“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.” …


“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. ” -Luke 6:21 (NIV)
My friend Carol was invited to her dear friend’s birthday party.
Since the party was so close to Halloween, the women talked about coming in costume. Carol borrowed one from a friend, a big vinyl blow-up version of a very fat cartoon character wearing a bikini and a shirt that said Workout Trainer across the front. Carol said she looked more like an overstuffed version of the Pillsbury Doughboy.

When she arrived at the restaurant, she pulled the costume up to her neck, pushed the blow-up button, inflated herself into blimp size, and waddled past all the dressed-up customers in the upscale restauant. When she finally reached the back room where the party was, she opened the door and was mortified to discover that she was the only one wearing a costume. Carol was so upset and embarrassed that ‘she had to take a deep breath and think about what her response would be’.

She could get angry and blame the others for the situation she was in or she could play nutty to the hilt, join in on the laughter, and make light of her ridiculous look. That’s exactly what she did.
Not long after Carol told me that story, I was upset with my neighbor for removing my clothes from our community dryer two minutes before I arrived to do the job myself. I thought about Carol’s reaction and decided to play it cool. I never mentioned it to my neighbor and gave her a big smile and an extra friendly hello the next time I saw her.
Lord, thank You for the ability to think twice before I react to anything.
Keep my funny bone at the forefront, so I can laugh my way through anger or embarrassment.
-Patricia Lorenz
Digging Deeper: Psalm 126:1-3; Proverbs 1:22-23




The patient’s family gathered to hear what the specialists had to say.|
“Things don’t look good. The only chance is a brain transplant. This is an experimental procedure. It might work, but the bad news is that brains are very expensive, and you will have to pay the costs yourselves.”
“Well, how much does a brain cost?” asked the relatives.
“For a male brain, $500,000. For a female brain, $200,000.”
Some of the younger male relatives tried to look shocked, but all the men nodded because they thought they understood. A few actually smirked.
But the patient’s daughter was unsatisfied and asked,”Why the difference in price between male brains and female brains?”
“A standard pricing practice,” said the head of the team.
“Women’s brains have to be marked down because they have actually been used.”


If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me. -Psalm 139:9-10 (NAS)
I’m  grateful for the name my parents chose for me. Deborah was a wise woman of the Bible who led men into battle. She was a leader, I woman of deep faith. Deborah means bee, chatty, vibrant, busy. Yup, that’s me all right. Then I had foot surgery and was forced into a long period of nonactivity.
I came through the surgery without a problem, but then the lengthy healing process started: six weeks in a wheelchair followed by six to eight weeks in a walking cast. When the doctor mentioned the prolonged recuperation time, it hadn’t sounded so bad. Because I usually travel so much, I was actually looking forward to an extended time at home, And for the first week or two it wasn’t bad. The wheelchair was I hassle, but I managed.
Soon, however, I was bored, miserable, and feeling sorry for myself. I’ve heard through the years that I needed to slow down and smell the rose’s. There were roses? I didn’t see any roses.
I don’t know that I could have gotten through this time if not for God. Despite the physical limitations, these were rich spiritual weeks. read my Bible, studied His Word, and felt His presence in a profound
way while my heart and mind quieted. While I felt hidden from the world, buried in the deepest part of the sea, God was there. His hand was upon me. He held me close to His heart, comforted me, saw me through those dark days. It didn’t take long for me to smell the roses, sweet scent of God’s love and care for me.
Lord, You needed to slow me down, take me away unto myself so that I ,’II could get my attention. Only You could take my physical limitations and use them as a time of spiritual renewal.
-Debbie Macomber

Digging Deeper: Mark 1:35; Hebrews 4:15-16



There once was a man who loved puns.
They were his favorite kind of humor, and he would often spend time trying to come up with new ones.
One morning he was feeling particularly inspired and thought up ten brand new puns. And so he went about his day with the intention of using his new puns to get a laugh from his friends, but unfortunately, no pun in ten did.


An old farmer is inconsolable after his dog goes missing. He takes out an ad in the newspaper, but two weeks later, there’s still no sign of the mutt. “What did you write in the ad?” his wife asks. “ ‘Here, boy,’ ” he replies. …


I thereiore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called …. For the perfecting of the saints,  for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. Ephesians 4:1, 12 (KJV) 
I got a message on Facebook from Diane Wilson Onwuchekwa. ”Are you the author? If so, I met you years ago with my friend Tish.” Of course I remembered Diane and Tish. Their book club had invited me to a meeting to discuss my first book, Passing by Samaria.
Diane explained that she had written a book and wanted my help editing. Would I be interested? I hesitated. The gifts I’ve been given are to serve God’s people through the stories I tell and through helping others tell their stories, but I must be a good steward of the gifts: the stories should help others. I wasn’t sure if Diane’s story would meet the criteria.
“I was in a terrible car accident, Sharon. I was clinically decapitated and more than seventy-eight bones were broken in my body. They told me I wouldn’t walk again.”
I was speechless. I remembered Diane as being such a vibrant woman.
She had spent months in the hospital and then more months in a rehab enter. “My church prayed for me. And my tight-knit group of friends, my prayer team, was always there, even when I felt hopeless.”
Over the course of a few months, which included interviews, research, and a lovely retreat, Diane and I worked on her book, teachable Moments: Spirituality and Medicine. I lent my skill as a writer, Diane  brought her story of courage in the face of incredible odds, and we shared faith in God’s miracles.
When things seem impossible, I remember God specializes in the impossible.
Lord; thank You for Your miraculous gifts and healing. I pray for all those who are sick, who are discouraged, and for those who have lost hope.
-Sharon Foster
Digging Deeper: Jeremiah 17:14; Matthew 14:14; Romans 8:28


Mom: Your great-aunt just passed away. LOL.
Son: Why is that funny?
Mom: It’s not funny, David! What do you mean?
Son: Mom, LOL means Laughing Out Loud.
Mom: I thought it meant Lots of Love. I have to call everyone back. ..


Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life. -Psalm 54:4 (ESV)
Outside, the trees were just turning crimson. The air had a chill.
I raked leaves that had fallen and tried to convince myself that everything was okay despite having just learned that an opportunity I’d hoped would come my way had gone somewhere else.
I took in a deep breath and came up with reasons the opportunity wasn’t right for me-that most likely it would be a failure anyway.
When the sour grapes approach didn’t work I tried to put the disappointment out of my mind altogether.
My pile of leaves got bigger, but I was still feeling bad. I took another deep breath and prayed, “I trust Your plan, Lord. Your will, not mine.”
Looking at my watch, I realized that Henry would be coming home from school any minute, so I sat on the front porch. The big yellow bus roared down the road, and I smiled at seeing my son’s face in the window.
He bopped off the bus steps. “We’re roller-skating in gym!” he said,
“Is it fun?” I asked.
“I don’t know yet,” he said. “We spent the whole day learning how to fall down.”
“That’s a useful skill,” I said, opening the door. I smiled, thinking of a gym filled with kids purposely throwing themselves on to the floor,
”I’m still learning how to fall, Henry,” I said.
All at once, the weight of my disappointment seemed to disappear, Dear Lord, thank You for helping me through life’s disappointments. for picking me up when I fall.
-Sabra Ciancanelli
Digging Deeper: Psalm 42:11; Luke 22:42


My elderly Jewish grandmother was giving me directions to her apartment.
“You come to the front door of the apartment. I am in apartment 4012.”
“There is a big panel at the front door. With your elbow, push button 4012. I will buzz you in. Come inside, the elevator is on the right. Get in, and with your elbow, push 4.”
“When you get out, I’m on the left.”
“With your elbow , hit my doorbell.”
“Grandma, that sounds easy, but, why am I hitting all these buttons with my elbow?”
“Vaat . . . . . You coming empty handed?”


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