Sunday, September 28, 2008

Let Others See Jesus in You

Tom and I visited some of our church members at Vanderbilt Hospital on Friday afternoon. And I was once again impressed with the presence of God in some amazing women. We visited with little Brenden Roach first. He's 10 and fighting leukemia. His Mom, Micki was all smiles and a tower of strength as she and Brenden's Dad hosted our visit. As I walked down the hallway of that special section of Vanderbilt Children's hospital I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is one place no parent EVER wants to be! But, when Micki found herself there-she did what mother's do...she's being strong for her son!

Brenden showed us their project. Together he and his mom have organized all his Dad's baseball cards--and I mean ORGANIZED! It's really quite impressive. Not just the cards...but that his mother thought to do that to fill the hours that are otherwise filled with pain. Micki amazes me. As she is walking in the strength that God provides--step by step.

After visiting with Brenden we went to the pediatric cardiac floor to see Charlie and Leslie and their newly adopted daughter Susannah. This story is far too long to even summarize in my blog. But you can go to my links and click on Room for At Least One More to read Susannah's story from her mom (who is a very good writer)! When we arrived Susannah had just been brought out of the procedure she had done Friday to prepare for open heart surgery on Tuesday. Because we were their pastor and wife, we were privileged to go back behind closed doors and visit with them both and their baby girl. As we heard snippets of their past week (they just got back from China a few days ago); Tom said to Leslie, "You are radiant hope." And she was!! Then I looked at Charlie, holding Susannah and rocking her (she was still somewhat sedated. I LOVE the way this hospital invites the parents back to be with their children in recovery!) --and I said, "and Charlie is peace." There we stood with peace and hope in that room!!!

Leslie said they've nicknamed her "spitfire" up there. And I've no doubt they have! But she said, "God knew Susannah needed a Spitfire for a Momma!" And He did. :)

We then went over to the adult hospital and visited with one of my favorite women at TSC. Mrs. Laverne has been in our church right by our side, supporting us, praying for us and serving with us almost 20 years. She's funny, practical, and simply amazing. Laverne took great care of her husband for most of the years I've known her. He was disabled and suffered a slow painful process toward his own death a while back. Laverne has had heart surgery and now pancreatic cancer surgery this year and last. We went into her room--visited with her for just a bit and after we prayed with her, she said, "Tom, I have already experienced the miraculous power of God. Here I am and in all of this I haven't sensed the slightest bit of worry." Wow. What an amazing woman.

I teach a conference where I encourage us to put aside our pre-occupations with what the world calls beauty and success. Instead we ought to realize what God longs to see in us. What God longs to see in us is the reflection of His Son. I see Jesus in Micki as she fights the good fight with her son. I see Jesus in Charlie and Leslie as they have chosen the "least of these" to call their own--and especially Leslie as she clings tenaciously to her confidence in God's sovereignty and His love. And I see Jesus in Mrs. Laverne (actually I always have--He just shone pure in that hospital room).

These are women who are skiing the black diamond trails of life and they're doing it with amazing grace and peace that passes all understanding. And in so doing, they are allowing God to shine bright in dark and desperate places. Wow.

(I made reference to black diamond trails of life--pick up my book Women Embracing Life...All of It! at a Lifeway bookstore near you to read more about that.)

Thursday, September 25, 2008



Some of you charismatics need to express what I'm feeling in those heavenly TONGUES!!!

Thank you for all your support, prayers and comraderie in the deep unexplainable corners of a mother's heart. :)

The last time I was this excited I had that little tiny test in my skirt pocket--the one with a pink dot that said, "Mikel's on her way." :)

Oh, alright I won't be too melodramatic. Maybe I felt a little of this when Mikel hit her homerun at Page Middle School--or when Kaleigh's face turned red and tears ran down her cheeks Monday night when her friends yelled "SURPRISE!" Or...when that woman pressed that prod against my stretched belly and said, "It's a boy...see right there? That's a boy!"

Yea...that's MY BOY!!!

I'm Terrible With Numbers

It's not a secret, I'm miserably challenged where numbers are concerned. Here are the TRUE stats (in case you're reading this, Coach)...TJ shot 44 out of 50 free throws the other day, 17 in a row!

He didn't actually shoot 17 3-pointers in a row--but, I'm here to tell you, HE COULD!! :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

C'Mon, Coach!

So, tomorrow's the big day! He's suppossedly going to post the team (by numbers) in the locker room. TJ is number 105. So pray that 105 is on that list!

This afternoon when I was taking him to the rec center (fueled with nutritious #10 from the McD value menu); TJ said, "When I get to school tomorrow morning, I'm going to head right for the locker room and look at that list. I'll be looking for 105. The absolute worst thing that could happen would be for me not to see it. Then, if I don't see it, I'll double check, hoping that somehow I missed it. And if I don't see it the 2nd time I'm going to look once more. If it's not there then..." that's when his eyes filled with tears and he continued, "you know, that's the worst thing that could possibly happen."

I encouraged him, "Your number's going to be there TJ--I just know it!"

"Yea, but I know how it feels for it not to be there. And I'll never forget that feeling. But you know what, Mom? It really worked out for the best. If I had made the team last year I would have never made it this year. I wouldn't have worked so hard, and I would've been like (another kid) who just showed up expecting to get on--and would've gotten cut right off at the beginning."

"Hmm--so see there? God always knows what He's doing even when we don't have a clue." I responded.

"Yep, He always does!" TJ agreed.

And with that we started talking about how bad all those other boys are going to feel (the ones whose numbers aren't going to be on that list).

So, Mr. Coach--if somehow you're peeking in on this blog--you know TJ? He's the kid who's all heart. Did you know he shot forty something free throws the other afternoon, and 17 3-pointers without missing? He'll come in my room tomorrow morning at 4:45AM and say, "c'mon Mom, let's go!" And then...when I drop him off at school, he'll say, "thanks, Mom. I love you." Because that's what he says every morning that he drags me to the rec center. He's never made a "B" and he had to tell us so last year, because he never makes a big deal out of it either. He likes everybody and everybody likes him--just because he's cool like that. And all he wants right now is to play on your team.

C'mon, Coach--please, put 105 at the top of that list, please...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Keep on prayin!!

Keep praying for TJ! He made the two cuts this weekend, but it will be Wednsday before we know of the final cut. TJ's still getting us up with the roosters, and dustin' his Dad (and the other old men) in the afternoons at the Rec center.

We're pulling off a surprise bday party for Kaleigh today. (Today is her 15th birthday!) I am so excited my stomach is jumbled! (And since we're eating pizza that is not good.) We're having her party at the Party Zone (a jumping place where Mikel works). All the friends are meeting us there--She things she's getting ready for dinner at a Japanese restaurant. :)

I wish you could know how much this child has transitioned from who she was to who she is today. I went by the school this afternoon to take her some clothes to change into (she wanted to stay after to play tennis with friends) and she met me with a birthday crown that said, "It's my birthday!" She looked hilarious and loved it. Her friend Lauren made the crown for her. I'm going to try to get her to wear it to dinner (party) so I can get a picture. Several years ago we were on our family vacation when I told Kaleigh that I wanted to meet her friends.

She accused me of implying that she didn't have any friends. And if the truth be known, I was concerned. She used to hang out at the church office every afternoon after school to help the assistants. She called herself the assistant squared. (that would be assistant to the assistant I think) And she loved the women and the work they'd let her do. But I was worried that her favorite people were more than 30 years old! And, I thought she buried her nose in a book at lunch time. I said, "Kaleigh, when we get home from vacation I want you to invite some friends over to the pool." She said, "Mom, you think I don't have any friends!" And I said, "then prove me wrong."

That's all it took. The next weekend we had 12 kids over at the pool. Kaleigh gave me that look she gives and said, "see, I told you I had some friends!" And boy does she ever! From that point forward I got a pool full of friends and hardly a weekend goes by that we don't have someone sleeping over or a group of them coming for a movie, cards, diving lessons, you name it they'll be here. Overnight my little bookworm turned into a socialite. So today when she came out of school with her friend-made birthday crown, I just smiled.

Next week her sophomore class will be over here building their float. We're going for the gold this year. We came in 2nd to the seniors last year. So this year...we're taking first place!! I'll try to get some pics of that too.

Never a dull moment at the McCoy's!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

TJ and basketball

Okay, so my friend Melissa just brought home a baby boy. I remember when I brought mine home--he was so sweet. Just a bundle of potential that overnight grew into a bundle of curls!

Then just about a week later he grew out of those curls and into the girls! UGH!!! And now...he's totally into basketball. I dont know what possessed him to choose basketball for his sport. Could've been the bloody nose he got when he played baseball (or the swollen lip that made me think he looked like Cindy Loo Hoo). But, no matter what made him choose this sport (that only allows 5 players in the game at a time)-it's his choice.

And tomorrow he goes to try-outs. Just the word makes my stomach lurch. Try-outs...fertile soil for damaging a boy's ego forever! Last year he begged us to take him to Velocity or D-1 to prepare for this ordeal. We were too busy, and he was too laid back. He went to try-outs and got cut (the first day!). I'll never forget how sick that made me. OHHHHH, my dear Melissa--just you wait.

Fortunately the coaches invited him back to be team manager. They loved him--let him practice with the team and before the end of the season, he actually played. But, he'll never forget how it felt to "be cut." I don't have the time to go into all of it right now, but God had a tremendous plan (that culminated with his coach accepting Christ). We're all great friends even now, and that coach is TJ's number one fan and encourager.

Unfortunately he no longer coaches the middle school team. None of us know this new coach. But, here's how TJ handled defeat. After playing with the team last year he begged us to participate in camps this summer. We put him in camps (5 of them!). Then when school started, he got us out of bed at 5AM every morning (Tom and I take turns--he gets Monday, Wednesday and Friday...I take Tuesday and Thursday), and we go to the rec center for him to shoot and practice. Then, on most afternoons, Saturdays and even Sundays between church TJ plays basketball at the rec center.

Now it's time to see if all this hard work will pay off. He's nervous, I'm nervous, Tom's nervous. I think his last year's coach is even nervous!

So, I'll let you know how this all plays out. If you think about it, just say a prayer for my TJ -it seems like just yesterday I wrapped him in a blanket and swore I'd never let anything hurt him!!! But tomorrow I'll tell him how great he is, how proud I am and off he'll go...into the lion's den of middle school basketball


Monday, September 15, 2008

"Pastor Tom, I'm about to bust!"

Wow! I hope your Sunday services were as powerful as ours were yesterday. There is hardly a Sunday that goes by that I am not amazed as I stand in the presence of God!!! Each week I enter the worship center wondering what God's going to do time. And, He always does SOMETHING!

Yesterday we sang. One of my good friends was already back from her miracle journey to adopt her brand new baby boy. And having walked with her through many sorrows then through many joys (in the adoption of her daughter) I was thrilled to watch her worship as she led us. (You can read all about all of that on her blog. Follow my link called "stretch marks.")

Then, Tom whispered to me to look at Mrs. Alys.

Mrs. Alys lost her husband of MANY YEARS just months ago. And after he went on to heaven, she joined the choir. I'm not sure how old she is, but she wouldn't mind me telling you she is old enough to remember when we worshiped with a hymnal in one hand and a funeral home fan in the other! Tom and I both love to watch her sing in that choir. She stands on the front row, with her hands raised and her eyes closed--I can only imagine what she is seeing as she loves on the Lover of her soul even through life's valley of the shadow of death.

Once our singing came to a soft hum, Tom went up to the pulpit and prepared to share Scripture that would lead us into a time of prayer. All of a sudden a man in the congregation cried (I mean literally cried) out, "Pastor Tom, I'm about to bust!" And with that, Tom invited him to the front, introduced him and gave him a microphone--"Church, this is my friend Jesse," Tom said, "Let's listen to what he has to say."
Jesse wept, then gained his composure and said to us, "I just want you to know how much this church means to my family. We moved here recently and you all have loved us. That love has meant more to us than I can share. I praise God for you! I thank God for you! I just want you to know that." And then he took his seat.

When he left to sit down, Tom told us this, "Jesse mailed me a letter before his family moved to our community, and in his letter he sent his tithe check." Can you imagine that? Tithing to a church you have yet to join! No wonder God met Jesse and his family here. When your heart is right with God (and my friends in America, the tithe check is a great indicator of a right heart) God opens the floodgates of heaven and pours Himself out on you!!

I took pictures last Sunday because my heart was warmed as I watched my friend Caitlyn worship. Caitlyn is the most innocent person I've ever met. She has known deep pain and loss. Just last year her father went to be with the Lord. She and I talk on the phone. Last week when she called she said that she wished I could have known him (they had only recently moved here and I hadn't had a chance to get to know her family when he died). I assured her that I would get to know him one day when we get to heaven. She said, "Mrs. Leighann, you are going to love him! Everybody loved my Dad." And I smiled.

I'll get her picture downloaded here. (If I could just find that little cord!) Then you'll see how Caitlyn worships even in the aftermath of unbelievable loss:

We had worship Sunday! I hope that you did too.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Women Touched by Jesus

I traveled this weekend to Dunlap, TN (the Hang Gliding capital of the east!) to begin my "fall tour" of speaking engagements, and WOW what a weekend we had!! In my book Women Touched by Jesus I've written fictional stories of the women who Jesus met personally. This weekend I met them in real life. I'm not sure I've ever been more impacted by three personal testimonies.

On Friday night Mary shook like a leaf as she shared her story--raped at 9 and again at 18, abused and shamed--she shared how Jesus came into her life and redeemed her past. I was awed at her willingness to share her story and at the joy that shone from her face when she did.

On Saturday her daughter boldly stood before us and proclaimed, I am a child of God! She then told us that although for many years she was taught to keep her feelings and hurts to herself, she intended to "spill the beans" with us. And "spill the beans" she did! She shared with us what it was like to grow up with a mother who taught her not to trust anyone especially men. My favorite part of her story was when she said that after her mother married a wonderful man (I'd love to meet!)--they moved to Pennsylvania, and "the church people started coming."

What might have happened to these women had "the church people NOT started coming!" She then told us that she knew she was changed by God when she could look at people and see them NOT as a threat, but as people whom He loved.

After she sat down, a beautiful inmate from the local jail came to the microphone, and asked us to listen to the words of her song--not to her voice. I listened to the words, but was deeply moved by the rich melody of her voice as well. She sang a song with these words that were simply thanking God for a roof over her head and shoes on her feet and the privilege of knowing Jesus in her heart. WOW!

God moved in such a powerful way! Women from several different churches, across denominational lines agreed together that we are indeed LOVED BY GOD and therefore free to love others to Him.

I am so privileged to get to meet women like these when I travel. Women who have been transformed by the power of God. The women in Dunlap are serious about their mission. They have a ministry to teenage girls, they're starting a pregnancy resource center, they are active in the jail ministry, they reach out to mother's of young children, the list goes on and on.

My new friends in Dunlap, TN --you go girls!! God is changing His world through you.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Send your recipes!

So, if you have some apple recipes, I still have 65 apples. Send them on! Alex and Jill, how about that pie? It sounds almost HEALTHY!! I figure anything you put an apple in has to be counted as a fruit serving, right?!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

An apple update

I promised's some pictures! I collected about five of those baskets filled with apples. We have 87 apples remaining. Now they are being sliced and diced and frozen in quart-size freezer bags. So, if, this winter you get your taste buds groovin' for apple pie, apple cake, fried apples or apple turnovers, come on over and I'll share a bag with you!

By the way, I bought a copy of the September issue of Southern Living magazine--82 Great Tasting Recipes, including "our best ever apple pie!"