Debi from Nebraska sent me this recipe quite awhile ago.

I wanted to make it so I could do step x step pictures, but been out of town so much, I haven’t had the opportunity, but it sounds delicious! 

Stick it in the pan and cook while you’re at church.


1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 can cream of celery soup

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

3/4 cup chicken broth

8 chicken pieces (any combination)

1/3 cup slivered almonds

Combine the soups, cheese and chicken broth in a bowl. Place half of that mixture on the bottom of a baking pan. Then place your chicken in the pan and pour the rest of the sauce over the chicken. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 2 1/2 hours. Sprinkle almonds over the top and bake another 15 minutes uncovered. We have had this without almonds, too, and really enjoy it that way.


So, have you ever had anyone knocking at your door begging for money?

Or, have someone call you in the middle of the night because they’re stranded at the town bus/train station and they’d like you to come give them money to get home?

This is scary stuff. Sure, you (the church) wants to help someone in need, but few of these people are truly in need.

The stories usually go like this —

1. A dramatic tale of why they’re stranded with not even a dollar to their name.

2. Why they have to get home immediately (home is always conveniently about 50 miles away – enough to need money to get there, but not far enough to need 100s of dollars to get there).

3. Food doesn’t count, what they need is cash.

4. They always, always promise to pay you back.

You’re always between a rock and hard place here. You know 95% of them simply want money for alcohol – but how do you determine the 5% who really are stranded?

The evangelical churches in Racine established a food bank called Harvest Outreach. Each church took a different shift at the pantry to pack, distribute, manage the food. This was great, because if someone came by and said they needed money for food, we could send them to Harvest Outreach where they would receive food and also literature explaining their need for salvation.

Because our church was on the road to Milwaukee, we got a lot of people stopping by and this was a way to meet their needs.

Another thing Ken often would do – if the person said he needed gas, Ken would have the man/woman follow him to a gas station and then literally fill up the person’s tank and pay for the gas on the spot, rather than give the person money.

When we first enrolled at Moody as freshman, we were lectured NOT to give anyone money. If we truly wanted to help someone, (guys, not girls) were to lead him to a restaurant and buy him coffee. (Moody faculty knew they had  lot of students fresh from the country in the city for the first time.)

I remember another man in Racine who would periodically show up at the church asking for money. After a while, Ken got to know him and he admitted one day that he lived by begging off the churches. He would just go down the list and then start over.

Pastors, churches and church staff  members (who are at the church on weekdays) need to decide on a plan BEFORE someone comes to the church begging. That way everyone is on the same page. (Sometimes Ken did give money – but only $20.00 or so.)

I want to talk more about this – does anyone have any experiences?


Another pw and I have been discussing business meetings “off blog.”

Business meetings can be tough. Very few jobs require a person to stand in front of EVERYONE one to four times a year and listen to EVERYONE give his or her opinion about your time management, friendliness, speaking capabilities. I have never heard a pastor say that business meetings are his favorite part of the job. If there is one, I’d like to meet him – or maybe not.

Lots of stuff gets discussed at business meetings and often it’s the tough stuff or nitty-gritty of the ministry and a lot of time what’s discussed has nothing to do with the pastor. Still, as pastor or pastor’s wife you take it personally.

For instance, the circumstance discussed might be about whether bridal showers should be sponsored by the church or whether Mr. Adult Sunday School teacher was right in what he said to that new family (who never came back).

Sometimes, after the meeting, you may be asked for your opinion. If it’s a tangible subject – like bridal showers, it’s usually safe to answer.  For instance, in the church where I grew up, they moved bridal showers outside the church so people wouldn’t feel obligated to attend a shower for the five or six weddings that happened each month. Even my shower (the only pastor’s daughter) was held outside the church – though all ladies were invited.

But if it was a subject where I was asked to take sides about a person, I wouldn’t do it. I would give a non-committal answer or actually say, “I don’t feel comfortable talking about the situation. Obviously a lot is involved and people feel strongly on both sides.”

Even if I HAD a strong opinion, I didn’t feel giving it would serve a purpose other than adding fuel to the fire, so I chose to stay quiet.


It’s been awhile since I’ve introduced you to someone in our churches.

This time I’d like to introduce you to Annie (not her real name), a charming three-year-old who knew how to get what she wanted from anyone over the age of 10.

Sometimes Annie was the only little girl who would be at midweek Bible study and she liked to sit with different adults – especially those who would give her candy.

As she waited for church to start, she’d bounce from one to the other, asking for something to eat. They’d look at her sweet face and her big blue eyes and couldn’t resist. She’d gather lemon drops and chocolate and breathe mints.

Finally, her mom sat her down and had a talk. “Annie, it’s not polite to ask people to give you stuff. I don’t want you to do it again. Understand?”

Solemnly, Annie nodded “yes.”  But the very next week, she was once again begging someone to give her candy.

“That’s it, Annie,” her mother told her sternly. “Not again. No begging for food. If I hear you do it again, you will be in BIG trouble.”

“Ok, Mommy,” Annie reluctantly agreed.

So, the next Wednesday, Annie walked into church (after being reminded about 42 times NOT to ask anyone for candy) and did her cute-three-year-old saunter up the aisle.

Seeing one of her suppliers, she cuddled up and whispered, “I’m not ‘posed to ask you for candy, but if you happen to have any in your purse, I’d be glad to eat it for you.”

She got her candy.


Remember last week I wrote a couple paragraphs about things not always being what they seemed?

This picture is on the wall of President Johnson’s boyhood home (and this is a picture of the picture) in Johnson City, Texas.

What do you think this is? Look at it quickly and then look again.

Sometimes the “things not always being what they seem” aren’t actually things, but rather words.

Recently, someone was extremely rude to me, so rude, in fact, I would have to say it was one of the rudest things that I’ve ever encountered.

I would like to tell you about it, but because there’s a possibility the person could read the blog (though not likely), I’m not going to explain.

However, if I were new to a church and it had happened to me, I probably would not visit again.

If I were 14 or even 18, I would’ve been so devastated, I would’ve cried for at least six hours and 33 minutes.

But this is the reality. As rude and insensitive as the circumstance truly was – the person did not mean to be rude. I know the person and know he simply wasn’t thinking about what he was saying to me. I know that, although he meant what he said, he wasn’t thinking about how offensive it all sounded.  He displayed a BIG lack of sensitivity.

In his mind, I knew he wasn’t being rude; he just wasn’t thinking.

My point is, I could get angry at him and probably have a good case for being so.

Or, I could use it as an illustration and forget it and use some sensitivity myself in recognizing that the person in question didn’t mean what he said in the way it sounded.

Which is what I plan to do.

I’m bringing this up because sometimes the people in our churches say things and immediately we take offense, rather than giving them the benefit of the doubt. 

The Bible says: Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools (Ecc. 7:9)

*Maybe like the guy I’m talking about, the person isn’t thinking through what’s being said.

*Maybe the person means something entirely different than the way you’re interpreting it.

*Maybe you simply didn’t hear correctly.

Whatever the situation, don’t be quickly provoked to anger.

Things aren’t always what they seem.

Because -what did YOU see in the picture above?

A skull?

Or, a picture of a young girl getting ready for a party?



1. I’m ________________, I don’t think I’ve met you.

2. Oh, you’re the brides sister, brother, grandmother, dad, etc. I’m so glad I’ve finally had the opportunity to meet you.

3. You look nice/ beautiful/great. 

4. Everything went so well.

5. You did a great job!





Weddings are days filled with laughter, gooey-frosting cakes, life-changing vows …. and beautiful dresses.

Back in the 70s, my dad officiated at a rather large wedding with many detailed plans, many attendants and many guests.

The bride, wanting her big day to be unique and memorable, asked an experienced seamstress to design and make the bridesmaid’s dresses. This lady had literally been making bridesmaid dresses for half a century – if not more. She was in her late eighties.

Many of the attendants lived out of town, so the final fitting was done after the rehearsal dinner. All the dresses fit beautifully – except for one girl’s.

“No problem!” said the experienced seamstress. “I’ll fix it tonight and have it here by the time the wedding starts tomorrow.”

OK. That’s what would happen.

The next day, however, the experienced seamstress did not show up. The guests were in their seats, my dad was ready, the organ was playing, the bride was ready to walk down the aisle – no dress.

They waited. They frantically called the experienced seamstress’ house – no answer. The organist once again played her prelude.

Sill no dress.

After the organist went through the prelude a third time – the bride had an idea. This was back in the day when “granny dresses” were in style. Granny dresses had high necks and long skirts and were worn everywhere by stylish ladies. You would often see several of them in church – and at a wedding. So the attendants looked over the guests to find someone they knew wearing a granny dress in the same color as the dressless bridesmaid. The guest quickly changed into the jeans and t-shirt of the bridesmaid and her dress became part of the wedding.

The couple got married.

Meanwhile, on the south side of Chicago, the experienced seamstress completed the dress and with her husband started the trip up the Dan Ryan Expressway to the Kennedy. (For those of you who don’t live in Chicago – these are two massively, busy expressways that go through the heart of the city.) They had just reached the part of the Dan Ryan that went through some ummm … rough neighborhoods when the car gave a sputter and a clunk and died.

They pulled over and waited for help. None came.

“I’ve got to get to that wedding,” the experienced seamstress said. “I can’t let the bride down now.”

She got out of the car with the dress and started walking along the Dan Ryan expressway attempting to hitch a ride to the northwest suburbs.

Remember, she was in her late eighties.

An Hispanic family who could not speak much English stopped and she did the best she could to explain the situation. They told her to get in the car and off they went.

Somehow, they eventually made it to the church – in time for the reception. And the bridesmaid was also able to wear her REAL dress in the pictures.

As the lady finally was able to sit down and enjoy the dinner – my dad asked her how long she had been making wedding dresses.

“I don’t know,” she said, “but I can tell you for sure THIS is my last time.”


I’ve been gone for several days – was down in San Antonio doing a conference on Saturday and then took a couple extra days to hang around town with my brother (who went with me to the conference). As much as I fly, I still marvel at the quickness of air travel. I took this picture about eleven this morning at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens.