TUESDAY, MARCH 6

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. -Romans 8:18 (ESV)

About three-quarters of the way through the semester, after mid-term grades but before final papers were due, I started hearing from students.

“My computer crashed, so I’m not going to get it in on time.”

“I have a biology paper due the same day, and I don’t know how I can get both done!”

“I’ve got a migraine and feel nauseated all the time. I went to the nurse, but apparently I just have to wait it out. I can’t work.”

With each confession, I sank further into end-of-semester anguish.

“I’m the worst teacher in the world,” I told myself. “Too picky. Too demanding. I’m stressing them to the point of making them sick.”

That week, at an instructional seminar, the invited speaker denounced just such teaching. “Learning should be play!” she concluded brightly. I sank deeper into self-reproach with every word of her spunky message.

A week later, though, I read my students’ work. Their writing exceeded anything they’d done all semester.

“Wow!” I said as I handed back their papers. “I’m so impressed!

You’ve really learned!” Their faces glowed.

Every semester reteaches me that progress-whether physical, academic, or spiritual-typically involves struggle. There are fun moments but also hard ones, and God promises to use every bit of

effort for His ends.

Father, help me remember Your purpose in my struggles.

Help me to not give up.

-Party Kirk

Digging Deeper: 2 Corinthians 4:8-9; James 1:1-5

DAILY GUIDEPOSTS

 

My son Mark was only 5 feet, 8 inches tall when he left for college in the fall. He worked through the Christmas holidays and didn’t return home again until the February break. When he got off the plane, I was stunned at how much taller he looked. Measuring him at home, I discovered he now stood at 5 feet, 10 1/2 inches. My son was as surprised as I. “Couldn’t you tell by your clothes that you’d grown?” I asked him.

“Since I’ve been doing my own laundry,” he replied, “I just figured everything had shrunk.”

 

 



MONDAY, MARCH 5

FALLING INTO GRACE: Unlikely Blessings

They shall console you, when you see their ways and their deeds; and you shall know that it was not without cause that I did all that I have done …. Ezekiel 14:23 (NRSVj

Almost pleading, I asked the orthopedic doctor when I could resume some of my exercise routine. I knew I wouldn’t be doing planks or sit-ups for a while, but I desperately hoped to get back to walking. Preferably, yesterday. Believing that my sanity depended upon maintaining something of my before-fall life, I was willing to work through the pain, but I needed the doctor’s okay.

Turning from the X-rays of my broken bones, he smiled at me. “The only activity you’ll be doing is lifting a coffee cup.”

Seeing he was ready to dismiss me, I quickly asked another question. I wanted him to show me where the breaks were on my body, so I would know where to expect the pain to be concentrated. He pointed to a small bump between my neck and shoulder and then to an area on my side near my back. I got ready to leave.

“You know,” he began, and I turned to see him looking at me with compassion, “the pain will radiate. It won’t just be concentrated in those spots. You’ll have pain like you can’t believe in places that will surprise you, at times that don’t make sense,”

And I did. But it was easier because he’d prepared me. I didn’t panic when a movement took my breath away; I knew to expect it.

I’ve had too many doctors in my life. But I’ve learned that God works through them. Every time I flinched with pain, I knew that through that doctor, God had given me a bit of certainty, even if it was about how uncertain my life could be. Oddly enough, that felt like grace.

Lord, thank You for unlikely blessings and unexpected consolations.

-Marci Alborgherti

Digging Deeper: Luke 12:25-28; 1 John 4:11-12

DAILY GUIDEPOSTS

 

A nervous young minister, new to the church, told the flock, “For my text today, I will take the words, ‘And they fed five men with five thousand loaves of bread and two thousand fishes.'”

A member of the flock raised his hand and said, “That’s not much of a trick. I could do that.”

The minister didn’t respond. However, the next Sunday he decided to repeat the text. This time he did it properly, “And they fed five thousand men with five loaves of bread and two fishes.” Smiling, the minister said to the noisy man, “Could you do that, Mr. Perkins?”

The member of the flock said, “I sure could.”

“How would you do it?”

“With all the food I had left over from last Sunday!”

 



THURSDAY, MARCH 1

You will hurl all our sins into the depths of the sea. -Micah 7:19 (CEB)

It’s interesting what we can remember and what we may regret. When I think about the kind of dad I was when my kids were younger, I hate to recall the times when the two of them tested my patience. Two boys three years apart, roughhousing indoors, the playful tussling that turned into wrestling matches, threatening to destroy furniture if not send antique pottery falling from living room shelves, smashing on the floor.,

[ can hear myself say between gritted teeth, “That’s enough, boys,” and then raising my voice to ear-splitting volume when my seemingly mild-mannered request was totally ignored. “If you don’t stop it right now,” I would holler, “you’re going to both be sorry. Somebody’s going to get hurt.” My demand for a time-out was a request for myself. I needed a time-out. All that shouting … I hated to think what the neighbors made of it. What kind of dad was I?

Not long ago I said to our now twentysomething, ever-patient son Timothy, “You boys would make me so angry when you were younger. Oh, how I would yell at you.”

Tim looked at me quizzically. “You never yelled at us, Dad.”

I smiled at this bit of grace being delivered firsthand. “Just so you know, I did raise my voice, really loud. But I’m glad you’ve forgotten it.” It was as though I was being given forgiveness without even asking for it. Note to self: God can do some amazing, ex post facto rewriting of the most cringe-worthy scenes of our lives, at least as they are remembered by our loved ones.

Thank You for being a God Who forgives and forgets … and helps us to do the same.

-Rick Hamlin

Digging Deeper: Psalm 103:12; Hebrews 10:17

Daily Guideposts

 

GREAT THINGS ABOUT GETTING OLDER..

**Your eyes won’t get much worse.

**Things you buy now won’t wear out.

**There’s nothing left to learn the hard way.

**Kidnappers are not very interested in you.

**No one expects you to run into a burning building.

**In a hostage situation you are likely to be released first.

**Your supply of brain cells is finally down to a manageable size.

**Your joints are more accurate than the National Weather Service.

**Your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off.

**Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can’t remember them either.



WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 28

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I loved you, you also are to love one another. -John 13:34 (ESV)

As the movie credits scrolled, I sighed, pondering the films message. For two hours I’d stepped back into history, to a time when women had fought for their right to vote. The courage of these women inspired me. Their sacrificial resolve challenged me. Their perseverance empowered me.

This story also made me think or my mother, whom I had lost a year before. On Election Day several years ago, my mother asked if I’d voted.

I swallowed and answered honestly: I had not. Having recently moved, I was barely acquainted with the state public officials and I knew nothing, about the current candidates. I’d figured that voting would have been useless.

“Daughter;” my mother responded with conviction, “there’s no excuse for not voting. Don’t you know people lost their lives fighting for the right to vote? They died, so you and I could have that right.”

Her words struck a nerve deep inside. As a woman of color, I knew many African Americans had lost jobs, homes, and even their lives while fighting for the right to vote. I knew that women also had sacrificed much for this very same right.

Since my mother spoke those words to me, I have never missed an opportunity to cast my vote. Her words remind me of other courageous souls who sacrificed much, so I could enjoy the blessing of rights

and freedoms: the right to choose any seat in a movie theater; the right to send my children to schools with students of all races, cultures, and backgrounds; the right to vote. These freedoms were bought with a price, and I must live my life in honor of so many sacrifices.

Lord, may I never take for granted the sacrifices of others on my behalf

-Carla Hendricks

Digging Deeper: Luke 12:4; 1 John 3:16

Daily Guideposts

 

These are stories and test questions accumulated by music teachers in the state of Missouri, circa 1989.

Source: Missouri School Music Newsletter.

* It is important to be able to reach the brakes on any piano.

* Just about any animal skin can be stretched over a frame to make a pleasant sound once the animal is removed.

* It is easy to teach anyone to play the maracas. Just grip the neck and shake him in rhythm.

* My favorite instrument is the bassoon. It is so hard to play people hardly ever play it. That is why I like the bassoon best.

* I would like for you to teach me to play the cello. Would tomorrow or Friday be best?

* The plural form of musical instrument is known as orchestra.

 * Tubas are a bit too much.

* A contra-bassoon is like a bassoon, only the opposite.

* The most dangerous part about playing cymbals is near the nose.

* The flute is a skinny-shape-high-sounded instrument.

* Instrumentalist is a many-purposed word used by many player-types.

* Anyone who can read all the instrument notes at the same time gets to be the conductor.

* The main trouble with a French horn is it’s too tangled up.

* For some reason, they always put a treble clef in front of every line of flute music. You just watch.

 



TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 27

I love you, 0 Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God; my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation; my stronghold. I call upon the Lord’ who is worthy to be praised …. -Psalm 18:1-3 (NRSV)

I arrived at the intersection moments after the crash. Two cars were sliding to a rest, only a split second after they had collided head-on.

That awful metallic scream was still ringing in the air as I jumped out of my car and headed toward them.

Nothing was crumpled. It could have been worse.

I saw one person alone in each car. Both were conscious. Another nearby driver arrived on the scene, too, and we each headed for a car.

My driver was a man about my father’s age. I opened the driver’s side door and I will never forget what happened next.

“Whoa!” he exclaimed, peeling his hands off the steering wheel like it was a hot iron.

“Are you okay?” I asked. He began to get out of the car and stand up.

“Careful now,” I said. But his feet were already on the pavement.

Then he grabbed both of my hands in his and looked me full in the face.

“In every thing give thanks,” he said, “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

“King james,” I said, smiling, acknowledging that he was quoting a famous verse (18) from 1 Thessalonians 5.

“A rule of life,” he responded.

Whoa.

There are so many reasons why life is precious, Lord. May I see them everywhere I go today.

-Jon Sweeney

Digging Deeper: Ezra 9:9

Daily Guideposts

 

Out shopping, my friend Darin noticed a mother with three little girls and a baby. The woman’s patience was wearing thin as all the girls called “Mama” while she tried to shop. Finally, Darin heard her say, “I don’t want to hear the word MAMA for at least five minutes.” A few seconds went by, then one girl tugged on her mom’s skirt and said, “Excuse me, miss.”

* * * *

Only in the Military

When I was a newly commissioned Lieutenant in the Army, I was assigned as a temporary assistant in an administrative office in a Military Intelligence unit. One day a long memo came around with a cover sheet instructing all assigned officers to read it and initial it as indication of their compliance. I figured it meant me too, so I read and initialed, BUT a few days later, it came back addressed specifically to me. An attached note read: “You are not permanently assigned to this unit and are thus not an authorized signee. Please erase your initials and initial your erasure.”



MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26

The desert and the parched land will be glad …. Like the crocus, it ‘Will burst into bloom …. -Isaiah 35:1-2 (NIV)

My son Jeremy had hit rock bottom. Again. His punishment for reckless driving while under the influence would be harsh. As it should be. Part of the judge’s ruling was that Jeremy wear an ankle  monitor and be under house arrest for six months. His driver’s license revoked and his vehicle wrecked.

He had been off his bipolar medications for who knew how long. He’dl also been in a treatment facility, and now it was time to return to his house. He’d asked me to pick up a few things from his home. I dreaded going inside. As I suspected it reflected months of desperation. His sister Jennifer and her daughter Libby insisted on giving it a thorough cleaning. I gathered up mountains of dirty clothes and took them to a self-service laundry.

Finally, his home was organized. Clean. We even put a bowl of fresh fruit on the kitchen table and prayed over each room. I’d decided not to drive Jeremy home. I didn’t want to continue enabling. So I sat in the driveway and simply stared at the small house he so loved. Jeremy the green thumb in our family, but his yard looked bleak now. Abandoned, Hopeless.

Suddenly I saw it differently. Not exactly a vision, but on the front porch I imagined a big, red hanging geranium.

That afternoon my son phoned. “Mom!” A happy voice, like the real Jeremy; “The geranium is beautiful. I know you left it and I know what it means, Thanks for believing in me-again.”

Father, only You could have created something so beautiful that it conveys what words sometimes stumble over.

-Marion Bond West

Digging Deeper: Job 14:7; Psalm 19:1; Matthew 6:28

Daily Guideposts

 

A man went to see his doctor because he was suffering from a miserable cold. His doctor prescribed some pills, but they didn’t help.

On his next visit the doctor gave him a shot, but that didn’t do any good.

On his third visit the doctor told the man to go home and take a hot bath. As soon as he was finished bathing he was to throw open all the windows and stands in the draft.

“But doc,” protested the patient, “if I do that, I’ll get pneumonia.”

“I know,” said his physician. “I can cure pneumonia.”

* * * *

Little Johnny was eating breakfast one morning and got to thinking about things. “Mommy, mommy, why has daddy got so few hairs on his head?” he asked his mother.

“He thinks a lot,” replied his mother, pleased with herself for coming up with a good answer to her husband’s baldness.

Or she was until Johnny thought for a second and asked, “So why do you have so much hair?”



FRIDAY, MARCH 2

We love because he first loved us. John 4:19 (NIV)

It’s time to put up the Easter decorations!” I proclaimed to Chuck and my grandson Logan.

“I’ll get them out of the attic,” Chuck said.

Logan bounced on his toes and clapped his hands. “Can I help decorate too?”

“Sure,” I said.

I love to decorate our home for the seasons, and Easter runs a close second to Christmas for me with its signs of spring’s arrival-warmer days and new life abounding.

As Logan and I survey the collection of baskets, bunnies, and ornaments I’ve kept through the years, I feel the love of generations passed down. Some of the special baskets were given to my children by their dear-departed grandmothers. We fill the baskets with plastic eggs and arrange them around the house.

Logan finds the carton of plastic Resurrection eggs and exclaims, “This is mine!” The eggs are a tradition we started when Logan first moved in with us at age three. Now that he is seven, he can read the

Easter story himself before opening an egg containing an object that symbolizes part of Christ’s sacrifice and Resurrection.

Some of my favorite decorations are fold-out paper bunnies in their baskets. One of them was a gift from my mother to me when I was ten years old. But even more unique is the one given to her by her father when she was ten, the year written on it: 1924.

As I survey our assortment of Easter decorations, I am overwhelmed with love. Love from parents and grandparents, love to children, and, especially, love from our Savior to us.

Thank You, Lord, for Your love and the love that has been shared by our family.

-Marilyn Turk

Digging Deeper: Psalm 26:3, 6-7; John 3:16

Daily Guideposts

 

What Are My Choices?

It was mealtime during our trip on a small airline in the Northwest.

“Would you like dinner?” the flight attendant asked the man seated in front of me.

“What are my choices?” he asked.

“Yes or no,” she replied.

 

Which Landing Did You Like Best?

As the passengers settled in on a West Coast commuter flight a flight attendant announced, “We’d like you folks to help us welcome our new co-pilot. He’ll be performing his first commercial landing for us today, so be sure to give him a big round of applause when we come to a stop.”

The plane made an extremely bumpy landing, bouncing hard two or three times before taxiing to a stop. Still, the passengers applauded. Then the attendant’s voice came over the intercom, “Thanks for flying with us. And don’t forget to let our co-pilot know which landing you liked best.”



FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 23

Be not overeager to go to the House o/God …. -Ecclesiastes 4:17 (JPS)

For the first six months after my husband died, I don’t remember dreaming. Then, over the next few months, I could remember having dreams but not what had happened in them.

One year later, once the memory of a dream began to linger in the morning, I knew I was dreaming that I told people Keith was dead. I would wake up sad and depressed and couldn’t understand why I was

making myself feel worse. Things I had been doing with some routine satisfaction-like teaching, shopping, and exercising-began to pall and it felt like just going through the motions.

Then I had a dream in which I was reunited with Keith. I awoke feeling happy and wanted to remember as much of the dream as I could, to recapture all those emotions I had not been able to experience in

such a long time. I remembered what I had said to him in the dream: ”Am I dead now?”

“Ask yourself that after you wake up,” he answered.

God was speaking to me through my husband, as God had so often before. As long as I was alive, I had to go on living.

Please keep reminding me that You still have a purpose for me, Lord: that You want me to be present to every moment with a full heart.

-Rhoda Blecker

Digging Deeper: Deuteronomy 30:15

DAILY GUIDEPOSTS

 

Funny One-liner Jokes

I went to buy a watch, and the man in the shop said, ‘Analogue.’ I said, ‘No, just a watch.’

I went into a shop and I said, ‘Can someone sell me a kettle.’ The bloke said, ‘Kenwood?’ I said, ‘Where is he then?’

I met this bloke with a didgeridoo and he was playing Dancing Queen on it. I thought: ‘That’s Aboriginal.’

I bought some Armageddon cheese today, and it said on the packet. ‘Best Before End’



THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 22

THE BEAUTY OF SIMPLICITY

An Impromptu, Stress-free Wedding

A pretentious, showy life is an empty life; a plain and simple life is a full life -Proverbs 13:7 (MSG)

One afternoon my daughter Katie shared plans for her upcoming wedding. “Nothing fancy, Mom. A judge is marrying us.”

“What about guests? Cake? A reception?”

“No. I want everything simple this time.”

Nine years earlier, Katie and I had coordinated every detail for her 1st wedding, including apricot-colored bridesmaids’ dresses with matching roses and candles; a storybook ceremony. The marriage

ended in divorce.

On the morning of her second wedding, my husband and I headed to the courthouse. “What about flowers? Every bride needs flowers!” I texted Katie. “Can I bring you a bouquet?”

“Okay, but no stressing.”

I ran to the grocery store. Katie’s dress was ivory, but I had no idea what color her three-year-old stepdaughter, Rilynn, would be wearing, so I grabbed a dozen white roses. Before I could choose the perfect ribbon, the florist tied one around the stems, the kind meant for birthday presents.

At the courthouse, we spotted Katie and Rilynn who had spilled juice all over her blue chiffon dress. “No worries,” Katie said. I couldn’t believe it.

We walked down a messy hallway filled with cardboard boxes and found the judge inside his office. He greeted us warmly and Katie and Chris were married. Joy filled the room, despite only three attendees,

a grocery-store bouquet, a juice-stained dress, and me serving as the photographer.

Father, Your ways are unpretentious, simple, gracious.

-Julie Garmon

Digging Deeper: Matthew 6:21

DAILY GUIDEPOST

 

 

Quirky Collective Nouns

A ponder of philosophers

A nucleus of physicists

A portfolio of stockbrokers

A flush of plumbers

A corps of anatomists

A bodge of DIYers

An exaggeration of fishermen



WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 21

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. -Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

My friend John led the job skills program at a nearby juvenile correctional facility. He asked me to take on the ministry when medical tests showed no slowing of the cancer he was fighting.

Last night I wondered, as I drove to the detention center, if the program was making a difference. It had been two years since John died.

Questions kept cycling through my mind: Are we working on the right things? Are we connecting in relevant ways to help the youth live crimefree? Will we ever know?

Before the session started, Tim, one of the incarcerated youth, handed me a letter: “Thanks for finding James.” James, who is a valuable member of our ministry team, spent eighteen years in prison and

is now living a successful life on the outside. James is “helping motivate kids in trouble to get jobs and not hang on the streets. I never wanted to make it to prison. The question is, do I want to change?” And then, answering his own question, Tim added, “My answer is yes because it’s time to let my light shine.”

By the way, I didn’t find James. Nudged by a light on his own path, James found my friend John, who gave me James’s name before he died.

 

Dear God, thank You for encouraging me to keep on planting seeds and for reminding me that You are at work bringing about the harvest. Amen.

-John Dilworth

Digging Deeper: Psalm 94:19; 2 Corinthians 9:12; Ephesians 4:28

DAILY GUIDEPOSTS

 

Funny Shop Names

Bob Forster from Shipton-under-Wychwood in Oxon, UK has found a local plumber whose van announces: ‘The Lone Drainer – he come pronto.’

‘A Pane in the Glass’ is the name of a glazier’s in New York State, USA.

I have seen two of his examples, one in Croydon named ‘The Vinyl Frontier’ ; a shop which sells second hand records;

 

Questions to Ponder

Why does a round pizza come in a square box?

If someone with a split personality threatens to commit suicide, is it a hostage situation?

Duelling is legal in Paraguay as long as both parties are registered blood donors.




 

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