Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Just Like Her

I walked into her home with my two preschoolers expecting her house to be ‘perfect’.  When I left my house that morning there were toys laying all around, dishes in the sink, laundry piled up screaming to be folded and put away, but for some reason I thought her home would be ‘perfect’.  That’s because I watched her at church.  She had that sweet, genuine smile that drew others to her.  She always knew the right things to say.  She was forever doing the right things.  Her husband was successful in the ministry.  From a distance…she seemed to have it all together. She seemed like the ‘perfect’ ministry wife. She would never have left her house in the condition I had just left mine.  And I wanted to be just like her.  I wanted her life.

What joy filled my heart as I entered her home and saw very familiar surroundings!!  Things were ‘perfect’ alright!!!  Perfectly imperfect!!  Messes.  Lunch that was not fancy nor a table that was all fixed up.  I still remember the Sunday that she brought her children to church in their pajamas!!  Dirty pajamas at that!  It thrilled my soul!!  She was becoming mature in Christ...not perfect.  Again, I wanted to be just like her.  I wanted her life.

That was in San Antonio, Texas.  Fast forward more years than I can count and several other churches and we both find ourselves in Indianapolis, Indiana.  God has renewed friendships and memories and I am grateful.  And, yet, I begin to watch her once again.  Yep!  She is still saying and doing all of the right things.  She still has that beautiful, genuine smile that warms the hearts of all who see it.  She serves right alongside her husband faithfully and joyfully and, in my eyes, perfectly!!  And I want to be just like her.  I want her life.

Then I hear her story.  One of those sons had walked away from the Lord and the heartache that followed for many years was devastating.  I don't want her life.
And it occurs to me….I am doing it again!!  I am looking at another ministry wife, watching from a distance and making assumptions that may or may not be true!!  What in the world!!  I really, really dislike it when others do that to me….and yet, here I am doing the same thing!!!  In fact...I even do it with you!  Yes, you!  I hear the amazing things you are doing serving with your husband and how you are ministering in so many ways in your church and I begin to want to be just like you.  I start to want your life.  Yikes!  Terrible!  Stop it Dana!

Something very meaningful happened in my heart that day as I stepped into that home many years ago that I must never forget…stop comparing.  Stop assuming.  Stop wanting to be just like her!  Stop wanting her life.  Even though my life is super far from being 'perfect'.  Even though there are a lot of things about my life I would like to change and even though I am a huge mess and it is exhausting being me...I want my life.The truth is...I have one life to live...I must live it with my eyes on Him and not anyone else. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Savior

“Shh, can you hear it?  The sound is so soft and airy.  It’s almost like a whispered breath,” whispered one shepherd to the other as he looked to see if the sheep were safe.

“What are you singing under your breath?” stated the second shepherd to his companion. 

Can you imagine the conversation between the shepherds on this quiet, starry night? They are weary from walking their flock yet they cannot be caught off guard to the enemy that may be lurking.  Yet on this special night over 2000 years ago, the world’s greatest announcement was made by an angel of the Lord. 

“I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11

After the announcement, life really got interesting for the shepherds. They packed up their simple belongings and went in search of the Christ child.  They did not question the message.  They just had simple faith.

On this Christmas Eve, I pray that each of us believes with simple faith that Jesus is the Savior.  Sometimes as ministers’ wives we forget that the Savior came for us too.  Oh dear sisters, we are sinners just like everyone else in the world. 

Tonight after you have settled everyone in their warm beds take a moment to step outdoors.  Stare up at the stars and listen.  Shh, can you hear it?  The sound is so soft and airy.  It’s almost like a whispered breath.  God is saying, “I love you, my dear child.  I gave up my heavenly throne for a humble manger bed so that you may have eternal life.  Yes, my child, I love you.  I presented the world the greatest gift known to man, eternal life and salvation.”

Merry Christmas dear sisters!  

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Quiet Christmas

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”  Luke 2:1-7

This passage is the simple Christmas message. There are no frills, no fancy trees, no rushing to find the perfect gifts.  It is the simple message of the humble birth of the Savior of the world, Jesus.

We are now in the midst of the Christmas season.  There is so much commercialism that Christians forget the true message of Christmas. We are bombarded with advertisements that flash fun and excitement before our eyes.  Our children are begging for the latest toy or game system.  Ladies, even our eyes sparkle with the dream of having a special gift under the tree.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating the Christmas season.  We each have our special traditions to follow. Gift giving is not wrong if done within your budget.  However, are we truly remembering the reason for the season?  Are you making Christ the center of your Christmas celebration?

If you do not already do so, this Christmas start a new tradition. Before the kids look for Santa gifts, the presents are unwrapped, and you fill your tummies with all the delicious yummies, have a quiet, simple Christmas moment.  Gather your entire family together and read the true Christmas story from Luke 2.  Discuss what each character may have felt and what you may have experienced if you had been at the birth of Jesus.  Who knows, dear sisters?  There may be one person in your family who does not know Jesus as their Savior.  This simple Christmas tradition could open the way for them to ask him into their heart.  Now there is a cause for celebration!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Come Let Us Adore Him

By now, we are all in high gear when it comes to our busy activities of the Christmas season. We can get caught up in all the festivities and rituals that whiz by us this time of year. There are parties, presents, preparations, programs, and before we realize it, the joy of the season gets replaced by frustration from all the frenzy.

Stop! Let’s put the brakes on! Let’s remember the true meaning of this divine season.

It’s not about having the perfect Christmas tree, but about One who would one day die on a tree for our sins. It’s about a grand announcement that the angel proclaimed on that holy night, “For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11.
This season is about the Christ child whose coming was foretold by the prophets hundreds of years before His advent:

The prophet Micah proclaimed that He would be born in Bethlehem.

The prophet Isaiah told us that He would be born of a virgin and that he would be called Immanuel, which means that God is with us.

The prophet Isaiah also announced that a child would be born to us, a son would be given to us and among His glorious names are Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Christmas is totally about Jesus; His name means Savior, for He would save His people from their sins (Halleluiah!).

Moreover, He is the true Light that came into the world, and in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form. May we worship Him as we are reminded of who He is: God of Very God!

Of course, all the blogs in the world would not be sufficient to list all of His wondrous attributes, just as the gospel writer John told us that the world itself would not have room to contain all the books that would be written if all that Jesus did was recorded (John 21:25).

So as we wrap and place our gifts under the tree, may we all reflect on the fact that Christmas is about God sending the greatest gift the world will ever know; He sent His Son, Our Messiah!!! “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15

Come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

God Is In Control Of Our Days

“I can’t change the past, but I can strive to do better and maintain a positive attitude in the future.”

The words above have become an anthem of sorts for me as I look back over the past year, and prepare to transfer (Lord willing) into a brand new year. Some things happened in 2014 that I wish had not happened, a few (bad) things that could have happened did not come to fruition, and there were many things that happened that brought me great joy!

Life is full of surprises, some we consider good, some not so good, and some are terribly awful! But as each day passes, I am grateful and thankful that God is the One who gives us each day; He is the “Manufacturer of Days” as I read once in a devotional book. Knowing this fact, should make all of want to live out all of our predetermined days for Him. How quickly we forget that when we belong to Him, we are to live for Him!

One thing that I have come to really appreciate this year is the Total Absolute Sovereignty of God! Everything that happens in my life, your life, the lives of those closest to us is no accident, is not by chance, and most certainly is not a matter of “luck”, but a working of His divine providence, so He can accomplish whatever He desires to accomplish in all of our lives.

I don’t know about you, but knowing that the Lord is always in control helps me to have a sense of joy and peace that literally passes “all comprehension” according to Philippians 4:7. I can trust my God to never be caught off guard by anything that happens to me. I may not totally understand it all, but I can be sure He has a purpose in it.

Sometimes we are allowed to go through things that are directly for our benefit, but some things are allowed in our lives to be a benefit to others. As those around us see how we handle hard situations, we are able to be a witness for the Lord in showing how He strengthens us in the storms of life, OR perhaps we can used by Christ to comfort and encourage others who have difficult trials of their own.

I want to learn to develop a steadfast attitude of learning from whatever the Lord has me to endure, whether good or bad. In regards to the year 2014:

I want to be thankful for the successes, accomplishments, blessings, and undeserved mercies.

I want to leave behind all the mistakes, failures, disappointments, heartbreaks, and missed opportunities (learning from them, of course).

I don’t want to wallow in what could have been or should have been, but appreciate what has taken place in my life.

My sisters, join me in thanking the Lord for this last year, and joyfully anticipate a brand new year, full of unchartered waters. A new start always brings hope, for we serve a God of hope!

We can’t change the past, but we can press on in Jesus’ name, confident that He is in control of all our days!

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.” Philippians 3:13

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Our daughter-in-law's mother had a biopsy on a lump in her breast yesterday.  Today, they got the dreaded news....it is CANCER.

She meets with the surgeon tomorrow to schedule surgery, possibly even before Christmas.

She is a single mom of three grown girls.  (Dad walked out on all of them when the girls were very young.)  Mom is scared and all three girls are scared.

We all know the power of prayer.............so, I am asking you, PLEASE PRAY URGENTLY.  Thank you in advance.  Her name is Debbie Tollett.

Friday, December 12, 2014

True Meaning of Christmas

True meaning of Christmas

This year, we gave our grand-babies an early Christmas present;  we gave them the Fisher Price Little People Nativity Set (with Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, the wise men, the shepherds, the angel and several animals:  purchased from Sam's Club.)  Although they are only 24 months and 10 months old, we wanted to start NOW getting them familiar with the true meaning of Christmas.  

Kinley is so young that she enjoys crawling over and destroying the scene and putting the pieces in her mouth.  Cameron, loves playing with all of the pieces.  He does not understand the story yet, but he knows which one is baby Jesus and he will kiss him and place him in the manger.

My 2-4 year old children at church are celebrating Jesus' Birthday all this month.

In the hustle and bustle of the holidays, let us ALWAYS remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Enjoy the Moment

I mentioned earlier that this year I am trying to let go of stress.  It is working.  Had I not made some major changes in the holidays, this year could have been more stressful than ever.

On top of the normal stuff....shopping, wrapping presents, baking, too many engagements....this year we are adding Physical Therapy 35 minutes from my house three times a week....AND a fun trip.

When going to my doctor for my routine physical I mentioned that I get cramps in my upper abdominal area when I turn funny or bend funny, he immediately was full of tons of questions.  I explained that the right side had done that for 29 years, since our daughter was born.  But the left side was more severe and had just started a few months ago.  To shorten the story....he sent me for an MRI to rule out the "bad stuff".  Then, he sent me for Physical Therapy to try to strengthen the muscles to prevent it from happening.  Not just ANY physical therapy.  He wanted me to go to a specific one in Hixson.  (It is only 35 minutes from home, but a little over an hour from my work.)  For two weeks, I go three times a week.  BINGO...there goes THAT day.  By the time I make a couple of stops and get home, there is very little time left in the day.

Our son and daughter-in-law that lived with us for a little over a year, gave us an early Christmas Present/Thank You Present "for allowing them to live with us for a year, etc.  On Dec. 21-23, we will be in Nashville.  They purchased us the Opryland Hotel Country Christmas Package:  Restless Heart dinner show; General Jackson holiday cruise, Rockettes, Ice show, Craft show, etc.  We are VERY excited to take this "Fun Trip". 

However....had we NOT chilled this year, we may have not so much enjoyed the trip.  Usually the last few days before Christmas is crunch-time.  NOT this year.  We are going to sit back and enjoy it.

Instead of cooking a big Christmas meal for my kids, we are going to grill steaks and have baked potatoes and salads.  Simple....and probably a welcome change after all of the casseroles, etc. 

Also...I am happy to report that the Physical Therapy that seemed so impossible at first, has allowed me to grab a couple of gifts each trip I make to Chattanooga..........and I have been VERY impressed and the doctors have been even more impressed with the results.

Let's enjoy the moment...........even if changes need to be made.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Last Minute Christmas Gift

If you are like me....there are ALWAYS those little gifts you need the last minute.  If you need a quick, simple gift......you may have already seen this or may have even made this before, but....thinking of Vicki.....I thought I would post it anyway as a reminder.

Print off the little story.....attack it to a bag of Christmas M & M's and BINGO....your instant gift.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


Okay...I am trying my best to reverse the feeling of "stressed" this year and turning it into "desserts".  

Every year...about this time, I begin to get stressed.  There is soooo much to do and so little time.  This year, I am trying to take a different approach.  (Notice I typed TRYING and not I AM TAKING).

Roger and I, over the years have discussed what we were getting everyone for Christmas, but, in the end, it was always my job to follow through.  I was the one that shopped, wrapped, etc.  Last year, right before Christmas, Roger looked at me and said, "I know you always buy the presents, but have you ever stopped to think that MAYBE I would like to do more too?"  Well....one of my flaws or gifts (whichever way you want to interpret it) is I remember....

So, this year, after discussing suggestions, I have bought for our "girls" and he has for the "guys".  We have both taken the time to buy for the babies.

Wow.  A simple little task like that has taken tons of stress off me.  I have NO problems finding things for the girls, but the guys are always much harder for me.

Initially, I begin to stress....what IF he (being Roger) does not "get it done".  Then, I "Let it Go" and decided that Christmas would not end if the guys received gift cards at the end.  
And, guess what?   The guys will actually have presents too.

Not only have I let go of some duties...........this year, Roger and I have learned to say "NO" to some engagements.  

We always enjoy attending the Associational Pastor's Banquet, but this year we are double-booked and that is not possible.  

Our younger couples decided they wanted to enter a float into the Rockwood Christmas Parade, which fell on a night that did not work with our schedule.  I am PROUD to announce that Our Church had a BEAUTIFUL float.....an EXTRA LONG flat-bed trailer pulled by a large 18-wheeler......with lights, etc.  AND....the float was FULL of our church members, where they road and sang Christmas Carols and Praise Music...........all without US.  (I don't know about you, but when we first came to this church where there was 12 in Sunday School and 32 for preaching and if ANYTHING got done, we did it......................it makes my heart smile to see how not only has our church grown in numbers....grown together...they have grown in the Lord and everyone chimes in and is excited to work for the Lord.  Praise the Lord.)

The last several years I have been so stressed and our calendars have been so full that we do not even get our tree up until the last minute. 

The tree is up this year.  Most gifts have been purchased.  I am wrapping as I go.  We are having an early Christmas in Alabama with both "families and moms" on Dec. 13th. 

NOW....it looks like I am going to have time to actually sit back and enjoy some DESSERTS since I am not so STRESSED.

My advice to you is:
  • Let it go.
  • Delegate jobs
  • Share responsibilities
  • Remember............Christmas will happen REGARDLESS.
  • Sit back and enjoy some desserts.  You can always loose the extra pounds in January when EVERYONE will be dieting.  Smile.
  • JESUS IS THE REASON for the season and nothing else really matters.
Now....enjoy your holidays.  I sure plan to.  And, remember...stressed is desserts spelled backwards.

Merry Christmas

 Merry Christmas from the Britton's!!!

Here is a picture of our "kid appealing" Snowman tree.  Time changes everything.  Smile.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Perfect Christmas

I could blame Pinterest. I could say it was all Facebook's fault. The magazines Real Simple and Southern Living could be given at least part of the credit.

As I scroll through pretty pins and polished posts online or turn the glossy pages of perfected photographs in the printed publications, I think to myself, "I could do that, " and "Wouldn't it be great if my house, kids and husband looked like that?".

These thoughts start innocent enough. The next thing I know however, I am anything but joyous and peaceful.  My contentment is gone and bitterness comes creeping. Jealousy and insecurity take over.

My to-do list grows proportionally with the stress of trying to measure up to some fabricated view of no body's reality. My expectations of what the perfect Christmas ought to be, becomes skewed and unattainable.

Satan must laugh at me while I imagine my Heavenly Father patiently sighs as He calls me to His arms, gently telling me to be still.

No matter what I might try to do to make this the perfect Christmas, all my attempts will fall far short. I am imperfect. I cannot do or even fake my way to meet all my expectations. I can accept all this because of the fact that the perfect Christmas came 2000 years ago when my perfect Christ came to accept and save an imperfect me.

So I may lay off the Pinterest and the Facebook for awhile. The shiny magazines may just collect a little dust. I get into enough trouble with my silly expectations without their help. I don't want to be the butt of Satan's jokes. I am intentionally choosing to be still and celebrate the birth of my perfect Christ.

As a result, I know I will have the perfect Christmas.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Would It Still Be Christmas?

As I blogged earlier this week, I have really been fighting the feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed this December. I am daily taking on my self-assumed expectations of what I want this holiday season to look like. In my quiet times I am begging God to keep my Christ in Christmas this year.

Besides working, parenting and ministering this week (you know, my normal, everyday activities), I've been trying to prep for Christmas - shopping for and buying gifts and decorating our home, etc. Despite feeling two weeks behind, God has been faithful to keep me focused on Him and not my notorious to-do lists.

As I've thought through things and tried to prayerfully approach my responsibilities one-at-a-time, I have found myself with the same question on repeat in my head:

"Would it still be Christmas if ________?"

Would it still be Christmas if we only put up one tree this year instead of two?
Would it still be Christmas if I don't put out all the Nativity scenes?
Would it still be Christmas if we don't track down the toy that she said she wanted?
Would it still be Christmas if I don't mail out Christmas cards, or put lights outside or hand make the girls' teachers' gifts?

Each time I ask myself the question, the Holy Spirit gently whispers, "yes" into my heart.

Jesus will still be celebrated in my heart and in our home no matter if any or all of these things happen or not. My husband and I have that decisively clear in our priorities. These items will not take precedent over the true meaning of the holiday.

If I allow all these things to be so distracting to me, what message am I sending to my daughters? I do not want them to experience me overwhelmed and stressed by these frivolous details that they miss what Christmas really is. If that were to happen, then Christ wouldn't be in Christmas for us.

Even if by some Christmas miracle all my unrealistic, Martha Stewart expectations are met but I have failed to keep Him first, then it would not be Christmas at all - not for us, not for me. Christmas is so much more than that. My daughters need to see through my actions and attitudes what Christmas is all about. By God's grace, this will happen in how I approach my crazy lists and voices in my own head.

Regardless of how I approach this holiday season, it will be Christmas. Jesus' incarnation, Immanuel's arrival will be marked and celebrated. It will still be Christmas. Praise Him - it will be Christmas.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Christmas Influence

I can’t tell you how many times I have rewritten this little article.

Honestly, I am simply overwhelmed. December has begun and I feel so very, very behind. My mind is swimming with all the things I feel like I have to do. I feel the anxiety growing with each item I add to my ever-increasing to-do list.

My feelings have already gotten the best of me and I have the whole month ahead of me.

When I rose early this morning for my time alone with God, the advent devotional I read really convicted me. In all the preparations I feel like I must make for Christmas, I realized that I must prepare myself.

John the Baptist was sent to prepare the people for Jesus’ arrival. God had thousands of years of history in place before the time was “full” for His birth.

And like the lesson of every animated Christmas special or holiday movie ever made, Christmas is not about the wrappings, presents or decorations. As Christians we know that it is so much deeper than Hollywood puts forth.

I need to prepare myself to celebrate the coming of Christ. The gifts will get bought and wrapped. The baking may be done by Publix, but it will be done none-the-less. The house may not be as festively put together as I had envisioned. But, I will stop daily this month to reflect on what Christmas truly means to me personally.

As a momma, I am well aware that my tone, my mood, my outlook directly influences that of every member of our home, right down to the two Yorkies. I want my children to have a great Christmas. However, more importantly, I want them to remember how Christ’s arrival was celebrated. I know that this begins with me.

So with every decoration placed, gift desire discussed and holiday event prepped for, I am asking God that my feelings will reflect His arrival in my heart. As a result, I can let Him use this “happiest time of the year” to truly help my house keep Christ the center of Christmas.

As a minister's wife, I also know that my attitude is reflected in the ministry that my husband and I have as well. Christmas and how it is celebrated is influenced in my approach far beyond even the walls of my own home. It is a part of every conversation and event at our church as well. 

Would you pray for me that I will have a positive influence of Christmas in our ministry? Would you pray for me that I could do this in the Vinson home too? I will be praying for you!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Help Keep Christ in Christmas!

It's here!

The "Most Wonderful Time of the Year" is upon us!

Literally, our family of five had not been home two hours from our Thanksgiving visit out of state and I found myself writing my lists of lists. There is SO much to do and it seems like SO little time to do it all in.

So, for my first post of the week, I am asking for help . . .

How do you do it?!

What are your little secrets and short cuts to get done everything that must be done when it has to be done? How do you balance work, home and church responsibilities? Do you have little "rules" you follow that help you draw "the" line?

I do NOT want my holiday joy stolen by Satan. I know how true Billy Graham's statement is about Satan making you busy if he can't make you bad.

I DO want my holiday to be focused on Christ's coming. I know how my focus will set climate in our home for the three little women who call me "mom."

Please take a moment and post your best ideas on how we can keep Christ in Christmas.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Sweet Spots

Since many of you have read my post several years, you know that I am a chocoholic.  I love that wonderful rich, sweet tasting treat.  However, I want to talk about another sweet today and ask you a question.  Do you have special sweet spot where you have served in ministry?

Over our thirty plus years in ministry, my family has had several sweet spots in ministry.  Each one has its own special memory and always makes us smile and miss the people we have served.  I can honestly say that we even find sweet spots in some of our more difficult ministry locations.  If you would allow me, I would love to share a couple of my favorite sweet spots of ministry.

Our first church out of seminary will always be a favorite.  We were young yet this church filled with godly, country people loved us dearly.  Our oldest son developed a love of nature and even learned to call the cows in from the fields.  When our youngest son was born, he was a “native” Texan and became the church baby.  We watched this small, rural church learn to reach out in its community to reach the lost.  Over the years we have had the opportunity to return to our “roots in ministry” and we are always greeted with open arms.

In one church we served at in Arkansas, we became heavily involved in the community.  Our sons literally grew up in this Northwest Arkansas town.  The church was a center point of activity and served the community.  Football was a way of life as well.  Both of our sons played on the junior high and high school teams and my husband became the play by play radio announcer for the teams.  On Thursday and Friday nights the entire town filled the stadium to support their Bearcats.  It was there in those stands that outreach was done.  When God moved us away to another ministry, many people who had not been in church had found a church home.  Now that is a sweet spot in ministry!

Another place that brings sweet memories was our time in Nashville, Tennessee.  We love everything about Tennessee from the beauty of nature in the surrounding countryside, the big city life, and the friendliness of the people.  We developed some very deep and long-lasting friendships in the church and across the state.  It is where God planted a passion in my heart for ministering to ministers’ wives which I have carried back to Arkansas.  Even though at times the church faced power struggles like most churches, it was and is a church that desires to reach its community for Christ.  Now that is pure sweetness!

Where God has now planted us back in Arkansas is another sweet spot in ministry.  We know without a doubt this is where God needs us.  The senior adults are looking at the future of the church.  We are seeing young families join our congregation because they see the church investing in their children.  A few weeks ago my husband asked that the preschoolers to be brought on stage at the beginning of the morning service.  As these sweet babies marched in, each person in the congregation had huge smiles on their faces.  From my bird’s eye view from the choir loft, I saw excitement in what God is doing in our church at this time in history. Oh yes sisters, this is a special sweet spot in our ministry and I love it!

We all too often look at the down side of ministry.  We focus on the bad and fail to remember the sweetnessSo my dear sisters, do you have a sweet spot in ministry?  If so please share with us.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

In the Moment

A couple of weeks ago I was nestled in a Northwest Arkansas mountain lodge with fifty other women for a fall retreat.  Late in the afternoon I slipped outdoors and settled in a rocking chair on the porch.  I needed a moment to catch my breath.

A soft rain splashed from heaven.  Creation sang with chirps and croaks.  Occasionally, a gentle, cool breeze blew across the porch.  I knew that God was there in the moment.

As I looked across the field, I spied a grey squirrel scurrying across the wooden fence rail.  His little mouth was packed with a tasty nut to add to his winter supply of food.  God was there in that moment.
Throughout the weekend, God was in the moments.  He was with our team as we prepared to host the ladies from our church for this retreat.  He was in the laughter and tears as we shared in His word and through the message of our speaker.  God was in the moment of girlfriends bonding and in all the silliness that comes when ladies get together.

As a pastor’s wife I often forget to enjoy the simple moments.  I miss seeing God in the moments of my grandson’s sweet smile.  I fail to see God in the moment of a crisp fall day.  Why?  Because I am often rushing from one event to the next never realizing God is in each moment of my day.

Sisters, our Father is in your moments as well.  Each second ticks away on our life clocks and they can never be recaptured.  This month I challenge of us to stop for a moment and be in the moment with the Lord.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Just for Fun

A few weeks ago several of my ministry sisters were discussing how many wives and ministry families were discouraged.  It seemed several “safe” online pages for ministry wives were filled with news of firings, battles with the church, or personal family struggles.  In order to redirect our thinking, our group decided our network page needed to have some humor.  As a result I, being the crazy, blonde, fun-loving, chocoholic pastor’s wife, posed the following question:  “If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go AND what flavor of M & M’s would you eat while there?”

In reading your answers, I laughed my head off and spewed a mouth full of perfectly good M & M’s all over my kitchen.  In order to hopefully bring a smile to your face, get you to laugh out loud, and help you forget the trials of ministry life, I want to share my findings.

I discovered that peanut M & M’s are the overall favorite.  Of course they are.  After all, they are our “nerve” pills.  The close second answer was “all” varieties which I will “amen.”  Seriously, why discriminate.  However, sadly one sister, Becky Dinkins, is a Plain Jane and will stick with original M & M’s.  Ladies, we need an M & M party to introduce our dear sister to the world of M & M’s. 

My big question is for Jewell Burke.  What makes “blue” M & M’s so special?  I see no need to differentiate.  I mean all M & M’s should have the equal honor of being consumed by desperate ministers’ wives.

While we are on the subject of a specific color of M & M’s, wait until you hear Amy Shivar’s explanation for the “green” ones.  While she is traveling to Australia and New Zealand with an extended stay in Hawaii, she is going to nibble on green coconut M & M’s.  Why?  Amy states, “Everyone knows that the green ones make you sexy!  After all, ministers’ wives sometimes carry the stereotype of being “frumpy” when in actuality we enjoy feeling good about ourselves and being stylish.”  Well, that is an eye opening fun fact!  So girlfriends, eat your greens!!!

In my extensive research, Hawaii is the favorite destination for ministers’ wives.  I think we all agree that Hawaii is a beautiful place and the waters are inviting.  Of course, I, being a beach bum, would choose any sun kissed, sandy beach where I could sit back and listen to the sound of the ocean waves.  Oh wait, I got so relaxed that I better go grab my jar of coconut M & M’s because they’re my favorite for the beach.

One other favorite destination comes from Joy Mercer.  She wants to tour the British Isles—Scotland, Ireland, and the British countryside.  She loves dark chocolate mint M & M’s so that will be her choice for the trip.  Of course, I assume she would eat the green ones since she will be in Ireland.

Girlfriends, I know this post is pure silliness but we all need to remember to laugh and leave our cares before the Lord.  Besides, who said being a Christian or a minister’s wife is not fun!  Hmm, let’s plan an M & M’s retreat!!! 

By the way, I still want the rest of you to answer this question:

  “If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go AND what flavor of M & M’s would you eat while there?”

I would really like to know where Ms. Jeanne Davis would travel and what her choice of M & M's would be?  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Thankful For Another Year

As I write this blog, I am thankful to be celebrating another year of life. Yes, today is my birthday! According to my mother (since I surely would not remember!) I was officially born into this world at 1:29 a.m. on November 12, 1963.

As I look back over this past year there have been some joys and sorrows, triumphs and trials, milestones and missteps, yet I am thankful!

I have realized over the years that life will give us heartaches, and our Savior said it would be this way. He tells us that in this life we will have trouble, but He victoriously proclaims that He has overcome the world (John 16:33). I believe that with all my heart; He is my HOPE!

I have also experienced some of the most joyous moments ever imagined, and our Savior also says that He has come to give us an abundant life (John 10:10). I can’t imagine living in this world without Him; He is my LIFE!

As each year passes, I am trying to be more of a thankful person. My sisters, our attitude of gratitude would prevail if you and I were to make a list of our blessings versus our complaints. I mean seriously counting our blessings to the infinite degree, such as being joyful over the fact that we can get out of the bed in the morning in a right state of mind, having healthy lungs that can breathe in God’s air, being able to watch a beautiful sunset, and on and on and on……………………………….. The blessings are endless!

Next time you celebrate a birthday, look back over the past year of your life and recount all that our loving Father has done for you, and be thankful for another year!

“Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians 5:20

Monday, November 10, 2014

What Does God See In Me?

A few weeks ago our church had a wonderful women’s conference. Each speaker truly spoke to our hearts, and the praise and worship times were phenomenal. The Lord greatly ministered to all of us who attended as we shared God’s Word together, and enjoyed fellowship with one another.

The Scripture theme for our conference was 1 Peter 3:3-4, “Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.”

For our conference program booklet, I wrote the following words, which were meant to have us reflect on how we truly see ourselves. It’s titled “What Does God See In Me?” I want to share it with you……….

Have you ever asked the Lord, “Father, what do you see in me?”

When I see my reflection in the mirror, is it all about my physical appearance? Is it all about the hair, the makeup, the manicures & pedicures, the clothes, or the jewelry? Maybe it’s all about the things I surround myself with, a well-decorated home, a loving family, tons of friends, or a successful career? Surely, all these things do not define me. What does God see?

The totality of who we are matters to the Lord. But there is one thing that our Father is more concerned about than anything else. In 1 Samuel 16:7 , the Lord reminded the prophet Samuel that, “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”.

Yes, the Lord looks at our hearts. We can become so preoccupied with the external, but fail to cultivate the internal, a heart that chases after Christ and desires to have that gentle spirit that is pleasing to Him.

It’s fine to be well-groomed from head to toe. We should give due consideration to our appearance since our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). Also, material possessions, relationships, and careers have their place as well, since the Lord has given us all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17). Again, these things do not define us.

May we strive to be women after God’s own heart to serve the purposes of God in this generation. Then when we ask the Lord, “Father, what do you see in me?”, may He speak to our spirits that we are beginning to look more and more like His Son, our Blessed Savior.

This is something to think about my sisters, as we strive to live our lives for Christ.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Out of Here

Today will be my last day to post on this blog this month because...........our church so graciously gave us a weekend in Pigeon Forge for Pastor's Appreciation.......and Roger and I plan to take advantage of that this weekend.  

We are looking forward to a couple of days away from the duties of the church.........the duties of our secular jobs............the duties of being parents........and the duties of being grandparents.....(although, everyone, including  our church and especially our children, know that we are only one phone call away.)

We are very thankful to have a church that understands the importance of this time away and has given it to us.  We are very blessed.

Gobble, Gobble!

Thursday, November 6, 2014


I know that many of you are way past the "toddler stage" just as I am.

However, many of you are new mothers.  I do not claim to have all of the answers and I know that many of you are much smarter than me.................but, being the "Mimi" of an almost 2 year old and almost 9 month old......it has refreshed my memory about how trying and tiring these stages are.

This too shall pass....................way too quickly.  I know you get tired of hearing that, but it is true.  Before you know it, your toddler will be moving out to go to college. 

Enjoy the moment.  Right now, you are the MOST important person in his or her lives.

My daughter was talking about the terrible twos hitting early...........I told her that they are NOT terrible.  Toddlers are soooooo smart....even smart enough to KNOW they do not know how to let you know what they want or think.  They are just beginning to talk and conversation is hard.  Out of frustration, they scream, throw a tantrum and really "try" their mom's patience. 

All they really want is to be understood.  I have discovered with Cameron, if I will stop and look directly into his eyes and say, "Mimi does not know what you are wanting.....tell me or show me.".....he will usually stop....and try to tell me or show me.

Toddlers, just like adults.....just want to be heard......and this is the only way they know.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Unhappy Folks

No matter how hard we try or what we do.........someone is always unhappy.

Am I the only one that feels this way lots of times? 

 I have to keep reminding myself that when we are doing things pleasing to God, Satan is standing on the sidelines looking for someone to grab and use to discourage us.

Right now, our church is growing by leaps and bounds.  We just had to add an addition to the preschool department because we have so many younger couples with kids that we did not have room for them.

Now....we have almost outgrown the space again and are already making plans for another building program.

I am not complaining.........this is a great thing.  Right now, our church consists of 85% of people under the age of 40.  It is awesome.  And these are working couples that want help.

You might ask me...."So what is your problem then?"

With growth.......comes Satan.

Already, someone has gotten upset and questioned why we built the new building and why we were catering to the younger couples who seem to be taking over.  We were told that the younger couples are just there temporarily and will soon leave us.

Praise the Lord for the help............they are the church of tomorrow.  We are quickly pushing sixty and ready for someone younger to jump in.  And, yes.....if we push them aside, the younger, eager ones will move on to where they can better serve the Lord.

I have to keep reminding myself........that........Satan is the enemy and we need to PRAY for the weaker ones that are being used by him.

Please pray for us.........pray that we will keep our focus on the Lord and not allow Satan to discouraged us.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Opposites Attract

I was about 5 or 6 when my parents both got saved and from that moment on, all I knew was "CHURCH".  I got saved as a middle school child and have been fortunate enough not to have gone through some of the "straying" that some folks have.  

I met Roger when I was 14 years old because my dad was one of the men that had been witnessing to his dad and led him to the Lord.  Our families because friends and Roger was one of my friends.

I prayed and prayed for God to send me the right mate.

Roger was my first date......(we did break up a few times in between)....but wound up dating 7 years and have been married for 35 years.

We are living proof that God has a sense of humor.  God put two opposites together.  I use to question it....but over the years realize that once again, God saw the whole picture and I was only seeing the tunnel of a picture.  We are opposite, so we complement each other.  God does not make mistakes.

Years ago I was part of a Bible Study on the 7 Spiritual Motivational Gifts.  During that time, I discovered that I was a John....the gift of Mercy and Roger was Peter....the gift of Prophecy.  


However, God has used us to mellow each other out.  Roger is not near as judgmental as he once was and I am not near the "sucker" I once was and do not try to "fix" everyone and everything.

I am a people person.  I LOVE to talk...one on one, but am much more timid getting up in a group.  Roger on the other hand really struggles with one on one and is much more comfortable up in front of a large group singing or preaching or speaking.  TOGETHER....we are good at both.

It break my heart that so many couples....even ministers and their wives are struggling so in their relationships.

I guess I am saying all of this to say.....learn your mate.  

  • Find out what yours and his spiritual motivation gift is.
  • Find out what makes him tick.
  • Find out what each of your love language is.

We are all different and once we realize that, we can better understand each other.

Missing in Action

Hello, Ladies.  You have probably already discovered....I love to talk, so my blogging weeks are fun times for me.  I get to talk, talk, talk..........and pretend that someone is listening whether they do or not.  Smile.  

Well, I got to spend the weekend with "Pebbles" and "Bamm-Bamm" and was exhausted yesterday so I totally forgot to blog.  But as all "Mimi's" understand.......grand-babies trump EVERYTHING....almost.  Smile.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Grace Always

It never fails. I ALWAYS seem to get myself in trouble when I deal in absolutes.

  • She never gets anything right.
  • He always disappoints. 
  • We will never get that done. 
  • They always let us down.

There is just something that seems "off" somehow when I add the word "always" or "never" to a statement or opinion. It "never" fails to back me into a corner or put me on the spot when I put parameters on a person or situation through my own observations or assumptions.

Arrogantly, I assume that everyone should think like me or respond in a way that I believe is right. As a result, I have set myself up for the comparisons, competitions and criticism that leads to bitter, self-righteous and judgmental attitudes.

If I am not careful, these sins creep into how I see others, like the moms and the ministers' wives I blogged earlier about. My perspective on situations within relationships and even the church becomes tainted. Satan is given the opportunity to take root and grow his weeds of negativity and discord. I even get into trouble with how I see myself sometimes.

Ladies, I don't know if you can relate, but I am challenging you to replace your own "absolutes" for God's. When I get out of my own head, with all the baggage of my own experiences, and seek God's perspective, I find some absolutes I can actually count on:

  • I am a child of the One True King and that cannot change. 
  • He always loves me unconditionally. 
  • He has a plan for each of us. 
  • He will never leave or forsake me. 
  • He alone is sovereign.   
As I go through life, understanding past circumstances and living in the present relationships God has given me, I find freedom through taking off my old way of thinking and putting on His. As I receive His grace, it multiplies and I find that I have it to give to others. 

I find myself saying and thinking and writing this prayer a lot lately; Increase You, decrease me. 
Let it be so Lord, let it be so ALWAYS.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Giving Grace to the Minister's Wife

I had a variety of ministers' wives as examples growing up.

As a result of my insecure, critical "old"self, I was pretty hard on these ladies. I had yet to walk in these ladies' shoes, yet I was very opinionated about their gait and stride.

In my youth, I really thought things were pretty black and white when it came to being a Christian and, especially when it came to being a minister's wife. I mean, how hard can it be?

Then I became one. Almost 16 years ago, I became the wife of a student minister, completely believing that I understood what I had gotten into. Plus, I was "in love" and totally blinded to what our reality would be. Can anyone relate?

Like I wrote earlier, just as God used time, age and experience to shape my views on mommy-hood, He has and is doing the same for me toward ministers' wives.

I am so very thankful that God has and continues to forgive me for my judgemental ways. He gently reminds me that each of us are on our own, individual, personal journey with Him. We all respond differently as He has shaped us through a variety of backgrounds and experiences. He has given and continues to give us all grace.

So, as in my role as a mother, I find myself giving and receiving grace to myself and others - as ministers' wives, we've gotta do the same.

Ladies, we are all apart of the Bride of Christ. We've got to rally around each other, loving and supporting one another as Christians sisters. Hidden feelings and unspoken thoughts are still known to God. Let's confess and grow together - giving grace to each of us just as it has been given to us.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Giving Grace to Moms

I became a mom at 26. I was scared and overwhelmed, but at the same time there were a few things I was absolutely sure of:

  • My baby would not be the baby that throws the temper tantrum in Walmart. 
  • Her outfit would always match from the cute socks on her feet to the not-too-big bow in her hair. 
  • We would parent any and all siblings the same, raising them to love God, us and each other. 
Now, nearly 12 years and two more babies later, reality has definitely set in:
  • My toddler has been the one screaming so loud the pharmacist on the other side of Super Walmart felt it necessary to make sure everything is okay. 
  • My oldest, quite often without caring, leaves the house in mismatched socks, not as her own fashion statement, but simply because she doesn't care if her socks match each other much less her outfit.
  • The same? God gave us three very different girls with a whole lot of different needs AND nearly 12 years of grace to change my mind. 
There are quite a few things I would love to tell my new mom self. Among them is that the older I will get and the more kids I will have the less I will know. 

As I look back, God's graciousness overwhelms me. And I am so very thankful for the forgiveness that He has granted me for being so self-righteous and judgmental. 

Working with and loving on preschool families at church, God has opened my eyes to the truth that each Christian mother is just trying to be faithful to Christ as she makes decisions for her kids - work or stay-at-home? Home school or public school or private school? Immunize or not? Organic food? (Really the list of issues moms judge each other over is crazy long!)

I realize the same grace God has afforded me in my parenting experiences, I need to both afford myself and other moms too. Our family may not measure up to some deacon family's "ideal" for us or even my own expectations, but that's okay. I can't judge what God has led another mother to or not to do. It isn't my place. Scripture says that's God's job. 

God's given me grace; I've got to do the same. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Take Courage

It may appear, at first glance, that after reading my last post…and taking in to account the title of this post, that I have fear conquered.  That all of the time I do it afraid.  That I never let fear make my decisions.  That fear is not the boss of me.  That fear is a non-issue.  Well, the truth is…I am fearful!!!  I am to speak to a group tomorrow and I am fearful!

Fear is the boss of me more often than I like to admit!  Many of my decisions are based on whether or not I am afraid to attempt said fearful thing.  So, battling this fear thing is not new for me…and it is for sure a battle!!  The enemy wants me to succumb to fear.  He loves it when fear rules.  After all…he knows I am an easy target. 

So…what do I do about it?  What works for me?  Here are a few tips.

1. Take courage!  Cour-age—noun.  The ability to do something that frightens one.  Take it!  According to scripture it is ours for the taking!!!  Look at these Words below!!  (By the way, the comments in italics below are mine...I sure am fearful someone will take offense and think I am adding a 'jot or tiddle' and changing scripture!  Fearful again!  It is exhausting being me!)

·  Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you (ministry wives) who hope in the Lord!!  Psalm 31:24

·  Wait for the Lord; be strong and let (let?  hummm….we must let it happen….stop stopping it from happening!) your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord!  Psalm 27:14

·  But immediately (I love how He does that immediately!) Jesus spoke to them, saying, “take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”  Matthew 14:27

·  Take courage and be men (or in our cases, women), O Philistines, or you will become slaves to the Hebrews, as they have been slaves to you; be men and fight.”  1 Samuel 4:9

·  Take courage, stand up!  He is calling for you (Can you hear Him calling you?)!  Mark 10:49

·  These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you have tribulation (Oh, yes we do!!), but take courage; I have overcome the world (Oh yes He has!!).  John 16:33

·  Say to those with an anxious heart (He knows when our hearts are anxious!!), take courage, fear not.  Behold your God will come with vengeance; the recompense of God will come, but He will save you.  Isaiah 35:4

·  He said, “O man (again, I repeat…oh women too!) of high esteem, do not be afraid.  Peace be with you; take courage and be courageous!”  Now as soon as he spoke to me, I received strength (receive that strength sister!) and said, “May my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”  Daniel 10:19

Listen to His word and take courage!  Take it!  Wait!  First we must let go of that fear we are holding on to….our hands are full with fear….let it go….drop it!  Then our hands are free to take courage!

2. Remember what He says to me about courage.  (See above verses!)

3. Do it afraid.  Remember last post?

4. The dread is more often worse than the reality.  Powerful statement huh??  Even if I may say so myself!!  Seriously!  Dreading whatever it is that is coming down the pipe—real or imaginary—is most of the time worse that whatever it is that is in the pipe!!

5. Realizing that I miss out of so many blessings from God when I attempt to do only those things that I know I can do.  How can I see the Power of God work when I don’t put myself out there and do the impossible??  Seeing the power of God at work is really high on my priority list….I must take courage and do it afraid and watch Him work!

Oh there is so much more….but enough for now.

I must finish preparing to speak tomorrow and take courage and do it afraid!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Do It Afraid!!

What are you afraid of?



                        The Unknown?

                                    Being Alone?

                                                Going there alone?

                                                            Speaking in public?

                                                                   Praying in public?

                                                                             The dentist?


                                                                                                            Enclosed Spaces?





                                    Driving at night?



Everyone is afraid of something!  Isn’t that comforting to know that we all struggle with fears??  Now granted, many of the fears we struggle with are irrational….and it is difficult to unearth the root causes…..but fear, whether rational or irrational, is fear!!  Many times it is paralyzing and it rarely does any good for people to tell us to 'not be afraid'!  If it was that easy to not be afraid, no one would be afraid!!  Nope, not that easy!

Our granddaughter, Anne, is afraid of dogs.  All sizes…all kinds.  Small, medium or large—at the sighting she runs to the nearest adult and/or chair to climb on.  Recently, she has gotten bolder and if the dog is on a leash, she simply freezes instead of running away.  Progress!

When my brother came to visit with his dog Cooper, Anne, over a period of time, became less and less afraid….to the point of actually touching Cooper when he was fast asleep!  I kept telling her over and over, "do it afraid, Anne, do it afraid!"

I am terrified of heights.  I cannot tell you how many times I would go completely out of my way in Dallas, Texas to keep from driving over a very tall bridge that was on my route to Tennessee.  Ridiculous.  Insane.  Crazy!

Last month my husband and I took a much needed vacation to Park City, Utah!  In case you might have forgotten….that was where much of the 2003 winter Olympics were held.  Lots of mountains.  Beautiful aspen trees changing.  Breathtaking sights.  But the best of the best sights...were on the top of the mountain….and to get there….you had to take the gondola.  Up.  Up.  Up.

I desperately wanted to see the creation God painted…and my husband really, really wanted to go….and so, I decided to do it afraid!

I gripped the handrail.  I pressed myself up against my husband.  I kept my eyes directly ahead.  I rode the gondola up the very, very high mountain.  Fearful?  Yes!  but I did it afraid and I am so glad I did!!

Once I got to the top….and off of the swinging torture chamber….I marveled at the beauty all around me! 

It occurred to me as I stood up on that mountain that I miss out on a lot of amazing, beautiful, God-kinds of things when I let fear make my decisions. 

Sometimes we just need to do it afraidand watch how God uses us or blesses us or speaks to us or who-knows-what!!!

So, my friend….what are you afraid of?  Pray.  Then…Do it afraid!! Tell your children to do it afraid!