Sunday, December 8, 2013

Why I Went to Church Today (hashtag Icepocalypse2013)

First of all, let me state from the outset, this blog is about me. It's not about you. I know in me writing that you're going to think that it really is about you but, I promise, it's not.

Second of all, you should know I'm a homebody and the most chicken person you'll ever meet. I'm afraid of everything. Johnny and I went to some friends' house Friday night and my blood pressure was certainly up by the time we arrived. Icepocalypse has me wanting to stay put, that's for sure. My man, on the other hand, is not afraid of anything and driving on ice is no problem for him.

My reason for going to church today has nothing to do with being married to the pastor but it has everything to do with loving the church. I've mostly always loved church. Of course, there were some times when I was younger when my parents forced me to go when I didn't want to. I also stopped going to church by my own choice for a while when I was in college. I'm not sure about the exact moment but, after a time away, I started going back. Then I went as a leader with my home church to Centrifuge after I graduated from college. God got a hold of me there and, since that time, there's been no turning back.

I know the church is the body of Christ and is made up of people and not buildings. I also know that we can meet with God anywhere but there's something sacred and holy about a weekly gathering in the building we call church. I had such a sense of expectation today. I was there to meet with God and I was not disappointed.

My reason for going to church today had to do with a book I just finished reading for the second time. It has affected me so much I literally can't stop thinking about it. The book is The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken. Part of the book is about Mr. Ripken's journey to areas where the church of Jesus is persecuted and his conversations with those folks. In one European country, a believer who had been imprisoned said the Ripken, "Don't ever give up in freedom what we would never have given up in persecution! That is our witness to the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ."

Don't ever give up in freedom what we would never have given up in persecution.

I know sometimes I take for granted how easy it is to decide to go or not to go to church. I forget how much some people around the world are willing to risk to gather to worship, to own a Bible, to share the name of Jesus with someone else.

One of the songs we sang this morning at church was "How Great is Our God." Every time, every single time we sing that song I think about my first trip to the East Asian continent. I think it was 2007. Those folks know about persecution. They live it. On that trip one of our stops was at a women's center. I was traveling with a group of American women and we had an opportunity to share briefly with the women at the center. The center was for teaching trades, the Bible, and also teaching English. As we concluded our time there, we wrote the words to the chorus of that song on the board. It's not too many words and they are fairly simple. Every time, every single time I hear or sing that song, I see those precious women's faces at the women's center singing that song.  Definitely one of those times of worship that time or distance cannot erase.

Mostly, I went to church today because I love God. Really, I'm not insinuating that if you didn't go that you don't. In fact, those guys who were up there before church started to shovel off the parking lot so we'd be safe probably love God more than I do. I'm just in a place right now where I'm desperate to hear from Him. Did you ever have a time when you were going through a valley and God was so evident that you didn't have to wonder what He was up to? Even in a hard circumstance you felt His presence so personally and vividly? Today Johnny preached about Immanuel, God with us. One of his points was "God with us does not always change the circumstance but it always impacts the results." I'm not in a valley but I so want to hear from God like I did when I was in one a few years ago. Unlike Ahaz in the Scripture text today, I did ask for signs and God used some and it blew me away. Right now, I want the voice without the valley. Part of that is me knowing that I need to slow down and focus on Him. Not on doing things but just Him - worshipping Him, adoring Him, learning more about Him to know Him more. So, going to church today was to do just that.

Finally, I'm really glad I went to church today because McKenzie sang "O Holy Night." That was heavenly!

Be safe out there, people! Us Texans just don't do ice!

Serving the King,


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Struggle Between What I Want and What I Want

I'm selfish and I know it. Isn't that the fallen nature of mankind - to be selfish and self-centered and to always want what we want? My problem is my struggle between what I want in the flesh and what I want as a follower of Jesus. And, truly, I want to be a follower of Jesus and I want that to be the thing I want most. But it's not near enough of the time.

The thing that's most pronounced in my life right now is this house I'm dreaming of in the country. I'm all about Pinterest and pinning my hopes and dream rooms all on my board I've titled "For Our House in the Country." My spare moments are spent looking at floor plans and the website my sister-in-law, Ginger,  turned me onto,

But I want to be thinking about Jesus and how to live like Him. I want to be thinking about how to advance His Kingdom, build His Kingdom not about building a house in the country.

I want a big house with wood trim around every door and window and plenty of room for my future grandchildren to come and play. I want marble countertops, wood floors, and every new gadget that lets you lock your doors & adjust your thermostats from your iPad.

But I really want to feed hungry people, to have more money to give so that someone will hear the gospel message and be saved. I want to have room in my budget so I can go on mission and share Life and Light with others. I want to support my relatives and friends who are living on the mission field and have given so much more than I have.

I want life to be easy and comfortable and on my timetable. I want my current house to sell for my asking price. I want my kids and my husband to be healthy and happy and healing for that thing that I've asked about so many times.

But I want to know what it's like to live dependent on the one who holds time in His hands and, really, to whom time doesn't matter. I want to know what's like to rejoice and be thankful in everything. I want to know with every fiber of my being that whatever I'm going through now is being worked for good. That not one struggle or moment is ever wasted. I want to live with eternity in mind and not just the things that are going on around me right now.

I really want to live like I believe heaven is real and it's the dessert, the icing on the cake. I want that thought to be the first when I wake up and when I lay my head down at night. I want to remember that people are suffering and are being persecuted for the things I take for granted. And, as a result of remembering, live to make a difference. Not focusing so much on my current abode and that future place in the country but that future place where I'll live forever.

This struggle, this desire to have what I want and what I want is daily. Really, I want it all. I want both. I want to have what I want and I want to have what God wants for me. So, I'll keep praying about that until what I want becomes what He wants, until my heartbeat is for His. Until the things that I want in the flesh don't matter near as much as the things that matter to Him. Until easy and comfortable doesn't matter near as much as obedience. Until bringing God glory is the thing I want most of all.

Serving the King,


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Exciting and Blessed Days

These days - oh, these days - are so full of change. Number 3, the baby of the family, is in college. In college! He joined his sis at DBU. The firstborn came back home after college and is in grad school. And, he's ENGAGED! He is engaged to the most lovely, darling girl. Oh, we love her so already and are so excited that Josh is bringing her into our family.
These days were supposed to be our "empty nest" days. We're glad to have Josh at home this year since when he leaves next time it will be for good. Johnny and I started thinking about being just the 2 of us in this house, though. We hate to leave this house because so much good life has been lived here. Our kids practically grew up here. Yet, so much is being built up around us and we simply don't need all the space we have in this house anymore. We started looking for some property just a bit toward the country a few months ago. And, we found this little piece of paradise and, as of today, it belongs to us! It's 2.83 acres and we plan to build a house on it as soon as we can.
You know you're in the country when you go walking around on your land and the neighbors come out to meet you! We're going to be country folks and we couldn't be more excited!

So, we're looking forward to a summer wedding and building a house... yep, it's going to be a blast! 

Serving the King,


Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Night at Camp

I was in a meeting on Sunday evening and we talked about blogs. I knew I had to write a blog since it has been over a month since my last post. I thought I might write about some things we talked about in that meeting and dedicate this blog to Sharon Lee. Something entirely more impressive came up last night. I hope you'll indulge me.

My man was asked to come out to student camp last night and say a little something to our students. We had already heard of the great things God was doing among our students - kids coming from death to life. We arrived toward the end of the worship time because Johnny taught Bible study at our church and then had a premarital counseling time with a couple he'll marry in a few weeks. It was commitment time and students were called forward that wanted to follow Jesus. This was no secretive hand-raising while every head is bowed and every eye is closed. This was, everyone is looking, everyone is going to know, and it's going to take some courage to stand. On 3, they stood and the very next heartbeat was filled with clapping and cheering. We're used to clapping at our church. We always clap when someone comes to life in Jesus. There's something powerful about that agreement.

Those students and their counselors exited the building then the speaker made another appeal. Come forward, he said, if you feel God calling you to ministry, missions, using your gifts and talents for Him. A huge group of students moved forward. The speaker was visibly moved and so was I. He called for a time of prayer over those students. He talked about how ministry can be hard. He told how ministry can be lonely and, at times, you can feel isolated. For sure I know about that. Even for my own kids that are called to ministry, I know some days are going to be so difficult. The people we are called to serve can be, at times, arduous to serve. Johnny will often tell young folks called to ministry to be sure because there will be days when you have to know for sure that God has called and He is the only way you will get through that day.

Look, I'm not being a skeptic, but I know not every person who walked forward last night will be called to vocational ministry. I know some of them will have the opportunity to minister in all sorts of jobs and professions. What I do know for sure, after standing in that room last night, is that God is doing something awesome in their midst. After hearing their testimonies and descriptions of how God is speaking to those students through His Word and through others this week, I know they are listening. Some of those students in that room will do what others who have been a part of that group before them have done - they will truly commit their life to full-time ministry. It's something awesome to behold.

I've been to the Passion conferences and have seen 10s of 1000s of students worshiping unashamed, hands lifted high. I saw hands raised last night. I heard the sound of their voices. I've seen Facebook posts and tweets about how God is moving in the lives of students in camps all over the place this summer. This I know for sure, God is raising up a generation of students for the sake of His name.

In Acts 14:16-17, Paul and Barnabas were in Lystra and Paul said, "In the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways; yet He did not leave Himself without a witness."

God is not leaving Himself without a witness. I've seen proof of it. There's a generation rising up. Here's the questions for us older people - will we match them in our call, in our enthusiasm? Will we model what it means to live wholly and completely for God? Will we encourage our students to live for Him even when it's hard? Will we support those who are called to vocational ministry and how will we do it?

So, that was my night at camp. Can't wait to get back out there tonight!

Serving the King,


Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Ebb and Flow of Life and Other Blessings

I just looked up ebb and flow in the dictionary. I found it under idioms and phrases in a free online dictionary. Here's the definition, "to decrease and then increase, as with tides; a decrease followed by an increase, as with tides." As far as I can tell, the ebb and flow of life is biblical. Job, of the Bible, said it this way, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

As I might have mentioned a time or two or a thousand, we've been through some interesting days around here. Johnny and I talked just today about a vacation we cancelled last summer to make a trip to see his dad when we realized the cancer was back and the doctor's said there was nothing else they could do. Less than 3 weeks after that we made another trip to Georgia, when we said goodbye.

Maybe it's because that was right before my baby's senior year in high school but it seems like I've been particularly emotional for about 11 months now. I'm a person that runs on high emotion anyway - just ask anyone in my family. There's been a lot of ebb and flow going on around here and I'm a little exhausted by it.

I started to make a laundry list of all the happenings going on around here but I decided to cut to the chase. I sat on the floor of my bathroom today and just started crying. Part of it was this...
We spent the last day and a half getting our third child registered for classes at DBU. Yep, following in his siblings' footsteps, Jacob is now officially a Patriot. The tears weren't tears of sadness, really, although I'm a little sad for me because I've been at this parent thing for 23 years now and it's who I've become. A mom, for heaven's sake, is my highest calling. It's been my favorite job on the planet. Not that I'm going to stop being a mom because obviously I'm not. My role's changing and I'm getting used to that. 

The tears were an outpouring of gratitude. Honestly, even with the ebb and flow of these days, I see God's hand in so many ways. His realness is evident and powerful. His care is comforting and compassionate. His plan is so much better than I can ask or imagine. 

Do you ever just have a moment when you realize how good God is and you just have to respond? I mean, it's spontaneous not like a planned time of worship. I've laughed out loud at times and I've shed tears at times. More tears lately, it seems. 

Mostly, I'm thankful for the awesome hand of God in my life and in the lives of my family people - and other people I love. 

And, because of it, all I really have is a thank You. 

Thank You.

Serving the King,


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

2 Day Get-Away in the Great State of Texas

Those of you who might happen to read this post and live life in close proximity to us know we've had an interesting few months. I can't quite come up with the right adjective for these days (weeks, months) but it's been a ride, that's for sure. Our youngest left for his senior trip on Monday so we planned to get away - with no real agenda and (yikes) without even a hotel reservation. For a suggestion for such a trip I headed over to and decided on The Old-Fashioned Drive as a sort of guide. The OFD is a drive from Paris to Decatur. We didn't make it to Decatur but here's our 2-day get-away in the great state of Texas in picture and description:

Since Johnny and I bought my dream car - a little red convertible - we've talked about just getting in and driving. Spring days in Texas were made for it.
Our first stop was in Deep Ellum for lunch at The Free Man. I had the VooDoo Chicken Sandwich with sweet potato fries. The sandwich was grilled chicken with a spicy "voodoo" sauce and fried pickles on it. So yummy!

After lunch, we hopped on to I-30 and headed out of the Metroplex. Eventually we got to TX-24 and headed north toward Commerce. After a stop in Commerce that yielded nothing we got back on our way toward Paris. We stopped in the small town of Cooper and found the Miller Drug Store and Soda Fountain which, we found out, has been featured in Texas Highways Magazine. Johnny had a chocolate shake and I had a vanilla malt. The guy behind the counter told us he made them pretty much the way they've been made there for the last 60 years. He was trained by a lady who only recently retired after working there for about 60 years. He told me she trained him to make malts and shakes and the flicking of a towel. His great uncle opened the soda fountain which was later purchased by his grandfather then his dad and, hopefully, one day he'll be the owner of it.

We finally arrived in Paris and what would a trip to Paris be without a trip to the Eiffel Tower!

The old town square of Paris is filled with shops and storefronts in historic buildings. Downtown Paris was destroyed in 1916 by a fire but was rebuilt and is really a neat place. Several of the antique shops were closed on a Monday afternoon but there were plenty open. (probably more than Johnny Dickerson wanted to go to!) We walked around and enjoyed the beautiful Texas day and returned in the morning to the Paris Bakery for a bagel and really delicious cappuccino.

After a stop for some sunscreen, we took 82W and eventually 69N toward Denison. It was mostly 2-lane highway lined by trees at some points, fields, and cows. When we turned off of 82W and onto 69N Johnny laughed and said, "We're just driving through the country." You know, the country roads where the slower-moving trucks pull over to the frontage to let faster vehicles fly by pass. If they didn't pull over, no worries for Johnny - as he noted, that little red convertible has some kick to it.

We ended up on Denison Main Street around lunch time and went to CJ's Coffee Cafe. Delicious! Johnny had the meat and cheese board - they literally brought out a cutting board loaded with meat and cheese and 2 yummy buns that were kind of like Hawaiian rolls which, btw, are favorites at the Dickerson house.

After lunch we walked up and the street for a while getting Johnny's fill of antique stores for the next decade but ended up at Buffy's Cupcakes. Johnny had (no surprise) chocolate and I had The Elvis - a peanut butter cupcake with banana cream piped in and peanut butter icing and a banana chip to top it off. Again, so delicious!

The purpose of the trip was to get away from the stress of life (and events of these days) and, honestly, people. I understand that the nature of our gig is that people are our business. Frankly, it can be exhausting when it seems like there are so many needs. I'm not complaining - we have a beautiful life. And, God has been so faithful. My memory verse for these 2 weeks is Psalm 21:13, "Be exalted, O Lord, in Your strength; we will sing and praise Your power." His strength and power are enough. Sometimes we just need to rest. How did we travel before days of cars with GPS? From downtown Denison we typed in "parks" and found a nice, little park on Loy Lake. We just happened to pack the hammock that Jessica gave us for a combined Mother's Day/Father's Day gift. We decided to try it out.

I've lived in Texas almost my whole life and Johnny has been a transplanted Texan for over 25 years and we realize there are some pretty neat places out there yet to be explored by us. With the empty nest part of our life rapidly approaching, we hope to take more get-aways in that little red car.

Serving the King,


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Other Side

I feel like I can breathe today. For too many days, months really, I've been trying to spin too many plates. You know, holding sticks high above one's head and keeping the plates going simultaneously. The fact is, I'm not a good plate spinner. I don't multi-task well. I'm easily distracted by the unimportant details and they begin to consume me more than the big stuff. The important things take a backseat to the insignificant. I don't like it when I'm so looking forward to something being past that I don't relish the present. These days are far too precious not to take advantage of every single moment.

I don't know about you but sometimes I have a hard time figuring out what's important and what's insignificant. When a women's ministry event is upon us, the kind of cake we'll order seems like an important consideration. Really - my friend ordering the cakes just emailed me this morning that the flavor of the month is peanut butter. Having peanut butter bundt cake sounds pretty amazing. I really am joking about that (sort of) but these are the things that distract me.

How embarrassing to admit that. Especially since we had our world hunger emphasis just last weekend. What a marvelous day to see almost 400 volunteers packaging over 128,000 meals for the starving - scooping beans, rice, soy, and vitamins into little bags and realizing that each bag feeds 6 people. And I'm worried about eating peanut butter cake. That's shameful.

But I feel like today I'm on the other side. One season is coming to a close so that I might focus on what's ahead. Not just ahead in the weeks and months but what's ahead in the next moment. My desire is to be open to the things God puts before me and to be able to discern His leading from other's expectations or my own aspirations.

I'm glad for change and thankful for renewal. I can't help but welcome the new season but will be mindful of the things that got me into the last. I'm breathing deeply today from the truth of God's Word and am blessed that is washes over fresh and new even though it's ancient text. The Holy Scriptures, the God-breathed words, are life. Especially for me on the other side.

Serving the King,


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Why I Love Those Ladies, Let me Count the Ways

As I stood in the kitchen making lunch for my man (who was flying home from a trustee meeting in Nashville) I was thinking about the group of women that I get to hang out with on Wednesday mornings. Honestly, I feel the word love is overused so when it comes to talking about my Wednesday morning Bible study ladies, love just doesn't seem big enough. I adore them. I cherish our time together.   They're magnificent. (and I'm not using hyperbole, though I've been known to a time or two) So, in honor of Valentines' Day and my adoration of these women, let me count the ways I love them:

1) They're studying the Bible. I love that about them.
2) They're showing up every week to talk about what God has been teaching them over the last week.
3) They're being vulnerable and sharing their lives.
4) They know what is said at Bible study stays at Bible study when it comes to private matters.
5) But, when it comes to matters of faith, they're learning how to share the important things with others.
6) They are encouragement to each other and to me.
7) They're asking questions and seeking for deeper answers.
8) They're believing God for those answers.
9) We're mixed ages and generations but we so get along and enjoy each other.
10) We can be serious or silly but it all comes from a deep affection that is rooted in the Father's love.

My heart overflows and these words hardly seem adequate. I'm grateful and blessed.

Serving the King,


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting

I have always enjoyed this hymn since I first heard it at a Beth Moore Living Proof Live event in the late 1990s. This morning I found out that it was also a favorite of one of my heroes of missions and of the faith, Hudson Taylor. I have been reading a book about his life written by his son and daughter-in-law, Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secrets, on and off for months. Hudson Taylor was a missionary and founder of a mission organization to China from the 1850s to early 1900s. It's one of my favorite books of all time. I wanted my daughter to read it but told her she had to get her own copy. I'm simply unwilling to part with mine. (selfish, I know)

Here's the story: once while in London, Taylor received word that some of his missionaries were facing great difficulties. He began to whistle this hymn he liked so much and his associate asked how he could whistle when there was so much trouble. Taylor replied, "Would you have me anxious and troubled? That would not help them, and would certainly incapacitate me for my work. I have just to roll the burden on the Lord." (209)

Powerful words to read from one who is prone to worry. I love the thought, "just ... roll the burden on the Lord." And rest.

Enjoy the video!

Serving the King,