Birthday Gift

James 1:17

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Thought for the Day:  See God’s gifts in the little and big things.

“Hi, Mark and Donna!  Are you still interested in adopting?  A baby was born last night and we wondered if you would be interested.”  Our heart rates went up a bit and we asked a few questions.  Then, we told her that we wanted to think about it and pray, and asked if we could have the evening to talk about our decision.  Our first thought was to jump at the situation, but we knew we needed to pray first.  Our prayer was, “God, please help us know what we are to do in this situation, we need Your clear voice guiding our decision.”  We already had planned to take our son swimming that evening so we got dressed for swimming and drove out to a friend’s house to swim.  We swam for a while and then started our drive home.  The drive from her house involved a very curvy road.  At one point, scaring me, my husband gasped as if something was wrong.  I said, “What! What is it!” thinking something was in the road.  He said, “HE WAS BORN ON YOUR BIRTHDAY!”  We both began tearing up because God had given us our clear answer about adopting that baby boy.

Today, that sweet gift of that baby boy is six years old.  He has brought God into our lives in unexpected and wonderful ways.  God gave us a boy who hugs giving us that strong “God hug” many times a day.  God gave us a boy who snuggles giving us “God’s warmth” many times a day.  God gave us a boy who sings and dances giving us “God’s voice” many times a day.  God gave us a boy who energizes any experience giving us “God’s humor” as we He watches to see how we handle a situation.  What God has given us the most through this baby boy is love.  This little boy show’s us “God’s love” every minute or every day.  Today, I give all the glory to God in giving us this gift of a child.  God has given us, through adoption, the most precious children we could have ever wished and prayed for.  Both of the boys carry names meaning “Gift of God” and they are indeed that – they are our special Gifts from God.

Prayer:   God, thank you for unexpected gifts.  You do have a way of doing things in unexpected but special ways, don’t you?  Help us as we go through our day to see You in the little, and big things.  Amen

Prayer Focus:  God’s Gifts





Luke 5:4-5

And when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”  And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing!  But at your word I will let down the nets.”

Thought for the Day:  Stay persistent in your fishing

Every day I watched.  Every day I prayed.  Every day I wondered why.  Every day I hurt.  Two years ago, on Father’s Day, my husband met with the church’s SPRC chair and pastor to find out that his position at the church had been eliminated.  We couldn’t wrap our minds around what took place and why this was done on such a special holiday for our family.  I watched my husband as he was literally brought down to his knees in prayer, prayer that would ask why and prayer that would ask what he was to do.  Over the course of a year, I saw him find positions that were open in churches and admired him as he worked on resumes.  The main thing I witnessed in him through that period of time was his faithfulness to God.  My husband, through hurt and pain, remained faithful in prayer and spiritual study.  He remained persistent in his drive to find a position.  He remained loving to his family and friends, even when some friends seemed to go away.  He continued talks with mentors and spiritual advisors to make sure he was on the right track in his faithfulness.  I was and am still amazed with his persistent love for his family and for his church.  He never gave up and although some told him he should, he never lost faith that God would lead him to a new wonderful position somewhere.

All of that persistence paid off and God gave him the opportunity to be in ministry in a wonderful church where he not only leads music, but he also is known as “Pastor Mark”.  He is a part of a great ministry team where each minister has distinct talents and where God uses each in unique ways in the church.  Prayer, persistence, patience, and faith brought him full circle and God has shown His goodness.  Today’s “Upper Room” devotion talks about fishing and how it is a perfect example of being faithful and persistent in our faith.  As I read it this morning, I saw my husband’s situation clearly and realized that he is truly a “fisherman” in his faith.

Prayer:   Father, You are awesome in the way You allow us to see examples of faithfulness in those around us.  Please help each of us become fishermen who remain persistent, patient, and prayerful in bringing people to Christ.  Lead us to where we need to cast our nets.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  Those Looking for Jobs



You and Me, We’re Meant to Be

Isaiah 49:8

Thus says the Lord: “In a time of favor I have answered you, in a day of salvation I have helped you; I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages.

Thought for the Day:  God’s Timing is Always Perfect

God’s timing!  Argue with that or not, all I have to do is look at my life to see that God has always been responsible for the timing of when things happen in my life.  After my husband, David, died I did not know what I was going to do and where God was leading me.  I had already been through so much and I truly did not know what to do next.  I turned to my Church, as I was right in doing, and they helped me stay involved in areas that helped me see God in the mission of the Appalachian Service Project and the wonder of music.    A year and a half after David died, I found myself dating Mark, a man who I had admired for a long time and who had the most beautiful voice.  Not long after that we were engaged to be married.  As we talked about our lives and our past, we realized that at the same identical time I was married to David, he was in a relationship with someone else.  Mark said he didn’t know why, but that something always kept them from making the decision to marry.  After thought and prayer, we knew why.  God was why.  God put us together for so many reasons that we cannot count, but He knew that we would be a couple of faith and would share our love for Him together.  God gave us each other to help us grieve the many loses that would come over the next years.  God gave us each other to lift our voices in song.  God gave us each other to become a parent team of two wonderful little boys.  God gave us each other to love one another in a special way.

I am thankful to God for the gift of Mark.  We celebrate our 19th anniversary today.  Today, I can now look back and see that God’s hand took mine those 21 years ago when David passed away and he led me through that storm.  I can now look back and see that God’s hand took Mark’s as he realized a relationship was not going to work out and led him through.  God took our hands and brought them together to hold each other’s hands for a life time.  Neither one of us knew about the other, but God did.  God’s timing…..perfect!

Prayer:   God, thank you for Your perfect timing!  You have brought things into our lives at the perfect time when You knew we needed something.  Please forgive us when we try to do things on our own rather than trusting in you.  You are our guide, our friend, and our Father.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  Those going through “why” times



Memories from the Past

Philippians 1:3-5

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, thankful for your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.

Thought for the Day:  See God in your memories

Memories flowed as I received a message from a facebook friend.  She asked me about my affiliation with a United Methodist Church in Jackson, Tennessee.  With a smile of my face, my mind went back to my early childhood years when we moved to Browns United Methodist Church in the Browns community of Madison County.  The building was and is a beautiful, red-brick building sitting in the midst of gorgeous trees.  The landscape was always beautifully kept and the church members were very proud of their church.  To the back of the church was a cemetery and to the side was a great playground and ball field.  The parsonage was across the street from the ball field and the old Browns School sat across from the church drive.

Memories of sitting in the sanctuary singing “This is my Father’s World” and “Church in the Wildwood” quickly come to my mind as my earliest hymns.  I sat in Sunday School as Mrs. Veatch taught us about God’s love as we made craft puppets and put on puppet shows.  I loved swinging on the huge swings in the playground and running as fast as I could to jump on the merry-go-round.  I remember watching ballgames and continuing to play on the playground beside the ballfields.  I went to first grade in the old Browns School but it closed after that year and I went to another school a distance away.  The lady who wrote me that message yesterday said she had a couple of recipe books from the church and wondered if I wanted them.  I replied, “Of course….is the recipe for their famous “Brunswick Stew” in the book?  I remembered the United Methodist Women’s Annual Bazaar where the United Methodist Men made their wonderful Brunswick Stew.

Oh, what beautiful memories God gave me in that Facebook message from Mrs. Marge yesterday.  I am thankful for those memories and for the thoughts of the beautiful church friends we made in those years in that beautiful church.  I am thankful for the spiritual beginning God gave me through these wonderful adults who shared their time with me.  Looking back to those years and looking at my life now, I can see that God has been with me the whole time as He has put the exact people in my life at the exact time to bring me closer to God.

Prayer:   Thank you so much, God, for the blessings of life.  You have brought those perfect people to bring us into our faith and have walked beside us the whole way.  You are awesome and I am thankful.  Amen.



Will “Ya Ya” be Proud of Me?

Deuteronomy 31:6

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be in dread of them: for it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.

Thought for the Day:  God is with us in our adventures in life

The Music and Arts Week at Lake Junaluska each year brings emotions, music, and new experiences.  For our youngest child, he had the new experience of being in one of the choirs since he had completed kindergarten.  In the past, he has going into the nursery, having fun playing with new friends and going on different adventures.  And, I would enjoy that time each day writing and taking pictures.  This year, however, was the year where he would sing and have fun, and would listen to a choir director as she led them through the rehearsal.  This called for my responsibility to change as I realized I would have to stay in the rehearsal room with him for each practice period.  When I tried to leave, he cried, and as I tried to get him to sit with the other children to rehearse a song he refused and sat by me.  I was able to leave for a time in the afternoons when they began a rotational activity time of playing and experiencing musical instruments in and fun and exciting ways.

Before concert day, I spoke to the director and we came up with a plan in case he refused to take part.  We decided that he could go up for the songs he wanted to sing and he could come down and sit with me for the other pieces.  She was remarkable with him and talked to him about the plan.  The final rehearsal involved going to another building and practicing on the stage.  My son did wonderfully well, actually doing the hand motions and participating in singing the songs.  I was surprised and amazed.  When he came down to me, he immediately asked, “Will Ya Ya be proud of me?”  (Ya Ya is what he still calls his big brother) When I said, “Yes, Ya Ya will be proud of you”, I saw a wonderful smile come across his face and I knew he was going to fully participate in the concert that afternoon.  That afternoon, our family (including Ya Ya) sat on the front row and he participated doing a wonderful job.

When I think about his experience I think about my own fears and that I sometimes let those fears get in the way of following God’s will.  Since I can’t see the “big picture” I cannot see the joy that will come by listening and doing as God calls.  But, when I look back, I realize that God has led me the entire time to a new and exciting moment.  Then I look up and realize that God has watched me through the experience and that He is proud of me when I make it through.  He celebrates with me.

Prayer:   God, thank you for giving us new and exciting adventures as we travel with You on our journey.  You step beside us as we go, and lead us in the direction You want us to go.  Please, Lord, help us clearly see the path you have designed for us.  God, we want You to be proud of us – be with us as we go through the experience and help us see the joy when we look back at our journey.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  Those Experiencing New Adventures


Caption:  Pointing out Ya Ya to his friend




Becoming One on Concert Day

1 Corinthians 12:24-26

But God has so composed the inferior part, that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.  If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 

Thought for the Day:  God uses all of us to make up One Body

Each year, we come to the Music and the Arts Week at Lake Junaluska.  That is the week we spend sharing time with good friends and reconnect.  It is also a time when I see great miracles.  There are the miracles of nature in knowing that every year there are going to be new flowers, sweet animals, and singing birds.  But the biggest miracle that I see each year happens within the many choirs.  Each choir comes in for their first rehearsal on Sunday night.  New music is put in front of the instrumentalists and dancers are introduced to new movements.  They all begin their struggle through each piece.  Monday arrives and the struggle continues as new notes are learned and as the directors/conductors attempt to bring the voices together to make the sound they desire. From the Children’s Building on one end on the campus where one can hear the children’s voices to the other end in the Lambuth Inn where one can hear the struggle as handbell musicians work through difficult pieces.   In the makeshift dance studio, movements are being crafted.  At the same time each morning, all ages of singers, instrumentalists, and dancers are rehearsing.  Throughout the week, each rehearsal brings the musicians to new levels of skills and by the concert day the music pieces are ready to perform and it all comes together.  The concert day quickly arrived and everyone presented the pieces they learned.  I sat with great anticipation before each concert then listened and watched in awe.  The choirs made up of individual people, became one sound glorifying God in the most magnificent way… One.

That is how God created us, right?  We each have individual talents that we rehearse and practice to better ourselves.  Then, we bring those talents together with others with different talents and create something very beautiful.  Together we are One.

Prayer:   God, thank you for giving us the talents and gifts that we can use and enjoy.  Then, thank you for letting us put those talents and gifts with the talents and gifts of others where we can become One in You.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  Talents


Time Away from Time Away

Psalms 119:9-19

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to thy word. 

Thought for the Day: Take time away with God.

As the week progressed at our favorite place, Lake Junaluska, we noticed that both of our boys seemed to be acting out in ways that were abnormal for them. The day began with the eldest saying something he shouldn’t have to me and continued with him saying something he shouldn’t have to his daddy. The youngest just had a tough day saying “no” a lot and not wanting to participate in the activities. My day of concern for them brought a few tears and worry about what was going on. Dinnertime came and my husband and I decided a family night away might be in order. We drove into a small town nearby and found a nice sit-down restaurant and went inside. A few minutes after we sat down, my oldest son pulled out some UNO cards I had sent to him in a care package during a recent camp. My “three boys” began playing and any thought of the bad attitudes from earlier disappeared and we prayed, ate, shared, played, and enjoyed the time together. When we returned to our hotel, we went inside as a family and continued laughing, playing, and finally sleeping. There was a normalcy that we needed to be reminded of and when we were reminded we were brought back to a place of peace. Now, we can continue enjoying our friends during this special week with a new outlook.

Doesn’t this happen occasionally? We get into our own thoughts and attitudes and forget what is important for a moment. During that time, we also forget that God is waiting for us to look at him and see that He is the most important One in our lives and that we should always know He is near. Sometimes we need a time to get away and reflect for a moment. Sometimes we need to do this for an all important “attitude adjustment”. I am so glad that God loves me so much that no matter what attitude I have that takes me away for a moment, I can always know that He will still be there waiting patiently for my return.

Prayer: Father God, thank you for time away. Thank you for being there for us when we need that time away. Please forgive us when we let our attitudes take us away from you. You are all knowing and all loving, and I am thankful that You are always there for us no matter what we are going through. Amen.





Bloom When and Where You are Planted

Proverbs 2:6-10

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and preserving the way of his saints.  Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart.

Thought for the Day:  Bloom Where and When you are Planted

Lake Junaluska continues to prove its wonder and beauty to me.  Yesterday, I took a walk along the Rose Path that meanders along the edge of the lake.  I have always enjoyed that path and walk it several times during each of my visits.  As I walked yesterday and took pictures of the blooms, I remembered writing about the lack of blooms on the rose bushes last year during my time at Junaluska and how much I missed them being a part of my experience. As I continued on the path yesterday, I saw gorgeous blooms with their perfect petals alongside sweet buds just beginning and some blooms that were becoming withered from age.  What a wonderful example God’s creation of His children.  At first, we appear as those sweet buds just beginning their journey.  At that point the buds are nourished and taken care of where they will grow into their full beauty.  As blooms, we have been created by God to show our faith and love to the world.  As we show our faith and spread love to others we become beautiful in God’s garden and He can use us to bring others’ attention to Him.  It is through that beautiful “blooming time” that we show our best to Him and bring others to see Him through us.  When we become withered by age, we are still there alongside the buds and blooms.  Each withered petal represents some type of wisdom we learned as we lived through times in our lives, and through that wisdom we share knowledge with those coming up behind us.  I can remember so many in my life who have been wise and have shown me wise counsel.

Today, I will go back and take more pictures as I walk back along the rose path, but this time I want to take pictures of the buds, beautiful blooms, and withered blooms to help me remember that God created us to live beautifully through each portion of our life.  What will I say when I see myself becoming withered by age?  I hope I will say that I knew God, I showed God, and I loved God and shared God with my children and those around me.

Prayer:   God, thank you for planting us where we can bloom and show our love for you to others. Help us remember that no matter how young we are, how grown up we are, or how old we are that we are always important to you and we are always able to bring others to Christ.  We are beautiful at each time in our lives.  Thank you to all those who have shown us wisdom because they are the most beautiful of all. Amen.

Prayer Focus :  Those in all times of life

From the Lobby

Matthew 25:14-16, 19-21

“For it will be as when a man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted to them his property; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability.  Then he went away.  He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more……Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.’”

Thought for the Day:  How will I give back to the Master?

Sitting in the lobby of the Terrace Hotel at Lake Junaluska this morning brings a lot of areas of thought as I hear the Chamber Choir rehearsing upstairs.  The beauty of the music expands out of the rehearsal room and flows over the balcony into the lobby.  What a spectacular concert I hear as they are only rehearsing.  I hear the director giving instruction and the singers replying to him by singing as he instructed.  Each time they repeat their notes they seem to get clearer and more beautiful.   I also listen as the speaker of the week talks to his colleague as he prepares for coming up worship services.  As I listen I know that his speaking talent is enormous but he also continues developing his art to be able to speak Christ’s words to his congregation.  Even as I listen to him now, I remember his sermon this morning reminding us that we all have our different talents and all of those talents work together as the Body of Christ.  I now look forward to the Choir Concerts coming up as well as the Worship Service sermons by this spectacular speaker.

Sitting in this beautiful room, listening to a beautiful choir, and hearing the pastor has reminded me of the Parable of the Talents.  Each of the people who surround me with their talents are using their talents in special ways, different talents all working toward the Glory of God.  I turn my thoughts to myself for a moment and think about my talents and how God wants me to use them.  Am I going to be the servant who received the one talent and hid it in the ground, or am I going to be the servant given more talents and who used them in a way that would increase their worth.  I want my talents to be used in the way God is leading me where I can give back as He desires.

Prayer:   Father God, thank you for music and for the spoken Word.  Thank you to those who use their talents to bring all of us into Your Worship.  Be with us as we look at our talents and work to use them in your kingdom.  Amen

Prayer Focus:  TALENTS


I Knew

Psalms 143:5-8

Let me hear in the morning of thy steadfast love, for in thee I put my trust.  Teach me the way I should go, for to thee I lift up my soul.

Thought for the Day:  Listen for God’s voice and He will lead you through

One summer during the time I was in college, I took time to work at Lake Junaluska, a United Methodist Retreat Center in the mountains of North Carolina.  Being pretty shy, it was difficult at times.  I loved the overall experience and met many new friends who I still think of often, but I still felt alone.  I spent time with my Bible and much time sitting under the lit cross praying and taking in the beauty.

In the evening I would sat on the front porch of the apartment building playing my guitar.  One night, I heard a familiar whistle.  I put my guitar down and started walking toward the sound.  As I came over a hill, I could see my Daddy walking toward me.  I immediately started running where I could get to him quickly.  It was one of the best hugs I have ever received.

That is how God, our father, is to me still.  I no longer have my earthly daddy, but I know I always have my heavenly father to listen for and to follow.  As my daddy’s whistle was what I heard and followed on that night so long ago, I listen today for God’s voice when He calls.

Prayer:   God, our Father.  Help us to listen to your voice or calling as we go through our times of daylight and especially in our darkest times.  Help us to know you are always right beside us loving us through every moment of our lives.  Amen.