My goodness where did this summer go?
Are you excited about fall? A schedule? Pumpkin anything?I’m getting ahead of myself.
This summer, between ministry travel and having all 5 grandkids here with us for three weeks, we’ve been taking things off the walls and painting, cleaning and sorting.
And there’s still much more to do.
But it’s become physical picture of a spiritual truth to me.The house itself is good, it’s built on a sturdy foundation.
I think of that verse in John 15 where Jesus was teaching on abiding in his last intimate encounter with his disciples.
Yet the pruning never stops.
The rooms in my house are cluttered and dingy, in need of some straightening and sprucing up.
Stay in and clean and purge.
It’s as if the Father is saying to me, “I’ve given you this home as a refuge; a place to grow in my love. It has sheltered you, your children, and now your grandchildren. It’s a safe space to welcome friends, new and old. Take time to freshen this sacred place.”
It’s not a quick process. My daughter’s old room has become the “holding room” for all things moved off and away until further assignment determined, be that in another place in this house or Goodwill.
(update: it was Goodwill)
There’s a gallery of pictures in our kitchen. Well, there has been for the last 8 or 10 years. They are all black and white photos of our family – children, with their spouses, and their children. In the center is a photo of Joe and I. And above the collage are the stenciled words “Home – the place your story begins.” It was a labor of love to get those pictures arranged and hung. My youngest son Jesse, a teenager at the time, helped me organize and arrange them on the floor first, before we hung them on the wall. And I have loved looking at the visual story of our family every day. It has been a reminder, an altar of thanksgiving to God’s faithfulness and goodness.
When I took down the pictures to prepare for the painters, tears welled up and I felt a little stab to my heart. Peeling off those hallowed words brought sorrow, mixed with joy and gratitude.
Will I put those same pictures up in the same way on the newly painted wall?
Will I ever find that exact saying again?
Now I’m staring at this clean, freshly painted, naked wall.
What is our story now Lord?
Home is where our story begins – but where does it go from there?
There are parts of our heart, our family, our story, our people, in those pictures that aren’t here with us anymore.
The story of our family has been changed forever.
God’s penmanship, though difficult to understand at times, is still the faithful guarantee for the best, most glorious story. For all of us.
I trust the scarlet thread woven throughout our story, which is His story.
I let Him write on.
Because He is good and He is love.
And if home is where it all begins, then Home is where it ends, or really begins.
And there will be more pictures of more people in our story.
And these walls will tell of it.
Tell me where you’ve been this summer. I’d love to hear more of your story.
My walls are talking to me 🙂
We sang and sang yesterday; with wonderful people hungry for Jesus. We love this church; the praise team who loves to worship and the pastor who really loves to worship and is such an encourager and wonderful preacher. After the services, we talked with one man and his wife who had lost their 12 year old son recently. And listened intently to another woman who had lost her son. It seems we’re members of a club not of our choosing, but healing nonetheless.
In the evening Lakeside BC gathered together again in their outdoor pavilion near the lake and shared a meal together, and then we sang some more.
One man, a Vietnam veteran, with a smile on his face said he had a flashback when he heard Joe sing the remake of the Temptations song “My Lord.”
A full day.
This morning we continue down the road to south GA, gnat country, God’s country more. Reidsville BC is having revival services this week, Monday through Wednesday, and we are blessed to lead the worship.
Please pray, as you have so faithfully, for the Spirit to hover, move, bring the revelation of Truth to those who may be veiled in lies. For the broken to realize their Christ was broken for them; for any shackles to be broken off in the only Name that has the power to save.
We will go in expectation and the power of your prayers.
For the glory of Jesus,
Joe and Kim
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I attended a funeral yesterday. A dear, dear friend lost her husband to ALS, in a relatively short time. His funeral was a celebration; much like we experienced at our daughter’s service, the presence of the Lord was tangible, thick.
Their son led us in powerful worship, but really the Spirit led us, and everyone standing beside me led us.
It was a war cry for me, singing the songs, the lyrics I know in my spirit to be true, but sometimes wrestle getting out of my mouth. And when they come out, it’s like a no holds barred, ‘let’s do this’ kind of thing. Like an inner dialogue between God and myself; “I know this is true, that You are real and good, but my heart hurts so badly now in this loss.” And though I’m not flippantly singing, I just wrestle with each word.
Each word sung becomes a stand alone anthem.
Almost like it’s creating something as it comes out.
This struggle of faith is real.
I don’t think I believe anyone who’s said they’ve never doubted.
My wiser than his years son in love shared with me about questioning someone who thinks they have God all figured out, who stops considering the mystery of God.
I’ve doubted more in this past year than I ever have.
And I’ve also gained some new perspective.
Faith is believing in the unseen.
Faith is realizing we don’t have the answers, the explanations, the step by step formula to get out of this place.
I’ve come face to face with the end of life here.
As a mama, anyway, watching my daughter breathe her last.
I’ve come face to face with my disappointment. In God mostly.
Because my expectations were for Him to act a certain way.
To fulfill my agenda. To heal my daughter – here.
And yes, I have known Him through His Word.
It’s not from lack of knowledge or time spent or disinterest that I’ve taken up this expectation.
In fact, I think I’m right where I’m supposed to be.
This journey, my journey and yours, starts in faith and continues by faith.
We are rescued by grace.
And kept by grace.
No “I should’ve,” or “wish I would’ve” or “how could I be so ….?”
“He is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.” 2 Tim. 1:12
We walk in the truth as He reveals it to us.
So in my struggle to relinquish my expectation of God, I find much comfort, power, peace, truth, in corporate worship.
I’m all for private worship. His Presence revealed to me in those private devotions have changed and continue to change my life. I’ve designed an entire retreat experience around being still before the Lord and sitting at His feet.
But He has also called us to be part of the Body.
His love for us makes a way for us to live this life here – fully, overcoming,
And worshiping with other believers is a way to that Life.
Yes, even if you struggle to sing the words because you’re hurting or wondering if they’re true because you feel so awful right now,
Sing because of that very thing.
Sing as if your life depends upon it. Because it does.
Let your mind hear the words deliberate come from your mouth.
The Spirit sings truth, the mind hears it and is renewed.
And sense the great cloud of witnesses around you, beside you. Take in the glory of His presence.
Every word is an anthem, a prayer, a declaration of His goodness, His power, His sovereignty. His love.
I’m singing with you,
Joe was bitten by our cat on his right hand Feb. 7 and ended up with a very nasty infection that became septic and spread up his entire arm, landing him in the hospital for 11 days.
Talk about unexpected.
We’re still reeling a bit from the after glow of his recent injury and the fact that it is taking so long to heal.
But we experienced God’s Presence in the hospital in many ways and continue to look for Him in the every day.
You know Joe and his humor, so picture all the nurses and staff coming in to visit him, probably a little more often than most, because even through his pain, he was still his crazy funny self.
I love that about him.
He had some deep conversations with some of the nurses about the Holy Spirit; he gave some marital advice to a male nurse. He even sang a little to one of the nurses. Not surprised are you?
We both fell in love with many of the staff there. A smile, extra hug, a thank you, a whispered prayer, are little things in and of themselves, but when done as unto the Lord, can become big in the Kingdom.
Joe continues to heal at home. it’s been over 3 weeks and he’s still on antibiotics. The swelling continues to go down a little each day. He had a follow up visit with the Doctor yesterday and she agreed it looked better and cleared him to travel.
Which we will do tomorrow!
Thank you Lord!
We leave in the morning for a revival in Independence, Mississippi, which starts Sunday morning and goes through Wednesday evening, March 3-6th.
Please join us in prayer for a move of the Holy Spirit in these meetings. We can plan and schedule a “revival” on the calendar but there is no way man can manufacture it, it has to be a work of the Spirit. But we can pray and ask for Him to move; to lead people to trust Christ as Savior; to revive the hearts of those weary with religion, to lead others to repentance through his wonderful kindness, and to bring us all to a greater revelation of his holiness.
As you pray, give thanks to God for what He will do. We will praise Him for His goodness.
Thank you for taking time to read this and for praying with us and for us. Thank you for your generosity in giving. We are more aware than ever that your giving to this ministry, financially and in prayer, are the fuel to our going. It is indeed a partnership we have together in the Gospel; all for the glory of Christ.
We love you and thank our God upon every remembrance of you.
Please feel free to share this newsletter with your friends who may want info on our ministry.
All our love,
Joe and Kim
I met several wonderful women at a Ministry Wives Retreat a couple of years ago. I wasn’t the worship leader or the speaker this time, but just set up a table with some resources from our ministry along with a bowl of – chocolate, the love language of women everywhere.
God gave me a kiss that day as I got to meet these ladies who serve their churches and their communities with their husbands. Some shared a little of their story with me; some just a smile. But God had required of me to see and listen to these women. Whoever He put in my path, whoever came up to my table, was to be looked at in the eye, receive a genuine smile and a warm embrace. I wanted, no Hewanted them to know that they were seen and heard and loved.
These ladies were wives of ministry church leaders. Their husbands served on a church staff in various positions. Most of them, safe to say, served smaller congregations; I would bet a lot of their husbands were bi-vocational, working a full time job along with their ministry responsibilities. Most of these women worked full time as well.
This retreat was organized by a friend of mine, who serves with her husband in a large church in metro Atlanta. Her heart has always been to encourage other ministers’ wives. She gets them. She puts on a great weekend for these ladies; time away for them to be ministered to, time for worship, with special speakers, break out sessions, a little market place, spa services and more.
I have always loved her heart for these women. These women who are mostly in smaller rural areas of our state don’t have access to this special treatment and are so deserving of it and hungry for it.
I loved watching them mill around the room drinking up the warm fellowship. That alone, was well worth the trip. Being a minister’s wife can make for an isolated life. Who knows the daily struggles and burdens and joys better than another sister who walks the same road?
I loved seeing them line up for their neck and shoulder massages or walk out beaming with a new hairstyle, or gathering in the prayer room to pray together.
You know that prompting you get when God says – “Look at this, take notice. I see these women in all their beauty, their frustrations, their fears, their hopes, their unanswered prayers, their longings for their marriages, their children, all of it, and I want them to know I see them.”
Holy moments .
Remember in Genesis 16 when Hagar, who after having done what her mistress had asked of her, found herself used and abused and fleeing to the desert? But God found herby a spring of water in the wilderness. He spoke to her, he asked her where was she coming from and where was she going. God told her that her unborn son would become a nation. And He instructed her to go back and submit to her mistress.
She knew God in a new way that day, by a new name. He revealed himself to her as as the God who sees, El Roi, as the One who looks after her.
That encounter with God gave her strength to go back to Abram and Sarai.
Sometimes we need to know God sees us, that he looks after us.
These women, who give their lives to serve their families, their churches, their communities, their employers, needed that.
Though they live visible to many eyes, they can feel like no one really sees them.
Do you feel unseen?
Perhaps these thoughts run through your head from time to time:
No matter how much I do, it’s never enough. Does anyone ever notice?
I am physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted.
I really believe God called me to this, but where’s the joy?
How can these people be so mean?
If anyone really knew what I struggle with, what goes on in our family, they wouldn’t want me here.
Is there a safe place where I can be real?
I am a minister’s wife. But I get to serve together with my husband and mostly on the road traveling from one church to another. He has been on staff at several churches over the years though so I have brushed shoulders with you, dear one. My heart has been heavy with you and for you as you desire to live fully in the moments of your ministry to your church and to your family.
This desire to be truly seen is something I believe, all women, all people, share.
God created us with that need and He desires for us to find it met, perfectly, in Him.
Whether you find yourself on the run to the wilderness, or already there, may you feel His compassionate eyes on you today and know Him as the One who sees you and takes care of you.
And then, after your intimate encounter with your El Roi, go back and have coffee with a sister who feels unseen. Share the chocolate kiss with a friend.
I’d love to hear from you.
“So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, ‘You are a God of seeing,’ for she said, ‘Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.’ ” Genesis 16:13 (ESV)
Seen by Him,
I love this picture my son in love sent me in December. He took his children into the national forest to search for and cut down the perfect Christmas tree. (not like Christmas Vacation) He just does cool things like that all the time.
When I looked at this, I couldn’t help but notice these small humans, my perfect grandchildren’s faces. They look content and even a little adventurous. Their Dad is ahead of them and they’re on their way into the snowy forest on a path they’ve never been on before.
Brack is a single dad; he’s an amazing dad. This is his new path now. He’s also a widower. What?!? Yea – just doesn’t sound right, does it? He would totally put in a good descriptive word right here that would be so cool, but I’m not that cool. But, I do learn from him, just like I learned so much from his freakin’ awesome wife, my daughter, who passed away 8 months ago from brain cancer.
Anger still bites; you can tell, right? But staring at these faces, brave little faces, simmers the stinging frost bite into warm liquid gold of joy and wonder – and hope. They don’t know where they’re headed exactly. They’re just following their Dad who’s promised them an adventure. And they know him well enough to know that he will deliver on his promise.
Take notice, Kim
They stand side by side. Time alone will tell how these days will have forged their sibling relationship. But for now, they just walk together and follow the one who loves them the most in this world (except, of course, for Nana and Granny CC) into the unknown.
Walking an unfamiliar path is not as daunting and is much more fun with a friend.
Everything in me wants to be like them. To trust like them. To follow like them. To stand close together like them. To smile at the wonder of it all like them.
”Learn this well: Unless you dramatically change your way of thinking and become teachable, and learn about heaven’s kingdom realm with wide-eyed wonder of a child, you will never be able to enter in. Whoever continually humbles himself to become like this gentle child is the greatest one in heaven’s kingdom realm. And if you tenderly care for this little one on my behalf, you are tenderly caring for me.” Matthew 18: 3-5 (TPT)
Off we go….
With much much love,