Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Endure In Your Marriage

The month of January has given me a new appreciation to what we ministers' wives face.

At the beginning of the month, I learned of a church in our association whose youth minister was being forced to resign due to his infidelity. He and his young wife had just welcomed their first child into the world mere weeks before.

In the last day, here at the end of the month, another church in our association is coping with the actions of another student minister's wife. She has moved out and filed for divorce catching him by total surprise.

Oh Ladies, my heart aches! One wife is trying to patch together her marriage by God given grace and His provided restoration. Another has decided to quit her marriage altogether.

One of these ladies I know and consider a friend. The other I don't know from Eve. I have reached out to the one I know, while all I can really do for the other is pray.

I know it is by God's grace alone that my story does not include their circumstances. I know that it is only by God's mercy that my sin nature, or my husband's, has not put us in a similar place. I know I must depend on Him alone to keep and protect my marriage.

Not knowing where each of you are in your marriage, let me encourage you to "endure." Keep your eyes on Jesus, who "endured" the cross, so you can run this race set before you with "endurance." You are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses that are urging you on.

Remember that your life and your marriage isn't about you or your husband. It isn't about his ministry or your image. It IS all about Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.

Endure through the tough times. Endure through the good times. Endure, not for the sake of your kids, or the church, but for Christ.

Endure in your marriage.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Texas, Tennessee, Indiana

Saturday was my husband's birthday! To celebrate, we drove the few minutes it takes us to get to downtown Indianapolis and took in all of the Super Bowl activities! What a blast we had!! We actually even made the evening news!!

All 3 of the states we have lived in came together for his birthday celebration!! Texas, Tennessee and Indiana...and I thought I'd share a little bit with you!!

Tennessee--I HAD to get into this Tennessee Titan "body" for this picture!! Go Titans!! Super glad they did not have "bodies" of the cheerleaders!! Yikes! I for sure would NOT have had my picture in them!!

Indiana--Picture of the Lucas Stadium with Super Bowl and my precious husband!! It has been so much fun living in a town when super bowl is coming!!

Texas. Here is the amazing, easy, yummy recipe for the Texas sheet cake I made for his birthday cake. The reason I am sharing it with you is not only because it is our traditional family birthday go-to cake but because I saw a similar recipe not long ago that required lots of cooking and stirring and work!! THIS takes no time and is soooo easy and good!!

Texas Sheet Cake
2 sticks butter softened
4 Tbls cocoa
1 cup water
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk (OR just use milk with about 1/2 Tblsp vinegar)
1 tsp soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour

Mix and pour into large cookie sheet that has sides like a jelly roll pan (which I don't have) or a larger 9x13 pan (which I use but not sure of size!!) and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Icing--put on while hot (I make it while cake is baking and put on after it comes out. I even use the same bowl!)
1 stick butter softened
4 Tblsp cocoa
6 Tblsp milk (more or less depending on how you like it)
1/2 cup nuts (my family does not want nuts)
1 tsp vanilla
box powdered sugar (!!)

Mix and put on warm cake

Enjoy and Blessings to you!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

January 25

Today is my mom’s birthday. I would LOVE to go and celebrate her special day with a girl’s lunch out and a shopping spree like we might have when I was living at home. I would LOVE to drive several hours to spend time with her like I would have when we lived in the same state. I would LOVE to call her on the phone and sing happy birthday to her in a very off-key tune like I would have when we lived states apart. But, I can’t. My mom died five years ago.

I would LOVE to sit here and reminisce and recollect her life and my time with her without tears. These tears are more than missing her. They are deeper and full of much more anguish. These tears are because she is not celebrating her physical birth with Jesus. She rejected Him. It has never gotten any easier for me these past five years knowing her eternal existence…and as hard as it is for me…what about for her!!! Oh, my heart cannot bear it.

It is only by God’s grace that those of us who have lost unbelieving loved ones are able to face the Truth of the Gospel and of heaven and hell. I was so angry with God after she died—not because she was sick and died—we all are going to die! I was angry because she did not come to faith.

I will never forget the day when my anger was raging—that God spoke to me and said this, “Dana, I know you are angry. I understand it and know why. Now, you have a choice. You can continue to channel that anger toward Me OR you can channel that anger toward satan, who, by the way, is the author of sin and who caused all of this in the first place!”

I made a decision that day. I would stop being angry at God and channel all of that anger toward the enemy who is out to destroy those God has created. My desire is that everything I do is about defeating that enemy. I don’t want anyone else to suffer like my mom is. Like I am.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tell or Not Tell?

Do I tell or do I not tell? That is the question! As a minister’s wife, I have had several “ground rules” that I have typically adhered to over the years.

One ground rule is that I normally don’t automatically go and tell my husband stuff people tell me because I do not want to be the ‘go between’. I never want the people in our church to assume that if they want my husband to know something, but don’t want to tell him themselves, that they can tell me and I will tell him. If there is a life or death issue I break the rule—this is more for the people who want to complain or gripe or fuss about things that don’t matter but sometimes even for issues that deal with people or staff.

This ‘ground rule’ has served me well over the years. People soon learn that if they want my husband to know something….have concerns or “issues”, they need to talk to him not to me. I love to protect him that way.

Sometimes it has been super hard to keep quiet…other times it is quite easy!! Right now I am facing a dilemma. Something was shared (as a prayer request by the way!!) that I feel like my husband needs to know—but I don’t think I should be the one to tell him. Or should I?

First of all, it was a prayer request in a group that has a “ground rule” of what is said in group, stays in group. Secondly, I think they need to share their concern (it is a valid one) with my husband. BUT this is not the first time this concern has been brought to my attention.

Honestly, this has been on my heart and I have been praying about this for over a week—I want to “fix” this! I want to be a fixer!! I want to tell him….I want to tell them to tell him! BUT God keeps telling me to be quiet and pray! Pray and let Me handle it My way!!

Oh how freeing! To let God handle these “issues” His way without me getting in the mix and messing things up. Faith, Dana. Faith!!

Great! Good idea, God! That’s exactly what I will do. Say nothing to no one and pray!! So, pray I did. That is, until Sunday….I had a moment alone with one of the ladies with the concern and my big mouth busted out with, “will you please pray about telling Ernie about your concern? I think he needs to know.”

Grrrrr…..I so wanted to not say a word and let God handle this His way!! Forgive me Lord for thinking I can handle things and therefore miss out on seeing You do things that only You can do!!

So, what do you do? Do you always tell your husband the “stuff”?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sassy Shoes Test

I hate test!  I despise true/false exams because you have a 50/50 chance of getting it right.  I find fill in the blank test slightly easier, however, my mind often goes blank when trying to remember the answers.  I absolutely loath math test.  Give me a break!  If I did not understand the problem in class when it was explained how can you expect me to pass the test?  When math exam day rolled around, I was thankful Peanut M & Ms were there to calm my nerves.

Test!  Do you realize that as a minister's wife we are tested daily?  We are examined on how we care for our family.  I once had a minister's wife who told me she was scolded because she shopped garage sales and Goodwill for their clothing.  This family of five served a small church and their salary was a poverty level.  We are also examined on how we conduct ourselves away from the church.  Are you always smiling and gracious in public?  I try but I fail a lot.  We are tested on how well we cook.  I fail this one for sure.  How many of you have seen ladies staring at you or discussing your taste in clothing or hair style?  I certainly have.  However, I think I passed the clothing/accessory test recently.  I wore a pair of sassy black and white heels to church and I received many compliments.  Score one for me!

We are also tested daily by our Father on how much we trust Him.  Many days I go it on my own.  I trust only my abilities and fail miserably.  On other days when I realize I am nothing on my own and give God control, I pass the test and learn a simple lesson.  One big test most ministers families face is following God's leadership as He moves you to another church or ministry.  If we do not follow God's leading, we may miss the blessing He has for us.  Although passing the sassy shoes test was awesome, getting an A on God's test is indescribable.

Remember how God tested Abraham in Genesis 22 when He asked him to sacrifice Issac?  Thankfully, Abraham passed the test and became the father of a mightly nation.  What would have happened if he had failed to obey God?  I shuttered to think of the consequences.

So girlfriends, are you passing your "sassy shoes" test? 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I just received an email from a precious friend and former church member back in Tennessee.  To know this lady is to know the true meaning of grace and trust on earth.  What I love about her most is her sense of humor.  Today her email simply stated that she was being sacrificial by eating more than her normal dose of chocolate.  She is doing it in honor of me.  My reply back was to say that I am on a diet-a chocolate diet.  Well, cocoa comes from a bean and magnesium and other vitamins are found in chocolate.  Makes perfect sense to me.

Seriously, my friend's comment about being sacrificial started my mind wondering.  We all know the ultimate sacrifice was the death of our Lord and Savior.  He did not have to die on the cross.  He could have called down the angels of heaven to rescue Him but instead He willingly went through severe torture and death just for us.

But as a minister's wife, what does the word sacrifice mean.  For each of us that word holds different meanings.  I believe one of the toughest is willingly following God's call on our lives.  My husband and I pour our lives in to our church family as if we will always be there.  However, God has chosen to move us about every five to six years.  For us that means leaving friends we love dearly and moving to a new ministry God has for us.  Some of those friends we will see occassionaly but many we will never see again until God unites us in His kingdom.

Over the years of ministry I have had to give up several jobs that I loved in order to follow God's will for our lives.  However, God has been faithful to put a new opportunity before me in our new location.  For example, one job I held was working with juniors and seniors at a high school.  I learned so much in the position and loved my kids.  However, when God moved us I was able to take the skills I learned from my job and apply them to our church's youth group. 

With our recent move I had to sacrifice a volunteer position I absolutely loved-working with ministers wives.  I know God has something for me here and He will direct me in His plan.  Currently, I am just trying to get to know my three staff wives who are precious ladies.  I desire for God to make the four of us a tight knit group.  Also, I pray He will open the door for me to meet other minister's wives in our association and state.  I want to meet some crazy, wild, chocolate-loving ministers wives who love to have fun as much as I do. 

Today I ask that you share your thoughts on this point:  As a minister's wife what does sacrifice mean to me?

Monday, January 16, 2012

God Provides

As many of you know by now, my husband and I moved during the Christmas holiday to a new place of ministry in Arkansas.  Although this was a difficult move for us, God continues to confirm His call even today.

Right now we are living in temporary housing.  One of the prayers on my list for this move was that God would provide a place for us because it would be impossible to afford rent and utilities here and a mortgage note and utilities back in Tennessee.  God has been faithful to provide for our need,  When a former church member from one of our previous churches found out about our move back to the Little Rock area, he called and offered a home his family had.  It is fully furnished down to the pots and pans.  Yep, God is faithful.

However, one thing is missing in this God provided house-our stuff.  Oh, we brought a few things like clothes, a few kitchen and bath items, and a few family photos.  But all of our material possessions are back in Nashville, TN being used to stage our home.

Now girlfriends, you all know that we need our things to make us feel settled.  Girls, I do not even have my favorite blanket with me!  However, a friend in Nashville created and gave us a beautiful afghan which is becoming my comfort.  When I wrap myself in this afghan, warmth spreads over me.  It is a constant reminder of God's love through friends.  Hmm, God is still being faithful.

Even yesterday at church God, with his awesome sense of humor and care, provided for my chocolate need.  One precious person baked a special chocolate bread and another individual brought a jar filled with my favorite nerve pills-Peanut M & Ms!  Oh yes, God is faithful!

Matthew 6:8 states, ". . . your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him."  This is a new place of ministry for us and we may not have all our material possessions with us, but the Father is providing for our every need. 

In this new year how is God meeting your needs?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Time To Clean

This past week I have been busy cleaning out clutter in my office. I did not realize that I had accumulated so much stuff, things that I really should have gotten rid of a long time ago. You know how it is; we desperately need to clean out, but put it off as long as we can. Since it is a new year, I decided to tackle the problem head on, without stopping until I got the job done. I had vowed that I would not procrastinate any longer. And you know what? It felt pretty good seeing my extra “clutter piles” slowly going away. . . it has actually been very therapeutic!

It is always good to take inventory of our homes, to clean up and clean out. But have you ever done a spiritual inventory? Have you ever asked the Lord if you need to “clean up” certain aspects of your life? Do you have “clutter” in your spirit that keeps you from drawing closer to God? “Clutter” in our spirits can show up in these very obvious places: our speech, our attitudes, and our actions.

Our Speech: Many times our words can get us into a whole lot of trouble. If we are not careful, a careless word spoken in haste, an unkind remark , or a destructive comment about another can have very damaging effects. Do we always think before we speak. Not always! James 1:19 tells us to be slow to speak. . . this verse has kept my mouth out of a lot of trouble!

Our Attitudes: A bad attitude can be seen in us when we are ungrateful, selfish, covetous, unkind, lazy, bitter, and in many more “not so pleasant” ways. All it takes is just looking at the life of Christ, and all that He endured on our behalf, to bring us to the realization that we need to get our attitudes in check. The wonderful passage on the humility and sacrifice of our Savior in Philippians 2:5-11 can give us a good wake-up call about our sometimes fleshy attitude, because it teaches that our “attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5

Our Actions: Did you know that the way we act says a lot about what we believe or what influences us? Are our actions showing others that we truly belong to Christ or do they say we are being enticed by the world? When you think about it, where we go, what we watch, what we listen to, who we hang out with, all of these can be indicators of what we allow to shape our lives. Our actions should reflect that we are “. . doers of the word, not merely hearers. . .” . James 1:22

I could have expounded on each of these areas in greater detail, but for now, these are just some things to think about as we enter into a new year, a new beginning filled with hope and promise. So as we clean out the physical clutter in our homes, let us clean up the spiritual clutter in our hearts. Ladies, let’s not forget that when we belong to Christ, our bodies are temples of His Spirit, so let ’s make sure He resides in a clutter-free house!

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Learning To Lean

I mentioned in my blog earlier this week that we should learn to lean on Jesus. My dear friends I am so glad that the Lord does not leave us clueless about how we should go about laying all our cares at His feet, and not letting our sometimes hectic lives get the best of us. I want to share some Scripture passages that have been a blessing to me over the years; they have helped me to “lean” on the Lord:

1. Are you tired? All of us at times wear many hats. . .wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, care-giver, church member, and sometimes we wear multiple hats at the same time. Whew! How do we keep it all together without wanting to throw our hands up and declare, “Okay, Lord I just can’t take it anymore!” He has a wonderful invitation for us found in Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

2. Are you anxious? Anxious feelings can overcome you as you deal with circumstances surrounding your marriage (or no marriage prospects), a rebellious child, an aging parent, a dishonest co-worker, a disloyal friend, and ________________; you fill in the blank. Our glorious God gives us a remedy for our anxious hearts, “ Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6

3. Are you worried? Are there any frequent worriers out there? Everyone knows our economy has been in turmoil for quite a while now, so are you concerned about your long-term financial situation and how you will make ends meet? We serve a Heavenly Father that owns everything and He tells us how futile it is to worry. “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:27,34 (The entire passage of Matthew 6:25-34 is great to read if you struggle with worrying.)

There are so many more verses that I could also share, but just know that as we fill our minds with God’s Word, we will see a huge change in the way we view life’s “stressors”. I know this to be very true because I have tried it, and it really works!!

Your testimonies also are my delight; they are my counselors. Psalm 119:24

Monday, January 9, 2012

Lean On Him

Sometimes life can be very hectic, to say the least. No matter what season of life we are in, there are cares, concerns, and situations that demand our attention and drain us physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. There are issues with spouses, kids (small and not so small), grandchildren, aging parents, co-workers, friends. . . and the list goes on and on. How do we cope with all that life brings? Who do you turn to for help?

As I was reading recently in John’s gospel in chapter 13 (the account of Jesus washing His disciples feet and sharing with them one last meal), I noticed the posture of one of the disciples in verse 23 . I found myself meditating on this verse and what this disciple’s body language conveyed. The disciple is none other than John, the one who never mentions his own name, but refers to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved. John is “leaning on the bosom of Jesus”; we can learn something from his position. John was resting and relaxing, having no idea of what was about to happen. His beloved Jesus was about to face the agony of the Cross, but John seemed so calm, simply leaning on his Savior. Perhaps he did not fully comprehend the magnitude of all that the Lord would face, but his posture indicates that he was content with just being in the Lord’s presence, not having a care in the world.

I have actually pictured myself resting in my Savior’s arms, especially when I am tired and weary or anxious and afraid. The thought of Him holding me is so comforting and calming. The mental picture that the Holy Spirit puts into my heart and mind brings me such a sense of peace, and I too am content with just being in His presence. What about you? Have you ever pictured yourself resting in the Lord’s arms?

Ladies, are you facing some monumental situation in 2012? Is there a concern that seems to grip you with worry and fear? Take a good look at the posture of John and then “lean” on our compassionate, loving Savior. He is always willing to comfort us and give us His peace. We cannot change our circumstances, but we can draw close to Christ and allow Him to soothe our weary hearts. We can also find comfort in the words He gave to His disciples in that upper room, and they are calming words for us now, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” John 14:27

Whatever happens in 2012, let us learn to lean!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

On the Seventh Day of 2012....

TODAY...is the WEDDING - January 7, 2012 @ 2:00 p.m. EST.

Melanie Leighann Rollins and Cody Allen Britton will be united in marriage. Cody's dad will be marrying them. Please remember this young couple in your prayers as they begin their journey together. Pray for their safety on their honeymoon and pray for a healthy, spirit-led long marriage.

"Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate." Mark 10:9

We feel so blessed. God sent great Christian mates to both of our children. Chase & Kacie and Cody & Melanie have already been a blessing to us and we are excited to spend many more years with our FOUR CHILDREN. (And yes, Cody and Melanie do look young, but they are 22 and 23, so still young, but not near as young as they look. Smile.)

Also...I have a confession.....
I am REALLY not here today....
Thank Goodness I figured out how to schedule these blogs ahead of time or you would NOT have heard from me today....I have been a wee bit occupied. See you in a few weeks and hopefully by then things will have settled down.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Pain in the Midst of the Joy

Breath...Just Breath. The wedding is in two days!!!

We are excited and joyful for our son and future daughter-in-law.....but in the midst of the joy, we are in pain. Our daughter is having some medical issues with fertility and needs your urgent prayers. I know that with God NOTHING is impossible........just pray that we can all, especially our daughter and son-in-law can keep our FAITH and keep focusing on that and NOT GIVE UP.

We just covet your urgent prayers right now. They are hurting so therefore we hurt. Pray for the wedding (for NO RAIN) and Cody and Melanie's upcoming journey into marriage. This is an exciting time for them and we are so very happy for them.

Also pray for the pain Kacie and Chase are experiencing.

Pain in the Midst of the Joy......we NEED your PRAYERS!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

On the Fourth Day of 2012...

WHEW…… The New Year has just started and I am exhausted. Sunday, after church we drove to Grand Rivers, KY ( 5 hours from our home) to see our son and bring a load of things back to Dayton.

He is getting married this Saturday and next week when he is on his honeymoon, it will be his last week in Kentucky. After the honeymoon, they will move near Nashville, where he will be working at Old Hickory Lake. Therefore, we still have not caught our breaths from the holidays and now we are trying to help him make sure that the things he NEEDS for the wedding and honeymoon are in Dayton and also the things he will need for the first few weeks of their marriage and work are separate from the things that will be put in storage until they get settled. Therefore he is getting work outfits ready, honeymoon things ready, wedding things ready and packing to move.

We are at the end of WEDDING COUNT DOWN:

My husband is marrying them in our church, so we have taken on more responsibility than normal, but it has been fun to be included.

I think our clothes are ready. Menu is made and items purchased. Center pieces made. Hot Chocolate Mix made for wedding. Groom’s cake ordered. Lots of Help lined up. Everything needed ordered or purchased. Now…I just need some CHOCOLATE. The bride’s mom said that Saturday after the wedding we are going to pig out on chocolate until we barf. (Not sure we will go THAT far, but who knows….)

I am a teacher, so I went back to school today and will work tomorrow, BUT…I took off work Friday and Monday.

I am sorry that this blog is so jumbled…maybe it is because I feel all jumbled about right now.

God Bless You for bearing with me. Ya'll are Awesome!

Monday, January 2, 2012

On the Second Day of New Years.....

Today, reflecting on this past year, I am reminded of what Gloria Gaither once said…”The amazing thing about Jesus is that He doesn’t just patch up our lives, He gives us a brand new sheet, a clean slate to start over, all new.” I am pretty sure that she was referring to salvation, but isn’t this true in our everyday life?

Thinking of 2011…if I had it to do over, some things I would have done differently and others I would do the same.

Beginning yesterday…2012, I got a clean sheet of paper and got to start over. The past is in the Past and today is a new day. All of those forgotten resolutions are no longer and I get to create new ones. Smile.

Seriously looking back to my last year’s resolutions......
*Eating Healthy
*Exercising More
*Not Sweating the Small Stuff
*Spend More Quality Time with God
*Keep in Touch with Family & Friends More
*Keep a Positive Attitude.

I can say that I did change my eating habits. I need to change them some more, but just by making wiser choices when eating, I was able to slowing whittle 30+ lbs. from my frame last year. I must confess that I got slack and for several months have only maintained and not lost. BUT…as soon as the wedding is over, I am back to hard core making better choices.

I really need to add exercise this year....I did not do very well with THAT last year. I have tried to keep a more positive attitude which has helped me to not sweat the small stuff as much, but I still need to work on it. I did manage to keep in better touch with folks and I can never spend enough quality time with God.

I think I will not add anything new this year, but continue to work on last year’s plan. Today is a new day, so who knows....

May you have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! I expect to hear GREAT things from you in 2012.

Sunday, January 1, 2012