Learning in Loneliness

Surely I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 (NIV)

‘I’m lonely,” Leslie told me one morning. She sat in a new place, on the couch in the family room, wrapped in a blanket and propped up with pillows.

“‘Tell me about it,” I urged.

“My world is growing smaller. I need people but I don’t really want them to stop by because I don’t have enough energy; And they don’t know what to say. Most people don’t want to talk about dying.

“Heaven is mysterious,” Leslie went on, “and there’s so much we don’t know. But I know that something holy is happening within me.

I just can’t find the words to describe it. Jesus says heaven will be better than earth. Still, it’s a little scary because it’s unknown.”

I didn’t stay long that day. Leslie was tired and needed to sleep.

As I headed home, I thought about how many times I’m physically alone in a single day. Driving my car. Walking my dog. Writing at my computer. Early morning conversations with God. Maybe God intends us to get used to being physically alone at times.

Did He intend that for Jesus in Gethsemane? Jesus knew His time was drawing near and wanted His disciples to circle up and pray with Him, but they fell asleep instead and left Him alone with the Father.

Maybe there was a purpose in that. Maybe God wants us to get used to knowing He is with us always, even when we think we are alone. Because there are places we must go alone. Like heaven.

Father, may I spend my earthly days learning how safe and secure I am alone with You. Always.

-Carol Kuykendall

Digging Deeper: 1 Kings 19: 1-8



What do you need if your chocolate eggs mysteriously disappear? You need an eggsplanation!

How does the Easter Bunny paint all of those eggs? He hires Santa’s elves during the off-season.

How does the Easter Bunny stay in shape? He does lots of hare-obics.

What’s the difference between the Easter Bunny and a silly monster ? One’s a hare-head and the other’s an air-head!

What would you get if you crossed the Easter Bunny with Chinese food? Hop suey!



Dealing with Regrets

He who began a good work in .you will carry it on to completion until the y of Christ Jesus. -Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

Leslie often talked about one of her greatest regrets: she was too much of a people-pleaser, which made her feel self-conscious and confined one of her greatest joys, her writing.

“In school, I wrote stories and my teachers told me I was a good writer. I didn’t have great confidence, but I knew I could write,” she told me. “Yet my people-pleasing began to hold me back because I

feared others might not like the stories. So I never shared my most creative writing and now I regret hiding so much of myself from others.”

Her description reminded me of something I’ve heard: the number one regret of dying people is about living a life others expected rather than living true to themselves. That was reason enough for me to try

to talk Leslie out of her regrets. But the more we talked, the more I realized that I’m something of a people-pleaser, too, and my talking was partly in my own defense.

“Even Jesus was a people-please!’ … sometimes,” I offered, but I’m not sure I convinced her-or myself

During Holy Week, I’ve been thinking about Jesus’s last days in Jerusalem. He was not Who everyone wanted Him to be, but He had the courage to always be Who God created Him to be, He was a God-pleaser Who didn’t fear what others might think. And in heaven He redeems our regrets and unfinished business. That’s a blessing for Leslie now.

As for me, it’s a wake-up call.

Lord, I pray for the courage to know and to be who You made me to be, on this side of heaven, and that You will redeem the regrets I might still be carrying when I reach the Resurrection.

-Carol Kuykendall

Digging Deeper: Psalm 139; 1 Corinthians 12:14-20



What do you get if you pour boiling water down a rabbit hole? A hot cross bunny

How do bunnies stay healthy? Eggercise

Why won’t Easter eggs go out at night? They don’t want to get “beat up”.

Why couldn’t the Easter egg family watch T.V.? Because their cable was scrambled.

What do you call a mischievous egg? A practical yolker



Choosing to Surrender

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done. ” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. -Luke 22:42~43 (NIV)

How did you make the decision to stop treatment?” I asked Leslie one morning, longing to know how she made that brave choice to put God in total control of numbering her days.

“It was hard,” she admitted, suddenly tearing up. “I felt a conflicting tension, but I began to see this was about my willingness to surrender to God’s will and trust Him to give me the strength to face my future.

Like Jesus in Gethsemane.”

During this Holy Week, I’ve been thinking about Leslie’s courageous surrender and Jesus’s agony in Gethsemane. Three times Jesus prayed, asking the Father to “take this cup from me” as He anticipated the Cross in His future. But He added His willingness to surrender to God’s will. After His third prayer, He surrendered and walked om of the garden to face those who came to arrest Him-with the strength He needed to face His future.

Yesterday, I received a hurtful e-mail and immediately wrote a defensive response. It felt good and fair and justified … until I was ready to push Send and I paused. Was this one of those times where God gives me the opportunity to follow Jesus’s example? Was this a small but important surrender opportunity? “Not my will but yours be done.”

Instead of Send, I pressed Delete.

Later, when I reread the original e-mail, the words sounded different. More constructive. Less hurtful. I smiled.

Jesus, may I keep learning to pause and seek and surrender to Gods will. Because that’s the way to follow You. All the way to the Resurrection.

-Carol Kuykendall

Digging Deeper: 2 Samuel 22:33; Matthew 26:36-46



  1. What do you call a sleeping egg? A. Egg-zosted!
  2. What did the eggs do when the light turned green? A. They egg-cellerated.
  3. What do you call an egg who is on the computer too much? A. An “Egg Head”.
  4. Why didn’t the egg play on the computer very much? A. His brain would be fried.
  5. What sport are the eggs good at? A. Running!



Folllowing Jesus

Come, follow me, “Jesus said. -Mark 1:17 (NIV)

 I stood in church on Palm Sunday watching the children parade through the aisles, waving their palm branches. I loved how the youngest ones held on to a rope tethered to their Sunday school teacher so they could follow her through the crowded sanctuary because they couId hardly see where they were going. It reminded me of the way Leslie so faithfully followed Jesus on her journey.

How could I be that intentional?

Leslie pictured herself following Jesus ever since she gave her life to Him at church camp when she was thirteen. Since then she lived within a word picture where she and Jesus were on a hike up a mountain together, maybe because she loved hiking.

By the time Leslie reached the last weeks of her life, when the climb got harder, her familiar habit of following Jesus comforted and strengthened her. She trusted Jesus to keep showing her the way and to

welcome her with open arms when she reached her destination at the top of the mountain.

The memory of Leslie’s consistent following challenges me. I’ve survived way beyond my two-year life expectancy, and I now see myself on a Divine Detour. I don’t always know my way, but I can trust that Jesus does and He goes before me. Yet sometimes I forget to look for Him.

I want to forget less often. So I’m practicing a new habit. When I dose my eyes to pray, I picture Jesus on the back of my eyelids, which reminds me that He is right there, between me and the circumstances

of my day.

Jesus, whenever I want to see You, I cart close my eyes and there You are, because You promise to always go before me and lead me safely home.

-Carol Kuykendall

DZr;ging Deeper: Matthew 16:24; John 8:12, 10:3-5





Walking on Sacred Ground

He has also set eternity in the human heart. -Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV)

I vividly remember the day I went to visit my friend Leslie, shortly after hearing that she’d chosen to stop treatment for her advanced breast cancer.

Leslie’s husband, Alan, welcomed me and led me into the living room where Leslie sat in a comfy chair wearing a soft, pale-blue knitted hat.

“How are you?” I asked, hugging her and realizing how thoughtless that question sounded. But Leslie didn’t miss a beat.

“I’m preparing for the Resurrection,” she said with a smile.

Her blunt honesty both stunned and intrigued me. How does a person prepare for the Resurrection?

Our lives had crisscrossed through the years; I was more than ten years older and I’d gone ahead of her in our shared challenges. I’d survived Stage 4 ovarian cancer and was cancer-free when Leslie was diag- nosed with breast cancer. We spent time together then and again when her cancer returned. I was now a healthy twelve-year survivor and she was in her fifties, planning her funeral.

This time Leslie was going ahead of me. And I wanted to watch. To listen. To walk with her on her journey.

I want to journey intentionally through Holy Week so that I, like Jesus, like Leslie, will reach Easter Sunday with a louder Hallelujah! because of what I discover along the way.

 Lord, I too, am preparing for the Resurrection. Please help me discover Your truths along the way.

-Carol Kuykendall

Digging Deeper: Jeremiah 29:11; John 11:25-26

Daily Guideposts



I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. ” – John 10:10 (NIV)

I joined the staff of, a small school that is committed to serving the poor in our community; Every year we host Run for Hope, a marathon that functions as our largest fund-raiser. This past weekend I

enjoyed my first Run for Hope, which united runners from all over the United States. As I talked with several participants, I discovered each had brought his or her own history of personal losses and triumphs: brain tumors, amputations, cancer. Many had jumped multiple hurdles before they’d stepped up to the starting line.

When the first runners began trickling into our finish-line party, we volunteers applauded. “Great job!” I yelled as the 5K runners entered, panting and wiping their brows. Later, I cheered for the half marathoners, rubbing their shins and soaking their feet in ice, Hours into the race, we were honored to

welcome our full marathoners. I practically screamed my head off for this dedicated crew, many of them limping and hobbling after the long run.

Near the end of the race, my husband and I packed up to go home, assuming that all of the runners had joined the party. Then a volunteer announced, “There’s one more runner on his way. He’ll be our last to

welcome,” Ten minutes later, we cheered for a seventy-year-old man! I thought I’d heard the most amazing stories of triumph, but this was the best of all. He had run a full marathon and even placed first in his age group.

As I belted out my loudest accolades, this man’s perseverance spoke volumes, Each day is a gift to be treasured. Each year is an opportunity to reach new heights. Each decade is a call to share my talents, passions, and heart with others.

Lord, help me live each day with joy and service, until the very moment You call me home.

—Carla Hendricks

Digging Deeper: Psalms 16:11, 90:12



There’s no such thing as too much candy.

All work and no play can make you a basket case.

To show your true colors you have to come out of your shell.

The best things in life are still sweet and gooey.


THE BEAUTY OF SIMPLICITY: Everyday Hospitality

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. -Philippians 3:12 (RSV)

My husband, Rick, thought it would be a great idea to sign us up to be church group leaders, and I explained why his idea wouldn’t work. “What about our driveway? Whenever we get heavy rain, it turns into a mudslide, Your roosters go nuts when people come over. Who wants to be licked to death by an overfriendly Lab?”

“You’re worrying for nothing.”

“We live way back in the woods. What if our home isn’t what they’re looking for?”

“What do you think they’re looking for?”

One word came to me, too ugly to share: perfection.

Rick studied me, his brown eyes full of sincerity. “Julie, I’ve prayed about this.”

I groaned. Maybe he’s right. We had to try, but would it work?

The night of our first meeting, I lit candles and set the table. The roosters were behaving. No sign of rain. So far, so good. I put the dog upstairs, made a pot of coffee, and surveyed the kitchen. I didn’t have

enough matching china. Paper plates and cups lined the counter, and an antique pitcher holding silverware was tied with a red bow.

At 7:15 p.m., fourteen men and women held hands and Rick said the blessing. While we ate tacos, beans, and rice, I sensed sweet warmth moving among us – laughter, honesty, the beginning of friendships.

The remedy for my fear and doubt was Simple. When I focused on God and others, our home became a place of peace and healing.

Father; I know I’m not perfect, but I’m yours.

-Julie Garmon

Digging Deeper: Job 31:32; Acts 16:34; 1 Peter 4:9-10



Knock, knock! Who’s there?

Harvey. Harvey who?

Harvey good Easter everyone.

Knock, knock! Who’s there?

Heidi. Heidi who?

Heidi the eggs around the house.

Knock, knock! Who’s there?

Howard. Howard who?

Howard you like a chocolate bunny?


God.. giveth grace unto the humble. -James 4:6 (KJV)

The streets of Colombo, Sri Lanka, where my husband and I were visiting, were dirty. Here and there, sewer smells permeated the Yet, as we walked along, the faces of the people were open and friendly, Haunting music could be heard somewhere in the distance and the sounds of prayer drifted out from a nearby mosque.

The outdoor market offered bins of bright spices and mysterious vegetables, while children laughed and played between the stalls.

I was feeling proud of my adventurous spirit and openness to exotic cultures as we made a turn down an alley and found ourselves standing  in from of a beautiful, colorful Hindu temple. The huge blue door was swung open in welcome, and a series of bells invited all inside.

Shoes lined the entrance. David stooped to remove his.

“I’m not going barefoot in there,” I announced in my best neurotic voice. “The streets are filthy and most of these people walk around without shoes. I can’t even imagine the germs.”

We agreed that I would wait, as David disappeared through the entryway; I stood outside the door and peered in. A shaft of sunlight from a high window created a path, urging me inside.

I didn’t go; my fear won.

Over and over, I asked David what it was like. “Well … you really had to be there,” he would answer. David came home completely free of foot fungus … and I with a heart heavy for what I had missed.

Father; when my haughty spirit holds me back, push me forward toward the wonders You spread out before me.

-Pam Kidd

Digging Deeper: Proverbs 11:2, 16:18



What kind of bunny can’t hop?

A chocolate one!

Why did the Easter egg hide?

He was a little chicken!

What do you call a rabbit with fleas?

Bugs Bunny!

Why was the little girl sad after the race?

Because an egg beater!



It happened in the spring of the year …. -2 Samuel 11:1 (NKJV)

I stood over the remains of what would have been tulips. They’d been nearly ready to bloom, but a hard freeze following the snowstorm was too much for them.

Most people hear “Oregon” and think “rain.” While that’s often true along the coast, it doesn’t apply to the east side of the Cascade Range. Where I live, there are more sunny days than not, but our weather is

more wild than mild. We have a limited growing season because of late frosts. Snow is common in June. Temperature swings are more like roller-coaster rides.

While half of the state celebrates the gentle coming of spring with a glorious array of daffodils, rhododendrons, and cherry blossoms, I’ve learned to see past the lingering snowdrifts for more subtle signs of winter’s retreat. Here, spring is marked with birds, not flowers.

Mid-February I begin searching for the greater sandhill cranes. Looking like a pterodactyl with feathers, these giant birds typically arrive ahead of the worst blizzard of the year. Robins appear soon after the first thaw, no matter how briefly it lasts. Red-winged blackbirds, nuthatches, Stellar’s jays, killdeer, and swallows materialize without fanfare. More vocally, Canadian geese begin pairing up and bickering

with their neighbors. Often they are fighting to claim trophy nesting sites, which look more like ice sculptures.

God has made each place beautiful and each climate unique. How wondrous!

Light of this life, thank You for spring!

-Erika Bentsen

Digging Deeper: Isaiah 52:7; Matthew 5:14-16; Mark 4:21-22;

Luke 11:33-36; Acts 13:47



Easter Eggs?

  1. Why couldn’t the eggs go out on a hot summer day?
  2. They were afraid they would fry!
  3. What did the egg say to the clown?
  4. You crack me up!
  5. What part did the egg play in the movies?
  6. He was an “Egg-stra”.


These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when

you get up. -Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (NIV)

I grabbed my wallet off the counter, pulled on. my coat, and headed, toward the sunporch, where my mom was waiting to go shopping.

“Sorry,” I said as I plunked myself into a wicker chair. I fished underneath for my shoes. “I hate making you wait for me.”

“Don’t worry about it,” she said. “Ready to go?”

She sat across from me, her hands wrapped around a Bible. She had propped it open on her lap. It was the same one that she had used since I was a baby. She was taking this brief moment to read a few verses.

I knew that her Bible was well loved. It had only half a cover. The margins overflowed with her looping handwriting. The text was highlighted and underlined and highlighted again. She took it almost

everywhere with her-to the doctor’s office, to my brothers’ soccer practices, to the swimming pool. She didn’t want to waste a second.

I wanted that drive. To read a Psalm between classes instead of checking Facebook. To carry God’s Word with me until the pages were all dog-eared and the binding was held together by tape. To seek out my

heavenly Father every moment I could. Just like this wise woman who I tucked her Bible under her arm.

Lord, help me to seek You diligently.

-Logan Eliasen

Digging Deeper: Deuteronomy 11:18; Joshua 1:8



Easter Eggs?

  1. What do you get if you cross an egg with a vacuum cleaner?
  2. I have no idea, but I bet it’s messy!
  3. Why did the egg cross the road?
  4. Because he wasn’t a chicken yet!
  5. What day does an egg hate the most?
  6. Fry-days.
  7. What came first, the chicken or the egg?
  8. Neither–the Easter Bunny!


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