HOUSTON – Dodie Osteen, Lakewood Church’s co-founder and wife of the late John Osteen, is known as the first lady of Lakewood.
She's also mother to current pastor and worldwide spiritual tour de force Joel Osteen. At age 82, Dodie Osteen is still going strong: leading, inspiring and now writing a new book.
Dodie Osteen sat down for a candid one-on-one interview with Channel 2’s Dominique Sachse.
Sachse: "The title is ‘If My Heart Could Talk.’ It’s the perfect title, because I do believe your heart talks. And I clearly felt it when I read it. So tell me why this book and why now?"
Dodie Osteen: "You know Dominique, when John went to heaven 17 years ago, God put such a love in my heart for him and for the family and for what all God had done for me. And so, he spoke to my heart. God spoke to my heart and said, 'I want you to write a book and I want you to tell these things that are in your heart.'"
Sachse: "You've had so many blessings throughout your life. I learned about your upbringing, your parents. You're an only child. And your parents really put a lot of emphasis in parenting and raising you well. Tell me about your upbringing.”
Dodie Osteen: "I was the love of their lives. I can remember the time back in the '40s, they took me to a store in Pasadena and bought me 10 new dresses at once. And to me, that was, I couldn't believe any little girl would have 10 new dresses at one time. But they would have given anything for me. Just anything."
Delores Ann Pilgrim grew up in Baytown. Her father worked at an oil refinery in Humble for 37 years. At a young age, she suffered from polio. Every night, her dad would massage her legs to keep the blood circulating. She went to nursing school and eventually began working at a hospital. That's where she met a local pastor named John Osteen.
"He used to come to the hospital to see different people and I noticed he would drop by the nurses station to say hi to me. I noticed it became more frequent, you know, and I thought, that man's got a lot of sick people in his church! And I didn’t realize until Valentine's Day of 1954 that he was coming to see me," Dodie Osteen shared.
Sachse: "You had a beautiful marriage. Tell us about your love story. You said John was your first and your only."
Dodie Osteen: "He was. I had never gone out with anybody else. I didn’t know how to act. I called him, Brother Osteen this and Brother Osteen that. He said, 'Would you please quit calling me Brother Osteen and call me John.'"
Sachse: "Every marriage, every couple has fights. And conflict resolution. And so you two had a funny game going on."
Dodie Osteen: "There's a scripture that says don't let the sun come down on your wrath. So he said a lot of times he would come down the freeway -- we lived in Humble -- he would rush down the freeway cause the sun was going down and he was kind of aggravated at me, or I was aggravated at him.
"We just made up our mind that when we saw a billboard going along the freeway, that we were going to get over being angry at each other. And so I said, you see that one there, about a mile down, when we get there, we're going to start laughing. So that's the way we handled it."
For 44 years, they were a team in marriage and on the pulpit, launching Lakewood Church in a feed store on Mother's Day 1959. Dodie Osteen is mom to five children who witnessed nothing short of a miraculous recovery from what doctors said was terminal cancer in 1981.
She turned to scripture and prayer and the steadfast belief that wellness was the only option. The life-changing event refocused and re-energized her ministry. When John Osteen passed away, the future of Lakewood was uncertain, until Dodie Osteen got a call from her son, Joel Osteen.
"He called me about three or four weeks after John's death and he said, ‘Mother do you have anybody to preach Sunday?’ And I said no. He said, 'I want to preach. And by the way, I think God's called me to pastor the church.' I said -- when I got up off the floor -- I said, 'Joel, are you sure?' And he said, 'Yes, mother, I'm sure.'"
And with that phone call, a new era began.
Sunday, you'll see Dodie Osteen in the front row at all church services, cheering on her son. She's a prayer partner for those suffering with illness and needing encouragement. She also conducts funeral services for many in the Houston area. She's a hands-on healer with heart.
"Give a smile, give a hug, buy lunch, dinner for somebody. Do something for somebody special," Dodie Osteen said.
"If My Heart Could Talk," is a book that comes from a mother, whose heart felt the urge to speak, a woman with a story of her own and the desire to tell.