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The Broken Thanksgiving
The FALL on Rocky Top: Death, Life, and a Prayer Tent
Feeling Tossed Aside? Worthless? Be The REMNANT
Hiding in the Cleft of the Rock!
The Summer of No Regrets!

The Broken Thanksgiving

Table set, turkey carved, homemade apple, pumpkin and pecan pie ready to be eaten. Table full of loved ones. Thanks offered to the One and Only Lord. Laughter and love for all. Then it happened……the beloved lady pilgrim salt shaker flew “randomly” out of my hand and crashed to the hardwood floor. Broken in several pieces with salt scattered everywhere….had that lady pilgrim salt shaker and its companion for over 10 years. Ruined and broken. It can be glued back together but not sure it will ever hold salt again. Maybe if the repair is done just right.

No one likes brokenness. Whether the broken happens in things or people, brokenness is just messy and uncomfortable. If we are going to be real and honest, the majority of us want to run from the broken. Just get something new. Move on to the next thing or the next person. Broken is not fun.

Brokenness involves hurt and pain. When there is love for anyone or anything, brokenness is a risk we take.

Witnessed a lot of brokenness lately:  a beautiful 17 year old’s death due to a car accident; a 55 year old’s death due to ALS; several broken families due to a spouse deciding they had enough; broken bodies due to age; broken spirit’s due to hurtful words.

When one is broken what is on the inside comes out, according to my friend, Gary Witherall whose wife was martyred in Lebannon.

The salt came spilling out of the pilgrim lady salt shaker. Salt can heal. Salt adds flavor. Salt can sting.

Looked around that Thanksgiving table of loved ones, we had all experienced some type of brokenness in our lives: broken homes, broken hearts, broken bodies, and broken dreams. A lot of salt spilled at that table. Many times the salt has been used to heal; definitely a lot of flavor and sometimes just hurt and sting.

No coincidence, just finished reading Ann Voskamp’s new book, The Broken Way. If you are one that would just soon live a comfortable life, dreaming of a nostalgia that is non-existent in your home or church, then this book is not for you. If you long for Christ to redeem your brokenness, to love through and in your brokenness, then this will take you on a journey to embrace your brokenness and allow Christ to redeem it.

“Never be afraid of broken things—-because Christ can redeem anything. When I’m no longer afraid of brokenness, I don’t have to control or possess anything—dreams or plans or people or their perceptions. I can live surrendered. Cruciform. Given. This feels like freedom. Not being afraid of the brokenness—this sets you free in a thousand ways.” Ann Voskamp

But even more importantly, “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His suffering, becoming like Him in His death.” Philippians 3:10

With much Thanksgiving in my heart, I’m going to glue that broken pilgrim lady salt shaker back together and set it out every Thanksgiving as a reminder to our entire family to embrace the broken things in our lives!

The FALL on Rocky Top: Death, Life, and a Prayer Tent

It is Fall once again up on Rocky Top. The leaves are raining shades of yellow, orange and red as they fall from the trees. It’s a beautiful sight to behold as they float down on the wind.  Ironically, the beauty comes from dying. The leaves are falling because they are dead.

Fall is a bittersweet time of year.

Today I listened to my beautiful, middle child spill her soul as she shared about her baby in heaven.

She told the story to a group of mommies. With gentle tears rolling down her face she remembered how she had put her hope in being a mommy only to find out that hope was no longer alive. I remember holding her after she got the news……… heartbeat, no life. We all grieved. Someone had died and we had been robbed of ever knowing this tiny human.

Yet, there was my brave girl standing in front of those women sharing about how death had taught her to put her hope only in Jesus. My momma’s heart was proud of her courage.  She told the story of death on the birthday of her now 3 year old daughter, Addison Faith.   Death had occurred in the Fall.   Life had also been born in the Fall.

Years ago driving down the road, I received a phone call about death on a fall day.   Daddy had died in his bed, a massive heart attack. Daddy didn’t come to know the God of Hope until he was 58. His journey to Christ came at a price. He died to himself. Died to selfishness. Died to a never ending stream of bad marriages. From age 58 to 68, that man truly lived. He lived to bring his new Father glory. With his new heart, he loved big and well. When I arrived at his apartment after receiving that phone call, it was covered up with his new life: pictures of grandchildren, his Bible, and the book The Prayer of Jabez.

That was a very hard fall. Yet, there was HOPE. I knew my daddy had really died when he was 58 and he was now fully alive with His Savior.

True, real life requires death. Sometimes the death is more painful than others. Nonetheless, death is hard.

A lady tapped me on the shoulder. “Do you have a few minutes?” she asked. Me, I never have a few minutes. My schedule can be my never ending god if I let it.   “Sure.” I said.   Then death came.

“I really need to ask your forgiveness.   God, told me to come talk to you. I have said bad things about you to others. I’m so very sorry. Will you forgive me?”   Tears were welling up in her eyes. She was brave.

Time to die to myself.   Time to make a choice of letting my pride and anger take over or die to myself and let Jesus live in me.   I asked a few more questions to understand the situation.

I had hurt her unintentionally.   I cried.   I apologized. We prayed.   Life came. I thanked her for being real and vulnerable. I wished I had thanked her for dying to herself.

Fall is also the time of year, that we, as a church focus on people around the world who do not know our Savior.  Millions of men, women and children have never heard the name of Jesus. To be blunt, millions who will spend eternity in hell.  We don’t like to talk about that.  It is uncomfortable.

Our body of believers built a tent in the middle of our church building.  The Prayer Tent.  As I walked through the tent, His voice was clear:  Die to yourself.

Christ hasn’t called us to live for Him: He has called us to die, so that He might live through us.” Beth

“It’s not me trying but me dying.”  Watchman Nee

Millions of people will never hear His precious name, know His intimate love, experience His mighty power, or spend eternity with Him unless WE die!

Die to our selfishness.  Die to our comfort. Die to our greed.  Die to our fear.

To live in His abundance.  To live in His adventure. To live in His POWER.  To live in His confident joy.

Lord, thank You for the Fall.   It is a visible reminder that death brings true LIFE and HOPE! And if I choose to die to myself and live in You then one day I will stand with Jesus, my grandbaby, my daddy, a brave sister in Christ and millions of others whose faces I may never meet till I meet you, and there will be no more death, no more dying.   Just You in all your beauty and HOPE!

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” I Peter 1:3-4


Feeling Tossed Aside? Worthless? Be The REMNANT

I’m sitting on the back porch at Rocky Top coughing, sneezing and just feeling pretty awful but I can’t get a phrase out of my mind. I can’t get a picture out of my mind.


Karen Abercrombie (aka Miss Clara from the movie, War Room) used this phrase a few Sundays ago during an interview with preacher.  Karen said, “Jesus is interested in raising up the remnant to change the world not numbers…numbers come and go and play the church game. The remnant is who God uses.”

The next Sunday, preacher had me come up on stage and hold up our precious quilt for the closing illustration in his sermon. This quilt is 37 years old. It was made for us by our first church, Hay Valley Baptist Church outside of Gatesville, Texas.  They presented it to us as a wedding gift.   Hay Valley Baptist Church had an average attendance of 17 in Sunday School when we began our ministry there.  When they presented this quilt to us, this church was 48 families strong and had an average attendance of 60+ in Sunday School.  These people were ranchers, farmers, and guards at the state prison down the road. Most of them possessed nothing more than land, modest homes, some cattle and trucks. They were remnants in their small community.

This quilt was made with remnants from clothing the women of this church had once made.

A remnant is a leftover piece of material that is usually discarded after something is made.  It is usually set aside or thrown out because it is seen as invaluable.

Once these women pieced together all the remnants of fabric, they then embroidered their names on each square that makes up this quilt. In the very center of the quilt is an embroidered picture of that little church.

The quilt maybe made out of leftovers, what others may discard; however this quilt is treasured by our family.

I’m a remnant. I was never “Miss Popularity” in school.   I was the heavy-set girl with glasses who made decent grades and came from a broken home. Tossed aside.

When I married preacher, I was a remnant. I didn’t know anything about being a “pastor’s wife”. I said the wrong things, wore the wrong things, and usually did the wrong thing. Not much use for an up and coming “preacher”.

Don’t we all feel that way at times? The enemy whispers in our ear: Useless, Leftover, Not good for anything!

Oh, but Jesus says to us, “You are my treasured possession!” (Deuteronomy 7:6)  He has a plan for our lives!  (Jeremiah 29:11)

He took me and laid me alongside others in the body of Christ. They poured into my life and I into theirs.

We are the remnant……The beautiful body of Christ sewn together, salvaged by our Savior for His kingdom purposes.

Standing up last Sunday on the platform holding that quilt, looking at a sea of faces,  I was very aware that many of them feel useless, hopeless, and worthless at times.   The beauty of the body of Christ is  when we come together and knit our hearts together for His kingdom purposes, He will use us!  The remnant isn’t about individual beauty, wealth or talent.  The remnant is about the beauty of the individuals coming together as one.

Karen Abercrombie is correct. Jesus isn’t interested in just getting rear ends in a pew. He is interested in gathering remnants and knitting their hearts together to build His beautiful bride, the church. He loves the tattered, the torn, the worn, the inadequate, and the tossed aside. These are The Remnant!


Hiding in the Cleft of the Rock!

I’m sitting on the back porch up on Rocky Top on a hot, humid August day. School is back in session. Vacations are just a memory now. My Day Planner (yes, I’m old school) is covered up in blue and black ink. Basically, I’m overwhelmed and I have just been back from vacation for two weeks.

Between cheering on the USA Olympians, looking at my “to-do-List”, listening to the flooding reports in a state that I love, and watching the political wrangling on TV, life just seems fragile and complicated.

How do I navigate all this?  My mind quickly returned to one day on our vacation while we were out exploring. Preacher and I were out in the middle of nowhere. A huge storm began to roll in. There was no way we would be able to make it to a man-made shelter before the storm hit. We saw huge rocks in the distance and began to run toward them while the rain began pelting us. As we approached the rocks, there was a “cleft” in the rocks. We sat down on dry ground in that cleft and watched as the storm rolled thru. We were in awe that the Lord had provided such a beautiful place for us to take refuge. We knew we couldn’t let this precious moment go to waste. So as we sat in the cleft of that rock, being sheltered by the storm, we did 3 things which have taken us through every imaginal storm in life in the last 36 years of our marriage.

  • We remembered His faithfulness!

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God. He is the faithful God, keeping his covenant love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. Deuteronomy 7:9

Talk with your family, your husband or just a friend about the times in your past that you have seen God’s hand in your life or times when you have felt His presence or heard His word.

  • We practiced thankfulness.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 107:1

Spend time verbalizing out loud answered prayers, people, things, or circumstances you are thankful for. His gifts are all around. Thank Him for them!

  • We prayed!

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:16

Share with someone what you struggle with  and ask them to pray for you. Stand in His righteousness knowing that He hears you when you pray. Prayer is the most effective tool we have in life.   Yet,  I do believe it is the most under-utilized and under estimated tool we have available to us as believers.  We must realize that we are in a battle.  There are battles raging all around us.  Some are in a battle for their marriage, some for their children, some for their churches and some for their very lives.  We must fight this battle with His weapon of warfare:  PRAYER!

As I finish writing this, it is thundering in the distance. Another storm is approaching. This time I’m not on a beautiful beach hiding in the cleft of a rock as the storm approaches. I’m back home on Rocky Top. There will always be another storm because that is just life. But I’m so thankful that My God is the ROCK in which I can stand on and He hides me and protects me.  I am confident in MY ROCK!!!

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliver; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the strength of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies. “ Psalm 18:2-3

The Summer of No Regrets!

It is summer up here on Rocky Top!  For many families that means VACATION!!!

Our family is no exception to that!  We just returned from our first extended family vacation in four years!  Between a move from the Bayou state, two grandbabies being born, a wedding, graduations, unexpected deaths, elderly parents, new jobs and just life, it has just been hard to get away.  We have gotten together several times a year up here on Rocky Top, but it is different when four separate families choose to take off work and drive and/or fly to a separate location to spend a week together.  Coordinating everyone’s schedule is almost an impossible task.

As I sat under a canopy on a beautiful white sandy beach watching my two adorable grandchildren creating sand castles, my son attempting paddle boarding, my husband casting his rod in hopes of a fish, I realized  all the work to get here was worth it.  However, it wasn’t just about having fun together as a family, there were some other lessons the Lord taught me this past week about the importance of a family vacation.

  1.  Laughter……..nothing like laughing together and sometimes even at the expense of one another to bond you together as a family.  Most nights after small children were in bed we played games.  We won’t talk about the night we played Catch Phrase and my job was to describe “Skip to My Lou”.   I jumped up from my chair to act out skipping.  Bad idea.  My knee decided not to cooperate and I almost fell on the floor.    My mind and body were in two different places.      We all laughed until we cried.           Proverbs 17:22
  2. Memories……..things happen on these trips that are forever etched in our minds and bind us together.  One night a storm was raging at 5 am.  I  looked out the window to see our rented tandem kayak floating in the ocean.  I ran up and down the hall screaming “Wake up!  Everyone go help dad rescue the kayak.”  The son and  the son-in-loves all threw on clothes and rushed out to the beach while lightening was striking the shore to rescue the kayak and whatever could be salvaged.  Of course the night before, it was “the mom” who suggested a storm was coming and it might be best to take down the canopy and move the kayak up even closer to the house.  But who is remembering???  Philippians 1:3
  3. Grace……….spending a week together with four families at various stages of life, various personalities, various strengths and weaknesses gives us all a chance to give grace to one another.  Some of us are neat freaks; some leave all their belongings everywhere; some drink coconut water; some eat one gallon of ice cream daily; some take long walks; some like to just sit and read; some are competitive and some just don’t care about winning or losing.  Many people want their vacations to just be all about themselves.  Yet, what better way to learn grace than by practicing it by accepting each other’s differences.  Taking a multi-generation vacation is  such a great way to not only build bonds but to learn how to extend grace to one another.  II Timothy 2:1
  4. Prayer.……..of course there was prayer at every meal together.  BUT this is not what I am referring to.  Toward the end of our time together, we gathered in the big family room after the children were put to bed.  John (Preacher), Dad, or Papa John as those in our family call him,  asked all of us to be prepared to share toward the end of the week the answers to the following questions:  What is your family thankful for this year?  What in the coming year will require your dependence on the Lord?  How can we as a family pray for your family?  As we shared the answers to these questions, some of us were a bit emotional (me, in particular).  Doing family this way was foreign to me growing up.  This time of family prayer was so special to me personally.    James 5:13-16
  5. Intentionality…………none of the above just happened, the week didn’t just happen, our family didn’t just happen.  It was all “intentional”!   Many years ago, an older women challenged me to live my life without regrets.  Don’t just live your life.  Live your life on purpose.  Decide what is important to you, to your family and do “it”!  Whatever “it” is,  do it!  Preacher and I decided years ago when the children were young that we might not drive fancy cars, own a fancy house, jewelry or the latest designer clothes, but we wanted to use what money we did have to build our family by taking vacations.  In the early years, it was simply driving 20+ hours to spend time with his family at the beach.  One year we had a garage sale to raise funds to go to Disney world together.  A vacation for your family might be a few days in the mountains or exploring a new city.  The point is to get away from your normal routine and spend uninterrupted time together as a family!    This trip happened by our family sitting together over a year ago talking about how we  all needed to get away to a beach house.  Dates seemed to elude us.   However, my precious daughter-in-love worked on dates until we could see a possible window.  It took persistent intentionality!   Galatians 2:20, I Timothy 6:11-12

Sitting on the back porch of Rocky Top today soaking in the sun of the summer, my prayer for your family is to live this summer INTENTIONALLY  as you laugh together, make memories together, give one another grace and pray together as a family.

May the Summer of 2016 be the Summer of NO REGRETS!




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