Child with Teddy Bear in CastTherefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12


When my husband Patrick worked as an orthopedic physician assistant at Shriner’s Hospital in Minneapolis, one of his duties was to fashion plaster casts for children during the course of their treatment. One day, his patient was a little girl about three years old. She was clinging to her Teddy bear and appeared fearful of the whole experience of being in an orthopedic hospital. The casting room seemed to make her especially anxious. My husband asked her if he could examine her Teddy bear first. When she said yes, he proceeded gently, and then announced that the bear needed a cast just like the one the little girl needed. “Who should go first?” he asked. She indicated her bear, so he fashioned a small cast on the bear’s arm. Amid giggles from the little girl, my husband was able to cast her arm as well. It only took a little creativity and an extra few minutes to put the child at ease.


Mother Theresa said, “We can do no great things; only small things with great love.” How many times, in any given day, do we have an opportunity to exercise this great edict from a tiny nun who gave her entire life and all she had to care for the poor, the marginalized and the dying? I will never be Mother Theresa—not even close—but I pray that God will guide me in my duty to make others on this planet feel they are cared for and cared about. A few kind words, a smile, a small gesture to make life easier for another: these are the currency that we must spend as Christians in a broken and fragmented world. This starts at home. How we treat those closest to us is a clear measure of how we view ourselves and the world around us. I am a child of God; you are too. Let’s do all we can to make each day our best and a little better for those around us.


Gracious and loving God, You shine all around us and in us each moment of each day. We are small miracles that You have created with great love. Touch our hearts and guide our steps so that others see Your marvelous kindness and know You love them too. Amen


sanctuaryA glorious throne, exalted from the beginning, is the place of our sanctuary. Jeremiah 17:12


Recently, I was talking with one of my dearest relatives, whom I love and cherish, who told me she feels as if she has a hole in her heart. She has told me many times that she believes in God, and we have had numerous conversations about faith. But something, she said, is missing in her life. She is a good and caring person, a faithful and trustworthy employee (even at some jobs that she disliked intensely), and she is happily married to a man I also love and cherish. What could I say to her that I have not already said? Have my fervent prayers for her gone unheard? How could I explain to her that even the most devout Christian feels that emptiness sometimes? But knowing Who can fill the void is the answer to the longing.


Seventeenth century French mathematician Blaise Pascal is credited with the following quote: “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.” We live in a world beleaguered by infinite choices of things to believe—or believe in. From ancient religions to misguided firebrands, people today can find something or someone to follow. This is not a new phenomenon. Even the psalmist of old states Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God (Psalm 20:7). The emptiness my dear family member feels could be due to many things: stress, anxiety, depression, fatigue, overwork. If any of us say we never have any of these concerns, we are probably not being honest with ourselves. But no matter how much life befuddles us from time to time, we who believe in the Living God cannot forget that He is in control, no matter what.


My heart aches for those who seem eluded by peace of mind. I once heard it said that if you pray, why worry, and if you worry, why pray? I believe this statement is one to keep in the forefront of our minds on the days when our loving God seems distant. And on the days when we feel we have never been more certain of our faith, let’s remember Who is giving us that assurance.


Make Yourself known to us, Lord of all comfort. Be our sanctuary when we feel alone. Amen


BooksJesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. John 21:25


I love books! I love reading many different kinds of books, and I have my book club to thank for getting me into reading books that others recommend. When I decided to write my memoir, I read upwards of eighty different memoirs to get a sense of how I would write mine. Some I read were wonderful and inspiring and “spoke” directly to me and what I wanted to do with my story. Others would not make my “favorites” list, but I slogged through them anyway, hoping to grasp some idea of what I didn’t want to do with my own story.


Today’s Scripture is the last verse of the Gospel of John. Following Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, He appears to the disciples several times. In this passage, the boys are out fishing, which is what they went back to whenever Jesus disappeared on them. So here is the Christ, on the shore, conversing with the guys in the boat offshore. They have no fish, so this “unrecognizable” man on the shore tells them to cast their net on the other side of the boat. Lo and behold, the guys catch a whole net full…and suddenly, John cries, “Hey! It’s Jesus!” And they all make their way to shore to have a yummy breakfast with their Lord.


Another story recorded for us to read, two thousand years later. But John ends his book by saying all the wonderful things Jesus did while on earth could never be recorded, ever. There wouldn’t be enough paper or ink or books or shelves or libraries or even electronic storage (which John didn’t mention because he had no idea about our modern day technology). I don’t know about you, but it blows my mind to think how much Jesus must have done that the entire world cannot contain it. And tell me again, why is it that I doubt Jesus can help little old me with my daily “stuff?” I’m going to make it a point to read this verse frequently as a reminder of how much power and love Jesus has for each of us.


Fisher of Men, help us to cast our nets where You tell us, and to believe You will change our lives if we just trust You. Amen


SurpriseI consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. Philippians 3:8


In church a couple of weeks ago, a member got up to read the day’s Scripture passages. “But whatever were gains to me,” he began, “I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surprising worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things” (Philippians 4:7-8a).  He didn’t catch his own error, but I thought perhaps the word he used—surprising—fit just as well in the passage as the one written—surpassing. I believe it’s good for us to be surprised by Christ’s worth sometimes.


Webster defines the word surprise as “an unexpected event, piece of information…gift, party…; the feeling caused by something that is unexpected….” The apostle Paul could easily have told the Philippians that Christ was a big surprise in his life. Before he happened down the road to Damascus, Paul firmly believed it was his duty to find Jesus’ followers and murder them all. So it really was a surprise to Paul (not to mention those who knew him before Christ) that he did a one-eighty and became one of the most prolific and impassioned orators for the Son of God.


I cannot count the times God has surprised me. When I was a non-believer, several painful events came together to cause me to lay my life at the feet of Jesus. That surprise started my entire faith walk! Then, the Lord surprised me by demonstrating the power of intercessory prayer (my own and that of others), over and over. When loved ones were sick, jobs were lost, hope seemed distant, and life as I knew it pretty much fell apart, God was there to provide healing and hope. Answers presented themselves where only confusion had held sway. Sometimes, I could clearly see Christ was “helping me help myself.” At other times, His solution seemed to drop out of heaven itself.


This week, let’s challenge ourselves to see the wonder in what God is doing in our lives. If we watch carefully, we are sure to see Him working behind the scenes and even out in the open. See if you can catch God surprising you!


God of Wonder, surprise us each day as we look for You in everything and everyone around us. Amen