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!!