Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Mother's Prayers

Like mother like daughter

And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. Matthew 21:22 KJV

My grandmother only had a fifth grade education, but she graduated valedictorian from the School of Adversity several years in a row. She had been a child of alcoholic parents and experienced neglect and severe abuse. The trauma she endured left gaping holes in her soul. This deep inner pain drove her to God. On her knees she discovered there is power in prayer.

When her only son was serving his country in the Vietnam War, there were nights she couldn’t sleep. I remember her crying out to God, pleading for her son’s safe return. I also recall the day her prayers were answered, and when her beloved son walked through the doors of his childhood home Grandma's face was wet with tears as she thanked the Lord for answering her prayers.

There were the other times she would be singing to the Lord at top of her lungs, as she scrubbed her hot, soapy pots and pans in her kitchen sink. She was usually asking the Lord to make her a blessing to the hurting souls around her. And in just minutes, there would be a knock on her front door, and Grandma would lead them to her dining room table, give them a cup of coffee, a piece of pie and then pray for their needs.

The memory which is chiseled in my mind’s eye for all eternity is her early morning prayers. God knew every morning when the sun came up, He would find Grandma on her knees. It was during one of those early morning prayers, as I lay quietly on my little cot, I heard Grandma arguing with the Lord.

“Lord, You promised me. I don’t care what the doctors say. You promised me that she would live and not die. I’m standing on Your Word, Lord. You are not a God that can lie.”

I knew she was praying for her daughter; my mother, Bonnie. Mom was in an unhappy marriage and suffered from severe depression. Because of her mental anguish, she had lost her will to live. She had attempted numerous times to end her life. One day when my grandmother dropped over to our house. She found Mom lying unconscious on the floor. After she was taken to the hospital and stabilized, Grandma found a place to pray. We didn’t see or hear from Grandma for several hours, but when we did, she was radiant.

“God spoke to me today.” Grandma insisted. “He gave me His promise that all things will work together for good to those that love the Lord. And I love the Lord so something good is going to come out of this desperate situation. My girl is not going to die, but live.”

She dabbed the tears that spilled from her eyes with her handkerchief and continued, “And that’s not all, God assured me that I would see my Bonnie play her violin for Jesus one day in church.”

A few months later there was another suicide attempt. Mom’s doctor came to speak with our family. “I don’t know if we can save her this time. One of these times she is going to get the job done.”

Grandma bolted from her chair. Pointing her plump finger in his face she barked, “Now you listen to me, Doc. My girl is not going to die but live. God promised me. And He also told me that I would see her play her violin for Jesus in church.”

An awkward silence enveloped the room. None of us knew exactly what to do, but one thing was for certain, we were not going to cross Grandma. A few hours later the doctor reappeared to tell us that Mom had escaped death again.

It was a few years later that my mother met an elderly pastor’s wife, who had suffered with deep depression, too. This dear woman took a keen interest in my mother. Because of her love and patience, my mother found the Lord. Grandma was shouting happy. She would tell everybody who would listen that God had heard her prayers and that He had kept His promise. Beaming she declared, “He is trustworthy!”

One Saturday morning, Mom announced to Grandma that she and another lady in her church were going to have the special music for the Sunday morning worship service.
“They’ve ask me to play my violin.” Mom said. “I’m going to play What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”

Grandma let out a yelp. “I knew it! I knew it! Thank you, Lord!”

I am now a pastor’s wife of thirty-one years. I’ve learned much in my Bible college classes and ministry experiences, but it was watching my grandmother’s life that taught me the most about the power of prayer. She gave me a sample, a living example of how an ordinary woman with a simple faith in an extraordinary God can move mountains.

My mother is now seventy-six years old and continues to play her violin for Jesus.

The First Thanksgiving

Tens of thousands of angels stood wing to wing peering through Heaven’s portals. Hallelujahs rang down the corridors of the golden streets. Today was the day Jehovah had been patiently waiting for. This was the very day the Messiah was to be born on Earth. The prophets had foretold of His coming. All the citizens of the Celestial City were celebrating the birth of the newborn Prince.

The Cherub Choir was commissioned to fill the sky and sing to the shepherds on the hillside. Greta, the tiniest angel in Heaven, sang with all her might, “Glory to God in the highest!”

Kylie, Greta’ best angel-friend, chimed in, too. “Peace on Earth! Good will toward men!”

Greta & Kylie flew to the humble stable and peeked through the cracked wooden slats. There they saw Mary and Joseph hovering over the Baby Jesus. A tear fell from Mary’s eye as she buried her head in Joseph’s chest and cried, “My heart is bursting with gratitude, Joseph!”

“Oh, Mary, I, too, am filled with such appreciation of Jehovah’s provision for us.”

A knock on the stable door interrupted the young couple. Kylie and Greta cranked their tiny necks so they could get a better view of the visitors. There before them were shepherds arriving and bowing before the newborn Babe.

The seasoned shepherd lifted his staff and hands in praise and shouted, “Praise be to the God of Abraham. Our hearts are overflowing with thanksgiving today because of this unspeakable gift Jehovah has given to us.”

Suddenly wise men entered the room with expensive gifts. Each knelt before the tiny King.

“We honor You today, oh little One. Blessed be the Name of Jehovah! For He has kept His promises and He has blessed us with bountiful blessings this day.”

Greta whispered to Kylie, “Wow! We thought is was a holiday in Heaven when Prince Emmanuel was born, but I can see that the earthlings are even more excited than we are!”

Kylie nodded her head in agreement! “Yeah! I don’t know much about planet Earth, but I can tell you this. I'm sure they will make this day a holiday for the rest of Earth’s existence! There’s no doubt in my mind.”

Greta’s forehead wrinkled. “Kylie, What do you think they will call this holiday?”

Kylie answered, “Well, let’s see! They say they are full of gratitude, appreciation, thanksgiving, and bountiful blessings! Oh, I know what they will call it?”

“What’s that?” Greta inquired.

“Thanksgiving!” Kylie beamed.

“You are so smart, Kylie. I hope when I get a little older I’ll be as smart as you.”

Kylie shrugged her wings. “Awww shucks, Greta! All I had to do was look and listen to what they were all saying about Prince Emmanuel.”

“Kylie!” Greta squealed, “Do you realize that we are seeing history in the making with our very own angel-eyes? And we’ll be able to go back to the Cherub Choir and tell them that we saw it.”

“Saw what?”

“The first Thanksgiving!” Greta replied. “We saw the first Thanksgiving!”

Kylie crowed, “There’s no other name for it! Mankind should be jam-packed full of "THANKSGIVING" for King El Shaddai’s magnificent Gift.”

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mary was the First One to Carry the Gospel

My husband Paul and our son John. Kidney transplant patients were given a green bag and kidney donors were given an orange bag.

The following piece was written just before my husband Paul's kidney transplant.

… if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself. II Timothy 2:13 NIV

My husband has been battling Chronic Kidney Failure for the past twenty-five years. It’s a silent killer and doesn’t have many symptoms until the final stages. This year the disease has progressed to End Stage Renal Failure, and in order to keep him alive, he will need to go on dialysis or have a kidney transplant in the very near future. Many unknowns loom on the horizon.

We have labored together for the Kingdom for thirty-one years. We met at East Texas Bible College in 1976, fell in love and consecrated our marriage to the service of our King. We have served our present congregation for twenty-six years. It has been an amazing journey - carrying the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We haven’t regretted a mile.

Today was our first visit with a dialysis nurse. Her beginning statement was, “When the doctor sends you to me, it means he is expecting you to be on dialysis in the next twelve months.” The news was overwhelming. Fear gripped us. Once again all the “what ifs” swarmed our thoughts. The nurse was so compassionate and attempted to ease our anxieties by cramming our heads with as much information as she could. The distraction seemed to work, as she filled our laps with pamphlets, charts and test results to take home and study.

As we drove home, we tried to keep emotionally afloat by naming all the blessings in our lives. It worked for awhile, but then my husband’s cell phone rang. While he answered his phone, I looked out the window of our van. Scalding tears stung my eyes. I cried out to the Lord in the depths of my soul and tried not to let my husband know the anguish I was in.

“He’s only 54 and he’s been so faithful, Lord. He’s such a humble servant of Yours.” I whimpered. “We have so many plans for the future.”

I groped in the darkness. Mentally stumbling, trying to make sense out of a senseless situation, I quietly wept. “We’ve done all we know to do, Lord. We’ve prayed for a healing. We’ve anointed him with oil and called for the elders of the church just like Your Word teaches. Lord, where are You? Please don’t fail us.”

Suddenly a ray of hope pierced through the fog in my soul. It was a moment when Spirit ministers to spirit. I could see so clearly over two thousand years ago, an unknown peasant girl, Mary. She was the first one to carry the Gospel. I saw her simple carpenter husband, Joseph. God proved Himself faithful to this young couple time and time again. And the God of Mary and Joseph is our God, too.
At that moment Heaven changed earth. I felt God breathe life into my unbelieving soul. We carry the Gospel. The same God who watched over Mary and Joseph would watch over us.

I felt ashamed for doubting. “Forgive me, Lord, when will I ever learn?”


The kidney transplant was a success. Paul received a kidney from our son John on June 12th, 2008. Father and son are doing fine.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Legacy of Love & Family Reunion

I was blessed to have the influence of two godly grandmothers in my life. When they passed away I wrote songs for their funerals. I have both of these songs recorded with Three Redeemed, a ladies' trio I sing with. Anyway, I've received several e-mails from my blog - The Apron. It seemed to strike a chord with many of you so I thought maybe these poems might warm your hearts during this holiday season.

Thank God for grandparents,

Legacy of Love

You’ve left us for awhile. We’ll miss your lovely smile.
But death cannot erase sweet memories that took place.
Although you’ve gone away in our hearts you’ll always stay
Our gift from God above – Our legacy of love.

Your work on Earth is done. Life’s final war you’ve won.
This one thing we know. You’ve left “footprints” in our soul.
We’ll keep marching on. We’ll keep singing all your songs.
Until we reach Heaven above
And see our legacy of love.

Your legacy of love with us will remain
Echoing the truths your life did proclaim.
The torch has now been passed.
We raise it unashamed.
You’re with Christ above
And Christ is here with me.
We’re really not apart.
There’s just a veil between.
You will always be
Etched in our memory
Our legacy of love.

Family Reunion

I love to sing songs of victory not songs of defeat.
Songs of God’s blessings are so sweet.
But since my grandma’s gone to Heaven
Nothing can compare
To the songs of our reunion when we meet over there.

It was my grandma that taught me those great reunion songs.
And my grandma that showed me right from wrong.
So when my life here has ended and I journey here no more
I’ll be singing with my grandma on God’s heavenly shore.

Family Reunion in the sweet by and by.
I’ll meet you in the morning in my home beyond the sky.
When the roll is called up yonder nothing can compare.
To the “Family Reunion” we’ll all have up there.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Curse of Cynicism

Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.
Romans 12:3

My pastor-husband and I had been in full-time ministry for over twenty-five years, when suddenly I found myself not quite as "inspired" about ministry as I had been in previous years. At first, I blamed it on my age. Then, I thought that I must surely be experiencing burnout, but as I did some soul-searching, I discovered that I was under the curse of cynicism. Thinking cynics were typically found in the media or on the six o'clock news, I was shocked to discover this disease in the crevices of my own soul. After several months of walking through the "cynicism fog," I discovered that I was not the only Christian leader to experience this debilitating malady, but have found the curse of cynicism is epidemic among church leaders and laity alike. Cynicism is not prejudice. It enjoys giving a fatal bite to anyone, from the babes-in-Christ to the most seasoned saints, but especially delights in attacking those in leadership.

Webster's describes a cynic as a person who believes that only selfishness motivates human actions. There are "kissing cousins" of cynicism; unbelief, bitterness, discontentment, despondency and keen faultfinding. These thieves will rob a soul blind of any joy, peace or purpose, as they ride piggyback into a cynic's heart. If allowed to inhabit the heart of a leader, cynicism will neutralize the effectiveness of that leader and cripple them; leaving them feeling empty and useless. If the enemy of our soul sets a trap for us, when we are in such a weakened state, we are most likely to plunge off into the deep end. We all can certainly attest to knowing or hearing of some great leader, who seemed to start out with such sincerity; then years later they are completely shipwrecked. What happened? Was it some hidden addiction? It seems that the curse of cynicism breeds all types of evil in the heart.

Cynicism's Citadel

Cynicism has certain destructive generals in its citadel. They attempt to disguise themselves, but when under the searchlight of the Holy Spirit, they can be easily recognized and identified.

Pride is the avenue which opens the heart's door to the curse of cynicism. Loving our opinions more than we love the flock we are called to serve or the co-laborers we are called to work with, create a suspicious, critical, faultfinding spirit that kills any ounce of big heartedness in the Christian leader. We must have a strategic line of defense. Begin by stomping your foot on any negative assumption that would contaminate the human spirit. This can be much more difficult than it appears, because when cynicism in leadership meets cynicism in laity; a power struggle begins that can split a church wide open.

A prosperous church in the Midwest installed a new contemporary pastor to lead their growing flock. At first, it seemed the new minister could do no wrong, but the honeymoon was soon over when his more modern methods clashed with the traditional views of his elders. Lines were drawn. The elders' tongues railed against their new shepherd. "He's got an ego the size of Dallas. We've got his number. We're not giving him an inch more of power. We're going to teach him a lesson."

A similar spirit seized the young pastor's heart. He became obsessed by constantly questioning the ulterior motives of his board of elders; pointing out to all who would listen just how wrong they were. "They aren't supposed to lead the flock, I am. I will not compromise or they will take advantage of me. I know what they are thinking."

This conflict continued to escalate and neither side was able to see that instead of being part of a solution; they were part of the problem. After two years of this wrangling, it ended with a huge church split. The pastor resigned and many left the church. This happened over five years ago. That same church has had three different pastors since the cynicism curse, but it has never been able to recover. The saddest part of all of this is that this same scenario is happening in churches all across the country. Cynicism can never cast out cynicism. Humility is the only sure antidote.

Poisonous suspicions, that consume a leader about those we are called to serve, will lead us to a slippery end, where we will never reach our full potential in Christ. We need to cultivate an attitude of support rather than suspicion for those precious souls God brings our way. We must refuse to feed on unloving thoughts about others. Slam the door shut on these dark imaginations, as soon as they make an appearance.

People-consciousness is a sure indicator that the curse of cynicism is attempting to wreak havoc in the soul of a leader. We have been created by our Creator to be God-conscious. As we fall deeply in love with Him, He will give us great compassion for those we are called to serve. We cannot afford to take our eyes off of Him for one second, because the minute we do, we can become preoccupied with judging others; whispering behind their backs and questioning their intent. Our eternal focal point must always be God alone. We must, as the old saints admonished us, "Let go and let God be the judge of others' motives." When a Christian leader is able to do this, they will experience a deep freedom in Christ, which they have never encountered before.

Perfection in relationships is impossible this side of Heaven. We must be realistic in our expectations of those we are called to serve; giving them the benefit of the doubt. Believe the best in others and if they fail, give them a break. To be an effective leader we must overlook and forbear much. Cynics will be more than happy to announce that they can see through people, but a servant-leader will see people through.

We live in a world of skeptics and cynics, but we serve a God who is for His people and His essence is love. His love is a sure remedy to break the cynicism curse. As leaders we know that pulling together with one heartbeat always precedes winning together. Let's get back to basics; loving God and loving one another. As we criticize less and love more, the cynicism curse will be completely broken and lives will be changed forever.

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:35 NIV

Book Signing at Divine Inspirations

Here are some pictures from the book signing today at Divine Inspirations.

Below is an article that was in the Globe Gazette today.

Saturday, November 22, 2008 12:52 AM CST
Just for children ...
Dixie Phillips of Floyd holds one of the children's books she has written, "Angel Eyes." (Globe Gazette photo by Mary Pieper)
FLOYD — When Dixie Phillips’ youngest child, Libby, was a little girl, she always asked her how the angels felt when Jesus came to earth and was crucified.

“She was concerned about that,” said Phillips, the wife of the Rev. Paul Phillips, pastor of the Gospel Lighthouse in Floyd.

So Dixie wrote a play telling the story of Jesus’ birth, life and death as seen through the eyes of two cherubs.

It was one of the many Christmas and Thanksgiving programs she wrote for the church, beginning not long after she and her husband arrived there 27 years ago.

Some of the scripts were published so other churches could use them.

Now “Angel Eyes,” along with another tale by Phillips entitled “Stubby’s Destiny,” have been adapted into children’s books.

Guardian Angel Publishing in St. Louis published “Angel Eyes” in August and “Stubby’s Destiny” in October. The company will publish two more children’s books written by Phillips next year.

“Stubby’s Destiny,” based on the story of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, is about an orphaned donkey who wants to be a stallion so he can carry kings on his back.

He is sad when his efforts to be like a stallion fail, but in the end he is the one chosen to “carry the King of Kings,” Phillips said.

She said she wrote “Stubby’s Destiny” because “We saw so many children that come from difficult circumstances who felt they were born wrong.”

Phillips said she wanted them to see that “God has a place for every life.”

Kim Sponaugle from New Jersey, one of the illustrators for Guardian Angel Publishing, did the illustrations for “Angel Eyes” and “Stubby’s Destiny.”

Sponaugle sent drafts of her illustrations to Phillips to get her opinion on them.

Phillips sent pictures of deceased relatives to Sponaugle so she could use them for models for her illustration of people passing through the gates of heaven in “Angel Eyes.”

She also sent Sponaugle a photo of her 4-year-old niece, Kennedy Muhammad, as the model for one of the two cherubs in the story. Kennedy is the daughter of Muhsin Muhammad, a member of the Carolina Panthers football team.

“I wanted an African-American angel,” Phillips said.

Both “Angel Eyes” and “Stubby’s Destiny” are being sold at the Olive Branch Christian Book & Gift Store in Mason City.

Those who purchase the books from the Guardian Angel Publishing Web site have the option of buying them as e-books that can be downloaded.

“Guardian Angel,” Phillips said, “is on the cutting edge.”

Dixie Phillips will participate in a a book signing from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 29, at the Olive Branch Christian Book & Gift Store in Willowbrook Mall, Mason City.

Her books also may be be purchased online at, or


Friday, November 21, 2008

Legacy of Love

His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. Luke 1:46:50

From my earliest memories I can still hear my grandmother sharing, with anyone who would listen, how a simple prayer changed her life forever. During this difficult time in her life, she really didn’t know if she even believed there was a God, but since everything else in her life had disintegrated, she decided she would try reaching out to Him through prayer.

Grandma was damaged goods. She had been raised by alcoholic parents, sexually abused and at the tender age of seventeen found herself trapped in an abusive relationship. She was a battered wife. There were two baby girls born to this union, my Aunt Dee and my mother, Bonnie.

The summer of 1935, Grandma’s husband came home drunk again. After enduring another beating, Grandma gathered up her little girls and fled to Elliot Park, a nearby refuge in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, where many of the poor gathered on hot summer days to cool off in the community wading pool. As she watched her daughters playing, she made a decision. She plotted to take her two girls, tie them to her waist and jump from the local bridge and end their miserable existence. It was settled. No more poverty, no more hunger and no more domestic violence. Then, as she watched her daughters, ages three and four, splashing each other, she began to weep. She couldn’t go through with her plan. What could she do? It was at that very moment she decided to pray. Her family had never attended church. She didn’t know how to pray, but she remembered the beginning of a little prayer that she had memorized.

“God is great. God is good. God, if you are there. Will you please help me? ”

A holy hush swept over her being. She felt she was to return to her parents’ home in Iowa. She sensed that she would find what she was looking for there.

When Grandma arrived in Iowa, she was surprised to discover that her mother didn’t drink any more. She had gotten “religion”. Grandma was suspicious of her new and improved mother, but it didn’t take long before she embraced her mother’s experience and had a spiritual encounter of her own. She had found what she was yearning for. As she received helped, she was consumed with helping others, especially women and children. She started a Children's Church in her neighborhood. Her dining room became a soup kitchen, where the hungry were fed. Her porch was often a barbershop, where the locals gathered to get a free hair cut. She hid, protected and ministered to battered women and even housed children and teenagers, who had been sexually and physically abused. Every one of those that she helped heard her testimony of how God answered her simple prayer in Elliot Park. She would often squeal with delight, “God is great! God is good! He hears and answers prayer.”

Sixty-two years after my grandmother’s Elliot Park experience, my husband and I were on a three-hour road trip to Minneapolis, Minnesota. We were delivering our first-born child to North Central University for the start of her freshman year. We arrived just in time for a tour of the campus. A friendly North Central student pointed to a park directly across the street from our daughter’s dormitory.

“That is Eliot Park.”

I immediately crossed the street. As my feet touched the sacred soil where Grandma's frightened feet had fled in terror, I realized that God had answered her prayer above and beyond her wildest dreams.

“God is great. God is good. God, if You are there. Will you please help me?”

As the Spirit ministered to my spirit, I realized that our eighteen-year-old daughter’s spiritual destiny really started sixty-two years previous, when her great-grandmother was crying out to God for help.

God, You are great and You are good. Thank You for helping my grandmother and changing our eternal destiny!

The Day the Frost King Melted

….forgive, and ye shall be forgiven. Luke 6:37b KJV

I don’t believe I know the exact day that the Frost King began to reign on the throne of my heart, but I do have a brief recollection of when his icy fingers pried open the door of my heart. It was the day my father announced that he was leaving my mother, after twenty-five years of marriage, for a younger woman named Kay. A deadly chill swept over me. Winter had set in on the inside of me.

“How could they do this?” I questioned. Both were faithful members of a wonderful Bible-believing church. Both knew better.

Bitterness ravaged my heart. I would waken in the middle of the night and hear my mother sobbing. Revenge seemed to permeate my every thought. A deep freeze filled my being.

Then, one night when I couldn’t sleep I picked up my Bible and read in Matthew, “But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

I knelt by my sofa and asked for His grace to help me to forgive. In my mind's eye a video tape began to play of my father's affair. I questioned if I forgave my father would my mother feel I wasn't being loyal to her? Would I be condoning their sin if I had a friendly relationship with them? The burden became too heavy for me to bear any longer. I asked God to please help me. Then, I felt the warmth of the Holy Spirit. I wept openly. I knew I could not forgive in my own strength. The Lord assured me that He would walk with me each step of the way. When I stood to my feet I knew I had some homework to do. I attempted to mend the fences, but my kindnesses were always met with cool receptions. The pain of rejection would sting to the bone. The Frost King, hiding in the shadows of my soul, longed to make an appearance and give his fatal frost bite. At my weakest moment I would crawl back to the Cross broken-hearted. There I discovered the “SON” never refused to shine and attempt to thaw the Frost King.

A few years later my father showed up at our doorstep with an anxious look in his eye. “Kay is very sick.” he choked. “She has three malignant brain tumors. The doctor said she only has a few months to live.”

I told my father how sorry I was for her illness, and asked if there was anything I could do to help.

“She wants to die at home.” he answered. “The doctor said she can't be alone. Can you come over and sit with her when I'm gone to work?”

The Frost King jumped from his hiding place and thundered unforgiving thoughts. ‘Me…. Take care of her? After the grief she has caused our family? No way!’ Then, I remembered Jesus washing Judas' feet and calling him, “Friend.”

“I'll be there, Dad.” I replied.

For several months I sat with Kay. We were coolly polite. We visited about favorite recipes and gardening. We looked at photo albums, but we were both unable to discuss past hurts.

Kay began to deteriorate and was completely bedridden. It was evident she wouldn't be with us much longer. Early one Sunday after I finished bathing her I said, “Kay, today is the Lord's Day. You won't get to church this morning, but I thought maybe you'd like for me to read a Psalm to you. Which one is your favorite?”

“Psalm 51.” She whimpered weakly.

I began to read to her.

“Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity. And cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned and done this evil in Your sight. Create in me a clean heart, O God. And renew a right spirit within me.”

I choked as I read the words of David after Nathan the prophet had confronted him about his adultery.

I knelt by her bed and took her hand in mine. We wept and prayed together.

That day the Frost King melted. His reign was over. The long winter had ended. Spring had finally come to my soul.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Newspaper Article

This is an article in our local newspaper.

By Staci SchwickerathDixie Phillips of Floyd displays the two children’s books recently released.
By Staci Schwickerath
Charles City Press
Wed Nov 19, 2008, 08:28 AM CST


Floyd, Iowa -
Angels and animals bring stories of inspiration, faith and hope to children in a pair of books written by a local author.
“Angel Eyes” and “Stubby’s Destiny,” penned by Dixie Phillips of Floyd, hit shelves this fall after being published by Guardian Angel Publishing of St. Louis, Mo.
While the new stories are Phillips’ first children’s books, the local author has written several plays for young children and youth. Testimonies and devotionals written by Phillips and her husband, Pastor Paul of Gospel Lighthouse Church, have been included in several books.
“Writing is kind of like little seeds you scatter. You don’t know where your books will go or where your story will go. I never dreamed that the Lord would make me a writer,” said Phillips.
“Angel Eyes,” which was released in August, is written from the point of view of cherubs witnessing Jesus’s life on Earth, including his birth, baptism, crucifixion and resurrection.
“It’s kind of Easter and Christmas rolled into one book,” explained Phillips. “We have four children and when we were reading the Christmas story when they were little, our baby girl Libby asked us what the angels think, so that got the wheels turning.”
“Angels Eyes” was first written as a play 10 years ago. The book is colorfully illustrated by Kim Sponaugle, who incorporated images of Phillips’ family members into the story. Sponaugle also illustrated “Stubby’s Destiny.”
The second book, which was released just last month, tells the story of a sad donkey.
“Stubby is a little donkey. He’s just so defeated and he doesn’t think he has a divine destiny. He compares himself to the stallions,” explained Phillips.
In the end, readers learn that Stubby’s destiny includes being selected as the donkey that Jesus rides.
“It’s written for children with difficult circumstances, so they know that every child has a divine destiny and a purpose,” said Phillips.
Two others books, “Our Noble Journey” and “Baby Jesus is Missing,” are due out next year. The local writer has sent two additional manuscripts out to publishers.
Phillips, a Charles City graduate who serves Lighthouse Academy and works as church secretary, hopes parents will share her “cuddle and read” books with their children.
“I want these books to get into the hands of children, parents and grandparents and plant a seed of hope and maybe help children to have faith in God,” Phillips explained. “I think we’re in a day and age when times have changed for children. They grow up faster than they ever have. I want to write to ignite their little hearts with inspiration and goodness and hope and little random acts of kindness.”
When children at Lighthouse Academy were read the books, they didn’t know Phillips had written it until they finished the story.
“They just squealed and clapped” when they found out, smiled Phillips. “We’re hoping it will make them want to write. Maybe they’ll someday have a dream of writing a book.”
“Angel Eyes” and “Stubby’s Destiny” can be found online at, and Divine Inspirations in Charles City also carries the children’s books. E-books are available for download at For more on Phillips or her books, visit
Phillips will be on hand Saturday from 9-11 a.m. at Divine Inspirations, 501 11th St., for a book signing and to meet readers. She will do another signing on Nov. 29 from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. at the Olive Branch in the Willowbrook Mall in Mason City.
“I’m very excited,” said Phillips. “ I just want to encourage kids to read good literature. There’s good literature and there’s not so good literature in this society and we need to fill them with the good stuff.”

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wise Old Owl

“Mom, come quick! You’ve got to see this.”

I stumbled down the narrow hallway to the front door to see what our son was so excited about. There in our neighbor’s yard in broad daylight was a bard owl sitting on a mound of freshly fallen snow.

“Isn’t she beautiful?” John pointed at the frightened bird.

I nodded my head as we walked towards our fine-feathered friend. She was in distress and wildly flapped her wings. It was obvious that one wing was broken and she needed help. My husband called our local Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and explained the situation. They were unable to come until the next morning.

We watched as the owl fidgeted and fluttered to get to a safe place. After a long struggle, she nestled down under a pickup topper. Throughout the day we could hear her screeching. It sounded like a newborn baby crying for its mama.

“I forgot my net.” The conservation officer said as we walked towards the owl’s hiding place. “But I have some burlap that I might be able to catch her with.”

“There she is!” I whispered.

I watched as the officer slowly approached the wounded bird and threw a burlap sack over the bird. I marveled that the owl showed no sign of resistance. No flapping of the wings, screeching or feeble attempts to fly away. She just sat very still and seemed to hope that someone would save her.

Our family was facing a crisis of our own. We had “flapped” and “screeched” hoping to change the situation, but all our anxiety and worry only added to our stress load. Throughout the rest of the week, when I was tempted to “flit and flutter” in my spirit, I remembered the placid owl. As I prayed, I was still in His presence and sensed Him throwing his mantle of mercy over our family.

Maybe you are facing a situation where your spirit is anxious. Today allow the Holy Spirit to calm the storm in your soul.

Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10a NIV

Monday, November 17, 2008

When it Pours, God Reigns

(This was a devotional I wrote when our son gave his father a kidney on June 12, 2008 and our daughter was expecting our first grandchild... only to discover it was an ectopic pregnancy.)

A sudden flash of lightening lit up the dark sky. Nebulous clouds hung low, as the thunderclouds clapped. I peered out the window and watched the rain cascading down in sheets. The stormy weather mirrored the tsunami that raged in my soul. The ones I love are hurting and sick. Haunted by fear, the accuser of the brethren mocked me. Falling on my face I cried, “Jesus, I believe. Help my unbelief.”

The Holy Spirit ministers to my anxious soul. He whispers, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

I’m reminded of the story in the Bible when Lazarus’ sisters sent an urgent word to Jesus. “Lord, the one whom you love is sick.”

Faith begins to rise in my heart. I make a feeble attempt to speak. “You cared for Lazarus and his family and you care for us.”

“I see every sparrow that falls to the ground.”

“And You see us….” I choke.

“I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.”

A sweet presence sweeps over my being. I know whom I have believed and He is in the midst. A holy stillness envelops my restless spirit, as His loving arms embrace me. Suddenly, it doesn’t matter what tomorrow holds because I know who holds tomorrow. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. We will walk by faith and not by sight.

“Peace be still.”

A peace that passes all understanding soothes my fears. Our family’s circumstances haven’t changed yet inwardly I am not the same. He didn’t calm the storm, but He calmed the storm in me.

I watch as the rain continues to splash to the ground. This eternal truth wells up in my soul. When it pours, God reigns!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sins of the Spirit

The older brother was angry and wouldn't go in. Luke 15:28a NLT

Lord, today I was angry. When friendship was extended, I responded coolly. I felt justified. After what "she" had said, I had a right to treat her that way. Who does "she" think "she" is making such condescending statements? I haven't done anything to deserve her cruel comments. In the long run, this will teach her a valuable lesson -- her behavior is unacceptable. I will not reward such dysfunction. After all, her attitude is totally despicable and it goes against the teaching in Your Word, Lord. I certainly don't want to enable her. I've settled it once and for all. I am right. No doubt about it. There is no need in my discussing it any more. I am positively........ positively miserable.

"Why am I in such unrest, Lord? How is it possible that I can I be right and yet be so wrong?"

In the depths of my soul, I discern "I" am part of the problem. "I" am like the prodigal son's older brother, who wouldn't go in because of his diseased soul. The Holy Spirit's diagnosis -- sins of the spirit; a spiritual malady, which can render the patient powerless to love. Many times manifestations can be masked and difficult to detect, but only for a short time. If not given the biblical antidote of love and humility, the disease can spread to vital organs of the body.

Symptoms include:
Polite coolness when friendship is available
Consumed with proving your point
Touchiness, sensitivity
Needing to persuade others to embrace your point of view
Loving your opinions more than you love people

I whisper a prayer, "Forgive me, Lord. I'll righten my wrong. Life is too short for me to feed this grudge. Now where is my cell phone? I need to call and check on my friend."

"Angel Eyes" and "Stubby's Destiny" Reviews

I received an e-mail from Heidi Strawser. She reviewed "Angel Eyes" and "Stubby's Destiny." To read her review just go to


Mirror, Mirror Off the Wall

Bezalel made the bronze washbasin and its bronze stand from bronze mirrors donated by the women who served at the entrance of the Tabernacle. Exodus 38:8 NLT

It must have been a great sacrifice for some of these women to give their bronze mirrors to Bezalel. For some, it possibly meant never being able to see their reflection again.

There are days that I feel Jesus is asking me to give my mirror to Him. There seems to be a “Call” from Heaven that is pleading to look at myself less and to fasten my eyes upon my Savior more. It’s not as easy as it seems. Giving my mirror to Jesus means that I can’t always be looking out for “me”.

There are days I fail. I clutch my mirror like a toddler clinging to his favorite blanket and insist on keeping it. On those days I am most miserable.

But there are other days that I take the mirror off my wall and give it to Jesus and a miraculous transformation takes place. I see life so much clearer. I begin to sing –

Since my eyes were fixed on Jesus.
I’ve lost sight of all beside.
So enchained my spirit’s vision,
Looking at the Crucified.

I will begin today by taking my mirror off the wall and giving it to my King. Maybe there is someone that I can love for Jesus today.

“Mirror, mirror off the wall.
Today I give to Christ my all?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Grandma Eleanor was the stabilizing force in my life for as long as I can remember. Her wisdom and common sense echoed in the corridoors of my soul, long after she passed away. After her death, it seemed the grief would come in waves, and cast shades of suffocating bereavement throughout my day. I would always find comfort in the Scriptures and consolation in the old hymns about Heaven. But one day as our family was embarking on a new adventure, I was stung by this painful reality - Grandma Eleanor wouldn't be part of our family's joyous celebration.

Rebekah, the first of our four children was married on August 9, 2008. As we were making wedding preparations, I discovered a treasured picture of Grandma Eleanor cradling our newborn Beka in her arms. Hot tears slipped down my cheeks.

"Oh, Grandma, I wish you could be here. You would know exactly how many pounds of strawberries and bananas we need for the chocolate fountain." I whimpered.

Rebekah and I had tried to think of a theme for her wedding and decided since she was marrying Zacharia David Fox - 'The Fox Tale Begins' would fit the bill. We had hunted for tiny, imitation foxtails, in hopes of making cute wedding favors with our witty slogan attached, but we weren't having any luck. We gave up and chose an entirely different theme.

I couldn't stop staring at the picture of my beloved grandmother. "Oh, Grandma, you would be so proud of Beka and Zac. They love the Lord and have surrendered their lives to His work." I whispered.

Suddenly a verse from Hebrews smoldered in my heart.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1 NIV

A small box caught my eye. I remembered when Grandma Eleanor had died my father had given me a box which held a few of her knick-knacks. Inside the plain, cardboard box was a tiny package with a stained Martha Washington one and one-half cent stamp fastened in the right corner and a faded label addressed to Mrs. Eleanor Holtz. I lifted the lid off and gasped when I saw a tiny foxtail attached to a white leather bookmark that was etched with a gold imprint of a fox.

It was a "God wink" for me and it brought such comfort to my grieving soul. As my fingers traced the soft foxtail, I pondered the delightful, heavenly gift. Could it be that Grandma Eleanor was a member of that great cloud of witnesses? Could she be cheering us on? Is it possible she already knows that her great-granddaughter will be married this summer? I may never know this side of Heaven the answers to my questions, but this one thing I know - The Holy Spirit takes great pleasure in comforting grieving hearts. So, I will dry my wet eyes and rejoice as our family's Fox tale begins!

Holy Deafness

But Jesus, not heeding the word spoken. Mark 5:36 RV

Lord, give us holy deafness when hurtful words are said. Help us to continue to be about our Father's business and not be shipwrecked because of cruel comments that have pierced our soul. Help us to pray as You prayed, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." Sometimes, Lord, those You have called us to serve sting us, and we find it difficult to wash their feet, but You, Master, washed Judas' feet and you called him, "Friend." You knew, from the beginning, what was in his heart. Yet You humbled Yourself and ministered to him just hours before he would betray You.

We openly admit, Lord, that our hearts resist and scream, "I can see through them."

But You, Lord, plead with us, "See them through."

Our restless souls wail, "I'm not budging an inch."

But You, Lord, entreat us, "When they ask you to go one mile, go with them, two."

We can go the second mile, as long as You go with us, Lord. You make the bitter very sweet.

Lord, grant us holy deafness so we can obey Your Word. We're in earnest when we say we want to be like You. We place Your cup to our lips, Lord, and we drink. We realize it's the only way our world will ever come to know You. If You, Savior, live out Your life through us.

Lord, give us holy deafness to the careless conversations with those we come in contact with, but give us keen hearing to Your Holy Spirit.

Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Family Reunion

Mom, Auntie Lo and I took a road trip to North Carolina. We were thrilled to see my brother and his family.

I was able to attend the first Write2Ignite Conference. It was wonderful! I've posted some pictures from our trip.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

You Are Invited to a Booksigning

You are all invited to a booksigning for "Angel Eyes" and "Stubby's Destiny".

The first booksigning will be at Divine Inspirations
501 11th Street
Charles City, Iowa

on November 22nd

From 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

The second booksigning will be at Olive Branch
in the Willowbrook Mall
Mason City, Iowa

on November 29th

From 10:00 a.m. to Noon

Paul and I would love to see you there.

Writing for little ones,

Monday, November 3, 2008

Rocks on a Fence Post

Paul Franklin Phillips and I have been married for thirty-one years this month. It doesn't seem possible, but it's true. Paul is a country preacher. His sermons are not flowery and never have a "high brow" tone. He's authentic and genuine! He leads by example and has a servant's heart. I guess that's why we all love him soooo much!

Paul Franklin is an Arkansan by birth. Born and raised in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. We met at East Texas Bible College in October of 1976 and were married on November 25, 1977. The Gospel Lighthouse Church in Floyd, Iowa, called us in August of 1981 and we have been honored to serve the same congregation for the past twenty-seven years.

When Paul and I would take little drives through the cornfields of Iowa. There were many times we spied a rock on a fence post. Paul would always say, "Well, you know that rock didn't get on top of that fence post all by itself."

It's so true. Many of the blessings and successes that the Lord has brought our way have come through "others". The Lord brought several families together in the early years of the Gospel Lighthouse Church. Precious "eternal" friendships.... that the gates of Hell could not prevail against. As we look back, we can see that these key families have been part of the growth of the church. We are so grateful for how the Lord cemented all of our hearts together for His glory and honor.

And now the Lord has opened a door for me to write children's books. Once again, he has placed two women in my life. Because of their talent, they make me look better than I actually am. I see God's fingerprints all over and know that it was Divine destiny that allowed our paths to cross.

Kim Sponaugle is the illustrator of "Angel Eyes" and "Stubby's Destiny". Her pictures are charming. Children love them. We will be working again very soon on "One Noble Journey". I thank the Lord for His goodness. He truly knows our phone numbers and can get us to the people He has appointed. If you'd like to see more of Kim's art, go to

The other day, I wrote another story and sent it into Guardian Angel Publishing. Lynda Burch accepted it and introduced me to another talented illustrator, K.C. Snider. I took a peek of K.C.'s previous illustrations and was once again blown away. God has been so faithful to let paths cross by His hand. K.C. will be illustrating "Baby Jethuth is Mithing". Hopefully, it will be available in time for next Christmas. If you'd like to see more of K.C.'s artwork just go to You will be blessed.

So, the next time you see a rock on a fence post, take time to thank the Lord for all the precious souls He has placed in your life. We are soooooooo blessed.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

"Stubby's Destiny" has arrived!

"Stubby's Destiny" has arrived! The little donkey trotted right into our hearts! :-)
For those of you who have ordered a copy, we will be mailing them on Tuesday. If any of the rest of you would like a copy, be sure to let us know.

Kim Sponaugle illustrated both "Angel Eyes" and "Stubby's Destiny". You will be moved by her heartwarming illustrations.

The Lord has placed Kim and I together again on another book - "One Noble Journey". You pray for us as we begin working together in the next few weeks.

Thanks for your love and support,

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