The Eagle Has Landed


Everyone has a memory of where they were for historic events.

I was in second grade when JFK was shot, in a board meeting for 9/11…

… and in the home of Ed and Kat King for the first landing on the moon.

It was Sunday night, July 20, 1969. After the Sunday evening service at church, the Kings invited us to their home.

Fifty years ago tomorrow. I was thirteen years old.

The live video was “ghostly black and white.”

The audio was scratchy. People are still arguing over whether Neil Armstrong said, “One small step for man” or “One small step for a man.”

But it was a special moment in American history. The apex of the Space Age that defined my first decade of life.

I was in the company of my parents, sisters, and Ed and Kat King, who were like parents to me.

The hard-working Kings ran a dairy in Dry Creek. Mr. Ed was a deacon and song leader at our church. Mrs. Kat (affectionately called “Kitten” by her husband) was the postmistress for Dry Creek Community, zip 70637.

And fifty years ago, I sat on their couch for a memorable event.

One small step for man, a giant leap for mankind.

A Christian Cuss Word

I recently read (and shared) a story on Christian cuss words. The author singled out the words “Luck” and “Fortune.”  He insisted that these words have no place in the life and vocabulary of a Christian.

We followers of Christ believe that every step of our lives is directed by God and He is able to make good out of even the bad. As the Patriarch Joseph famously told his brothers, “What you meant for evil, God meant for good.”*

Nothing happens in our lives that can be credited to luck, good fortune, or chance. It’s all part of the plan.

I’d like to add another Christian cuss word: Coincidence.

Coincidence is defined as “a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection.”

It is the belief that events occur that have no apparent link or connection.

Believing that God directs and connects every step of our life goes against the belief in chance or coincidence.

Therefore I’ll attempt to eliminate coincidence as part of my personal journey vocabulary. I’ll hitch my star to the promise of Proverbs:

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.**

I’ve always loved the poem, “To a Waterfowl” by William Cullen Bryant. Watching the flight of a bird, the poet summarizes:
“He, who, from zone to zone,
Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight,
In the long way that I must trace alone,
Will lead my steps aright.”
God is guiding our steps.
That’s all I need to know.


*Genesis 50:20    **Proverbs 3:5-6

The Proverbs Plan

We write and tell stories of the wonderful people and history of Louisiana’s unique Pineywoods.

The Proverbs Plan

Part of my daily Bible reading involves the Old Testament book of Proverbs. It’s a book of short wisdom sayings compiled by King Solomon and others.

Because Proverbs contains 31 chapters, it is conducive to reading a daily chapter related to the day of the month.  i.e. on July 5th, I read Proverbs 5.

When you start again the next month, you can switch versions.

The wisdom and common sense found in Proverbs have made a difference in my lifetime of study. I’d encourage you to try it.

A key verse in Proverbs:

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. — -Proverbs 3:5-6


Cover of As the Crow Flies

Our latest book, As the Crow Flies, continues to be enjoyed by readers. It’s available in paperback in normal and large print, as an audiobook, and in Braille. 

Learn more at

Longleaf Pines among the wildflowers. Oct 2018 Dry Creek, Louisiana.

The Door

“The Door” is one of my favorite stories.  It blends humor with a poignant twist.



Coach Larry Greene


The Door

A warning: Be careful with the doors at the Lake Charles Civic Center!

I was there last week and as I entered the men’s room, I recalled Roy Greene’s story.

The Lake Charles Civic Center opened thirty years ago. It was constructed on sand pumped out of the adjacent lake that gives the city of Lake Charles its name.

In keeping with the French heritage of our area, it was christened “Le Civic Centre.” In carrying out this Acadian motif, the restrooms were labeled as “Messieurs” and “Madames.”

The thoughtful architect also designed the “Messieurs/Madames” restrooms so there was one entrance door (with no handle on the inside) and a corresponding exit door on the other end. This wisely (or unwisely as our story will reveal) ensured that users all moved in one direction.

And that brings us to Roy Greene’s famous story. Mr. Roy, a Dry Creek native, loved basketball. He had played on Dry Creek High’s famous undefeated 1931 state championship team, coached high school ball, and was the longtime principal at Fenton High. He produced a line of great coaches including his son, Larry, and grandsons Mike and Chris Greene.

Mr. Roy loved the Sweet 16 State Girl’s Basketball Tournament, and never missed a game. On this particular year, it was held at the Lake Charles Civic Center. During a halftime break, Mr. Roy, who was near eighty, shuffled to the restroom, hurrying so as not to miss a minute of action on the court.

Maybe it was his eyesight or his preoccupation with the game—

When he got to the door, he thought it was “Messieurs” but (I know you are ahead of me) instead, it was “Madames.” Mr. Roy did not realize his mistake until he was inside and saw two sobering sights: no urinals and a restroom full of women.

Of course, he did what any man would do: he discreetly retreated to the entrance door. However, there was no handle. He stood not quite sure what to do … and then did the only thing he knew to do—he shuffled along right through the restroom, parting the throng of startled women, and then out the exit door.

His son Larry, who watched from the lobby, said, “I saw him go in the wrong door and tried to catch him, but I was too late. When he came out the other end, I told him, ‘You ain’t nothing but a dirty old man’!”

Last week as I entered the Civic Center’s “Messieurs” restroom, I did a double take just to make sure. I laughed at the corresponding “Men” sign below the “Messieurs.”

Probably put there in memory of my friend, Mr. Roy Greene.

If you’re familiar with my writing, you know how I like to find a spiritual meaning in my stories. Well, here goes: it’s about making good decisions, i.e. “going through the right doors.”

Life is a series of many decisions, most small, others huge, but all propelling us in a definite direction. We don’t get where we are by accident, but by a series of decisions.

Realistically, many choices, like Mr. Roy’s Door, offer no retreat. Therefore, we want to select the correct doors leading into the right places.

Yesterday, I read one of my life verses, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

In my simple Dry Creek mind that means if I trust God, listen to him, and include him in my decisions, he will help me choose the right doors. That verse is a promise, and it is a promise for you too!

Have a great day, Messieurs and Madames!


Deep Roots contains short stories that inspire, encourage, and inform.
Deep Roots contains short stories that inspire and encourage.


If you’d like your own copy of Deep Roots, you can get your copy in print or as an ebook at

Stuck on Devil’s Tower



Stuck on Devil’s Tower


. . . I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time.

On October 1, 1941 parachutist George Hopkins did something incredibly stupid.  He parachuted onto the top of Wyoming’s Devil’s Tower.

Recently while visiting this impressive national monument, I read about Hopkin’s stunt. He did it to get attention and got much more than he had bargained for!  His Plan A went fine. He guided his parachute down onto the semi-flat rocky top of the Tower, which is about the size of two football fields.

But Plan B went awry when the same plane that he jumped from failed to properly drop the long rope and climbing stakes he planned to use in descending down the 865-foot high volcanic plug.

Now, George Hopkins was stranded atop Devil’s Tower.  For the next week, Americans followed this saga of the stranded parachutist.  Finally, after six days a group of experienced climbers ascended the mountain and brought poor George down

This story from Devil’s Tower is a good example of starting good but not having a rehearsed plan to finish well.  This is true in our lives as well.  Steve Farrar’s excellent book, Finishing Strong addresses this subject.  I would encourage every man to read it. (Wives, buy it for your husbands.  They’ll tell you thank you later.)

The story of being stuck atop Devil’s Tower also has another spiritual application:

When we land atop sin in our lives, it is a lot easier and fun (even the Bible speaks of the temporary “pleasure of sin for a season” in Hebrews 11:25) landing on it than it is to get off.  An old adage speaks of this:

“Sin will take you farther than you want to go.

Sin will keep you longer than you want to stay,

and sin will cost you way more than you want to pay.”

Yes, on Devil’s Tower is not a good place to land. Although the journey there looks great, once you arrive it is barren, rock, waterless, and unmercifully hot.

And it’s a whole lot harder to get off Devil’s Tower than to get on it.

Be careful what you jump for.  It’s not always easy to get off!

Don’t believe me?   Just ask an old daredevil named George Hopkins.

Sioux Indians believe this is how the Tower got its grooves. (Black Hills Museum, Spearfish, SD                               “Stuck on Devil’s Tower” is from the book, Deep Roots by Curt Iles.



P.S.  If you are ever in the Black Hills of South Dakota or northeastern Wyoming, visit Devil’s Tower.  It is very impressive and awe-inspiring.  The fact that it sits majestically alone in a wide flat river valley makes it something to stand beside.  There is a two-mile trail that winds its way all around the base.


Serving Two Masters

Curt with Ivory at the Old House.

My son Clint and I walked out of the camp office together.

As we exited outside, there was Ivory grinning her silly smile, as she expectantly thumped her big tail against the wall.  I challenged Clint to a test, “Clint, let’s stop here and find out who Ivory really loves the most.  You go north to the road and I’ll go east to the Tabernacle.  Whom she follows will show her true allegiance.”

He reluctantly agreed to my challenge.  I was confident she would follow me because of how faithfully she always follows me each day.

We both agreed not to look back until we had walked to our respective spots.  As I walked the seventy-five feet to the Tabernacle, I expected at any time to hear the sound of her steps behind me.  I held off looking for as long as I could.  Reaching the sidewalk I stopped, and looked over to Clint.

He had also stopped at his spot, the same distance from our starting point, but Ivory had followed neither of us.  There she sat right where we’d left her, anxiously looking back and forth from one of us to the other.  She excitedly wagged her tail and moved her front legs as if to come to one of us.  Then she resumed her looking as if she was saying “Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Moe….”

As we approached each other, Ivory left her spot and ran to us, arriving just as we met.

I felt guilty for putting her in such a tough position.  I promised Clint that I would not bother him anymore about whom Ivory loved best.  She evidently loved both of us equally.

The words of Jesus came to me as I thought about Ivory’s allegiance.  Jesus clearly stated that no man can serve two masters.  In the Sermon on the Mount, he clearly spoke of allegiance and dedication,

“No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and money.”

The scariest part is this:  many times, we stand and look back and forth at which master we will serve.  The other object drawing us away from God is often something good, but anything that blocks our communion and dedication to God is harmful, no matter what it is.  We must not settle for good when we can have the best– a close intimate relationship with Jesus.  Jesus meant it when he said we can only serve one master

Yes, Jesus hit the nail on the head.  We cannot serve two masters.  Just as Ivory whined at being unable to choose between her two masters, we are most unhappy when we are in the no man’s land of attempted dual allegiance.

Sometimes, the most miserable person in the world is not the person who has no room for God in their life.  Yes, that person is unhappy and unfulfilled.  However, there is probably no worse spot to be in than attempting to be both a follower of Jesus and the world.  May we constantly be reminded of the love and grace of Jesus.  Let us never forget His strong call for us to forsake this world and our own wants to wholeheartedly follow Him, this Amazing Jesus, the Son of the Living God.

“Then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…

…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  -Joshua 24:15

From the book, The Old House, by Curt Iles

The Little Red Stick

Le Petit Baton Rouge*

Of all of the memorable places to visit in my home state of Louisiana, Avery Island is one of my favorites. Situated on the coastal marsh below Lafayette, “The Island” is an elevated area that rises above the surrounding flat marsh. It is not really an island but is a high area due to sitting above a salt dome.

It is home to many species of waterfowl as well as alligators that may be seen when the weather is warm.

When you step out of your vehicle at Avery Island, a sharp pungent odor burns your nostrils. It is the smell of hot red peppers in the drifting in the air.

You are now standing at the home of Tabasco Hot Sauce. Avery Island is where this famous unique hot sauce is processed. Among the three major ingredients needed for hot sauce (salt, vinegar, and peppers) salt is in great supply there in the nearby underground salt mine.

A few years ago while touring the Tabasco plant, I first saw the red stick shown in the picture. Our tour guide explained about “le petit baton rouge”* as it is called in French (or “the little red stick” in English.)

Every pepper picker for Tabasco carries a stick like this in their hand. As they harvest the peppers, they use the little red stick to ensure that they are picking the fruit at the exact color shown on the stick. When the pepper is at this redness, it is perfectly ripe to give the exact taste needed to produce the Tabasco taste that millions enjoy daily.

This stick, painted this very particular shade of red, is used as the standard for picking. Picked too early when they are still green, or too late after they’ve lost some flavor, is not acceptable. The pickers carefully compare the fruit on their bush to the red stick. Only those with the right ripeness/color are picked.

Here’s a neat application to le petit baton rouge:

As the world looks at the followers of Jesus, they are seeking to see a difference in our lives that is caused by our Savior. They are not as interested in our churches, music and preaching as they are in seeing a difference in our lives.
Here is what they are looking for: It’s a simple word called love.

When folks look at our lives, they will compare our lives to the teachings and love of Jesus. In other words, they compare our fruit to the le petit baton rouge of the teachings of Jesus.

Jesus very clearly emphasized the defining mark (or color) of a Christian in John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (New International Version)
There it is: the fruit of my life as a follower of Jesus is to be the color of love. A love that begins by loving those around me as in “love one another. . . ”

But it’s also a love that refuses to stay indoors among our own kind. This Jesus-kind of love flows out in a ripple effect where lives are changed and enriched. Others are watching. They are using their petit baton rouges to judge and compare our lives. But here’s the scary part: Jesus himself, the living Son of God, is also applying his red stick to our lives.

We can never come close to meeting his standard. He was perfect, is perfect, and will always be perfect. However, by growing closer and closer to Jesus… we will take on “His Color.”

…And His Color is always love.

His “petit baton rouge” was not really petit (or little.) It was large… a large wooden cross… an instrument of death.
And just like the stick from Avery Island, it was dipped in red.
The red color on the cross was from the very blood of the Son of God.

And here is the best part: He willingly went to that cross personally for you… to pay for your sins.

What will you do personally about that? You have two simple choices: Embrace that love-gift of Jesus and commit your life and heart to Him personally… or walk by it rejecting the chance to be in relationship with the very Son of God.



* Our state capital Baton Rouge was so named by the early French explorers who while coming up the Mississippi noticed how the local Indians had driven red-painted sticks along the riverbank. Therefore this spot became known as “Baton Rouge.” Even today in Baton Rouge there are many businesses and addresses featuring the name “Red Stick.”

A Short, but Unforgettable, Lesson on Prayer

The cross at Dry Creek Camp’s Prayer Garden.

Pray One for Another


“. . . And pray one for another.” (James 5:16)

One of my favorite stories concerning prayer is told by my lifelong friend, Della Mercer. She faithfully taught the preschoolers at our church for years. Once at the end of a lesson on prayer, she wanted to finish the lesson by having the children pray. Della stated to the class of five-year-olds, who were sitting in a circle, “Now, we are going to go around the circle and pray for each other.”

Her plan was to let the child on her right begin and allow each child around the circle to utter a short “sentence prayer.”

The first child to her right was Charlie Taylor. Instead of sitting in his chair and saying a short prayer, he got up and began going to each child seated in the circle. As he would put his hand on each of their shoulders, he then prayed with, and for, each child.

As Della watched in amusement, Charlie “went around the circle” praying for each one by name. Della said it was the most beautiful illustration of caring and praying she’d ever seen. Charlie physically did what we should be doing: going to others, showing them we care by putting a hand on their shoulder, and praying with them.

Charlie was modeling what is called intercessory prayer. Intercessory prayer is praying to God for people and their needs.

I’ve been guilty of making this statement to folks experiencing tragedy, tough times, or trials, “Well, all I can do is pray for you.”

I’ve since learned that the greatest thing we can do is pray. A quote from Henri Noewen says it so well,

“There is nothing we can do better than praying by name to God for others. Nothing unleashes the power of God like the prayer of His people.”

God has taught me and is continuing to teach me, a great deal about this. So often folks come to us and say, “Will you pray for me about something?” As they share their burden, we promise to pray for them. However, if we aren’t careful, in the midst of our busy lives, we tend to forget about them and their problem or needs.

God has convicted me about this. What I am learning to do is to simply stop right there and pray with them. This ministers to them and God always honors heart-felt prayer.

That is true intercessory prayer.

Let’s follow Charlie Taylor’s example by getting up, going to others, showing them we care, and most importantly—praying with, and for, them.



“The greatest thing anyone can do for God and man is praying. It is not the only thing, but it is the chief thing. The great people of the earth today are the people who pray. I do not mean those who talk about prayer; nor those who say they believe in prayer; nor yet those who can explain about prayer, but I mean those people who take time to pray.”

  • -S. D. Gordon
  • A circle of prayer. There is great power in unified prayer. A scene from a Sturgis Bike Rally.

Curious and Amazed

Oakdale Mill bluebird box. Notice log truck and cranes in background.

My mantra:

  1. Stay Curious.
  2. Be Amazed.
  3. Share Remarkable Stories.

I work Mondays as a chaplain at Roy O Martin’s Mills. Today, as I entered the Oakdale mill, I stopped by the bluebird boxes. It’s not on my job description, but I always check the boxes.

I unhook the door for a closer look. One of the boxes has a fresh nest. Five beautiful sky blue eggs rest on a bed of twigs and straw. There are even two small redbird feathers woven into the nest.

One of five bluebird eggs. Note cardinal feather on right side of nest.

I’m sure I look a sight with all of my safety gear on, peering into a bird box. Hundreds of people daily walk by this bird box and I bet I’m the only one who stops to take a look. Call me a nerd or geek. I am the grandson of a birder. My maternal grandfather, Sid Plott, was an avid birdwatcher. I inherited his binoculars, field guides, and love of birds.

My curiosity leads me to peer into birdboxes and be interested in nature all around us, whether in the woods, a city, or a busy mill. Here in the middle of a loud, lighted, OSB (Oriented Stranded Board) Mill, new life is waiting to hatch. I’ll check this nest weekly as I’ve done for the past three Springs.

At 62, I’ve still got that curiosity. It has brought great joy into my life as well as got me in trouble. Sometimes my curious nature has led me to stick my nose where it didn’t belong and the result has been a buzzing wasp nest or a Federal Game Warden (“Now which of the three signs saying ‘Keep Out’ did you not read?”).

And I’m continually amazed at things like five baby blue eggs that even now each contain a bluebird. I hope to never lose that child-like amazement.

Yes, I’m curious and amazed and I simply wanted to share this remarkable story with you so that you’ll slow down and look around you at the wonders of life.

Wherever you live, in the woods or the busy sidewalks of a metropolis, bird heaven is all around you. Keep your eyes on the heavens, and in the trees and on the high lines. It’ll keep your feet on the ground and your heart alive.

Another Spring treat: Wild Azalea aka Honeysuckle.

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms


“The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

–Deuteronomy 33:27


I know it is still there—page 276 in the old Broadman hymnal—that old classic hymn “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.”

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,

Leaning on the everlasting arms.

What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,

Leaning on the everlasting arms.


Leaning on Jesus . . . Leaning on Jesus,

Safe and secure from all alarms;

Leaning on Jesus . . . Leaning on Jesus,

Leaning on the everlasting arms.

As we’d get to the chorus and the ladies would drag out “Leannnnnnnnnng,” I’d hear my dad’s bass voice echoing out “Leaning on Jesus.”

When I hear this song, I still think of Rob Lindsey.  “Uncle Rob” was to me the representative of the pioneer Dry Creek that I’ve always been fascinated with. Born in 1887, he was 89 when he died in 1976.

…And Leaning on the Everlasting Arms was his favorite song. Anytime we had fifth Sunday singing or any opportunity for a request, he would say, “Sing 276—Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.” As a boy, I would watch him as we sang his favorite. On the chorus when we’d get to the “Leaning . . . Leaning . . .” part, he would close his eyes and sing from his heart. I pictured in my mind the struggles, trials, and tribulations he had probably been through in his long life. As we sang and I watched him, I was sure I could lean on Jesus, too.


Rob Lindsey and his car

Even today when we sing that old song, I still think of him. In my mind I still see him, eyes closed, maybe a tear in his eye as he slowly rocks back and forth singing,

What have I to dread what have to fear?

Leaning on the everlasting arms

I have blessed peace with my Lord so near

Leaning on the everlasting arms



Safe and secure from all alarms

Leaning ………………..


Leaning on the everlasting arms.


Like Uncle Rob, I’ve found that those everlasting arms of Jesus are strong and will hold us regardless of our circumstances.

Thoughts on Kindness


“There are three ways to ultimate success.

The first way is to be kind.

The second way is to be kind.

The third way is to be kind.”

-Fred Rogers aka Mister Rogers

On Kindness


Always be kinder than necessary.
It’s a trait that both blesses the receiver and the giver. It leaves both with a spring in their step.

All of my life, I’ve been the recipient of so much grace and kindness. The old Dry Creek I grew up in was awash in kindness. It wasn’t a perfect place, but folks, especially the older ones,  always showed me kindness.

I’m sure it was partly due to my family’s deep roots in the community. Clayton and Mary Iles’ son was always treated kindly. In a rural community where we called most every older person uncle and aunt, I received special kindness from these folks.

As I began branching out from Dry Creek, I still encountered kindness, often in unexpected places. I learned that those with the least in worldly goods often showed the most kindness to others.

The twin hurricanes of Katrina and Rita in 2005 brought out the best and worst in my home state of Louisiana. I came to believe that disasters and tragedy don’t create character, it simply reveals it. What is inside a person comes pouring out just like the water that rushed through the 16th Street Canal levee breach in New Orleans.

Dry Creek Baptist Camp, where I served as manager, became a hurricane shelter for a revolving door of about three hundred evacuees for the weeks after Katrina. They came from all walks of life, each with a different story of how they ended up in our rural Pineywoods community.

Our surrounding area responded to this invasion, not with resistance, but with kindness. I’ll never forget a precious couple, who had recently lost a teenage son, counting out thirty-one- hundred-dollar bills and saying, “You use this to help these people and do it in memory of our son.”

I had no words to say and even now am moved by the remembrance of this event.

When sister Hurricane Rita hit us squarely in late September, I saw amazing kindliness among my neighbors. Everyone got up from the storm, brushed off, and went to work helping each other.

Real kindness costs something. It is given freely but costs the giver time, money, or maybe inconvenience. However,  it is such a freeing event.

However, it seems natural to be kind to neighbors.

Kindness to strangers is what most amazes me. I saw it after the hurricanes, even as I stood in a Red Cross food line receiving a hot meal cooked by fellow Baptists who’d come to our aid in SW Louisiana.

Our three-year sojourn in Africa opened my eyes to this kindness to strangers. Once again, DeDe and I saw the best and worst in people. We were thrust into a civil war in South Sudan and saw the ignorance of tribalism and greed.

At the same time, we saw such kindness. Nowhere was this more evident than along the borders of South Sudan where thousands of refugees fled. I asked a Ugandan as to why they so easily opened their hearts to these strangers. He smiled. “Baba, we’ve all been refugees ourselves at one time or another. How could we not return the kindness shown to us in the past?”

I saw kindness shown in hundreds of unique ways. Most were simple, but life-changing. Most involved sacrifice on the part of the giver. Africans have few material possessions, but I never ceased at the wonder of those who had so little, showing such kindness.

A final word on kindness.
It is not weakness.
The world will often scoff at proffered kindness as naive.
I believe kindness is one of life’s greatest assets. It’s an investment that as you give it away, it only grows inside you. Always be kind.

And always be kinder than necessary.

Kindness: a language the blind can see and the deaf can hear.



Thoughts on February

A word from Curt


The following comes via my friend, agent Chip MacGregor. He shared these questions back in 2012 and I try to take this “February Questionnaire” each year. Chip gives credit on the questions to Bobb Biehl.

I’d encourage you to read this and jot down answers to these life questions.

Wishing you the best in 2019.




February Habits


“Whenever we get past the January “New Year resolutions” and starting moving into the February “reality of winter” season, it’s nice to spend a few moments taking stock. I tend to think a lot of people overestimate what they can do in the month of January — but then February comes along and we start thinking seriously about what we’re going to accomplish during the year. My buddy Bobb Biehl used to suggest everyone ask themselves a few questions when they got to the month of February:


–Who is the ONE PERSON I would most like to help or develop this year?

–Who is the ONE PERSON I would most like to learn from this year?

–If I could only do ONE BIG THING this year, what would it be?

–What is the ONE THING I would most like to buy this year?

–Where is the ONE PLACE I would most like to go this year?

–What is the ONE ROADBLOCK holding me back this year?

–What ONE THING could I do to remove that roadblock?

–What is the ONE THING I do best?

–What is the ONE NEED I feel most deeply burdened by and uniquely qualified to meet?

–What is the ONE TRUTH I would most like to share with people this year?

–What is the ONE HABIT I would most like to stop this year?

–What is the ONE HABIT I would most like to start this year?

–In what ONE AREA of my life I would most like to grow this year?

(Questions from Bobb Biehl)

Chip MacGregor ended his 2012 post with the following:

Could I ask you to do something? Sometime, over the next couple weeks, would you spend a few moments thinking about these questions? Just sit down over coffee and maybe write down a thought for each question. Skip the ones you just don’t have an answer for. What you write could be just for you, or you could share your thoughts with a friend or your significant other. Don’t think of this as “an assignment.” It’s just a way to get some perspective early in the year, as we start thinking seriously about what we want to accomplish this year.

We believe that every journey has a story, and every story involves a journey.

Thoughts for a New Year

As I walk the journey, I want to grow and have impact and influence.

A word from Curt

I’ve never liked the R word.


I prefer to talk and think about the bigger issue of how I want to be a difference maker in this new year. I call it the 30,000 foot view.

Personally, I craft a yearly Life Statement. It’s simply a short statement of my priority for this season of my journey. I tweak it yearly and post it in various places where I’ll see it.

Here is my 2019 Life Statement:

I want to be a man God can use, encourage others, and be respected by those who know and love me best.

There it is.

Let me briefly mention each of the three parts of my Life Statement.

If I’m going to be a man God can use (and that is my deepest desire) there are certain things I must do as well as some things I must avoid. I must seek to walk closely with God and have a list of irrevokable no’s in my life. (My biggest no is unfaithfulness to my wife. I’ve made a conscious decision that that is not an option.)

Secondly, I’m called to be an encourager. It’s who I wish to be and my writing (like this story letter) is one of the key ways I can encourage. I also wish to encourage those around me in my daily life.

Thirdly, I wish to be respected. That’s a big word and I’m specific on who I most want respect from: those closest to me. It begins with my wife DeDe, our sons and their wives and our grandchildren. If those fifteen people respect me for the man I am, everything else will fall in place.

I realize that they know me best and definitely know my imperfections and shortcomings. Nevertheless, my daily goal is to conduct myself in a way that earns their respect.

Whew. My Life Statement sets a high bar, but it drives me to keep growing and learning.

I encourage you to develop your own unique Life Statement. Mine is cobbled together from others, so feel free to borrow as needed.

Yours for a growing 2019,

Curt Iles