2012 (Archived)

February 2012

Wow! What a whirlwind this last month and a half has been! First, I’m sitting in my office casually thinking about a nice, calm, serene, and peaceful Christmas season for my family and me; and then, all of the sudden, I am trying to collect every conceivable size and strength of cardboard box known to man. 

After that, Donna and I began the process of looking for a new house while trying to put all of our belongings found in our current house into those said boxes. Couple that with basketball practices, Bible studies, dance rehearsals, karate practices, and cello lessons. You can understand why I’ve been running on caffeine and adrenaline for several weeks. Whew! “Calgon, take me away!” 

One of the biggest challenges in all of this has been going through all the things we have accumulated since the last time we moved, 5½ years ago. When I look at something as I start to put it in a box, I think to myself, “Why did I keep that?” “Do I really need this? “What is this, anyway?” All of it in many ways is just clutter and stuff, stuff that clogs up space in my life. I wish now I had dealt with it when I first acquired it or never picked it up at all.

Life is like that sometimes, isn’t it?  We acquire things.  We “pick up” stuff.

We acquire names and identities in our lives.  Some of them are hurtful and we never can seem to escape them.  We do something ill advised either out of youthful ignorance or selfish pride.  From then on, we are known by that one event.  Or, we pick up a habit that seems innocuous at first, but then it grows into something we can no longer control.  In fact, it begins to control us.  In the end our lives are cluttered with these “things” and we wonder, “Why did I start this to begin with?”  “What was I thinking?”  “How did my life get to be this way?”

To avoid that, we need to avoid the pitfalls of ill advised actions and think twice.  We should think to ourselves, “Is this something Christ would be proud of?  Would he want this to be a part of my life?”  However, if the damage has already been done, we need to go through the cabinets and closets of our lives and begin to clean out the stuff of our lives and throw away those identities.  We must put aside those old ways of doing things.  We as the body of Christ are to find our identity in Christ and put on a new life, a life that is of Christ and filled with Christ.  We need to de-clutter our souls.

Yes, we are trying to clean out stuff as we pack up our lives.  But it is a joy.  For I know that God is putting us on this path to serve his kingdom alongside you.  Friends I’m looking forward to our time at Lanes Chapel.  May God bless you as we all continue on this great adventure.

In Christ,

Jeff Gage

March 2012

Dear Lanes Chapel Family,

Donna, Katie, Eli, Desi and I would like to thank you for the warm welcome you have given us since even before our official arrival here at LCUMC.  Your emails, cards, and gifts mean so much to us.  From day one we have felt as if we were already a part of the family and we were being welcomed home.  What a blessing to receive.

We are slowly getting settled in.  Donna has done a tremendous job of making our house a home.  We still have a few more pictures to hang and another shelving system to construct, but we are getting closer all the time.  (I will kindly ask, though, that you not look in the garage or my office.  I’ll get to them.  Really… I will.)  And it will take time.

Time is an interesting thing.  We measure and mark time.  We keep time.  We try to control or manage our time.  Ultimately though, it is out of our control.  It keeps moving whether we want it to or not.  We can’t control it.  All we can do is try to make best use of it.

Although we are living in this place and time, we serve a God who is not bound by space or time.  He exists over, above, and outside space and time.  As Jesus said in John 8:58, “…before Abraham was, I am.”  That of course is a statement that would have sent my sophomore English teacher, Mrs. Moseley into grammatical hysterics.  For Jesus though, it is reality.  He just is.  Always has been.  Always will be.  He is First and Last, Beginning and End, Alpha and Omega, eternal, boundless and infinite.  What a great God we serve.  Amen?

Speaking of time, if there is ever a time when you need me, feel free to contact me.  My email address is jeff@laneschapel.com.  I’d love to hear from you.

Blessings to you all,


April 2012

Dear Lanes Chapel Family,

March is one of the best months around our house.  the pleasant temperatures are refreshing after the roller coaster of winter weather.  The beauty of the new life that appears in nature with flowers and tree buds and the awakening wild life is a wonder of God’s creation.  Once I get over the lost hour of sleep, I enjoy having another hour of daylight at the end of my day so I can be outside with my children and play.  Although I think watering the lawn is a waste of water, I actually like to mow the yard. 

Therse are all great parts of March.  But the greatest part of March in our family is March Madness, the 68 team playoff in college basketball that determines the national champion.  We love March Madness.  The TV is turned on that first Thursday morning and is not turned off until the following Sunday evening.  We try to watch every game.  Even though Texas A&M and the University of Illinois did not make the tournament this year, we still loved watching every minute, every buzzer-beating, every heart-stopping, heart-breaking, cinderella making moment.  By the time you get this, we will be awaiting to see who is crowned the national champion, whose fans will cheer, and raise the rafters in jubilant celebration. 

I am amazed each year how it seems to be bigger and better than the year before.  The drama and action is so intense.  Students from the colleges will travel many miles to support their team.  They paint their faces all various shades of team colors or shed their shirts and paint the team’s name on their chest.  Alumni will spend large amounts of dollars to get prime seats. Advertisers will go deep into their bank accounts to buy prime commercial spots.  Ah, the joy of college basketball in March. 

But tell me, why do we relegate that kind of behavior and excitement to a temporal thing such as a sport?  Why do we get so excited about a ball going through a metal circle?  Why do we spend millions,no, billions of dollars in pursuit of such a goal?  Why don’t we do such in the church?  Wouldn’t it be great if we supported the church like that? 


What would our Sundays be like if, out in the hallway, we had a pep band?  Or how would a squad of cheerleaders in the parking lot make you look forward to an exciting time with God?  Or how would our lives change if we supported Christ and the work of the church with the same vitality that students and alumni support their schools? 

Now I’m not suggesting we paint “Go God” on our chests, but how would your outlook for life, for church, for the world change if you walked through life as if your team and those on it – God’s heavenly host – were in the fight of their lives?


Well, we are in that fight.  It is the fight for our eternal lives.  Let us live knowing that our lives and the lives of others depend on how we play this game of life.  And let us play this game with God as our coach. 

“Two bits, four bits, six bits a dollar.  All for Jesus stand up and holler.”


In Christ,



May 2012

Dear Lanes Chapel Family,

The other day I heard a very interesting commentary on the radio.  I tracked it down a copy of it on the internet and am sharing it with you.  Maybe you heard it, too.  I think it is very interesting.  It is entitled, “If I Were the Devil.”

If I were the Devil . . . I mean, if I were the Prince of Darkness, I would of course, want to engulf the whole earth in darkness. I would have a third of its real estate and four-fifths of its population, but I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree, so I should set about however necessary to take over the United States. I would begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: “Do as you please.” “Do as you please.”   To the young, I would whisper, “The Bible is a myth.” I would convince them that man created God instead of the other way around. I would confide that what is bad is good, and what is good is “square”.  In the ears of the young marrieds, I would whisper that work is debasing, that cocktail parties are good for you. I would caution them not to be extreme in religion, in patriotism, in moral conduct. And the old, I would teach to pray. I would teach them to say after me: “Our Father, which art in Washington” . . .

If I were the devil, I’d educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting so that anything else would appear dull an uninteresting. I’d threaten T.V. with dirtier movies and vice versa. And then, if I were the devil, I’d get organized. I’d infiltrate unions and urge more loafing and less work, because idle hands usually work for me. I’d peddle narcotics to whom I could. I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. And I’d tranquilize the rest with pills.

If I were the devil, I would encourage schools to refine young intellects but neglect to discipline emotions . . . let those run wild. I would designate an atheist to front for me before the highest courts in the land and I would get preachers to say “she’s right.” With flattery and promises of power, I could get the courts to rule what I construe as against God and in favor of pornography, and  thus, I would evict God from the courthouse, and then from the school house, and then from the houses of Congress and then, in His own churches I would substitute psychology for religion, and I would deify science because that way men would become smart enough to create super weapons but not wise enough to control them.

If I were Satan, I’d make the symbol of Easter an egg, and the symbol of Christmas, a bottle. If  I were the devil, I would take from those who have and I would give to those who wanted, until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious. And then, my police state would force everybody back to work. Then, I could separate families, putting children in uniform, women in coal mines, and objectors in slave camps. In other words, if I were Satan, I’d just keep on doing what he’s doing.

According to the website where I found this, www.nation.foxnews.com, Paul Harvey first delivered this essay on April 3, 1965.  I just think it is very interesting. 

Blessings you to you,


June 2012

Dear Lanes Chapel Family,

What a great few months we have already had at Lanes Chapel.  You are such a great congregation and God is doing great things even now, and I know he has even greater things in store for us in the future.  That is why I am so excited about the summer that is on the horizon. 

Stephen O’Neal is doing a great job of settling in as our new Director of Youth Ministries.  They are making plans to be at summer camp in Lakeview, some mission work opportunities, and some special events on Sunday nights.

Viki Munn in our children’s department has overseen the painting of our entire children’s wing and it looks great.  She is diligently planning our Vacation Bible School, which will begin on June 25th.  Sign up now – to bring a child or to volunteer.  (And you are never too old to volunteer.)

Melody Hughes, our Director of Worship and Music, has several special pieces already planned.  She is excited about our Freedom Service on July 1st and about all of the special musical offerings we will experience throughout the summer.

I am working on several things.  Our Praying for our Neighbors ministry will begin June 3rd.  I will be asking you soon to submit your favorite scriptures to use as my sermon texts during July and August.  And I am ramping up for our Neighborhood Gatherings.

A Neighborhood Gathering is just that.  It is a gathering of church members who live in the same general area at someone’s house for a night of desserts and conversation.  Every member will be invited to attend one of these get-togethers.  There will be several throughout the summer.  At these gatherings, I will be spending a little time to get to know you better.  I’d like to hear about what brought you to Lanes Chapel.  What keeps you coming back?  Where would you like to see us go in the future?  It will be a wonderful time to share, learn and grow.  Keep watching for more information and for your invitation.

Wow!  Just reading through this again wears me out. I know it will be a great time this summer.  I am blessed to be a part of it.  This is the most amazing church I could ever serve. 

Let’s just see where God takes us!

In Christ,



July 2012

Dear Lanes Chapel Family,

As June came to a close, I looked back and realized what a tremendous month it had been. For us it started in Galveston and a few days’ vacation. I then went to Annual Conference to discuss with other Methodist pastors the business and mission of the church for the past and coming year.

Soon thereafter, I went to church camp with a group of our kids and hundreds more from all over the northeast Texas area. Then there was Vacation Bible School. Also, throw in the normal things of ministry such as sermons and worship and visitation and on and on and on. Whew! What a month! What a great month!

I didn’t mention that in June I also began attending our “neighborhood gatherings”. These are the meetings we are having in various places throughout the area during the summer. At each meeting we share a few refreshments and fellowship, having a conversation around three areas: What brought you to Lanes Chapel? What keeps you at Lanes Chapel? And, what is one dream or vision you have for Lanes Chapel?

All of these gatherings have been fun and informative. After the final meeting in August, I will give you an exhaustive list of what we have shared at these meetings, but overall, the themes that keep arising are personal invitations, love, and family. Hugs and acceptance were also woven in. The conversations have been filled with hope and promise. I am excited about what God has in store for us. What a great time to be a part of Lanes Chapel! What a great time to be a part of the Kingdom of God!

I look forward to the rest of the meetings. If you haven’t signed up for one, please contact Amber in the church office. She will help you find the best one for you. I’d love to have your input as we begin this next step in our journey together as the Lanes Chapel Family.

God bless you all,


August 2012

Dear Lanes Chapel Family,

For the next few months, I am going to dedicate this space to giving you the chance to get to know our staff members a little better. I’ll be asking them for a history of them in 150 or less and then I’ll have them answer 10 questions about themselves and their ministries.

Our first interview is with Stephen O’Neal, our Director of Student Ministries.

In 150 words or less, tell us about yourself and your family:

It is nice to be back home. Originally from Tyler, I graduated from Robert E. Lee in 1997. Melissa, originally from South Louisiana, and I have been married for seven years (July 23rd). We have a daughter, Macy, who is five and will be starting kindergarten this fall at Andy Woods in Tyler. Together we enjoy swimming, watching TV, playing games, and laughing together. Our two pets Tiger, a Labrador, and Clay, a long-haired cat, tend to keep us on our toes at all times. Personally, I enjoy cooking, officiating, and playing golf. We love living in Tyler because it means that we are close to a lot of our family. 

1) Who are your biggest influences in your Christian walk?

I call them Grandy and Grandpa. They are my mother’s parents and have always been there praying for me and setting a good example as to how a Christian should live his life.

2) What lead you to go down the path to seek degrees in Student Ministries and Biblical languages?

During my junior year of college at Texas A&M I sensed God calling me into full-time vocational ministry. Upon graduation, I felt led to attend New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. They have a great Student Ministry program. Upon beginning work on my Master’s, I quickly realized that I wanted to be challenged more than I would be by taking primarily classes that focused on Christian Education. That is when I switched my major to Biblical Languages with an emphasis in Student Ministry. God has continued that calling by allowing me to work towards a PhD in Christian Education.

3) What is your driving passion in Student Ministries?

The simple answer is that I love to see students introduced and learn to walk with Christ. The more complex answer is that I was not a part of a student ministry during my teenage years. I grew up in church, but I never connected with the student ministry. Looking back I realize how much I missed. I don’t want that to happen to other students. Being a part of a student ministry is vital in the Christian walk of a student. They can form bonds that will last a lifetime and it helps prepare them to be a part of a church when the graduate from high school and move on to the next phase of their life. 

4) What is your long term vision for our youth program?

Long term I want to see a student ministry that grows the right way. I have seen groups that are an inch deep and a mile wide, but I would rather our student ministry birth students that have deep walks with the Lord and are ready to make an impact for the Gospel on our world. It might start off slow, but it is my hope that as Melissa and I continue to get to know the students and their parents that we are able to build a ministry where our students feel that they are a part of Lane’s Chapel not just a group that happens to meet in a building located behind the church. In order for that to happen we are looking for students and parents that are willing to support us and not only be a part of happens on Wednesday nights, but to join us in Bible study on Sunday mornings as well.

 5) The church prays for you and our youth. How can we best pray for you and your ministry?

Pray that God would send us students that are hungry to learn more about God and how He can help guide their lives. Also, pray that God would send us parents and youth workers that are willing to help in the task of discipling the teenagers He sends us.

6) You are stranded on a deserted island and have 5 books with you, the Bible, a survival guide, and three others. What are the three others?

Dangerous Wonder by Michael Yaconelli; Seizing Your Divine Moment by Erwin Raphael McManus; The Newberg Report: 2010 Bound Edition by Jamey Newberg

 7) What is your favorite meal?

Buffalo wings…but my favorite food is popcorn

 8) You are a big baseball fan, particularly the Texas Rangers, an American League team. Is the designated hitter good or bad for baseball and why?

Now you are making me think. It is good and bad. All depends on how you look at. It is great if you are an aging slugger who can’t play the field anymore. It is bad in that both leagues don’t use it. It makes interleague games and the World Series almost unfair because depending on who is the home team, one team is having to play the game in way that their roster was not built. I would just prefer that both leagues used the same rules. DH or no DH is a not a big deal to me. Continuity across the game is.

 9) What is your favorite movie to watch with Macy? with Melissa? by yourself?

W/ Macy: Tangled. w/Melissa: any chick flick. Myself: Top Gun

 10) What super power do you wish you had?

Super Speed. I have never been fleet of foot and it would be nice to have some “wheels”

God bless you all,


September 2012

Dear Lanes Chapel Family,

For the next few months, I am going to dedicate this space to giving you the chance to get to know our staff members a little better. I’ll have them answer 10 questions about themselves and their ministries.

Our second interview is with Melody Hughes, our Director of Music Ministries.

1. Both your father and brother were pastors.  How has what you saw of them in their ministry and what they experienced shaped your philosophy of ministry?

Both men had a profound impact on my ministry and my life. I adopted their philosophy that worship should be exciting, fun, enthusiastic and full of joy. Worship is a VERB. They both felt if we can stand for three hours and cheer at a sporting event – then the worship of our Heavenly Father should be the most important way to show God how much we really love Him and it doesn’t matter how long it takes. They both felt that worship should have something for everybody musically so all could participate. I take an eclectic approach to music styles by incorporating hymns with contemporary music and adding gospel and southern gospel to our repertoire.  I designed my music ministry with that in mind.

2. You have a degree in music education and have taught in schools.  What lead you to go into music ministry instead? 

I enjoyed teaching in the public schools but there is such freedom in worship music. Freedom to praise, sing, be creative, add instruments and to help people experience God in a whole new way. There is such joy in seeing people draw near to God during a song service. This is an incredibly rewarding field and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.  Our church is such a singing church!! That is a real blessing!  There is no judgment on what we sing – everyone young and old learn the new music and sing the old. I feel incredibly blessed to be at Lanes Chapel.

3. What is your driving passion for music and worship ministry? 

My job solely and totally is to prepare the congregation for the preached word. I feel I have a huge legacy to continue from my father and especially my brother as I felt his work was not finished. God knew better. That drives me each Sunday and has really pushed me to keep working and not just fall apart during Lou’s sickness and homegoing. I know they are watching from Heaven and expect me to keep my head up and keep going. That means a lot to me.

4. God is doing great things at Lanes Chapel.  What is your dream for our worship ministry program?

Whew! I could write a book here!!!  My dream is that everyone would believe that their praise is worthy and they would all sing with us on Wednesdays and Sundays. I would love to have 300 people on the music team!  I envision a growing graded children’s choir, a contemporary youth choir, a vibrant drama department, a horn section, many ensembles, quartets, trios as well as paid staff to cover each area.  I see a new music wing in my vision with the latest technology, a full rehearsal room and media center and a larger robing area. The main vision I have is for all in music ministry to grow deeper in their faith, feel equipped to serve the Lord and to recruit more people into the program.

5. How can we pray for you and your ministry?

Please pray that we will stay UNIFIED to the cause of Christ and nothing else. Pray that we will be bound to each other through music in praise of our King and that we will always be a welcoming family of faith.

6. It is well known among the staff that your favorite food is French fries.  Where can you get the best fries in town?  What is your second favorite food?

OOOOOHHHHH, I LOVE A FRENCH FRY!!  I love the long, skinny crispy ones at McDonalds, the seasoned fries at IHop and the ones with parmesan cheese at BJ’s. I love the thicker crispy fries at Cheddars and the fries that come in a special silver holder from Cheesecake Factory. I love the curly fries at the East Texas Fair and I love, love, love Chick-Fila’s waffle fries. Yes, you can say I’m a French fry-aholic!  My second favorite food is a thick juicy filet mignon topped with crab meat, asparagus in a creamy white wine sauce.

7. What are five of your favorite hymns or songs to use in worship?

Wow…… only five??  Black gospel speaks to my soul and sets me afire. I love Excellent Lord and I can’t wait to teach the congregation a new piece called I Was Glad. I love Holy, Holy, Holy and incorporate it in many contemporary songs. Agnus Dei and How Great is Our God bless me along with Exalted. Then I have several old time favorites from my childhood like Mansion Over the Hilltop, I’ll Fly Away and Victory in Jesus. When Lou was so sick, honestly I couldn’t pray…….. didn’t know how to pray or even what to ask for. I just wanted God’s will to be done. So I sang…….. and sang……. and sang………… Mostly I Love You Lord and There’s Something About That Name. Whewww….  Asking a music director to choose five is torture. Really.

 8. You are not a fan of country music.  But if you had to listen to one country singer or song, who or what would it be?

I like Carrie Underwoods – Jesus Take the Wheel and I love bands that have tight harmonies like Alabama,  Rascal Flatts, The Band Perry and Lady Antebellum. I sang with Neal McCoy in college and I’m very proud of his success and that he is such a good role model.  I think Brad Paisley’s music is hilarious and I shamelessly voted for Scotty McCreery on Americal Idol because I appreciated his stand for Christ and his wholesome behavior.

 9. You hold a state record in high school track.  Tell us about it.

I cannot believe you are asking me about this JG!!!  I was a sprinter in high school. Back then I ran the 60 yard dash, the 100, the 440 relay and the 880 relay. My dad and Lou were my coaches. They both choose to take a small church so they could work in the public schools. I think I saw more kids come to know Christ in the gym than in the church. It was an awesome experience to be coached by them.  My senior year we qualified in the 880 relay. I was the anchor leg. I took the baton in 5th place and remembered praying, “God help me win this for my daddy.” The next 220 was a blur. It was as if I was asleep. When I crossed the finish line we had won by three steps.  It was a surreal moment – like time actually stopped. I will never forget the feeling.

10. You take care of your granddaughter Jo several days a week.  What is your favorite thing to do with her?

Jo has a HUGE imagination and we do a lot of role play, singing and drama. She also is an incredibly active child so I set up obstacle courses that we run, jump on the trampoline and swim. Right now she is really into drawing and art and we have painted many pictures for my refrigerator and made so many collages I can’t keep them all. My favorite thing to do with her is LAUGH. Sometimes (most times) we get loud and silly and laugh so hard our faces hurt. She is joy. Pure joy.

God bless you all,


October 2012

Dear Lanes Chapel Family,

This month for our staff interview, I have chosen to interview Rev. Bob Green, our Director of Pastoral Care.  I hope you enjoy getting to know Bob a little better.


First, in 150 words or less, tell us about yourself.

I am an old East Texas boy, born in Lindale and I got back to East Texas as soon as I could. I am married to Loree who teaches public school. We have 4 grown children and 2 wonderful grandchildren, Carson & Willow, and a Westie named Lily. We love to travel. I have served in Ministry for 35 years and have had the privilege of serving here at Lanes Chapel for 7 years. I am a true sports “nut”. I have and continue to officiate sports. I also enjoy golf and just sitting in my recliner when I have time. I love this church and serving here is pure joy.  Joy is a puppy wagging his tail when he runs up to see you. That is the way I feel every day when I come to serve. My friend Ron Wells says I live in a “perpetual state of self-denial.”  Whatever that means I love it. 

 1.    You have worked both in the business world and the church.  What are the advantages of working in the business world?  What are the disadvantages?

Advantages- I made a lot more money and had a lot of perks.  Loree and I got to travel and see more of the country than we could have ever afforded to see on our own.  I was free all weekend if we wanted it.  I was able to really witness as a someone other than a minister.

Disadvantages- I knew I was a plant out of place and never felt as though I was honoring my call from God.  There was always something missing in my work.  There were probably many more but these are enough.  

2. You have worked on staff at three churches for five different senior pastors.  What is one lesson you wish you could have taught them all?

Minister to, and LOVE your staff. They love and respect you.

3. Of all the jobs you do at Lanes Chapel (and you do many different ones) what is your favorite?

Preach.  No just kidding. I really and truly love every aspect of what I do. I am truly blessed to be doing exactly what I love. If I had to pick it would be Pastoral Care.

4. You could retire if you wanted to.  What keeps you in ministry?

I feel as though I still have something to offer. I love serving others. Wow that does sound patronizing, but I really do.

5. You knew Bro. Lou Gary Thomas, my predecessor, since your college days at SFA.  What is your favorite memory of Lou?

It is a basketball story. I officiated the 1st game he coached. He was bi-vocational at the time. Prior to that he and I had officiated together. The coach never addresses the official by his name. Lou had named one of his teams plays after me. As I was running down the court he shouted out my name calling out a play for his team. I stopped and abruptly turned to call a Technical Foul on him when we both realized he was not addressing me but his team. He was really embarrassed and had to change the name of the play for that night’s game.  We laughed a lot about that.

6. You are a big sport fan.  What is your favorite sport and why?

Professional football, the Dallas Cowboys specifically. I have always loved and admired Tom Landry.

7. You and your wife, Loree, have traveled to many places with your grandson, Carson.  You have given him many varied experiences.  Which of Carson’s reactions to all these places do you remember most?

Without question seeing his reaction to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Ma. 

8. If you were king of the world and could change any three rules in the major American sports, what would you change?

  1. No more blocking below the waist. Too many injuries.
  2. Designated hitter in both leagues. Allows some players careers to be extended. Pitchers can’t hit anyway.
  3. More instant replay in every sport. Getting it right is more important than “it’s part of the game.” 

9. What is your favorite meal?

New York Strip cooked Medium, Loaded Baked Potato, Garden Salad w/ranch dressing, Iced Tea.

10. You have officiated in football, basketball, and baseball at every amateur level for many years.  You have seen many people play.  Of all those players, is there one that stands out in your mind where, when you called his games, because of the kid’s talent, you had to remind yourself, “Call the game, Bob.  Don’t watch this kid play ball”?

That would be Adrian Peterson. He was a man among boys. Spud Webb was extremely short but I watched in awe in the Jr. College Regional finals in Big Spring, TX as he pinned the ball against the board, well above the rim, against a player who was 6’8”. (I believe Spud was 5’6”.)  I was definitely watching him when I should have been officiating and both coaches reminded me. 

November 2012

Dear Lanes Chapel Family,

This month for our staff interview, I have chosen to interview. Jo Ann Hall, our Director of Finance.  I hope you enjoy getting to know Jo Ann a little better.







First, before completing the “interview,” please tell us about yourself in 150 words or less.

 I am a native of Texas. I was born and raised in Amarillo, TX. My mother was the largest influence in my life. She taught each of us about God at an early age then showed us by her example how live a Christian life. My brother was transferred to Tyler in 1974. When we came here to visit and  we were in awe of the beauty that is East Texas. From the trees and lakes to all the beautiful churches. We moved to Tyler in 1976. Here I met my children’s father and was married for 27 years. God blessed me with 2 wonderful children, Crystal & Chris. They are my sunshine and I am so proud of the adults my children have become. Crystal & her husband Zack blessed me with 2 grandchildren, Kenzie & Jacob. A gift that I just cannot stop thanking God for. There is nowhere I would rather be than with them. I have one brother, two sisters, and nine nieces & nephews. We are very close and get together often for birthdays, holidays and any other excuse we can think of. I will never be able to thank God enough for the blessings of my family.

1. In what settings did you work before coming to Lanes Chapel? 

I was the Finance Manager for a general contractor for 25 years. Also, I worked in the accounting dept. for the Fair Association for 3 years prior to coming to Lanes Chapel.

2. What lead you to decide to work in a church vs. in the corporate world?

I was hungry for a place to serve daily. It was definitely God who led me to work at Lanes Chapel.  (Another answered prayer.)

3. What are some of the major differences between the corporate world and the church?

The people and more so their mentalities and inspirations. In the corporate world, money seemed to be the main motivation. Here I see people who truly love the Lord and “He” is their motivation. The staff here and the congregation are the most loving people I have ever known.

4. How do you understand this statement:  Even though you are not an ordained pastor and the word minister does not appear in your title, because you are on a church staff you are in ministry.

 I feel my ministry here is to serve God by giving my best each day. Whether it be in the financial area, greeting people, helping with the Food Pantry, witnessing or encouraging someone.

 5. What is the most fulfilling thing about working in the church?

Using the gifts God has given me in “His” service.

6. Your daughter and her family just moved to back to town.  What are you most excited about with having them here?

My 2 grandchildren, of course. They only live 10 minutes away now so I am able to be a part of their day to day lives and we can play together more often. Don’t get me wrong.. I do love having my daughter & son in law here, too. J

7. Your sister is also moving back to town.  What plans do the two of you have to get reconnected into each other’s lives as sisters?

My younger sister has lived in New Braunfels for several years. We definitely have some catching up to do. We have always been very close but it’s hard to share daily events when you live five hours away. I am looking forward to more girl talks & quality time together. I have missed so many things  in my 13 yr old niece’s life. I am looking forward to being able support & be involved in her school & sports activities.

8. What is your favorite meal to eat?

Chicken Marsala with red potatoes and bell peppers.

9. With all your children and grandchildren in town again, what is your favorite meal to cook for them?

They all love my Chicken & Dumplings and peach cobbler.

10. What is the best book you ever remember reading and why?

Without any hesitation The Bible. It continues to help me retain the values & morals my Mother wanted me to have. And it doesn’t matter the feelings I have or the questions I have, I can always go to the Bible to find the answers I need.



December 2012

I was born and raised in New Mexico with 2 brothers and 1 sister. After college my husband and I moved to Tyler when he got a job with GE. I was in shock for a while-no mountains and rain all the time, not to mention humidity and so many trees!!   With my degree in education I went to work for Brownsboro ISD and later moved to Tyler ISD where I worked at several different elementary schools.  My children, Kristi and Patrick were both born in Tyler.  Kristi now lives in Dallas and works for an interior design company and Patrick is a land man.  He lives in Tyler with my two grandsons, Ryder who is five and Maddex who is three. In the last 4 years I have lost my husband, been blessed with a second grandson, retired from a long teaching career and begun a new job here.

1.      I have been a member of Lanes Chapel for 16 years and have been a part of the staff since December 2010.

2.      Before joining the staff I was employed by TISD. I trained teachers to work with students who were struggling with reading and writing. 

3.      I was able to train teachers to work with those students who were struggling with literacy.  I learned so much about teaching children in positive ways and was able to share that with the many teachers  I had the opportunity to train.  Then I watched as those teachers impacted the lives of so many students.

4.      That would be God!  When the opportunity came up, I came up with many reasons why I couldn’t leave my job with TISD.  God took care of all of those reasons in various ways, but money was still an issue.  I wanted to trust that God would take care of me, but how hard that was.  Actually I surprised myself when I said yes to the job and God has been faithful to take care of me.

5.      Watching children grow and learn in the knowledge of Jesus and applying what they learn to their lives.

6.      Pray for wisdom for me and that in all things I will seek God first.   Willing volunteers to help in the children’s department. As the new year approaches please pray for the new activities we will be doing in 2013.  Those include  Family Night, A carnival fund raiser and a children’s Christmas program.   

7.     We love to read together.   We use real books, no electronic devices!!

8.      Guacamole and chips,  Navajo Taco (Indian fry bread topped with beef, beans, lettuce, tomato, cheese and lots of New Mexico red chile), diet coke, fried ice cream.  

9.    I love old movies, especially Alfred Hitchcock’s psychological thrillers.  My favorite would probably have to be “Notorious” with Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant.

10.  If I only get to pick one, I guess it would be “Ish” which is actually a children’s book.  It’s a great reminder to us as adults how easily a child’s spirit can be broken with just a few words and how difficult it may be to bring back that “I can do anything attitude” we all had at one time.