As it is, there are many parts, but one body. -1 Corinthians 12:20 (NIV)

A friend of mine told me about her trip to Papua New Guinea. She and her husband had a marvelous time. But she described seeing stray dogs everywhere. Because none of the animals are spayed or neutered, they have pups over and over. It’s a problem that touched her deeply.

She wanted to investigate ways to address the stray dog problem and make a difference. But she bemoaned her efforts as such a small thing to do.

We do that, don’t we? We want to make a difference in the world ina big way. Maybe even in a way others will see or admire. I pointed out, “You should help where your passions are strongest. Then you will make a difference.”

Like my friend, I want to make a difference. But my passion seems small: encouraging others. For me, that means sending cards to friends facing tough times. I often wonder if it helps. In this digital age, sending a card in the mail means I don’t get an immediate response. It’s very different from someone clicking “Like” on Facebook in response to something I just posted.

But the other day I found out what those cards can mean. I’d sent my friend going through chemotherapy a Superman card. It was just to remind him: “Your cape is showing! You are amazing!” Turns out the card arrived on the very day he was facing a new diagnosis and needed some extra encouragement. Yes, my card was silly, but sometimes that’s the point.

We all don’t see the same problems in the world, but we all have a passion for something. Take the one thing you care most about and see how much good will come from your response. When we take on the

concerns closest to our hearts we certainly make a difference.

Take my passionate heart and use it for YOUR service, Lord. Amen.

-Lisa Bogart

Digging Deeper: Mark 12:41-44; 1

Corinthians 9:24-27; Ephesians 4:11-12




Ryan: Why did you chop the joke book in half?

John: Mom said to cut the comedy.


Erin: What did the mother bullet say to the daddy bullet?

Fran: What?

Erin: “We’re gonna have a BB!”


Joker: Why did the monster’s mother knit him three socks?

Harvey: I have no clue.

Joker: She heard he grew another foot!


 CONFIDENCE IN DIFFICULTY: Faith in all Circumstances

What is gained if I am silenced, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? .. -Psalm 30:9 (NIV)

 I went in search of the nurse. “My daughter is very sensitive to chaos,” I reminded him, for the hospital already knew of Maggie’s traumatic stress disorder. “She needs help in finding ways to feel safe when the others become aggressive.”

The boy two rooms down punched walls and shouted, and the kid across the hall screeched endlessly. Around the comer was a teen cried loudly much of the day. The nurse wrote down my concerns,

no accommodations were made.

Every day my daughter pleaded, “Get me out of here! I can’t take this. I’ll kill myself.”

Staff heard the threat but not the distress. They removed all of furniture from Maggie’s room, leaving only a mattress and blanket, parked someone in an armchair in the doorway to watch her four hours a day. The noise of others cursing, punching, crying, howling continued.

“There’s not much we can do,” said the psychiatrist. “We only have the staff and space we have.”

“Surely there’s a quiet area where Maggie can go when others blow up,” I insisted. “Or you can give her earplugs. Or someone to coach her through the trouble spots.” The psychiatrist didn’t see modifying

environment to help my daughter as an option. It was up to Maggie to figure out how to cope.

I prayed through despair as I went home. I prayed for ideas, alternatives, my daughter, the doctor, and help. Mostly, I asked for perspective.

Father, I don’t understand what good is coming out of this. Yet even if I never understand, even if it hurts, I will still be your servant.

-Julia Attaway

Digging Deeper: Joshua 24:15; 2 Corinthians 6:4




Son: Dad, do you know the difference between a pack of cookies and a pack of elephants?

Dad: No.

Son: Then it’s a good thing Mom does the grocery shopping!


Sunday school teacher: Tell me, Johnny. Do you say prayers before eating?

Johnny: No, ma’am, I don’t have to. My mom’s a good cook.


Doug: I think my mom’s getting serious about straightening up my room once and for all.

Dan: How do you know?

Doug: She’s learning to drive a bulldozer.



Wednesday, May 16

The Lord’s  lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning. … -Lamentations 3:22-23 (NAS)

 Hibiscus is my favorite flower. In the Philippines, where I spent my childhood, these plants grow to be tall shrubs and even small trees. Hardy green hibiscus produce large trumpet-shaped flowers that vary in color from white to pink, red, orange, peach, yellow, or purple. My wife, Beth, and I now raise potted hibiscus plants on our porch in Georgia.

A unique trait of hibiscus flowers is that they live for only one day. At the end of the day, the flowers wilt, drop off the plant, and are replaced by a whole new crop of blooms. Each morning, as I walk out our front door, I pause to look at each fresh bloom that has emerged overnight. I greet them all with “Good morning!” and welcome them into their new world.

Recently, I reflected on how God expects the same of me. Each day is a new gift. The good that I might have done yesterday needs to be recreated today. I cannot be content with yesterday’s achievements or

tomorrow’s hopes. Today is the one day I have to live, and I must live II with purpose and creativity. I need to tell someone that I love her. I must set out on a new endeavor to help someone, encourage my students, give a fresh compliment, utter a special prayer for my neighbor, and teach an old thought in a different and compelling way. With each sunrise, the world awakens anew and I have the privilege of stepping into a morning filled with promise.

Father, help me to live today as if it were my first day of life and my last day of opportunity. Amen.

-Scott Walker

Digging Deeper: Matthew 6:25-34; John 15:1-11




Mom No. 1: How do you get your sleepy-head son up in the morning?

Mom No. 2: I just put the cat on the bed.

Mom No. 1: How does that help?

Mom No. 2: The dog’s already there.


Baby snake: Mommy, are we poisonous?

Mother snake: Yes, son.Why?

Baby snake: I just bit my tongue!


Chris: Why is a computer so smart?

Mom: It listens to its motherboard.


Tuesday, May 15

For when I am weak, then I am strong. -2 Corinthians 12:10 (RSV)

 I didn’t plan to sign up for Boston’s annual Lupus Walk this year.

“Who wants a ninety-year-old slowing everyone up!” I said to my friend Suzy.

That’s when she told me this story.

I’d known that Suzy suffered with asthma from birth. In her sixties, with her condition worsening, someone suggested that could increase lung capacity. “I started kind of dog paddling around

my neighbor’s pool every morning.”

Eventually she was able to swim nonstop for almost twenty minutes. Elated, she decided to trya out for New Mexico’s Senior Olympics. When she entered Albuquerque’s vast echoing arena, though, and saw

the size of the pool, her courage failed. She was about to flee when she noticed an elderly man being carried to the starting platform, With only the use of his upper body, the old man came in third among eight contenders. “It made my asthma problems look pretty small.”

So when Suzy’s race was called, she took her place alongside the others. “Swimmers up. Take your mark” Bang! Her dive was an inelegant belly flop, her stroke a frantic splashing. “I kept getting tangled in the lane dividers. I reached the far end and clung there like a barnacle.”

The other swimmers were already on the return lap. Aching limbs flailing, Suzy finally followed. On and on she swam. Surely someone had moved the end of the pool! At last, she touched the wall.

As she hung there, gasping, she heard cheers. The next race must have started. Only slowly did Suzy grasp that the cheering was for her.

Not because she won: “I was four minutes behind the next slowest swimmer. They cheered,” Suzy said, “because I did it.”

“I think,” I told her, “that I’ll sign up for that Lupus Walk after all”

Remind me, father; that I don’t have to be first to be a winner.

-Elizabeth Sherrill

Digging Deeper: Matthew 20:16; 1 Corinthians 9:26




Jill had applied for a job and when she returned home, her mother asked how the interview went.

“Pretty good I think”, replied Jill, “but if I go to work there I won’t get a vacation unless I’m married.

Her mother of course, had never heard of such a thing and asked “Is that what they told you?

“No”, replied Jill, “they didn’t tell me that, but on the application it said “vacation time may not be taken until you’ve had your ‘First Anniversary'”


A young child asked a woman how old she was.

She answered, “39 and holding.”

The child thought for a moment, then said, “And how old would you be if you let go?”


He will yet fill your mouth with laughter …. -Job 8:21 (JPS)

My graduate school roommate, Judy, and I have been close friends for fifty years, even though we haven’t lived in the same place since we left school. My only stint as a bridesmaid had been at her

wedding; she and Rod vacationed with my husband, Keith, and me a number of times, and every year on our birthdays we called each other to catch up.

After Keith died, the birthday calls were more subdued. News from Judy’s side was much more interesting. Rod and Judy were traveling, working with a local theater company, and adopting dogs from the amimal shelter where she volunteered. And they were together, two of them to my one.

I didn’t think my updates measured up. I was putting one foot in front of the other, trying not to slip back into the pit of grief I’d struggled so hard to climb out of. I certainly didn’t want to subject Judy to

my problems, so I tried hard to sound cheerful.

“You know,” I said, “I keep that picture of Rod and you on my bureau, so I see it every day.”

“The church directory shot I sent you years ago?” She sounded startled.

When I said yes, she said, “But that picture is so old!”

I was about to ask her for a new one when she sighed and added, Oh well, we’re old, too, so I guess it’s appropriate.”

I started laughing, and after that I was able to tell her about my down times as well.

You really blessed us when You gave us a sense of humor, Lord of laughter.

-Rhoda Blecker

Digging Deeper: Psalm 126:2



A few years ago, I decided to visit my brother who was stationed in Germany. I assumed that most Germans would speak English. But I found that many people spoke only their native tongue – including the ticket inspector on the train.

He punched my ticket, then chatted cordially for a bit, making gestures like a windmill. I simply nodded from time to time to show him that I was interested.

When he had gone, an American woman soldier in the compartment leaned forward and asked if I spoke German.

“No,” I confessed.

“Then that explains,” she said, “why you didn’t bat an eyelid when he told you that you were on the wrong train.”


  At daybreak, he called together his disciples. He chose twelve of them whom he called apostles …. -Luke 6:13 (CEB)

Why do we have to meet so early in the morning? I wondered. Friday morning, men’s breakfast at church, and I was the one in charge of coffee. Which meant rolling out of bed at 5:30 to get out of the

house by 6:30 to get to Dunkin’ Donuts in time for a Box 0′ Joe to get to the church to get everything ready for our 7:30 gathering.

I stumbled through the motions. The train was early-thank God- the rain held off for a few moments, the line for coffee wasn’t too long, the front door at church was already unlocked. “Hey, John,” I said to

our perennial early bird. We both poured ourselves cups from the Box 0′ Joe. Mark stumbled in, shaking out his raincoat, then Robert with his umbrella. C.J. brought his dog. Ron passed out a print on “original

sin.” Jim plopped down at the table. Milton sat next to me. Michael showed up with his well-thumbed Greek New Testament, our linguist, he was always helpful when we got into any arguments about


“Let’s pray,” I said. A quick prayer and then we were off into one of our usual discussions, people raising questions, offering second and third takes on the topic at hand. What: did Jesus say about it? How did

it apply to our workaday lives?

At meeting’s end we went around the room and shared concerns. It was only then as each one spoke that I noticed we were twelve, like the Twelve described in Scripture. We closed with the Lord’s Prayer and I dashed out to work, not without checking to see if there was any coffee left in the Box 0′ Joe. Yes, a cupful.

Where two or three are gathered, Lord, together we seek You.

-Rick Hamlin

Digging Deeper: Matthew 16:24-26; Mark 1:16-18



What Famous Mothers Might Have Said

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary’s Mother: “I don’t mind you having a garden, Mary, but does it have to be growing under your bed?”

Mona Lisa’s Mother: “After all that money your father and I spent on braces, Mona, that’s the biggest smile you can give us?”

Humpty Dumpty’s Mother: “Humpty, If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a hundred times not to sit on that wall. But would you listen to me? Noooo!”

Columbus’ Mother: “I don’t care what you’ve discovered, Christopher. You still could have written!”

Babe Ruth’s Mother: “Babe, how many times have I told you — quit playing ball in the house! That’s the third broken window this week!”

Michelangelo’s Mother: “Mike, can’t you paint on walls like other children? Do you have any idea how hard it is to get that stuff off the ceiling?”

Napoleon’s Mother: “All right, Napoleon. If you aren’t hiding your report card inside your jacket, then take your hand out of there and prove it!”


“Give us this day our daily bread.” -Matthew 6:11 (KJV)

I was a newly married, pregnant student at Western Illinois University before I learned about hunger. It’s a time I rarely speak of. My former husband, a college athlete, was unable to find work, and no one

would hire me with my baby bump.

Our first few weeks in graduate student housing went well; we had food that relatives had sent with us. But soon it was gone. With just shortening, flour, salt, and water, I made Navajo fried bread my mother

had taught me to make. First, we ate the hot salty bread with butter and jelly. Then there was only the bread. Finally, nothing.

My husband practiced with the basketball team and was able to get a meal with them, but there was nothing for me.

“Lord, please don’t let me faint,” I prayed. One class required that I walk through the student union where the smell of hamburgers and fries was overwhelming. I hoped other students would leave leftovers on their tables or that could glean food from trash cans.

My stomach was empty, but I was filled with too much shame to ask for help. That’s what people seldom talk about-the shame that rides along with poverty and hunger. I ended up losing two teeth, but my beautiful daughter, Lanea, survived.

As my family and I sit down to dinner now, I give thanks for the food we eat and for my time without food, a temporary affliction that helped teach me compassion for others.

Thank You, Lord, for blessing my family.

Help us to consider the poor and to share what we have.

-Sharon Foster

Digging Deeper: Psalm 41:1




Things Moms Would Never Say

“How on earth can you see the TV sitting so far back?”

“Yeah, I used to skip school a lot, too”

“Just leave all the lights on…it makes the house look more cheery”

“Let me smell that shirt — Yeah, it’s good for another week”

“Go ahead and keep that stray dog, honey. I’ll be glad to feed and walk him every day”

“Well, if Timmy’s mom says it’s OK, that’s good enough for me.”

“The curfew is just a general time to shoot for. It’s not like I’m running a prison around here.”

“I don’t have a tissue with me… just use your sleeve”

“Don’t bother wearing a jacket – the wind-chill is bound to improve”



So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ. -Romans 10:17 (NRSV)

This year I officially decided to stop saying, that I run twenty-one miles a week because, increasingly; I don t.

The truth is I mostly jog. Ever more slowly. With sometimes moments of walking in between. Not infrequently, I stop altogether to examine a bird through binoculars I carry or tally a count for

or record on my phone a writing idea to work on later that day.

The older I get, the slower I get and the quieter and more alert.

I didn’t realize this was happening until recently. I was running – no jogging along, and suddenly, without planning to, I was differentiating the birds’ voices around me, one from the other, and acknowledging their presence before I even saw them. Without meaning to, I was listening for which birds were there with me: out-of-season or newly arrived voices, voices I’d .forgotten from previous years, voices I didn’t know at all.

I was aware that the flock of meadowlarks surrounding me were Westerns, not Easterns, though the two species look identical. I heard before seeing a little towhee, a rare sighting in these parts, squawking forth its funny name. When the cardinal’s chip-chip of winter changed to its fluting summer cry, I sensed the approach of spring.

And it’s not just birds. Today, without even realizing I was listening, I knew the train approaching invisibly from the distance had three locomotives and was not pulling cars. I heard it, knew it, without even thinking about it, and when I turned to look, I found I was right. That’s my hope for the coming seasons: as my life slows down, as it inevitably will, and gets quieter, I’ll hear and become ever more aware of God’s voice speaking His presence into my days.

Help me slow down and hear You, Lord.

-Patty Kirk

Digging Deeper: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8




After a worship service, a mother with a fidgety seven-year-old told me how she finally got her son quiet.

About halfway through the sermon, she leaned over and whispered, “If you’re not quiet, Pastor Chariton is going to lose his place and will have to start all over again.”


Things I’ve Learned from my Children

If you spray hair spray on dust bunnies and run over them with roller blades, they can ignite.

A 3 year-old’s voice is louder than 200 adults in a crowded restaurant.

If you hook a dog leash over a ceiling fan, the motor is not strong enough to rotate a 42-pound boy wearing Batman underwear and a superman cape. It is strong enough however to spread paint on all four walls of a 20 by 20 foot room.

You should not throw baseballs up when the ceiling fan is on.

When using the ceiling fan as a bat, you have to throw the ball up a few times before you get a hit.

A ceiling fan can hit a baseball a long way.

The glass in windows (even double pane) doesn’t stop a baseball hit by a ceiling fan.

When you hear the toilet flush and the words “Uh-oh”, it’s already too late.



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

In celebration of National Nurses’ Week, the staff in my hospital department were filming a video of something called “Uptown Funk.” “You know, Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson made it popular,” Stephanie told me. “They’re the new Michael Jackson.”

No, I didn’t know. When it came to moving to music, I didn’t know much these days. The new tumor in my foot had taken care of that. I could barely walk, let alone dance.

“Just count me out,” I announced to my colleagues dressed in hoodies and dark glasses and laughing up a storm. “I’ll cheer everybody else on.”

But I wasn’t prepared for how sitting on the sidelines would make me feel. Suddenly, I was fifteen years old again and watching my peers from the bleachers in my junior high gym class. “Epileptic,” someone

hurled at me in reference to a seizure I’d had in front of my classmates several days before.

Today, my hospital peers were having a terrific time. How I longed to be one of them.

‘Then my boss, Paula, spoke up. “Get a big sheet of paper and a marker, Roberta,” she said. “Make a sign that says, ‘I’m not a part of this!’ You can appear at the end and you won’t have to dance. ‘Trust me.

lt’Il be great.”

After the video was filmed, I heard someone in another department remark: “This is hilarious. I think Roberta had the best part of all.”

So did I Thanks to my sensitive coworkers, I was really a part of things. Now that was something to celebrate!

Because of You , Lord, I don’t have to live in the past anymore. Thank You.

-Roberta Messner

Digging Deeper: Isaiah 43:18-19; Matthew 6:31-34




While standing in line for confession, I overheard a woman whisper to her friend, “I really don’t know why I am going to confession. I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had time to sin.”


Mother’s Dictionary

Amnesia: Condition that enables a woman who has gone through labor to make love again.

Dumbwaiter: One who asks if the kids would care to order dessert.

Family Planning: The art of spacing your children the proper distance apart to keep you on the edge of financial disaster.

Feedback: The inevitable result when your baby doesn’t appreciate the strained carrots.

Full Name: What you call your child when you’re mad at him.

Grandparents: The people who think your children are wonderful even though they’re sure you’re not raising them right.

Hearsay: What toddlers do when anyone mutters a dirty word.


FALLING INTO GRACE: Embracing a New Role

“The kingdom of God … is like a mustard seed, which, when sown …

is the smallest of all seeds on earth; yet … it grows up and becomes the

greatest of all shrubs …. ” -Mark 4:30-32 (NRSV)


I sat in the car outside of the homeless shelter where I’d been volunteering for years. My arm was safely encased in its sling-“to keep people from jostling you,” the doctor said–but I wasn’t moving.

“Too soon to come back?” my husband, Charlie, asked. “Should we wait another week?”

I’d always come here to help others. I’d always come from a place of strength. No one here had ever Seen me weak, broken, I couldn’t even carry the bag of fruit we’d brought or the Scrabble game I occasionally engaged in. I missed the residents and staff, but I was nervous about how they would react.

I pushed open the door and heaved myself out. We hadn’t even reached the shelter before people asked, “What happened?” “You okay, Marci?” “Let me get the door for you.” “You need help with anything?”  Want to say a prayer?”

Celida, who runs the shelter and had been praying for me for weeks, embraced me gently. I tried to pass out the fruit, but someone took over that job. I was told to sit; they would do the work this time.

I felt strange. This was not my role, but this is exactly where God wanted me to be: The helper had become the helped.

Lord, let me accept Your love and help through the love and help of others.

-Marci Alborgherti

Digging Deeper: Isaiah 50:4-5; Mark 1:30-31




Working at an airline ticket counter, I pulled up a passenger’s reservation that showed his name as “Cole, Pheven.”

“I’d like to be certain our information is correct,” I said to him. “What is your first name?”

“It’s Stephen,” he replied. “I hope the reservation agent got it right. I told him it’s spelled with a ph.”


Principles of Motherhood

  1. Motherhood ~~ If it was going to be easy, it never would have started with something called labor!
  2. Shouting to make your children obey is like using the horn to steer your car, and you get about the same results.
  3. To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today.
  4. The smartest advice on raising children is to enjoy them while they are still on your side.
  5. Avenge yourself – Live long enough to be a problem to your children.
  6. The best way to keep kids at home is to make the home a pleasant atmosphere – and to let the air out of the tires.
  7. The right temperature in a home is maintained by warm hearts, not by hot heads.
  8. Raising a teenager is like nailing Jell-O a tree.
  9. Parents: People who bare infants, bore teenagers, and board newlyweds.
  10. The joy of motherhood: What a woman experiences when all the children are finally in bed.
  11. Life’s golden age is when the kids are too old to need baby-sitters and too young to borrow the family car.
  12. Any child can tell you that the sole purpose of a middle name is so he can tell when he’s really in trouble.
  13. Grandparents are similar to a piece of string ~ handy to have around and easily wrapped around the fingers of grandchildren.


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