknesses.

If the last part of verse 26 ties to the first part of the verse (which I believe it does), then Seth began the practice of calling upon God because of his sick son.

Seth had every reason to ask, “Lord, why did you make my son sickly?”

The Lord could have responded, “This is the consequence of sin, not my hand. I told Adam and Eve that they would surely experience death if they walked away from me.”

Here is the hidden beauty of this verse. They began calling upon the name of “Yahweh”, the intimate name for God. The birth of a sickly child drew Seth and his family close in dependence upon God. So they began to speak with Him in that relationship.

Why do hard problems come? Sickness? Crisis and what appears to be disaster? Sin is the reason. Both our inherent sin and our choices of sin brings more heartache.

What should our response be to such trouble? We should draw close to God and call upon His name because we understand that we are going to need Him to get through this.

You make the call…kind of…


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If you were a police officer assigned to a school and a young lady refuses to leave the room when asked by several school teachers and workers, what would you do? How would you handle it?

OK, you may want to take a moment to think about that. Granted, the officer had no time to think this specific issue through. However, when assigned to the school, he should have determined within himself the way he would respond to complete disregard to authority. That was what he was there to handle.

Or, you would expect the school to have a standard policy for disregard for authority. Nonetheless, there is no excuse for what happened.

Obviously, the girl had drawn a line in the sand. “You can’t make me do anything! I am staying right here! Whatcha gonna to do about it?”

For those of us who love to work with, and love, youth, this is something for which we are going to have to prepare to face. With eroding home structures, permissive parents who prefer being a friend when kids need parents, and a generation often given to the concept of entitlement, despite the promise of “new discipline techniques” practiced for over 40 years, this will be far too common of an issue. Are we ready?

The authorities have to worry about a spark becoming a flash-fire. One student disrespecting authority in front of other students typically does not bring out the best behavior in the group. The pressure to end such rebellion quickly can blind us to the best solution.

Students, however, can connect the dots better than we give the credit. They can connect the distant consequences to current actions if we, the authorities, simply point it out.

To me, the best approach is to remind the rebellious student that they can win the moment and lose the war. This girl was not going to sit in that chair for the rest of her life. Eventually, she would have given up and left the room. She needed to be reminded that the worse consequences are those unforeseen ones in the future.

At the end of the day, the girl would have been at home. The authorities could have explained to the other students that the girl would eventually leave and the consequences were becoming increasingly worse. There would be a tomorrow. There would be a next week. The girl’s decisions today would impact her life for a long time.

Perhaps a class period would have been ruined. Lesson plans would have stopped until she left. But they were lost anyway, right? But tomorrow the girl would not be there to disrupt.

Once the officer made the confrontation an issue that was going to be settled “here and now”, things turned ugly. Authorities, who are supposed to have a long-term view for education and lessons, failed to reinforce the idea that the long-term approach was more significant. A teaching opportunity was lost and the consequences now are on the other side.

Overcomer vs. Under the Circumstances


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Someone once raised the question, “What is an OVERcomer doing UNDER the circumstances?” Perhaps that question was asked in ignorance.

  • Noah was under the circumstances when he was in the Ark.
  • Gideon was under the circumstances when he surrounded the sizeable Midianite army with only 300 men.
  • David was under the circumstances when he was on the run from a murderous King Saul as God prepared his young heart to be a good king.
  • Daniel and the other Hebrew students were under the circumstance while in captivity in Babylon when God revealed to Daniel the highly esteemed prophecy.
  • Jesus was under the circumstances when He hung on the cross to die for the sins of the whole world.

Think about it. A lump of clay will be under the circumstances while the wise potter presses, squeezes and molds the clay into a useful vessel. “But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8.

When I woke up, the sky was overcast. The weatherman this morning told us the conditions under the clouds. We know that above the clouds it is clear and sunny all the time. But we are under the clouds.

How God uses the circumstances to shape us is His business, not ours. “Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?” Romans 9:21.

If you are one of God’s children and under the circumstances, trust in the Potter. God will use those for your good and His glory (Romans 8:28). Trust Him.