Never Forget

Each year, this day brings a flood of memories and emotions. Chris was in class at BHS. Alex was still asleep. I was suspicious – but not yet certain that I was pregnant with Hope. I was up and eager to start the day’s lessons at home.

I had written my home school lesson plans days before. Sonlight’s K-2 curriculum had us studying the story of The Tower of Babel that day. I had manipulatives pulled to create towers out of blocks to allow my freshly five-year-old kindergarten son to act out the story of the falling tower. The learning space (kitchen table) was set up waiting for him to awaken. After what would ensue in the coming hours, I simply couldn’t do it.

It was around 9 when my phone rang. It was Chris. His voice wasn’t normal, nor was it normal for him to call me when he was supposed to be teaching. Something was very wrong. Somberly, he told me, “Turn on the TV and get Joan on the phone. You need to check on Al. Immediately.“

Joan is my first cousin, for whom I am named. She and Al Mangarelli are my second parents; I was their practice baby before they had children. They would become my godparents. I went on trips with their family, stayed with them when my own parents were away, and, since we all went to church together, went home to play dolls with their daughter Linda most every Sunday until 1987 when Al got transferred back home to New York. Al loved music and sang beautifully, and it was he who introduced me to old Chicago and Manilow. Together we sang duets at the top of our lungs. Almost weekly, we sang the entire score of “Annie” as Annie and Daddy Warbucks. Al hired my sister Susan when she entered the work force. When she married and moved to Queens, Al hired Susan again to work for him in the New York office. Chris knew when he married me that he had to love Joan and Al. Our first big vacation as a married couple was to go to New York to visit my Mangarelli family. I inherited my love for lap dogs, morning coffee, and cannolis from Joan and Al. I named my daughter after Joan’s mom, my Aunt Lillian, who, at age 13, cared for my own mother when she was a sickly child stricken with kidney disease. Yes, we are a close family. As the images filled the airwaves, Chris’s heart was ripping open, and he knew mine was about to, too.


Here, one of my big brothers is holding me as a newborn. Al is in the background. I’ve never not had Joan and Al in my life.

Joan, age 26, is holding me at a family dinner.

Sunday after church with Joan and Al, circa 1976

Here I am holding Linda shortly after she was born in 1977.

With my dad in the pulpit and Mom playing the organ for the service, I sat with Aunt Lillian every Sunday during church. Having just lost her husband the year before I was born, there was no mistaking; I was her girl, and she was my surrogate grandmother.

Me with Al, circa 1978

Me with Linda at Joan and Al’s house, circa 1978

Me with Linda celebrating a family birthday, circa 1979

All of us at the 1982 World’s Fair

Linda and me, early 1980s

Me holding Paul, circa 1983 at a family gathering

Family Christmas in New Jersey, 1987


The NY phone lines were all jammed, and all of my Georgia family were all calling one another for updates on Al, who worked as a VP of Marsh and McLennan with a corner office in the World Trade Center. South Tower. 2 WTC. 49th floor. Somehow, I finally got Linda on the phone and eventually spoke with Joan, too. Al was not at his office; Marsh had him flying out of Newark that morning on a business trip to their D.C. office. To think; he could’ve been in the airport at the same time as those on Flight 93 who terrorized our entire planet that day, and he was in D.C. – the other targeted location that day. Later, Paul drove down to D.C. to pick up his dad and, in the immediate aftermath, assisted in the cleanup efforts back up in NYC. As it all unfolded, we caught snapshots of the hell our beloved family was living and grieved – and rejoiced – at the same time.

Al lost many of his dear friends and coworkers that day. He would’ve retired the following March, but there was no office to go back to. Marsh and McLennan lost hundreds of employees that day. Real people with real lives were forever changed. Al’s was, and he wears it all to this day, sometimes barely able to speak of it. Through tears, he has told me that he believes God must have spared him that day for a reason, and he wants to carry out that purpose, whatever it is. What a lesson for us all.

Sometimes I may not speak of it either. Other times I may need to unload. But I can’t help but remember; it was far too personal. No, I’ll never forget.

September 11, 2001 (photo credit unknown)



The Georgia Bulldogs are playing for the 2018 National Championship! Our house is coming unglued!

I’m not going to lie. I’m a Dawgs fan. I haven’t been able to help being a Dawgs fan my whole life. I love everything red and black. Sometimes I’m not so subtle about it!

I had two older teenage brothers who played football in high school when I was just a wee wad. Their school colors were also red and black. My mom made me a size 3T cheerleading outfit to wear to the games. We had several family members who graduated from Georgia. Meanwhile, Lindsay Scott (the guy who caught the TD pass from UGA QB Buck Belue to win the 1980 Championship) was from my parents’ hometown. Yeah, you could say that our house was a Dawgs house.

Of course for as long as I can remember, I’ve loved music. I vividly remember sneaking down to my oldest brother’s room in the basement while he was at school and playing his records — including this one. I would sing and dance to the “Bulldawg Boogie,” memorizing every word.

As a young teenager, I would tune in to listen to Larry Munson on AM 750 on Saturdays just so I could intelligently talk Bulldogs football with Allan Vickery at church on Sunday morning. One of the schools I attended was also the Bulldogs, and we wore red and black. We even had an English Bulldog at our house — yes, named Uga — as a pet.

Lift the needle and stop a few years later (1998, to be exact) to when my husband decided to pursue his doctorate at UGA.

We became a legit UGA family, but Athens really got in my blood when Chris was injured during the middle of his residency. He was in such intense pain that he couldn’t function without meds or drive himself. So, little four-year-old Alex and I drove him to Athens every day, eventually joined an Athens-area homeschool group, and fell in love with our new home away from home.

When it came time for Alex to go to summer baseball camp as a 7th grader, he was delighted to get to live on campus for a week and proudly wear that UGA uniform. Little sister cheered him and the Dawgs on!

Fast forward a few more years to when it came time for my own children to take voice lessons. I drove them to Athens to work with the head of the vocal department at UGA. Once again, we found ourselves at home in Athens.

And of course, we have cheered for many former BHS students through the years who went on to play for my husband’s alma mater.

I guess I’ve had no choice but to be a Dawgs fan. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Regardless of the haters and without regard for the outcome, I hunkered down and cheered for my team through the wins, losses, and heartbreaks, and raised my kids to love all things Georgia.

So, here we are back at present day. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been warmed by all of the nostalgia and excited at the prospect of the second Dawgs National Championship win in my lifetime, particularly as it related to my own personal journey as the mother of two fans, and the biggest fan of one Dawg in particular — my husband.

You see, our personal journey has been a tough one. It’s been full of ups and downs, and moments when it didn’t look like there’d be a happy ending.

When Chris started his doctoral work in the fall of 1998, things were different. We had one child: a two-year-old son. Chris was teaching full-time, endeavoring to build a world class Fine Arts program for the school system, charged with building a Fine Arts Center, playing at a church part-time, being a husband, son, brother, and dad. Plus, I was about to sign a record deal. We had so many obstacles, but Chris knew that he was called to do this degree. The Lord impressed upon him that it was going to be the fight of his life. He was ready. Or so he thought.

Over a two-week period of time in 1999, Chris couldn’t eat, lost a lot of weight, and was in severe pain. He was diagnosed with GERD when an endoscopy revealed erosion on the lower two-thirds of his esophagus. He began a course of treatment and attempted to get on the road to health.

In the fall of 2000, Chris was in the middle of his residency at UGA. Personally, he was killing the workout game. He was owning life. He was looking great, feeling great, busting it, earning the respect of his professors and colleagues, and had a 4.0 in his doctoral work. While bench pressing one day, he unknowingly blew out two disks in his neck. His pain was debilitating. Surgery was the only option. (Did you hear me say that he was in the middle of his residency?) There was no other option but to finish the semester, but he had to have pain meds to survive and couldn’t drive on all those heavy meds. Little Alex and I rallied behind him and he pushed through, driving him around and adjusting our lifestyle to support him. Chris successfully finished the semester and had surgery the week of Christmas, 2000.

Life became very real and very hard very quickly. Going all in behind Chris meant serious lifestyle shifts. The music industry was rapidly changing. As I listened through pitch tapes from publishers, my four-year-old was asking me what certain words meant as I raced to turn down the volume knob. All things combined, I walked away from the music industry in 2000.

After his surgery, things were never the same. In 2001, Chris really began having some weird health issues. We got pregnant in 2001, and Hope was born in May, 2002.

Looking back to when Hope was a baby, I probably had postpartum depression and didn’t know it. What I do know is that in the year following — in 2003, Chris was facing his oral and written comprehensive exams for his doctorate at UGA, was diagnosed with three incurable auto-immune diseases, and his brother was murdered. For me, I went from near-stardom to finishing Alex’s third (and part of fourth) grade year of homeschooling with a one-year-old crawling on me, leaving me feeling completely inept. In Georgia at the time, students had to be tested every three years (3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th). Feeling utterly inadequate and sure that I had failed as a mother — certain the indictment would reflect poorly on me, those catty remarks I’d overheard from Chris’s co-workers condescending toward homeschool moms haunted me. I was paralyzed by fear. I couldn’t go through with testing Alex. If he failed, then I’d failed.

We continually put off testing and finally consulted with the principal at the lower school in the system where Chris worked. She advised us to put him in public school and have him repeat the third grade. Wouldn’t you know it? He soared academically and made a perfect score on most everything.

Chris passed his oral and written comprehensive exams at UGA in September 2003 with flying colors and was told his academic performance was “legendary.” What an amazing end to a troubled path! We were relieved. All that was left was writing his dissertation.

However, the damage had been done at home. Our marriage was falling apart. But for the grace of God and a wonderful, Godly, Christian marriage counselor, our story would’ve ended there.

But God had another plan.

We continued to press through some pretty hard times over the next few years. Financial struggles were crippling us. Just when we’d take a step forward, we’d fall twelve steps behind. We continued to pay tuition to be a student at UGA while “writing a dissertation,” though months turned into years without the first paragraph written. The reasons were legit, and there was no laziness involved. We continued to work harder and harder as the dissertation fell from the back burner completely off the kitchen counter.

By now it was 2015. We knew it was now or never. Chris could walk away and not finish, but would that really satisfy him? Furthermore, as a truly gifted academic, Chris has said for decades that the Lord called him when he was a young man to do a doctorate at a rigorous, secular university so that no man could question his intellect when they attacked his faith. He knew he had to finish.

When he finished the paper and submitted it to the graduate school in the fall of 2017, 19 years after starting the doctoral program at the University of Georgia, we got an email from the graduate school roughly stating:

Dear Mr. Fowler: turns out, your enrollment period has expired.

What? Was anyone going to tell us this?! They took our tuition money; he registered for classes; he’d been working at the school all semester and had been in constant contact with them. Expired?!

Chris contacted the graduate school and explained that he had just submitted his completed dissertation to his committee. They were understanding and had his medical doctors send letters to the graduate school stating the extenuating circumstances leading to the need for an extension.

In November 2017, Chris successfully defended his dissertation before his committee, and they said, “Congratulations, Dr. Fowler! You did it!” On December 15, Chris was hooded as a Doctor of Musical Arts at the University of Georgia, graduating with a 4.0 GPA.

From a kid who was the first person in his family to go to college, whose dad was an orphan and disabled vet with a second grade education, to be called “Dr. Fowler” after such an arduous journey is indeed a miracle.

So yeah, I love the Dawgs. Hey, if you look at it just right, we’ve all got a little of that “dog” spirit in us: we are all the underdog at some point in our lives. Maybe you’re in the midst of your own National Championship moment. No one expects you to win. Vegas odds are piled against you. The struggles you’ve faced stopped you dead in your tracks.

Underdog: don’t let circumstances stand in your way of completing the task God has called you to. If He’s called you to it, it’s already done. Stay ready. Stay willing. He’s able.


Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.

Ecclesiastes 9:10a, English Standard Version



Chris with his major professor, Dr. Mary Leglar, after completing his dissertation defense.



Full of emotion words can’t convey, our son hugs his dad after the dissertation defense. Thank God, it’s over!





Confessions of the Preacher’s Daughter: I’m No Pollyanna

This video makes me proud. It is share-worthy:

I’ve been meaning to blog for a while about this topic, but haven’t made the time. Here once again, this topic brings this thought to mind, so I know it must be for someone.

When I was a freshman in college, I tried to strike up a conversation one day with two older, clearly cynical and jaded students who spoke to me in a cutting and belittling way that hurt me deeply. I’ve never forgotten it. Their eye-rolling and laughing assumption was that I was a happy person because I had never experienced real life, and that I was a simple, idyllic Pollyanna. They couldn’t have been more wrong.

They had no idea that as a preacher’s kid, I sometimes (necessarily) had to go to hospitals with Dad. Grady Hospital’s ER taught me tons about life. The pastor often gets called right after the police in some cases. Sometimes, they call the pastor first, and when the church phone also rings at the parsonage, you pick it up. They had no idea that as an eight-year-old I answered the phone one day and counseled and prayed with a person threatening to take his life. They had no idea that at age 12, my dad was robbed at gunpoint by a crackhead — five days before my sister’s wedding, and that I sat through the trial and helped send a man to prison. They had no idea that I was accosted on the playground as a first grader. They had no idea that one day when I was 12, while my bedroom was being painted, one of our church members committed suicide. It was the painter’s wife. That is a sight I can never forget. They had no idea that I had recorded my first album at age 9 and had sung across Europe at age 10, seeing a way of life outside of my own. They had no idea that I had witnessed the very worst in people as they came to my dad for help; that dropping by the church alone one day at age 17, I walked in on a crazy, naked man who had defecated throughout the church building. They had no idea that while their parents were taking them to soccer and dance practices in their suburban neighborhoods, my parents were feeding homeless people and dragging me to minister’s meetings that Mom catered, while living in East Point meant that our cars were broken into frequently, the church was burglarized frequently, and I knew the right circumstances in which to shoot first and ask questions later. I wonder if they knew what it was like to sleep with a gun under the mattress? I wonder if they knew that my senior year of high school was so tumultuous that I changed schools — twice — and left home? I wonder if they knew that I figured everyone else’s life was Leave-It-To-Beaver and I was some kind of freak?

You may look at me now and think that my life is perfect. A perfect life doesn’t include your brother-in-law being murdered in 2003. Or having your world was turned upside down when your husband is diagnosed with three incurable diseases in the space of a year. Or having so much stress in your marriage that you finally come to the end and decide that it’s really not worth it and head for the door. Not to mention having your financial picture devastated in the economic collapse of 2007. Finally, in 2016, just when we thought we were finally to the light at the end of the tunnel, we lost much of what we owned, I became ill, and once again we took a devastating financial hit because of a massive exposure to a biotoxin due to mold.

Perfect. Right.

So when you see that smile on my face, you can rest assured that there are MILES of struggles behind it. You can rest assured that there is depth and wisdom behind it. You can be confident that my confidence is not in myself, but in my God who has delivered me at every turn and has given me a hope and a purpose.

We can always find the negative, my friend. BUT there’s always positive. Paul wrote to the church at Phillipi to guard their hearts: “Whatsoever things are true… honest… just… pure… lovely… of good report… Think on THESE things.” (Phillipians 4:8)

Our Creator and Father understood that overthinking and pessimism lead to depression and bitterness, and that “unforgiveness” is like a poison that can rot our very souls. Look for the bad, and you’ll find it. But you’ll also find every evil thing.

Look to find the good, my friends. Live in gratitude. (“In ALL things give thanks.”) Sometimes we have to create our smiles. I like what one minister said: “We’re not faking it; we’re faith-ing it.” It’s not about ignoring reality; it’s more about choosing to see the good and setting your mind on things above. It really does start with something THAT simple. 

Let God’s love heal your heart. I know for a fact that He can do it. ❤️

I’m no Pollyanna, but I am an overcomer. The joy of the Lord is my strength.

Confessions of the Preacher’s Daughter: Amazon & Prayers

Have you noticed the new trend on social media where people express their grief and condolences by saying, “I’m so sorry… Prayers to the family,” etc.?

I love the heart. I love the shared sentiment. I love that we bind together and support one another in our deepest, darkest hour. When I’m in pain, I genuinely appreciate the thoughtfulness and concern of others — regardless of the syntax. After all, it’s the thought that counts, right?


There’s just one little problem with that; it’s that little preposition “to” and where it’s aimed. 

Maybe it’s just the destruction of the English language or the “dumbing down of America.” Maybe. Or maybe it’s just bouncing words into thin air without knowing why.

See, we don’t send our prayers *to* people. We send them to God. We send them to God on behalf of people. We send them to God who is exceedingly, abundantly able to do more than we can ask or think. Further, we send them in the Name of Jesus who sits st the right hand of His Father pleading our case — and who is the *only* reason we have freedom to approach the throne of the Almighty. It is only in the Name of Jesus that we can make our petitions. 

So, I appreciate your sending your prayers to me, but unless you write it on a post I happen to see, I’ll never get them. Even if I did get them, what would I do with them? I am powerless in life and death. 

But my God isn’t. He raised people from the dead. He resituated unthinkable situations. When we call on the Name of Jesus, there is power; power to open blinded eyes, to make the lame walk again, to raise the dead — and the power to forgive. 

If you’ve ever heard anyone mock prayer and say that it’s just words bouncing off the ceiling, maybe it’s because they’ve never sent those prayers to the right recipient. 

As a parent, it would be somewhat akin to my child pining in her room secretly wanting something for her birthday. Problem is, she never asked for it. I had no idea that she wanted it. Now, I may not have been able to afford the gift even if I had known, but I wouldn’t want her to get mad at me and feel a wound because I hadn’t come through for her — particularly if she never came to me about it. Further, our relationship isn’t about her coming to see me only when she needs something. (No; that’s my college-aged son. But I digress. Just kidding! 😉) Parenthood is not supposed to be an on-demand only type of relationship. That’s what Amazon is for. A relationship is worth far more than a click to fill a momentary need — especially when you’re ordering from the wrong website and using the wrong type of payment. 👼🏼 

Dear Father God,

Thank you for the opportunity to come to you in prayer. I am like a helpless child in so many ways. You are wise. Help me to trust your wisdom and understanding. Help me to walk in your peace that surpasses my understanding — to be still and know that you are God. Help me to remember to thank you when you answer prayers that I didn’t even remember to ask. Thank you for loving me and calling me your own. It’s because of the mercy-filled Name of Jesus I pray, Amen. 

Looking Ahead
Pray *for* me. Pray *for* others. Talk to God on our behalf and your own. As you converse with Him, pour your heart out to Him. He cares for you so. ❤️ (I Peter 5:7)

Diving Deeper Into His Promise
God doesn’t always choose to answer in the way we request, but His ways are perfect. Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him. He will direct your paths. 
I John 5:14 – This is the confidence that we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

II Chronicles 7:14 – If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 
Jeremiah 29:12 – Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

Coping with Christmas Present

People all around us are hurting for one reason or another, and Christmas can bring out some intense loneliness and bitterness. I joined a support group recently and have appreciated finding that others are going through what I’m enduring. There’s a whole world out there I knew nothing about until I got sick. Now that I’m experiencing it, my whole life looks different than it did six months ago. Most of it I don’t like. Some of it has devastated me and my family. Part of it may kill me. And I really don’t understand much of it.

I do know that God allows us to be in places where we can help others through their suffering because we have suffered. One person in the group wrote how she is really struggling with the Christmas season in light of her difficult 2016. She posted something that I could — and I’m sure we all could relate to. Then, I read this incredibly share-worthy response from a pastor’s wife who is sick from mold exposure in the parsonage. (Talk about someone who has a right to feel like a victim!) It encouraged me so much that I wanted to share it. 

(The following is an edited excerpt of the pastor’s wife’s share-worthy comment. To protect her privacy, I won’t share this lovely woman’s identity. God knows her, though. Would you say a prayer for her?) 

“…As I struggle this Christmas, I can relate to Mary & Joseph who were misunderstood (unwed, but pregnant), who needed a place to live (no room in the inn), and who left everything behind (in Nazareth) when they fled to Egypt to save their Son’s life. It wasn’t family who came to their financial aid, but magi. At times I am tempted to be angry at God–I mean, He could have prevented our homelessness, our total loss, 6 plus years of health problems, huge debt, etc. Then, I remember that Jesus understands the fear of homelessness: He said that He had no place to call His own or to rest His head. I remember that my wrong doings caused His horrible death! I remember that by the time Jesus died, the only possessions He had to be divided among Roman soldiers were His clothes. (Even I have more than one outfit now.) Plus, Jesus promises never to leave me; that nothing can separate me from His love; that He will give me a peace & joy that passes human understanding; that He will forgive my sins and allow me to spend eternity with Him in heaven if I ask Him to become my Lord and Savior; that He will not waste my tears and sorrow but instead use this suffering for my good; this and SOOO MUCH MORE!! I have wrestled with God, argued with God, and been tempted to give up believing that He is a good Father, but when the tears settle and I listen to His voice and look for His fingerprints on my life, I see that although this has been horrible — and not His chosen will — He is using it to deepen my trust in Him. I can look back and see ways He provided and protected. And even though people I thought should have stepped forward and helped didn’t, because of His love for me, I can forgive and love them… I am the last person qualified to judge others or I must face the same judgment. If I want grace, I need to show it to others. This year, we’re celebrating Christmas without much–no tree, lights, fancy foods, family visiting, cards–just not healthy enough for those things. Something we did do that was a highlight was to purchase 25 food items (one for each day of December) for the local food pantry. We had fun buying our favorite foods that we can’t eat any longer and also baby foods (since it’s celebrating Jesus’ birthday)!”

Now, that’ll preach.

I could get all cliche here and say something like, (imagine my voice getting snarky and mocking here) “Jesus is the greatest Christmas present ever and is the best way to cope with Christmas present.” It’s true, but we don’t need a cliche. No cliche is going to satisfy my level of pain, hurt, confusion, anger, sickness, replenish my bank account, or restore my personal belongings. These are things that only the resurrected Jesus living in me can do and help me overcome through the power of His Holy Spirit. 

Maybe you have been done wrong. Maybe you are struggling with depression this holiday season and don’t see the point. Believe me, I get it. BUT GOD. He is healer, sustainer, provider, counselor, and He has the final word.  One thing I do know: I know that no matter what the struggle is, GOD IS GOD ENOUGH. 

May God bless this sweet sister and heal her body completely in Jesus’ matchless Name. May my God supply all of your NEEDS according to His riches in glory. My God IS God enough. ❤✝️

Confessions of the Preacher’s Daughter: My Useful Acquaintances

Recently, I’ve come upon several Facebook posts in my news feed and had a real-live-in-person actual conversation with another someone about how people they thought were friends could be so selfish and turn out not to be a friend at all. 

That’s a hurtful place. I’ve been there.

Betrayal is tough and can wound someone deeply; particularly when we would never expect that type of behavior from a friend. 

And so, I had to learn the difference between friends and a group that I have personally given the moniker “useful acquaintances.” 

See, some people I thought were my friends actually were not; they turned out to be mere acquaintances who called me when they needed me, were kind when they wanted a piece of my time, and invisible otherwise. I was merely a useful acquaintance to them. 

So, instead of being continually hurt, I had to set a boundary. I had to realize that it was *they* who were not capable of being a friend, and that I should not expect anything more from them.

Now. This doesn’t absolve me from doing the right thing by them; no, the Bible is clear on how my behavior toward them should be. This simply gives me the freedom to release my expectations. There is incredible joy in expressing kindness, acting in deference, displaying graciousness, and walking above the fray — even when the person on the receiving end is clueless. And God, in His infinite wisdom, knew that all along.

That didn’t come naturally to me. I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that it doesn’t come naturally to you, either. In general, we tend to do certain things to get a certain result. We are wired that way. But that doesn’t always happen. 

It’s not that I want to be taken advantage of, either. Someone told me a long time ago, “Joy, you should toughen up. You’re too nice.” 


I had to learn some things.

I had to learn how to be kind without expecting anything in return; to treat them as I would want to be treated without expecting them to reciprocate. And that is in my power to do. Through Christ who gives me strength.

It’s a freeing place to be.

The truth is, we live in a fallen world and sin seems to be the default. It all boils down to one thing: ME. We tend to look out for number one at all costs. Why is that?

Growing up, I always thought that “sin” was a list of do’s and don’ts and that if I’d only done the minor stuff, that somehow made me better. 

I had to learn that sin is an attitude and posture of the heart. An evangelist with whom I travel often says, “It’s not a sin that will send you to hell; it’s your rejection of Jesus Christ.” What he says and what God had previously revealed to me is that sin is me sitting on the throne of my heart and serving myself — rather than allowing God to have that rightful place.

See, that space in our hearts will never be satisfied without the Lord filling it with His great love, purpose, and calling. It was created by Him and for Him — because He knew that was what’s best for us. That is ultimate freedom.

My job as a believer is to reflect the love of Christ for others to see. “Let your light shine before men so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven.” Matthew 5:16 This verse immediately follows Jesus’s admonitions and promises in His Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 5 is chock full of goodies and merits a full read, by the way!) But that’s a bottom line on this topic with no ifs, ands, or buts.

Micah 6:8 sums it up well: “He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.”

“And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” Luke‬ ‭6:31-36‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Diving Deeper…

Here are some great related verses worth memorizing:

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Romans 12:18

“A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs‬ ‭18:24‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” ‭‭James‬ ‭1:2-4‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians‬ ‭4:32‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

“Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew‬ ‭7:12‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Confessions of the Preacher’s Daughter: The God-Ordained “Hot Sign” @Krispy Kreme

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, simply because I’ve been incredibly busy just uprooting my life. 

This summer, we sold our home of 18 years. (For those who’ve moved after long periods of time, I don’t have to enumerate the utter mess this creates in your life. Or your carpet. GROSS!) So the story goes, we bought a great piece of land in 2007 and planned to build a house, but got stuck in the 2007 crash. That’s another blog. However, it leads us to fresh, hot, glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts in a most unusual way. 

We are so excited to get to build our home. In the meantime, we are renting a lovely house near the mall — and conveniently (?) right around the corner from our local Krispy Kreme. Besides, the house has a leaky basement to store our 24 years of unnecessary junk. Perfect!

Since we moved in several weeks ago, I have driven by that Krispy Kreme countless times looking for the tantalizing red glow of the “HOT” sign. Alas, would you know that God has spared my waistline thus far and that sign has not been on one single time in these weeks when I’ve passed it? Not even once! Drat. It’s become a family joke.

We’ve been getting settled into life in the new place, and it’s been a fun-filled few weeks with my daughter starting high school and my son turning 20. The mornings have been groggy, but I’m proud of my hard working girl for trudging through and facing her challenges with a can-do spirit — even when she went to use the restroom on Thursday morning and forgot that her phone was in her back pocket. Yep. Splash. “MOM?!” Yeah… Listen to the birds chirping and singing their “good morning” song — while the song on the inside is a bit less chipper.

Bless her heart. I didn’t yell. I didn’t even raise my voice. Poor kid was scared to death that we were going to be upset. Hey, that’s why they’re called accidents. Living a little has taught me more grace than I would’ve exercised in my younger days. Besides, my husband had done the same thing. My son even jumped in a pool once with his phone in his pocket. So, what was I going to say? Having done it twice before, I was confident I could get this phone back in working order. We went on and carried out our Thursday and Friday.

By now, it was Friday afternoon, and a 14-year-old girl had been without her phone for an entire 36 hours. And asking for mine. This could’ve been life altering. We planned to head out Friday evening to address the phone situation after dinner at home with my son and his girlfriend.

But first, my nails! Did I mention I’m close to the mall now? Okay, I’m still a little bit of an ’80’s girl and am slightly stoked about my new proximity to unnecessary junk to fill up my next basement. (Why?!…) And I really don’t even like to shop (totally not ’80’s), but yet, I love this convenient location!

My nail appointment took longer than anticipated and put me back at home and starting dinner much later than I’d planned. By the time we were done with burrito night, it was 8:45. Fifteen minutes would’ve been impossible before moving to mall heaven, but after licking my fingers from the last bite to stepping inside that store was all of about 90 seconds. (And yes, that included washing my hands. With soap!)

We talked through some options and decided to sleep on it. A new phone was a lot of money. We needed more research and a few more options. So, we got back in the car and headed back home. 

But wait! What is that alluring red glow from amidst the trees across the road? Is that? It WAS! Twenty seconds later, I jumped out of a running car, bounded into the house and announced, “GUYS. Get your shoes on. It’s an emergency and we have to leave RIGHT NOW. THE HOT SIGN IS ON!”

You have never seen such quick movement. That car was loaded in seconds, and within a minute, we were pulling into the parking lot of melt-in-your-mouth bliss. 

I was driving, and my son was riding shotgun. His girlfriend and my daughter were both in the back seat. As my son got out of the car, his feet touched something. He bent down. A wallet. 

“Mom, is this one of ours? Did this just fall out of the car?”

Well, I can’t see it. It looks similar to my wallet; same color and size. I look more closely and identify that it is not my wallet. I asked the girls. It wasn’t theirs. We carried it to the door; the glow of that glorious sign illuminating our path. 

I could’ve walked in and said, “Hey, did anyone in here lose this wallet?” However, I could just see a baker’s dozen hands going up in the air, “Sure, I did! How much money is in it?!” No, that won’t work. 

Being that we were with a non-family member and standing at the front door of the store with people all around, I felt comfortable saying, “Hey y’all, watch me open this wallet and let’s look for a driver’s license.” We couldn’t see one, but we did see a card with a name. We had a name!

We went in and quietly asked a few people, “Hey, are you ___?” None of them were her. Drat again.

There were two older, solid looking couples sitting at a table nearby. Maybe they were connected to the wallet. “Are there any Wilsons at this table?” That sounded so randomly stupid. “I’m sorry,” I continued, “I know that sounds bizarre. My son just found this wallet in the parking lot, and I’m trying to find who it belongs to — without announcing that we’d just found a wallet.”

The older lady said, “Maybe there’s something inside with a phone number on it.” So together, we looked through the wallet. No phone number, but this time, we found the driver’s license. The man identified the lady as just having been in the store just moments before we had arrived. 


Maybe she was still in the parking lot looking around and I just didn’t notice her. Maybe she drove back and was out there now. The man said, “If you call 911 — let them know that it’s not an emergency, but that you found a wallet, they will send someone out to deliver it to the owner’s home.”

I handed my kids my purse and had them order while I stepped outside and called 911. 


It hit me. If it hadn’t been me, I’m not sure that that little mama would’ve gotten her wallet back. Or maybe her credit card company alerts her of fraudulent charges later that night. Sure, there are still good-hearted people in the world, but there are plenty of dishonest people, too. I’ve been the victim of too many of them, unfortunately.


The kids came outside with our order, ready to go home and eat their hot, sweet deliciousness in two rectangular boxes. They were visibly disappointed when I said that we had to wait on the police. But I knew that I had to make sure that wallet got handed off properly. The kids opted to forgo eating outside with the bugs and sit in the coolness of the car. We pulled into a parking space where we could look for the police car to drive up any minute. On a Friday night in metro-Atlanta? Who am I kidding? 

We got through more than half a dozen hot doughnuts and realized that there was no guarantee the cops would be arriving anytime soon. I thought about driving to the lady’s house. It was only about 15 minutes away; near where we’d just moved from. But what if they were headed to a movie, an event, or even headed out of town? Then, I thought about needing to get my son’s girlfriend home, which is 30 minutes in the opposite direction. There was still a lot of driving left to do, and it was already after 10:30. Hey! I could leave a note and the wallet with the store manager. That’s what I’ll do. 

As I pulled up to the door again, ready to give up on waiting, I saw her. I recognized her from the worry on her face and the distress of her body language. I smiled, jumped out of the car, and called her first name. She looked up and excitedly said, “Yes! Wait, did you find my wallet?!”

Hugs, smiles, laughs… relief.


As we embraced and I shared about our adventure, the police car drove up — just moments later. Was it there for the doughnuts, or for me? It was there for me. A beautiful, female officer emerged from the car to join us girls. My heart was humbled and a little sad to hear her say, “That’s a model citizen right there. You don’t see that everyday.” 


My kids got to see those moments play out in real time and feel the reward of doing the right thing. The wallet lady, her husband, and their two bright-eyed boys in the back seat got to feel the great relief of their worry and see someone do the right thing, which is apparently far too rare these days. 

But most importantly, the Lord let me see the importance of the journey and that life is made up of moments just like this one. He reminded me once again that my steps are ordered. Even right up to the door of Krispy Kreme.

Trust him with your moments today.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good. How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.” Psalm 34:8 🍩

Diving Deeper…

The modern cliche says, “We are blessed to be a blessing.” But do we see our inconveniences, struggles, or even our loss, sufferings, and sacrifices as blessings? The greatest purpose for our suffering is for someone else’s benefit. Just as Jesus died on the cross, our losses and sacrifices are best utilized when we can bless others from that place. Beauty for ashes. Giving a gift is the great privilege of the giver; it cannot be earned or bought; that’s why it’s a gift. God’s great gift of love for us cost Him dearly, but just as the word says, “It is better to give than to receive, for in giving, we receive the greatest blessing.” 💝

Confessions of the Preacher’s Daughter #27

  1. Confessions of the Preacher’s Daughter:


I never thought I was pretty when I was young. 


I was at a church service recently, and a really sweet gal and I struck up a conversation. We chatted about everyday stuff – particularly hair product. She had no idea who I was, nothing about my story; we were just girls being girls. Toward the end of our conversation, her eyes were filled with tears as she said, “I just know the Lord connected us today. I have desperately needed connection with other females.”


This woman did not appear to be a fruitcake. She looked like she had her stuff – at least fairly together from the outside. But the truth is, it doesn’t matter who you are; being a girl can be a lonely place. Being a *pretty* girl can be a lonely place. Being a “successful” woman can be a really lonely place.


Backtrack: I never thought of myself as pretty growing up. However, as I’ve grown, I have learned how to make the best of what God gave me, and most importantly, what the definition of genuine beauty is. (More on that later.) I was the baby of my family by many years (oops…), and consequently, didn’t really fit in with my siblings most of the time; simply because they were so much older and I came into their world. I was picked on relentlessly at school by some mean kids. My self esteem plummeted throughout my adolescence. I poured myself into music and singing, and through it, eventually discovered the importance of bringing others joy. One thing I learned is that you can have all the attention in the world and still be miserably lonely. Another thing I learned is that girls can be petty, jealous, and just plain mean. The prettier you are, the more popular you get, or the more successful you become, the meaner they get. As the profound song lyric goes, “Haters gon’ hate.”


There was a time in my adult life when I was so desperate for female connectivity that it consumed me. The enemy of my soul used that as a stumbling block in my life. My husband was thoroughly preoccupied with life, I had two little kids at home all day driving me nuts, and I had no girlfriend to stand shoulder to shoulder with me in whom I could confide. I became dangerously isolated. The gals at my church were clickish, and I was clearly not welcome in their world. Satan used that moment in my life to drag me to the darkest place I’d ever been. I wish I could tell you that I held fast to Jesus and made the right decisions. Far from it. In the end, God used that moment to redeem me and to build my marriage into a beacon of hope for other couples. For this, I am eternally grateful, and I love my Savior for reaching down and loving me when I felt completely unlovable. Through that journey, I finally understood salvation and the power of resurrection; taking what was dead and calling it to a new life. I’m incredibly thankful, and I know that my Lord has used all of these things to work together for my ultimate good.


Part of that ultimate good is my encouraging women to encourage other women.


You know, we cheer on the boys’ teams, but when it comes to cheering on each other, why can’t we do that? Do we see other girls as competition? Are we comparing ourselves to one another – or worse, to some unquantifiable image of perfection? Girls: this is not middle school anymore. This is real life, and some of us need to grow up and get over ourselves. We need to stop being afraid of each other, and we need to stop being afraid that we are not enough.


My beautiful sister, God has fearfully and wonderfully created you – for such a time as this – to be His ambassador. Whether you’re short or tall, fat or skinny, frilly or hipster, Supermom or motherless, rich or a coupon clippin’ diva, God has a place for you in His kingdom’s work. And it can start with being the light of Christ to one another.


My sisters, it’s time to unite.


Look around you. There are lonely girls behind that mascara, driving that mini-van, sporting that Coach bag, wiping up applesauce and crayons (again), serving your lunch, signing your paycheck, and even sitting beside you in your small group. We are everywhere, and we are all longing to be loveable. My Father in Heaven loved me so much that He met me at my deepest, darkest place and showed me that ultimately, He was the source of everything for which I was secretly longing. He wants to do the same for you. I’m praying for you today that you will allow Him fill you to overflowing so that you can bubble over and be that encouragement to someone else. ❤


But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.  Hebrews 3:13 (ESV)