Friday, July 1, 2016

The Cost of Obedience

As I drove almost 2 hours early on the first Saturday morning of June to share my story and music with some sweet ladies at a church in the Charlotte, NC area (Wilson Grove Baptist), I was struggling. My daughter and new son-in-law were in town on Friday night for a wedding that next day, and had asked about staying with me that night. That is until I told them I had to leave by 8:00 a.m. Saturday for a ministry commitment. They then decided to stay with her dad and stepmom, and I understood. As I drove, I had a conversation with the Lord about how hard it was to do what He had called me to do at times, not knowing if I would be able to see my children before they headed back to Charleston where they now live. The ONLY Saturday that I had a ministry commitment this entire month was the one weekend they were home. At the conclusion of the women's ministry event, a precious woman came over to me with tears in her eyes, hugged me and told me that her sister and sister-in-law had gone on a weekend trip and she had not been invited, and was very hurt, not understanding why she had not been included. Then she told me that she now knew why, because the Lord had wanted her to be right there that morning, and how He had very specifically spoken to her, as if every word I shared was directly from Him for her. How grateful I was, and told her of my own struggle that morning and how much her words meant to me. As I walked in the door at 4:00 p.m. that afternoon, my daughter texted me to say they were coming by, and we enjoyed an hour visit that included homemade brownies this mama whipped up to go on ice cream sundaes and banana splits, which truly was the cherry on top. Sometimes when we walk in obedience to the Father, it won't be easy, but we step out in faith anyway, trusting that He sees, and is working in ways we cannot see but we will simply choose to trust Him. And He cared not only about that precious woman that day, but also about this mama who was desperately missing her daughter and longing to see her, hug her, and simply enjoy her company before she had to go back to her own new life. He is so good. Scripture says He is a God who sees. He sees you, He sees me. He knows the struggle, the conflict in our hearts and souls on many days when the choices are difficult ones. And once again, He did above and beyond all I could have ever hoped or imagined in a simple choice to be where He called me to be that day. Yes, often times the cost of obedience requires self-sacrifice, and as my friend Lisa Shaw wrote on facebook to me in response to my sharing this story, "Sometimes we obey & never fully see the reasons God is working on. And His rewards are even sweeter than the desserts." And many times it is the very disappointments that turn into unexpected blessings. As one of my favorite songs says, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace."

Thursday, February 4, 2016


Recalculating. Don't you just love it when your GPS continues to say "Recalculating?" Or "Make a U-turn." Over and over again at times, at least in my life of travels. Just last month I was traveling to Alcolu, SC (right outside of Sumter, SC) when my GPS took me directly to a bridge that was no more. It had been closed due to the floods back in October. So I just chose to make a right turn, and it continued to "recalculate" me right back to that bridge. So I then decided to take a left turn, same thing. I kept making those u-turns and ending right back where I knew I could not go any further. It was then that I called my friend Karen, the pastor's wife, and said, "HELP?!" Thankfully the sound man talked me through how to get there, and though late, I made it.

That is how life is, isn't it? We think we have our routes all mapped out, and then we find ourselves at a dead-end, and have to recalculate. Proverbs 16:9 says, "The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps." As I was facing January, for the first time in over 20 years of ministry not having a Schedule Coordinator, I found myself beating the bushes, working myself into a frenzy trying to fill my concert/speaking calendar. And yet, I felt like a hamster on a wheel, getting nowhere. As Jennifer, my former Schedule Coordinator reminded me this month in a very encouraging email, that she was praying and knew I would be struggling, I finally stopped striving and said, "Ok, God, this is yours. It always has been. YOU are the Schedule Coordinator." I had to make a few u-turns and recalculate how I run things in this ministry office, and come to find out, I don't run them at all. HE does. At 51 years of age, (notice I did not say "old"), I am still learning, still seeking, still stressing, stretching, and seeing God's faithfulness in new ways every day. Sometimes He chooses to use me on a church platform. Other times it is in the bank teller line, as just last Monday one of the precious tellers excitedly shared with me (and Cookie, who is a regular there for their treats) how she had just been baptized the day before at her church. How grateful I am that I was one of the people she knew loved Jesus and would rejoice with her. It may be in a voice lesson with a student who shares some very real struggles and hurts, and then a few weeks later how God has opened amazing opportunities of ministry for her. Or even simply serving in my home church on a Sunday morning as a greeter, welcoming in first time guests. Oh, what a privilege it is to serve Jesus in all areas of our lives. And so I have prayerfully committed, once again, to "Let it Go!" Letting go of the reins and leaving them in the hands of the One Who reigns supreme!

Just as my mother said before sharing her story at one of the last speaking engagements she had before the Lord took her home, "As long as I have breath in this body of mine, I am going to be about the business of telling the story the Lord has entrusted me to tell. Now are you going with me or not?" My answer, "Yes, Mama," and more importantly, "Yes, Jesus." Wherever YOU lead, I'll go.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Day We Will Never Forget

I have not written anything in this blog since January.  Six months.  Six months of life flying by and being busy and not stopping because there was not enough time to sit down long enough to put a thought together between ministry trips, commitments, studies, preparations, packing, unpacking, non-stop busyness. And then last night as I was lying in bed, sleepily watching the news, unspeakable tragedy was happening just 2 hours from my home of Columbia in beautiful Charleston, SC.  Today everything was heavy, and we were all forced to stop.  CNN carried the news going on in my beloved state all day, and just now I turned on the TV to find it is still on.  Headline news: my beloved state, and my brothers and sisters in Christ.  Gone.  On June 17th, a 21-year-old gunman walked into a church in the beautiful city of Charleston, and after attending their Bible study for about an hour, opened fire, killing 9 people. NINE.  PRECIOUS. LIVES.  People that loved God and were in His house.
Tonight as I write this, it is June 18th, and I have followed the senseless tragedy as it has unfolded on newscasts, praying with every breath I take for all involved. There are no words. And so for now, I simply have a song that keeps coming to my mind that I used to sing in the earlier years of my ministry:
"When answers aren't enough, there is Jesus.
He is more than just an answer to your prayer.
And your heart will find a safe and peaceful refuge. 
When answers aren't enough, He is there."
There are no answers for this. We will question why until Jesus comes and rescues us from this world filled with evil. As I watched our Governor Nikki Haley in a press conference, her voice breaking as her tears openly flowed, she spoke with choking emotion, "Parents are having to explain to their kids how we can go to church and feel safe, and that's not something we even thought we'd have to face." 
I don't know the answer to this. I don't have many answers tonight as I sit here at my desk needing to put something down in black and white to help me sort it all out.
And so I am looking to the One who says, "I am the way, the Truth and the Life." Because if I keep looking around me, I will surely fall into despair. Today I cry out to the Father Who loved those precious ones whose lives were brutally taken in a house of worship, in a place where we should be able to go for sanctuary and feel safe. But that same Father also gave His only Son for the one responsible. Does it make sense? No, but "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life." WHOEVER.
I remember asking myself a question after receiving a letter from the man that killed my sister years ago, asking me to forgive him from death row.  I had to ask myself if I truly believed that WHOEVER even meant that man.  That murderer.  It's amazing grace, and none of us deserves it. This young man has a family...a mother, father, grandparents...let's not forget them. Let's not forget him.  The things I have seen people post on social media, the names they have called him, many claiming to be followers of Christ, says they obviously do not feel he is one of the whoevers.  But my Bible says "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."  ALL.  That is you and that is me.  And we are ALL WHOEVERS.  But for the grace of God, there go I.  As we pray, may we open our hands and hearts to the Only One Who can begin to make any sense out of it all, and cry out, "Father, we don't understand, but help us to trust You as we look to You for strength, grace, peace, and healing."
How much more appropriate this Scripture is tonight even more so than when I first read it this morning on my flip calendar by my kitchen sink,in light of all that we have witnessed...the tragedy, senseless loss of precious lives, heartbroken people crying out "why?" And yet God is still God and He will bring healing.
And so tonight, our heavy hearts can look nowhere else but to Him.  My heart aches for those families whose loved ones were so cruelly ripped from them.  I know that pain.  I cannot stop thinking of and praying for them.  But as much as I know that pain firsthand, I also know the One who will rise with healing in His wings, and I know that as much as He did it for me, He will also do it for them.  And so as you go to bed tonight, let's lift up mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, children, friends, families that are grieving.  Let's not wake up tomorrow and get back to life as normal.  Pray for Charleston.  Pray for peace.  Pray for revival in America, in this world.  Only Jesus.  When answers aren't enough...Jesus. 


Friday, January 30, 2015


I started this blog a few months ago, and realized today that I have not written a new entry since November.  Good intentions in starting it, just not thinking through how very little time I would have to actually contribute to it.  I have a daughter that is a college senior, who got engaged over the Christmas break.  We are now in the throws of all of the excitement and planning that involves a May 2016 wedding.  How I thank God for answered prayer in the gift of her precious fiance.  Then there is my son, who is 18, working full-time, deciding college is not for him at this time.  Being a single mother of 2, working in a full-time ministry (last year the Lord blessed me with about 100 concerts/conferences/speaking engagement dates), and a part-time job teaching private piano/voice lessons 2 days a week which involves 16 students/19 lessons every week.  As I sat with my coffee and Bible open this morning, I came to the realization that this is not a season of life that I will be able to blog very much, and that is ok. 
I think sometimes we put way too many demands on ourselves, and we have to relax that grip just a little.  Right now I am finishing putting one child through college, helping her plan her dream wedding, continuing to help the other child get on his own two feet, pay the bills, and use the time I do have wisely, prayerfully, as best I know how. This is the season of life that I am in.  Life is busy, it is demanding, but God has given us all the same amount of time in each day to accomplish what He has called us to do.  In this day.  In this season.  And then we have to rest in leaving the rest of it to Him.
I still have a Christmas tree hidden on the other side of my bed that needs to be put away today on January 30th, along with a few straggling Christmas decorations.  And surrounding me on my desk and all over my office are papers and files that I need to go through for the end of the year and taxes.  But for today, I will simply do the next thing, as Elisabeth Elliott so wisely said. 
Psalm 118 reminds me, "This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."  Glad in the gifts the Father has blessed me with...2 precious children, a dear brother and his family, a precious sister and mother who I know are waiting for me in heaven, precious family and friends here.  Life will continue to be busy, demanding, and at times, overwhelming.  But God has given us new mercies for each day, and each day is a gift.  And this blog?  It can wait.  For days like today when I decide to take just a few minutes and put a few thoughts down.  Now back to all this other stuff of life...

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Blonde Leading the Blonde

Ever lived out a bad dream in real life? I just did! On the program as one of the speakers/singers last weekend at a women's retreat in the beautiful mountains of Pigeon Forge, TN, the worship leader called me up on stage to join the team in a song I had only heard but did not know and had NEVER sung before, certainly not in public on stage before 450 women. I had shared 2 speaking sessions that included my own music, and was finished with my part of the retreat.  Or so I thought.  But here I stood, on the stage, mic in hand, having NO CLUE what I was doing!  Oh how thankful I was for my sweet friend Sylvia Harney Widick, hilarious comedian/dynamite speaker who was also on the program as one of the keynote speakers.  She and I were thrilled to be reunited and serving together again after years before being privileged to do so.  There she was on the front row, literally moving her hands up and down like a pre-school music teacher would do for me to kind of know where the pitch was going.   She saved my life! Never a dull moment traveling the country/singing in this ministry life.  Little did I know then that not only did I not know that song, neither did she!  But she said that the look on my face told her I was in trouble, and she just decided she could tell well enough where the tune was going to attempt to help her friend in need!  Her comments when I posted this story on my facebook?  "Wasn't that hilarious and fun???  Plus...I had never heard the song before either.  It was a blonde following a was sooooo pretty."  I had given her such a hard time all weekend, as she too, is blonde, and every time she would have a blonde moment, you know the saying and what it implies, I would look at her like my daughter and I do each other when we have those moments and simply say, "You are so pretty."
Sometimes it truly does feel like the blonde leading the blonde in this world!  And when those moments come, I just love that at this stage in life, I can laugh!  At myself, at others, with others, just flat out laugh! 
"A cheerful heart is good medicine..." Proverbs 17:22 says.  And that is the Truth.  Will I ever forget living out that nightmare?  Definitely not!  But even more importantly, I will cherish the shared laughter between my sister friend and me as we experienced it together.  Oh how blessed we are when we walk out this life...the unexpected moments and all...with a dear friend. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Making the Most of the Time You Have

When you work in a ministry such as mine, you know there will be seasons where it is all or nothing.  No days "off" in the traditional sense of the word.  You don't work Mon.-Fri., 9:00-5:00.  You work round-the-clock, for weeks, and often months before you have a weekend at home.  It's just the way it is.  So from the 1st weekend of September until the 3rd weekend in October, this has been my life.  What a privilege it has been to be blessed to travel/speak/sing in women's retreats and churches every Thurs.-Sun. or Fri.-Sun..  Then during the week, teaching piano/voice students Tues.-Wed. Monday is spent unpacking, doing laundry, going to the bank, post office, etc., and Thursday is spent re-packing and preparing.
So when I realized that I had a Sun. afternoon/evening not spoken for the 1st Sun. in October, and I was only an hour from Clemson, SC that morning in concert, I made my way over to see my girl!  She is a senior at Clemson, and so we made the afternoon/evening work for us, as she is a full-time working student, and time together is a rare treat.  That afternoon we enjoyed the warm sunshine while sitting on her front porch before Hannah, 2 of her girlfriends, and 2 of their dogs piled in my car and went to Starbucks where we girls got special coffees and the dogs enjoyed their "puppacinos."  Then we headed to the 4:30 service at New Spring Church in Anderson, which was such a wonderful time of worship.  After church, Hannah, her best friend and I made our way to Red Bowl where we enjoyed a delicious sushi dinner, a first for Hannah and me, as she has ALWAYS claimed to be grossed out by sushi, but now loves it.  After milking every minute for all it was worth, I made my way from Clemson to home, Columbia, SC so thankful to have spent the day just enjoying my daughter and her friends, and of course my precious grand dog Blue.  It was a great day. 
This past Sun. I had an afternoon/evening "off" as I drove home from being in ministry in St. Simon's Island, GA, and so my son, his girlfriend and I enjoyed a pizza, a Redbox movie rental, and a rare Sunday night together at home.  Of course Ross brought 2 baskets full of dirty laundry, but that's just part of being the mother of a college student, and I gladly pitched in to send him home with some clean boxers!
Last week the SC State Fair was in town, an annual tradition around here.  And though I could not go with either of my children, I had a blast going with my precious friend Sharon (an annual "date" for us), along with my Aunt Sue.  We are not ashamed to say that we had an elephant ear, pronto pups, teriyake chicken on a stick, ice cream cones, fried mushrooms, Fiske fries, and fresh squeezed lemonade.
All in all, it has been a great month, and it is still not over.  This weekend I am very much looking forward to just being home.  No packing, preparations, practicing,
no traveling, speaking, or singing.  Just me, Cookie and Zoey at home.  Now I can take a deep breath.
Some would say I keep a crazy schedule.  At times I admit I would agree.  But I have lived long enough and lost enough loved ones to know that life is a gift, and I don't want to waste it.  I want to spend it loving on the ones I love dearly, making memories they will cherish long after I have come and gone, and make it count.
 Ephesians 5:16-17 says: "Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.…"
Making the most of your time...  

Friday, October 3, 2014

When There Are No Words

When you find yourself sitting across the table from one that you love with your whole heart and the words come out of their mouth that you simply were not prepared to hear.  Ever.  But they are there, and life will never be the same again.  And you drive home from the restaurant, and you can't even begin to figure out what to even pray.  And as hard as you try, the words won't come...
 "Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good." (Romans 8:26-28 The Message.)
We get weary.  We are tired of praying and praying and crying and staying on my knees for the same one...the same thing.  But today, we can rest in knowing that my God has got this.  He faithfully met me twice today with this same reminder from His Word.  First in a blog, then simply on my daily flip Scripture calendar by my kitchen sink as I was fixing my coffee.  In the everyday mundane tasks of life, He is so timely.  His timing is perfect.  And so because of that, we can keep putting one foot in front of the other, being certain He is working it all out for good.