Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. –Proverbs 3:5 (NIV)

Bent over the soil, I cleared off leaves and began to wake up my J garden by sweeping away winter’s mess. My thoughts turned to an upcoming business trip. I had volunteered for the project and was

looking forward to it, but now as it grew near, all my excitement turned to dread. Would the flight be delayed? Would my presentation go over well? In a flash, a garter snake slithered right in front of my knees!

My heart jumped, and I let out a squeal.

I caught my breath, and my mind traveled back to elementary school. In the fourth grade, we had garter snakes in the classroom. The first day of schooI, the teacher picked one up out of the tank and strolled the aisles, between our desks. The snake slinked up his left arm, and kids backed up their chairs.

“We’re afraid of things we don’t understand,” he said. “I’m going to teach you all about these amazing creatures. You don’t have to touch them or go near them if you don’t want to. But I’ll bet by Thanksgiving each one of you will have held one. Anyone want to touch one now?”

I folded my arms and shook my head. I wasn’t about to touch a snake, let alone hold one.

It started out simply. For a few minutes in the morning our teacher would go to the tank and pick one up. He showed us how snakes weren’t slimy but strong. He offered facts and asked us to look closely,

so we could see the beauty of their scales.

It didn’t even take until Thanksgiving. Before the end of September there wasn’t one of us who hadn’t grown to care for what we once feared. My business trip was going to be just fine.

Heavenly Father; when worry enters my heart, help me remember that what is beyond my understanding is in Your hands. I have nothing to fear.

–Sabra Ciancanelli

Digging Deeper: John 14:27; Philippians 4:6-7; 2 Thessalonians 3:16



A man was stopped by the police around 2 a. m. The officer asked him where he was going at that time of night.

The man replied, “I’m on my way to a lecture about alcohol abuse and the effects it has on the human body, as well as smoking and staying out late.”

The officer then asked, “Really? Who’s giving that lecture at this time of night?”

The man replied, “That would be my wife.”



This is the day that the Lord has made. -Psalm 118:24 (NRSV)

Anyone who knows me well knows that I don’t always have the most loving relationship with my dog, Max. He frustrates me as often as he delights me. And I suspect that he feels the same way about me, the guy holding his leash.

I want to run more! I want to eat more! I want to play more! If dogs think these things, and I imagine they do, then Max thinks them when he looks at me throughout the day, most every day.

But the other day I woke up after sleeping very little. I was worrying about some project that was still undone when Max stuck his muzzle in my hand as if to say, “Take me outside.” So, I did. It was just after

dawn, and the sun was coming up. ‘There I stood, watching Max in the morning light, but my mind was still at my computer. Do your business and let’s get back inside was all I was thinking.

Max wanted to linger. He walked over to the hedge and smelled it.

Then he paused to look up at the bird feeder as if to acknowledge the chickadees that were already chattering away there. Then he sat down in the grass and just looked around, seemingly taking it all in for the first time.

“Come on,” I said. It isn’t as if we don’t do this every single morning.

And, instead of following me inside, Max, who is usually obedient, as dogs are, turned his head and looked at me. It was like a tap on the shoulder.

Stop, look, smell, listen.

May I live for You in the present today; Lord.

Ob, and I look forward to tomorrow too!

-Jon Sweeney

Digging Deeper; Psalm 66:5-6



One day, the pilot of a Cherokee 180 was told by the tower to hold short of the active runway while a DC-8 landed. The DC-8 landed, rolled out, turned around, and taxied back past the Cherokee.

Some quick-witted comedian in the DC-8 crew got on the radio and said, “What a cute little plane. Did you make it all by yourself?”

The Cherokee pilot, not about to let the insult go by, came back with a real zinger: “I made it out of DC-8 parts. Another landing like yours and I’ll have enough parts for a second one.”


If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit”. Galatians 5:25 (NAS)

I recently read a story about John Knox, the founder of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. He was a valiant prayer warrior. As he lay on his deathbed, he asked his wife, Margaret Stewart, to read him Scripture.

While reading to him, she noticed that John Knox had started to pray aloud, his voice growing slower and dimmer. Then, as he prayed for those he loved, his spirit slipped from his body and joined Jesus in Heaven. What a wonderful testament to this mighty man of God.

Over the years I’ve struggled with prayer. I’ve made long lists and prayed through them. I’ve written my prayers down, which I continue to do to this day; and I’ve tried my best to be continually in prayer by

having an ongoing conversation with the Lord as I go about my day.

John Knox was a man who lived by prayer, so when it came time for him to leave this earth, prayer was a natural part of his life … and death.

This is what I want for my relationship with God, a life of prayer that is so engrained that communication with Him is simply part of my every thought and deed. And when it comes time for me to leave this earth, I want it to be with a prayer on my lips.

Father God, thank You for the beautiful example of John Knox’s life, this saintly man of prayer. May I live a praying life.

-Debbie Macomber

Digging Deeper: Jeremiah 33:3; Colossians 4:2



Saturday morning I got up early, dressed quietly, made my lunch, grabbed the dog and fishing equipment, slipped quietly into the garage to hook the boat up to the truck, and proceeded to back out into a torrential downpour.

The wind was blowing 50 mph. I pulled back into the garage, turned on the radio, and discovered that the weather would be bad throughout the day.

I went back into the house and slipped back into bed, where my wife was turned away from me. I whispered to her, “The weather out there is terrible.”

My loving wife of 20 years replied, “Can you believe my stupid husband is out fishing in that mess?”

I still don’t know to this day if she was joking, but I’ve stopped fishing.


For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. -James 2:10 (NIV)

 I write chapter books for young readers. It’s the only job I ever dreamed of having. As a little girl, I’d look at authors’ names on books I loved and wonder if, someday, my name might be on a book a child

loved too. I take my work seriously and try to get everything right, always remembering what an honor it is to have my words read by children.

Recently, after I’d sent final edits to my publisher for a novel, I realized I’d missed a mistake in the manuscript. Even though we’d been through multiple edits, the fault was mine–the blame rested solely

with me. Sheepishly, I emailed my editor and told her my error. All the major kinks should have already been worked out. Now I would waste the copy editor’s time and’ create a hassle. My one blunder made

all the hard work I’d done on the book seem to fade into the background. How could I have been so stupid? I felt sick to my stomach. I couldn’t eat; I couldn’t concentrate on anything except the guilt.

After I beat myself up most of the day, my editor called and assured me it was no big deal. “Stop worrying,” she said. “We’ll take care of it.” Just like that!

How strange it felt to have my burden taken away so quickly, so completely. Especially when I didn’t deserve it. I hardly knew how to respond.

But why should it have felt strange? Isn’t this what God does for me every day?

Lord, thank You for Your amazing grace!

Thank You for the endless edits You allow.

-Ginger Rue

Digging Deeper: Galatians 5:4-5; Jude 1:24



While vacationing in Alaska, I couldn’t help but notice all the warnings about bears posted in campgrounds, visitors’ centers, and rest areas advising people not to feed the bears, how to avoid bears, what to do if a bear sees you, what to do if a bear attacks, and so on.

My favorite, however, was a hand-lettered sign on the door of a small gas station in a remote area. It said: “Warning! If you are being chased by a bear, don’t come in here!


“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.” Jeremiah 29:5 (NIV)

To get a head start on our garden, we sprout our tomatoes from seeds indoors. We plant them in a cute little germination station that we move around the house, from window to window, finding the


My favorite part of tending to the tomato plants – the part that touches my heart-happens when the glorious little green stems surface from the dirt. Each seedling receives a soft touch, from left to

right, up and down, a few times a day, to encourage strong stems.

When I first learned about the brushing technique, I wondered if it was related to stress. Was a little pressure the same as “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”? For a long time, I believed that was the case (stress was behind the strength), but this morning I changed my theory.

Today as my hands grazed each plant, I thought that maybe the brushing is more about caring enough to take a moment to reach out and be a part of its growth. Afterward, the herbal fragrance of the plants, the smell of spring, was left on my hands, reminding me of the beautiful exchange that happens when we care for another. The benefit of our effort changes us as well.

Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of caring, for the fulfillment I receive from planting seeds and watching them grow, and for creating fruit that nurtures my mind, body, and spirit.

-Sabra Ciancanelli

Digging Deeper: Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 4:32



Bubbles and Barbie, two blonde sisters, had promised their uncle, who had been a seafaring gentleman all his life, to bury him at sea when he died.

In due time, he did pass away, and the two blondes kept their promise. They set off from Clearwater Beach with their uncle all stitched up in a burial bag and loaded him onto their rowboat.

After a while Bubbles said, “Do you think we’re out far enough, Barbie?”

Barbie slipped over the side. Finding the water only knee deep, she said, “Nope, not yet, Bubbles.” So they rowed a little farther out.

Again Bubbles asked Barbie, “Do you think we’re out far enough now?”

Once again Barbie slipped over the side and almost immediately said, “No, this will never do; the water is only up to my chest.”

So on they rowed and rowed and rowed, and finally Barbie slipped over the side and disappeared. Quite a bit of time went by, and poor Bubbles was really getting worried when suddenly Barbie broke the surface, gasping for breath.

​”Well, is it deep enough yet, sis?”

“Yes, finally. Hand me the shovel.”


A soothing tongue is a tree of life, But perversion in it crushes the spirit. -Proverbs 15:4 (NAS)

Our teen grandsons came over for a visit last week. Those boys argued over everything. Twice the fourteen-year-old erupted frustration-launching into a tirade against his younger brother before

stomping outside. When he returned, the twelve-year-old mumbled, “What’s he doing here?”

That did it. They got “alpha” grandma. Not condemnation or anger, but a firm teaching.

I broke down the nasty sound bite. “‘What’s he doing here?’ says ‘You are not welcome, you don’t: belong, I don’t like you, go away.” I went on, “Boys, these things you are saying are careless words. They go down inside a person and create hurt. Arguing and running each other down has become such a habit that you don’t hear what you are saying. I’m going to step in when I hear this happening, and we’re going to look at what is realy being said. If you can just start to see careless words, then I’m hoping you can choose better ones.”

My grandsons made more peaceable attempts toward each other for the remainder of their visit. Later I looked up Bible teachings about careless words-a reminder for myself about speaking without thinking – or intentionally letting go an unnecessary volley.

The real awakener for me was Matthew 12:36. Jesus states, “Every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for,” I decided right then that I want to make this a very short list.

You, Lord, are the living Word. Fill me with pleasant words- as a honeycomb, “Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24).

-Carol Knapp

Digging Deeper: Psalm 141:3; Proverbs 12:14;

Jeremiah 15:19; Matthew 15:15-20



A local priest was being honored at his retirement dinner after 25 years in the parish.

A leading local politician and member of the congregation was chosen to make the presentation and to give a little speech at the dinner.

However, he was delayed debating the “bail-out packages,” so the priest decided to say his own few words while they waited:

“I got my first impression of the parish from the first confession I heard here. I thought I had been assigned to a terrible place. The very first person who entered my confessional told me he had stolen a television set and, when questioned by the police, was able to lie his way out of it. He had also stolen money from his parents, embezzled from his employer, had an affair with his best friend’s wife, and taken illicit drugs. I was appalled.

“But as the days went on, I learned that my people were not all like that and I had, indeed, come to a fine parish full of good and loving people.”

Just as the priest finished his talk, the politician arrived full of apologies for being late. He immediately began to make the presentation and said: “I’ll never forget the first day our parish priest arrived. In fact, I had the honor of being the first person to go to him for confession.”

Moral: Never, never, NEVER-EVER be late.


Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts; make me, therefore, to know wisdom in mine inmost heart. -Psalm 51:8 JPS)

After keeping the house closed up through the winter, I’m always relieved when there’s a warm enough day to open the windows.

I enjoyed the breeze that wafted across my office on that first nearly balmy morning. The squirrels were especially active, obviously having decided that my fence top was the safe road around my yard.

I was working at my computer when I heard such loud birdsong that I was certain the bird had to be on the fence directly outside my window; The chirping was beautiful-three notes that sounded the same

then then a full-throated liquid crescendo of joyous singing. The whole song repeated every few seconds.

I looked out, expecting to see the pretty singer, but the fence was empty except for some stray tendrils of blackberry vines. I would have thought the bird had flown away, but I could still hear its lyrical chirping. I got my binoculars to scan my neighbor’s roof and some nearby trees but saw only robins or jays, neither of which has such a melodious song.

J resolved to find the songbird, so I trained the binoculars on the blackberries, In the shadow of a curving stem was the tiniest brown bird, throat feathers ruffling as it gave out its huge, lovely song.

It seemed a wondrous reminder that the way we look on the outside really has no bearing on what may be within-and how blessed we are when we encounter what’s hidden there.

Turn me inside out, Lord, so that

what I show the world is the song inside me.

-Rhoda Blecker

Digging Deeper: Psalm 28:7



An important and very well publicized murder trial was soon to begin. In preparation for the trial, the tiresome jury selection process took place, each side hotly contesting and dismissing potential jurors.

One prospective juror, Dan O’Keefe, was called for his question session.

He was asked, “Property holder?”

Dan replied, “Yes, I am, Your Honor.”

Then he was asked, “Married or single?”

Dan responded, “Married for twenty years, Your Honor.”

Then the judge asked, “Formed or expressed an opinion?”

Dan stated with certainty, “Not in twenty years, Your Honor.”


“In my father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. “-John 14:2 (KJV)

One of my dearest friends had died unexpectedly, and I couldn’t shake the feeling I might never see her again. Oh, I knew Dixie had trusted Christ as her Savior and had a promised home in heaven, but would I really be reunited with her one day? As much as I believed the Bible’s truths, it all seemed so unreal.

Then I had to travel by plane to a distant city for a workshop.

Because of health issues, I never fly alone. But this time my sister couldn’t accompany me. I didn’t say anything to anyone, but inwardly I panicked.

Out of the blue, a fellow workshop participant emailed me. Peggy lived close to the facility where the workshop was taking place. “Why don’t I meet you at the airport and drive you to the workshop, Roberta?” she wrote. Peggy assured me it wouldn’t be the least bit of trouble.

I’d attended other events with Peggy, but I didn’t know her well. I assumed that meeting me at the workshop meant she’d be waiting outside near Ground Transportation. But when I stepped into the airport, Peggy and her husband were the very first people I spotted. There they were smiling and waving like I was the most important person in the world.

My thoughts turned to Dixie, and at once I knew, On the day of my arrival in heaven, God would whisper the news of my coming to dear friend and she would, most assuredly, be waiting just for me.

Thank You for friends, Lord, who help us over life’s hurdles.

-Roberta Messner

Digging Deeper: 1 Corinthians 2:9; Revelation 21:1



Two blind pilots enter a plane. They have sunglasses and white sticks. As the plane starts to move, the passengers are uncomfortable. The plane gains speed, but it stays on the ground. The remaining runway gets smaller and smaller, and the plane is rushing towards a fence.

The passengers start shrieking and suddenly the plane lifts, avoiding the fence at the last second. All the passengers calm down, thinking it was a bad joke.

In the pilot cabin, the co-pilot turns to the pilot and says : “You know what? One day they’re going to scream too late, and we’re all going to die”




This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 (NKJV)

Considering. that Scotland’s Shetland Islands are swaddled in a blanket of clouds or fog about 75 percent of the year, my Sister and I were delighted to wake up to skies as blue as the water beneath our cruise ship. Almost giddy with the prospect of exploring Mousa Island off the coast of Lerwick, Cindy and I quickly dressed in layers. We were prepared for anything.

Well almost anything. Apparently, the clear skies were due to the howling wind. This meant the waves were too high for the ship’s tenders to ferry passengers to shore. So, we sat, anchored right off the coast and we waited. I felt like Moses seeing the Promised Land from mountaintop, but not being able to actually set foot on it. Of course, he traveled for forty years to reach his destination. I’d been traveling

Less than a week.

I had a choice. I could either spend my time cursing the wind or I could enjoy, the day right: where I was. So, my sister and I walked laps around the deck, burning calories with the goal of eating more dessert.

We took pictures of ourselves in every reflective surface we could find, just for fun. We used the telephoto lenses on our cameras as binoculars to survey the beauty of the landscape just out of our reach. We had a marvelous, memorable day-·even though we never made it to shore. What I want is not always what I get in life. I may not have chosen my current circumstances, but I can choose whether I’ll live in a state of disappointment and discontent or search out the treasures hidden in the unexpected and imperfect.

Dear Lord, help me to see today as a gift, even if it’s a gift

I never wanted to receive. Help me to embrace the beauty and the possibilities of whatever You allow to come my way.

-Vicki Kuyper

Digging Deeper: Philippians 4:11-13




A friend of mine was in a barber shop years and years ago, waiting his turn for a haircut.  In the barber’s chair was a gentleman who had lost most of his hair and had very little left to speak of.  When he had paid for his haircut and left the shop, my friend asked the barber, “You didn’t actually charge that man for cutting his hair, did you?”  The barber said, “No; I charged him for looking for it!”


What’s the difference between a hippo and a Zippo?

One is really heavy; the other is a little lighter.



It’s a good thing to quietly hope …. -Lamentations 3:26 (MSG)

God answered my secret prayer. I became a grandmother, although not in the typical way. My daughter Katie married Chris, had a three-year-old named Rilynn. Together, they chose the wonderful name for me: Grandma Jewels.

Rilynn already had two grandmothers. Did she have room in heart for one more?

A few months after the wedding, Katie asked me to keep overnight. I’d pick her up from preschool and spend the night at their house. But she barely knew me. Would she feel uneasy around me?  Should I dare to let myself hope for a special relationship?

When I pulled into the preschool parking lot, excitement and fear bubbled up. Lord can this possibly work? We’re brand-new to each other.

After signing in, I went outside to where the children were playing.

There she is. My granddaughter. Laughing with friends.

Rilynn’s long blonde hair blew in the breeze. She glanced my way. Careful not to invade her space, I stood still and waved. Jewels!” she yelled across the playground and raced toward me with her

arms wide open. “You came to get me!” I bent down. She hugged sure and strong.

She chattered about her day, the same way Katie used to. She me where they kept crackers and juice boxes, and we had an afternoon snack and played dolls. Later, I went to fix supper.

“Grandma Jewels”-she tapped my leg-“could you play with please? For just one more minute?”

“Of course, Rilynn, I’ll play with you for lots more minutes.”

Father; You’re full of good surprises! Help me not to be afraid to hope in every situation.

-Julie Garmon

Digging Deeper: Psalm 147:11; Romans 5:5




I needed some supplies from a Sunday school cupboard that was seldom used and was secured with a lock. I didn’t know the combination, but our clergyman offered to give it a try. Pastor Jack placed his fingers on the lock’s dial and raised his eyes heavenward for a moment. Then he confidently spun the dial and opened the lock. Seeing how impressed I was with this demonstration of faith, he smiled and confided, “The numbers are written on the ceiling.” …


Leave a Reply