Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Coffee Shop Reflections At Year's End

Well, it's official.

I am not as young as I used to be.

It's after 10 pm and I have just returned home from Starbucks. I met college student there who had been a student in my Sunday School class just a few years back.

The caffeinated effects of my Gingerbread Latte have not yet worn off and I find myself pretty wide awake and reflecting on my conversation with this bright young lady.

She is literally half my age -yet even as she is coming to terms with her adulthood, I found that we have lots in common.

As we caught up on each other's lives we found we kept coming back to a few themes in our discussion as it related to both of us:

- We know that life happens in phases.
- We know that God is teaching us how to both give and receive His grace.
- We know that we are on a journey where our final destination is worth all the work along way.

No, I am no longer 20 and that life phase has long since passed. But I know I am intentionally in the life phase I am in now. God has placed me here, in this time at the place.

God IS actively teaching me to give His grace to others and patiently showing me how to receive it from Him as I reflect on my own thoughts, words and deeds.

It is all a part of this journey He is taking me on. I'm so glad He didn't just point the way out to me and say, "Good Luck!," but that He is my ever-present guide and support all along the trek.

Yes, the way is narrow and hard and not-at-all how I would plot it out, but I KNOW that He wastes nothing and He will be glorified in every high and every low along the path.

As my friend returns to finish her junior year in a few weeks and I resume my "normal" the first of next week, it will be a new year. 2016 will have begun whether either of us was ready for it or not.

I may not be accustomed to late nights in coffee shops or, at my age, be able to handle that much caffeine past 7 pm. Despite all that my younger friend and I will say goodbye to 2015 certain that our God holds not only our futures, but us in His very capable hands.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Is NOT Over!

My Christmas trees are still up. My decorations are still out. My clothes are still feeling tighter as I continue to munch on the pile of yummy-ness on the counter.

Traditionally, all the red and green Rubbermaid tubs are carted in from the garage on January 1 or 2 and I begin the task of packing up the trees, the nativity scenes and the stockings. I intentionally leave quite a few of my snowman friends out through the winter, but for the most part, when the chore is done, we are left with a clean slate of a house.

The furniture will be back where it "goes" and the mantle will look a little bare without the garland and lights. My daughters' rooms will be neatly organized and all the new toys will have been put into their places. The Vinson house will be ready to welcome a new year.

Honestly, I am not in any rush to pack away "Christmas." The month of December was as usual and as expected, entirely too busy. I feel like I am just now able to appreciate and enjoy the sparkling lights.

Not just as a minister's wife, but as a mother of three and a daughter with parents living out-of-state, December is daunting. As a Christian, I pray that the Advent season would be a spiritual time of reflection and awe, taking in the wonder that is the incarnation - yet between parties and programs, gifts and goodies, packing and packages, it is hard to stop and remember "the reason for the season."

Yet, God was so good to me. When I did turn my reflections upon Him, He allowed me to "Behold" different aspects of the Christmas narrative. "Behold" was the title of our senior pastor's advent sermon series. Honestly, through his sermons and my own readings, I lost count how many times the Bible tells us to "behold" different truths of how the Word became man to dwell among us.

Each time I came across the word "behold" this advent season, I circled it in my Bible and intentionally stopped to "behold," or to study intently, whatever came next - for instance,  that an angel would appear to virgin or in a dream to a young carpenter.

I tried to look at these passages with the same awe and wonder that a brand new daddy, holding his son or daughter for the first time, studies that infant's features with intense amazement. And God was faithful. He kept His word. When I looked for Him, He revealed Himself to me and Christmas 2015 was a time of spiritual depth and reflection for me.

These truths and lessons will stay with me long after I finish returning the red and green crates to their home in the attic. I won't pack these aspects of Christmas away. These things I will continue to ponder in my heart as Mary did.

Sister, if you have had a crazy December and not taken the time to "behold" Him. It isn't too late. Christmas is never really ever over for the Christian. The Incarnate God has taken up residence in us through the form of the Holy Spirit. We are Emmanuel, God with Us, to the world around us.

Stop and "Behold" Him, born the King of Angels. You can pack up the rest of your Christmas later. 

Saturday, December 26, 2015


All week I begged the Lord to give me an Ah-Ha moment that would reveal to me something incredible that would help me grasp the true meaning of Christmas.  You see, I find myself getting frustrated with the ‘world’, who rejects my Jesus yet wants to celebrate “Christmas”…or more commonly known these days as “the holidays”.  Why celebrate a holiday that commemorates Someone you don’t believe in?  Stop it!  It’s OUR holiday and you have hijacked it and made it your holiday!!

Yep, great attitude, huh?  Then, I am put in my proverbial place as I am oh, so gently reminded that I am the one that is celebrating Christmas just like the world does!!  I decorate the house, I buy the gifts, I want gifts, I cook and bake and (used to) send out Christmas cards.  I go to parties and eat too much and drive around and look at light covered lawns and roofs.  I sing the songs and cry through the cheesy movies.  As it turns out, my Christmas looks a whole lot like the world’s. 

Sure, I know the real reason.  I know it is because my God left heaven and became like me so that I could become like Him in character and will (among other things).  I have lots of nativity scenes around the house to remind me of the real meaning.  We sing carols about Jesus, we didn’t teach our children that Santa Claus was real, we read the Christmas story before we open gifts, and, for goodness sakes, we go to Christmas Eve services at church and give to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering!!! 

But…for some reason, I felt like none of that was enough.  I still felt like I was missing something.  That surely there was more.  That God wanted me to see more.  Know more. Experience more.  Feel more.  Yet nothing came.

After our children and grandchildren had blessed our home for a week, and after everything was picked up, sheets and towels washed, leaves removed from the table to make it smaller, I kept waiting to hear from God.  “Speak to me, Lord”, I cried over and over.  What do You want me to know, feel, hear, experience that will knock my socks off?  What is it???? 


It wasn’t until after I looked at the picture I took below of our table with dishes cleared, leaves removed, food vacuumed from the floor, people gone, that I saw it.  At first I was a little sad.  Everyone was gone, the table looked so empty and small.  Then I was encouraged by the sunshine pouring in from outside.  Then, for some reason, I looked at the blue chest and zoomed in on it.  Look at the zoomed in picture below of the nativity scene that one of our small children set up.  Look at the picture to the right of the scene…PEACE.


What Jesus wanted me to know is Peace.  He brings Peace.  He is Peace.  In the midst of whatever we go through His presence in us is Peace.  I wanted something loud and profound and new.  He wanted to remind me He is Peace.  And I needed it…and didn’t know it.  Sometimes I want something new and profound and sometimes He reminds me of what I forget!

I will now do what the shepherds did…they ‘went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen…’.  Tomorrow I will go to church and share with the ‘flock’ that the Lord has entrusted to me in my Sunday school class and ‘glorify and praise God’!!  And rest in His Peace.

What have you forgotten that you need to be reminded of?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas Treasure

Christmas is my favorite time of the year.  Yes, you can hear me singing “Jingle Bells” or “Silent Night” in July.  I have actually had people stop, stare and then laugh at me for my July serenades.  I love the twinkling lights, colorful decorations, and the smell of Christmas cookies fresh out of the oven.  I love the once a year Christmas peanut butter/ chocolate fudge.   I just adore Christmas!

However, I recently had a thought.  What do I treasure about Christmas?

The Bible says that when the news was shared of Jesus’ birth Mary “treasured up” all the events and pondered them in her heart.  Of course, she knew her baby was God’s son, The Messiah.  However, I wonder if she suddenly realized at his birth what was ahead for the sweet little Jesus boy.  Maybe the whole host of heaven singing, the shepherds kneeling at the manger, and the wise men bringing gifts fully opened her eyes to what miracle lay before her.

Thinking about Christmas, I realized there are a few things I treasure in my heart-

*Squeals of joy from my now three year old grandson opening a gift. (Not so long ago, I loved hearing my now grown sons shouting as they opened their gifts).

*Carols of Christmas sung at the Christmas Eve service

*Visits from family and friends

*Christmas past reflections and remembering great times with my grandparents and my parents during this special time of year

*But most importantly, I treasure a baby born in a dirty manger who would later die on a cross for my sins.  I treasure the man Jesus Christ who defeated the grave.  I treasure the King of Kings who will one day take me to my eternal home.

Girlfriends, what is your Christmas treasure?

Merry Christmas sweet girlfriends!  I pray Jesus fills your home with love and laughter during this special season.

Monday, December 14, 2015

“The Christmas rush is on again! It’s murder on the feet!  The minutes zip! The hours fly! We’re dying to complete this shopping! . . .Shopping!  Shopping!  Panic! Shopping!  Frantic! Shopping!”  The Christmas Post by Deborah Craig-Claar and Robert Sterling.

Yes dear sisters, the Christmas rush in on again.  There are parties to attend, houses to decorate, food to prepare, and gifts to buy.  Then if you are in a church at does a big Christmas musical production, you have extra rehearsals packed into each week until the performance. Let’s face it; there is not enough time in the day to complete all the “Christmas” stuff we have to do!

We panic and become frantic.  We lose our tempers, become easily frustrated with our children and husbands, and we are just not pleasant to be around.  When it comes to the parties my husband and I must attend, I stress about what I need to wear-jeans or dress pants.  Ugg!

Then there are the last minute details.  Did you cook enough food?  Did you purchase the equal amount of toys for each child?  You check your “to do” list a thousand times.  Christmas Eve arrives and you can settle back for a quick rest.  Surprise!  At 9:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve, you receive a phone call stating that your cousin and his/her family you haven’t seen in ten years will be coming for Christmas dinner too.  You use your most pleasant voice to assure the caller that it will be no problem to add four more guests at the dinner table.  Once you hang up the phone you go into complete “I don’t know what we are going to do” mode.  There is not enough food!  There are no gifts under the tree for the last minute guests!  What is a person to do!

Alas girlfriends, as much as we try to have everything ready for the holiday season, something is always going to arise that is unexpected.  The turkey can burn.  You forget to buy a gift for Great Aunt Mildred.  You are past exhausted from parties and practices.  The list can go on and on.

Why not stop and breathe?  Christmas is not about frantically rushing around in a panic.  It is about our Savior Jesus Christ.  Why not share the Greatest Gift of all with your family and friends this holiday season?  Jesus.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Have a Blessed Christmas and a Wonderful New Year!

My sisters, as we approach Christmas 2015 I would like to wish each of you a very Blessed Christmas, and may the Lord allow this to be the very best Christmas that you have ever had. As I mentioned in my earlier blog this week, reflect on our Savior, for Jesus Christ is the Greatest Gift that we all will ever know!

Also, if the Lord wills, the next time I blog it will be a brand new year, 2016, so I would like to wish you all a very Wonderful New Year! May the upcoming year be the best year that you have ever had!

To God be the Glory for all that He has done, AND all that He will continue to do!!!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Greatest Gift

Wow, the Christmas season is upon us again! It seems that 2015 was such a blur!

My sisters, I hope that this time of year does not find you stressed, frazzled, anxious, or just plain worn out by all that seems to accompany this festive season. Many of us have kicked into high gear when it comes to decorating, party planning, and shopping for gifts. Also, I have a confession to make, well two confessions. I have not finished decorating my house….and that’s okay. Also, believe it or not, I have not even bought the first gift…..and that’s okay too!

I love buying gifts for others, and I’ll get around to it before Christmas Day arrives, but this year I am determined to have a different mindset, a different perspective on the Greatest Gift that the world has ever known.

His name is JESUS!

A wonderful way to get past all the frenzy that comes with this holiday time is to reflect on our Savior, and who He is and what He means to you. This time of year we see nativity scenes depicting Christ at His first incarnation as the little Baby sleeping in a manger, with His earthly parents, Mary and Joseph, gazing in awe at their Unique Son. Yet, think about all that happened at His first coming…..

Think about how He humbled Himself, to be found in appearance as a man so He could identify with those whom He came to save.

Think about how He lived a perfect life, free from all sin, so He could be the perfect sacrifice for sinners like you and me.

Think about how He gave up all the glories of heaven so He could provide THE ONLY WAY for us to live with Him in heaven for all eternity.

Think about how He hung on the cross, separated from the Father and having the weight of the sins of the world placed on Him, to secure salvation for all who would believe in Him.

Think about His glorious resurrection, and the fact that He is coming back again, King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

This Christmas, stop and meditate on who our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ truly is. Don’t worry if you haven’t done all that you think you NEED to do this season……just relax and reflect. Let us appreciate the fact that we have a Mighty Savior, and we belong to Him! Now that’s something to celebrate!

I’ll eventually purchase my gifts, but I also plan to reflect on the Greatest Gift that I have ever received…..


Friday, December 4, 2015


Okay.....this is Confession 101.  My attempt to keep the holly jolly Christmas Spirit.....flew out the window last night.  

Years ago when I was still living at home, my Aunt crocheted me and my brother a Christmas Stocking.  When Roger and I got married, she Crocheted him one.  Then when my two children were born, she crocheted them one.

It's our family tradition.

My daughter picked up where my aunt left off when God called her home to be with him.   She crocheted her husband a stocking for my house and then crocheted our daughter-in-law a stocking for my house too.

The year our grandson was born, she crocheted me a stocking for him.  Last year, before Christmas, she was VERY pregnant and did not get around to crocheting our grandaughter a stocking; we borrowed an old crocheted one that she had.  

Now comes the frustration.  Several months ago, I reminded my daughter that she still had to crochet her daughter a stocking.  She said, "Remember, mom....I finished it last year after Christmas and gave it to you?"

No....I did not remember.  I just hoped and prayed that it got put in the bin in the attic with the other stockings.  TONIGHT....we decided to get out our Christmas tree and decorations.  In the stocking bin, were seven stockings........but the last stocking was missing.

I have torn my house apart trying to find it.  NO STOCKING.  It would help if I could REMEMBER.

My husband says he kind of remembers her making it but does not remember what we did with it if she gave it to us.

I am soooo frustrated.............I WANT THE STOCKING.  

FINALLY.....I slowed down enough to pray and ask for God's help.  I still have not found the missing stocking.....but my frustration level has decreased

I will continue to search..............hopefully we will find it before Christmas.  If not, I may have to borrow the old one again.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Holiday Spirit

Can you believe that Christmas is only 22 days away?  Where did the time go?

It always helps me to get into the Holiday Spirit after we have our "Hanging of the Greens" program at church.  Also, I teach the preschoolers at church, so the first week of December, we begin our lessons on "Christmas".

It warms my heart to hear my little kids at church tell me what Christmas means to them.
  • Aubrie said, "It's a special time to spend with family."
  • Stephen said, "It's Jesus' Birthday."
  • Henley said, "We celebrate the birth of Jesus."
  • Julian said, "We get to eat food."
  • Charly said, "We get lots of presents."
  • Brielle said, "We get a tree and lots of lights."
And....the list went on......  But, I especially loved that at a tender young age,  they are already understanding the true meaning of Christmas.  In fact, I think they understand it better than the majority of the adults.

Let us all stop and think about the real Reason for the Season.....and look at it from a child's point of view.....which is so innocent and without baggage.  Let's help spread the Holiday Spirit!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and God Bless You,
From the Brittons.....Roger & Kathy

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Blessings.....when least expected

The last time I blogged I told you about our unexpected friend.....the one we met at Cracker Barrel......the husband is waiting for a heart transplant, etc.

Well......God has blessed us again.

A couple of weeks ago, we spent the weekend with some dear pastor friends in Pigeon Forge where we attended the Jewelry Show at the Convention Center in Gatlinburg.  We split up to get more shopping in, so Roger and I were wondering around and decided to have a wreath made for the outside of our house.  We purchased the necessary items and got in line to have the wreath made.

While waiting for our turn.....with many folks around....everyone begin talking.  Found out the venders  were from Mississippi;  found out one of the ladies in line was from Hixson and her husband was from Dayton and discovered that one of the ladies knew where our church was and was good friends of some former members that had since moved away.  We were asked how long we had been at our church.  I spoke up and said, "The first week of January, he will have been their pastor for 19 years."

One of the venders; a sweet young lady, spoke up and asked if she heard us right......was he a pastor?  Then she asked if she could share her story.  Two months previous, her daughter had had a baby boy at 6 month term.  He weighed barely 2 lbs. and was 13 inches long.  He was perfect, but soon developed a disease that preemies get that attacks the intestines.  Baby Grayson was transported from one hospital to another and finally doctors said his only hope was surgery to removed the diseased intestines.

After surgery, the doctor came out and said for him to survive, he needed about 18 inches of go good intestines.  He only had about 7 inches left so they needed to prepare to say their good-byes.

The family went in and fell on their knees praying for Baby Grayson.  The doctor, who was a Christian also, was very touched and went into his office and also fell on his knees and began to pray for Baby Grayson.  Two hours later, the doctor came back in and said, "Guess what?  The seven inches of intestines are working.  God answered our prayers." 

At two months old, he was still in ICU, but sucking from a bottle.  He had had a colostomy to allow his intestines time to heal and weighed 4 lbs.  PRAISE THE LORD.

Grandma asked us if we and our church would pray for Baby Grayson.  We exchanged Facebook info so we could keep in touch. 

Before we left, Roger walked over to "Grandma" and asked if it would be okay to pray with her right then.  She immediately dropped her wreath supplies and grabbed our hands.  Roger began to pray.  He was crying.  I was crying and Grandma was crying.

When he finished the prayer.........there were about twenty people standing around that was listening and not a dry eye in the crowd.  As we were leaving, several dear folks thanked Roger for taking the time to pray a such an unusual public place.

What a blessing to share that moment with them......and in the process we have gained another friend to keep up with on Facebook.

Don't ever miss the opportunity for a blessing.....when you least expect it.

Baby Grayson is holding his own, but please join us in praying for this precious little miracle.  God has big plans for this little fellow.

Monday, November 30, 2015

12 Days of Christmas

Our Church has the "Hanging of the Greens" program every year.  We have a lady in our church that God has surely blessed with talent and she is the one that is usually in charge of this event.

Every year....I think....there is NO WAY she can top it next year.  And, every year....she does.

This year, our tree is beautiful.  It is decorated with the "12 Days of Christmas" and each of the hanging wreaths on the window are also decorated with the theme.  Mrs. Martha hand made the ornaments for the tree.  This was the best picture I have, but it does not show the top...........which is the pear tree.

You might ask..............."What does THAT have to do with the true meaning of Christmas?"  (That was my first response.)

Boy, did I quickly learn....

The Biblical Meaning of the 12 Days of Christmas

  1. 12 days of Christmas Meaning The Partridge in a Pear Tree was Jesus Christ.
  2. The Two Turtle Doves were the Old and New Testaments.
  3. The Three French Hens stood for faith, hope and love.
  4. The Four Calling Birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.
  5. The Five Golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament. The Six Geese a-Laying stood for the six days of creation.
  6. The Seven Swans a-Swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit–Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.
  7. The Eight Maids a-Milking were the eight beatitudes.
  8. The Nine Ladies Dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit–Love, Joy, Peace, Patience,
  9.        Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.
  10. The Ten Lords a-Leaping were the ten commandments.
  11. The Eleven Pipers Piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
  12. The Twelve Drummers Drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles’ Creed.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The So What Method

While many families dress nicely for a fancy thanksgiving dinner, our family prefers to spend our entire thanksgiving day in our pajamas or sweats or some like-mannered attire.  Typically, no showers or make up either. Just comfy, relaxed, and casual all day long...including for the big meal!

This year all our children, spouses and grandchildren were here all week too! I cleaned the house before everyone arrived Tuesday, but then chilled out and let the mess and mayhem take over.  No big deal, right? Who cares if shoes and coats are scattered every where or if beds were unmade or toys covered the floors from wall to wall? 

Early Thanksgiving afternoon my husband informs me that he has just gotten a message from Evelyn (names have been changed to protect the innocent) wondering what time he'd be by to pick them up for Thanksgiving dinner!!! Wh-wh-wh-what???  "Um, yes, I told her I'd come by in a little while", he said quietly.

I'm pretty sure my eyes grew exponentially with every word he spoke as I tried to absorb all that he was saying...and at the same time trying to recollect any previous conversations we might have had about this family coming for thanksgiving dinner.  Regardless....none of that mattered...what mattered now was what was I going to do??

Was drill sergeant Dana going to take over?? Was I going to bark out orders to everyone telling them to get dressed, pick up the house, get things ready for company? This children know well!  They grew up with her whenever company came over...and, sadly, it sometimes robbed us all of the joy of having people over.  Was I going to make five small children pick up all of their toys and keep them out of sight because I was worried about what the company would think?  This Dana would also have to shower and shave and shampoo (well, maybe not shave), put on make up and pants or jeans and a nice top for crying out loud!!

I made a bee line for the shower before any orders came from my mouth or before I began shoving shoes in a corner or tossing toys into a bedroom where doors could be slammed to hide the truth/evidence of a house well played in.  As the water poured over my body, I talked to God about the situation.  Company was coming....unexpected company, I might add.....I wanted to bless them, I wanted to do all of the things my mother would have had me do....but at the same time...if I did that, it would not be the thanksgiving our family was expecting and wanted.

My struggle was simple:  Do we do it the way we do it....or do we change it because I'm worried about what they will think about our appearance and the appearance of our home?  By the time my shower was over, I had my answer. I went to the closet and put on sweats and a tee shirt...and no makeup.  We pulled in another table and chairs and set more places to accommodate the extra people, but didn't pick up anything else!

In the short time I had before they arrived, I had concerns about what they might tell people at church about the condition of our home and our bodies...but I had to let it go!  I had to embrace the "So What" method!!  So what if things were not perfect? So what if we allow people to experience the way we like to "do" thanksgiving? So what if I didn't have dressing or gravy?  (I'm not going to lie, this was a big worry!!  What would they think!!?? I did have turkey and mashed potatoes though!!). So what if ______?

I was also bound and determined to not apologize for anything! Now THIS was going to be super hard!!  You know, not apologize for the way I looked or for the way the house looked or for not having sweet potatoes (my chocolate pie, however, was a HUGE hit!!)......and I must say I was sort of successful...not totally though!! I vaguely remember apologizing as they came in for the fact that there wasn't a clear path from the front door to a chair for them to sit in what with all the toys and shoes and coats!

Anyway, I say all of this to say, I have NEVER done anything like this before....I want things to be presentable, picked up, cleaned up for guests....but the Lord is showing me that perhaps my motive is wrong.  Perhaps it is okay, maybe even better, to allow people to see us as we are. Allow them to see how we live.  And, so what if it's not perfect!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Her Death Brings Life

Many of you have seen the recent news about one of our own, Amanda Blackburn, who was murdered in her home not too long ago.  This is close to home for many reasons…she lived not too far from me.  She was married to a pastor.  She was a mom.  There is much on my heart about this tragedy…and many tears have been shed…and many questions are yet to be answered.

The world is hearing about a Godly pastor’s wife who loved people and served them well.  They are hearing the Truth of how He will not allow the fire to consume His children.  Her family is living out the Truth of scripture and the world is hearing it!!

The Paris attack and her attack took place the same week and God is giving the world an opportunity to hear and see and know how to respond to tragedy and Who to turn to in uncertain days.

As I have read and heard about Amanda’s life, I find myself wanting to be like her.  I so long to be the kind of woman that impacts people’s lives for good and for Him.  It has awakened my heart to see the big picture.

We do not need to fear attacks from evil people.  God has a plan.  He will provide.  He will be glorified.  Live well my friends.  Live in such a way that our lights shine before men in such a way that glorifies Him.

I just watched her father share his heart…which prompted me to write this.  Please take a moment and listen to her father here.  If you want to read or hear her husband share his heart, there are resources on line as well.  I wanted to share this one because, as a parent, we want to protect our kids...and sometimes we just cannot.  It is during those times we must trust the One we love and serve and teach and profess.  As the tears flowed from my eyes as I listened to him share...I believed anew in the One who comforts.  There is life after death.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Burning Bush

The burning bush.  You have heard of it.  You know what happened, you biblical scholar you.  Moses was doing his thing…minding his business…working a normal shift ‘deep in the wilderness’ as an obscure shepherd and the angel of the Lord appeared to him as a blazing fire in a bush.  Moses is amazed because the bush is engulfed in flames but the bush is not burning up…so he stops to investigate.

When the Lord saw that He had caught his attention, God spoke to him from the bush.  A bush of all things!  God speaks to him in a bush!!  They have a sweet encounter on holy ground and God tells Moses that He is aware of the hardships going on.  He has heard the cries of His people.  He has seen their misery and He has come to rescue them!!

Like you, I know about this encounter with God recorded in Exodus 3.  I have read it and heard about it and have even pondered it.  Honestly, I wasn’t sure what the big deal was about the bush not being ‘consumed’.  What did that really mean?  For some odd reason I wasn’t sure what the significance was.  Crazy huh?  Just being real here.

Something fresh hit me this last time I read/studied this.  The Israelites at the time were in the ‘fire’.  Times were tough, life was hard, people were struggling…and God comes to them to say…’yes, you are in the fire…you are in difficult times….things are hard and you are struggling.  But the fire will not consume you!!!

Like Moses, I get ‘deep in the wilderness’…in ‘Horeb’…which means ‘a desert or a desolate place’.  And, according to the Hebrew word for ‘bush’ here it is a thorn bush…one that sticks or pricks…in other words…it hurts!!  I get in seasons where the thorns are pricking and I sense I am in the fire. 
Do you know what I mean?  Surely I don’t think I need to explain to you what it feels like to be in the fire…and I’m pretty sure you know that the flames can be ignited in a number of ways...what people say, how things are at church, home, extended family, etc. and specifics don’t really matter.  What matters is you surely know what it is like to be in the fire.

The encouraging word here is this:  Yes, you may be in the fire….but the fire will not consume you!!  A fire with no damage!  God is present in the fire.  He speaks in the midst of the fire.  And as hard as this day or this week or this year or this season may be for you or me….it will not consume us!!  He hears our cries.  He knows of our misery.  And He has come to deliver us.  Set us free. 

2 Corinthians 4 tells us we will be afflicted but not destroyed!!  We do not have to be consumed by our circumstances!!  The great thing is that in the midst of the fire, I can rejoice and trust and exalt.  Maybe even stop.  Drop.  And roll!!

Let’s not fear being IN the fire….let’s get ON fire!!!

Let’s have thankful hearts this week even if we are in the fire!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Call

November 19, 2011 was a day I ate a lot of chocolate.  Why do I remember this day so vividly?  It is the day my husband and I came in view of a call to our current church.  We were nervous and excited.  While our hearts were breaking for our church back in Tennessee, we knew God was leading us to this new work.  However, we all know that the “in view of a call” all comes down to “the vote” of the congregation.

On this particular Sunday, my husband and I prayed that God would reveal His plan for us.  If He led us to this new place of service, we would go.  However, we would be leaving a church family we loved too.  I could not stop the tears from coming.  Let me just say it was one of Sundays where I was thankful for my waterproof mascara and my Peanut M & M’s.

As I was reading my morning devotional prior to service, God provided two scriptures for me.

 “In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed.  In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.”  Exodus 15:13

“I remain confident of this:  I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”  Psalm 24:13-14

Girlfriends, when God calls us to a new place of ministry, He always gives us the strength we need.  He will always guide us and give us discernment to know what He has planned for us.  All we have to do is seek His face.  In those minutes when the church is “counting” the votes, we have to “wait on the Lord” and have confidence in the fact that if He led us to this the place, there is a reason.

Although a lot of tears flowed and a mass amount of chocolate was consumed on November 19, 2011, I will always look back on this date with confidence that the Lord knew exactly what He was doing and never regret Him leading us to our current ministry. 

I would love to hear about your recent call to your church.  Tell me how God guided you to this ministry.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Working like a Duck

I have a favorite spot where I love to take an early morning walk.  It is a quaint neighborhood park with a beautiful pond.  On my brisk walks often I will pause for a moment and gaze at the reflection of the sky on the water.  Today, I passed a group of ducks gliding gracefully across the water.  These ducks looked so peaceful skimming the undisturbed water then I remember the unseen movement of their webbed feet.  Those little webbed feet paddled 90 to nothing under the water.  If they stop, the duck will slow to a stop and stay put. 

Isn’t that how the church and ministry is?  We may look like we have it together but actually there is a lot of working going on.  Think about this.

Worship service-Each week our church staff meets to discuss the upcoming service.  Details from sermon topic to music are discussed and prayed over.  To the outside, unknowing world of our congregation, they may believe the worship service just “happens” on Sundays.  But the true fact is there is always behind the scene preparation going on.

Church and Community events-Well here is a big one.  Just recently our church hosted a community fall festival.  We did not just wake up on October 31st and decide to throw up party together.  Months before the event, our Children’s Minister gathered a team together.  We all wanted to use this event as an outreach to our community.  We each took on specific assignments and worked in those areas.  The team worked hard to provide a safe, fun event for our community.  A week after the event, our congregation was asked to take a loaf of freshly baked bread to the people who indicated they would like more information on our church.  I am proud to say our event was a huge success because a lot of work and prayer went into it.

Mission Trips and Vacation Bible School-If you have ever been part of either of these events, you know that it is vital to prepare.  Mission trips require nearly a year notice in order for people to plan around their work schedules.  There are assignments given to the mission team and orientation/training is done.  Vacation Bible School preparation usually begins at the beginning of each year.  Teachers must be enlisted, materials ordered, and supplies gathered.  In both cases, you work hours and pray hard in order for the mission trip or Vacation Bible School to flow smoothly.

Sermon preparation-I can speak personally on this point.  My husband is a planner/organizer.  He prays diligently seeking God’s guidance toward a message.  When Ricky feels God directing him to a passage of scripture, he then prepares.  This does not take place the week of the message.  This prayer and preparation takes places weeks and sometimes months in advance of Ricky delivering the message.  During that time, my husband prays over every word he writes because he knows he will be held accountable to God for what he says.  It takes long hours, prayers, and a lot of work for my husband to preach one sermon.

I guess the point I am making today, girlfriends, is that ministry takes a lot of work.  To the congregation, it may look like things run smoothly.  However, you and I both know the behind the scenes workings.  We know that prayer and preparation are poured into each message or event our churches do.  Sure there can be some hiccups in the midst of the presentation but we know that Satan just loves to mess up God’s work.  However, just like the ducks on gliding across the water, let us not forget to pray for the work going on behind the scenes.  For when a church stops working and praying, the church can’t not fulfill its purpose-to win souls to Christ.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Grateful For Another Year!

Today, November 12, happens to be my birthday, and I thank the Lord that HE has allowed me to see this day once again!!

Seeing another birthday should cause all of us to reflect on the bountiful goodness of the Lord. This past year I have known Him to be:

A Keeper

A Sustainer

A Miracle Worker

A Healer

A Provider

A Counselor

My Joy

My Strength

My Comfort

So Faithful

So Trustworthy

So Awesome

So Loving

So Near

So Powerful


There are not enough words to describe fully who HE is and what HE
means in my life; so I will just say……


Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Christian fellowship is so sweet!

I recently had a very wonderful experience with some of the ladies from my church. Here’s how it unfolded……

I was told a few weeks ago that some of the ladies wanted to do something special for me to show appreciation, but they wanted to keep it a surprise as much as possible. I was only asked for a date and a time when I could be available. So I waited in anticipation, not having a clue what it would be.

A few days before the event, I was told what to wear (our church T-shirt) and what time I would be picked up….WOW! I was going to be chauffeured….at this point I was extremely curious!

The morning of the event (it was a Saturday) I was picked up as planned, still no clue where I was being taken. When we arrived at the destination, it was a total surprise to me!

The ladies had a planned an art party!

You may be wondering….what is an art party? Some of you may know about these types of events, but it was very new to me.

When I walked into the establishment, I saw the smiling faces of my church members, and laid out on different tables were several art stations, complete with a blank canvas, brushes, paint, and even aprons were provided. I was not familiar with this type of party, but at this facility you could book art parties for groups, sessions for couples (what a good idea for a date night!), and individual painting experiences.

The ladies and I were all given the same painting to replicate, with the help of our very talented instructor who was very patient with our many questions. We all had so much fun attempting to recreate the art work, and at the end of the session, each of us had our own individual “masterpiece” to take home as a keepsake of this special time we had together.

I really had a lot of fun! I was never much of an artist, but that didn’t matter. I found the painting experience to be very relaxing and I enjoyed the fellowship of my sisters in Christ! I was truly moved by all that they did to plan this for me, and I totally felt their love and appreciation! Also, they all took me out to lunch after the art party!

In the years that my husband has been a pastor, I had never had anything like this planned for me, and I thank God for those sweet ladies in our church who wanted to honor me with a fun day. It was most definitely unexpected, yet I was very grateful for the experience.

We serve alongside our husbands because that is what God has called us to do, never demanding gifts, or recognition, or accolades. Also, I’m sure that some of you other pastor/minister wives have felt the love of your congregations as well in many encouraging ways.

God’s Word says that every good and perfect gift comes from above (James 1:17). I thank the Lord for these ladies and the gift of good Christian fun and fellowship on that day. He alone is to be praised for any good thing that we experience in our lives!

Yes, I really felt appreciated!!

Friday, November 6, 2015


teach 6th graders.  Last Friday, I gave them a creative writing assignment for the computers.  They had to pretend that they were pumpkins from Mr. Smith's Pumpkin Patch.  I was going to Mr. Smith's house to purchase the most perfect pumpkin to bring home, carve, put a light in, and place on my porch for Halloween.

Their job was to use as many adjectives and other descriptive words as possible to convince me that they are NOT the best pumpkin for me to purchase.

They had so much fun and really came up with some great papers.

I also teach the preschoolers at church.  We have been talking about how just like the farmer tills the land, grooms the soil, plants the pumpkin seeds and babies them so that in the fall, the best pumpkins are chosen for decorations and carving.  I told them that God does us the same way..................He is already preparing them for the job that He has for them.  They are in Sunday School, so someone loves them enough to bring them so they can learn about God, Jesus, Church, etc.  They will keep growing and learning more and more............then, one day, Jesus will knock at their heart's door and want to come in.  At the perfect time, they will accept Jesus as their Savior and be saved.  They will continue to grow...........just like the pumpkins grow.  And, one day God will guide them in the positions that he needs them to be in:  some may be preachers, some may be teachers, some may be deacons, some may be worship leaders, some may be missionaries, etc......but they all are important.

God calls us all to do SOMETHING.  He gives us gifts that he expects us to use to glorify Him.

But...many times, don't we play games with God.............just like I asked my students to "pretend"?   God may say..........I want you to teach a class at church.  Then, we will begin by telling him all of the reasons why we should not be the teacher..........why someone else would be better.  But....if God calls you........He will be with you.

Many years ago, when we first got married, God had already called Roger into the ministry, but he was not sure where God wanted him to serve.  We prayed and prayed and felt God wanted to use his vocal ability to glorify Him, so Roger felt led to go back to college and get some training in music.  At this point, he did not even know where a "middle C" was on the piano and probably did not even know that a C was a musical note.

To get into the vocal classes, he had to go to the head of the music department and get special permission.  He went to her and told her he had prayed and felt God leading him in this direction.  Thank goodness she was a Christian.

She said...........I am not going to argue with God, but with NO musical background, it will be next to impossible to pass the classes on a college level.  However.....if God said do it, I will not stand in the way and I will give you permission to take the classes.

He took two years of music and finished with a 4.0.

Living proof..............when God is in it, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!  He calls you.......and He will walk with you.

So instead of telling God..........don't pick me............let's be open to do and go wherever he takes us.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Being Thankful

This is the 'Thankful Month".  In the past, I took the Facebook challenge and wrote something I was thankful for each day of the month.  I chose not to do that this year.  (It is a time factor.........I am still thankful.)

If I had time, I could write something I was thankful for everyday day of the year.

God has blessed me sooooo much; much more than I deserve.
  • I am thankful I have an awesome God that loves me unconditionally and forgives me daily.
  • I am thankful for God's guidance because without Him, I would be totally lost.
  • I am thankful for a Godly husband and for being able to spend 36 married years and 7 years of dating with my sweetheart.
  • I am thankful for successful children that live for the Lord; all four of them....the biological two and their mates.
  • I am thankful for two precious grandchildren that keep me on my toes.
  • I am thankful my mom is still alive.
  • I am thankful for a loving, growing church.
  • I am thankful for good health.
  • I am thankful for a job that I love (although common core and testing gets me down sometimes.  smile)
  • I am thankful for YOU.  It is your encouragements that keeps me going when the going gets tough.
May you take the time, not only this month, but every day to count your them one by one.  We all have them.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

God Has a Plan

I saw this saying on Facebook a few weeks ago and it spoke volumes to me.....

Maybe your are not as impatient as me.  When I have a burden, or especially a decision I need to make and I'm praying about.................I want God to answer me YESTERDAY.  I can not wait.
God does not work that way.
Everything is ALL in God's TIMING............and not ours.
We have several very important things that we are praying about right now:  for health of other people; for job directions for other people and for broken relationships of other people.
One thing that is weighing heavily on my heart right now, is someone very dear to me is in the middle of seriously praying about guidance in career directions.  This person has involved me and asked me to help pray about this situation.  This person wants to make CERTAIN that it is God's choice and direction and not the direction that he/she is choosing.  Career changes are a scary thing.  It could change your entire life.
I sent this poster to this person by text............because my prayers are that he/she will wait on God's guidance and follow His direction.
God knows this person's name............that is all that is important.  Please join me in praying that this person makes the right decision that will bring glory to God.  Thank you in advance for your prayers.
And.....let us always remember that "God's Got This".....we just need to be open to his guidance and be patient.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Unexpected Friends

We get so busy that sometimes we tend to over-look some of the most precious blessings offered us.

Last Thursday night, we drove to Cleveland, TN to watch our grandson play soccer.  Afterwards, Roger and I stopped at Cracker Barrel to eat dinner.  We sat there and talked and enjoyed our turkey and dressing.  Afterwards, while Roger was paying, I walked over to the "clearance section" and was browsing. 

A lady came up to me and asked if I was from that town.  I told her no.  She was from out of town.  Her and her husband were wanting to spend the night and were wondering about "clean" lodging in that area.

I got to talking with her and Roger came up and joined the conversation. She said her and her husband were just coming back from Vanderbilt Hospital and had taken the very long route home....just chilling.  We also found out they were from Decatur, Alabama, which is where we lived for the first six years of our marriage thirty years ago.

Her husband has some serious heart problems and was put on a portable machine that he wears around his waist.  He is on the list for a heart transplant and they are only in their middle fifties.  We told her we would be praying and would have out church to pray.

She wanted us to go into the eating area to meet her husband so we would have a face to pray for.  We met him...............and Roger had prayer right there in the middle of Cracker Barrel as we all held hands.  They gave us hugs and her husband said they had had t-shirts made up for a fundraiser to help with the expense of the transplant and they had a few left.  He asked if they could give us each one.....and they did not want money.  He said if you are going to pray for me and have your pray for me, you get a t-shirt.

Before we left....we exchanged phone numbers and Facebook info.  We got down the road and Roger turned around.  He said....."I'm not sure why I did not think of this before, but I just feel I need to go pay for their meal."  So we went back to Cracker Barrel.  He went to the desk and told them where they couple was sitting and paid their ticket and we left.

By the time we got home, we got a text message from them.........thanking us for their meal and thanking us for prayers and friendship.  They also said that after God heals the husband, they would like to come to our church to give their testimony.

I got on Facebook to see if by ANY chance we had any mutual friends.................and discovered that they are friends with a lady we know.  She is the sister-in-law of our closest friends in Dayton. 

It's a small world after all.

We've already texted several times since our "meeting by chance".....and I am sure we will keep in touch.

Was this an accidental meeting?  I don't think so.............God had a purpose for us meeting....if nothing else.....we are more PRAYERS for him......and we have gained new unexpected friends.

P.S.  We did ask around and call our son-in-law and found them a "clean" place to spend the night.  Smile.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Proverbs 16:20 Continues

"Whoever gives thought to the word discovers good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord." Proverbs 16:20

This verse and its truth. 

God continues to use it to speak to me and just as He continues to speak to me through it, He has impressed on me that this isn't a "one and done" kind of verse. 

I'm not to just give thought to the word one time and discover good once. The idea of the verb tense and usage with in the verse is that it would be a way of life for us -  to continue to give thought to the word and to continue to be blessed by continuing to trust Him. 

There's a lot going on in life right now. There always is. And as long as Jesus tarries, there will continue to be; but the application of this verse, is not something I can spiritually afford to procrastinate on. As a result, I am trying to continue to:

- Identify the demands and distractions that are vying for my focus. 
- Intentionally setting aside time to pray and study God's word. 
- Remind myself that I am part of the "Whoever" is verse is written to when Satan lies to me about my worth. 
- Reflect on how VERY blessed I am. 
- Ask Him to help me to trust Him more. 

I hope these posts this week have been encouraging to you. I hope you've discovered good as we've given thought to this particular passage. 

Perhaps you could comment what verse(s) you are "giving thought" to right now. It just might be the next verse God is calling me or someone else to give thought to, too!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Proverbs 16:20 Part 2

"Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord" Proverbs 16:20

In my last post I started sharing the truths from this passage that our God has been teaching me over the last week or so. If you've got the time, let me encourage you to scroll down and read my last post before you begin this one. Since I've been "chewing" on this verse, there was just more "there" that I wanted to share  then would fit in one post . . .

So here is the "more" that AND brings us to:

"blessed" - Thanksgiving is right around the corner and we will be inundated with messages to be grateful and to count our blessings, but have you ever just stopped on a random Wednesday and written an actual list of all you have been blessed with? I did this last week and was literally compelled to confess my ungratefulness and all that I had been taking for granted. When literally looking at all I had to praise Him for, everything else was immediately put into the proper perspective. I am undeniably "BLESSED"....

"who trusts" - One of the many things God has blessed me with is faith. It is by faith that we've been saved and that saving faith comes from above. Since our Heavenly Father is the source of faith, this verse led me to ask for more faith to "trust" Him more. Like the father who approached Jesus seeking healing for a dying child, I too confess my faith and ask for more - "I believe, help my unbelief!" I am assured from the first part of our verse and others, that He will answer that prayer. He will help me TRUST Him more.

"in the Lord" - Who else do we have to trust in?! Yet, here I am trying to figure things out on my own, trying futilely to control my circumstances and to manipulate how other people respond. I can't trust in myself, my circumstances or in others. Time and again, I fail. I can't control God-sized factors. Others always eventually let me down. As I give thought to the word, realize how blessed I am and seek out the faith to trust Him, of course, I will trust IN THE LORD.

This last half looked at as one thought reveals a cycle to me.... We are blessed when we trust in the Lord and the more we trust in the Lord, the more blessed we are. So, as I have given thought to the word I have discovered good - this "cycle" is evidence of my good discovery! God is showing us an answer to the first half of the verse by the addition of the second half!

I have discovered more about our God and I know that He is indeed good all by giving thought to the word.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Proverbs 16:20

I am going to start off my week to blog following Vickie's example. I really appreciated how she took a verse and looked at it, breaking it down to let God really speak through it.

The verse that God has been speaking to my heart over the last week is Proverbs 16:20:

"Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord."

This verse jumped off my Facebook feed and I've been "giving thought" to it every since.

"Whoever" - Dear Friend, I don't know who you are, but I do know that you and I are both included in this word, "whoever." Not even our salvation is a prerequisite for the promise contained in this verse. Regardless of our Biblical knowledge or high school math grades, independent of how we feel about our self-worth or in spite of what others might say about us, whoever in the original language is still whoever. WHOEVER gives thought . . .

"gives" - Giving something requires intention. Today, my sweet mother-in-love turns 81. I want to mark the occasion. I have given thought to a gift. I have picked out a card. I will take my little women to visit her after school. In order to "give" I have to take budget and time and schedule into consideration. I have to make an effort. I have to be intentional. The same applies to this verse. If I am going to discover good in the word, I have to be purposeful to GIVE thought . . .

"thought" - There are A LOT of things that compete for my thoughts. Keeping up with a busy family of five on top of the church calendar, with the distractions of various social media outlets my thoughts are mostly on things that won't matter a week from now. Add in Satan's lies and my own insecurities, it's no wonder I can never call my daughters by the names on their birth certificates! But when all the demands are set aside and the distractions are done away with, the thought path that remains is worth following. Intentionally giving THOUGHT is done by following Vickie's verse, being still and knowing He is God . . .

"to the word" - As even a casual student of the Bible, we can know that the Bible is many things. It is sweet, useful for a variety of purposes, deep for the most learned to still contemplate - yet simple enough for my two year old daughter to understand. The word is truth. It is God's revelation to me, the one He pursues, of His incredible self. Without question, THE WORD is worth giving thought to.

"will discover" - This verse assures me that when I give thought to the word, I will find. Seek and you will find, ask and He will answer. This verse dovetails so many other passages where God promises that He will not be hidden. If we look, we will find. As I give thought to the word, I WILL DISCOVER.

"good" - In my years walking with Jesus, I have never regretted the good I have found when studying His word. The good I have discovered includes a deeper understanding of myself and my God, an assurance, affirmation, and remembrance of truth. His peace, His love and even conviction of my own sin are among the good that I have found. No one wants to think of their sin being pointed out as a good thing, but if it makes one more like my Jesus, it is most definitely a good thing. Here we are told what we will discover is GOOD.

"and"- If this verse, wasn't enough this little three letter conjunction is included to tell us that there is more to this promise. Due to time and space issues, this is where I will pick up in my next post. (I don't know about you, but I don't like blog posts to get too long. It's too hard to keep my thoughts focused on one thing for too long!)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Psalm 46:10

Life in the Lee household is never without some noise, excitement, or stress.  As a matter of fact, I do not know if I could live in a quiet, stressful environment.  However, there are times in my life that I yearn for a moment to be still.

Ministry is hard.  There is always a constant “urgency” to meet everyone’s needs.  Our husbands strive to prepare for Sunday and Wednesday services, attend committee meetings, juggle hospital and homebound visits, put out fires of dissension within the body, and tons of other “minister” duties.  Likewise, as the wives of ministers, we have all the stress of handling home, kids, our jobs, and church responsibilities plus all too often listen to people express their “concerns about such and such” at church.

That is why I just feel led to share a brief post today with you regarding Psalm 46:10 “Be still   and know I am God.”  I have broken the verse down word by word and discovered some very interesting thoughts.

Be-to stay or visit. How perfectly fitting for this verse to begin with an invitation to “visit” with the Lord.

Still-motionless and undisturbed; without sound and calm. In order to hear the Lord clearly, we must tune out the noise and distractions.  We must find a place to be undisturbed for a few moments each day.

And-a conjunction used to indicate an additional thing, situation or fact.  It indicates something follows the first part.  Such a small word gets the honor of delivering a big revelation to a soul who is worried, anxious, stressed, etc.

Know-to have information firmly in mind; to firmly believe in the truth or certainly of something; to have encountered (or be familiar with) somebody or something before.  Wow! When we became children of the King of Kings at the moment of our Salvation, we knew who God was.  In the midst of the daily chaos in our lives, we can still know who He is.  We can firmly proclaim He is our Father who loves us.

I-a personal pronoun used by a speaker or writer to refer to himself or herself.  Girlfriends, this is God, the Creator of the Universe, Savior of the World, our Heavenly Daddy and He is talking to us!  He KNOWS who we are and what we go through every day. 

Am-first person present singular.  God is ALWAYS present.  He was, is and will be part of the believer’s life.  At times, we may leave Him out of our lives but He does not leave us.  He is always present-when the baby is crying, when dinner is burning, when a person at church complains.

God-All powerful, all knowing Creator of the Universe.  Other religions can claim to have a god but their gods are dead and buried.  Our God is alive and there is an empty tomb to prove it.

So girlfriends, I know there are some of you who may be struggling with different issues in your life right now.  I know I am stressed and trying to meet demands too.  However, I pray that each of us can find a moment to be still and know that He is God.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this break down of the verse.  You may have a different insight that would help another sister.