Friday, October 31, 2008

Future Holiday Memories

As I wrap up this week talking about memories, I wanted to take a second and look to some future memories, memories that we haven't made yet. With the holidays upon us, (Can you believe that it is already November?!) our attentions turn to list making and preparations for the coming get-togethers and celebrations ahead. 

This year, with lots of help from the family, we are hosting the Vinson Family Thanksgiving. My mind is already awash in the things I want to do and need to do to get ready for the big meal. As usual though, I am afraid I am allowing my expectations to get the better of me, and, as a result, that line between what I want to do and what I need to do is already a bit blurry. I need to sit down and evaluate the kind of memories that I want to have from the event. Then I can go ahead and make my plans. 

For example, I know I want to remember enjoying my day. I want to remember making my family feel special and comfortable in my home. I don't want my husband or daughter remembering me going crazy or getting impatient or becoming stressed out in all the preparations. Ultimately, I want to honor God and keep Him as the central focus, because everything we have to be thankful for comes from Him to begin with. So with these goals in mind, if the hallway goes unpainted and the new recipe I want to try for cranberry-orange sauce flops, I will still remember the day as a success, if I place my effort and priority in making the memories I want to keep. 

Last summer I read Treasuring God in Our Traditions by Noel Piper. The book was a fantastic help in showing me how I could continue to strive to make God the most central aspect of our home. In it, Noel shows how to take the everyday things we do, as well as the holidays and keep our eyes on Jesus. She shows the Biblical principles for this and challenges the reader to be intentional about making sure Jesus is really the reason for the season -ANY season.

So, dear sister, my "encouragement" to you is to begin thinking of the memories you want to create with your family and your church this holiday season. Read Noel's book, (Your local Lifeway should have it, or it can be ordered at More importantly, begin praying about your focus. As the wives, mothers, grandmothers, and ministers' wives of our homes and churches we have the ability and responsibility to set the tone. We have to be intentional and purposeful or it just won't happen.

Post your ideas for this holiday season: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's. Share something that made some really wonderful memories in the past. Share a goal or a question about memories you want to be intentional to make this year. We will see if someone else has an idea about how to make your memories happen . . . 

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Facebook Memories

I don't know if you have discovered Facebook yet, but I finally succumbed to the pressure and joined the online networking community last week. A bunch of our friends had and everyone kept saying that "you really ought to." So in an effort to stay connected to a friend that recently moved out-of-state, I signed up. It was quick and easy. No pain involved and it was surprisingly fast. 

Literally, within a matter of minutes I was in touch with friends and acquaintances that I had known 20+ years ago. High school buddies, youth group friends, sorority sisters were all easily and quickly reconnected with. Everyone lists as much or as little information about themselves as they want and I was quickly able to ascertain who was married, who had kids, and other general information. The pictures many of them included were the best. I could see how much, or how little people had changed. I could see pictures of their kiddos and have a way to instantly be back in touch with them. 

Before I knew it, an hour and half had slipped by. I had learned that my former pastor's son had married a Rockette, my college roommate still had her wacky sense of humor and that my prom date was now a married engineer living on the west coast. Many people had placed old photos online and I found myself remembering nights and events and places and people that I had once thought I would never need to be reminded of.

I have to wonder what people have thought when they have clicked on my "wall." Do they think that I've changed? Am I the same old Tara? How do they remember me? Am I what they expected?

Some of my old friends are exactly as I would have expected. Many are not. There are a few of my college friends that I never imagined would be the stay-at-home moms that they are. There are a few people that I thought would have been married with kids by now and they aren't. There are various political views expressed. There are various religious affiliations. There are differences in all of us from the people that we once were. 

It has been great to reconnect with many of these people. There have been a couple renewed friendships that I intend to keep up with. The computer (and Facebook) make it so easy, I don't see how I can blow it this time. . . . I also want to be sure and pray for these old friends that God has brought into my life again. He has dealt with each of us differently and we have all responded to Him in our own ways. I am so thankful that my journey has been what it has been and that God has brought me to the place He has today. 

Any of you out there have accounts on Facebook? What have your experiences been? Thinking about signing up? It has been a blessing so far for me. If you're on, look me up! Here is my profile picture, and let me know you are from this blog when you send me your friend request!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pregnancy Memories

I can honestly admit that I was genuinely surprised during my ultrasound. I thought for sure the technician would tell me that this little baby inside of me was going to be a boy. Why was I so sure? Because this pregnancy has been nothing like my first one when I carried our daughter. 

Now, I know my body is six years older and that time, in addition to falling madly in love with a newborn, does funny things to a momma's memory. But, I can honestly say that I do not remember my first pregnancy being as, um, uh, as "challenging" as this one.  Yes, I had morning sickness and I felt tired. I craved salty foods. But, nothing in my memories prepared me for pregnancy #2!

I am so thankful to be out of my first trimester now . . . I feel like those weeks are really a blur. I remember a variety of bathrooms and I had definitely claimed a place on the corner of the couch . . . I had no idea what was in the fridge, as I left all the food prep to my very patient, very understanding, very wonderful husband. 

So I took my memories of pregnancy #1 and compared them to pregnancy #2 and just assumed that I "knew" this baby had to be different . . . It had to be a boy . . . You know I think that sometimes, I just make God chuckle at me . . .

Nope, Baby #2 is most definitely a girl. 

As I reflected on this, I thought about how one-sided my memories of being pregnant before are. Yes, I know my husband agrees that this pregnancy has been different, but all my memories are of my perspective alone. They are merely from my own point of view and none of them very objective. And here I was making all these suppositions and expectations from them. Have you ever done that?

God has been so good to be my portion and my strength through even the worst of the morning sickness. But He has also been there for me in other ways . . . I honestly know that He is preparing me for this second daughter. Yes, she is a girl like my oldest. BUT, God is already letting me know that she is her own person and will be nothing like her sister. Maybe that is why He has made this pregnancy so very different from my memories of being pregnant the first time around . . . God definitely teaches me things through memories.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fall Memories

I love Fall. It is my favorite season- the cooling temps after summer's heat and humidity, the return to routine with the start of school, the smell of fall on a cool crisp breeze that sends leaves of various rich colors cascading to the ground. Apples, pumpkins, bonfires, hayrides, sweaters, football .  .  . As I allow myself to think about the season, I can easily get carried away with a variety of memories all encompassing the season.

Memories are what I want to focus on this week in the blog. This fall I am finding myself remembering quite a bit. As I am expecting our second daughter (That's right, we found out baby #2 is a girl!), I am remembering what it was like to be pregnant the first time around. I am a new member of the Facebook community and spending a lot of time reminiscing with old friends from college, and various youth groups. Then with the holidays rapidly approaching I am beginning to focus on old traditions I want to make sure we continue another year. 

In the midst of all this "thinking" I am doing . . . I am reminded that God calls us, as He repeatedly called His people, to remember Him. Remember His faithfulness. Remember the things He has done. Remember Him.

Friday, October 24, 2008


I believe that we should give credit where credit is due. So often we don't take the time to say thank you to people who have gone out of their way to help us. I would like to take this opportunity to tell Lana Rose how very much we as Ministers' Wives appreciate all that she does for us. You only have to scroll down a little way on this blog to see some of the things that she has put together for us. All during the year she is working on project after project helping us with our calling as Ministers' Wives. She performs her ministry with excellence; genuine compassion and simply makes our lives more enjoyable. Lana makes us feel less isolated and affirms us all.

Lana, thanks for being a great portrait of Jesus to us.

We love you.


Next week we will be homeless. It is my fault. I didn't pay close attention to things like I should have. Here is what happened....

Last summer we went to Destin with our youth group. On the way home we stopped at several places to see about renting a house for next summer for our family. We looked and looked and everything was much higher than we wanted to spend. When we got home, I was talking to my sister. One of her best friends parents live on the Gulf of Mexico. They love to vacation up here in the mountains during the fall. She suggested we contact them to see if they wanted to do a house exchange. We thought that would be great since Randy usually takes a "study week" in the fall. He packs up his computer and his books and goes to a hotel somewhere where he can spread out his things and not be disturbed. (I am sure all of you know what I am talking about since none of our husbands are able to get a lot a time to themselves while at church. Kind of like when you are in the hospital and can never get any sleep....)Well, sure enough, they thought that was a great idea. So we made our plans. They were to arrive here the last week in October. But, all these plans were made BEFORE I broke my back.

Life has not been normal for some time now. We have had to improvise in a lot of areas. We have had to let some thing slide that normally would have taken center stage. Anyway, with all the different things going on, I didn't realize that the week they were going to be in our house
was also a very busy week for us here in the area. We have several meetings that we need to attend, luncheons, speaking engagements and to top it all off....FALL FESTIVAL at church Friday night. That in and of itself is a big deal, but this year our only granddaughter, who is 17 months old, is coming in for the night. So both of our daughters, sons-in-law and granddaughter
are coming to stay the weekend...and we don't have a house!!

God is so good though. Thankfully, there is a sweet couple in our church that has a house a little ways out of town and they have offered it to us. Life really is an adventure!!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Two great events coming for Ministers Wives

The Good Cup is a brand new event for ministers wives being held on Monday, November 10 at FBC, Hendersonville during the Pastors Conference from 1:00-3:30 in the youth area. This is a free event hosted by the Ministers Wives Affinity Team at the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Holly Thompson, anchor at Channel 4 in Nashville will open the session using the theme: "Sisterhood, We Need Each Other." Bill Choate, TBC Collegiate Specialist, will faciliate discussion groups around Holly's theme. To close out the session, Kay DeKalb Smith, Christian comedian will share laughter with us using the theme, "Sisters, Sisters, Never were there such devoted Sisters!” Our dream is that this will become an annual event. Come join us at The Good Cup at FBC, Hendersonville.

The second event is our annual Ministers Wives Luncheon held on Tuesday, November 11 at Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville. The cost of this event is $15. Reservations can be purchased online at You can mail your reservations to Joyce Harvey, TBC, PO Box 728, Brentwood, TN 37024. Kay DeKalb Smith will also be with us at Long Hollow. Our theme is: "Help! I Need a Lift." There are several door prizes and everyone who attends will receive a full gift bag.

Come to Hendersonville and meet other "sisters" across Tennessee. See you in Hendersonville.

Friday, October 17, 2008

"I Used to Be"

A few years ago I went to visit a pastor’s wife who was in jail….she eventually went to trial for murdering her pastor-husband. I did not want to go see her….God made me go!! I had a burning in my heart for her. Why was life so terrible for her? Did she want “out” of the whole minister’s wife role so desperately?

While I was there, another lady came in to see the same woman. Why was she there, I wondered? I looked deep into her eyes and asked “Are you a pastor’s wife?” She said, “I used to be”. God had compelled both of us to drive from two different parts of the state to go and see this minister’s wife. Why? Because we know what it is like to be a minister’s wife? Because we know that it can be challenging?

Before we left the jail that day, my new friend and I sat down and she began to share with me her story of abuse and pain and betrayal at the hand of her minister husband, and then, eventually, death.

A few months later I received a phone call from another woman that I had never met, who through tears and torment, began to share with me her devastating story. She was divorced from her minister husband….but no one at the church knew they were divorced...they were still living together. She was having an affair with a man from another state….and her minister husband not only approved of it, but encouraged it. Ladies, I am just touching the tip of the iceberg of her story of sin and destruction and pain.

We must realize that not all minister’s families have these perfect, Godly marriages and homes. Not all homes are wrapped up and tied with the perfect matching ribbon. That underneath the wrappings and ribbons, there is much pain and hurt and sin in our homes. We carefully, meticulously put on our happy faces and make sure the church thinks that all is well….when all is not well!!

I could share with you many other stories of adultery, thievery, pride, divorce, homosexuality, etc....all going on in the minister’s family. And I am sure you can too. Am I talking to you? Are you suffering? How can we help you? How can I help you?

Many of you “used to be” a minister’s wife. You have experienced the pain of divorce or the ache of death or the challenge of retirement or the confusion and fear of changing careers. Many of us who are now minister’s wives might one day say I “used to be” a minister’s wife.

Ladies, if we are not careful, our identity and worth can be wrapped up in what we do or who our children are or being married to a minister. I exhort you, sister, do NOT get caught in that trap. You are a precious, beloved, gifted woman….created for a purpose to bring glory to God. And praise Him….once we are His we will NEVER be able to say “I used to be His!!!"

Father, I pray for my sister who is suffering now. Who desperately needs help. I ask that You would provide her with Godly council. I pray for her husband and their marriage. That they would repent of their sin, that they enemy would be defeated and that restoration would come. Bring them to You....anoint them with Your power and forgiveness and strength. I also pray for Shari and any others who are searching for a Church to serve You and be served. Lead them, Lord. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Left Behind

My husband has been gone 51 days.

  • Yes, I am counting!!
  • No, I did not get to go with him.
  • Yes, I will eventually get to go.

I have been “left behind” because of commitments I needed to fulfill here before I could make the move. This separation has provided many challenges, vacancies and opportunities.

For instance:

  • A typical week of laundry consists of a handful of panties instead of several loads.
  • The remote control is always where I left it and never lost in the cushion of the recliner.
  • I never wake up to the sweet sound of snoring.

And I miss all of it! I miss my husband. We have been married over 33 years and we are best friends. He has begun his new ministry in our new church and God is using him. He is meeting people and talks about names I am not familiar with. He goes places I cannot envision.

Another challenge that I struggle with is, where do I go to church? Many weekends I am not able to travel the eight hours to be with my husband and our new church because of speaking engagements and I have been told it would be best if I did not go back to our church here. So, what am I to do? Do I drive for 45 minutes to an hour to go to church in another town? Do I go to another church in our small town? Do I stay home and go to the church on the TV? Others have told me I should return to our church. So I am open to suggestions. What has worked for you? What am I to do? (So far I have done all of the above!!)

What a strange place to be. A pastor’s wife visiting other churches!! Honestly, at times, it has been freeing! To be anonymous.! To be able to worship and not know anyone, talk to anyone! To be able to focus on the Lord and not on anyone else. What freedom!!

I am so ready to be reunited with my husband….and in the meantime, I long to use this time to get to know my God. To sit at His feet. To not waste a second of this “season”. To do as Paul says in Philippians, to “Know Him and the Power of his resurrection…”. To learn how to love and serve my husband from a distance. To pray and seek wisdom as to how God might use me at our new church. To understand that this sense of loneliness and feeling disconnected from the old church and the new church will be used for His glory and my good.

The truth is….I have not been "left behind"!! Jeremiah 20:11 says “the Lord stands beside my like a great warrior!!”

Monday, October 13, 2008

Live Life Loved

I did not say anything in my last postings about our move….and I am not sure why. Perhaps it was because it has all been quite overwhelming and for some strange reason, not “talking” about it makes it not seem real.

These past few months have been challenging, encouraging, exciting, reflective, fearful, busy, and exhausting. We were so encouraged as our church sent us off with words of exhortation and reflection and love. I weep as I reflect on our last Sunday as the people shared with us how God had used us, and, for the very first time in 15 years…I realized how loved we really were. How sad to have to wait until we leave to grasp the truth of the love the people had for us.

Oh ladies, how often I struggle with not knowing if I am loved. I long for people to love me. To accept me. BUT how wrong it is for me to long for the love of people….to get my fulfillment and joy from their love. I MUST live my life knowing that my Father in heaven loves me so fully and unconditionally….Oh, Lord, I want to know how loved I am by You….I don’t want to wait until I leave this earth and see Your accepting eyes and fall at Your feet before I grasp this Truth.

My sweet “70-something” friend wrote to me saying she was praying for me to “live life loved”. When I first read it, I thought she was talking about living life loved by people….WRONG! I am to live life loved by HIM.

You, my friend, are precious. You are loved! Isaiah 43:4 says, “Others died that you might live. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you.”

Let me warn you as well....In the words of Denver Moore in Same Kind of Different as Me, “what is precious to God becomes important to satan.” (I would HIGHLY recommend this book!!! It is life-changing).

Allow yourselves to be loved….by God and by the people in your church.

Oh, Father, I thank you for the amazing, perfect love You have for us. I ask that You would speak Your love to this precious woman reading this and that she would KNOW how loved she is by You! I stand against the enemy who would want her to ignore that love or reject that love or not believe in that love. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Friday, October 10, 2008

God's Orders

I have shared with you the orders of 'shelter and stay' and 'mandatory evacuation'. Both of these were used during hurricane Ike in Houston. They were completely opposite orders for different people in different places. Each order was given in the best interest of the people. The officials in Houston were trying to keep people safe and provide for their needs.

We receive these same orders in ministry at different times.

At times we are serving in a church with many trials. The longer we serve the more frustrated we become. The normal response is, "God let me out of here!" At times He may say yes, but more often He says, "shelter and stay". These are the times we learn to love like He loves us, we learn to trust He is in control, we allow the fire to refine.

The more difficult time for our family was when our church was growing and we loved our people, we felt loved by them and God said, "evacuate". It just did not make sense to us. Why now? "We are getting Your work done, Lord." I could give God many reasons why we needed to be in that place, yet He gave the evacuation orders.

We have choices to make when God gives His orders. We can obey, obey with joy, obey with resentment, obey with trust, obey kicking and screaming all the way. Of course, we can also disobey.

Ladies, wherever you are in your journey with God, I know you already understand the importance of obeying. I so want you to go further and receive the blessings of obeying in trust and joy. Let me allow God to give you His assurance as you obey His orders.

Jeremiah 1:5a, 7b "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you ... For you shall go to all to whom I send you, And whatever I command you, you shall speak."

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Mandatory Evacuation

I shared with you our order to shelter and stay during hurricane Ike. Today I want to share with you the order of "mandatory evacuation".

As we watched the tracking of the hurricane on the news, we heard that Galveston was ordered to evacuate. The people of Galveston were told there would be no power, no water, no police, no fireman, no nurses, no doctors, No Help! Repeatedly they were told they must leave and warned of impending death. The roads going into Galveston were closed and all roads were opened to go out of Galveston.

I was amazed at how many warnings were given to these people. It seemed all day and night for days they were told to evacuate, yet some did not want to leave behind their homes, cars, stuff. Mandatory evacuation, not optional, not a request, but an order. A giant storm was coming, they needed to leave, wasn't that enough information?

Through the years in ministry, we at times received the call to evacuate. God would tell us it was time to pick up and move. There were times we did not want to move. We were happy serving where we were at that time. Our children were in school and we had more to do at the church, yet God said, "Evacuate". Leave your stuff and go.

When we obey God's mandatory evacuation call, we can be sure He will open the roads to go. When we refuse we can be sure we will be without Power and Help!

Genesis 12:1-2 "Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you."

I pray you will always be willing to evacuate when God gives the order. He will bless you.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Hurricane Ike

I went to Houston for my cancer check up a few weeks ago. It was the normal round of all day testing and visiting doctors. As we were finishing the day, a nurse said, "we will try to get you out of here before the hurricane hits."

Well, the hurricane hit and we were ordered to "shelter and stay". That means, don't leave, stay put, remain where you are, STOP! We obeyed those orders and went through our first hurricane. It was not something I can explain or describe. The rain was like a waterfall, falling horizontally and the wind was so loud that we could hardly hear ourselves talk.

As we went through the next six to eight hours of unending rain and wind, I was amazed at the power and destruction going on around me. We had to stay away from the windows, but we could hear many things being destroyed, moved and uprooted throughout the night.

I am telling you this because I thought about the many times in ministry when it seemed that destruction was going on around me. Families being torn apart, jobs being lost, loved ones leaving this earthly home. Even when we could not see what was going on in the people's lives we were serving, the sounds of hurt, confusion and anger were there.

We were not hurt during the hurricane because we followed the orders of "shelter and stay". God has the same orders for us at special times in our lives. He tell us in Psalm 46:10, "Be still and know that I am God." As we serve, there are times when we must stop and shelter and stay, under the shelter of His wings, safe and secure. Wait on Him, trust His Word, listen to His instructions and obey. He will give you the direction you need in the middle of the worst storms.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hugs and Kisses

I believe I have mentioned that there are a few of things on this planet that I just cannot live without-Jesus, my family, chocolate and girlfriends. Now, Jesus and my family are extremely important to me and nothing will ever replace them. However, a healthy dose of dark chocolate and gabbing with girlfriends keep my heart healthy. Well, face it. It has been stated that chocolate can be good for you plus add in the laughter of great girlfriends and you have it made!

Today, I lunched with four precious girlfriends. The ironic part of this lunch is that four of us are staff wives at my church and the other is a member of the church. However, we have a common bond-Jesus and a desire to know one another.

Since this is clergy/staff appreciation month, I would like to say that each staff person whether a pastor or youth leader deserves a standing ovation from their churches. They carry the burden of so many people and must be a servant for Christ. I know in our church each staff person is vital to the body of Christ. However, I will say that we staff wives deserve our pat on the back too.

No matter whether your church is small or large a staff wife is vital to the ministry. We are partners in the work whether we like it or not. I personally love being a pastor's wife. Now, it is a big responsibility and there are times when I would like to stay home in my PJs and relax. In addition, there are times when I would like to yell at the people who are critical of our church. Often because of my humaness, I fell at my ministry role. However, I feel the call of Christ to be a supportive wife. a fellow servant, and a Christian witness. I also feel a deep desire to mentor other staff wives.

I am so blessed that the staff wives I serve with are open and friendly. I cherish them. We are all unique and vary in age. Our children range in age from young adult to two years old. We all have various areas of interest as well. However, the common bond we share is our love for Christ and our experiences in this sisterhood of ministry. What is even better and unique is that these ladies are truly my girlfriends. I just love and appreciate them so much.

Let me encourage you to find a way to tell your fellow staff wives thank you for serving with you at your church. If you are the only staff wife, then find another staff wife from another church and spend time with her. Our unique sisterhood can only be understood by a fellow sister. There are plenty of staff wives out there who are so lonely and just need an encouraging word or hug. Ask the Lord to place a staff wife on your heart today and do something special for her. Here are a couple of suggestions:
*Send a note of encouragement
*Place a few Hershey Hugs and Kisses in a bag and write a note.
*Go lunch together
*Make a phone call
*Go to Sonic for a coke
To all the ministers wives who read our blog, I would like to say thank you for all your hard work. May the Lord shower His blessings on you today in a very special way. Since I do not have any Hershey chocolate on me at the moment, I'll close by saying "Hugs and Kisses from a fellow sister."