Tag Archives: Asheville

Behind the scenes at The Cove…A Faithful Servant

By Corinne Holmquist
 
Garlene greeting guests upon entering the Training Center

Push past the double red doors of the Billy Graham Training Center into the lobby with the living-room feel, and you might catch a glimpse of petite five-foot-two-inch lead hostess Garlene Johnson.

People have told her she resembles Norma Zimmer of the Lawrence Welk Show. “Not because I sing, but because of my big hair,” she teases.

But Garlene is more than her cute blonde bob. You’ll see her slender hands busy touching up and tidying around the place. Hands reaching out to greet and guide guests toward the dining room or auditorium. Hands clasped in prayer with someone over an illness or death. Or failing marriage. Or job loss.

Across from where she stands hangs a painting of her friend, Ruth Graham. “I like to look across the room at Mrs. Graham’s picture and think that as I greet guests…they feel they are entering the living room in her own home,” Garlene says, adding she always felt warm and comfortable there.

Garlene standing near Mrs. Graham's portrait

At 77, “and proud of every year”, Garlene is the longest-employed hostess at The Cove, logging in 20 years of service and memories.

“She’s the “quintessential Southern Belle” says Scott Holmquist, Cove executive director. “She’s known for her graciousness and warmth.”

Her touches, big or small, help people unwind so they can rewind with God in the seminars and surroundings ahead.

She’s lady-like, yes, (she doesn’t like to pump her own gas). But fragile, she is not. (She once owned a rifle thinking she could scare off an intruder, but gave it away). Blessed with energy, she’s presently planning 20 weddings for this year at Montreat College and Montreat Presbyterian Church. Through it all, Garlene’s compassion oozes from her life experiences knowing that God loves and leads you through the hard times. Being organized helps, too.

Born in Lincolnton, N.C. in 1935, Garlene was the oldest of three daughters. Her dad died in a car accident when she was 8; he was 39. Ironically, her grandfather also died at that age.

“Over the years I just accepted it as God’s will. Their faith (of her grandmother and mom) gave me the faith to go on,” she reflects.

Garlene moved to Montreat attending college, working, and later marrying Kay N. Stutts. They were blessed with two daughters, Joy and Becky. Garlene soon taught middle and high school English in nearby towns. She also taught Sunday school to two of Billy and Ruth Graham’s children: Anne and Ned.

When Kay suddenly died at age 49, Garlene clung to God, again remembering the faith of her grandmother and mother who were widowed early. Years later, Garlene found love a second time, marrying George L. Johnson, the widowed father of Karlene Shea, who is married to George Beverly Shea.

Sadness struck again when George, a “Christian gentleman of prayer and the Bible” (like her first husband), died after a long illness. “It was still a shock,” she says.

Garlene as a new Cove employee in 1991

In 1991, Garlene ventured into a seminar at the Cove. One of the managers, whom she knew from church, asked if she would like to volunteer as a hostess.
“Oh yes,” she said without hesitation. “I didn’t even have to pray about it. I’ve been there ever since.” She’s found inspiration from those who enter The Cove.

One couple she met several years ago had a daughter suffering with brain cancer for three years. “Each year as they returned, their spirits were uplifted as they waited for the Lord to call her home,” she recalls. “What an inspiration this couple was to me!”

“I also met a young boy in a wheelchair. He was born without legs and had stubs for arms. As he was leaving, he asked if he could give me a hug. What a precious hug that was—one of the best I have ever had!”

Says Garlene: “The years that I have worked at The Cove have been… rewarding. As I enter the property, I feel that I am on ‘holy ground’ where the property has been prayed over by so many, for so long. When I begin work, I am with my Cove family where we like to begin our day with prayer and devotions.

It’s fun to meet guests from all over the world. Some have been to the Cove numerous times; others for the first time. I hear exciting stories about how God has worked in their lives through speakers, worship, and through that ‘still small voice.’”

It’s a voice she’s heard before. And as guests walk through the doors of the Training Center carrying life’s loads, Garlene’s touches for the kingdom continue.

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When Garlene prays with guests, she often uses these verses from the NIV:

Isaiah 41:10:
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Lamentations 3:23:
“They [compassions] are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

Psalm 139:23-24:
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

If you would like to learn more about The Cove and possibly meet Garlene in person, click here to visit our website.

GUEST POST: Dependence on God…

By Lyndsey Parham

“Sometimes God wants to force a choice out of us by bringing us to tough situations. You won’t be dependant on God until you are at a place where you solely rely on God.”  ~ Kendra Graham

Isn’t that the truth.

For me, it wasn’t until the Lord walked me through a very challenging season that I truly got and understood this. Dependence on the Lord comes at a place and time when He becomes what you solely rely on. You can try your best to communicate and prepare for this kind of dependence, but we are creatures that learn from experience. This experience became my very own, very personal, very specific “Aha!” moment.

A couple of weeks ago, I was given a gentle reminder of this truth through the Joshua Bible Study at The Cove with Kendra Graham.

 

As a 27 year-old woman, I am at a place in my life where I really appreciate true and authentic based teaching of God’s Word. I care more about what the Word has to say than I do about if I was “entertained” well enough by a speaker. I was so encouraged when Kendra began by talking about how we are to “treat God’s Word right.” Meaning, we don’t want to rely solely on what other people say a verse means. Anyone can hop into Scripture and gain insight into what the Lord wants to reveal to us through His written word.

Kendra went on to say that the “more you dig the sweeter it can be” when you have you own “Aha!” moment in Bible study. And aren’t those moments just the best? I love when you spend time pouring over the Word and then all of a sudden, it seems, that those same words you read a month ago, become so alive as you happen to read them again during a time that you couldn’t need them more. Isaiah 55:10-11 in action.

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish…so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (NIV)

I love that. His Word never returns void. There is something about getting in the Word for yourself and then joining in a Bible study where multiple women have done the same. We learn and grow from what each other have gained in their own time with the Lord! Kendra shared that “we aren’t supposed to have all the answers: that’s the point of the body of Christ.”

I am so grateful to be sharing in this Tuesday night Bible study. Especially since we are spending time in the book of Joshua. Big things go down in Joshua. We see the Israelites struggle and experience victory, but even more so, we see God act in some huge ways.

Having recently moved back to Asheville from the Lone star state of Texas, I always heard from my mom and sister about these “Tuesday night studies.” Now I get to experience them in person.

And I am so very glad for that.
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NOTE from The Cove: We will begin a Cove Bible study community, which comes about from women wanting to share their “lessons” from their weekly Bible study with Kendra Graham.  Kendra’s study, here at The Cove, only lasts for 7 weeks in January and February of each year, so this is a place for the conversations and the relationships to continue.  A place where women can come together and share their journey towards scriptural truths and spiritual maturity.  We pray this will be a safe, respectful, resourceful place to come and discuss God’s Word…to discover What it says…what it means…and what it means to you!

If you want to be notified each time Kendra posts a verse for study or starts a new conversation, make sure you subscribe to our blog.  It’s easy, just type in your email address in the box on the right hand side of this screen.
Jane Derrick, Cove Bible study teacher, will also have a Bible study community on our blog.  See Bible Study Community with Jane Derrick.

Lyndsey is a 27 year old working her way through this journey. She enjoys blogging about her adventures, hot cups of tea, iced cups of coffee, i-can’t-believe-this-is-real-life stories and photos. Lyndsey is a North Carolina girl at heart with a Texas soul. She enjoys hammocking on the back-porch and is adapting to the mountains once again. You can check out Lyndsey’s blog at http://throughthelynds.wordpress.com/

Bev Shea: 103 and Still Singing!

This week, on Feb. 1, our dear friend George Beverly Shea celebrates his 103rd birthday! He has accomplished so much in his lifetime, ministering alongside Billy Graham since the beginning. Just last year, he was honored with a GRAMMY® for Lifetime Achievement. He is such a friend to the ministry of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and The Cove.  In fact, he donated the organ currently in the Chatlos Memorial Chapel, and he joins us regularly for our Senior Celebration events. And, he’s still singing! Here’s video proof:

 

 

George Beverly Shea

In honor of Bev’s birthday, here’s an excerpt we found from his memoir Then Sings My Soul:

One morning not long ago Billy and I were out for a morning walk through the enchanting streets of Lyons, France.

“Billy, how long do you think I’m going to be able to keep up with you?” I asked.

He stopped and said apologetically, “I’m sorry, Bev, I didn’t realize I was walking so fast.”

“That’s not what I mean. How long do you think I’m going to be able to keep going in this work?”

 

“Why Bev,” he answered seriously, “I want you to sing for me all your life.”

“I’d like that,” I told him.

And I would. Singing is my life, and I hope that I can serve the Lord with my voice, in some way, for many years to come. Yet I realize that the day will dawn when it will be better for everyone if I do all my singing “down behind the barn,” where I first sang as a boy. If I feel that God wants me to stop I won’t resist Him for a moment. Not that I think that that time is imminent – for never in my life has God opened as many doors as He has in the past two or three years. Opportunities have come to me that I never expected; I am still awed by the responsibilities He has placed on my shoulders. Yet with the additional challenges, He has given new strength, new insight, new friends, and sustaining old friends.

Please join us in wishing Bev a happy birthday!

Unparalleled Service, Majestic Beauty

 “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” – Mark 6:31

Need a location for your next group retreat? At The Cove, you will discover an experience far beyond that of typical conference centers. Our year-round facility rests on 1,200 acres in the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains. Amid rich natural forest, woodland streams and abundant wildlife, you will find stillness and seclusion within our gated, all-inclusive retreat.  Our well-equipped meeting, dining and lodging facilities, combined with scenic views and unparalleled service, provide a refreshing and relaxing atmosphere.  The Cove can accommodate small groups, such as board meetings and church staff retreats, as well as large groups up to 450 guests. If you choose The Cove, we know you’ll leave refreshed and ready for what God has in store.

But, don’t take our word for it. Listen here to what others are saying  about their group experiences at The Cove:

“Every aspect of our encounter with The Cove was done with Excellence.  I thought to myself, ‘Lord, this facility and people must please you and reflect a touch of what you intended for man in the beginning.  The grounds are well landscaped and maintained, the beauty of the mountains, the hiking trails, the architecture of the buildings, excellent food and rich fellowship, and so on.’”  — Guest from a large Christian Organization

“I cannot say enough about The Cove.  The ladies thoroughly enjoyed our time there.  The atmosphere was heavenly and the fellowship was second to none.  What a glorious time we had.  I’ll tell anyone before you go to heaven you have got to stop by The Cove.  A special thanks to your staff they were so accommodating.” – Guest from a large Church in Jacksonville, FL

 

 
For more information or to make a reservation, call 1-800-950-2092, visit our website at www.TheCove.org or email us at GuestGroups@TheCove.org

Free Marriage Seminar at The Cove for Active Duty Military

This is just a small way we can say thanks to our brave men and women in uniform. Active duty military personnel and their spouses are invited to a FREE Military Marriage Seminar Feb. 10-12. Participants will see the biblical perspective on marriage with application for the unique experiences of military life. Renowned Bible teacher Michael Easley will be the key speaker, but we’ll have other special guests including Captain Jim Kinney, retired after 26 years in the Navy; Sara Horn, founder of Wives of Faith; and Cindy Easley, nationally known marriage speaker.

Also note that you can come early for some extra time to relax and enjoy the beauty and serenity of The Cove or stay over for An Evening at The Cove with Sara Groves and enjoy dinner and a concert—either way, it’s our treat, and another way of expressing our thanks.
*Please note: if both “Come Early” and “Stay Over” options are chosen, applicable charges will apply for one event.

Space is very limited, so if you or someone you know is interested, act quickly! You will need to complete a short application for the military scholarship and fax it to (828) 771-4808 or mail it to:

The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove
Attention Military Awards Committee
P.O. Box 19223
Asheville, NC 28815

UPDATE: On-site lodging for this event is full, however our staff can assist you with nearby hotel accommodations at a discounted rate. Call us at (800) 950-2092 for more information.