Tuesday, October 2
Love each other. -John 15:17 (NIV)
I  knew my father-in-law only after he lost his sight. So I had to imagine what it was like for this respected professor of theology to be told at age forty-nine that he would be blind in a matter of weeks.
It was 1942, wartime. His son John (my husband-to-be) was completing basic training in Camp Wolters, Texas. The Red Cross obtained four days “compassionate leave” for John to return to Louisville, Kentucky, so that his father could see him for the last time. “I expected to find Dad grieving over the end of his career,” John remembers.
Instead, he found his father preparing to carry on exactly as before. All ready, he was learning Braille, training his fingers to take on the hours of reading his courses required each day. “What seemed to worry him,” John told me, “wasn’t his own loss but that his blindness might be a barrier for his students.” With John’s mother, he was practicing locating a speaker’s eyes from the direction of his or her voice. He was walking with his wife around he seminary with his eyes dosed, so he wouldn’t need a cane.
John was fighting in Italy when his father wrote that he’d discovered a wonderful new resource: “Talking Books.” With these, his Braille books, “”his extraordinary memory, he was able to retain entire texts, so that in front of a class he would appear to be reading. Years later, when I wrote a story about him, I got a furious letter from a man who studied under him in 1951. How can you write such lies! Dr. Sherrill could see as well as I can!”
Certainly, he seemed to see. “How lovely you’re looking today!” he’d say to me ( I though I knew it was not my appearance but his own loving spirit speaking so I would feel lovely.
Dad Sherrill laught more students and wrote more books without his eyes than without them. “There are many ways to see,” he told me once. “The important thing is to look with love.”
Father, teach me to see. -Elizabeth Sherrill
Digging Deeper: Colossians 3:14; 1 John 4:7  
Christian One Liners:
*Don’t let your worries get the best of you; Remember, Moses started out as a basket case.
*Some people are kind, polite, and sweet-spirited. . . Until you try to sit in their pews.
*Many folks want to serve God,. . . But only as advisers.
*It is easier to preach ten sermons. . . Than it is to live one.


Then as a widow to the age of eighty jour, she never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. -Luke 2:37 (NRSV) Every three months, my family made the two-and-a-half-hour trek to visit my husband’s grandparents in Marietta, Oklahoma. Nana was in the early stages of dementia, and Grandpa, a navy veteran two wars, was a two-time cancer survivor who was only able to breathe with the help of an oxygen tank. Rocking in his recliner, Grandpa lamented their condition. “We’re in it  overtime,” he admitted. Nana nodded. Then Grandpa died. Nana couldn’t stay alone; she moved to an assisted-living center in our town. I monologued to her about the positives: now we could visit weekly instead of every three months. She’d also get to know our daughter Micah, her only great-granddaughter, more intimately. Every Sunday my in-laws could take her to church and dinner. Still I worried: How did she feel now that her body and mind were betraying her? Gently, I tried to persuade her to talk about her circumstances. Nana shook her head. “I’m in overtime” was all she said, as if to indicate she had nothing left to live for. One Saturday, Nana came over to watch her beloved University of Oklahoma Sooners play football. At the end of the fourth quarter the score was tied. We cheered as the Sooners prevailed and won in overtime. “You know,” said Nana with a gleam in her eye, “the best games always go into overtime.” I nodded and smiled. Nana was still ill the game. Lord, Thank You for Nana’s Wisdom. Help me remember that we all can serve You until our final minute.

  • Stephanie Thompson

Digging Deeper: Deuteronomy 33:25; Psalms 71:18, 92:14   DAILY GUIDEPOSTS   THINGS THAT IRRITATE A SANE PERSON *The car behind you blasts its horn because you let a pedestrian finish crossing *A piece of foil candy wrapper makes electrical contact with your filling *You set the alarm on your digital clock for 7pm instead of 7am *The radio station doesn’t tell you who sang that song *You rub on hand cream and can’t turn the bathroom doorknob to get out *People behind you on a supermarket line dash ahead of you to a counter just opening up


“For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. “-Matthew 22:30 (RSV)
I was asked to teach a premarital class at my church for a group of newly engaged-to-be-married members. I froze before answering. I suspect that most couples view these types of classes as an obligation. But when done well, premarital classes can be an eye-opening introduction to the challenges of married life, especially for people of faith. 
I froze because, after thirty plus years of marriage, I didn’t know what to say. I could give scads of advice, mostly beginning with the words I used to think, .. but what advice could I give now?
After weeks of flailing, here was my gift to sixteen couples prepping for a lifelong sacrament-a travelogue: “Ladies and gentlemen, here are photos of my trip to China. Here’s Beijing-or one small part of Beijing, which is one small part of the colossus known as China. Here we are at the Great Wall-well, one small part of thousands of miles that was built over centuries. Here’s our group in Inner Mongolia, which was as different as another planet.
“After visiting China, I know less than when I started, because I now realize all I didn’t know. To know something well, you have to live with it, learn the language and traditions and history.
“Marriage is a foreign country. You have to learn how to adapt, to communicate. You have to know why the walls were built and where the gaps are. Most important, you cannot do it alone. If you, as a couple, think you can have a marriage without good fortune and help from above-well, I wish you the best. You’ll need it.
” Lord, watch over these sixteen couples and  the holy and foreign country they now enter
-Mark Collins
Digging Deeper:
Psalm 63:7-8; Matthew 19:4-6
The Washington Post’s Style Invitational asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. Here are some recent winners:
Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease.
Karmageddon: It’s like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it’s like, a serious bummer.
Glibido: All talk and no action.
Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.


Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. -Colossians 3: 13 (NIV)
My ex-husband and I stood over our boys with smiles for the birthday picture. Brandon was fixated on his cake, while my little one turned around and excitedly exclaimed, “The whole family!”
This was our first family picture in five years. For all that time, we had not occupied the same space for more than a few seconds and we barely spoke. Now we were celebrating our son’s birthday for the entire weekend in a rented vacation house with my ex’s family.
That night, I kept looking at the picture with tears in my eyes. “Thank You, Jesus,” I prayed. “Thank You for getting us through all the pain and bringing us here.”
I thought about this restoration of friendship with my ex-husband, I thought about the memoir I wrote of my journey to single motherhood, which would soon be published. The sweetness of those recent moments all came from pain and the act of facing it, wrestling with it, letting it go, and moving on from it.
It’s easy to snuggle up with hurt and anger and defend it as a right. It feels good. But as the four of us sang “Happy Birthday” to our little boy, surrounded by family, I knew that this place of forgiveness was so much better.
Lord, thank You for the power of forgiveness.
-Karen Valentin
Digging Deeper: Ephesians 4:31-32
Little Johnny had bought Grandma a book for her birthday and wanted to write a suitable inscription. He  racked his brain until suddenly he remembered that his father had a book with an inscription of which he was very proud, so Johnny decided to use it. You can imagine Grandma’s surprise when she opened her book, a Bible, and found neatly inscribed the following phrase: “To Grandma, with the compliments of the author.”


“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” -Matthew 5:8 (NIV)
I could’ve done that,” I said to my friend as I stared at a half-massaged lump of clay in the Guggenheim Museum.
“Yeah, but you didn’t,” she replied, and we chuckled.
The whole art exhibit up to that point had felt like a clever trick by the artist: get a bunch of people to pay to look at pieces of “art” that essentially amount to a large gray cylinder, or something that looks like a giant gray macaroni noodle, or a photo of cut-up hot dogs and household items stacked on top of each other.
But as we continued around the museum, we found pieces with which we really connected.
At the very top floor was the last display in the show. The room was dark and at the top of one wall was a row of projectors. The projectors cast questions in different directions and different languages on the other three walls and the ceiling. Just as winding as the writing were the questions. They ran the gamut-love, life, self-awareness, the universe. Some were silly while others hit so close to home that they were gut wrenching. It was the single most authentic creation of human experience that I had ever witnessed with any art form.
Michelle and I-in awe of this brave, honest display of vulnerability– sat on a bench in the back of the room under the projectors and read each and every question.
God, thank You for showing me examples of people who are willing to be bravely vulnerable and who reveal their hearts, May we all receive each other and our vulnerabilities with awe, compassion, and love. –Natalie Perkins
Digging Deeper: 1 Samuel 16:7; Psalm 139:14-16; Romans 12:1-5
DEAR PASTOR (letters from the kids)
Dear Pastor, Who does God pray to? Is there a God for God? Sincerely, Christopher. Age 9, Titusville
Dear Pastor, Are there any devils on earth? I think there may be one in my class. Carla. Age 10,  Salina
Dear Pastor, I liked your sermon on Sunday. Especially when it was finished. Ralph, Age 11,  Akron
Dear Pastor, How does God know the good people from the bad people? Do you tell Him or does He read about it in the newspapers?  Sincerely, Marie. Age 9, Lewiston


“But I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.” -John 15:15 (NAS) I sat on the playground with my. granddaughter Grace-her invited guest at an autumn class picnic. How are you liking your new school?” I asked. It’s not the easiest thing to move to a new locale when you’re going into first grade. When you’ve lived in small-town Alaska and gone to preschool and kindergarten at the same rural site. You land in the “big city” and, come September, must walk into a building populated many times over from what you’ve known. “Well,” Grace said with a faraway look, “at first when I played outside, on the swing I wished I could fly high up into the sky and get on an airplane and go back to Alaska. But now I don’t want to go back- because I have friends,” Friends are so important that Jesus surrounded Himself with them in His three-year public ministry. He dined in homes, attended weddings, had traveling companions, held children, spent hours in conversation with others. He immersed Himself in the lives of people and welcomed many of them into His life. In fact, He felt so strongly about no one being alone that He taught “I was a stranger and you invited Me in” (Matthew 25:35). He said that to whomever we extend friendship, it is as though we have befriended Him. Offering friendship-particularly for someone who might otherwise be alone-is nothing short of royal service for the King! Thanks, Lord, for looking out for a little girl who needed a friend. Keep me on the lookout for someone I can “invite in” through the welcoming act of friendship.              . -Carol Knapp Digging Deeper: Proverbs 27:10; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Matthew 25:34-40 DAILY GUIDEPOSTS   DEAR PASTOR (letters from the kids)   Dear Pastor, Please pray for all the airline pilots. I am flying to California tomorrow. Laurie.  Age 10,  New York City   Dear Pastor, I hope to go to heaven someday but later than sooner. Love, Ellen, age 9. Athens   Dear Pastor, Please say a prayer for our Little League team. We need God’s help or a new pitcher.  Thank you.  Alexander. Age 10, Raleigh   Dear Pastor, My father says I should learn the Ten Commandments. But I don’t think I want to because we have enough rules already in my house.  Joshua. Age 10, South Pasadena


As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. -Galatians 6:10 (NIV) What just happened? Working on my computer; I simultaneously hit three keys that together provided a shortcut for a long dash. My fingers had made this maneuver a dozen times a day, for years. But this once, my right hand slipped and fell short of its mark I hit a wrong key and, in a blink, my entire computer screen turned ninety degrees clockwise. I gasped. I gulped. I stared. But in that moment, when my world turned upside down, I didn’t panic. Several age-old coping mechanisms kicked in. I prayed for guidance. “God, what do I do now?” Then I posed and answered a question that lingered from my childhood: if my dad were here, what would he do? If he knew a problem’s solution was beyond his ken, he’d reach outside of his four walls to a wider network: his church friends, professional colleagues, fix-it neighbors, or local business owners. The community, working together, would usually find answers. Those were simpler days, some will say. And they’re right. Friends are preoccupied and expect us to Google our own questions. We may not feel connected with fellow parishioners or neighbors. We frequent fewer small, friendly mom-and-pop hardware stores or repair shops. But I went ahead and gave it a try, relying on my personal network. The first friend I called provided a quick fix, giving me three key strokes that set my screen aright. “Oh, Dan, thank you!” I exuded. “If I can ever be of help, let me know. One good turn deserves another.” God, remind us to appreciate and value the networks that help stabilize our daily lives. -Evelyn Bence Digging Deeper: Romans 15:1-7 DAILY GUIDEPOSTS   * The first Southern expression to creep into a transplanted Northerner’s vocabulary is the adjective “big’ol,” truck or “big’ol” boy. Most Northerners begin their Southern-influenced dialect this way. All of them are in denial about it. * If you hear a Southerner exclaim, “Hey, ya’ll, watch this,” stay out of the way. These are likely to be the last words he’ll ever say. * When you come up on a person driving 15 mph down the middle of the road, remember that most folks learn to drive on a John Deere, and that is the proper speed and position for that vehicle. *If you do settle in the South and bear children, don’t think that they will be accepted as Southerners.


How many are your works) 0 Lord! In wisdom you made them all, the earth is full of your creatures. Psalm 104:24 (NIV)
My dogs, Sage and Montana, smile when I scratch their tummies. Their look of bewilderment is clear when I give one a treat before the other. Their delight when we embark on a walk is expressed in barks and gleeful leaps. And their downcast eyes when I leave them behind inflict a twinge of guilt. But their God-planted sensitivities go even further. Each morning I arise before dawn and let Sage and Montana outside. They bolt into the fields surrounding our home while I head to the coffeemaker. I look through a window as they cavort in the murky light. I chuckle at their antics. But what I enjoy most is their ritual of plopping down on a small hilI near our driveway and watching the sunrise together. Most days, just as that golden ball is about to edge up over the horizon, Sage and Montana sit facing east and gaze at the sky just as the sun appears. The other day I looked at their elevated spot, and it was empty. My eyes searched the fields. Sure enough, there were Sage and Montana, below and to the right of the hillside. They were on their stomachs, paws outstretched, heads alert, eyes on the horizon. From this position, they were better angled to watch the sun’s ascension. As the seasons change, the sun’s rise gradually shifts from northeast to southeast. Sage and Montana were rotating their front-row seat accordingly. God, it’s clear our dogs feel emotion. But to think that You instilled in their hearts awe at a sunrise) to realize they enjoy its wonder; is pretty amazing. -Kim Henry  Digging Deeper: Genesis 9:16; Psalms 40:5, 145:21 DAILY GUIDEPOSTS  
The local sheriff was looking for a deputy, so ole Billy Bob, not exactly the sharpest nail in the bucket, figured to go in try for the job. “Okay,” the sheriff drawled, “Billy Bob, what is 1 and 1?” “11”, he replied. The sheriff mused to himself, “That’s not what I meant, but the boy’s right.” “What two days of the week start with the letter ‘T’?”  “Today and tomorrow.” He was again surprised that Billy Bob supplied a correct answer that he had never thought of hisself. . . “Listen up now, Billy Bob, Who killed Abraham Lincoln?” Billy Bob looked a little surprised himself, then thought really hard for a minute and finally admitted, “Derned if ah know Sheriff.” “Well, why don’t you go home and work on that one for a while.” So, ole Billy Bob wandered over to the bowlin’ alley where his pals were waiting to hear the results of the interview. Our hero was just thrilled. “It went great! First day on the job and I’m already working on a murder case!”


“He heaps up riches …. ” -Psalm 39:6 (NKJV) Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have.” It was a telltale sign, for sure, posted at a gas station where we stopped for fuel. My husband and I had been invited by our friend. Mike for a tour of the multimillion-dollar megaranch where he worked. We drove through sweeping green fields rimmed with forests. The ranch had a fancy house and a shop that would make a mechanic faint From pure happiness. “What a beautiful ranch,” Randy remarked. “Mike’s lucky to work here.” The guest cabins and the cow barn, with its dining hall, entertainment room, sale ring, and full kitchen catered to cattle ranchers who came to buy breeding stock. I stared dreamily at the efficient layout of the corrals. We both loved the secluded meadows and lakes. It was enough to dull the sheen off of our own modest ranch. We drove past a fleet of new tractors that dwarfed our pickup. Randy and I didn’t have a fleet. Recently we’d scraped together enough for a used backhoe that we’d. needed for years. “Wouldn’t you like to own this place?” we said to each other as we left. But as we nosed the pickup toward home, Randy held my hand. I thought about what Mike had said about the owner: he was divorcing for the fourth time, his kids were suing him, and he didn’t have time to come to his own ranch. As if reading my thoughts, Randy said: “We’re the lucky ones.” “Yeah,” I agreed, “we truly are blessed.” Lord, keep reminding me of all the blessings in my own life, especially when I’m tempted to discount them. –Erika Bentsen  Digging Deeper: Matthew 13:22-23; Luke 12:13-21; John 6:27; Galatians 5:13; Philippians 3:19 DAILY GUIDEPOSTS  
The Washington Post’s Style Invitational asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. Here are some recent winners: Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.    


Don’t jump to conclusions …. -Proverbs 25:8 (MSG)
I glanced at the e-mail announcing a meeting Darcy had put together for a group of us. Once again she’d scheduled it for 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday. I groaned. She does this every time! She knows I can’t come until 3:30. My mind turned sour. Could she be doing this on purpose because she doesn’t want me there? My thoughts drifted out the window where the horses stood begging for their morning feeding. After I tossed flakes of hay in the feeder, Sunrise, my golden retriever, traipsed alongside me as I dragged the hose around the corner of the house to water the garden. My heart sank when I saw a few of the sugar snap pea stems chewed in two, and over the next few days more pea vines disappeared; rodents called voles like my sugar snap peas as much as I do! Wednesday morning I sat at my computer, wondering if there was a way to get out of the meeting. I peeked out the window and witnessed Sunrise trotting toward the garden. She glanced over her shoulder as if she was looking for me, then slunk in among the peas and chowed down. My jaw dropped. After scolding Sunrise, I shook my head. Boy, I jumped to conclusions on that one! I never suspected her. But that wasn’t the only thing I’d jumped to conclusions about. When I walked into the meeting, Darcy looked up and greeted me: “I know that this isn’t a good time for you, but I’m glad that you could come. You’re one of my favorite people.” Lord, please continue to show me when I jump to wrong conclusions. Amen. -Rebecca Ondov Digging Deeper: Proverbs 3:7; 1 Corinthians 4:5 DAILY GUIDEPOSTS  
Dogs vs. Cats A dog thinks: Hey, these people I live with feed me, love me, provide me with a nice warm, dry house, pet me, and take good care of me… They must be Gods! A cat thinks: Hey, these people I live with feed me, love me, provide me with a nice warm, dry house, pet me, and take good care of me… I must be a God!


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