Creekbank Blog

The writing blog of Curt Iles and Creekbank Stories. Our mission: To connect hearts to God by using stories of encouragement and inspiration.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Earlier this year I blogged a story about how the bookmobile affected my life as a boy in rural Louisiana. My friend Alda Clark, who writes for our local papers, penned her story. Here it is for your enjoyment.

Recently I was reading Brother Curt Iles’ Blog when I came across a story about the Bookmobile Beauregard Parish had back in the late fifties and early sixties. The Bookmobile was a traveling Library, which made stops in the rural areas so country children would have access to books in the summer.

I was a preteen back then and would just as soon go to school year round, than spend a long, hot boring summer without my friends. But once the Bookmobile started coming the summers were some of my happiest times. Once every two weeks my brothers, sister and I would excitedly wait for the sound of the bookmobile coming. After running to the country road near our house where it would stop, we would climb on and stay as long as we were allowed. The ladies running the Bookmobile were so nice to us and would allow us to check out a whole stack of books. After the first visit I always made sure I checked out enough books to do me until they returned.

That is the summer that began my love affair with books. After all these many years of my life I still remember some of the books I read back then. I never remember another boring summer. My life was filled with one story after the other. As soon as I finished one book I was ready to start another one. The joy of reading a good book is still one of my favorite things.

After all these years my brothers, sister and I still read. They read occasionally but I read something every day. If not a book, I find some of the Blogs on the Internet very good reading, like the one I found the story on about the Bookmobile. I also love reading newspapers from other states, and as any person who loves to read does, I have read my favorite book, the Bible cover to cover.

I find it very hard to believe when someone tells me they don’t like to read, but my husband is one of these people. He is a very intelligent person with an IQ much higher than mine, but he has never been a reader. Maybe he never had the chance to visit the Bookmobile. After many years of trying to find a book he would read I finally introduced him to Curt Iles' Creekbank Stories, he has read every one of them and looks forward to a new one to be published.

I’ll never forget the long hot summers I spent reading books checked out from the Bookmobile. I just wish all the country children today had the same privilege. I know they would find a book there that they would enjoy and maybe start a lifetime of enjoyment.

Alda Clark


Sunday, August 30, 2009

I have the privilege of speaking at so many events. It is a joy to share stories, encourage others, and always put in a "good work on the greatness of our God."

The clip below is from Camp Pearl's newsletter.
Visit their website at www.camppearl. com to find out more about this wonderful camp near Reeves, LA

Thursday, September 10, 2009
September 26, 2009 8:30a.m.

Join us for our Senior Citizen’s Day on
Thursday, September 10 as we enjoy a
great time of fellowship together around
a great lunch.

Curt Iles will be here to
share his latest book and tell some of his
fascinating stories! You’ll enjoy coffee and donuts
beginning at 10:00am followed by our program at
10:30am. A delicious meal of baked ham, baked
beans, potato salad, Caesar salad, Mississippi Mud
Cake….will be on the menu! Plan now to join us!



Friday, August 28, 2009

Trelvis and Phil Thomas. The inspiration for
this story from The Wayfaring Stranger.
Miz Girlie's Prayer Tree

Scene: Irish immigrant Joe Moore has arrived in western Louisiana and has been befriended by Miz Girlie Perkins, an old widow.

Joe slept each night on the porch. Miz Girlie gave him an old quilt and moss-filled mattress to lie on; aside from the mosquitoes, it was a fine place to sleep.

Every morning about daylight, he’d hear the old lady leave the house. She’d be barefooted and trying to slip out quietly, but invariably he’d hear her footsteps.

After the third day of watching her leave each morning, his curiosity got the best of him. When she returned an hour later through the tall pines, she greeted him as she got to the porch. Joe didn’t know if it was the early morning sunshine or something else—but her face seemed to have a glow to it.

As she ascended the front step, he asked, “Miz Girlie, now I ain’t trying to be nosey or nothing, but, uh, where do you go each morning?”

The old woman smiled. “Baby, you come with me and I’ll show you where I go. It’ll be a sight easier to show it to you than tell you about it.”

They walked out of the yard and into the tall longleaf pines. The shafts of sunlight shone through the tall canopies and Joe Moore was reminded of why he already loved the Louisiana piney woods.

Miz Girlie led him to an old twisted pine that was obviously in its last stages of life. The woodpeckers had drilled holes all up and down its thick trunk. Under the tree was a homemade bench that showed evidence of long use.

“Joe, this here spot was what my momma called her ‘prayer tree.’ It was where she started her day all the years I can remember. It didn’t matter how cold it was—raining or August hot—she came out here every morning.

“Son, it was her place to start the day with the Lord—under this here prayer tree—just her and the Lord, and a cup of coffee. When she passed in the year 1827, I just adopted it as mine. It’s now my prayer tree—a place where I meet every morning with the Lord, and we jes’ visit.” She smiled in a way Joe would always remember, “It’s my place to meet with God.”

Joe had been at Miz Girlie’s for over two weeks now. He decided it was time to go looking around and scout for some land of his own. When he told her of his plans to leave, her disappointment was easy to see. She had come to depend on him and enjoyed his company. However, she understood his need to explore and made him promise to come back.

As Joe walked down the trail away from her house, Miz Girlie Perkins wondered if, and when, she would see Joe Moore again.

Mrs. Trelvis Thomas took me to a tree on her land and showed me the prayer tree used by her mother. Her story became the inspiration for Miz Girlie's story.


2 Stories on Ted Kennedy

I've never been a Ted Kennedy fan. Most of his politics are 180 degrees to the left of my beliefs.
However, two stories I read many years ago built a grudging respect for him. One is humorous. The other is poignant.

Once during a visit to a coal mine, Ted Kennedy was approached by a grimy short fiesty miner.
"Senator Kennedy, is it true you never worked a day in your life at a real job?"

Taken aback, the senator finally answered, "Yes sir, I guess that's true."

Supposedly the miner shook his head, broke out into a grin, and said, "Well, let me tell you something. You ain't missed a thing."

Secondly, on Sept. 11, 2001 as our nation reeled from the terror attacks, Ted Kennedy went to the White House to sit with Laura Bush. (As you probably remember, President Bush was in Florida, then Louisiana, at the times of the attacks.) In spite of political differences, it showed a human side of this man.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Best Part of Writing and Living: Relationships

Shown above is my nephew Adam Terry. He's showing off a copy of "God's Timing" a poem I wrote. (See end of blog for reprint of poem)

Adam is congressional aide for Rep. U.S Congressman Rodney Alexander.
He and and his wife Jenny live in the Washington D.C. area and are faithful followers of my blog.
DeDe and I are extremely proud of them.

Also shown in one of my "daughters in the Lord," Evan Adams. Evan and her partner in crime, Hailey Guidry, traveled with DeDe and I to South Africa in 2008. Both of these "African Queens" are going back for a month of orphanage work after their HS graduation in 2010. If you'd like to support their trip, I can put you in contact with them.

Evan helped recently at Books a Million on cover ideas for A Good Place. You can see the result below.

Click on image for larger view

Special thanks to Chad Smith at The Touch Studios for this great cover.

* God’s Timing is Always Right

God is very seldom early

But He’s always right on time.

When the need must be met by midnight,

He’ll supply at 11:59

Just as Moses stood in the water

At the edge of the Red Sea,

God waits until the very end

To supply our every need.

If you wonder why He has this habit

Of waiting till the end,

He does it to remind us

He’s the one on whom we must depend.

For if we worked it out early

And provided in our own strength,

We’d think we all did it

And not realize it was from Him.

All God really wants from us

Is to trust Him everyday

And to always say, “Thank you”

As He directs us along life’s pathway.

Yes, God is very seldom early,

But I’ve never seen Him late.

In faith we can completely trust Him

To meet our needs in His own time . . . and His own way.


Friday, August 21, 2009

From the cover of my lost (and found) journal: PASSION: Dream it. Dare it. Define it. Do it. Get into it!

I once was lost, but now I'm found.
The adventures of journal #47.

Pictured is Books a Million associate Anna with my journal. Bonehead Iles left it at the Lake Charles store last week.

Anna found it and kept it for me. She commented, "I really liked the statement on the front, 'Dream it. Dare it. Define it. Do it. Get into it!'"

Those are my passion "D" words.

Thanks Anna for keeping something very precious to me: my current journal #47.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thoughts on being spiritually dry.

I'm part of a wonderful writers group called "Ripplers." Our founder and mentor is Houston-area novelist Diann Mills. Our question for the day came from Diann, "What do you do when you're spiritually dry?"

Here is my short list.
I guess because I've been spiritually dry plenty of times, I have a good list.

-Take a walk with DeDe.

-Go to the Appalachian Trail.

-Be with uplifting friends and family.

-Rest. Many times my spiritual dryness is the result of lack of rest. There are two quotes I've heard:
"Sometimes the most spiritual thing we can do is go take a nap." -Bill Britt

"Patience is one of the fruits of the spirit. It's also one of the fruits of rest."

-Write prayers and thoughts in my journal.

-Be with my grandsons.

Resting in Him,



Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I'm planning an October Appalachian Trail hike. (I don't want to hear any jokes about that South Carolina governor. He gave all of us A.T. hikers a bad name!)

I pulled out this poem from Stories from the Creekbank. It's always been a favorite of mine when I get the wandering fever.

Jesus was a walker. . .

You ask me why I’m a walker

Up and down these country roads

It’s not real easy to explain

So I’ll give an example to you.

You see, Jesus was a walker.

That’s the only way He knew to go.

He walked on dusty roads and traveled in the hills.

He hiked through the mountains,

Where the view is nice and real.

Jesus knew a secret

That I’ll now share with you:

When you’re out walking in nature,

You can feel God speaking to you.

As you walk where it’s quiet and peaceful,

The world’s troubles will soon disappear

And you will feel God’s peace

As He draws you near.

Yes, Jesus was a walker.

He even walked out on the sea.

And as I walk through these woods

I feel Him walking with me. . .

copyright 2000 Creekbank Stories Curt Iles

Solvitur ambulando "The Difficulty is solved by walking."


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Draft copy of front cover of A Good Place

Current draft copy of back cover copy. Your input is always appreciated.

“Deep in the Louisiana piney woods is a good place.”

It’s called “No Man’s Land” and is where Mayo Moore begins his story of growing up during the turbulent years of the Civil War. Through the inspiration of his parents—the Irishman Joe Moore and his part-Indian wife, Eliza—Mayo learns that the love of family is stronger than any challenge.

“Families stick together through the storm and come out stronger.”

More than a coming of age tale, A Good Place recounts the enduring love story of Joe and Eliza, as told through the eyes and heart of their feisty oldest son, Mayo.

When a surprise hurricane devastates the area, it is only the first in a series of storms to roll over the Moore family and their Ten Mile neighbors. The coming storm of the Civil War threatens everything the family believes in.

“Looking back at the night of the hurricane, it was memorable in another way—under the sturdy kitchen table with my family, when all we really had was each other. Now, as then, I realize that that’s enough.”

This inspiring story will make you laugh, cry, and be glad to be alive. Mayo’s tales takes readers along the creeks, woods, and into the hearts of memorable characters such as Joe and Eliza, “Unk,” Miz Girlie, Bo, and Uncle Eli.

“Daddy, an Irish immigrant, loved Louisiana’s clear creeks, tall trees, and the freedom it offered—and called it ‘a good place to be.’”

Continuing the story that thrilled readers in The Wayfaring Stranger, Curt Iles shares more about Joe and Eliza Moore’s lives. A Good Place, the second book in the “Westport Series” is written in the warm and humorous style loved by readers of Iles’ first six books.

“My mother always described Ten Mile as a place where ‘life was good but never easy.’”


Our cover is being designed by Chad Smith of The Touch Studios. The painting is by my uncle, Bill Iles.

A Good Place
tentative release date November 2009

Below is a draft of our Back Cover Text. It is still "too wordy." All suggestions and input are appreciated. What would you take out? What would you refuse to remove?

Deep in the Louisiana piney woods is a good place called “No Man’s Land.”

It’s where Mayo Moore begins his story of growing up during the turbulent years of the Civil War. Through the inspiration of his parents, the Irishman Joe Moore and his part-Indian wife, Eliza, Mayo learns that the love of a family is stronger than any storm that threatens to tear apart a family.

“Families stick together through the storm and come out stronger.”

More than a coming of age story, it’s a recounting of Joe and Eliza’s love story, as told through the eyes and heart of their oldest son, Mayo. Whether a devastating 1862 hurricane, the challenges of pioneer life, or the looming storm of the Civil War, we learn of the Moore family’s trials and strength.

“Looking back a lifetime later at the night of the hurricane, it was a memorable in another way—under the sturdy kitchen table with my family, when all we really had was each other. Now, as then, I realize that that’s enough.”
Sharing about the enduring love of his parents, this inspiring story will make you laugh, cry, and be glad to be alive. Mayo’s tales takes readers on a journey along the creeks and woods and into the hearts of memorable characters in his family as well as his eccentric neighbors.

Follow Mayo Moore into the wild and untamed piney woods of 19th century No Man’s Land—the pioneer land between the Sabine and Calcasieu Rivers.

“Daddy loved Louisiana’s clear creeks, tall trees, and the freedom it offered—and, until the day he died, called it ‘a good place to be.’”

Behind the retelling of these adventures are stories of the heart—lessons often learned through difficulty and destruction. Through this, Mayo learns of the true strength found in family, faith, and the Westport woods.

“It was a place where life was good but never easy.”

Continuing the story that thrilled the readers in The Wayfaring Stranger, Curt Iles shares more about Joe and Eliza Moore’s enduring love story A Good Place, the second book in the “Westport Series” is written in the warm, tender and humorous style loved by readers of Iles’ first six books.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

If I could live my life over, I'd invest it in young people."
-John R. Mott

Today I was in Lake Charles at Books a Million studying book cover examples for A Good Place. There I saw one of "The African Queens": Evan Adams.

She and photographer Chad Smith ( The Touch Studios) worked with me on ideas for the cover. See more below.

Evan and Hailey Guidry went with DeDe and I to South Africa in 2008. I nicknamed the two girls "The African Queens" after Katherine Hepburn/Humphrey Bogart's classic movie of the same name. (If you haven't seen "The African Queen," order it on NetFlix. You'll enjoy it.)

Evan and Hailey begin their senior year tomorrow at South Beauregard High. They're seriously contemplating taking a "Senior Trip" after graduation to the Zululand orphanage we worked in last year.

That is why I love being around young people. They can teach us so much about life, passion, and ministry. Two young women who, instead of thinking of a Caribbean cruise or Destin's beaches, want to go work in a crowded orphanage full of HIV positive babies and children.

Lord, here is my prayer.
Allow me to stay around young people for the rest of my life. Don't let me ever get old in my heart, and the best way I know to keep a young heart is to be around young people. Keep me close to them Lord, Keep me close to you. Amen.

This wonderful painting by Bill Iles is one of the cover ideas we're considering using for A Good Place.

These six books are similar to the type of look we're looking for in A Good Place.
In the weeks ahead, we'll be asking for your input on cover ideas.


God’s Timing is Always Right

God is very seldom early

But He’s always right on time.

When the need must be met by midnight,

He’ll often supply at 11:59

Just as Moses stood in the water

At the edge of the Red Sea,

God waits until the very end

To supply our every need.

If you wonder why He has this habit

Of waiting till the end,

He does it to remind us

He’s the one on whom we must depend.

For if we worked it out early

And provided in our own strength,

We’d think we all did it

And not realize it was from Him.

All God really wants from us

Is to trust Him everyday

And to always say, “Thank you”

As He directs us along life’s pathway.

Yes, God is very seldom early,

But I’ve never seen Him late.

In faith we can completely trust Him

To meet our needs in His own time . . . and His own way.

From Stories from the Creekbank by Curt Iles

I wrote this poem during a particularly discouraging time in August 1998. We had dug the footings on the new snack shack/gift shop at Dry Creek Baptist Camp.

As we got ready to pour the slab, the costs on the concrete and electrical preparation had skyrocketed. We didn’t have the money we needed to start this project. Volunteers were scheduled to come in September and I really didn’t know how we’d be ready.

Then just before the day to pour the concrete, a huge rain washed in all of our footings. So on a scorching August day we began to re-dig, by hand, all of the ditches and chain walls. It was very discouraging to be redoing a bad job.

This poem, inspired by one of my special friends, Mrs. Rhedia Skiles, came to me as we dug in the red clay. Now a year later as I look at the beautiful building that was completed on time with all the money available each step of the way, I can only bow my head and say how great God is.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Photo: Displaced Persons Camp in shadow of volcano Goma, Congo

In Defense of Hillary

My blog is not a political site. There are plenty of good blogs of that type available.

My writing is more about being a good news reporter with stories of the common people who make the world better.

So why in the world am I stepping on the land mine of not only mentioning Hillary Clinton, but actually defending her. Here’s why: She deserves a pass on her now infamous remarks at a press conference yesterday in Kinshasa, Democratic Congo.

If you haven’t seen the clip, you can view it by clicking here.

Mrs. Clinton, in her role as U.S. Secretary of State, is in the midst of whirlwind tour of Africa.

A question was “mis-translated” (*a good story on that later) and offended her concerning its implication of asking for “Mr. Clinton’s opinion” of a recent huge Chinese loan to the Congo.
The student asking the question asked about “Mr. Obama’s opinion” but that’s not the way it was passed on to her.

You can see for yourself on video that it was not her best moment. It obviously ticked her off.

However, I want to offer a defense.

The video obviously shows someone having a bad hair day. Literally, you can see the results of jet lag on her face, in her hair, and body language. Only those of us who’ve traveled throughout Africa understand the challenges of airports, time zones, surprises, electrical outages, and no hot water.

It’ll test anyone’s mettle.

Today, (Tuesday, August 11) Secretary Clinton bravely flew to eastern Congo to the city of Goma. It’s the epicenter of an ongoing civil war commonly called “Africa’s World War.” It is such a dangerous area that she didn’t fly in on her U.S. jet, but hitched a ride on a UN plane.

To read about Goma and Clinton's visit there.

I was there in April, but I didn’t fly in either. We were told it was too dangerous. So instead of flying from Kinshasa to Goma, we flew through Kenya to Rwanda and drove across the border to Goma.

While there, I watched the UN planes come in low from the mountains over Lake Kivu for quick landings at Goma. I’m glad she made it fine and I’m glad I wasn’t on the plane.

As her plane came in, I’m sure Mrs. Clinton saw the smoke flume from Mt. Mount Nyiragongo, one of five active volcanoes that periodically erupts lava on Goma.

Hillary Clinton was there to visit the Displaced Person Camps outside Goma. It is where hundreds of thousands of Congolese are staying while rebel armies fight in the mountains. It is a sobering sight to see what conditions these people live in and hear their stories.

One of the main subjects she addressed was the stigma of rape against women as a tool of war in Africa. It is a subject that burns into any compassionate heart.

I’ve now been in several war-torn areas ranging from Ethiopia (Civil War 20 years ago) to Rwanda (Genocide in 1996) to Congo (ongoing) and Liberia (decades long war ended five years ago.)

The two things that horrify me about African war are these: First, the systematic rape of women and girls. Second, the prolific use of child soldiers by rebel armies. Either of them is terrible. In tandem, they are despicable and tear at the very fabric of any country.

I do not understand why and how soldiers choose to use rape as a tool of terror. My understanding is that it is used as a tool to maim, terrorize, and destroy.

Much of Central and Western Africa’s wars have been about control of land and territory. Whoever controls the gold mines, diamond fields, iron ore deposits, or rubber plantation controls the money needed to buy arms and carry on war.

To seize land, you must drive out the people. Using rape against females and capturing teen and preteen boys as soldiers is an effective way to get people to flee. The fortunate ones make it to the squalor of the camps built on volcanic rock near Goma.

The unlucky ones don’t. In African society, a rape victim is often rejected by her husband, family, and even village. Many times their injuries are so horrific to scar them for life. It’s not a pretty picture.

That’s what Hillary Clinton is in Goma about. Urging the people of the Congo—and Africa—to rise up against this dehumanizing kind of war. To call for the arrest and full prosecution of those condoning these deeds.

I firmly believe the destiny of Africa rests in the hands of Africans. Especially young Africans. It’s not the job of Westerners to “straighten out” Africa. We have a pretty sorry track record there.

However, it is our responsibility as Americans to encourage and help in any ways possible. That’s what Hillary Clinton is doing there. Whether she’s of my political party (she’s not) whether I voted for her (no) doesn’t matter today. She’s trying to help make the world—specifically Africa—a better and safer place.

Because of that, she’s on my side, and I’m on hers for this.
So cut her some slack on flying off the handle in the Congo. It’s easy to get confused (and humbled) in another culture and continent.

It’s also probably frustrating to be asked in twenty-eight tribal dialects about “your husband’s success in going to North Korea” when you’re working hard in Africa. (A lifetime of answering questions “About Bill” could also be a credible defense in addition to jet lag in getting bent out of shape.)

As my old uncle used to say, “Cut her some slack on the plow rope.”
It ain’t never easy in Africa. That’s why the acronym “T.I.A.” is so well known: “This Is Africa.”

It’s a place I love.

Ahmed’s story: Child Soldiers

I met Ahmed in the west African country of Liberia. He is a gifted teacher at the school we recently worked in. As my wife and I got to know him, he told his story. Passionately, but without bitterness, he began by pulling his shirt aside to reveal a large burn scar on his shoulder.

“The rebel army came to my village and grabbed all of the young men. They were going to make child soldiers out of us. I told them, ‘Go ahead and kill me, but I won’t be a soldier.’ I was surprised that they didn’t shoot me.

“Instead they took me with the others. When a battle broke out, they used me as a human shield. A soldier knelt behind me, firing his AK-47 over my shoulder. That’s how I got the burn—the barrel got that hot. It was also a long time before I could hear out of that ear.

“I fell to the ground and heard their voices.
‘Go ahead and kill him.’
‘No, he’s already dead. Leave him.’

Ahmed with Curt
Monrovia, Liberia

Ahmed somehow survived the war. As stated earlier, he was one of the fortunate ones. Many others of his age died in the war. Others who fought and lived through the war are scarred by what they were a part of. You can see them roaming the streets of Monrovia.

Ahmed is now a teacher in what is arguably called “The best school in Liberia.” He’s part of rebuilding his country where rebuilding always takes place: in the hearts and minds of students.
An imparter of knowledge, reconciliation, and restoration.

My observation is this: The future of Africa depends on the life-changing power of God in people’s hearts, the education of the young, and the strengthening of healthy families.

My friend Ahmed is part of all three of these keys to the future.
It’s a future we must believe in.

*On 'Mistranslation'

Only someone who has spoken using an interpreter can understand the challenges and fear. Here is a neat story from our recent Congo trip.

I sat by my friend Bill, as he got ready to speak in a church. Just before the message, the Congolese Christians danced and sang with such joy for long time of music. These folks- victims of a war and much else—were poor but had a joy that cannot be bought or taken away.

With their drums, dancing, clapping, and singing, their joy filled the small plastic-sheeted dirt-floored church. As Bill stood to preach, I whispered to him, “Son, if you can’t preach after that, your wood’s wet.”

He laughed and stood beside John, his interpreter.
When Bill started, I knew he was in for a rough beginning. “Folks, I loved that singing. If you can’t preach after that, your wood’s wet.”

John, who was very proficient in both English and Swahili, looked quizzically at Bill.

Bill repeated himself. A little slower and louder. “If you cannot preach after that, your wood is wet.”

John shrugged his shoulders as he looked from Bill to the crowd and back again.

I’ve heard the “if you can’t preach… wood’s wet” all of my life in a hundred and eight sermons, but it just doesn’t translate well into either Swahili or Volcanic rock-dominated eastern Congo culture.

Finally, Bill gave up. He preached a wonderful sermon to the church. It was expertly interpreted by John and the best interpreter of all, the Holy Spirit.

We all laughed about the translation misunderstanding.
It can happen to anyone.
Just ask Hillary Clinton.


A Good Place

I'm finishing up the final draft on A Good Place. Below is a passage from Chapter 1. It describes the Moore family hunkering under their kitchen table during a surprise La. hurricane in August 1862.

Mayo Moore, then twelve years old, relates the story years later. Here's my question for readers: Is 'impending' the best word to use in this passage? I'm thinking along these two lines: a 12 year old country boy telling this story years later circa 1920.

Actual passage:

“Daddy, are we gonna blow away?” Colleen asked. I glanced up at our creaking roof, wondering the same thing.

Before he could answer, Momma pulled my sister closer, “Baby, this house was built ‘horse high, bull tough, and pig tight,’ by your daddy and it’ll stand up to anything any storm throws at it.”

Colleen nervously burst out giggling at Momma’s saying, causing us all to laugh in spite of our fear. However, our smiles soon faded as the storm intensified and the rafters lifted and shuddered with every strong gust.

“I feel—I feel so helpless.” Momma said, holding Colleen closer.

Daddy repeated. “We will get through this. Together, we can do it.”

At that moment, I hoped he was right.

Sitting under the table as the wind roared, it was hard to believe this day had started so quietly. Looking back over it, we’d missed several signs—omens of the impending storm.

Copyright 2009 Creekbank Stories Curt Iles


Monday, August 10, 2009

I'm studying the word Integrity this week. It's one of the "6 Strong Words" I want in my life.

I'd be interested in hearing from readers as to how you define Integrity as well as people of integrity in your life. With your permission, I'll use your input and feedback on this blog as well as in the study.

You can comment on this blog, email me at or contact me through Facebook or Twitter.


I'm re-reading (on audio CD) one of the greatest novels in American Literature, Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird. I'm simply amazed at her word play and artistic ability to paint scenes and characters.

Atticus Finch, the father of story narrator "Scout" is a man of integrity in his hometown of Maycomb, Alabama. Finch, an attorney, defends a negro in a criminal case and this makes him ridiculed in town.

He explains to Scout about integrity in Chapter 11:

"This case, Tom Robinson's case, is something that goes to the essence of a man's conscience-- Scout, I couldn't go to church and worship God is I didn't try to help that man."

When Scout says that most folks think he's wrong on this and they're right. Atticus replies,

"They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions," said Atticus, "but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one things that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience."

Folks, that is integrity. I've heard integrity described this way: "It's who you are when no one is watching, and what you'll stand up for even if you're standing alone."

I'm going to be studying it this week in the life of my hero, Joseph in Genesis 37-50. Why don't you join me.




Friday, August 07, 2009

What is true success?

If your success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your heart, it's not success at all. -Anna Quindlen

Last week I inquired of my Facebook friends, "How do you define true success." I've been blown away by the wisdom in the following responses.

I've also been reminded of how many special friends I have who "have their head on straight."

At the end of these comments, I've posted a story "Most Likely to Succeed" from my first book, Stories from the Creekbank. I believe you'll enjoy it.

Curt's definition of success: "To be a man God can use, be respected by my wife and sons, and be used to make this world a better place." (This isn't original but "cobbled together" from others. )

Here are comments I received. To add your definition to the list, use the comment section at the end of this blog entry or email me at

From Sharon Ritchie Hahler:

HI Curt, I thought your question very interesting and as I pondered it for the day I actually heard someone else's definition that I really liked. Sorry that we got in too late to post it on facebook but here it is: "Success is how many people you are discipling to be like Christ." This was stated by Dr. Gerald Harris who writes for the Ga. Baptist newspaper

Brian Bond commented on your status:

"In a word success is faith. In believing God's promises I believe that through Jesus I already am who God created me to be, so any attempt at success on my part is worthless."

Krista Duhon commented on your status:

"It is not easy for me to articulate "success" ... it is an emotional thing. It can be measured in another person's smile ... a child's insight ... and a million other unexpected places."

Marcia Wood Evans commented on your status:

"Finding and doing God's will for your life....a true success story!"

Mary Yeates Allen commented on your status:

"Making a difference in eternity."

Sherri Mashburn commented on your status:


Kim Dickens Brannon commented on your status:

"Success to me is to fulfill God's plan for me on this earth. His plan is for me to go and share the Good News of His Son to a lost world. His plan is for me to follow the leading of His Holy Spirit."

Pam Kermit Soileau commented on your status:

""Well done, good and faithful servant..." ~ The Master...Bro. Kermit"

Brian Bond commented on your status:

"In a word success is faith. In believing God's promises I believe that through Jesus I already am who God created me to be, so any attempt at success on my part is worthless."

Carolyn Schales Simmons commented on your status:

"Success to me is having the assurance that you have Jesus in your heart and know that one day you will be with him."

Bill Robertson commented on your status:

"Success is having said about you what is written about you in God's word. When Jesus died He said, "It is finished!". What was written about him could be said of him. My prayer is that when I come to end of the trail that what is written can be said of me. If so, then I will be a success."

Ginny Cobbs Henderson commented on your status:

"my personal definition of success is a happy, healthy family."

Success - Romans 12:1 "offer up your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. This is your Spiritual act of service.""

Gale Gill Willis commented on your status:

"Success, "Enter in my good and faithful servant.""

Ruthie Shirley Huckaby commented on your status:

"My personal definition of success- To raise my boys to become Respectable, Successful men and for them to raise their children the same."

Greg Baggett commented on your status:

"To live my life in such a way as to magnify and honor Jesus Christ. To die to self and live for Him. Galatians 2:20."Most Likely to Succeed

Most Likely to Succeed

"If you measure success by large bank accounts, titles before and after names, or worldly fame, I’m not much of a success. But if true success is measured in feeling you are making a positive difference... and having a small part in seeing God work miracles in people's lives, then I guess you could say I am very successful."

-Curt Iles from the book Stories from the Creekbank. Copyright 2000 Creekbank Stories.

It was Saturday in the middle of the busy summer camp season. After a great week of youth camp I was enjoying lunch with some of our summer staff. Across the dining hall a group was having their 10 year HS class reunion. I enjoyed watching them as they laughed and visited after being apart for ten years.

All of these guests were former students from my years as a high school teacher and administrator. As I observed them my mind drifted back to so many warm memories of seeing them grow up.

A group of these former students came over to me with an old tattered red yearbook. They giggled as they showed me a picture from twenty-five years ago. There I was sitting on a stack of encyclopedias in my early 1970's bellbottoms. Under the picture of me and one of my lifelong friends, Colleen Ford Tyler, was the caption:

Senior Boy and Girl voted Most Likely to Succeed

The staffers sitting around me really enjoyed the picture. Especially my long hair!
I'm still amazed at pictures from that time period when I realize how long we wore our hair then. It was hard for this group of staffers to believe their bald middle-aged director once had long hair and bangs!

Well, the former students left, laughing, hunting someone else to embarrass. All of the summer staff returned to eating what was probably our twentieth hamburger lunch of the summer.

Then I couldn't help it.... I turned to these staffers and said, "Well, can you believe someone selected "Most likely to succeed" by his classmates would end up being just an old camp manager?"

Their reply was immediate and impassioned. It was best stated by Wendy, our recreation director who has worked at Dry Creek for four years: "Bro. Curt, what could be more successful than being involved in seeing lives changed daily by the Lord?" One by one they chimed in on the opportunities we have at camp to be a direct part of what God is doing.

I smiled at their reply... Because I felt the same way. More than anything to me, success is being part of where God is working... and I've never seen a place where He works more consistently than camps. I recalled the past week when over forty young people accepted Jesus as their personal Savior and many others made life changing commitments.

I thought about Wendy. How I've watched God work in her life through camp over a period of years. As a result of this experience she is in seminary seeking God's will on a vocation in the camping ministry.

Then I thought back to an event in my life that happened about the time of my bell bottomed long haired picture. I was at summer camp youth camp at Dry Creek the same camp where I now serve as director. God really spoke to my life and heart concerning giving my vocational choice to His will. During the invitation time, in a moment that is still clear in my mind, I went to the front of the Tabernacle and simply told God, "I'm ready to do whatever You want me to do. Just lead and I'll follow." Little did I know that decision would eventually lead me back to manage the very camp I grew up in.

If you measure success by large bank accounts, titles before and after names, or worldly fame, I’m not much of a success. But if true success is measured in feeling you are making a positive difference... and having a small part in seeing God work miracles in people's lives... and watching the Wendys of this world grow into Christian leaders, then I guess you could say I am very successful.

I'm so thankful God has given me the privilege of being part of the camping ministry. What a joy to be on the cutting edge of what He is doing! Each day I get to serve Him. Yes, most of the time it is not glorious and sometimes frustrating but I'm in a place where I know He is working and I have the awesome opportunity to be a part of it all.


Thursday, August 06, 2009

Thoughts from a good day.
"Isn't life amazing, we go somewhere seeking to be a blessing. Instead, the folks we've 'come to help' are the blessing to us. It's a paradox of giving that always amazes and humbles me."

I had the privilege of speaking today at the Southwest Louisiana War Veteran's Home in Jennings. It is a first class facility honoring "Louisiana's Heroes."

Top picture: I met Jean Stipes of DeRidder who was visiting her husband.

Right: My Aunt Margie went and performed on the piano. She is shown with veteran Jeanne Ryan. Jeanne is the mother of SW La. artist/McNeese faculty member, Heather Ryan Kelley.

Aunt Margie played the service song for each branch of the military. The veterans waved or stood on their song. It was very moving to see the smiles of these men and women who preserved our freedom in past wars.

Curt is shown with new friend James Tecson. James is an Air Force veteran from Hawaii by way of Texas.

The best part of writing and speaking is making new friends like James.

I want to thank Marilyn LeJuene and the staff at the Veteran's Home for making me feel so welcome.

The Joy of Music (and Grandchildren)

We've had our oldest grandson, Noah Iles, this week. Noah, 3, has been so much fun. He loves music and I took this shot of him on the porch at The Old House.

He is holding one of the fiddles played by his great-great-great grandmother, Theodosia Wagnon Iles.

It's the legacy of family and things passed down: fiddles, land, photos, keepsakes, stories, memories. It all is woven together in a thick cord that connects our heart to the past, gives hope to our future, and gives us a foundation for life's journey.

I'm thankful for my Dry Creek heritage.

Scroll down to view neat (but sideways) video.
Instructions: click on screen to view.
If you have a laptop, turn it sideways.
If you're viewing on a PC, cock your head to the side. (Just kidding on both counts.)

I apologize for the video being sideways. (When I figure out how to change it in Quick Time, I'll rotate it.) It's Aunt Margie playing "a duet" with Noah. I love her rendition of "The Sting" aka "The Entertainer."

The look of joy of both Margie and Noah is what I love.
Music forms a bond.
Music brings joy to our lives.
Music is one of God's best gifts to we humans.

"Most men die with their song still inside them. Let that not be said of me." -Anonymous