Category: Everydays (page 1 of 11)

don’t blink

I vacationed with Kenny Chesney. My sisters and I opened our umbrellas and chairs without realizing a mega-country music star sat a few sand dunes away. Kenny appeared relaxed in a ball cap and blue swim trunks. No shoes, no shirt, no problem.

He cast two fishing lines into the Atlantic Ocean and settled in to enjoy the beautiful sunny day. My sisters and I stared unapologetically. Kenny Chesney, really? Here in North Carolina? We wanted to be sure so we devised a test.

With a few clicks on her phone, my sister found, There Goes my Life, and cranked the volume. We hoped the familiar words would garner a reaction from our beach buddy celebrity.

There goes my future, my everything
Might as well kiss it all good-bye
There goes my life

As the song finished, Kenny’s lack of enthusiasm for his number one hit disappointed us. If we approached him, we would be labeled silly, elderly groupies. Kenny coveted privacy since he vacationed without his entourage.

As the sun sank lower, panic set in when he got up and walked toward us. Oh, no. Somebody say something.

Kenny offered his phone and asked if we would take a picture for his wife.

Truth revealed. Not Kenny. Bummer.

With wannabe Kenny so close to us, the truth became obvious. We were not vacationing with Kenny  Chesney; not his voice, not his face. Blame the heat, salty air, or aging eyesight. But we missed the truth.

This case of mistaken identity reminded me how important it is to keep God close. I need to keep Him in my personal space so I won’t be fooled by imitations.

He promises to draw near when I draw near. Closeness eliminates mistakes, confusion, and stalking unsuspecting men on the beach.

Come near to God and he will come near to you. James 4:8a (NIV)

Nearness breeds familiarity. I will know Him; He will know me. Truth becomes obvious when I keep God close. Then this sheep will know my Shepherd’s voice.

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me. John 10: 14 (NIV)

Don’t blink. I don’t want to miss the real Shepherd. 
I was glued to my TV when it looked like he looked at me and said “Best start putting first things first”
Cause when your hourglass runs out of sand
You can’t flip it over and start again
Take every breathe God gives you for what it’s worth
Don’t blink
(Kenny Chesney)

Batman and Jesus

Mother Teresa. Corrie ten Boom. Eric Liddell.

Parents, first responders, Sunday School teachers.

These names come to mind when I consider the question,“Who is your hero?

When my sponsored child from Mexico responded to the same question, I couldn’t help but smile. Angel’s response? Batman and Jesus. What a great answer! I love the honesty of this precious 8-year-old boy.

Batman and Jesus are the ultimate dynamic duo. I understand the connection in Angel’s mind. Both are good guys; both battle evil.

When I was 8-years-old, Batman and Robin were my heroes. I grew up watching the original Batman TV series that debuted in 1966. My still-treasured Robin mug is evidence of a slight crush on Batman’s sidekick. Together they battled crime and defended Gotham City from the villains. Good always prevailed over evil in each weekly episode.

I discovered the other half of this dynamic duo on my knees in a college dorm room. I recognized my need to be rescued by the True and Holy Hero.

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight. Psalm 51; 3, 4 (NIV)

Today’s headlines cause me to believe evil is winning the battle. But in His Word, I am reminded my Hero holds evil’s short leash.

It is written: As surely as I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God. Romans 14:11 (NIV)

In the end, Good wins. My Hero, Jesus, says so. Every knee will bow, every tongue will confess.

In January, I travel to meet Angel in Mexico. I’ll kneel beside his wheelchair and surprise him with a Batman t-shirt and a Spanish Bible. Gifts to honor his heroes: Batman and Jesus.

Much of what happens in our world is evil and bad, but God specializes in bringing good out of it. ~Rick Warren

Jesus in a box

Maria and Carlos and their two children live on a hillside outside Santiago, Dominican Republic. Their home is pieced together with thin boards. Wide gaps allow sunbeams as well as thunderstorms to enter. This family of four share a bed under a simple tin roof.

Samuel lives with his sick grandmother in a Maasai village near Arusha, Tanzania. My eyes worked to adjust to the darkness inside their hut. The guide asked if I would pray for this woman as we knelt beside her bed. How soon would Samuel be alone in this world?

Home visits are the heartbeat of Compassion trips. Stepping into homes, shrinks my world and humbles my soul. I observe the challenging living conditions of children and I am forever changed.

At the end of each home visit, a box is presented to the family containing staples such as rice, beans, and cooking oil. Items to fill their shelves and their stomachs.

Following a home visit in Tanzania, I walked to the bus with Pastor Joseph. I chattered about the box and how it blessed the family. He responded it wasn’t about the contents of the box, but the love behind the box. The box reminds the family they are loved. The box is a love gift: Jesus in a box.

Jesus visited people’s homes. He sat, ate, and loved people in their familiar surroundings. The Christ-centeredness of Compassion is demonstrated with every box presented. Jesus in a box exemplifies Compassion’s mission: Food to fill their stomach given with love in Jesus’ Name provides hope for their soul.

When they unwrap Jesus in cardboard, families experience love and blessings. They see Jesus. I witnessed this Spirit-fueled phenomena with Maria and Carlos. In the presence of their two children, they prayed to receive Jesus into their hearts.

Jesus came out of the box and entered their hearts.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)


it is well

Surrounded by wheelchairs and walkers, my dark-hair head bobbed with gray-hair, white-hair, and no hair heads. We tapped our feet; we clapped our hands. Putting aside aches, pains, and memory lapses, we sang together. We lifted our voices for an audience of One.

I accompanied my 89-year-old Aunt Dot to a gospel sing-along at her assisted living facility. One elderly couple held hands while another lady dozed off. Charlotte elevated her wrapped foot. Susie sang even when unsure of the words.

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul

With their worn and broken bodies, their forgetful and confused minds, they sang. It is well, it is well, with my soul. I believed they meant every word. Their pure worship honored God.  Blemished but beautiful.

The presenters offered the salvation message; straight and to the point. Have you asked Jesus into your heart? Raise your hand and we will pray with you. Wynita, who is 99-years old, raised her hand. With child-like faith, she accepted Christ as her Savior.

For there’s a new name written down in glory,
And it’s mine, O yes, it’s mine!
With my sins forgiven I am bound for Heaven, Never more to roam.
The heavenly choir sang through their ailments and loneliness. Every stanza gave  God the glory. Surrounded by wheelchairs and walkers, I discovered Holy ground and it was well with my soul.

white flag

Come get lost in the stalks. 

A local corn maze close to my house invites the brave to enter. Corn mazes frustrate me. I get lost on highways, why do I want to be lost in a corn field?

Yet, when my daughters were younger,  we decided to get lost in the stalks.  My husband led the charge, my daughters followed, and I carried the rescue flag. A white flag is issued just in case assistance is needed along the way.

In my opinion, one step into the maze  signaled surrender time. Up and down the rows , around and around we went. The deeper we went, the more lost we became much to the delight of my family.

My daughters didn’t complain, like me. They enjoyed the checkpoints and stamping stations along the way. My husband, savoring the challenge, continued marching deeper into the bowels of the never-ending rows.

Didn’t we just go down this row? Why does all the corn look the same? 

I gripped the white flag tighter. I knew I held the only lifeline for exiting this nightmare. I couldn’t see my rescuer but deep in the maze on a raised platform, he awaited. He scanned the acreage, waiting for a white flag to surface.  Then he radioed for a runner to rescue the lost.

Looking back on my time spent wandering amongst the stalks, I realize the maze mirrored my life. Sometimes I go the right direction, other times I head the wrong way. I spend a lot of time turning around and back tracking. I fail and fall. Frustration enters when I can’t get my bearings in this maze of life.

But I always have a faithful Rescuer. At anytime, I can raise my white flag and receive my Father’s help. A  loud cry or a soft whisper; He’s always listening. My Rescuer scans His Creation for white flags of His Beloved.

Gently and lovingly, He redirects me.

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21 (NIV) 

Getting lost in the stalks doesn’t sound so bad after all. I can step into this maze called life with my Rescuer always close by. No white flag is needed. 




Domino Day 2009 broke a world record.  It took 89 builders to set up 4,491,863 dominoes and a single touch to topple them.

One tap produced a huge chain reaction. One action caused 4,491,853 dominoes to fall.

Sometimes,  a single act or a single gesture is all it takes to cause a chain reaction. Then step back and watch out. One act of kindness causes another. One deed of compassion leads to another. One step of faith invites the next.

The Graney family from Oklahoma initiated their own chain reaction by a single act.  Read about the power behind their single act of love and generosity towards  a family in Kenya. You’ll want to share The Marvelous Mud House by April Graney with your children and grandchildren.

Read and then step into acts of kindness, compassion, love, and generosity. Remember it only takes one gesture to make the next domino fall.

Let’s keep the chain unbroken.


corralling cats

I live on a hill. During thunderstorms, water flows downhill taking my gravel driveway, stone by stone, with it. The powerful rush of water carves deep gullies. Recently, my husband attempted to force the water away from the driveway with a wall of rocks.  He hoped to divert the water from the driveway into a ditch.

Forcing water to change direction is like corralling cats. It’s impossible. My father, a fireman, battled Hurricane Agnes’ waters in 1972. I recall his wise words: “You can fight fire, but you can’t fight water. It goes where it wants to.” Those affected by the recent hurricanes understand this hard truth.

Water does what God designed it to do; it flows. Some days, my relationship with God functions how it was designed; it flows. On those days, I sit beside my best friend watching the sunset knowing my best friend created the sunset. Natural. Peaceful. Fully at ease. I talk; He listens. He talks; I listen. Back and forth. Give and take.

But on other days, frustration sets in from trying to corral cats. When I force my relationship with God, I respond and react with have to vs. want to. Forced time with God resembles a long distance relationship gone cold. But God didn’t move; I did. I stacked rocks and built a wall. I diverted His grace and mercy into rules and requirements.

I desire more flowing days.

Today, my husband invited me to explore a local waterfall. On this beautiful September afternoon, we walked the trail beside Mill Creek. I heard the flowing water before I saw it. It sounded natural and peaceful. The water flowed; doing what God created it to do.

Nothing forced, just flowing.

And there were no cats in sight.




dirty hands

I spent most of my childhood years dirty. My childhood farm offered many opportunities for play and work.

In the summertime, my sisters and I spent hours creating play houses in the cows’ pasture. We used shovels and rakes to assist with construction. The limestone rock outcroppings functioned as the foundation and we added misshapen tree branches or rocks as furniture. A flat rock served as a table or chair. A tree branch doubled as a coat rack. Our imaginations knew no limit.

Summertime also involved plenty of work. The sweet corn and potato fields required weeding and hoeing. The rows seemed to go on forever. Baling hay,  feeding cows, and picking vegetables kept us busy and dirty too.

Saturday evenings promised bath time. Time to get clean for Sunday church. The dirt from playing and working washed away leaving a brown ring around our cast iron bath tub. Washing allowed the clean to shine through.

Jesus, Creator of the Universe,  rolled up His sleeves and got His hands dirty too.

 After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. John 9:6 NIV

Dirt plus spit equals mud. Messy and dirty mud. Jesus knew opening eyes and changing lives sometimes required dirt and spit.

Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. John 9:7 NIV

Washing removed the dirt allowing the True Light to shine through.

 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. John 9:38 NIV

Jesus’ dirty hands along with His bloodstained hands on the cross granted the man sight and eternal life. Eyes opened and sins forgiven.

My Saturday night bath began a 24-hour window of temporary cleanliness. A new adventure loomed for me on Monday morning. But this man found eternal cleanliness by uttering three words, “Lord, I believe.” 

All because Jesus loved and got His hands dirty.






mirror mirror

Mirror, mirror on the wall…..

Looking at mirrors with my 4-month old grandson entertains both of us. We point and giggle as we discover who is looking back at us. We talk (Ok, I talk) about the cute little boy in the mirror. I see new life with fresh potential. All things are possible. Prayerfully, this little guy will grow into a Godly man as well as a kind and loving husband and father.  Endless possibilities stare back at us.  Mirrors offer hope of somedays full of what ifs. Mirrors are the launching pad of amazing dreams.

Last year in Tanzania, I stood in front of new mirrors with Neema and her two friends. (Neema is the girl on the left, smiling from her hoodie.) I snapped this picture at their Compassion Center as I toured the new sanitation project filled with flushing toilets, running water, and shiny mirrors. Was this the first time they saw their reflection? Possibly.

Walking through the facility with Neema and her friends, we paused in front of the new  mirrors. I encouraged them to see the beauty of the girls smiling back at us. Could they see how God created them, each so unique and precious? Could they see what I saw?

Were they able to see a bright future? Could they see into tomorrow or next month or next year? Could they see beyond the poverty of their surroundings? Whom did they see? A future teacher, pastor, or doctor?

Neema and I connected during my visit; she never left my side. At the end of the day, I left her with a big hug and a pack of colored pencils.  I also tried to leave her with a hope-infused vision. Keep looking in the mirror and seeing a brighter future. Keep looking and seeing God’s immense love.  I pray she sees herself for all she is to God; His wonderful and perfect creation!

Mirror, mirror on the wall,  Who is the fairest one of all?   Neema, my grandson, and all of God’s beautiful children



One year ago.

Flashback:  June 2, 2016       Karatu, Tanzania                 

How much love can a heart hold? When blessed with the opportunity to love deeper and wider, my heart expanded just like my elastic waistband pants.  As the youngest and poorest surrounded me in Karatu, Tanzania,  I freely loved and kept loving. As the Grinch’s heart grew 3 times bigger on Mt. Crumpit, mine enlarged with each wonderful encounter.

 While my husband and his Compassion International teammates climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, I loved the children everywhere I went. Each day was a holy appointment with Jesus’ favorite people: children. Back from a trip to a squatty potty, I veered off the path to visit with  children gathered around a rusty swing set. I bent low,  lifted up a child, and loved. These children were not part of the Compassion program. They needed a bath and love. They were dressed in ragged clothing and were perfectly wonderful.  My heart shifted into overdrive.

Flashback: June 2, 2016       Karatu, Tanzania     

Surrounded by precious children; giggling and ready to be loved. I soaked in their love. I touched their faces and kissed their foreheads. We laughed together as I rubbed and rubbed convincing them my skin really is this color. Loving and laughing: what every childhood should be filled with.

Then they sang to me. Twinkle, Twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are. These small twinkling stars standing in the dusty earth of Tanzania sang about far off shining lights. Worlds apart but the same twinkling lights. I clapped enthusiastically during my private concert; thrilled and honored to be here.

Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky. Do they know they are more precious than diamonds? Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are. 


Flashback: June 4, 2016       Arusha, Tanzania                      

My husband enjoyed spectacular views from above the clouds, trekking to 19, 341 feet at the summit.  A step closer to Heaven, perhaps. But my eyes beheld beauty of a different sort, yet no less amazing. Beautiful faces dotted with bright and kind eyes. An offer to hold their small hands, to touch and to know love. I reached out and connected. A perfect fit. Love never lets go.


Flashbacks, always reminding me.  Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13


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