Friday, December 30, 2011

The Journals

January opened her journal and began to jot down her New Year’s resolutions: Attend church faithfully!

June opened her journal and wrote down the happenings of the week: Family’s here from up north. I was unable to attend church this month. Went boating with family. God understands. He knows that family is very important!

December opened her journal and scribbled down her thoughts for the past year: I can’t believe it! I went to church today and someone came up and asked me if I would fill out a visitor’s card! I know I’ve missed a few Sundays, but who do they think they are?

January opened her journal and jotted down her dreams for the coming year: Lord, I’m willing to be used however You see fit. Put me where You need me, Master!

June opened her journal and wrote down what happened that week: Pastor Paul asked me if I would help in the nursery at church. Now, that takes a lot of gall! Doesn’t he know that I am way too educated to be wiping noses and bottoms? I think the mothers of all those possessed urchins should take care of their own little monsters. That’s what’s wrong with mothers today. They expect others to do their dirty work. They don’t want to take care of their own. What’s the world coming to?

December opened her journal and scribbled down her thoughts for the past year: I am so sick and tired of Pastor Paul asking for volunteers at the church. I guess I need to type up a resume of jobs I will not do—I refuse to work in the nursery, teach Sunday school, clean the church, or visit the sick. I don’t want to catch anything. Why, can’t Pastor Paul see how valuable I am? What I would love to do is be in charge of a seminar. Oh yes, I could be up front and teach others about “servanthood.” Our church needs more servants.

January opened up her journal and began to jot down her goals for the New Year: Give above and beyond my tithe this year!

June opened up her journal and penciled in the budget for the week: The economy has plummeted.  Everything costs so much—Libby’s braces, Rachel’s college, health insurance! God gave me this great job to meet my needs. I know He’ll understand if I can’t give anything this week.

December opened up her journal and penned these words: The church treasurer gave us our yearly financial receipts for tax purposes. This can’t be right. According to this report I only gave God my pocket change. This sure doesn’t help me get much of a tax break!

January opened up her journal and jotted down her expectations for the next few months: Forgive those who have offended me!

June opened up her journal and began jotting down her thoughts: Who on earth does Lillie Williams think she is? Just because she inherited all those millions, she thinks she can just boss everybody around. Who died and made her queen?

December opened her journal groaning and moaning as she wrote: I cooked Lillie Williams’ goose today. I’ve informed all the ladies at Bible study about her ulterior motives in giving all that money to the church. She thinks I don’t know what she is up to. She’ll probably want the church named after her. I can see it now: Lillie’s Christian Center! It’s a good thing God has made me so discerning so I can warn the pastor about her. He is so gullible, always believing the best in people.


January slipped inside the sanctuary. She sat on the back pew between December and June.

“You guys, I read your journals.” January gasped, “I couldn’t believe my eyes!”

“We read yours, too, January.” June replied as December nodded, “Let’s face it we’re all a mess!”

“Pastor Paul said that’s why God sent us a “Mess-iah” to help us get out of our mess. We need some major help.” December grinned.

“Let’s get it right this time.” January pleaded.

December agreed. “Yeah, I’m tired of coming up short at the end of the year.”

June nodded. “Me too. I’m tired of spiritual summer slumps.”

“And I’m tired of end of the year burn out.” December cried.

January put her arms around her two companions and chuckled, “Time for a group hug.”

They all chimed together at the top of their voices in unison, “We must stay close to Jesus and not allow the devil to add pollution to our New
Year's resolutions!”

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Bag that Faith Built

We live in an exciting era. Technology makes it possible for our story to go around the world in the click of a mouse.

I always encourage my writing friends to blog. The more we write, the better writers we will become, and blogging is an excellent writing exercise. Not only will we hone our writing skills, but God may use our words to inspire others.

Last week, our oldest daughter, Rachel, shared about her ectopic pregnancy on her blog. She and her husband were devastated when they lost their first child. Rachel doesn’t claim to be a “writer.” She’s just a young wife and mother sharing on her blog how God has been faithful to her. Her words brought comfort to many other women who read her blog and are facing their own difficulties. Rachel’s blog is a perfect example of how God can use our story to encourage someone.
I felt I was to share Rachel’s story with you today. I hope it will ignite the writing fire in you. So without further adieu, I would like to introduce you to our firstborn, Rachel Michelle Phillips Nolt.

The Bag that Faith Built

The year was 2008. I was at this dark place. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t rainbows. In fact, it was hard and yucky. There was pain like I had never experienced before. And I was crawling through it. Hardly holding on, struggling for each breath.

And then God sent my sister, Beka. We went out to eat, and while we were there she told me we were going to Wal-Mart, right across the street from where we were eating. Beka isn’t a Wal-Mart person so I really didn’t know what we were doing. We walked inside and she told me her plan. “We’re heading to the baby department and picking out a diaper bag. We’re going to fill it with baby clothes for your future baby.”

I raised my eyebrows and resisted her instructions. “I don’t know, Beka.”

She spoke in soothing tones. “Rachel, this is going to be your “faith bag.” Every time you see it, you’ll be reminded of hope for the future.”

Sounds fun, right? I’m not going to lie. It was hard. I was in excruciating emotional pain. And the pain didn’t ease as I went through the motions and picked out a bag. But then I chose two blue newborn outfits, and I felt my heart heal a little bit. A seed was planted, but when I got home I hid the bag. I couldn’t put the outfits in a cute dresser drawer and get excited for the growing baby inside my womb. Mine was gone . . . taken from me before I knew if my baby was a boy or girl. Gone before I ever held my little one in my arms. I was at a loss.

Months went by and I didn’t look at the bag. I forgot about it and walked through depression I had never experienced before. Months passed and I hadn’t conceived. Everyone else was having a baby, but my womb was empty, painfully empty.

Finally, nine long months later, I was pregnant. I dug out the bag from the bottom of my closet. When I opened it, I wept. In my faith bag were the two winter newborn outfits. And here I was, pregnant with a little one who would need newborn winter outfits.

Easton Paul was born and fit perfectly in his little “faith” outfit. Every time he wore the outfit, I was reminded how God turned my sorrow into joy. Not only was my baby boy growing, but my faith was growing as well.

Seventeen months after Easton’s birth came Lincoln Hunter. Joy filled my heart when I stuffed our ten pound newborn baby boy in the “faith” outfit.

In the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about that little outfit and how it will be a keepsake and reminder of God’s faithfulness. God used my “faith” bag to build faith in me. As I look back, I realize the first time I picked out the outfit a healing process began. I didn’t realize it completely because I was in so much pain. But slowly, ever so slowly, that little seed of faith was growing. But sometimes faith has a way of staying hidden and quiet. It shows itself at times and hides when you think it’s completely lost.

With Easton Paul, my faith was growing. I still had fears and sorrow, but my faith was stronger.

Then when I saw Lincoln wear the little outfit, something in my heart screamed, “I’m free!”

Will trials come? Yep. Do I want them to? Nope. They are not fun. But I know my Redeemer lives.
And He works when we don’t think He is working. He’s planting tiny seeds of faith in our lives. We can trust Him fully because He is wholly true.

So if you are facing sorrow today, go out and buy yourself a bag and fill it full of faith.
Years later, your heart will sing! Great is His faithfulness!

The babies in the faith outfit . . .
Lincoln Hunter
Easton Paul

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Write On

I will never forget a little poem I learned many years ago.
Two natures lie within my breast.
One is foul and one is blessed.
One I love and one I hate.
The one I feed will dominate.

At the first reading of this thought-provoking poem, we could think of many fleshly desires we might feed on that would take us for a walk down the darker side of life, but I want to visit with those of you who feel called to write in small and big ways, but insecurity and fear of failure have kept you from wielding your pen for Jesus.

Satan will make a punching bag out of anyone who will entertain his lies. Here are a few of his tormenting thoughts that can hinder you from writing for the Lord.
Who do you think you are? You can’t write. You have no education.

Nobody wants to hear what you have to say.

Stop dreaming. God will never allow your dreams to come true.

If we “feed” these negative thoughts, they will dominate and we will never write for the Lord.
I would like to take the time to dispel some of Satan’s myths.

Who do you think you are? You can’t write. You have no education.

”I am a child of the living God.” The Bible doesn’t say we have to be proficient in writing to share what the Lord has done for us. Most of the disciples were uneducated and unlearned men, but Jesus chose them and used them to turn the world upside down.

Nobody wants to hear what you have to say.

Satan is the one who doesn’t want to hear what you have to share. He doesn’t want to hear how the Lord has touched your life. He is the one who wants to give you a fatal case of “lockjaw.” Jesus wants you to “go and tell”what He has done for you. So others can come to know Him too.

Stop dreaming. God will never allow your dreams to come true.

It’s true that sometimes our dreams can be full of selfish ambition. God has His ways of giving us a reality check when that happens, but there are other times when, like Joseph, God births a dream inside of us. He has adivine plan and purpose for those dreams to come true. Don’t be afraid to dream big for Jesus.

There are numerous ways we can write for the Lord. We don’t have to write a novel or text book. Let’s look at some of the ways God could use us.

Are you a Deborah with a gift of wisdom for counseling? Share your wisdom in a blog, short story, or letter to a friend.

Maybe God has raised you up like Daniel and He wants to have you take a firm stand and write letters to the editor of your local newspaper or politicians. Let God use your words so right can win over might!

Are you like Mary and Martha with a gift of organization or hospitality? Share your recipes and creative ideas with others. Simple tips can help make life better for others.

Are you a David with songs welling up in your heart? Keep a journal of those songs. Share them at a nursing home or with your church. Your song can minister to a hurting soul.

May we never forget that God gave a “little” Jesus to a hurting world. Let’s give a “little” Jesus to someone today. Your story can make life sweeter for someone in a bitter trial. In Jesus’ name we write on!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I am directionally challenged. I openly admit it. Take me to a new part of the country and I struggle to figure out north from south and east from west. I’ve learned to limp along with my “disability,” but I’ve also discovered if someone gives me a landmark I can usually find my way anywhere.

 Did you know we have spiritual landmarks too? Defining moments in our lives that help us find our way through the darkest places of life.

In 2008, our family faced a crisis. My husband was dying. He needed a kidney transplant to live. Fear terrorized me. The “what ifs” plagued me until I found some “landmarks.” Many times it was the Word of God. Other times, the Holy Spirit spoke into the depths of my soul.

I would like to share one of my spiritual “landmarks” with you. I wrote this piece in the midst of the storm. I pray it helps someone groping in the night find their way.

Mary Was the First One to Carry the Gospel

“If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” 2 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 a critical point, 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 30 years. We met at East Texas Bible College in 1976, fell in love, and consecrated our marriage to the service of the Lord. We have served our present congregation for 26 years. It has been an amazing journey—carrying the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We haven’t regretted a single mile.

Today we had our first visit with a dialysis nurse. “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 like bees to honey. 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 lab 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 a few minutes, but then my husband’s cell phone rang. While he chatted, I peered 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 quietly wept and continued to pray, “We’ve done all we know to do. We’ve prayed for a healing, anointed him with oil, and called for the elders of the church just like Your Word teaches. Lord, where are you?”

Suddenly, a ray of hope pierced through the fog in my soul. Spirit ministers to spirit. I could see so clearly over two thousand years ago, an unknown peasant girl. The Holy Spirit whispered, “Mary was the first one to carry the Gospel.”

Thoughts of a simple carpenter named Joseph swirled in my head.

The Holy Spirit continued to minister to me. “I was faithful to this couple, who carried out my will, and I will be faithful to you too.”

At that moment Heaven changed earth. I felt God breathe hope into my hopeless 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?”


UPDATE: On June 12, 2008, our son gave his father the gift of life. Both father and son are doing well. Great is His faithfulness!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


May the Lord make each one of us “professional praisers” this Thanksgiving. Here is a little story to help "jumpstart" our Thanksgiving spirit.

Sir Gabriel’s trumpet blared up and down the golden streets of Beulah Land. Multitudes of people from every kindred shouted in unison, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive glory and honor forever and ever. Worthy is the Lamb upon His throne.”

As the corridors of Heaven rang with the praises of the redeemed, Sir Michael whispered to his friend, “Sir Gabriel, look at the white-robed throng! Isn’t it strange? No nation has a monopoly of saints here in Heaven and no tribe is unrepresented.”

Sir Gabriel smiled. “That’s right, Sir Michael. King El Shaddai has seen to it that all people can understand the greatest story ever told.”

Prince Emmanuel sat on His throne as the praise and worship filled the Celestial City. Zoe, a cherub, trotted towards Him, crawled on His lap, clutched His nail-scarred hand and gently kissed it. “Mama told me that the scars in Your hands are the only thing made by man that King El Shaddai would allow in Heaven.”

The beloved Prince patted her chocolate curls. “That’s right, Zoe. Your mother has taught you well.”

Zoe’s dark eyes darted as she scanned the masses. “Mama says the reason the people’s robes are so white and shining is because they have scrubbed them sparkling clean in the Blood of the Lamb and there’s nothing that can take dark spots out of a human soul like the Lamb’s Blood.”

Prince Emmanuel planted a kiss on the little angel’s head, as heavenly harmonies floated with crystal clarity. “Your mother is very wise.”

Zoe cooed, “She sure is! She said that the tiniest people on earth learn about the Lamb in their grandmother’s rocking chair. Did you know that, Prince Emmanuel?”

“I believe that is very true, Zoe.”

The smoke from the incense billowed around the holy court. Sir Gabriel shouted, “It’s the prayers of the saints. Pray on! Oh, Christians, pray on! Though your voice may be feeble, you have a High Priest who has been touched by your infirmities and He lives forever and makes intercession for you.”

Waves of spontaneous praise flooded the streets of the New Jerusalem.

“There’s just one thing I don’t understand, Prince Emmanuel.” Zoe crinkled her freckled nose. “Why can’t angels sing these beautiful songs?”

“Because, little one, these are songs that are reserved for only those who have been redeemed.”

“Oh, I get it.” Zoe cheered, “The redeemed are singing songs of praise to the Lamb, who rescued them.”


“And I know how they got so good at praising the Lamb, too.”

“And how is that?” Prince Emmanuel tilted his head slightly.

Zoe lifted her hands and squealed. “They praised the Lamb together in church every Sunday, week after week and year after year. They bowed their heads and thanked Him for His blessings day after day. With all that practice, they have become professional praisers!”

Prince Emmanuel chuckled. “Indeed they have, Zoe!”

“And they even have one day out of the year that they set aside to give thanks.” Zoe waved one finger in the air. “They call it Thanksgiving.”

“Very true.” Prince Emmanuel’s head bobbed. “And all of heaven is sweeter because of the praises of the saints.”

Saturday, October 29, 2011

My Grandmother's Faith

I have one more “Gramma” story I want to share with you today. I pray this true testimony of God’s touch on my grandmother’s life will strum on your heartstrings and jumpstart you to document your family’s amazing story.
My grandmother had only a fifth grade education, but she graduated valedictorian from the University of Adversity. She was the firstborn child of alcoholic parents. Some of the trauma she endured left gaping holes in her soul. Her deep inner pain caused her to cry out to God as a young wife and mother, and she discovered the power in prayer.

As a young child, I realized God had given my Grandma mountain-moving faith. When she prayed, God showed up. There is one memory etched in my mind’s eye I’d like to share with you today.
My mother, Bonnie, was Grandma's second child. She suffered with bouts of severe depression and had to be hospitalized on numerous occasions. After another suicide attempt, our family was summoned to the emergency room. Grandma quickly found a place to pray. She wasn't gone very long and had an unusual bounce in her step when she returned. “The Lord spoke to me today. He told me Bonnie will live and not die. She is going to play her violin for Jesus in church one day."

I didn’t say anything aloud, but thoughts were buzzing in my 11-year-old head. But Grandma, how will Mom ever play her violin in church when she doesn’t even attend church?
My thoughts were interrupted by the doctor’s stern voice. "I think we saved her this time, but one of these times she will get the job done. You need to prepare yourselves for what’s ahead."

Grandma, who was usually mild-mannered and polite, bolted from her chair. Pointing her crooked finger in his chest, she barked, "Now you listen to me, Doc. My girl is not going to die, but live and play her violin for Jesus in church."

An awkward silence enveloped the room. The doctor shook his head and made a hasty exit. “Religious nut! Mental illness must run in the family.”
Mom’s depression increased and there were more hospitalizations and suicide attempts. I often heard my grandmother reminding the Lord, “You promised I would see her play the violin for You.”
When I was 16, my mother met a retired pastor's wife who had battled crippling depression. This woman took a keen interest in my mother and tenderly led her into a loving relationship with Jesus.

Mom became a faithful member of a Bible-believing church. One Saturday she announced, "I've been invited to play my violin for special music in church."

Grandma let out a victory yelp and danced a jig. “I’m sitting on the front pew.”

I have been in fulltime ministry for more than thirty years. I've learned much from Bible college 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.

Grandma resides in heaven, but my precious mother is still living. She will soon be 80, and on special occasions still plays her violin for Jesus.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Get in Your "Write" Mind

Great-Grandmother Ada Stillion

And then God answered: "Write this.
Write what you see.
Write it out in big block letters
so that it can be read on the run.” Habakkuk 2:2 MSG

On my past blogs, I have shared samples of some of the stories I have written for my family. After my grandmothers’ passing, I realized much of their legacy would be lost if someone didn’t document their stories. The great-great-grandbabies being born now might never know how our family came to Christ. I wanted to document as much of it as I could.

I’d like to point out that you don’t have to be a Karen Kingsbury to write your family’s story. Just start writing. Don’t dwell too much on proper language mechanics. Just get your story on paper. There are people with large gifts of writing who can help you bring your story to life.  The main thing is for you to dust off your keyboard or pick up your pen and get busy writing. Your family will thank you.

After a loved one has died, I’ve never heard adult children say, “They wrote down too many things. I don’t have time to read all the stories they jotted down.” But I have heard many of them say, “Oh, I wish I would have had my grandmother write down that funny story or favorite recipe. Man, I’d give anything to ask Grandma about that!”

You have a story and even possibly a book inside you. Don’t listen to anyone or anything that tries to insinuate you are not smart enough! Time is marching on. Soon it will be too late. Begin today. Your family will be very thankful for the gift you’ve left for them. Get in your “write” mind today.

I would like to share my great-grandmother’s testimony with you. Six generations have been influenced for Jesus because of her choice to follow Christ. One woman, one choice, and six generations! Amazing, isn’t it? I hope you enjoy the story of my great-grandmother Ada Stillion.

One Woman, One Choice, Six Generations

Ada poured the last few drops of the bottle of rubbing alcohol into her cup of coffee. Taking a big gulp, she growled at her husband, “Ed, we're out of moonshine, and I've used the last of my rubbing alcohol to stop these tremors!”

Edward hissed back, “Addie, you best get on down to your brother Mel's house and get us some more brew. We're low on cash, and if we could do some bootlegging, it might help get us caught up.”

Ada's brother lived in Metropolis, Illinois, eight hours away from the small town in Iowa where Ada’s family lived. Every few months Ada and her daughter, Nettie, would take a trip to load up on some of Kentucky’s white lightning. They would bring some home and sell most of it to their kinfolks, who were slaves to whiskey too, but this trip God had something else planned for forty-five-year-old Ada Stillion, something that would change her life forever.

“Mel, it's so good to see you!” Ada cooed as she hugged her older brother.

“Ada!” Mel exclaimed. “So much has happened to my family since we last saw you.”

“You got any good whiskey?” Ada asked. “I'm spitting cotton. Let's sit down and have a stiff drink and then you can tell me all about it.”

“Addie, I don't drink anymore.” Mel shook his head. “You'll find no whiskey in our house! I've met Jesus!”

Ada shot back, “Are you trying to tell me that you done got religion?”

“No, Addie! I met Jesus.” Mel reached for his sister’s hand. “Tonight we're having revival meetings at our church. Oh, Addie, you've just got to come. I have found what we've been searching for.”

“Church? You want me to go to church?” Ada’s eyebrows stood at attention. “I ain’t never been to church in my life!”

Nettie stiffened and poked her elbow in Ada’s side. “Ma and me are going to Kentucky tonight. We've got some important business to tend to. Don't we, Ma?”

Mel's moist eyes met Ada's. “Please come. You’ll find what we’ve been looking for our whole lives.”

“Well, I guess going to one church service ain't gonna kill us,” Ada chuckled. “What time should we be ready?”

“Seven o’clock sharp!” Mel let out a whoop.

“Listen to that beautiful singing!” Ada motioned for Nettie to sit on the back pew. “Have you ever heard such singing?”

Nettie snarled, “Don’t know why they are singing about blood. That’s kind of gory, don’t you think, Ma?”

Ada pressed her finger to her lips. “Shhhhh. Listen!”

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the Blood of Jesus!
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the Blood of Jesus!

Ada sat mesmerized by what she heard and felt.

After the singing a minister stood behind the pulpit. “We all are sinners and need a Savior.”

Ada had flashbacks of her daughters and how alcohol had robbed them of a decent childhood.

The pastor invited all who wanted their sins forgiven to come forward and kneel at the altar. Ada stood to her feet, walked down the aisle, and knelt at the altar. The minister prayed with her and then asked her if she would like to pray.

Tears poured down Ada’s cheeks. She called out to God for the first time in her life. “Lord, forgive me of my sins and make me worthy to be called mother.”

When Ada stood to her feet, she knew she was a new creature in Christ. Old things had passed away and all things were new!

“Nettie, we aren’t going to Kentucky to buy any whiskey!” The trip to Kentucky was canceled. Ada never touched another drop of liquor the rest of her days. She lived to be ninety-two years old and shared her salvation experience with anyone who would listen.

Ada Stillion was my great-grandmother. Her decision to follow Christ has impacted six generations. She followed the Lord. Her daughter accepted Jesus. Her granddaughter invited the Lord into her heart. Her great-granddaughter committed her life to Jesus. Her great-great-granddaughter dedicated her heart and life to the Lord, and even Ada’s great-great-great granddaughter has given her life to Christ.

Great-Grandmother could have left our family a legacy of alcoholism and abuse; instead she left us a legacy of God's amazing love. God answered her prayer and made her worthy to be called Mother. In fact, He made her a spiritual mother of many.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Moses Was a Basket Case

Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile….” Exodus 1:22 NIV

I love the biblical account of an infant boy named Moses. Satan conjured up a plan to kill him, but God was watching over the little guy. Jehovah gave Moses’ mother a creative plan to save her baby’s life. She built a basket made out of bulrushes and coated it with pitch.

When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him. Exodus 2:2-4 NIV

Even though Moses was a “basket case,” he grew into a mighty man of God and was handpicked by Jehovah to deliver the Israelites from the land of bondage.

My husband and I have been in fulltime ministry for more than 30 years. We have seen firsthand the enemy sabotage ministries in their infancy. We’ve stood in the gap with those God has called for a heavenly assignment and rejoiced with those who fulfill their divine destiny, but our hearts have broken when we watched others allow the wicked one to snuff out a brand new ministry God had called them to.

I would like to speak directly to those of you who sense the Lord is calling you to “birth” a new ministry, whether it is writing, singing, pastoring, or something else the Lord has laid upon your heart.

  • Always ask God for wisdom as you begin this new chapter in your life.
  • Never lean on your own understanding. It doesn’t matter how smart and experienced you may think you are, in your natural fleshly nature you are no match for the devil.
  • Never be shocked by the enemy’s tactics. Remember his goal is to kill every newborn ministry.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10 NIV

Don't let the enemy destroy what God is “birthing” in your life and ministry. Remember the story of Moses. May God use you to lead souls out of bondage.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Write About Now

I will never forget my sixth grade teacher, Miss Schmitz. She instilled in me a love for reading with expression, writing intriguing stories, and neatness in penmanship. I would spend hours practicing cursive, trying my best to make the perfect capital J so my paper could be displayed on the coveted bulletin board at the front of the class.

There were no computers in my elementary school. My creative writing education was pushing my #2 pencil or blue ink pen on a piece of wide-lined notebook paper.

Times have changed. Most children know more about computers, text messaging, cell phones, instant messaging, and e-mail than the adults in their lives. There is a down side to all this technology. Children are lagging behind in writing skills because they aren’t writing enough.

I am a new grandmother of soon-to-be four grandchildren. (Our fourth grandchild is due September 17.) I love technology, and I don’t want to go back in time, but I do want our grandkids to have a good grip on the basics of reading and writing. I hope to whet the writing appetite of the wee ones in my life with a few simple inexpensive exercises. Maybe my ideas will encourage your child’s love for writing, too.

Chalk—There’s nothing like a fresh batch of sidewalk chalk to get a child’s creative juices flowing. Have fun with them as they write their name, a silly poem, story, or song on your driveway or sidewalk.
Menus—With a little imagination, a simple spiral notebook can easily become a menu. Let the child write out their favorite meal and also take supper orders with their new tablet. Be sure to leave a tip!

Grocery Lists—Allow your child to have an active role in grocery shopping by writing their favorite foods on the list every week.

Notes—Encourage your child to write a note of appreciation to a local businessperson, relative, friend, or lonely senior citizen. Be sure to take the time to teach them how to properly address the envelope too.
Scrapbooking—Introduce your child to scrapbooking. Colorful markers or colored pencils can make writing titles and dates in their scrapbooks more inviting and spur more interest.

Reporter—Some children can be reluctant readers and writers, but if you tap into their interests, they will thrive. For instance, if a boy enjoys sports, read a magazine, book, or newspaper article about their favorite sports figure. Then encourage him to write an article of his own.
As you affirm your children’s writing adventures, they will grow and develop as a writer. Be careful not to over correct. Remember the only way they will become a better writer is to write! Write! Write! All the words don’t have to be spelled correctly or the letters formed perfectly. This will come with practice.

So what are you waiting for? Go find the little ones in your life and write about now!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

God Makes Lemonade

I received my ten free copies of God Makes Lemonade. This inspirational collection includes a story about my father-in-law's POW experience.

My father-in-law Orville "Drake" Phillips is the soldier on the right.

I've read a few of the stories and been inspired by the true stories from everyday folks who discover unexpected sweetness in the midst of sour circumstances.

About Me

For my blog today, I thought I would share a little bit about myself. I’m hoping after you read this, you’ll feel as if you know me a little better.

Tidbit Trivia about Me

I have been a pastor’s wife for more than 30 years. My husband, Paul, and I have four married children, two grandsons, one granddaughter, and another grandson expected to arrive in September.

My husband and I are the promoters of a two-day, all-day southern gospel sing. Over 30 groups from various states come to our little town in Floyd, Iowa.

I enjoy penning inspirational gospel songs.We have been honored to serve the Gospel Lighthouse Church in Floyd, Iowa, for 30 years and Lighthouse Academy for 23 years.Our son John gave his daddy a kidney on June 12, 2008. It was a defining moment in our lives. We realize more than ever before why today is called the “present.”

I love tea parties with my girlfriends and enjoy spending as much time as I can with my husband and family.

My Writing Journey

I have loved to write since I was a little girl, but I the first time I was paid to write was in the early ‘80s.

I am inspired by real people who stare adversity in the face, raise their shield of faith, and help others find their way safely through the landmines of life.

I was fortunate to have two godly grandmothers pour into my life as a little girl. They helped shape my small soul. I find my grandmothers’ influence in every story I write.

A Peek Behind the Scenes

My children’s story One Noble Journey is a story inspired from my own childhood experiences. My maternal grandmother lived in a poor neighborhood called Oak Park. Any of the property in this poverty-stricken location was considered of little value because the lowlands caused frequent flooding. Many who lived on high ground considered Oak Park to be a thorn in the side of their fair city, but this attitude didn’t faze Grandma. She had a heart oozing with God’s love and she was determined to help the neglected and forgotten children of Oak Park. Her home became a soup kitchen, barber shop, and homeless shelter. If anyone from her neighborhood had a problem, they knew they could count on Grandma to help them. She housed frightened children and battered wives. After many years of listening to various problems over a hot cup of coffee and a slice of her homemade pie, Grandma became a seasoned counselor. Most people understood her mission, but there were some folks who were prejudiced against her simply because of where she lived. In my children’s book One Noble Journey, the timeless truths I learned from my grandmother’s life are woven throughout the story.

Two cultures collide in the tiny village of Westbury, when an orphan girl from the lowlands, the daughter of a Count from the highlands, and a baby raccoon become friends. One Noble Journey is utterly compelling, highlighting the negative power of prejudice and the positive power of God’s love and acceptance.

Why I Write for Children

I enjoy helping shape small souls for Jesus and transplanting smiles on the faces of children.

Where can readers purchase a copy of my books?

Autographed copies of my bookscan be purchased directly from me by emailing me at or you can order my books at,, and

Future Stories

I plan to continue writing stories that shape small souls for Jesus. I believe the seeds of influence from my books will live longer than I do and produce a harvest of wisdom and help ignite a vibrant faith in the heart of child, which will change a generation and time my eyes will never see.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Angel Eyes Wins

Angel Eyes
wins the 2011 Global Ebook Award in the Children's Christian category.

Thank you, Lord, for your blessings!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Marketing Tools

Finally, after months of rewrites and tweaks your book has been submitted and printed. The hard part appears to be over, but there’s still more work to do. Knowing how to market your book is just as important as writing it. I’ve created a checklist to simplify the job for you.

1. Start blogging now. Post articles about your writing journey and the cover picture of your book.

2. People love contests! Have one on your blog. Give away one copy of your book. Have a drawing for those who leave a comment. Inform your followers about where they can order or learn more about your book.

3. Write articles for e-zines or periodicals. Mention your book in the byline.

4. Build a website and let your presence be known. If you are not computer savvy, hire someone who can design the site for you. In today’s high-tech culture, a website is a must.

5. Set up book signings at local libraries or bookstores. Meet people face to face and promote your book up close and personal. Your fan base will grow. There’s no substitute for meeting an author in person.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If your book is published by a traditional publisher, they usually have a marketing plan in place for you. Most self-publishers have a creative marketing plan are available for a fee. If your niche isn’t marketing, seriously considering hiring someone to promote your book for you.
Hope this helps you improve your marketing and build a platform so you can sell more of your books.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Global E-Book Awards

I received an e-mail today informing me that my children's book "ANGEL EYES" is a finalist in the Global E-book competition.

Winners will be announced August 20th.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Invisible One

“He persevered because he saw him who is invisible.” Hebrews 11:27 (NIV)

This Scripture has been a tremendous blessing to me and impacted my writing journey. In the life of every Christian writer, we keep pushing our pen because we have seen and been forever changed by the invisible One. As we look upon His face and spend time in His presence, we realize this truth—Only those who see the invisible can do the impossible!

Where were you the first time you caught a glimpse of the invisible One?

When did you sense God calling you to write?

Do you remember the first time someone was ministered to by something you’ve written?
One of my favorite Old Testament Bible stories is Elisha and the floating axe-head. Do you remember how the axe-head slipped off the handle, fell into the deep water, and would have been gone forever, but a man of God prayed and miraculously the axe-head floated to the top.

Broken spirits are heavier than iron axe-heads, but when one tiny sliver of Calvary's cross is inserted into a bleeding heart, the hemorrhaging stops and they rise with resurrection life and beat again. God wants to use your story to be that “tiny healing sliver” from Calvary’s cross.

Whether we are writing for children or adults, God wants to use our stories to change the world one soul at a time. Keep sowing those seeds and pushing your pen. Remember the invisible One is watching and if you listen you might hear Him clapping His nail-scarred hands just for you.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Wise Old Owl

I love to write for children, but I also enjoy writing inspirational pieces that help encourage and mend broken hearts. The following is a devotional I wrote just before our son gave his daddy the gift of life on June 12, 2008. On Father’s Day weekend in ’08, my husband had a kidney transplant. Our only son John saved his daddy’s life.

A few years ago I heard our son’s voice calling, “Mom, come quick! You’ve got to see this.”

I stumbled down the narrow hallway, anxious to discover what he was so excited about. There in our neighbor’s yard in broad daylight was a barred 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 flapping 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. “The owl is wounded and needs medical attention.”

“We are just swamped, Reverend Phillips. It will be a few hours before we can get there.”

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. Our son plugged his ears. “She sounds like a newborn baby crying for her mother.”

Hours later, the conservation officer arrived. “I forgot my net, but I have a burlap bag I might be able to catch her with.”

We inched our way to the frightened bird. The officer spoke softly and tossed a burlap sack over the owl. I marveled the bird showed no sign of resistance. No wings flapping and no screeching. What shocked me the most was she made no attempt to fly away! She sat very still and almost seemed to know the officer was there to rescue her.

At that time, our family was facing a crisis of their own. My husband had been diagnosed with End Stage Renal Failure and needed a kidney transplant to survive. We had “flapped” and “screeched” hoping to change the situation, but all our anxiety and fearful thoughts only caused our stress levels to spiral out of control.

Who would have thought God could speak peace to the storm raging in my soul through an owl.

“Lord, I give the future to you.” I prayed.

Throughout the rest of the week, when I was tempted to “flit and flutter,” and become restless in my spirit, I remembered the placid owl. As I prayed, I sensed His peace and knew He was throwing His mantle of mercy over our family.

Maybe you are anxious about a storm you are facing. Today allow the Holy Spirit to calm the storm in your soul and throw His mantle of mercy over you. You’ll never be sorry.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Wary Writer Syndrome

From the time I was a little girl, I remember hearing adults speak about ways to encourage reluctant readers to fall in love with books. Times really haven’t changed much. People are still trying to inspire children to read.

Today I’m not going to talk about reluctant readers, but a disorder that is just as crippling—Wary Writer Syndrome! My hope today is to inspire someone reading this post to pick up your pen and start writing the stories God has placed within you.

I’ve suffered from the dreaded Wary Writer Syndrome myself from time to time, and have met some of the most talented and amazing writers, who suddenly stop writing because they were plagued with this dreaded bug. Their writing dreams were snuffed out in an instant because they succumbed to Wary Writer Syndrome.

Whatever you do, don’t stop writing! The way to become a better writer is to write, rewrite, write again, and then write some more.

Wary Writer Syndrome is self-destructive and a type of self-sabotage. The battlefield is in our minds. Inferiority and insecurity, if left unchecked, have the power to end a writing career before it begins.

Here are a few tips to help you stay on the “write” track:

• Pray and ask the Lord to enlarge your writing territory. Ask for His blessings as you sow seeds of hope in your stories. Then start writing the pieces as He directs and prepare for a harvest.

• Don’t compare yourself with others. There will always be more talented writers and there will be less gifted ones. You’ll suffer with a deflated ego or an inflated one. It’s best to just be yourself and write from your heart the stories God has given you.

• Keep honing your writing skills. Never lose a humble, teachable spirit. Remember our wise heavenly Father exalts the humble.

• Prepare for publication. Develop as a writer and submit your best writing to publishers. There will come a day when all your “preparation” will meet “opportunity.” When that day comes, you will be ready and thankful you didn’t give up and succumb to Wary Writer Syndrome.

So what are you waiting for? Dust off the cobwebs from your favorite writing corner. Pick up your pen or fire up your computer and start writing today.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Shaping Small Souls

Since becoming a children’s author, I’ve often heard, “Writing for children is much easier than writing for adults. Right?” I smile, shake my head, and do my best to dispel the commonly believed myth.

Children are bright, witty, and love a good story, but successful children’s stories don’t just happen. They must be crafted well. I’ll leave the intricate details of plot, subplot, conflict, structure, voice, characterization, dialogue, and point-of-view to the experts, but what I’d like to inspire you with today is simple ways to keep your creative juices flowing and stop “writer’s block” from camping out at your place. I’ve tucked some tips I’ve learned on my writing journey in this simple acrostic—C.H.I.L.D.R.E.N.


C—Cherish childhood memories. Reminisce often. Take long strolls down Memory Lane. Draw from those stories and write about authentic, believable, and loveable characters.

H—Hone your craft. Join a writing critique group. Attend a writers’ conference. Allow seasoned writers to mentor you and influence your writing. Be patient and never stop learning.

I—Interact with children. Familiarize yourself with what issues children face. Observe their dialogue and actions when you immerse yourself in their world.

L—Learn the art of revision. After you feel your manuscript is finished, set it aside and come back later. Revision is your best writing buddy and will make your manuscript crisp and concise.

D—Develop an objective mindset toward your manuscript. This simple attitude adjustment will help you become a better writer and separate you from the pack of other writers.

R—Remember what it’s like to be a child. Don’t talk down to the little ones in your world. Speak on their level. Children are like wet cement and your stories are shaping their small souls.

E—Enjoy the ride. Don’t get all stressed out over your manuscript. If you have fun writing, it will show in the stories you write. Remember your story has the power to transplant a smile on the face of a hurting child and sow seeds in his or her small soul.

N—No egos allowed. Many writers feel their story is perfect just the way it is. This attitude will stunt your growth as a children’s writer. To become a better writer, you must leave your ego at the door and allow other writers to help sharpen your writing skills. You’ll be glad you did.

Get busy writing for little ones today! They need your amazing story.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Son in My Eyes

Did you ever play the sing-along-song-game, “Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar?”

Do you remember the question and reply? “Who me? Couldn’t be!”
That’s how I sometimes feel I should answer when I am asked, “Are you a children’s author?”

I have to be honest and admit I never set out to be a children’s author, but God had different plans. I am living proof that God can use anybody and make them what they never dreamed they could be.

When I was around eight years old, I visited my paternal grandmother. I told her about a missionary story I heard at Sunday school. Grandma disappeared into her utility room and came back with a few sheets of typing paper stapled together and said, “Go write your own missionary story.”

A title flashed in my head and I scribbled it down on the front page—Mae Sue’s God. I wrote about an oriental woman, who worshipped idols and then heard of God’s love for her. Soon she came into a personal relationship with Jesus and destroyed all of her false gods. I even found a box of crayons and illustrated my tiny booklet.

Little did my grandmother know when she read every page and affirmed my efforts, she was helping mold me and whet my writing appetite.

Forty-four years later, I was hired to write a biography about a Vietnamese Buddhist woman who had a life changing encounter with Jesus Christ. (Mai Spencer’s book The Son in My Eyes was released in June.) Although Mai’s book was not for children, the proceeds from book sales go to some poor children in Vietnam.

When people ask me how they can write for the Lord. I encourage them to give their “writing” lunch to Jesus and watch it multiply. He has bigger dreams for us than we could ever dream for ourselves.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Rose Wore the Thorns

I enjoy writing song lyrics. Here is one. Hope it blesses you.

The Rose Wore the Thorns

In Eden’s Paradise the roses always bloomed
Until a curse was cast and every soul was doomed.
Thorns choked the roses and spread throughout the land.
But from the beginning God had a perfect plan.

In Gethsemane, Sharon’s Rose wept alone.
A bittersweet fragrance floated up before God’s throne.
A kiss of betrayal, forsaken and scorned.
The perfect Rose stood faultless among the thorns.

From Calvary, bruised petals covered the earth.
Sharon’s broken Rose broke sin’s dreadful curse
Crimson water flowed from His feet and hands.
Would Sharon’s suffering Rose ever bloom again?

In a borrowed tomb, they laid a wilted Rose,
By a miracle of grace, the Rose began to grow.
Defying death, the flower blooms again,
And can be planted in the souls of believing men.

The Rose wore the thorns so I could wear a crown.
The Rose bore the cross so I could stand on holy ground.
Trampled by the feet of men
The Rose lives and blooms again.
Heaven helped us all the day the Rose wore the thorns.
Yes, Heaven helped us all the day the Rose wore the thorns.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Champion

On October 27, 1980, my husband and I were overjoyed at the birth of our second child. John Drake Phillips weighed in at 8 pounds 10 ounces and was born with a black eye – our “heavyweight fighter” we joked. Ironically, in just a few days our little champion faced a fight for his life.

Baby John awoke the morning of his two-week birthday in distress. He was whimpering like a sick puppy, so I went to his crib to see what was wrong. I couldn't get him to open his eyes.

Picking him up, I tried to get him to nurse, without success. The entire time his eyes were tightly closed and he continued his high-pitched whine. I rushed him to the doctor’s office where I was advised go immediately to the hospital. Our baby was admitted. My husband and I were in shock. What happened? How did our healthy son get so sick?

After several tests, a pediatrician met with us. He was very somber as he gave the diagnosis: bacterial spinal meningitis. John could die.

The doctor said John probably picked up a bug in the delivery room that over the previous two weeks infiltrated his entire system. Our hearts raced and we felt like we were in the middle of a nightmare.

The doctor explained, “If John’s fever breaks, he might have a chance.”

Over the next twelve days, my husband and I took turns spending the night at the hospital. For days the fever continued to rage in John’s limp body. The evening of the seventh day I stood by his bed and whispered in his ear, “Don’t give up, Baby Boy. Don’t give up.” My spirit cried out to his, “Keep fighting, John. Daddy and Mommy love you so much.”

We were not allowed to hold John, but the nurses set up a cot and chair in his room for us. One night during my watch, a nurse turned the television to The 700 Club. A gospel group was singing Because He Lives.

How sweet to hold a newborn baby.
And feel the pride and joy he gives.
But greater still the calm assurance,
This child can face uncertain days,

As they sang, I sensed the presence of God come into the room. I cried uncontrollably. As if the musicians were physically in the room with me, one of the singers stopped the song and said, "There's a newborn baby who is very sick in the hospital.”

I sat stunned. Could she be talking about our baby?
She continued, "The doctors told you that your baby might die, but God wants you to know that this sickness is not unto death. Your baby is going to live."

The group started singing again and finished the song. As they sang the final chorus, the peace of God devoured my anxieties, and I knew John was going to live. I knew God was going to heal our son.

I felt John’s forehead. He still had a high fever, but I raised my hands to Heaven anyway and thanked God for healing our son. I knew God was granting a miracle to our family. In the middle of the night John's fever broke.

"John has had a dangerously high fever several days.” The doctor said the next morning. “He is going to live, but he might have brain damage."

Amazingly, my heart stayed peaceful at the announcement. No fear, no what ifs terrorized my soul. I had experienced a visit from Heaven, and I knew that John was going to be OK. A few days later we took our baby boy home completely whole.

Twenty-six years have passed, and we still reminisce about the day Jesus visited our baby the hospital room and healed him. We are convinced that without God’s supernatural touch from Heaven, our little boy wouldn't have had a fighting chance – even though he was born with a black eye.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Not So Desperate Pastors' Wives

Meet my beautiful sister-in-law Sharon Phillips..... She's the tall beauty on the left......

Sharon is a pastor's wife, too. She is married to my husband's baby brother Don. They have faithfully served the congregation of Calvary Baptist Church in Camden, Arkansas, for almost 30 years.

As most of you know, Paul and I have been honored to serve the Gospel Lighthouse Church in Floyd, Iowa, for 30 years.

But that's not the only similarities in our lives.... Here is some fun trivia to transplant a smile on your face.........

Guess what Sharon's maiden name is? FLOYD.....

And guess the name of the little village JESUS has called Paul and I to serve HIM? FLOYD..... **GRIN**

Are you seeing a connection here?

We were born the same year and have shared the same last name for more than 30 years. **TEE HEE**

Have you connected the dots yet?

Sharon's middle name begins with and L and so does mine. **Amazing... don't you think?**

Some people might consider Sharon and I desperate pastors' wives, but we don't. We can both testify that we don't regret a mile we have loved God and served His people.

Now that we're WEST OF FIFTY.... we've asked the Lord to help us FINISH STRONG for HIM.... With more years behind us than ahead of us, we've asked Him to use us in this season of life in a way that brings glory and honor to Him.


We've both loved gospel music and realized early in our ministries the power of an anointed song, but the thought never crossed our minds to write a song together.

We've asked ourselves why it took us soooo long to join musical forces and the only answer we can come up with is because it wasn't GOD'S TIMING YET....

But a few months ago something shifted in our souls....... Sharon was praying in Arkansas and I was praying in Iowa. God heard our prayers. The Lord led Sharon to start

I sent her some lyrics and she tuned them. We gave our little "musical" lunch to JESUS and we have some very exciting news.

Drum roll please.....


Our song HOPE WAS CARVED IN A ROLLING STONE placed in the 2011 Singing News / Solid Gospel Songwriters Search. Woo Hoo!

We are humbled beyond words and very thankful for God's blessing in our lives.

Here is an article from Singing News about the contest.......

Nashville, TN - The 2011 Singing News / Solid Gospel Songwriters Search has concluded and the winners have been chosen. The two first place winners will have their songs recorded by Ernie Haase & Signature Sound and Gordon Mote.

The First Place Winners, listed in alphabetical order are:

"Another Soldier" - written by David Pike - to be recorded by Ernie Haase & Signature Sound

"When I Rise" - written by Boyd Hoops - to be recorded by Gordon Mote

The five Runners Up are listed below, in alphabetical order:

"Believe In Mercy, Trust in Grace" - Brian Bowers/Tara Williams

"He'll Be There" - Frances Barrier Bryant

"Hope Was Carved In A Rolling Stone" - Dixie and Sharon Phillips

"Lord It's The Journey" - Mark Hawkins

"When My Ship Comes In" - Brian Bowers and Tara Williams

Congratulations to everyone who submitted songs for the 2011 Singing News / Solid Gospel Songwriters Search. There were many great songs and the judges debated at length in deciding the winners. Many of the entries will be posted as MP3's on for everyone to listen to.

Southern Gospel music, the music with an Eternal Difference, is alive and well, as evidenced by the many entries in this years Songwriters Search. Keep on writing folks!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Livia Maelyn Fox

Well, I have experienced another FIRST..... I am a grandmother to our very first granddaughter and she is sooooo precious.

Livia weighed 7 pounds and 13 ounces. She was 20 1/4 inches long.
The Fox den just expanded.

Here is a picture of the happy mommy, daddy, big brother and newest Vixen.

There is a special photo of the first time MOMMY saw little Livia that still brings tears to my eyes. DADDY is looking on and has love in his eyes, too. Hope you enjoy a this little peek behind the scenes.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Divine Interruptions

Last night at our mid-week Bible study I was blessed by the testimony of one of our church members. My husband had asked if anyone would like to share about something God had done for them.

"I have something I'd like to share." One of our newest members spoke up.
"Not too long ago, my hours were cut at work and I was really bummed. I didn't understand why God allowed this to happen. I was a good bookkeeper and took pride in my work. After talking to the Lord about it, I realized I had to trust Him. Little by little I was given more hours here and there in another department. Then one day it was discovered the bookkeeper I had been working with was embezzling funds. If I had kept my same position, I could have been accused of stealing, even though I was innocent. Instead my work has called me back as a fulltime bookkeeper."

The entire congregation sat stunned. We all had been in her shoes at some point in our lives when we didn't understand why God allowed "bad" things to happen to us or why He chooses to give us a "DIVINE INTERRUPTION!" Hearing her story with a FULL CIRCLE moment was very refreshing. God is always at work behind the scenes for us. His Word is true. We do walk by faith and not by sight.

Monday, April 25, 2011


ABOVE PICTURE: That's my elementary school, the stone building on the far right.

BELOW PICTURE: McKinley School on the left.


The older I get the more I enjoy taking long strolls down Memory Lane. This past week I heard about tornadoes in North Carolina where my oldest brother and his family live. Somehow it reminded me of the twister that demolished our little Iowa community back in 1968. I was in fifth grade at McKinley Elementary School. Because of some family problems, I was living with my paternal grandparents on their farm. My two older brothers, Bob and Ken, were living at our parents' home in Charles City.

May 15, 1968 was a huge day for the fifth and sixth graders of Charles City. The annual grade school track meet, which started at noon with a picnic, followed by some friendly track competition, was held that day. After the students gobbled down their sack lunch, the track meet would begin at the College Grounds. Five grade schools, Lincoln, Jefferson, Central, McKinley and Washington Elementary were represented. Little did we realize in a few short hours three of those schools were be demolished. (Central, McKinley and Washington were destroyed. Central and McKinley never reopened.) However, I do have a happy memory just a few hours before the tornado hit McKinley won the track meet!

I had been invited to go over to a girlfriend's house for a few hours after the track meet. When my grandmother picked me up, she noticed I had lost one of my brand new socks.

I rummaged through my bag and said, "I must have lost it when I changed into my track clothes!"

Grandma was very frugal and thought we better retrace my steps and see if we couldn't find the mate to my "widowed" sock. We backtracked from my friend's house to the College Grounds, but didn't have any luck in finding the sock.

On the way home,when we got to the fairgrounds corner, (above is actual picture of '68 tornado) I noticed Grandma was very quiet. I thought she was upset with me for losing my sock, but then I noticed she was preoccupied with looking out the car window at the dark sky.

I tried to lighten the mood and jabbered on and on about the track meet and the visit at my friend's house. Grandma stayed focused and picked up speed in an attempt to hurry home.

When we pulled in the driveway, Grandma spoke sternly, "I'm only going to say this once. You go get your dog, head straight to the basement, and sit under the big table in the corner. Don't come up until I call you. Do you understand?"

I nodded my head and started crying. I hopped out of the car and whistled for my dog. Ginger came running and jumped in my arms.

"Get in that basement now!" Grandma ordered.

I galloped down the steps, clutching Ginger tightly. We hid under the table just like Grandma had instructed. I remember crying and praying out loud. "Please keep us all safe. Don't let anything happen to Grandma and Grandpa!"

After a few minutes, Grandma called down the stairs. "The storm has passed. Come on up and help me get ready for supper."

When we sat down to eat, the doorbell rang. Then a neighbor man bolted into the house before Grandma or Grandpa had a chance to answer the door. His voice was frantic, "Charles City has been hit by a tornado! The whole town is wiped out!"

A lump formed in my throat. "What about Mom and Dad? And Bobby and Kenny?"

Grandma looked up at Grandpa and said, "We need to head to town now!"

My grandmother was an immaculate housekeeper. She did something that I'd never seen her do before or again. She left all the supper dishes on the table and cleaned up the kitchen when we returned.

"Dixie, go grab some of your favorite books. We might be waiting in the car for awhile." Grandma handed me a brown grocery sack.

We were met by the police when we arrived at the edge of the city. "Nobody is allowed inside the city limits unless you live there."

Grandpa pointed at me sitting in the back and explained the situation. "Her parents and brothers live in town."

The policeman looked at me. "I'm sorry. But there are live wires down on the ground. People have been killed by the storm. I can't allow you to go any further."

Grandpa made a u-turn and I thought we were headed back to the farm. "I've got an idea. If I park on the edge of town, I can walk around town and see if I can find them."

I peered through the crack of the car door and watched Grandpa lace up his boots.

"John, be careful. You heard what they said about those live wires." Grandma's voice trembled.

"I will. But before I go. Let's say a quick prayer." Grandpa closed his eyes and prayed. "Lord, guide my steps. Help me find those boys."

Grandma and I sat in silence watching Grandpa march toward town. Finally, Grandma said, "Dixie, pick out a book and we'll read it together."

Several hours later, Grandpa returned. "Bobby and Kenny are safe. They hid under a bridge and saw the tornado hit. Our family is safe, but much of the town was gone."

Later I learned that my elementary school (see above photos) was hit and school was dismissed for the rest of the school year.

A violent F5 tornado tore a 1/2 mile wide path through the town from south to north, killing 13 people,injuring 450 others, and caused $30 million damage. In town, 372 homes and 58 businesses were destroyed, 188 homes and 90 businesses sustained major damage, and 356 homes and 46 businesses sustained minor damage. Eight churches, 3 schools were damaged or destroyed, the police station was heavily damaged, and 1250 vehicles were destroyed.

I've never forgotten the day a tornado hit our little town and changed our lives forever.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

God Knows Your Cell Phone Number

For most of my life I have always lived in small towns. There were a few years, after high school, I dipped my toe in big city living. Like a boomerang, I had a full circle moment when God called me to return to my "homeland" of Iowa and serve Him along side my husband. In fact, the place He called Paul and I to serve was an even "smaller" town than where I grew up and a whole lot smaller than where Paul grew up in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. We were called to serve the Gospel Lighthouse Church in Floyd, Iowa, in August 1981. Our little hamlet has a population of 360.

During our almost-30 years here in Floyd, we have seen God provide above and beyond our dreams. I would like to share one of our God stories with you.

In 2008, Paul became deathly ill. He was diagnosed with End Stage Renal Failure. He needed a kidney transplant, go on dialysis, or die. All four of our children volunteered to give their daddy a kidney, but it was our son John who became our MVD--Most Valuable Donor. ;-) Fear hounded me and I found after I gave my burdens to the Lord it was best for me to keep busy. God knew this and had a special assignment for me.

The Lord sent Dennis and Mai Spencer into my life. The Spencers lived in Arizona and Mai needed someone to help her write her testimony. I didn't realize it then, but my life was about to be change forever because Mai Spencer isn't your nominal Christian. She is SOLD OUT to JESUS! The word "RADICAL" pretty much sums up Mai!

Mai was raised in Vietnam and a Buddhist. She grew up and married Dennis, an American soldier. The couple moved to the States and had four children. Tragedies took three of their children prematurely. Mai cried out to Jesus and He came to her and revealed Himself. She was transformed. She became a new creature in Christ Jesus. The Lord gave the Spencers a growing ministry in Vietnam.

Mai's book, The Son in My Eyes, will be released May 1st. All the proceeds from the book, help to fund the Jesus in Vietnam Ministries.

I stand amazed at how God orders our steps. Who would have ever dreamed a little Buddhist girl from Vietnam would one day meet an Iowa girl from a tiny town and together they would write the Vietnamese girl's story.

Once again, God has proven to me, He knows our name........ He knows where we live and He even knows our cell phone number. Get ready.... Heaven may be calling.

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