The Lord shall give thee rest from … thy fear …. -Isaiah 14:3 (KJV)
I  awoke with a jolt. I was terrified. Once again I felt like I was being smothered. I couldn’t catch my breath until I got up and walked around the house. Back in bed, apprehension consumed my thoughts.
It was a relatively simple problem. For some reason, my inner nose had collapsed, making it difficult to breathe properly. A couple of times, while climbing the steep steps of a tower or dashing up a long mountain in Zimbabwe, I had actually panicked, not realizing that my erratic breathing had caused my heart to beat in double time.
After extensive tests, my doctor concluded that my nose was my only problem.
All I had to do was have surgery. But that’s when the real fear found root. And it was made worse by comments from friends.
It’s a terrible surgery. You will think you are being smothered for days. To he honest, you’ll have the sensation of drowning for an entire week.
The nasal problem was getting worse, and I wasn’t helping it by ramping up my anxiety level. So I called on God and centered myself there: in His presence, one moment at a time.
I was ready.
The surgery went without a hitch. Some hours later, as I began to wake up, one thing was perfectly clear. I could breathe through my nose! My doctor had cleverly inserted tubes that allowed me this forgotten pleasure. No smothering or drowning sensations. Already I could see that my problem had been solved.
How many years did I waste? How many nights’ sleep did I lose? How many hours of manufactured panic did I spend separated from the one truth that waits for us all: God is with us. What shall we fear?
 Father, with every breath, I breathe Your presence. I am not afraid.
-Pam Kidd
Digging Deeper: Exodus 14:13; Matthew 6:34


A man walks into the local Chamber of Commerce of a small town, obviously desperate. Seeing a man at the counter, the stranger asks, “Is there a criminal lawyer in town?”

To which the man behind the counter immediately quips, “Yes, but we haven’t been able to prove it yet!” …


For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again …. –Job 14:7 (KJV)
The three-alarm fire started just before midnight and blazed for over an hour. By then, the I50-year-old Grace Episcopal Church in the Bronx was a skeleton of charred wood, melted stained glass, and the ashes of its century-old organ.
Church members were not the only ones grieving as they stood before the smoking ruin that Tuesday morning in November 1993. Grace Church had been an oasis of hope in a decaying neighborhood,
operating a food pantry and an after-school tutoring program for kids.
On the Sunday after the fire, the congregation gathered in front of the ruined building in the chilly air. They sat on folding chairs, sharing the few sooty and sodden hymnals salvaged from the wreckage. Father Miles, in a borrowed robe, stood behind an improvised altar and read the passage from Job about a tree that had been chopped down but was growing again.
Grace Church did grow again. The congregation moved into temporary housing for worship and outreach. The Episcopal Diocese of New York, of which my own church was a part, started a rebuilding fund.
Today, where the old church stood is now a stunning glass-and-stone sanctuary.
For me, the experience was a working out before my eyes of an oft heard truth. I remember arriving at their interim location. “Everyone’s so cheerful!” I said to Father Miles. “You’d never think you’d just lost your beautiful church.”
“Oh, we didn’t lose the church,” Father Miles said. “That was just a building.” He gestured at the group. “This is the church! People who love Jesus and love one another. No fire on earth can destroy that.”
Father, help me always to see reality beneath outward appearance.
-Elizabeth Sherrill
Digging Deeper: Acts 2:44-47

  The young man ahead of my father at the flower shop was taking an unusually long time to place his order. When the clerk asked how she could help, he explained that his girlfriend was turning nineteen and he couldn’t decide whether to give her a dozen roses or nineteen roses — one for each year of her life.The woman put aside her business judgment and advised, “She may be your nineteen-year-old girlfriend now, but someday she could be your fifty-year-old wife.”The young man bought a dozen roses …



As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. -1 Peter 4:10 (ESV)
Tonight was my hometown’s local talent show. I’ve lived in Tivoli, New York, for most of my life, and over the years very little has changed. It’s still a no-traffic-light, four-corner-center village of about a thousand people. The slogan for our town has always been “Tivoli: ‘I LOV IT’ Backward.” Growing up, I always felt safe and lucky, as if we lived in a secret utopia. I still feel that way.
A small crowd of us gathered on the second story of a grand brick church. Packed on folding chairs, standing room only, we faced the stage. Rays of the setting sun streamed through the stained glass.
One after another, young and old came onstage, playing instruments, dancing and singing, doing gymnastics and even puppetry. A young boy played “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” on his violin. A teenager danced and lip-synched to his favorite rock song. A woman sang tenderly to the beat of a single drum, stirring something deep in my heart.
My family scooted together in the audience. Henry-feeling a bit too old but wanting to see-sat on my lap to get a better view, and my mom, my oldest, Solomon, and my husband, Tony, clapped loudly. I found myself tearing up more than once at the generosity of the people I live among, the willingness of so many to put themselves onstage and give a gift only they could give, and the reciprocity of how that gift was appreciated, the cheers and applause that echoed off the vaulted ceiling again and again, reassuring each and every one of us: you belong; you are loved.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the variety of blessings You bestow upon us and the magic that happens when we share, honor, and celebrate our gifts.
-Sabra Ciancanelli
Digging Deeper: Matthew 6:21; Romans 12:6; I Corinthians 16:14
If God wanted me to touch my toes, He would’ve put them on my knees.
The kids text me “plz” which is shorter than please. I text back “no” which is shorter than “yes.”
I’m going to retire and live off of my savings. Not sure what I’ll do that second week. …


Say to your brothers, “You are my people,” and to your sisters, “You have received mercy.” -Hosea 2:1 (ESV)  

There are you?” a young visitor asked, pointing to a picture posted on my refrigerator, then another, of me surrounded by my siblings. “Who are they?”


“Oh, they’re my dear ones,” I said. The phrase surprised me and prompted a twinge of nostalgia. You see, every Sunday afternoon for fifty years, my mother hoisted a Royal typewriter onto the dining room


I able. She inserted carbon sheets between six or more pages of bond paper and rolled them all into place. Then, modeling a hunt-and-peck method, she typed her predictable salutation: “Dear Ones.”


In subsequent paragraphs she relayed highlights of the previous week’s activities followed by a preview of the coming week’s plans. Her letters-mailed to her parents, siblings, in-laws, and eventually aII us adult children scattered across the country-represented her family ties. We knew we were her people, blessed by her lifelong commitment.


My parents passed away some years ago. I don’t see my siblings often, I Jut I talk to one, if not several, weekly. And one brother, bless him, sends out a Sunday group e-mail, summarizing his week. His closing phrase, “God is good,” settles my spirit. It’s the familial encouragement I see in Hosea’s message: Tell your brothers and sisters that they’re God’s dear and beloved ones. I hear and accept the challenge. I’m reaching for the phone.


Father, thank You for Your love and mercy. It’s a privilege to share that good news with my family.
-Evelyn Bence


Digging Deeper: Philippians 4:1; 2 Timothy 1:1-10



  A Baptist preacher went to visit a member of the community and invited him to come to church Sunday morning.  

It seems that this man was a producer of fine peach brandy. He told the preacher that he would attend his church IF the pastor would drink some of his brandy and admit doing so in front of his congregation. The preacher agreed and drank up.


Sunday morning, the man visited the church. The preacher recognized the man from the pulpit and said, “I see Mr. Johnson is here with us this morning. I want to thank him publicly for his hospitality this week and especially for the peaches he gave me and the spirit in which they were given.”


“Prepare yourself and be ready …. ” -Ezekiel 38:7 (NKJV)
I  glanced at the fuel gauge: three-quarters full. We lived thirty-five, it mountainous miles from town, but there was plenty to make it home and back before the pickup needed refueling. I was tempted just to go home
With a foot of snow on the ground, shopping in town had taken forever My husband always kept the tank topped off, especially in winter; he’s more of a stickler about that than I am. But I was using his pickup, so I needed to do it. I pulled into the gas station. “Lord, please give me patience when I have to do the right thing.” It was more of a grumble than a prayer.
It sounded to me like my faith tank needed to be topped off, too, so when I got home, I poured over Scriptures about patience.
The next day, Randy and I were nursing our predawn coffees next to the woodstove, when the phone rang.
“Sorry to call so early,” a friend said, “but I was driving in the woods and there was a creek flooding the road under the snow. My rig is buried.
Could you come pull me out?”
I glanced at the thermometer: minus twelve degrees. There wasn’t a moment to spare. He was more than seventy miles away, in the opposite direction from town. I filled the thermos and helped Randy load the chains and gear for rigging out our friend’s truck.
“Thank You, thank You,” I repeatedly prayed, grateful that I’d taken the extra few minutes to fuel up in town. Being stuck far from civilization can be a death sentence during our brutal winters.
Our friend was glad to see us. It took us over an hour, but we finally winched him out to higher ground.
Thank You, Lord, for reminding me to keep my faith primed and my tank full You alone know the future. Help me to be prepared for the jags in the road I cannot see.
-Erika Bentsen
Digging Deeper: 2 Corinthians 9:5; 2 Timothy 4:2; 1 Peter 3:15

  ​It was our second anniversary, and my husband sent me flowers at the office. He told the florist to write “Happy Anniversary, Year Number 2” on the card.I was thrilled with the flowers, but not so pleased about the card. It read, “Happy Anniversary. You’re Number 2.” …


Thursday, November 8
But You, 0 Lord, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head. -Psalm 3:3 (NKJV)
 Jogging this morning, I found a pretty feather-buff-and-brown striped, probably from a hawk. The first feather I’d found in a long time.
I became interested in birds after finding a dead roadrunner on the hillside over a decade ago. I took some of its long, slender, white- tipped tail feathers, and my teenage daughters, who are part Cherokee, made them into dream catchers and hung them in our kitchen window.
I have glass vases full of fancy feathers I’ve collected since then: red cardinal and tanager feathers, blue bunting and jay feathers, striped III! I speckled feathers from woodpeckers, ducks, doves. I’ve used some In crafts, but mostly I forget them until some visitor comments.
That’s why it seemed odd not to have found one in so long. Years, probably.
What changed? I pondered as I jogged, scanning the trees for warblers. Are fewer birds dying? Are buzzards snatching them up before I find them? And if so, why?
Finally I figured it out. Back when I first started running, I ran, my athletic daughter Charlotte pointed out, “wrong”: my shoulders hunched, my head down.
‘Running that way’s bad for you! Throw back your shoulders! Lift your head!” she counseled. I found following Charlotte’s advice nearly impossible, It seemed to take all my effort just to keep moving forward.
Now, though, those creatures that God made to “fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven” (Genesis 1 :20, KJV) keep me peering up into the tree canopy and out over the fields. Without meaning to, I run “right” these days. Getting exercise has morphed from a chore to a delight. My whole outlook has changed: I no longer notice dead birds, only live ones.
Thank You for lifting my head, Father. It seems a much better way to proceed
-Patty Kirk
Digging Deeper: Ephesians 6:10-18


“Mister, why doesn’t this cow have any horns?” asked the young lady from a nearby city.

The farmer cocked his head for a moment, then began in a patient tone, “Well, ma’am, cattle can do a powerful lot of damage with horns.

Sometimes we keep’em trimmed down with a hacksaw. Other times we can fix up the young ‘uns by puttin’ a couple drops of acid where their horns would grow in, and that stops ‘em cold. Still, there are some breeds of cattle that never grow horns.”

“But the reason this cow don’t have no horns, ma’am, is ’cause it’s a horse.”    


Tuesday, November 6
Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. “-John 11:25 (ESV)
Watching all the media buzz surrounding the last national election, I felt a sadness mounting inside. I was missing my dad, who had passed away. My dad had been a political enthusiast, having run for city council and mayor of Baltimore, Maryland, my birthplace.
Growing up in a politically savvy family made election season fun. I remember countless times when my dad, mom, two older sisters, and I circled around the dinner table, discussing politics with the fervor of Congressional hearing. We would debate issues as passionately as the candidates.
This election season marked the first without my father. I missed hearing his daily commentary on the candidates’ campaign antics and verbal attacks on their opponents. I missed hearing his views on each candidate’s qualifications or lack thereof. I missed chuckling as he ranted about his least favorite candidate. I missed him.
On the day of Maryland’s state election, my sister Sherri called to discuss the recent election footage we’d been following. We discussed the front-runners, and she had lots of opinions on each of them. Her endorsement for her favored candidate was so compelling, I laughed, thinking her candidate would do well to add Sherri to the payroll.
Then it hit me. My father was no longer here, but a part of him lived on in each of his daughters. He left me a compassionate and sensitive heart. My sister Lori embodies his protectiveness and care. He passed along his love for politics and public service to Sherri.
Now I don’t feel the sadness as I did before. My father’s spirit lives on, and for that I am grateful.
Lord, thank You for blessing us with loved ones who continue to be with us long after they’ve passed.
-Carla Hendricks
Digging Deeper: John 1:4,3:16-17


A farmer had 5 female pigs. Times were hard, so he decided to take them to the county fair and sell them. At the fair, he met another farmer who owned 5 male pigs. After talking a bit, they decided to mate the pigs and split everything 50/50.
The farmers lived 60 miles apart, so they decided to drive 30 miles each morning and find a field in which to let the pigs mate.
The first morning, the farmer with the female pigs got up at 5 a.m., loaded the pigs into the family station wagon (the only vehicle he had) and drove the 30 miles.
While the pigs were in the field mating, he asked the other farmer, “How will I know if they are pregnant?”
The other farmer replied, “If they’re lying in the grass tomorrow morning, they’ll be pregnant. If they’re lying in the mud, they’re not.”
The next morning the pigs were rolling in the mud. So he hosed them off, loaded them into the family station wagon again and proceeded to try again.
This continued each morning for more than a week and the farmers were worn out.
The next morning, one was too tired to even get out of bed. So he called out to his wife, “Honey, please look outside and tell me whether the pigs are in the mud or in the grass.”
“Neither,” yelled his wife, “They’re in the station wagon. And one of them is honking the horn.”


Monday, November 5                

When he is dealing with the arrogant, he is stern, but to the humble he shows kindness. -Proverbs 3:34 (NAB)
We’re reassigning you and putting you on probation,” my supervisor was saying. My heart went cold. My vision went fuzzy around the edges. I heard her words as if they were wrapped in cotton, “If your attitude and performance don’t improve in a month’s time, you will be fired.”
Even in the midst of that hot, shame-filled moment, paths opened before me. I could tell my supervisor how she was wrong, how this Will unfair, and how I was misunderstood and maligned. But God graced
me in that moment with humility. I had taken this job because it didn’t challenge me and it was easy money. I admitted to myself that I hold put little thought or prayer into how I wanted to apply my skills and passions.
Humbled, I bought Richard Bolles’s What Color Is Your Parachute followed every instruction in that book and researched jobs that sounded like they’d be fun and challenging. I was especially drawn to the job of radio commentator, and a year and a half later I was working at a public radio station, my first full-time position in what turned into a rewarding twenty-five-year career.
I was stunned by the stern discipline I had received that day in my supervisor’s office. But my punishment was fair. I had harmed my employers with my arrogance and defiance. Acknowledging that behavior provided God with the opening He needed to shower me with kindness and wisdom.
God, help me to learn humility from my humiliations.
-Amy Eddings
Digging Deeper: Psalm 51:17; Ephesians 4:2; Philippians 2:8-9


Dead Penguins — I never knew this! Did you ever wonder why there are no dead penguins on the ice in Antarctica?
Where do they go? Wonder no more!
It is a known fact that the penguin is a very ritualistic bird which lives an extremely ordered and complex life. The penguin is very committed to its family and will mate for life, as well as maintain a form of compassionate contact with its offspring throughout its life.
If a penguin is found dead on the ice surface, other members of the family and social circle have been known to dig holes in the ice, using their vestigial wings and beaks, until the hole is deep enough for the dead bird to be rolled into, and buried. The male penguins then gather in a circle around the fresh grave and sing:
“Freeze a jolly good fellow.”
“Freeze a jolly good fellow.”
You really didn’t believe that I know anything about penguins, did you?
It’s so easy to fool OLDER people, like me.
I am sorry, an urge came over me that made me do it!
Oh, quit whining, I fell for it, too!


For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. -Isaiah 55:8 (NIV)
My wife, Elba, and I were enjoying a TV program when the phone rang. It was our daughter, Christine. I tried to keep my focus on the show, but I heard Elba crying. “What happened?” I asked. She turned to me and said, “Christine and Taun got engaged!” I was delighted to hear the news.
Two months earlier, Taun had come to our home without Christine to tell us he would be proposing to her. We embraced him with open arms and gave him our blessings. He asked that we keep this to ourselves because he wanted to surprise our daughter. We didn’t have any idea when he would propose, but nonetheless we were excited for them.
Since our children were young, Elba and I have prayed for their education, spiritual life, college choice, dates, and their marriage partner. Many years ago, before Taun and Christine met, my mother-in-law said to  Christine, “Your true love is coming from afar.” To this day, we all joke about this because Taun moved to New York from South Dakota.
As one of my colleagues says, “God has better plans for our children than we could ever plan.” Indeed.
Lord, help us to trust Your ways.
-Pablo Diaz
Digging Deeper: Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalm 100:5


Teacher: Use a sentence that starts with “I”
Bobby: I is…
Teacher: No, Bobby. You should say “I am”, never “I is”.
Bobby: I am the 9th letter of the alphabet. ..

  As the coals from our barbecue burned down, our hosts passed out marshmallows and long roasting forks. Just then, two fire trucks roared by, sirens blaring, lights flashing. They stopped at a house right down the block. All twelve of us raced out of the back yard and down the street, where we found the owners of the blazing house standing by helplessly. They glared at us with looks of disgust. Suddenly we realized why: we were all still holding our roasting forks with marshmallows on them. …


He that loveth not knoweth not God;f or God is love. -1 John 4:8 (KJV)
My brother Kevin died just before the sun went down. I understand the theory that he is gone and what is left of his earthly vessel is in a stone box under an oak tree in Illinois, but it seems inarguable to me that his love for me, and mine for him, persists, even though I do not have the same long, tall, grinning target for my love like I used to. Yet his memory is something that is with me all the time.
I saw a heron the other day, and it was Kevin. I saw a big guy lumbering diligently on a basketball court, and he was Kevin. We are so sure we know what is possible and impossible, and we are pretty much wrong about that. I think love wanders among generations and probably galaxies. I think love is the greatest thing ever invented, with all due respect to water and butter and my wife. I think if you love and were loved, then you lived the best life ever. I weep for people who were never loved and never got the chance to love other people. So very many people’ who never bathed in love and never cast their love into the hearts and souls of others.
Love is so much bigger than romance. Love is reverence and responsibility and respect and tenderness and patience and attentiveness, “There is compassion and then there is everything else,” said a brilliant man to me once, and he was talking about big love, the ocean of love, about which my brother taught me so much.
Dear Lord, as You know, I used to curl up against my vast brother when I was little, and he taught me basketball and chess, and he was my hero, and we were blessed to grow to be dear friends as men, and now he is with You, and that’s good. But thanks so much for letting the memory of him stay with me. I can’t explain how much that means.
-Brian Doyle
Digging Deeper: 1 John 4:7-11, 16




Did you hear about the ancient Egyptian man that launched a successful stone quarry business? Turns out it was a pyramid scheme all along. …


The prospective son-in-law was asked by his girl friend’s father, Son, are you able to support a family?””Well, no, sir,” he replied. “I was just planning to support your daughter. The rest of you will have to fend for yourselves.” …


Leave a Reply