Tuesday, December 27, 2016

When Christmas Is Not Picture Perfect

Have you ever read someone’s Christmas blog post or seen perfect Facebook pictures/statuses or Christmas card letters that oooh-ed and ahhhh-ed about life and family and thought to yourself, "Wow, I sure don’t feel/look/live like that right now at all!  They all look so happy!"


Just look at these picture perfect kids of ours!!!
My last post talked all about how great everything was.  I shared that I was so excited about kids coming and the mess and the chaos.  I raved about how precious the quiet was and what a blessing going to church on Christmas was and on and on.  You can read it here if you are so inclined.

It was all true…every bit of what I said was true. 

But there is more that wasn’t said.

Thoughts.

Terrible thoughts I had that were not spoken or written.  Not all were lingering thoughts.  But fleeting, selfish, sinful thoughts.

  • Is this Jesus’ really real?
  • Sure would like to stay home.  Alone. 
  • Church messes up our traditional Christmas morning.
  • What if what we are giving them isn’t enough?
  • Why am I the only one who does all of the shopping and wrapping and cooking and preparing for Christmas?  Why doesn’t he help more?
  • Why doesn’t our relationship look like that one on the Hallmark movie channel?
There have been years where I had no aspirations to put up any Christmas decorations or even a tree because discouragement seemed to overtake any desire.  No parties or events were hosted in our home.  No cards were sent.  Gifts were wrapped but there were no ribbons or bows.  I did the bare minimum.

There have also been years where our house was decked from head to toe, so to speak.  We sent out (I mean, I sent out…no we about it if I’m honest) Christmas cards and hosted multiple events….including church-wide open houses.  I made Christmas dresses and baked cookies and wrapped presents with beautiful bows.

We love hosting staff Christmas dinners in our home….cooking and serving and loving on each one gives us much joy.  It has traditionally been a time of joy and laughter and memories.  Sadly, because of having to reduce staff for budgetary reasons, we went through a season of grieving and loss and discouragement and I just wasn’t up to doing the dinners.

Thankfully, this year was different!!  We had most of our staff and spouses over for dinner.  A miracle!!  Years change.  Years change us.

I guess what I want to say is this:  If this is a hard year for you…for whatever reason…you are not alone.  If you don’t love all of this Christmas stuff….it is OK.  Give yourself much grace.  If you don’t want to spend any more time with relatives or people in general….take a break.  If you want to be alone….I get it. 

If your life and thoughts are less than Godly…so are mine.  Forgive us Lord!  Turn our hearts and minds and will toward You!

My life sometimes might look picture perfect.  Or sound picture perfect.  Trust me…it is not. 

Christmas celebrations (or lack-there-of) can sometimes be hard.  or disappointing.  Or lonely.  Family can be hard or disappointing or annoying.  People can be.  Traffic can be.  Recipes gone wrong can be. 

So what do we do when Christmas (or any part of life for that matter) is disappointing?  As far as I can tell I have two choices:  Be disappointed or be pointed to Christ.  I can run this race with my eyes and mind on the scenery or other runners, or I can fix my eyes and mind on Jesus.  Isn’t it amazing how when we do that everything else grows strangely dim….even disappointment and less than perfect pictures.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Today, Yesterday, Tomorrow

Tis the day after Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring except for me…and I ain’t no mouse!

Funny how even when I CAN sleep in, I CAN’T sleep in!!  Anyone else have this malady?

Today I love that I got up while it was still dark with my hubby snoring away.  I love that I could plug in our beautiful lights and sit at the Lord’s feet for a while pondering His faithfulness and His mercies and His love.

Today I love that our house is quiet.

 
Today I love that even though I’m normally so very ready to pack up the decorations for another year and get this house back to ‘normal’….I won’t because our son and family will come for a few days….so Christmas is NOT over for the James gang!

Today I normally would be getting out the empty bins and boxes from the garage, purposefully wrapping and packing each item, labeling the box or bin, and finding someone help me put it all back in to the attic.

Not today.  Today I’m going to enjoy the calm before the storm.  Today I’m going to relish time with my hubby.  Today I’m going to get ready for more kids and grand kids to come for a few days.

Just when I thought Christmas was over….it’s not!  There’s more!

Yesterday, Christmas day was precious!  Could sleep later than a normal Sunday because we had no bible study/Sunday school…..just worship at 10:30.  No prep for me to go over.  No stress over teaching ladies.  I was super excited to sleep late but did I?  No!  I was up at 5:00 am!!!  Do you know how frustrating that is??  I could sleep past 8 and I’m up at 5:00 am!!??

Anyway…back to the point….yesterday was precious….worshipping with our family of God on Christmas Day!!  So fun!! 

(Side note:  did your church have church Christmas day??  Christmas falls on a Sunday every 7 years or so….and it has for as long as we have been in ministry—over 40 years now—so that’s a lot of Christmases on Sunday….and I had no idea….until this year, that is, that many churches did not have worship…perhaps this is a discussion we should have at a later time….but I found myself being critical over churches/pastors not having church on Christmas!!  Here I was, being all self-righteousness and all spiritual all because we have always had church when it fell on Sunday….and yet I certainly was NOT being spiritual but rather quite sinful as I was being critical!!  Oh my…)

Back to yesterday…..after worshipping Jesus with the Body…..we went to our daughter’s house to celebrate His birthday with her family.  We got there about 1:00ish and their three kids were waiting with noses pressed to the window waiting for us to arrive so that they could open their gifts!!  They had some flu going around their family so did not go to church and those kids had waited all morning and not opened any gifts!  Talk about torture!

Yesterday was sweet….laughter, oohhs and ahhhhs, food and music and rich blessings abounded.

Yesterday was sweet as hubby and I came home exhausted and full and the two of us opened our gifts to one another.  It was reminiscent of our first few years together before we had children.  Just us opening our gifts.  Sweet.


Yesterday was a blessing.

Tomorrow chaos arrives for a few days.  There will be lots of noise and playing and messes and more gifts and more food. 

Tomorrow and the next several tomorrows we will have family here….and we will love it.

Our lives consist of yesterdays, today's and maybe tomorrows.  Christmases past, Christmases present and maybe Christmases future.

The truth is…Christmas is not over.  But you know this.  You know it is new every day.  You know Christ has come.  Christ is here.  Christ will come again.  But often we forget...we box up the beauty and memories and love and fun and put it all away in the attics of our minds.  Keep it all out.  Keep it out for those days when the darkness seems overwhelming and the depression sucks us in.  Keep out the joy.  The light.

As you pack up your decorations and lights ponder how you can hold on to the beauty and memories and power it all represents for another day.  And for another day after that.  And another day. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

REJOICE!


Christ, our Savior, is born!

My sisters, as we celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, may we always keep in our hearts that Jesus, the Lamb of God, is the greatest gift that we will ever receive.

His birth, our rebirth

His life, our abundant life

His death, our victory over sin’s power and control

His resurrection, our hope of eternity secured

The sinless Savior lying in a manger on that first Christmas morning is the King of Kings who will return one day in all of His glory!

Rejoice and celebrate the true meaning of the season, not just once a year but every day of the year!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Prayer in the Midst of Tragedy

A horrific bus accident

Wildfires

Violent storms

These catastrophic events have taken place in our state in the last month. Precious lives were lost, and terrible heartache and sorrow still remains.
In times like these we feel so hopeless and helpless, but we can……

PRAY

The fatal bus accident that took the lives of six beautiful little children devastated our community. Many more children were injured, some severely, and words don’t seem adequate to express how this tragedy affected the lives of those involved. But, we can PRAY. WE can ask the Lord to heal broken hearts. WE can ask our Savior to strengthen and comfort the moms and dads who will never hold and hug their little ones again. WE can ask our Father to counsel the extended family members, friends, and teachers who will no longer experience the joy of being with these boys and girls whose lives were taken so suddenly. WE can ask the Healer to send help in any form He desires in order to help our community heal.

The wildfires that raged took lives, consumed many acres of forest, and destroyed countless buildings. Again, WE can pray for God’s peace to abound in the hearts of those whose loved ones were lost. WE can pray that resources will be provided to remove all of the charred debris, and that God will raise up the funds so businesses and homes can be rebuilt from the ashes.

The violent tornadoes and storms also took precious lives and devastated property. Again, we can pray, pray, pray!!

All of these things serve as a stark reminder of how helpless we are to prevent and control the tragic things that happen in life. We truly don’t understand when bad things occur, but we have a Savior who told us that, “……in Me you may have peace. In this world you will trouble. But take heart I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

The Lord promises, “….in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) Most assuredly, all of these events were definitely NOT good things. Yet, those of us who know Christ believe and have seen God take the most painful of circumstances and bring rays of hope. The Lord is Faithful to His Word!! I look with anticipation to the day when He wipes away every tear, and takes away death, mourning, crying, and pain FOREVER! (Revelation 21:4)

After the bus accident, many in our community came out to donate blood (donors were lined up outside the building!). Almost immediately, a special fund was established to help the suffering families. The school bus company graciously offered to pay the funeral and medical expenses of the families involved. Prayer vigils were held to remember victims. So, we have already seen the compassion and love of The Lord Jesus Christ at work in the midst of tragedy.

So, my sisters, when life seems unbearable and it feels like the world is spinning out of control, leaving us feeling hopeless and helpless, remember we can always PRAY!!!

Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Friday, December 9, 2016

Stress Relief?

What is your Stress Relief?

If you don't have one...you should.

To relieve stress, I will "fun" read or "craft" or "sew". 

For Roger's 60th Birthday this year, our son and daughter-in-law purchased him a carving pen making class.  WOW............what a difference that has made.  He has had a very stressful year with his secular job.  (They are out-sourcing to India.) 

He makes pens; ink pens with refillable cartridges.  He has gone WILD.  The store where he took the class is even impressed.  He is making pens out of pinecones....out of wood....out of deer horns.....out of acrylic....out of just about anything he can fine and they are BEAUTIFUL, and unique.

He has sold LOTS of them and given even MORE AWAY for gifts.  BUT....the most important thing..............he has given him a way to relief some stress.

What is your stress relief?
The top pen....bottom half is made out of a pinecone.
 

The 2nd one from the top is made of pinecone at the bottom and olive wood from Jerusalem on the top.  (He has started ordering "different" wood.)

This are acrylic and comes in lots of colors.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

20 Years of Ministry....at the SAME CHURCH

Well.....in January, we will have been at Whites Creek Baptist Church for twenty years.


TWENTY YEARS......


Some days it seems like we just began our ministry there and other days it seems like we have been there forever.


Our children grew up there.  They were 7 years old and 11 years old when we went there.


Over the years............many folks have gone on to be with the Lord.  Some have moved out of town.  Some have become shut-ins and because of their health are no longer able to attend church.  Others....have just left the church for one reason or another.


The first Sunday we were there, they had 12 in Sunday School and 32 for preaching....and we were four of those.  Today....only one person, Mr. Jim is still living and able to attend church pretty regularly.  We have one other lady, Mrs. Margaret......but her health has declined the last year to the point that if she is able to come to church, Sunday School is all she can handle.


It is sad to think about the fact that those two are the only members still there.  However....on our first Sunday, the youngest deacon was 77 years old, so we were called to an older congregation.


Today.....85% of our congregation is under the age of 35.  WHAT A CHANGE!


God choses to lead some pastors to several churches over their ministry and others stay long term at churches.  We have always worked in churches.  Roger was the Minister of Music, Youth Minister, Associate Pastor, etc.  BUT....Whites Creek Baptist Church was the first church that he ever pastored......and it appears it will be the only church he pastors.  We are not sure why that was God's plan, but we do know that he is not finished with us there yet.


Some of the leaders in our church were teens that Roger baptized.  What a blessing to be able to stay long enough to see some of the seeds that were planted.............


Our prayers are that we will stay as long as God intends for us to stay, but when it is time for us to leave, we will leave gracefully.


We feel very blessed to be allowed to serve and witness the changes at Whites Creek Baptist Church.


I know you have a story too.  I would love to hear it.





Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Tennessee......what's happening?

I was on the computer messaging back and forth to my niece who is in Singapore and I told her that as soon as they left Tennessee....we went to pot.
  • A few weeks ago the horrible school bus wreck happened in Chattanooga, where six were killed.
  • Then the FIRES.......we live in Dayton which is in Rhea County.  For a few weeks, the air quality was so horrible that everyone had to stay inside because of all of the forrest fires on Signal Mountain and on Cumberland Mountain and the wind was blowing it up from Georgia.
  • .  THEN....the HORRIBLE FIRES that destroyed lives and lots of the Gatlinburg area...which affects all of us.  People from all over the USA visit the Smokey's every year.
  • Next....in the middle of the fires, in December....we had tornado weather.  One night, we were up all night.  The weather alerts kept going off...another tornado was coming our way.  I am pretty sure we were under a tornado WARNING for most of the night.  And just across the river in Athens, a tornado touched  down and done lots of damage.
It is hard to know whether God is trying to tell Tennessee something or, like Pat Brown said.....Satan is trying to stop God's people from doing great works in Tennessee.


Regardless...............we need to PRAY. 

Like Mrs. Pat said in her Facebook post....in the middle of all of the tragedies, God's Love and Grace is being witnessed.  I think Satan would LOVE for us to ignore that and only see the bad.



Let's US help to make sure that Satan does not win the victory..................share the good.


The folks in our great state came together to help CHATTANOOGA.
They came together to help GATLINBURG.
And they came together to help ATHENS.


(These are just a few of the "happenings" near me.............I know all of you probably have stories to share and I would love to hear them.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Singapore

I am so proud of my niece and her husband.  They have been working with Young Life in Franklin, TN........and last year, God began to lead them to go to Singapore to work with Young Life.


They sold their home and most of their possessions.  He gave up a great job and she gave up her Nurse Practitioner job.  They left their church.  They left their friends and they left their family.


Three months ago they boarded the plane in a huge step of faith, taking their two children (1 year old and 2 1/2 year old)...and traveled to a different culture.  A place where EVERYTHING is different....but the same.  The culture, food and transportation is completely different, but the young people's hunger for God is the same.


I would like to ask you to PLEASE put them on your Prayer Lists.  They KNOW they are where God has led them, but even so.....during the holidays, it is very lonely to be away from family. 


My daughter made them a sign and we had it sent to Singapore.


Missionary:  (noun):  A person who leaves his family for a short time so that others may live with their families for an eternity.


(They left a mom, dad, three grandparents, sisters & their husbands and a brother......not to mention a host of other family and friends.)


I am posting pictures so you will have faces to pray for.  Their names are Nick and Danae Ireland and the boys are Bennett and Jackson.


Thank you in advance for your prayers.


Even Christmas is different............it is summer all the time!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Merry CHRISTmas!

During this HECTIC time of the year......it is refreshing to re-live "the Magic of Christmas" through our grandchildren's eyes.  They are sooo excited and it is contagious!

Cameron just turned four a couple of weeks ago and Kinley will be three in February.

They are old enough to understand that Christmas is Baby Jesus' birthday.  BUT..every baby they meet, they want to know if that is Baby Jesus?  (I guess they are a little confused...but they will understand as they get older.  The seeds are being planted.)

During this Crazy, Busy, Tiring Season....let us slow down and celebrate and the children do.

Merry Christmas from the Britton's!


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Tennessee Wildfires

My heart  has been heavy this week.

While we live clear across the state from Sevier County, we have vacationed and retreated there for over ten years. The sights and people are near and dear to us . . .

Here is the Facebook post of one of our most loyal and supportive blog readers, Pat Brown:

I keep seeing that God is speaking to East TN and that may be true. However, I believe this is the work of satan. Sometimes we forget how powerful he is. TBC just had an amazing Summit in Sevierville a couple weeks ago and God IS moving in our state. People are getting about the Father's business and satan is scared. So let's don't get mad at God. Through the fires, tornadoes, murder/suicide and all the other stuff happening around us, we continue to see miracles He's done during these tragedies. I've never heard such a great call for prayer and the recognition that prayer is needed and is working, from so many on tv. We can't understand all this, but I choose to trust that God has all this under control. So don't give up on God. Keep spreading His love.


 I think she is spot on.

Here is the letter our state convention president, Randy Davis, emailed out today:



Dear Tennessee Baptists, 
As one who lived nearly 20 years in East Tennessee, and 10 in Sevier County, my heart is breaking for the people of Gatlinburg and the surrounding area. So many of them are close personal friends. I am getting reports of at least two of our churches that have been partially or completely burned, and other iconic places and businesses that have been destroyed by the wildfires that have swept across southeastern Tennessee over the past three weeks. Unfortunately, reports are also coming in that there have been a number of fatalities.
However, you’ll be proud to know that within 24 hours, Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief teams mobilized and were on site serving evacuees and others. There are feeding units and chaplains on the scene and more teams are staging to deploy. 
But we need your help. This has been one of the most taxing years on our Disaster Relief teams with well over 20 callouts serving hurricane and flood victims in West Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Louisiana to name a few. But now, our fellow Tennesseans need us to rally. 
Please consider making a financial contribution to Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief. You can make that contribution online by going to tndisasterrelief.org/contributions or by mailing your check designated “Gatlinburg” to Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, P.O. Box 728, Brentwood, TN 37024. 
And above all pray. The emotional, physical, and economic impact of this event is enormous. We need our Great God to pour out His mercy and grace in this situation. 
And from someone who made his home for more than 10 years among these beautiful mountains and dear friends, I personally thank you for your help and prayers. 
It is a comfort and honor to be with you on this journey.
-Randy Davis
God is moving and working in the midst of the fire . . . . He is not blindsided by this, nor is He wasting the opportunity . . . . The question is "How will we join Him in His work?" 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Intentional Christmas

It's baaaaaack!

"The Most Busiest Time of the Year . . . ."

Yesterday was the official start of the Christmas season, the first Sunday of Advent.

My man and I sat with the calendar pulled up on my IPad after our daughters were in bed.We added pageants and parties. The little squares began to quickly fill. The "notes" were cluttered with reminders to bring a dish or an ornament or both a dish and an ornament.

With lots of expectations placed on our family by well-meaning church members and by myself, I find myself quickly feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Is that a cold-sore forming on the side of my mouth?

Dear Sister, PLEASE, do let this season be the fertile ground Satan uses to rob you of the joy to be found during this "Most Wonderful Time of the Year." We can be SO busy with all the Christmas activities that we miss the TRUE meaning of Christmas.

Yes, I know that you know, Christmas is all about Jesus.  I know that you know that the REAL reason for the season is to celebrate His birth... but have you taken the time recently to stop and really reflect on what we are celebrating?

As our pastor said yesterday, it can't be found in a Christmas movie on the Hallmark Channel. Yes, it might be a tear-jerker, pulling on our heartstrings, but if we aren't careful, if we aren't intentional, we might find ourselves more "moved" over an emotional movie or a clever advertising scheme than the true meaning of Christmas.

So, how can we be intentional to have a meaningful, worshipful Christmas season when we are so busy?

I don't have any magical, easy answers to this question. Actually, if you've found some way or some method or some thing over the years, please share it in the comments . . .(Scroll down to Vickie's Post, "A Simple Christmas" for a good start!)

For now, I am starting with a simple prayer. I started praying this way as a single college student prepping for exams and feeling overwhelmed during this time of year. I asked that God would make my Christmas experience somehow more significant by impressing upon me something "new" from the familiar old story. Every year I have prayed this, He has answered.

Despite the busy-ness and through the bustle, God faithfully deepens my holiday season with depths from the simple story my 3 year old can explain. He has promised that if we seek Him, we will find Him - especially if we are seeking Him in a manger.... The shepherds and the wise men responded in worship, I have found we will too . . .

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Even Though

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone.

Everyone has gone home.

No more chaos.

Toys that have been out all over the floor for days are put in their appropriate tubs and stowed under beds or stacked on closet shelves.

The beds are all made.

The towels are all picked up off of various door knobs and floors, washed, folded, and put away.

No more forts and tents made out of various and a sundry blankets and pillows adorn our living area.

No more paper plates stacked ready for snacks and leftovers.

No more laughter and noise and people.

No more watching movies all piled in our bed.
 


Everything is put away in their proper places and all is back to 'normal'.

It is quiet.

I am alone.

I am grateful.

Grateful for the chaos, the noise, the mess, and the people that made it.

Grateful for the Lord who blesses me with these people.

As I ponder this….I wonder….

If there were no people.

If there were no toys or children.

If there was nothing like I had just experienced these past few days with family all home.

If my health or the health of our children or grandchildren was bad.

If my husband was sick.

If we were homeless.

If we were estranged.

If……..

Would I still be grateful?

Would I be able to say like Habakkuk, “even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord!  I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!  The Sovereign Lord is my strength!  He makes me surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.  Habakkuk 3:17-19

What is my “even though”?

Even though I don’t have fruit and even though there is no harvest and even though I am empty and barren and even though there is death…..even though things don't go my way....even though I don't get what I want....even though ________...

Can I still say “I will be joyful?”  Can you still say you will be joyful?

Would I still be joyful?  Would you?

Father, I am grateful for the blessings and the abundance that come from You….may You give me the grace to be grateful and joyful during the “even though” times as well.  May You find me faithful during the "even though" seasons.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thank You!!


It is the Tuesday before thanksgiving.  Being thankful, grocery lists and to-do’s are on the forefront of most of our minds.

Like you, I have much to do….kids and grand kids coming from far and near...(and who knows what church members will come at the last minute!! Anyone remember this from last year?) I’m pretty sure no one wants to hear all that I need to do.  Actually, I don’t want to hear all I have to do.  In fact, I so don’t want to hear all I need to do--I left home for Panera Bread so I won’t even have to SEE all I have to do.  So, here I am smelling broccoli cheese soup and cinnamon crunch bagels and typing...and no one is at home cleaning, cooking, washing sheets, blah, blah, blah!

Now that you have the scene and the smells in your mind (and nose) I’d like to express my gratitude for the amazing opportunity I had to speak to you precious Tennessee minister wives at The Summit.  Seeing your faces, hearing many of your stories, laughing and crying with you—often at the same time, and experiencing God’s presence together encouraged my heart and my often weary soul.

I’m so frustrated with myself for not taking your picture from my vantage point on that very high platform so that you could see what I saw.  So many beautiful faces from all ages and backgrounds and ministries and passions—yet with one common goal—to know God and to glorify Him with our lives and to become like Him in character and will.

Faces that were new to me.  Faces that go back decades.  Faces that have just recently become sweet reminders of God’s desire for us to have and cherish kindred spirits.  Faces that were in pain and faces that were rejoicing.  Faces.  People.  Women.

Thank you Lana Rose and team.  Your relentless work and dedication made the Good Cup and the luncheon a blessing to so many.  Thank you for the time and effort and commitment you put in to those two exceptional days which produced a great work—your effort was definitely not in vain!!  He was honored and glorified by all you did.  Oh, and those amazing centerpieces!!!  Perfection!!!

 
Lana shared with us that she will be retiring (sometime 2018 I think!!  I am too sad to remember specifics)  Oh yes, I am super excited for her…but at the same time I am selfishly gloomy.  She has been an encourager to me in countless ways…as well as many of you!!  Her tireless devotion to her Lord and Tennessee Baptists will be greatly missed!!  Please let her know how incredible she is and definitely pray for her as she finishes the course with Tennessee Baptists well!!

Besides thanking Lana and those of you who were on the planning team for the Summit events, I would also like to thank those of you who actually read this BLOG.  You are why we do this.  Even though I have no idea who reads this…You are not invisible.  Even though you might not realize it…You are a blessing.  I am truly grateful for you!

To the other ladies who also faithfully write for this BLOG—thank you for your words.  Your dedication.  Your tenacity.  Your wisdom.  You!

As you reflect this week on all you are grateful for…why not tell another ministers wife how grateful you are for her. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A Simple Christmas



As a minister’s wife, from September through December my life is so jammed packed with responsibilities that I rarely stopped to think about Thanksgiving or Christmas until a couple of weeks before the big days.  This year is no different.  However, I have decided that Christmas will be a little different this year.

Oh, we will stay with our family tradition meal started by my parents-a Mexican Fiesta.  However, gift giving is going to get simple and I want to have fun with it.  The following ideas are some that I have come up with and some ideas are borrowed from various people.  Hopefully, an idea or two will help you keep Christmas simple and a little less stressful.

*For a child-Fill a small box with new PJ’s, a book, and a snack.  Allow this gift to be opened on Christmas Eve.  You can also do a simple variation of this gift for an adult.  Just have fun with it.

*Have your children make gifts for their grandparents.  (Grandparents have everything they need).  As a grandmother aka Vivi, I look forward to getting handmade gifts from my grandsons.  I especially love getting pictures with their handprints/footprints on them.  These gifts are precious treasures to me and reminds me keep making memories with my babies because they are growing up too fast.

*Stocking stuffers can often break the bank.  Stay on budget by shopping the local dollar store.  I love Dollar Tree.  This store has great ideas for all ages.  For instance, create a stocking filled with snacks for your college age child.

*To provide some laughter on Christmas day, play a game.  Purchase various $5 gifts cards (Starbucks, Sonic, McDonald’s, etc) and give as prizes.  My entire family loves this idea.
*Instead of busting your budget on high ticket items or buys tons of gifts for your family member, try purchasing only three gifts-a need, a read, and a wish gift.  (Remember the Christ Child received three gifts at his birth).

*Weather permitting buddle up on Christmas Eve and walk outside to look at the sky.  Read the Christmas story outdoors.  Be amazed that God sent his only Son from Heaven’s high throne to be born of a humble birth in order to save us from our sins.

*Because our family is scattered in different directions, we have decided not to exchange gifts.  We would much rather eat well, laugh a lot, and spend quality time together. (We still purchase small gifts or give money to our sons, their wives and our grandchildren).

*Grandparents, instead of a big expensive gift for your grandchild, put money toward their future college education.


As I said these are just a few ideas I have to simplify my Christmas.  I would love to hear some tips that you may have.  

Monday, November 14, 2016

"Ta Da!"



Today, my blog is a simple reminder of God’s greatest creation.  It is so perfect and so unique that nothing else in the entire universe compares to it.  That special created being is YOU!  Yes, my girlfriends in ministry, we are each uniquely designed by God.  When ministry life gets us down and we feel absolutely worthless, I want you to remember the following truths:

We are a work of art.  Pure perfection crafted by the Master Artist.  Each part of our being-every cell, atom, organ-was selected just for us.

Unhappy with your body shape? Too short?  Too tall?  Big feet?  Wide hips?  Flat chested or full chested?  Yes, your body is just how the Master Artist imagined you.

Dislike your hair?  Too curly?  Too flat?  Limp and thin?  Dull color?  Bright red hair?  Premature grey?  Just think about it.  The Master Artist gently caressed your head to create the perfect headdress for you.

Envy your girlfriends blue eyes over your brown ones?  Hate your drab green eyes?  Silly girl, God hand selected those gorgeous eyes just to fit that perfect face!

Freckles, pale skin, dark skin, your accent, your talent, your unique God given gifts, you name it.  Everything about you has been specially selected by the Master Artist.  His loving hands molded us in our mother’s wombs.  We are his workmanship.  Wow!  We are his Masterpieces!  There is absolutely no one else like you!

Just think about it.  When the Master Artist, our Heavenly Father, finished creating each of us, he stepped back and shouted, “Ta Da!”



Sunday, November 13, 2016

Early Thanksgiving

In my earlier blog this week, I urged everyone to go out and vote.

On Wednesday morning, after the official results were in, we awoke to a new president elect of the United States. Many were elated; yet, many were very disappointed. We don’t exactly know what this means for us as a nation, but I am so glad that we can all put our faith and trust in the One who rules the nations!

We can vent, cry, protest, get angry, grumble and complain, pout, etc. OR, we can choose to be THANKFUL!

In the Word of God, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Yes, we can be thankful, even when things don’t go our way.

Here are just a few things to be thankful for…….

• We live in a country where we can choose to vote, and not have a self-appointed dictator to rule over us in an atmosphere of fear and oppression.

• We live VERY affluently compared to billions of people in many parts of the world.

• We have access to clean water; many in the world don’t and daily succumb to disease and death.

• We have cupboards that are overflowing with food; close to 800 million people in the world suffer from chronic malnourishment.

• We are blessed with families and friends who love us and care about us deeply.

• We can freely go to the church of our choice and worship without fear of imprisonment or loss of life.

• Most of all, we have a Savior who loved us and gave Himself up for us so that we can be forgiven of our sins and have an eternal home in heaven!!

As we choose to be thankful, also let us not forget that the Lord works ALL things together for our good; this is a faithful promise from a Faithful God!

Trials, tribulations, disappointments, and heartaches will come, but remember God is our Father, Jesus is our Redeemer, the Holy Spirit is our Helper; three of the best reasons to give thanks.

So, my sisters, I wish you an “early” Happy Thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Vote!

My sisters, if you haven’t already, I want to encourage you to get out and VOTE!

In my home state, we had a record turn-out of early voters (I was one of them) who didn’t care to wait until November 8th to cast a vote for our next president.

Unfortunately, this is the first time in American history that we are faced with a choice of two very “not so popular” candidates…you all have seen the news, watched the debates, and been exposed to all of the mud-slinging that has gone on in the last several months. Need I say more……

On Wednesday morning, November 9, 2016, our nation will have a new president. We don’t know what the future holds, but I know WHO holds the future.

This election and all the preceding campaign chaos did not catch God off guard. No matter who moves into the White House, our Lord is still on His throne directing the outcome of elections, and most definitely, directing the outcome of all of our lives. I can rest on that!

Yes, our country is in peril, but Our Father is in control, always has been and always will be.

So, do not fret if “your” candidate loses the election; our sovereign God knows the end from the beginning.

Again, please go out and vote, and exercise this fundamental right of every American citizen; and remember that no matter what, Our God Reigns!

“The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.”
Psalm 103:19

Friday, November 4, 2016

Calling ALL Bi-VO WIVES....

If you have not already registered for our Bi-Vocational Pastors & Wives Retreat in January.....please do so today.  You will not want to miss this.  In the past 18 years....we have only missed ONE retreat and that is ONLY because of the birth of our Granddaughter.

PROGRAM PERSONALITIES
Frederick Brabson – New Covenant Baptist Church, Knoxville
Roger Britton – White’s Creek Baptist Church, Rockwood
Anthony Cannon – Riverview Missionary Baptist Church, Lenoir City
Jeanne Davis – Conference Leader, Brentwood
Randy Davis – Executive Director/Treasurer, Tennessee Baptist Convention, Brentwood
David Evans – Ministry Specialist, Tennessee Baptist Convention, Brentwood
Jim Haggard – Middlebrook Pike Baptist Church, Knoxville
Tim Inklebarger – Bethel Baptist Church, Corryton
Willie McLaurin – Ministry Specialist, Tennessee Baptist Convention, Brentwood
Lewis McMullen – Ministry Specialist, Tennessee Baptist Convention, Brentwood
Lana Rose – Ministry Specialist, Tennessee Baptist Convention, Brentwood
The Shepherd Family – Paris
Danny & Rhonda Sinquefield – Faith Baptist Church, Bartlett
Joe Sorah – Ministry Specialist, Tennessee Baptist Convention, Brentwood

SCHEDULE

THURSDAY, January 26
1:30 p.m. – Registration
2:00 p.m. – Welcome and Warm Up (Introductions) – Jim Haggard/John Parrott
2:30 p.m. – Let’s Sing! – Roger Britton
2:45 p.m. – Devotional Challenge – Jim Haggard
3:00 p.m. – Special Music – The Shepherd Family
3:15 p.m. – Message – Fredrick Brabson
4:00 p.m. – Break
4:30 p.m. – Breakout Conferences
Women: “How My Life Demonstrates Loving God” – Jeanne Davis
Men: “How My Life Demonstrates Loving God” – Willie McLaurin
5:30 p.m. – Break for Dinner
6:00 p.m. – Dinner
7:30 p.m. – Let’s Sing! – Roger Britton
Special Music – The Shepherd Family
7:45 p.m. – Message – Randy Davis
8:30 p.m. – Fellowship – GOOD NIGHT!
FRIDAY, January 27
7:30 – 8:30 a.m. – Breakfast at Hotel
8:45 a.m. – Let’s Sing! – Roger Britton
9:00 a.m. – Devotional Challenge – Anthony Cannon
9:15 a.m. – Special Music – The Shepherd Family
9:30 a.m. – “Loving Family” – Randy & Jeanne Davis
10:15 a.m. – Break
10:45 a.m. – Breakout Conference (Together)
“How Our Church Family Can Love Community” – Joe Sorah & Lewis McMullen
11:45 a.m. – Special Music – The Shepherd Family
11:50 a.m. – Message – Danny Sinquefield
12:30 p.m. – Lunch on Your Own
AFTERNOON FREE
Evening Session – First Baptist Church, Sevierville
5:30 p.m. – Indoor Picnic
6:15 p.m. – The Shepherd Family
7:30 p.m. – Adjourn
SATURDAY, January 28
7:30–8:30 a.m. – Breakfast at Hotel
8:45 a.m. – Let’s Sing! – Roger Britton
8:50 a.m. – Special Music – The Shepherd Family
9:00 a.m. – Devotional Challenge – Tim Inklebarger
9:15 a.m. – “How Your Church is Loving Community” – Group Dialogue
9:45 a.m. – Break
10:15 a.m. – Let’s Sing!– Roger Britton
10:25 a.m. – Special Music – The Shepherd Family
10:40 a.m. – “Evangelistically Loving Your Community” – David Evans
11:10 a.m. – Wrap–Up – John Parrott

REGISTRATION

Cost is $225 per couple which covers hotel, meals and breaks.
REGISTER ONLINE or DOWNLOAD REGISTRATION FORM

God Knows.....


We have our church FALL FESTIVAL planned for this coming Sunday, November 6th.  We are having it at the Community Center, near the Projects..........and using it as an Out-Reach tool........part of our GiveHIM TN Project.

No matter WHAT you do....it seems like Satan tries to tear it down.  (I guess we should consider that a compliment.  My dad use to say....if Satan is not trying to destroy, you must be doing what he likes.)

We have the inflatables reserved.  Food is planned.  Candy is purchased, etc.  The Community Center was reserved.  We are pulling it altogether.

THEN....Monday we get a call that they had forgotten, but the Community Center had been reserved for a Big Basketball Tournament....so we may have to change locations.  OUCH!

We PRAYED......and PRAYED......and PRAYED............and, for once, did not stress.  We decided that God would work it out and even if we had to move it to the church....it would be okay.

We got a call from the Community Center Tuesday..............and was told that we could STILL have the Festival Sunday..........EVEN if the Ball Tournament was going on.  The manager said that the tournament would give us an EVEN larger group of folks to reach out to and witness too.

Humanly.........we could have gotten discouraged. 

BUT....God Knew.......and HE ALWAYS KNOWS............and sees the BIG PICTURE.

NOW....we get to have the Festival and we are put in a position where we can witness to a crowd that would probably have NOT attended the festival under normal circumstances.

GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME!