Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. -Psalm 37:7 (NIV)
Mother,” my daughter said gently. “Do you know that when you ask questions, you don’t give anyone a chance to answer?
“Yeah,” my not-so-tactful son chimed in. “You talk a lot.”
Nursing my bruised feelings, I stopped by the Athens Area Humane Society, where I’d just signed up to be a volunteer. “Welcome!” The gal in charge smiled. “We’ll assign you to Precious. She’s been here two-and-a-half years. Was mistreated as a kitten and now doesn’t like people or other cats. Been returned by two families.”
Precious had her own little room with a baby gate, which encouraged her to stay inside.
Still feeling glum, I was left to befriend Precious. I climbed over the baby gate and sat down in the middle of the tile floor, cross-legged.
Precious perched atop a purple shelf and turned her head to the wall.
So I sat. Quietly. My children should see me now. I left Precious after about thirty minutes. A failure-but for some unknown reason, I continued to visit her.
Ours was a strange, soundless relationship. A few months later, as I sat there on the floor, she offered a distinct “Meow.”
I caught my breath, surprised and delighted. “Meow,” I told her softly. Lo and behold, the huge black-and-white, long-haired beauty sashayed over to me. She stepped daintily into my lap and got situated comfortably.
She purred.
I smiled.
A short while later Precious was adopted by a family who totally understood her. I was given a picture of my feline friend standing on her hind legs, leaning against a human.
Jesus, You have the most unique methods of teaching a chatterbox like me.
-Marion Bond West
Digging Deeper: Psalm 141:3; Proverbs 17:28; Ecclesiastes 3:7-8, 9:17


​ Sven and Ole worked together and both were laid off, so off they went to the unemployment office.
Asked his occupation, Ole said, “Panty stitcher; I sew the elastic onto cotton panties.” The clerk looked up panty stitcher. Finding it classified as unskilled labor, she gave him $300 a week in unemployment pay.
Sven was asked his occupation. “Diesel fitter,” he replied. Since diesel fitter was a skilled job, the clerk gave Sven $600 a week. When Ole found out, he was furious. He stormed back into the unemployment office to find out why his friend and coworker was collecting double his pay.The clerk explained that panty stitchers were unskilled and diesel fitters were skilled labor.

“What skill?” yelled Ole. “I sew the elastic on, and Sven pulls on it and says, ‘Yep, diesel fitter.'”


The Lord is close to the brokenhearted …. -Psalm 34:18 (NIV)
Evie wasn’t friendly or accommodating like the other servers at the Waffle House. The day before Thanksgiving, when she charged me $1.70 for an ounce of milk for my coffee, I slapped a couple of choice labels on her too. “Grumpy” was my favorite.
“You sure aren’t in much of a Thanksgiving frame of mind,” my sister said. “Where’s all that kindness and gratitude?”
So I decided to change my tack. “You like magazines?” I asked Evie.[‘d brought along a couple of home decor glossies.
“Don’t have time for picture books like some,” Evie grumbled.
Then she paused and took in the cover. Featured was a mouthwatering pie.
A slow smile crept across Evie’s face. “Well, I’ll be,” she said. ”A pee-can pie. Gimme that thing. I’m going to make my man a peecan pie for Turkey Day.”
Another server stole a glance at the photo of the pie and at Evie.
“Don’t be thinking that magazine’s yours,” Evie said, jabbing the server’s elbow. “My friend at table five just gave it to me. I’m making my Sammy one of those pies. It’s his favorite, you know.”

Later, when Evie brought my order of scrambled eggs and bacon, she related the story of “her man.” They’d been together for thirty-five years. She’d baked him a pecan pie when they were newlyweds, and he’d raved about it ever since. But now he had end-stage lung cancer.

Doctors predicted this would be his last Thanksgiving.
I’d been all wrong to judge Evie without knowing what made her the way she was. I’d thank God for her and ask Him to give her a double helping of blessings too.
Evie wasn’t mean-spirited at all, Lord. She simply had a broken heart.
She can be my Thanksgiving teacher if I only let her.
-Roberta Messner
Digging Deeper: Psalm 147:3; John 14:27; 1 Peter 5:7


Q: Why did the turkey cross the road? A: It was the chicken’s day off!
Q: What do you call a running turkey? A: Fast food.
Q: Why does a pilgrim’s pants always fall down? A: Because they wear their belt buckle on their hat.

Q: What’s the best dance to do on Thanksgiving? A: The turkey trot  


Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in [union with] Him … having been deeply rooted {in Him} and now being continually built up in Him and … established in your faith, just as you were taught and overflowing in it with gratitude. -Colossians 2:6-7 (AMP)
I recently read a story about the first settlers who came to New England and the great hardships they suffered those first few winters. During one of their public assemblies, a member of their group proposed that they proclaim a fast and remind God of their many needs. Another man stood and declared that, instead of bombarding heaven with what they lacked, they celebrate all that they had for which to be thankful. Rather than fasting, the man suggested, they should hold a day of thanksgiving. It could be from this very meeting that we now have come to observe the tradition of Thanksgiving. I’d like to think so.
Having an attitude of gratitude is something I learned from reading Norman Vincent Peale’s books. I found his words compelling enough to start my own gratitude journal. Every morning I list five things
for which I am most grateful. My list isn’t anything profound. This morning I noted the music of the songbird outside my window and the excitement I feel for a knitting project I’m about to begin.
I discovered that counting my blessings starts my off day on a positive note. Instead of worrying about my to-do list, I take a short pause to thank God for this day and all that it will hold. It helps me to remember how very blessed I am.
All the paper produced in the world could not contain the blessings You have poured upon me, Lord. May I always have an attitude of gratitude.
-Debbie Macomber
Digging Deeper: 1 Chronicles 16:34; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


Q. If pilgrims traveled on the Mayflower, what do college students travel on? A. Scholar ships.
Q: When do you serve tofu turkey? A: Pranksgiving.
Q: What did the turkey say before it was roasted? A: Boy! I’m stuffed!
Q: Why do turkeys always go, “gobble, gobble”? A: Because they never learned good table manners!



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


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

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


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

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



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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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

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


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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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


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


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