Autumn Newsletter 2014

Autumn is in full form here on the plains of southwest Ohio and the colorful fall foliage, harvest celebrations, holidays, and the playing of football all serve as reminders that change is indeed in the offing. If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again – this is my favorite time of year!

There’s just something about the feel of the chilled air, the sight of colorful trees and vegetation, the sound of dried leaves rustling across the lawn, the aroma of delicious pumpkin and spices wafting from the kitchen, and the taste of a warm mug of apple cider that sooths and slows the rushed and hurried mind, soul, and body. It’s an opportunity to renew perspectives and to fortify the spirit in preparation for the cold and bitter days ahead.

As we observe this season of blessing and thanksgiving, I invite you to visit the feature pages and articles of the website – personal blogs, home segments, menu ideas, favorite travel destinations, and guest postings – all designed for your enjoyment and to celebrate all things autumn!

Happy Fall,


Father’s Day 2014 – Celebrating The Ordinary Guy!

sgnnscoopsfrontcoveJUNE2014WEB B&WHappy Father’s Day Dad! June is bursting with great features and indepth devotionals in SGN Scoops digital magazine! We feature the family music of The Dunaways on our cover, as well as the latest Scoops on Danny Funderburk, Freedom’s Crossing, Debbie Bennett and Autumn Nelon Clark.

Check out our writers’ reviews of terrific concert events, including the Gaither Family Fest, Dailey & Vincent, Singing In The Sun 2014, the Jackie Wilburn Memorial and the Sneed Family Homecoming. Read all about the inaugural Ozark Gospel Music Festival written by guest Scoops writer Joshua Heston. It was a hit!

Don’t miss Lou Wills Hildreth’s monthly feature on Love, Life and Legends. We also have special features by Dr. Jeff Steele, Sherry Anne, David Staton, Laurette Willis and Scott Rhoades.

All this plus the SGN Scoops Top 100, New Music Review, the Creekside Gospel Music Convention Update and the Great Doughnut Caper as well as Rob Patz’s Publisher’s Point. There is so much more that we can’t fit it all in this report! You HAVE to read it for yourself.

So pick up that Iced Tea or Frozen Lemonade, sit back and enjoy the June 2014 issue of SGN Scoops digital magazine!

Click to access sgnscoops0614.pdf

Unopened Gifts

sgnscoops1213_sm B&WOur gift to you…. December’s Issue of SGNScoops Magazine! Our Christmas edition is stuffed with Christmas goodies, so join Scott and his friends as they open their gifts and celebrate the holidays! Enjoy the cover story on the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir and also enjoy reading about the ministries of the Old Paths Quartet, Hope’s Journey and Gold City Quartet.

Christmas is about giving, so don’t miss special guest writer, Kelly Nelon’s story about the Nelons latest mission trip. Also don’t miss the story about Steve Ladd’s sharing! This issue includes Christmas Music Reviews as well as Christmas Inspirational articles on Unopened Gifts and Christmas Traditions.

Check out concert stories in the Isaacs and the Lesters and don’t miss Ben Wolfe’s younger perspective on things. Get caught up with Christian Country News, enjoy Life, Love and Legends with Lou Hildreth and read about plans for 2014 Creekside Gospel Music Convention and Diamond Awards. To make this Christmas Season special for our readers, we have surveyed many of your Southern Gospel Favorites and collected their favorite lines of Christmas carols and songs. December’s issue is most definitely a joyful one! Please read and share with your friends, families and fans and also let our staff know how much they are appreciated! Merry Christmas from the SGNScoops Family!

Special Guest: Donna King

Donna King B&WDear Life, I think I’ll have Christmas instead…

Dear Life,

Only 17 Shopping Days until Christmas and I have only purchased one present so far… There’s so much to do!  First, I need to finish putting up the glorious and impressive trees throughout my house, then, I need to plan meals and map out everything I can do to help my family and me to feel as “Christmassy” as possible. Of course, I need to shop for all the perfect gifts, buying things I do need and things I don’t need (with money I don’t have).  And, in and around all of that, I need to be awesome enough to do the cookie exchanges, send out the greeting cards, and wrap the presents, well in advance, (so they can look all LOVELY and ANTICIPATORY under the tree).  Ok…deep breath…NOW, I need to create a masterful Christmas ambiance, with an extensive musical playlist, piping melodies throughout the house, along with Christmas candles burning, wafting evergreen fragrance into our senses. And, of course, I need to attend every possible Christmas event I can squeeze into the calendar. Oh…all of this is sounding So wonderful!, right?!


Where is Jesus…?  Where is the sweet sense of the presence of CHRIST?  What is this celebration about?

When Jesus came, the INN was full…It was TOO full for him…Too full for a young woman who was about to give birth after what was likely a painful journey on a donkey… THE INN WAS TOO FULL..

Dear Life, after many Christmases and many wrapping paper extravaganzas, surrounded by over stimulated family and friends, rushing from one “pseudo celebration” moment to the other, I am asking myself WHERE IS JESUS?…and, IF I was the INNKEEPER, would I also miss the opportunity, amidst my overly FULL life, to welcome the SAVIOR into my world…

I fear the answer is yes… and I ask myself, what if my advent was celebrated differently this year… What if, each day, I walked my heart to the manger and stopped long enough to listen…To listen to the crickets in the fields surrounding the stable and whinny of the horses, awoken in the night, as Mary and Joseph quietly slipped in.  What if I could hear the whimper of Mary in labor, as Jesus entered the world.  What if I looked around and saw the messy stable…realizing there is no ambience in here, but there is LOVE…SO MUCH LOVE…What if I could just stand at the door of the stable, with gratitude, and breathe in the miracle that’s occurring before my eyes…Knowing that without this moment, I am hopeless and without a Savior… I am doomed…BUT realizing…I am not… HE CAME.  Yes, HE CAME and, now, I have HOPE.

There isn’t a Christmas tree in the world that can save me.  There isn’t a twinkling light, a glimmering mantle, or a delicious holiday cake (although I won’t deny that my mother-in-law’s Christmas fudge doesn’t come awfully close) that can rescue me from my deep need for a Savior… ONLY Jesus, ONLY the SAVIOR, who came to bring PEACE and GOODWILL to men…and, specifically, to each and every one of us, individually.

You see, the world may have little room for HIM this Christmas, but HE has ALL the room in the world for us… That’s why HE came, because of HIS great love, mercy, and grace…All of which cannot be found under a tree, but only at HIS feet.

I have a new Christmas album this year… I am SO grateful to have had the blessing of recording it.  It’s been a dream of mine for years.  I chose songs that mean something to me, some classics and some brand new…And, I wrote songs that I pray will mean something to those who hear them…

Here are the lyrics to a FUN tune on the recording, that, although it’s meant to be somewhat silly and tongue in cheek, has a deeper message and one that I pray I can live up to over the next 17 days…

By the way, if you might like to add the new album, entitled SONG OF NOEL [by Donna King], to your Christmas song collection this year, you can do so on iTunes or on my website

Now… Dear Life, I think I’ll have Christmas instead…

Christmas Instead

Donna King & Rachel Morgan Perry / ©2013 Journey Press Music/BMI/Cut Out Hearts Music/Blonde Hair Blue Eyes Music/SESAC.  All Right Reserved. Used by permission.

Hustle and bustle, it’s that time of year

Deckin’ the halls, the season is here

Spending more dollars than quality time

Waitin’ for hours in shopping lines


Maybe we’ve gone a little crazy in the head

And we should have Christmas instead


Mistletoe and Holly’s kissing someone tonight

It just never seems like it’s Mr. Right

Here comes Aunt Millie with her favorite cake

It’s time to pretend that we think it’s great


All this puttin’ on is packing pounds we’re gonna dread

Oh, we should have Christmas instead


Lately I’ve been wondering what it’s gonna mean

To wake up to everything that’s underneath the tree

Are these the kind of gifts they were offering

To a baby, born to be the KING


A star shined brightly in the eastern sky

Angels sang Glory to GOD on high

Just a simple stable and a bed of hay

And a SAVIOR who came to give HIS life away


I don’t want another year spent SO FAR from Bethlehem

I think I’ll have Christmas instead


Visit Donna’s websites at and

Follow Donna on Twitter at @mrsdonnaking

And on FACEBOOK at

Follow her blog at


See/Hear a preview of Donna’s new album, SONG OF NOEL, HERE

If Only In My Dreams

It was early Thanksgiving morning when I gently pulled back the drapes and peered across the back yard into the mile-wide valley below. The upstairs hall window of my boyhood home provided the perfect vantage point to see not only a part of my old neighborhood, but a good portion of the small, coal-mining community where I spent a majority of my life. My mom and dad purchased the house in the fall of 1974 and while gazing out the hall window soon developed into a morning ritual, it quickly evolved into a lifestyle and a part of everyday life.

When local fire sirens would blare, declaring a fire emergency or accident, we’d go to the hall window. When thunder and snow storms blasted across the summit of the Laurel Highlands, threatening the security of our surroundings or delivering the promise of a day off from school, we’d go to the hall window. When we spent the night watching yet another lunar eclipse, we’d go to the hall window. When spring arrived, we’d go to the hall window. When my sister and I wanted to communicate with our friends, we’d go to the hall window. When my mom and dad wanted to voice their displeasure with my actions in the back yard, they’d go to the hall window!

I can’t tell you exactly how many times I’ve visited the hall window during my lifetime, but I can tell you it is different now. The old, original window was replaced and the view is now altered. There’s no longer an old garage in the back yard. Many of the trees I used to climb are gone. Some of the houses look the same, although a few were torn down or remodeled in some way. Several of our dear neighbors have passed away, taking their eternal rest. A handful of landmark buildings were demolished and various businesses no longer exist. The town of Nanty-Glo, Pennsylvania has transitioned from an industrial era mining machine to a quiet, quaint, and unassuming community.

They say you can’t go home again and for the longest time I shrugged it off as nonsense. I could go home again! The house was there! My parents were there! The town was still there! But, I can tell you it is different now and as I gazed out the window once more I sadly witnessed scenes, images, and people fade into the dimension of yesteryear. I desperately called out to my friends to gather once more in the back yard for a game of baseball, but no one answered. I knocked on a neighbor’s door with an offer to shovel snow from the walk, but the faces appearing were those of total strangers. I leafed through the phone book to look up the names of people I knew and they were nowhere to be found. I waited patiently by the mailbox for our trusty mailman to bring me one last piece of life-changing correspondence, but he had long since retired and passed away. With tears streaming down my face I watched as familiar people, places, and events fundamentally morphed into nothing more than a distant memory. I can’t really go home again. Nothing will truly be the same as it was years ago.

It’s the holiday season and like many of you I will make my way home once again, but this time with a divergent perspective. I will cherish the present – every moment with my family, friends and neighbors will be meaningful because these times will never come again. I will look boldly to the future and embrace the Hope of Christmas for a bright tomorrow.  I will relish the past by remembering the wonderful memories of my family, friends, neighborhood, and hometown. Yes I’ll be home for Christmas Nanty-Glo, if only in my dreams.


“Christmas Eve will find me, where the love light gleams.

I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.”


©Copyright 2013 Scott Rhoades/Ivory Hill Studios

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

Are you tired of the traditional Christmas cookies and pies? Looking for a new and savory dessert to add to your holiday menu? Want to bring something different to that holiday party? Here’s one we recently put to the test and we think you’ll agree – it’s a winner!

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

Serving Size – Makes 2 loaves


3 Cups – All-Purpose Flour

1 Tablespoon Plus 2 Teaspoons – Pumpkin Pie Spice

2 Teaspoons – Baking Soda

1 1/2 Teaspoons – Salt

3 Cups – Granulated Sugar

1 Can (15 oz) – Pumpkin Filling

4 Large Eggs

1 Cup – Vegetable Oil

1/2 Cup – Orange Juice or Water

1 Cup – Sweetened Dried, Fresh or Frozen Cranberries


Preheat oven to 350F.

Grease and flour TWO 9 x 5-inch loaf pans.

Combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt in large bowl.

Combine sugar, pumpkin, eggs, vegetable oil, and orange juice in large mixer bowl; Beat until blended.

Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture; Stir just until moistened.

Fold in cranberries.

Spoon batter into prepared loaf pans.

Bake for 60 to 65 minutes or until wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean.

Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes; Remove to wire racks to cool completely.


©Copyright 2013 Scott Rhoades/Ivory Hill Studios

Home For Christmas

The Christmas Season has arrived in southwest Ohio and we’re ready to celebrate. The tree is decorated, the fireplace is lit, the smell of seasonal spices and baking is in the air, and the classic holiday sounds of Bing Crosby, Perry Como, and Andy Williams are streaming from the radio. Christmas is such a special time!

While we are aware that many of you have special traditions and meanings in your holiday routines, here are some of our own creative customs and practices that have made this time of year so festive for us:

1.  Home Decorations

Over the years we have discovered that “less is more.” Balancing the quantity of decorations (both inside and out) may provide you more quality – less stimulation and more room to relax, breathe, and discover some real “peace on earth.” Natural and/or country-style garnishes and trimmings may soften your home, making it warm and inviting. You may also explore a house-wide “theme” and/or a theme for each room where decorations meet the everyday styles and colors.

2. Seasonal Traditions

Christmas celebration comes early at the Rhoades’ house, at least in the form of music. Scott customarily pulls out the holiday music in mid-September as a creative way to imagine and capture the meaningful depths of the season.

For the past several years, we’ve also enjoyed attending and participating in Christmas Eve church services as a means to focus ourselves on the true meaning and spirit of our celebrations. This is often followed by a quiet evening at home where we enjoy a course of dried meats, cheeses, and crackers, and an exchange of smaller “stocking” gifts. Major gifts are reserved for Christmas morning.

Just as the music begins early, so the decorations stay up longer. Scott grew up in a very diverse ethnic and religious community, so it was not uncommon for everyone to continue celebrating up until the Russian Orthodox New Year. So, if you visit the Rhoades’ home in January, be prepared for some extended “comfort and joy.”

3. Seasonal Wishes

Whatever your customs and traditions, may your home serve as a haven for family and friends and may your holiday be filled with peace and goodwill. Merry Christmas!

©Copyright 2013 Scott Rhoades/Ivory Hill Studios

When It Hurts Too Much To Care

Sara opened the door to her rusting, maroon 2003 Ford Taurus and slid sideways into the empty driver’s seat. “Wow,” she thought, “sitting down has never felt so good!” She raised a cup of hot, steaming coffee to her lips, sipping slowly as not to burn her mouth. She then allowed her head to sink softly into the headrest in an attempt to relax and clear her thoughts. A tear appeared in the corner of her right eye and began to trickle down her cheek. Another nightmare shift had come and gone at the local community hospital where Sara was employed as a registered nurse.

The past several weeks have proven extremely busy for the unit where Sara works. Patients are very sick, demanding more of her than any of the previous clients she could remember. One of her favorite patients died, while others continue to struggle with the pain and nuances of their chronic conditions, lack of family and social support, depression, and fear. New processes and computer updates are coming weekly as attempts are made to streamline care, meet quality and critical indicators, and save money. A colleague took unexpected ill time, resulting in Sara’s manager assigning her extra hours of mandatory overtime. Sara’s healthcare benefits package has changed and she is paying more money for less coverage. Her husband recently joined the ranks of the unemployed and her two children are begging to participate in sports and summer camps – and that is just the beginning.

While Sara has found herself complaining more to her boss about the workplace, clients and co-workers are voicing complaints about Sara that her manager finds to be a bit unusual and out of character. She is showing up to work late; unkempt and disheveled. She has gained a lot of weight. Sara is preoccupied, can’t seem to concentrate, and finds no joy in the things she once enjoyed the most.

Sara closed her eyes, wiped the tears from her face, and wondered if she had the strength to go home, fix dinner, clean the house, and spend time with her kids, let alone come back to work again that night. She had so wanted to change the world for good and now it seems so far out of reach, if not impossible. She is physically and emotionally spent and couldn’t care less about anything or anyone.

Let’s Talk About Compassion Fatigue

Compassion Fatigue – it’s not a new concept, but one we’ve brushed aside and cannot afford to ignore any longer! According to recent statistics, between 18% and 65% of health care workers (nearly 85% of emergency room nurses (1),25% of paramedics, and 34% of hospice nurses (2)) suffer from secondary traumatic stress and/or compassion fatigue.  But it’s not just limited to health care professionals – caregivers, or those who care for the dependent (and often chronically ill) family member, friend, neighbor, or client are also at risk.

What is Compassion Fatigue?

Compassion Fatigue can be described as the reactions to chronic stress from the care-giving efforts health care professionals and caregivers provide. The stress begins to manifest itself in negative ways and if not recognized, leads to an overall loss of caring or compassion.

Who’s At Risk?

Experts tell us individuals who identify with the hopeless, helpless, at risk, and suffering populations are predisposed to suffer compassion fatigue, because they already possess an element of fatigue by the mere fact their worldview consists of caring for others before caring for themselves. Add a lack of self-caring practices  to the mix, and the conditions are right for developing compassion fatigue. (3)

What Are The Signs?

The signs of compassion fatigue range from the annoying and irritating, to the disruptive and disabling. Here is a list of some (not all) signs you might discover in someone experiencing compassion fatigue:

  • Excessive complaining
  • Unusual complaints from others
  • Compulsive behaviors such as overeating, gambling, etc.
  • Difficulty with concentration
  • Mental and physical exhaustion
  • Poor hygiene and appearance
  • Substance abuse

What Are The Solutions?

There are many ways health care providers and caregivers can prevent and/or recover from compassion fatigue. Here is a list of some (not all) suggestions:

  • Understand the job you do effects you – awareness is the first step
  • Get healthy – see your doctor and adopt a healthy diet and exercise routine
  • Seek counseling
  • Embrace your faith
  • Surround yourself with positive people and influences
  • Manage your life and lifestyles – be proactive and find balance
  • Learn to say “no”
  • Keep a journal
  • Schedule “me” time
  • Get at least 8 hours of sleep

What Should I Keep In Mind?

If you are a health care professional or caregiver, then understand God has created you as a unique and caring individual, entrusting you with this wonderful gift of caring. He has also created you with personal needs and limitations. By taking care of yourself, and perhaps decreasing the quantity of caring you provide, the quality of your caring can grow and mature into a meaningful and distinctive experience. Remember, even Christ Himself went away to the desert after ministering to the crowds who followed Him, so He could be ministered to by the angels.

1. Beck, C. (2011).Secondary traumatic stress in nurses: A systematic review. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 25(1), 1-10. Retrieved from

2. Hooper, et al. (2010). Compassion satisfaction, burnout, and compassion fatigue among emergency nurses compared  with nurses in other selected inpatient specialties. Journal of Emergency Nursing, 36(5), 420-427. Retrieved from

3. Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project. (2013). What is compassion fatigue? Retrieved November 19, 2013, from

©Copyright 2013 Scott Rhoades/Ivory Hill Studios

*Disclaimer: This forum is intended to provide general health and wellness information only. It is not a prescription and/or endorsement for any specific health/medical brand, product or program. You should ALWAYS consult your physician before starting, changing, modifying, or stopping any non-prescription and prescription medications, herbs, treatments, alternative therapies, exercise/wellness programs, physical and/or psychological therapies.

We’ll Always Have Banana Splits

Another Veteran’s Day has come and gone here in America. Across the mountains and flatlands of our great country, communities, organizations, and families gathered together once again to honor those whose sacrifice is forever etched across the memorials of time. We paused to remember; to find comfort, strength, example, and hope for the challenges of our tomorrows. Some turned and embraced their heroes, thankful for another day together, while others knelt beside a grave marker and wept bitterly for untimely loss and experiences unlived.

If we were to thoroughly research the lives of each veteran,  poring over battlefield notes and historical documents, examining journals and diaries, reading letters to wives and children, and conducting personal interviews, I have no doubt we would discover unique perspectives on the variable costs of freedom. While numerous accounts of personal, wartime sacrifice and heroics have already found their way to published books and Hollywood movies, there are thousands of stories left untold – stories of abandonment, relinquishment, surrender, rejection, and self-denial, mixed with achievement, conquest, adventure, and triumph. I am convinced however, that in spite of the emergence of extraordinary and rare themes from each of these experiences, we would find a singular commonality – choice!

The price of freedom requires us to make responsible, calculated decisions and whether a veteran was drafted or voluntarily enlisted, choice was the cause of the final effect. As men and women chose to take up the call for the defense of freedom, they in turn have secured our enduring freedom to choose.

One such example involves two of my uncles. As the story goes, Robert (Bob) and David (Curly) Rhoades were fairly fresh out of high school when they chose to answer their country’s call for service during the Korean War. Together, they made their way from our hometown of Nanty-Glo, Pennsylvania to the United States Army recruiter to voluntarily enlist for duty. Upon completion of the process, they were both rejected for enrollment because of one simple matter: they each weighed less than 100 pounds! Now, that might have stone-walled a few individuals from service, but being the Rhoades men that they were and not willing to accept no for an answer, they found a simple solution to the problem – they spent the next few days consuming large amounts of banana splits! Days later, they returned to the recruiter for another opportunity to enlist and successfully made the cut. Ironically, they not only became tank operators, but company cooks!

My uncles’ story and choices may seem inconsequential in the grand scheme of the world, but I can’t help sitting back and thinking about the impact of their choices on the lives of our family, neighbors, country, and the lives of South Koreans today. Thanks to their choice of defending freedom, and the extra steps they took to enlist in the service of our country, we continue to have the freedom to choose.

It’s a cold, snowy, late-autumn day here in southwest Ohio, but I think I’ll take a trip down to the local dairy mart. I know they have a wide selection on the menu and thanks to my uncles’ choice of banana splits, I have the freedom to choose from a plethora of other frosty delights.  I’ve already made my choice though….banana split. Think I’ll take it with the traditional chocolate, strawberry, and pineapple toppings…oh, and extra whip cream please. This scoop’s for you Uncle Bob and Uncle Curly – thank you for your service!

©Copyright 2013 Scott Rhoades/Ivory Hill Studios

Special Guest: Melissa Johnson

Melissa Flores B&WThe wicked seize every opportunity, while believers shrink back in fear. When a door opens we draw back and wonder, “God, is that you?” This sounds noble and even somewhat humble. However, the Lord reminded me in prayer that when I ask for a door to open, I should not be perplexed when it does. This is nothing short of unbelief on my part.

“You doubt me.” The Lord spoke recently, awakening the awareness of a faulty mindset. “You pray and ask me for open doors… and I open them. I’ve opened a number of them. But, you miss the opportunity by giving into insecurity or doubt. Don’t you know all good things come from above? I am the source of all good opportunities. Satan cannot and will not produce a potential blessing.”

It all became clear as these scriptures flooded my mind:

  • James 1:5-8 “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
  • James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
  • Luke 16:8, “Worldly people are more clever than enlightened people in dealing with their own.

The unrighteous lay hold of any opportunity that halfway looks like a winner. Meanwhile, we righteous pray, fast, wait, and waste away while door after door opens and closes in our faces. No wonder we don’t prosper! If we knew the will of God for our lives, or at least some semblance of His plan, we’d jump on every available chance to advance it. There’s no shortage of light on the path of the upright. We do not walk in darkness as children of the light. It’s time to live by that light – to stop calling fear faith. I choose to act the moment the door cracks!

Melissa Johnson is the General Manager of the He’s Alive Radio Network, Grantsville, Maryland. She is also the morning drive radio host of the AM Cafe’ on Melissa is a minister, author and avid connoisseur of all things cocoa and coffee bean. Co-founder of the Flores household with hubby, Jonathan in 1994, she is the proud mother of one intolerably bright 16-year-old daughter, Madeline. For more information on Melissa, visit her website at