I will counsel thee with mine eye upon thee. -Psalm 32:8 (ASV)

Early on a delicious spring morning, I discovered what I’d feared. A small bird had somehow managed to build her nest in our garage. She selected a shoebox and, in an empty corner, fashioned a delicate funnel-shaped nest in it. No eggs yet! Even though we’d tried to be careful to keep the garage door down, she somehow still got in.

Finally, I was able to get her out into the open. She perched on our flagpole and screamed so loudly, it startled me. I hurried back into the garage and grabbed the box, which was within easy reach.

Back outside, I searched tor a safe place to reposition her nest.

Still in my nightgown, I ran from one spot to another. Nothing was right. Then I caught sight of our reproduction of a well. Other birds use this area annually. I wedged the shoebox tightly near the roof:

The mother bird still screamed at me. I rushed back inside, praying she’d agree with the change. I knew best. Slightly out of breath, I sat down in my prayer chair and continued writing in my prayer journal,

“Please, God, let her understand that the garage isn’t safe and to settle down underneath the well roof Guide her … “

God seemed to interrupt my prayer so that my pen stopped midair.

Marion, you’re like the little bird. You select paths that seem perfect to you and confidently follow them. I have My plans for you daily. Let Me guide you, Child.

I laid down my pen and shut my eyes. “You’re right, Father. So often I run around making choices for myself and others – only to discover I’ve been oh so wrong.”

Forgive me, Lord, for being head strong. Help me submit to Your guidance today.

-Marion Bond West

Digging Deeper: Psalm 25:5; Isaiah 55:8-9




Last year I entered the New York City marathon. The race started, and immediately I was the last of the runners. It was embarrassing.

The guy who was in front of me, second to last, was making fun of me. He said, “Hey buddy, how does it feel to be last?”

I replied, “You really want to know?”

Then I dropped out of the race.


Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy, Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? .. -1 Corinthians 6:19 (NIV)

I couldn’t understand it. Recently my legs felt leaden, dead, like they had weights on them or the muscles were all gummed up. And they were a little achy too. I noticed I wasn’t walking at my usual clip, and my stride had shortened. What was wrong with me?

Perhaps most alarming, my numbers on the bike were down slightly. I’ve been doing competitive indoor cycling for more than twenty years. I don’t rack up as many miles annually as I used to, but I still keep a

pretty grueling pace. Something was wrong, something serious.

I went to see my doctor. He had me do some balance and strength exercises while he took notes. Then he flipped through my chart. Finally I demanded, “So what’s wrong with me?”

“Nothing,” he said, “except that you’re getting older.”

“How can that be?” I asked. I detected a note of absurd disbelief in my voice.

“You have birthdays, you get older. Pretty straightforward,” he said.

Look, you do things that people age forty-two can’t do. But you can’t do things that you could do back when you were forty-two, right? You’re normal. The body slows down. It’s perfectly natural. Accept it and stop worrying.

I left feeling both depressed and reassured. Nothing wrong with me except I was getting old. Yet why did that seem wrong? I looked down at my legs. I’d put more than one hundred thousand miles on them in

In the past twenty years because I always wanted to come in first. Maybe it was time to shed my baby-boomer sense of immortality and thank God for the years and the legs He had given me,


Father in heaven, let me never lose sight of the blessings of health, even if I’m slowing down-just a bit.

~Edward Grinnan

Digging Deeper: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 3 John 1:2




A husband took his young daughter to the grocery store to help him buy groceries. In addition to the healthy items on his wife’s carefully prepared list, the two of them returned home with a package of sugar-filled cookies.

“Why in the world did you buy those?” his wife asked. “You know they aren’t good for you!”

“Oh, but don’t worry, honey, these cookies have one-third less calories than usual in them,” the husband replied.

The wife looked all over the package but couldn’t find any claim to that fact, so she asked, “What makes you think that?”

“We ate about a third of the box on the way home.”


“I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit. “-Leviticus 26:4 (NIV)

 I was making the trek to pick up my son Kalin from college, exactly an hour away from our home in Tennessee. I had driven this route more times than I could remember, but on this spring day, I noticed

cloudy skies as I embarked. Minutes later, the sky turned an ominous gray, and by the time I pulled on to the highway, a torrential rain had begun.

I struggled through the downpour, barely able to see the road. I contemplated pulling over, turning on my hazard lights, and waiting out the storm, but I decided to persevere and keep moving.

I complained to myself the entire time. Man, why is it raining so hard? This is so annoying!

When I arrived at my son’s campus, I let out a huge sigh, grateful that I’d made it safely. My son ran to the car and quickly loaded up his overnight bag, and all I did was complain some more. “We’ve had such

terrible rainstorms recently. It’s been ridiculous. I hate the heavy rains this time of year, especially here in the South.”

I had just finished stating the long list of reasons why the rain offended me when we approached our street. The sun was showing off now, shining brilliantly, and it served as a spotlight on my neighbors’

fuchsia azaleas, white cherry blossoms, and red Knock Out roses.

“April showers bring May flowers,” my son simply said.

Of course, I thought. It was a saying my late mother was fond of reciting. I smiled at the lesson in the words and at the sweet memory they brought. How could I have forgotten?

Lord, thank You for producing glorious beauty lifter storms.

-Carla Hendricks

Digging Deeper: Psalm 85:12; Joel 2:23




One day a state trooper was pulling off an expressway near Chicago. When he turned onto the street at the end of the ramp, he noticed someone at a chicken place getting into his car. The driver placed the bucket of chicken on top of his car, got in, and drove off with the bucket still on top of his car.

So the trooper decided to pull him over and perform a community service by giving the driver his chicken. He pulled him over, walked up to the car, pulled the bucket off the roof, and offered it to the driver.

The driver looked at the trooper and said, “No thanks. I just bought some.”



“Hear my prayer, 0 Lord, and give ear to my cry; do not hold your peace at my tears. For I am your passing guest …. ” -Psalm 39:12 (NRSY)

I had a routine for my daily prayer hour. I stood for a time before a cross, prostrating myself in humility before God. I knelt, praying for forgiveness, my needs, and the needs of others. And I spent time

hunched over my Bible, which also has devotions and readings.

After my accident, I couldn’t move well or assume these positions for long, if at all. How would I pray? Technically, I knew I could pray in my place, any position, but this was my routine!

[ had always worshipped God with body, mind, and spirit, but now my body was too broken to “pray right.” I was determined to find a new routine for my prayer hour; I couldn’t imagine going to God

without a plan. It seemed almost disrespectful, like wasting His time.

J decided to sit in a comfortable chair and run through all my prayers in that position. But then my mind started blanking out during prayer; I had a hard time remembering all my prayers, and sometimes I even

dozed! I was mortified, I wondered if God was as disappointed in me as I was in myself.

I poured all this out to a friend who shook his head, smiling in his gentle, wise way. “You are not sleeping on the job before God,” Nick said. “God is giving you the rest that He knows you need. He’s leading you to pray the way you need to pray now.”

For the first time since I fell, I understood that God was using this time to mend more than my bones.

Lord teach me the right way to pray which is any way.

-Marci Alborghetti

Digging Deeper: Job 9:1-4; Matthew 6:7-8




My dinner party was headed for disaster.

One man, an insurance salesman, was monopolizing the conversation with a lengthy account of recent litigation involving himself. Since two other guests were lawyers, I was becoming increasingly uneasy.

“In the end,” the salesman concluded, “you know who got all the money.”

I cringed.

“The lawyers!” he shouted.

There was embarrassed silence at the table. My heart was pounding until the wife of one lawyer said, “Oh, I love a story with a happy ending.”


I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. -Romans 8:18 (NIV)

Lonny, the three youngest boys, and I rode on the bike path that stretches alongside the river. It was finally spring. The trees held tender buds. A family of turtles sunned on driftwood. The valley was

rich with endless shades of green. Everything was waking, changing. There were changes in my boys too.

Seven-year-old Isaiah steered his three-speed close to my rusty green Schwinn.

“Did you notice, Mom,” he said, “the difference in me?”

“What do you mean?”

“Last year I could only make it to the bench. This year I’m going to make it to the bridge.”

He was right. Just last fall his legs gave out. He’d pushed all he could, but the bridge was too far.

You’ve grown, Isaiah, I said. You’re one winter stronger.

My son smiled, pedaled, and kept his bike even with mine.

One winter stronger. I could relate.

For a long time now, a young-adult son has struggled. Watching him hurt brought deep heartache, and seeing him walk away from the things I taught him took me to a place of panic. I tried to help, but worry

and fear settled strong. Recently, though, I’ve begun to pray to grow in understanding – not in the circumstance but in knowledge of the Lord.

And as I one-day-at-a-time let go of fear and control and choose to claim God’s powerful presence in my son’s life, my faith-muscles firm.

“What do you think, Mom?” Isaiah asked from under his helmet.

“Race me to the dock?”

“You’re on,” I said. And off we went, both of us stronger.

Father; thank You for the growth that can happen during tough times. Amen.

-Shawnelle Eliasen

Digging Deeper: Psalm 9:9-10; James 1:2-4; 1 John 4:4




A patient at the dental office where I was a receptionist stopped by my desk to pay her bill. She began rummaging through her purse, as so many patients did when they had a check to write.

“Do you need a pen?” I asked, offering her the use of mine.

“Yes, thank you,” she replied. She took it, put it in her handbag, and proceeded to pay in cash.


The first time I met my wife, she was an intense aerobics instructor at my health club and I was an out-of-shape new member.

After one grueling workout, I gasped, “This is really helping me get toned.” She looked me up and down. Feeling self-conscious, I added, “Big men run in my family.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Apparently not enough.”


May your unfailing love be my comfort according to your promises to your servant. -Psalm 119:76 (NIV)

During a vacation in Mexico, I went for a waIk on the beach near a wall of huge sand-colored rocks that skirted the ocean. Suddenly, I stopped dead in my tracks. A three-foot-long iguana was sitting right

in front of me as if to say, “This is my path. Back offl”

I continued nonetheless, but slowly. I was on alert for the gray-tan reptiles. Soon I started seeing them everywhere on the rocks. They’d been right in front of me all along, only I hadn’t seen them because

they were so well camouflaged.

I began to wonder what else I hadn’t seen clearly that was right in front of me. I thought about the more than one hundred workers who made hings run smoothly at the immense resort where we were staying. I hadn’t gone out of my way to show much appreciation to any of them.

When I returned to the resort, I decided to pay closer attention to those helping to make my vacation so pleasant. I smiled more and started using my high-school Spanish to say “Good morning” and “How are you?” to each waiter, housekeeper, and pool and beach attendant. I put dollars in my beach bag to share with the workers, even though tips were included in our stay. I started cleaning up after myself

after each meal to make it easier for the staff.

When I returned home from Mexico, I made an effort to talk to and appreciate the people who help me in so many ways, such as grocery-store clerks, waitresses, even my pastor. Thanks to those well camouflaged iguanas, I’m now trying harder to show my gratitude for every person who makes my life richer.

Heavenly Father, help me to keep my head out of the sand and to show kindness to everyone who crosses my path.

-Patricia Lorenz

Digging Deeper: 2 Corinthians 6:3-10; 1 John 1:5-7




The businessman dragged himself home and barely made it to his chair before he dropped, exhausted.

His sympathetic wife was right there with a tall cool drink and a comforting word.

“My, you look tired,” she said. “You must have had a hard day today. What happened to make you so exhausted?”

“It was terrible,” her husband said, “The computer broke down and all of us had to do our own thinking.”




If we been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly united with him in a resurrection like his. -Romans 6:5 (NIV)

The ringing bells in the tower sounded like a Hallelujah! as we joined throngs of people funneling toward the church on Easter morning.

Birds were singing, crocuses blooming, and a blue sky promised plenty of sunshine, All of creation seemed prepared to celebrate. Me too.

With our daughters and their families, we filled a whole row in the sanctuary, six adults and six grandchildren, girls in colorful Easter dresses, boys with moussed hair.

I leaned back, absorbing the buzz of anticipation to celebrate the Resurrection. I thought of Leslie and how she kept seeing Jesus in her final journey, but I realized it wasn’t just Jesus. She saw the resurrected

Jesus because she believed in the Resurrection.

I looked around and saw many people whose stories reflected similar faithfulness and hope. And others I knew were hungry for the hope of the Easter message: a family raising other people’s children; a widower learning to find a new way in a life alone; people in financial crisis, unemployment, and homelessness; folks in broken relationships. Here we were, all together, waiting to hear the Easter message that Jesus’s death and Resurrection promises eternal life with Him in heaven, where there will be no more pain or stress or loneliness or death.

Soon the music started, and the pastor stepped forward and pronounced:

“Jesus Christ is risen!”

Together, we all responded; “He is risen indeed!”

“Let the celebration begin.”

Hallelujah, Jesus! Your Resurrection promises that the best is yet to come. Amen!

-Carol Kuykendall

Digging Deeper: Acts 2:24; 1 Corinthians 15:12-19




Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. Psalm 116:15 (KJV)

It is done.”

Those three words in an email from Alan told me that Leslie had completed her journey. I expected the news, so why did I suddenly feel unhinged to the faith that had carried us through this season?

If Leslie is finally home with You, God, why don’t I feel like celebrating?

I sensed an answer but didn’t know if it came from God or my struggling heart: the death of someone you love forces you to face what you believe about the mystery of heaven.

The last time I saw her, I reminded her how she saw herself hiking up a mountain toward the summit where Jesus waited with arms open wide. Just a few more steps to Jesus and heaven. Then I repeated the words of the song we’d often shared in her last weeks:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full in His wonderful face,

And the things of this world will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace.

Why couldn’t I simply believe what I believed that day? My question remained unanswered.

Maybe that’s why God gives us a day in Holy Week that I call “Silent Saturday,” between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. A day of silence when grief can cloud our thinking about death and heaven. On this

Silent Saturday, I remembered all that Leslie had said about heaven becoming more real, while admitting she didn’t always understand.

Lord, much about heaven seems a mystery. but I trust You will give me the same increasing faith You gave Leslie.

-Carol Kuykendall

Digging Deeper: Mark 16:9-11; Luke 24:13-26






Enduring Suffering

I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his suffering, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow attaining to the resurrection from the dead. -Philippians 3:10-11 (NIV)


After saying good-bye to Leslie during our weekly visits, I always stopped to talk with her husband, Alan.

“Why has God allowed Leslie to endure all this suffering?” he asked one morning, shaking his head. “I know some answers but I’m having a hard time believing them.” I nodded in agreement because he voiced a question I’ve often asked in watching another person suffer. It doesn’t make sense in the way I try to make sense of God’s love.

When I left their house that day, I felt sad that I didn’t have a better answer for Alan. Or for me. But I remembered that early on, Leslie talked about suffering.

“In my stronger moments, I see suffering as something I share with Jesus. He had to go through the temporary pain of dying on the Cross to get to the Resurrection, which brings us the eternal gift of new life in heaven. And I have to endure suffering and die to get there too.”

As I sat in the darkness of our Good Friday service at church, I tried to comprehend the unimaginable suffering that Jesus endured. I could think of only one place where I came dose to experiencing something similar. As a pregnant mother, going through intense labor pains in order to receive the joy of bringing new life into the world. Enduring the temporary pain was the only way to get to something beautifully better.

Jesus, I’m humbled by the suffering You endured to fulfill Your life purpose and to give us the hope-filled promise of eternal life.

–Carol Kuykendall

Digging Deeper: Isaiah 53:5; Romans 8:16-18; 1 Peter 5:10



Good things come in small sugarcoated packages

An Easter bonnet can tame even the wildest hare

Everyone is entitled to a bad hare day.

Let happy thoughts multiply like rabbits.

Keep your paws off other people’s jellybeans.



Practicing Laughter

She laughs without fear of the future. -Proverbs 31:25 (NLT)

The time came when Leslie spent most of her days in bed. The first time I found her there, I pulled up a chair and held her hand.

We laughed together that day, mostly as I reminded her of things she’d already told me.

Like the Thanksgiving when her eccentric grandmother dropped the cooked turkey on the kitchen floor and immediately started kicking that slippery old bird around the room in frustration. Leslie saw it as a

hilarious example of her grandmother’s unpredictable personality.

I loved that in the midst of the hardest things, Leslie still liked to laugh.

“Do you think there will be laughter in heaven?” I asked her.

“For sure,” she said with confidence, “So we have to practice.”

During Holy Week, I attended a funeral for Ray, our church’s beloved custodian who died suddenly of a heart attack at age forty-nine. I walked into church with a heavy heart. His death stunned everyone

who filled our sanctuary that day. But what I appreciated most during that service was the blessing of laughter.

Ray had come to know and love Jesus during his years of service to our church, and woven into the reflections about his life were many humorous reminders of his fierce protection of all things “church.”

Nobody messed with Ray. Or the church building. Laughter filled the sanctuary in the midst of sadness, and I thought about Leslie practicing laughter, which is the sound of hope and joy-at funerals and surely

in heaven.

Lord, the sound of laughter here gives me a taste of the joy I will experience there. Remind me to keep practicing.

-Carol Kuykendall

Digging Deeper: Ecclesiastes 3:4; Luke 6:21



Does the Easter Bunny like baseball? Oh, yes. He’s a rabbit fan!

What would you get if you crossed the Easter Bunny with an overstressed person?

An Easter basket case! What’s yellow, has long ears, and grows on trees? The Easter Bunana!

Why are you stuffing all that Easter candy into your mouth?” “Because it doesn’t taste as good if I stuff it in my ears.”

Did you hear the one about the Easter Bunny who sat on a bee? It’s a tender tail!

Why was the monster sitting in his Easter basket? He was trying to hatch his peanut butter eggs!


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