FALLING INTO GRACE: Greater Trust in God’s Plan Rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing. -Joel 2:13 (NRSV)

Everyone had advice. “Find a chiropractor. Smartest move I ever made.” “Try this pain reliever. I couldn’t get through a day without it.” “Physical therapy is the answer.” “Stretching exercises work for me,”

I couldn’t pretend any longer that this new pain didn’t exist or that I had just stepped off a curb the wrong way. I felt it in my left side and leg. Friends said it was because I’d been off-kilter for so long after

my fall that my body was misaligned, and now that I was resuming a relatively normal routine I was feeling pain associated with my body overcompensating for my injuries.

My spirits plummeted. Just when I was starting to feel good, I hit this obstacle. This was not the outcome I wanted. But then I encountered Mother Teresa on my way down this path of self-pity and desolation. I read an article about her diary, which revealed that she had often struggled with feeling separated from God. After dedicating her whole life to doing God’s work, she still felt bereft of Him. Surely that was not the outcome she wanted either, and yet it was the outcome she accepted as part of His plan for her. She didn’t give up or feel resentment. She struggled on, never flagging in her commitment.

I know I’m no Mother Teresa, but it did occur to me that learning this about her at the very time I was struggling was part of the Lord’s plan for me. And it helped me to step off the path of despair. I could at

least wait beside the road and take comfort in knowing I was not alone.

Lord, forgive my stubbornness as You lead me to trust in You.

-Marci Alborgherti

Digging Deeper: Job 40:3-5; Ephesians 3:14-21



Getting Respect The boss was complaining in our staff meeting the other day that he wasn’t getting any respect. Later that morning he went to a local card and novelty shop and bought a small sign that read, “I’m the Boss”. He then taped it to his office door. Later that day when he returned from lunch, he found that someone had taped a note to the sign that said. “Your wife called, she wants her sign back!”


“Give us today our daily! bread. “-Matthew 6:11 (NIV)

 I was complaining to my husband one day about the rising cost of groceries. “When I was a teenager, I worked as a checker at a grocery. A big brown paper bag full of groceries only cost around five dollars. Now when I go to the store I can barely fill one bag for under fifty dollars.”

Not long after, I came across a receipt in an old photo album of my dad’s. In January 1907, a man by the name of C. R. Aldrich sold his farm in Tampico, Illinois, to my grandfather, Henry Sebastian Kobbernan, for $92.50 an acre. In 1932, during the Depression, my grandfather lost the farm because corn was selling for only eight cents a bushel and he couldn’t even pay the interest on the mortgage. Today

that same land is worth over $14,000 an acre and few farmers can afford to buy land to grow crops.

Learning how my grandfather lost his farm and seeing how prices have changed in my lifetime helped me to understand the high cost of my groceries. I began to appreciate everyone-from the farmer to

the food processor, the packager, and the people working in my grocery.

Now, instead of complaining about the cost of groceries, I try to be more aware of how many people it actually takes to put a meal on my table. I also added a line to our daily prayer before meals: “Bless the

farmers and all the workers who struggle financially to provide food for us.”

Lord, keep me from becoming an old curmudgeon and remind me daily! of all the people who make

the wheels of my life turn perfectly.

-Patricia Lorenz

Digging Deeper: Psalms 145:13-16; Jude 1:16



Getting Your Money’s Worth In Church

A man and his ten-year-old son were on a fishing trip miles from home. At the boy’s insistence, they decided to attend the Sunday worship service at a small rural church. The father forgot to bring any cash, so he reached in his pocket and gave his son a dime to drop in the offering plate as it was passed. As they walked back to their car after the service, the father complained. “The service was too long,” he lamented. “The sermon was boring, and the singing was off key.” Finally the boy said, “Daddy, I thought it was pretty good for a dime.”


So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you …. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.  Colossians 1:9-10 (NLT)

My phone rang at work the other morning. My wife, Julee. She was close to tears.

“She destroyed another pillow,” Julee said. “There were feathers all over the living room. It looked like a hurricane hit a chicken coop.”

I knew how she felt. Among the items Gracie, our adorable young golden retriever, has gleefully masticated are a number of TV remotes. Just that weekend I spent half of my Saturday waiting for the cable guy to show up so he could replace two more remotes that Gracie had attacked. Gracie is as sweet and playful a dog as you will ever meet. But left to her own devices (I know, I know), Gracie will gnaw on almost anything-remotes, phone chargers, credit cards, cell phones, rugs, gloves, a shower curtain.

“When will she grow out of this?” Julee wailed before hanging up. I’d asked the Lord that same question, many times.

I got home that night and took Gracie to the park. I talk to my dogs, and I talked to her about my worries over her chewing. We found a bench and I invited her up. With a seventy-five-pound puppy sprawled

across my lap, I sat there speaking and gesturing quite earnestly. Perhaps J looked crazy.

Suddenly, Gracie jumped up. I saw what she saw-one of those Styrofoam clamshell boxes that sandwiches come in. She tore off in its direction, me after her. All at once she veered away and fell upon a stick, raking it in her mouth and rolling happily on her back. A stick. This was progress! And a reminder: dogs do grow up eventually. We all do.

Father, all my lift You have helped me grow up and out of temptation. I know You will help Gracie because I know You love all Your creatures.

-Edward Grinnan

Digging Deeper; 2 Corinthians 9:6-10; 2 Peter 3:18



The Farmer and the Fly

A farmer was milking a cow and a fly was flying around. He shushed it away with his hand and it flew in the cow’s ear. He kept milking and the fly came out in the milk bucket. The farmer thought “In one ear and out the udder”.


Ouch! Who Wins this Argument?

“I never would have married you if I knew how stupid you were!” Shouted the woman to her husband!

The husband replied, “You should’ve known how stupid I was the minute I asked you to marry me!”


And whatever you do .. whether in word or in deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. -Colossians 3:17 (NIV)

I spent the summer working in the garden center of a home improvement store, which was frustrating, considering that I had just finished my theology degree and had been accepted to law school. I wanted

to do something important, consequential-not stack bags of mulch and organize plants.

“Logan, there’s a woman by the patio pavers looking for you,” my walkie-talkie warbled.

I headed in that direction, and a woman who came by the store regularly waved at me.

“I wondered when you would come by,” I said. “I’ve missed you this week. Twenty of the red pavers?”

She smiled and nodded; she didn’t speak much English.

“I ‘II grab these for you, then meet you out front like usual.”

She nodded again, and I loaded a flat cart with the bricks and rolled them toward the curb.

The woman pulled up her car and popped open the trunk. I positioned the bricks so that she could easily remove them when she got home. As I slid the last one in, something tugged on the pocket of my

cargo shorts. I turned around to see her withdrawing her hand.

“I ask for you because you’re a gentleman,” she said and got in her car and drove off:

I reached into my pocket and pulled out a tightly folded bill. As I ran my thumb over the crease, I thought of my wish to have an impact on people’s lives, how unimportant I had felt my job was, and how every activity I do is an opportunity to let goodness shine through me.

Lord, let my actions-big and small-reflect Your love.

-Logan Eliasen

Digging Deeper: Matthew 5:16; 1 Corinthians 3:16



No time for a bath? Wrap yourself in masking tape and remove the dirt by simply peeling

it off.

Apply red nail polish to your nails before clipping them. The red nails will be much easier to spot on your bathroom carpet. (Unless you have a red carpet, in which case a contrasting polish should be selected).

If a person is choking on an ice cube, don’t panic. Simply pour a jug of boiling water down their throat and presto! The blockage is almost instantly removed.


I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. -Psalm 34:4 (NLT}

I’m ready to start middle school.” Micah held her new backpack filled with notebooks, binders, and a pencil bag.

But I wasn’t. My mind churned with apprehension. Could she find the right classroom when they rotated? Would she remember her locker number? Would she find kind fiends? How could she manage the homework? What if she gets exposed to peer pressure?

Maybe I was overprotective and letting my own experiences color how I felt. Growing up, I was the “new kid” at school seven times before I went to college. Walking the halls of Sapulpa Junior High, I felt small and insignificant trying to find my classrooms. When I forgot my locker combination, I was too embarrassed to say anything. I lugged around a stack of books for weeks.

Luckily, Micah wasn’t shy like me. She knew most of the students in her class. Still, I worried that no one would be there to help her.

The afternoon before the first day of school, another mother e-mailed me. “Meet tonight in front of the school to pray before the new year begins.”

That evening, I circled up with five moms on the sidewalk in front of the middle school building. We closed our eyes. Peace replaced my anxiety as I poured out my fears to God. I wanted my child to be protected and I couldn’t be there to do it. But God could. He was more capable than any of us morns.

Micah was ready to start middle school. So was I, thanks to my back- to-school group prayer reminder.

Lord, help me to remember that my school assignment is a mother’s prayer for her child every, day.

–Stephanie Thompson

Digging Deeper: Isaiah 41:10; Philippians 4:6-7



The $64,000.00 Question:

Bob had finally made it to the last round of the $64,000 Question. The night before the big question, he told the M.C. that he desired a question on American History. The big night had arrived. Bob made his way on stage in front of the studio and TV audience. He had become the talk of the week. He was the best guest this show had ever seen. The M.C. stepped up to the mic.

“Bob, you have chosen American History as your final question. You know that if you correctly answer this question, you will walk away $64,000 dollars richer. Are you ready?”

Bob nodded with a cocky confidence-the crowd went nuts. He hadn’t missed a question all week.

Bob, your question on American History is a two-part  question. As you know, you may answer either part first. As a rule, the second half of the question is always easier. Which part would you like to take a stab at first?”

Bob was now becoming more noticeably nervous. He couldn’t believe it, but he was drawing a blank. American History was his easiest subject, but he played it safe.

“I’ll try the easier part first.”

The M.C. nodded approvingly. “Here we go Bob. I will ask you the second half first, then the first half.”

The audience silenced with gross anticipation……

“Bob, here is your question: And in what year did it happen??”


Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. -James 1:19-20 (ESV)

I had the best intentions. Really, I did.

I wanted to holdup my friend in love, to do the right thing, to help me the right way. I wanted to support her when she needed support. To be there when she needed a friend.

But I really botched it.

While my heart had been in the right place, my actions surely weren’t. Words were said that shouldn’t have been said and those words flew into rumors, making their way through our community. Reputations were scarred. Friendships grew awkward. And days were lost in a whir of he-said, she-said, and I-don’t-know-what-tosay.

But then she broke the ice.

“Erin, we have to repair this. Let’s talk Let’s fix it.”

And so we did. Over steaming cups of tea in a cluttered living room, we shared our feelings, our thoughts, our intentions, our hopes. We worked trough. We understood. We stretched. We forgave.

God IS infinitely faithful to us. He forgives when we don’t deserve it. He listens when we cry out. He lets go when we need grace.

We must do the same for our friends, for those perfectly imperfect people whom we love, the ones who hurt us, who scar us, who do those things that cause so much pain on days when we just need mercy.

We must love when we don’t want to. And forgive without hesitation.


Father God, thank You for forgiving me when I don’t deserve it and for giving me .friends who are willing to do the same. Help me to forgive and to love like You do. Amen.

-Erin MacPherson

Digging Deeper: Ephesians 4:15-16; James 5:16



Old telephone books make ideal personal address books. Simply cross out the names and addresses of people you don’t know.

 Fool other drivers into thinking you have an expensive car phone by holding an old TV or video remote control up to your ear and occasionally swerving across the road and mounting the curb.

Lose weight quickly by eating raw pork and rancid tuna. I found that the subsequent food poisoning enabled me to lose 12 pounds in only 2 days.

Avoid parking tickets by leaving your windshield wipers turned to fast wipe whenever you leave your car parked illegally.


Tuesday, August 28

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. -Matthew 5:7 (KJV)


A friend of mine no longer. drinks alcohol. “It’s a good thing I don’t drink,” she says. “I drank way too much way too often.” That’s a polite way to say disaster and chaos and danger and smash.

“The thing is I tried to stop. Each time I started again I felt about one inch tall, But I always felt that some great gentle attentiveness was waiting for me with tenderness and patience. The only thing that drove

me to stop again and again wasn’t sense and reason and court and cost, but that deep feeling that some force, some coherent loving thing, was waiting for me with open arms.

“Use the word God if you want. I have grown very leery of words. People begin to think that words define or explain things that they can’t come anywhere close to explaining or understanding, God is one

those words. Love is another. But I felt that patient relentless mercy very powerfully. I felt it waiting for me to finally stop and stay stopped. Miracle is another word we throw around, but I am a miracle. I

would have gone to prison, or died, or both. I couldn’t have stopped without that patient tender mercy being there. I wake up every day and talk to the Mercy. I ask for help. .

Everyone wants to explain or dismiss miracles, and my attitude is why not just enjoy the fact that such things happen all day, every day, everywhere in the world? Why get fussy about the words for it? Why

argue about other people’s words for it?

There was some endlessly patient unquenchable tenderness there for me, Believe me, I know what I am talking about.”

Dear Mercy, not just her but me and we? Lend us your mercy moment by moment so that we can learn to share it; too, profligately, unthinkingly, unstintingly.

-Brian Doyle


Digging Deeper: Matthew 9:13; Luke 6:36



“Hey you! Pull over!” shouted the traffic cop.

Betty complied, and the judge next day fined her twenty-five dollars. She went home in great anxiety lest her husband, who always examined her checkbook, should learn of the incident.

Then inspiration struck and she marked the check stub, “One pullover, $25.”

* * * * *

A man entered a busy florist shop that displayed a large sign that read “Say It With Flowers.”

“Wrap up one rose,” he told the florist.

“Only one?”  the florist asked.

“Just one,” the customer replied.  “I’m a man of few words.”


For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. -Mark 9:41 (KJV)

What started as a time-saver has become an integral part of my hospitality ministry.

At my church, I often help to prepare refreshments for funeral receptions, Our experienced team seamlessly provides food (hot and cold), beverages, and even fresh flowers for the tables. Of course, we rarely know ahead of time how many people we will serve, so we estimate to the nearest twenty-five, usually accurately.

This sultry summer afternoon, we’re prepared for a funeral party of about two hundred. Two tables hold platters of veggies and dip, sandwiches, grapes, and cheese. Another table holds desserts, and yet another the coffee and tea. I set up a fifth table, just for iced lemon water, to avoid a bottleneck at the beverage service. To save time before the capacity crowd arrives, I pour the water to have a dozen filled

glasses sitting on a tray, so no one has to wait.

The wife of the deceased approaches me with trembling smile and red eyes. I spontaneously hand her a glass and offer a smile and condolences. She effuses thanks. It seems so natural then to hand glasses to

the next guests, too, instead of leaving them to serve themselves.

Suddenly I understand. This is no time for brisk efficiency. Rather, this IS the tune for human touch and connection. On this difficult day, the buffet eases physical hunger, but compassion quenches parched



Gracious Lord, may I never underestimate the healing power of simple kindness.

-Gail Thorell Schilling

Digging Deeper: Luke 10:33; Hebrews 13:2; 1 Peter 3:8



The twin 10-year-olds were exactly opposite: Bill was a die-hard optimist and Bob a hopeless pessimist. 

The mom asked the psychiatrist what to do about Christmas. The doctor told her to buy all the toys she could for Bob, and get Bill nothing. In fact, he said just to wrap up some manure for Bill.

Christmas morning Mom came downstairs and found the twins by the tree.  She asked Bob what Santa had brought him. 

“I got a B.B. gun, but I’ll probably hit someone in the eye and blind him.  And a bicycle, but I’ll probably get run over and killed while riding it.  And an electric train, but I’ll probably electrocute myself,” said Bob. 

Realizing it wasn’t going very well, the mom turned to Bill and asked what he got.  “I’m not sure!!” he replied, “I think I got a pony, but I haven’t been able to find him yet!!”





Let love be your guide, .. , –Ephesians 5:2 (CEV)

I paused in the grocery aisle to scratch the nearly four-Inch-long jagged wound from the recent surgery I’d had on my broken arm. I sighed, then pushed the cart toward the meat case while my mind tumbled over the encounter I’d had with Katie at church earlier today. Katie had special needs and I’d been trying to reach out to her for weeks. Sometimes she’d joyfully give me a hug and would welcome conversations. But today; she seemed to have crawled deeply into a shell that served as a fortress to keep everyone out–even me. Her rejection hurt my feelings.

Steering the cart between a couple of people, I parked next to the meat case and reached for a package of hot dogs on the top shelf. When I did, my sleeve slipped toward my elbow, revealing the lesion, which

puckered with stitches and scabs-and still had lines of blue pennanent marker that the surgeon had drawn to guide his incision. The woman next: to me gasped.

I put the hot dogs in my basket and chuckled to myself. Lady, if you think that looks bad, you should have seen that scar a few weeks ago. You have no idea how far I’ve come.

And that’s when it hit me: in my desire to help Katie, I had forgotten how far she has come. I might not always see changes in her, but healing is happening. She hasn’t given up and neither should I.

Lord, help me to have faith in the profound effect of Your love. Amen,

-Rebecca Ondov

Digging Deeper: Romans 12:10, 13;8



The neighbor’s two sons … one five and the other seven … are constantly squabbling.  The seven-year-old is thrilled when he succeeds in taunting his younger brother.

Friday was the last day of school for the older lad.  According to his mother, he hadn’t been in the house more than a couple minutes when she heard the five-year-old screaming.  When the crying youngster reached the kitchen, he shouted, “It’s not fair.  Bill has one and I don’t.  I want one too.”

“What is it?” asked the mother while trying to comfort her child.  “What does Bill have that you don’t have?”

By this time, Bill had come to the kitchen and was leaning against the doorway.  He had a funny smile on his face and said, “A summer vacation.  I told him I get one and he doesn’t.” 


Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. -1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

A while back, I wrote a Daily Guideposts devotion about how I needed to be more gentle-one of the fruits of the Spirit. This came about after visiting two local congregations within the same week and listening to two sermons on Scripture about living by the Spirit (Galatians 5). I shared how growing up in New York City showed me that being tough was the survival spirit.

Soon after it was published I received a letter from Julie, a former parishioner. “Today I read your devotion in Daily Guideposts. You questioned the quality of gentleness in yourself: Pablo, you certainly are gentle. I have witnessed that gentleness in you as a pastor, husband, and father.” She reminded me that she and her husband grew up in New York City, and they, too, learned that having a tough manner was the way to survive.

Julie’s letter touched me deeply. She took time out of her day to write and encourage me. Sometimes we forget that others are watching us as we carry out our faith, vocation, and lives.

I was being too hard on myself Julie helped me to identify why I felt the need to have a more gentle spirit. It wasn’t because my actions and personality were lacking in gentleness. It was because of where I came from and what I did to protect myself.

Lord, thank You for the people who care and encourage us and for the ways they do so in our lives.

–Pablo Diaz

Digging Deeper: Proverbs 27:17; Hebrews 3:13





A minister dies and is waiting in line at the Pearly Gates.  Ahead of him is a guy who’s dressed in sunglasses, a loud shirt, leather jacket, and jeans.

Saint Peter addresses this guy, “Who are you, so that I may know whether or not to admit you to the Kingdom of Heaven?”

The guy replies, “I’m Joe Cohen, taxi-driver, of Noo Yawk City.”  Saint Peter consults his list.  He smiles and says to the taxi-driver, “Take this silken robe and golden staff and enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

The taxi-driver goes into Heaven with his robe and staff, and it’s the minister’s turn.  He stands erect and booms out, “I am Joseph Snow, pastor of Saint Mary’s for the last forty-three years.”

Saint Peter consults his list.  He says to the minister, “Take this cotton robe and wooden staff and enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

“Just a minute,” says the minister.  “That man was a taxi-driver, and he gets a silken robe and golden staff.  How can this be?”


“Up here, we work by results,” says Saint Peter.  “While you preached, people slept; while he drove, people prayed.”


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