Saturday, August 29, 2009

Going Back

Last week...

I went back to the church we left one year ago after serving 15 years there.
I went back to the Sunday school class I taught for 14 years.
I went back to the house we lived in for 15 years. (By the way, if anyone wants to purchase a great home in the country….we have one for you!!)
I loved being with special people there who I miss terribly and love deeply.

I went back to all of these special places…places I loved, lived, worshiped, learned, etc…but I discovered that I did not want to stay.

I wanted to go home. Home to where my husband is. Home to where our church is. Home to where my new Sunday school class that I get to start next week is. Home to the little house the church is letting us live in until ours sells. Home.

There is a difference between going back and going home. How grateful I am that I feel at home where we are. Some of the five moves we have made in our 34 years of married life and ministry have taken a very long time for me to really feel at home. I often longed to go back. Back to familiar faces and places and experiences. What a tragedy.

You see, God wants us to live in the present. Not the past. Not the future. He wants us to be content with where we are now…not want to be where we were....or where we are not. He does not want us to long for the time when the kids are in school. Or yearn for the time when we have children. Or long for the time when the children are out of the house. Or dread the season of life when the children are out of the house. Or long for a new place to live. Or a new church to serve. Or a new job. Or whatever it is that we think will make us content.

We are to be content. Paul says in Philippians 4:11 “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” Paul was in prison of all places and He was able to say that he LEARNED contentment! Some of you might feel like you, too, are in a prison of sorts right the entire chapter 4 of Philippians and be encouraged.

We must learn to be content. It does not come naturally. The great Teacher will allow us to find ourselves in situations, circumstances and places where we can long to go back….go anywhere….or be content!

Father, I ask for Your power to enable us to be content in the place You have us. That we would serve You well and bring You much glory.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Unclenched Fists

For years I taught anyone who would listen “to hold on to all things loosely.” To not hold so tightly to our wants and stuff and false dreams and grudges and whatever it is we are holding on to so tightly that our fists are clenched. In fact, our fists can be clinched so tightly that nothing can be removed from our lives nor added to them. I have had to remind myself of this truth over and over again…Dana, hold on to all things loosely!!

Several months ago our son Brandon called and asked us to please pray for him and his wife Nikki. He began to share with us the incredible story of a journey God has had them travel. After that phone call my husband and I prayed with them and for them as they sought the Lord’s wisdom and guidance and perfect will.

This journey is leading them to the Dominion Republic. It is requiring them to sell their cars, home, boat, stuff. It is requiring them to leave friends and family. It is requiring them to leave a fruitful ministry in a wonderful church. It is requiring them to have unclenched fists. And it is requiring me and my husband to have unclenched fists.

I know many of you have children who have surrendered to go to the mission field. I have prayed for you, cried with you, rejoiced with you, and honestly, never envied you. We are very close to our children and I will miss being able to see them. BUT God has been teaching me for years to “hold on to all things loosely” and one of the most difficult things for me to “hold on to loosely” is my children. However, like many of you, I gave my children to the Lord before they were even born. They are not mine to hold on to. They are His!! He is holding on to them with clenched fists!!!

When Brandon was growing up I remember vividly spending many nights in prayer battling satan for his very life. I was in spiritual warfare against the enemy for him and I knew it. I would stay up all through the night interceding for him. I knew God was going to use him mightily. And He has. And He will continue to. I must “hold on to all things loosely”!

When Brandon and Nikki determined just a few weeks ago that they would go to the DR one of the first things they did was begin a blog. I wept when I saw the name of their blog. Unclenched Fists! Please feel free to go to and read their story. You will be blessed. Below is an excerpt from Nikki’s post today…

"And this is why I am thankful that God uses scripture and the words of others to affirm what he has already told us. Through his word this morning he showed me that his call on my life right now is for me to surrender, for me to let go. To let go not only of my physical surroundings, but also any fears or concerns that I have clung so tightly to. This quote from Beth Moore herself hit the nail on the head for me: “We won’t embrace with both hands what God has for us if we hold our lives in a death grip.”

Lord, give me strength to continually let go, to release my grip, to unclench my tightly held fists!

Oh, Father, may we all live with unclenched fists. My we all hold on to all things loosely.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Psalm 94:16-19

I just returned home from leading a conference on how to minister to the church staff and their families. How thankful I am that people really want to know how to minister to you and your husband and your children!!

There was one particular woman that attended who was so precious! Her heart was breaking over the sin in her church because of the treatment of her pastor. She is fearful that he will soon be asked to leave. Unfortunately, should this terrible thing happen, it will not be the first time for this particular church. From what she told me, there is a group of people who, when dissatisfied for one reason or another—(never Biblical reasons, mind you)—begin grumbling and gather around them people who will agree with their sentiments….call countless others who have not come to church in decades to attend meetings and take votes. She and I wept as she recounted her story to me.

There is another couple in their church….a young pastor and his wife who are attending this church because they also have just been asked to leave the church he pastored.

How do we handle such pain? What do we do? Where do we turn? Is there anyone out there who understands our hurt and our disappointment? Do we just throw in the towel and find another vocation? Do we allow the bitterness and resentment to fester?

We turn to Jesus. We saturate ourselves in the Word. We know the One who understands because He, too, was rejected by man. We do not throw in the towel. We “run the race with endurance with our eyes fixed on Jesus”. We take our bitterness and resentment and ask the Lord to turn it into love and forgiveness.

A scripture that has really encouraged me over the years is Psalm 94:16-19. “Who will protect me from the wicked? Who will stand up for me against evildoers? Unless the Lord had helped me, I would soon have died. I cried out, ‘I’m slipping!’ and your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, Your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.”

Father, I lift up my sister who needs your protection from the wicked. Who is slipping. Surround her with Your unfailing love and fill her mind with Your comfort and give her Your hope and cheer. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Praying and Singing

Acts 16:39 "But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them."

I know you have heard this story from scripture many times,yet this morning as I was reading these words,they became new all over again! Don't you just love God's Word?

Last night I could not sleep. I had several things on my mind and after praying about them, I began to review and try to solve the problems. The solution did not come nor did sleep.

Today as I was reading God's Word I saw what I missed in my time last night with God. I was eager to tell God all about it, but I did not take time to 'sing'. Don't misunderstand, if I would have started singing at midnight my husband would have kicked me out of bed!

The singing done by Paul and Silas was pure PRAISE. They had been beaten, stripped, thrown into the inner prison (which was extremely nasty) and stocks put on their feet. They were in a terrible condition physically, yet their spirits were stronger than ever.

God tells us that "He inhabits the praises of His people." He says, "The joy of the Lord is my strength." "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice." There is no question about it, God wants us to praise Him no matter what.

As Paul and Silas prayed and praised "the foundations of the prison were shaken.." God wants to shake the foundations of what is imprisoning us. He wants us to be free to speak the Word of the Lord with boldness.

What is your prison? Pray and Praise today and watch God "shake, open the doors and loose your chains.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Walking Together

Each morning I meet with some friends to walk. We walk about an hour and as you can imagine it is very HOT. Even though we start in the early morning, we still end each walk completely soaked with sweat! It is uncomfortable, difficult and takes time from our schedules, yet we continue to meet every morning and press on. Our goals are similar. We want to remain healthy, be strong and some of us want to lose a few pounds.

There are many mornings that the only reason I get up and go is because I know my friends are going to be waiting on me. I often hope that it will be raining when I awake, but it seems to always be clear so I get up and go walk.

In ministry we need those friends that will walk with us even when it is uncomfortable, difficult and takes time. Sisters, you cannot be a 'lone ranger' christian. You need those around you that will hold you up, push you forward, put your feet to the fire and love you through.

As we walk our journey with Christ there are times when it is uncomfortable, difficult and takes time. Each day we need to start with Him, asking direction, strength, courage. We must press on if we are going to reach His goal for us.

Look around you and find those friends you can trust to walk with you. Do not let satan isolate you in ministry. Yes, you need wisdom in your friendships, but nevertheless, friends are essential.

Ask God to bring those friends that will help you press on - Thank Him if He has already provided those sweet sisters in your life.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Seek -Obey - Share

Hello sisters!

It is always a special time to go before our God and ask what His message is for us. I pray that He will speak and teach us as we meet together again.

I enjoyed reading the messages from the other women who share this priviledge. They often seem to be living in my back pocket!

Today I want to share something I learned about Lydia. I spoke at a luncheon on this woman of the Bible. She is only mentioned briefly in Acts 16:11-15, yet I learned from her and am encouraged. I hope the same will be true for you today.

The first thing I want to point out is her "habit". Lydia's habit was to be a seeker of God. She met at the river on a regular basis with other women to pray. Even though she did not know the truth at this point, Lydia was seeking God.

As Lydia was seeking, "the Lord opened her heart". Lydia found what she was looking for. She found the One, True, Living God.

Next we see that Lydia "heeded". Lydia obeyed what she heard. She did not just hear, she obeyed. The message took - it was planted in her heart.

The proof of her obedience was in the fact that she became an immediate witness. The result was her whole family being saved and baptized!

Finally, we see Lydia "begging and persuading". Lydia wanted to serve as soon as she found her Lord. She opened her home to Paul and his friends. She insisted they come and allow her to serve them as God's love filled her to the point of overflowing.

I am asking God to allow you and me to learn from Lydia today.

Let our habit be that of a seeker.

Allow the Lord to work on your heart daily.

Heed what God teaches you by obeying immediately.

Share God's love with those around you.

Serve God with your whole heart.

Be a Lydia today!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Back to the Real World

School started this week. Even though I do not have children in school (well, I still have one in college), I cannot believe how fast the summer has gone. It just seems like school let out and we were all excited about the pool opening, vacations, eating homemade ice cream (with chocolate) etc. However, it is time to get back into the real world.

Speaking of the real world, I believe that we need to step it up and be on the job for Christ in the real world. For example, if you are teacher you can lifestyle your witness. I fully understand that in many schools you are not able to opening share the gospel. However, you can live your life in such a way that people see Jesus through you. If you happen to be a student, your campus can be your mission field. Personally, I work as a sub in the schools and volunteer in various places. I can certainly be witness for Christ and watch for open door opportunities to share. Yes, the real world needs more people to engage in the ministry of Christ.

Also, after a busy summer of camps, vacations, etc. we need to engage in what is going on at church. I know we are all busy ministers’ wives but we sometimes are not all we should be. (Sisters, I’m speaking to me too!) We need to lift our husbands and the rest of the staff before the throne of God daily. We need to plug into an area of ministry at church not just sit back and let someone else do it. The church is the real world too. It contains hurting people and many people who do not know Jesus.

Of course, many of you spent your summer on mission trips and working in VBS. You shared the love of Christ. However, as the lazy days of summer draws to an end, let’s step up the pace. Put on your work clothes, pack your lunch and bible, and hit the trenches.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

God is Looking for Us

During my quiet time this week I ran across a verse that stuck out to me. I have read this verse before I am sure, however, this week it is apparent that God had a message for me.

Jeremiah 31:2-6 says, “This is the way God put it:” “’They found grace out in the desert, these people who survived the killing. Israel, out looking for a place to rest, met God out looking for them!’” (The Message)

A friend and I have been praying for one another for the past several weeks. We found ourselves walking in a desert like place and have allowed Satan to play with our minds a bit. Again, it all hinges on fear and worry and we have realized this is exactly where our weaknesses are at this moment.

As a result we have been seeking the Lord for rest from this burden. As I read through this passage not once but several times I realized that in the midst of our struggles all we must do is look around carefully and we can see God searching for us.

Maybe you a walking through the desert today weary from the burden you are dragging behind you. Take time to look up and see the Father coming toward you with arms open wide.

Be blessed, dear sisters.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Last week my world was widen, expanded, and enriched. No, I did not experience a new brand of delicious chocolate. Instead I figured out something on Facebook that I did not realize was there: on-line chat!

Okay, I know you are laughing at this moment. The reality is that our old computer just could not handle all the technology. We finally broke down and purchased a new computer. Bam! Items on Facebook that had not been there before suddenly appeared.

My first chat was with a former staff wife’s daughter who is a busy teenage. I loved the fact that we chatted while she cleaned her room. (I am still wondering how she managed both at the same time.) Later I caught up with one of my former teenagers who is now a married young lady. It was so sweet just to catch with both girls whom I dearly love.

My whole point is here is that I connected or I guess I should say reconnected with dear friends. Girls, our blog is for you to connect with ladies just like you--ladies who are staff wives, who face struggles, who have questions regarding ministry or raising children. I hope you will consider connecting with fellow sisters.

Take time to post an encouragement or a favorite scriipture for all of us. Let’s connect with one another to be stronger in the ministry of our Lord.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Update on Clarksville

During my last turn to blog, I implored you all to be praying for Clarksville.

Thank you.

Thank you for your prayers. God is moving and working here.

World Changers was a huge success with over 50 local people making decisions to follow Christ. No one was injured on site and the weather was wonderful. The Association has already voted to bring the group back next year.

Please continue to pray for our local church who is still recovering from the public sin of its student minister. Keep his young wife in your prayers too. My husband and I are having the privilege of working with this congregation. We are all anxiously anticipating God bringing good out of this situation. They are a dynamic group of young people and we really believe that God is in control.

One of the best and biggest things we can do for each other is pray. So how can we pray for your city? Is there something that all of us can be specifically praying about for your church? Your husband? You?

Let us know so we can lift our needs to our Father together!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Smoke Mountains

Last week were blessed to spend some time in Jeanne's neck of the woods. We vacationed in Pigeon Forge with good friends from a church my husband and I served while in Lexington, KY. It was wonderful, and much needed, to be away from home and all the responsibilities back in Clarksville. We slept in and ate, shopped and ate, rode go-karts and ate, played miniature golf and ate, played at Splash Country and ate, stayed up late visiting and ate. We did a lot as you can see, but we mostly ate. Since eating is one of my very favorite things to do, I was very happy.

One of the reasons, besides the eating and shopping, that I love to get to that area of the state, is its beauty. Yes, it rained at least a little each day and we did see some flooded roads when we headed into town. But, The "Smoke Mountains," as Riley calls them, were still majestic and beautiful.

I imagined living there and how awesome it would be to be surrounded by God's beautiful creation everyday and then a thought occurred to me. How long would it take for me to become immune to that beauty? At what point would I begin to take it for granted and fail to see God's glory in the heights of the mountains? I wasn't even vacationing there a full week, and I am afraid that very thing was beginning to happen before I left.

This challenged me to really stop once I got home -on the other side of the plateau- and open my eyes to the way God's majesty is displayed right in my own backyard, literally. The Crape Myrtles are blooming. My rose bushes are budding. The birds are singing and we too have the occasional wild turkey grace our yard with his presence.

Let me encourage you to take a moment to pause and open your eyes to God's created glory around you today. I had to go to the mountains to really see what was surrounding me all the time right at home.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Back 2 School!

August has only just begun, but the official start of school is Friday, August 7! I am more than a little stunned to be thinking that our summer is "over". Riley starts the first grade and our summer days of sleeping in and staying out are done.

In a way, it is like January 1st, all over again. With the start of the new school year, I am making big plans for new routines. For example, I want to expand my cooking repertoire. It seems like I am stuck in a rut and am constantly fixing the same dishes over and over again. MY plan is to try a new recipe once a week. I have cookbooks I never use. Surely, I can get a little more organized to make THAT happen. (Realistically, I think once a month is more feasible!)

Another thing that I am hoping to implement with the start of the school year, is really just expanding something I began with Riley last year as a Kindergardener.

As a gift after the first day of school, her daddy and I presented her with her first "big girl" Bible, not a story Bible. It is the ESV Children's Bible and we spent about ten minutes everyday after school in "Bible Study". She desperately wanted to be like the teenagers she knows I teach the Bible to. We began with the books of the Bible, adding one a day until we had covered all 66 books. With the help of a couple of songs, she can still recall them and knows in which testament each can be found. Then we progressed through some of the fantastic Bible helps in the back of her Bible. She understood and retained so much more than I would have thought possible. It really became a very special time for both of us.

So this year, her daddy and I want to expand Riley's Bible Study time. We are going to be studying and learning her first (and mine too) catechism. In case you aren't sure what a catechism is, it is a serious of questions and answers backed by scriptures to teach what a faith really believes. These questions range from God's identity and Man's sin, to the Ten Commandments and Prayer.

From before her birth, her daddy and I knew that we were responsible before God for Riley's instruction and growth in Christ. We are the ones who need to be teaching her and not the church. Yes, the church has a role to play, but we are the ones who will stand before God one day for what she has or hasn't learned. We desperately want Riley to know what she believes and why she believes it. We want her to have her own faith. We believe teaching her a catechism is one way to do that.

You may be thinking that a catechism doesn't seem very "Baptist". Well, I hate to say it but, then you really don't know your Baptist history very well. If you google "catechism," you will find a really wide variety. Let me suggest Tom Nettles' book, Teaching Truth, Training Hearts - the study of catechisms in Baptist life. (We are using Chapter 5, A Catechism for Boys and Girls with Riley.)

If you have any tips on how to begin teaching Riley a catechism, I would really value and appreciate it. If you have any ideas on how to help bring the Bible to life for a first grader, I would like that too . . .

Now where is that Rachel Ray cookbook?