The Delicious Tomato Pie

tomatopieEven though I adore tomato sandwiches, it is the tomato pie (also called a savory pie) that truly captures my heart. Filled with fresh tomatoes, onions, pepperoni, sausage, bacon, and anything else I take a notion to toss in, this concoction truly is a one dish wonder that satisfies the most famished farmer. Years ago my dear friend, Jim Bell, shared his recipe which I tweak depending on what is in my refrigerator and in season.

The recipe follows. Feel free to adjust adding or omitting ingredients to suit your tastes.

The Ingredients:

One Prepared Pie Crust (I use one from the refrigerator section that you unroll and bake, but often I create a gluten-free one using rice in the following manner:.

2 cups cooked rice. Press into pie crust and sprinkle with cheese ½ to 1 cup of shredded cheese Bake 5 minutes so the cheese melts.

Spray edges of rice with cooking spray such as Pam

The filling:

3-4 large tomatoes sliced (I place mine on a kitchen towel to absorb extra juice)

1 medium onion, chopped

1 small bell pepper, chopped

3 tablespoons of Dukes Mayo

6 to 8 oz of your choice of shredded cheese

6 to 8 slices of cooked and crumbled bacon

Pepperoni (enough to add one layer to pie) or; cooked sausage (or any meat of your choosing)

1 teaspoon oregano

½ teaspoon chopped garlic (sprinkle through pie when adding spices)

½ teaspoon salt and pepper


Heat oven to 350 Degrees

If using breaded crust: To prevent a soggy crust, bake pie crust for 3 to 4 minutes before adding filling. You do not want the crust to be dark brown, but lightly baked.

If using rice crust it will soak up most of the extra liquid produced during the baking process.

Add to crust:

Crumbled Bacon

One layer of sliced tomatoes, a layer of onions, a layer of peppers.

Dot entire pie with Duke’s Mayo.

Add more crumbled meat

Add seasoning

Add another layer of tomatoes

Sprinkle with cheese

Bake in over for 20 to 30 minutes until pie begins to bubble. Remove. Let pie rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Thank you for reading. Please consider subscribing to my blog post.

Renea Winchester is the awarding author of Farming, Friends & Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Find more recipes like this one in Renea’s book, Farming, Friends & Fried Bologna Sandwiches. You can order an autographed copy from her. She accepts Paypal. Email her at reneawrites(at)gmail(dot)com

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Posted by on October 23, 2018 in Uncategorized


Dear Horse Lovers . . .

Dear Horse Lovers . . .

Dear Horse Lovers

Stop feeding other people’s horses.

You do not have permission to pass a single slice of apple through the fence.

Not a carrot, or a sugar cube.

You do not know the dietary requirements, or RESTRICTIONS, the horse is under.

You do not know anything about the animal other than its beauty.

Your apple

Your carrot

Your slice of bread, or cracker, or whatever the hades you slide through the fence can make the horse very ill; it can ruin their hooves; it can cause bones to push through their hooves, is can kill the horse (only after much suffering)

You, yes YOU, are responsible for making the horse ill.

You are responsible for crippling the animal.

You are responsible for its excruciating pain.

Your IGNORANCE comes with consequence to something beautiful and magestic.

Your ignorance inflicts long-lasting pain and months of healing.

Yes, ONE apple can do it.


Just stop thinking it is your responsibility to give a horse a “treat.”

Do not give my goats, sheep, cattle, camels, or basically any animal that is not yours, a treat. Animals that are not yours are OFF- limits. Goats don’t eat “everything you feed them.” Many animals can die from dehydration within hours of eating something that disagrees with them.

Yesterday someone fed our horse something that made him very ill. Dad found him “down” a term that strikes fear in the hearts of VETERAN horse owners.

If you think it’s hard to carry a 50 pound dog to the vet. Imagine the difficulty of getting a 1200 pound animal back on his feet.

Now imagine rubbing this horse’s belly while he kicks and lays his head on your Dad’s shoulder because he is in horrible pain.

Imagine forcing fluids down him with a hose.

But you don’t imagine it, because you saw something beautiful and you wanted to feed it.

Because you’re a good person and you love horses.

Because you think it is your privilege to feed my animal.

You can’t imagine the consequences of your actions because you saw a kind and gentle animal and you just had to give it a treat. He let you pet him and then you rode home feeling great about yourself.

Food equals love, right.


We purchased Prince from an owner who had far too many horses on the pasture. They were down to eating creeping Charlie because there was no grass.

We brought Prince home and put him on the pasture.

For an hour every day he could eat grass. Because we knew if he ate too much too fast he would be sick.

Then we increased the pasture time, slowly, very slowly.

Because we KNEW you can colic, founder, and cripple an animal when you take them from nothing, to belly-high-grass.

One year later, Prince is perfect. He is slick and glorious.

Until yesterday, when he was in agony. Thanks to the ignorance of a family with children.

Parents who taught their children it’s ok to feed someone else’s animal.

If you’ve ever allowed your children to feed someone’s animal, here are the results of your actions.

This morning Prince is better, but if you care anything about horses, please do your part to prevent the senseless agony inflicted upon them when ignorant horse lovers feel it is their duty to give your animal a treat.

Please share so that no other horse suffers.20180519_184722[1].jpg


The Boy

He sits alone, always alone, with his head down.


If the other students weren’t so loud you could hear pencil lead scratching the paper.

Lined paper.

Not blank paper, or a sketchbook. Regular, loose leaf notebook paper.

He hides away and bides his time between classes- two hours from what I can gather- sketching away, recreating characters using the Japanese style anime (a hand-drawn style partnered with computer animation).

He’s invisible. To most everyone, but me.


Upperclassmen surround him, swiping their parent’s credit cards into the machine and waiting for their soft drink to dispense. Their backpacks brush against him. Still, he is invisible. He shifts the paper away and works on something else.

Images of them.

I believe youth like The Boy test us. They see us, every day. They know our names. They look at us while we look through them. They dare us to speak, administering a test that many fail. Every. Single. Day. We fail because society groups us into categories based on skin color, education, social status, eye color, age. And those categories have little room for the recruitment of anyone outside the approved social standing. Those categories offer even less hope for a boy who doesn’t play football in a football town, or a girl who doesn’t cheer for the football team.

The boy is skinny with a cleft chin that will complete his chiseled look five years from now. Five years from now girls will fight over him, but he wouldn’t believe that if I told him, so I kept those thoughts to myself, along with the hope that ten years from now he will be confident, and not feel alone.

I approach boldly, “anime?” I ask.

He nods, his hand moving furiously transferring whatever is built up inside onto the page.

“That’s very good,” I said. “Are you taking art classes?”

“Can’t,” he said with more vertical scratches across the page. “I’m only fifteen. Can’t take college level when you’re fifteen.”

“Who made that stupid rule?” I asked. “Anyone can take one look at your work and see how good you are. You should take college-level classes.”

He quickly hid the smile. Not once meeting my eyes.

After telling him my name I said, “Look. You don’t know me, but I recognize talent when I see it. I’m not an artist like you. But I would give anything to be able to draw like you do, or paint, or play music. Words are my art, but your work . .  .well, I just want you to know that your work is awesome, and if someone isn’t encouraging you, I want you to know that no one encourages me either, but you must keep drawing.”

The words spilled from my lips and I’m sure he thought, I wish this woman would shut up so I can focus on my work. But I’d had a bad week, the kind of week where everything punched me in the gut and despite my positive thoughts, prayer, and power walks I still felt punched square in the muffin-top. Usually when I feel lower than a whale’s belly God places someone in my path.

Someone just like The Boy.

“So if you feel like no one encourages you, if you feel hopeless I just want to say, you’re not alone. I feel the same way, but I keep pressing on.”

The boy tucked his cleft chin. More pencil scrapes, then he reached into a stack of paper and fished out a drawing. I was a dark rendering of the character Eren Jaeger, known as Titan to those thirty years younger than me.

It was the kind of rendering that would cause students to panic, Titan holding a gun. But they didn’t know The Boy. How could they? They don’t see him! They don’t know about anime, or how it transforms an ordinary Eren Jaeger into someone who faces his fears and becomes someone with superpower. Older students had spent an entire semester ignoring him, talking through him and around him day after day with their backpacks bumping against him. As a group they happily ignored him while The Boy sat silent, three buildings away from students his own age.

Picking up the rendering of Titan I said, “Flawless. Absolutely Flawless.”

The Boy, who had spoken a total of eleven words, smiled.

Returning to my desk and the rest of the workday, I quickly forgot about The Boy, until he appeared at my door and presented me with an image he’d drawn for me. In the image Titan was jumping, hand extended punching through a large wall. At the corner of the page, the inscription: “To my inspirer. I will remember this day.”

I pressed the drawing to my heart and wept.

I shall remember, always.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches.


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White Girl

If you asked me to assign a shade to the color of my skin I’d say – with emphasis – “chalk.” In a room of white women, I will be the whitest. And on Friday, April 20, 2018, I’m sure my chalky self caused a few eyebrows to raise. But God doesn’t see my color, or theirs, or yours for that matter. God sees the heart.

When I first read La’Kesha Calhoun’s on-line newsletter in 2000 I knew God had anointed this woman.white

She’d “gone through” more than a few things in her life, the kind of things that break the heart of a woman, but also plants the seed of compassion so deep in a woman’s soul the devil himself can’t uproot it, though he tries.

One particular newsletter stayed with me for years. She encouraged her readers “don’t give up on your children. God is about to show up in the situation.” And friends, I printed that newsletter and have it (still) tucked in my Bible because every now and then I need reminding that “the devil has plans for your children, but God . . . “

God has other plans.

This paper is dappled with tearstains. It’s crumpled. It’s what I held onto when my son was going through a rough patch and it’s what I cling to now with the other adult-child.

So when I learned Miss La’Kesha would be at the Titus 2 retreat in Pigeon Forge I messaged Lady Chiquita Turner and all but BEGGED the woman to let me come.

Now before I try to describe the indescribable things that happened to me, y’all need to know my church history. I’ve spent the last seventeen years in a church I adore. I adore it because we welcome everyone. I sit beside Miss Mary because when the spirit fills her she can’t contain it, nor did she try to contain it.

Miss Mary don’t put on a show, she puts on JESUS !

When Lady Turner said I could come I told everyone I knew, “I’m going to Pigeon Forge to get my Jesus.”

Because Jesus loves white girls with chalky legs and God himself knew way back in 2000 that I’d meet La’Kesha on April 20, 2018. I like to think of Him smiling up in heaven with the saints saying, “y’all gather around and watch this. I’ve just plunked Renea into a big ole room of strangers. It’s about to get real!”

La’Kesha and I both wiped away tears as we hugged at our first meeting. Settling into her conference (and I can’t tell you everything that happened because it is HER story to tell), I began to realize how much I’d been holding inside: pain, regret, anger, fear. I’d pushed that down, deep down to the basement level of my heart.

But God . . .

That sly Father-God had other plans. He wanted everyone in attendance to release all of that junk. Release it and be free. Whew, I wish y’all had been with me. I’m telling you right now we have no idea how much junk we’re carrying. During one part of the workshop we were asked to write down the things we were going to release and those who finished writing earlier than others, were instructed to walk around the room and “pray for our sisters.”

Now God had already blessed me just by allowing me to get into the conference, but He was about to bring me to my knees. If you don’t know Jesus this sounds crazy, so bear with me for the rest of this post.

Shontell approached and said, “God has given me a word and I need to pray it over you.”

Let me pause right there because someone just said, here we go.

Someone just closed their mind because they don’t believe that God can use other people.

Someone just stopped reading because they don’t believe that God can speak through Shontell, or me, or you for that matter.

Someone just missed the blessing God designed specifically for them.

But, if God can’t speak to me through a stranger, who in the world is He going to use? C’mon now, open your heart. How is it that you accept everything else the world spoon feeds you, but right now you’re building a wall around your heart?

We beg God for a sign; we pray to hear from Him. But we . . . .

We put God in a box and duct tape the entire box shut ! We expect God to show up when we want. We expect God to deliver us in the way we want. We get tired of waiting and give up!

But these ladies do not put God in a box. Not Shontell, not Lady Turner, not La’Kesha, not Big Mama, not even the young ladies in attendance. My friends, God was out in the open determined to bless every single woman in that room. As a matter of fact, I think people up on the 5th floor got blessed too, but I digress.

And why was God blessing people? Because these ladies came expecting to meet God where they were!

For those who have given up on church, or walked away from God (or both), let me explain that I actively ask God Are my actions in-line with your will? Today, many people have walked away because they aren’t being “entertained,” or they don’t like the view of the church, or the politics of the church, or the music, or the robes, or the preacher, or the message. Hear me clear, if you’ve walked away from God you have fallen victim to satan’s plan! He wanted you away from believers and you played right into his hands.

Now back to Shontell. . .

Remember, I don’t know any of these women. I am not Facebook friends with them, I’m not messaging them. I didn’t get introduced to them prior to the conference, or before La’Kesha started the workshop. None of these women have read my books. They live in another state, but Shontell came to me and said, “God has given me a word and I need to pray it over you.”

Then she pulled me to her. She pressed her heart flat against mine. She placed her hands on my shoulders and she said, “That pain you’ve had in your shoulders. God’s gonna take that pain . . . today.”

Shontell had no way of knowing that every morning pain woke me at three am and I began icing my shoulders. The place she touched, that’s where the pain originated. Then I’d put the heating pad on it, then the ice repeating this process until 6 am where I’d run a bath, drop a couple handfuls of Epson salt in the water and soak until the muscles relaxed enough so I could turn my head.

Shontell didn’t know. . . BUT GOD KNEW!

Shontell only knew to be OBEDIENT to what God had laid on her heart.

I’m tearing up right now. Praise you Jesus for showing up. Praise God for Shontell’s obedience, for actively seeking God’s will in her life.

Then Shontell ran her hands down my back and said, “your back that’s been all out of alignment. God’s going to heal that. God says it’s healed. God knows you’ve been tired. You’ve been so tired you don’t think you can go on; you don’t think you’ll make it through the day. You think you can’t do it anymore. But do you want to know what God says? God says you’re going to run. Renea, you’re going to RUN and not even be tired.”

Hang on readers, I’m crying again.

Had I been a close-minded Christian I would have straightened my spine, I would be exactly what The Bible calls “a stiff-necked people.” I would have backed away . . . slowly and headed for the door.

Instead, I fell into Shontell. I said, “I receive this healing!” I said, “Thank You Jesus! Praise You! Thank you for this precious child of yours who is acting in obedience.”

I clung to this stranger. I pressed myself into her, because God was using her! I received God’s goodness because I have PRAYED FOR IT. So if I prayed for healing. If I prayed for Jesus to meet me at this conference, how dare I try to manipulate the way God delivered Him to me?

Are you with me? Do you understand what I’m saying?

This is where we miss our blessing. This is why our prayers remain unanswered. Because we want God to appear (today if possible), and we want God to deliver (us exactly in the way we want, please). We hurl God in a box then we close our minds. We are afraid to let the spirit work. We don’t want to be the only white girl in a room full of strangers. We want to be safe in our small group, in our Sunday school class, in our prayer closets.

But The Bible says in Mark 8:23 Jesus took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of town. Jesus took the man out of his comfort zone, away from friends, away from family. Jesus took him out of town to heal him! The scripture does not say, Jesus carried the man, or Jesus, drug the man out of town. The blind man was willing to be healed !

Where is Jesus trying to take you today in order to be healed? My friends, let the spirit lead you out of your comfort zone to a place of healing.


If you want La’Kesha to add you to her newsletter, email her at  I highly recommend her 

book, Breakfast with the Lord which you can order directly through her via the same email address.Renea Winchester is the author of Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches. She writes a weekly garden article, Notes from Butterfly Cove, available at The Sylva Herald.






He circled my table twice before approaching. He is a veteran vendor of the local farmer’s market, I a rookie, at least at selling.

I agreed to participate in the market because I wanted to get a feel of what customers want. Knowing better than to cause friction with the veterans, I left Dad’s eggs at home. Besides, I have established customers for Dad’s eggs with a waiting list of people wanting more. I only brought seedlings, Elderberry, and other medicinal plants I’d grown with my own two hands.

“You plan on coming back next week?” he asked.

“No sir. Today only.”

He nodded, almost happy that I wouldn’t be back.

Others had asked me if I was returning to the market, if I had plans on becoming a regular. I can’t determine why my plans mattered, especially since the items I offered did not compete with theirs.  I spend most Saturdays tending my garden or working at Dad’s. Weeding and working negates any need to make a profit on Saturday. Dad and I have a growing list of local customers who trust us to deliver tasty vegetables and organic eggs.

The morning passed quickly. I sold several items, but nothing to customers my age. It appears folk my age no longer touch the dirt. The seedlings found homes with customers in their mid-twenties whose excitement gave me hope. Packing my remaining items, I visited the man’s table where he boxed up a variety of herbs and spices.

“Are you growing lavender?” I asked excited to learn his secret. “I’ve been trying to coax some seeds to germinate, but I’m struggling.

“I don’t have dirt. I have soil.”

Puzzled, I asked how many acres he farmed.


“Beg your pardon?”

“Buy all my lavender in 40 pound bags,” he boasted. “Buy all of this in bulk and then bag it up. I don’t have a garden. I do all my work in a greenhouse.” The man lifted his chin. “Yes ma’am. I buy a load of hybrid seeds, plant them in the soil . . . even have a made-up name for the tomato variety. I call them Mountain Beauties, or Mountain Jewels.” His Yankee accent bled through. “Around here, people will buy anything they think is tied to the mountains.”

I wanted to punch him square in his turned-up face. This man wasn’t a farmer, he wasn’t even honest! He wasn’t alone. The woman selling holistic remedies, hadn’t grown a single herb. She merely purchased oils from God knows where, grown in God knows what kind of environment. She had no interest in purchasing an Elderberry bush for $ 5.00 because she hadn’t any property.

Law-help !



Friends, I have dirt. Dirt is my friend. I work the dirt. I pull weeds and beat dirt off the roots. Dirt gets in my boots, presses into the fibers of my socks. Dirt is in my hair and under my fingertips. I do not have soil. Soil is ground up trees bagged in plastic used by those intent on taking your money via dishonest methods.

This experience left me wondering, don’t consumers care where their food comes from? Or, do they naively believe the words of any old snake oil salesman?

The push to “buy local,” has created a culture of truck farming. We see a lot of social media posts with #BuyLocal #KnowYourFarmer #AppalachianGrown and #FarmersMarket, but is the produce offered at these stands really local? Take, for example, the roadside produce stand. There are two produce stands within three miles of my house. None of the produce offered for sale is grown locally, nothing offered is organic. Instead, someone drives a pickup truck to the Asheville Farmer’s Market where they purchase cases of produce that are (most often) not grown within one hundred miles of Asheville. They drive boxes on the back of pickup trucks to their stands where they offer items for sale. The same goes for Atlanta and other Farmer’s Markets. A prime example is the tomato. Last week (April 10, 2018) a friend posted, “just got some great tasting tomatoes at [name of local produce stand withheld].”

Friends, there’s no way under the sun ANY Western North Carolina Farm has homegrown tomatoes right now.

Strawberries: yes.

Tomatoes: don’t be ridiculous. Your mama raised you better than that.

It is foolish to place this kind of blind trust in someone whose sole purpose is making money.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t all that excited to help Dad sell his eggs. I’m allergic, so I am unable to tell you for true that his eggs taste better than store bought. Last year we sold beans, loads of beans, and tomatoes. When I tell customers our produce is superior to others I say those words sincerely. We pick only when we have a customer ready to purchase. We don’t spray. We plant every seed, from the seeds we’ve been hoarding for years. We weed. We cultivate. We love our vegetables and we will use them whether we have a single customer or not.

Which brings me back to the question, do people really care where their food comes from?

I know I do.

Renea Winchester is the author of Farming, Friends & Fried Bologna Sandwiches and In the Garden with Billy. She is winner of the Appalachian Heritage Award and writes a weekly gardening column for the Sylva Herald Newspaper. She is proudly represented by Mercer University Press.



Pushing Forward When the Voices Say Give Up

Pushing Forward When the Voices Say Give Up

Friends, let’s be honest. Everyone is going through something. And while what I’m about to share is nothing earth shattering, (it is a tiny thing really), I share it as an example of how swift the evil one acts, how equally swift we are to believe his lies, and how God responds (when we seek Him and then listen for the response).

But first a verse from the book of Mark:

“These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them. Mark 4:15.”

Imagine for a moment sitting alongside the road enjoying a beautiful spring day. A cute little girl comes skipping along scattering flowers and singing a lovely tune. That’s the word: beautiful and pure. Now imagine my rambunctious goats following behind devouring every precious beautiful petal she has scattered while whining baah, at the top of their lungs.

Simple analogy isn’t it?

For some time now, the Lord had been leading me toward converting our little strip of country into a property for heritage bulbs, heritage vegetables and woodland medicinals. I don’t purchase anything genetically modified, not even flowers. The Good Lord has already placed several medicinal plants on the property, and, wanting to be a good caretaker, I’ve spent the better part of two years converting a former horse pasture into a vegetable and flower garden. Using sustainable methods, I’ve hand-pulled weeds, hacked away locust tree roots (mercy they run a long, long way just beneath the surface), and pulled up so many wild onions I smell like the goats.

We’ve named our little place “Butterfly Cove,” because the first year we had so many butterflies their beauty literally took my breath. I spent hours stalking them, following them as they flittered hither and yon. I ignored my friends who laughed as I protected the thistle (loved by the butterflies).  I began writing a weekly garden column titled, “Butterfly Cove Notes,” and basically fill every free moment getting my hands dirty while exposing myself to an abundance of poison ivy. While the rest of the world watches the television and either rages at current events, or cowers in fear, I’ve blissfully worked our little strip of land staying close under the protection of Our Lord.

Ready now to follow His lead, I believe it’s time to introduce others to Butterfly Cove, time to strongly consider selling vegetables to the neighbors and others visiting the tip-top of the mountains where those transplanted in this area can’t grow anything but rocks and rental property.

I’ve prayed and asked God, “Are you sure?” And kept moving forward, planting tomato seeds, drawing this year’s garden plan, and hoarding enough zinnia seeds to plant a full acre. I’ve done according to His plan knowing everything was lining up. The neighbors are ready for tomatoes. I’m ready to see colorful flowers fill the field and – with God leading the way– transform the once brambled area into something of beauty.

Until last night.

Last night the whispers came. You know what I’m talking about . . . the whispers.

Lies that say you can’t, that you’ve wasted your time, your youth, your energy. Whispers that become resounding roars screaming that the very idea you’ve invested in is actually a joke.

Those whispers. We all hear them. The evil one tailor-makes them for us, and we believe them.

We believe them and stop.

We give up.

We see the finish line, but we sense someone breathing down our neck and pull back.

Creative people know this feeling as resistance. Christians know it’s the evil one.

Defeated, last night I asked God, “Are you sure? Because I really am doing a lot of physical work, and I could just stop.”

God was silent. He’s sneaky like that. The more silent He is, the more vocal I am.

This morning, I loaded the trash into the truck, heading to work. Our county has one of those metal portable garages called The Swap Shop where you place unwanted items and people, like me, take a looksee to see if the donated items are of use. Low and behold this morning there were four glass jars. Now y’all already know about my jar obsession. I haven’t met a jar I didn’t like, OR need.

Friends call me saying, “Renea I have these . . . ” and before they finish I say, “I’ll take ‘em.”

Running late, I placed the bag in my truck and hurried to work.

This afternoon, I took the jars out of the bag. Look closely at the design on the jar, a butterfly. In all my jar-hoarding days I’ve never seen glasses with butterflies on them. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure God wants me to ignore the whisperjars1.jpgs and keep walking the path He has laid out before me.

I don’t know what you’re going through, but God knows. Please try to ignore the whispers. Take time to seek God’s will and keep walking the path until He tells you to do something else.

Renea is the award-winning author of In the Garden with Billy, download it here. On rainy days she’s working hard on her novel, Outbound Train, otherwise, she’s in the garden pulling weeds and wild onions. Follow her on Facebook here.


Posted by on March 10, 2018 in A Glimpse into My Life, Uncategorized



An Update on Our Friend Jack

Almost a year has passed since God put “Jack” in my path while my daughter and I volunteered at the Distribution Center after the #GatlinburgFires. If you aren’t familiar with his story please take a moment to read about it here.

For those who prayed, thank you. For those who sent clothes, thank you, and money, thank you.  To the Gillette Motel who allowed Jack to stay, and the readers who paid for him to stay when he had no other place, thank you. Jack and I pour a lot of love into those two little words. Truly, we still weep at your kindness. You helped save him!

It is difficult to write an update while maintaining my vault-like confidentiality. I pride myself on being a person in whom you can place your trust. So I will continue to use the name Jack when referring to our friend to maintain20161225_140136 our level of trust.

Something happens to a person when the fires of hell walk through your rented home, a home shared with other young adults. Yes, Dolly Parton extended money to those whose names were on the lease. Yes, many received financial help. Jack did not. Jack didn’t because he was “chipping in” along with another person to pay rent: three together living in a cabin that didn’t even have a full-size refrigerator. That is the reality of the working poor across this country. A reality of finding someone with good credit who can sign a lease, but can only afford rent payments if two other friends pitch in, sleeping on a couch, on a cot, on the floor. When the fire torched their rented home and scorched the earth, the roommates parted. Two stayed with family, for a time Jack didn’t. Jack worked 30 hours a week, and then 20 hours a week when tourists stopped coming. Jack depended on us.

Young people don’t have credit these days. Their cell phones are in the names of their parents (or paid month-to-month via Walmart gift cards); their cars (if they have one) are in the names of their parents. This, compared to most of us who had a credit card at age eighteen with a five-hundred-dollar limit. It took years for us to establish “good credit.” These days, working for $8.00-10.00 an hour while owning nothing isn’t conducive to establishing good credit, but I digress.

By the end of January 2017, Jack careened toward rock bottom. His family lived miles away. He had always walked to work, and he desperately wanted to stay in Gatlinburg. That didn’t happen. Rock bottom landed him in Georgia, where he received grief, and spiritual, counseling.

God love those Georgia folk.

Jack has spent a year in Georgia. Healing. Getting better. Reading The Word. Getting help. Journaling his Journey and dreaming of a future.

A few weeks ago, he returned to Tennessee, and currently works for UPS while praying they put him on full-time.

He has dreams. Big dreams of working in ministry. No one knows The Word like our Jack. He’s an encourager, a believer, and the ultimate example of how God uses others- regardless of their faith, or belief- to pull someone out of the miry rock-bottom clay. I pray God opens this door for Jack.

He dreams of attending school. He wants to go to Bible College, but like others working through post-traumatic stress, he doesn’t really know how to make that happen. He doesn’t exactly have a load of money with which to fund his dreams. Let us unite in prayer that someone can guide him.

Dear Ones, the young man whom God thrust into our lives . . . well, he’s so grateful. He’s trusting God.




He’s taking his life one day at a time. He appreciates your prayers and I appreciate your trust.


Renea Winchester is the author of a Hardscrabble Christmas and other works of non-fiction. She is currently working on her novel, Outbound Train.



Posted by on December 7, 2017 in Uncategorized


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