1
Welcome to Rocky Top
2
One Year Later
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Lessons from my Granddaughter
4
Graduation?
5
Holy Week??
6
When the Floor Gives Way

Welcome to Rocky Top

Welcome to Rocky Top….yes, I live on a street named Rocky Top in a house on the side of a rocky mountain in the state of Tennessee but Rocky Top for me is more a state of mind that I find myself in often.

I imagine you may also live there sometimes… you know… close to the edge… either you are close to the edge of losing it with your kids, your husband, or boss or even a friend that is driving you insane. You may even have fallen off and are trying to climb your way back up what seems to be a slippery slope.

The steep cliff I see off my back porch is God’s way of reminding me He is there for me. Trees, wildflowers, and beautiful wild animals live on this Rocky Top with me… along with a husband that I truly love but often pushes me to the edge with his adventures, and six grown adult children who come to visit often… isn’t that kind of weird… adult children. I’m not sure how I am still sane and they are also… but their children… my grands… William, Addy, Aubrey and Isaac… well I have to admit I adore and would do almost anything for.

So I welcome you to Rocky Top… come sit in one of my brown rocking chairs on the back porch. We will experience Real Life together as we remember Who He is and What He is Able to do when you live close to the edge and are afraid you might just fall off the steep cliff.

One Year Later

It was a year ago that Preacher and I stood on the stage of a mega church in front of thousands of people and said our good-byes as their Senior Pastor and his wife.   It was a bittersweet day for me. Bitter because I truly loved being a senior pastor’s wife, and sweet because we were saying “Yes” to the Lord by choosing obedience to a new calling on our lives……..serving Him through Life Action Ministry.  

This past year has been a roller coaster of emotions for me as God has both revealed things to me about myself and reminded me of truths through the lives of those serving Life Action.  

  • Confession:   Being the senior pastor’s wife caused me to become an addict – I have confessed these addictions before the Lord and He has graciously forgiven me.  My addictions: Attention and Power.  If my addictions have ever offended you,  please forgive me. Years under the spotlight caused me to lose sight of the sixteen year old girl who humbly walked down an aisle,  took a pastor’s hand and committed her life to serve the Lord. No human being should ever be placed on the throne that only has room for One – Christ.
  • Truth: Servanthood    People working at Life Action are among God’s choice servants.   Their lives are characterized by what Life Action calls our six responses to God:   Humility, Honesty, Repentance, Forgiveness, Obedience, and Seeking God’s Kingdom First.  Over and over I have witnessed these six responses demonstrated in their lives. Women who choose to raise a family in a RV nine months out of year as they serve churches across the USA.   Communicators and musicians so gifted that they could serve the Lord from any stage, yet choose to serve churches of various sizes so that they may experience a reviving work of God’s presence.  
  • Confession:   When we walked away from the mega church, we also walked away from a very large salary.  Although our church agreed to support us for a season, we were walking toward a “no salary” position.  In other words, we had to raise our own support. We became full-time missionaries. The Lord used this as a reminder of the commitment I had made to him when I was sixteen – a commitment to serve Him as a missionary.  He had been preparing me for this for forty years. I was in a completely new situation – sitting with someone and sharing with them about our new adventure and asking them to support us financially. This proved to be quite a challenge for me, but through it God taught me humility and reminded me that He was always my True Provision.   
  • Truth:  Faith     People at Life Action are people of faith.   This past year I have witnessed families who live on very limited budgets, yet do not hesitate to sacrificially to give to others in need.  There are families who adopt children that the world would cast aside. Grumbling and complaining are rare while praying is a way of life.

Our mission at Life Action is “to inspire your next Yes to God.”   When we say “yes” to something, it usually requires us saying “no” to something else.   This past year I have said “Yes” by following Him in obedience and it did require me saying “no” to pride, control, selfishness and bitterness.    God has begun a new work in my heart and I am so grateful to Him and to Life Action Ministry.

My prayer for you today is that you will choose to “Say YES to God.”   Is He asking you to forgive someone? Is He asking you to be honest with yourself and admit you are addicted to something…power, attention, food, gossip, a negative attitude, or maybe social media?   

This past weekend I hiked up to Grotto Falls in the Smoky Mountains.  As I observed the rushing water flow over the rocks into the pool below, the Lord whispered into my heart “Refreshment comes when you confess your sin and turn to me.”    Sin is choosing our way over God’s way. Are you choosing to do life your way and not God’s way?

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”  Acts 3:19

If Life Action or I can serve you or your church in any way, it would bring us great joy.  Preacher’s motto during this last year has been: “I am just His servant.” I just love that man!  So excited to serve alongside him at Life Action as a servant to the Most High God!

www.lifeaction.org

 

 

Lessons from my Granddaughter

This Rocky Top girl recently traveled to St. George Island, Florida to vacation with our entire family of three adult children, their spouses and all four of our grandchildren.   Preacher had researched to find a special adventure for our oldest two grands, Addy and William.    A boat ride to see dolphins in the wild and a treasure hunt was booked.

When we boarded the small boat to travel on the wide open ocean, Addy chose to sit by me.  As the boat began to travel the waves, Addy immediately began the hand holding.  If I let go of her hand for even a second, she would lay her open hand on my lap as if to say, “Nonna, (what the grands call me) I need your hand.”

I wanted to enjoy the beauty around me but was mesmerized by Addy’s joy.   Her entire face was consumed with a smile.  She was embracing this adventure, the unknown, the uncertainty.   The captain of the boat told us all where we were going, what we hoped to see and do.  Yet, Addy had never experienced anything like this.  With her small four year old hand in mine and life jacket secured she was content to embrace the adventure.

After we returned back to our rented home for the week, the Lord began to speak to me so clearly through my sweet Addy’s life.

  • Donna, I never take my eyes off of you. You are my daughter.  I take pleasure in watching you experience the life I have given you.
  • You can embrace the adventure I have put before you with complete joy or you can choose to not trust me and make yourself and everyone around you miserable.
  • I have given you a life jacket in your salvation and My Word. I will never allow you to drown in hurt, pain, shame, guilt, fear, rejection, and bitterness.
  • My hand is always open for yours. You just have to ask.   I delight in your weakness and your brokenness.
  • You were made for adventure, Donna. You weren’t made for comfort and security.

The captain’s objectives were all accomplished.  Dolphins jumping in the wild were seen.  Arrows made of sticks were followed on an uninhabited island where X marked the spot of buried treasured.    William and Addy uncovered the treasure chest by digging through the sand with their hands.    Their joy seemed to culminate when the treasure chest was opened up to discover faux jewels, golden coins and sand dollars. So much fun.

Listening to the waves crashing on the shore the last night of our trip,  this old hymn came to my heart.

Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His Word;

Just to rest upon His promise, Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!  How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;

Jesus, Jesus precious Jesus! Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

I’m so glad I learned to trust Him, Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;

And I know that He is with me, will be with me to the end.

Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to trust His cleansing blood;

And in simple faith to plunge me ‘neath the healing, cleansing flood!

Yes, ‘tis sweet to trust in Jesus, Just from sin and self to cease;

Just from Jesus simply taking life and rest, and joy and peace.

(Written by Lari Goss, Public Domain)

My dear reader my prayer is that you choose to trust Him completely with whatever adventure lies ahead of you.  He is faithful!  In the trusting, the joy will come!

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

 

Graduation?

It’s the season of graduation ceremonies up here on Rocky Top.  People are becoming doctors, dentists, lawyers, teachers, high school graduates and even preschool graduates.

Last week I watched the cutest five year old walk down a long aisle wearing a red cap and gown.   The tassel hung to one side of his adorable face and his smile of accomplishment shone for everyone to see.  As this boy’s Nonna, I beamed with pride and waved as he passed me by.

The head of the preschool boasted about the graduates’ many accomplishments: they knew numbers, the alphabet and various others bits of knowledge.    The teachers had observed their ability to use this knowledge and now they were ready to be presented as graduates!

A few days after this momentous occasion, I began to question if I had graduated.  Yes, I hold a high school diploma and even a Bachelor of Science degree from Baylor University.   My teachers and professors observed my proficiency in many different subject matters for me to obtain those diplomas.

But am I graduate of God’s word?   A teacher knows his pupil knows the material when the pupil doesn’t just regurgitate knowledge but when he sees the pupil utilize the information in real life.

I can memorize thousands of verses, attend every Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, BSF, Precept Bible study, and go to Sunday School or small group every week yet if I do not use the knowledge of God’s word, it’s just information.

Information doesn’t bring transformation,” I heard a preacher say (Jay Smith).   I must realize that God’s word is meant to be experienced and allowed to be poured out of my life by the power of the Holy Spirit.

If I have memorized the fruits of the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) but they are not evident in my life, it is time to question my walk with Christ.

A tree will be known by its fruit.

Am I kind even when others are not?

Is love evident in my life even towards those who are unlovable?

“Words and ideology on a page are cheap.  Grace and incarnating the love of Christ isn’t.” (Voskamp).

When my husband is thousands of miles away sharing the Gospel with those who have never heard, does peace reign in my life when the basement pipes leak again?

Am I patient when I have been put on hold for thirty minutes?

Lord, I don’t just want to be filled with head knowledge.  I want to be filled with YOU!

A true leader/a graduate displays knowledge in action……..kindness, peace, love, joy, and thankfulness.  A graduate of the Word of God displays Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit!

It is better to memorize one verse and live it out than to continue to fill my head with knowledge but show no fruit in my life.

Lord, may I always have a teachable spirit and always be a graduate of your Word!

 

Holy Week??

It’s Holy Week up on Rocky Top.  I said to Preacher this morning, “I’m not so sure what is Holy about this week.  Too much hurt, too much pain, too much brokenness and not enough truth and love going around.”  Preacher reminded me that “holy” means to be set apart.

Hurt, pain, brokenness set Jesus apart from the crowd—-and He chose it.  He chose to bear my sin so that I would never have to bear separation from God—a God who loves me and chose me despite my imperfections.

A few weeks ago I stood in front of a group of women to teach on HOPE.  I gave them a nice three point outline from Romans 15 of what women of Hope are to be.   I ended the message with a powerful story of Hope.

Then my world was rocked with a seemingly “hopeless” situation.  The enemy whispered in my ear, “So where is your HOPE now, Bible study teacher?”

“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.”  Hebrews 11:1

What do I hope for?   A marriage that glorifies Him, children who glorify Him, ministry that glorifies Him.

Is that the real answer?   Let’s be honest…..the answer usually goes something like “a marriage that makes me happy, children who grow up and make me look good and are successful, and opportunities to do great things for God which make me look good.

Glorify God?   God was glorified through His Son, Jesus when He was broken, beaten and bruised yet He uttered not a word.  God’s one and only Son nailed and displayed on a bloody cross brought glory to God.

Last week I walked a beach that was covered with broken seashells.  With every step I took, there was an eerie sound of more shells breaking underneath my feet.  And with every crashing wave that hit that beach, more shells were deposited.   People walked through the broken shells hoping to find just one whole and unbroken shell.  Their desire was for one shell that was intact with no imperfections.  There were very few of those to be found.   Yet when they were found, there was no life inside—the shell was empty.

Truth is without all those broken shells there would not be much of a beach, the broken shells made that beach.   Brokenness to some may seem invaluable.  Brokenness to Christ is everything.  He chose it so I might have life.  It’s only in my brokenness that He can be glorified!

During Holy week Jesus cursed a fig tree.  It appeared to be healthy but it bore no fruit.  Christ also turned over the tables of the money changers in the temple.   They appeared to be offering a much needed service but Christ knew the truth.  Appearance often is deceiving.

Don’t be afraid of brokenness or broken people.  Be more afraid of people who seem to have it all together and are just like those “perfect” shells on the beach…….empty and dead inside.

I, for one, need a Savior……..for myself, my marriage, my family, my church.

Be Holy this week.  Be set apart from the world’s definition of perfection and wholeness.  Celebrate His brokenness.  Celebrate your brokenness.  Allow your brokenness to glorify HIM!

“May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”   Romans 15:13

When the Floor Gives Way

Today I welcome to the back porch of Rocky Top, Amy Daniel.  Amy is the wife of Joseph, mommy to Addy and Aubrey and works part-time as a registered nurse.   She is also my middle-child!  Most importantly, Amy is a beautiful daughter of the king.  You will love her heart for Jesus and her honesty in this blog!

It was ONE of those days!  The baby was sick.  People seemed to be coming against me from every side.  My mood reflected the circumstances of the day.

As the kids napped, I went to Jesus, praying He would revive my soul.  However, instead of allowing Him to do what I knew He would do I made other choices.

I chose to be discontent.  I chose to grumble and complain about unfair circumstances.  I chose not to listen to Him.

Nap time was over and I chose to begrudgingly resume mom duty.  I took the kids into the kitchen to feed them a snack and that’s when it happened.  The floor gave way beneath me.   Literally.  Unbeknownst to me, the tile in my kitchen had formed a giant bubble in the middle.  When I stepped on it, tile and grout flew everywhere.  No injuries were sustained.  Panic ensued as I frantically called experts to diagnose why my floor gave way.

The diagnosis was surprising.  When the tile was originally laid, no room was left for expansion.  So when humidity entered, the tile expanded and buckled in the middle.  Thankfully, it was fixed by laying down new tile and leaving room for expansion.

As I thought about the floor giving way, the Lord began to speak to me.  I had let discontentment, bitterness, and grumbling creep into my soul.  When circumstances don’t go the way I plan or seem unfair, there is a choice to be made.  I can explode with anger and throw an adult temper tantrum or I can rest in the promises of God.

For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”  I Corinthians 3:11

When He is my foundation, the floor can literally fall out from beneath me but I will stand firm because my feet are planted in His strength and not my own.

The tile had no room to expand so it exploded.  So often in my life I leave no room for the Lord to work.  I am so busy trying to control my circumstances that I never stop to offer them to the only One who does have control.  The result is discontentment and grumbling.

II Corinthians 5:14 “The love of Christ controls us…”        Honestly, most of the time I allow external factors to control me……the kitchen floor, the broken relationship, the sick child, the unpaid bills.  When I choose to shift my focus off self and circumstances and onto the True foundation, then the love of Christ starts to pour out of me.  Joy comes then!   At that moment I realize the repairman who God brought to my home may need to experience the love of Christ.  Or maybe God allowed the floor to explode just so I could share my story with you!

Stand firm on the Foundation of Christ, allow room in your life for Him to grow you, and refuse anything but His love to control you!

 

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