Archive - 2015

Christmas on Rocky Top
The Christmas Party on Rocky Top
Raising Children in a World of Terror……for parents and grandparents!
Three Lessons about the Holy Spirit from Two Year Olds
The Getaway Ship!

Christmas on Rocky Top

Every morning of Christmas season, preacher walks out of our bedroom and the first things he does is turn on the Christmas tree lights. Preacher loves Christmas….the lights, the sounds of squealing children opening up presents, the smells of the good food. When our children were little, he would stand outside their bedroom windows after they went to bed on Christmas Eve and shake bells, throw small rocks on the roof, and shout “Ho-Ho-Ho”!   He would snuggle with the children while watching Rudolph the Red-nosed reindeer and if you watched him closely, tears would come to his eyes as Clarice sang, “There’s always tomorrow…”

Christmas has just always been his favorite time of the year……..truly!

Some may think it is because Preacher is just a big kid at heart. Nope that is not why!

Preacher truly believes in CHRISTmas.

He believes when the mommy of a 15 year old boy, killed laying down his life to save the lives of three teenage girls, sits by her Christmas tree tonight that GOD WILL BE WITH HER!

He believes when the daddy of a very sick little boy, sits by the hospital bed awaiting surgery on Christmas that GOD WILL BE WITH HIM!

He believes when a precious widow sits by a Christmas tree tonight aching for her husband that GOD WILL BE WITH HER!

He believes when the world seems to be spinning out of control and evil appears to be reigning and there is little hope for our precious grandchildren’s future that GOD WILL BE WITH THEM!

When Mary went to Elizabeth’s house to share the news the angel of the Lord had given her, Elizabeth said to Mary “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord as said to her will be accomplished.” Luke 1:45.

Christmas is coming tomorrow morning! Even if the baking is not done, even if all the presents aren’t wrapped or if the house isn’t cleaned.

Christ is simply asking us this Christmas……Do you believe? Do you believe that I will fill that empty hole in your heart? Do you believe that I am in control? Do you believe I can be your hope, joy, peace and love when there seems to be absolutely no way?

So Preacher turns on the Christmas tree lights every morning to remember……..Christ came, He is with us today no matter what the circumstances, no matter the storms, no matter the darkness.

Preacher believes HE IS WITH US……..EMMANUEL!

And my question to you as well as to myself: What do I truly believe?

Merry Christmas from Rocky Top!

The Christmas Party on Rocky Top

Eight pies made…Check! 10 dozen cookies made…Check! Gifts for 35 under the tree….Check! House cleaned…..check! House decorated……check! Red Christmas sweater on……check! Candles lit…….Check! Christmas lights……..Wait!  No Christmas lights coming on??? This can’t be happening. Everything is perfect…..and a breaker blows and I have no Christmas lights. Really??? This is not how this picture perfect, successful staff Christmas party is supposed to go down!

About to have a major melt down…..and I hear a whisper in my ear? Who are you trying to make famous tonight, Donna? Is tonight about you? Or is tonight about ME? Are you checking your list off tonight for your glory? Or for MINE? OUCH!

Let’s keep it REAL up here on Rocky Top! Christmas can be a crazy time of year with our To-do lists long, little sleep, sugar induced hyped up kids, and just everyday life thrown in.  It’s hard to think about wrapping 20 gifts when you have 10 loads of laundry to do!

How do we as wives and moms keep Christ in Christmas without having a major melt down?

  1. Make Jesus famous! After all it really is HIS birthday! Ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing……..whether it is baking a pie, wrapping your gifts to all color coordinate, or shopping for that perfect gift? Are you checking things off your list to make HIM famous and celebrate His birth or is to make yourself look good?
  2. Simplify! How many gifts does each child really need? How many Christmas trees does your house really need? Does every room in the entire house need to be decorated in a Christmas theme? Does everything have to be homemade? And how many Christmas parties does one really need to go to? Sometimes a quiet night at home is the best party of all!
  3. Worship! It is Jesus’ birthday! This is not the season to skip your time with Him because you are so busy! Make the time every day to read His word and worship Him. Attend worship services to actually worship! Your clothes don’t have to be the latest trend in Christmas attire. Little Johnny doesn’t have to be the star of the Christmas play! Again, make HIM famous!
  4. Love on someone who is hurting. Christmas can be a really hard time for people. People who have lost loved ones; people who are sick; people who don’t have a big family; people who are financially struggling. Make Jesus famous by doing what Jesus would do……..He always looked for that hurting person to love on. Let’s do the same.

And by the way, the staff party was successful. As preacher said on Sunday during worship, success is achieved when Jesus is made famous.   Jesus was made famous at that party but not because of pies, cookies, food, gifts or decorations but through hugs, smiles, shared laughter, shared joy and prayer! As a dear friend said when the lights blew, “Honey, Christmas happens on the inside…not on the outside!”

May Jesus be made famous this Christmas in your home!

“And angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. ”  Luke 2:9-10

Raising Children in a World of Terror……for parents and grandparents!

It was December 2001, Preacher was outside hanging up Christmas lights on a warm December afternoon in Georgia. The driveway was still wet from a short morning rain. I had just gone outside to encourage and thank him for working so hard to hang up our Christmas lights. Preacher hates doing things like this…..anything involving electricity or repairing something brings him much frustration because it usually ends up in some sort of disaster. This day would be no exception.

When I went outside he was already in frustration mode because he couldn’t figure out why some light bulbs were not working. He was barefoot on the wet pavement. I had on tennis shoes. As I was watching him, he picked up two exposed wires just about the time I leaned in to give him an encouraging kiss. Yep……….that is when I received the most electrifying kiss of our marriage.

We both fell down on the pavement and I began to scream, “I’ve been shocked. I’ve been shocked.”

About this time, 11 year old Trey ran out of the house in his camo with his BB gun ready to protect his parents who were lying on the pavement. Trey had heard me yelling, but thought I was screaming, “I’ve been shot. I’ve been shot.”

As funny as that story seems, Trey’s reaction to what he heard me scream came from the beginning of a new era in our nation……….raising children in the age of terror.

This generation and the ones to follow have become a part of a new era.  This era began with our children witnessing the fall of the twin towers, hurricanes destroy cities, tsunamis kill thousands, gunmen murder people in movie theatres, teenagers kill and wound fellow students in classrooms, terrorist kill those just trying to enjoy a cup of coffee. These children have seen it all in color on big screen TVs and on their IPADS and lap tops.

How does one raise a child in the age of terror? …….How does one raise a child to not live in fear but in hope in confidence??

  1. Limit their exposure to TV news. When tragic events are going on in the world, be careful how much exposure children and even students have to these events on TV, IPADS and laptops. If they do see tragedy, talk to them about it. Reassure them we serve a Sovereign God who is in control!! FOX news does not need to be the constant blare in the background of any home!
  2. Teach them God’s word! We need to arm our children not just with BB guns, we need to arm them with His word! We need to arm ourselves with His word! There is a reason God’s word talks about fear over 300 times. Teach it to them and live it out! “For God does not give us a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.” II Timothy 1:7   The “power” in this verse is the same “power” that rose Christ from the dead. The “love” in this verse is the same “love” that caused Christ to lay down His life for us! And the “sound mind” is a mind that can distinguish truth from a lie. We must teach our kids to be able to distinguish truth from a lie. When they are afraid, we need to ask them what is “Truth” in this situation? What does God’s word say?   When we arm them with God’s word we instill God confidence into their lives and enable them to live on the offense and not on the defense.
  3. Give them Hope!   How does one give Hope in this world that seems so out of control? The best way to give any young person hope is for them to see that Christ in them can make a difference in this world. Allow your child to serve others!!!
  • Make a meal together for a family in need!
  • Choose to go without something in order to provide for someone in need….make an Operation Christmas child box together. Or buy a pair of shoes for a child who needs them.
  • Go sing Christmas carols at the nursing home or to a shut in.
  • Allow your student to go on a mission trip……..YES……..even overseas or to cities that are far away!!! Parents if you cling on to your student in fear……you will raise a young adult who makes decisions based on fear!!! If you want to raise God-confident adults, lead them to make decisions based on what God is leading them to do and not based on fear!

Our world is in desperate need of adults who are risk-takers for HIS KINGDOM!!! We don’t need a generation of adults who cling to mommy’s apron and are afraid to take risks because of fear.

We need to raise a generation of young people who hold out HOPE to others! We need to raise a generation who shock this world with the love of Jesus Christ!!!

Three Lessons about the Holy Spirit from Two Year Olds

In the last few weeks I have been blessed to spend a lot of time with both of my two year old grandchildren. The Lord has really used them to teach me some lessons about the Holy Spirit.

  1. The phrases “I do it” and “I can do it by myself” and the attitude that accompanies them begin very early in life.   Independence and pride may be an American concept that is encouraged.  Yet it is not the way Christ intends for His followers to live life.  Accepting help is hard for me. And yet over and over in God’s word He says things like “apart from Me you can do nothing!” John 15:5 The Holy Spirit is consistently referred to as our Helper in Scripture! And yet, I don’t want help with most things! It is hard to humble myself and ask the Lord for help in everything in life.
  2. Holding a big person’s finger while walking up and downstairs, crossing the street or walking in unfamiliar places is comforting and empowering. So many times, these precious two year olds do realize they need help. They stick out their little chubby hands and say, “Come on, Nonna!” They take my finger as I walk with them or lead them. At this point, my heart usually melts and I am so filled with love for them. I think this joy is what the Heavenly Father experiences when we do ask Him for help. When we just look up and say, “Come on Jesus, I want to walk with You! I want to die to myself and walk in the Spirit! I feel safer and empowered walking with Him! Galatians 5:16 says we are to be “led by the Spirit”! Our Helper is always ready to lead us if we just ask! When I allow the Spirit to lead me instead of wandering off on my own, I experience Kingdom adventure and see His kingdom grow.
  3. Having a security blanket to take to bed just makes life better. Both of my grands have some sort of “security blanket”. It comforts them as they are falling asleep. I love watching them rub the edges of their blanket as they drift off to sleep. I might not have an actual blanket but most nights as I drift off to sleep I need His comfort. I need to know He is in control of this messed up world. I need to be reminded that He will be there for me in every circumstance! Another name for the Holy Spirit is “Comforter”! John 14:16   “I (Jesus) will pray to the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever.”

I am very thankful to Addison and William for teaching me more about Who He is!

My prayer for you today is that you will embrace the Holy Spirit as your Helper. Ask Him to lead you every morning as you arise so that you can experience His Kingdom adventure. I also pray that every night as you lay your head on your pillow that you will know Him as your Comforter in whatever your are facing.

The Getaway Ship!

I’ve been away from Rocky Top this last week. Been floating on the wide open sea in a ship named Getaway. I needed to get away…..from people, Alzheimer’s, critics and such. But once I got away I realized I needed to get away from me.

Right before I boarded the getaway boat, I went to see a movie, WAR ROOM.   See all I wanted to get away from was battles I thought I was fighting. The battle of hoping others will accept me and like me; the battle of the disease that is slowly killing my mother and controlling much of my time; the battle of unsolicited negative opinions. Sounds pretty awful doesn’t it?

Yet, my life is so rich and full……full of a husband that loves me, children who love me and are contributing to society and actually loving Jesus, grandchildren, who are perfect (don’t argue this one); friends who know me and still love me,  abundant opportunities to serve others, and a wonderful church family!

I do have an enemy that I do constant battle with…His name is Satan. BUT what I realized this week is that my biggest enemy is myself……my pride, my fear, my disobedience, my selfishness.   My first strategy in battle was to confront ME……quit making excuses for the lack of prayer, the selfishness, and the lack of grace for everyone but me and mine.

So on the floor of the getaway boat; I spent time confessing and repenting. Then I stood up ready to see others through eyes…eyes of grace. I also stood up to realize that my encounter with Alzheimer’s could be an opportunity and not a curse. A very wise friend once told me that when God interrupted her life, she met people she never would have met,  went places she never thought she would go and experienced things she never would have otherwise.

We think we want our life to be on a cruise ship……someone making our bed every day, making cute little animals with towels, cooking for us, spraying us with cool water when we are hot and bringing us a glass of lemon water every few hours. Cruise ship living is nice for a week or so and we all need a vacation but after five or so days of cruise ship living I’m ready for REAL life.

God created us and died for us so that we can glorify Him and increase His kingdom. He receives glory when we are in battle and have to rely on His strength to face difficult people and difficult circumstances.

Somehow in the American church we have come to believe that if we are on a cruise ship and all is well that we must be living our life right before God. Yet, according to God’s word we are most like Christ when we are suffering. Elisabeth Elliot’s definition of suffering is “having something you don’t want or wanting something you don’t have.”

Paul said “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings becoming like him in his death…”  Philippians 3:10-11   This is not cruise ship living. This is War Room, Battleship living!! How exciting!

So with a repentant heart, a new perspective of the battles in front of me and a refreshed spirit, I left the Getaway ship to come home and live on Rocky Top, excited to fight the battles on my knees that He so graciously allows in my life so that I can experience Him in a new way,

And by the way…………THERE IS NO PLACE LIKE HOME! Good ol’ Rocky Top!

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