Friday, January 30, 2009

Study, Obey, Teach

I do not spent time at the feet of Jesus like I want/need to. I so admire those of you who are consistent and disciplined and never struggle in this area. For me, it seems to always be an area the enemy tries to 'steal, kill and destroy'. Do you struggle with finding/making time to sit at the feet of Jesus on a regular, consistent basis?

I am convinced that we desperately need to eat of the Word, drink deeply, chew.....allow it to cleanse, purify, teach, encourage, convict of sin, etc. yet I find that it is much easier and convenient to eat at the world's table instead.

As I was reading today in Ezra chapter 7 (PTL I FINALLY sat at His feet!!!) I was overcome with the words in verses 9 and says "...for the gracious hand of his God was on him. This was because Ezra had determined to STUDY and OBEY the law of the LORD and to TEACH those laws and regulations to the people of Israel." (NLT)

That, my friend, is the character of our God--gracious!! And we are to be as determined as Ezra!! To Study, Obey and Teach the Word!!! How in the world do we think we can do that if we don't spend time in it!!

A word of warning to those of you who teach Bible Studies or Sunday School classes......One trap I often find myself falling head-long into is that I will study in order to be able to teach. God convicted me that I need to study to KNOW HIM....not just studying in order to teach.

So, one of the most fun things you can do today is to sit at the feet of Jesus. Study....

Then, how fun it is to Obey!!! Do what He says to do!! What is He saying? 'Do not fear?' Then, obey by stop being afraid!! Is He saying 'I love you?' Then Obey by just being loved by Him! You get the idea!!

Then, the real fun comes when you watch how He brings people into your path who will need you to Teach them what you Studied and Obeyed!!

Take some time to sit at the feet of Jesus today.

Let's Have Some Fun!

It is quiet here. Too quiet. Loudly quiet.

The grandchildren have just left. The toys are picked up.

They are gone....and yet they still remain. Their laughter, their crumbs, their hugs, and, of course, their finger prints all over the glass door, windows and tables all still remain. I am just not quite ready to erase all of their presence yet!!

The snow from the other day also remains. Piles and piles along the roads; and anything that a snow plow or shovel does not get to is covered. I wonder, how long will it remain? How long will it be like a beautiful wonderland? How long before it melts or gets dirty?

There is something miraculous about children and snow. They both can have a tendency to make us act like a kid again!! And, do you know what? That is not all bad!! When was the last time you did something silly? Something loud? Something outlandish? Have we forgotten about having fun?? Have we become so 'spiritual' or 'stiff' or 'stuffy' or 'responsible' that we no longer feel like we are 'allowed' to have fun??

Why not do something fun this weekend? Forget about the housework or the 'to-do' list and take a break!! Go and do something you have really, really wanted to do for a long time (or maybe you just thought of something recently)!! Do something that will make you laugh....or at least smile!!! THEN....share with us what you did!! Some of us have been so 'responsible' for so long we have no idea what is even out there that would be fun!!!

Scripture tells us that David danced before the Lord AND the whole town! I am pretty sure he was having FUN!!! He did not care what anyone else thought. He did not care if he looked silly to them. He was having fun! When was the last time worship was fun for you? Sometimes leadership can take the fun out of worship!! How sad is that???

So, sister.....let's go and have some fun!!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow Day

We woke up to at least 12 inches of snow this morning….and the beautiful white flakes continued to fall for most of the morning. Gorgeous. Calming. Undisturbed. We sat by the window peering out at the wonder and beauty of it all.

Then reality hit. How are we going to get out? It is Wednesday; do they call off church in Indiana like they do in Tennessee? Our 3 and 1 year old grandchildren are here visiting and they want to go out and play in it. How do they do that and not step into snow that goes up to their waists and chins?

Then the noise came. The snow plow….yea!! Super!! We can drive on roads now! NOT! The snow plow repeatedly pushed all of the snow that covered the street onto our driveway! More and more snow accumulated into what looked like a small mountain range along our driveway and front yard. Perfect

Finally, after feeling guilty about the children peering out into the wonderland and not being able to actually touch it, I decided to put on layers and layers of clothing and venture out into the cold to shovel paths from the garage to the front door and down the driveway around the cars that are parked there so the kids can at least get outside without disappearing into snow drifts.

Oh what fun they had! They were covered with snow and were ice cold when we finally came inside. Then began all the work of peeling off their wet, snowy layers, bundling them up to warm them and dealing with all of the wet floors and clothes!!

Honestly, I was so very tempted to just stay inside where it was warm, comfortable, and cozy and where the most exertion I would do would be to boil some water for a hot chocolate package!! Not do as much hard, laborious work like shoveling….you know, take the easy way out!

As I sit and reflect on all of this, I believe there are a lot of us who have had ‘stuff’ fall down on our lives or our families. Perhaps there are words people have said or hurtful things people have done, or circumstances that have piled up so high around us that we, too, have become covered up like the snow covered up our yard. Perhaps some well-intentioned person has come along to help clear the way for you who ended up doing more damage than help.

Perhaps you are finding it just a lot easier to stay ‘inside’. It is just too hard and too much work and too difficult to venture out. To forgive.

Ladies, just like in Ezra chapter 4 as the people of Israel began to return and rebuild the temple there are those who will “try to discourage and frighten” you and “keep you from your work” and “frustrate your aims”, but I believe Jesus would say to you, like he said to the man in John 5 who had been lying by the pool of Bethesda for 38 years….”Do you want to get well?” (And I am pretty sure he said ‘YES’) then He told him…. THEN GET UP!!

Do you hear Him telling you to GET UP! GET OUT! To allow the presence and power of the Holy Spirit shovel off the bitterness and resentment and fear and hurt and clear a path for you to walk! He has much out there for you to see and do and conquer and love and experience. Don’t miss it.

You are prayed for.

Monday, January 26, 2009

He is Enough

I am so thankful that am still able to be a part of this BLOG! I was afraid that I might get ‘fired’ since I moved out of Tennessee!

In Experiencing God Henry Blackaby asked a very important question. “If all you had was a relationship with Me, would you be totally and completely satisfied?” The first time I was asked that question in 1992 I quickly answered and filled in the blank, ‘Yes!’ Life was great! Great job, great church, great ministry, great friends, great life!

Fast forward to 1993. I was miserable. We had just moved to a state far away, I had no job, no ministry, no friends, no house, no ‘stuff’ because it was all stored in the church since we were living in a dentist’s office (for which we were very grateful!! We had not yet found a house) and God asked me the same question. “Dana, if all you had was a relationship with Me, would you be totally and completely satisfied”? I fell to the ground and wept. Cried out loud. Face down. Broken.

You see, a year earlier when He asked me that question…He knew the answer was NOT ‘yes’! He knew that I was getting my joy from circumstances, relationships, stuff etc. and so when those things were taken away….so was my joy.

Fast forward to 2009
I am now in a….
Different state
Different town
Different church
Different house

No job
No friends
No ministry
Temporary home (again, for which we are sooo grateful for!! We are still waiting to sell our house and find one here)
No stuff (left it all behind in our house)

I have the same incredible, merciful, sustaining God!!

My state of mind is so different this time around. He continues to teach me that He is enough!! The song that says ‘All of Him is more than enough for all of me…’ I believe should say…..just a touch of Him is more than enough for all of me!! Just to touch the hem of His garment is more than enough!!!

So, let me ask you a question. If all you had was a relationship with God would you be totally and completely satisfied??

He is enough!!

Friday, January 23, 2009

True Friendship

True friendships are a treasured gift from God. A true friend is always there for you. A true friend makes time to call, write, or visit. A true friend shares in hard times and in joyous times. Sometimes distance separates friends but a true friendship is one that can pick up with where you left off. A true friendship will last a lifetime.

Over the holidays I was able to visit with my mom’s best friends. Mom and Granny Betty, a named given to her by my children, have been best friends since the early 1960s. What is more amazing is that our families have lived in two different towns at the same time and only separated by a couple of neighborhood blocks. As a result our families share many memories.

As a young girl, I remember Mom and Granny Betty getting together for Thursday morning coffee. I really do not know what took place during those coffees but I am quite sure there were some laughter and tears. For as long as I can remember Mom and Granny Betty have spoken on the phone at least three times a week and been the same Sunday School class. When I married Granny Betty’s eldest son was our best man and Granny Betty headed up my wedding reception. When Granny Betty’s youngest son had their first child, my mom held the baby before Granny Betty did. This is what best friends do-they share in each others lives.

As I write Mom and Granny Betty are separated. Granny Betty had emergency surgery this week for a crippling back problem. Prior to the surgery, she has been in and out of the hospital or rehab for months. We are all praying that she will soon be back on her feet and walking. Before Granny Betty’s surgery, my mother was able to make a short visit to her. From what I understand these two ladies just sat and held hands like two young school girls. Even in illness, true friendships can share special moments that can lift ones spirit.

I believe that God places friends in our lives at different points and times. Most of the time friendships pass with time because of moves, illness, or some other event. However, there are times when He allows a friendship to last a lifetime. It is those friendships that take time to nurture and develop. It is the same in our friendship with our Heavenly Father. It takes time to develop and become “best friends.”

In this New Year I encourage you to nurture your friendship with the Lord. Spend time with him. Share your heart, have a good cry, and even laugh. Also, nurture an earthly friendship by spending time together and enjoying a good piece of dark chocolate.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Whatever It Takes

As I write this I hope you will forgive me if my thoughts are a bit jumbled. I am a little bleary eyed today and I am sipping on diet coke in order to get my brain functioning to half capacity. You see, I just return from a wonderful, glorious three day retreat in a beautiful area just outside Nashville, TN. Did I mention that I was with our youth group? Did I mention that we stayed up late and pigged out on sugar food (yep, chocolate was one of them)? Did I mention that we played fun games and laughed? Did I mention that I fell in a hole and twisted my knee and ankle and hobbled during our retreat? Did I mention that God showed up in a big way?

Some of you know I am not as young as I use to be and are wondering why I would punish my body by helping out on a youth retreat. Well, all I can say is that I love youth and God has blessed with an ability to relate to them. Oh yeah, my body takes days to recover now but it is all worth the blessings.

This weekend was to help our youth draw closer to God and to discover His purpose for their lives. It was to help our teens discover that they are a new creation in Christ. It is exciting to see what God does in a teen’s life.

Many great spiritual awakening and revivals have started among young people. I cannot explain why this occurs except maybe they are not “stuck in the mud” as we older adults are. Maybe they are more willing to allow God to mold them into what He desires. I know from personal experience that I often do not want God to push me from my comfort zone and be used in a different way. Sometimes, I just do not like change. However, I find that teenagers are ready for change. They are want direction and guidance to make our world a better place. Christian teens are hungry to become what God wants them to be. When a teen is totally sold out to the Father, it has a ripple affect where other lives are touched too.

Our teens challenged me this weekend to release some of my baggage that holds me back from being all God wants. I do not want to be stuck in the mud and going through the same old stuff. I want a renewal of God’s Spirit to work in me so I can touch other people. I want whatever it takes to see lost people won to Jesus.

Was this youth retreat worth a few extra calories, bags under my eyes, and a sore knee? You bet it was. What are you willing to do in order to change the world for Christ?

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Slap in the Face

Girls, sometimes I am so blonde that I amaze myself. For example I am notorious for making a shopping list and forgetting it. Sometimes a person can tell me something important and it will just go in one ear and out the other. My worse blonde moment was when I was completing my college education. Most days I would arrive at school early in the morning and not leave until after dark. As a result I would forget where I parked my car. Thank goodness for Post It Notes because I finally had to write the parking lot number on the slip and put it in my book bag. (Thankfully, I never forgot where I put the note!)

Another example of my blondness is in studying God’s word. I can read a bible passage over and over and never get it. Then later, sometimes months or years, I can come back to the same passage and it’s like a hand slaps my face. Have you ever been there?

Today, my devotional guide “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young presented a thought that suddenly made me realize that I was not honoring God. (Yep, I am not a perfect little pastor’s wife!) Read what I learned today. “If you keep on stating your concerns to Me, you will live in a state of tension.” Wow, talk about a slap in the face.

As I have stated before I have a habit of worrying. I offer up my concerns but I never just leave them at the feet of God. All too often I come back later and repeat those prayers again and again. Just like the statement I shared with you, I live in a state of tension. Honestly, I have never looked at it that way.

We all need to state our concerns before the Heavenly Father and then look for how He is answering our prayers. I firmly believe this simple act will give hope for a future and a renewed spirit.

Have you had a moment when God slaps you in the face to get His truth across to you? I'd love to hear about it.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Family Altar

I was driving to a speaking engagement and saw a sign at a small church. It read, "A Family Altar will Alter Your Family." I have to admit that I am not a big fan of cute sayings in front of churches, yet this one brought many memories to mind.

I am sure that most people assume that a minister's family has a regular, meaningful, worshipful family altar every single day! Is that true of your family? I would guess many of you are laughing right now.

Doug and I struggled with the concept of family altar. Before our children came along, we enjoyed reading he bible together at night before bed. We often shared our day and the ways we saw God's hand on us as we walked through that day.

Enter Children!! Of course, we had dreams of our children sitting around the table in their clean, pressed clothes, smiling with halos over each head, listening to the profound wisdom of their father and watching the submissive support of their mother. Does that sound like your family altar?

Reality did finally hit and we began to try and find a way to draw our children together in worship at home. It took many trials and errors. There were times we ended up sending them to bed early and not speaking to each other!

I want to encourage you with some of our successes. I do believe we need to have a time of Bible study and prayer with our children. They need to know our home is driven by our Lord. Let me share one of the things we discovered that drew us closer to God and each other. It took perseverance and flexibility, but God rewarded our efforts many times over.

First we had to realize it was not possible every day. We each had our own quiet times every day,but family altar became a weekly and sometimes monthly event.

We learned to adapt to the ages of our children. What was it that would keep them interested and help them participate? One of the things we began to do was prayer posters. I would gather magazines, scissors, poster board and glue. We would lay it out on the table and talk about things we needed to pray for. It was a great time of fun! The boys would search for pictures of what they wanted to ask God for and be so excited when a magazine would have exactly what they wanted. As we glued it to the board we would each pray. When the board was full we would place it in a prominent place to remind us to pray daily. The best part was their growth in faith as God answered those requests! (Some days we would do praise posters, needs for others, etc.)

This is just one of the ways we had family altar.

Start this year out with a fresh family altar. God will bless your time with Him and your family.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Fresh Start

Do you think of the new year as a time to start over? Do you need a fresh start?

I often hear people talking about their resolutions for the new year. They almost always include diets, organizing, using time wisely and exercising. All of these things have their rewards. They are not bad resolutions, yet they will not really help you have a fresh start.

I would like to remind you that as a child of the King, you and I have a fresh start available everyday. God watches over us as we rest at night and eagerly waits to start us fresh each and every morning. "The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning." (Lam. 3:22-23 nl)

As we begin this new year together, our best resolution is to start fresh with the Lord each morning. When we start our day asking for His plan we will find that we are accomplishing the resolutions He has laid on our hearts.

How about a fresh start with your family, your church, your friends? This is a great time of year to stop and thank God for the people He is allowing you to serve and serve with.

Take time to write some appreciation cards to those around you. Let them know that you notice their work and you are grateful. Thank those who challenge you and cause you to grow closer to God. Thank your family for helping in ministry with you and your husband. Give you and those around you a fresh start by forgiving and forgetting. You will never be more like Jesus when you let go of an offense and love.

As you diet, organize, manage your time and exercise make sure that you start every morning thanking Him for His new mercies, spending time in His word and loving as He loves you and me.

This is a real fresh start! Start today!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sinking Spell

The time of parties, relatives, baking, gifts has passed. The Christmas season has come and gone again. How are you feeling? Are you relieved, tired, let down, depressed?

Sometimes after an event, speaking, retreat, banquet, company, holiday, vacation, etc. I find myself having what I call a 'sinking spell'. All the work and preparation is over. It doesn't seem to matter if everything went perfectly or it was a complete flop, I still experience that 'sinking spell' feeling.

As you begin this new year, I ask you to join me in remembering our First Love. Jesus is still here - He has not completed His work in and through you and me. He is the only - One and Only- that can give you direction, energy and excitement for this new year. We know that "the joy of the Lord is our strength." Do you need strength to come out of that sinking spell?

When Peter began to sink into those waves, he only had to look at Jesus. Jesus took his hand and lifted him right out of that 'sinking spell'.

I want to encourage you to stop before this year runs away with you and ask you to run away with Jesus. He has everyday of this new year planned perfectly. Ask Him for His plans and begin praising Him for His love. You will be amazed at how fast you come up out of those waves. Call on His Name and take His hand - allow Jesus to restore your strength and the joy of your salvation.

Happy new year, sweet sisters - I am so excited about our journey with Jesus!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Some Practical Help Please . . .

Okay Ladies . . .  I could use some help. I am well into my third trimester now and my "nesting" instincts are in full swing. I am cleaning out closets and tackling projects that I have been putting off since we moved into our house last May. As I wrote about resolutions yesterday I promise that my "need" to organize has nothing to do with the new year, but I realize a lot of people use January to do just that. So, I was thinking that we all may be in the same boat . . . trying to get a place for everything and everything in its place.

All that being said, please post some of your best organizational tips. It can be the way you have found for organizing recipes clipped out of magazines or a labeling system for all those electronic cords for all those devices that we suddenly can't live without. Maybe you have a great housecleaning system that we could all implement to speed up our daily, weekly, or seasonal chores. (After all, spring cleaning will be here before we know it . . .) Have you found a great online resource you would be willing to share?

It wouldn't take much for you to be able to read between the lines in the above paragraph to figure out what I am trying to tackle this weekend . . . This is an opportunity to use our blog to help each other out in some practical ways, so take a few minutes and share your wisdom . . . . 

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Resolution on Resolutions

With the beginning of new year, like a lot of people, I have been doing a lot of thinking about the up-coming year. However, I have not made any resolutions- on purpose. I know that there is a lot of research out there about how resolutions don't last and all that, but my reasoning has nothing to do with research or trends. 

There are a couple of reasons that I haven't made any resolutions this year. First, I didn't want to rush into any commitments to myself or my husband or to God that I really hadn't devoted any time or prayer to first. Secondly, I must confess that I have gotten pretty complacent -not really content, but complacent in my life just the way that it is. I didn't feel like I needed to . . . 

Let me see if I can explain . . .  

My life isn't really in a rut. With the anticipated arrival of our second child, I know my life will change drastically. But, I must confess that in the mean time I have been satisfied with the status quo. I have been having my quiet times and leading my daughter in Bible Studies. Things are really good with my husband. I am happy with how I am serving at church. I guess the real reason I didn't make any resolutions this year is that somehow I pridefully, sinfully figured that I didn't need to. I mean, I wanted to give God the credit, but everything seemed to be going pretty well. I think I have everything under control here. 

Enter God  . . . .

Through His gentle promptings and still small voice. He is encouraging me to view my life from His perspective.  Honestly, I feel like my five-year old daughter closing and covering her eyes during the scary part of a movie that she has seen before. She knows what is coming so she is going to make sure she doesn't see it. Thankfully, God is patient with me. He is slowly encouraging me to take a look and see what He sees when He looks at me. 

Yes, now I know that there is lots of room for improvement. So much so that I do not know where to begin . . . But there is also a lot about me that God loves and has been really encouraging me with too. He has BIG plans for me and He has tenderly told me not to become so complacent. I really need to be confessing my pride and seeking Him out. 

So . . . my resolution on resolutions? Yes, I am going to take the time to seek out what they need to be. I am going to ask my husband and a couple of good girlfriends what they think. But above all, I am going to find out what God wants.

What about you? Got any resolution advice for me? For you? 

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Oh My!

Do you ever feel like the new year creeps up on you? I have just had one of those moments! For the third time this week I logged on to see who was blogging and what they had to say. Seeing no new posts, I thought to myself, "Well, someone sure is slipping . . ." It is just like me to assume that someone else is shirking their responsibilities instead of me. So I figured, just in case it is supposed to be me, I will check the blog schedule really quick. I scanned down the page and saw a week in February with my name on it and about closed the download, when I noticed there my name was . . . right at the top! With my email address next to it and everything, I was about to totally miss it.

This week is a pretty average week. My husband reported back to the office. My daughter returned to school and I thought I had everything organized for my "new" week and "new" year. Keeping a house running and a family going are not easy jobs. Then when we add in church and all her responsibilities, it is so easy to let something slip. All too often, I have seen ministers and their wives let their family duties slide because those things they are doing for the church will be what will really last. Right? Just when I thought I had everything together, God gently nudges me and asks me to look again. . . 

So, dear sister, I hope that you are getting the new year off to a better start than I am! I pray that God will prompt our hearts to the things He values most so we can organize our lives not around our families or even our churches, but around Him. Then we can REST in the knowledge that He won't let that which is truly important fall by the wayside in our tendency to be busy . . . during even an "average" week. 

I promise to post a couple more times this week . . . Please check in and let me know some of your resolutions  . . . or maybe the reason(s) that you don't make those crazy things anymore . . .

Friday, January 2, 2009


This has been such a good week. After having both of our girls and family home for Christmas
Randy, Wendy (our oldest) and I drove to Alabama to see our extended family. We don't get a lot of one on one time with Wendy because she and her husband Kevin live in NC where he is in seminary. He left to go back the day after Christmas to go on a mission trip to Amsterdam, so we have her to ourselves. We spent time just catching up with everyone and really enjoyed being together.

Yesterday we drove from Alabama to Murfreesboro to spend some time with our youngest daughter Beth, her husband Derrick and our granddaughter Maddie. Beth and Wendy don't get much time together either so we decided today to have a day of doing just what we want. After working out we are getting ready to go to Franklin for an afternoon of shopping and lunch. Our plans are to come home and cook supper and then watch the Alabama game (Randy and his girls are HUGE fans).

I can't think of anything I would rather do than spend time with my family. Days like today are what makes great memories. I couldn't help thinking after having my devotion that this is how the Lord feels about us. He loves spending time with us. Sometimes that is hard to conceive that the God of the universe wants to spend time with me.

I am praying that this new year will allow a lot more time with my family and a lot more time with the Lord.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Well, it's that time again. A new beginning, a fresh start, the slate is wiped clean. It is a wonderful feeling knowing we have a whole new year before us.

We make our decisions at this time of the year to do all the right things. Eat right, exercise, clean out and organize our lives. Oh the possibilities...

Even now though my mother-in-law is cooking a batch of homemade blueberry pancakes, there is bacon sizzling on the stove, there is a loaf of homemade orange-cranberry bread sitting on the counter with butter next to it....

So, wonder what the future holds? There will be a lot of decisions to make, some good and some bad. I am just excited for the chance to make it a wonderful year. I will consider this as I sit down to breakfast this morning, pondering everything over my plate of pancakes....

I pray God's richest blessing on you all for this year!!!!!