Thursday, May 29, 2008

Going Home

California is not “home” for me…my parents and two of my brothers moved here after I married…but I do have to admit, it is a GREAT place to visit!! Sunny days, mild temperatures, beaches, funky restaurants and lots of shopping!!

Two years ago I brought my daughter and 9 month old granddaughter with me to visit my parents. My mother had been suffering with broken bones sabotaged by the disease osteoporosis and had not been able to travel, so she had never met her great-granddaughter. One of her priorities while we were here was to get a 4-generation picture….which we did….all 4 of us piled on her bed!! I wish I had the picture here with me....I would have put it on this page!! (Aren't you glad I didn't??)

Her health deteriorated during the week we were here and I took on a new role—and to be honest, a role I had dreaded for years….to be her caregiver. My mother had always been a very strong woman and I knew it would be hard to see her suffer and in pain. It was a most difficult, emotional responsibility….and yet….I am so very thankful I was able to serve her in that manner. God provided me with much grace and I will never regret being able to take care of her.

I would go into one room and feed my granddaughter….and go into another room and feed my mother. I would go into one room and change my granddaughter’s diaper….and go into another room and change my mother’s diaper. I would go into one room and comfort my crying granddaughter….and go into another room and comfort my crying mother.....

Then, months later, and after many flights back and forth between Tennessee and California and after years and years of fervent praying for her to know my Jesus, she died….without Him. It is difficult to write about….think about. She wanted no funeral. No service of any kind. Her ashes are in a box that sits on a shelf in their house.

What do you do when you have people in your family or people you love who do not know your Jesus? How do you deal with the pain? The fear? The disappointment? The frustration? The anger? God is teaching me much….and perhaps I will share some of it with you later….but this I do know….the greatest gift you can give to those who love you is for them to KNOW you KNOW Jesus. Not that you know about Him….but that you know Him. Tell them your story.

Blessings to you….look forward to going home....your eternal home.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Remember When?

Growing up in Dallas, Texas you would have thought I would have known who Jesus was. Wrong! You would have thought I would have known what a Christian was. Wrong! (I thought a Christian was someone who was born in America!) You would have thought I would have gone to church. Wrong!

It was not until I was in high school that I heard the Truth through a non-denominational ministry to High School students called Young Life. And when I heard it….I thought it was a bunch of “hog wash”, a lot of “baloney”, a bunch of made up stories that made NO sense! I was like the people referred to in Psalm 78:32 “…they refused to believe in his miracles.”

The bottom line: I did not believe. Could not believe.

But God patiently pursued me…gently revealing mysteries to me…using friends to show me the light. Then, one night, alone in my bedroom, God touched my heart and I determined then to follow Him for the rest of my life. It honestly humbles me....overwhelms me, to think that after generations and generations of ungodliness…God would want ME!

I had no idea what it looked like to follow Him...but I desperately wanted to. I had no idea what it meant to “become like Christ”. I had not been in church. I did not know the stories or the songs. I did not know the “rules”. But, to God, it did not matter!

AND, after marrying Ernie a few years later, I had NO idea how to be a minister’s wife!! I did not know ONE minister’s wife when I became one!! And you know, as I am pondering this now, perhaps that was not all bad! I am pretty sure my tendency would have been to try to be like one of them…instead of just being me.

There are many new believers who come into our churches and have no idea what the “rules” are. They are confused by our terminology and can be embarrassed because they don’t know the Bible stories or songs by heart.

Let’s remember a time when we might have felt out of place and insecure and be sensitive to them, disciple them, encourage them.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

So Close and Yet So Far

As I continue to write from my parent’s home in sunny, southern California, I am reminded that none of the 4 churches we have served in these 33 years of our marriage/ministry have been close to my parents.

Our children have not had the privilege of having their grandparents come to soccer games or birthday parties, and I have not had the convenience of having built-in babysitters!! However, the Lord has blessed us with people who have loved and invested in our children’s lives. God has been faithful to answer our specific prayers in regard to this very important area.

I am pretty sure that many, if not most, of you find yourselves geographically far from family. Let me be a source of encouragement for you:
  1. God can provide you and your children with Godly people to be your surrogate family. Ask Him.
  2. Your children can still be close to your parents without living close by. Be intentional about building and continuing those relationships through e-mail, mail, photos, stories, visits, etc. (We would spend our vacation time visiting family. This year will be one of few times my husband and I will actually have a vacation that does not take us to family!!
  3. You will become more sensitive to those who live in your area who also do not have family close by. Oh, what a ministry that can be for you.
  4. Our children are grown now, and one of their favorite memories is when we would have people (who also did not have family nearby) over to our house Christmas Eve. It became an evening of celebrating Jesus' birthday....complete with birthday cake (there was one candle for each person present). All the children were responsible for portraying the Christmas story any way they wanted!

Now, our children and grandchildren do not live near-by. Oh, how I miss missing so much. And oh how I pray for God to continue to provide people to mentor, disciple and love on those precious ones. And oh how I know, even though we are miles apart, I am still a very important part of their lives.

How have you coped with living far from family?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

God Bless America

I am visiting my dad in Carlsbad, California....sandwiched between Naval and Marine bases in San Diego and is full of men and women serving our country in the armed forces.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, and is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service to our country.

Too often I never stop to consider what this day means. For many of us, it has been reduced to a three day weekend, or sales at the mall, or having a BBQ with friends and family. In our church, the month of May is somewhat of an exodus for many who travel to 'home' churches for "Decoration Day" or "Homecoming".

Yet....for many....and perhaps many of you reading this blog....the superficial, nonchalant disregard for the day is heartbreaking.

Perhaps you have a son or a daughter, a grandson or granddaughter, a father or mother, a brother or sister, or even a husband who is serving or has served....or perhaps, you yourself have served our great country. Thank you! Thank you for your commitment and your sacrifice and your loss.

Let's make Memorial Day what it was intended to be....a day to remember the freedom God has given us and those who died to make it possible. May it become more than just a three day weekend. Pray for those who are serving right now. For the families who are left behind. For God to move among the nations and the peoples to bring salvation to the lost.

Do you have someone in your church who is serving or a spouse or child or parent of someone serving? Do they need a word of encouragement from you?

If you know someone who needs prayer, please let us know their first name via a comment and we would love to join with you to pray for them!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


A month ago, I told you I was going to talk about priorities in a minister's wife life. Since then, life has happened. I apologize for not following up. Some of my priorities kicked in and demanded my time. Can you relate to that situation?

I have spoken at three retreats, one women's meeting and am now sitting with my very ill friend. These things have kept me busy. I count it an honor to be used in each of these situations, yet it makes it difficult to keep up with everyday life.

As I shared with you earlier, I love my calling from God. I know His plan is best and that gives me peace in the middle of chaos.

One of the ways our family enjoyed ministry was by keeping priorities straight. My late husband, Doug was wonderful at doing this very thing. He was an example of putting God first - family second -job third. This is not easy to do with the demands of ministry. We as a family knew where we were in his priorities and therefore, never felt we had to compete with the ministry. As a result, Doug was free to serve as God called him and we were able to serve with him in joy!

It is sometimes difficult to distinguish God from job when you are serving in a church. There is often pressure from your congregation to switch those priorities. I can remember my middle son, Stephen, waking up one morning and saying to his dad, "Hey, where have you been? You have come home after I am in bed 3 nights in a row." That was all it took - Doug picked up the phone, called the school and church and relayed to both that he and Stephen would not be in that morning. Doug and Stephen took off for breakfast and a morning of fun together.

It is not easy to keep things in right order or perspective. Sometimes we have to stop and ask God for wisdom and even courage to follow His plan instead of the plans of others. Take time today to give God control of your walk. Don't allow the pressures of others to dictate your day, allow God to walk you through His plan. His plan is perfect, my plan is flawed, His plan has purpose, my plan has pressure, His plan brings joy, my plan brings stress.

Give God today and let Him set your priorities.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Today I am sitting by the bed of my dear sweet friend, Katrina. She is in hospice care for ovarian cancer.

As I sit here, I am reminded of some "well intentioned", though wrong, advice given me as a young minister's wife. "Be careful young lady, you will never be able to have close friends in the ministry."

I am grateful after 28 years as a minister's wife to be able to say, "she was wrong". As God led my husband and I to each place of ministry, He brought friends into our lives. They became a part of who I am now and who I am becoming day by day.

The key to having friends is following God's guidelines. He is very clear about friendships. He is also clear about being a friend.

Lets take a quick journey through Proverbs, using the Message as our translation.

Proverbs 10 A good person's life is a fountain of wisdom
The speech of a good person clears the air
Proverbs 11 Someone with integrity won't violate a confidence
Proverbs 12 The conversation of a good person keeps them out of trouble
A cheerful word picks us up
There is healing in the words of the wise
Proverbs 15 Kind words heal and help

Obviously, I have only touched the surface. You may have also noticed that I focused on the conversations of friends. I believe the beginning of a wise friendship starts with the tongue.

A Godly friend will not cause you to gossip, but cause you to praise.

A Godly friend will not make your heart sick, her words will heal and help.

A Godly friend will not depress you with negative conversation, but strengthen you with encouragement.

A Godly friend will not repeat the things you share, but pray for you.

I am blessed with many friendships. Each place God took us, there were friends waiting. He has friends waiting for you.

Choose your friends wisely. Be a good friend yourself. Thank God for your friends. They are a gift.

"Thank you God for my sweet friend, Katrina. Comfort her today as she has comforted me through the years."

Monday, May 19, 2008












Saturday, May 17, 2008

Penning Petitions to Papa

I like to journal periodically. There are some journals that are full of my thoughts. Many of the words are penned prayers for my family. I can tell you that as a mom I put a lot of words on paper while eating tons of chocolate. (Both calm my nerves.) Today I was glancing through one such journal seeking some thoughts I had written for my youngest son, Bryan.

Bryan is my carefree child who also has a serious side. I believe God loaned him to us to make our life fun. As a child he was mischievous and loving. He is a big guy with the biggest heart I have ever seen. Bryan loves any sport that involves a ball. (By the way, his word was "ball.") One would think that preschoolers and children would be afraid of him, however, they are not. Instead, Bryan can plop down on the floor in a three-year-old Sunday School room and have kids crawling all over him in seconds. He was a way that connects with children so it makes him a natural to mentor inner city kids. Also, God has also open the door for Bryan to serve as a summer youth minister at a local church in his college town.

As I was reading through my journals, I read glimpes of my prayers for Bryan. I found one entry that I had written when he was sixteen and was out "cruising" in the city with friends. Chocolate and prayers were my best friend back then as it is now. I was wondering where my cuddly baby boy had gone, praying God would keep him safe, and that he might be a witness to those around him. I was also asking the Father to direct Bryan's path so that His purpose could be fulfilled.

I smile as I read these words. I can easily put a check mark by this prayer. Bryan is a sports management major but he has a love for kids as well. He is not afraid to share his faith either. I believe God is going to do great things in Bryan's life and allow him to be part of a great work for the Lord.

I will not stop journaling my prayers because they allow me to see them answered in time. I include my frustrations and hurts because I know God understands. I share my joys as well for they bring glory to the Father.
I encourage you to begin penning your petitions to Papa and watch when He will do.
You've kept track of my every toss and turn
through the sleepless nights,
Each tear entered in your ledger,
Each ache written in your book.
Psalms 56:8 The Message

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sacrifice of Ministry

Today and tomorrow mark milestones in our family. Tonight, our niece and beauty queen, Donna, is graduating from high school. Tomorrow, our future daughter-in-law receives her college degree. As we all know these events are hugh accomplishments and are cause for celebration. However, my husband and I are unable to attend either graduation due to both events being out of state and church commitments. It is just one of the sacrifices ministers and their families sometimes have to make.

There have been several special times that we have had to miss with our families. Rarely, do we ever get to spend Mother's Day or Father's Day with our parents. There have been countless birthday celebrations missed with our families too. When other church members travel to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with their relatives, many times minsters are unable to go because of distance. Except for the last couple of years, our family has been fortunate to live close enough to travel home for the holidays. Although it is not easy not celebrating without our families, we have learned there are others in our church who may be in the same boat as us. Missed celebrations are just part of the sacrifice of ministry.

No, we may not be able to attend every milestone celebration. However through God's calling, we get the opportunity to share Jesus with a dying world. Fortunately, we have family that understands our calling. They are supportive in all we do. Besides, I believe when we all get to heaven there will be all types of celebrations taking place.

When Jesus began his ministry on earth, He sacrificed greatly. He ministered to the sick and poor. He suffered angry mobs and was betrayed. I often wonder if He was able to celebrate with his mom and earthly dad on their birthdays. Was he able to visit with his brothers often and play with their children? How many family milestones did Jesus willingly miss in order to fulfill His Heavenly Father's purpose? I believe Jesus found joy in the milestone of someone receiving salvation. In order for His Heavenly Father's purpose to be fulfilled, Jesus sacrifice earthly milestones.

I do believe that even when you miss family milestone your heart can still be thinking of that person. You can spend time praying for that individual. You can write a note, make a phone call, or send flowers. Even though I am missing the graduation milestone of Donna and Robyn this weekend, I plan to send a note from the "World's Greatest Aunt" and "World's Best Future Mother-In-Law." Even if the miles separate us, I will also join the celebration party by breaking out a box of dark chocolate.

What sacrifices does your family make in order to share Jesus with the world?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

God Reveals Himself

One of my favorite walking spots is Bowie Park in Fairview, TN. There are miles of trails to explore and the peacefulness I discover there is very calming.

I first discovered this park when my husband and I moved here a couple of years ago. We were living in a rental condo, our boys did not move with us, our home in Arkansas was still for sale, financial stress was an everyday matter, and our aging parents were having health issues. After a morning for just worrying and eating my favorite comfort food-chocolate, I decided I needed to just get out and clear my head. It was the perfect time to hit the trails at the park across the highway.

Girls, I can tell you that God was on that walk with me that day. A light breeze was blowing, birds were singing, fish were jumping in the water, and deer would be so close to me I could almost touch them.

A few weeks later as the fall leaves were at their peak, I hit the trails for an early morning walk and prayed that God would reveal Himself to me. As I rounded one curve I literally had to stop and shield my eyes. The sunlight was piercing the tops of the trees and it looked as if the leaves were on fire. Their gold, orange, and red hues were beyond description. Soon my eyes adjusted to the sight and my mouth fell open. Across the trail for as far as I could see bright red leaves blanketed my path. It was as if God rolled out the red carpet of nature just for me that day. I felt the peace and assurance embracing me. I knew the Father had not forgotten His child. The only words that came from my mouth were "Thank you."

God reveals Himself to each of us in His own way. Sometimes He is in the smile of a child or He can be in the glory of nature. As I get older I appreciate nature more. I see God in the majesty of the mountains, feel Him in the gentle breeze, marvel at His vast love for me when I hear the ocean roar, and stand breathless on fall mornings when God paints the world in brillant hues and rolls the red carpet out just for me.

I challenge you today to begin to look for ways that God reveals Himeself to you.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Even Beach Bums Have a Purpose

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I spent a couple of days in Orange Beach, AL. He golfed and I parked my body on the beach. Yep, I spent two glorious days from morning until afternoon just sitting in my beach chair with my feet stuck in the sugar white sand. I did not put on makeup or do my hair until evening. I believe the term that best described my two day beach stay is "beach bum."
However, my days on the beach were not a waste. God did not make me just to sit and twiddle my thumbs. I enjoyed one of Karen Kingsbury's latest books. I also stated Before You Leap by Kermit the Frog. (Yes, I said Kermit the Frog.) Both books had some pretty interesting points. While the Kingsbury book explores the grace and mercy of God and how He works in our lives, Kermit's book delves into the practical lessons of life such as finding your purpose and reaching for your dreams.

I believe God works in each of lives to glorify Him. He put us here for a purpose. He has a plan for each of us. He planted a dream deep in our spirits. He gives us a desire to strive for the dream as well. It is our job to be in tune to the Father and discover His will for our lives.
Some days I think I understand what my purpose is-to spend long, lazy days at the beach and sample all the chocolate on the planet earth. Just kidding! I believe my purpose is to be a servant to others. However, there are days when I struggle with that idea. Some days I just feel used, put upon and unappreciated. That is when I just want to go home, shut the door, and not answer the phone. However, my heart eventually sees a need again and I am off to serve. Currently, my area of service in our church and working with other ministers wives. Isn't it amazing? Even beach bums have a purpose in life!

What is your purpose and how do you use it to glorify God?

Monday, May 12, 2008

It's a Girl!

I am overflowing with joy. God never ceases to amaze me. His timing is always perfect even when I do not always understand it. However, His answers to prayers do come.

After almost 25 years of praying daily for that special young lady God created for my oldest son, we are finally going to have her enter our family next year. Of course, I already feel like she is part of this crazy clan but the wedding will make it official.

My future daugther-in-law is beautiful and precious. God gave her a sweet spirit and gentle heart. He molded her in a way in which she can literally melt my son's heart. She's not only very intelligent but she is pretty creative too. (I'm hoping she will eventually give me some decorating tips.) Because Stephen is a new Air Force offficer, I think it is pretty awesome that God placed Robyn in my son's life. You see, Robyn's sister is married to an Air Force guy so she understands a little of what military life will be like. Just think 25 years ago God was already planning this amazing sweet girl for my son.

I say all this to make a point. If you do not pray for your children daily, start now. If you are not praying for their future spouse, now is the time to begin. Prayer is the one thing we can give our kids that will last a lifetime. Personally, I cannot tell you how many times I have been on my face praying for my boys through difficult decisions and times. Sometimes I dd not even have the words to speak but I knew Jesus was at the Father's feet groaning on my behalf. Sometimes the answers come quickly and other times it takes years (sometimes 25 years). Sometimes God answers with yes but sometimes His says no. The important thing to remember is that God does know best and His timing is perfect.

After years of living in a male locker room, I can proudly shout from the roof top my answered prayer-"I HAVE A GIRL!"
Take a few minutes to pray for your children. Whether they are infants or all grown up, our kids still need parents who pray for them daily. Do not just ask God to bless them. Make your request specific to God. If you do not know a specific need your child has, ask them.

God bless you,

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Before Mother's Day

We can't let this week go by without taking some time to stop and thank God for our mothers. BUT before we do, I think it would be good to take a moment to pause and remember some of the ladies who may be reading this post, and are definitely sitting in our church's pews. Mother's Day is a very difficult holiday for many, many women.

There are those women among us, including our dear Jeanne, who have lost their mothers during the course of the last year. This Sunday will bring up many memories and great range of emotions.

Then there are so many wonderful, Christian, young women, who like Hannah, long for a child and have found God's answer to their prayers to be "not at this time." In my limited circles alone, I know 6 or 7 couples who would give anything to be parents. Many of them are in the process of adoption, and God still says, "wait."

Along the same vein, there are more couples than we may know that have suffered miscarriages. They get their hopes up, begin planning, begin dreaming and then are left with only questions. Only last week, a dear friend of mine suffered such a loss.

This brought to mine another dear friend who lost her pre-teen daughter last summer. She is facing her first Mother's Day in thirteen years without her little girl. Being a mother of a little girl myself, I cannot begin to identify with her loss. I know that there are others like her across our land.

For too many years, in too many churches, these women are overlooked. Let me encourage you to reach out to these dear, hurting women this week. Encourage your husband to be sensitive to these ladies' presence in their congregations this Sunday. Please take the opportunity to remind those in your circles of influence to be sympathetic to those hurting souls beside them in the pews.

Do you have any ideas on how to best minister to these women? Please share . . .

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Move On

As I mentioned in my previous post, this move we are undertaking is unique for us. Since we aren't moving a great distance, not quite three miles, we are taking it slow and not moving everything all at once.

You see, the past two years we have lived with my in-laws. (That could be a whole set of postings!) As a result, we have articles and items stored and stuffed in multiple locations: a brother-in-law's basement, an overstuffed garage, the storage shed that isn't on the way to anywhere . . .

Before leaving our modest house in Lexington, KY, I held a yard sale and gave away those items that I just knew we could live without (including an old sofa my husband still mourns over - it was older than me!). Then I packed up everything else for what I thought would be couple of months at the max.

Well, a couple of months slowly turned into six and then twelve, now twenty-four. There are many things in those boxes I've learned aren't essential. I can live just fine, even happily, without them.

So now, as I unpack these boxes I am again sorting our possessions one more time and preparing for an even bigger yard sale. I mean if I haven't needed it or missed it for two years, why should I hang on to it?

God has taught me many many things over the last two years. A great deal of it has been about contentment. Spiritually, I know that there are some "little" sins and "indulgences" I grant myself that I know I can be happy and better off without. Maybe it is a television show, wanting to receive a bit of gossip or listening way much to a radio station that doesn't honor God. If you are like me, you have a dozen excuses for hanging onto these things: "It's no big deal." "I am spiritually mature enough to handle this." "It isn't effecting anyone but me."

But IF we go without these things - pack them away for a little while - I am confident that God will show us that we really don't need them. They don't add any value to our lives or our walks with Him. They are just baggage that we keep around hogging up the space in our lives. It is time we confess these little things for the sins that they are and move on.

Anyone have any similar experiences? What are some of the things that God has taught you through moving?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Moving Again . . .

I should have known God was preparing me for a life of transition and change in both marriage and ministry from my very first weekend as a wife. Almost ten years ago, I rushed from my bridal tea to my college graduation and then made a mad dash to our wedding rehearsal. We returned from our honeymoon to move me into "our" first place, my new husband's duplex, three hours away. That was move #1 . . . Oh, and did I mention that all this took place at Christmas? It was all crazy to say the least!

Well, right now we find ourselves in the midst of move #6. We have moved across the state and across the country, but this one is a first. We are moving across town.

You would think that with 5 moves as a married lady (not counting 4 before I was married), that I would have this moving thing down pat - On the contrary, I am always looking for a better, easier, more time efficient way to get done what needs to be done.

So, I figured you, dear readers, may have a move or two under your belts. I mean most of us in ministry have moved at the very least a time or two. As a result, I couldn't think of anyone better to ask for moving advice or tips . . . I am talking about the very practical means of getting all our stuff from point A to point B without losing anything or anyone in the process . . . Got any ideas?

Please take a moment to respond. When you do, let me know how many times you've moved along with a tidbit or two to help take some of the stress out the transition of moving . . .

Friday, May 2, 2008

Unique "Sisterhood"

Earlier this week I went to lunch with some of the staff wives from our church. We don't do this very often but it was a wonderful afternoon. As we sat around the table and talked we realized that there is a lot of camaraderie among us. We discussed all the various things going on each other's lives and had a chance to really share some heart-felt emotions. We know that even though our church members are sweet we can't always say what we are really feeling inside to them. But there was safety among us and we were very honest not only with each other, but with ourselves.

Before we left we determined that we were our own best friends. We understood that there is something unique among ministers' wives and we are truly blessed to have other ladies in our lives that understand are "uniqueness".

I am sure there are some of you that do not have other staff wives at church that you can talk to. I understand because I have been there myself. But this blog was created with the intention to be a sounding board, a shoulder to cry on or someone to laugh with. God knew we would need that and that was why He said "Rejoice with those that rejoice" and "weep with those who weep". Come join us and share with us what is going on in your life and allow us to share what is going on in ours. We will all be better for it.