Telling Stories

April 16, 2023

There were certain words we did not say in front of Grandma Betty. 

One was “pregnant”. 

I got my mouth popped for that one when I, at four years of age, announced the impending birth of my brother {loud and proud} at Grandma Betty’s kitchen table. 

Another was “fart”.

My poor brother toted a whoopin’ for that one. Grandma Betty told our mama that Brandon said THE F WORD, and subsequently caused him to get his tail torn up. It was only after he was rubbing those fried cheeks that we discovered he had said the word “fart”…not the OTHER “f” word!!

Finally, we did not say “lie” or “liar”.

We had to say “he/she told a story” instead. I can hear her right now saying, “Now, don’t you go to telling stories, Ronda!”

Ironically, I have been a story teller (the true kind, I promise) for most of my life. I used story telling in my classroom nearly every day, I used it to write The Book of Joe, and I use it in general conversation. I just love a good story. 

I guess that’s what led me to this particular lesson from Joe’s leather notebook. God writes with the ending in mind. I didn’t understand it at the time, but God was using the old to write the new in my story long before Joe went to be with Jesus.

This week, Joe’s lesson is about trusting the author beyond what we see written on the page.

He wrote:

Old and New

Isaiah 43: 18-19 states: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland”.

Sometimes it is hard to let go of the old, but God just may want something new for us. It can be hard to let go of what we know or what is comfortable. Taking on something new can turn everything in our lives upside down.

For those who like change, new things can be exciting. For those who don’t really like change, new can cause discomfort. Personally, I am kind of a mix of both.

The wonderful thing about God is that he works outside of the box. He does not always work in the way we would have chosen. I once saw a church sign that read, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans”. I have often found that to be very true.

Our Heavenly Father sees the big picture that we cannot–He sees all that is going on behind the scenes. He even understands all those things that cause us to ask “why”. As we start out the new year, or a new season, we can trust that God has our best in mind. He is with us right now, just as He will be with us down the road, no matter where that road may lead.

Sometimes that new brings what we see as blessings. Sometimes it brings loss and pain. Life happens. Decisions are made, we are faced with struggles, and sometimes we may even think that life is just not fair. But what I want you to know today is that you have a purpose. God is not finished with you yet.

God loves us. He cares for us, and He sees what we need. He works in our lives in ways that we do not always understand. Yet, we have peace in knowing that we do not have to understand. We only have to trust Him.

So, as we find ourselves in a new season and we look to find good in new and changing times, let us be confident in our God who is in control. Believe that He is working for you today…even when you just can’t see it.

Revelation 21:5: “Behold, I make all things new”.


Here’s a story for you…once upon a time(in the last year of this life), Joe was quite smitten by another woman. Her name is Mrs. Penny. Sharp as a tack, the perfect blend of sweet, sassy and classy, she is an 80(something) year old woman with a brilliant smile and a shoe collection that makes me absolutely green with envy. Joe was commissioned to work with her on a long term cemetery project, and from the moment they met, they were both in love. Joe worked closely with her for more than a year, and frequently came home with stories about his Mrs. Penny adventures. I didn’t get to meet her while Joe was alive, but I almost felt like I knew her just from listening to him talk!

The culminating piece of the cemetery project was this Jesus statue. Joe set this Jesus in the cemetery on the last working day of his life.

The cemetery was not quite complete, and the project plans were in Joe’s possession, so Mrs. Penny set out to contact me to try to tie up the loose ends and get it finished. Six months after Joe’s death, we finally connected with each other and decided to meet for lunch to get things squared away.

We met at Cracker Barrel (because…muffins and biscuits 😄), and the moment our eyes met, I fell in love with Mrs. Penny, too. There was/is just something about her that made my heart smile. I understood completely why Joe loved her so! 🤣 We walked in as business contacts, but when we walked out, I had a brand new best friend!

And, oh how I needed a friend.

Several months later, Mrs. Penny invited me to a family reunion and cemetery dedication. It would be the family’s first time seeing the Jesus statue. It would be mine, as well. So, we ate lunch and made our way to the cemetery.

I don’t know what I expected to feel when I looked at that beautiful Jesus statue for the first time, but it seemed as if every feeling possible was about to leak out of my eyes. I stood there, trying so hard to hold it all together (so thankful that I was wearing sunglasses to hide my tears), when Mrs. Penny’s son, Ron, noticed my predicament. He patted my arm and asked if I was ok. Well, me being the proud, stubborn person I am, hissed “I’m fine,” at him and turned away. I know, I know…Grandma Betty didn’t like ugly either, and even though I didn’t mean for it to come out that way, I am sure it did.

Ron probably went home and told his mama I was not very nice. I don’t know. But what I do know (now) that I didn’t know (then) was that Mrs. Penny encouraged him to reach out to me. “She needs a friend right now, Ron.” He reluctantly (I’m sure) accepted the challenge.

And bless his heart, he tried to be my friend at a time when I was MAD at the world. I stayed somewhat numb after Joe died, busy with school, home, Joe’s businesses, bills, stress, etc. But when summer came, my life slowed down and I fell into the darkest part of my grief journey. The fog lifted and I guess I came out swinging at every person in my path. Ron took several hits.

But, he persisted. He met me right where I was. Sometimes that was a place of sweetness. Sometimes sadness. Sometimes anger and frustration. And he just let me be who I was.

And then one day I wasn’t quite so broken anymore. Still proud and stubborn, mind you…but not quite so broken.

Joe said: Our Heavenly Father sees the big picture that we cannot–He sees all that is going on behind the scenes. He even understands all those things that cause us to ask “why”. ..We can trust that God has our best in mind. He is with us right now, just as He will be with us down the road, no matter where that road may lead.

People often ask me if I think Joe had some premonition that his life on earth was drawing to a close. I honestly don’t know, but Jesus did. He saw the picture that we could not. And in a way that is so much like God and even a little bit like Joe, he used Jesus…a literal statue of Jesus…to connect Joe to Mrs. Penny, a sweet older lady (from up near the Capitol City, as Joe liked to say) who would grow to think so much of him, just as he would of her.

During those six months that I was hurting and grieving, she was looking for me. She didn’t give up, and the moment our eyes locked for the first time, I knew we were meant to find each other.

A literal statue of Jesus would take my breath later that year, and a man I did not know would be the only one to “see” me. And I would turn my back. And he would try again.

God loves us. He cares for us, and He sees what we need. He works in our lives in ways that we do not always understand. Yet, we have peace in knowing that we do not have to understand. We only have to trust Him.

I look back on my story, and I see Jesus making a way for me as I sat at my kitchen table listening to Joe talk about Mrs. Penny. I see Jesus making a way for me as He guided my path to cross with hers months after Joe went to Heaven. I see Jesus making a way for me when He allowed Ron to see past my hissy fit, to my hurt spot. I see Jesus in every step of my story.

And, sweet friend, I can promise you now, that if Jesus is working in my life, he is surely working in yours. Maybe you can’t see it now. But one day you will. The memories that make you smile. Jesus is in that story. The hurts that haven’t quite healed…Jesus is in that story, too. Trust Him. Even if you’ve repelled His touch before. He persists with a love that only He can give. If He didn’t give up on me, my friend, He will never give up on you.

And one day…one sweet, sweet day, we won’t be quite so broken anymore.

Grandma Betty might have been wrong (pretty sure she rolled over in her precious grave at that statement…because NONE of us were brave enough to say that to her face!). Sometimes, when yours is a story of TRUTH, when you can see the the sweet hand of Jesus working in your life, and you want others to know that the sweet hand of Jesus is working in their lives too…well, sometimes telling stories is ok.

-Words of Wisdom from The Book of Joe




Coming Unglued

December 5, 2021

Coming Unglued. 

I glued my mouth shut recently. Literally. 

Before I get into that tale, you need to know three things about Joe.  He loved to pick on me about my age, he loved to get the “last laugh”, and because I always seemed to get myself in one fine mess or another, he lovingly referred to me as his little “walking catastrophe”.  On this day, I did not disappoint. 

My students were busily cutting and gluing as part of a creative project. I keep chapstick in every drawer, cabinet, pocket etc because my mask makes my lips dry, and because I am possibly a wee bit addicted to it.  So….standing at my podium, I absentmindedly grabbed my chapstick and smeared it on. My eyes locked with a sweet student on the front row. Her eyes grew as big as saucers as she squealed my name, but it was too late. I had grabbed a GLUE STICK instead of my chapstick and SLATHERED it across my lips. Oh yes I did.

I had two panicked responses. First, I grabbed a tissue and wiped. This effectively stuck wads of Kleenex the size of chicken feathers to my face. Second, I coughed and sputtered and actually SWALLOWED a glob of the glue. 

It was at that point that I had the actual thought, “So…this is how it ends for me. I have glued my mouth shut and now my insides will stick together and I will die in front of my kids and we do not have a sub to cover the rest of my class.” Bless my own dang heart. 😂

Later that week, I recounted my tale to Joe’s mama.  I guess I had that event and Joe on my mind that night, because I dreamed about him. In my dream we were at Rouse Funeral Home, viewing Joe’s body (hang with me…it’s funny…I promise). As I stood at the casket,  Joe grinned and eased one eye open just a bit—much like the expression in the picture above. He whispered in that slow, southern drawl, “I declare…I never dreamed I’d end up married to a 46 year old school teacher.” Not to be outdone, I responded, “Well, I never dreamed I end up married to a 43 year old dead man, but here we are!” I was so proud of my quick comeback, and felt thoroughly satisfied that I had gotten the last laugh.

I was mistaken.  

Joe said, “Reach in my shirt pocket. I’ve got something for you.” So, I obliged. I reached in and pulled out A GLUE STICK. 

Joe whispered, “Still a walking catastrophe, ain’t you, shug?”as he eased that eyelid closed and readjusted the very satisfied grin on his face.

JMP got the last laugh, indeed. Bless us, Lord. Bless us both.😂

One year without my sweet Joe…I have given much thought to what I might say on this day. December 5th has been so heavy on my heart lately. I finally came to the conclusion that there are no words in the English language that I might string together to adequately recount for you my love for Joe or my sorrow in his absence.  December 5th was the day my entire world came unglued, and I have been standing in the middle of all those pieces ever since. 

As the date drew close, I decided to focus my attention on December 4th instead of December 5th, because that day, Joe’s last day on this earth, was filled with many blessings. We were off work that day to attend a funeral. Even in the midst of that tragedy, Joe had conversations with so many long time friends and family. Because of that event, I DID hold him a little longer and squeeze him a little tighter. As we stood in that cemetery, I breathed a prayer of thanks to God for the life He had given me with Joe. I am so thankful for that moment. Joe enjoyed a steak for supper—his absolute favorite. We also enjoyed a hot Krispy Kreme doughnut, time with family and literally talked and laughed until we drifted off to sleep. 

So, this week, as the familiar ache of grief tried to rise up in my chest, I pushed it away, determined to “hold it together” by remembering Joe on his last day. Over and over, I did this. I also kept myself as busy as possible, doing whatever I could to keep myself distracted. 

And that’s what got me in a real pickle last night. 

I made a Target run late in the evening, and as I sat at a stop light, my thoughts were fixed on Joe. In my distraction, I let my foot off the gas and ran myself right up under another person’s vehicle. Thankfully, everyone was fine, and I was blessed with quite possibly the sweetest officer on the Goldsboro Police Department. We pulled over into a gas station parking lot, and he patiently waited for me to locate my license and registration. I was on Joe’s truck, and could not find what I needed. I handed him my license, and continued to dig through Joe’s glove compartment. I found peanuts, ear plugs, tools, napkins, TOILET PAPER…but no registration. I began to explain my predicament to the very patient officer, and out of nowhere, the tears sprang out of my face. And y’all…I sat there and blubbered by sad life story to this young man. I couldn’t stop crying and I couldn’t stop talking. The only thing I stopped doing was breathing. Oh yes…full on hyperventilating panic attack. I got myself together eventually (it took a while), and was then completely mortified. I had come completely unglued. 

A sweet older man pulled over when we first collided, and I had not noticed that he was still there until the police officer left to write my ticket. Still sobbing just a little, I offered my apology to him for losing control of my emotions. I said to him, “I haven’t done this AT ALL today.” He patted my arm and responded, “Then I guess you were long overdue.” 

I guess he was right. I was long overdue. 

It occurred to me today, as I lamented over a wooden figurine that I have broken and reglued about ten times in my lifetime (I glued that thing together one more time today), that coming unglued is the effect of letting go. Each time it falls apart, I glue it again. Over and over. That little wooden figurine depends on the strength of the glue…probably gives the glue too much credit, thinking it will hold tight forever. But it seems inevitable that the figurine gets bumped this way or that, gets dropped, twisted, etc, and it is suddenly in pieces on the floor. Shattered. Unglued. No choice but to let go. 

On December 5, 2020, I  felt much like that little wooden figure. Joe was the glue that held my heart together. I didn’t see the blow coming, but just the same, I found myself in pieces on the floor. It is such a bittersweet irony to me that in the very same moment, as Joe’s sweet soul left his body, as his heart was made whole in the arms of Jesus, in turn, mine had to break. It had to come unglued. 

Over the last 365 days, I’ve tried in many ways to glue the pieces. Sometimes, I think I’ve done it, only to find that the glue didn’t hold and I am shattered all over again. That actually happens a lot. I’ve blamed the glue, I’ve blamed the pieces, I’ve blamed the people who bumped into me, I’ve blamed Joe, and I’ve even blamed God. 

But yesterday, and then again today, God reminded me of some truths I had forgotten. 

Holding it together in my own strength is never going to be the answer. In all my pushing away of the hurt, pressing down of the grief, all I was really doing was stretching the glue to the point that it was bound to give way. And give way it did. That poor young officer deserves a gold star, a raise and a chocolate cake. 

Yesterday, God also reminded me that no day is perfect. I really think He could have gotten that particular point across without damage to two vehicles, but I digress…I can romanticize December 4th all day long, I can focus on the goodness in it (and to some degree I think we should do that every single day), but in the end, there are bumps and scrapes in each of them. And just as He provides the sweetest of blessings when life is good, He wraps us tightly in His arms when life is not so good. 

You see, Jesus is the glue. And Jesus does the gluing. 

Finally, God reminded me that it is when we come unglued, when we let go of all of those things we never did have control over, that He does His very best work. 

December 5, 2020 found me as a wounded wooden figurine. If you’d asked me then, even I would have said I was too far gone to fix. 

December 5, 2021 found me much like the wooden figurine I glued back together this morning. I look different than I did a year ago. I am chipped in places, skinned up in others, but from a distance, I look pretty normal.  If you get close, though, you’ll see the lines of glue. They look like tiny scars. I guess that’s what they are. All the places where My Maker put me back together again. All of my edges don’t line up just the same, but even that is a blessing. God knows that we will never be the same after we’ve been broken badly, but He loves us enough to put us back together anyway. Over and over. 

But then He gives us a choice. We can hide away, ashamed of how many times we’ve landed in a million pieces, or we can bear those scars from where we’ve been put back together, for all the world to see. 

Sweet friend, here I am. Just a bundle of broken pieces and glue.If you study the pieces, you’ll see my love for Joe there. It will always be there, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. But, now, I want you to take your hand and rub my scars. Feel that? Those bumpy lines of glue? There’s so much love and mercy in those jagged lines. That glue holds the love of Jesus. It holds the tender mercies sent my way in every moment of the last year. It holds His ability to love me through times I was not very lovable. It is the blessing of His love, His strength, His grace and His promise. 

I didn’t think I was worth saving, my friend. Jesus thought so much more of me than that, and He thinks just that much of you.  Let Him hold the pieces. Let Him put you together again. 

I took this picture on the morning of December 4, 2020. I’ve seen some mighty pretty sunrises in my time on the pond, but this one was special. I’ve never seen colors so vibrant before or since. 

Looking back, I like to think that God was up there just a showing off, rolling out the red carpet, pulling out all the stops, getting ready for Joseph Morgan Price to arrive. But today, I also see it as the precious reminder found in John 1:5: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” 

 My days have been dark, my friend. Even now, a year later,  sometimes my heart aches for Joe so much I can barely breathe. But there’s a light. And yes, that light is a promise of the day when I will see my sweet Joe once more.  But that light is also a promise that until then, there is hope for broken pieces like you and me. Over an over. Every single day.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning.” -Lamentations 22-23

In the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald…It was always you, my sweet Joe. It was always you.

❤️And it always will be.❤️

Words of Wisdom from The Book of Joe


Noun: A Person, Place or Thing

Note: I’ve made a discovery since the last (so I thought) blog post. Joe Price may have left a limited number of sermons in that black leather notebook, but he left many more lessons written on my heart. Even now, as evidenced in this entry, Joe finds a way to bring me comfort and understanding through simple things I stumble across every now and then, like his old clothes and a worn out watch. It looks a little bit different, but there’s a lesson here. Joe and Jesus touched my heart this week. I hope they touch yours, too. ❤️

Noun: A Person, Place or Thing

October 19, 2021

I can’t remember why I took this picture of Joe’s grey hairs, but today I realized that I was probably the reason he had them. 😂

Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

This week, Joe and Jesus teamed up to lay a grammar lesson on my English teaching, part of speech loving heart. It centers around nouns. Remember learning about them? I’ll give you a couple of examples.

A Person: Joe

A Place: Joe’s home

A Thing(actually two things):Joe’s sweater and Joe’s watch.

Let’s begin with Joe’s sweater. This past Sunday night, I helped my youngest son, Cameron, pick out several outfits for his senior portrait session. As we put shirts and pants together, he mentioned wearing a sweater that belonged to Joe, and I immediately knew which one was the perfect choice. However, when I went to the stack of sweaters in the closet, the one I wanted was not there. This led me on a frenzied search through the house. I looked in drawers, closets, bags, etc. but the sweater was nowhere to be found. I rummaged through the house for the better part of an hour!

Finally, Cameron said, “ Mom, which sweater are you trying to find?”

I replied, “The GREEN one, son!”

And that’s when it hit me.

There’s a very good reason why I could not locate that particular sweater.

Y’all, it is because Joe is still wearing it.

I went on a scavenger hunt for the very sweater in which Joe is BURIED. 😂

Cameron will be wearing one of Joe’s sweaters in his pictures, but it won’t be this one. 😜
Photo credit: Honey Hill Portrait Photography

Cam got so tickled when I told him why he couldn’t wear that particular sweater, which then got ME tickled, and I laughed so hard that the tears rolled down my face and I nearly peed in my pants.

And THAT, folks, is just how crazy I am. Bless my own dang heart. Bless Joe’s heart, too. He had a lot to put up with being married to me. 🤷‍♀️

Psalm 34:18: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Our house has endured Covid for almost a month now. First my oldest son, Caegan, and then Cameron, and finally me. While I am so very thankful to say that we are all mostly healed and back to normal, I will tell you that I was not prepared for the length of time in which I simply felt so bad. My fever dissipated within a few days, but I was nowhere near well for many more. I was worried about my children (and trying to care for Cameron while I kept myself isolated), couldn’t taste, couldn’t smell, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t walk more than about ten steps before I was worn completely out, and was also trying to keep lessons posted daily for my students. It was near the end of the second week when I had myself a full blown come apart.

In the late afternoon, I loaded my bawling, squalling self up in the truck and headed for the cemetery. Yes, I know I should have stayed my behind at home, but I was just a teensy bit irrational by that point. I promise you I wore my mask (even though I was quite literally the only living, breathing soul at that cemetery), and I sanitized Joe’s stone before I left (it needed to be wiped…pretty sure I left tears and possibly little snot on it…but I digress). I am not sure if I was talking to Joe or to Jesus or to both of them, but I do know I cried, shook my fist, talked a little bit ugly, apologized for it, and in the end I laid my cheek against the cool granite of the stone and closed my eyes. The only thing I remember saying at that point was, “I am just so tired of being broken.”

And I am, sweet friends. I am just so tired of being broken.

I am not sure how long I laid there, but by the time I got myself gathered up and back on the path, it was nearly dark. I thought that perhaps I had gotten it all out of my system. I thought perhaps God would see fit to bring things into better perspective for me. I thought surely I would feel better. And I would…but there was yet another come apart between feeling broken and feeling better.

I went back to work the following week, and pretty much fell in a pile as soon as I got home every evening. It was at the end of that week that Joe’s old watch quit working. This watch is neither new nor expensive, but something about knowing it is still ticking just brings me comfort. Thankfully, it simply needed a new battery. However, once the battery was replaced, the back of the watch would not snap back into place. My brother worked on it for hours to no avail. My mama took it to a jeweler who also worked on it for a long while. She said she had NEVER had this happen to a watch. I sure did hate to be the one. But, in the end, the watch was broken. The battery worked, the watch was ticking, but nevertheless, with the entire back piece unattached, it seemed pretty useless to me.

And, so, I had my second come apart over an old, broken, still ticking, watch.

The next morning, still feeling a little bit sorry for myself, I opened a devotional book I hadn’t read in a while. The following words jumped out at me in all caps:


I continued to read about the many examples in the Bible of brokenness used for the glory of the Lord. Jacob’s physical strength was broken before God would clothe him with spiritual power. Moses “broke” a rock to produce drinking water. Esther broke the laws of the king to rescue her people. Jesus took five loaves of bread and broke them to feed five thousand. In this devotion, Streams in the Dessert, LB Cowman wrote, “through the very process of the loaves being broken, the miracle occurred.” Mary broke her alabaster jar, full of expensive perfume, and it was then that the fragrance filled the home. Even the sweet , precious body of Jesus was physically broken so that you and I might live forever.

“It is not until a beautiful kernel of corn is buried and broken in the earth by DEATH that its inner heart sprouts, producing hundreds of other seeds or kernels. And so it has always been, down through the history of plants, people and all of spiritual life–GOD USES BROKEN THINGS.”

Does that speak to your heart like it speaks to mine?

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

I spent a lot of time looking for a sweater I was never going to find. That sweater is just one thing in a long list of nouns that I have sought out in the name of happiness at some point in my life or another, trying to fill those empty spaces in my heart.

I think sometimes we see this verse as a formula to obtain all the nouns we believe will bring us joy. We have it backwards. We miss the point. It’s not a formula for wish granting. It is the promise of God’s presence. Every single noun on this earth is temporary. Possessions break. People die. We love them and we lose them. But we cannot and we will not lose God’s love for us.

Sometimes, it is difficult to see that while we are so caught up in looking around, when we place our hope and our trust in the gifts rather than the Giver.

God loves us, even when we get caught up in earthly treasures. God loves us when we forget that things are not the delight…HE is the delight. God loves us when, as those things slip away, we become broken.

And then God does something that only God can do–something that only God loves us enough to do–He uses the broken things.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

I know Jesus heard me when I cried out that I am so tired of being broken. Initially, Joe’s watch breaking seemed to be a little bit like rubbing salt in a wound. But that’s not how my Jesus works. Ironically, it’s not how Joe worked, either. That man loved a broken gadget. He’d spend more money on a fixer upper than he would have spent on something brand spanking new. He saw the value that many did not. My Joe and my Jesus…my Joe and my Jesus.

Speaking of my Jesus…well, I believe he might be an English teacher. He does love a good lesson. He specializes in nouns.

So, he used a person–my sweet, sweet Joe.

And then he used a thing: a broken watch, that even though half of it had been pulled away and could not be reattached, somehow kept on ticking….

To remind me of a place: Home. Not the home I spent an hour rummaging through looking for a sweater. Not the home that still seems so empty without Joe in it. But the Home that awaits every one of us, where there are no more sorrows, no pain, no sickness, no broken hearts (or watches).


Sweet friend…are you broken like me? Are you just so tired of being tired? Have you cried and fussed and apologized and maybe ended up falling in a pile and having yourself a complete come apart? Precious one, you go right ahead and have it. But then, I need you to do this:

Wipe away your tears and snot (sanitize as you see fit), and KNOW…Trust and believe with all of your heart that it is in the very act of being broken that the miracle occurs. Put your hand to your heart. Feel it? Still ticking…even if it’s broken. Even if half of it is missing…YOUR WATCH IS STILL TICKING.

And that means there is still time on the clock and there is work left to do. Let God use you. It will be in your brokenness, in your weakness, that others find strength. The very thing that brought you to your knees will be the reflection through which others see a person: Jesus. It will be through the cracked places that the Light shines in…and that Light will lead them, lead you and lead me to the very same place–Home.

Joseph Morgan Price had better be standing there waiting for me, and he had BETTER be wearing that green sweater!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

There’s no place like Home, sweet friend.

There’s no place like Home. ❤️

-Words of Wisdom from The Book of Joe


The Time Has Come

September 5, 2021

One of my favorite lines in Joe’s obituary reads as follows: “Joe heard the call to ‘come home’, and as any gentleman does, he knew it was time to leave.”

Joe Price was a gentleman through and through. It was one of his most endearing, and probably my most favorite quality about him. I don’t know that I ever hopped in his truck that he didn’t open the door for me. I know I never heard him talk to ANYONE his age or older without using “ma’am” or “sir”.

If knowing when to leave is a requirement of being a true gentleman, well…just this once, I’ll wish he didn’t have a single gentleman’s bone in his body, because even though it was time, I surely wasn’t ready. Yet, had Joe lived a thousand years with me, it just wouldn’t have ever been enough.

This week, Joe’s lesson is one you’ve read before if you have followed the blog since the beginning. Some things bear repeating. Sometimes, a lesson can be learned twice during different seasons of life.

Joe’s lesson this week is about letting go.

He wrote:

Old and New

Sometimes it is hard to let go of the old, but God just may want something new for us. It can be hard to let go of what we know or what is comfortable. Taking on something new can turn everything in our lives upside down.

For those who like change, new things can be exciting. For those who don’t really like change, new can cause discomfort. Personally, I am kind of a mix of both.

The wonderful thing about God is that he works outside of the box. He does not always work in the way we would have chosen. I once saw a church sign that read, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans”. I have often found that to be very true.

Our Heavenly Father sees the big picture that we cannot–He sees all that is going on behind the scenes. He even understands all those things that cause us to ask “why”. As we start out the new year, we can trust that God has our best in mind. He is with us right now, just as He will be with us down the road, no matter where that road may lead.

Sometimes that new brings what we see as blessings. Sometimes it brings loss and pain. Life happens. Decisions are made, we are faced with struggles, and sometimes we may even think that life is just not fair. But what I want you to know today is that you have a purpose. God is not finished with you yet.

God loves us. He cares for us, and He sees what we need. He works in our lives in ways that we do not always understand. Yet, we have peace in knowing that we do not have to understand. We only have to trust Him.

So, as we find ourselves in a new season and we look to find good in new and changing times, let us be confident in our God who is in control. Believe that He is working for you today…even when you just can’t see it.

Revelation 21:5: “Behold, I make all things new”.


Another true gentleman walked into my life just after Joe went to Heaven. He was my grief coach–I affectionately referred to him as Mr. Miyagi (From Karate Kid), because he was (and is) so wise and full of much needed life lessons. He understood my grief because he had experienced it himself. I guess because he was also a personal acquaintance of Joe’s, he felt led to help me, and I trusted him enough to allow it.

One of our earliest conversations was centered around this picture. I honestly don’t remember much about this night. It was the Christmas Eve-Eve gathering at the pond, just two weeks after Joe’s death, and I was still in a sad little daze. I posted the picture on Facebook, and Mr. Miyagi commented that “my smile didn’t reach my eyes”. He was exactly right. “One day it will,” he promised, but I honestly didn’t believe him.

Mr. Miyagi got me through some of the toughest days I experienced after Joe’s death. He walked beside me as I endured the various stages of grief, he encouraged me when I needed it, he called me out when I was wrong, but most importantly, he repeated several phrases to me that I used over and over during the past nine months, and will likely use forever.

One of my favorites is “all things new”. He encouraged me to find new hobbies, interests, etc that were not tied to Joe and the things we experienced together. It was the phrase that inspired me to start this blog. I had always wanted to write. I needed a way to fill the dreaded hours of Sunday afternoons at the pond. I found the black leather notebook. And that is how The Book of Joe was born.

Another was “Atta girl”. I really didn’t know who I was or how to function outside of my identity to Joe. I had very little confidence in my ability to live my life without him. So, when I overcame a particular fear, made a step forward, or sometimes just made it through the day without falling into a puddle of tears, I would excitedly tell him about it. His response was always, “Atta girl.” He encouraged me to take the tiny steps that have found me in this more manageable stage of my grief. He believed in me when I did not believe in myself.

Now, it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine. He pushed me. Sometimes I felt that he pushed me too far, too fast. I was afraid. And, his pushing made me fighting mad! So, I told him! But, he truly knew better than me. I needed that push. I still do.

My favorite saying of Mr. Miyagi’s was “Swim far.” It wasn’t my favorite initially. But, I think I understand it better now. And I think it is so relative to Joe’s lesson this week.

God loves us. He cares for us, and He sees what we need. He works in our lives in ways that we do not always understand. Yet, we have peace in knowing that we do not have to understand. We only have to trust Him.

The most difficult part of this journey has been letting go of the old. I liked the way things were. I loved love Joe Price with all my heart. There was no part of me that was ready to say goodbye to that. But what I have come to understand is that God never asks us to let go without the promise of His hand held out to catch us. I didn’t understand why Joe had to die, and I don’t think I ever will. But, the thing is that I don’t have to understand in order to trust that God is working for my good in every situation. I only have to be brave enough to trust. I only have to close my eyes, hold my breath, and push away from the safety of the shore. I can swim all on my own. But, with the hand of Jesus, I can SWIM FAR.

And just like Joe knew when it was time to leave, Mr. Miyagi did as well. I didn’t think I was ready either time. Just like I didn’t get to say thank you to Joe for all of the love he brought to my life, I didn’t really get to say thank you to Mr. Miyagi for helping me through the hardest days I have ever known. Slowly, I began to ride the bicycle of life without training wheels. Mr. Miyagi held onto the back of the bike, just in case, for a while. I’d feel wobbly, glance behind me, and there he’d be. But somewhere along the way, he pushed, and I rode my bicycle into the sunset all by myself. That makes me a little bit proud and a little bit sad.

Sometimes that new brings what we see as blessings. Sometimes it brings loss and pain. Life happens. Decisions are made, we are faced with struggles, and sometimes we may even think that life is just not fair. But what I want you to know today is that you have a purpose. God is not finished with you yet.

And so, in trying to follow the lead of two of my favorite gentlemen, I think that the time has come for me to let go of the blog for now. Even in this decision, Joe made things easier in his own way. I have come to end of the lessons in his black leather notebook. This blog has been my lifeline, my refuge and one of my greatest blessings in this journey of grief I am traveling. I have often said that “something good just has to come of all this” when speaking of Joe’s death, and now I see that maybe some good has come after all. Maybe my words have helped another soul face their days of darkness. If nothing else, writing these words has helped me as I faced my own dark days. And God is not finished with me yet. I know this and believe it with all my heart. I’ve said it a thousand times, but I’ll say it again. Sweet friend, He is not finished with you, either. I promise you that.

Thanks to the mercy of God and the Mr. Miyagis of this world, I am able to see the “blessings” in the new. One of those blessings is being able to stand on my own two feet and face Sunday afternoons knowing that, in time, my heart won’t hurt so much. I’m finding other ways to pass the hours between this world and the next, which is what I know in my heart Joe would want for me. He sent me the black leather notebook when I needed it most of all, and he gave me just enough lessons to get me through. My sweet Joe. My sweet, sweet Joe.

This picture was taken today. I went deep sea fishing for the first time. I was sick as a dog, but having the time of my life! All things new…right? I could almost hear the “Atta girl…” in my head. So, if you read this, Mr. Miyagi, I hope I made you proud today. And thank you. Thank you for showing me how to live again. And, I know you can’t see beyond my big old sunglasses, but …the smile reaches all the way up to my eyes this time, just like you promised.💜

So, until we meet again, sweet friends (which probably won’t be long…I just don’t think I’ll let ever say goodbye to The Book of Joe completely…after all, it is pretty much written on my heart). Until we meet again, my friends, I leave you with the second best piece of advice I’ve ever received. The first was when Joe told me I should marry him. 😉

The second best advice was this:

Swim far, sweet friends. Swim far.❤️

-Words of Wisdom from The Book of Joe


Just Your Average Joe

August 29, 2021

Joe thought of himself as pretty average.

He was anything but.

Joe could dress up in his finest and hob knob with the Rockefellers (and look mighty good doing it). He was equally as comfortable in overalls and work boots, stamping death dates onto tombstones, clearing debris from creek waters, or kicking a path through the woods. Joe could wear a pair of button fly Levi’s, checkered shirt and fancy cowboy boots and auction off anything you might try to sell. He’d dress up, spray on his “smell-em-good”, and pull out my chair for me at The Angus Barn. He’d dress down, kick the mud off his boots and discuss world affairs at Jackie’s grill in Seven Springs. He could talk politics, religion, philosophy and current hog prices (often in the same conversation). He was about as well-read as any human I have ever known. He couldn’t remember a birthday to save his life, but he could trace your ancestry back at least 1,000 years right off the top of his head. He was a Boy Scout, a true southern gentleman, a singer, a comedian, a teacher, a preacher and more.

He was extraordinary, but at his core, Joe wanted to be known as a common man….as just your average Joe. This week, his lesson is about the way Jesus interacted with the world as a common man, when he was anything but.

He wrote:

Common Man

We loaded up Thursday night and went to the Paramount Theater to see one of my favorite singers—Mr. John Conlee.  He had several hits, such as “Rose Colored Glasses”;“Lady Lay Down”; “The Backside of Thirty” ; “Friday Night Blues”; “Ms. Emily’s Picture”;“Common Man”…and the list goes on and on.  

The song “Common Man” is what I’d like to talk about this morning.  John’s voice was good, but not perfect—it has been described as melancholy. He is not particularly good looking. As a matter of fact, he is really very short.  

He is average, which is probably why he appealed to the common man.  He talked about working, raising a family, simple things, etc. That’s why folks like me like folks like John Conlee.

There is another man who came here to appeal to the common working man. In describing this man, the Bible says, “ The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” in John 1:14. I read the analogy that if Jesus had worn a shirt, it would have had a blue collar.

He continually ruffled the feathers of the elite. He healed a man and a woman on the Sabbath. He criticized the community leaders interpretation of the law, and often refused to debate these leaders or give them straight answers. Being a follower of Jesus didn’t require any special credentials or education, and you didn’t have to be wealthy or important.  What He said and what He did appealed to common, ordinary folks.  

Out of the 132 contacts He had with people, four were in a synagogue, six were in a temple and 122 were out in public.  He wanted to be with common folks.  He used simple, everyday language and spoke the truth; therefore, the common people gladly heard him.  Mark 12:37 says, “…The large crowd listened to him with delight.”  

He reached out to a woman possessed by a demon, a man infected with leprosy, a woman who had committed adultery, etc.  When told not to bother with children, He chastised the people and continued to focus on the young.  He grew up in the home of a carpenter, in a town of no great renown.  He could have had everything and He chose to be poor.  At the end of His life, those He knew and those who knew Him were the very ones who turned their backs on Him. He was treated as if he was just a common man, when He was actually anything but.

Jesus was sent by his father for you and for me and anyone we come in contact with that will welcome Him into their heart and receive His salvation.  So, as we go out into the world this week, let’s walk in His example of humility and meekness as we love each other with a servant’s heart.


On March 13, 2020, our school’s Bible Club (known as Rally) met for the last time before Covid shut down the world. I had no idea when I watched those students file out of the building that we would not reunite as a group again for almost 18 months.

Thankfully, though, this past Friday we were FINALLY able to meet again! It was WONDERFUL to see so many teenagers gathered together in the name of Jesus. Grace, one of our student leaders, spoke to the group about what it looks like to be a Christian at school. Most of the group agreed that high school is not always the easiest place to be a witness for Jesus. However, they also agreed that sitting in a classroom club meeting at the end of the day on Friday wasn’t exactly being a witness, either. Being a Christian at school means letting people see Jesus where THEY are…in the hallways, on the bus, in the cafeteria and in the classroom.

Being a teacher is sometimes like being a Christian witness. Most anyone can teach the “good” kids. The students who come to school with full tummies from happy homes where they have been taught morals and values are typically pretty easy to educate. Sometimes, the parents have done the hardest part for the teacher. But the teacher who can reach the “other” kids…the ones who walk in with ALL kinds of baggage, who don’t trust adults because they have been hurt or abused by them, the ones who are hungry or mean or both, the ones who don’t have a strong academic or emotional foundation, the ones who struggle for whatever reason…well, those teachers are the GOOD ones, in my opinion.

But just like you can’t teach a kid if you don’t meet them where they are, you can’t show people Jesus if you don’t meet them where they are, either. And while I firmly believe that Jesus is to be found within the confines of the church walls, I also know that we spend many more hours a day out in the world than we do inside the church.

He reached out to a woman possessed by a demon, a man infected with leprosy, a woman who had committed adultery, etc.  When told not to bother with children, He chastised the people and continued to focus on the young.  He grew up in the home of a carpenter, in a town of no great renown.  He could have had everything and He chose to be poor. 

One of Joe’s most endearing qualities was his ability to interact with all types of people. In his role as a funeral director, he typically interacted with people when they were far from their “best”. Yet, he was the calm, assured voice of reason in a time of true need, and above all else, he interacted with them in a manner that brought them comfort and in a way that maintained their sense of dignity. It was much more than a job to Joe. It was an opportunity to serve others and love on them in a true time of need.

I don’t think Joe realized, at the time, that he was the hands and feet of Jesus in his daily work. But he was. From the care he provided to the families, to the tender, meticulous attention given to the preparation of a body before a funeral service, Joe showed love, kindness and compassion. He met people where they were…even when it wasn’t a very pretty place.

I don’t think we realize the power we hold to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our daily lives. All day every day, we encounter people who need the love of Jesus. And while we should show love to EVERYONE, maybe showing love to those who make it difficult might be a more effective way to witness? I know, I know…it is so hard to love those who seem unlovable. I also know that, in the past nine months, the strangers I encountered on a daily basis had absolutely no idea how hard I was trying to hold it together. Maybe I was rude. Maybe I was angry. Maybe I was unlovable. I was also broken in a way that could be fixed only by the sweet love of Jesus. And people loved on me when I wasn’t very lovable. It was that love that made me know that Jesus would be the way I made it through those hard days and every day since.

I guess the bottom line is that you just don’t ever know why somebody behaves the way they do…and it’s not your job to understand it. It is simply your job to be the hands and feet of Jesus and let Him handle the rest.

Jesus was sent by his father for you and for me and anyone we come in contact with that will welcome Him into their heart and receive His salvation.  So, as we go out into the world this week, let’s walk in His example of humility and meekness as we love each other with a servant’s heart.

The night Joe went to be with Jesus was one of the most bittersweet moments of my life. Joe’s work as a faithful servant came full circle when his dear friends, Lynn Taylor and Thomas Rouse of Rouse Funeral Home arrived at my home to provide the service Joe had provided for so many others. They were the calm, assured voice of reason in my most desperate time of need. They closed the door to the room where Joe’s precious body laid, and with the tenderness and compassion that is found in the hands of true friends and Jesus, they prepared Joe to go through our back door one last time. It took them a long time. I later learned that it was because of the great care they took to clean Joe up and give him the dignified exit he would have given to them, had the situation been reversed.

Sometimes, death isn’t very pretty. Sometimes, life ain’t so pretty either. But thank God for the people on this earth who are willing to meet us where we are, to be the hands and feet of Jesus until we meet Him face to face. Who are those people? My sweet friend, it’s me. My sweet friend, it’s you, too. Just like Lynn and Thomas, we have the precious responsibility to love on the people around us, to show them the love of Jesus with humble heart of a servant.

When you love on people with the love of Jesus, you find out that there’s really no such thing as “just your average Joe”. My Joe was anything but average. He was extraordinary. Both to me and to Jesus. And sweet, sweet friend, so are you. ❤️

-Words of Wisdom from The Book of Joe


Risky Business

August 15, 2021

Mama, if you read this…I’m sorry.

When we were teenagers, I snuck out of the house to meet Joe. More than once.

He’d wait for me on Carmack Rd, a dirt road close to my house. I’d jump in his truck and we would ride at least half a mile with the headlights off, just to be safe. Sometimes we would pick up one of his buddies and one of mine (I won’t name his friend, but I will absolutely tell you that mine was my best friend Jeanenne…I mean, if my mama is going to be mad, I want hers to be mad, too!) Sometimes, it was just Joe and me. Always, though, we’d end up at the cemetery at the “church on the hill” in Seven Springs. I know…I know…the funeral business was in his blood, even then! 😂

We didn’t do anything incredibly illegal in the moonlit cemetery on those summer nights, and while I won’t share all the details, I will say this: I’m pretty sure we played hide and go seek in the very spot where Joe is buried! 😂

I don’t know whose heart raced more in those moments right after I jumped in his truck or when he brought me home–mine or Joe’s. We were both terrified that my daddy would be waiting for us on the front porch with a shotgun!

And Mama, if you are reading this, I guess I should clarify…I am sorry that I am spilling the beans about my teenage indiscretions here in the blog. However, I am not sorry that I bent the rules all those years ago. Those are some of my favorite Joe memories!

Sometimes. you have to be willing to take the risk!

This week, Joe’s lesson is about taking risks, and allowing our faith to be stronger than our fear.

He wrote:

Don’t Be Afraid

2 Timothy 1:7 reads: “For God hath not given us a spirit of fear; but of power and of love and of sound mind.”

The Bible says in Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please God.”  We should use our faith in all that we do.  Once we start using faith to overcome problems, we begin to gain momentum.  The issue is keeping that momentum going. Newton’s law states that objects at rest tend to stay at rest.  Objects in motion tend to stay in motion.  And if you don’t grow in your faith, your faith will wither…if you don’t use it, you lose it.  

The Bible tells us of Jesus taking  His disciples out on a boat during a storm.  His reasoning for doing so was to develop their faith in Him. Today I am here to tell you that if you have Jesus on board your ship, you can get through absolutely anything.  

We are absolutely not promised an easy life.  God exposes us to different situations because He knows it is how we are able to grow our faith in Him.  

A well known preacher in the 1800’s, Reverend Phillip Brooks, wrote the following: “Do not pray for tasks equal to your power. Pray for power equal to your tasks.”  God wants us to be challenged, and He assures us in His Word that He is there with us during those times. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” 

All progress involves risk.  A baseball player knows he cannot steal  second base with his foot on first.  In my own business ventures, I have struggled with that very fear, but I know that in order to make progress, I have to overcome my fear. 

One day, David the shepherd was tending his sheep and as it says in 1 Samuel, there came a lion.  But, in God’s strength, he defeated it. Then came a bear. And then Goliath. If David had run from that lion he would have missed the opportunity to be King of Israel.  

So when that lion comes along, use it not as an excuse to be afraid or intimidated. Use it as an opportunity to exercise your faith in God and conquer it.  

Heavenly Father, help us to rise above what it is we think we can do. Lord, help us to see what You know we can do through You.  



CS Lewis wrote, ” No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.”

I probably read that quote 100 times before Joe died, and never really gave it much thought. Now, however, I understand.

I’ve been afraid of pretty much everything for the past several months. Afraid for my future. Afraid of my feelings. Afraid for my family. Afraid I’d forget. Afraid I wouldn’t forget. Afraid of tackling the tasks that Joe always handled. Afraid of everything.

This week, that fear hit me in the gut again. I let the dogs out when I woke up on Wednesday. Daisy soon returned, but Chief did not. I called and called, walked the path, but he was nowhere to be found. Finally, I just sat down on the back steps and prayed. In just a few minutes, I saw that big, beautiful head peep around the corner of the house, and Chief ambled up beside me like nothing in the world was wrong. I buried my face in his fur and had myself a complete come apart right there.

I realized that, in my mind, Chief is the last living, breathing daily connection to Joe that I have in my life. Joe loved that dog with all his heart, and Chief loved Joe just that much in return. So, even though he drives me absolutely crazy sometimes, I have clung to that sweet old dog like a lifeline since December. I didn’t have Joe, but I wasn’t completely alone.

And while Chief is such a blessing to me, that incident made me ponder why we cling to emotions like grief, even when they hurt. I think the answer is fear. Grief is awful. It is physically painful. I have said over and over that I just want to feel better. And I do. However, now that time has passed and I feel the sting of grief abating to some degree, I also find myself afraid of letting go of it, because well…that’s where Joe lives. Grief is love turned inside out. All my love for Joe lives in my grief. So, yes, I am afraid of letting go of it completely, because that might mean I’m letting go of Joe. Right?


The devil would like nothing more than for me to stay trapped in this spot forever. He would like for me to believe that my security is tied to a dog and that my love for Joe is tied to this feeling of sadness. That is just not true.

My security is tied to the One who guides me every step. My love for Joe is forever tethered to the hope I have in Jesus, not to the sadness I feel here on earth.

So, maybe it’s time to step forward in faith. Maybe it’s time to let go of the past, and know that learning to move forward is never going to mean letting go of Joe–it is simply using the love we shared for each other and for Jesus to make the most of the life that is laid before me.

But moving forward is a pretty scary thing. I am walking out of one storm. I really don’t care to walk into another.

The Bible tells us of Jesus taking  His disciples out on a boat during a storm.  His reasoning for doing so was to develop their faith in Him. Today I am here to tell you that if you have Jesus on board your ship, you can get through absolutely anything.  

And that really is the truth. It is in the storm that our faith is born. That faith fosters the courage to take the steps that lead you into the sun again. And while that doesn’t mean you’ll never face another storm, it does mean that the same God who walked you through the first one will walk you through the last.

One day, David the shepherd was tending his sheep and as it says in 1 Samuel, there came a lion.  But, in God’s strength, he defeated it. Then came a bear. And then Goliath. If David had run from that lion he would have missed the opportunity to be King of Israel.  

Sweet friend, you can mind your business and live your life and still, one day, there will come a lion. Maybe you can’t defeat a lion on your own. My friend…you never were supposed to. God will give you the power in the face of fear. But you’ll never see that if you turn around and run.

So when that lion comes along, use it as an opportunity to exercise your faith in God and conquer it.

In the words of a cherished friend… “Sometimes you must beard that lion right there in his den”. Whatever it is that keeps you from moving forward, my friend, face it head on today. Let your faith be bigger than your fear.

My God didn’t bring us this far just to bring us this far. Step out in faith, even though your heart is racing. The greatest blessings of this life…well…they are simply worth the risk. ❤️

-Words of Wisdom from The Book of Joe


You Missed Your Calling

August 8, 2021

This picture isn’t about Joe’s calling. It’s just too handsome not to share! (Photo credit: Sarah Liberty)

Ronda to Joe: “Babe, you missed your calling.” {Spoken with true sincerity}

Joe to Ronda: “Babe, you missed your calling.” {Spoken like a true smarty pants}

Joe and I both had pretty clear callings in life. I was called to be a teacher. I love everything about school–the smell of books and glue sticks, the sight of freshly waxed floors…I even love the craziness of teenagers. It seems that I am forever seeking one degree or another, taking a class, reading an article, etc. I would express my enthusiasm for school and Joe would shake his head and reply, “You are a sick woman.” He did not share my love for it. Not one bit. Nevertheless, education is my calling, without a doubt.

Joe’s callings were equally distinct. He was called to be a funeral director. Just this week someone shared their experience working with Joe during the loss of a loved one, and commented on his kindness, compassion and ability to make the process as easy on the family as possible. It was this same demeanor that served him well as the owner of Southern Monument. Walking people through the various processes of grief and loss was Joe’s calling for sure.

Another calling of Joe’s was one of the culinary variety. Everything he prepared was deliciously perfect, and he could prepare just about anything. When Joe outdid himself in the kitchen (which was often), I’d close my eyes and say (with complete sincerity), “Babe, you missed your calling.”

However, this was not a shared calling between us. Therefore, my most earnest culinary intentions frequently resulted in something burnt (or at least blackened) or inedible. I tried! I really tried! But I tend to cook like I do most everything else–full speed ahead, high heat, in a hurry, doing ten other things at the time…so when he closed his eyes and murmured, “Babe, you missed your calling.”….he meant we would undoubtedly be calling to order takeout that night! Poor Joe! Poor, hungry Joe! 🙂

This week, Joe’s lesson is about God’s purpose for each of us, and how we should respond to His call.

He wrote:

Our Purpose

God has a purpose for each of us. More importantly, we each have a calling to participate in the ministry of Jesus.  

Jeremiah 1:4-10 recounts the calling of Jeremiah to be a prophet: 

“The word of the Lord came to me, saying,“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart;I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” 

“Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.

Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth.See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.

When God called Jeremiah to be a prophet, He assured him that he was born to do this.  Whatever it is that God has called you to do, you were born for that very purpose.  So do not worry—God will make sure that you have everything you need to fulfill your purpose.  

Sometimes it is easy to lose focus by dwelling on our shortcomings.  Instead of dwelling on the self part, I think we should instead shift our focus to the One who created us. He has no shortcomings and will empower us to work beyond our own.

In the last verses, we see that God was reassuring Jeremiah after he became nervous.  God reminded him that his age and experience did not matter.  God promised Jeremiah that He would equip him with whatever he needed to fulfill His purpose. 

God is giving Jeremiah his commission to be a prophet to the nations and to stand up to those who were not yielding to God’s will.  But, God waited until He knew Jeremiah was ready to fulfill the calling.  God knew Jeremiah was ready, even if Jeremiah didn’t realize it himself.  

We often tend to rely on what we can see. It is difficult to see outside of our own comfort zone, especially when we are guided by fear.  Even more difficult for us is taking a risk. Yet, sometimes risk is necessary, especially in serving the Lord.  

So, this week, I encourage you to think about God’s calling in your own life. If your feet feel unsteady, remember that you were created on purpose to fulfill God’s purpose, and He will equip you for the journey.


Joe could pray a prettier prayer than anyone I knew. He had a servant’s heart, an amazing command of Biblical knowledge and the ability to translate what he read into layman’s terms. He loved the Lord and he loved on people.

I always believed that Joe was also called to be a preacher. I shared this with Joe. He laughed. Yet, I could see the wheels turning inside his sweet, precious head. He entertained the thought, but always dismissed it.

Joe never could see what I saw. All he could see were his own shortcomings, much like Jeremiah.

Still, when I prayed over our marriage, I always asked that the Lord would be glorified in us and through us, and that we be used according to His purpose. And, to some degree, I felt we were doing just that. Joe served as Sunday School Superintendent. I taught a Sunday School Class. We sang in church, we organized and produced the Grand New Opry Benefit, etc. If our purpose was to serve the Lord in this way, I believed we had accepted His call.

Then Joe passed away.

I had a really difficult time with the concept of my purpose in general, much less my purpose as it related to the ministry of Jesus. There was no song in my heart anymore. Without Joe, there was no Grand New Opry. Without Joe, there was no Sunday School Superintendent. Without Joe, I just didn’t see much purpose at all.

But God…

We often tend to rely on what we can see. It is difficult to see outside of our own comfort zone, especially when we are guided by fear.  It was on Christmas Eve, just 19 days after Joe went to Heaven, that his black leather notebook full of sermons literally fell into my lap. I was in our home office attempting to wrap presents, but ended up just wandering around the room looking at Joe’s collection of various things. All I could see was what had been lost.

Yet, even in that very moment, God was bringing to light another calling for Joe and for me. I was being equipped with what I thought (at that time) was just a comfort, but was actually the gift of ministry contained within the pages of an old leather notebook. What I could see was small, but what God was orchestrating was much larger.

I started writing the blog on a Sunday afternoon, simply because I had to find a way to fill the hours that were most difficult for me to face. And although I felt led to share it, I was terrified. What if people thought I was crazy? Neither Joe nor myself had any real theological training…did anyone really care to read his lessons and my own personal musings?

Even more difficult for us is taking a risk. Yet, sometimes risk is necessary, especially in serving the Lord.  I published the first entry in The Book of Joe. I am not really sure that I saw it as serving the Lord at that time, but I certainly saw it as taking a risk. A few people asked about the other sermons in the book. So, the following Sunday, I published another.

And that’s how I have spent each Sunday for the past eight months. Writing. Grieving. Healing.

Finally, I am beginning to see some purpose. Joe’s purpose. Maybe even my own.

Joe never did listen to me much, but I sure did call it when I said he was bound to be a preacher! 😂. He might say the blog doesn’t count, but I think it does. I think this format is part of Joe’s fulfillment of God’s purpose. I doubt if Jesus reads my blog, but just in case…Jesus, if you’re reading this, would you just nudge him a little and tell him I said, “TOLD YA!!”

Just as God promised Jeremiah that he would equip him, God equipped Joe to share the truths found in His Word. Joe thought he was simply writing a five minute lesson, yet he was writing so much more. But, God waited until He knew Jeremiah was ready to fulfill the calling. God knew Jeremiah was ready, even if Jeremiah didn’t realize it himself. God knew Joe was ready, even when Joe did not. And who, but GOD could further someone’s calling after death?

As for me, I think maybe part of my purpose is to simply be the vessel through which God’s word is shared in The Book of Joe. Maybe part of my purpose is to bring hope to another grieving soul, to be the reminder that Jesus walked with me through the darkest days of the darkest journey, and that even now, He guides me daily toward the light. And if He will do it for me, oh friend…He will do it for you.

What I know with all my heart is that my purpose was determined by God before I was born. How incredible is that to ponder?!? So, as I prayed over my marriage to Joe, that purpose was being fulfilled in ways I could not see. And now, as I pray over this life without Joe, I know that God’s greater purpose is being created in me and through me, and that His plans for me are good.

Sweet friend, His plans for you are good as well. You have been called. You have a purpose. Even when that purpose seems small, even when you don’t understand, or you don’t think you can…look at Joe and me and KNOW this: You haven’t missed your calling. You can glorify God and His purpose in good times and in bad, in times of grief, in times of hurt, in times of hope. You may not think you are ready, but you are. Don’t you think for one minute that God is finished with you. Sometimes what looks like the end is just the beginning. Your tears may fall into the dust today. But the dust and teardrops turn to clay. And clay is something beautiful waiting to happen. Trust me on that one. I know the Potter.

So, I guess Joe, in his sweet way, even now is fulfilling his earliest call. He was called to soothe hurting souls, to bring comfort and peace in times of loss, to make the process of grieving a bit easier to bear. He did that in life, and is somehow able to accomplish that same feat in death. Ain’t that just like Joe? Ain’t that just like God? ❤️

-Words of Wisdom from The Book of Joe


Do It Now

August 1, 2021

Do I love the two old fellas in this picture with all my heart? Yes. Do they both have a stubborn streak as wide as Chief’s rear end? Also yes. 😂

The quickest way to get Joe to NOT do something was to tell him to do it. I can’t tell you how many times I’d gently encourage him to take action, only to hear, “Don’t tell me what to do, woman!” He said I was bossy. I said he just needed a lot of direction. 🤷‍♀️

For example: I would sweetly drop hints a month or so before Christmas or my birthday. I mean…just in the spirit of helpfulness…you know? And I assure you that the sticky stuff on the envelope was still wet every time I opened a card or gift from Joe because he was going to wait until the last minute to make the purchase and sign the card..just to prove his point! So, in the true spirit of relentless stubbornness, this past October I sent him a link to those huge bottles of Chik Fil A sauce and asked if he wanted to get a head start on my list. Pretty sure he rolled his eyes when he saw it and said to himself,”Don’t tell me what to do, woman!”😂

Eventually I learned that the best way to get Joe to do something was to make him think it was his idea all along. He listened to the little voice inside his own head just fine…it was MY voice that triggered his stubborn streak! Bless us. Bless us both. 😂

This week Joe’s lesson is about stubborn procrastination and why we should pay attention to the gentle nudge when we feel it.

He wrote:

Do It Now

I want to talk to you today about procrastination. 

2 Corinthians 6:2 says, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

There is this idea in these modern times that there is no particular reason to be in a hurry to obey God.  And I believe that there are folks who know full well what God wants them to do and they ignore it. 

There are several examples in the Bible, such as Luke 9: 59-62. It reads:

“He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family. ”Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

These men counter the instructions of Jesus with, “But first let me…”. How many times do we say that when we feel that the Lord is nudging us to do something? Christ expected these men to follow Him then—not the next day or the next week or the next month. If we know what God wants and we do not act on it, then we are hardening our hearts—and God doesn’t want that for His children.

In Acts, there is a story of Paul preaching. The Jews in Antioch spoke against Paul. Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go preach to the Gentiles.” He and Barnabas shook the dust off against them and took off for the next town. So, that was it—the folks that rejected Paul and Barnabas lost their opportunity to hear the good news of Jesus.

When we refuse to obey the truth of God’s word, we are rejecting the Holy Spirit. If we reject the Holy Spirit, it is impossible to have the relationship with our Heavenly Father that He so desires, and that we need so much every day of our lives. 

So, as we go about our week, when we feel that God is calling us to act, let us not say, “But first let me…” We should always be in a hurry to obey God.

Behold. Now is the time.


I work better under pressure. That is a lie I tell myself, because what I really like to do is procrastinate. But sometimes that gentle nudge is too much for me to ignore. Once in a while, I will take the time to listen.

I listened to several gentle nudges in the days and weeks preceding Joe’s death.

One example: Family Pictures. We put them off for FIVE years. Each year I’d mention them, and there would always be a reason to wait. It didn’t really make much sense to take them this past year. Cam was already a junior in high school…maybe waiting until we took his Senior Pics would make more sense. But when the “Fall Mini” special came across my newsfeed, I called my photographer without even thinking twice. We booked. Caegan got sick. We canceled. So, I thought maybe it had worked out like it was intended. Until the photographer called with a cancellation, offering a last minute chance to reschedule. NOBODY in my house wanted to spend Friday afternoon taking pictures. But I insisted. I couldn’t shake the voice inside my head…”The time is now.”

Becca Scott Reynolds (my friend and a fantastic photographer) sent me the link to our family portraits on December 3rd.

Joe went to Heaven on December 5th.

On Friday, December 4th, Joe and I attended the funeral of Jamie Rouse, a lifelong friend who also passed away unexpectedly. I almost sent Joe to the funeral without me. Work was so crazy last year, and I wasn’t sure I could spare the time. But something told me to go with him that day.

Before the service, we stood and spoke with Joe’s good friend and former business partner, Lynn Taylor, of Rouse Funeral Home. They joked about Lynn coming out of retirement one day to handle Joe’s funeral. Lynn laughed and told me to make sure his number was in my phone. So I played along and checked. It wasn’t, but I added it. And in less than six hours, I would need it.

Had I not listened to that voice, I wouldn’t have been in the truck with Joe that evening. We wouldn’t have gone to Village Steakhouse for supper. I wouldn’t have joked with Joe and said I planned to put him in a pink dress shirt when he passed away. That joke led to a conversation in which Joe planned his entire funeral. He named the pallbearers, the speaker, the music…about four hours before he went to Heaven.

We were almost home when Joe said he wanted to go see my daddy. I was tired. I wanted to go home. But I said ok. We had the best visit. My brother and sister both ended up sitting with us out in the shop. Joe and Daddy made breakfast plans for the next morning. And when I couldn’t hold my eyes open anymore, we went home.

Normally, I am asleep before my head hits the pillow, but on this night, I was still awake when Joe crawled in bed beside me. And, in a pure Christmas miracle 😇 I stayed awake. We laughed and talked for more than an hour. Y’all. I am not built for that!!But the last thing I remember is laughing, looking at the clock, and joking about it being after 11pm. And by 2:21 am, my sweet Joe had gone to be with Jesus.

I didn’t see the urgency in those nudges then, but I certainly see it now. People ask me all the time if I think Joe had any premonition of what was to come. I honestly have no idea.

But I do know this…

As part of a large, ongoing cemetery project, Joe had to set an enormous statue of Jesus. That statue sat in the yard at Joe’s shop for a good while. Scheduling conflicts kept getting in the way of placing the monument in the cemetery. This went on for weeks. But on Thursday December 3rd, Joe finally moved the statue to its permanent home. It was the very last stone he set.

This week, I received this picture of Joe as he put the statue in place.

So maybe Joe did feel that gentle nudge and maybe he listened to that voice. Maybe he heard, “The time is now.” Do you see where Joe is kneeling? My sweet, sweet Joe is literally kneeling at the feet of Jesus less than two days before he met Him face to face. Do you know how precious that is to me now? I look at Joe and imagine the voice of Jesus saying, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Well done.”

But sweet friend, as blessed as I am to have all those nudges in the days before his death, I am sure there were many more that I missed. How many times did I wave the urge away, so caught up in today…so confident there would be time tomorrow? When you look at me, when you read this blog, I hope you see all the ways Jesus has carried me through this storm. But today, I also hope you see me as the reminder that sometimes tomorrow never comes.

We know not the hour.

It’s so easy to say “But first let me…” when Jesus gently whispers, “Follow Me.” My precious, friend, don’t let that be your response. Just do it. Do it now. Pray the prayer. Make the call. Take the time. Schedule the portraits. Tell them you love them. Say I’m sorry. Say you forgive them. Mean it when you say it.

Behold. The time is now.

The week before Christmas, I was cleaning out some files in the office at Joe’s shop. I came across an Amazon package tucked away in a corner. I opened it to find 2 huge bottles of Chik Fil A Sauce. Ordered early. Say what?!?

Who could find a way to prove me wrong AND give me a gift EARLY after his own death? Who could make me laugh and make me cry and make me want to choke someone and make me want to hug someone all at once? My Joe and my Jesus, that’s who. My Joe and my Jesus. ❤️

Whatever it is, my friend. Don’t put it off. Do it.

Behold. The time is now.

-Words of Wisdom from The Book of Joe💗


Out of the Mouths of Babes

July 25, 2021

Jackie Beth loves a frog. Her words when she got her hands on this MAMMOTH bullfrog…”It’s my dream come true!” 😂

A few weeks ago, we gathered for supper to celebrate Sarah’s birthday. Jackie Beth said the blessing. She no longer repeats a memorized prayer, but delivers her own personal words of thanks. It is so precious!

Anyway, as she drew her very sweet little prayer to a close, she said, “…and in the name of Jesus PRICE we pray. Amen.”


Jesus Price. ❤️

Somewhere on The Other Side, I feel pretty certain that Joe and Jesus heard her. And I just feel like Joe gently nudged Jesus with his elbow and whispered, “You know, I always had a feeling you were a Price.” 😇

This week, Joe’s lesson is about how we pray, why we pray, and how prayer changes the world around us.

He wrote:


“Prayer does not condition God. Prayer conditions us. Prayer does not win God to our view—it reveals God’s view to us.”-Leo Ravenhill

I don’t think prayer comes naturally to all of us. I have heard that a person’s life will suffer if he or she doesn’t pray. I am not sure how I feel about that. What I do believe is that if a person does not pray, the part of Jesus that lives inside them will suffer.

When a person is born again, they take a part of Jesus into their heart. Then, they can either feed that part or starve it.  Prayer is the way we feed our faith. Now, we can look at prayer as a way to get things done, but I think the real purpose in prayer is to get to know God better.

The Bible tells us in John 16:24 to “ask and ye shall receive.”  We complain to God in prayer about what is not right, we apologize for what we have done wrong, but we ask for just a few things.  And we also wait until we have reached rock bottom to ask for help. As long as we think we can handle things, we might not think we need to call on God.

So, maybe we should ask more. I think sometimes we worry about sounding like a child wanting this, that and the other. But, the book of Matthew says that “unless we be as little children…”. Maybe we should simply ask with childlike faith, and then give God room to work. 

I’ll leave you with this thought: I’ve heard that prayer changes things, and I think that is true. But what prayer really changes is ME.


Joe could simply open his mouth and a beautiful, eloquent prayer would fall out of it. On command. I was always envious of that.

However, when he was really troubled about something, Joe would ask me to pray about it. I’d always say, “Ok, but you are praying about it, too, right?”

He’d reply, “Yes, but I think He hears you better.” Bless Joe’s heart.

In Joe’s lesson this week, he said, ” I think sometimes we worry about sounding like a child wanting this, that and the other. In late January/early February of this year, I struggled with this concept in the reverse. Joe’s death was still so raw. I moved my oldest son, Caegan, into an apartment in Wilmington. My youngest son, Cameron, was now a junior in high school, driving himself around and suddenly very independent. NOBODY NEEDED ME. I suddenly saw the irony of how we, as parents, spend all those years teaching our children to be strong, self-sufficient humans..to spread their wings, so to speak. Yet, when they begin to fly…well, for me it was bittersweet to say the least. I didn’t want them to be so independent that they didn’t ever need their mama. I still need mine and I am 46 older than my boys. 😜

I wonder if God feels that way about us when we don’t come to Him in prayer? After all, we are His children, too.

Maybe part of our hesitation comes from our misguided assumption that our prayers have to fit some reverent, grammatically correct mold. And while it is my most sincere hope that your every thought overflows with beautiful sentence structure and perfect punctuation 🤷‍♀️, I don’t think God is holding any of us to that standard.

Think about the wonder of when a toddler is learning to express himself or herself. They feel every emotion in a BIG way, and are quick to share it with their grown ups. Toddlers don’t look at us and say, “Thank you for gifting me with something unexpected, Dear Grown Up.” Instead, they SQUEAL with delight. They clap their chubby little hands together, maybe do a little happy dance, and often wrap themselves around us as an expression of thanks. And in that moment, how do we respond? WE squeal with delight. WE clap our hands too. WE do a little happy dance. WE soak up the joy of a big bear hug and squeeze them right back.

When little ones are in want of something, they point. They may utter word or two like “mine” or “please” or “help me”. If they lose patience with us, they may try to get our attention by stomping around a little…huffing and puffing…and maybe even throw a full on fit. However, if we can give them what they desire, we typically do it. Sometimes grown ups make them wait. Sometimes grown ups say no. But the “not yet” or the “no” is never a result of the eloquence of the request. It is simply because the grown ups can see, better than the little one, the difference between what their children want and what they need.

Sometimes toddlers don’t know what they want. They are tired or hungry or frustrated or confused (or some of all of it) and they simply lift up their hands toward their grown up. And what do we do? We reach down and we pick them up. We rock them gently, we whisper words of comfort into their hair, we let them rest in the safety and comfort of our arms for a while. That’s a mighty sweet moment for a little one. It’s a mighty sweet moment for the grown up, too.

Of course, our earliest method of communication might be the most effective of all. Our cries usher us into this world as newborn babies. Grown Ups hold their breath waiting to hear it for the first time, and spend the rest of their lives responding to it. A grown up can differentiate between the cries of anger, hunger, sadness, injury, illness, drama (my poor mama especially on the drama one), exhaustion, etc. long before a child is able to articulate a single thought. Honestly, we were probably better communicators as babies than we are as full grown adults. Words can be misleading, but teardrops generally tell the tale.

But, the book of Matthew says that “unless we be as little children…”. Maybe we should simply ask with childlike faith, and then give God room to work. Goodness, perhaps we had our prayer life figured out as little ones and didn’t even know it. Is a squeal of delight a prayer? I think so. And so is clapping your hands, or doing a happy dance.

Is a one word request a prayer? I can tell you from experience that the answer is yes. I’ve uttered “please” and “help me” more in the last several months than I have in my entire life. God never once came back with “You must submit your work in complete sentences”. Not once. But He has countered with a “no” and a “not yet”. And even when His response causes me to have a full blown fit and fall in it, I trust that He sees, better than me, the difference between what I think I want and what He knows I need.

Is lifting up your hands as if to say, “Will you pick me up?” a prayer? Oh my goodness, yes. I think God delights in the moments when He can scoop you up and rock you gently, whispering “Rest in Me a while.” But just a warning…when He holds you in His hands, you’ll probably see me there as well. I find myself there an awful lot these days. No worries…I’ll scoot over. There’s more than enough room for all of us.

My sweet, precious friend…can you pray through your teardrops? This one I know for sure. God is, indeed, close to the brokenhearted. In the moments when I have felt His unmistakable presence, and on the few occasions when I have audibly heard His voice, there was one common denominator. Each event occured when I cried out to the Lord, when my despair trickled down my cheeks in a slow, steady stream.

Perhaps heartbreak opens our lines of communication because our Lord himself can relate. After all, God had a boy once. A boy that He loved so very much. He knew His boy would die. And, near the end, that boy asked His Father wasn’t there any other way? And His Father had to tell him no. Don’t you know that broke His heart? So, I know without a doubt that God heard my cries the night I lost Joe and all the nights since. Because he knows what it’s like to love the sweetest boy, to want so much for him to live, to watch him die so young.

About a week ago, I stood in the kitchen having a conversation with Cameron, my 17 year old almost grown boy. As he asked me a question, he slipped up and called me Mommy. Did I love it?? Oh, yes I did. 😊 I also realized that even though my children think they are grown, deep inside they will probably always need their mama just a little.

Prayer does not win God to our view—it reveals God’s view to us. For me, God’s view is this: We are forever safe in the arms of our Father. He delights in our childlike faith, and He hears our prayers even in their most basic form. From our first newborn cry to our last, God’s heartstrings are tethered to our own…simply because we are His children. We are His children, even when we think we’re grown. And we will forever need our Grown Up. 💗

-Words of Wisdom from The Book of Joe


Hurry Up and Wait

July 18, 2021

Joe was waiting on me in this pic. I had the flu and he was sweet enough to wait on me hand and foot, but smart enough to keep a healthy distance…and this was WAY before masks became a thing! 🙂 But this week we are talking about a different kind of wait.


Joe was typically patient with me. And I was typically…well…let’s just say the man stored up treasures in Heaven during our marriage. 😜


There was one circumstance in which he expected something impossible of me and just could not be patient about it. It happened every time he put the dang vehicle in park and switched off the ignition.

Joe required a lot of equipment. He always had a pen/pencil, a pocket knife, an assortment of tiny tools and/or hardware, a cell phone, a handkerchief, a wallet…oh…and a pack of cigarettes and lighter. Always. But bless his heart, he also possessed the ability to attach each of those things to his person before he left home. He used every pocket, clip, belt, strap, bungee cord, etc. available to him, so when he threw that thing in park he was ready to jump right on out of the vehicle.

I require a little equipment myself, which I typically keep contained in one of the five million bags I haul around all the time. I have a hand bag, a teaching bag, a lunch bag, a gym bag, a bag of jellybeans…you understand, right? So, once Joe turned off the ignition, I still needed to decide which bag was appropriate, place my phone in it, do a quick booger check in the mirror, reapply lipstick, collect all my belongings and vacate the vehicle.

And Joe would come completely unglued while he waited.

Every Single. Time.

I believe if I had hopped out of the truck while it was still rolling, Joe still would have sighed and given me the look. No worries…the truck was always in park and the rubber on the tires completely cooled before I made my dramatic exit from the vehicle.

Could I have moved a little faster? Probably. Did I intentionally move slowly because I ALWAYS had to wait for Joe to smoke a cigarette before we went somewhere, when we got home, before we ate supper, after we ate supper, before we went to bed, before and after we did pretty much anything? Possibly. 😇

This week Joe’s lesson is about waiting, and what God wants us to learn while we do it.

He wrote:

Why We Should Wait

Lamentations 3: 25-26: “ The Lord is good to them that wait for Him; to the soul that seeks Him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.”

The Bible makes it plain that we go through different seasons in our lives, and one of those seasons God tells us about over and over again is the season of waiting. 

But I would like to assure you this morning that while we are waiting, God is working.  

We are going to spend a lot of time waiting, and if we  don’t figure out how to trust God while we do that, well, we are going to spend right much time not trusting God. 

God has no reason to be in a hurry, because He is forever.  But don’t think for one minute that He is not watching and working.  He is watching for your trust in Him.  As we are saying, “When, Lord?”, He is asking us to have faith that He can handle our needs. 

We are naturally impatient.  We want things done now. In Ecclesiastes 3:1 we find, “ To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under Heaven.”  Think about what you are waiting for this morning.  Are you frustrated with how slowly things are happening? We find a promise in Isaiah 60: 22 that not only is God working, but it also tells us how He is working: “ The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation. I am the LORD; in its time I will do this swiftly.”

God waited thousands of years to send Jesus the first time, and we have been waiting more than 2,000 years for His return. 

So, as we move into the coming week, remember that delay is not denial.  When you think God is saying no, He might just be saying, “Not yet. Will you trust Me?”

I will leave you with a verse from Micah 7. Verse 7 states: “Therefore, I will look unto the Lord and I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.”


Two Fun Facts About Ronda… 1) I love a good story. 2) I do not like to wait.

It was during one particularly difficult season of waiting that the Lord gave me “my verse”. It is the scripture I go back to time and time again. Psalm 27:14 reads, “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” Well, I don’t like to wait, so I really thought maybe God seemed to make me do it repeatedly so that I would “learn my lesson”. However, I think maybe I missed the mark. Perhaps it’s not so much about waiting, but more about waiting well–maybe the true lesson comes, not at the end of our wait, but in the time between the plea and the payoff.

We are all waiting for something it seems. Waiting for healing. Waiting for the job. Waiting for the new home. Waiting for the prodigal son/daughter/husband/wife to return. In my current season, I am waiting for several things. I am waiting for healing. Waiting for relief. Waiting to feel happy. Waiting for normal. Waiting for Heaven. And we do all this waiting knowing full well that God has the power to bless us with every desire of our heart at anytime. So, why does He hold out on us? I think it is because of the role that waiting plays in our own story, as well as in God’s story.

Joe’s lesson this week made me think about story of Lazarus…more specifically, about the wait between his death and resurrection.

When Lazarus was sick and dying, his sisters, Martha and Mary, reached out to Jesus, not only as their only hope, but also as their personal friend. They knew He loved Lazarus and they knew He had the power to heal him. But Jesus did not come. He waited. He prolonged their agony.

I reached out to Jesus the night Joe passed away. I, too, knew He loved Joe, and that He had the power to heal him. But Jesus did not give me my heart’s desire that night. He waited. He prolonged my agony.

Lazarus died.

Joe did, too.

Mary and Martha entered a time of darkness and suffering. Their hearts were broken. They might have even been a little bit resentful. They questioned the goodness of Jesus.

Me too, sisters. Me too.

Then, Jesus showed up. Martha went out to meet Him. But she didn’t greet Him with warm fuzzies. She questioned him. “Why, Lord? You could have saved him, but you didn’t. Why??” However, she followed up with, “But even now I believe in you as the Son of God.” At her sister’s urging, Mary went to meet Jesus as well. Her pleas were much the same. If Jesus had been there, her brother would still be alive. And as she plead, Mary fell right down at His feet.

Goodness, friends…that expresses my heart better than anything I can tell you. I went to meet Jesus the morning after Joe passed away–right at my kitchen table where I’d met Him so many times before (and after). My exchanges with Jesus are still a daily mix of “Why didn’t you save him?” and “I will praise you in the storm.” I fall to my knees with my hands held up in praise one minute, and I fall to my knees in weakness the next.

But then, in the story of Lazarus, Jesus did the thing. Jesus did the thing that blows my mind and breaks my heart and gives me hope all at once.

Jesus wept.

Y’all, Jesus knew when he walked into town that day that he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. He saw the bigger picture, even when his friends and the disciples could not. But still, in that moment, his heart was broken. Jesus wept tears of compassion–he did not take lightly the suffering his delay caused. He wept tears of anger–the wage of sin is death–and Jesus had seen a lot of it. Death had taken so many, and now Lazarus, and soon it would take Him. And He knew it. He wept tears of distress. Jesus was just days away from his own crucifixion at this point. Can you even imagine the anxiety? Jesus was about to resurrect Lazarus, giving him the gift of life, both earthly and eternal. But, for Jesus, that gift was going to come with an unbearable price tag–Ultimately, this gift would be purchased with His very own life. Even though what lay on the other side of the death of Jesus was wonderfully unimaginable, He was going to have to walk a horrifically painful road to get there. So, Jesus cried.

In the moments before Joe’s death, when I held his head in my lap and begged God to save him, I cried, too. I only remember that detail because at first I thought the tears belonged to Joe. I looked down and saw them running down his cheek. I wiped them away, confused, until I felt one drip off my own cheek onto his and realized that the tears were mine. However, I wonder if maybe one of those tears belonged to Jesus? Even though He could see the bigger picture, even though He knew the paradise that awaited my sweet Joe, maybe His heart broke a little bit to see mine breaking?

But then, four days after he passed away, Jesus raised Lazareth from the dead. Yes, Jesus had the power to heal his friend in sickness. BUT HE WAITED. This wait allowed the glory of God to be shown in its fullest. What Martha and Mary asked for was good. What Jesus gave to them was better.

In the moment Joe’s season of suffering ended, my season of suffering began. So, now I wait, trusting that somehow, the glory of God is being displayed. I asked the Lord to save Joe. In my mind, that was good. In my heart I know that what Jesus gave to Joe is better…so much better.

So now, in this wait, I’m learning. In this wait, I’m leaning.

Sure, I say, “When, Lord??” an awful lot. When is my heart going to mend? When will the waves of grief subside? When will it not hurt so much? …remember that delay is not denial.  When you think God is saying no, He might just be saying, “Not yet. Will you trust Me? And so, I trust Him. I trust Him to give me the strength I need for this day, to get through the waves that this day brings, to provide the healing for this day. The weaker I feel, the harder I lean. The harder I lean, the stronger He makes me.

I’m also seeing the sweetness in the dark. In those moments when my heart still aches, when I feel like I might be swallowed up by darkness, I feel the unmistakable presence of God’s love. And that feeling is just a foretaste of the love we will feel when we reach The Other Side. How precious to feel it for just a moment now, in choosing to walk by faith, not sight. Had it not been for this season of suffering, I may have missed it.

I do love a good story. I guess that’s why I write this blog each week–I want to tell Joe and Ronda’s story. But, more than that, I want our story to tell God’s story. So much of our story is about waiting…we waited almost twenty years to find each other again. But it is also about redemption, healing, trust and true love. My favorite part of our story is the path, because it led us home, and it was worth the wait.

My friend, it is my hope that you are forever blessed with your heart’s desire. But, until that day, I hope you will learn with me to wait well. If, by chance, you feel like you are always waiting for something, but never truly satisfied, I hope you see that the true blessing is found not in the gift, but in the Giver. One sweet day, there will be no doubt what you and I were waiting for…it was Jesus. All along…it was Jesus.

That, my friend, will be the best part in God’s story. We, too, walk the path that leads us Home.

❤️ It will be worth the wait. ❤️

-Words of Wisdom from the Book of Joe


In Plain Sight

July 11, 2021

Photo creds to Joe’s sister, Sarah, for capturing this PERFECT image of JMP

Several years ago, I sought Joe’s advice on where I should hide something to keep the boys from finding it (it was probably jelly beans 😂). His reply was that the best method was to hide it in plain sight.

Joe had proven the effectiveness of this strategy on the day he proposed to me. Joe and his good friend Taylor had to call an auction sale that morning, and at the last minute, I ended up driving Joe’s truck to take Cameron over to my mama’s house. Now, I had suspicioned that there had been a possible ring purchase, but my efforts to look in every hiding place I could fathom had been fruitless thus far. I guess it was because the ring was not hidden at all…it was sitting in the center console of his truck. I probably rested my arm on it on the way back from my mama’s house that morning. I later learned that, as we pulled down the path toward the auction, Taylor (sitting in the back seat) spotted the ring box and did his best to get Joe’s attention in the rear view mirror to let him know it was out in plain sight. But Joe didn’t see Taylor, and I didn’t see the ring until later that afternoon. We were back in the woods behind the barn, building an imaginary house up on a hill, like we had done a thousand times before. I pointed and dreamed, saying we’d put this here and that there, when he interrupted me to ask if I really thought I could live with him for the rest of our lives. I turned around to find him, one knee on the dusty path, holding the prettiest ring I’d ever seen. Ya’ll know my answer…and if you know me well, you know that I screamed and cried and did a little happy dance because it’s just who I am.

And that’s the story of the best day of Joe’s sweet life. 😂

This week Joe’s lesson is about the ways that Jesus gives us eyes to plainly see the goodness of His work in our lives.

He wrote:

The Glory of God

When I think about the highlights of the ministry of Jesus, the story of how He healed the blind man is near the top of my list.  You are probably familiar with the story—it starts out with Jesus and His disciples coming across a blind man while they are walking through the temple. 

John 9: 1-3: “As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

I thought for a long time that the “works” Jesus talked about meant healing the man’s sight.  That is the main action  in the story. I thought Jesus was performing the miracle to show that He was the Son of God.  Well, now I see that the real point is something a little different. 

Further in the chapter we find in verse 30 how the man responded when questioned by the Pharisees.  “The man answered, ‘Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes.  We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will.  Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind.  If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.’

To this they replied, ‘You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!’ And they threw him out.”

If Jesus had wanted to be known for His power, he would have ridden into Jerusalem on a white horse with a sword and an army behind him. But that is not how He chose to come. He arrived quietly, touching the lives of the lost and forgotten. He didn’t just heal broken bodies. He healed hearts and souls, too. Like, in this story, He gave the blind man his physical sight, but He also gave him the ability to see the truth, while the Pharisees became blind to it.  We should make sure that we, both as Christians and as the church, do not become blind to all that Jesus does for us each and every day. 

So, as we go forward this week, let us not get so wrapped up in what happens in the world around us that we fail to see the work that God is doing here on earth every minute.  Ask the Lord to give you eyes that see His goodness in every situation.


One of the perks of being an early bird living on a pond is that I am privy to a spectacular sunrise nearly every morning. I purposely seat myself at the kitchen table while I read my devotion so that I can see the sun just as it peeks over the tops of the trees and spills over onto the surface of the water. Ya’ll, sometimes it truly looks as if God is scattering golden nuggets and brilliant diamonds across the pond. I know it’s crazy, but I always feel like that is God’s special gift for me (my prize for getting up with the chickens!!). That perfect moment where the sky flips the switch from rainbow sherbet to glittering sunlight is brief, so if you’re not paying attention you’ll miss it, but it is worth taking a few moments each morning to just stop and soak up the sweetness of a fresh new day. The glory of God shows off for us first thing each morning.

I distinctly remember sitting at my kitchen table the morning after Joe went to Heaven. Honestly, I remember very little about those days (which is probably a blessing), but I can recall seeing the sunrise that day. Actually, what I remember is missing the sunrise. I caught the light reflecting off the pond from the corner of my eye. That morning, I needed a closer look, so I moved from the table to the glass door for a better view. But, in the moments it took me to get up and walk across the kitchen, the light on the pond disappeared, and all I could see was the bright, blinding sun over the trees. The irony of that magic moment slipping through my fingers was not lost on me that day.

On Tuesday of this week, I started my day like any other. I watched the sunrise from my kitchen table and went about my day. However, I could feel that uneasiness of impending grief creeping around the outer edges of my heart. While I am thankfully better able to control my reaction to bouts of grief, I also understand that sometimes the only way to find peace is to run away for just a bit. So, I threw some clothes in a bag and decided to disappear. It made no sense to head to the coast in the late afternoon when a tropical storm was in the forecast, but I have learned that my peace is almost always restored by the sight of blue water and smell of salt air, so I pointed Joe’s truck in that direction. Pointed is not exactly accurate. I honestly felt pulled toward the ocean. I had no idea what I was looking for, but I knew in my heart where I would find it.

When I arrived, I didn’t even take the time to throw my bag inside. I jumped straight out of the vehicle and walked down to the end of the dock. I perched on a wooden bench, closed my eyes, and soaked in the smell and the sounds. It was almost instant relief. Then, I opened my eyes to see the sun making its slow descent into the water. I caught it just in time to see those same glittering jewels dance across the water. Once again, the glory of God spread itself across the sky just for me.

But Joe’s lesson makes me realize that, like his own admission that maybe he’d originally missed the point, maybe I have as well. Maybe the grand display of majesty at dusk and dawn each day isn’t about those fleeting moments where the light dances across the water. Beautiful as they are, they are indeed fleeting. But when they disappear, the sun remains. Steadfast, over and over again, the sun remains. Could that have been the message I missed on the morning after Joe passed away? That no matter what this life gives us or what this life takes away from us, we are never removed from the light of the Son?

He arrived quietly, touching the lives of the lost and forgotten. Jesus isn’t about the blaze of glory. I think that part is just an after effect of His presence. Jesus is about loving and serving and healing.

He didn’t just heal broken bodies. In the moments before Joe’s sweet soul left his body, I held his head in my lap and prayed–I begged-the Lord to heal him. Although my eyes were blind to it then, now I can see that Jesus did heal Joe–right there in my arms–his broken body was made whole again as he left my arms for the arms of Jesus. Oh, that is a precious, precious thought!

He healed hearts and souls, too. The reality is, healing Joe’s heart meant mine had to break. But Jesus isn’t in the business of only healing hearts passing through the gates of Heaven. So, He shows up every single day…as constant as the sun…and continues the process of putting my heart back together again.

We should make sure that we do not become blind to all that Jesus does for us each and every day. Sometimes Jesus brings me healing through His word. Sometimes it comes in the form of people placed in my path who help me navigate through the darkness. Sometimes healing comes through the words you are reading now. And sometimes, healing comes from the sun. Always, though, healing comes from the Son.

So, as we go forward this week, let us not get so wrapped up in what happens in the world around us that we fail to see the work that God is doing here on earth every minute. Lamentations 3: 22-23 says, ” Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” I see this verse in living color every morning as the sun peeps at me from above the treeline.

And then, the day happens. Life happens. There are some mighty sweet moments. There are some moments that hurt. But there is no moment of the day where you are without the Son.

And the sunset? The Lord used it to open my eyes in two ways this week. For just a moment, as the light stretched out far across the water, I felt as if God gave me just a tiny sneak peak of the golden streets of Heaven. Crazy as that sounds, it brought peace to my heart to think of Joe just on the other side, and made me consider that maybe Heaven isn’t so far away after all. Then, as the sun began to sink, the colors in the sky transformed before my very eyes into a gorgeous palette of orange and pink and purple. As beautiful as the sun had been on top of the water, it was just as breathtaking as it nestled down beneath it. That’s when I think I really understood the message that no matter what happens during the course of a day, a week, a year, or a life, the glory of the Son gives us hope for a beautifully painted ending.

So, my sweet friend, my prayer for you today is that you will have eyes that can see the good. There is so much good. God’s goodness and glory are all around you, from the sunrise to the sunset and everywhere in between. It isn’t hiding from you in some dark, faraway corner, my friend. I can tell you from experience that the best things, the greatest blessings of this life, are all around you–hiding in plain sight.

-Words of Wisdom from The Book of Joe


Mean as a Snake

July 4, 2021

Joe HATED filters, so I had to sneak pictures like like this. Sometimes I’m a little bit mean! 😂

There once was a man traveling to the top of a mountain. A snake approached and begged the man to let him rest in his pocket on the way up. The snake promised not to bite him, so he agreed. When they reached the top, the snake bit the man. His last words were, “How could you? You promised not to bite me!” To which the serpent replied, “You knew I was a snake when you put me in your pocket.”

When Joe was feeling mean or mischievous, he said his ankles were itching. They itched often.

I am incredibly ticklish, especially on the bottoms of my feet. I have to engage in a very serious discussion before I get a pedicure or massage. I just can’t take it! 🤦‍♀️ Knowing this, Joe did his very best to torture me in this manner. One evening, I stretched my legs across his lap while we were sitting on the couch. I thought he was too engrossed in a tv show to bother me. I was mistaken. Before I knew it, he had my legs in a vice grip and held me there while he tickled my feet. I screamed, I gasped, I begged, but he chose this moment to seek retribution for all the tricks I’d ever played on him. Finally, I told him I was about to pee on myself, knowing that would make him stop. But he didn’t stop, thinking I had cried wolf. I was a wolf with a tiny, fragile bladder…and, well…I peed in my pants right there on the couch.

I was FURIOUS. I asked him if he had anything to say to me, fully expecting a profuse, sincere apology. His reply was as follows: “You knew I was a snake when you put me in your pocket.”

He was my sweet Joe with a mean streak a mile wide. 😂

This week, Joe’s lesson is about good and evil, and how we are all a little bit of both.

He wrote:

Good and Evil

It is only natural for us to wonder why the Lord allows good and evil to exist side by side.  I would think that we all wonder and ask ourselves, “Wouldn’t the world be a better place if the Lord would just destroy everything evil and allow only good to exist?”

To me, that is an easy conclusion (or maybe solution) to the problems we see in society—but then we have to consider that maybe our idea of what is good doesn’t line up with what God’s standard is for good. This idea of doing away with evil is great in theory, but then I ask myself where I might fall in the division of good and bad? I’ll let you ponder on that for yourself, but personally, I know that I fall short of the grace and mercy of our Lord and Savior. I know that I am sinful by nature, and according to the Bible, a sin is a sin, and sin is evil.

In Matthew 13: 24-30, Jesus tells a parable about weeds: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

The Lord allows good and evil to exist side by side because He loves us.  Instead of dealing with us right away, swiftly and justly, He provides grace, and only through grace can we come to know Jesus and His gift of forgiveness.

He wants all of us to know Him, and He knows that in knowing Him, each of us will require grace. 1 Timothy 2: 3-4 states: “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

But I am here to tell you this morning that there will come a day when His grace will end—He is going to separate the wheat from the weeds, and we must be ready! The weeds will be bundled and burned, but the wheat will go into the barn. I don’t know about you, but I know that I want to end up in the barn.

So, when we consider good and evil, let it remind us that the only way we can overcome our own evil is through the love and grace and mercy of Jesus. Thank you, Lord, for your forgiveness, and for giving us grace to be prepared for the day you bring in your harvest.


I spent several years working in school administration. My first year as a principal, I periodically sent Mr. D, who was the principal of the high school where I taught for many years, an email containing two simple words: I’m sorry.

He knew what I meant.

I was sorry because I know I worried that poor man to death when I was a teacher. Joe often referred to me as bossy, and said my personality was a bit intense. Well, Joe exaggerates, but I do own a shirt that says, “I’m not bossy. I’m aggressively helpful”. 😜 So, I kept Mr. D’s office chair warm. If he assigned a student to In School Suspension and I knew he/she had something going on at home, I’d make a plea on their behalf. If, bless his heart, I sent him a student for disciplinary action and he didn’t put them in ISS, I’d question his decision🤦‍♀️(I know. I know.). If he made a schedule change that didn’t suit the English department, I’d gently suggest a better way. He always listened quietly and patiently. Sometimes he did what I asked. I thought he was so smart on those occasions. Sometimes he did what he thought was best, regardless of my opinion. Thus, sometimes I’d pout for a day or two. It never swayed him. 😂

When I became a principal, I realized that I was so caught up in my little world as a teacher, that all I could see was the small picture. Meanwhile, Mr. D was tasked with keeping all the plates spinning at once. He made decisions based on the big picture. I also realized that Mr. D was really good at his job, and because he never made me feel like I was getting on his last nerve (when I know good and well that I was), he was also pretty much a saint. 😇

Mr. D gave me a piece of advice I have used over and over again. He said if I’d make every decision based on what is best for students, I might not win every battle, or be everyone’s favorite person all the time, but I would ultimately win the war.

So, Joe’s lesson made me consider the fact that I probably owe Jesus Christ a two word email as well. And I’m not calling you out, friend, but I am leaving some space on the signature line just in case you need to send one, too. 😊

How often do we approach God with our lists, in hopes that He will do it our way? How often do we make a plea on someone’s behalf (or our own) when God’s actions don’t seem fair? How often do we question His decisions? Gently(or not so gently) suggest a better way? And when He doesn’t change it…doesn’t fix it…when it seems that good continues to suffer and when it seems that evil might prevail, how often do we retreat in a far away corner instead of running into His arms? Maybe it’s just me. But maybe it’s you, too?

I might never understand why God doesn’t serve up swift justice for all of the evil in this world. But what I do understand is if He gave us exactly what we each deserve for all of our sins, well….I’m afraid we’d find ourselves in a heap of trouble. So, I’m trying to focus on the way my cup is forever overflowing with God’s sweet mercy and grace, and I am trusting in Him as He keeps all the plates spinning. He hasn’t dropped one yet.

Mr. D is pretty intimidating before you get to know him. Yet, in reality, he has a heart as big as the ocean, and bottom line—he does his job better than anyone I’ve ever known. I believe God is much the same. Just like like Mr. D taught me to do what is best for students, our Lord is out there, every single day, doing what is best for us. So, while it may look as if He isn’t winning every battle, while His decisions may not always be popular, this I know for sure. Sweet friend….God will win the war. Joe said, “The weeds will be bundled and burned, but the wheat will go into the barn. I don’t know about you, but I know that I want to end up in the barn.”

Dear friend, if I don’t see you again before, I’ll meet you at the barn. ❤️

-Words of Wisdom from The Book of Joe


Get Somewhere and Get Still

June 27, 2021

❤️ My Sweet Mama Eula ❤️

Mama Eula loved everybody. I know everyone believes they have the sweetest grandma in the world, but I’m telling you…she was about as sweet as they come. I NEVER heard her say an unkind thing about anyone. I never even heard her raise her voice (and I promise you we all gave her many reasons to yell). She cooked the best fried chicken, made homemade Play Doh, let us eat butter beans with toothpicks til we were grown, and could turn an old scrap of fabric into a beautiful evening gown. She was everybody’s grandma. At her funeral, the preacher never once referred to her as “Ms. Eula”. She was Mama Eula to him, too.

She was just a quiet, sweet, patient soul….oh, and she was incredibly independent. Joe and I learned this first hand several years ago.

In the hours before a predicted ice storm, Joe and I went to town to pick up some last minute supplies. Before we left Mount Olive, we stopped by Mama Eula’s house to see if she needed us to do anything for her(and maybe talk her into NOT staying home by herself). She declined our offers for assistance and assured us she’d be just fine. Of course I could not leave well enough alone, so I might have asked her more than once if she was sure she didn’t need us to do anything or take her anywhere.

You could have heard a pin drop when she looked at me and said, “I’ll tell you what you can do for me, Ronda. You can go somewhere and get still.”

Her eyes were as blue as Joe’s, and she shot me a look that told me she was not messing around! So, I got my behind in the truck and got still. Joe Price laughed at me all the way home and used her line on me at least a thousand times when I tried to tend to somebody else’s business. 😂

He loved that line so much that he made it the title of this week’s lesson. I’m pretty sure he told that story to the ENTIRE congregation that morning, too.

He wrote:

Get Somewhere and Get Still

Hustle and bustle. Stress. Feelings of anxiety and being overwhelmed.

Sometimes we just need to get somewhere and get still.

How many of you take a few minutes each day to just rest and be alone with God? I personally have a hard time doing that. If we are going to spend time in communion with the Lord, we are going to have to put forth the effort, because if we aren’t dedicated to it, the world will put more obstacles in our way than we can shake a stick at.

Jesus understood the importance of getting off by Himself and spending time in prayer. He was a mighty busy man, walking for miles at the time, preaching, healing, teaching, etc., but still He made time to rest and spend time with His Father.

Luke 5:16 says, “And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.”

Jesus taught the disciples to take time for themselves. After He had sent them out to preach and heal, when they all bunched back up, the disciples wanted to tell Jesus about all the things they had done.  So, He listened to them and then we find in Mark 6:31 that Jesus instructed them to “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

In Psalm 131, we find King David as a very busy ruler. He had a lot going on and I’m sure he had a lot on his mind, but in verses 1 and 2  he said , “I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp. Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk…”. David understood the importance of intentionally quieting our minds. Instead of getting all worked up, he settled himself by putting his faith and hope in the Lord.

So, as we go about our daily lives this week, let’s try to set aside some time each day to pause and rest in presence of God. If you find yourself spinning in circles, you might just need to get somewhere and get still.


I have heard the voice of the Lord twice in my life.

The first time was that summer years ago, before we were married, when Joe lost his mind for a little bit 😜 and we spent a few months apart. Just as clear as day, I heard God say to me, “He’s coming back.” By the end of that summer, I finally realized that Jesus had kept His word. Joe did come back, but it didn’t happen overnight. I had a hard lesson to learn. Actually, I had two lessons to learn, but it wasn’t until recently that I understood the second one. (We’ll get to that later…). I had to get to the point that I loved Joe, but I loved Jesus more.

Finally, and most importantly, I had to get still. At the end of the day, I had a promise from God. Part of my job became resting in God’s presence, trusting that, even when the world said otherwise, He was working on my behalf. I had to let God be God. One day, I finally realized that I wanted Joe, but I needed Jesus. While I firmly believed God would keep His promise, I also knew I would survive if He didn’t. But oh my goodness I am so thankful that He made good on it!! Joe came back and we lived a wonderful, wonderful life.

The second time I heard God’s voice, I was, once again, in a very dark place. And once again, I was without my sweet Joe, but this time he wasn’t coming back. This admission is a very personal one, and it is not pretty AT ALL, but it is honestly where I was in the months after Joe’s death. Please know it is not where I am today.

Sickness and death just kept coming in the early part of this year. Every time I turned around, someone I loved either passed away, became ill, was diagnosed with a terminal illness, or faced extreme suffering. Part of me shook my fist at God, so angry that things just kept getting worse and worse. I remember thinking, “Lord, are you going to take away everyone I love?Are you going to make everyone I love suffer?” But there was another part of me, as people either entered the gates of Heaven or prepared to do so, that was a little bit jealous. I write that hoping you understand my perspective. It wasn’t that I wanted to end my life, but just that I missed Joe Price so much, and I longed to be where ever he was…so when it seemed that so many people were able to get there before me, I might have looked up and whispered, “Why not me, Lord?” I might have whispered it more than once.

That’s when I heard His voice again. My head was in my hands, my tears in a puddle on the floor,when I heard God say these words: “Because you can’t want to go to Heaven for Joe. You have to want to go to Heaven for Me.

I have turned those words over and over in my head. I didn’t really understand them until this week at the beach. I guess I just needed to get somewhere and get still.

When I think about that cold night at Mama Eula’s house, or that summer I spent without Joe all those years ago, or where I’ve been over the past few months, I see a common thread. I will absolutely wear myself out trying to control things that are quite simply, out of my hands. So, once in a while, somebody will put me in my place. Someone will direct me to go somewhere and get still. Mama Eula did it. Jesus did it, too. And I think both of them were coming from a place of love. Both of them knew, better than me, who was really in control.

I wish I wasn’t so stubborn that God had to make my world stop spinning in order to get me to pause and rest in Him, but that has been the case so far. I’m working on that part. I really am. Nevertheless, when I finally drop to the floor, exhausted by carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders, He whispers in my ear.

He reminds me that He is a keeper of promises. He reminds me that it was the truth I found buried in His Word that got me through those dark, uncertain days. He reminds me that, even when the world says otherwise, He is working on my behalf. He reminds me that His Word holds another promise, that although we do not understand what He is doing, one day we will. He reminds me that He carried the weight of this world on His shoulders, and because of that, it is not my weight to bear.

My second lesson in that long ago summer was learning to live without Joe. I’m glad I didn’t realize it then, but now I can see it for what it is–the merciful hand of God preparing me for the road ahead.

Just this morning, I cracked open the devotional that I go back to day after day and year and after year—Jesus Calling. Today’s devotion is entitled “Rest in Me a While”. I love it when the words of my Joe and my Jesus line up like that! ❤️ Below is an excerpt:

If Mama Eula could make a ball gown from a flour sack, there’s no telling what Jesus can make out of you and me. But we have to jump off the hamster wheel for a moment. We are all running on empty, and we are all looking for ways to fill our cup. You can’t fill it with things. You can’t even fill it with people. Trust me…I’ve tried to do both. Your cup is designed to be filled with the sweet love of Jesus. Let Him fill your cup, sweet friend, and watch it overflow.

Set aside some time to pause and rest in presence of God. If you find yourself spinning in circles, you might just need to get somewhere and get still.

-Words of Wisdom from The Book of Joe


Right Hand Man

June 20, 2021

Vacation season is upon us!

My Facebook memories have been FLOODED the past few weeks with vacation pictures, honeymoon pictures, etc. I love these pictures of Joe and Jackie Beth, because they seem to exemplify my own personal philosophy that if you can just get your toes in the sand, it’s all peace and happiness. I also love these pictures because Joe and Jackie Beth are both just plain purty in them.

But let me tell you about the “knock down drag out” Joe and I had before we left for the beach that year.

How do I remember? Because we ALWAYS went nose to nose trying to get ourselves packed up and ready for a trip! 🙂 Bless his heart, I know that Joe was stressed out trying to get loose ends tied up at work, getting the boat ready (he always had an improvement project for the boat and he always waited until the last minute to get started on it), etc. And it is possible that I have the tendency to overpack just a teensy bit, so there was the stress of exactly how to get all the stuff down to the coast without a U-Haul. And then…there was the fact that Joe had a particular way of organizing all the things. Unfortunately, the glass on my crystal ball gets a little cloudy, and I could not read his mind on how to position each suitcase to ensure maximum efficiency, so we (me and one/all of the children) did it incorrectly. He would try not to fuss, but his tired, stressed, short tempered little self would inevitably blow a fuse. Then my tired, stressed, short tempered little self would FLOUNCE, and we’d have us a minor world war right there in the driveway. Sometimes I am glad we live way back in the woods! 🙂

So, we’d load up and huff and puff and pout all the way to the end of the path. However, before we pulled out onto the highway, Joe would put the truck in park, {begrudgingly} take my hand, and say a prayer for safe travels, a good trip and a safe return home.

It’s mighty hard to stay mad with a man who talks to Jesus like that, so I would only pout a few more minutes before I allowed Joe to enjoy the sunshine of my personality again. 🙂

There’s also something mighty comforting about knowing Jesus is your right hand man as you barrell down toward the coast in an overstuffed pickup truck pulling a boat still wet with paint, sealer, glue, etc!

This week Joe’s lesson is about the grace of Jesus, who is by our side in every circumstance.

He wrote:

Right Hand Man

Luke 22: 31-32: “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

If we were to make a thank you list to Jesus for all of the things He did in His lifetime, I believe this display of grace He showed to Simon Peter would be at the top. Jesus knows that He is about to be persecuted,arrested, abandoned and executed, and what does He do? He prays for Simon Peter’s faith, and assures him that, even though things are about to get bad—He will pass through. He will not be overwhelmed.

One of the things I am in awe of as a Christian is knowing that Jesus cares for me, just as He cared for Simon Peter. He is sitting at the right hand of His Father, and He is praying for you and me.

Jesus is on our side.  He is with us, guiding our way through every trial and obstacle.  I know there may be times when it doesn’t feel that way, but it is true even then. Our faith may falter or change depending on the circumstance of where we are in life, but we can rest in the knowledge that God is always there, strengthening us.

So, when you are faced with bad news or a difficult situation, or when things just aren’t going the way you thought they would or should go, remember this—You are not alone. You will pass through. 

Jesus loves us enough to stand by our side and pray for us—all of us—even you and me.

Lord, we thank You for being there to strengthen us. You are the same now and forever, and because of that we know we are never truly alone.


I’m not sure when I started it, but I have a tradition of sneaking a moment alone to look at the water just before we leave at the end of each vacation. I try to soak up the memories in my mind because I realize things will be different the next time we gather together for a week. The children will be older. We might have an extra person on the next trip. Or, someone might be missing. So, I say a prayer of thanks for the blessings of that particular season and I pray for the season ahead. A lot can happen in a year.

Joe’s lesson this week sent me to my Bible commentary right off the bat. I learned that in Luke 22, Jesus issued a warning to the disciples (specifically Simon Peter) that Satan would use the terrible events about to occur to “sift them like wheat“. During the sifting process, wheat is shaken violently to separate it from the chaff. Peter would be tested similarly by the devil to see if his faith could be shaken off or separated from him during these trials.

Well, friends, let me just say that in the past year, I have been SIFTED.

Our vacation last year found us still reeling from Covid 19 restrictions. Joe’s mama took a nasty fall in early summer, and spent that week(and several more) recovering from an extensive surgery to repair a badly broken ankle. Joe’s boat finally kicked the bucket AND he had a case of the gout. It was a time.

School resumed in August and I entered what would be my most challenging school year ever (and I’ve got nearly 25 of them under my belt!). Joe passed away in December, and within the next month we would also mourn the loss of his aunt and my grandmother. I nearly crumbled under the pressure of teaching full time, working a part time job, trying to juggle the responsibilities of Joe’s business/estate, raising my children, and the fact that my heart was broken in two. Sifted is a pretty good way to describe it.

I would be lying if I said my faith wasn’t tested. And ya’ll, I like to think I have a lot of faith. Still…my knees nearly buckled underneath me, but I did not fall. That was absolutely not because of my own strength. I can tell you I didn’t have much of that left in me.

What did I have? I had…no I HAVE…the same thing you do. It is the power of a man named Jesus who loves me so much that He prays for me at the right hand of His Father. Sometimes I forget that part. Y’all he PRAYS for us. Even as we endure our sifting seasons. Even now.

The last part of that verse is important. Jesus tells Simon Peter “when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Jesus knew the end of the story! He didn’t say “if” you get to the other side of all this, he said “when“. Jesus called him to use his experience to help others find strength.

If you’ve been reading the blog for a while you’ve heard me say “some good simply has to come of this”. So maybe Jesus wasn’t just talking to Simon Peter. Maybe He was talking to me, too.

Sweet friend, if you are in your sifting season, if you feel like your knees are about to give way, believe with all of your heart that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. YOU WILL PASS THROUGH. YOU WILL NOT BE OVERCOME. How do I know? Because Jesus has given me the strength to walk through the past 197 days. He has been my right hand man, holding me up as I took every single step.

I can’t tell you that you will wake up one day and understand why this had to happen. I can tell you that one day someone will look at you and know that because Jesus saw you through it, He will see them through as well. Something good will come.

As you read this, I am on vacation. I’ve already found myself on the beach with my eyes closed, dreaming of a distant Shore. I know if I can just get my toes in the sand, there will be Peace and Happiness forever…with my Joe and my Jesus.

Just before I head home, I will take one more moment to gaze out onto the water. I will soak up the memories of this trip with my boys and I will thank the Lord for the blessings of this season. I will thank Him for the blessings of the season to come. Because even though things look different…even though someone is missing, I know I am never alone.

Before I pull onto the highway, I will offer up Joe’s traveling prayer. There’s something mighty comforting about knowing Jesus is your right hand man as you barrell down the road toward Home.

-Words of Wisdom from The Book of Joe


Stormy Weather

June 6 2021

I simply asked for a picture. Joe’s pose was a bit unexpected. 😂

Joe was predictable. It was part of his charm. He wore button fly Levi jeans dungarees. He wore Sperry’s. He wore soft knit Polo shirts and plaid Polo button ups. He wore his cap propped on top of his head like he was hiding a small kitten under it. He wore a white undershirt whether he needed to or not. He carried a pocket knife, handkerchief and a pack of Marlboros everywhere he went. He carried an assortment of change, lighters, and tiny bits of hardware in his pants pockets. He wore his shirt tucked in (even his pajama tops) and he wore a belt. He did this in 1995, and he did this in 2020. Joe was predictable.

But once in a while….

My taste in music is a little more eclectic than Joe’s. While I love classic country just as much as Joe, I also enjoy tunes with a little more bass. 😂On the rare occasion that he let me control the radio, he seemed mortified that I could recite the lyrics to most any old school rap song. In turn, I seemed mortified that he could not. I called him Grandpa Jones. He called me Tupac Sha-Curl. 🙂

I should have known something was up when, as we left on a road trip a few years ago, he not only offered to let me play MY playlist, but also gifted me with a bag of jellybeans as we ventured out. He waited patiently as I belted out tune after bass thumping tune, knowing “the song” would soon play. I had just popped a handful of jellybeans in my mouth when the song began. And I want you to know that Joseph Morgan Price cranked it up and RAPPED every stinking word loud and proud! That boy, in an effort to prove that he was NOT an old man (hahaha…we all know he was), watched a YouTube video over and over until he had memorized the entire song! I was so shocked that I, in that moment, managed to suck a full grown jellybean down my esophagus.

My first thought was that Joe Price would make sure my cause of death was listed on the certificate as “jellybean asphyxiation”, knowing full well I died of shock because someone had stolen my husband and replaced him with a very southern drawling rapper. Once I regained the ability to breathe again, we laughed until we cried. He was so dang proud of himself! He should have been…it was completely unexpected, and he pulled it off without a hitch!

This week, Joe’s lesson is about dealing with the unexpected storms of life.

He wrote:

The Unexpected Storms

We certainly live in a world of imperfect information, guaranteed surprises, and unpredictable occurrences.  Storms, both real and metaphorical, are waiting to happen. The next unexpected turn in our lives is always just around the corner. We should all take the time  and put forth the energy to prepare ourselves for the unexpected, but there is no real way to prepare for everything life throws our way.  Sometimes the storms we encounter are just too big, in spite of our preparation. 

But, I have good news for you this morning.  I know a man who can help you every storm you face, whether you prepared for it or not.

Matthew 8:23-27 states, “Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

Jesus will be your strength and refuge.

1 Peter 5:7 gives us the following instructions: “Cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you.”

Scripture tells us that Jesus was sleeping during the storm mentioned in Matthew 8.  Many of us ask how He could sleep during such a dangerous time. Once again, He was teaching by example.  Jesus had faith in his father.  He knew that no matter how rough the storms of life became, his father-our God-would take care of Him.  That is what He calls us to believe as well.  God can and God will see us through any storm.

When you find yourself in trouble, ask Jesus to help you. He’s right there.

When you find yourself in a bad situation, or you are forced to deal with something unpleasant, ask Jesus to help you. He’s right there.

When things aren’t going your way, when you are discouraged, or when you are depressed, ask Jesus to help you. He’s right there.

Jesus is greater than any storm you might face in the coming week. He longs to help you through it. All you have to do is ask. He’s right there.


I cannot even believe it, but I am about to prove Joe’s assertion that I am an old woman.

I was Miss Duplin County.

In 1996.

Ladies and gentlemen, that was TWENTY FIVE years ago. I’ll be over here sticking tennis balls on the legs of my walker and changing the batteries in my hearing aid if you need me.

And yes…my hair used to be brown. It may still be brown under there somewhere, but it’s been so long since I’ve seen it, I just don’t know for sure. 🙂

Like Joe said, sometimes we work hard to prepare. Do you know how much preparation goes into getting ready for a pageant? Lordy, there’s so much snipping and nipping and spraying and tucking and then you have to ADHERE your swimsuit to your bottom end, which is pretty awful…but not nearly as awful as getting that thing UNSTUCK afterward. Jesus take the wheeeeeel!

I sang the song “Stormy Weather” for the talent portion of the competition.

This week, as the rain fell in buckets and the sky rumbled with thunder, I found myself humming that tune again. I had never really thought about the lyrics, but dang…these days I feel them way down in my soul! Here’s part of the song:

Don't know why there's no sun up in the sky
Stormy weather
Since my man and I ain't together, keeps raining all of the time
Life is bare. Gloom and misery everywhere
Stormy weather
And I just can't get my poor self together
Oh, I'm weary all of the time. So weary all of the time
When he went away the blues walked in and met me
And if he stays away old rocking chair's gonna get me
All I do is pray the Lord above will let me
Walk in the sun once more
Can't go on. All I had in life is gone
Stormy weather
Since my man and I ain't together
Keeps raining, keeps raining
All the time.

I mean, I get it now. I feel like it literally rained continuously in the months after Joe’s death (it did!). The dark skies and gloomy days stretched for days on end. I’ve been gloomy, I’ve been miserable, and Lord knows I’ve been weary. I told someone recently that being sad makes me tired, and I am so tired of being tired. However, I have felt the clouds lift just a tiny bit in the last month or so. The waves of grief are still there, but I have more control over them now. I miss Joe Price every minute of every day, and I don’t think that will ever change, but the feeling is more of a lowkey sadness that I carry with me while I function somewhat normally. I guess that is to be expected.

What was unexpected was the immense wave of grief that hit me about a week ago. In hindsight, I can see that it was the perfect storm, brewing underneath my life. I was trying to close out a school year, my allergies attacked me with a vengeance, it seemed so many of my closest friends were suffering in some way, both of my boys were scheduled to have their wisdom teeth removed on the same day (I am insane for making that choice, by the way), and I guess I had the six month mark since Joe’s death (yesterday) and our upcoming six year wedding anniversary(next week) tucked back in my brain as well. It was a lot.

And finally, I crumbled. I crumbled unexpectedly and publicly, and honestly, I had a really hard time bouncing back. I guess because I had been doing so well, I thought maybe I was over the really big waves of grief. I was wrong. I thought maybe I’d found myself back at square one. I was wrong about that, too.

All I do is pray the Lord above will let me walk in the sun once more…that particular line stops me in my tracks. I have prayed that very prayer. Often.

And all this time, the prayer was right, but the spelling was wrong.

I feel like I am walking in the aftermath of a hurricane. Not a “false alarm, get out of school and then it hardly rains” storm, but more like a Hugo or Matthew or Hazel. Have you ever noticed how brightly the sun shines just after a big one? If you are focused on what you see, the sun illuminates the wreckage. That’s where I’ve been most of this week…kicking at fallen trees, staring at the debris that used to be a home, wondering how I’ll ever build those walls again.

It’s not about walking in the sun. It’s about walking in the Son.

It’s the sun that hurts your eyes and gives you wrinkles and melts the candy bars you hide in your car (or is that just me?).

But the other one…the real Son…He is there, too. Bigger than the wreckage. He’s already got a plan to rebuild from the ground up. He is a carpenter, after all.

Last Friday, I noticed a canvas propped against a wall. My sister is always painting something, and I honestly didn’t pay it much mind. She had already painted a black background and made a few yellow strokes on it.

At the end of this week, she gifted me with the finished product for my wedding anniversary. Isn’t it beautiful?

So, while I was lost in my own suffering, she was creating a masterpiece—a reflection of love and hope and sacrifice—and a promise that one day what is upside down will be right side up again.

Sweet friend, life is stormy. Most of us are either walking into, walking out of, or walking right through a storm as we speak. While the rain stings your face and the clouds are heavy and black, remember that Someone is spreading paint on a canvas. He’s got the brush in one hand and He’s got you in the other. Let Him paint, friend. Let Him paint.

Joe said, “Jesus had faith in his father.  He knew that no matter how rough the storms of life became, his father-our God-would take care of Him.  That is what He calls us to believe as well.  God can and God will see us through any storm.

Maybe you’re like me and you’ve been thinking you could change the wind. You can’t, my friend. You just can’t. But you can adjust your sails. That’s when you finally begin to see the light. That’s how you walk in the Son.

-Word of Wisdom from The Book of Joe


A Good Workout

April 18, 2021

I tried to find a picture of Joe working out, but said pic does not exist. I did find this one (he is wearing athletic-ish shoes) and it tickles me, so here ya go. 😊

“Why are you doing all that jerking and snatching??” -JMP

I am an early riser. Most days, I am up by 4:30 am. By 7:00 am, I have completed a work out, done a load of laundry, unloaded my dishwasher, and spent some quality time with Jesus. Full disclosure–I am “gowned down” and ready for bed before most toddlers say their night night prayers. 🙂

Joe Price was typically up and out the door fairly early, but did not share my level of energy before sunrise. I’d be in the throes of a sweaty workout when he would stumble down the stairs, rub his sleepy eyes and say (even though he knew good and well what I was doing), “WHY are you jerking and snatching so early this morning??” 🙂

Much as I wish there was a magic potion that would make me look and feel “skinny and twenty”, I have learned that the only way to be truly healthy is to put in the work. This week, Joe’s lesson is about putting in the work in our Christian walk.

He wrote:

Working at Our Christianity

2 Thessalonians 2: 15 states: ” So then brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.”

Many people want to be the ideal Christian, but they don’t always want to work at it. 

Many people want to have a better life—to be slim, strong, more attractive, better educated…and the list goes on and on, but the problem is, they don’t want to work at it.

We often look for the easy way out—TV commercials prove that point. We will pay money for a quick fix, rather than put in the work.

Why should we think our faith is any different?

We have to put forth the effort in order to have the right kind of relationship with God. Here’s what Paul says about it in 1 Thessalonians:

“ Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always,  pray continually,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit.  Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.”

That is a pretty big list, but that doesn’t stop it from being true. There is only one magic fix, and that is accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior. After that it is up to you to live the life He would have you live. 

Having a relationship with God means forgiving your enemies, encouraging others, and praying earnestly and often. It is work, and I can’t tell you that you won’t become discouraged from time to time. But what I can tell you is that you will never regret anything you do in the name of the Lord. I can also tell you that God will even use your discouragement for His good purpose if you will allow it.

So, as we go about our week, let’s try to put some action behind our thoughts, knowing that putting in the work to improve our Christian walk will be worth it, and that life in Eternity will be our reward.


I am a bulldozer, according to Joe.

I can hear his voice and see him shaking his head at me saying, “Just be EASY, darlin’…” as I charged full speed ahead, usually landing myself in one predicament or another.

It is not so much that I don’t want to put in the work, but more so that I am impatient, and expect to be good at something fairly quickly. When I am not, I get frustrated…and sometimes I will simply throw in the towel rather than give myself time to become more skilled or proficient.

This is one of my favorite pictures of Joe and our very sweet, very southern nephew Garrett (who is Joe’s “mini me” in so many ways):

Several years ago, I was (of course) in a hurry, and accidentally knocked poor little Garrett down a set of brick steps. Y’all, it tore me slam out of the frame to think I had hurt that baby! Once the tears were dried (mostly mine), he looked up at me and said in his very slow southern drawl, “Slow and steady gets the job done, Aunt Ronda.” And…of course, much like his Uncle Joe, he was exactly right.

But slow and steady is not my normal method of operations, friends. I think that is one of my biggest struggles as I navigate this grief process. Before it happened to me, I believed grief to be linear. You start at one point (a pretty low spot), and make upward progress until you manage to wipe all the hurt away. Then, just check “conquer grief” off of your to do list (oh, how I love to check things off my list!!), and do the next thing.

Y’all. 🤦‍♀️ That ain’t how it works. Not. At. All.

While I believe with my whole heart that it is my faith in God that has kept me putting one foot in front of the other on this journey, I also know that Joe’s death has required me to “put in the work” in my Christian walk like never before.

Joe referenced the words of Paul when he said, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” In the month before Joe passed away, this verse was referenced (in part or in whole) NINE times in my devotional reading. On the morning of our final day together on this earth, the very last line I wrote in my journal was this: “Everything God does is in love…even when we don’t understand”.

God knew what the next eighteen hours would bring. God knew how I would need His words to find the strength to put in the work for so many days to come. He knew I would not understand, and He knew there would be no “quick fix” to mend the brokenness of my heart. He was exactly right. Yet, in His tender mercies, God planted the words of Paul in my heart over and over in the weeks before He took my sweet Joe to Heaven. I didn’t understand it at the time, but I can surely see it now. God loved me enough to “put in the work” before December 5, 2020 so that I would have the strength to do it in the days that followed.

God does expect us to put in the work. But, He does not expect us to do it alone.

Joe said,”It is work, and I can’t tell you that you won’t become discouraged from time to time.” Well, that just might be the understatement of the year for me. Trying to see the good, finding reasons to rejoice, keeping myself engaged in prayer, trusting in the promises of God, sometimes feels like a full time job (one for which I never applied). Have you ever worked at a job you wished you didn’t have? It is discouraging to say the least.

So…I really needed to read the next part: But what I can tell you is that you will never regret anything you do in the name of the Lord. I can also tell you that God will even use your discouragement for His good purpose if you will allow it.

Joe was right when he said you will never regret what you do in the name of the Lord. I have never been sorry that I spent time with Jesus, but I have been sorry when I did not. And he was also right when he said that God will use your discouragement for good. I am so very sorry that anyone has to be a member of the club I have found myself in, but I am so very thankful for the words of hope I have received from those who have walked this path before me. Hopefully someone else will look at my journey one day, and know that because Jesus walked me through these days, He will walk them through as well.

I guess this walk we are all on is a bit like “jerking and snatching”. We need to work on building our faith muscles every single day. If you don’t work out consistently, your muscles grow weak. Often, you don’t realize how much those muscles have atrophied until you are called upon to use them.

So, I’ll be up tomorrow morning at 4:30 am. I am putting in the physical work because I want to live a healthy life. But the most important work any of us will do all day long is the work we do for Jesus–spending time in His word, praying, and doing our best to live according to His will and instructions.

I am putting in the real work, because what I want more than a healthy life on earth, is an eternal life in Heaven.

Won’t you join me, friend? It just takes a little effort every day. Slow and steady gets the job done.

-Words of Wisdom from The Book of Joe


What’s That Smell??

April 11, 2021

On our way to NYC!! This picture has a smell…keep reading.

Yesterday, I read Joe’s lesson and wondered how in the world I would find a picture that related to smell. This morning, my Facebook memories delivered with two images I can still smell, along with a reminder of why Joe worried about me in our kitchen!

I present to you “A Melted Bag of Bread”:

Y’all, this stunk up my kitchen for many days after I laid the poor toaster oven to rest. Joe reminded me of this event OFTEN. 🙂

My Facebook memories also provided this image (one of my favorites):

We were just about to board a train, headed to New York City. I was so very excited about the trip, but Mr. Price was so very excited about the train! He didn’t wear cologne all that often, but Joe always smelled good to me. It was typically a mixture of smoke, dust and Jackie’s grill, but it worked!! {Fun fact: The man did not own a stick of deodorant because he neither perspired nor smelled funky under his arms.} Anyway, he DID wear cologne the morning of this train trip. I remember this distinctly because, when I commented on how good he smelled, his reply was that he was hoping we’d have a good looking lady train conductor. 🙂 Joe had jokes, y’all. ALL the time.

This week, Joe’s lesson is about smell. He discusses how we should smell to others as followers of Jesus.

He wrote:

Do You Smell Like a Christian?

I want to talk to you a few minutes this morning about “smell”.

The way things smell can be complex. Something can have a pleasing smell, but too much of it can make you feel a little bit sick. Without scent we cannot taste. It is also said that the sense of smell is capable of triggering more memories than any other human sense.

How do we smell as Christians? Scripture talks about smells, both good and bad.

In Exodus 5:21 , it says: “May the LORD look upon you and judge you,” the foremen said, “for you have made us a stench before Pharaoh and his officials; you have placed in their hand a sword to kill us!”

Isaiah 3:24 states “ And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well-set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty.”

2 Corinthians 2: 15-17: “ For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.”

Sometimes we want to be around people because they make us feel good. Those people might smell good, too, which never hurts, but we are truly drawn to their personality. Jesus was that way. No one could come around him without feeling an almost irresistible attraction. It was not cologne that drew people to him. It was his goodness and holiness.

You have that same effect on other people. Like Paul said in 2 Corinthians, we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved. So, my question is, do you smell like life or do you smell like death?

Try to put yourself in the shoes of the folks you are around every day—your family, your co- workers, your church, folks in the neighborhood, or just people you run into at the store. What do you smell like to them? Would you be drawn to Christ because of knowing you? Or would you be pushed away?

The best smells come from good things. But you can’t cover up a bad smell by putting a good smell on top of it. You can’t live a life that “stinks”, then recite a few Bible verses or just call yourself a Christian and expect other people to want to smell your fragrance.

The best fragrance of life comes from someone who has been transformed by God’s grace. You can have that fragrance as a Christian by coming to God continuously, reading His word and loving people the way Jesus instructed. Ask Christ to fill your heart, and as He does, you will smell less like the world and more like Jesus.

This week let’s do our best to smell good as a Christian to everyone we encounter, especially the folks right here at home.


Early on, someone told me that smell would likely be one of my strongest grief triggers. I honestly doubted this, because I was so drawn to things that smelled like Joe. I’d just sit in his truck and breathe deeply because I could smell him in it. I am embarrassed to tell you how long it was before I could bring myself to wash his pillowcase. I’d crawl into bed every night and bury my face in it, trying to soak him up any way I could. However, I soon learned that this person was right….

Joe wore cologne the night before he passed away. We went out for supper and had such a good time that evening! I can tell you so many details about that night, but did not remember that Joe was wearing his “smell em good” (as my mama says) until a few weeks after his death.

While I was away from home for a few hours, a bottle of Joe’s cologne was accidentally spilled near the back door. The mess was completely cleaned up before I arrived home, but when I opened the door, I was immediately met by that smell–HIS smell. For a split second, I thought he was there…that maybe it had all been a bad dream. Yet, in the next second, I remembered the last time I had smelled that scent–the last night we were together–and I sat right down on the floor in the hallway, grocery bags and all, and had myself a full blown come apart.

I had a similar episode about a month ago in Target when a gentleman passed by me (twice) and I caught a whiff of that same cologne. I shook it off the first time, but when it happened again, tears rolled down my face and a sob leapt out of my throat before I could stop it. That poor man must have thought I had an emotional attachment to the jelly beans on the shelf in front of me (and I mean…I do love a good jelly bean).

Smell is kind of a big deal.

Joe said, Sometimes we want to be around people because they make us feel good. Those people might smell good, too, which never hurts, but we are truly drawn to their personality.” I realize I am biased, but I do think people were drawn to Joe in this way. I believe it was part of the reason he was good at his job at Rouse Funeral Home years ago. Joe’s quiet, easy going demeanor, along with his soft, deep voice were sources of comfort. He could look at you with those pretty blue eyes, put that strong hand on your back and you just knew he would make sure things turned out ok.

Joe treated everybody like they were “somebody”…because he believed they were. I never saw him treat a single person with anything but kindness and respect, and he was as conscious of maintaining a person’s dignity as anyone I’ve ever known. You might live in a cardboard box and dig your supper out of a trash can, but you were “ma’am” or “sir” if you had an encounter with Joe.

Joe was a helper. Acts of service were truly his love language. He was hands on, shirtsleeves rolled up, ready to do what was needed. He was also a giver, but usually a very quiet one. He was generous and typically anonymous, wanting to give, but not needing to be recognized.

Joe smelled like life. He still does.

I want to smell like that, too.

Sometimes I worry that the words I use depict Joe as some unflawed, larger than life creature. Admittedly, he was pretty perfect to me, but he was far from perfect…and although I would never admit this to Joe, I am not even close to perfect myself.

But here’s the thing…you don’t have to be.

Joe said it best when he said, “The best fragrance of life comes from someone who has been transformed by God’s grace.” Well, that’s me, friend. And you know what else? It’s you, too.

Put your hand to your chest. Every beat of your heart is proof of God’s grace in your life. When I look back on my past, there were times I did not smell like life. I smelled more like a goat’s rear end. Maybe you’ve smelled a little funky, too.

It’s a pretty easy fix, according to Mr. Price: You can have that fragrance as a Christian by coming to God continuously, reading His word and loving people the way Jesus instructed.

Talk to God. Lean on Him. Listen to Him. Read His word…it’s all the truth you’ll ever need. And then…love on people…ALL the people….even the stinky ones. I’m willing to bet that someone loved on you when you weren’t smelling so fresh. I know Jesus did.

Sweet friend, take a sniff of yourself. If you are smelling like a rose, keep doing what you are doing. If you catch a whiff that’s not so fresh, ask Jesus to fill your heart with His love and his truth. Ask Him to help you love like He loves. Heck, ask Him anything. Ask Him to help you take the next step, the next breath, whatever it is that you need. And then ask Him to show you the way…His way.

And then sniff again…I’m pretty sure you’ll find that you smell less like the world and more like Jesus.

You might even find you don’t need deodorant (you do you, but personally, I am not taking a chance on that one!!). 😉

We’re on this train called life together. It will be so much more enjoyable for everyone if we all smell good. Just ask the Conductor. ❤

-Words of Wisdom from The Book of Joe


On the Right Path

March 28, 2021

Two of my favorite things are in this picture: The boy and the path.

“On the path” was our code for home. If I called Joe to see what time he wanted supper, he would respond with something like, “I”ll be on the path by seven.” Or, if he needed me to do something for him at the house or the barn he might say, “If you are on the path before me, would you please…”

Do you remember the postman’s motto that went something like, “Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail shall keep the postmen from their appointed rounds”? Well, it was with that same determined regularity that Joe Price would complete a particular ritual as he turned his truck off of the paved road and ambled down the dusty path. Without fail or regard for temperature, he would immediately roll down his window and draw in a deep, contented breath because, as he often said, “The air is fresher on the path.”

If you needed Joe anytime after church on Sunday, you could almost always find him rambling around somewhere “on the path”. If you needed him just after he had enjoyed one of his sweet mama’s delicious Sunday lunches, there’s a good chance you’d find him in this position:

This week, Joe’s lesson is about following a different path. He discusses recognizing and following the path laid out before us by God.

He wrote:

On the Right Path

Psalm 27:11”Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path.”

I believe the main reason we don’t know what God’s will is in our life is because we do not ask.

James 4:2 states: “You have not because you ask not”. God knows better than we know ourselves, so if we want to know what His will is, it makes sense that we should just ask. I don’t think there is anything wrong with asking for specifics. He will guide you.

We also have a guidebook in the Bible—we can even talk to the author. As Christians, God is always with us. He knows us inside and out, and He is with us every step of our journey. He knows where we have been, where we are going, and He knows the best path to travel to get us there.

If we will study His Word for direction, He will remind us of what it says when we are unsure of which road to take.

I think another way that God guides and directs us is through what he impresses upon our minds. He gave us a mind and he wants us to use it. He wants to guide us, not through control (for we have free will), but through ideas. He may give us an idea or impress a thought into our minds and then wait for us to respond. When we do, He will begin to fill in the details.

I ran across this quote while preparing for this morning’s message: “When God gives you an idea, it is called inspiration. When the devil gives you an idea, it is called temptation”. So, how in the world do you tell the difference? The answer is found in Psalm 27:11: ”Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path.” All you have to do is ask.

So, if you find yourself looking for direction this week, use your most trusted resources. Let the Bible be your guidebook and let the Lord be your guide.


The path I’m on sure looks a lot different these days. I mean that literally and figuratively. Literally, the landscape of the path toward home has changed. Trees have been cleared, homes have been added, gravel crunches under tires where khaki colored sand used to fly. The people who lived in the houses that line the path have grown older, grown up, moved on…or gone to be with Jesus.

There are also some scars on the path. Hurricane waters dug a deep, jagged trench through the middle of a field. Trees have fallen, sometimes blocking our way to and/or from home. Over time, running water has slowly nibbled at the path’s edges in spots. If you are not careful, you’ll lose your footing and find yourself ankle deep in muck before you know what’s happened. For the most part, however, the path is pretty scenic.

Honestly, I don’t like change very much. I enjoy the security of tradition and routine. Yet, one of my favorite parts of the path is a change- an addition made in later years by Joe’s dad, Mr. Tim, not too long before he passed away. It is a sweet little covered bridge nestled alongside of a creek, honoring the passage of many a tiny foot, horse hoof and golf cart tire that have crossed this section of path over the years.

When I really take the time to think about it, my personal path isn’t really much different than the one at the end of my driveway. It doesn’t look like it did just a few short years ago. What once felt cool and smooth under my feet now feels sharp and jagged. My footing feels unsure. Do I have deep scars running right through my middle? Oh my goodness…I surely do. I feel like trees are constantly falling across my path. Some days I can shove them aside with little effort, while other days I am just so exhausted I decide to rest on them a while. There is a literal fork on the path where I live. I’ve made that slight turn left to get home so many times I can do it in my sleep. But in my personal path, the fork feels different. I stand there and I don’t know which way to go. I feel like I’ve been stalled out in the fork lately.

Joe said in his lesson that we have not because we ask not. So, I’ve asked God several questions this week. But they all pretty much amounted to, “So, since You have put me in this place, what would You have me do now?” Full disclosure, I did not exactly ask this question from a place of humble submission. It came more from a place of weary, angry frustration.

Joe also said, “If we will study His Word for direction, He will remind us of what it says when we are unsure of which road to take.” Well, I do study. Lots. Although I didn’t see it at the time, my devotional study all of this week has been leading me to the answer I think God wanted me to see. I found it this morning. God may not be in a hurry, but he ain’t ever late, either. Right on time…

Today is Palm Sunday. Jesus started down a path of his own this week. Like me (and like you, I’m sure), his path looked much different at the start than it did farther down the road. On Palm Sunday, people lined the path, shouting praises. But Jesus knew where this road would lead. It would lead to his crucifixion. And he kept going. He kept moving forward. For me. For you, too. But perhaps even Jesus took pause at the fork in the road. Maybe even Jesus needed a little reminder that moving forward is the only way Home.

This is a picture of the path where I live. This is the way I get home. I can stand at the fork forever, and I won’t really know which way to go. But if I will just look up….just look beyond the thicket of trees…oh, the wonders that are on the Other Side. All this time I thought I was waiting for God to tell me to go left or go right. And all this time he was saying , “Look up.”

I think I am finally beginning to see that even though the path looks different, it can still be beautiful. Sometimes you have to look a little farther to see it, but the beauty is there.

Maybe you are like me. A little unsure? Maybe the ground underneath your feet doesn’t feel as steady as it once did. Well, here is the advice I am giving you and I’m giving it to me, too.

STOP LOOKING AT YOUR FEET. Lord help us…if we keep looking down or behind us, we will surely fall on our faces. LOOK UP.

We aren’t on this path by accident. Jesus knew we would be here long before we knew it. But He didn’t drop us off and leave us to find our way alone. He put the guidebook in our hands and parked himself right by our side.

There have been some mighty sweet moments on my path. There are sweet moments left to come. I believe that now. Storms may blow in and dig deep trenches through the middle. That’s just how it goes. But, time has a way of healing things, so maybe those places won’t feel so deep forever. And God, in His loving mercy, gives us pretty covered bridges on our path, to remind us of those we’ve loved who traveled along beside us for a little while. Leave it to Mr. Tim and Jesus to build a little bridge like that.

If the path you’re on right now is pretty, look beside you. You’ll see Jesus. If the path you’re on is a little bit scary, look beside you. Hold your hand out. You’ll see Jesus. If you’ve come to the fork, and you aren’t quite sure which way to go, look beside you. You’ll see Jesus. He’s the guidebook and the guide all wrapped up in one.

No matter where you are right now, your journey is not yet complete. So, just take a moment to slow down a tiny bit. Roll your window down. Close your eyes. Breathe in the sweet, fresh air of Jesus for a while. Let it fill you up, my friend (Joe was right…the air really is fresher on the path). Then move forward. Just one step. One foot in front of the other. It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you go, but I think you’ll enjoy it more if you’ll take the time to look around. From what I’ve seen, it’s a pretty scenic route. And the best part is, with the Bible as your guidebook and Jesus as your guide, you will always be on the right path.

It’s the path that leads you Home…

There’s No Place Like Home, sweet friend. There’s No Place Like Home.❤️

-Words of Wisdom from The Book of Joe


It’s Worth Hearing Twice

“You’re holding up pretty well for an older woman.” -Joseph M. Price

It was at a funeral that Joe and I reconnected almost twenty years after our teenage courtship. I mean, where else, right? We exchanged pleasantries and a brief hug after the service. I was standing in the frozen foods section of Walmart that evening when my phone buzzed, letting me know that I had received a Facebook message. From Joe.

It read: You’re holding up pretty well for an older woman.

We like to think of it as the pick up line that will forever live in infamy. 🙂 But…it worked.

He loved to pick on me for being a TEENSY bit older, but if ever there was an old man, it was Joe Price!  His “old soul” was one of the things I loved about him most. Even though he had the spirit of an old man, his mind was sharp as a tack. Walking through the woods, he could (and would) tell you the name of EVERY tree he saw. He knew the names of my own ancestors (and probably yours, too) better than I knew them and could rattle off a list of names at the drop of a hat. He could NOT remember a birthday to save his life, but…I digress.

One of the ways I knew his age was beginning to catch up with him a little was that he had begun to repeat himself. He would tell me a story, then tell it again just a few days later. I never corrected him. I fondly remember the voice of my sweet Granny  saying, “If I’ve told you this already, just listen again. It’s worth hearing twice!”

Speaking of hearing something twice—if you have followed the blog since the beginning, you may remember that the first lesson I posted was actually dated March 15, 2020. It was the last sermon Joe delivered to our congregation before Covid ended life as we knew it. Joe wrote these lessons for several years, so I considered using one for this week that he wrote in March two or three years back. Yet, I just kept returning to this one. It was relevant last March. It was relevant on Christmas Eve. Oddly enough, it is even more relevant today.

Trust me. As Granny said, it is worth hearing twice.

He wrote:

March 15 2020


I really enjoy fall and winter. Each year I look forward to the cooler temperatures after our hot and humid Eastern North Carolina summer. I look forward to hunting season, Thanksgiving and Christmas. But, by the time we get through the cold, short days of January and February, I’ll admit that I am ready to see some signs of spring.

Winter helps to prepare the ground for the next season. Without each season playing its part, our environment here on earth would surely collapse.

Sometimes, as Christians, we may think that if we follow God’s commands and do like we are supposed to, we won’t (or we shouldn’t have to) endure hardships or hurt. However, life, like nature, moves in seasons.

Ecclesiastes 3 states that “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under Heaven. A time to be born. A time to die. A time to plant. A time to pluck what is planted. A time to kill. A time to heal. A time to weep and a time to laugh. A time to mourn and a time to dance.”

We are part of a sinful world, and we ourselves are not without sin. Sometimes being part of that world means that we have to go through our own painful experiences or seasons.

Yet, God will take our hard times and trials and use them for good and for His glory. He will take our season of suffering and use it to open our eyes to the hard times others are going through. He will use seasons of death to remind us of the beauty of life. He will use our seasons of sorrow to draw us ever closer to Him.

Whatever season of life you find yourself in right now, I want you to remember that God uses everything for the good of those who love Him.

Take some time to examine the seasons of your life. Remember how God spoke to you and as you go out into the world this week, look for others who need your encouragement.

I’ll leave you with Ecclesiastes 3:11: “He hath made everything beautiful in His time”.


I. Hate. Pollen.

I mean, I get it. Scientifically, pollen is necessary. If I wish to enjoy the goodness of warmer weather, I must endure the days when pollen falls in sheets, my head pounds and my eyelids are pretty much swelled shut. Despite the fact that the lush green of late spring is quite a sight to behold, this particular season is physically painful for me.

So, between my pollen induced sneezing (have you sneezed snot into your mask yet, friends?? Good times….), a streak of mild temperatures, and the time change, the seasons have been on my mind this week. As usual, Joe’s words are right on time.

If nothing else, grief has made me empathetic to the suffering around me. Joe’s message, along with another devotion I read this week, caused me to reflect upon how seasonal changes might affect other creations. What must the change be like…for the tree?

I have a recurring epiphany toward the end of every spring. Flowers bloom, the azaleas really show off, and grass is lush and bright again. But there’s always one day when it seems as if overnight the barren tree branches of winter have come alive with vibrant green fullness. The sight of it takes my breath every single year. It is such a happy sight.

But what did that transformation feel like for the tree?

In early summer, the tree is green, healthy and strong. Birds rest on branches, children squeal with delight as they climb and swing, adults find rest under its shade. Trees are needed. Trees are loved. Trees are admired. In summer, the tree is living its best life!

Then fall comes. Sure, the leaves stiffen a little and begin to lose color, but with that comes the delicious breath of cooler air. Older and wiser, the tree understands that even though life was good when its leaves were green, the days were hot and tiresome. This season is a bit slower, the noise a little softer, and the tree is still a sight to behold. It understands that there is beauty and wisdom that comes with age.

Even though winter comes each and every year, it is always a shock to the tree when it happens. One day the sun is warm and bright, and the next day the bitter winds come and strip the last of the leaves away, leaving the tree shocked and exposed. While humans layer up and huddle beneath warm covers, the tree finds itself with no layer of warmth or protection against icy winds that cause the branches to snap and break. The birds are gone. The children kept inside. And although it thinks it cannot bear another broken branch, sometimes the pruner comes. More branches are snapped away, leaving open wounds that are painfully slow to mend and callous over.

And finally, the breath of spring arrives. Humans see the buds, the first glimpses of new life. But the tree? The tree looks down and sees the wounds. The scars. The holes left behind when the winter and the pruner chipped away at what the tree had believed made it whole…The tree sees the buds and feels the buds as they push their way through. Even that process is painful. You see, the tree liked who it was before. The old branches were strong and trusted. The old branches were safe. To the humans, the fresh new greenness is full of beauty and hope. But to the tree, this newness is frightening and foreign. Perhaps the tree does not even recognize itself.

And so, in the early morning dusk when trees look black against a sherbert colored sky, its limbs are heavy and hanging low. Gently and sweetly, God whispers. Quietly, the leaves rustle as they lift themselves upward to listen.

“In just a few hours, ” He tells the tree, ” she will see you as she does on this day every year. But this time, she will see you through different eyes. As always, she will be struck by the sheer beauty of your vibrant leaves, but her eyes will fill with tears. This year, she understands. When you were living your golden days of summer, so was she. As you eased into fall, as your leaves faded and stiffened, she noticed herself aging as well. Just as you relished in this season, she relished in her own golden age of contentment. I think you both would have been satisfied to stay that way forever. But, that is not how seasons work. Winter took you both by surprise. Your branches broke and cracked, as did her heart. Sometimes being the Pruner is a most difficult job. This season, it was especially so. This year, it seems that the Heavens cried longer, rained down on the earth for days on end. Yet, while other trees in the forest toppled down under the bitter winds and relentless rain, you stood. I know you wanted to fall over, too. It seemed a kinder fate, I’m sure. Yet, this year, you learned to lean in. She learned to do that, too.

When she sees you today, she will think to herself that your leaves have never been as vibrant as they are this year. And she will be correct. As painful as that season was, with all of its pruning and bitter wind and rain, it was the only way to grow you. I know that doesn’t make sense to you now, but one day it will.

So, today, I need you to lift yourself up and dance in the beautiful breath of spring. I know it doesn’t feel the same. I know you miss what used to be. But, don’t look back. Don’t look down. Look Up. Look at Me and I will whisper gentle winds of hope all through your branches. She needs to see you dance.

She will look at you in this new season and appreciate what you endured to get here. She may even run her hand across your wounds, and gently touch her own chest where her deepest wounds are kept. I hope you’ll let her touch your hurt places so that she will know in time, her own hurt places will heal. Like yours, her scars will remain, but they will become a testimony of all that was and all that will ever be. Through her tears, she will look at you and understand that it was in the very season that almost broke you that I created the strongest, most beautiful tree she has ever seen. You will remind her that although My ways are not her ways, I make everything beautiful again…in its time.”

Sweet friend, I don’t know much, but this I know for sure. Winter was tough, but we didn’t topple over. As long as we are still standing, there is more to our story. It’s ok to take a moment to run your fingers over your scars. Those raised up places represent the healing power of Jesus. In every inch, you’ll find His mercies. But you must also open wide your heart to the gifts of new life He gives you in this season. Before long, this earth will explode with gorgeous, bright, new spring life. You might miss it if you look down at your scars too long. Look up. Lift your limbs high and let Him whisper gentle words of hope all through your branches. He wants to see you dance.

(image source: https://www.pinterest.ph/pin/320248223486351996/)

-Words of Wisdom from The Book of Joe


You Can Do All Things

Did you know Joe was a pilot? Did you know he was a poet? An excellent cook? A fantastic guitarist and singer? A handyman? A good dancer? A fireman? An avid reader?

A friend of mine recently referred to this moment as the “good stuff”. I wholeheartedly agree.

Did you know my mouth was hanging open in this picture because he pinched my behind? In addition to all of the things listed above, Joe was also a prankster. 🙂

He was even a pretty good driver. I was always in the passenger seat (if you knew me way back when, you remember my checkered driving record…not much has changed). So, technically it didn’t take much skill, but he was also better at driving than me.

Joe seemed to know a little something about most everything, and in my eyes, there just wasn’t much he could not do. There was such a feeling of comfort and safety with Joe. As long as he was close by, I knew everything would be ok.

This week, Joe’s lesson is about the comfort and safety found in Jesus, and the power He holds in each of our lives.

He wrote:

What You CAN Do

Have you ever heard the saying, “Can’t never could”?

I am not going to talk to you this morning about what you can’t do. I am going to talk to you about what you can do. Not through your own power, but through the power of Christ.

The apostle Paul was a proclaimer of the victory of Christ that created our freedom. That is why he used the phrase “all things” in his letters to the church–Philippians, Colossians, Corinthians, Romans. Thessalonians Acts and Ephesians.

With the words “all things”, Paul tells us just how much authority has been given to Jesus. He goes to explain how Jesus has authority over our lives, if only we will let him have control.

Consider how powerful Christ can be in our lives if we follow him. By giving up our own power and allowing Jesus to be our compass, we actually gain more strength than we could ever have on our own.

Through Him, we have to the power to:

  • Endure: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” -Philippians 4:3
  • Become an Example: “I have become all things to all men so that I may save some.” -1 Corinthians 9:22
  • Believe:  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” -Romans 8:28
  • Love: “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” -1 Corinthians 13:7
  • Trust: “For by Him all things were created both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things and in Him all things are held together.”-Colossians 1:16-17
  • Let go: “That no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger in all things.” -1 Thessalonians 4:6
  • Profit through surrender: All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” – 1 Corinthians 6:12
  • Grow truly wealthy: “As sorrowful yet always rejoicing; as poor yet making many rich; as having nothing yet possessing all things.” -2 Corinthians 6:10

All we have to do is let go and truly make Him the Lord of our lives. We must give Jesus control of “all things”.

By giving Jesus the steering wheel, we will have the ability to go far beyond what we can do in our power alone.


Several years ago, I found myself in a period of waiting…as a person with little patience who often feels the need to be in control, this was not a fun time! Yet, it seemed that the story of David popped up in EVERYTHING I read, in Sunday sermons, even in random conversations. Looking back, I see how relevant David’s story was to my life at that time. David was an imperfect person with many lessons to be learned during seasons of waiting. God planted those stories everywhere at a time when I really needed to read them. God is good like that, isn’t he? 🙂

About a month before Joe passed away, suddenly the apostle Paul was EVERYWHERE in my devotions, just as David had been. I distinctly remember reading about having joy in times of sorrow, having peace in times of suffering, and wondering why God kept putting those thoughts in my daily reading. It was also during that time that I started a new journal. During my time of devotion, I write down thoughts that stand out to me, verses that really resonate, recurring themes, etc. I probably have twenty or so notebooks full of my daily musings. Y’all…I am an English teacher. It is just what I do.

However, for some reason, when I started this new journal, I added the following to the top of my page each morning:

I think maybe I saw a post on Facebook about taking time to write down things for which we are thankful, and things we need to lift up in prayer. It was November…the season of gratitude…so I hopped on board.

Little did I know that I was developing a habit that would serve as an anchor in just a few short weeks. Little did I know that there would soon come a day in which my praise would be the very thing that broke my heart. The picture below is my journal entry the morning after Joe went to Heaven.

It was truly the hardest praise to write.

I am learning to surrender control. It took the shattering of my heart to do it, but I promise you that each day, as I ” ‘endure…become an example…believe…love…trust…let go…surrender…and grow truly wealthy’ ” it is not through any power I have on my own. It is 100% the power of Jesus every single minute of every single day.

Do I understand why? Absolutely not, and I don’t think I will on this side of Heaven. Do I praise God anyway?

I do, friend. I do.

A broken hallelujah is a hallelujah just the same.

So, of course, Joe’s lesson is about Paul this week. Of course, exactly one year ago, God knew that the words Joe spoke in our church sanctuary would be the words you read in this blog today…the words I needed and maybe the words you needed as well?

God knew I needed David. God knew I needed Paul. God knew I needed to get myself in the habit of counting my blessings each morning so that in the dark days ahead, I would remember that God is still good and worthy of praise. God knows what you need, too–even before you know you need it.

Don’t give Him some of the things. Give Him ALL THINGS. I know it is not easy. Sometimes it even hurts. But from the driver’s seat, He sees far beyond what you can see (and that is a blessing in itself). He wants to make a way for you. Let Him drive. He’s better at it than you. I promise. 💜

-Words of Wisdom from The Book of Joe


Do the Right Thing

Pizza and jelly beans are my love language.

Well, actually my love language is “words of affirmation” (If you haven’t read about the five love languages, you need to Google it…it’s pretty accurate!), but Joe knew he could dig himself out of a pretty deep hole with a sweet little note, a trip to Pizza Village or a bag of Sweet Tart Jelly Beans! He was smart enough to speak my love language when it really mattered. 🙂

Joe’s love language was “acts of service”. He showed love by doing what needed to be done. One of my favorite ways he did this was through his talents as an auctioneer. In the fall of the year, Harvest Sale Season was a very busy time at our house. I remember one particular Saturday in which he called three different sales for area churches in the same day! If you have attended a benefit or fundraiser in our local area, there is a good chance Joe served as one of the auctioneers. Not only did he donate his time and talent, he also quietly purchased MANY items over the years to help a community, church or family in need.

Joe was a helper, plain and simple. If he saw something that needed to be done, he just did it…usually anonymously and without much fanfare. Doing good deeds came pretty naturally to him, so it is no great surprise that he chose to talk about such in this week’s lesson. However, his focus is not so much on the deed, but on the reason behind it.

He wrote:

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

How many of you have heard the proverb, “No good deed goes unpunished”? What does it mean? It could mean that a kind action might not be properly appreciated. Or it might mean that a kind action could lead to more expected actions or demands for help or benefits. The idea is that in the end many people might not appreciate the effort behind our kindness, or that it might end up causing us more grief than anything. I guess it is a twist on the original idea that good deeds (or at least being good) get rewarded…which is not always the case.

In 1 Peter 2:20 it states: “But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.”

John 10: 32 states “but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”

We all know that Scripture gives us examples of good works, such as the story of the Good Samaritan, and how he helped a man that in those times others would have been unconcerned with. I think we can all agree that we should look for good deeds that should be done. Hebrews 13:16 instructs us to ” not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time being pleased at the thought of having to suffer for showing a kindness or as Jesus said being stoned for doing good works. However, those thoughts are centered around man, not around God. We are not really doing good deeds for people, are we? We are doing them for Christ himself.

Colossians 3: 23-24 states “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,  since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

So, this morning, I want to encourage you to do good deeds and to do the right thing, even when it feels unappreciated or like it might even backfire or cause you some hardship. Our Heavenly Father sees it all. He sees our efforts, as well as the efforts and actions of others. But it is not our job to worry about anything but doing good deeds in the name of Jesus. He is keeping tabs for us all.


If I am being honest, the last paragraph of Joe’s sermon ticks me off.

Not the part about good deeds. I love an act of kindness better than just about anyone. As a matter of fact, last week was “Random Act of Kindness” Week at school…one of my most favorite activities all year long! It warms my heart to see how our students and staff find ways to show love and kindness for others, not just during this week, but all the time. I celebrate good deeds in my classroom. One of my favorite shirts bears the phrase “BE KIND” in large letters across the front. It’s a big deal to me.

However, there’s this other part of me that seriously struggles with the other side of kindness…when people disappoint me or cause hurt to others by not doing the right thing. So, when Joe says that it is not my job to worry about anything but doing good deeds, I may or may not have rolled my eyes and let out a heavy sigh.

Joe often said two things about my emotional response to less than ideal situations.

  1. Ronda is a bulldozer
  2. Ronda tends to hit back harder than she was hit.

I am not particularly proud of those, but he was not entirely incorrect. I do tend to plow into an issue full force, full of passion [anger/frustration]…which is a sharp contrast to Joe’s “slow and steady” personality. And then there’s that mouth. Y’all, it has gotten me in trouble my whole life (my mama and daddy can verify as they have both popped my sassy mouth more than once!).

So, when the actions of other people are hurtful to me or to those around me, I am pretty much a curly headed piece of heavy machinery with enough brain power to think of a thousand vengeful actions or insults, but not always enough willpower to keep my mouth shut. I repeat…I am not proud of this. I have literal “come to Jesus” meetings with the Lord about it on the regular. Seriously.

This week, I stood at the crossroads of good deeds and not so good people. When I tell you that I have reached the point lately where I honestly don’t know if I can take one more thing, I mean it…and then one more thing showed up. I wanted to bulldoze. Honestly, I still do just a little.

But deep in my spirit, “WWJD” planted itself in my soul and stayed there. Most of you remember this acronym as “What Would Jesus Do?”. We’ve seen it on shirts, bracelets, mugs and bumper stickers for years. However, since his death, I have mashed it together with Joe’s name several times. What would Joe do? What would Jesus do? The answer is in the last paragraph of Joe’s lesson.

So, this morning, I want to encourage you to do good deeds and to do the right thing, even when it feels unappreciated or like it might even backfire or cause you some hardship. Our Heavenly Father sees it all. He sees our efforts, as well as the efforts and actions of others. But it is not our job to worry about anything but doing good deeds in the name of Jesus. He is keeping tabs for us all.

Joe and Jesus would do the right thing. Joe and Jesus would show kindness, even in the face of suffering and strife. Joe and Jesus would not keep a record of wrongs, but would show grace and mercy. Joe and Jesus would love.

Just do the right thing, sweet friend. Jesus will do the rest.

-Words of Wisdom from The Book of Joe


Lord, It’s Hard to be Humble

August 22, 2021

There’s a hard-headed, stubborn human in this picture. Care to guess which one?

Truthfully, it’s both of us.

But Joe was worse. 😂

For example…several years ago, Joe had a little health scare. He endured several rounds of testing before it was determined that he simply needed to have his gallbladder removed. No biggie.

His only post surgical instructions were to rest/avoid heavy lifting for the next few days and then return in 10 days to have his staples removed.

Simple, right?


Bless his heart, the man could not sit still, despite the fact that he had an excellent nurse by his side. 😜 He alluded to the fact that he went back to work early because he felt that the public education system might falter without me in my classroom, but y’all know how Joe is, so…

On about day seven, Joe’s abdomen began to aggravate him. I told him not to mess with those staples himself…I knew good and well what he was thinking!! Rather than call his doctor, Joe took matters into his own hands. Literally. He took a deep breath and a set of wire snips and went to work removing staples. Oh, yes he did.

And in about five days, he had a festering wound, and both a wife and a doctor shaking their heads in disbelief at this hard headed man.

Joe was humbled by one tiny staple that caused BIG problems. And I TRIED to tell him…but he never did listen to me much. 😜

This week, Joe’s lesson is about being humble and being humbled.

He wrote:


Every Christian has a choice between being humble and being humbled.

Who in here this morning likes to be told what to do? This notion starts with most of us about the time we turn two years old.  It is in our nature to want to make our own decisions and to have things our own way.  It is not in our nature to want to stop and ask for permission or guidance.

But as we get a little older and maybe a little wiser, we may start to admit that we do, in fact, need a little direction.

We all have to grow up.  We have to stop stomping our feet and demanding that things be our way. We need to start bending our knees and saying, “Your way, Lord.”

There is a word for assuming this new posture in life.  It is called humbleness.  Nothing pleases our Heavenly Father more than a humble heart.  He delights in our humbleness as much as He opposes our pride.  

Psalm 25:9 states: “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.”

God wants us to know His will, and He wants us to make decisions according to His teachings.  But, He will not force us to come to Him for guidance. If we want to do things our way, most of the time He will let us.  He will stand back and let us learn the hard way.  God is so wise that He will allow our circumstances to humble us if we will not humble ourselves. 

CS Lewis said, “A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and of course, as long as you are looking down you can’t see all that is above you.” 

So, let us humble ourselves before God and admit that we need His guidance, rather than doing it our way and failing.  We will be better off with the Lord guiding our steps, rather than asking Him to correct our mistakes.   


If you all will bear with me a moment, I’ll be over here nursing my sore toes. Joe and Jesus just stepped on them.

“I’ve got this. Let me handle it.”

I’ve said it to Joe. I’ve said it to Jesus. I’ve said it to pretty much anyone who has ever tried to help me. You’d think I’d learn my lesson eventually., but I said it someone close to me just this week. And the real irony is that I said it AFTER an especially humbling experience. I’ll explain…

But, first, let me make a pretty raw admission.

The months after Joe went to Heaven were pretty dark for me. That is no big secret. I made a vow to live my days in a way that honored Joe and Jesus, and I honestly believed I was doing just that. However, there was another part of me that was so ready to be with Joe again. It wasn’t that I wanted to die right then, and certainly not that I wanted to end my life, but I just didn’t want to do anything that might prolong the days between the present and when I would see my sweet Joe once more.

That was MY way. That was not GOD’S way.

We all have to grow up.  We have to stop stomping our feet and demanding that things be our way. We need to start bending our knees and saying, “Your way, Lord.”

Time is a great healer; therefore, my days are not as dark as they were right after Joe went to Heaven. I haven’t really had those “dark day” thoughts in a while. Still, it didn’t change the force in which the irony hit me when, a few weeks ago, my doctor found a suspicious lump. I went straight to the building next door to have an ultrasound, where I did not get the answer for which I had hoped. It was not one spot, but two. A biopsy was scheduled.

And suddenly, I wanted to take back those thoughts I had in December and January. Suddenly, I wanted to live.

God wants us to know His will, and He wants us to make decisions according to His teachings.  But, He will not force us to come to Him for guidance. If we want to do things our way, most of the time He will let us.  He will stand back and let us learn the hard way.  God is so wise that He will allow our circumstances to humble us if we will not humble ourselves. 

I felt pretty humbled when Joe passed away. I spent (and still spend) so much time with the Lord, asking for His guidance. But I also know that I never brought to Him these feelings I had about not wanting to prolong my life. I held onto them stubbornly, like a child hides a toe with a splinter wedged in it, despite the pain it causes.

So, God didn’t hold me down and yank out the splinter. He let it fester (maybe like a staple?). He stood back, because He knew one day I’d begin to see the light again. He also knew that would be about the same time I’d have the biopsy. God is so very wise. And I am so very stubborn.

We will be better off with the Lord guiding our steps, rather than asking Him to correct our mistakes.   

I had many conversations with Jesus during the two weeks between the ultrasound and the biopsy. I didn’t beg for a second chance. But I did beg for forgiveness. I asked forgiveness for thinking that my ways were better than His…for thinking that I knew, better than God knows, how many days I should spend between this life and the next….for not allowing Him to hold all the pieces of my broken heart, especially the ones that kept cutting my hands over and over because I held them so tightly.

I stayed on my knees–where I should have stayed to begin with.

And in return, Jesus gave to me a peace. I cannot explain it any other way. It was not a peace that made me feel like the biopsy results would show nothing. Rather, it was a peace that made me know that everything would be ok regardless of the outcome.

Sweet friend, I know you think you’ve got this (whatever “this” may be), but let me tell you that you do not. You never did. And isn’t that relieving that you don’t have to carry that weight on your shoulders? Whatever it is that you are holding so tightly in your grip is probably cutting you all to pieces. My hands are a scarred up mess, but yours don’t have to be. It is so much easier to be humble and ask the Lord for guidance than to be humbled and ask the Lord for forgiveness. Trust me. I learned the hard way.

I was sitting in the Food Lion parking lot waiting for my online grocery order (you are not living your best life if you are not taking advantage of grocery pick up, by the way), when I received my biopsy results. The prettiest word I’ve heard in a while: BENIGN. 🙌

And then I heard something else. It was a gentle whisper in my ear, but the voice was unmistakable. Sweet and strong, He said, “Now go LIVE.”

And that is what I am going to do, my friend. I am going to live. And I’m going to lean, humbly holding the Hand of the One who guides me every step. But, y’all, I do have a favor to ask. If you EVER see me nursing a wound while holding a pair of wire snips, I want you to slap them right out of my hand.

-Words of Wisdom from The Book of Joe