"…And she smiles at the future." ~Proverbs 31:25

Posts tagged ‘Polishing the Pulpit’

Our Great Smoky Mountains Adventure

When we made the long drive to Sevierville, Tennessee to attend Polishing the Pulpit, we knew it would be a busy, busy week. And in fact, on most days we were running from one class or activity to another from early in the morning until late at night. There were, however, two days where we found ourselves with a chunk of free time in the middle of the afternoon, and we were able to make some great family memories during those times.

On Saturday afternoon, we made the short drive to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where the scenery was absolutely breathtaking! We grabbed some sandwiches on the way so we could start the afternoon with a picnic lunch.

Then we went on what started out as a family hike at Chimney Tops.

How cool is that tree? Here’s another view:

It soon became apparent that a family with a 16-year-old and a two-year-old will not all hike at the same pace…so we sent Troy and the big kids on their way and Remi and I did the snail’s-pace version on our own.

Not surprisingly, the homeschool mom in me came to the forefront, and our hike became a very interesting little preschool field trip. We inspected rocks, leaves, moss, bark, spiders, butterflies, berries, roots, squirrels, acorns, streams, webs, logs, beetles, petrified wood, seeds, and even a couple of millipedes. (I had no idea they could be that big!)

Next up was a splash in the Little Pigeon River.

Everywhere I looked, there seemed to be more beauty than I could drink in. How gorgeous is this old bridge?

At one point we looked up to find that my little brother’s family had chosen the same spot for their afternoon off. The kiddos were thrilled to be able to splash, climb and explore with their cousins.

How fun to be a kid in a place like this!

Finally, here are my two favorite photo-captured memories from the day:

To be honest, I don’t even remember why he was laughing so hard. I only know that I can’t help but smile every time I see this picture.

It just makes me happy. 

And as for this one…well, I probably don’t need to explain why I love it so much…

“ You are worthy, O Lord,
      To receive glory and honor and power; 
      For You created all things, 
      And by Your will they exist and were created.”

(Revelation 4:11)

Thanks for stopping by!

Want to learn more about Polishing the Pulpit? Check out all these related posts:

What exactly is PTP?

PTP highlights

What I learned at PTP (Part 1)

What I learned at PTP (Part 2)

What I learned at PTP (Part 3)

Traveling Smiles


What I learned at PTP (Part 3)

Here it is, the third and final post of some things I learned at Polishing the Pulpit. Yes, I know I’ve shared a LOT from this seminar in my last several entries, but there are some things that I learned there that are just too profound not to share, like Joe Wells’ penetrating observation,

“Modesty isn’t a hemline; it’s a heart line.”

(Girlfriends, let’s all chew on that for a while! What does our level of modesty reveal about our hearts?)

Here are some other goodies that had an impact on me…..

From “A Deeper Life: Making Time for Prayer & Devotion in the Busy Years of Life” by Irene Taylor:

You’ll never find the time. MAKE the time!

“Don’t just take up a pew!”

In the courtyard during one of the nightly teen devotionals

(Note: All photos in today’s post are from the PTP blog.)

From “Loving God with all my Soul” by Dan Winkler:

Arrows go where you point them. (All children are born as straight arrows.)

Trust and obey…then teach and relay.

VBS-type classes for the kiddos

From “God Wants to Give us Joy…But He Doesn’t Always Want us to be Happy” by B.J. Clarke:

Sin brings temporary happiness…but it never brings JOY.

(Mr. Clark used the biblical example of David, who was undoubtedly experiencing happiness while committing adultery with Bathsheba. But, Psalm 51:8, 12 shows it hadn’t brought him joy.)

Sin says, “I’ll make you happy!” God says, “Let me give you something to REALLY be happy about!”

Thankful for energetic and enthusiastic teachers

From “The Importance of Family Bible Time” by Luverne Shepherd:

The less we teach, the more sin will engulf.

The greatest hindrance that keeps us from giving time to our family is that our family is not a top priority with us.

What could be more important than instilling the word of God in our children?

If our family is truly important to us, nothing in this world can stop us from spending family Bible time together.

The home is the University of Life. Who are the professors? Parents! (Children are NOT the professors.) Who are the students? Our children. (Enroll them early!) What is the curriculum? The Word of God. (See Deuteronomy 6:6-7.)

You never know when you are making a memory with your children.

And one funny aside from Mrs. Shepherd:

They may have taken prayer out of our schools. But as long as tests and examinations are being given, I can assure you that prayers are being offered in those schools!

Informative talks for packed crowds

I wish I could share Eric Lyons’ fascinating presentation on “The Moral Argument for God.” It would likely eliminate your doubts. I wish I could tell you all about Todd Clippard’s enlightening workshop, “Should Christians Drink Beer?” and B.J. Clarke’s inspirational talk, “Distracted by Good Things: Regaining Your Family’s Focus.”

PTP was an intense experience. Thanks for letting me share it with you here.

And, thanks for stopping by!

Check out all these PTP-related posts:

What exactly is PTP?

PTP highlights

What I learned at PTP (Part 1)

What I learned at PTP (Part 2)

Our Great Smokey Mountains Adventure

Traveling Smiles

Traveling smiles

I guess the more kids you have, the less cash you have in your entertainment fund, but no matter–kids provide so much free entertainment!

As we were packing to leave for our trip to PTP, I told the boys to lay out all the shirts and pants they planned to take on their beds so that I could make sure they had enough clothes for the week-long event. I expected a haphazard pile of each, but when I came into Chandler’s room, this is the T-shirt stash I found:

One night during PTP, we took the girls to go eat supper while the boys were involved in a teen activity. At one point. I looked up and saw Addy drinking from her milk and her water at the same time. When I asked why, she said, “I’m making skim milk!”

Thankfully, our kids have always been good travelers, and this trip was no exception. One of the more enjoyable parts of the long drive was listening to the word-salad ramblings of our 2-year-old as we drove along…

“Why does milk have no hands and no arms?”

“What will a peacock do if I bite him?”

“Can I have the other manger’s phone?”

“I have a baby in my heart.”

“We blow bubbles but I call you Elizabeth.”

“The quiet surgery woke up in the morning.”

Sometimes there was even peace and quiet…

Free entertainment rocks!

Thanks for stopping by.

Want to know more about PTP? Check out all these related posts:

What exactly is PTP?

PTP highlights

What I learned at PTP (Part 1)

What I learned at PTP (Part 2)

What I learned at PTP (Part 3)

Our Great Smoky Mountains Adventure

What I learned at PTP (Part 2)

(You can see Part 1 of this post here.)

“The more you learn, the more you learn how much you have to learn.” So the saying goes, and I am in full agreement after spending last week at Polishing the Pulpit. I am so thankful to all who shared their wisdom in the many workshops we were blessed to attend. Here are a few more highlights from those classes–things that stood out to me and might help you, too.

PTP kids singing “The Lord’s Army”

From the 4-part series, “Fruitful Principles for Fantastic Relationships” by David Shannon:

Godly parents punish children. Godly spouses do NOT punish each other.

(On love vs. infatuation:) “Love suffers long.” (I Cor. 13:4) Where’s the “like” in that? Where’s the infatuation? Real love was shown in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:36-44). Jesus didn’t DESIRE the cup before Him. He didn’t LIKE the cup. He wasn’t ATTRACTED TO the cup. But He did love US. He was lying face down, maybe in a puddle of mud created by His own tears, and His cries probably sounded like someone dying (v. 38). That was the sound of Him loving us.

God has made us once. His DESIRE is to make us twice.

We submit to our husbands not because of who THEY are, but because of who GOD is.

We aren’t faithful in marriage just because the conditions are conducive to it.

“No one else understands” is a tool of Satan. He wants us to stay isolated in sin.

(I could do a whole post on just this series. It was truly incredible!)

Relaxing after a long day of classes

From “How to be a Preacher’s Wife and Homeschool” by Shanna Anderson:

Always pray for your homeschool, but FIRST pray for your home.

Our secondary goal is secular learning. Don’t leave this behind, but don’t EVER let it take priority over the first goal, which is heaven.

By the end of the week, our toddler was so exhausted we couldn’t even finish changing her into her pajamas before she fell asleep!

From “That Your Prayers be Not Hindered” by Evelyn Apple:

How could we risk our relationship with God by being careless in our relationships with others?


From “The Tough Stuff” by Glenn Colley:

The more you focus on God’s blessings in your life, the less you focus on the injuries caused by others.

What a joy to see so many sweet kiddos who loved being together throughout the week!

From “Homeschooling–How to Handle the Stress” by Evelyn Apple:

The world has enough smart people. The world needs more good people.


From “A Recipe for Peace” by Janie Craun:

The Lord offers us the Bread of Life. Satan offers us junk food. Which do most people choose?

Cookbooks often have a page of substitutions. God’s Word doesn’t!

Another crowd shot–good, good people here.

From “Homeschooling–How to Juggle Multiple Classes and Grades at the Same Time” by Mallory Baker:

The most important subjects we teach our children are not “on grade level.”


From “How to Homeschool and Stay Involved in Church and Youth Group” by Cindy Colley:

Homeschooling provides the maximum number of hours to help our children focus on God. Use them!

Our girls enjoying the beautiful mountains of Tennessee

From “The Old Testament in One Lesson” by Rob Whitacre:

Every chapter in the Bible–from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22–deals with the cross of Christ.

The theme of the Bible is this: Christ will come (Genesis through Malachi). Christ came (Matthew through John). Christ will come again (Acts through Revelation).


From “Parents, Teens, Sex, and Dating” by Mark Teske:

If you don’t want to go to Knoxville, don’t start heading that direction on the interstate. (And if you do, don’t be surprised when that’s where you end up.)

Singing in the Bible class for toddlers Sunday morning

From “The 15-Second Marriage Improvement Program: How Positive Words Can Turn Your Marriage Around” by Brad Harrub:

Life is real. We don’t sprinkle rose petals on our broken-down appliances.

The glory of man was that woman was created for him. The glory of woman was that man was incomplete without her.

The kids enjoyed several “hands-on” projects. (We moms enjoyed the results.)

From “What to Do When God Says No” by Gary Hampton:

Parent to 3-year-old child asking for drink from Drano bottle: “NO!”

Allow God to reveal your heart, to strip away your pride, to teach you, and to show you another door.


From “Get Your Own Faith” by Eric Owens:

The more WORLD you have in your heart, the less GOD you have.

We are all terminal. We are all walking a one-way street that leads to the grave and beyond.

PTP kids enjoyed a visit from Digger Doug

From “A Final Charge: Keeping the Spiritual High” by Sheila Butt:

The prize that means the most is the one that costs you your life.

So much to think about…

So much to work on…

(See more here.)

Thanks for stopping by!

Check out these PTP-related posts:

What exactly is PTP?

What I learned at PTP (Part 1)

What I learned at PTP (Part 3)

PTP highlights

Our Great Smoky Mountains Adventure

Traveling Smiles

What I learned at PTP (Part 1)

I’m sure I’m not the only one who went through PTP wishing everyone I know could have been there. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who came back wanting to share everything I learned with anyone willing to listen. Since neither of those is a realistic option, I thought I’d settle for sharing with you some of the highlights from the sessions I attended last week.

These are the things that made an impression on me, or that changed me, or that I hope will make me better.  Consider this the condensed version–the Cliff’s Notes–of our week at Polishing the Pulpit.

The Great Smoky Mountains at sunset…Breathtaking!

From “God Loves You More Than You Can Possibly Understand” by Eric Owens:

We love babies before we meet them…before they’re ever born…not once they can walk, not once they’re potty trained and have met all our expectations. We didn’t DO anything to get God’s love. There are no conditions on His love. The difference between a baby before birth and after is that once the baby is born, our love gets to be expressed. What has the baby done to deserve it? Absolutely nothing. Remember, God was love before man was ever created.

The kids had a blast at PTP camp! They learned about Bible Geography, played games, had a visit from a missionary, had Bible lessons, sang songs, looked at coins from Bible times, and made crafts.

From “Rules, Respect, and Roaring Laughter–Showing Children That Christianity is the Most Fun Life” by Sami Nicholas:

We need to help our children look down the stream of time before they ever step in the water.

“I want my children to know that the funniest, happiest times are so closely knit with our church family that they could never think about leaving it.”

My sweet husband and my sweet little brother…Words cannot express how much I love these two preacher boys!

From “Helping Our Husbands Succeed” by Donna Faughn:

Be his 2 C’s: His greatest cheerleader, and his kindest critic.

A psychologist said, “The point at which many marriages jump the track is in over-investing in children and under-investing in the marriage.”

I have the power to undermine his leadership in the home, causing him to fail. Why would I want to do that?

Remi loved her time in child care with the little ones. The ladies who cared for them all week were so sweet and such troopers!

From “Seven Minutes of Wisdom for Women” by Sheila Butt:

Studies show that kids who memorize Scripture are less likely to leave the church.

From “The Spiritual Discipline of Frugality” by Cliff Goodwin:

Frugality helps us show we love the Giver, not just the gifts.

We all have lots of obligations. We all have one chief obligation.

Our kiddos loved PTP. They learned so much!

From “Reclaiming the Family Meal” by Jana Lyons:

Studies show that kids who eat with their families regularly are LESS likely to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, use illegal drugs, suffer from depression, have eating disorders, and commit suicide. They are MORE likely to do well in school, abstain from premarital sex, have a good vocabulary, eat vegetables, and use good manners.

(Does that make anyone else want to run to the kitchen and start cooking?)

Addy learned how teachers make visual aids for their Bible classes.

From “Improving Your Personal Prayer Life” by Mike Vestal:

Grace=God’s riches at Christ’s expense

Get up early and find a quiet place. Not a morning person? It’s a discipline!


Remi was proud of the lion she made in class.

From “Is It Nothing to You? Keeping Our Hearts Soft and Our Passion for Souls Strong” by Michael Shepherd:

Circumstances can make us BITTER or BETTER.

(On missions:) If you can’t go in PERSON, go in your PURSE.

The Christ we cannot share is the Christ we cannot keep!

From “Time Management for Homeschool Moms” by Tonya Strong:

Your work in the church is your family. Your family is your work in the church.

Hard is good. It means you’re growing.

If I invite Him into my house in the morning, He’s going to be sitting beside me throughout the day as I teach.

(I LOVE that thought!)

If you were at PTP and something jumped out at you in any of your classes, please share it in the comments. I’ll share some more of mine tomorrow.

Thanks for stopping by!

Check out these PTP-related posts:

What I learned at PTP (part 2)

What I learned at PTP (Part 3)

PTP highlights

What exactly is PTP?

Our Great Smoky Mountains Adventure

Traveling Smiles

PTP highlights

(If you missed yesterday’s post, you might want to read about what PTP is here, first.)

Although it would be impossible to boil down the past week into the parts that were my favorites, I do want to share a couple of highlights here. These are the things that I know will stay with me long after other parts of the event fade from memory.

For example, I’ll always remember that, while our toddler was sleeping on me during one of the workshops, a sweet lady I’d never met leaned over and said, “May I please hold your baby for you so you can take notes?” Remington slept contentedly on her new friend for the remainder of the class….and I took lots of notes!

Afterward, she thanked me for sharing Remi with her. How sweet is that?

Another very special memory: Sunday morning, many chose to leave the convention center to worship at area congregations. Our family stayed on site to worship with a crowd of 1237 filling the combined ballrooms. I will never, ever forget the moment the singing began. I opened my mouth to join in, but when those thousand-plus voices began praising God, a capella, I had to just sit and listen for a moment. Suddenly I was more anxious to go to heaven, more anxious to sit around the throne of God, praising Him for eternity. I choked back tears. Then I peeked sideways at my husband, who was clearly experiencing the same emotional reaction. We finally got ourselves together and sang with the enthusiastic crowd.  I will always remember this.

I loved sitting at the feet of amazing speakers all week, like the missionary from Africa who was baptized the year my father was born! I loved mingling with a mass of people who were on fire for God, excited about spreading His Good News and happy to be there to encourage each other.

This was one of my favorite recurring scenes during the week:

Each time we left the convention center we’d hang all our lanyards on the mirror of our vehicle so they’d be ready for the next time we went in.  And every time I looked at all of them hanging there together, it made me happy. It was so nice to be doing this as a family!

One huge highlight was the Future Preachers Training Class that Connor participated in. Forty boys, ages 10-14, were taught the basics of how to prepare a sermon in a series of three, 3-hour classes. They were given a topic on Monday and had to prepare a short lesson to share with the rest of the class on Wednesday. This was a real  stretch for Connor, who had to step WAY out of his comfort zone, and he came up with a great sermon on his assigned topic,  “The Bible.”  I was so proud of him!

Then, on Thursday morning, some of the boys gave their sermons in a class for the adults, and afterward they had a graduation ceremony. It was VERY emotional (again!) sitting through that class, listening to that group of young boys earnestly sharing God’s Word and thinking about all the potential they embodied. I found myself wondering how many souls would be brought to Christ because of the tender hearts of those young boys, who had been blessed and wanted to share their knowledge with a lost world. It was incredibly moving, and I guess if I had to pick one favorite part of the week, this would have to be it.

So once again, I am feeling thankful. I’m grateful to all the preachers who were willing to help mentor these young boys, and thankful for the boys and their desire to share Christ. I am thankful for all the speakers who were willing to share their wisdom and experience, and especially God’s Word, with the rest of us who were there. I’m thankful for all those who sang with full hearts Sunday morning and for the effect that had on our whole family. And I’m grateful to our elders, who allowed us to go be a part of all this.

Thanks for stopping by!

Check out all these PTP-related posts:

What I learned at PTP (Part1)

What I learned at PTP (Part 2)

What I learned at PTP (Part 3)

What exactly is PTP?

Our Great Smoky Mountains Adventure

Traveling Smiles

What, exactly, is PTP?

Until a few years ago, I had no idea what Polishing the Pulpit was. Even then, when I first heard of it, I thought it was “just a preacher’s seminar.”  Now I know better…and I am so thankful. Our family  spent the past week in Sevierville, TN,  in the incredibly beautiful Great Smoky Mountains, attending an event that was definitely not just for preachers.

The printed program dubs PTP “a life-changing event to refresh the spirits” of all Christians…“a spiritual boost”…and that’s exactly what it was. While there, the same word kept popping into my head over and over: WOW!

122 speakers from 13 states

476 different classes in multiple tracks

2351 people in attendance

Not only were there class tracks for preachers, youth ministers, elders, and deacons; there were also tracks for teens, women, children, homeschoolers, Bible class teachers, members, widows, and Spanish speakers. Other tracks included marriage and family, small churches, evidences, missions, and technology.

Workshops were taught by doctors, lawyers, preachers, elders, professors, authors, politicians, and even a former atheist.

There were multiple singing sessions, lots of fellowship activities for the teenagers, and on-site shopping for all kinds of great resources. Opportunities were provided for marriage & family counseling and for job hunting, and there was a Song Leading School (for all ages) and a Future Preachers Training Class (for boys/young men).


I am so thankful we had the opportunity to be a part of this incredible event. I’m thankful for what we learned. I’m thankful  for the fellow Christians we met for the first time and for the ones we got to spend time with once again. I’m thankful that our family was able to focus on growing in Christ all together, all week long.

WOW! If you are ever able to be a part of this event, I would HIGHLY recommend it. I know our family will never, ever forget it.

Come back tomorrow and I’ll be sharing some of the highlights of the week. Until then…

Thanks for stopping by!

Check out these other PTP-related posts:

What I learned at PTP–part 1

What I learned at PTP–part 2

What I learned at PTP–part 3

PTP Highlights

Traveling Smiles

Our Great Smoky Mountains Adventure

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