Joy and Peace Will Guard Our Hearts

For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock, -Psalm 27:5 (ESV)

Sarah handed me a pair of scissors right as I walked in the front door. ‘Take a big piece off from wherever you want.”

She turned around and showed me other places on her head where huge chunks of hair were missing.

I took a deep breath and dosed my eyes. Sarah’s smiling face urged me forward. I snipped a large chunk off the top, staring as tufts of brown hair floated to the floor and landed in a pile around her green flip-flops.

I blinked back tears and looked into her eyes, expecting to see anguish. Instead, I saw peace. Pure, God-given peace that seemed to hover in the air, making what would otherwise be a terrible evening one of laughter, of joy even.

She took the scissors out of my hand and gave them to my ten-year-old, who wavered between relishing the idea of being allowed to hack off a chunk of an adult’s hair and fear that there would be repercussions. But there weren’t. And his wide eyes turned to laughing eyes as he sheared off what was left of Sarah’s bangs.

And so the night progressed, one snip after another, until Sarah’s hair was a mottled mess of missing chunks and frazzled tufts. And then came the grand finale: her hushband shaved her head.

We all watched and cheered. Sarah laughed. And the torment of what could have been terrible-chemo stealing away my beautiful friend’s hair-was replaced by a peace that transcended understanding.

Lord, be our peace and joy in otherwise desperate situations. Amen.

-Erin MacPherson

Digging Deeper: Isaiah 41:10; 1 Peter 5:7




–  Old mathematicians never die, they just disintegrate.

–  Old milkmaids never die, they just lose their whey.

–  Old musicians never die, they just get played out.

–  Old number theorists never die, they just get past their prime.

–  Old numerical analysts never die, they just get disarrayed.

–  Old owls never die, they just don’t give a hoot.


A Fiend loves at all times …. -Proverbs 17: 17 (NIV)

Knee-high weeds suffocated the carrot patch. The larger, quicker- growing vegetable plants like cucumbers and beans had been easier to protect with mulch. However, carrots with their wispy foliage

disappeared under rampant weeds. Seven months’ pregnant, I could no longer bend over to yank them. Even in could, my toddler and infant demanded all my energy not already sapped by the ninety-degree heat.

This year’s carrots were a dead loss.

When my friend Sonya dropped by one sweltering afternoon, I was too wiped out to be embarrassed by my weed patch. Sonya’s garden, by contrast, deserved a color spread in a glossy magazine.

“Looks like you could use some help,” she murmured.

“Oh, Sonya, you do not have to pull my weeds. Just let them go.”

So many times Sonya had come to my rescue. When we adopted our first child, she mentored me on feeding, fevers, and “normal.” When I had the flu, she sent over dinner and collected my children for a play-date. She taught me how to hang wallpaper and stitch buttonholes by machine. Now these detestable weeds had brought her again to my aid.

“I’ll be here early tomorrow morning, when it’s cool. I know what it’s like to be pregnant with a garden!”

At six thirty the next morning, I found Sonya smiling and tearing out my weeds. The more the trash sacks bulged with weeds, the more feathery carrot tops emerged in neat rows. Thus revived, my carrots

continued to grow far into October and fed us until February. They tasted doubly sweet that season: thanks to good earth and a true friend who did a very dirty job out of love.

 Lord, l find Your love everywhere-even in a weed patch.

-Gail Thorell Schilling

Digging Deeper: Job 6:14; Matthew 7:12




I was commuting from the Borough of Queens to my job in Manhattan.  I’d finished reading the morning paper and was saving it to bring to friends on the job. How do you save a newspaper on the subway?  You sit on it.  A new commuter came in, saw the newspaper under my rear and asked the second most stupid question I’ve ever heard (someday I may tell of the first), “Are you reading that paper?”  I stood up, turned the page, sat down on the paper and answered, “Yes.


For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving …. -1 Timothy 4:4 (NIV)

Please, Logan, we. don’t need to save it,” I plead with my seven-year- old grandson, who holds a flattened pinecone.

“But I want to keep it,.” he whines.

I give in because Logan is a collector. Our back porch is loaded with evidence to prove it.

On a recent trip to the beach, he returned with a bucket of seashells and sand dollars, many broken; a huge horseshoe crab shell (which is pretty cool, I must say); some seaweed; and something that looks like a bone.

He also has a bug collection, one I avoid and delegate to my husband, Chuck, to admire. Of course, some of those bugs were alive when he caught them, but they didn’t do well as pets.

To Logan, these things are treasures; I bite my tongue to refrain from calling them “junk.” They’re important to him, and I appreciate his childhood fascination.

What I really value is that these treasures are all part of the natural world. He is captivated by the beauty and uniqueness in things I’ve long ignored. What’s more, I’ve begun to notice things I had never

seen: the design of a shell, the colors of a lizard, the spiky uniformity of a sweet gum tree ball-features I see as evidence of a creative God.

Having raised three sons already, I know how fleeting these little-boy years are. Logan will eventually lose interest in his collections, and I’ll have a clean porch. But until then, I’m learning to cherish his treasures.

Thank You, God, for a child’s perspective to open my eyes to the intricate details of Your creation. May I never take these wonders for granted.

-Marilyn Turk

Digging Deeper: Colossians 1:16; Revelation 4:8-12




One day in heaven, the Lord decided he would visit the earth and take a stroll. Walking down the road, the Lord encountered a man who was crying.  The Lord asked the man, “Why are you crying,my son?”

The man said that he was blind and had never seen a sunset. The Lord touched the man and he could see and he was happy.

As the Lord walked  further, he met another man crying and asked, “Why are you crying, my son?”

The man was born a cripple and was never able to walk. The Lord touched him and he could walk and he was happy.

Farther down the road, the Lord met another man who was crying and asked, “Why are you crying, my son?” The man said, “Lord, I work for the Government,” and the Lord sat down and cried with him.


 God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. -1 Corinthians 1:30 (NLT)

On a family vacation, I lost my credit card halfway through the trip. I tore apart the rental car to find it. No luck. Labels from my childhood immediately raised their ugly little heads: Stupid, Dummy.

Five days later, I lost my driver’s license after making it through airport security, something I discovered only after boarding an aircraft and flying home. Where could it be? Did I leave it on the plane? At

The airport? The old labels practically screamed: Stupid! Dummy!

I know I’m not, and on a deeper level I know that Jesus Christ became for me the wisdom from God (1 Corinthians 1:30). God says I share Christ’s wisdom; He says I “have the mind of Christ” (I Corinthians 2: 16). The ugly labels don’t apply, yet there they were, sticking to me like a gooey mess.

My wife, Margi, encouraged me. “You just have a lot on your plate. Don’t worry about it.” She was right. I knew those names from my past didn’t apply. I am who God says I am, and He says I’m perfect in His

sight. I just had to see myself that way.

I smiled, leaned over in the rental car, and gave her a kiss. “Thanks for the reminder.”

Heavenly Father, help me to see myself as You see me- through Christ. Amen.

-Bill Giovannetti

Digging Deeper: Ephesians 2:4-7





Church sign: Jesus Saves!  Safeway sign across the street: Safeway saves you more!

(For the group of ladies called Moms Who Care and pray for the children in school). When their meeting was cancelled one week: “There will be no Moms who care this week.”

This one I said myself during the congregational prayer when leading prayer for our unsaved loved ones:  Father, we just want to pray for our unloved saved ones.

Please welcome Pastor Don, a caring individual who loves hurting people.


The godly care for their animals, but the wicked are always cruel. -Proverbs 12:10 (NLT)

My mother, could never bear to hurt another living creature, even spiders. Shed scoop them up with a newspaper and set them outside over my father’s protests. He favored using the newspaper to dispatch them by another method, but Mom insisted that God cherished all His creatures.

My first pet was a box turtle I found one summer meandering through our yard. Mom said I could keep him until school started. I christened him George and installed him in a basement window well where I would bring him water and food every day. He had beautiful geometric markings on his shell in brown and gold.

Then disaster struck. A neighbor’s dog somehow got hold of George. I rescued him but not before his markings had been chewed off. All he had left was a plain yellow shell. I was sure he was going to die and prayed desperately for God to intervene.

As it happened, my uncle Eddie, a research biochemist, was visiting. He rushed George inside and gently washed his shell. “The dog’s teeth scraped off George’s keratin,” he explained. “That’s a little like

our skin.” Uncle Eddie then applied Bactine to George’s poor shell. George protested by waving his legs. “It probably stings a little but it will prevent infection. He should be fine.”

I put George back in his window well with fresh water and a piece of iceberg lettuce, which he crunched hungrily. And that night I added a covering over the well. When I released him into the woods a weeks later, his markings had already started to grow back.

Father, Your love extends to all creatures great and small and You have given us dominion over them. Loving the creatures of this earth is another way for us to honor and love You.

-Edward Grinnan

Digging Deeper: Genesis 1:26; Psalm 50:10-11; Matthew 10:28-30





Glory of God to all and peas to his people on earth

Applications are now being accepted for 2 year-old nursery workers.

Brother Lamar has gone on to be the Lord.

The pastor will light his candle from the altar candles. The ushers will light their candle from the pastor’s candle. The ushers will turn and light each worshipper in the first pew.

Song Lyrics: What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and briefs to bear.


No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. -2 Timothy 2:4 (NIV)

My husband, Gene, and I were in the fourth row of Hodgen Hall at the University of Georgia awaiting the start of the 1940s musical In the Mood with the String of Pearls Orchestra.

They traveled the United States and were now in Athens, Georgia. I’d be hearing the music I’d loved as a youngster. My mother had 78 rpm records, and I was allowed to play them if I was careful. I’d danced alone in our living room to songs like “Swinging on a Star,” “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” and “Begin the Beguine.”

Glancing down at the program, I saw that act 2 included music from wartime: patriotic songs with sweetly familiar words: “When the Lights Go On Again,” “The White Cliffs of Dover,” and “Over There.”

Just as the program was beginning, a man sat down directly in hunt of me-an unbelievably tall man. I leaned to the right and to the left to see around him. After a while, my neck ached and my resentment rose.

I imagined whispering, “Could you slouch down, please?” Instead, I silently clung to my miffed emotions.

Toward the end, as the patriotic music filled the auditorium, each branch of military service seated in the audience was asked to stand. Thunderous applause followed.

When the orchestra played “Anchors Aweigh,” the gentleman in front of me stood. Slowly. So tall. No longer young. Even from the back I sensed unmistakable courage, willing sacrifice.

And I blinked fast to keep tears of gratitude from sliding down my face.

God bless America, land that I love … and each veteran.

-Marion Bond West

Digging Deeper: Psalm 33:12; Isaiah 42:13




There was a very gracious lady who was mailing an old family Bible to her brother in another part of the country.

“Is there anything breakable in here?” asked the postal clerk.

“Only the Ten Commandments,” answered the lady.


A man filed a report to the police that his bag was stolen.

Upon leaving the man’s apartment, the officer found the man’s bag at the bottom of the stairwell.

It was a brief case.

(sorry about this one ha ha)


FALLING INTO GRACE: A Welcoming Faith Community

He [Jesus] said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” -Matthew 9:12 (NRSV)

My arm nestled in its ever-present sling, I looked at the small group gathered for the evening service and realized something. We all had something wrong with us! Mary Ellen had punctured a lung. Carole was confronting cancer. Ken had chronic back pain. And Audrey, our oldest and wisest, had fallen like me.

To make matters worse, our beloved pastor, Michel, was retiring. My husband, Charlie, and l had chosen this church because of its pastor, and it would be hard to continue without him. Prior to my accident,

we had discussed whether to stay at the church after he left because we were not particularly close to other parishioners and it would be hard to continue without Michel.

God had another plan, though, and He revealed it that Sunday. After the service, we all started talking. I had been in awe of Audrey, who was also legally blind, but when her daughter Ellen told her I’d been hurt, Audrey turned to me and shared her experience and slow recovery. I told her, “I’m sure you didn’t throw tantrums and sob like a helpless child.” Audrey laughed and nodded toward Ellen, who said, “Believe me, there have been tears.”

Our conversation about pain and fear became a discussion about our church’s future and choosing a new pastor. Charlie was nominated as the spokesperson for our group. People in our church had been as shy and uncertain of Charlie and me as we had been of them.

Had I not been broken, I’m not sure I would have been able to see what God was showing me: that this church was home.


Lord, open my spiritual eyes so that I can focus not on my plan but on Yours.

-Marci Alborghetti

Digging Deeper: Psalm 40:4-8





I’ve sure gotten old!

I have outlived my feet and my teeth,

I’ve had two bypass surgeries, a hip replacement,

New knees, fought prostate cancer and diabetes I’m half blind,

Can’t hear anything quieter than a jet engine,

Take 40 different medications that make me dizzy, winded, and subject to blackouts.

Have bouts with dementia.  Have poor circulation;

Hardly feel my hands and feet anymore.

Can’t remember if I’m 85 or 92.

Have lost all my friends. But, thank God,

I still have my driver’s license.


Reporters interviewing a 104-year-old woman:​”And what do you think is the best thing about being 104?” the reporter asked.​She simply replied, “No peer pressure.” …


Make a joyful noise unto the Lord … make a loud noise, and rejoice …. -Psalm 98:4 (KJV)

I can hardly wait for Independence Day to be over. I have to get up at 4:00 a.m., so I am in bed by 8:00 p.m. But tonight neighborhood fireworks are raging, and I can’t sleep.

I think I’ll get up and call my daughter Teresa. This is her favorite holiday, and the only one she decorates for, with red-white-and-blue dinnerware, American flags, and a patriotic quilt her mother made her. She loves the outdoor celebrations and the simple foods, like burgers and chips, ice cream and watermelon. Above all, she loves her country. “Tell me again, ‘Tee, why you like this holiday so much?”

“Well, Dad, it’s about freedom, you know? America is just a beautiful, wonderful gift. When I hear ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ I can hardly believe that God provided a free nation like this one. I mean, there’s

nothing like it anywhere else on earth. It may be tarnished, but it still has something good going on.”

“Okay, but why does it have to be so noisy?”

“Dad, get with it! Buy some fireworks, make some noise, show some enthusiasm!”

“How about if I set them off at five a.m., my good time of day.”

“Well, I hope your neighbors have a sense of humor.”

“But you said this is a free country.”

“It’s also a civilized country, Dad. Go back to bed. You’re hopeless.”

On my way back to bed, I stop and peek out the front door. I can see “the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,” and my neighbor’s flag waving proudly, and I get: a little lump in my throat.

Thank You, God, for these noisy, irritating, but free United States of America.

-Daniel Schantz

Digging Deeper: 1 Corinthians 8:9; 1 Peter 2:13-17




Rare copy of United States Declaration of Independence found in Kew Archives, Richmond, Surrey, EnglandColumbus Day Jokes

The document, which is in perfect condition, is believed to be one of only 200 ever printed and was found among files at the National Archives in Kew in Richmond, Surrey. Will and Guy have learned that it was discovered by an American antiquarian bookseller carrying out research, the Dunlap print of the declaration was printed on July 4, 1776 and brings the total of known surviving copies worldwide to 26.

The last discovery of a Dunlap print was at a flea market in 1989, and it sold at auction in 2000 for 8.14 million US dollars. Dunlaps were the first official printings of the Declaration of Independence and were named after John Dunlap, the printer whose name is given at the bottom of each copy.

Edward Hampshire, the diplomatic and colonial specialist at the National Archives, said, ‘This is an incredibly exciting find. The Declaration of Independence is effectively America’s birth certificate, making it one of the seminal documents in world history. It is likely that only around 200 of these were ever printed, so uncovering a new one nearly 250 years later is extremely rare, especially one in such good condition.’


And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by aIways having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. -2 Corinthians 9:8 (NRSV)

 In New York City, one of my favorite things to do in the summer is to go to Jamba Juice in Whole Foods at Columbus Circle and then for a walk through Central Park I geared myself up to do just that on one  particularly hot day off. As I stood in line with a number of others because in this city there’s always a line for everything, one of the employees put up a sign that said, “Out of Kale.” Sighs and groans rippled through the line. I placed my order and waited for my smoothie. A few minutes later, the employee returned and removed the sign. He scribbled at the bottom of it and hung it back up. It now read, “Out of Kale and Carrots.” There was more murmuring in the line, but I was unfazed by this news, as my order necessitated neither.

It wasn’t until later during my walk that I realized how odd this was. The Jamba Juice I went to, housed inside of a Whole Foods supermarket, was quite literally right next to fresh produce. Kale and carrots

galore! Yet they could not, probably because of supplier regulations, access the bounty surrounding them.

I found myself pondering if I was acknowledging the bounty surrounding me! Sometimes what we need is right there all along.

To the Creator of the universe, I trust that You will provide all I need. Help me to remember to open my eyes, to see Your gifts, and to use them to Your will and purpose.

-Natalie Perkins

Digging Deeper: 2 Corinthians 9:6-15




4th of July One-liners

What happened as a result of the Stamp Act?

The Americans licked the British!


What did King George think of the American colonists?

He thought they were revolting!


Will and Guy’s Selection of Five of the Best Quotations of Benjamin Franklin

  • Where there’s marriage without love, there will be love without marriage.
  • Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.
  • They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
  • Be civil to all; sociable to many; familiar with few; friend to one; enemy to none.
  • Some are weather-wise, some are otherwise.

Benjamin Franklin is held in high esteem in the USA as is indicated by his appearance on the largest note: $100 bill.


Love suffers long … bears all things … endures all things.  1 Corinthians 13:4, 7 (NKJV)

Here’s a weird love story. My wife and I came horrifyingly close to losing our marriage. It was a dark, sad, confused, frightening time. We had children together; a shaggy, comfortable old house; warm, hilarious past; big, friendly, generous families; a glorious tribe of mutual friends. For years we had walked together hand in hand through every sort of pain and joy, and I, for one, thought we would honor and love each other until the day we died.

But then dark times came, and we slid apart. I was angry, terrified, furious, lost, bitter. I felt myself growing colder daily. Do you know what I mean? I remember sitting by a river, my head in my hands

trying to resign myself to what was going to happen, trying to keep children as priorities, trying not to think of divided assets and fights and a lonely apartment.

And I remember the oddest epiphany, as the river burled thrummed past me. Even if I never saw my wife again, even if we communicated only idly, businesslike, about the kids for the rest our lives, I would always want to know that she was okay, that she happy, that she had joy and peace in her life, that she was making most of her extraordinary gifts as an artist, a mother, a teacher.

I would always hope that someone loved her for who she is, as complicated and alluring a human being as ever was. I suppose that I would always love her, and deeply too-that my love wouldn’t fail, even if our marriage did. Isn’t that odd? But it’s true.

Dear Lord, give me the eyes to see the hymn of her every minute of every day. Please?

-Brian Doyle

Digging Deeper: Proverbs 18:22; Colossians 3:19




Test Your Family July 4th American Symbol

Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson served on the committee that picked the eagle for the national seal [Franklin wanted the turkey].

Bald eagles have few natural enemies and live only in North America.

Bald eagles get their white head and tail feathers about 4/5 years of age.

Bald eagles are not, and never were bald. The term comes from when “bald” meant “white-headed”.

Their maximum speed: 40 mph or over 100 mph while in a dive.

They can lift roughly half their body weight.

The Bald Eagle is no longer considered endangered, and now only threatened.

The only other kind of eagle in North America is the golden eagle.

Bald eagles mate for life, but if one dies, the survivor will accept a new mate.

It is a felony to shoot an eagle.


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