Drive Your Stakes Deep


Drive Your Stakes Deep

We set up our tent on a bluff overlooking a pristine Maine lake. My hiking partner, Mac, and I were on a two-week hike on the Appalachian Trail (AT).

We set up camp on an August evening with clear skies and a soft cool breeze. Due to traveling light, we had a small tent.

Mac carefully laid out the tent and began staking it. My thought, with the nice weather, was to not worry about staking every rope and loop. We’d be fine.

But Mac had a different mindset. An older experienced AT hiker, he insisted that we set up the tent strong and well-staked. This was not an easy task in the rocky ground, but we persevered using rocks to hammer in the tent pegs. At one rope, Mac tied onto a small bush. “If we have a storm, the bush gives just enough to help keep the tent in place. When we finished, there were ten ropes anchored and taut.

I looked at the clear sunset descending on the Maine woods. “Looks like a good night to camp out.”

“Always be prepared,” Mac said. “At this elevation, a storm can blow in at any time.”

As dusk fell, we finished our meal and got into the tent for a pleasant night’s sleep.

It was the strong wind that first woke me. It whipped our tent as the rain came pouring down, seemingly sideways. I hoped that we’d securely anchored our tent.

In spite of this nighttime storm, our tent held, and we were warm, dry, and safe.

“I’m sure glad you drove those stakes deep into the ground,” I said. “It was worth the extra effort.”

Mac repeated. “Always be prepared. Up here you always go to bed expecting a storm to strike during the night. Drive your stakes deep.”


I’ve often thought about his statement. Drive your stakes deep. It’s a lesson for each of us. In life, it’s important that our stakes be driven deep into solid ground. There’s a reason we didn’t set up camp on the sandy beach bordering the lake. It would’ve been easier, but the result would not have been happy.


A few parting shots . . .


We anchored our stakes ahead of the storm. I’ve had experience trying to set up a tent in the midst of a storm. Everything—both inside and out—gets soaked. In life, storms will come. As much as possible, we want to be prepared beforehand.

Secondly, we drove our stakes deep into the solid ground. This served as an anchor that even as the storm buffeted our tent, the staked ropes stayed anchored.


I think of the chorus of one of my favorite songs:

“On Christ the solid rock I stand.

All other ground is sinking sand.

All other ground is sinking sand.”


After a lifetime of standing on the rock called Jesus, I can attest that He is solid ground. Drive your stakes deep into his love.


In memory of Macon “Mac” Rathburn and his wife Mabelle. They were special lifetime friends whom I still cherish.

Choose Your Rut Carefully

Choosing Your Rut



Choose your rut carefully: you’ll be in it for the next thirty miles.

-Sign on Alaskan wilderness road

It’s true. I learned in African bush driving that the rut you chose is very difficult to get out of. During the rainy season, dirt roads became paths of deep mud. Whatever rut I chose to follow would pretty well guide me through the next section of the road. With difficulty, you could change ruts, but there was a much greater risk of bogging down or sliding off the road.

It’s also true in life. The ruts, or pathways, we choose for our life set the pattern for our direction and movement forward. All of us are prone to get stuck in ruts of habit and comfort.

It’s been said that “A rut is a grave with both ends open.”

As I’m slowly coming out of my depression, I’m working on some ruts in my life. Please pray that I’ll be learning, growing, and changing as God leads. During the dark times, I still hear the still small powerful voice of God saying, “I’m not through with you.”

In addition to these thoughts on avoiding ruts, I want to mention another aspect that I call the rut of influence. It can be a positive or negative force in our lives and especially the lives of others.

I’m reminded of a story from my time coaching high school baseball. The father of our shortstop asked his son, “Why are you wearing your cap low on your forehead?”

The son answered, “Because that’s the way my coach wears his.”


This sobering thought is a reminder that our influence is both subtle and broad. Others are choosing to follow our lead. What a challenge to make sure our rut of influence leads in the right direction. We can only do this with God’s help and power.

This is especially true with our children and family members. Without words, they are adjusting their ballcap to what they see in our lives. That is why a daily growing relationship with God is essential. By our following God, others can follow us in a positive direction.

We don’t have to be perfect, just committed to growing and learning and leaving a rut worth following.


“Lord, help me set the right example for those who are following after me. I need your power and guidance to do this. Amen.”


“You are the light of the world . . . let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” -Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:13-16)

Missionary Robert Lane on a rainy season African road.



Salty Language

Do you have “Salty Language?” (a 3-minute story)

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Colossians 4:6 ESV

Salt has many uses: it seasons, preserves, melts ice, heals, and serves other purposes in our lives.

Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mount, compares his followers to salt:

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”

In Colossians, Paul speaks of our speech being seasoned with salt. This refers to both the seasoning aspect of salt as well as its medicinal and preservative qualities.

The speech of a follower of Jesus should be careful, well-timed, and preserving.

Let’s call it salty language.

How did the term “salty” originate? The Oxford English Dictionary lists that the slang word salty means angry, irritated, or hostile. It’s usually thought of as rough or coarse.

Salty is often closely used to describe life at sea. One alternate definition relates to a sailor toughened by experience.

I’d like to change the connotation of what we refer to as salty language from its close association with cussing, cursing, and coarse speech.

The Biblical meaning of salty language is one of seasoning and preserving. The Apostle Paul encourages us to let our speech be gracious, seasoned with salt.

Salty language is the careful use of our words to encourage, bless, and honor other folks.

By the way, how are your words? I hope they contain a good dose of salty language.


If you like people, people will like you.

A Few Thoughts on Charisma


“Charisma is the ability to do the hard work of fitting in with those around you.” –Seth Godin


Charisma is a word that is often misunderstood. I recently ran across Seth Godin’s excellent definition of what it is. It is a person’s ability to fit in comfortably with those around him or her. This is a gift that can, and should, be developed. It takes practice and attention to detail.

The dictionary defines charisma as “a compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others.” This charisma, or charm, is developed from making others feel comfortable in your presence.

Charisma is more than fitting in. It also includes making others feel that they fit in. It involves drawing them into the circle and finding something in common. It always involves listening and being more concerned with others than yourself.

I grew up with two folks who exhibited charisma. My Mom and Dad were simple country folks, but they had the gift of making everyone they met feel important. They made folks feel as if they fit in and had a seat at the table.

My dad’s been gone for nearly twenty years, but his lessons of human relationships are burned deep into my soul. Daddy met people so well. It was a matter of his enjoying people.

I think about this quote I saw on a sign in an African refugee camp: “If you like people, people will like you.”

That quote has stayed with me from the day I saw it scrawled on a sign in northern Uganda. Whoever wrote the quote already knew about charisma. He probably couldn’t have defined it, but already understood charisma: If you like people . . .

My dad liked people, and in return people liked him.

Charisma has nothing to do with one’s social standing. Like its close cousin, class, it is available to one and all. I once read a British essay on class that mentioned how the most blue-blooded aristocrat may lack class, while an uneducated Welsh miner can exude class from his pores.

Charisma, or the ability to make others feel comfortable, is not related to shyness or a quiet personality. The quietest person can easily spread a smile and a word of kindness.

I mentioned that my parents had charismatic qualities in how they related to people. My mom, at age 86, still is adept at making folks feel important. I recently spent a week with her in Branson, Missouri. Despite her health problems and challenges of getting around, she met people with a smile and a word of encouragement.

I especially noticed it in her interaction with service people. It tells a great deal about a person as to how they treat people who provide service. Whether it was a ticker taker, a waiter, or a clerk in a store, Mom made eye contact with them, shared a smile, and had a word of encouragement for all.

Once again, if you like people, they will like you.

In the business world, there’s a term called the waiter’s rule. Here’s how it goes: when an organization is interviewing a prospective employee, they will pay particular attention to how this potential hire reacts to the people who serve them. How we treat the unnamed people around us says a great deal about ourselves.

I once read about a similar test from a medical school. Part of the future doctor’s grading was how they related to the staff. Not only should the student know the names of the medical staff who worked around him, but also the names of the custodial staff and cleaners they encountered daily.


To sum up this essay on charisma, it is a trait that is available to one and all. Like exercising a muscle, charisma becomes stronger when it’s practiced. Don’t let this oft-misunderstood word scare you away; it’s a matter of liking people, making them feel important, and doing the “hard work of fitting in.”

A mask cannot hide charisma, and it can easily be recognized from a distance of six feet . . . or more.

Let’s all practice a little bit of it today.








L.T.W.B.T.U.F.I. Leave this world . . .

Leaving this World Better . . . 


Leave this world better than you found it!

It’s a good motto to live by.
Whatever we touch. Wherever we go, we ought to leave it better.

I’ve always loved camping and hiking. Part of the joy is in setting up camp along a bubbling mountainside creek or under the tall pines of the forest.

In breaking camp, I always like to inspect the place and think of how no one will ever know a human has stayed here after the next rain.

Many times at popular campsites, you’ll find trash in the fire pit or other signs of thoughtless humans who’ve passed. Often I’ll load up their trash and carry it out.

It’s just a matter of respect.
A matter of stewardship.
Leaving this world better than we got it.

Less is More

Less is More


“Too Many Pockets”


When we moved to Africa in 2013, the first thing I bought was a safari jacket/vest. This is an olive sleeveless vest loaded with multiple pockets.

My safari jacket had sixteen pockets with both zippered and flap types. Most of the pockets were on the outside of the jacket, while others lined the inside. I was so proud of this purchase as it would allow me to carry all of my essentials: keys, cell phone, journals, maps, pens, pencils, and highlighters.

I assigned each object to a specific pocket and had a plan to locate each item quickly as needed.

As I headed out into the bush visiting refugee camps and tribal groups, I was a prepared and happy man.

Except I quickly discovered that I had a problem: I had too many pockets.  In spite of my good intentions to have “a place for everything and everything in its place”, I would search six pockets before I found my ringing cell phone.

This wasn’t the fault of the safari jacket. It was my inability to keep everything in its place, and then remember what pocket which item belonged. No matter how I tried to organize, I just had too many pockets.

Over time, I used my safari jacket less and less. Instead of being a help, my vest became a burden and a source of frustration.  I finally gave it away to an African friend. I hope he had better luck with it than I did.

My problem was simply this: I had too many pockets to keep up with. I found I could do just as well with the four pockets of my jeans and a backpack as the multiple pockets of my safari vest.

My years in Africa taught me this lesson: Less is more. In our Western Civilization, we attempt to hoard and gather more. Our lives feature too many things to keep and too many pockets to put them in.

I’m amazed at how we Americans clutter our homes with material things and still need storage units to store the excess we have. I compare this to the simple homes that my African friends had. In spite of their meager material possessions, I’m not sure that they didn’t have more contentment in their homes.

Less is truly more.

Let me confess, I still miss my safari jacket. I’ve even thought of getting another one, but I’ll resist the temptation because it wouldn’t work any better on this Continent than it did in Africa.

Here are a few thoughts I’m working on to de-clutter my pockets:

  1. When I’m handling paper or mail, what do I really need to keep? So often, I’ve had stacks of needless paperwork piled up on my desk. I’m trying to follow the rule of handling it once.
  2. What do I have in material possessions that I’ll never use again? This can be anything from clothing to small appliances. Be brave and have a garage sale. You’ll feel better about life and yourself as you simplify. If you can’t bring yourself to a sale, bag it up and take it to Goodwill. You won’t miss it.
  3. Don’t let the clutter of things keep you from the most important relationships in life. I’ve known friends whose houses were so hoarded that they couldn’t entertain friends or family. Less is always more. Take a room at a time and begin the freeing work of de-cluttering and de-hoarding.


I’m always wanting to learn. I’d love to hear your ideas on the “less is more” way of living.




Curt Iles

Thoughts on Kindness Part 3

Kindness shows forth like sunlight. It’s hard to miss.


Kindness makes a man attractive.    Proverbs 19:22  (The Living Bible)

Kindness is a language anyone can understand.


The opposite of kindness is rudeness.

There is no room for rudeness if your heart is full of kindness.

A tenet of good Southern Hospitality is to speak and act with kindness.

“If you can  be anything, be kind.” -Anonymous


Thoughts on Kindness


It’s something the blind can see and the deaf can hear.  It’s called kindness.

It’s one of the best words in the English language.

Kindness is a good word to contemplate today.

“Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.”       -Albert Schweitzer

One of my favorite speakers (and people) Bill Thorn told this story:   “I received a speaking invitation from a church in Amarillo, Texas.  The request was from “Bykota Baptist Church.” Knowing about most of the Baptist churches in that city, Thorn inquired more about it and its unique name.

Dr. Thorn continued, “I wondered if there was a Bykota Street in Amarillo,  so I called the church.  I found out that Bykota stands for “Be Ye Kind One to Another.”*

Dr. Thorn winked as he related this,  “I told them I’d be glad to come to speak.  I wanted to be part of any church that advertised itself with kindness.”

*”Be ye kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)


Kindness.  It’s a fine word.

It’s a Jesus-kind of word.

It’s a word I want to use in vocabulary and show in my life.





There is no greater legacy than honesty



 “No legacy is as rich as honesty.” –

Quote beside my maternal grandfather, Sid Plott’s photograph in “The Gusher”, Byrd High (Shreveport) School, Class of 1926

Honesty, like lying, is a habit. Develop the fundamental habit of being a truth-teller in every situation.

When is the truth a lie? We talk about “little white lies” and half-truths. Is there such a thing? Here is one of my favorite stories. You decide for yourself if the parties involved told the truth or a lie:

American catfish farmers of the South are having a hard time economically. As is true in so many other fields, foreign products are selling much cheaper and undermining the American market.

About five years ago, this problem came home to catfish farming. A large influx of imported catfish hit the market and this glut depressed domestic catfish sales.

The “new catfish” was packaged and labeled “Delta raised catfish.” To any catfish connoisseur, which every Southerner considers himself, Delta catfish means raised on farms in the Mississippi Delta region of Louisiana/Mississippi.

Research and reading the fine print on this new Delta catfish revealed that it was truly Delta-raised. it came straight from the Mekong Delta of Vietnam!

Secondly, it is not the same type of catfish we are used to eating. It is a species called basa, a very distant cousin of our catfish.

About this same time, I traveled to Vietnam and rode in boats along the Mekong River. It is an amazing river, alive with river traffic of every size and shape. The Mekong catfish farmers live on the river in small houseboats. They have floating wooden cages where they deposit small basa fish they’d caught in nets. As they feed them, the “catfish” grow and soon become marketable… and exportable; much of it to the U.S.

And it ends up in the Southern U.S. labeled as “Delta catfish.”
Once again, “truth in labeling” can mean many things!
It is a reminder to me, as a follower of Jesus, that I am to speak the truth in all things. Not some of the truth, but the total truth. As the oath administered in court states, “To tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

So, I have a new definition let’s call it “Catfish Lies”: It seems the truth, but it’s not.

All Around the South Traffic Circle.



The South Traffic Circle


“The reason that North and South Louisiana are so different and disconnected is that you can’t get from one to the other because of the Traffic Circle in Alexandria.”

-Oft-repeated story prior to Interstate 49.


I’ve never heard anyone say anything good about the South Traffic Circle in Alexandria, Louisiana. It’s a huge oval monstrosity that stretches for nearly a mile. There are four highways leading onto/off the Circle.

What makes it such an obstacle is there are two lanes going in the same direction, and if you’re not in the correct lane, you will “circle the Circle” repeatedly as other drivers peel off and others zoom into any open space.

Conversely, if a traveler takes the wrong exit and stops for directions, they are invariably told, “Well, you go back to the Circle and …”

The correct name for a traffic circle is a roundabout. There are several smaller roundabouts in Alexandria that seem to work fine.

I learned a great deal about roundabouts while living in Africa. You’ve never driven until you weave through a clogged roundabout in Kampala, Uganda. You’re driving on the wrong side of the road, and it quickly becomes clear that there are no rules on yielding. It’s every man for himself. (African roundabouts are a story for another day).

Sometimes when DeDe and I eat out in Alexandria, just for fun I’ll go around the Circle for several loops. I’ll say that the extra mileage makes it feel like a real date. (We live within a mile of Logan’s, Outback, and Johnny Carino’s).

At one time, there were two traffic circles in Alexandria. The North Circle was a much smaller circle but equally hated by drivers. It was replaced by spaghetti-shaped overpasses and ramps on I-49.

However, the South Circle lives on in infamy and confusion. It’s the site of collisions on a weekly, if not daily, basis. It’s very common to see police lights and two drivers outside their dented vehicles on the shoulder of the Circle. I’ve read accounts that traffic circles/roundabouts prevent wrecks, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a true believer in Alex (as Alexandria is called by the locals).

It’s no coincidence that a local personal injury lawyer built a three-story office on the Circle. The story is that he has a commanding view of the chaos on the Circle. Word is that he’s thinking of installing a drive-thru alongside his building.

The inside “island” portion of the South Circle is also a source of mystery. It’s a swampy area full of palmetto and standing water. Being a curious soul, I once waded through the island to see what was inside.

I carefully chose cold weather to avoid snakes and possible gator encounters. The water was about knee-deep and the swamp was murky and forbidding as I climbed over fallen trees and swished aside the thick palmetto.  It was near dark (I had a flashlight) and deep within the circle, the lights of the city and traffic were obscured. It seemed more like being in the Atchafalaya Swamp instead of amid the busiest party of a city.

In one small open area of the swamp, I jumped up two wood ducks. I wondered if it was legal to shoot ducks in the city limits. I doubt it and don’t plan to try.

With dark falling, I waded out of the Circle swamp, returning to civilization. As I walked around the circle back to my truck, I was reminded of the oddity that the South Traffic Circle is in both legend and notoriety.

From time to time, The Town Talk does an article about plans to replace the South Traffic Circle with a series of overpasses and ramps. Like most Cenla residents I’ll believe it when I see it.



The Big Rocker

The Big Rocker at Dry Creek

The Rocker


“Do you think now that rocker is worth $1500?”

 “No, it’s worth more like $15,000.”


It was a conversation I’ll always remember.

Framed with a lesson I will not forget.

An earlier conversation ended with a resounding “No.”


My special friend Karan Robinson shoved a photo into my hand.

“Don’t you think that’d look good on the front porch of the Tabernacle?”

The photo was of a huge rocking chair that held about six children.

I smiled.  There’s not much I wouldn’t do for Karan, the mother of Brad Robinson and at that time a trustee of Dry Creek Baptist Camp.

We’d just finished another stage in the Tabernacle renovation at Dry Creek.  The new front porch was filled with six wooden rockers and several “baby bear” matching rockers.


Karan continued her sales pitch.  “There’s a man in Arkansas that makes these giant chairs.”


I asked the typical manager’s question.  “How much is it?”

“Fifteen hundred.”

I grimaced.  “Karan, I just don’t believe that’d be the best use of camp funds.”

“It’d sure look good on the porch.”

“Yes it would, but the answer, for now, is no.”


A month later Karan drove up with a huge rocker on a trailer. Our summer staffers helped unload it.

“Our church youth raised the money for the chair.”  She pointed to the top of the rocker where it was engraved,  “Dry Creek Baptist Camp.”

The staffers manhandled it into place on the Tabernacle front porch.  Our first act was to make doorstops to place under the rockers so they wouldn’t move.  It was heavy enough to pinch a toe off.


Two months later, Karan was at our G.A. Girls Camp.  Two dozen squealing preteen girls were crowded onto the rocker as a counselor snapped their photo.

She eased up to me and in the same grin her son Brad was famous for, and said,  “Do you think now that rocker is worth $1500?”

“No, it’s worth more like $15,000. In fact, it’s above pricing.”


The rocker, or as it is best known,  “God’s Rocking Chair” is an integral part of Dry Creek Camp.  It’s probably the strongest symbol of what marketers call “Branding.”


It’s what many people visualize when they think of Dry Creek.

In the years since it arrived, I’ve helped my grandchildren up into the chair as well as several octogenarians.


It’s a lesson that some things are priceless.

Some expenses are not a true expense but an investment.


Thanks, Karan for a good lesson on the economics of the heart.



An article from my friend Tina Martin

At the Creekbank, we’re interested in encouraging other writers and small businesses.


This is an article written by my friend, Tina Martin.


Tina can be reached at


Enjoy this article. I hope it reminds you that your “homestead” can produce products that help and encourage others.

It may be a self-published book, a Christmas tree farm like Grant Tree Farm, or The Tomato Lady in DeRidder, your imagination is the limit.


Go for your dream.





How to Build a Profitable Business Out of Your Homestead


No matter what products you get out of your homestead — be it jams, eggs, meat, ​herbal medicine, and so on — you can earn some extra cash by starting a business out of them. The chance to live self-sufficiently on a homestead is an opportunity to scale and make some money by specialty selling goods. This article discusses a few basic steps to take when starting a homestead business and how to make it profitable.

Get Started


It’s relatively simple to get started. The first thing to do is to create a business plan. Create a brand, make a list of your products, and develop your business mission — this is where you get to determine what your ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ are for launching this profitable startup.


Setting up your business should not be difficult as there are numerous resources online to browse. It’s important to create and establish a personal brand so people can relate to it and trust your and your offerings better. You’ll also want to do research on your competitors and determine your role in the market.


Knowing your market is one of the most important aspects of entering into this business — or any business, for that matter. For example, if you are selling fruits, vegetables, or greens, you will likely have to compete with grocery stores that are more convenient and usually less expensive. Be sure to have something that sets you apart — give a detailed account of your product, how it will benefit customers, and what advantages you have over your competition, such as personalized service or more sustainable practices.


Your business plan should also include your business structure. Most small businesses can benefit from an LLC model as it offers several advantages and is cheaper to establish by yourself or through a formation service. In a nutshell, the LLC structure secures your assets as well as guarantees tax benefits. Regulations differ by state, though, so do your research or use a service like

Lead Your Homestead Business to Success


When people go into business, whether or not they make it depends on the marketing strategies they implement. First, you need to decide how you are going to promote your brand. Will you create a social media account? Develop an online shop? Pay for professional billboards around the town? There are countless ways to market your company these days — you just need to see which are the most realistic for your budget and your area and what works best for your offerings.


Also, you need to understand the logistics of running an enterprise, time management methods, and staying organized for the business to operate smoothly. Decide if you need to hire someone to help you or which tasks to outsource so you can save time and energy. For instance, you can invest in software to handle your business’ accounting and financial tasks and automation tools like a social media tracker or an efficient email newsletter platform.


Most importantly, you’ll also want to make sure that your customer service is top-notch. Communication is crucial for brands and can make or break your business. Ensure your message is loud and clear and your business and products meet customers’ needs. your customers’ data safely.


It’s exciting to consider the possibilities when you take your successful homestead activity to the next level. Still, carefully consider these important factors before turning your hobby into a profitable business. With a well-planned approach to establishing your brand, thorough marketing, and different tools and resources to help you run it, you can start your dream business while enjoying a hobby.

A visit to see King Mockingbird

King Mockingbird


Author’s note: this story is from my first book, Stories from the Creekbank. It concerns a mockingbird and a place I love called Dry Creek Baptist Camp.


This week is Girls Camp at Dry Creek. The photo below shows four of my granddaughters, my two sisters, my daughter-in-law, a great-niece, and their friends at camp. I am so excited to see another generation experiencing the joys of camp at Dry Creek.

Iles crew at Dry Creek


They are sitting near where I wrote this story in 1999. Enjoy!


King Mockingbird


Each day he sits up there—on the highest limb on the tallest oak in the campgrounds. I call him “King Mockingbird.” The area around the Tabernacle belongs to him. He is the biggest and loudest mockingbird around. It is easy to recognize him high up in the oak tree. His beautiful, loud singing soars above all the other noises of camp life.


Other mockingbirds dare not fly into his tree knowing a good pecking awaits any intruder. Resident cats and camp dogs steer clear of his territory knowing from experience how fierce he is. Even as I walk under his tree I go with all due respect, knowing the inviting target a bald camp manager makes for a territory-loving mockingbird.


And can he sing! There’s nothing prettier than the song of a mockingbird on a clear morning. As I hear him cheerfully chirp, I’m reminded that things may be bad in many parts of the world, but in his area, all is in order.


As I think of King Mockingbird, I’m reminded of the great God who oversees Dry Creek Baptist Camp. He has blessed this ministry beyond any words that we have to describe.

In addition to creating the beautiful song of this bird, He is continually working in the lives of people who visit this place called Dry Creek.


When you visit Dry Creek, be sure to stop and listen to King Mockingbird. And be sure to remember, and worship, our great God who created him.



P.S. The original mockingbird of my story is long gone. However, I bet that one of his descendants is singing happily today as hundreds of girls pass beneath his tree.


Dry Creek Camp Tabernacle
The Dry Creek Tabernacle. King Mockingbird rules from the tree on the left.

Short Stories from Curt

The Old House by Bill Iles
Ink sketch of “The Old House” by Bill Iles.

I’m working on a book of short stories. So far, I haven’t found a publisher.

There’s no use keeping these stories to myself.  Enjoy! Pass them on. I’ll be posting a new story (at every few days. I’ll use my Curt Iles Facebook page to announce new posts.


I’m always open to suggestions, feedback, and constructive criticism.



Curt Iles








Chapter 1: On a Solid Foundation

The burly Rapides Parish Deputy stood ahead of me in line at Albertson’s. I’m Southern friendly and couldn’t help myself. “Sir, I’m writing a book for my grandsons as well as young men who don’t have a role model. I’m sure you’ve worked with young men all of your life.” I held up one finger. “What one thing would you tell a young man?”

The deputy was a large man in his early fifties. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d been an Army drill sergeant in his younger years.  He stared intently at me. I nearly expected him to say, “Give me fifty.”

Instead, he said,  “I’d tell them they need to know Jesus. If they really know and follow Jesus in their hearts, it’ll take care of everything else.”

I thanked him as he hefted two grocery bags and strode out the store.

One thought filled my heart as I watched the deputy exit.

There walks a man with a solid foundation.


The Pineywoods Manifesto is full of lots of practical advice about living a productive and successful life, but following all of these maxims your life can still come crashing down if you don’t have a solid foundation.


It’s not meant to be a preachy book, but more of a conversation between me, the writer, and you. I’ll strive to as honest and transparent as possible. However, I’d be deficit in my duty if I didn’t avow that my solid foundation is not of things of this world.


Here’s a story that illustrates about the right foundation.


During the infamous 1989 World Series Bay Area Earthquake, a particular area of San Francisco suffered a higher proportion of collapsed buildings and fatalities.  The investigation revealed that this certain area had been built on sand pumped from the Bay.  Most of the city is built on bedrock and can withstand strong tremors. Sadly, many people died that day because their homes were built on sand, not bedrock.


A strong foundation is essential to anything.

That same Jesus the deputy referred to, once said, in his most famous sermon.

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

I have a Life Song* that serves as my foundation during life’s storms. Although the author is anonymous, the song, “How Firm a Foundation” has comforted people for centuries.


How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,

Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!

What more can He say than to you He hath said—

To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?


The second verse is my favorite.

“Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed,

For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;

I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,

Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.


As a depression survivor, I’ve been pulled under the deep waters of my disease, so I take solace in the third verse:

“When through the deep waters I call thee to go,

The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;

For I will be with thee thy trouble to bless,

And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.


Once again, that promise to be with me in spite of where I’m at.

“When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,

My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply;

The flame shall not harm thee;

I only design Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.


I’ve been in those fires, but never alone.


I especially love the penultimate final verse that I call the double-double-triple negative promise:

“The soul that on Jesus doth lean for repose,

I will not, I will not, desert to his foes;

That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,

I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”


Take the wisdom of this book and use it in your life. I’m simply passing it on from others.

But by all means, build on the solid foundation.

That foundation is named Jesus.