My sweet friend has written a series of devotionals which I am savoring.  Today's devotion centered around being a good neighbor--you know I claim to be a good neighbor.  I have the shirt!

The devotion was a comparison of the Good Samaritan and the Expert in the Law who questioned Jesus, "Who is my neighbor?"  A social worker to her very core, the author pleaded guilty to finding there was prejudice in her life--the cutting the corners kind of prejudice.  The thinking ~I am not~ to only discover upon examination you are.

It was a sweet story of God's redemption and revelation over the time it took to develop a relationship with a neighbor.  She discovered a quick chat through the car window and friendly wave across the yard was not really neighboring.  Neighboring is taking the time to stop and really listen---really get to know your neighbor.  

I did not really begin to form relationships with the ladies at The Well until we began walking together in January.  I had heard bits and pieces of their stories in group settings, but the walking together was in a smaller more intimate setting.  As with all walking or running groups, we usually ended up one on one or two as we made our circle.  Some are faster than others.  This is when the real conversation began.  I have stopped to listen to their stories and really get to know them.  Usually I walk away amazed, almost always laughing, and always thinking about what I have heard.

I now have a different view upon what is going on in America.  We have neighbors who are angry--marching in the street angry.  My immediate reaction is this is not how you bring about change.  This devotional made me stop and think---have I REALLY listened to what is being said?  Can I hear these stories without prejudice and accept them as being from the eyes of the beholder?  Am I listening?  Am I prejudice?  Am I spending ANY time trying to bring about change?  Or am I stuck once again in my comfort zone?  How willing am I to be a good neighbor?  It starts with one neighbor---one person~one story.  Surely I have the time and energy to hear one story.  And thus---change begins.

The devotional ends with this~

Life Giving Encouragement

"When we treasure the stories of others, God opens the eyes of our hearts to rejoice and mourn and to see dividing walls of hostility demolished.  In the place of walls are bridges to our good neighbors."

"For the whole law is fulfilled in one word:

'You should love your neighbor as yourself.' "

Galatians 5:14


Our small group was challenged recently to write our "faith story".  I must confess I did not complete the assignment.  Why?, you might ask.  In the age old game of blame shifting, I decided since I wrote this over a decade ago, there was no need to complete this assignment.  For some strange reason the past dozen years were either not significant or I had decided I was stuck in the first decade of the new century.

Do you remember this old video?  Poor Grand was stuck in the mud and mire created when they drained part of the parish park lake.  Look at him--that mire is as bad as quick sand!  Bless Him!  I was looking for a long stick to try and help pull him out while laughing a great belly laugh.  In all truthfulness, it is NOT funny or fun to get stuck in the mire.

Here is a picture from a hike a few years ago in south Louisiana after a particularly wet season.  When you sink down in that mire, it becomes a vacuum which does not let go of your shoes!  Forward motion is, at best, difficult and sometimes almost impossible without help.

We had a guest speaker at small group this week.  She came to give us her testimony, but was impressed after arriving to talk to us about becoming "stuck" in parts of our stories.  It was a beautiful evening where we had a front row seat to seeing God work.  After her word, we all agreed we had places in our lives we had become stuck.  Our stories have continued, but we allowed a particular event or season to replay over and over and become stuck.  We were losing momentum by replaying the past.  As she explained to us, we allow an insult or injury or pain or suffering to rule our thoughts and distract us from the path in front of us.  She named her mire the idolatry of reproach.  I looked that up in the Bible dictionary and found this~

1. an expression of rebuke or disapproval

2. the act or action of disapproving

3. a cause or occasion of blame, discredit or disgrace

Our speaker was speaking of becoming stuck in censure or scorn.  As she explained in today's psycho-speak, she was a victim.  She so strongly identified with being the victim that she had to be reminded who she was in Christ.  To truly move forward with God's purpose, she had to first agree to get UNSTUCK.  Leave the past behind and move toward in God's purpose today.

First thing, every morning, I remind myself~

"This is the day the Lord has made, let me rejoice and be glad in it."

I am thankful for fellow Believers who stand shoulder to shoulder with me and share their wisdom and revelations.  God is continually growing us--but we have to be careful of where we put our feet and NOT become STUCK!

"Do not cling to events of the past

or dwell on what happened long ago.

Watch for the new thing I am going to do.

It is happening already-

you can see it now!

I will make a road through the wilderness

and give you streams of water there."

Isaiah 43: 18b-19


It is truly amazing what God has taught me in the past dozen years.  Would I dare to say, I have grown by leaps and bounds in the insight department?  HOW I would  love  one more conversation with each of my parents.  Truthfully, my father has been gone so long, we lack the history I had with my mother and that conversation would be slanted by the lack of history.  The things I observed through the age of 14 are not nearly as insightful and complex as those observed with a more mature mind.  

One of the things my mother preached (TALENTED LECTURER) was how to judge people.  I can truthfully tell you she never commented on anyone I dated beyond who their "People Were".  She drilled in to me I needed to observe how their mother was treated and what her life looked like to understand what the future would hold for this fellow's chosen wife.  NOW--I thought she was pretty snobbish for a LONG time.  One of the things I have rolled around in the gray matter was her reason behind this statement.  Momma was not really very prejudiced, considering the time, and taught us to treat everyone with respect.  She was prejudiced when it came to her future in-laws.

Where am I going with this?  Monday's subject on love has not disappeared from my thoughts.  I am going to probably cause you to double take, but think this over~

we learn how to love by observing those around us who love us.

If you were fortunate enough to live with Ozzie and Harriet, you had a very good example.  June and Warren and their wise parenting were a fantasy of television land.  Most of us naturally fell into the patterns we learned at the knees of our parents, unless we made a conscious effort to change.

SO, how you love your significant other or child is usually a direct reflection of what you observed in your own family.  I will go out on a limb and say, in most cases, it was not all bad, nor was it all good.  We all muddle along trying to keep a roof over our heads, food on the table, and shoes on our feet. We never give much thought to intentionally loving well.  And then one day, you are in the last chapters and you begin to reflect upon how well you did or did not do in the love department.

The good news for my children-they are not me.  I have not observed them parenting in the same manner I did.  They have made improvements and been better parents.  It is a good thing to redeem the mistakes of the past by consciously making changes.  The sins of the father may bear scars and consequences, but they do not have to be repeated.

AND the most important lesson~ GRACE needs to be given.  Do not spend all of your time blaming the failures in your life on the past.  My mother was not an affectionate person.  Any failure on my part to show affection and verbalize my feelings are not her fault.  The blame is on my shoulders.  I know better and know how to correct this behavior.  I cannot get a "Get Out of Jail Free" card for what should have been done in the past.  I CAN extend her the grace of forgiveness when I begin to understand her childhood.

Where am I going?  Back to Monday's post on love.  I am currently reading selected Psalms in the chronological read through.  One of the reoccurring lessons of the Psalmist is the great-enduring love of God.  It is not about my love for God; it is about God's love for me.

"In this is love, 

not that we have loved God

but that He loved us

and sent His Son

to be the propitiation for our sins."

I John 4:10


 Recently I discovered a new audience for my story telling.  There is nothing I enjoy better than weaving a good tale and, most important, an audience who seems to want to listen.

My great niece's have begun to ask to hear the "family story", and I am sharing my memories with them. The funny thing is that my version and their dads' versions do not always agree.  Of course, the brothers do not even give their version until they feel the need to straighten my version out. 

Unless we sit and tell the story of our lives, it will be at the best guess of those who care to know the truth of our past.  When we "bother" to share, it explains a great deal about who we are today and why we act and react the way we do.  Most of us are complicated reactions to our past and our present.  Our lives are directly impacted by the world we have lived in.

I am still reading daily though the chronological Bible in a year.  Those Old Testament books are filled with stories of the Israelite children.  At times, I get so bogged down in names and battles that I begin to wonder why all of this is so important.  It is a vital link between who God is and who man is.  We are reading the history of man and His relationship with God.  It is the story which leads us to becoming Jesus followers.  The full explanation of why we needed Jesus to come.  Would we even begin to understand why God sent Jesus if we did not first see who man had become?  The story is a vital link to the great love of God when we seemed to make the same mistakes over and over.  Though the begats are cumbersome at best, they are all part of the story.  Though the battles are gory, they explain the history between God and man.   Through it all, God is present and His love endures forever.   Read the story and be instructed to endure with the encouragement that there is hope.

"For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction,

that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures

we might have hope."

Romans 15:4


WEEKS AGO, I wrote down a quote from Brother Chris which keeps rolling around in my head.



As I have pondered this deep and profound thought, I have come to one conclusion.  We are created in the image of God.  

"God created man in His own image."

Genesis 1:27

We are not created in the physical image of God, but rather, we are created in the moral, spiritual, and intellectual image of God.  I might add, I personally believe we are created in the emotional image of God.  Our emotions are a reflection of those we see throughout The Word.  While seeking answers about Chris's quote, I came across this ~

"From understanding the image of God in the human being, we learn four things about God Himself"

that He is seeking to have relationship with the human being

that He has a kingdom that which humankind is invited to live and work

that there is a unified plurality in the Godhead

that He has a intimate love for humankind."

Chris Mueller

We come into this world looking for love, desiring to be loved and to love.  The pursuit and practice of the language of love is universal.

To quote an old song, perhaps we are~

Until we get a glimpse of the love the very Author of Love created, we may never be satisfied with the love we find on this terrestrial ball.  Unless we know the breadth and width of the infinite love of The Father, will we ever be able to understand and experience true love?  There is only one perfect love and His Word is the blueprint.  

"A new commandment I give to you,

that you love one another:

just as I have loved you,

you also are to love one another."

John 13:34


We all strive to find purpose in life.  Our purposes vary, but there still is a need for purpose to get out of the bed every morning.  Without purpose we become subject to the winds of the world, blowing hither and yonder with no clear destination.

For most of my adult life, my purpose was really pretty simple.  Take care of the needs of my family, tend to the needs of our home, and work like one obsessed.  There was very little me time and truthfully, I never thought about it.  I was too busy keeping all the balls in the air to accomplish what I thought was my purpose.  

Fast forward--retirement years hit and there is time to think about what I would like my purpose to be.  I spent some years pursuing "Me Time" including traveling, exercising, and friends, but there seemed to be something lacking in all of that.  I began to wonder if life is really all about me--or was there something much more satisfying out there.

My volunteering began quite a few years ago--in the school system.  How I loved those children and their teachers and support staff.  What joy came from seeing the light go off in those little heads when they began to understand the task before them.  Those school hours were dear to me and gave me a satisfying purpose in life.  

When I moved to Fort Worth, I became part of a church based organization, Kid's Hope,  which promoted relationships with children through the school system.  We were there to assist those children with school, but the most important thing was developing relationships with at risk children.  Somehow I heard about serving in the homeless ministry field and was intrigued and drawn.   At the training, I learned there was more to do beyond serving meals. They had a after school program for children from homeless families.  What could be a more perfect fit?  I spent time with all ages of children helping them with their homework and developing relationships.  It was an eye opening experience to walk into that shelter every week.  

I come home to Ruston and set out to purposefully look for ministries that were a good fit for my gifts, experiences, and heart.  I began to explore the places I might fit.  As I asked questions, it was recommended I talk to Tara ---my young friend with a huge servant's heart.  She has more great ideas than Carter had liver pills.  Tara and her dynamic partner, Elizabeth were the co-founders of The Well.  Their driving energy created a diverse ecumenical organization with the aim of not only helping, but empowering those they serve.  It was off and running while partnering with other service organizations around town.  It is working--not without set backs---but there is growth evidenced every day.

Along comes the pandemic, all systems are on full shut down.  They still manage to serve--by delivering goods to those in need, checking on the people they serve, drive through pizza nights,  and being on the front line in the huge unknown of how this would play out.  They never slowed down. 

Here we are today, after slowly, carefully opening the doors with a multi-field approach of support.  The Well serves those who serve those we serve.  It is multi-dimensional ~multi layered organization serving multi layers of those with needs and their support organizations.  They are involved with supporting Life Choices, DART, Foster families, Adopting families, LA Division of Family and Children Services to name a few.  They also provide community for the lonely among us--those who need a boost--those who can use an out stretched hand of fellowship.  They do all of this while also providing dignity and respect to those they serve.  Read the book When Helping Hurts and have your eyes opened to the best way to help those in need.

So part of my purpose today is working with the ladies at The Well.  They have helped me more than I have helped them.  God is growing me.  I was recently asked to write my Faith Story.  My answer, God is not finished with me and it will not be complete.  As long as we are physically able, God has a purpose for us.  I cannot answer for you, but I know for me it does not center around keeping myself happy and entertained.  We are all given different gifts--those gifts were given to accomplish God's good purpose.  I encourage you to pray about where God intends to use you.  I pray we all can continue to seek His Will and His Good Purpose and know the joy of service.  The story is not complete--until the book is closed.  We are a work in progress.

"As each has received a gift,

use it to serve one another,

as good stewards of God's varied grace."

I Peter 4:10

"Let each of you look not only to his own interests,

but also to the interest of others."

Philippians 2:4


 For those of you have not seen the latest version of The Wonder Dog, here is the new and expanded version.  We both have gained a little something since the pandemic began and it is not wisdom.

If you look closely, he is turning white around his snout and eyes.  Hero is officially an old man.  I laugh and call him my "Needy Old Man".  He has a really good life here in the hood.

We do struggle with those several walks during the day.  Remember I house trained him by going on walks.  In his old age, he sometimes gives out and I have to pick him up and carry him.  This has caused a great deal of laughter by the neighbors about who is walking whom.  A friend recently asked me why I don't just pull him along by his leash.  

Muleheaded comes to mind.  We have a healthy contingent of the ASPCA here in North Louisiana.  I do NOT want to get flogged over the head for trying to get my dog to cooperate.  He stubbornly refuses to take even a baby step.  I have tried to get behind him and scoot him forward--it is a no go.  I have tried to wait him out, for him to just lay down in the grass.  The only answer is pick him up and head home.  HE IS DONE!

I recently had a lively discussion (that would be an argument) with my middle child over political policy.  We got NOWHERE!  To begin with, I have had my life time quota of lectures already.  I shut down when you start giving me a lecture.  When I shut down, my ears close up--I am NOT listening.  He was not going to change my mind nor was I changing his.  I KNOW BETTER!

Is there ever a possibility of changing my mindset?  Of course there is!  If you present your side in a calm manner and leave it for me to consider, you might be surprised.  I am much more likely to at least give you some credence for your position when I do not feel I am being lectured.  Tone is EVERYTHING!  That is the huge downfall of printed communication.  It is really difficult to convey tone with the written word.  In person, if you raise you voice (try to out shout me), speak with rushed urgency (not allowing my response), or convey condescension (roll your eyes-raise you brow-scowl), more than likely I am not listening to what you are saying.  Your words are falling on deaf ears.

Morale of the story---arguing leads straight to NOWHERESVILLE.  In most cases, arguing changes no one's mind and falls upon a closed mind.  Persuasion is much more likely to come with a loving attitude and gentle tongue.  Use those gifts of the spirit ~especially love, peace, patience, kindness, long suffering, and self control.  When spoken in love and with a gentle kindness, I am all ears.

"Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments,
because you know they produce quarrels.
And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome
but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful."
2 Timothy 2:23-24



Once again the time of year when we are most likely to have severe storms has rolled around.  At least once a week the weather person is telling us to batten down the hatches, crawl in your closet and BEWARE!  I must confess I have hidden in the closet twice in my long life.  Once in Fort Worth--that would be the tornadoes and storms that caused almost every roof in the area to be replaced.  The other time the domino players were here for the big game and we have a player that is terrified of storms.  All six of us climbed into my closet.  We were stuffed in there like sardines in a can.  

My daddy taught me to love a good storm.  How many times have I sat on the porch and watched the wind, rain, and lightning show?  Hopefully if I hear a train coming (since there are no train tracks for miles), I will have the good sense to take cover.  Two years ago we had the unthinkable to happen when a strong tornado struck Ruston causing the loss of two lives and doing severe damage to the city.  All those years--all those warnings and in the middle of the night with little warning we were in the midst of it.  True confession-I heard the sirens that night since I am a light sleeper, but never got out of bed.  Perhaps I am just enough Calvinist to believe when it is my time there will be nothing to do about it.  After all it was only a storm.

We have also had warnings about the danger of becoming infected with COVID.  Some have chosen to ignore these warnings and thrown caution to the wind.  We all have different levels of risk tolerance.  I am not a  risk taker when it comes to the virus, but will take a risk in storm warnings.  Some have paid the ultimate cost by ignoring the warnings.

With both of these, we become numb to the danger with time.  It is at least a weekly occurrence to have storm warnings here in Louisiana.  We are close to the Gulf of Mexico with warm humid air flowing our way.  Cold fronts zoom down from the northwest and collide with this tropical air and we have a storm situation.  We know its coming, we know it is dangerous, but we accept the risk and place ourselves in the path of danger.

We have had more than a year of lock downs, masks, limited gatherings, and social distancing.  It is wearing us down and we have begun to think the danger is past.  Then there are those who think there is no virus, or it is all a conspiracy, or it will never happen to me.  For a variety of reasons, many have opted to chance the risk and return to their normal life. 

SO-it is with the enemy.  We have been warned---The Word is filled with warnings.  We know the consequence of sin.  We know to be cautious in this fallen world.  Yet, we still become complacent and ignore the signs of danger as we plunge headlong into the pit of temptation.  We have been warned, but choose to ignore the warnings.  OH--the price we pay when we ignore the flashing lights, shrill sirens, and stern warnings of danger our Spirit gives us.  For some reason we opt to stick our head in the sand and race forward--into the clutches of danger.

Be aware--not just of the weather, or the virus--but especially of the cost of sin.  Yes, as believers we are forgiven, but there are still consequences to our actions which are costly to our peace and joy.  Heed the warnings and stay safe!

"Stay alert! 

Watch out for your great enemy, the devil

. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour."

I Peter 5:8


Here in the Hood


we are surrounded by woods and cut-overs.  Though I could easily sprint to the Parish Sheriff's Office, there is no sign of civilization from our front porches and back yards.  I truly live in the city (part of the city tax base), have all the benefits of nearby services and shopping and yet have the feel of living in the country.  

We live in a beautiful small neighborhood with street lights more for esthetics than security.  When I take the Wonder Dog for his final walk of the day, it is always pitch dark outside.  The glow from the windows and porch lights are our trail markers and heaven help if a snake is in the road since the black asphalt blends into the night sky.  Still that walk has to happen every night.

This past weekend we were walking up the street toward the houses with the cutover behind them.  We often hear coyotes here, but this particular night they seemed to go crazy.  Barking, whining, snarling ~it was a symphony of a large pack of coyotes.  It had me concerned since they seemed to be heading our way.  I envisioned a pack of coyotes spilling out into the hood looking to attack.  I swept the wonder dog up and headed back to the house.  Danger seemed to be hiding just beyond those back yards as the chorus of yelping crescendoed.  We were headed for the safety of cover out of the path of the evil lurking in the night.

The next morning brought a beautiful cool spring day.  The first order of every day is the wonder dog's walk.  Walking out the garage door, I was immediately hit by the sure scent of Mr. Skunk.  Exiting the garage, we were slapped in the nose by the strong sulphuric stench hanging over the hood like a blanket of fog on the morning after a rain.

The bells in my head immediately went off.  What I had thought was a snarling pack of coyotes in search of their midnight snack (Hero), was not that at all.  I am pretty sure the coyotes out for their late night stroll happened upon Mr. Skunk and decided to investigate.  What I heard was their reaction after the blanket spraying of the pack.  Something tells me there was a great deal of rolling in the dirt and plunging in the creek by said pack after their late night skunk spray.

Morale of the story--do not jump to conclusions.  What might appear to be someone running to mug a lady, might be someone trying to return a dropped purse. (True Story)  What might appear to be tears of anguish from across a room, might be tears of great joy.  What might appear to be an attack, might be an act of defense.  Our eyes and ears are not always reliable witnesses and the story might be so much more than what we first perceive.  

Look at the story of Ruth.  Boaz cautioned Ruth about not allowing others to see her as she left after a night at his feet.  How quickly she could have been judged by those who saw her leaving in the early morning hours.  Wagging tongues could have destroyed Ruth's reputation and literally caused her death by stoning.  How quickly we rush to judge--without knowing the whole story.  How unfair our accusations can be.   Perhaps it is a ploy to deflect from our own sinful ways to point out the seeming sin of others.  There is usually much more to a story than what our eyes tell us.  Keep in mind before starting or sharing a rumor, the tables can easily be turned and you can become the subject of a story.  Beware the spray of stench which comes from the spreading of gossip.

"Hypocrite!  First get rid of the log in your own eye;

then you will see well enough to deal with 

the speck in your friend's eye. "

Matthew 7:5


 When you read the word ABANDONMENT, do you immediately want to turn the page thinking this does not apply to you?  It is no secret I struggle with abandonment issues.  "People with abandonment issues often struggle in relationships exhibiting symptoms such as codependency, an inability to develop trust, or even the tendency to sabotage relationships.  The cause of abandonment is usually trauma of some kind, such as the death or loss of a loved one."   Guilty-guilty-guilty.  That's me in a nutshell!

If I allow myself, I can begin to identify with this old house.  The bones are good, but it is suffering from the neglect created by abandonment.  When presented with this picture, we fail to look past the decay which came with age and abandonment, and see the wonderful memories of days past hidden in the walls.  We cannot hear the echoes of good days gone by because of the distraction of the creaks and groans of today.  You may look at this house and see a bulldozer in its future.  I look at this house and see the reflection of the beauty of the past and the possibilities for the future.  Add a balcony and front porch, add a coat of white paint and brightly colored shutters, add welcoming double French doors, add a sun room on the side, add a beautiful old fashioned garden with a winding walk leading to the front door and you have a restored --redeemed charming cottage. A great beauty even in its old age.

Beginning with my childhood, I have had significant losses of those I loved.  With some introspection, I have realized I am not a victim of abandonment.  God has used each and every thing in my life to create the person I am today.  With God's help, I have slowly morphed into who I am today.  We all have the opportunity to reinvent ourselves after tragedy.  I am so much more than a victim-I am a Child of the One True King.

"The Father has loved us so much that we are called Children of God.

And we really are His children."

I John 3:1

Reflecting upon the abandonment of my past, I have come to acknowledge, I too have abandoned the One I love.  Not flagrantly, not purposefully, but still I have at times abandoned God.  My abandonment did not come from anger or intent, but instead a casual slow turning without even realizing it had happened.  I confess to abandoning God in the good times.  Those times when I felt like I had it all together, and life was running smooth.  Those times when I was not desperate for rescue, drowning in sorrow, or buried under a pile of trouble.  I did not even realize I have made that slow turn to self.  The busy world has sucked me in and I was in a full run trying to keep my head above the waters of commitments.  I have without intent slipped into the quicksand of abandonment through neglect.  Neglect of time spent in one on one communication with the Great God of the Universe.  Though it was never my intent to abandon God, my failure to acknowledge Him consistently was a sure sign of inadvertent abandonment through neglect.

Lord, Forgive Me and Thank You that even in my abandonment You are present.  Help me to remember Who You are and seek You continually.

"Therefore, return to your God,

observe kindness and justice.

And wait for your God continually."

Hosea 12:6


I have faith when I inhale there will be oxygen to feed my body and all systems are on go in processing and distributing said oxygen.  I love the smell of a spring shower which only occurs in those first few minutes of rainfall.  As of yet, (do not rule out what pollution is doing to our environment) my faith has been rewarded with each and every breath.  Spring showers can be fickle and the smell I dearly love does not accompany each and every shower to roll through. 

Photo Credit-Keith Boydstun

I have faith the sun comes up in the east and sets in the west each and every day-even when hidden behind the clouds.  I love the glorious wonder of both the sunrise and sunset.  In my brief stay here upon this terrestrial ball, though the time may vary and the position slightly change with the seasons, I have not been disappointed.  The sun has risen and fallen every day.  Though I love the sight of those sunrises and sunsets, my sighting is dependent upon my pausing to look, no sneaky clouds in front of the sun, and nothing blocking my view.

I have faith that my family will always support and love me.  I love the gathering of family --big or small.  There is nothing quite like a family's love.  My faith in my family has not been disappointed-they have faithfully stood by my side--even when I was less than pleasant and not easy to be around.  Unfortunately, my love for family can sometimes be a struggle due to great distances and busy lives.

We have all read the famous letter to the Corinthians which gives the definitive definition of love.  Love is a beautiful thing, but love is also a fickle emotion--ebbing and surging with the circumstance of the day.  Faith--faith is deeper--rooted in our very soul.  Here is another quote from the book I just finished~

"Love and faith are very different things.  We work to have limitless faith, faith that encompasses grief, faith that expands beyond doubt.  When we see suffering, it shakes our faith, we pray for those limits to be removed.  Love is the enjoyment of something.  The feeling of wanting something deeply, of wanting nothing more.  Our love of God is not as important as our faith in God.  Love wanes.  Faith cannot.  One can have faith and anger, faith and hate.  One can believe deeply and still rail against God, still blame God.  In fact, if one can hate God, it is a sign of deep faith, because we cannot hate and at the same time doubt God's existence.  Faith will allow you the room for anger, for disappointment for hate.  Love will not."

"Faith sees beyond space and time and knows that everything is already as it should be.  Hope dwells with the expectation of seeing in the physical reality what faith sees in the spiritual.  And Love is the eternal dimension that remains forever." Hadassah

Challenging reading---do not automatically disagree--think it over.  I am so thankful for faith, hope, and love.  Love does indeed make the world go round in my opinion.  Faith---deep abiding faith--it gives me a persistent assurance of God's unchanging character.  Faith gives me hope that there is love.

"For we walk by faith,
not by sight."
2 Corinthians 5:7



"The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." James 5:16

As I prayed last night at bedtime, I confessed to Almighty God that my prayers had become a long list of intercession for those in great need of prayer.  While this certainly is noble and necessary, prayer is so much more than intercession for all the good causes and struggling men.  Prayer is our communication line with God. Over the years, I have studied several formulas for prayer.  Jesus Himself taught us how to pray.  God loves our prayers, but what God really wants to hear is our heart.  He is not interested in completed formulas, but instead bared souls.

With a broken heart, I have prayed over and over, "OH, GOD!"  When no words would come--no words were adequate--my two word uttering or scream as the case might be were interpreted by the Holy Spirit as they flowed from my heart-

"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.

We do not know what we ought to pray for,

but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us

through wordless groans.

Romans 8:26

I am only speaking for myself, but somehow I know that God desires for me to pour out my heart to Him.  I have a Godly friend who told me, "God has a big chest and does not mind you beating upon it in anguish."  Why else would Jesus encourage us to retreat into silence and solitude when we pray?  I can promise you we will never bare our hearts in front of a crowd.  The world is too distracting and we are too aware of those who listen to strip down to the nitty gritty and tell God everything on our hearts, unless we are alone.  

When we pray and petition God we are expecting Him to answer our prayers.  I have heard the old adage of how God answers, "Yes, No, or Not Now".  God also answers our prayers by changing our hearts.  I have been reading a really good fiction book~

One of the lines which captured my eye is, "God did not change the circumstances of your life; God changed you."

Profound.  It reminded me of Jesus telling us the poor will be with us always.  Why?  So that He might use them to grow and sanctify His people through service.  There will always be babies born who are different--not what society considers normal.  Why?  To teach us there is no normal and we are all different--beautifully and gloriously different for His Good Purpose.  There will always be illness and death.  Why?  God appointed our days here on this earth before we ever took a breath. We do not get out of this alive and do not get to chose the date and time. There will always be wars and evil.  Why?  Read the Old Testament!  

NOT ONE THING that ever happens is a surprise to God and ALL THINGS can be used for His Good Purpose.  

I have personally had God change me, so subtly-so painlessly, that I became a different person without realizing it had happened.  He has faithfully changed my mind, changed my heart and changed me each and every time I admitted my personal failure to affect change and given Him the control.  I seem to be a slow learner, and still insist upon making a mess by trying to maintain control when I know where it is headed~ANOTHER MESS.  We can all be stubborn fools!

Pray--pray--pray--let your prayers be sweet incense to our Holy Father.  Know that your prayers will be answered--and sometimes the answer is in your changing.  

"I have heard your prayer

and seen your tears.

I will heal you."

II Kings 20:5


 We cannot possibly understand the depth of what Easter holds, unless we look closely at the depth of Jesus' suffering.  Holy Week is over and my one question to you is, "Did you stop and ponder the great suffering Jesus endured so that we may live with Him in eternity? "  The depth of the love of the Triune God could not be more clearly demonstrated than the events of that week.  Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice to cover the sins of all mankind.

Sacrifices began immediately following man's fall in the garden.  The high reverend reminded us a couple of weeks ago of the first animal sacrifice.  God Himself provided that first sacrifice to cover the shame of Adam and Eve.  He sacrificed animals from His creation to provide clothing of the worldly man.

"The Lord God made clothing from animal skins

for Adam and his wife."

Genesis 3:21

Truthfully I had never thought about God making the sacrifice to provide clothing for the now awakened Adam and Eve.  I knew there was no shame before they ate from the tree, but had not given much thought to God providing them clothing.  Is not this is a clear indication of God's great love and compassion for us.  He did not strike them down, but He did banish them from the Garden of Eden into the fallen world.

God certainly could have created clothing for mankind by thinking it into existence.  We saw evidence of His ability to do this during the week of creation.  God, our Good and Loving Father, provided clothing through His Fatherly love for His children by His own efforts.  God often uses "Fierce mercy to turn our hearts back to Him." Brother Chris.  What man deserved was what God had declared would happen if man ate that apple.  God, our strong and grace filled God, chose to allow man to live, but not without suffering the consequences of His actions.  

The first evidence of how much God loves us, in my mind, is not the beautiful creation we were so graciously provided.  The first evidence was God's grace demonstrated by this sacrificial provision before ushering man into the wilderness of the fallen world.  God is our faithful provider.

  • "And my God will supply all your needs according to
  • His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."
  • Philippians 4:19


Yesterday we cried sad-hopeless tears together

Today, we cry jubilant-hope filled tears together




 Before the initial shock of loss of a loved one is over, you immediately have to deal with funeral plans.  Different families handle this in different ways.  I am well known for slipping away and avoiding sad good byes, and personally this is how I would prefer to go out of this world.  The truth is that funerals and memorials are not for the dead, but for those left behind.  It brings closure after those final goodbyes. Good for all of you who have thought ahead and preplanned all of those final rites.  I speak from personal experience when I tell you it is not easy to make these plans from ground zero, especially when the loss came unexpectedly.  Numb and in a fog of disbelief is an understatement.

That final day of saying good bye can be absolutely gut wrenching and exhausting as you walk through it on automatic pilot.  Once the final hand is shook and the final hug is given, those surrounding the grieving begin to disburse and go about their daily business.  Those who mourn are left, sometimes with family, and other times alone for that last visit to see the closed grave.  The final indication the day has come to a close.

The day after begins the true journey of grief.  The new normal is anything but normal.  What once was two becomes one, the parent who was only a phone call away no longer answers the phone, a hole has been created which can not be filled.  Somehow--some way---those who are left figure out how to put one foot in front of the other, to carry on with their daily routines.  Grief is not unlike ocean waves--appearing out of no where with enough force to knock you to your knees.  It ebbs and flows with a life of its own--a life of different intensity and length for each of us.

On the first Easter, Jesus was in the grave on the day after-The Sabbath. The tomb was sealed and guarded--finality was becoming apparent.  A day set aside to honor God and rest--even at the death of Jesus,  this was honored and those left behind sat steeped in grief.   All hope was lost and those who loved him were reeling with sorrow and fear.  The disciples fearing for their own lives were drowning not only in sorrow but confusion.  How could it end this way?  The day after must have brought tears, sorrow, and furrowed brows.  Filled with concern on what way to go--how to cope--those who loved Him best were consumed with sorrow and perhaps anger.  How could He be dead?  How could He be in the grave?  It had been witnessed, they knew He died--they knew He was placed in the grave.  What would they do without Him?

The day after was quiet and filled with profound sorrow---

but Sunday was coming!

"At the place where Jesus was crucified,

there was a garden,

and in the garden a new tomb,

in which no one had ever been laid.

Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation

and since the tomb was nearby,

they laid Jesus there."

John 19:41-42


I woke up this morning with a deep unexplained feeling of sadness.  This happens occasionally for no apparent reason.  It is a beautiful cool spring day with just enough gentle breeze blowing to require a jacket and gloves.  A reminder of the winter we are trying to leave behind as we welcome the glory of spring.  Very reminiscent of the year we hope to leave behind and the hope of a better day to come.

Perhaps this covering of melancholy comes with remembering those who have departed this world in the past year.  My prayers have been filled with petitions for comfort for those who grieve.  Some of this loss is the natural progression of life.  There comes a time when we are appointed to die.  Some of this loss has been the result of the virus and the havoc it can cause in our bodies.   Some of the loss is untimely and unexplainable, with no good answer.  Death is usually not a beautiful thing-no matter what Hollywood would have you believe.

One thing is certain we are NEVER ready for our loved ones to leave us.  Certainly there is comfort in the promise of eternity, but that does not fill the void left by the absence of those we love.  Death-the final enemy-has been defeated, but we are left to grieve the vacuum caused by our loss.  We have been left here with a visible hole in our lives in this world.  The only solace is knowing the end of the story.

Good Friday is here.  The day Jesus was beaten, ridiculed, hung from a cross and speared.  I seriously doubt Jesus' disciples, family, or followers thought there was one thing good about this day.  After a day of watching the slow agonizing death of the Man of Sorrows, the skies darkened and He breathed His last.  Could it be my melancholy is caused by the realization of the brutal death He suffered so that I might live?  At the end of the day Friday, there was more than a void from the loss of the man they loved, there was the death of hope.  They could not see where this was headed.  They only knew the deep sorrow of His loss. 

Friday was here---but Sunday was coming.

"And when all the crowd that came to see the crucifixion saw what had happened, they went home in deep sorrow."

Luke 23:48


I must admit to loving large family gatherings which always seem to include sharing a meal.  Unfortunately, the distance between family members has made it seemingly almost impossible to accomplish this today for my family.  I really miss those sweet times, but am thankful for each and every memory of being together.


This is one of my favorite Rockwell paintings.  My family never captured this scene, but we had our own version of traditional holiday meals.  What you do not see in this painting, but I can almost guarantee went on, was the jockeying for position, over loaded plates, fussy eaters pouting, and rush through the meal before the football games started on television.  No matter, my memories are still sweet and we were still together.

I will never forget the year my mother announced she was done hosting the family dinners.  It is a LOT of work and she was not much of a cook.  How easy it is to bring a dish or two and enjoy the feast.  It is another thing entirely to host the get together.  Sweet grandma in the picture above is facing an afternoon of cleaning up what took days to prepare and minutes to consume.  There comes a time when the mantle of hosting gets passed along.  If no one will assume the responsibility, the dinner sadly goes away.  The wonderful tradition of celebrating family as we eat together is yet one more casualty of a far too busy world.

Maundy Thursday is being celebrated by the Christian church today.  We are painted the picture of the scene in The Word.  Jesus and His disciples all sitting around the table and sharing a meal.  In His teaching that night, Jesus broke bread and shared the cup with His followers.  He then asked that we continue this tradition--a shared time of remembering what Jesus did for His family.  Jesus' final teaching included asking that we not forget to gather together to celebrate His victory over death.

Pause and remember today---the man who had the room prepared and the table set; the disciples who prepared the meal as instructed; and those final teachings as Jesus prepared for what was ahead.  May we always celebrate Jesus and His victory over death for us.  May we always come together and remember as a family-the Family of God.

"For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,

you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes.

I Corinthians 11:26