All posts filed under: Stories

Are You Choosing Peace In Every Circumstance?

When you hear the word peace, what comes to mind? Do you imagine white, sandy beaches with the sound of waves? Do you think about sitting near a tranquil mountain stream? Do you picture tie-dye t-shirts and peace symbol necklaces? The word peace can conjure up many different thoughts and ideas depending upon your perspective or personal preferences. During our most recent services, Shannon taught the Biblical meaning of peace is “a serenity and tranquility that comes from trusting in the wisdom and control of God rather than our own understanding.” I vividly remember experiencing this definition of peace when we were in the midst of becoming approved as foster parents. We decided to enter the world of foster care because of a specific little girl. We wanted to be able to adopt her, if the opportunity ever arose. However, as we went through the approval process, the girl’s biological mother completed the requirements of her case plan and the family was reunified. While on paper this looked good, it was frustrating to know the …

What a Difference Love Can Make

First Church was a stately, old church located in downtown Central City. She had a rich heritage along with the other churches clustered around Church Circle. And she, along with the other downtown churches, had her share of people who were always dropping by because they needed something. The “regulars” came by just like clockwork. Louie was always drunk; I mean eyes-matted-together-slobbering drunk. His still being alive was a miracle in itself. Hank was one of the most colorful people to come through our doors. I looked forward to passing by him on the sidewalk because he always cussed me out—to music. He cussed everybody out to music. He had one of those contraptions around his neck that would hold a harmonica, and he walked up and down the streets playing the harmonica and his guitar—until he saw you. The harmonica would come out of his mouth and out would come some of the most vile language you ever heard—all set to music. He could shred. Hank had come from Nashville. He had begun to …

Are You Experiencing Community as it was Meant to be?

-written by Betsie Richards “Joe’s here.” That’s all the text from my sister said, but that’s all it took to calm my nerves for the moment. My mom’s IV pump wasn’t working correctly and it’s hard not to panic when the medication keeping your Mom’s heart going isn’t getting there. In all honesty, we had minimal training on the home equipment we were given. But I knew who to call, part of my “tribe” if you will. Joe beat me to my parents’ house with two of his kids in tow. He had everything working correctly before I even got there. This was in addition to answering the (likely) thousands of texts I had sent him in the previous six weeks. “Bets, you have good friends.” Mom said this to me repeatedly during her hospital stay. She knew this because they came and sat with us, prayed with us, brought food, rolls of quarters, offered their homes, slipped cash into my hand or purse, sent constant encouragement, and even came to the hospital to visit …

Questioning Your Purpose? Get a New Perspective.

Our purpose in life seems to be a question everyone at some time in their life must ask. While it’s a great question, I think the answer people are looking for is not right. Or perhaps we are looking at the question wrong.  Melissa and I sure were 3 years ago. One Wednesday night when our church still met at the chicken farms, Melissa texted me to come to the preschool area of our facility. This was the first time she told me about Hailey. Oh, how to describe Hailey? She has an infectious smile, and a carefree attitude that surpasses reason. She’s also been through a lot more than I could ever image. Hailey had just entered into the foster system and was staying with Melissa and Steven Beam.  But I remember my Melissa, in her own way, basically telling me we would be adopting Hailey. It took me a little longer to get used to the idea of adoption, but I finally understood what we needed to do. We signed up to start …

Lessons from My Anonymous Generous Admirer

–written by Terri Morris The manner of giving is worth more than the gift. – Pierre Corneille, Le Menteur I have a secret admirer. Not the weird, stalker version, but a true anonymous admirer that leaves me fabulous gifts on a monthly basis. This has been going on now for a little over two years. Initially, I was determined to find my nameless benefactor, but that proved to be a fruitless endeavor so I stopped looking. I am pretty confident God Himself is sending me these gifts. They are so personalized to my personality and preferences that it’s almost scary! Who else knows me like Jesus?  The gifts always seem to come at a time when I need to be encouraged — often when no one even knows that I am struggling on a personal level… but Jesus knows! I believe one day in heaven someone will come walking up to me and I’ll just know they were the one who brought the gifts and I’ll say, “Thanks so much for making me feel loved, valued and …

Fostering Christ-like Love in the Family

I recently heard Andy Stanley speak at a ministry conference I attended. He asked a question that spoke very deeply to me as a parent. Is there anything that brings you more joy than watching your kids love one another? For me, the answer is a resounding no. Especially after watching my boys accept and love their new foster siblings. Joe and I first began talking to the boys about becoming a foster family in February of last year.  We explained how some children need a family to love them and take care of them. We talked about how they might stay with us for a little while or a long time. We talked about sharing, taking turns, and setting a good example. At the time it was just talk and I worried how they would respond when the time came to put it into action. There were so many variables that we had (and still have) no control over. Were we going to end up scarring them for life? As we prayed and prepared to …

Just One Part of the Body of Christ, the Church

Sunday I had the honor of baptizing my two sons, Ethan and Eli. I spoke briefly during the baptism about how proud Kari and I were to be able to baptize our children into the church. I spoke of how I was aware that we as parents didn’t get to this point with our children completely by ourselves. We relied on the church family both at Southern Hills Christian Church and the greater church to help guide, teach,  and lead our boys to a personal relationship with Christ. The boys have had the fortune of growing up in the church, spending many summers at Woodland Christian Camp, going on several mission trips to Nicaragua, and spending years at Southern Hills in our All Stars, 456, and Fusion programs. All along the way, they have had caring adults pouring into them.  Ethan has experienced immeasurable growth during his time with his current small group. His leader Mike Jacquinot has connected with him in ways I never could, even as his father. I didn’t know when I was …

This Week For Sunday

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like you didn’t have any control? After our last interview at Southern Hills, Corey and I were driving back to North Carolina to then drive on to Ohio.  We arrived in North Carolina late in the evening after a wicked snow storm.  We were just outside of the town we were living in when we hit a patch of ice.  The car began to slide and we both knew there was nothing we could do. “I love you,” Corey said quickly. “I love you too.” We braced as we prepared for the car to flip and roll down the road.  Luckily, our car simply slid down into the median, eventually catching traction in the grass.  In the snow, we could see that we weren’t the first car to make that journey.  With the help of a stranger, we pushed the car out of the way of whoever was next. That day I knew what it felt like to lack control. I had the same feeling when …

Are You Ready to be a Pastor?

“Are you ready to be a pastor?” That’s the question Corey asked me when I walked into his office 4 years ago to sign my contract. I was officially accepting the role of Preschool Pastor and stepping into the world of vocational ministry. I was so excited to be leading a ministry I had been serving in for the past 6 years. I love working with kids and was looking forward to the opportunity to use my education experience in a church environment. However, I wasn’t expecting that question from Corey and it threw me for a loop. I tried not to let it show on the outside, but those of you who know me know that my face doesn’t lie. “Ummm… no. A pastor? I didn’t graduate from Bible college. I don’t hold a degree from seminary. I don’t know what to say to people at funeral homes. I’m not even really good at memorizing scripture.” Some of that was internal monolog, but other parts I said out loud to him. I kind of …

Be Thankful for the Little Things

Jim was one of the most optimistic, joy-filled, inspiring friends I have ever had. Always smiling—even when he didn’t feel well. One of the highlights of my Sunday morning was to soak up the sunshine of his greeting.  Jim had his regular spot in the back of the church where Linda and I served. If he was not there, I counted it a pleasure to visit his house on Sunday evening and, after a lengthy conversation, serve him the Lord’s Supper. He was always grateful. And I was always a better man because Jim brushed up against me. The signature above was on a letter Jim sent me after we moved to Chattanooga, TN. I cherish it, because it is the last communication I had with him before he went to be with the Lord. Hard to read his handwriting, isn’t it? That’s because Jim couldn’t hold a pen in his hand. He signed his correspondence by holding a pen in his teeth while someone held the paper up to his face. Jim could’t scratch …