August 29, 2011

John 4:39-42

Many Samaritans Believed

39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.

42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”


"Have you ever thought about letting Dani take communion?", Jimmy whispered sideways to me in the pew. With folks just ahead of us filing toward the front of the church, our time to stand was quickly approaching. I had just been thinking the very same thing, so I touched Dani's elbow, signaling for her to rise. As if all on the same page, she smiled, signed Jesus, and we three stood in one accord to walk forward for communion.

As we approached the pastor, he divulged the meaning of the bread and wine (juice). He explained that the wine represented Christ's blood and spoke of its healing. I stood with my hands on Dani's shoulders thinking of heaven and how wonderful it will be to meet our little girl one day, healed, whole, and complete. It was all I could do to hold back the tears.

Inching our way to the front of the sanctuary, we received our smidgen of bread and juice and then walked back to our seats. Like two halves of an Oreo cookie, once back in place, Jimmy and I nestled our little 23 year old baby girl between us as Jimmy began explaining the meaning of this gesture. We took the bread and drank the "wine" as tears filled our eyes. Dani cried especially hard; she understood the meaning all too well.

The congregation quietly dismissed. Without a word we walked out of the building to our car. Placing the key into the ignition, Jimmy broke the silence asking,"Did you see the girl in front of us staring at Dani?"

"Yes, I vaguely remember her but I thought she was looking past us toward the back door"

"No, she stared at Dani the whole service and I was getting a little irritated with her until we took communion. She continued to watch us and as we explained communion's meaning to Dani, she began crying uncontrollably on her mother's shoulder. When the service was over she continued to weep as they walked out of church."

Normally I would have noticed this girl in her early teens, but I was wrapped up in the thought of meeting Dani in heaven. I marveled at her sweet spirit and how tender it is toward God, even amidst severe disabilities. How our little girl is aware of an invisible God I'll never know, but she knows Him well and treasures His presence. Through her I've learned to never underestimate the faith of a child. That's why we allowed her to partake of communion that day. I don't question that she may have well gotten more out of it than some adults that day.

We weren't aware of it at the time, but our actions with Dani in church that day served as a testimony. I don't know who else saw what we were doing but one set of young impressionable eyes watched so closely they were reduced to tears.

I used to think one's testimony only referred to spoken words, like presenting your story of salvation to a group as the woman at the well did in today's study. I've since learned there's much more to it than that. What we do and what others see us do, speaks louder than the most eloquent of words, especially when we don't know we are being observed.

I have no idea what the Lord spoke to the young teen's heart or how He used Dani's first communion to touch her so deeply. I only know that even though we may feel invisible at times, people are watching. Naturally our spouses, children, family, and co-workers observe our behavior and responses to life's events, but strangers peer from afar as well. No doubt our testimony takes on many forms and impacts the world in ways we'll never fully understand.


When was the last time you observed someone's testimony? Did it have a positive or negative impact on you?

Could your verbal testimony use a little improvement?

How about your actions? Do they reflect the character of God or possibly lead others astray?

August 20, 2011

So Sad

There are some things you just don't want to end. Close rare relationships, box of chocolates, lushy ice cream, touching song, unforgettable movie, hard-to-put-down book, or perhaps, as in this case, a fabulous Bible study.

That's where I found myself this morning at the end of Elaine Olsen's, Peace for the Journey. Closing the back cover, slow and methodical, it felt like I was losing a friend. I sat there wondering what to do next and how to top this wonderful journey. Her study has been my companion for a couple of months now. I've taken notes, underlined sentences, highlighted words, and dog-eared pages to remember particular points. I even wrote quotes from her study in my 3x5 index cards to review for a later time. I'm sad it's over. It was so good I feel a sense of loss. Now, that's a good study!

I wrote about Elaine's work in Your Sista's Having a Hista, Part 4, Hidden Treasures. It touched me deeply then and continued to impress to the end.

I can't say enough about this study and recommend it for personal study as well as groups. You won't be disappointed.

Fitting enough, Elaine concludes her prize quoting Jesus's words in John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

Thank you dear friend for the gift of walking with you through this study.


August 17, 2011

Times Are A Changin'

It hurts my heart to see Border book store closing. Saturday, during an an outing, we saw two folks standing along the entrance to the shopping center holding 7 ft. tall 50% off signs for this establishment. Mercy me, I never thought I'd see the day. Times they sure are changing. Things that were once the cat's meow are now near fossils...and it's sad.

It makes me feel old too. Pray tell, are the days of strolling the plaza, purchasing that fizzy cold Coke or piping hot coffee, and then heading to the bookstore to peruse the shelves with your head tilted awkwardly to the right, nearly over? And what about quietly sitting in overstuffed chairs with a stack of titles in your lap while your little one(s) sift through the children's section.

It's so relaxing to pick up a book, study the front title and picture, then flip it over to read the back cover and get a glimpse into its contents. I'm an eclectic reader too. I switch authors and genres with each new book. Sometimes fiction, other times non, it's all up to me and wherever my mood leads. That's why books are simply wonderful. The choice is yours and virtually endless, but books as we know them are amidst drastic transformation.

One negative impact that's hurt book stores is the emergence of electronic books, such as the iPad and Kindle. I don't have either yet but I hear they are the new cat's meow. I console myself for not having one by focusing on the fact my books never run out of batteries. Yes, they are bulky in my purse and a bit heavy depending on the read, but they only require the energy it takes for me to turn the page, yet another reason why I love books, the smell, look, and feel of bound paper drizzled with ink. Yum.

I may not yet have a new fangled iPad or Kindle thingamajig, but I've contributed to their cause just the same, for my book Freedom, Healing for Parents of Disabled Children, is now on cyberspace's electronic shelf. No more cocking your head sideways as you snake along shelves; in fact, you don't have to go any further than the keyboard of your computer. A brisk click of the mouse downloads the entire book in two shakes of a lambs tail, or so I'm told. The speed and ease is truly amazing, and there's one other perk too, electronic books cost less than precious paper and ink. Now that's a good thing.

Give Freedom a visit and better yet, if you per chance know a family member or friend who would benefit from this resource, send them my way and I'll take good care of them.

Here's where to go: available iPad, Kindle, and Paperback available in Kindle and Paperback

August 13, 2011

Another Race for the Cure

One year ago tomorrow a couple of friends and I Raced for the Cure. We drove to downtown Kansas City in the wee hours of the morning, donned in our pink hats and T-shirts, all to show a force against breast cancer. Coordinating our locations via cell phone calls, we met up, set up, warmed up, and headed out. I ran a 5K in honor of my mother who passed away in 2006, while my best friend, Debbie, ran for herself, a survivor.

I had my iPod and Blistex on board, while Deb ran nude of such frivolities. I'd been training for many months and felt more than ready for the occasion, while my BFF wondered how she'd do after minimal preparation. It was hotter than blazes and the humidity was down right evil. The mix of thick moist hot air along with the wicked hills of downtown KC, made it impossible to cool off. I dumped water on myself and ran in every shaded area I could find, all to no avail. I walked a couple of times during the race, which burst my bubble toot sweet. By the time I hit the finish line I was down right irritable and thoroughly disappointed.

I feverishly searched for water, only to find a truck bed loaded with bottles of warm disgusting water. I hadn't yet met up with Jimmy and Dani, so I perched on a fountain's ledge and leaned back to stick my hands in the cold water until they arrived. I could not believe how hot and miserable it was. My friend Debbie came in after me but in much better shape. She never walked and wasn't nearly as aggravated by the heat. I remember it all as if it were yesterday.

A lot has happen in one year's time. Because of recent surgery, I'm in no condition to walk the course let alone run it, but my heart is with all who will attend tomorrow's event just the same. Since last year I know more women battling breast cancer, making the cause all the more special. I'm thrilled to see that the forecast calls for a morning temperature of 61 gorgeous degrees, which I am sure will be a far more pleasant cry than last year's steamy start. I will not be attending the event and will miss the last quarter mile run where the 5K runners merge with the 1 mile walkers. From the runner's point of view coming down the hill, it looks like two pink rivers forking together. I can't explain it other than to say the unity of so many coming together as one reminded me of heaven. It was simply breathtaking.

I'll be in the church pew tomorrow praying for all participants of the race. May the Lord be with each and every one of you!

August 9, 2011

John 4:27-38

The Disciples Rejoin Jesus

“Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him. 31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”

33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” 34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”


Because if surgery, it's been months since we've journeyed through the Gospel of John. It's good to be back on track, so let's pick up where we left off and move forward with the apostle as our guide.

It was a pleasant surprised to see that several of you could relate to the post on John 4:1-26 regarding experiences in life that appear missed opportunities. Elaine at Peace for the Journey shared a similar story, in the comment section, of feeling helpless to assist the victims of recent tornado devastation in her area. What a comfort to know I'm not alone as my small mind attempts to comprehend the world's vast complexities (not that Elaine has a small mind. I only speak for myself). More often than not, God works His will in the most perplexing fashion, but faith reassures us He is thorough to care and provide for those whose heart is set on Him. As one who easily forgets this important gold nugget, I must continually be aware that God will use me when, where, and only if He chooses, according to His wisdom and knowledge. My job is to do precisely what I'm called to do, not pick and choose, which is a grueling lesson on obedience and self-control.

My experience at the grocery story (in the John 4:1-26 blog) was not the first time I've felt unused and dare I say unwanted with regards to doing a work for God. In hindsight, this little jaunt to the market brought to the surface the tip of sinister iceberg. Seems the frustration of missing two opportunities to help a person in need at the checkout brought to surface a lesson that's been calling my name for quite sometime, which leads us to todays lesson.

Interestingly enough, while John 4:1-26's lesson revealed my appreciable zeal to do a good work for God, this week's reading exposed a dangerous undertow fused to this same great passion. Isn't it just like God to not leave well enough alone? He's always so exact and thorough, which is good but remarkably exhausting.

What stuck in my craw in today's passage is verse 38, "I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” In a flash the word "reap" leaped off the page and into my heart, piercing it like a hot poker. Quicker than a short order cook can flip a pancake, God tailored these words to fit my life and circumstance. While Jesus spoke these words to instill humility into the hearts of the disciples who would soon do great miracles and wonders founded on the work of those who had gone before them, God nudged me toward submission as well, only with my own personal tweak.

Rather than impressing on my heart that I would reap great benefits from those who's gone before me, God stressed the value of those who set the stage for the disciples. Greats like John the Baptist, Old Testament prophets, and a multitude of other godly men and women of the Bible. Some names are well known while others are not, but all set the stage in God's kingdom plan. The lesson pressed on my heart declared the undeniable truth which states, the privilege of reaping tangible rewards is no more important than sowing the seed that makes a harvest possible. After all, a harvest cannot be collected if a humble sower fails to scatter the seed.

In a world that focuses primarily on reaping the harvest, it's tempting to forfeit less attractive work such as sowing. My experience in the grocery story and Elaine's exposure to the tornado victims left us both disappointed and frustrated, wondering why God chose not use us to offer assistance that very moment. I can't speak for Elaine but when my hands are tied to the point where all I can do is pray, frustration breeds. Prayer just doesn't seem to be enough in acute situations, and given my lesson from verse 38, it's probably due to the fact prayer is a quieter behind the scenes activity.

To be honest I'd prefer to stand by a great harvest posing for a picture that could be treasured and shared for all time, as opposed to praying my heart out in veiled secret. I hate to admit it but it's true...and my oh my doesn't that reveal how easily pride and personal gain can hijack zeal for God. It's a slippery slope we all tread, which is why we must walk life with extreme caution, pray every inch of the way, and humbly submit to the will of God no matter where it leads, be it sowing or reaping.


Verse 38 stood out to me like a sore thumb. What verse of our lesson today strikes a cord with your heart?

Do you ever find it frustrating to be left to simply pray for a situation? If so, what do you think the core of that disappointment is?

Has your own good natured zeal for God ever been hijacked by pride? What can you do to protect your heart from this sleek and deceptive tactic of the enemy?

August 3, 2011

The Hottest Day

I finagled the whole deal. Collaborating with my sister and sister-in-law, we decided yesterday, Tuesday, to get together for lunch and long overdue visit.

Since dad passed away 11 months ago, we no longer see one another on a weekly basis. We miss getting together every Wednesday morning to clean his home, take him to lunch, and tootle about Wal Mart. We never did much special, but the family time was priceless and the laughs were hearty. It's been a dry near year and time for a good ole fashion giggle or two or three. After all, laugher is the best medicine and when we link up, we overdose.

After calling each sister a couple of times, the date was set. I had no idea, however, it would turn out to not only be the hottest day of the year, but so sizzling it broke a 27 year old record. The thought of canceling was out of the question, so my sister-in-law and I zipped through Quik Trip to load up cold drinks before heading out across the desert to Kansas where my sister lives. (It sounds far away but we both teeter on the state line.)

With the A/C running full blast the whole trip, we arrived at my sister's just in time to play ball with one of Cocoa Bean's brothers, Pilgrim, his new canine sister, Lucy, and watch the pet chickens. We stood around the chicks coop in the shade for a about 30 minutes until I caved in complaining of the heat. I was becoming a bit nauseous so we headed into the house to have the best BLT's offered to the world. The mix of cold cold tomatoes and lettuce and hot bacon was nothing short of delightful, all thanks to my brother-in-law who whipped it up as we visited. Better yet, we had our mom's potato salad. It was like traveling back in time to when we were kids. Mercy sakes that was delicious.

With our belly's full, we piled into my car and navigated our way to what was once a K Mart turned Sears, presently converting back to K Mart once again. (Now, may I someone indecisive or what.) We shopped 70% off bargains that turned out to be no real bargain at all. To top it off, not a singe molecule of air was moving in the joint except for the ones we moved ourselves. After a thorough ransack down each isle, we each stood empty handed looking at one another at which time I pronounced I was hot again and this time...needed a Coke. That's when my sister suggested Winsteads next door to get a Cherry Coke.

Out the door and into the desert, we braved our way across the parking lot noting how hot even the windy wind was. With my car temperature reading 122 and the outside a mere 110, we felt like three gingerbread girls marching in a kiln. Truly, three hot chicks trekking the lot.

Our Tuesday was fun and memorable, no doubt we'll be doing it again very very soon. The hot temperature may have broken a few records but it didn't dampen our enthusiasm. Each day is a gift, whether hot or cold, and meant be used to enjoy one another and the time we have together. I know I am so very thankful for the family I have left.

Hope you are staying cool as the summer comes to a close. What have you done to beat the wicked hot summer's heat?