Tuesday, February 28, 2017

My Husband and I Are Opposites; And it Works for Us...Normally

My mother told me that in a few days I was going to a fancy venue to play the piano during my piano teacher’s concert.  I was 11 years old and terrified!  I was not prepared!  I did not know the music!  I was not a good pianist!  It was a terrible, horrible, awful few days leading up to the concert.  When I say I did not know the music, trust me, I DID NOT KNOW THE MUSIC!  I was way out of my league!!  I wasn't even a good pianist!  I could play the Starlight Waltz but that was about it....and that wasn't even the song I was to play!!!

My husband and I led a marriage retreat in Pigeon Forge this weekend and in the weeks leading up to the weekend I felt like that same 11 year old little girl.  I was terrified!  I didn’t feel we were as  prepared as I wanted to be.  It was a terrible, awful, horrible feeling.

My husband and I are total opposites in many areas.  I am the planner and organizer and detail person.  He is the laid back, big picture person who does not get riled much at all and doesn’t worry.  It works for us and we do life together well (most of the time anyway!). 

This was different.  This wasn’t us doing life together, this was us doing a retreat together.  This required planning and preparation and he was quite chilled about it all!  'We'll work on it tomorrow' he tried to reassure me.  Tomorrow would come and something else would come up!  This was difficult for me!  I wanted to make sure we had it all lined up and figured out and handouts and PowerPoint done!  My flesh wanted to control the planning and doing of this and the Spirit in me wanted to trust God and respect my husband.  Grrrrrr!

My husband speaks all of the time and has for over 41 years!  I speak some as well.  But this?  This was different!  This we were doing together!  How were we to use our opposite gifted-ness to make this work??

As the 11-year-old on the way to the concert venue where I was to play a piano piece that I did not know I was sick and scared and a mess!  However, instead of pulling up to where I thought I was to play….we pulled up to this beautiful, fancy movie theatre where a new movie which had just been released was playing!!!  The Sound of Music!  (Perhaps you have heard of it?  Ha!)  My mother wanted to surprise me and I was soooo relieved!  I didn’t have to play the piano for all of those people after all!

My mother tricked me!  She told me I had to do this fearful thing when all along she knew I wasn’t going to have to do it!  All along I was going to go to The Sound of Music.  (By the way, can I just say that looking back it was quite cruel of her to torture me that way??!!)

The days leading up to this retreat I kept thinking about that incident when I was 11 and that maybe, just like when I was 11, I won’t really have to do this thing!  The night before we were to do the retreat I had a major meltdown!!  Major!  Tears.  Panic.  Fear.  My sweet husband pulled me close and prayed over me, the retreat, us, all of it.  His calm, patient demeanor stepped in to my crazy panicked control freak self.

My God is nothing like my mother.  No tricks.  But lots of surprises.  He does ask me to do things I cannot do!  That I am unprepared for!  He loves the fact that I am who I am and that my husband is who he is and He knew what He was doing when He asked us to do this.  He forced me to depend totally on Him and respect my husband's ways and He was going to provide what we needed when we needed it....and He did!!  Not only did we do the retreat….the Lord worked using our different personalities!!  We were even asked to come back next year.  Shocking.  Amazed.  Humbled.
Any of you have husbands who are totally different than you?  Any of you sometimes struggle to make life work as a result of your differences?  Any of you, like me, see that God uses those differences to cause you to look to Him? 

Proverbs 19:21  You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Did They/I Really Say That?

I have finally come to the conclusion that God created chocolate specifically for all ministers’ wives.  I also believe that each one of us should carry a concealed five-pound bag of Peanut M & M’s in our purses in case of emergencies.  Why, you ask?  Instead of our mouths hanging open in shock at someone’s comment, we simply unzip our purse, reach inside the M & M bag, grab a handful of “nerve pills,” and pop them in our mouths. It serves two purposes.  First, it makes it look like we are unaffected by the comment.  Second, it keeps us from saying something we will regret later.

Over the past several months, I have had more than one minister’s wife share statements that have been made to her or to her husband that are simply appalling.  I personally have heard such comments made either to one our staff or before our church.  These commitments left my mouth hanging wide open and thinking to myself, “Did they really say that?”  Seriously, if a person were in the cooperate world and made these statements to the CEO, they would be immediately fired. 

One such comment I heard occurred at a quarterly business meeting where the new church budget was being discussed.  Now three words in that previous statement-budget and business meeting-should dredge up some memories of your own church business meetings.

Everything was flowing smoothly during this meeting until the line item regarding the church building debt payment came up.  Yes, it is a large debt but our church is very diligent to pay over and beyond the required note payment.  An older gentleman stood up and made a fair observation of the debt amount.  Then without any reservation and in a rather loud, harsh voice, the gentleman made a motion that our church should stop all ministry until the debt was completely paid off.  Yes, everything!  No youth, children, Sunday School, VBS, mission trips, etc.  He literally wanted to stop God’s work.

Thankfully, the other members of our congregation shut this motion down and we are still doing ministry.  However, the thought that someone, who claims to be a Christ follower, was so focused on the building debt that he totally missed God’s purpose for the church-to do ministry which leads people to Christ.

Sisters, I really do not believe this man fully thought through what he was saying.  However, I do believe he felt so strongly about the issue that he blurted out the first thought that came to his mind.  But isn’t that what we do to?  

Sometimes I open my mouth and say things that are not thoroughly processed.  I speak the truth and call it as I see it.  Many times, I may not have all the facts but my sinful nature takes over.  One friend was described me as “salty sunshine” meaning that I always smile when expressing my opinion about an issue I am passionate about.  Sometimes I catch myself after I have expressed my opinion, and I must go back and apologize or clear the air.  Don’t’ you just hate that?

We all need to remember the words in Colossians 3:17 which states, “Any whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  We should never leave other people with their mouths open in shock thinking, “Did she really say that?”

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

God Knows Our Needs

Recently, I have been looking back over our almost 40 years in ministry.  Having married very early, we have had our share of ups and downs in ministry.  We literally had to grow up and figure out life together.

One of the hardest lessons for me to learn is that God is always near and that He knows our needs.  Only in these last few years can I honestly say finances are not as tight.  Oh, we still budget, cut out things we would really like to have, and drive our vehicles until they literally quit running or can’t be repaired.  However, we do have some wiggle room to do some fun vacations or to make a “want” purchase. This was not true in our early ministry life.

Our first church out of seminary was a small, rural church in Northeast Texas.  We adored (and still do) those people and have wonderful memories of our time there.  We had a nice parsonage but we had to pay all the expenses, upkeep, etc. on a very poor salary.  There were days that we had no food on the table and no money to purchase it.  However, God knew our need.  Out of the blue a church member would drive up to drop off a package of fresh beef, chicken or garden-picked vegetables.  Yes, God knew our needs.

When our youngest child was two months old, he spent eight terrifying days in the hospital with pneumonia.  Those were dark days of uncertainly not knowing if he would survive and how we would ever pay the hospital bill.  On top of that it was Christmas and we had a three-year-old at home expecting presents under the tree.  However, God knew our needs.  Our child recovered, and we were able to purchase a couple of gifts for our oldest child.  It was also the only year this small, rural church gave us a Christmas gift-$300.  We used that money to start paying the hospital bill.  Yes, God knew our needs.

Years have passed and God still surprises me.  Since I am the “keeper of the budget,” I know exactly what we have and what we can and can’t purchase. A few years ago, our current church voted to redo the preschool and children areas and to raise the money upfront. Every member was challenged to give sacrificially.  My husband and I did not have much money to put toward the project but we made a large commitment.  God knew our need.  Shortly before writing that first large-to-us check, I received a pay out on my dad’s life insurance policy.  When I filed the paperwork on the policy a few weeks prior, I was told it would be two or three months before it would be processed. Surprise, it came in month!  Because of that money, we were able to cover our commitment to the church project and then some.  Yes, God knows our need. 

Sisters, I know times can be financially difficult.  Kids get sick, cars break down, refrigerators quit, etc.   Many ministers do not make large salaries, and even with the wife working, we still live on limited budges . . .and energy.  Don’t get discouraged.  God promises to provide for our needs not necessarily our wants. 

Mediate on these words from Phil. 4:19, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

True Love

Valentine’s Day……hearts, candy, cards, gifts, jewelry, dinner dates, etc.

My sisters, is this one of your favorite holidays? I love the holiday because I really like hearts, candy (especially chocolate candy), cards, and of course I really like receiving gifts! But what if there were no hearts, candy, cards, and gifts? Would I still like this holiday? What about you?

Valentine’s Day is all about expressing your feelings for the ones you love. It’s fun to let the beloved people in our lives know how much we care by giving them a small token of our affection. Also, for those who are single, widowed, or don’t have a significant “other” in your life, you still have special people in your life, maybe parents, siblings or friends, whom you can remember on this day.

Since Valentines’ Day is all about love, it can also be a time to reflect on the One who displayed His awesome, wonderful, unconditional, sacrificial love for us all by giving up His life by being nailed to a cross. Our Savior suffered, bled, and died to pay the ultimate price for the forgiveness of our sins. We all deserve punishment for all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). But God so loved this sin cursed world that He sent Jesus, so we could believe in Him for the forgiveness of our sins and live with Him forever in a perfect glorious place called heaven!

Even if there were no hearts, candy, cards, or gifts, we are loved. In fact, we are loved lavishly! The Lord Jesus Christ has perfect love for us; and the only way we know how to love others is because He first loved us.

So, as you enjoy the holiday with all of its pleasantries, think about our one True Love. Think about Jesus.

“We know what real love is because Christ gave up His life for us.” I John 3:16 (New Living Translation)

Friday, February 10, 2017

Prayer Request

Monday I blogged about "Prayer Changes Things"..........the man who had to have emergency surgery out of the states is doing well, considering.

But, NOW....his granddaughter, Darian, our school nurse's daughter is having seizures and they are not sure why.  She is in college.  They have put her on a strong dose of medications to stop the seizures....she was having several a day, but the medication is causing her not to be able to function well.  She can't go to school or go to work or drive.

They are running tests on her.  Prayers Appreciated.............because, as we all know........PRAYER CHANGES THINGS.

Also, pray for our school nurse, Autumn.  Two weeks before her dad's surgery, her grandmother had a stroke and she has been helping with her.  Then her dad had the surgery...out of the states and was not doing well..............and NOW....her daughter's seizures.  That's a lot on he plate.

PRAY..............thanks in advanced for the prayers.

Three Years

Happy 3rd Birthday to this little firecracker....Kinley Grace.  We thank God for her and her precious brother everyday.
February 10, 2014

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Encounter #3

One short afternoon.....and we had not one but three encounters where we were able to share about Jesus in unconventional areas.

The last place was in the lobby of Captain Jim's Seafood Buffet.

The four of us ate dinner there, where we stuffed our faces with some of the best crab legs you've ever eaten.  Smile.

As the guys were paying......the little marketing man that stands off to the side and tries to sell you "tickets and time shares"....looked up and me and asked what did our shirts mean.  To make it easy, I said..........it means Give HIM (and I pointed up) Tennessee.  He asked if we were part of a group. 

I told him that we just left the Tennessee Baptist Bi-Vo Pastors and Wives Conference and a year ago when we were at the same conference and her Dr. Randy Davis share about the millions who do not know Christ and has no church affiliation.........six of us got under conviction and the GiveHIM Tennessee Ministry was began.  In this past year, we have reached out to the community in many, many ways.....which we shared with him.

He pulled all four of us over and began to share his story.  He is from Tennessee.....in fact, the Harriman area, but has lived most of his life in Texas.  Him and his wife just moved to the area two years ago.

They were one of the many, many that lost their homes in the Smokey Mountain fires a few months ago.  He showed us pictures on his phone.  He showed us his two vehicles before the fires and then after the fires.

The day of the fire.....he and his wife left.  He took $8,000 cash and gave it to his wife who put it in her purse.  Part of the way down the mountain, there was a huge burning tree across the road so they had to get out and walk.........falling and tripping along the way.  They finally got to an area where a shuttle picked them up and took them down to a shelter.

At the shelter, they discovered that in the mist of trying to find safety, his wife lost the money.

He was upset.......angry........and torn to pieces....................
Until a man came into the shelter crying and sobbing uncontrollable.  He soon discovered that the man was the one they showed on the news later...............he had lost his wife and two children in the fires.

Our marketing man said he had to stop right there and ask forgiveness to God because he had so much to be thankful for.  The money no longer meant anything.

He said coming off those mountains that day....there were lots of praying atheists......who in the mist of the storms found God.

He said that the local folks in and around the area are just poor folks..........but they have pulled together and opened their homes and given all they have.  He was praising God for the Christian Love that had been shown to them.

He also sang Dolly Parton's praises.  He said that he and his wife were some of the lucky ones...............they had insurance.

But because of the many, many claims, it may be months before they receive their money.  Dolly is giving everyone who lost their home $1,000 a month for six months.  He and his wife had just received their second check. 

We stopped right there............joined hands and the five of us PRAYED and thanked God for taking care of Richard and his wife and the others in the area..............and we prayed for the GiveHIM Tennessee Ministry.

What a blessing it was to meet Richard.

The GiveHIM Tennessee shirts have opened the doors.  We all look forward to the day that we get to share about the shirt with a lost person............and hopefully lead them to Christ. 

Please keep praying for us and for the GiveHIM Tennessee Ministry.  Our ministry supports all of the expenses of the activities outside of the four walls of the church.........but our church and church family help support the ministry with their :man-power".  Our church is a very big part of this ministry.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Encounter #2

Yesterday, I mentioned about us having a prayer meeting in the middle of the Smokey Mountain Flea Market......

When we left there, we made several other stops, one being the "Red Buildings" on the right in Pigeon Forge, where we went into the Corningware Outlet.  (I'm obsessed.  You NEVER know what you might find in the basement bargain area....smile)  I DID find cake pans for $1 each.

Remember....all four of us still have our GiveHIM Tennessee Shirts on.  The guy that was waiting on us as we checked out.........asked what that meant.  Because of that....we were able to share with him about the GiveHIM Ministry and share about Christ.  We discovered that he was a Christian and is on fire for the Lord.  He even invited us to his church and also told us a couple of other churches that we might enjoy visiting.

He had asked about the shirts and how he could get one.  We gave him the information.

After Christians hear what the shirts mean..........Give HIM (Christ) Tennessee and reach the lost souls.............they want a shirt.
Tennessee, non-church going people have bought the shirt too..........because they are Tennessee Fans and just want an Orange Tennessee.
We are from Alabama..............so we ROLL TIDE....just like Bro. Randy Davis and Jeanne.  I tell everyone that wearing the shirt shows everyone how passionate we are about this ministry....................that's the only way you would get us in an orange Tennessee shirt. 😉
If any of you are interested in ordering a shirt..............we have a website.......
www.giveHIMTennessee.com.  The short sleeve tee shirts are $10.  We are in the process of ordering long sleeved ones.  They will be $20.
Back to our Encounter #2.  Right in the middle of the Corningware Outlet, we were able to share about how God was working in our lives..................God opened the doors by using the shirts.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Encounter #1

Last year I shared about attending the Bi-Vo Retreat and six of us got under conviction about the millions lost in Tennessee and we prayed.....and began the GiveHIM Tennessee Ministry.  (Which essentially is a ministry where you step OUTSIDE THE FOUR WALLS of the CHURCH......and minister to the community.)

We had a vendor booth set up with our tee shirts, caps, bracelets, etc. this year and on Saturday morning, Roger shared with the group about our ministry.  We all had our GiveHIM Tennessee shirts on.

Three couples from our church, once again attended the Retreat.  Four of us stayed an extra night and reflected over the sessions and fellowships of the retreat.  All four of us had our shirts on..............two long sleeve tees, one tee shirt and a gray fishing shirt with the logo on it.

PEOPLE NOTICED THE SHIRTS.  Many...just looked and kept walking.

Last year, a lady at the Smokey Mountain Flea Market inspired us to sell tee shirts to support our ministry....although she did had no idea that we would take her advice and use it to meet our needs.  She overheard us talking about witnessing to more people and how we were limited because of funding, etc.

She joined our conversation.  She a previously overheard us talking about the Ladies' selling tee shirts with our church name on it.........to help fund their "Women of Joy" Conference.  During our current conversation she mentioned that we could sell secular tee shirts and use the money to do God's work.  We took her suggestion....ran with it and the rest is history.

We visited back to the flea market and brought her a tee shirt and shared our journey with her.

She wound up almost shouting right in the middle of the flea market.  We joined hands and PRAYED....with everyone walking by and looking.

What an opportunity.  The next few days I will share two more times that on that one day because of our shirts, we were able to share about the lost of Tennessee and our ministry.

Monday, February 6, 2017


Two weeks ago, our school nurse got a call.  Her parents were on a cruise ship and her dad gotten deathly sick.  They had to take him to the nearest hospital which was on a little island outside of the Honduras.  Thank goodness it was a fairly new American hospital.....but they still had primitive equipment, etc.

When traveling out of the country....this is everyone's greatest nightmare.

Long story short........they did surgery, cutting him from his throat to his groin area.  Discovered that he had diverticulitis.....which did not require surgery in the first place.  (They did not have the equipment to even know this without surgery.)

He had complications......and on Friday, while in Pigeon Forge at the Bi-Vo Pastors and Wives Retreat, I got word that he was not doing well and they might even have to go back and do more surgery.

We stopped and asked the entire room of pastors and wives from all over the state to PRAY for David Bott.  I sent the school nurse a text and told her what we had done. 

Not long after I sent the text, they DID take him back to surgery.  The stitches had burst on the inside and outside.  The nurse and her mom were on the phone during the entire surgery and received comfort and felt the prayers of all the praying warriors.

Today....I am excited to report that he and his wife are flying into Knoxville today.  He is doing wonderful.  He still has a long ways to go, so PLEASE keep those prayer pouring in.


The family is giving God the Glory.  We also need to stop and thank God for the equipment, technology and knowledge that we have medically here in the United States.  So many things we take for granted.

Friday, February 3, 2017

An Individual Imago Dei

In response to the Women’s March on DC a few weeks back, my sorority sister and sister minister’s wife, Kelly, started a hash tag that highlighted the kind of woman she wanted her own two daughters to look up to and emulate. Kelly uses #ImWithThisWoman to honor ladies that honor Christ and have deeply influenced her and her family. 

I have loved reading her Facebook posts edifying these women and turning our focus on to the positive things our God has done. It has sure encouraged me to point out the positive, godly role models God has placed in mine and my girls’ lives. 

Kelly’s postings have also inspired me to look for and see the Imago Dei in the individual. 

Since all of mankind, male and female, were created in His image, every individual bears that image, the image of God, or Imago Dei. 

Each and every individual, in addition to having the Imago Dei, also has other labels he or she carries. These labels can be as simple -or as complex- as their gender or their role as a parent. We can be identified by the color or our skin or even the side of town we live in. People are lumped into all kinds of categories, liberal/conservative, right/left, feminist, pro-this/anti-that, millennial.

What can get really crazy and complicated is that with every label we place on an individual, it comes loaded down with generalizations and stereotypes. Before we even realize it, we have found ourselves comparing, judging and condemning. We may not even know the name of a person, much less their past or present circumstances that would bring them to be in this place and this time, feeling this way. 

We may give ourselves grace to feel a certain way. We may excuse a close relative because we may understand where they’ve come from. We may lovingly overlook a good friend’s opposing viewpoint because we know them....

Yet, for the most part - I draw the proverbial line in the sand. It’s right or wrong. Us Vs. Them. Me Vs. You. All based on these labels and all the baggage that goes with them.    I don't show grace or compassion or understanding. I respond sinfully....

I am SO thankful God deals with us as individuals, without titles and labels. I am SO thankful that He is opening my eyes to see singular people with the Imago Dei. I am SO thankful He is helping me to respond to them that way too. 

As we observe those around us without the labels and through the lens of the Imago Dei, we can find compassion for what they’ve been through, kindness for their current circumstances and understanding (not necessarily agreement) for their viewpoint. We can reach out to them in Christ’s love and allow Him to reach them through us. 

Let’s look for and at the individual. Let’s see them as God does. Let’s love them like He does too. 

This way we can celebrate Him in the “good” like Kelly is doing AND we can respond like He would to the individual we just can’t understand - all because of the Imago Dei....

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Owning My Imago Dei

"Where the Imago Dei is not understood or valued, it is the weak and the vulnerable who are abused and consumed." -Matt Chandler, A Beautiful Design

Throughout history, this has been proven over and over again. A simple list of current events prove that this truth is true still.

In countries across the globe, women are still considered second class. Large people groups are discriminated against due to their birth place, skin color and religion. Babies are literally thrown into rivers because of gender or disability if they are even given the opportunity to inhale a first breath. Slavery still exists. According to most statistics, it is more rampant and wide spread then ever before.

None of this is new news to anyone.

Yet it seems so big, too big. It is just too far away from our dreams of shiplap living rooms, busy schedules shuttling kids to various lessons and practices, and cluttered church calendars. 

We can't relate.

Or can we?

  • A few years ago, we were vacationing in Pigeon Forge with good friends. Their teen daughter and I were walking out of a local Kroger behind a young lady. She was barely dressed in not a whole lot. I commented to my companion how sad it was that this girl in front of us didn't know and understand how valuable she was. Working with teens for over 20 years, I cannot count the number of girls that traded their dignity and virginity for the fleeting feelings of their peers' acceptance and a boy's "love."  I could name those who became mommas while still being babies themselves. I know and love one teen couple that chose abortion.
  • A young man, who was in my 12th grade Sunday School class a few years back, approached me asking for prayer last week. He was nervous. He was meeting his first real girlfriend's parents for the first time. They had already told their daughter that they didn't approve of him. His skin isn't the same color as theirs. I apologized - not for my prejudice, but for theirs. I honestly cannot imagine someone not liking me because of something I have no control over, the color of my skin.
  • There is a mother of a couple of kiddos at church. Her husband served our United States Army as an interpreter in their homeland. She has applied for citizenship here, but now faces a ton of uncertainty. Not only is she now a widow and a Christian, but she fears being forced to return to a country where she would be considered an infidel and a traitor. As a woman, her options there are extremely limited and her support system non-existent.
  • My mother-in-law will soon join Jesus in her eternal home. These last days and weeks of hers have been far from easy. They have been pain-filled and humiliating as the drugs that have been intended to aid her have led to her complete dependence upon caring strangers in the forms of nurses, therapists and aides. I will never forget the look in her eyes and her grip on my hand as they changed her involuntarily soiled sheets without removing her from the hospital bed. They were gentile and respectful and kind. My mother-in-law who lived her life on her terms with sass and flair was, and, as I type, is completely at their mercy. 

These are not statistics to me. They are people with faces and names I know. They make all these "issues" we call politics tangible and real. They make me feel compassion and anger and helpless all at that same time. I pray for these. I reach out to these. I strive to serve these.

I may just be one person. But God can do an awful lot with one person. I may not be in the position to end sex trafficking or racial profiling or assisted suicide, but by being transparent and present to those God has placed in my life I can be the Image of God to them. The Holy Spirit can use me to show them, Him.

I can fight back against the sinful consequences of mankind's perverted version of what we were created to be, by allowing God to display His image in me.

How am I choosing to combat the darkness and despair? By owning my Imago Dei.