Category Archives: Behind The Scenes


We hope you will enjoy our “Prayer Note” — an internal communication here at The Cove, created each month to remind and encourage our staff to pray. We share these with you at the beginning of each month in hopes that you, too, will be encouraged.

Prayer Note(3)By Donna Riesen


Some of the most priceless moments of every Christmas celebration involve imperfections. Think back on all the church Christmas programs you’ve attended. Did any of the more memorable scenes involve mishaps or bloopers? If those amateur holiday productions were like most, a shepherd might have tripped over his staff, a wise man lost his crown or an angel forgot one of her lines. Yet we grin, applaud and cherish the memory of the sweet and endearing depiction of the Savior’s birth. Is there any better portrayal of the miracle of Christmas than seeing it through the eyes of a child?

The Christmas season is a study in contrasts. One evening a large and accomplished choir may stir your spirit and move your emotions with a dramatic performance of Handel’s Messiah, and the next night your heart melts as you open the front door to find a group of Christmas carolers from the junior high youth group singing a sweet though slightly off-key rendition of “Silent Night.”

Each December we’re given opportunities to travel back to Bethlehem and consider both the majesty and simplicity of the Incarnation. The miraculous story never grows old: The perfect, sinless, infinite Son of God taking on fragile flesh and coming to us in the form of a helpless baby. God’s perfect Son being born to a humble peasant girl in an obscure village, coming to bring salvation to a world marred by sin and imperfection. Majesty and simplicity merged to bring hope. If we wrote the script ourselves, we would welcome the King with flawless and beautiful surroundings. But we didn’t—He wrote it, and for a backdrop He rejected the perfect in favor of the imperfect. What could be more ordinary and imperfect than a stable and a makeshift bed of straw?

This Christmas, let’s ask God to help us find the miracle in both the majestic and the mundane. Let’s appreciate the beauty yet resist the temptation to measure our joy by the degree of perfection we can achieve. The tree may be slightly lopsided, with a gap in the middle. The gingerbread house may be leaning precariously to one side. And our actual home—filled with ordinary, imperfect people—may not look like the picture-perfect image of the harmonious family in the airbrushed magazine ad.

But “thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15, NASB). He came as our Immanuel… God With Us (Matthew 1:23, NIV), to bring His good and perfect gifts of peace, joy, salvation and hope right into the middle of our mess. If Christmas finds you lonely, tell it to the one who bore your griefs and carried your sorrows. (Isaiah 53:4). If the season finds you anxious and overwhelmed, allow your heart to be calmed by the one who is called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). If Christmas finds you struggling with sin, admit it and confess it to the one who “knew no sin yet became sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). “He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14). He came into our broken world, born in a dusty, dimly lit stable in order that He might one day deliver us from the filth of sin and the darkness of despair.

Seek to reflect the majesty of Christ this Christmas. Light the candles and hang the lights to announce that the Light of the World has come. Sing the timeless carols that tell the world of the joy He brings. Fill your home with reminders that God came in the flesh to make His home in our hearts. Then kneel and welcome Him. And if you notice the floor is a little dusty, thank Him for the reminder. The stable was dusty, too.

This December, please pray that the beauty of The Cove’s Christmas displays will honor and glorify the King of Kings whom we serve. Pray that those who come to celebrate His birth would sense His presence, feel His love, and be blessed and encouraged by every carol and hymn of praise that is sung. Pray that the Holy Spirit would empower and fill each flawed, imperfect person who serves Him on staff at The Cove. May He pour His strength into our weakness, and may the light of His presence shine through the cracks to reveal His glory. Oh come, let us adore Him!

“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen” (Jude 24-25).

Join us in praying for the following events in November:

Christmas at The Cove with Reggie and Ladye Love Smith and Friends — December 1, 2 & 3
(Emcee: Tom Bledsoe)

SeniorSalt Impact Carol Sings — December 5, 12, 13 & 14
(Emcee/Worship Leader: Ron Whittemore; Musician: David Gaines)

An Evening at The Cove with Tommy Coomes Band — December 5
(Emcee: Michelle Bachelor)

Women’s Christmas Luncheon with Karlene Shea — December 11
(Emcee: Patty Stump; Pianist: Kris Bartman; Special Music: Skylar and Luca Bartman by Faith Abiding)

Christmas at The Cove with Charles Billingsley — December 15
(Emcee: Michelle Bachelor)

Christmas at The Cove with Travis Cottrell — December 16
(Emcee: Michelle Bachelor)

Christmas at The Cove with Annie Moses Band — December 17
(Emcee: Michelle Bachelor)

Thank you for praying!

Saturday Snapshot — Boxed Blessings

One of our favorite reasons for being a drop-off center for Operation Christmas Child are the smiling faces and people we get to meet.  But, even better is knowing that God knew, before the beginning of time, the exact child–somewhere far away–that would receive their box in the name of His son Jesus.

Here are just a few of the smiling faces sharing the love of Jesus as they dropped their boxes (over 3,000 in total) off at The Cove during collection week…

These three show us that packing boxes is a fun family activity!

Dropping off OCC boxes 2016

A local church beat their goal by over 300 and delivered 901 boxes!! In case you were wondering, this is what 901 boxes looks like…

901 boxes dropped by 1st baptist church of swannanoa their goal was 600 2016 all stacked upAnd these are the six elves who helped deliver the 901 boxes…

Three faithful women head up the shoebox ministry at their church, but as one man put it, “It’s the Lord doing it!”  Isn’t it wonderful how God uses His children to accomplish great things here on earth!

901 boxes dropped by 1st baptist church of swannanoa their goal was 600 2016These boxes being delivered came from a packing party put on by a singles group at a church in Tennessee.
OCC drop off from Tennessee singles group from church put together 2016

A local machining company’s employees and their families packed 100 boxes for girls and 100 for boys.  This is one of their employees who delivered the boxes and some of our Cove staff/volunteers praying over the boxes.

praying over the 200 boxes from daystar machining 2016

You may recognize these precious girls’ faces…these three best friends began packing boxes in 2013.  (Click here to read a post about their first year of ministry.)  This year they raised money through doughnut sales and yard sales, and packed 125 boxes!  When asked if they would do this again next year, they all wholeheartedly said, “Oh, yes!!”

4th year 2016 occ box drop from Lydia Hope and Emma

106.9 The Light radio station was here on the last collection afternoon to greet people as they dropped off their boxes.

This precious 4 months old may have been our youngest to donate a box.  And because he and his mama were one of the first 25 to drop off their boxes during The Light’s on-air mention, they went away with some neat giveaways.

dropping off boxes with 4 month old Gavin from Old Fort 2016

More boxes being delivered….

dropping off boxes 2016

This local couple enjoys packing several boxes each year.  Here they are inside the large tractor trailer where the boxes collected, here at The Cove, are stored.

local couple dropping off their boxes 2016

Thank you to everyone who packed a box for a child this year!  Join us in lifting each box and each child that will receive one in prayer.

Have a blessed weekend, friends!

Click here for a schedule of upcoming seminar, concerts and retreats at The Cove in beautiful Asheville, NC.

Visit the Chatlos Memorial Chapel, Visitors Center, and Ruth’s Prayer Garden.  Click here for directions and operating hours. Tours are free.

A Thanksgiving Message from Will Graham

Blog Title Being Thankful In Dark Days

By Will Graham, Cove Executive Director

As we’re coming up to the Thanksgiving holiday, it’s important to stop for a moment and consider all of the many blessings that we have. It’s easy to do most of the time. We’re thankful for the roof over our heads (unless we don’t have one). We’re thankful for our jobs (unless we’re one of millions who are unemployed). We’re thankful for our families (though many are struggling as they watch a loved one deal with a debilitating or deadly disease).

So, maybe it’s not always so easy to give thanks. Maybe it’s easier to huddle in the corner and look hopelessly on as the world seems to be falling apart all around us. We’re witnessing very serious and troubling conflicts and upheaval on a daily basis.

Things don’t look great at home either. Our chaplains who work in areas that have been impacted by major tragedies (floods, tornadoes and the like) report that up to 70 percent of those to whom they minister were already facing some sort of “storm” in their life prior to the natural disaster.

Truthfully, it may be easier to focus on all the hurt and pain in the world than it is to focus on being thankful. It’s easy to be discouraged. Undoubtedly, many of you are dealing with very deep and personal pain as you read this.

Of course, as Christians we understand that there’s more to the story. My grandfather, Billy Graham – who turned 98-years-old this month – once wrote: “We’re living in a time of spiritual darkness and political upheaval. Only the forward-looking Christian remains sincerely optimistic and joyful, knowing that Christ will win in the end and ‘if we endure, we will also reign with him.’ (2 Timothy 2:12)”

If we can be thankful about only one thing in this world, it’s that we know the One who is in control; the Rock to whom we cling.

That’s what sets us apart, isn’t it? That’s why we can be thankful in a world of turmoil. That’s what gives us encouragement when the never-ending procession of talking heads in the 24-hour news cycle tell us how bad everything is.

And that’s why we need to be sharing this hope at every turn, knowing that everyone else needs it just as badly as we do.

In this dark world, we do have hope, we do have reason to be thankful, and we do have a calling to share that hope with others. Be praying for those you know who need to hear this message, and – when God gives you the opportunity – share it.

And then, my friends, when God answers your prayers and you see a harvest, that’s something to truly be thankful for.

Bless you!

Saturday Snapshot — A Thanksgiving Psalm From Quinn

We have a modern-day Psalmist on our hands:  Quinn Graham, Will Graham’s son and Billy Graham’s great-grandson, wrote a special Thanksgiving Psalm to share.

We hope this blesses you.

If you’d like to comment on the Psalm, we’ll make sure Quinn gets your messages.

quinn graham Thanksgiving psalm from 2014 or 2015 small for blog

A thanksgiving psalm by quinn jpeg small for blog

Speaking of Thanksgiving, maybe one of our Cove recipes will be perfect for your upcoming holiday get togethers.  Click here to see if one of our recipes might do the trick.

May the Lord bless and keep you, our friends.  Have a wonderful weekend!


Click here for a schedule of upcoming seminar, concerts and retreats at The Cove in beautiful Asheville, NC.

Visit the Chatlos Memorial Chapel, Visitors Center, and Ruth’s Prayer Garden.  Click here for directions and operating hours. Tours are free.

Drop Your Operation Christmas Box at The Cove This Week

Emma Tarpley and friends Hope and Lydia delivering 100 OCC boxes in November 2015 2Have you packed your OCC shoebox?

If you have, or plan to, we’d love for you to drop your box(es) here at The Cove.

Packing an Operation Christmas Child shoebox is a simple way to let hurting children around the world know that they are loved and not forgotten.

November 14-21, 2016 is National Collection Week, and The Cove is one of many drop locations for your boxes.  We are at 1 Porter’s Cove Road in Asheville, NC (just off exit 55). 

You may drop your box off anytime during this week at our gatehouse, but you may also visit our volunteers at the drop-off truck during the following hours:

Truck Hours:
  • Monday, November 14: 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, November 15: 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, November 16: 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, November 17: 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
  • Friday, November 18: 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, November 19: 12:00-5:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, November 20: 1:00-6:00 p.m.
  • Monday, November 21: 9:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.

Not sure how to pack a box or need some pointers on what to pack?  Click here or watch this video:

See you soon!  God bless.  

Saturday Snapshot – Billy Graham Turns 98

Billy Graham turned 98 this week.  Birthday wishes, blessings, and prayers poured in from all over the internet.

While Mr. Graham spent his birthday at home with family and close friends, we did some celebrating here at The Cove, too.

Here’s a birthday card signed by the staff here at The Cove.

Billy Graham 98 birthday card from staff

On the evening of Mr. Graham’s birthday, his eldest daughter Gigi Graham rolled out a cake to a packed auditorium of seminar participants and everyone sang happy birthday.  Gigi is sure to share the memory of that special evening with her daddy on her next visit with him.

Billy Graham 98 birthday Gigi and pastors singing happy birthday 11 7 16

So, who got to eat the cake? Those attending the Al Mohler seminar did!  Not one, but two kinds!

Billy Graham 98 birthday cake chocolate 11 7 16

Billy Graham 98 birthday cake 2 11 7 16

Earlier in the day, Asheville area television station, WLOS, came to The Cove to talk to Gigi about her father, his faith, and the legacy he will leave.  The interview took place in Mr. Graham’s office at The Cove.

Billy Graham 98 birthday Gigi Graham being interviewed by Frank with WLOS

Seminar participants were happy to be at The Cove on Mr. Graham’s actual birthday.  His faithfulness in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the world over, has inspired countless Christians, many who come to The Cove to get away and grow in their relationship with God.

Billy Graham 98 birthday pastor being interviewed by Frank with WLOS

Watch the television spot on Asheville local news station here:

Thank you for joining us in celebrating the life and ministry of Reverend Billy Graham.  Have a blessed weekend, friends!


Click here for a schedule of upcoming seminar, concerts and retreats at The Cove in beautiful Asheville, NC.

Visit the Chatlos Memorial Chapel, Visitors Center, and Ruth’s Prayer Garden.  Click here for directions and operating hours. Tours are free.

Saturday Snapshot — Take a Drive With Us

Hi, friends!  Jump in the car and come take a spin around the property with us!  We are loving the November color!

In contrast, this picture was taken two years ago this week!

snow at the cove november 1 2014 piled up on tables

If you haven’t signed up to spend some time celebrating the birth of our Savior with us at one of our wonderful Christmas at The Cove events, click on one of the links below, to do so.  Many of the events are sold out, so we’ve only listed those with seats still available.

Christmas at The Cove with Reggie & Ladye Love and Friends
(Dinner and concert.  Overnight lodging available.)
December 1, 2016
December 2, 2016
December 3, 2016

Christmas at The Cove with Tommy Coomes Band
(Dinner and concert.  Overnight lodging available.)
December 5, 2016

Women’s Christmas Luncheon with Karlene Shea (wife of the late George Beverly Shea)
December 11, 2016

Prayer Note: November 2016

We hope you will enjoy our “Prayer Note” — an internal communication here at The Cove, created each month to remind and encourage our staff to pray. We share these with you at the beginning of each month in hopes that you, too, will be encouraged.

Prayer Note(3)By Donna Riesen


Last month a four-year-old taught me a lesson in trusting God. Little Gracie entered the room where her grandma was watching the evening news just in time to hear the announcement of plans to close Disney World in anticipation of hurricane Matthew. Her grandma explained that since a big storm was coming to Florida, they were going to have to close the Magic Kingdom in order to keep people safe. Eyes wide with alarm, Gracie exclaimed, “But what about the princesses? I hope they run into the castle right now and lock the door!”

My favorite image of Gracie is from last summer’s Fourth of July barbecue. Wearing a pink tutu, a tiara, and a red-white-and blue “Super Girl” cape, she’s standing in the crook of a tree, held safe by her father’s strong arms. Gracie’s a brave and spunky little girl; yet even at the age of four—a magical time when fairly tales seem real—she knows there are some things way bigger than a prince, a princess, or even Super Girl.


Gracie knows what to do when a storm is coming. Do we?


None of us will make it through this life without being hit by a storm. A raging tempest of trouble may arrive in the form of serious illness, divorce or financial loss. The windows of our soul may be rattled by the cold winds of anxiety, fear and worry. Our emotional life may be overshadowed by heavy clouds of disappointment, heartbreak, depression, grief or loneliness. And we may become frustrated and discouraged as we view the path of destruction left in the wake of overwhelming tempests of evil and injustice blowing throughout the world.

It’s human nature to run for cover when we see dark clouds gathering, and our destination matters greatly. For Christians, the only wise move is to run to the Refuge. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1, NASB).

Does this mean we’re cowards? Weaklings who must lean on religion as a coping mechanism? It means we are human. When life’s hurricane of hardship begins to blow, some run to the protective refuge of money, power, or financial security. Others seek to escape from hurt and disappointment through alcohol or drug binges. The list of man-made storm shelters is a mile long, and most of us have at one time or another sought refuge in one of them.

The Old Testament book of Psalms is filled with references to God as our refuge. In times of trouble and distress the psalmist found his security and protection in Almighty God, his shelter and safe haven through the storms of life. A survey of the book gives a beautiful picture of God as our refuge in every situation:

Heartbreak, Sorrow or Grief —Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8, NIV).

Worry or Anxiety —Hear my cry, O God; give heed to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a refuge for me, a tower of strength against the enemy. Let me dwell in Your tent forever, let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings” (Psalm 61:1-4, NASB).

Then there’s the general, catch-all category of “Trouble” —But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in Him” (Psalm 37:39-40, NASB).

Whatever stormy situation you may be experiencing in life, turn to the Word of God for encouragement and strength; then pour out your heart to Him in prayer, thanking Him for being your “refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1, NASB).

O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”  (Psalm 34:8, NASB)

Please continue to pray for all those who were affected by Hurricane Matthew, as well as for the Samaritan’s Purse volunteers and other relief workers who are responding to aid the hardest hit areas.

As you pray for the needs of The Cove in the month of November, ask God to reveal Himself as a refuge for those who come here with deep hurts and heavy hearts due to storms they may be encountering.

Join us in praying for the following events in November:

November 2016 EVENTS
All seminars in 2016 are free (lodging and meal fees apply).
(For more information or to register, click on the links below.)

Guided Personal Spiritual Retreat — November 2-4
(Facilitators: John Parrish and Trish Lancaster)

Anne Graham Lotz and Rachel-Ruth Wright — November 4-6
Emcee: Traynor Reitmeier; Worship Leader: Fernando Ortega; Pastor-in-Residence: John Parrish)
Passing the Baton of Truth to the Next Generation

Click here to join Anne and Rachel-Ruth for this seminar via live stream simulcast.
(3-day simulcast begins Friday, November 4. Cost is $30)

An Evening at The Cove with Fernando Ortega — November 6
Emcee: Michelle Bachelor)

R. Albert Mohler Jr. — November 7-9
(Emcee: Ron Whittemore; Worship Leader: Joe Horness; Pastor-in-Residence: Ed Graham) Leadership Renewal Retreat: The Conviction to Lead

Don Wilton and Rob Wilton — November 15-17
(Emcee: Ron Whittemore; Worship Leader: Marty Goetz; Pastor-in-Residence: Ed Graham)
The Power of One: The Key to Praying and Fasting

Thank you for praying!

Saturday Snapshot – What’s That Up In the Sky?

Ever wonder how we get the amazing aerial photos of the Training Center?  Like this one?

fall aerial TC

In the past, we had a photographer hanging out of a helicopter–yikes!  Today, because of the amazing technological advances, we are able to use a drone (an unmanned aerial vehicle).

Earlier this week we took a drone up to the overlook to get a birds-eye view of the Training Center, Shepherd’s Inn, the chapel, and of course, the beautiful mountains.

We had some guests (on break from the Erwin Lutzer seminar) who hiked to the overlook and were able to watch the drone in action…

drone off the overlook october 2016 with onlookers sm

Be on the lookout for one (or several) of these pictures to appear in our 2017 Program Guide (mailing in January).

Speaking of 2017…you know registration is open, right?  Click here to see what’s on our calendar for next year.  Seminars are all free (a small materials fee will apply), so we encourage you to come and bring 10 or 20 friends with you.

Of course we’d love for you to stay in one of our inns and eat your meals with us in our dining room with beautiful mountain views, too. You will find the lodging and meal rates on our website too, or if you’d like to talk to a human, call 1-800-950-2092.

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!  Bless you.


Saturday Snapshot – Bloggers and Pretty Color

Earlier this week, 30 local-ish Christian bloggers attended a 2-hour meetup at The Cove to be encouraged through fellow Christian bloggers and to learn ways to be more effective communicators.

There were lots of connections made, knowledge shared, and a feeling of gratitude that God placed this special call and gifting on these writers’ lives.

If you’re a Christian blogger and would like to be part of a Private Facebook group we’ve created, please let us know in the comments and we’ll add you to the group.

blogger meetup 2016 small

With each day comes more vibrant color. We will continue to share our pictures week-to-week so you can enjoy right along with us.  We trust it is beautiful where you are as well.

view from TC October 19 2016 sm

Angies Fall design outside the gatehouse

a bench with fall flowers

stairs leading to the parking lot

Fall John Deere 2

Fall decoration in TC

fall boquet in TC

fall boquet 2  in TC

Fall wreath above fireplace at TCHave a wonderful weekend, friends!

Fall is one of the most beautiful times to visit our area.  Make sure to visit the Chatlos Memorial Chapel, Visitors Center, and Ruth’s Prayer Garden.  Click here for directions and operating hours. Tours are free.

Click here for a schedule of seminar, concerts and retreats at The Cove in beautiful Asheville, NC.