THURSDAY, JUNE 14

Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. James 4:14 (ESV)

Stephanie,” My mother’s voice sounded strained when I answered the phone. “Tom’s dead.”

I collapsed onto the living room chair, too shocked to speak. My cousin hadn’t been feeling well and left work early. Hours later, he wasn’t home. The mobile carrier tracked the location of his cell phone. The police officer found his car still running, parked on the shoulder of the highway. Tom had died in the driver’s seat.

I hung up the phone and cried.

Tom had four children, My heart broke for his young widow. I couldn’t imagine the pain she was going through.

My tears weren’t just for Tom and his family. I thought about my own life. This morning, my husband had gone to work early without waking us, On school days, I often was too hurried to say good-bye, let

alone take time to stop and kiss him as I rushed out the door to drive our daughter to school. More often than I cared to admit, I’d left the house in a huff, mad about something that really didn’t matter.

When my husband left for work the next morning, I hugged him tighter and kissed him a little longer. There was no way to combat the unpredictability of life, but the best way to honor my cousin was to live

each moment like it might be my last.

No one knows what the future holds, Lord. Help me to share love with others and embrace this life You’ve given me.

-Stephanie Thompson

Digging Deeper: Psalms 89:47, 90:12; John 10:10

 

DAILY GUIDEPOSTS

 

Four Golfing Duffers

A foursome of senior golfers hit the course with waning enthusiasm for the sport.

“These hills are getting steeper as the years go by,” one complained. 

“These fairways seem to be getting longer too,” said one of the others.

“The sand traps seem to be bigger than I remember them too,” said the third senior.

After hearing enough from his Senior buddies, the oldest, and the wisest of the four of them at 87 years old, piped up and said, “Oh my friends, just be thankful we’re still on this side of the grass!”



WEDNESDAY, JUNE 13

“Be perfect therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. ”  -Matthew 5:48 (NRSV)

I’m always thinking up ways to make my students revise.

“Revision-reseeing!-is how you improve,” I preach. I let them revise any paper for a new grade, but few take me up on it.

This semester, after handing back their first papers, I dragged the whole class to a computer lab to revise during class time for ten more points. They sat dutifully at the computers and set to work. Upon

grading the revisions, though, I found my students had made only cosmetic changes-removed the “decorative commas” I’d pointed out, fixed run-ons. No substantial improvement to the argument.

The next time I took them to the lab, one of my best writers asked if she could work on her next assignment instead of revising.

“I don’t do extra credit,” she told me flatly.

“This isn’t extra credit,” I said. “I’m requiring you to revise.”

“Well, I don’t revise,” she said. “When I get something back, I think, “‘Well, that’s good’ or ‘I could’ve done better.’ Either way, it’s done. I want to start on the next thing.”

I’ve been thinking about her remark all semester. Is this what all my students think? I started worrying that maybe I’m a sick perfectionist and should adopt my student’s healthier attitude: just put it behind me.

Then I remembered God at the creation. There wasn’t a mighty “Poof!” Rather, in a patient passage of days, He labored over each part of our amazing universe until He could hold it up and call it good.

God’s all about revision. He created us in His own perfect image, but when we fail He gives us second chances.

So, I slog on, hoping to solve this teaching dilemma, determined someday to succeed!

Creator God, help me to resee, ever to resee, until I am like You.

-Patty Kirk

Digging Deeper;’ Genesis 1-2; Romans 12:2

 

DAILY GUIDEPOSTS

 

You Get What You Pay For!  (that is For Certain too)

This rich person was very faithful about going to church. Their time came about, and they passed on to heaven. Met at the Pearly Gate by St. Peter, they were made to wait. The inquiring mind wanted to know, “Why must I wait, I was faithful about going to church. I was am important person on earth.” St. Peter said, “Well are readying your residence.” Off in the distance as far as the eye could see was fabulous mansion after fabulous mansion.  St. Peter finally led the person in and started walking past all the beautiful homes, each one more beautiful that the last. Turning a corner, St. Peter said, “This one is yours.” The newcomer asked, “But this is a dilapidated shack. Why do I get this?”  St. Peter replied, “Although you did get rich, this was the best we could do with the money YOU tithed us.”



TUESDAY, JUNE 12

 ‘Sing to God; sing praises to the Lord; dwell on all his wondrous works! Psalm 105:2 (CEB)

Wesley Henderson was a distinguished member of our church.

Not only was he a superb singer, working with some of the studio musicians in New York back in the 1940s and 1950s, but he also was a Tuskegee Airman, part of that cadre of African American pilots and ground crew who fought in World War II.

‘Toward the end of his long life he was homebound, and on Sunday afternoons I liked to go visit him. The pleasure was always mine, listening to his stories of growing up in New York, hearing about the

war. We usually sang together, Wesley from his hospital bed, making harmony on whatever hymn I came up with. The last time I saw him his voice was weak but his musicianship was impeccable as always. What a gift.

When I was away on vacation I’d heard that he’d been in the hospital He’d come home on hospice care. In midweek I got a call from a church member that he was fading. “I’ll come to sing to him this week-

end,” I said. That was the soonest I could get there. I hung up. Sing to him now, the thought came. Do it on the phone. I called back and while Wesley’s caregiver held the phone up to his ear, I sang “Amazing

Grace.” Later, as I was heading home, I called again with another song in mind.

“He passed,” his caregiver told me. “Just this afternoon.” He’d died right after I’d called the first time. I was stunned, sad, wishing I could do something but so glad I had sung earlier. There on the sidewalk I

sang to myself the last verse of another hymn, “High King of Heaven, thy victory won/May I reach heaven’s joys, bright heaven’s sun … “

Lord, thank You for my dear friend Wesley and the gift of music we shared.

-Rick Hamlin

Digging Deeper: Ephesians 5:19; Hebrews 2:12

 

DAILY GUIDEPOSTS

 

At age 83, Granddad was admitted to the hospital for the first time. “What is this?” he asked as he held up the bell cord they had fastened to his pillow.

“That’s the bell, Granddad,” I replied.

He pulled it several times, then remarked, “I don’t hear it ringing.”

“Oh, it doesn’t ring,” I explained. “It turns on a light in the hall for the nurse.”

“Well!” he replied indignantly, “if the nurse wants a light on in the hall, she can turn it on herself.”



MONDAY, JUNE 11

‘I will put a new spirit within them …. “-Ezekiel 11:19 (NKJV)

I was exhausted from gardening in the blistering heat and praying for relief when I heard the neighbor’s radio promoting the Missouri State Fair.

At lunch I said to my wife, “Let’s go to the state fair.”

Sharon stared at me blankly. “The fair? We don’t do fairs. Think of the parking problems, the crowds, the heat, and all that walking … “

“Okay,” I yielded, “but they do have a quilt show.”

Her eyes widened. “Quilts? Well, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to try it” once.

We arrived at the fairgrounds early in the morning. Parking was easy, on the grass, by the entrance. The morning crowds were light. Pretty, high clouds moved in, bringing cooler air. Instead of walking, we rode

the farm wagons pulled by strong green tractors, and we hopped off to see interesting sights, like the clever product demonstrations and the free samples of home-baked goodies. Most charming were the people: wide-eyed children petting the goats; weathered master gardeners surrounded by their hybrid creations; handsome highway patrolmen guarding a cage of beautiful tigers; real, live artists sitting beside their masterpieces; lively seniors learning to square dance; sidewalk musicians performing bluegrass magic. And, yes, a barnful of qullters with their colorful creations-to die for.

When we finally left the fair, I was not tired but exhilarated, my heart beating musically.

That night I thought of Sharon’s words: “We don’t do fairs,”

I decided that what “we don’t do” is just what we need to be doing.

Before dozing off, I made a list of new things to try. Just making the list made me feel good about the future.

Lord, give me the energy that comes only from new experiences.

–Daniel Schantz

Digging Deeper: Romans 7:6; Revelation 21:5

 

DAILY GUIDEPOSTS

 

Marriage Secrets

People ask us the secret of our long marriage. It’s really quite simple. Two evenings a week we take time out to go to a restaurant. A quiet dinner, soft music, some candlelight, a slow walk home…She goes Tuesdays; I go Friday.

 

A minister of a farming parish convened a prayer meeting to pray for rain during a serious drought. Noting that on that cloudless morning the church was full to overflowing, he came to the pulpit and posed a single question to his flock.

“You all know why we’re here,” he said. “What I want to know is, why didn’t any of you bring umbrellas?”



FRIDAY, JUNE 8

And he said: ”Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. ” -Maethew 18:3 (NIV)

My daughters Charlotte and Lulu are becoming independent. We no longer support them (much). With both of them in grad school in faraway California, we don’t see them very often. When they’re home for holidays, they talk about friends we haven’t met, foods we’ve never eaten, exciting places we’ll probably never visit. Lulu reads the news nowadays and votes. Charlotte belongs to a knitting and crocheting club, by far the youngest member, and goes to yarn shows with women twice her age. Their lives are very different from and not very connected to ours.

I used to long for this day: when they’d be mature women of their own shaping. I knew I’d never lament my empty nest, and I don’t. Still, I miss being the wise one in their lives, their go-to person for advice, large and small.

Increasingly, I find myself being advised by them.

Charlotte recently sent me a purse with birds on it. A purse! Who chooses a purse for another woman? But she’s right: it’s “me.”

And today Lulu spoke sternly about my usual end-of-semester woes: “Mom, you didn’t cause your students’ stress. They did. If they’d started their papers sooner, they wouldn’t be stressed! They have to learn that.”

Contrary to my expectations, I feel I’m getting younger – the one needing care – as they mature.

The same callowing is happening with God. It used to be that I thought I orchestrated my life. Now I find myself simply accepting God’s plans for me. His parental will, I find, is my unquestioned destiny and my hope.

Help me grow more childlike, Father and depend on You.

-Patty Kirk

 

DAILY GUIDEPOSTS

 

–  Old cooks never die, they just get deranged.

–  Old daredevils never die, they just get discouraged.

–  Old deans never die, they just lose their faculties.

–  Old doctors never die, they just lose their patience.

–  Old electricians never die, they just lose contact.

–  Old farmers never die, they just go to seed.

–  Old garagemen never die, they just retire.

               

 



THURSDAY, JUNE 7

Wednesday, June 6

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to his life as a ransom for many. -Mark 10:45 (NIV)

Row upon row of white crosses stand in military precision. The stillness of ten thousand graves reverberates in my heart. I made this visit to the American Cemetery in Normandy, France, reluctantly,

not wanting to feel the emotion of a place where so many died. Now, in this voiceless sanctuary of remembrance, I pay homage to those soldiers and all the others who’ve come after.

Perhaps my emotion is deepened because I understand. My son and son-in-law, in multiple deployments, have risked their lives. I’ve experienced the angst, yet been blessed by their return. The parents of those who died here were not so fortunate. I owe them, as well as their children, acknowledgment and honor for their gift of unshackled life.

I walk in silence to where thousands of young lives were extinguished in a single day. The beach is stark, windswept, empty. It’s easy to forget, important to remember. Being where it happened overwhelms me. I can’t ignore the immensity of the sacrifice, These people gave all; their lives stopped or forever changed, so mine could go on.

I climb steep banks, peer into scooped-out shelters, imagine the thundering battle. Water gently licks the well-worn sand where hundreds of thousands of boots carried their owners into the unknown.

The sea is calm now. I am filled with gratitude and awe.

Thank You, God, for all the soldiers who sacrificed their lives.

-Kim Henry

Digging Deeper: Psalms 7:9,33:12,60:12

DAILY GUIDEPOSTS

 

Who was Jesus? (No Disrespect Intended)

THREE PROOFS THAT JESUS WAS ITALIAN

He talked with his hands.

He had wine with every meal.

He worked in the building trades.

 

THREE PROOFS THAT JESUS WAS BLACK

He called everybody “brother.”

He liked Gospel.

He couldn’t get a fair trial.

 

THREE PROOFS THAT JESUS WAS A CALIFORNIAN

He never cut his hair.

He walked around barefoot.

He started a new religion.

 

THREE PROOFS THAT JESUS WAS A WOMAN

He had to feed a crowd, at a moments notice, when there was no food.

He kept trying to get the message across to a bunch of men who just didn’t get it.

Even when he was dead, he had to get up because there was more work to do.



WEDNESDAY, JUNE 6

Wednesday, June 6

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to his life as a ransom for many. -Mark 10:45 (NIV)

Row upon row of white crosses stand in military precision. The stillness of ten thousand graves reverberates in my heart. I made this visit to the American Cemetery in Normandy, France, reluctantly,

not wanting to feel the emotion of a place where so many died. Now, in this voiceless sanctuary of remembrance, I pay homage to those soldiers and all the others who’ve come after.

Perhaps my emotion is deepened because I understand. My son and son-in-law, in multiple deployments, have risked their lives. I’ve experienced the angst, yet been blessed by their return. The parents of those who died here were not so fortunate. I owe them, as well as their children, acknowledgment and honor for their gift of unshackled life.

I walk in silence to where thousands of young lives were extinguished in a single day. The beach is stark, windswept, empty. It’s easy to forget, important to remember. Being where it happened overwhelms me. I can’t ignore the immensity of the sacrifice, These people gave all; their lives stopped or forever changed, so mine could go on.

I climb steep banks, peer into scooped-out shelters, imagine the thundering battle. Water gently licks the well-worn sand where hundreds of thousands of boots carried their owners into the unknown.

The sea is calm now. I am filled with gratitude and awe.

Thank You, God, for all the soldiers who sacrificed their lives.

-Kim Henry

Digging Deeper: Psalms 7:9,33:12,60:12

DAILY GUIDEPOSTS

 

Who was Jesus? (No Disrespect Intended)

THREE PROOFS THAT JESUS WAS ITALIAN

He talked with his hands.

He had wine with every meal.

He worked in the building trades.

 

THREE PROOFS THAT JESUS WAS BLACK

He called everybody “brother.”

He liked Gospel.

He couldn’t get a fair trial.

 

THREE PROOFS THAT JESUS WAS A CALIFORNIAN

He never cut his hair.

He walked around barefoot.

He started a new religion.

 

THREE PROOFS THAT JESUS WAS A WOMAN

He had to feed a crowd, at a moments notice, when there was no food.

He kept trying to get the message across to a bunch of men who just didn’t get it.

Even when he was dead, he had to get up because there was more work to do.



TUESDAY, JUNE 5

“And do not be grieved, for the Joy of the Lord is your strength.” -Nehemiah 8;10 (ESV)

My four-year-old son, Will, plays on a soccer team with his three cousins.

The YMCA Screaming Eagles, with daring feats of goal-scoring aptitude and magnificent ball-handling skills, lead their team to sure victory each week as only preschoolers can do.

Okay, that’s not entirely accurate. There is a whole lot more ladybug catching and grass picking going on than there is soccer playing.

Last week, in a moment of sheer energy (read: craziness), Will noticed that his cousin Isaac was sitting in the grass at the edge of the field looking at a tiny daisy. And so, instead of heading to the goal and

shooting, he picked up the ball and took it to his cousin and set it in front of him. “Here, Isaac. You score this time.”

Isaac stood up and kicked the ball toward the goal. The crowd went wild. The parents cheered. The ref blew the whistle.

“Hand ball!” The ref bent down next to Will and kindly explained that in soccer you can’t touch the ball with your hands. The other team got the ball and quickly scored (another) goal.

And as I stood on the sidelines, shaking my head, wondering if the effort of finding soccer socks in laundry baskets and shin guards under the seat of the car was really worth it, the whistle blew. And eight bright-eyed kids ran to the sidelines, laughing and high-flying and talking about how that was the best game ever.

And I remembered that it didn’t matter who scored or who found a ladybug, but that our kids were holding hands, playing together, and loving every minute of the game.

Lord, show me how to find Joy in life even when things don’t go exactly as I think they should. Amen.

-Erin MacPherson

Digging Deeper: Psalm 5:11-12; Ecclesiastes 9:7

 

DAILY GUIDEPOSTS

 

After dozens of very expensive tests and weeks of hospitalization, the  rich old man was told he had only 24 hours to live. He immediately called his doctor and his lawyer to his room. He asked the doctor to stand by one side of his bed and his lawyer to stand by the other.

After standing for some time, the doctor asked “What do you want me to do?

“Nothing. Just stand there.”

A while later, the lawyer asked “What do you want me to do?”

“Nothing. Just stand there.”

As the hours wore on, the doctor and the lawyer watched the man weaken.

When his time had almost arrived, the doctor and the lawyer again asked “Why are we standing here?”

“Well,” said the old man, “Christ died between two thieves, so I thought I’d do the same!



MONDAY, JUNE 4

Then they sat upon the ground with him silently for seven days and nights no one speaking a word; for they saw that his suffering was too great for words. -Job 2:13 (TLB)

The storm was unusually severe, even for southwest Kansas. As, bolts of lightning hit near the house and thunder boomed, my dog Tarby whined and pawed at the door until I let her in. She is supposed to stay on the back porch, but she followed me into the living room and tried to crawl onto the sofa and into my lap. She was terrified, so I ended up sitting on the porch floor with her head on my legs, stroking her back until the storm passed.

A week later my daughter Rebecca called to say how grateful she was for her pastor. “When Olivia was in the emergency room getting treatment for a severe migraine, he sat with us for over an hour,” she said. “We hardly talked, but his presence meant the world to me.”

I remmbered the time a friend held my hand silently while I mourned my mother’s death; the dear ones who stayed with me during my husband’s cancer surgery; the stranger who handed me a cup of water and a tissue as I choked back tears after I was criticized for remarks I’d made,

There are times when the right words are important and helpful, There are times when spoken prayer is essential. But there are also limes, I’m learning, when simply being fully present with a hurting person-or a frightened dog-is enough.

MercifuI Savior, help me to know when to speak and when to be silent. Keep me willing to offer the same comforting solace to others as Your presence gives to me.

–Penney Schwab

Digging Deeper: Isaiah 66:12-13; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

DAILY GUIDEPOSTS

 

Who was Jesus? (No Disrespect Intended)

THREE PROOFS THAT JESUS WAS JEWISH

He went into his father’s business.

He lived at home until he was 33.

He was sure his Mother was a virgin, and his Mother was sure he was God.

 

THREE PROOFS THAT JESUS WAS IRISH

He never got married.

He was always telling stories.

He loved green pastures.

 

THREE PROOFS THAT JESUS WAS PUERTO RICAN

His first name was Jesus.

He was bilingual.

He was always being harassed by the authorities.



FRIDAY, JUNE 1

Friday, June 1

How precious to me are your thoughts, 0 God! How vast is the sum of them! If l would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you. -Psalm 139:17-18 (ESV)

A water bottle filled with sand sits on the windowsill beside my desk. I’ve never been one to collect sand from the beach. That was my sister, Maria, and the bottle is filled with sand from our last vacation together in Wellfleet, Massachusetts.

A few weeks after Maria died in her sleep, I was helping my brother- in-law clean up their yard and there it was, under a tarp in a pile of things from the vacation-a bottle of sand from my sister’s favorite beach; her way of bringing paradise home.

I held the bottle in my hands, picturing Maria sitting comfortably on her towel with a big straw beach hat on, funneling the sand, handful by handful, into the bottle. “Okay if I have this?” I asked. Mafia’s

daughter nodded.

The bottle of sand has been on my windowsill ever since. Sometimes it reminds me of the soap opera my mom has watched almost every day since I was a kid-“Like sands through the hourglass” begins the show.

After Maria died, Mom stopped watching TV for a while. The day I went onto Mom’s porch to borrow something and the show’s song echoed out of the open window, it made me feel better. Maybe the grief over Maria’s unexpected death had shifted just enough that Mom wanted to feel back to normal, whatever normal had become.

But, mostly, the sand in the bottle is a message from heaven, a reminder for me to take the time to take it all in. Everything-a-the green grass, the sound of birds singing, even the grief. Take in amazing moment of life.

Heavenly Father, help me be mindful. Guide me to see Your infinite blessings in sand and stone.

-Sabra Ciancanelli

Digging Deeper: Deuteronomy 2:7; Romans 15:29

 

DAILY GLJIDEPOSTS

 

The Vice Presidency is:

* a steppingstone… to oblivion. -Theodore Roosevelt-

* a spare tire on the automobile of government. -John Nance Garner-

* not such a bad job. All inside work… no heavy lifting. -Walter Mondale-

* sort of like the last cookie on the plate. Everyone insists he won’t take it, but somebody always does. -Bill Vaughn-




 

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