Saturday, February 27, 2010



It's Saturday morning. The sun is shining. The temperature outside is mildly cool and fresh feeling. Instead of going to the gym to exercise, how about a hike?

We drive about 15 minutes up the road to the beautiful Natchez Trace Parkway. Pulling our car into the parking lot near the Garrison Creek trail, we venture out. There are signs for a trail pointing to a "scenic overlook". That sounds perfect.

As we hike up the mountain, we notice that the trail winds around trees and rocks and steep inclines. Though we can clearly see the overlook straight ahead, the path curves around in such a way that, at times, we are actually going the opposite direction of our destination.

Sounds like life, doesn't it? And when you look through spiritual eyes, it is a true picture of God, who sometimes leads us down pathways we don't quite understand or we might not blaze out for ourselves, if we were in charge.


There were several more observations during our time at Garrison Creek. And as you read these, don't miss the parallels of one morning hike to our individual lifelong journeys . . .

  • Sometimes the trail is steep. It takes more energy and breath to climb. At times, we may need to stop and rest for a moment or two before we continue on.
  • Sometimes the trail is bumpy. There are branches and rocks and tree roots that we have to step over or walk on top of. It's easy to stumble if you're not careful.
  • Sometimes the trail is smooth. This is the time you can really relax and enjoy the hike. Could it be smooth because of the many others who have walked this trail before?
  • Sometimes the trail is downhill. If you're not careful, you'll get to going too fast and stumble when you least expect it.
  • Always, the trail needs to be a place where we look around us and enjoy the scenery, rather than just staring at our feet with every step. Even with the dormancy of the foliage this time of the year, the Tennessee countryside is beautiful to behold.
We climbed the mountain, stopped to admire the gorgeous view, and headed back down again. It was exhilarating and a great way to spend part of our morning. Our bodies, minds, and spirits were refreshed. We'll go back to Garrison Creek another time ~ I'm sure of it. And maybe we'll take another trail.

Friday, February 26, 2010


Ecclesiastes 3 says it well ~ “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.” Solomon’s words have never had as much significance as they have in the past 18 months of our journey. We’ve experienced seasons of joy, loss, faith, struggle and growth.

The biggest joy has been the addition of two new sons, Shawn Newby and Zach Bohler, who have taken the hands of our daughters, Whitney and Kelsey, in marriage. Shawn and Whitney were wed in December, 2008, and Kelsey and Zach exchanged vows in August, 2009. The Newbys have located just a few minutes from us in Franklin, TN, and the Bohlers have landed in southern Oregon. And, our family continues to grow as Kelsey and Zach will welcome baby Bohler (our first grandchild!) this coming August.

The Tunney family of 6

There have been some difficult times with our family as well. This past summer Mel’s mom, Reba Andrae, went to be with the Lord after a series of strokes and an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Not long after her passing, both of our dads, Dick Tunney (Sr.) and Broadman Ware, were diagnosed with cancer. We’re continuing to pray for our Dads as they go through treatments and recovery, knowing that God is working in them both.

We’ve also experienced a season of change in ministry. After 4 years as Worship Leaders/Artists in Residence at the First Baptist Church of Columbia, TN, we strongly sensed that the Lord was moving us on to other things. It was a bittersweet decision ~ so difficult to leave our precious church FAMILY and yet knowing, without a doubt, God was taking us in a different direction. As 2010 dawns, we are watching doors open for us to lead worship at events and conferences around the country, and we are also experiencing a fruitful creative time of songwriting.

Which leads us to the reason for this blog in the first place. We want this to be a place where we can keep our family and friends in the loop of the new pathway that God is laying out for us. We hope you'll check in now and then and read about the season ahead.

2010 began with us leading worship for the leadership director’s conference of Community Bible Study in Colorado Springs. It was a fabulous time for us as we engaged with this organization that is filled with such integrity and biblical depth. From Colorado we went straight to Florida, where we boarded a cruise ship for Dr. Kevin Leman’s “Couples of Promise” cruise. Steve Green (with Dick at the piano) and Cheri Keaggy were the guest musical artists for this trip, which included approximately 75 couples. One highlight of our 7 days at sea was a stop in Labadie, Haiti, just weeks after the tragic earthquake. Initially, it felt odd to go to this island and relax, knowing the devastation that was so nearby. But the cruise line encouraged the passengers to invest in the local Haitian merchants, which provided a big boost to the local economy. The night prior to our stop in Labadie, we felt led to invite anyone from our group who wanted to pray to meet us on land at 11:00 a.m. We went on to the island a little earlier and found a secluded place where we could pull away from the crowds and lift up the needs of this country to our Heavenly Father. At 11:00 a.m. sharp, about 25 others joined us to pray prayers for healing, restoration, and salvation. Ultimately we prayed that God would turn Haiti around, from a country of darkness to a country that seeks Him. It was a very powerful time!

Dick and Mel in Haiti

A couple of conferences in February took us first to the Billy Graham Training Center (The Cove) in Asheville, NC for another couples weekend with Dr. Gary Thomas. We led worship for all of the session over 3 days, drank in some marvelous teaching and made some new friends there among the 150 or so couples in attendance. The following week we jetted to south Florida for the President’s Conference of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. It has been our privilege to be part of this event in past years, and FCA always puts together a magnificent lineup of speakers and musicians that this year included Dr. Tony Evans, Anne Graham Lotz, Ken Davis, Chip Ingram, Melinda Doolittle and Michael Card. We led corporate worship in each session and reacquainted with some great friends. One particular highlight was spending a few minutes with Jim Tressel, head football coach at Ohio State University. As a lifelong and die-hard Buckeye fan, this was a bit of a dream come true for Dick.

Dick with Coach Jim Tressel

In addition to the wonderful touring with Steve Green ministries as well as our own travels, this is a season of creativity in the world of songwriting. Our new friends at Lifeway Music are starting the process of taking new songs of ours to the church in a variety of ways. We’ll keep you posted as to which new songs are headed where in future blogs. And, perhaps most exciting on the horizon is a 12-day trip to Israel in March. It’s a rare privilege to travel (along with 500+ other folks) with Chuck Swindoll’s Insight For Living ministry to the Holy Land. Dick will be playing for Steve and we’re sure to have photos, stories and vivid memories of walking where Jesus walked.

As we enter this new season, let us encourage you to embrace seasons of change. As a pastor friend of ours has said many times, “God holds all things in the palm of His hands and He does all things well.”

“Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind, and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.” Proverbs 3:5, 6 (Amplified)