Fear not; for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God,’ I will strength you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous hand. -Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)

I was desperate to do something for my friend Sarah who had cancer.

I pulled up Google and searched “gifts for cancer patients,” sorting trough a plethora of pink scarves and T-shirts before realizing that none of them would work. Sarah didn’t even like pink. She’s more of a magenta rock-star type of gal.

So maybe dinner? I could whip up some cheesy comfort food, something to fill her belly and show her she was loved. But she was feeling awful. The mere smell would likely make her throw up.

I could write letters or cards, send text messages, make phone calls. Or maybe I could watch her kids, help with her laundry, scrub her floors, do her dishes.

My mind whirred as it sorted through all of the ways Sarah would need help, the ways I could contribute. I began writing a list, throwing down ideas, searching for something-anything-I could do.

“Lord, please, I want to help her,” my soul cried.

And His answer came clearly, immediately: Just be. Be there. Be in prayer. Be a listener. Be hope.

My suffering friend doesn’t just need a maid or a chef or someone to buy her pink trinkets and slip them into her already jammed-full mailbox. Instead, she needs someone who will hold her hand, pray out

loud, sit with her when things get stormy.

That’s who I want to be for my friend right now, when she needs it more than ever.

Lord, I want to show Your perfect love to those in need. Help me to exude Your mercy and grace everywhere I go. Amen.

-Erin MacPherson

Digging Deeper: Zechariah 7:9; John 16:33; Romans 8:10



An 85-year-old widow went on a blind date with a 90-year-old man. When she returned to her daughter’s house later that night, she seemed upset.”What happened, Mother?” the daughter asked.”I had to slap his face three times!””You mean he got fresh?””No,” she answered, “I thought he was dead.” …


The police just pulled me over, he came up to my window and said, “papers?” I said, “ Scissors, I win” and drove off. I think he wants a re-match he’s been chasing me for 45 minutes. …



Then she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, “Let’s celebrate! … ” -Luke 15:9 (CEV)

After visiting a friend who was hospitalized about thirty miles from my house, I stopped at a dollar store to buy sympathy and get well cards. “It seems like I’m buying cards every week!” I complained

to the clerk.

“When you get older, your contemporaries tend to get sick and die,” she said, ringing up the sale. She hesitated and then added, “You’re fortunate to know people whom you care about. I’ve moved so often, l never made friends. I don’t have anyone to send a card to or who would send a card to me.”

“Maybe you’ll stay here long enough,” I said.

She shrugged. “I’ll probably move again before long.”

As I drove home I thought of things I could have done, like offering to introduce her to a local pastor or asking if we could pray together instead of my praying silently for her. I didn’t do either one of and the next time I visited that store she was gone.

Even though I didn’t help her, she helped me by reminding me how much I appreciate those who enrich my life through their friendship. I’m grateful for a friend with a fading memory who sends birthday cards, just never dose to my birthday. I’m privileged to enjoy another friend’s young grandchildren; mine are nearly grown. My friends and I have supported one another through sorrow and heartbreak and loss.

We’ve also laughed ourselves silly over corny jokes and rejoiced at successes and joys. Most of all, I am loved and treasured by the best friend of all, Jesus the Christ.

Most Precious friend, forgive me when I neglect to befriend someone in need. Thank You for the wonderful friends who mourn and celebrate with me. Amen.

-Penney Schwab

Digging Deeper: Proverbs 27:9; John 15:15



I really can’t stand it when homeless guys shake their cups of money at me. Do they really have to rub it in that they’ve got more cash than I do? …


One day an employee came in to work with both of his ears bandaged.

When his boss asked him what happened, he explained:

“Yesterday I was ironing a shirt when the phone rang and I accidentally answered the iron instead of the phone!”

“Well,” the boss said, “that explains one ear, but what about the other?”

“They called back!”


O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen on your walls: they will pray day night. continually …. -Isaiah 62:6 (NLT)

I filed and tossed my way through the stack of papers on my desk. A corner of a plastic sandwich bag peeked out from the bottom. I pulled it out. Warmth filled my heart when I saw my favorite necklace carefully tucked inside, a dainty silver cross overlaying the Star of David, which hung from the silver chain with a broken clasp.

I’d purchased it many years before because I felt that God was asking me to pray for all those involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

After a few years, the clasp broke. I’d taken it into the jewelry store to ask what they’d charge to fix it. I huffed out of the store. They want nearly as much to repair it as I’d originally paid. It’s not worth that! I’d tucked the cross and star into the plastic bag, and it’d been there ever since.

Gently I cradled the cross in my hands. Without wearing it, I’d forgotten to pray for Israel and the Jews on a regular basis. The cross with the Star of David wasn’t just a piece of jewelry I wore around my neck.

It was a key reminder to following my assignment from God. My heart sank as I realized that I’d let my wallet speak louder than God.

Lord, I’m sorry. The warmth of His love washed over me, and I felt led to tuck the necklace into my purse. On my next trip to town I would be stopping by the jewelry store.

Lord, I’m so grateful to know that when I fail to pray for Your people, You will forgive me and give me the opportunity to start over. Amen.

-Rebecca Ondov

Digging Deeper: 2 Chronicles 7:14; Psalm 122:6-8



An exhausted looking man dragged himself in to his Doctor’s office. “Doctor Kaine, there are dogs all over my neighborhood. They bark all day and all night, and I can’t get a wink of sleep.”

“I have good news for you Howard,” Doctor Kaine said, rummaging through a drawer full of sample medications.

“Here are some new sleeping pills that work like a dream. A few of these and your trouble will be over.” “Great,” said Howard, “I’ll try anything. Let’s give it a shot.”

A few weeks later Howard, looking worse than ever. “Doc, your plan is no good. I’m more tired than before!” “I don’t understand how that could be,” said Dr. Kaine, shaking her head. “Those are the strongest pills on the market!”

“That may be true,” answered Howard wearily, “but I’m still up all night chasing those dogs and when I finally catch one it’s hard getting him to swallow the pill!”


Through the Lord ‘s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. -Lamentations 3:22-23 (NKJV)

It’s only a little puddle, I told myself It probably just splashed out the sink. I used paper towels to wipe it up and went on to other stuff.

The next day I saw the same puddle again. I also saw warped hardwood floors and floating dollar signs.

It’s a lesson I’ve learned before but have to keep learning again: don’t give little problems an opportunity to become big problems.

The plumbing under my kitchen faucet had sprung a slow leak. Who knows how long it had been like that? All I know is that I noticed it, ignored it, and paid a price.

I turned off the water and bought the parts I needed to repair the leak.

But how to repair the hardwood floors? The damage was done.

A dozen boards were swollen and twisted. It would be an expensive repair. I felt discouraged and blamed myself. If only I had taken care of the problem the first time.

A few days later, I went into the kitchen for morning coffee and devotions. I was reading that day of a God Whose mercies “are new every morning.” The floorboards were barely warped. A little bit of

time had allowed them to dry out. They returned to their original shape, they undid their own damage-mercies new every morning.

Precious Father, how I praise You for the grace that fixes the mess I made and the mercies that are new every morning.

Give me eyes to see Your never-ceasing love. Amen.

-Bill Giovannetti

Digging Deeper: Psalm 36:5



I hate the idea of going under the knife. So I was very upset when the doctor told me I needed a tonsillectomy. Later, the nurse and I were filling out an admission form. I tried to respond to the questions, but I was so nervous I couldn’t speak.

The nurse patted my hand and said, “Don’t worry. This medical problem can easily be fixed, and it’s not a dangerous procedure.”

“You’re right. I’m being silly,” I said, “please continue.”

“Good,” the nurse went on, “Now, do you have a living will?”


And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient. –2 Timothy 2:24 (KJV)

I detest male stereotypes, especially when I prove them true.

” I always fancied myself as an equal partner in housework (“equal” meaning that my wife does 70 percent). So when Sandee’s job took her abroad for a month, the three of us left at home-Faith, Grace, and Mr. 30 Percent-were confident in our abilities to run the household.

That lasted roughly 17.3 hours.

The fIrst casualty was laundry, followed by dishes and then groceries. We set a skillet aflame. Dust bunnies grew into dust rabbits and built their own hutch. Toilet paper rolls, prescriptions, and promises

all went unfilled, There I was, on day five, standing in the kitchen, wearing mismatched socks, eating peanut butter with a fork for dinner. Mr. Mom meets Lord of the Flies.

Finally, we regrouped. It took all three of us to do what Sandee does all one day when she’s not at work. It was humbling, and it made us all feel dumb. Did it really take her absence to show us what she did? Were we that clueless? (Rhetorical-don’t answer that.)

Such troubling, dawning awareness spills into larger questions. How much of other people’s efforts do I take for granted every day? How solid is my bedrock commitment to “love my neighbor as myself” if I

don’t even notice my neighbor?

I don’t know the answers. I do know this: somewhere between the naming skillet and the peanut butter supper, things changed. I realized that I’m not master of my fate; I cannot even master my kitchen. I need guidance, both divine and otherwise.

Lord, Your peace passeth all understanding. Let me understand the many contributions of those around me – and please passeth the fire extinguisher.

-Mark Collins

Digging Deeper: 2 Corinthians 5:7; Hebrews 12:1-2




Last month, a worldwide survey was conducted by the UN. The only question asked was: “Would you please give your honest opinion about solutions to the food shortage in the rest of the world?”

The survey was a huge failure.

In Africa they didn’t know what “food” meant.

In Eastern Europe they didn’t know what “honest” meant.

In Western Europe they didn’t know what “shortage” meant.

In China they didn’t know what “opinion” meant.

In the Middle East they didn’t know what “solution” meant.

In South America they didn’t know what “please” meant.

And in the USA they didn’t know what “the rest of the world” meant.



For the godly who die shall rest in peace. -Isaiah 57:2 (TLB)

Jack and I decided to give our ten children (his six, my four) the gift of not having to make decisions on one of the most stressful days of their lives … the day one, or both of us, takes our last breath. So we

prepaid for our transportation, refrigeration, cremation, and funeral services. Then I sent my children a letter telling them that I hoped to live to be 110, but if it didn’t happen, enclosed were my final arrangements, plus the names of my financial adviser and bank accounts and where I’d like my ashes to be placed.

At the end of the letter I said, “So there you have it. Easy peasy. When I die, you just have to come to Florida to wrap things up, attend my memorial service, give away my things, collect your inheritance, and go on enjoying your lives. I love you very much and thank you for appreciating this gift I’ve given to all of you. Thank you for being such a blessing to me and for helping make my life so happy and fulfilled.

With all my love, Mom.”

When I mailed the letters, I put “Celebrate!” stamps on them as a gentle reminder that the death of a parent should come with joy, not sorrow … the joy of celebrating a wonderful, happy life filled with love

and adventure. I, for one, am looking forward to the rest of the ride, and to fInd out what’s waiting for me!

Father; thank You for everything You’ve given me on earth and for the greatest gift of all: looking forward to being with You in heaven for all eternity.

– Patricia Lorenz

Digging Deeper: Genesis 3:19; John 11:11-27




A son called up his mom from his college and asked her for some money.

Mom said, “Sure, sweetie. I’ll send you some money. You also left your calculus book here when you visited two weeks ago. Do you want me to send that up too?”

“Uh, oh yeah, OK,” responded her son.

So Mom wrapped the book along with the checks up in a package, kissed Dad goodbye, and went to the post office to mail the money and the book.

When she got back, Dad asked, “Well, how much did you give the boy this time?

Mom said, “Oh, I wrote two checks — one for $20, and the other for $1,000.”

“That’s $1020!!!” yelled Dad. “Are you crazy???”

“Don’t worry, hon,” Mom said, as she kissed Dad on the top of his bald head. “I taped the $20 check to the cover of his book, but I put the $1,000 one somewhere between the pages in Chapter 19!”


I am with you always … , -Matthew 28:20 (KJV)

When my husband, John, and I were students in Paris, we rented an apartment in the village of Saint-Remy-les-Chevreuse, the last stop on the metro. We purchased our very first set of dishes from Emil, the local potter.

“I’m going to Paris myself some day!” Emil told us proudly.

We stared at him. Was it possible that this man, maybe forty-five years old, had never visited his capital city, an hour’s train ride away?

Emil must have taken our astonishment for doubt. No, he insisted, he really was going to ride the train all the way there.

“Why not go with us someday?” said John. Yes, Emil would do just that! But week after week he had a reason for staying home. Then one day when we arrived at the station, Emil was there, wearing his Sunday suit and carrying a leather bag in which his wife had packed a lunch that could have fed six. All the way in, he sat on the very front of his seat, staring out the window with little cries of what sounded like pain.

At Cluny station, he walked up the subway stairs so close to us that he jostled the textbooks out of my arms. The cars and buses, the noise, the crowded sidewalks, seemed to fill him with terror. I cut class that day: no way could we leave our friend alone! I sat with him on a bench in quiet Luxembourg Garden, sharing his bountiful lunch. I longed for cup of coffee, but Emil refused absolutely to venture into a cafe.

He never saw Paris! I thought as the three of us boarded the train for Saint-Remy. But now, for all of the ride home, he bubbled over with excitement, impressions, delight! Clearly, he’d live on this trip for years to come.

What had helped him dare the unfamiliar? Simply knowing that someone would be with him.

Where I am afraid to go, Lord Jesus, remind me that someone will be with me too.

-Elizabeth Sherrill

Digging Deeper: Deuteronomy 31:8; Hebrews 13:5




An old man was sitting on his porch, when a young man walked up with a pad and pencil in his hand.

“What are you selling, young man?” he asked.

“I’m not selling anything, Sir,” the young man replied. “I’m the census taker.”

“A what?” the man asked.

“A census taker. We are trying to find out how many people are in the United States.”

“Well,” the man answered, “you’re wasting your time with me; I have no idea.”


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.”


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