A Letter to My Church

Hello Friends!  A new month is before us and our sabbatical is behind us!  I’m happy to be returning to daily weekday posts once again.  My heart is full and I’m ready to write, so I hope you’ll stick around to read!

Window seat.jpg

And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while:
Mark 6:31

As I sit here on the last day of our sabbatical reflecting over this past month, my heart is truly overwhelmed.  It’s not the kind of overwhelmed that makes you feel desperate due to trouble, but it’s the kind that takes your breath away because you are so grateful.

My gratitude is directed at you, Boones Creek Bible Church

  • To each of you who realized the need for your pastor to have a time to rest. We are abundantly blessed.
  • To those of you who stepped in and took responsibilities not normally your own so that your pastor and wife could be away for a period of time. We are grateful.
  • To each who provided a gift card, a baked good, a treasure from your kitchen, a monetary gift, a place to go and rest, a treat, a game for the yard, music to listen to, and coffee or favorite beverage to sip. We are full.
  • To those who sent notes in the mail to say you missed us. We are touched.
  • To those who had to send an obligatory text to accomplish a task, and apologized for it. We understand.
  • To each of you who prayed for us while we were gone. We are nearer to God.
  • To those who prayed our marriage would be even better. We are closer.
  • To those who asked God to speak to us through His Word. We are deeper.
  • For each who wanted to call or stop by, but didn’t because you wanted to be understanding. We are rested.
  • For those who wondered if we’d ever be back…we are refreshed and we are ready!

You have given us a precious gift, and my heart is full to overflowing with gratitude.  I write this post to say thank you, and to tell you all it’s meant to us, because when I see you on Sunday I’m sure the tears will get in the way.

I know that we are uniquely blessed.  Thank you from the bottom of my (rested) heart.


Denise Signature 150 px


cakes · Crafts · Sabbatical

Sabbatical Post #5 – Something Special Every Day


Before we left on our sabbatical my husband and I joined a couple in prayer.  The Wife prayed,

“Lord, would you just give them something special every day?”

That prayer came to my mind last week, and what a joy to realize that it has surely been answered!  Some days there has been something really special more than once in the day!  But for sure, there has been at least one really special moment each day of the twenty-something days we’ve had thus far!

Let me show you a few of those recent special things…


Click on the pictures to get a closer look.  From top left to right:

We had dinner last weekend at a neat place out in the country – it’s an old general store turned into a restaurant.  The menu item we love most is called a Barbecue Sundae.  It’s a mason jar layered with baked beans, cole slaw and scrumptious barbecue, and topped with a wedge of tomato that makes it look like the cherry on top!  This was my view from my table – the American flag flying just outside the squeaky screen door!

On Friday morning, my husband said, “I’m going yard saling; come go with me and then we’ll stop for a bagel for breakfast!”  We used to love to go hunt through yard sales, but we hadn’t been to one in years, so this was a fun event!  At one house we both found several Christian books by favorite authors, and I also secured a couple of kids Sunday school song CD’s for 50 cents each that I’ll be using in my Bible Club each week.  It was worth our time to get all those items – and for less than one CD would have cost in the store! Even better than the deals was the fun we had doing something spontaneous! We ended with bagels at Wheeler’s Bagels and enjoyed them out on their patio.

I’ve enjoyed having the time to do a couple of crafty things!  I made this Tennessee sign for our patio.  My daughter, Alli, saw something like this and asked me to make her one.  A man at church gave her several pieces of old wood, so after I made hers, I made one for us, too!  I love the way it turned out, and it only took me about 30 minutes, and that includes making my own TN stencil!  You can’t see it too well, but there’s an orange heart marking out East Tennessee!

One afternoon my husband made a small pot of coffee.  He brought me a cup in this pretty Fiesta cup and saucer.  How sweet to swing on the back porch and sip the coffee.  Also, how blessed I am to have a husband who is so thoughtful to search and find the perfect mug for a small cup of afternoon joe!

Alli’s birthday was Sunday, so after we each attended church, she and her husband joined us at our house for a little celebration!

Another crafty thing I got to do is sew slipcovers for my swing’s pillows.  The sun had faded the once red pillows, so this remnant fabric I found at Hobby Lobby gave them a nice, updated look at a small price!

Baking is another love of mine, as you know if you’ve followed my blog for any time.  I got to make these Chocolate Orange Cakes with Ganache for Alli’s birthday. ( I’ve shared the recipe here.)  It was a perfect birthday cake since they’re individual cakes.  The recipe makes 6, so there wasn’t tons of leftover cake.  These are SOOOO good!

My husband attended a conference one night this week, so while he was away, I took the opportunity to do some study out on the back porch.  The quiet and the view were the perfect backdrop to allow the Lord to direct my thoughts as I studied His Word!

On Wednesday I got to another project – I repainted my book cabinet.  I had painted it about 20 years ago, and because stenciling was popular then, I added the stencil.  I thought it was time for an update, so I used the same paint color that I used on my dining room table several years ago.  I also changed out the hardware, once I brought it back inside.  Maybe I’ll do a post about that in September!


I may add a touch of another color on the back of each shelf.  Still thinking about that!

It’s been fun to look for the “special” in each day.  You know, we should do that every day because our God is good and does good. Psalm 119:68

 What special things did you see in your week?

We’re on the countdown of our last week of sabbatical, then I’ll be back to blogging every weekday!

Have a wonderful weekend worshiping (and looking for what special things God will do in your life!).

Stay refreshed,

Denise Signature 150 px


Sabbatical – Part 4


That’s what we are. Sabbatical means we are AWAY from our church for a time.  Deciding on what church to attend in the area has been difficult.  Our hearts are at Boones Creek every time we know the door are open, but while our bodies are away, our prayers are for whatever is going on there at that moment.

Last week we decided to attend two different churches on Sunday morning to get a fresh perspective, and to encourage that pastor and wife of one church, with whom we are friends.

It was a special blessing to surprise our friends.  They are doing a great work out in the country in a beautiful setting.  It made me so thankful for the men who work bi-vocationally so that these dear ones will have a pastor to shepherd them and give them God’s Word.  The hymns  rang out in that country corridor as well as in our hearts.  As we rest, we, too are “Leaning on the everlasting arms,” resting in our Savior.  The special music my sweet friend sang was as beautiful as the setting in which it was sung.  It flowed out of her love for those she helps her husband care for. They had some wounds of trials, and her song was the balm they needed.  Thank you, Mary.

Sitting side by side in worship services is a blessing for a couple who are always apart in their own church!


I am a homebody.  I love my routine.  I love my bed.  I love the coziness of waking up in my own home with my coffee maker perking first thing in the morning.  But sometimes you just need to get away from all the duties that home calls you to every day – things like dusty furniture and dirty laundry.  So, this week, we went AWAY.  This was the first time we were gone for more than an overnight stay during our sabbatical.  I have to say it was good – very, very good.

160818_131743_collage-1.jpgWe went to the nearby Smoky Mountains for three nights this past week.  We had the fun of Alli and her husband joining us for the first day and night – his day off.  We went to Dollywood for the day and had a great time at the park.

Our accommodations were very nearby and offered beautiful views of the mountains and a lovely pool to enjoy.  The days were very hot, so it was a blessing to read a bit, then jump in and cool off!  This routine was repeated MANY times during the day!  Along with my Bible and journal,  I took a stack of books with me to the pool area.  I’m happy to say another book was checked off my list by the time our stay was over!

From our chairs we could see this hot air balloon each day.  It only enhanced the view of the mountains – not that they need any improvement!


One of my goals is to Reload – so each day I have dug in and journaled about what the Lord was saying to me.  How rich and sweet God’s Word is.  Whether you’re in a corner of your home, on the sofa of a resort, or on a chaise lounge, God’s Word speaks if we slow down enough to stop and listen!


The pictures below are of one of our favorite places in Pigeon Forge – Old Mill Pottery Cafe’.  We had lunch here on the day we left to come home.  We love to eat outside, and that’s where we started, until the rains came and drove us inside!  They bake bread and all kinds of confections, but we go for their main entree’s and we ALWAYS share a meal because they are large portions.

Anywhere you look, it’s beautiful outside of their restaurant.  Another thing I love about it is that they serve all their meals on the pottery dishes that are made in the building next door – hence the name – Pottery Cafe’!


It’s been another week of some incredible blessings for which we feel so unworthy.  Our God is so good and HE is always near and never  AWAY.

Where were you this week and what did you do?

Stay refreshed,

Denise Signature 150 px



Inside the Sabbatical – Part 3

This week I’ve been meditating on Mark 66:31 –

And He said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while, for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.

I’ve been finishing my preparations for speaking at a Pastor’s wives retreat in late September and this is the theme verse for our time together.  When I chose that verse, I had no idea that the Lord would be giving us a 31-day sabbatical; a time to come apart into a desert place to rest.  How good is our God?  I’ve been studying this passage – why Jesus took his disciples away and why we, too, need to find a place to rest.  It’s been a blessing to study and also to practice!

Week Two of our Sabbatical has been a blessing as we’re now in “rest” mode.  It took the first week for my husband to be able to release everything and let his heart, mind and body rest.  So, as we entered this new week, we were geared down to make the most of this time.

Let me share some snapshots of what this second week has looked like.  Ready to step inside the sabbatical?  Here we go…

First let me give you a view of some of the beautiful creation we have seen.

All of these pictures are from day trips within an hour and a half of our home.


Here are some of the places where we’ve spent some time –

We spent one day in Boone, NC.  All the pictures below on the left side are in Boone.  We enjoyed Daniel Boone Inn, where we had a fabulous feast!  We loved walking through Cornerstone Book Store – the biggest Christian bookstore (and the best) I’ve ever been to!  We also went to Mast General Store in Boone where I saw this stamp machine.  I love that store; it’s full of memories!


The top right picture is our back porch.  We’ve spent LOTS of time out there.  It’s been a quiet, lovely place to study.  We also eat our meals out there, and one night we enjoyed sitting out there with the soft lights on, watching a movie on my tablet while munching on popcorn.  I call it our “Swing-in Movie!”

Last weekend we attended a wedding near where our daughter and son-in-law live, so we had the fun of staying with them.  We got to walk downtown Greenville and see the gorgeous sites including the Reedy River Bridge.  We went to church with them at their church Sunday morning and heard a great message from Psalm 91 – one of my favoriite psalms.

After church we had a scrumptuous meal at Whitney’s table.  Her husband had to head to work after the service, so wasn’t able to enjoy the meal with us.  However, to be able to be with them on a Sunday and attend their church was a special blessing.

Now for some pictures of what we’ve been doing:


Studying, reading, swinging, drinking iced coffee and resting.  =)


From left to right – I’ve been…Coloring cute Bible pictures (I know I’m on sabbatical when I take time to color!), making a seat belt “cover” to keep the seatbelt off my neck, making homemade tortillas and cooking them on the grill, walking in the morning (look at the color of that leaf!  I’m ignoring any sign of fall!!!), enjoying being with my husband on these delightful days, and canning peaches!

That’s not everything, of course, but that gives you a really good peek inside our sabbatical this week!

Now, tell me, when you have time to rest, what do you enjoy doing?

Stay refreshed,

Denise Signature 150 px


Inside the Sabbatical – 2

Have you ever driven past a beautiful place, like the Biltmore mansion, but not been inside?  You don’t really know what it looks like because of that.  I’m bringing you along with us on Sabbatical so you can see for yourself what it looks like.

We’ve not hurried anything in the mornings.  Getting up without an alarm is a treat.  Time in the Word and prayer is lingered over like a gourmet meal.  It’s the richest time of the day.

Each day  we’ve ventured out a little, but stayed pretty close to home.  Here was one beautiful adventure:

sabbatical 1
We drove up to Roan Mt. near us to purchase fresh SC peaches and to go to a favorite lake for the afternoon.  We read, talked, and rested.
This is the shelter at the lake.  Everywhere you turn there is beauty.  The quiet at the lake was as welcomed as the beauty.  It was the perfect place to really listen to the Lord’s voice.

I “just happened” to pick up a book by Elizabeth George – Quiet Confidence for a Woman’s Heart on the clearance table a week ago.  The chapter I read at the lake just happened to be on Psalm 23:2 – He leads me beside the still waters.  Where was I reading it?  At this beautiful lake.  How good is my God?


This book has been a sweet refreshment as she takes us into the life of the Shepherd and His sheep through the means of Psalm 23.

Time to read.  Slow down.  Pray.  Journal.  Rest.  Talk.  All inside the Sabbatical.

With love,

Denise Signature 100 px