But that comes in the middle of her recent book, “My Time is in Your Hands,” which traces her journey beginning Sept. 12, 1937, when she was born to Lewis and Anna Cole in New Castle, Ind.
Her journey hasn’t ended, but has taken many turns and led to meeting many people — “making me the person I am because of what they have contributed to my life,” the author said.
“My Time is in Your Hands” begins with an introduction taken from a family album as Rayburn talks about her growing-up years with her parents, her brother Dale and two sisters, Janet and Glenda. From an early age, she was taught how important it is to love, to give and to serve. She describes her growing up in the Lewis Cole family as “special.”
As a youth, Rayburn said her life began to move in a special direction of God’s plan. She said she always had a desire to follow God and serve Him. She thought it would be an honor to marry a young man who knew he must follow a call to ministry.
In realizing where her life was going, Rayburn continued, “I knew change was evident and so came the question, ‘Where would I go to get direction?’ So I searched the bookstores and gleaned from others,” she said, “taking in everything I could from those I admired in ministry.
And so her book, “My Time Is in Your Hands,” was born.
“One day,” she recalled, as they were in retirement, “I began thinking of all those who are just beginning their ministries and this book became a reality in my mind.”
Rayburn began writing down thoughts from her life in the parsonage — “now it is my desire in some small way, it will bless others as I have been blessed these many years,” she said.
“My Time Is in Your Hands” not only chronicles the lives of Rayburn and her family, it also contains a photo spread of family and events in her life, including the Lewis family, wedding photos, children, the churches and parsonages where she served with her husband, Dennie Lane, and life in Cleveland, first with Lane and, after his death, with her husband, Bill Rayburn — continuing as a wife of a minister.
From experience, Rayburn said, “You can trust God with your problems, and your very life. Seek someone who knows you and knows how to help you.”
Interspersed through the book are devotional passages — “Morning Moments” — such as “God’s 911 Call” taken from Psalm 91:1; or “My Backyard Family” (Psalm 62) — “My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation. He is my fortress I will never be forsaken.” An entire section is devoted to stories and devotions.
Another section is on “Hospitality” as she shares menus and recipes which are tried and true from her own store of good things. Included are: Apple Pie, Mother’s Fudge, Buckeyes, Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake, Strawberry Shortcake, Pretzel Salad and a favorite, Banana Pudding.
Rayburn said it seemed everything was “perfectly planned” before her husband died. They had plans to retire and move to their house at the lake. Their son Tony was working in the Youth and Christian Education Dept. in the Church of God headquarters in Cleveland and his wife, Joy, was working in real estate. Their daughter Marilyn was married to Roger and living in Aurora, Ill.
But circumstances changed without warning and Rayburn thought that was the end of the plan. “But that was not true,” she said. “Our heavenly Father knows the plan and procedure and we must trust Him. We must remember our final destination is eternity and we must keep heaven in our view.”
Another path was to interchange with hers. Bill Rayburn, who had been a family friend for years, lost his wife to cancer shortly after Dennie had died. After a few months, God arranged for the two who were grieving to go forward in the next turn of God’s plan.
They were married in September 1999 and moved to Cleveland. Since her new husband was director of Cross Cultural Ministries for the Church of God, it gave her the opportunity for ministry with ladies from different ethnic backgrounds — “an exciting time,” she said.
Marriage to Bill, she said, increased her family as she received four stepchildren, as well as several grandchildren into the circle. “We have made a special effort to keep our family traditions for holidays and family times,” Rayburn said.
For all the blessings, Rayburn said she is grateful. “Love is a special language and it speaks well at our home. To God be the glory; great things He has done. My time is in His hands.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: To contact the author, write to Mrs. Bill Rayburn, 2405 Yellowood Court N.W., Cleveland, TN 37312; or phone 476-9094. Books are available from Derek Press at Pathway Printing in Cleveland.