“To live with less, so that the truly important things in life may rise to the surface. To enjoy the freedom of travel and America’s liberty. To live minimally, but meaningfully. To live simply, but fully with God.” — Jack and Dodie Dennis family creed
Dodie and I enjoyed a spectacular day of serendipity and blessings. Our plans were to visit a Titanic Museum and possibly a Hollywood Wax Museum here in Pigeon Forge, but we decided to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Gatlinburg instead.
Traffic was horrendous in the busy town nestled in between the mountains and I needed to go to the restroom bad. There were no parking spots are restrooms so I quickly turned into a lot of the next place I could find. It was the Christ in the Smokies Museum and Gardens. What a blessing! Absolutely beautiful and uplifting.
Afterwards we walked over to the Gatlinburg Skylift for a trip to the top of Mt. Crockett and a walk across a 700 foot bridge spanning above the town with breathtaking views of Rocky Top and other mountains.
We’re just old enough to be tired of the proverbial “rat race.” When we married last December, we decided not to “just exist” or waste time, but to enjoy life more. The spring-early summer pandemic crisis was the catalyst to move into action with serious changes.
We moved to a modest home far out in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, between Bandera and Kerrville. This helped cut our living expenses in half.
It’s a tranquil environment. No rushing traffic or hurried surroundings. We’re purging ourselves from ‘things’ (ownership items we could be slaves to) and placing more emphasis on experiences.
“We’re just making up for lost time,” Dodie smiles. “Less drama and possessions means more fun.”
This is an experiment, but so far so good. What have we learned so far?
I’ve lived the hectic life of a millionaire with a large home (5 bedrooms, 2 kitchens, 2 living areas, 3 fireplaces) on hilltop acreage overlooking the vast Hill Country just two miles due north of Tapatio Springs near Boerne.
My four children were raised and grew up in that beautiful area. But unfortunately, life events and losses came and I lost much. Very much.
Suddenly I went from a life as an executive to cleaning balls, carts and taking out trash at a golf resort. I was flying in private jets one year and living out of my pickup and surviving on tips the next.
But I learned that just being still, and knowing God is in control would make me far more happy than I’ve ever been. Blessings were all around, especially the people in my community of Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas.
While writing this message, Dodie stopped me for a moment to read aloud a devotional (a gift from Pat Griffith, a friend from Fair Oaks Ranch).
The message for this date was WRITTEN FOR 2016. We had no idea how the world would be, or that Dodie and I would even be together, in 2016. Here’s what she read:
“TRUST ME AND DON’T BE AFRAID. Do not be frightened by world events or news reports. These reports are biased–presented as if I do not exist.
News clips show tiny bits of world events from which the most important factor has been carefully removed: MY PRESENCE IN THE WORLD. As journalists sift through massive amounts of information they strain out everything there is about ME and what I am accomplishing on the earth…
…Rejoice that you are on an adventurous journey with ME and your ultimate destination is heaven. As you keep focusing on ME and enjoying the rich relationship I offer you, fear will subside and JOY will rise up within you.”
Raised in San Antonio, Jack Dennis’ early experiences were as a newspaper reporter and private investigator. With a Texas State University bachelor’s degree, Jack studied journalism, education and psychology. He was the founding vice-president of Sigma Delta Chi, the Association of Professional Journalists at the University. Jack has received numerous awards, including Investigative Reporter of the Year from Rocky Mountain Press Association, David Ashworth Community Award, and Leadership in Management.
Some of the people and groups Jack has interviewed include:
Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Willie Nelson, B.B. King, George Strait, Roy Orbison, Justin Timberlake, Steven Tyler, Freddie Mercury, Kenny Rogers, Kenny Loggins, Jackson Browne, Steve Wariner, Tanya Tucker, Scotty Moore, Fats Domino, Patty Page, Tommy Roe, Emmy Lou Harris, Johnny Rivers, Charly McClain, Kinky Friedman, John McFee, Guy Allison & Patrick Simmons (Doobie Brothers) , Randy Bachman (BTO), Jim Messina, Todd Rundgren, Alvin Lee, Gary Puckett, The Ventures, Freddy Cannon, Augie Meyer, Christopher Cross, Whiskey Myers, Sha Na Na (John “Bowzer” Baumann), Flash Cadillac, Jerry Scheff, John Wilkinson, Darrell McCall, and more.
Politicians & News
George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Lady Bird Johnson, Greg Abbott, Rudolph Giuliani, Larry King, Jack Anderson, Tom Bradley, Connie Mack, and more.
Clint Eastwood, Mike Myers, Taylor Lautner, Cameron Diaz, Jerry Lewis, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, Selena Gomez, Tippi Hedren, James Earl Jones, James Woods, Jim Nabors, Martha Raye, Rosalind Russell, June Lockhart, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Howie Mandel, Meg Ryan, Cheri Oteri, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, James Drury, Melanie Griffith, Nathan Lane, Alan Thicke, Lou Diamond Phillips, Clint Howard, Tony Sirico, Cesar Romero, Michael Berryman, Tracy Scoggins, William Windom, Warren Stevens and more.
Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Wally Schirra, Dave Scott, Gene Cernan, Walt Cunningham, Scott Carpenter, Gene Kranz (NASA Flight Director), Ed Mitchell, Richard Gordon, Bruce McCandless, Vanentina Treshkova (first woman in space, Russia), Alex Leonov (first man to walk in space, Russian), Al Worden, Dee O’Hara (nurse to astronauts) and more.
Sports: Joe Torre, Roger Staubach, Bob Hayes, Billie Jean King, Manuela Maleeva, Drew Pearson, Bob Lilly, Tim Duncan, David Robinson, George Gervin, Tony Parker, Shannon Miller, Cathy Rigby, Bruce Bowen, Wade Boggs, Fernando Valenzuela, Bernie Kosar, Dale Murphy, Jim Abbott, Dick Bartell, Mike Schmidt, Dan Pastorini and more.
May Pang, Bob Eubanks, Vernon Presley, Vester Presley, Charlie Hodge, Joe Esposito, Rick Stanley (Elvis’ step-brother, Harold Lloyd (Elvis’ first cousin), Doyle Brunson, Kara Peller, Hank Meijer, Norman Brinkler, Stanley Marcus, Jerry King, Mac King, Nathan Burton, Zach Anner, Louie Anderson, Owen Benjamin, Steve Byrne and more.
As head of Facilities for a major retailer (H-E-B Food/Drugs) for 20 years, Jack co-founded Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association (PRSM) and was elected President to establish PRSM magazine. Jack is a writer, speaker, golf-concierge and happiness coach. He has researched and studied happiness for over 40 years.
Jack was a prolific writer for Examiner.com, with over 1,900 articles written in six years. His articles and stories have appeared in AXS Entertainment, The ROWDY Country Music, Memphis Flash, and numerous magazines.
He is author of “Miracles of Justice,” a true courtroom drama novel about social injustice and miracles.