Thursday, March 5, 2015

What Kind of Man?

After the birth of our daughter, we received cards and congratulations from so many gracious people. They came in addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Dowell, the Dowell family and sometimes even to Miss Libby Dowell. But the letter I’m remembering today was the only one addressed “Mark and David Dowell.”

Written the day after her birth, this letter arrived full of congratulations and excitement over Libby’s birth. But rather than focus solely on her arrival, this letter explained how Libby was going to have exciting times with the boys. It encouraged them that little sisters like big brothers, and as big brothers they could teach her lots of things. The letter went on to talk about Joye and Jeff and the special relationship they shared. How they had little arguments sometimes, but that they were important to each other and how nice this would be for Libby. This letter encouraged our sons to pray for Libby and pray for their mom and dad. It told our boys that God made them, He made Libby and that everything God makes is special.

We were surprised by this letter? Yes. Amazed by this letter? No, because, my boys had Wayne Johnson as a part of their life. He baptized both of them. He was their director, he was a role model to them and he was their pastor. The arrival of a baby sister was a big deal for them, so it was worth being addressed by “Mr. Wayne.” But what kind of man takes the time to do things like that? Wayne did.

As the director of The Light, Wayne not only led our ragtag band of troupers in telling the story of Christ every year, but he pastored our group. He taught us from the Bible, he prayed with us over our concerns, he visited the hospital and he rejoiced when new babies came.

How do we remember this kind of man?

I will remember him when I see middle schoolers bouncing up and down shouting, “Mr. Dowell, Mr. Dowell!” and watch as David responds with patience and compassion to his theatre students. I will be reminded where he first learned and observed those qualities in a director sitting through hours of rehearsals in The Light. I will think about the days I was so grateful to have a teenage son whose biggest hero was not a movie star, but a pastor. I will remember Wayne.

I will remember him when I see Mark produce content under his band label of “I Like Wolves,” smiling at the memory of the man who laughed loudest and longest when Mark first uttered that phrase as a six year old slating to audition for the Light. I will remember Wayne.

I will remember him when Libby performs knowing that he was the first director to ever cast her, before she was even two months old. He had quite the good time giving her notes for changing her previously silent role to a speaking part when she screamed into Irma’s microphone. I will remember Wayne.

I will remember him when I speak the word of God out loud to the pressing needs of my life. Those rehearsals where he taught us that the word of God has unexplainable power when spoken out loud left their mark. I will remember Wayne.

I will remember him in the gift of so many incredibly significant friendships that have impacted my life and lasted long beyond our days together in the Light. Jan Bowlin and her family, Shauna Bartel and her family, Barbara Hawxwell, Bey Christian and her family in England, Roger and Lynda and their family in Wales and so many others – they are all gifts his leadership in the Light gave to me. I will remember Wayne.

Thank you to Carol, Jeff and Joye for sharing your husband and father with us for all those years. We have not forgotten him or you, for the impact of his life lives on for so many of us.

What kind of man makes such an impact? I imagine if you had asked Wayne that question, he might have said an ordinary man. The difference, for all of us, was that he loved and served an extraordinary God. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Wedded to War Book Review

“We will be feeling these days for the rest of our lives, perhaps-but now is our one moment to do. To act.” Wedded to War, by Jocelyn Green

As a young woman of refined society in 1861 New York, Charlotte Waverly already was pushing the bounds of societal expectations and her mother’s anxiousness by volunteering in the notorious Five Points section of New York. But as the country descends into Civil War, a call for women to serve as nurses to the military reveals to Charlotte a drive in her heart even she seems to have never truly suspected. Despite her young age, which does not meet the commission’s qualifications, Charlotte manages to secure a place in the training program for Union Army nurses.

What follows is an adventure involving not only Charlotte, but a cast of engaging characters that one cannot help but become deeply involved with as the story grows and develops with each chapter. With incredible accuracy and historical research, Jocelyn has created a picture of the Civil War era which leaps off the page. Very quickly, you will find yourself choosing sides, cheering for some characters while despising others. The mesmerizing story absolutely pulls you in.

Not only is this an incredibly enjoyable read, it is also a story of encouragement and hope revolving around the themes of grace, redemption and what one can do when you listen to the voice of your heart and your God, instead of the surrounding culture. For a story that will enthrall and encourage, read Jocelyn Green’s Wedded to War.

Monday, May 7, 2012


Sometimes, I still miss her so much it takes my breath away. It has been almost thirteen years since God allowed my mom to lay down her battle with the monstrous disease of scleroderma and go home to be with Him. Though I would not have wanted her to suffer even one day longer, I still shed tears of loss.

I cry because I wish she could hug David and tell him how proud she is of the amazing man that he has become. I cry because I wish she could know our precious Brittany. I cry because she is not here to say, “I told you not to count that Mark out,” when I brag about the man he is today. And I cry that she will not be able to watch Libby don her cap and gown next month.

In the midst of my tears though, I have so much to be crazy thankful about. I am grateful for:

a momma who loved me every single day of our life together, even when I know she wanted to strangle me sometimes

a seamstress who spent hours making my clothes on the Singer machine that Libby now treasures

a woman’s whose amazing impact on me is so much of who I am as a mom, a mother-in-law, a mentor to young moms and a woman

memories of laughter together

thoughts of the days when we shared Taco Bell

each of my babies getting to know and remember their Gram

the way she loved my Daddy

the way she loved God

the way she taught me to love God

that she no longer hurts or suffers, but rests in the arms of Jesus

Momma, I miss you. But I will be ever thankful, to you and to Jesus, for the many gifts you gave – and continue to give –to me.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


One of the great blessings of my life is being able to work with one of the most awesome group of military wives in the world - Hearts Apart at Immanuel Bible Church. Maureen Fowler and Sallie Tillman work every month to put together a wonderful meal with the help of all our department heads. Every month they also develop a theme and decorate our room so the military wives we are serving have a beautiful place to be for a couple of hours each month.

Last night, Maureen made beautiful centerpieces using mason jars, fresh forsythia, lemons and limes. This picture is my attempt to replicate Maureen's creativity. Thanks Maureen for an delightful spring showpiece.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Plate Licker

And oh, my dear Timothy, guard the treasure you were given!
1Timothy 6:20a (The Message)

The happy mother of two boys who had both launched into elementary school was back at work after years of staying home. I loved my new job and was thoroughly enjoying a season of great contentment. During this time, I began to feel ill and became convinced that I had mono – at least until the pregnancy test came back positive. So after thinking that our family was most likely complete, suddenly we launched again into the journey of having another baby. Libby was no mistake, just a surprise. How thankful am I that God is so much smarter than I.

After the typical initial adjustments common to all families who are blessed with a new baby, we began to settle into our new routine of family life. It was fascinating watching Libby grow and seeing how she became not just another child, but kind of our family project. We all diapered, rocked, sang, bathed, and shared the joy of raising her together. As we were approached by people who consistently commented about how excited we must be to “finally get a girl,” I found myself looking for a more accurate word picture that would help me wrap my brain around our new family life.

Leave it to this “live to eat” girl, the picture would be about food, specifically cake. I have always loved cake, but have never been someone to prefer simply cake or simply icing. To me, having one without the other is a certain kind of loss. You need both together to have the best experience. God graciously showed me that the boys were our cake and Libby was the icing. Life would not have been the same if we were missing either one. Though we had been eating just cake for years and loving it, adding the icing was a delightful gift.

Fast forward eighteen years. The boys have been become adults we treasure. Our firstborn has given us another gift by adding our precious daughter-in-law to the family. The icing has grown up and become a senior in high school. And I find myself a woman wondering where the years have gone.

Just a few short months from now, we will pack our car and take our icing to a university hundreds of miles from home. And though there were many days in which parenting seemed like an unending journey, looking back, it seems as if the years have flown. Just like every little old lady at the grocery store always told me they would.

Raising our children has been a treasure for Rob and me. As Paul told Timothy, we have done our best to guard that treasure. Having adult sons has taught me that parenting does not end, it simply changes. Watching them become amazing adults is a treat. That being said, things are different once they leave home.

Honestly, when I eat cake, I tend to enjoy it thoroughly. And it has not been beyond me to lick the plate to get that last taste of icing that was left behind. So it seems so appropriate to me that I spend this last year of having our icing around the house licking the plate. Enjoying every single moment. Laughing at every joke. Drying every tear. Just thankful, each day, for the gift of having been able to be her mom.

Next fall will bring an exciting transition for Rob and me. We are excited about picking up the journey again where we departed from it 28 years ago – on the road of two. It will be a wonderful time.

But for now – you will find me – licking the plate.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

No Other Can Save

“for no other god can save in this way.”
Daniel 3:29b (NIV)

The story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, captive young Israelites who dared to defy King Nebuchadnezzar by refusing to worship his golden idol, ends with a very exciting conclusion. After being bound and thrown into a fiery furnace for disobeying the king, our three friends are seen by an amazed Nebuchadnezzar walking around unbound in the fire, along with a fourth friend. The king calls them out of the fire. Everyone saw that not only were these young men unharmed, but they had no smell of smoke on them. The king declared that no one would be allowed to speak against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Nebuchadnezzar was amazed not only by their devotion in the face of horrific consequences, but in their God’s ability to save them.

It is amazing to think that three young men, captives living in a foreign land, were able to make such a deep impression on the pagan king. Their stand of obedience and devotion to God in the midst of severe trials caused Nebuchadnezzar to declare the ability of God to save. So therein lies the question for me.

Some days, life is hard. Sometimes, I struggle with doubt when things are not going according to my plan. But if a pagan king can declare God’s unique ability to save, what business do I, a child of God who has seen His mighty power in my life, have ever doubting that God will provide deliverance?

How about you? Where can you, along with Nebuchadnezzar, declare aloud your belief today in God’s ability to save you in whatever area you need deliverance?

No God can save like ours.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and
He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.
Daniel 3: 17 (ESV)

Daniel, chapter 3, contains the exciting story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, three young men who had been taken captive from their native Israel to serve the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar. The king had built a golden idol and required everyone in the land to bow and worship his idol, but our young friends refused to obey. When Nebuchadnezzar furiously demanded a change in their behavior and threatened to throw them in a fiery furnace if they disobeyed, the men responded that they did not need to answer to the king. Our young friends went on to address the king in our verse above by telling him that their God was able to deliver them.

How many things in our lives would be different if we could simply absorb and confidently state this truth during our struggles?

Unemployment or underemployment in a tough economy? Our God is able.

Illness of a loved one or ourselves? Our God is able.

Heartbroken, lonely or sad? Our God is able.

Struggles with our children? Our God is able.

Frustrations of daily life? Our God is able.

Life can be difficult and challenging. Though there are often no easy answers to our struggles, how awesome is the truth that our God is able?

Where is your heart and mind struggling today? Ask God and He will help you rest your trust in His abilities today. He is able.