Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Our Witness

Does Your Life Preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

I mentioned in my previous blogs that “the children” are one of my passions. Not only is it important to begin teaching them at a very early age, it is very important for us to sit back and listen to them. I teach sixth graders in a public school system. Before Thanksgiving, I had the students type me a paper on what they were thankful for and why. I got some very interesting responses.

Some of the students said they were thankful for their friends, their house, food, video games, television, and all of their “stuff”. Others were a little more personal saying they were thankful for their family, their siblings, etc.

Several students wrote that they were thankful for their church and for God. One girl’s paper really caught my attention. She wrote that she was thankful for paper because she loved to draw. She was thankful for books because she enjoyed reading…….and the list went on. Then she wrote, “I’m thankful for church because without it no one would know about God and we would die lost. To tell you the truth I’m pretty much thankful for everything, from indoor plumbing to dirt. But what I’m most thankful for is God! Without him I wouldn’t even be breathing right now. He loves us so much that he sent his only begotten son to die for us on the cross. He wants to save a lost and dying world and all we have to do is come to him and ask for forgiveness. The Bible says he is faithful and just to forgive us. So if you’re not saved you need to make that decision today. If you are saved you should be out there witnessing and helping them make that decision today. Would you send your son to the cross to die for the whole world? I know that I wouldn’t be able to, but you know what God was that loving! God loves us even more than you can imagine. That’s why I’m thankful for him.”

What an awesome testimony and what a “grounded” sixth grader! This paper was written less than a month from when our county’s high school was all in the news because we were being challenged by a Wisconsin based organization; the Freedom from Religion Foundation, for praying over the intercom at high school football games.

They may try to take God and prayer out of the schools, but as long as Christians are there, they can not completely stop it!

Now….. If we as adults would just sit back…look at the young folks and take some lessons from them and get just as bold in our witness for Him, what a REVIVAL we would have in Tennessee!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Fear & Anxiety

Fear & Anxiety of the Unknown...

The turkey has been eaten, shopping has started, decorations are appearing and the count-down is here. While reflecting on this month of “Thanksgiving” my husband and I have a lot to be thankful for.

I mentioned in my first blog that God had given us two wonderful Christian children, a great Christian son-in-law and an awesome Christian girlfriend. We are so thankful for their strong Christian faith because all in less than a year, both of our children have faced or will be facing
“Fear & Anxiety of the Unknown”.

Our daughter and her husband had lived in the same town since they got married. Kacie had been teaching Math at a Middle School and last spring was her tenure year. Chase had been working for the NRCS, but his job was not a permanent job. We had all been praying hard for his job situation. The day Kacie found out she was being recommended for tenure at her school, Chase found out that he had been hired permanently with the NRCS in Cleveland, TN…two hours away.
What bitter-sweet joy!

To shorten the story, Chase took the job and moved in with us from April until July. Kacie stayed in Cookeville to finish out the school year and to tie up the loose ends there. This was a scary time for them. Would Kacie be able to find a teaching job in an area where they were laying teachers off? Where would they live? Would it be possible to find another church, especially Sunday School to replace, the one they had enjoyed for three years?

Kacie got a job teaching 8th grade Math. They found a place to live, met some new friends and have found a new church. (God worked it all out.)

We are just a few weeks away from our son, Cody’s college graduation; where he will be graduating from TTU in Cookeville with a degree in biology with a concentration in Fisheries. He has already gotten hired with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineer with the Nashville District as a Lake Ranger. He will be moving to Lake Barkley in Kentucky shortly after Christmas to begin his new job on January 18th where he will spend one year in training.

We are so excited and proud for him. God has blessed him with a good job at a time when jobs are very hard to come by. The “mama” part of me wants to move with him and protect him, even though he is twenty-one years old. I know…five hours away is not that far and it is only for one year. The “mama hen” part of me does not always see things clearly. Smile.

He is excited, but nervous and there are lots of unanswered questions: Where will he live? Will he like his new job? Will he be homesick? How will the long-distance relationship with Mel go? Where will he be placed in one year?

This is a time in Cody’s life when he will have to trust in God and turn it all over to Him just like his sister and brother-in-law had to a few months ago.

I am sure it will be a great experience for him. He loves hunting and fishing so he will be living in paradise! God has a perfect plan for his life. And like his sister, when God puts all of the pieces together, it will be great.

The positive part of this is since his “training year” is so far away, he is guaranteed that his permanent lake (which he will be placed at in one year) will be closer to home. (There I go again. It is hard to hold the “mama” back. Smile.)

Sometimes when faced with situations that we have no control over; whether it is a job, re-location, sickness, etc. ---we fear the unknown. God is in control of EVERYTHING in our lives. All we have to do it turn it all over to him. It is such a simple lesson; one that we all know, but one that many times is hard to do. Truthfully, none of us know what tomorrow holds, so we are wise to let go and give God the flashlight, so He can guide the way.
“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord …” (Psalm 37:23)
”A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

Friday, November 26, 2010

"Give thanks . . . for He is Good"

"Praise the Lord!
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good,
for His steadfast love endures forever."
Psalm 106:1

Tonight, my house is quiet. The turkey has been eaten. The china has been washed, dried and put away. The joys of Black Friday consisted of a slow day at home. Right now, I can hear Piper, my 20 month-old, snoring in the baby monitor. Wally is watching a blow-out of a football game. And I am surrounded by the loosely-organized chaos of decorating for Christmas.

I don't know what these last few days have held for you, but I am betting that your house may be a little like mine tonight. You've baked, cooked, cleaned, loved, shopped, decorated, entertained and now you can take a moment to catch your breath. At least I thought I would.

I thought I would take a moment and post what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving:

  • Him. Jesus, and His steadfast love that endures forever.
  • My husband, the godly leader of our home and fantastic father of our girls.
  • Riley and Piper, who ever lead me to seek God either in petition or praise.
  • The many blessings that He has made me a steward of - our home, resources, and days.
  • Ministry, whether through church, PTO, friendships. Those either long-planned or spontaneous opportunities to serve Him.
I am SO blessed.

What about you? Let me challenge you to stop, take a moment and put to words the things you are most thankful for this year. You could even post them to this blog ; )

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Sacrifice of Thanksgiving

"Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving and perform your vows to the Most High,"
"The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies Me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!" Psalm 50: 14 & 23

Okay, so God is still showing me some things about thanksgiving this week. (I love the way He so patiently teaches me!) I read this passage yesterday morning in my quiet time and, of course, the verses on thanksgiving stood out to me.

In this passage God is telling His people that He doesn't want the animal sacrifices that the people were giving because they weren't giving them with the right attitude. There was no thanksgiving in it, just ritual. They were sacrificing because they had to, not because they wanted to.

As I thought about what an offering of thanksgiving looked like, I realized that it was all about attitude and more conviction from my husband's sermon came back to me. I can do all the right things, at the right time and seem like I am doing them the right way. I may even fool the "right" people, but not be at all right before God.

As a minister's wife, sometimes I feel like I do not have a choice or voice in my duties. I do them because I have to, because I am expected to, not because I really want to. My heart just isn't in it and there is no thanksgiving in my sacrifice.

So, what is a sacrifice of thanksgiving? This is what I believe the Lord showed me:

A sacrifice costs us something. We must give up something for something else. For me, this holiday season I am giving up the need to be right, the longing to be heard, and the selfish want to just duck out of some responsibilities altogether. I am laying down these weary, selfish, sinful desires in order to choose to be thankful.

Don't get me wrong. This is not going to be easy; but then is it really a sacrifice if it comes easy? Plus I know that the Holy Spirit will help me. I just have to ask. So as I "perform my vows to the Most High" and "order my way rightly," I will do so as a sacrifice of thanksgiving and know that He will "show (me) the salvation of God!"

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Choose To Be Glad

"The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad." Psalm 126:2

This was one of the verses in my Bible reading this morning and I found it quite fitting for the Monday before Thanksgiving.

I don't know about things at your house and church, but at mine, things seem to really be gearing up. Christmas parties, projects and ministries are either being planned or in full swing. There are trips to pack for, dishes to prepare and parcels to package. My to-do list is growing and growing. For everything I seem to be able to cross off, I add at least two more items on.

Sometimes the happiest times of the year can be the craziest and hardest to allow ourselves to enjoy. So, after reading this verse this morning and in an effort to apply what I heard my husband preach yesterday, I am choosing this year to be glad.

The table may not look like a magazine layout on Thursday. The tree may not be decorated by the week's end. This may not be the year I actually get Christmas cards mailed. BUT, I have decided to let these things go so I may remember the great things the Lord has done for us and BE GLAD.

I am praying God will help me to prioritize, so that this year the holidays will be remembered for what we remembered, (those things that God has done for us), and for the gladness that He has given us through them.

This year, I am challenging you and your house to make this choice for yourselves, your family and your ministry. Think of the amazing things that God could do if you were seeking Him instead of that must-have gift. Choose now what your priorities will be, before you are sucked in and sucked under! No body should drown in the tinsel this year! Choose to be glad.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Every Other Row

Several years ago a precious, Godly, young couple in our church moved to a new town about an hour or two away. One of the first things they did was to set out to find a new church to fellowship with, serve with and grow with.

This great couple barely made it through the back doors of the small church before the service started. They had their two young daughters in tow along with coats and purses and Bibles and backpacks that were overflowing with coloring books, crayons and other sundry items to keep the girls occupied during the service. Fortunately for them they found a place near the back so they could slip in just as the first verse was in full swing.

Just as they had gotten themselves situated….someone from behind was tapping them on the shoulder whispering loudly to them, “Every Other Row!!!” Not sure what they were saying, the lady repeated even louder, “EVERY OTHER ROW!!” Then it hit them! Looking around them, sure enough, people were sitting on every other row….everyone but them, that is!!

So, wanting to comply with their “rules” they began to pack up all their “stuff” and move to an “other” row. Much to their dismay….and the disruption to the entire service….the only place left was all of the way to the front of the church. There they go, girls and bags and books and coats in tow, to the very first pew. Come to find out….the people in that church sit in “every other row” because the ushers walk down the rows to serve the Lord’s supper.

Fortunately, this couple were believers….but what if someone had come to seek God and sat in the "wrong" row? Would this church's traditions and rules have kept them from wanting to know Him?

What do you think would have been a better way for the church member to have handled it?

Do you, my fellow pastor’s wife have any “rules” or traditions that might be rigid? Needless? I heard someone say that their senior pastor’s wife wants all of “her” staff wives to wear dresses or skirts and pantie hose on Sundays. Jesus spoke quite a bit about being like the Pharisees. Let’s take a look at what we “require” of others and think about setting people free instead of binding them up.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

In Their Shoes

Approximately two years ago we moved to a wonderful church near Indianapolis and this Titans fan has found herself in the midst of massive Colts fans! As I mentioned in my last post…each area has their own set of "rules”, traditions, and vocabularies and even after being here nearly two years, I still am learning them!!
  • We have “pitch-ins” in Indiana—in Texas and Tennessee they were called “pot luck”.
  • My husband is no longer “Brother” Ernie (except to those who are from the South) he is “Pastor” Ernie. In fact, all staff members are referred to as Pastors….which indeed they are!! By the way….for future reference….whenever I use the word “pastor” or “pastor’s wife” it includes NOT just “senior pastor” but all ministers.
  • “Pop” or “soda” means Coke or soft drink. In my case, it means Dr. Pepper!
  • Their bridal and baby showers last several hours with games….not drop-in. I learned that the hard way as I arrived VERY late and had to leave early!!
  • Every graduating senior has an open house.

You might be wondering why in the world I am bringing all of this up!! There is a beautiful, helpful, practical ministry needed to help those who move into our towns or churches. Often we expect people to know the “rules” and the traditions and the terminology that our town and churches have.

Think about it….what is the name you have for your Senior Adult ministry? Singles ministry? Youth? Most churches give different ministries names that are catchy and clever but when there are announcements with those titles, do all the people know what they are referring to?

Put yourself in the shoes of an outsider and see how you could better communicate ministries that are available. Better yet, take someone under your wing and “show them the ropes“! We all may know that the “Joys of Christmas” is an event for women....but do the new people know this? We all know that Acteens are for teenage girls to learn about missions….but does everyone?

When you go to church Sunday….take a look around…..look at the surroundings of your building….look at the wording in your bulletin…..signs….words used in Sunday School and see it fresh and anew and see if perhaps you have rules, traditions and vocabulary that might be confusing.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Learning the Rules

One thing that pastors families have in common with other “occupations” such as the military or sales or missionaries, are that we often ‘get’ to move to new places. (Notice that I did not say ‘have’ to move? I think it is important to be sure to use positive wording with sometimes unfavorable topics…especially with our children). I find it interesting that each new country or state or county or town has its own set of “rules” or phrases or traditions that I must learn and embrace in order to “fit in” or even be able to communicate well with the people!

I will start with when we moved to West Tennessee from Texas…which, initially, was somewhat of a culture shock for me.

We had been at our new church for a few months and I was attending a ladies Sunday school class. The odd thing is that I had never been in a Sunday school class that I was not teaching!! I did not become a Believer until I was in high school and did not know that Sunday school even existed…I went to Bible studies but not Sunday school. When I married Ernie and went to our first church in Kingsville, TX I started teaching youth in Sunday school….and have done so ever since.

Back to that day in Sunday school….our precious, lovely, fun teacher was compassionately conveying a very important point and to illustrate she said, “We all know what it’s like to slaughter a hog!!!” Well, dear sisters, this Dallas girl definitely did NOT know how to slaughter a hog, nor did I want to!!

A few other things I learned…When someone says:

  • “I’m carrying mom to the doctor” she means she is driving them there.
  • “She has been ill for so long I wish she’d get over it” means she has been in a foul mood.
  • “I got it at Creekmore’s across the street from the church” she means she got it at the grocery store that was named Creekmore’s….but the name was changed years ago.
  • "Hey Brother Ernie!!" they are not referring to him as a biological brother but a brother in Christ. So, why are only ministers called brothers? Why are not women called sisters? I am digressing....
Showers/Teas/Coffees/Parties for brides and new moms are also different in each area. Where we lived in TN the bride did not unwrap her gifts….they were either opened by the hostesses (for people like me who did not know to bring it unwrapped) or people brought them unwrapped or the store delivered them and placed them on tables. I will never forget the first time I went to a bridal "event" after spending a lot of time and effort wrapping and creating a beautiful package....that the bride never saw!! But I quickly learned that it was quite freeing to not have to wrap gifts!!

I love how each area has their own set of “rules” and it really is fun learning about the different “cultures”....but how can we find just the right people who will to introduce us to these “rules” and help us get accustomed to our new place? And how important to treasure and embrace their ways of doing things!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Human Moments-Continued

I think I hit a cord with some wives in yesterday's post when I asked how God's sense of humor made us or our families look human to our congregation. The comment posted had me reeling with laughter and brought to mind another human moment in my family.

Our youngest son, Bryan, has always been an active, imaginative child. Even at twenty-four years of age, he can weave a tall tale and never blink an eye. (I personally think he aquired this talent from his Grandpa Lee and Great-Grandfather Ward.)

When Bryan was in Mother's Day Out as a preschooler, he often had his teacher and the director in stitches. One day my precious child made a new friend at school. Unfortuately, Gabe did not speak good English because he had just come to the states from Puerto Rico. When Gabe began asking the teacher a question, the teacher could not understand him. With his imagination on full throttle, Bryan excitedly stated, "Oh that's okay teacher. I understand Gabe. You see, we speak in tongues at our church."

Needless to say Bryan's preschool teacher and the director met me in the hallway after class. Standing in front of me, they were laughing so hard they could barely talk. Shaking my head, I could only reply, "What did Bryan do now?"

Girlfriends, God does have a sense of humor. If we take ourselves and the ministry too seriously, He will place something in our face that makes us laugh. Better yet when we attempt to cover up our very human moments, God will pull back the curtains on our glass house and reveal those human moments to the world. Oh girls, just learn to laugh and be real!

So share more stories with me. I love it and I need a good laugh.

(As I was writing this post, Bryan walked in. When I told him what I was blogging about, he said to tell you that God gave him a great imagination and he is not wasting that talent.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Human Moments

I have just returned from our convention's state meeting. I was so blessed to have been able to attend our two special events for ministers wives: The Good Cup and the Ministers Wives Luncheon. Girlfriends, both events were a great time of fellowship, fun, and yes, even chocolate!

One of the topics that was discussed around the table was how God, with his ultimate sense of humor, makes us or our families human toward our congregation. Well girls, I was sitting at the back of the room and could hear the peels of laughter coming from each table. Unfortuately, I could not hear the stories being told but my mind certainly began rolling the tape of my very human family.

Many years back my husband was being interviewed by a pulpit committee. This group of men drove several hours to listen to my husband and then we loaded our children, then not yet two and five, into the car and drove to a restaurant. Lunch went well. The boys were behaving like little troopers and the interview went into full swing.

As you know children will be children and I have to believe that God decided that my boys had done very well so He wanted to throw a few curve balls in to the meeting. First, my oldest announced to the group, "I have to go to the bathroom and poo poo." (Yes girlfriends, right in the front of the pulpit committee!) Since the bathroom was just through the door and I could see who might go in, I allowed Mr. Independent so to alone. I should have known that something was about to happen. A few minutes pass and Stephen does not return. I take my youngest to the door and told him to check on his brother. Suddenly, I hear giggling and almost two year old Bryan yelling, "Bubba's stuck in the potty and can't get out!" Yep, everyone in the room and restaurant heard him. My poor husband quickly excuses himself in order to rescue our son.

With the potty scene settled, my husband returns and I place the boys in the corner with a bag full of toys. Life is flowing quietly and I get caught up in the interview. I wish I could tell you everything went smoothly from there but no, God was not through with his humor.

Right in the middle of the interview, Bryan quietly snuck under the table, crawled over to one of the pulpit members and began barking, yes barking, like a dog! I was completely mortified. I am thinking to myself "just ignore him and the committee will not notice." No, Bryan continued to bark louder and one of the gentleman began to pat his head like a dog. Now, everyone at the table is laughing and the interview ends. We gather our belongings and buckle into the car. As we are waving goodbye to the committee, my husband says while smiling, "Wave everyone because that is the last time we will ever hear from this church again." Two months later we were the new pastor family at this church. Their reason for calling us-we were human.

So girlfriends, I have shared one of my family's human moments. Now it is time for you to share with me. Nothing is too embarassing or funny. After all God DOES have a sense of humor.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Special Invitation

Hey Sisters,
Do you like to have fun and fellowship with other ladies? Do you prefer chocolate over vegetables? Are you into FREE stuff? Are you up for winning fabulous door prizes such as cruise or a free week vacation? Well girlfriends, I want to invite you to two special events at state convention next week that are geared just for ministers wives.

The Good Cup (FREE!!)
Grace Baptist Church (Cullum Hall), 7171 Oak Ridge Hwy, Knoxville, TN
Monday, November 8 from 1:00-3:30 p.m.
Special Guest: Jeff and Debbie McElroy, Forever Families Ministries
This event is geared toward ministers wives who want to come together for food and
fellowship. It is an opportunity for you to come and just be YOU. We will also have a panel
made up of ministers wives from across the state to discuss questions you have.

Ministers Wives Luncheon ($15)
Wallace Memorial Baptist Church (Atrium), 701 Merchant Dr., Knoxville
Tuesday, November 9 from Noon-!:30 p.m.
Special Guest: Jeff and Debbie McElroy, Forever Families Ministries and Grace Praise
Team, Grace Baptist Church in Knoxville
Come share in a meal with other ministers wives across the state. At this event everyone
walks away with a goodie bag filled with little surprises. Also, there will be many door
prizes given away which include a free week vacation and a cruise!!!

Girlfriends, I love both of these events and let me explain why. Four years ago my husband and I moved to Tennessee and left family and friends. I was so lonely. I was just a lost lamb walking among strangers. However, God placed Lana Rose, TBC staff person and who is over ministers wives in the state, and she helped me find my place among Tennessee Baptist. I have been so blessed for the past three years to serve on two committees with our state convention working with ministers and ministers wives. During this time I have met some awesome sisters in the ministry who will be forever friends.

So dear girlfriends, I hope to see you at The Good Cup and the luncheon this week. We promise lots of laughter and possibly a few tears. Oh yeah, look me up. I'll be the blonde chick hovering around the chocolate dessert area!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Stopped in My Tracks

Well sweet sisters, I am suppose to be writing to you this week. If you are a regular reader you will have noticed I have only posted one time.

Last Friday I began to feel a little bad. The feeling continued and by Saturday night I was in bed, dizzy, weak, headache. I am sure you are familiar with the panicked feeling that comes when you are explaining to your body, I don't have time to be sick now. Of course, I also shared with my Heavenly Father the schedule that was layed out before me and my thoughts on what I needed from Him.

It is now Thursday and I just got out of bed to type you a quick note. I have been praying about what I needed to write, asking God what He wanted me to share. I have asked Him each day and then ended up sleeping through the day.

As I have asked Him again today about a message for you, He clearly told me that He wanted me to pray for you. Now I do not know who you are, or what is going on, but my God knows and has "stopped me in my tracks" to pray for you.

I want you to know I am lifting you up. I am asking for blessings for you and your marriage, your children, your health, your finances, and your church. Each time I wake, I ask that God gives you new energy for your call and a new love those you are serving. I am asking Him to allow you to see Him work and give you a spirit of gratitude for all He is doing. I am asking Him to grow you, stretch you and love you up.

So there you are sisters, if I have to be stopped, I count it a honor to use this time to pray for you.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Preacher's Wife by Randy Davis

Ladies, let me interrupt Karen's blog this week to encourage you to go to the link below and read Randy Davis's latest blog post entitled, The Preacher's Wife. It is a beautiful tribute to his wife Jeanne but at the same time a tribute to ministers wives in general. I would encourage you to send it to your pastor/husband so he can read it also.


Hope to see many of you in Knoxville at The Good Cup and our annual Ministers Wives Luncheon. You can still register online at www.tnministerswives.org through Wednesday evening.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Changing Leaves

We all have our favorite seasons. I enjoy each season and am glad that here in Tennessee we get to experience four distinct seasons.

The leaves have just about finished changing. They have been beautiful. The oranges, reds, browns and yellows have been vibrant and breath taking this year. There are times when I am driving down the road that I need to pull off because I cannot take my eyes off God's beautiful creation. I hope you have taken time to enjoy this blessing from our Creator.

The thing that I do not like about fall, is the fact that everything is dying. As the leaves fall, they die. My flowers around my mailbox are just about gone. The flowers in the pots on my deck are all dead. It is time to pull up, throw out and get ready for the next growing season.

As you watch nature change around you, take time to let God pull up and throw out the strongholds in your life. Let those things die that have been keeping you from the abundant life we are promised. Pull up those roots of bitterness and make room for the fresh growth God wants to produce in you.

As we allow God to work in us we can be sure that His work will produce fruit. Fall and winter are a great time to spend getting to know more about our Creator. Falling deeper in love with our God will bring a beautiful spring, but we need some time to be still and let Him work. Let the old things that are not furthering God's Kingdom in your life go, pull them up and throw them out. Make room for new growth.

Galatians 2:20 "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me; and the life that I now life in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."