Thursday, December 31, 2009

Come to the Manger

I have just rolled back into town from an extended Christmas trip back to Arkansas. As I reflect back on the last week, Christmas is not about the presents and food. It is a time to remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus.

While visiting our parents, we were fortunate to attend the candlelight service at my parent’s church. The church is small in comparison to our church here, but the spirit is the same. The church has the desire to proclaim Jesus. The candlelight service was simple with Christmas carols and solos. However, what hit a nerve with me is the pastor’s devotional.

This pastor began to read from his journal. He, like so many of us, was stressing about how to complete the Christmas shopping, pack for his family’s trip to visit grandparents and siblings, attend a multitude of church Christmas functions, prepare several sermons for December plus put together the Christmas Eve candlelight service. In addition, he admitted he had to visit a few shut-ins and the hospital. He also had to do the administration of the church. However, over and over through his writings he stated that God was calling, “Come to the manger.”

This simple statement slapped me in the face. I was worried about how my family would spend equal time at our parents. I was concerned with making sure everyone had a gift to open. While in Arkansas I had not once reflected on why we were gathering. God reminded me in through this pastor’s journal that I needed to come to the manger and rediscover the Christ Child.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Peace

The stockings have been filled. The breakfast casserole is ready for brunch tomorrow. The cheese ball is made. The girls asleep. The house is quiet and still except for my sweetie wrapping his gifts and watching The Christmas Story. (It is a tradition of his to do it this way...)

Our Christmas Eve did not go exactly as planned. We had an expected and unexplained four and half hour power outage this evening. We lit candles and ate a dinner of tuna on crackers, oranges and spicy Pringles.

But the quiet was wonderful and, despite the lengthy to-do list abandoned by the lack of electricity, there was peace in the Vinson house. Maybe that was the only way we would have slowed down to enjoy each other this evening. It was wonderful. Thank You God.

Yes, we are celebrating the ultimate gift He gave, His Son. But I am also rejoicing that He still gives us little gifts all the time, blessing our lives with dozens of joys and countless little pleasures. We are so blessed. Thank You Lord!

Merry CHRISTmas from all of us!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Regrets

I regret my behavior at the late summer staff retreat where Christmas plans were discussed and I left the room in tears.

My husband had only been on staff at this church for a number of weeks. Everything was so new and we were living so far from our extended families. The talk of a mandatory attendance at Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services was just more than I could handle, much less process, in that setting.

My husband, the lead pastor and his wife all followed me. Soon I was completely embarrassed and I am sure my husband was too. Then I felt even worse. At the sight of my tears, the pastor made concessions that we wouldn't have to be there - but I am sure that this gesture of his, while well-intended, did nothing to endear us to the other staff families. Another fact that I am sure of is that my behavior solidified their view of me as being young and, as a result, my input was not valued or wanted on that leadership retreat or any other planning meeting that followed.

We went "home" that Christmas and I was blessed to be around my parents and my in-laws. I just wish I had been able to see the house my husband and I lived in as "home." I wish I could have seen our church there as "family" and not longed for something more. While my desires are understandable, I know that I wasn't looking to my heavenly Father to care for me. I was anything but content in those circumstances.

I don't know your situation this Christmas. Maybe you are far from your parents and you are mourning failed expectations of your kids being with their grandparents this week. Perhaps you even have grandparents heaping on the guilt for not being there - wherever "there" is. It may be easy to look around you and resent the church and the people you are called to love and serve.

Remember what is truly important and don't regret how you handled the situation. Cling to the Father and His gift. Keep Him as your focus and know that He is keeping score. Nothing we lose for His sake goes without His notice. He has promised to pay us back and then some.

No regrets this Christmas.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Preschoolers and Jesus

This fall, God blessed me with the opportunity to oversee our church's Mother's Day Out program. It has been a wonderful experience and I am really enjoying my work. The families have all been nice and the teachers are fantastic to work with, but my favorite aspect is being around these little people.

The program is designed for those who still count their age by month all the way to pre-k. While overseeing all of the classrooms doesn't allow me to be too involved with any of the classes too much, I love being in the rooms and around the children as much as I can.

It occurred to me during one of these random, drop-in, visits of mine that Jesus was once four years old.

Especially at Christmas we all think of Him as that precious infant, newly born sleeping peacefully for the adoring shepherds as the angels sang. We might even picture Him at about two when we think the wise men may have dropped in for their visit. Then later we think of him at about 13 when He was left in the temple as his parents headed back home. But what about all that time in between?

The Bible doesn't give us any details, but we know that He had to go through all those developmental stages and growth milestones. Being around preschoolers this fall has given me a deeper appreciation for those everyday, growing-up human moments that He had to experience.

Did He like to play with blocks? Did He run around His earthly father's carpenter shop? Did He giggle a three-year old giggle? Oh, and how do you suppose He reacted to the wise men and their very grown-up gifts? I am sure His little preschool mind could begin to comprehend what He was supposed to do with Myrrh!

God faithfully speaks to my heart in a new way each December. The "old" story is transformed into "new" somehow. This Christmas I find myself again amazed that the Almighty would humble Himself to become, not just a needy, helpless baby, but also an inquisitive and inquiring preschooler.

If you haven't already, ask Him to show you something "new" spiritually this Christmas. Maybe even take some time to watch a preschooler and let yourself wonder what Jesus would have been like as a two-year old. I am sure it wasn't "terrible" at all. In fact, I am pretty sure He was pretty "terrific!"

Thursday, December 17, 2009

IT"S SNOWING....

Snow certainly does make it feel like Christmas, doesn't it? God has blessed us already with one beautiful snow, and now they are predicting more for East Tennessee tomorrow and Saturday. It snowed 2 weekends ago and it was such a treat to watch it fall. They predicted it to begin sometime after midnight that Friday night. I couldn't sleep because I was so excited. I kept getting up off and on looking out the window, hoping to see it falling. Finally, about 5:15 a.m. I got up one more time, and there it was, already starting to stick!! I tried my best to wait before waking up my husband Randy, but after about 45 minutes I couldn't wait any longer. I tiptoed in the bedroom and leaned over him and whispered "it's snowing!!!" He (not whispering!) said, "it's Saturday morning!!!" Then I tried to explain to him that if he stayed in bed he would miss it. I don't think it would have really bothered him though. But he was a trooper and got up when I said, "don't you want to go with me to the Pancake Pantry in Gatlinburg?" Usually there is a long wait to get in the restaurant, but between the frigid temperature outside, the snow on the roads and the fact that it was 6:45 a.m. on a Saturday morning, we got right in. And boy was it worth it!!!! The snow was gently falling as we sat by the big picture window and watched it cover the mountains. The waitress brought us a freshly brewed cup of coffee and we just sat there admiring God's handiwork as we waited for some of the best pancakes ever!!

By 4:00 p.m. it was almost all gone. We could've stayed in bed and missed it, but thankfully we didn't. We enjoyed the moment,.

This is a crazy time of the year...especially for Pastors and their families. There is so much going on between Sunday School parties, Music Programs, caroling, and the list goes on and on. We could rush right through it all and miss the fun, OR we could slow down and enjoy the moment. I pray you enjoy the sweet moments the Lord gives you today,

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Willing

In Luke 1 God sent an angel to Mary and told her that God wanted to bless her and that she would become pregnant and have a son, and she was to name Him Jesus. He would be very great and would be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His ancestor David and He will reign over Israel forever!

Mary, understandably, was confused and disturbed and fearful and questioned how this could be since she was a virgin. The angel then explained the miraculous conception that would occur and told her that “nothing is impossible with God!”


It is Mary’s response to all of this that has captured my heart these past several weeks. She says, “I am the Lord’s servant and I am willing to accept whatever He wants…”

Friends, that is my prayer….that I would every day in each circumstance say “I am the Lord’s servant and I am willing to accept whatever He wants!”

Often times, however, I am afraid that my response is more like the song that I only know about two lines to....“I will do anything for love….but I won’t do that!” I cannot tell you how many times I have had that tune run through my mind this Christmas!!

Lord, I will love you and teach and pray….but I won’t do “that”! I will ____________ but I won't do _______________. How would you fill in the blanks?

What is the “that” that you won’t do? Visit that neighbor? Forgive that sister? Reconcile to that neighbor? Let go of the bitterness and hurt? What is “that”? Stop that sinful habit? Spend time with Jesus in His word?

May we all come to the place where Mary did and say, “I am the Lord’s servant and I am willing to accept whatever You want…..even “that”!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Secrets?

Did you know that pastor’s wives have secrets? Are you shocked? If you are a pastor’s wife….more than likely you are probably not shocked!

During the 30-something years that my husband has been in full-time ministry, many pastor’s wives have shared their secrets with me….and, admittedly, I have had my own share of secrets. Why? Why do we have secrets? What is a secret? By definition it means, “Done, made, or conducted without the knowledge of others. Something that is or is kept secret, hidden, or concealed.”

Some of the secrets we have “done” or “kept hidden” are sins….and they are definitely NOT hidden from God! You know that He is well aware of them and we must run to Him in desperation for forgiveness and restoration. And restored we are…..by His grace!

Some of the secrets we have “concealed” are not sins we have committed but are painful, agonizing, hurtful and upsetting experiences. Fearful for others to know, we hide them deep within our hearts and minds.

I have a dear friend (a pastor’s wife) who, for months, took care of their adult son in their home until he died of AIDS. Not one person at their church ever knew why he was sick. Why could she not tell them?

A young pastor’s wife from another town called me one Monday morning a few years ago telling me that she and her husband were divorced. Her husband (the youth pastor) encouraged her to have an affair. They were bankrupt. No one at their church knew any of this.

A beautiful, young pastor’s wife shared with me that her husband was involved in and addicted to pornography.

After a session where I was speaking A mother shared with me the emotional abuse she received from her pastor husband. There was no love in the home and she was full of bitterness.

One was physically and emotionally abused by a family member. Another was not walking with or loving Jesus. Still another hated being a pastor’s wife. One wished her husband would take another job. Do anything--wash dishes at the local restaurant--but don't work in the Church.

Many resent the time their husband spend at church. Some have children who are involved in drugs, alcohol or in same-sex relationships.

My friend…I share all of this with you not to shock you or cause you to feel despair and sadness…but to say if you are in one of these situations….you are not alone. And please, do not keep it a secret any longer. Psalm 44:21 says "Would God not find this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart." Please ask God to provide you with Godly council. A Godly woman you can trust to pray with you…for you. Seek council. Run to it.

If you do not or have not struggled with secret sins or experiences, praise God right now! Fall down before Him in gratitude and love....ask Him to protect you from the evil one who would want to defeat and destroy you and your family and your church.

Let us not be condemning or critical....let us help others bring to light that which the enemy would want to keep hidden. Perhaps that is why we keep secrets....the Church, who are to be the most forgiving and loving and merciful of all people....are condeming and critical. Sister, let's not be guilty of that....but model the forgiveness and love and mercy Jesus will empower us to lavish upon those who desperately need/seek it.

Blessings to you my sister!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Desperate Pastors’ Wives

Not too long ago I discovered a book entitled “Desperate Pastors' Wives (Secrets from Lulu's CafĂ©)”. Two words in the title intrigued me. Desperate and Secrets. Desperate? Desperate for what? Desperate for whom? Secrets? What kind of secrets? Why do pastor’s wives have/need secrets?

Today let’s look at desperate and next time we’ll talk about secrets.

Desperate for a meaning of the word “desperate”, I turned to Webster’s and discovered it means “reckless or dangerous because of despair”, “having an urgent need, desire, etc.”

What are you desperate for? What am I desperate for?

Desperate for that new coat. Desperate for our house to sell. Desperate for people who will love and accept me unconditionally. Desperate for people to know and walk with my Jesus. Desperate for my family to be united under Christ. Desperate for joy and contentment. Desperate for a deeper walk with God. Desperate for a freedom from sin. Desperate for someone to know me. Desperate to quit being so self-centered. Desperate for this Christmas to be more meaningful and less commercial. Desperate for a cup of coffee. Desperate for chocolate. I could go on and on....

In Jonah 1:13 it says that “…the men rowed desperately to return to land but they could not, for the sea was becoming even stormier against them.” These men dug their oars into the water and pushed and pushed but the storm was bigger than their strength and they were going no where and totally exhausted. After desperately paddling for who knows how long, the next verse says “then they called on the Lord…”

My dear friend, whatever it is that you are desperate for….whatever it is that I am desperate for, God knows it and is the One who will provide those things for my life that He desperately wants to grant us. We must desperately run to Him recklessly, urgently, with desire….ask Him to make us desperate for what He is desperate for and watch what God does!

Remember that Jeremiah 17:9 says "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?”

Oh God, I ask that You would remove anything desperate in our hearts and lives and desires that are deceitful and sick. Fill us with a despiration for You!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Celebrate

Our church music ministry is smack dab in the middle of our Christmas program, The Christmas Post. Set in the 1940’s, it is the story of a young widow who is struggling to make ends meet by working a second job as a salesperson at a local department store. Throughout the program you walk with her and other characters as they discover the true meaning of Christmas.

The music throughout the program is awesome but the song I love the most is “The Green Stuff.” The character singing this song is the store owner, whose only care is for how much more money he can make. The score is very peppy and very Broadway style. However, I also love the message of the song. Listening to the words and watching the action of the cast makes you truly realize how selfish we can all be at heart. It reminds me that Christmas has become so commercialized and centered on the “give me” side that we often forget the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas is not about all the parties we attend or added pounds we put on our waistlines. It is not about having an excuse to eat chocolate fudge. It is not about rushing around the malls trying to get everything on the Santa list. It is not about having the perfectly decorated home and delicious 70 course meal we prepared. I do not believe the Father gave us his Son to put more stress in our lives. He gave us Jesus so that we could reflect on His grace and goodness.

Ladies, the green stuff may be a little tight at your house this year. Everyone is feeling the economic crunch. However, the one thing we do not lack is God’s love. Let’s truly celebrate Jesus’ birth this year because in reality there would be no Christmas without the Christ child.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Special Invitation

I am rushing around today trying to get my house in some kind of order and the Christmas decorations hung. I finally had to sit down, take a breath and enjoy some chocolate chip cookies. I still have much to do but I need gather my costume and my thoughts for our dress rehearsal for our Christmas program.


I would like to invite you, my dear sisters, to Harpeth Heights Baptist Church in Nashville, TN for the presentation of The Christmas Post. Our music ministry has worked very hard on this production and it is sure to bless your heart. The program is December 4, 5, and 6 at 7:00 p.m. nightly with a 3:00 p.m. Saturday matinee.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Greatest Gift of All

Dear Santa
I want a dog for Christmas. Please don’t forget to bring toys for my brother.
Love,
Vickie

When I was a little girl, every year I basically asked for the same thing over and over. I truly wanted a dog of my own. However, every year there would be no cute, fuzzy creature under my tree. Oh, I received dolls and other toys. One year Santa even left me a new bike and a stuffed monkey. (Don’t laugh, but I still have my cherished monkey.)

You see, I was a child who was allergic to everything on God’s green earth. Whether it was food, pollen, or pet hair, I would sneeze, cough, and wheeze. (Yes, my dear sisters, I was even allergic to chocolate! Thankfully, I outgrew most of these allergies and can enjoy my chocolate treats.) Now “Santa” and “Mrs. Claus” knew that a dog was not in my best interest. They put their heads together and always came up with substitute presents. However, the next year I would write my letter to Santa and once again ask for a dog only to find another gift under the tree.

In our Christian walk God does not always answer our prayers in the fashion we desire. For example, I have asked the Father for some pretty selfish things that were on my “want” list. I emphasize the word want because those items were things that I really did not need at the time. My Heavenly Father knew that those items would not make me happy and looking back they would only made me want more.

Like Santa, the Heavenly Father wants to give us good gifts. He wants us to be happy and healthy. He does not want to harm us and He does know what is in our best interest. As we all know, sometimes God says “yes” and sometimes the answer is “no.” So here’s my letter this year:

Dear Lord,
Bless my family and friends in accordance to your will. Help us all to trust you with all our being. Thank you for the greatest gift of all-Jesus.
Amen

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thankful for the "Duh" Moments

Okay, as many of you know, I have stated over and over that I am a blonde and I have many blonde moments. My day is not complete without one of those “duh” moments that all too often signify a blonde. Probably the blonde jokes that circulate are written in my “honor.” So, I guess I should just spill the beans and tell you my latest moment.

Since we could not travel back home for the Thanksgiving holidays, my in-laws, youngest son, and my husband’s aunt came to Tennessee. Since I am not the best cook in the world, I would never attempt to prepare a turkey or the dressing. I mean, why should someone slave like that when you can order a fully cooked turkey and a pan of dressing from the local grocer?

However, I did want to make an impression so I decided to try my hand at sweet potato casserole. Now, I personally cannot stand sweet potatoes. It is a texture thing. Anyway, I go to the store and began the hunt for fresh sweet potatoes. In the meantime my “friend” (I use this term lightly right now) called and I told her what my plans were for T-Day meal. She proceeded to give me her recipe for sweet potato casserole. Well, you can use canned sweet potatoes so why even bother with fresh ones! After I hung up with her I proceed to the can good isle in search of sweet potatoes. Sadly, I failed in my search. I called my friend back and frantically told her that I could not find sweet potatoes. I, like a true, time honored blonde, I asked a simple innocent question (here is where you should sit down and pretend not to laugh), “Are yams the same thing as sweet potatoes?” Now, a true friend would politely say “yes” and wait until she was off the phone before she laughed, but oh no, my friend roared with laughter. I knew then that this “duh” moment in time would go down in blonde history.

Well, I may be blonde, short with boy legs, and talk with a southern accent but I am so thankful that God loves me. He loves my blonde roots, my height and structure, and my accent. I am so thankful that I can confess my daily sins and He forgives them. I am also grateful that I could provide my friend and each of you a bit of laughter because laughter makes life healthier!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Prayer For You

Lord,

On this Thanksgiving Day I want to thank you for all the women who serve beside their husbands in ministry.

I ask that they will be able to serve with Your joy full in their hearts and lives.
I pray that they will be confident in the work that You are preforming and completing in them. Please let Your love abound in them as they love those You bring into their lives. Give them knowledge and discernment. Fill them with the fruits of righteousness. Let their lives bring You praise and glory. (Philippians 1)

Father I also ask that they will be filled with the knowledge of Your will. I pray for spiritual wisdom and understanding. Please let them walk worthy of You. Help them live lives that are fully pleasing to You, filled with Your fruit. Strengthen them according to Your glorious power. Give them patience, longsuffering and joy.

Thank You that all things were created through You and for You. (Colossians 1)

Praying these things in gratefulness for Your wonderful Son, Jesus and in His Holy Name.


HAPPY THANKSGIVING, SWEET SISTERS!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gratitude Taught and Caught

As Doug and I raised our three boys we were always looking for ways to teach them gratitude. Of course, the first way our children learn is by example. That means you and I have to stop and see if we are being grateful. Do we vocalize the blessings we see throughout our day? Do we stop and thank God for that rainbow, sunset or flowers we see along our journey?

Jesus was always an example for us. He lived to please His Father and do His will. That resulted in gratitude. In John we are reminded of the feeding of the 5000. As the story is relayed we see that when Jesus received the fish and loaves, He gave thanks. (John 6:11) This must have been important because later in that same chapter John again reminds us that the people sought Jesus where they ate bread, after He gave thanks. (John 6:23)

We have used different tools to remind our children to be grateful. We have a 'Blessings Book' in the living room that they could write about something they were thankful for any time. When they were young they were allowed to draw pictures. We still have a book on our coffee table now and when the boys come home for the holidays they always write in it before they leave.

My youngest son and his wife have a 'Blessings Wall' in their home. They just put a large sheet of paper up and each day they write something they are thankful for or a blessing they received that day.

The first thing in the morning we tell Jesus, "Thank You for another day." The last thing at night we tell Jesus, "Thank You for this day."

Take time to start a tradition of being grateful. This is the perfect season to begin.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Count It All Joy

I woke up last night thinking about what God wanted me to share with you today. I know that our thoughts are on Thanksgiving, but what can I share that you have not read in your devotions, heard your husband preach, or even shared yourself as you teach in your churches?

It is not difficult to think of our blessings this time of year. Family, friends, church, job, health, home and the list goes on. I know our Father in heaven is pleased when we have grateful hearts.

Today I want to encourage you to thank our Father for the tough times. Does that sound strange to you? We are eager to complain when things are difficult and we do not hesitate to ask God to fix it, but have you ever said, "Thank You?"

James 1:2 "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials."

I Peter 1:6 "In this you greatly rejoice though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials."

I Peter 4:13 "Be really glad to the extent that you partake in Christ's sufferings..."

Thanksgiving is a time to remember our blessings. I want to also be thankful that my God is at work in my life and in your life. Let's take time to thank Him for the times He gives us for our growth, times of purifying, times of pruning. These are the times that assure us that we belong to the Father.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Luke Douglas Alexander

Yes, the title of this blog is the name of my new grandson! I have just experienced the joy of my very first grandchild and what a joy it is.

There are many things I could share with you and bore you to no end. I have a feeling I am going to be 'one of those' grandmothers who truly believe their grandchild is the most beautiful and smartest.

There is a reminder I received as I walked through this wonderful event that I would like to share with you. As we waited with my son and his wife in the hospital, her labor lasted almost two full days. During that time, we prayed, laughed, cried and shared with each other. A couple hours before delivery my son pulled out his guitar and moved his chair to the side of his sweet wife's bed. He then began to talk to his yet to be born son. He told him who was in the room and how excited he was to hold him. After a short conversation he began to sing, "He Knows Your Name". Of course, there was not a dry eye in the room and when he finished he announced the baby's name (which up to that point we all called 'Baby A').

So what is the point? I just want to remind you that our Father in Heaven, knows your name. You are not alone. He is your Maker and He has a plan.

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to remember the One who knows your name. I am sure you have much to thank God for as do I, but one of the things I want to always remember that my Father knows my name and is taking care of me.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Missions Moments

What do you or your church do to promote missions? It is that time of year and the Lottie Moon Christmas offering is right around the corner.

This weekend, our church is holding a missions conference. There are missionaries from across the town, the state, the nation and even the world.

Tonight, I helped Riley get all dressed up to have a special date night with her daddy. She was so excited to be going to the conference to get to meet real life missionaries. She ranks them right up there with The Incredibles and Peter Pan, but knows they are so much better because they are real!

So, I was wondering what you do to emphasize missions in your homes and churches. How do you teach your kids about missionaries? Does your church do something creative to highlight the Lottie Moon Offering?

Please post your ideas here so we can share. What has worked at your church may be exactly what another church is looking for . . .

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Look Behind You


Recently, my family and I were blessed to be able to travel to Pensecola Beach, Florida to help officiate a wedding of young lady who was in my husband's youth group when we were first married. It was great to get away for a couple of days and a blessing to be there before Hurricane Ida took aim at the beautiful beaches.

We took full advantage of the opportunity to eat some amazing seafood, catch up with old friends and play in the sand. And, like every other trip I have ever taken to the beach, God seemed to be able to whisper truths into my heart.

While waiting for the sunset wedding to begin, my daughter, Riley, and I enjoyed exploring the shoreline. Like many six year-olds would, she soon made a game of walking in my footsteps. I encouraged the time consuming activity by skipping, sliding and side-stepping to vary the footprints I was leaving in the sand.

With Riley's conversion being so recent, it really hit home that she is in many, many ways emulating my actions and attitudes. She is set to follow my footprints spiritually, just like she was literally in our little game on the beach.

Both the bride in the wedding and her sweet maid-of-honor have been dear family friends for a long time. My prayer is that my example of a Christian woman has been one that they would want to follow. My relationship with these young ladies spans over a decade. What footprints have I left them?

Let me encourage you to look back. Who is following your footsteps? Where are you leading them?

I don't mean to add pressure on you as a minister's wife. We are all called to this in Titus. If you are feeling a little defensive, maybe that is the Holy Spirit calling you to follow the prints Jesus left for us in the sand. And, like the old poem, remember that He will carry you when you can't do those things He has called you to.

Thank you Lord for not leaving us alone in this responsibility.

Monday, November 16, 2009

On that Note . . .

I am so glad that Jeanne talked about encouragement yesterday in her blog. I want to just take the opportunity today to follow up on her words and see if I can't encourage you.

You may not have signed up for this role. You may not have known what you were getting into when you married that man of yours. You may not have married that man you did, had you but known. Yet, God placed you with him and put the two of you exactly where you are. It wasn't a mistake or an oversight. It was His will.

  • Thank you for handling yourself with such grace and dignity when those around you are acting anything but Christian.
  • Thank you for sharing your husband with those who don't appreciate him, much less you.
  • Thank you for sacrificing some family time and date nights for the good of the Church.
  • Thank you for living in your fishbowl in such a way that brings honor to your husband and glory to God.
  • Thank you for praying for your husband and supporting his ministry, especially in the face of opposition.
  • Thank you for all the "hats" you wear at church, doing all the jobs that mostly go unnoticed and unappreciated until they don't get done.
  • Thank you for being an example of Godly wife, mother and Christian.
  • Thank you for what you do.
  • Thank you for being who you are.
  • Thank you for being a minister's wife.
No one else may say thank you. Your husband may not even tell you of his gratitude. But as a church member and minister's wife myself, I appreciate you.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

It happens even in Germany

This week after the Convention, Randy and I left for a mission trip to Germany. We have been here since Friday morning participating in what is being called an "Encouragement Conference" for Ministers and their wives.

As I have had the opportunity to listen to some of the wives and to pray with them, I realized that we all face the same challenges, even across the seas. Time is always an issue, church dynamics, families, jobs, finances...they are all alike.

I have come to realize that we all need encouragement to carry on the work. I came to encourage, but I found myself being encouraged by these sweet ladies' testimony. Most of them have a much more difficult time than I do. And yet, they are staying faithful to the call.

There have been some very sweet moments, like listening to the choirs, and even though I did not know the words, I still got the message. And like watching the little children, who are just as adorable here as in our own churches. But my favorite has been talking to the Pastor of the church where the conference is being held, knowing that he was ready to give up the ministry, but now has been encouraged to continue on.

Don't forget that we all need a pat on the back or a little nudge to keep going. Look for someone who needs a Barnabus in their lives and encourage them. The blessing will come back to you 100 fold.

What kind of shoes do you wear?

This past Tuesday, while decorating for the Minister's Wives Luncheon at the Tennessee Baptist Convention, I had such a remarkable time. There is just something wonderful that happens when a group of Minister's wives get together. Of course there was a lot of laughter, but there was also something else taking place.

The decorations on the tables were arrangements with different kinds of shoes, depicting various walks of a woman's life. As I stood in the back of the Fellowship Hall I began watching the ladies that were there helping. Each lady was busy performing the task that she had been given. Each one, well equipped to do her part.

I couldn't help but think that this was God's plan all along for our lives. Each of us are walking a different path, wearing a different pair of shoes, and have our own unique gifts and talents that God wants us to use. We all contribute in a different ways to Kingdom work. Whether God uses us on the mission field, in our churches, on our jobs, or in our homes, God has given us everything we need to get the job done that He has assigned us.

It was fun being a part of decorating that place. I knew that there might be a minister's wife coming through the door that was discouraged, or down trodden. Perhaps there would be a wife who did not feel loved at her church, or was facing some huge obstacle in her life. It was a great feeling knowing that maybe by being with other women just like her, that understood where she was, who genuinely cared about her and that wanted God to speak to her heart that day, she would be encouraged and uplifted.

God has so blessed us in this special calling as Minister's Wives. It is not always easy, but it is always an adventure...

Monday, November 9, 2009

IT'S THAT TIME OF THE YEAR AGAIN....

No, I am not talking about Christmas (however, we are almost there too) but the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Along with the Convention, Lana Rose has arranged for us "wives" to have a couple of great activities for just us.

The first is the Good Cup which is being held today at West Jackson Baptist Church from 1:00 - 3:30. This is a time for us to have a chance to visit and get to know one another a little more. The second is the annual Minister's Wives Luncheon which will be held tomorrow at Calvary Baptist Church at 12:00-1:30. For more information, check out Lana's blog at this site dated October 30th.

There will be wonderful speakers, singers and door prizes!!! Please don't miss these two events. Come join us and let's have a chance to talk. See you there.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Tonight's Blessing

I started leading a Bible study with a group of women about two months ago...below is a description of the study:

"Do you attend Bible studies and often find that when the study is over you no longer study the Bible? Do you have a desire to connect with God and other women through the study of His Word? Come and learn a simple, yet effective way to study any book of the Bible on your own. Each week we will study through the book of Proverbs individually and come together on Wednesday evenings to share the truths and insights we discovered."

To be quite honest, I was not sure what to expect. Who would come? Would anyone come? After all we were not doing a Beth Moore study. We would simply be studying the Bible. Would they want to get to know my God through the study of His Word? Would they share or would we all just look at each other? Could I be transparent with them? Would they be transparent with me and each other? Would they stick with it?

You see, over the past several years I had been a part of an amazing group of women that I prayed with, cried with, studied with, connected with, grew with, etc. and I wanted to have that kind of experience in our new church. To go beyond the surface chit-chat and religious garble and really sit at the feet of Jesus together.

And I was desperate tonight. Desperate to have deep sharing and corporate praying and personal accountability with a group of women. I was thirsting for it. Longing for it. Needing it. I was on empty and needed to be filled with His power and presence and purpose.

And God provided. He is faithful. He fulfills our deepest longings for more of Him. What a precious time we had together tonight. I came home refreshed and renewed and free.

Our large circle has gotten smaller as some have 'given up'. The enemy would want me to be discouraged and defeated...and believe me, I have been many times. But not tonight! Tonight I can know God is at work. Tonight I rejoice! Ministry can be tiring and discouraging and frustrating....but I refuse to miss out on His outpouring love just because I fear defeat.

Just a side note, I so appreciate each one of you. Even though I don't know you or see you, I pray for you. I wish we could all sit down together and have some "face time" and do what I was just talking about. I would really love that. One day....we will worship all together....for eternity. I look forward to it.

Blessings my friend....

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Feeding Yourself

I remember vividly when we first began to teach our children how to feed themselves. It is a wonder that they ever received any nourishment during those initial months because, at first, most of what they attempted to put into their mouths ended up all over their faces, their hair, the highchair and the floor! It was a marvel that I did not give up and feed them myself because of the mess they made!

There were times when they wanted us to feed them..."Feed me mommy", I would often hear them say! Why? Because it was a lot easier for me to feed them than for them to feed themselves!! How sad and silly would it be if I never encouraged, expected, exhorted them to feed themselves?? Can you imagine how ridiculous it would look for them now, as young adults, for their mother or father to feed them simply because we did not take the time, energy, work to have them do it themselves?

Many Christians are used to being "spoon fed" spiritual food in the same manner as our parents fed us physical food....and it is difficult learning how to feed ourselves. Honestly, I struggle with it all the time!! Often, I would MUCH rather someone else teach me, speak to me, preach to me, than to go to the Word myself!

If you are "feeding" yourself, please do not feel frustrated if you feel like your "food" is making a mess, or that you don't feel like any of it is providing any spiritual nourishment or that you would rather give up and have someone else feed you!! It is a process....and it takes time....and it will be well worth it!!

If you are not feeding yourself at the banquet table of the Lord....find someone who will teach you how. If you are not teaching your children how to "feed" themselves spiritually, begin now!! I was broken-hearted when my unbelieving mother asked my, then ten-year-old, son why he believed what he did about Christianity....and he could not answer. I had failed him.

Friday, October 30, 2009

"I Wish Someone Had Told Me How Lonely I Would Be"

If you are a Tennessee minister' wife and receive the Baptist Reflector, you already know how today's blog title comes into play. This quote broke many hearts last year at The Good Cup, a new event for ministers wives sponsored by the Tennessee Baptist Convention.


Since I am privilege to work on the TBC team that host The Good Cup, we have taken the statement made by this young pastor's wife and made it our mission. Like her, there are many ladies in Tennessee and across the United States who are lonely. They need a friend and a listening ear.


I want to take this opportunity to personally invite the ministers wives across the state of Tennessee to join us at The Good Cup at the state convention in Jackson. We will meet on November 9 from 1-3:30 p.m. at West Jackson Baptist Church. The event is free (yeah!) and it is held during the pastor's conference. Jennifer Landrith and Rachel Lovingood, both wives of ministers at Long Hollow Baptist Church, Hendersonville, will be our speakers. In addition you will not want to miss the musical talent of Carolyn Reed, a music evangelist and pastor's wife of Scenic View Baptist Church, Nashville.


Also, let me make a plug for the annual TBC Ministers Wives luncheon which will be held on November 10 at Calvary Baptist Church, Jackson. The cost of this event is $15 and you can register through the TBC.


I hope to see you at one or both events! Remember, if you are feeling lonely, there are fellow sisters in the ministry who could use a friend as well.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Other PK Moments

As I promised yesterday I believe God wants me to share another moment in our family where our two PKs entertained the masses. Our PKs are just normal kids with normal parents (my children will question the “normal” parents) who happen to live in a not so normal environment.

At one point in our ministry, a pulpit committee from south Arkansas came to listen to my husband and talk with us as a family. Our sons, Stephen and Bryan, were kindergarten and three years old. We met in a back room of a local restaurant for over two hours. During that time the boys grew restless. Stephen asked to go to the restroom and Bryan wanted to go with him. I had my eye on the door the whole time. Suddenly our youngest son, Bryan, came running out of the restroom and screamed that his brother was “locked in the potty and can’t get out.” Embarrassed my husband had to leave the committee to go rescue the potty prisoner. Once we settled everyone down again we began our conversation with the committee. Our children were playing quietly on the floor with a few toys. Suddenly, I heard our three year barking like a dog from underneath the table at one of the gentlemen. I scrambled to grab my son but before I could reach him two of the committee members reached under table and lifted our son by his feet into the air. Our son, squealing with glee, proceeded to beg the two men to keep swinging him. (At that point I was begging God to rain down on me Hersey’s Kisses!) When the visit was over and we were in our car, my husband said, “Wave good-bye to the nice men because that is the last time we will see them.” Thankfully, the team saw a real family and recommended the church call us as pastor of their church.

Shortly after we were settled at this church, I was sitting in the church auditorium with my children. Services were well underway. When the worship music ended my husband took the pulpit and asked for everyone to pray with him. Suddenly, in the quiet, spiritual moment, a little boy’s voice excitedly yelled, “Hey, Jason!” Laughter rang across the room and I slid under the pew. Yes, my three year old, Bryan, spotted on of his favorite teenagers and wanted to greet him personally.

I know we all have experienced these PK moments with our children. If you haven’t I want to meet you and give you a big hug. Again, I will state that God gave our children to be raised in a Christian home. Sure they get tired of going to church all the time, however, if we are honest, we get a little weary as well.

Let’s just cherish these PK moments. I am using mine moments right now as retaliation for all the moments my children hid in closets and jumped out scaring me. Besides as I said in my last post, if your children do some antics like mind did, chocolate is a great sedative.


I guess I say all this to remind each of us that we should be real with our church family. I do not want to be put on a pedestal. I want the members of our church family to see that we have struggles and joys just like they do. I want them to see that our children can and will cause as much chaos as their children do.

Monday, October 26, 2009

PK Moments

I think my fellow blogger, Karen, and I are being prompted by God to write about preacher’s kids (PK). I had already been seeking what direction God might take me in my blog thoughts and He took me back to some precious memories of our children growing up in the “Glass House.”

Last week my husband and I were able to travel back to Texas and attend worship at our first full-time church out of seminary. I hate to admit it but I could hardly focus on the young pastor and his message as my mind was doing some wandering down memory lane.

As the pastor called the children down for children’s sermon, I vividly recalled my husband doing the same thing. Our son, Stephen, was about two years old. However, Stephen was very use to the church and he had other things on his mind. He climbed under the Remembrance table and began playing. Well, two of his little playmate saw that their buddy was having fun so they decided to join him. The threesome was having a high old time pretending to be in a train. You could hear them making train whistles and chugging sounds. I, along with two other mothers, was dying of complete embarrassment while the church members laughed. When it came time for the pray, my husband asked the children to bow their heads and then he said, “Stephen, that means you and your buddies must pray too.” I watched amazed as three little heads bowed in unison.

Again another memory flashed before my mind. I was expecting our second son, Bryan, and was doing good to be at church. I had to sit on the very back row so that if I had a bout of morning sickness I could make a run for the restroom. Now, as any pastor’s wife knows, if your children sit in church with you, you must keep a bag of “quiet, fun activities” on hand. I had a bag full of items: colors, paper, books, and scotch tape (ladies, tape is a great entertainment for a 2 year old!). Stephen was not interested in any of the items. He was searching the congregation for one of his favorite people, Papa Klein. Papa was a big man of a cowboy with a huge heart who loved kids. (He won Stephen over the first day we were there by giving my ten month old his first sucker!) Once Stephen spotted Papa coming out of the choir loft, he slipped out of my reach and I watched horrified as he proceeded to crawl soldier style under all the pews until he reach the front row. When he reached his destination, Papa picked him up and sat him on the pew beside him. All I could do was sigh and thank the Lord that these people loved my family regardless of my son’s actions.

Ladies, if these couple of stories horrified you, just wait. I plan to share a couple more this week if the Lord prompts me. I think you can understand why chocolate is my sedative at times. However, let me remind you that whatever staff position you hold, our children are God’s gift to us. They get an abundant of love and unfortunately, sometimes grief from our church families. We must train our children to love the Lord first and to see the good in all people.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Preacher's Kids Are the Worst!

Early in our marriage many people gave us advice. One of the most often quoted things we heard was, "Preacher's kids are the worst kids." They often laughed when they said it, but we knew it had some truth in it.

When I discovered I was expecting our first child, I immediately went to the Lord, lifted my Bible in the air and said, "Lord, I am going to start on page 1 of this Book and do my very best to do everything in it you teach about children. Please do not let me have the worst kids!"

I began to study, research and obey. It is amazing how clearly God gives instructions for raising our children. I quickly discovered it was going to be work, take time and everything would start with my own relationship with Christ. God began to work in my heart, so He could then work in the heart of my children.

Ministry is full of blessings and full of demands. God clearly showed me that in order for my husband to be able to fulfill the demands of ministry in our church, I had to pick up the ministry at home. Don't misunderstand, Doug was very involved with our children and we did not feel like we were competing with his ministry, but complimenting his ministry. Still, I was the one who spent the most time and had to turn down some opportunities at church while my children were young.

Ladies, it is worth it! I have three grown sons who love the Lord and love serving Him. I now have many opportunities to travel, speak and serve the Lord in new ways. I do not regret a single minute at home.

It is impossible to share all the things God taught me in this space. I am leading a Children's Seminar in Tennessee this spring. You can catch the details on my website: karenalexanderdoyel.com I apologize for announcing this on the blog, but I have so many of you asking questions via email that I thought this might be helpful. Feel free to contact me and I will be glad to answer questions or talk to you.

Proverbs 54:13 "All your children shall be taught by the Lord, And great shall be the peace of your children."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

We Saved Him!

One of the ways we included our children in ministry was allowing them to go with Doug on visitation. Each son was allowed a turn to go with their dad to homes, hospitals or even some meetings.

There were many rules and instructions given as they prepared to go with dad. We were careful to explain how important it was for them not to distract so God could speak to the person they were visiting. They were to sit still, pray quietly, listen and not touch anything! Does that sound like some of your rules?

On one visit it was Stephen's turn to go. He was very excited. They were visiting an older man that lived across the street from the church. He had been visited by every minister that ever served at the church. He just was not interested. Like the minister's before him, Doug had visited him early in his new ministry.

This would be Doug's second visit to his home. He had seen him in his yard the previous Sunday and felt he needed to go see him again.

Doug and Stephen had been gone for about an hour when my phone rang. When I answered I heard a very soft, whispering voice saying, "Mom, can you hear me?" My heart went into fast gear and I immediately said, "Stephen, what are you doing, whose phone are you using?" (There were no cell phones in those days) The next thing I heard in a very loud, shouting voice was, "WE SAVED HIM, MOM, WE SAVED HIM!!!"
(He crept away into the man's kitchen to use his phone, while his dad continued to talk)

Of course, Jesus saved that dear man, but my son was able to see God work and participate in his dad's ministry. Stephen's excitement could not wait, he had to share immediately. Help your children get excited about ministry by including them each day as a team member.

Eccl. 3:14a "I know that whatever God does, It shall be forever."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Serving Together

Serving God comes with blessings, joy, trials and often stretches us beyond what we thought was possible.

As a minister's wife you often have the opportunity to serve the Lord in ways others cannot imagine. A phone call, a drop in, email, text can change your plans for the day completely.

As I served along side my husband, much of the ministry God called me to was raising our three sons. Their dad was often late coming home or our family time interrupted by emergencies. God clearly taught me that He wanted me to support Doug by teaching our children. I had the opportunity to teach them to pray for their dad when he was not there or complain about him for not being there. My sons were quick to pick up on my moods. They knew when I was supportive and they knew when I was resentful.

I did not want our sons to dislike the ministry. The desire of my heart was that they would have God as the desire of their hearts.

Doug was great about making time for each of us, yet there were times that His work called him away from us. As we walked through this journey, God began to teach me how to make Doug's time away our chance for ministry. I thought I would share a few things we did to join Doug as He ministered.

1. Clearly explained where Doug was and what He was doing.

2. We then each put on our Spiritual Armor. We taught the boys that they were soldiers in the army of God and we were Doug's back up.

3. Stopped to pray for the circumstances. (If a meeting, hospital visit, death, conflict)

4. The next time we were together as a family, Doug shared with us what God did during his time of ministering. Always assuring the boys that God heard and answered their prayers for him. Letting them know they made a difference.

5. Stopped to pray and thanked God for His work through us and in others.

This is just one of the ways we brought our sons into the ministry. I will share more with you later. Take time to share the ministry with your children. Become a team and watch God work!

Eccl. 4:9-10 "Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion."

Monday, October 19, 2009

God Still Speaks

As I read the blogs of the other women who are sharing in this privilege the reocurring theme seems to be, GOD IS SPEAKING! He is being heard through the changing seasons, memories, everyday chores, friendships, in His church.

I spent a busy week of speaking. I spoke at a Mom to Mom event, a business women's lunch, a funeral and a weekend retreat. It has been a very intense week of studying and going.

Each and every place I went there were women waiting to hear from God. I would love to tell you it was me they wanted to hear from, but I assure you it was not. They all had different stories, circumstances, praises and trials. The common thread at every place was we each wanted God to speak to us.

I am happy to tell you that God did speak. He is always ready to speak if we are willing to listen. He has so much to teach us, mysteries to unveil, plans to lay out.

I know that school is back in session, church programs are in full swing and it is time to prepare for the holidays. None of these things are bad, but they can keep us from hearing God speak.

Psalm 46:10a "Be still, and know that I am God."

As you minister and serve take time to be still. God wants to speak to you. He has a plan, He wants to be your Guide, He wants time with you.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fall Memory Wrap Up


I hope my posts this week haven't seem too disconnected. Maybe this is just me being transparent and letting you see how my crazy brain works. But, hey, that is the way God created me and I AM a work-in-progress . . . So thank you for bearing with me!

Let me see if I can tie all this together:

Yesterday, I shared a verse out of Psalms that reminds us to tell the next generation of His great works. I encouraged you to remember God's mighty acts of the Old Testament and remember them anew. However, I think we should also remember and retell His works in our own lives and families.

This is part of the reason my grandfather's stories are so precious to me. They show a heritage of faith. As I retell them to my daughters, they show God's provision through five generations. My family stories are just merely a small part of God's much bigger story and plans. I want my girls to know the good, the bad and the sinful pasts that they come from. I want them to see how God redeems and uses ALL for His glory. I want them to know that God is much bigger than just them.

And I think Fall is the perfect time to gather them in, sit by the fireplace, share a mug of hot cocoa and tell them His mighty acts.

Do you have a special way that you pass on God's faithfulness in your family? Do you keep a special journal or scrapbook? Maybe you use family devotions or have a special family tradition dedicated to this purpose? Or maybe you have incorporated it into something else that you already do as a family? Please share your ideas. I would love some new ways to tell the next generation!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Old Testament Memories

Psalm 145:4 (New American Standard Bible)


One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts.

Recently, I began working with a group of very talented preschool teachers at church. Shortly there after, I read the above verse in my quiet time and a profound truth really hit home.

We have the honor, the privilege and the responsibility to tell the next generation of all the works that God has done.

I used this verse to encourage these teachers. Most of them have many years of preschool teaching experience. All of them are very familiar with the Bible stories that we share with the children. But I wonder how many of them are still marveled by the miracles that we share with the children.

How about you? Have you become too lax about the amazing stories of the Old Testament? Has the wonder and awe of His mighty acts passed you by?

As I have mentioned, I was raised in church and have been very familiar with the stories of the Bible for all of my life. I can't remember a time when I wasn't aware of God's works. Unfortunately, that familiarity can breed a lack of praise within my worship.

It isn't that I don't worship or that my praise is shallow, but when I worship with the recognition that I am worshiping the same God of Moses and David there is a whole new dimension of adoration to my praise.

Give it a try. The next time you begin to actively engaged in worship remember that you are praising the God that parted the Red Sea. Have you checked out on a map just how big that body of water is? He is pretty amazing, isn't He?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

More Fall Memories


Thinking of my grandfather and his stories yesterday really made me grateful for the heritage of faith that God has graciously given me. His father was a preacher and so I know that a lineage of at least 5 generations of my family has been raised in church. I don't take this for granted and know that it is a true gift of God.

For me there is just something cozy about fall. I relish gathering with those I love whether it is around a roaring bonfire or a Thanksgiving dinner table. The Christmas holidays are right around the corner and with them, the new year. Fall has always been a season of taking stock and giving thanks in my life. When I survey the beauty God displays in the fall colors, I am also reminded of His greatness and goodness. It is easy for me to become overwhelmed with all that I have to be thankful for.

During my last posts, I wrote of the things that I felt God was trying to teach me in regards to my lists and calendars and schedules. The thing I think I will take away from that season is to be intentional to live in the moments that I am in, seeing God's blessings and purposes in ALL aspects of my life.

I say all this to explain that I want to be intentional this fall to make memories to continue to pass on the heritage of faith that I have been given. My prayer is that many of my family's generational sins will end with me, and the seeds of our best faith efforts will produce a mighty harvest in the lives my girls.

So Ladies . . . how do you do it? What are some of the things that you do pass on your faith to the next generation? What are some of things that you do in fall that your family will remember or what is it about fall that you remember from your own past that pointed you to Him?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Happy Fall

I love this time of year. Some people like spring with its singing birds and blooming flowers. Others like snowy white winters. And there are even a few people who love the summer sun and activity. However, Fall is my favorite - the changing foliage, the cooler temps, the smell of a bonfire and taste of s'mores.

I have some great fall memories of my childhood visiting my grandparents and listening to my grandfather tell stories from his childhood in eastern Tennessee. For a girl born and bred in Ohio, the mountains of Jelico and its surrounding area sounded like a pretty exotic place to me. We would gather around a
bonfire and he would begin each with "I remember when . . ." That was our cue to settle in, sit back and listen.

Now, I have another fall memory to add to my list of reasons of why I love this season. On October 1, 2009, Riley, my oldest daughter, accepted Jesus' gift of salvation and made Him Lord of her life!

We had spoken of it for a long time, but she had brought up much more frequently in the days leading up to the 1st. She had come to me while I was sorting laundry during a short thunder bumper of a storm outside. She said it was as if
the thunder was God's way of telling people to believe in Him. When I asked her what He was trying to tell her, she said "I need to believe in Him too." My husband and I spent the next few weeks fielding questions and trying to gently guide her to the point she knew that she knew she needed Jesus as her Savior AND Lord.

At bedtime on that first night of October, she knew. There was such certainty in her voice. She prayed straight from her heart words of her own and when she said "amen" I was crying happy tears. She looked at me and began to cry too, exclaiming, "Momma, you're making my eyes water too!"

My husband and I were careful not to push or pressure Riley's decision. It needed to be her own. We don't ever want her to look back and doubt. Time will tell . . . But from the day we knew she was coming until now, we continue to entrust her to Him, the one who made her, died for her and, now, calls her His own twice over.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Mountain Tops and Valley Floors

We have been looking forward to returning to Vancleave, Mississippi for the happy occasion of the wedding of the daughter of some of our dearest friends. The brides name is Heather and her dad, Don Boone, is pastor of FBC Vancleave. Randy was pastor there from 1979 to 1992 and it remains a very dear place to our family. Not only will we enjoy the beautiful wedding and great reception (LOTS OF SHRIMP!!!), but Don asked Randy to preach on Sunday.

Aren't you glad God gives us days of wonderful reunions where you know the people want to see you as much as you want to see them? It is going to be an incredible time for the Boone family, that church celebrating the marriage of their pastors' daughter, and a homecoming of sorts for us.

Thank you Lord for these mountain peaks!!!!!!!!! BUT........

I was looking forward to staying with my dearest friend and her husband while we were on the Gulf Coast. Judy is the kind of friend that you laugh the most with; talk the longest with: and cry the deepest with. You know....the first one you call with good news or great burdens. Today her sweet mother-in-law passed away. Our agenda has changed. A funeral has been added to the schedule. A long anticipated wedding on Saturday; preaching at a beloved former pastorate on Sunday; the funeral for the mother of a friend on Monday.

In a 48 hour period we are reminded again that Jesus is Lord of the mountain tops of this life and He is Lord of the deep valleys of life. He is Lord of ALL the other days as well. We can trust Him.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ladies Ministry

Last week we kicked off our Ladies Ministry Year with a Ladies Night Out we entitled "Where are your shoes taking you?" The Committee had such a good time putting this together. The centerpieces on the tables were different shoes showing where we go as ladies. There was one with boots to go hiking, bathroom slippers, heels, slides, flip flops, even Cinderella's glass slipper. It turned out to be a really cute theme.

That night a young girl came that doesn't normally get to attend because of her work. She had just told me the day before that she had been dating a nice guy for about 3 months. She is a single mom with a 3 year old little boy. The father is in prison in Florida. She is trying to get her life in order and is wanting to come to church. However, she is not always able to because she also works on Sunday. Anyway, she was excited about coming to the Ladies event.

At our Ladies Night Out the speaker kept referring back to where God would have us go in our shoes. Ultimately, He wants our shoes to take us to Him. It was a wonderful message.

The next day, the young man this girl was dating broke up with her. She was very hurt but instead of being angry, she was seeking God in it. That night, her mom took her out to eat to get her mind off of things, and the girl told her mom that she wanted to go buy a new pair of shoes. I saw her the next day and she told me what happened about the break up. Then she asked if I had noticed that she was wearing new shoes. I told her how cute they were and she looked at me kind of funny. Then it hit me...God was speaking to her heart through those shoes!!! She said with tears in her eyes, "I wonder where God is going to take me in these shoes?"

My heart broke and rejoiced at the same time. I hate she is having to go through this, but I know that the Lord is using it to pull her closer to Him. I was so excited that God used that night for the very reason we worked so hard to put it together...to speak to the hearts of the women that were there.

Sometimes we don't always know what God is up to when we are being obedient and doing what He has called us to do. But that night, it was a sweet affirmation that God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

What a Day....

I am not the norm...I know many of you have figured that out already, but really I'm not. Most of you I would venture to say do your "Spring" cleaning in the Spring. Not me, I usually wait until the Fall so that I can have everything clean for the holidays.

Well, that is what I have been trying to do now for a couple of weeks. A little at a time. There are always so many interruptions. It seems as if I just get started and have to stop to go somewhere, answer the phone, start dinner... Anyway, this afternoon I had set aside a little time to clean my front room windows. It was actually very pleasant. I had the window open and the breeze was coming in. It was just me and the Lord talking over some things. It was then that I noticed the fly that had gotten caught in the spider web! I looked at it for a while and tried to figure out what happened. I am sure when it got caught it must have tried to get out for quite a while. But it was no use. He couldn't do it by himself and so he died.

As I looked at this, it occurred to me that that was exactly what I had done earlier in the week (not died...but got caught up in a web). You see, I had gotten angry at someone for
n-o-t-h-i-n-g! I had assumed something and it was false, but I acted like it was truth. I was tired and didn't think it through and just reacted. It really hurt someone that I care about dearly. I didn't sleep hardly at all that night and the next morning I felt terrible. I tried to figure out how to get out of the mess (the same way as the fly) but I couldn't figure out what to do. Finally, I went to the only One that could help me. I confessed my anger and saw it for what it was. Then I had to apologize to the one I had hurt. I wasn't sure what to say, so I called and just told them I was sorry. I also told them I was wrong and asked them to forgive me. They were very kind and accepted my apology but I still knew that it hurt them.

Why are we like that? Why do we allow ourselves to get caught in satan's web? One minute we are bowing in worship, praising the Lord, and the next we are sinning without really even thinking about it.

You know the Bible used a story about the ants to teach us a lesson. Today, God used a fly to teach me another!!!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Lost Data

I dropped my cell phone yesterday on the hard bathroom floor and after picking it up I discovered that the display was black. Normally, when computers, telephones or other technical devices do not work properly, my first course of action is to turn it off and turn it back on again. I did just that and after expecting to see the light come, on I saw nothing. Next step….take out the battery. Still I get nothing.

Panic is beginning to set in because I know no one’s phone number!! Not my husband’s, not my daughter’s, not my son’s, not even my church’s!!! How in the world did I get to the place in my life where I know no phone numbers? How is it that I have depended on technology to take care of so much of my life?

Not only do I need to deal with the stress of not being able to use my phone and not get to my contacts, I now must make a visit to the cell phone store. Honestly, I would rather visit the dentist and get a root canal than go to a cell phone store!! But I was desperate. I was out of town and could not contact anyone!!! After much begging and pleading, I now have a new cell phone but still no contacts. They were unable to get them from my broken phone to my new phone and I have lost the phone numbers of what seems like zillions of people.

As I pondered the ineffectiveness of my dependence on a cell phone to keep up with people and how ludicrous it was for me to not have written them down or backed them up, I knew there had to be a spiritual analogy in this!!

Then it hit me! Scripture memory!! I have access to scripture because I have access to unlimited amounts of Bibles. No worries, I can get to the Word whenever I want to. But, what if, God forbid, I was not able to have a Bible? Then what? Scripture teaches us to “Hide the word in our hearts” because it is a “lamp unto our feet” but what if we lived in a place or time where Bibles were forbidden?? What if my brain had an accident like my cell phone did and “broke” and I could not read? What if, for whatever reason, I was unable to get to the Word? Would I still have access to the “data” in there?

Oh, ladies, I am convicted about the amount of time I have wasted and not memorized enough Truth. Excuses abound and none are viable. Oh, Lord, forgive me for neglecting to memorize more of Your Word. On my own, I am incapable of doing it and desperately need Your power and desire and ability to dedicate myself to having access to Your Truth. In Jesus’ name I pray….

I Will Not Be Afraid

I just have to tell you what happened yesterday! I was driving in Memphis traffic at the crack of dawn to get to the company where I was to provide management training and feeling, yes, it is true….even after what I had just written about battling fear a couple of days earlier….I was feeling very fearful!!

Besides experiencing the emotion of fear….in my case, along with it comes diarrhea!!! I end up spending quite a bit of time on the potty-pot anytime I speak or teach. (Aren’t you so glad to know this?) Well, I spent more time than I had on the potty-pot and was running later than I wanted and really needing to get to where I needed to go…feeling fearful.

Now, I LOVE to turn up the dial and listen to praise music when I drive….but usually, in the mornings, I will drive in silence to hear from my God and to pray. For some reason I kept feeling compelled to turn on the music….but resisted because I KNEW I really needed to pray for the upcoming training….after all, I was feeling fearful and needed to enemy to “begone”!

Finally, I turned the dial on and the very first words of the song playing were, “I will not be afraid!!!” I laughed out loud, declared out loud that indeed, “I will not be afraid”!!!

"...Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." Philippians 4:8

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Much Afraid

I discovered that I have used the word “fear” way too many times in my blog writings. It is unfortunate that I allow fear to rule over my life and my mind so many times!! It is time for me to quit being “little much afraid” like the character in Hinds Feet for High Places. (By the way, if you have never read this little book, I would highly recommend it. In fact, I might have already highly recommended it to you.) Anyway….fear has a tendency to rule in my mind and it is something God continues to remind me it is sin. God has NOT given me a spirit of fear but of love and power and a sound mind!

I just recently began teaching Sunday school again after not teaching for one year. (It is hard to believe it has been a year since my husband pulled out of the driveway of our beautiful home in the country to move to this incredible city and it is hard to believe that I have been here 9 months.) And I was fearful as I approached church this morning to teach.

I leave in the morning to travel to Memphis to do some management training for a company I have worked with in the past….and I am fearful.

My husband just left to attend a personnel meeting at church…and I am fearful.

Last Monday morning I got a call at work from a lady who was to speak at a woman’s event that night but she was sick…."could I do it for her?", she asked…..and I was fearful.

We drove home in torrential rain through the mountains Friday….and I was fearful.

For years I would avoid doing anything that would cause me to be fearful. Driving over high bridges makes me fearful so I will avoid them if at all possible!!

The reason I am fearful is because I KNOW I can’t do whatever it is I find myself doing that is causing me fear. I am learning that instead of running from those opportunities that cause me fear as fast as I can….God is showing me that yes, I am weak. Yes, I cannot do these things. BUT that in my weakness His power is perfected!!

Honestly, I could go on and on with examples of how I am “little much afraid”! BUT I KNOW it is sin!!! My God is good. He is powerful. He is sovereign. I have nothing to be afraid of!! So, how do I deal with the overriding fear that so often overcomes me?

  1. Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Speak truth to my mind and heart.
  2. Believe that His power is perfected in my weaknesses.
  3. Pray, pray, pray asking God to give me calm and confidence and a twinkle in my eye!
  4. Trust and obey.
  5. Do it afraid!!

My friend, what are you afraid of doing? Now, I am not talking about bungee jumping or sky diving….but perhaps God is asking you to do something you are fearful of doing. My recommendation to you is this: do it afraid!!! Do it afraid and watch God’s power be perfected in you!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Let It Go!

My husband and I have been in the middle of a difficult business situation. We have been dealing with another christian, but in the middle of the situation things fell apart.

As we have been trying to figure out what to do next, conflict has developed. We did not change anything on our side, yet it seemed we were going to pay for the other people involved that did not live up to their word.

I have been in a study of Abraham and last night I shared with my husband some of the things I was learning. We talked about Abraham letting go of the best land when Lot's herdsmen began to argue and fight. We talked about Abraham letting go of Isaac when God asked him to trust Him.

Jim and I spent time last night "letting go". It is not our money, it all belongs to God. We determined our witness was more important than our finances. We "let it go."

A few minutes ago, Jim called amazed and praising God. The person involved just dropped everything and is going to do the right thing.

What are you holding on to? Who is watching? How is your witness? Just "let go" and allow God to show you His power and plan.

Genesis 22:16 "By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not witheld your son, your only son - blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants aas the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the searshore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed because you have obeyed My voice."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Accountability

II Timothy 2:24-26 NIV "And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will."

Do you have a friend who can gently instruct you when you are wrong or going in the wrong direction? I hope each of you have a person in your life that will not excuse your actions, but love you to repentance.

It is easy in ministry to surround ourselves with those who agree with us, make excuses for us and even join us in things that are not the best. I have shared with friends a mistake or a piece of gossip and had them laugh or confess they do the same thing. In those times I may feel better, but I am not nearer to God as a result.

God wants us to be kind but bold. We are to instruct and lead those around us to truth. Why is this important? Listen again to the last part of that verse. "escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will."

Ask God to give you an accountability partner who will gently lead you in the truth. If I am going to be captive, I want my heart to be completely captured by my God. The Lord has granted me through the years those ladies who love me enough to say, "You are wrong, stop it!"

I pray God will give you those kind of people in your life.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Giving An Account

I have been reading a book by Ann Graham Lotz. The name of it is Magnificcent Obsession. I can highly recommend it even though I am not half way through the book yet.

As I read this morning she talked about our one on one relationship with Christ. I was reminded that I would give an account for the way I lived my life. Separate from my husband, children, friends, church. I will stand before God and give an account just for me.

God showed me this truth clearly when I had been married to Doug for about 7 years. God had moved us to Arkansas to a new church. We were both excited about this new journey. As we settled in, Doug became very busy as happens in a new church. I had two small children at home and Stephen, the youngest had health problems.

Mark started kindergarden, Stephen being ill, kept me in the house and Doug spent long hours at church. The people were friendly and anxious to get to know us, but I was confined to my home. I had not made many new friends and I became homesick for my old friends.

Doug and I were very happy and I depended on him for everything, including prayer. When I had a struggle, I mentioned it to God, but depended on Doug to go to the throne and pray about it. God seemed to answer his prayers more than He did mine. Of course, Doug was a prayer warrior. He woke early every morning (while I slept) and spent time in the Word and on his face before God.

One evening Doug was out late, the boys were in bed and I was lonely. I went out and sat on the front porch, looked at the stars and ask God, "Where are you?" In that quiet moment, God answered, "I am always here with you, where are you?"

I know this sounds simple, but that evening God and I had a long talk and He made it clear that He wanted to hear from me and talk to me (through His Word). I began a fresh walk of consitent one on one time with God. He was always there and He always answered. I still went to Doug with prayer concerns, but God and I could talk without him in the middle.

Is your relationship with God wrapped up in your husband's relationship? God wants to meet with you personally. Don't miss out - one day we will give an account!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Call To Prayer

Some of you may have heard the story of Rifza Bary. I just want to remind you to pray for her today and this week. She is a 17 year old Muslim girl who accepted Christ 4 years ago. When her father found out he demanded she renounce Jesus or he would kill her as commanded by the Koran.

Her trial is today. It will be decided if she is to be returned to her father or not. Please pray that God would grant supernatural wisdom to the courts so that the testimony of Jesus will be proclaimed and the best situation for Rifqa and her family will take place.

Rifqa insists that this is not about her but about many Muslims come to Jesus. Also pray for her lawyers who have been threatened and bullied.

This Friday, September 25th is the Muslim Day of Prayer. Please join christians everywhere who are fasting and praying that Muslims will be moved by the Holy Spirit and convicted by the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Ladies, take time today to remember Rifqa and that it is not about us, but about the many people we know who need Jesus.

Friday, September 18, 2009

See You In Jackson




Ladies, let me share with you information on two events coming in November in Jackson at our state convention annual meeting. Come join us for a time of fellowship and networking among ministers wives in Tennessee. Jennifer Landrith, senior pastor's wife from Long Hollow BC in Hendersonville will be speaking at both events. Rachel Lovingood, Student Pastor's wife from Long Hollow will join her and Carolyn Reed, music evangelist from Nashville on Monday at The Good Cup at West Jackson Baptist Church. They will be facilatating a panel of ministers wives from across our state who will share insights and experiences they have had as a minister's wife. The Good Cup is a time of personal sharing around tables with other wives; a place where you can just be yourself with ladies who understand; share in a time of worship and meet old and new friends.

Our annual luncheon will be on Tuesday at Calvary BC in Jackson. Daphne Murrell, Music Minister's wife from New Harmony BC in Paris will join Jennifer as we share real life issues centered around the new book, "in our shoes" written by Jennifer Landrith and Rachel Lovingood. The first 100 who register will receive a free copy of their book. Cost of the luncheon is $15 and you can register online at http://www.tnministerswives.org/.

Join Jennifer, Rachel, Carolyn, Daphne and me in Jackson on November 9 & 10. For more information on these events to to: www.tnministerswives.org or contact Lana Rose at lrose@tnbaptist.org.










































Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Vacation Time

Everyone needs a vacation and I personally believe ministers need one every month. Vacations give us time to relax (unless you are running across a theme park) and to renew our lives.

Now as I have said before my idea of a perfect vacation is to plop down in my beach chair, dig my toes into the sugar white sand, take a deep breath and listen to the roar of the ocean while the sun warms my face. Yep, that is just perfection for me. For my husband it is golfing and checking out the area history.

Anyway, two weeks ago we returned from a vacation to Minot, ND to visit our son and his new wife. They are stationed at Minot Air Force Base. It may not sound very exotic but it was an adventure. We drove from Tennessee across the middle of the nation to our destination. Yep, it was a long two day drive yet it was pretty awe inspiring.

Across the middle of our nation into the Dakotas you find miles of prairie and farm land. Although it can get boring at times, there is a unique beauty too. The richness of the land and the colors of the sunset are definite God moment vacations. It is like the Father says, “I knew you were tired and weary of this tedious drive so let me refresh you with the beauty of my creation.”

If you have never been to the Dakotas, you really should experience it. Did you know sunflowers are grown there? Words cannot describe the beauty of miles and miles of happy sunflowers dancing in the breeze. What’s even more amazing is that at night they bow their weary heads in rest yet as the sun breaks forth and warms them during the day, the sunflowers turn their faces toward the heavens. Girls, it is almost like God gives them a “mini vacation” at night so that the sunflowers can renew themselves to praise their creator the next day!

Everyone needs a vacation whether it is to the beach or to simply step away into your backyard and enjoy a few moments in nature. I have an idea for you—grab a blanket tonight and find a great spot to glaze at the stars. (One command though—you cannot think about church only the Father!)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Who Do You Appreciate?

In my Sunday Bible Study class we are studying “The Art of Connecting” by O. S. Hawkins through Lifeway’s Master Work series. One lesson in particular made me truly think on whom I appreciate in my church.

Of course, I love and appreciate my pastor husband who juggles home and family while shepherding our congregation. (Personally, he’s pretty awesome.) I feel blessed that we serve with a remarkably talented staff who strives to follow God’s leadership. However, there is one group of people I truly want to single out—my Sunday Bible Study class.

These individuals welcomed me into their class with open arms. They did not keep me at a distance as many people do with ministers wives. Instead they have embraced me with love and support. They just give me a safe place within the church to be me. Oh, I am quite sure they think I am crazy and they all know that I believe Jesus and chocolate make the world go round; however, they love me anyway.

So who do you appreciate in your church? Is it a staff wife or staff person? How about the janitor, pianist, or secretary? Could it be a prayer warrior, the nursery worker or just someone who is faithfully there week after week worshipping God?

Girlfriends, I want to encourage you to express your appreciate to a person in your congregation. Give them a call, take them to lunch, write a card, or surprise them with flowers or chocolate.


“Appreciation is the missing element in many relationships and its absence is at the root of many misunderstandings and strained friendships.” O. S. Hawkins

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Divine Appointment

Yesterday in bible study I witnessed a divine appointment. This week our church has hosted Team Impact, a group of power lifters who use their talents to share the Good News. We had the privilege to have one of its members visited in my bible study class.

This man shared a story of a very sick little girl who had recently lost her battle with cancer. He explained that although he, his church, and her family prayed for healing on earth as only God could provide, God’s plan and perfect will was for this little girl was to come to complete healing in His presence.

What this gentleman did not know is that one of our class members is fighting cancer. On this day my dear Christian brother felt strong enough to attend church with his wife.

Because of this divine encounter, our class gathered around our friend to lay hands on him and claim healing from this illness. We claimed as Martha did when Jesus arrived after Lazarus was dead that “even now” God could heal our dear brother from his cancer. We all voiced healing in the earthly realms but we also understand that God’s plan maybe for a perfect healing.

Ladies, I can honestly say that this prayer time was one of the most powerful things I have experienced. Through the simple act of two men meeting and group prayer I believe my bible class and our church will witness God’s glory and perfect plan.

Read: John 11:1-44

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Patient Teacher

I am so glad that God is a patient Teacher. I am so glad that He is always working for my good and His glory. I am so thankful that the two go hand-in-hand.

I hadn't planned on blogging about all of this stuff this week. However, this is where I am and what God is currently showing me. It may seem all so simple to you. Or you might be able to remember when God taught you something similar. Writing about it all has really helped me process what God has been teaching me. Thanks for being willing to read through it as I go through it. Hopefully, this little journey of mine, has been an encouragement to you.

What is God patiently teaching you right now? Is there a lesson that you wouldn't mind sharing that He has taught you in the past? If you can't recall one or don't feel like He is teaching you anything right now, let me encourage to ask Him to take you gently into His arms and show you something new - about Him, about you, about your relationship with Him. I am sure that He will answer a prayer like that.

Friday, September 11, 2009

My "Law"

"Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor."
Galatians 3:24,25

The Law exists to show us what we should and should not do. It shows us our need for Jesus. Like a tutor, it teaches us, but once we've been given faith, through grace- we no longer need a tutor.

Personally, I've been using my lists and calendars as my "law". There is a need for them. I can use them. But! I can't let them rule over me. I took my focus off Him and put it on the things I've been doing- especially the things I felt like I was doing for Him.

I've asked God to teach me to balance this life of faith. I've asked Him to help me use my lists and calendars instead of them using me, to help me keep Jesus as my perspective and to trust him to keep everything in order . . . to trust Him to be in control. I mean He is -whether or not I trust Him.

Thank you ladies for humoring me as God and I work through this together. I truly value your input and advice . . . Please feel free to add your thoughts!