Category Archives: Behind The Scenes


This week’s verse is brought to you by:
Kent | Cove Guest Group Manager | 2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old was gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). 

SMALL_Kent_Bridges_Guest Group Sale Manager

Are you a Christian church or non-profit ministry looking for a place to hold your conference, retreat or ministry event?  Click here for more information on holding your event at The Cove.

Click here for a schedule of 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 — The Ladies Take Over the Mountain

For the last 15 years, an amazing group of ladies from a church in South Carolina have been holding their women’s retreat at The Cove.  Each year is fun, with a creative theme, workshops, skits, exercise, prayer, and fellowship. It’s always a joy to see these ladies come together here, experiencing the love of God, away from the daily distractions of life.

Here’s a sneak peak into their 3-day women’s retreat…

The leadership team came a day ahead, to pray and prepare for the ladies. #prayerwarriors

praying in chapel before event for blogThese group leaders don’t miss a detail!  Each woman had her own door decoration.


….and goody bags packed with special surprises.  bed with goodie bag in inn room

The theme for the weekend was, “True Reflections: A Makeover to Remember.” A weekend at The Cove is always memorable!

Brookwood_1_Makeover Sign Post1

Here’s a fun photo booth moment captured by one of the ladies who attended. #faithlift

Elizabeth Godfrey Photobooth Pic
Courtesy of Elisabeth Godfrey

These lovely ladies embodied the meaning of Proverbs 31:25 — She laughs at the time to come.

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The fruits of the Spirit were beautifully displayed on stage and in the lives of these sweet women.

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Have a blessed weekend, friends!

Interested in holding your own church retreat, conference or ministry event at The Cove?  Click here for information.

Click here for a schedule of 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.



This week’s verse is brought to you by:
Ken | Erwin Lutzer Seminar Guest | Albany, GA

“Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think according to the power that works in us.” (Ephesians 3:20). 

Picture taken at The Cove overlook — a 3.5 mile hike from the Training Center.

Click here for a schedule of 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.


This week’s verse brought to you by:
John | Erwin Lutzer Seminar Guest | Albany, GA

“I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in me will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6). 


Click here for a schedule of 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 — Sights and Sounds to Soothe Your Soul

“They will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the desert heat or the sun beat down on them. He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water.” Isaiah 49:10

We have a beautiful stream that meanders throughout our 1,200 acre property, and there are several places along the trails where you can stop , sit on a bench, and enjoy the sights and sounds of the nature that surrounds you.

Today, we’re sharing a little piece of the tranquility found in our woods.  We hope you enjoy.

TIP: If you’d like the video to continuously loop, so you can enjoy the sights/sounds for longer than 1 minute, right click your mouse and select “loop”.

Have a blessed weekend, friends.

Click here for a schedule of 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 — Blooms and Blue Skies

It’s a glorious time of year in the mountains!  The majority of the blooms on our property now are daffodils, crocuses, and Lenten rose.   Enjoy!

Daffodils and blue skies March 2017
Don’t the yellow, blue and green look gorgeous together?!
daffodils along the creek March 2017
Daffodils along the creek. Very serene.
Chatlos Memorial Chapel with crocus and blue skies March 2017
Crocus in the foreground. 87-foot steeple of the Chatlos Memorial Chapel in the background.
Lenten Rose at admin March 2017
Isn’t it lovely that God has these Lenten Roses come up around the season of Lent?

What’s coming up in your yard?

Have a beautiful weekend!

P.S. If you didn’t already see the Spring garden tips post from our gardener, click here to read now.

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.


Cove Gardener Shares His Top 10 Spring Gardening Tips

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March 20th marks the first day of spring this year, but we’re seeing lots of spring color and growth already, here in Asheville.  Unless you still have snow covering the ground, this is a good time to get outside and tend to the things the good Lord created in our gardens and yards.

Following are 10 great spring gardening tips from Lucas, our gardener here at The Cove.  From planting, to pruning, to mulching– he’s got you covered!

By Lucas Jack, Cove Grounds Maintenance Supervisor

1. Don’t Guess—Soil Test!

This is a tip we frequently share with visitors when they ask our advice about plant problems. Soil testing to determine nutrient and Ph levels is a crucial step towards having a successful garden.  Knowing what nutrients are lacking (or are present in excess) can mean the difference between a green thumb and black thumb.  Soil testing is simple, and it starts with a call to your local agricultural extension office.  There’s an extension office in every county in America, and they are associated with Agricultural College of each state (NC State for North Carolina, UT for Tennessee, UGA for Georgia, Clemson for South Carolina, etc.).  The good folks at your local office will direct you in how to send a soil sample to your state lab.  However, summer is too late—so be sure to do this ASAP!  The test results will tell you what fertilizer you will need to ensure growing success this season.  It will also tell you to how to change the Ph of your soil to maximize nutrient use by your plants.

2. To Prune or Not Prune? That is the Question.

Put down those sharp pruners before you hurt yourself!  Do you know what to prune and what not too?  Often gardeners make the mistake of pruning everything—or worse, nothing.  Plants such as roses need to be pruned before spring, so if you haven’t pruned them hard already, don’t do it now; just get all the dead or crossing canes out, cut back any old blooms from last year, and prune to a height of about 75%.  Some plants bloom on last year’s wood, so be sure to research what to prune and when. Cut back ornamental grasses and debris from perennials.  Prune back hollies now; tackle the obvious die backs and don’t be skimpy.

For the best treatment of Mountain Laurel, be sure to cut it back to within 4 inches from the ground (this will make for a dense shrub in the future, packed with beautiful blooms).   When planning to prune, just remember: Everything has a season, just like you; so take your time and make the right decisions based on research.  It is the Glory of God to conceal a matter and the Glory of Kings to search it out.  (Proverbs 25:2) So, learn first, prune second.

Finally, just a few short but crucial pruning tips from a gardener who’s seen it all: do not top trees, do not top your crape myrtles and do not prune your “dead hydrangeas” back!

3. Its Alive, It’s Alive!

Speaking of hydrangeas…they may not be dead.  Hydrangeas are often slow to push leaves in the spring, and their stems look dry and brittle.  But don’t despair; they may not be dead!  Wait patiently, and by May 1st you should know whether your hydrangea is dead or alive.  The Clematis vine has a similar growth pattern.  The vine itself may look bad but quickly buds out, producing beautiful blooms from what was seemingly dead, similar to me and you when we came to Christ—once dead, now made alive!  A final tip about hydrangeas: Hydrangea macrophyla species (Endless Summer, Dooley, All Summer Beauty, Larnath White, etc.) should be pruned after bloom, but selectively.  Hydrangea penniculata (Limelight, etc.) can be pruned in the spring time.

4. Between the Hedges

If your hedge is way overgrown, go ahead and prune it low now!  Hedges such as boxwood, holly, or Yew can often withstand a very hard prune to the ground.  When done, they usually flush back out in the spring with gusto! (Caution: Hedges such as hemlock do not.)  However; be prepared. After pruning, anything between the hedges will be visible, so make sure the lawn looks like UGA’s Herty field.

5. Don’t Plant that Yet!

All big box stores will sell you a tomato plant in March; but unless you live in south Georgia, just leave it on the shelf and be fine with the fact that you haven’t wasted your money.  Consult the USDA’s cold hardiness map which identifies the typical last and first frost dates for zones throughout the U.S. (For example: Western North Carolina is within Zones 6 and 7, and to the south Zones 7, 8 and 9.  In Zone 6 our average last frost is May 15th.)  Vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, corn, peppers, and Okra will be absolutely stone cold dead if exposed to frost.  Other issues can arise from cold damp air that can likewise kill your plants.  It’s important to do your research as to what you can plant early, such as spinach, potatoes etc.

6. Ah, I love the Smell of Mulch in the Morning…

When preparing to mulch, plan to use pine straw for most shrubs and pine mulch for everything else.  Before applying mulch rake up debris and put in a compost pile.  Apply 3 inches of mulch to previously un-mulched areas and only apply a dusting of mulch to previously mulched areas.  Apply pine straw to a thickness that you cannot see the soil underneath.

One final piece of advice: Don’t use weed blanket.  Here’s why:  If you don’t remove and replace the mulch each year, you’ll end up with a compost layer covering your blanket, which then allows weeds to grow on top of the fabric.  The weed roots will then grow through the pores of the fabric, making it completely useless.  So go ahead and rip that stuff out!

7. Let’s Split!

Grasses, iris’, daylilies and other clumping perennials can be split once they begin to emerge.  This allows them to get over split shock and transplant shock.  Share extras with your neighbor, or fill-in bare spots in your garden with the new starts. Don’t do this late in the year because often their roots will rot.

8. What a Bunch of Manure.

Fertilizer is simply fancy manure.  When choosing fertilizer, it’s important to follow the guidelines of your soil test.  Here are a few other helpful things to know:

  1.  Slow release fertilizers are great if you missed your window for a soil test and aren’t sure what to put down.  They are often coated with a polymer which breaks down with higher temperatures, thus allowing the nutrients to slowly release when plants need it most.
  2. Urea nitrogen-based fertilizers are usually very safe for use on most plants and often do not pose a “burn” risk if used properly
  3. Ammonia nitrogen-based fertilizers can easily burn plants if used improperly or in high doses.  The advantage they offer is a quick release of fertilizer.

Remember: Consult your soil test and your county extension agent to determine the best fertilizer to use!

9. Black Thumb or Egyptian Plague?

By now I’m sure you’re overwhelmed with info, but a few last things to keep in mind:  Sometimes diseases and insects are your issue—not your inability to “grow” a plant.

In the spring, wet and damp conditions can lead to fungal diseases and insects such as aphids.  Fungal diseases can take out your plants in a hurry, so once again take a sample of the plant to your local extension office if you aren’t sure what the problem is.  You can also find helpful information from a web search, but make sure to assess all the symptoms present before deciding to spray.

10. I Want My Yard to Look Like Augusta National.

Good luck with that! But even if you’ve set your goals a bit lower, here are a few tips for a healthier lawn:

Fertilize cool season grasses like fescue now, and over seed if needed. If you don’t want weeds, then use a pre-emergent fertilizer; but be sure not to over seed until fall if you’ve used a pre-emergent.  More is not better, so use the recommended rates and don’t over apply.

Make sure your mower has a sharp blade, a fresh spark plug, and fresh oil.  Purchase a few extra blades as well.  Disinfect the housing of the mower blade, and decontaminate your mower deck with a kitchen cleaner or outdoor use bleach.  Fungal spores and other pathogens can live on the debris under the mower deck so clean well, and make sure to sharpen your mower throughout the season.

Lastly, now is the time to have your local licensed irrigation company scheduled to come out and prepare your irrigation system for use.  If you don’t have a system but want one, now is the time to start planning.  Remember that time you had to stand in the bread line at the grocery store because you didn’t think it would snow but it turned into a blizzard?  Avoid falling victim to summer drought by being proactive and getting your system fixed or installed.  When the drought comes, everybody gets in line.

Thanks for reading!  Hope this helps, and happy gardening!  – Lucas

We hope you’ll make plans to visit Ruth’s Prayer Garden at the Chatlos Memorial Chapel and Visitors Center.  Click here for directions and operating hours.  Tours are free.



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

The gold pocket-watch glistened bright against the dark blue velvet of the case. We had been busy helping my father pack up for a move when he called me and my sisters together to show us this treasure—an heirloom from our maternal grandfather that will one day be passed down to my brother, and then some day to his son and grandson. Dad removed the watch from the case and opened it to show us the face.

I thought about the figurative “passing of time” from the hands of my grandfather who died when I was a small child to the time-worn hands of my father to the hands of my brother who would one day receive this gift. When my grandfather prayed for my brother, did he pray for the spouse he would one day meet and marry, and for the children and grandchildren who would follow?

Billy Graham once wrote, “Long after you and I are gone, God will still be at work—and many of the things we prayed for will finally come to pass.

Oh that we could literally pass the gift of time like the passing down of a pocket-watch! One person who has “time to spare” might share with another who is “running short on time.”  The reality is, we are all given 24 hours each day. And we are each given one lifetime.

We are time-bound people, yet we are given the privilege of prayer. “The act of prayer brings together Creator and creature, eternity and time, in all the fathomless mystery implied by that convergence I can view prayer as a way of asking a timeless God to intervene more directly in our time-bound life on earth…In a process I am only learning, I can also view prayer from the other side, as a way of entering into the rhythms of eternity and aligning myself with God’s ‘view from above,’ a way to harmonize my own desires with God’s and then to help effect, while on earth, what God has willed for all eternity.” (Philip Yancey, Prayer.)

As we look ahead to a new seminar year for The Cove, we know we will be guided by schedules, clocks and deadlines. As you plan, prepare and pray, be encouraged in knowing that we serve a God who is always at work and is not bound by time. As you pray for the needs of The Cove, take joy in remembering the words of the Lord from the prophet Isaiah, “And it shall come to pass that before they call I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.” (Isaiah 65:24, NKJV)

The eternal God is not bound by time.  When we pray, we can trust that He knows our need before we declare it, and we can trust that He will answer in His time and in the way that is best.

Thank you for taking time to pray!

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.   (Psalm 95:6, NKJV)

March 2017 events to pray for:

An Evening at The Cove with Jason Crabb — March 12
(Emcee: Michelle Bachelor)

Pastor Renewal Retreat—Answering the Call
Ray Bentley — March 20-22
(Emcee: Ron Whittemore; Worship Leader: Marty Goetz; Pastor-in-Residence: John Parrish)
NOTE: We still have space and this event is free to pastors and their spouses.  Please help us spread the word!

Guided Personal Spiritual Retreat — March 24-26
(Facilitators: John Parrish and Trish Lancaster)


Saturday Snapshot — Heart Work x 2

We give thanks that the Lord is the Great Physician, but as a staff, it is our goal to be prepared to help in medical situations when necessary.

This week, many of our staff were trained by a team from the American Heart Association on 1st Aid, CPR and AED.  We certainly don’t hope to use these skills, but are ready, should we need to.

She’s got the technique down.
Tina and Alla and bandages on CPR day Feb 2017
These two have been properly bandaged up!

It’s never too late to learn lifesaving skills.  If you are interested in taking a class through the American Heart Association,  click here.  For Red Cross classes,  click here.

On another note, we’d love for you to join us in covering the 121 military couples that will be on property this weekend for a Military Marriage Retreat.  Please pray for their hearts as they dig into God’s Word this weekend.  Please pray that they would enjoy sweet fellowship with other military couples.  And, please pray that each couple will return home inspired by God’s purpose for their marriages.

Here are a few snapshots from some of our Military Marriage Retreats in previous years.

Relaxing in rocking chairs soothes the soul.
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Beautiful mountain views.
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Through the Bible teaching, couple’s will gain an insightful perspective on marriage and find application for the special circumstances that only military couples can understand.
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There’s no shortage of food or good conversation during the retreat!
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No snow scheduled for this weekend, but it sure was fun in 2014!

If you or someone you know are interested in attending an upcoming Military Marriage Retreat, click here.

If you’d like to print a flyer to hand out to friends, at church or on your base, click here.


Saturday Snapshot — A Sweet Surprise for Lily

Well-known singer/songwriter, Brandon Heath demonstrated the love of Christ that he so often sings about when he took time to meet with a young fan attending his concert here at The Cove last weekend.

This wasn’t just any fan, and it wasn’t just any meeting.  This was Lily, a sweet 12-year old girl from Tennessee, who lost her daddy to a tragic accident in 2015, and this meeting was set up as a surprise for her by her mother and the Heaths.

Lily in front with Brandon Heath sign Feb 2017

And because we thought you’d love to see how God’s divinely arranged meeting took place, here’s the back story:

On Valentine’s Day in 2013, Lily’s mom and dad attended An Evening at The Cove with Brandon Heath.  Because Lily’s parents were Heath fans, they shared their love for Brandon’s music with their daughter.

Flash-forward to January of this year: Lily’s mom wrote a letter to Brandon and shared a bit of their story.  She explained that she was surprising Lily with a trip to see him in concert at The Cove and included the following in her letter: “Lily was born with a song in her heart, and that really made her dad so very proud.  Just recently she joined the ensemble at her school and she loves to write her own lyrics.  I am going to encourage her to bring some of her lyrics to show you and maybe see if she will ask you to sign her little book of creations.  She might be too shy.  I don’t know if she will do it.  But given the fact she has had a rough year, I thought you might want to know this little girl is a big fan and would greatly appreciate a hug and a boost from you.  We will be in line at the meet and greet before we head back home to Tennessee.”

Brandon and his wife were so touched by Lily’s story that they asked if Lily would meet with Brandon before his concert!

Here are some photos to give you a glimpse of what happened on this specials night.

brandon and lily in green room
Brandon and Lily meeting before his concert, in the green room.
Brandon singing with Lily
Singing together!
Lily lyric book signed by Brandon
Lily’s lyric book.
Brandon, Lily and her awesome mom!
Brandon Heath with Lyrics for young girl
Brandon with a surprise for Lily: lyrics to one of his songs.
Brandon and Lily on the stage
Brandon surprised Lily and presented his gift to her during the concert.

Friends, God gives all of us opportunities to be instruments of His grace, and He chose Brandon in this instance.  We are grateful to have had a glimpse into this God moment for Lily, and we hope it will be an encouragement and a blessing to you, too.

Lily, if you’re reading this, we thank you for sharing your God-given gift of writing lyrics, and we look forward to seeing how God uses you in the years to come.  Bless you, dear one.