Category Archives: Behind The Scenes

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.

Saturday Snapshot — You’ve Shared With Us!

A few weeks ago, we had some technological difficulties, and were unable to share our normal Saturday Snapshot post, so we asked you to share with us instead.  And several of you did!

Thank you for allowing us a little peak into your world and allowing us to share here on our blog.

Enjoy snapshots of things your fellow readers love…

So, we know the Internet was created for cute cat pictures and funny videos, right?  Well, one of our readers has provided the cute factor for us.  This is 12-year-old Kitty Kitty.  We imagine she is probably one of our most faithful feline readers!  Doesn’t she look smart?

Sweet Kitty Kitty…

12 year old kitty kitty from Ocean Shores Wa

This NotesFromTheCove reader’s husband is a bass fisherman and fishes all the lakes in the state of New Hampshire.  This delightful shot was taken on Lake Sunapee.  Wow! IMG_4173

One of our readers enjoys watching wildlife out the window and reading in this sweet spot.  And just look at that beautiful orchid!
a quiet spot to sit

Don’t you love how God shows us different perspectives of His creation throughout the seasons? This reader shares her winter view as seen from her couch.  Beautiful!

sitting on the couch before churchIt’s hard to beat a sunrise or sunset at the beach!  Here’s a  postcard-worthy shot shared with us from Hilton Head Island’s South Beach.  The Scripture paired up with this couple’s photo is just perfect: “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen up to you.” Isaiah 60:1.

DSCN3171Thank you again for sharing with us!  Have a blessed weekend!

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

If you’d like to hold your own event at The Cove, click here for more information.

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

Prayer Note: February 2017

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


22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

28 And Peter answered him,Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”  (Matthew 14:22-33, ESV)

If you are of a certain age and grew up attending Sunday School, you probably saw this story illustrated with flannelgraph.  You watched as the story progressed and the teacher slowly placed a few paper cutouts of dark, menacing clouds, explaining how a big storm was gathering over the Sea of Galilee. Then, in a dramatic flourish, she slapped on a couple of huge waves and perilously tilted the paper boat sideways. The only thing holding it afloat was a few dots of fuzzy lint clinging precariously to the dark blue flannel. Your eyes grew big as saucers. Your stomach dropped as you put yourself in the place of the frightened disciples, alone on a troubled sea, rowing furiously and bracing yourself against the wind and the sharp spray of the cold waves. You held on for dear life as the teacher continued reading Matthew’s account…“The boat was a long way from land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them.” (v. 24)

The Apostle John tells us, “The sea became rough, because a strong wind was blowing” (John 6:18, ESV).  How could this be? The disciples were right where Jesus had told them to be. He had sent them into the boat and out onto the sea, yet “the wind was against them.”

Matthew’s account tells us the event occurred “in the fourth watch of the night” (v. 25)—somewhere between 3:00
and 6:00 a.m.  As the exhausted disciples summoned all their strength, rowing furiously against the gales, their minds must have swirled with questions.  Hours earlier they had been with Jesus and watched as He performed a jaw-dropping miracle, feeding a crowd of more than 5,000 with a boy’s lunch of five loaves and two fish.  They’d had the privilege of being the distributors as well as the clean-up crew, and boy did they clean-up!  The people had gone home satisfied, leaving behind twelve baskets full of “broken pieces.” (See Matthew 6:1-13.)  Now here the disciples sat, afraid and confused, needing a miracle of their own…but where was Jesus?

Ever been there?  Right where you believe God led you, yet facing a strong wind blowing against you or a rough sea that threatens to overwhelm you?  Whether it’s a sudden storm of traumatic injury or the gathering clouds of worry over an uncertain future, you’re exhausted and confused. And the same Lord who fed the five thousand seems distant, remote, and unreachable.

Overwhelmed, the disciples continued their losing fight with the waves. As they stared into the darkness seeking for a glimpse of the shore, their eyes began to focus on a barely discernable figure in the distance.  Did they drop the oars in alarm as they saw the figure approaching, walking on the choppy surface of the sea? The ESV version describes them as being “frightened” in John 6:19, but Matthew and Mark’s accounts are even more direct: they tell us they were “terrified” (Matthew 14:26 and Mark 6:50, ESV).

The Bible tells us that “Immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid’” (v. 27).  Praise God for His calming presence and reassuring voice in the midst of a storm!

Most of us would have collapsed with relief, thankful for the chance to lay down our oars and steady our nerves—but not Peter! Ready to step out of the boat and onto the still-churning waves, he knew the safest place to be was the place nearest to Jesus. “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to you on the water.” (v. 28) At the Lord’s command, “Come,” Peter was overboard but upright, walking on the water toward Jesus.

We Sunday School kids marveled at Flannelgraph Peter: standing upright and full of faith, headed straight for Jesus. Then the teacher reached into the basket for the next illustration. Placing a cutout of the desperate, flailing disciple on the board, she slowly and dramatically proclaimed the Scripture, “But when He saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out,Lord, save me!’” (v. 30)

We’ve been there too. We’ve heard His voice. He’s calmed our fears and assured us of His presence. At His command we’ve stepped out of the boat in obedience and faith. And then it happens. We take our eyes off Jesus and start looking around us. When this happens, we’re sunk (or so it seems).

The flannelgraph lesson continued, as in a rapid motion the teacher reached up and removed the illustration of a drowning, desperate Peter, replacing it with an image of Jesus reaching out with a firm grip on Peter’s hand.  The small classroom echoed with our collective sigh of relief. Flannelgraph notwithstanding, no virtual reality experience available today could elicit a more dramatic reaction from a roomful of children.

I was privileged to be one of those Sunday School kids, and I’m grateful for the committed Christian teachers who taught me the Word of God and helped make the stories of Jesus come alive for me. All grown up now, I realize it wasn’t the one-dimensional flannelgraph retelling that gripped my heart, it was the Holy Spirit working in me to draw me and reveal His truth.

Like the disciples, we’ve seen our share of storms and been emboldened like Peter to step out in faith to follow the Lord. And like Peter, there have been times when we’ve taken our eyes off Jesus, looked around us and begun to sink.

In A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis wrote that “Only a real risk tests the reality of a belief.” As the harsh winds of reality raged around them, Peter and the disciples experienced a faith-shaking test; but in the end, it was Peter’s bold step of faith that resulted in their recognition of Jesus’ divine Sonship. “And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’”  (Matthew 14:32-33, ESV)

In the reality of our personal lives and in our work at The Cove this year, we may find ourselves in some hard places, facing some faith-testing storms. Let’s pray that our response at these times will be to fix our eyes on Christ and cry out to Him, “Lord, save me!” Praise God that He will not relax His hold on us and He will reveal more of Himself to us and to others, even in the hard places.

As you pray for the ministry of The Cove during the month of February, please pray especially for those who will be attending the Pastors’ Institute and Military Marriage Retreat. Many of these pastors and military personnel (and their spouses) have found themselves in hard places in the previous year. Pray that the Lord will reveal Himself to them, reassure them of His presence and strengthen their faith for the days ahead. Pray that marriages will be strengthened and ministry commitments renewed and revitalized.

Thank you for praying!

February Events:

Women’s Bible Study — Morning: January 10-February 28
(Teacher: Jane Derrick; Worship Leader/Emcee: Carole James)
Living Under the Wings of the Almighty: The Place of Peace and Safety

Women’s Bible Study — Evening: January 12-February 21
(Teacher: Kendra Graham; Emcee: Jill Gottenstrater)
Delivered: The Book of Esther

 An Evening at The Cove with Brandon Heath — February 12
(Emcee: Michelle Bachelor)

Don Wilton —February 16-17
(Emcee: Glynn Bachelor; Worship Leader: Lucas Jack)
Pastors’ Institute—Reigniting Your Call

John Cook — February 24-26
(Emcee: Bill Wolfe; Worship Leader: Giles Blankenship; Pastor-in-Residence: Ed Graham)
Military Marriage Retreat—Each for the Other, Both for God: The Bible’s Design for a Resilient Marriage

Thank your for praying!

Saturday Snapshot — When Technology Is Fussy

Friends, the computer was not on it’s best behavior this week.  Apparently, it does not care to allow us to upload images from The Cove today.

We have a better idea!  Would you please send us a picture attached in an email of anything you love on this January Saturday morning (could be a cup of coffee, your Bible, the view out your window, a picture of your family, your favorite piece in your house, your adorable pet…)?  Here’s where you can send it to:

We’d love a window into your world and look forward to seeing what you have to share with us!

Bless you!

P.S. If you’d allow us to share your picture here on our blog, please let us know in the body of your email.  Just, “you can share this image on The Cove blog” will do.




Saturday Snapshot – A Look at the 2017 Program Guide

The 2017 Program Guide is out and we’re pleased to share it with you today on video.

To have a Program Guide mailed to you, please click here and complete the online request.

Get registered today for one of our seminars, programs, or concerts. Click here for a schedule of upcoming seminar, concerts and retreats at The Cove in beautiful Asheville, NC.

If you’d like to hold your own event at The Cove, click here for more information.

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

Bless you, friends.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Saturday Snapshot — Winter Wonderland

Well, we received about six inches of snow last weekend.  Asheville’s first snowfall of the winter season left us with quite a beautiful sight.
Here are some pictures from last Friday, as the snow first began to fall and then some from Monday, after the snow had stopped.

The Chatlos Memorial Chapel lightly dusted with the first kiss of snow late Friday afternoon.

chapel  with snow on Friday 1 6 17The view from the Training Center prayer room window at about 4 p.m. on Friday afternoon.
snow on TC deck on Friday afternoon 1 6 17


snow on bench on Friday afternoon 1 6 17And here’s what it looked like on Monday after the snow stopped falling, but remained cold enough that melting was not taking place.
snow view from prayer room 1 9 17

rocking chairs on side deck of TC with snow 1 9 17 rocking chairs and tables in snow 1 9 17S’mores anyone? 
firepit after weekend snow to use

Stay warm and dry, friends.  Did anyone try out one of the recipes we shared last Saturday?  If so, let us know how it turned out.

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.


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)

Happy New Year!  We look forward to what God has in store for His children this new year.  We hope this prayer, and the Scripture to follow, will give you words to meditate upon as you walk with Him into 2017.

The Spirit to Know You

A prayer by St. Benedict of Nursia

O gracious and holy Father,
give us wisdom to perceive Thee,
intelligence to understand Thee,
diligence to seek Thee,
patience to wait for Thee,
eyes to behold Thee,
a heart to meditate upon Thee,
and a life to proclaim Thee;
through the power of the Spirit
of Jesus Christ our Lord.

And our prayer for you from 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

“Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12.

Join us in praying for the following events in January:

Women’s Morning Bible Study with Jane Derrick – January 10 – February 28

Women’s Evening Bible Study with Kendra Graham – January 10 – February 21

We also have many Guest Groups on property during the month of January, taking time to focus on God and His leading during their conferences, retreats, and ministry events.

Thank you for praying!

Saturday Snapshot – Christmas Beauty

Oh, how we love that celebrating our Savior’s birth involves pretty lights and decorations!

If you’ve been here, you know how gifted our guest services team are with making this place especially beautiful for the Christmas season.

front entrance smMrs. Ruth Graham, herself, picked these light fixtures out from an antique store here in Asheville.  Wouldn’t she love the adornment?!
light with garland sm

Sleigh bells ring, can you hear them?
This is probably one of the most photographed spots during our Christmas events.sleigh sm

Where two or more are gathered…
We love the fellowship that takes place in this cozy seating arrangement, and others, throughout the building. lobby sitting area sm

The wreath over our fireplace was given to the Grahams by a neighboring landowner as a “welcome to the neighborhood” gift back when the Training Center was built in the early 90′s.  The wreath is 8-foot in diameter and is made from grape vines from the neighbor’s property.

fireplace smMany of our ornaments are homemade.  Our staff work on them throughout the year.  
handmade ornament smWishing you a very blessed and merry Christmas, friends!

2016 Staff Photo_Christmas_Luncheon small

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 — Christmas Caroling

Christmas at The Cove is in full swing!  We had some beautiful caroling going on earlier this week with our SeniorSalt Carol Sing events.

Here is a sampling for you to enjoy…

Click here to see what senior events we have scheduled for 2017.

What special plans or activities are you partaking in this year to celebrate our Savior?

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.




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!